Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward took several shots at Premier Kathy Dunderdale Monday morning for skipping the Board of Trade fiscal issues debate Tuesday evening.
But a few hours later, Aylward was dropping out himself.
A spokesman for the Liberal campaign said that if Dunderdale won’t be there, Aylward isn’t showing up either.
Only a few hours earlier, while making a child care policy announcement in St. John’s, Aylward had said leaders should get out and make themselves available at every opportunity.
“Really, if you want the job of premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, what do you want to do? What you should be wanting to do is get in forums and talk about what you want to do for the province, a platform for your people,” Aylward said.
“Elections are about going out front and letting people have access to you, and letting them ask you questions about what are your policies and where you want to take the province.”
The Board of Trade debate was supposed to bring together leaders to discuss debt, government spending and other provincial fiscal issues.
Dunderdale is campaigning on the west coast, but Finance Minister Tom Marshall is participating in her place.
The Liberal spokesman said with Aylward pulling out, former MHA and Liberal candidate Danny Dumaresque will be representing the party.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael is still expected to attend.
The Telegram’s request to speak to Aylward about his decision was declined. The party spokesman said he was busy with debate preparation ahead of Wednesday evening’s televised debate.
Aylward will still participate in an event Tuesday morning with Michael and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy to discuss health care and nursing, organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union.
The party’s spokesman exp-lained that’s because the nurses’ event was more of a panel than a debate.
Monday morning, Aylward was talking about child care and the Liberals’ plan to create at least 1,000 new daycare spaces.
At the core of the plan was a promise to up the early childhood education supplement from $6,660 to $8,000.
The Liberals also say they would aggressively recruit new early childhood educators.
Sheila Miller, the Liberals’ candidate in Virginia Waters, works in early childhood learning and has owned child care centres for more than 20 years.
She told reporters that there are spaces waiting to open up, just as soon as qualified people can be found.
“We (have) to have a Level 2 early childhood educator for each classroom,” she said. “I was talking with a lady yesterday who owns a centre over in Airport Heights. She has 14 spaces closed right now because she can't get qualified staff.”