Taylor moving on

Allan Bock
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Nine-year political career comes to an end for Straits and White Bay North MHA

Trevor Taylor used several words to describe the nine years he spent as the MHA for The Straits and White Bay North and the last six as a member of the provincial cabinet.

They ranged from enjoyable and rewarding to frustrating and challenging.

The experiences which the Gunner's Cove native chalked up while representing the interests of his constituents and fulfilling the duties of three cabinet portfolios weren't all good, but they weren't all bad either.

Transportation and Works Minister Trevor Taylor addresses the media after announcing his resignation from cabinet Thursday at the House of Assembly. KEITH GOSSE / TELEGRAM PHOTO

Trevor Taylor used several words to describe the nine years he spent as the MHA for The Straits and White Bay North and the last six as a member of the provincial cabinet.

They ranged from enjoyable and rewarding to frustrating and challenging.

The experiences which the Gunner's Cove native chalked up while representing the interests of his constituents and fulfilling the duties of three cabinet portfolios weren't all good, but they weren't all bad either.

"I always knew it was a thankless job," he told the Pen on Thursday after announcing at a hastily-called news conference in St. John's that he was leaving politics. "The last six or eight months, the level of criticism was, in my mind, unwarranted."

He said he managed to roll with the punches, noting that the support of the people in the district and their endorsement of him and his representation in the subsequent elections of 2003 and 2007 are among the things that kept him going.

"I really have to thank the people who supported me," he stated. "They were there for me and for that I'm very grateful."

Mr. Taylor's announcement came as a surprise, since he hadn't spoken publicly about his future intentions in politics. He indicated that he was being relieved of his cabinet duties immediately and that he would conclude his tenure as a Member of the Assembly this Friday.

He noted his immediate future hasn't been clearly defined. However, he has accepted a position with an organization that will be doing research on climate change in the Arctic.

"I felt that after nine years at this, and I'm 42 years old, if I was going to do something else, I had to do it now," he said.

Mr. Taylor informed Premier Danny Williams of his decision about a week before it was announced publicly.

As for his future beyond politics, the former fisherman told reporters of his intention to focus on his personal life.

"It took a heavy toll on my family to the point where I lost part of it, you could say. I'm going to try to get that back now."

Reflecting on his entrance into politics, Mr. Taylor recalled that it happened by accident.

"It just so happened that we had the boat tied up that fall because we had all of our shrimp caught and I ran for the NDP in the federal byelection in 2000," he said. "I didn't go looking to run for the PCs a little while later when there was a provincial byelection, but I did and it was interesting."

At the time, Danny Williams was getting accustomed to his role as Opposition leader. The Liberals were in power and the byelection victories which Mr. Taylor and Wallace Young secured in the two Northern Peninsula seats would prove to be a springboard for the Conservatives when they eventually toppled the Liberals in the fall of 2003.

Mr. Taylor noted the early days of governance were difficult because the province's financial standing was mired in a huge deficit. However, he pointed out that tough measures and an improving economy helped erase the deficit and place the province in a surplus.

"We were able to do some significant capital works and economic development initiatives. I enjoyed working on the fibre optics file and there was resolution on a lot of matters," he said. "We got a lot of things done."

Mr. Taylor pointed to highway improvements, securing a new ambulance, the crab processing licence at St. Anthony, the renovations/improvements at Canon Richards High in Flowers Cove, dialysis, the wharf extension in St. Anthony, restructuring of the forest sector in Roddickton as advancements of which he's most proud. He regrets that the Raw Materials Sharing plan wasn't implemented when he was fisheries minister, but said the global recession and the resulting strife in the fishing industry still points to the need for a restructuring of the industry.

"I had my go at it," he recalled.

Mr. Taylor said his departure has nothing to do with government policy or his relationship with Premier Williams.

"I've had a good relationship with the premier and the cabinet," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed the cabinet process, working on policy direction, serving on the policy committees. That's what I'll miss the most - that and getting things accomplished in the district."

He was currently serving in the transportation and works portfolio. In addition to fisheries and aquaculture, his cabinet resume includes Labrador affairs and industry, trade and rural development.

The long-time minister didn't shy away from taking on a confrontation or engaging in spirited debate.

"I've never ran away from a fight since I've been in politics and I certainly wouldn't be leaving on account of that right now."

While speaking to reporters, Mr. Taylor offered a rare glimpse of the constant scrutiny that people in public office - particularly those in a province where the issues are front and centre - face in their day to day dealings.

"Despite what some people might think about the lives of ministers and politicians, it takes a heavy toll on people and their families, and after nine years, I just realized that I didn't have the same fire for it anymore."

Organizations: NDP, Conservatives

Geographic location: St. John's, Arctic, St. Anthony Flowers Cove Roddickton

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