Thursday, 24 April 2014

PREMIER FRANK COLEMAN: DEAD ON ARRIVAL

Frank Coleman’s journey to the Premier’s Office is off the rails.   

It is not due to Bill Barry’s decision to exit the Race. 

Nor is it due to the widespread bewilderment over Coleman’s acknowledged “pro-life” stand on the abortion issue; though it, too, is a part of this narrative.

It is not entirely due to Political Science Professor Steve Tomlin’s comments which characterize Mr. Coleman’s “Coronation” as a “train-wreck”; though his metaphor contains precision so striking you could actually see the body politic nod in agreement.   

Nor is it entirely because Coleman chose the last minute to enter the race and then disappear, leaving a perception that he plans to be a political hermit, determined to keep his distance, which The Telegram rightly described as “arm’s length”.  

For all of those reasons, and then some, as far as the act of becoming Premier is concerned, Frank Coleman is dead on arrival.




Politics, more than any other field, requires two-way communication; it is a great public enterprise in which policies, views, priorities and, most of all, feelings are exchanged in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. 

This should be a time of congratulations and best wishes, but it isn’t.  

The public are unamused that an unelected, one awarded a “fix”, given privilege by a self-interested former Premier, is about to be given keys to the Government.  They are rightly insulted that they, and their precious democratic institutions, are taken for granted.

By any measure, Coleman’s Candidacy has been a disappointment. 

His actions, or lack thereof, do not depict the image of one who is confident. They are not the deeds of one immersed in the issues and ready, with both personality and plan, to reverse the grim fortunes of a Party entering a fourth year of bad Polls.

Why would Frank Coleman become Premier?  On what basis might he feel deserving of the Province’s highest office?    

Given his poor performance, I would not be surprised if, any minute, he informed us he is no longer interested in being sworn in as the Province’s First Minister.

Let’s look at the inscrutable facts.

Mr. Coleman is uncomfortable and quite possibly ill-suited to the job. 

He is unable or unwilling to meet the demands of modern politics which minimally require frequent availability and extemporaneous or unscripted dialogue.

Five weeks into the Campaign, he is still a stranger to an electorate which finds making friends as easy as pouring a cup of tea. 

His unavailability has ceased being a novelty; he is a hermit within a global village replete with social media of which he wants no part.

Having just rid ourselves of one Premier, who was manifestly incomprehensible, must we now endure another who has nothing to say?

To be fair, Frank Coleman is not the first leadership contender to have arrived without a list of priorities, or who dithered over his decision.   

But, Mr. Coleman is an entrepreneur of some repute; he is educated, business savvy and presumably ambitious.  He must have begun, long before now, to recognize the minefield of troublesome public policy issues that lie in wait. 

He seems eminently capable of communicating his views on the rights of women.  He has gone beyond their mere subscription as a matter of personal religious viewpoint.  He even deems it necessary to annually march in the street such is his vigorous opposition to a policy confirmed by our highest Court, respectful to that gender, and very hard won.

As to other matters of social or economic policy, he is uninformed.

But politics is not just about policy; it is about perception and the ability to at least demonstrate that you actually want the job.

A Premier-in-waiting, even one confirmed by default, should be chomping at the bit to take the reins of power. 

Emboldened with energy and inspired by the challenge he might have been expected, within hours of Bill Barry’s withdrawal, to have demanded that the P.C Party confirm his victory.

A flurry of activity, speech-making, media reports and social media analysis that normally accompany such an event might be expected to infect a whole populace.

A simple note is sent to the Lieutenant Governor who will comply.

The new Leader’s impatience is palpable.  

He is ready to right a Tory Government ship-wrecked.

What is Mr. Coleman found doing? He is sitting on his hands. 

For a concerned public, the prospect of his becoming Premier possesses all the excitement of another damp, cold day.

His visits to rural communities are interrupted with business meetings on the mainland. 

He is content to wait, not for a respectable week or two but for over two months, until July 5th while a lame duck Premier Tom Marshall engages in meaningless drivel and Ed Martin counts the billions Nalcor is over-budget on Muskrat Falls. 

Coleman is not ready.  It is far from certain he even wants the job.

The members of the Tory Caucus must be beside themselves; many relied on Danny Williams’ assurance that their political careers could ride on expectations of Coleman’s performance.  As it stands, more Caucus defections are likely.

Mr. Coleman must know by now, amidst all the ‘to and fro’ of his decision to seek the Tory Leadership , lies a land mine of missed opportunity.  It is of his own making even if Danny Williams is implicated, too. 

The subversion of the democratic process is a perilous path. It has denied the Province, for a second time, a more skilful political leader even if exactly who is uncertain.   

A disillusioned public wants more than Mr. Coleman has to offer. 

At least that message is clear.

Likely, it is one not lost on him. 

He can head to the Premier’s Office if he wishes.  My expectation is that he won’t.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter.  Frank Coleman is already DOA - dead on arrival.       

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