Over forty thousand people responded to a VOCM on-line Poll, two-thirds of whom expressed a view that was unfavourable to the Government’s position. Thousands took to Facebook and Twitter, too, using their favourite social media to communicate with the like-minded and to give rebuke to the Premier, the Government and to the Speaker of the House of Assembly.How could I not think: if only such a reaction had erupted over Muskrat Falls?
Now that the dust has settled, there can be no doubt that the Government has suffered a severe blow to its fast declining credibility.
What can we learn from the Gerry Rogers affair? Most people recognize that the Facebook fiasco will fade quickly, but not without consequence. Ms. Rogers has survived the attack and is politically stronger. Her Party is gleeful that it has been cast under a light that is both large and favourable. People’s faith in politicians is poorer but it was not strong, to begin with.More significantly, the public has been given a peek at the political leadership though a lens they can understand and on a basis they can grade. They are not impressed. The Government has truly embarrassed itself by offering proof, if any were needed, that it is fundamentally incompetent.
That is the obvious part; there are other results.First, the Affair has eroded fast declining respect for the Government by the media. The dismissiveness of The Telegram’s MacLeod on Twitter and the handling of Tory Paul Lane by Cochrane on CBC’s Here and Now Panel, which bordered on contemptuousness, suggest they are running out of patience with a leadership that is well out of its league.
Secondly, it proves that the Government is suffering mortal fear over the NDP’s lead in the Polls and that it will go to great lengths to tarnish the image of that Party.Thirdly, (and the social media sites confirm strong evidence of this) it has succeeded in galvanizing not just the NDP support, especially in the St. John’s area, but eroded the support of its traditional base.
Indeed, how can any person, of integrity and possessing minimal expectations of the same virtue in its elected Government, claim to support a group so badly misbehaved?
In short, the Government has been diminished. It has expended political capital it ought to have retained to help it through two more long years. The public’s poor perception of the Premier and her Administration including her hopeful successor, Darin King, and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, too, is far worse than it was on Monday.For a public aghast at how poorly prepared were the Government’s recent restraint measures, they should not need reminding that this same Government, just a few months ago, sanctioned the $7.4 billion Muskrat Falls hydro Project. Is it possible that Bill 29, a bungled “austerity” program, poor fiscal management and the biggest deficits in history, still leave the Government with enough intelligence to analyze the risks of the largest single capital expenditure in the history of the Province?
When will people recognize that there is a disconnect here? Unfortunately, folks may not get their heads around this question, before it is too late, unlike the Gerry Rogers Affair.Yet, when descent people look back on this sordid episode, in the coming weeks, how can they not worry that they voted for a Government they truly do not deserve?
But, worry may not be the right response.