Monday, 21 October 2013

THE LIBERAL LEADERSHIP, THE NDP AND THE EFFECTS OF BOREDOM

If ever there was a time when the public should be regaled by the ‘bright lights’ of the two opposition parties, this is it.  If fresh new public policy ideas, enthusiasm and common sense ever had an opportunity to shine amidst the darkness of incompetent government, surely this must be that time.  But where are we to find such illumination?

To dispense with the NDP first, that Party should ask if they have received the message of the Nova Scotia Election.  They have to make their own imprint on voters and not rely on vicarious credibility from the federal party.   For sure the sentimentality and gushingly favorable political winds that wafted east upon the late Jack Layton’s ascendancy to the House of Commons has failed to translate to Tom Mulcair. 

There is every indication that the orange wave now has a more reddish hue amidst the long wavy hair and big teeth of Justin, spawn of Pierre.  Truly one should be careful of investing too much capital in either nostalgia or whimsy though funnily enough these may yet bolster Liberal fortunes even in this Province.  
The local NDP have gone to ground fearful perhaps that they might be drowned out by the drum- beat of the Liberal Leadership.  If they are scared by the sounds of one hand clapping they should not feel ‘war ready’ when the real battle has not even begun.

And speaking of war, since the days of Smallwood, no one has ever seen the winds of victory so palpably visible.  Either Opposition Party might almost reach out and grab it.  

Yet, why is it that ‘NDP’ and ‘victory’ put together cause one to yawn.  Like the Liberal Leadership contenders, perhaps they believe their Party is just being ‘strategic’.

A few more weeks of quietude and we will offer Italy’s man of sex and politics, Silvio Berlusconi, the keys to the City for fear we will all die of boredom.

With thousands asked to vote in the Liberal Leadership, it ought to be an inspiring event; though it is anything but.

Cathy Bennett is running.  She should be reminded that inspiration is not measured in nanoseconds. That a leadership contender would chain herself to a Titanic hydro project, one that floats on ignorance, hubris and huge unmonitored dollops of public money, is truly the most mystifying of all political strategies.

Cathy cannot erase the fact that she served on Nalcor's Board of Directors and Governance Committee in 2010 when the Company ignored its obligation to provide lowest cost power to NL consumers.  In passing decision gate 2 (DG2) in 2010, without a full examination of all the alternatives, Nalcor undermined its own gated management process to prudently examine mega projects. 

This decision, and the subsequent deal with Emera, launched Nalcor's commitment to capital expenditures some 10 times the company's annual revenue, with all its attendant risks.  It could never happen except in a Crown Agency. It is exactly those corporate governance decisions, in which Cathy shared, that threaten the public purse right now.

That she has monied backers is hardly reason for the other candidates to treat her with kid gloves.  Antle gave her some attention during the Debates but chose, afterwards, to be a nice Liberal.

Dwight Ball is nice, except he also waffles.  A successful businessman and one who has been generally good for the Liberal Party, he is far too laid-back.  Dwight wants to be friends with everyone, even with his political enemies, the same ones who would eviscerate him given the opportunity.  He could no more go for the jugular than a werewolf with dentures.  

I watched him on CBC's On-Point.  Gifted with a half hour of free province-wide television he had less to say than PC David Brazil, who should have been red-faced from the start, or NDP MHA Dale Kirby who performed well.   

With Tom Marshall sent back to the Finance portfolio, following the latest Cabinet shuffle, Dwight pronounced of Marshall “…he’s done a great job…”  When Host David Cochrane pointed out that actually Tom Marshall’s last Budget “…was a bit of a mess...”, that revenue forecasts had been off leading to some pretty large deficits, Dwight was left to acknowledge that, yes, perhaps the Minister had not been up to scratch.

It was Dwight’s opportunity to shine, to dominate the Panel, to lecture David Brazil, to tell him the Tories have imperiled the Province. He might have inserted a snippet or two of what he would do to fix things if he becomes Premier.  He had a straight forward opportunity to show us why he is leadership material.  Instead, we are reminded only that he is a gentleman.  But we already know that.   

Jim Bennett and Danny Dumaresque are good guys in the trenches but they have failed to cut through the wall that separates those who possess more ‘je ne sais quoi’ and more money.  They have not presented themselves as ‘big picture’ candidates and, as a result, have not been taken seriously. 

Paul Antle shows occasional promise.  Having given a solid performance in the debates, he seems willing to de-link from some of the people who have kept the Liberal Party back.  He is beginning to get his head around Muskrat Falls.  Quoted in The Telegram recently, Antle said “I think it’s reckless. I think it’s irresponsible. It’s unprofessional.”  The Project issues he chose were safe ones. Likely he won’t reach too far in front of an ill-informed public. 
It is fine to be articulate, confident and intelligent.  But, if he is afraid to be courageous, that is a pity.

Antle still has room to grow especially on the Avalon.  If he is as savvy, as he would have us believe, he ought to magnify Cathy Bennett’s shortcomings especially her unbowed support for the current Premier’s agenda. 

He had better not save all his ideas for a general election.  The time for ‘show and tell’ is now lest he is forced to return to the boredom of the Boardroom.

As candidates strategize and plumb for votes, none ought to forget that those who give the subject a moment’s thought are just looking for someone honest, forthright and intelligent; a leader respectful and willing to engage them.    

Of course, not everyone is so sensible.  The Board of Trade wants you to be “da boom”; as if international oil technology, risk and the huge sums required were local.

In time they, too, will appreciate a crisp voice; one belonging to a leader whose politics is imbued with courage and whose public policy priorities are not marred with either wishful thinking or equivocation.   

The field is open for the two opposition parties to get us excited.  The Government waits only to be defeated; at 20% in the Polls they are akin to low hanging fruit.

Imagine if the Liberal candidates told us what they really think. Or that the NDP showed some zip as the Liberals are distracted.

I may have to moderate those expectations.

But right now I’m so bored…yawn, yawn; I think I’ll have a nap…ZZZZZzzzzzz.

4 comments:

  1. The PC party is endorsing a 1 Billion dollar committment (for a family of four this represents 8000 $) with the opposition parties saying nothing. There should be riots. Yet the opposition parties are unable to go for the jugular.

    For the liberals I support Ball. But I actually think Antle is the best candidate. He is working hard, and is a bright guy. In a traditional leadership selection process I think he would of came up through the middle to win (between Bennet and Ball). In this process who knows. I am thinking about changing my own vote to Paul.

    As for the NDP, well they are fading fast. They are the best organized of the 2 opposition parties, but the allure of their leader is waning. They should have a quick leadership review, and open the party to new blood. This would undermine the liberal's growth in the polls.

    The NDP have worked too hard to enter into the next election with a leader who is not electable. Dale Kirby is a solid performer.... but there are others.

    My money is that the NDP push a leadership review within the next 2-3 months. If they can make it through this review, intact, then they stand a solid chance of forming the next government.

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  2. Because Antle is a engineer, I sent him an email explaining the benefits of Efficiency to keep electricity costs low for customers. The Americans are making great strides in this approach and avoiding expensive new generation costs like Muskrat Falls. The Efficiency issue may seem a bit complex, if one does not have a technical background, but the approach works well, and Antle should understand that. Given he opposed the current MF deal, I was confident he would jump at the opportunity to lead us into the modern error of heating technology, and also save the ordinary householder a bundle over the coming decades. So here is what I heard from Antle. .............No acknowledgement..... nothing. I guess he was just looking to me for a donation. So I have written off Paul, who I thought would see the smart moves the Americans are making would be of benefit here.
    As to Mr Ball. I received a letter addressed to my business, looking for a donation, and he even gave me his personal cell phone number. I wondered if he gives that number to all voters? Or are business interests special? As we already a government too influenced by business, a change to Mr Ball suggests no change for the overall electorate. So I have written off Mr Ball.
    Cathy is pro MF. A disaster in the making.
    Danny D? he is now gone astray on a tunnel vision, which likely has more problems than the MF North spur problem.
    Mr Bennett seems to have a good head on his shoulders. he is soft spoken, and makes reasoned arguments. he seems the best of the lot.

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  3. Simon: Either I take full responsibility or I was a day early!

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