Wednesday, 18 June 2014

COLEMAN'S GONE. THE NEW “FIX” IS ALREADY IN

The resignation of Frank Coleman, as Premier Designate, has given the P.C Party another chance for change though Tory insiders report the opportunity already squandered. 

There is no way to categorize the Tories’ current circumstance other than to characterize it a mess.  While it seemed improbable, at first, that former Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s unsuitability could be outstripped, the grocer version of the gong show has surely upped the ante.    

We are asked by Frank Coleman to take his word that the reason for quitting was due to a matter “significant” and “challenging”.  Yet, he has no storehouse of credit with the public against which such a huge good-faith demand might be charged.

The P.C. Party is in disarray and he, personally, can claim a goodly part of the responsibility. His acquiescence to Williams’ meddling, in the Leadership Campaign and his own engagement in the Humber Valley Paving affair, leave a Province more cynical about its politics and its patience tapped out.   

Whatever one’s political persuasion, we are all citizens of this Province.  We collectively enjoy a responsibility not just to see it run competently but to ensure the behaviour of the political process reflects the dignity of civil society and the rules that underpin good governance.     

Mr. Coleman never once indicated he possessed wisdom for a job in which these matters ought to be priority.  Indeed, his paltry utterances served only to reinforce Government’s trail of bad decisions; insisting, as he has, that it should stay on the same path.

There are few who have entered any leadership race, since Confederation, as abysmally lacking political skill, policy preparedness or a facility for public communications, as he.  None were bestowed a “fix” by any former Premier, either.

Indeed, it must be remembered that Mr. Coleman entered the Race at the very last minute and vacated the position he won, by default, only days after HVP was permitted to abandon a second Publicly Tendered Contract; the first having been cancelled amidst great public fanfare and at public expense. 

Are we to think this confluence of events mere coincidence?  Why should anyone think his candidacy more about high office and less about him?

It is not as if he chose to be forthright over the Government’s release of the HVP Bonds and his personal attachment to them.

Indeed, it is not as if he has raised the bar on the standard of behaviour expected of public officials. 

Mr. Coleman leaves not only the briefest of tarnished legacies; he has succeeded only in forsaking a truly incompetent Government; one which has borrowed on its depleted credibility and public capital to lift him and his former company out of financial hot water. 

The irony of it all is that a few reporters and pundits keep giving Tom Marshall’s leadership high grades when, in fact, all he may be due is the courtesy of a call from the Mounties.

While the “fix” may have been in for Frank Coleman it is less than obvious that the therapeutic breath of fresh air his exit gives the Tory Party will cause any restoration of public confidence. 

If the news emanating from the P.C. Convention Committee meetings, now in progress, is accurate any Candidate seeking the Leadership will have to convince the current delegates, elected to support Coleman, they are worthy Contestants.  

In other words, no Leadership Candidate will have a chance to have his/her supporters vote, anew, at the District level.  The current delegate list will have to do and we know who controls that one!

It will mean that Leadership Candidates will be supplicant, again, to Danny Williams. 

News from the field suggests Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley is the new “fix”.

Senior Party insiders and former Tory politicians are incensed at this turn of events.

While The P.C. Party remains “hijacked”, it is patently silly to discuss whether Steve Kent or John Ottenheimer is in need of diaper change due to either youth or its contradiction. 

First and foremost, the public needs assurance the process of leadership is not tainted, that it is legitimate and above interference.

The Caucus has the clout to change this state of affairs; but it won’t.  It is destined to share the blame for helping destroy a once great Party.
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Related Story: P.C. CAUCUS: GIVE NO ONE YOUR FAITH UNDESERVED
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Finally, would someone knock on the Auditor-General’s door and see if his clock is ticking? 

Surely he had planned to Report to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, on the HVP Affair, in advance of the July 4th Convention.  

16 comments:

  1. Throw them all out and start from scratch!

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  2. It's time for the people of this great province to stand up and say enough is enough and toss this bunch of misfits out on their ears!!

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  3. Its a joke the government we have. reduce all the salary's, they get payed way too much for what they really do...

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  4. Part of the problem with the coverage and commentary of the PC Party's meltdown has been the common presumption that its interests are the same as the public's interest.

    If the Tories want to commit "hara-kiri," as John Crosbie put it, then that's their business. Whether they have an open and fair process for selecting a new leader is their choice. The PC Party has its own rules and customs for how it conducts its business; if people within the party are upset with how it’s being run, it's up to them to speak out. Internal change will come only when provincial conservatives themselves do something to fix their own party. They caused the crisis; they need to fix it. The internal problems within the PC Party and caucus are nothing new, of course, and focusing on the latest crisis distorts the longer and deeper issues that led to the Coleman debacle.

    From the public's perspective, the imperative is that whomever the Tories select must either be a sitting MHA or run for election as soon as possible. As I commented at Bond Papers, there is a need to step back and consider whose interests are being served by the ongoing political circus. The more that we focus on the internal leadership drama within the PC Party, the less we're focusing on actual government policies. While the media and the public remain distracted by the Tories' soap opera, the Muskrat Falls mega-project and all its lucrative contracts move further past the point of no return. And, as you say, there remains the issue of the Auditor General's report.

    There exists only a finite amount of attention that the media and the public can devote to provincial politics. The black hole of the Tories' leadership fiasco is sucking the public into a vortex that may be entertaining for political junkies but is fatal to genuine debate over the important issues facing the province. Such a state of affairs would be bad enough during any normal period in a province's history; however, NL is in the midst of the biggest mega-project in its history. These are not normal times.

    I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories and, as a historian, I know that more often than not events are pushed by accidents, coincidences, and unintended consequences. But I do know that, prior to the Tories' latest soap opera, genuine public debate following the winter power outages was growing and deepening. Back in the winter and early spring, there existed an exciting sense of engagement and urgency in the public discussions over NALCOR's policies, plans, and basic competency.

    That urgency has now passed. By the time the PC Party comes up with another temporary fix, summer will be upon us. In the meantime, the leadership soap opera will give everyone something to talk about. While the twitterati compete for the best witticism and political scientists muse about walking dead and train wrecks, the NALCOR state rumbles on.

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    1. Well said Mr. Bannister.

      Keith Ryan

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  5. I believe Newfoundland is in constituitional crisis. The governing party are unable to manage their own affairs yet alone those of the province. Dwight Ball should go the the lieutenant governor and ask that this parliament be dissolved, and an election called.

    They have lost the confidence of the people and any resemblence of credibility.

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    1. Happily, that isn't how the system works.

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  6. Dalley disagrees with your assessment. Says he's not running.

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    1. Perhaps someone should call Danny and he might enlighten everyone with his next brilliant idea in the selection process.

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  7. Perhaps it is time to consider the formation of a new conservative party of NL? As a conservative supporter I have no voice and will not be voting for this cabal controlled by Williams. I believe there are many out there who are thinking the same way and would welcome a fresh new approach. This is why Reform (federal) and Wild Rose (provincial) were formed.

    I recognize that this will take many years to accomplish however the province deserves better than what we're getting under this regime. Does anyone have any thoughts??

    Keith Ryan

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  8. So then, what would you do for $20 million dollars? We know exactly what Franks Coleman would do. Joke was on Danny but also on us Newfoundlanders , as it cost us 20 million dollars. Well played Frankie boy!

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  9. Why do we think that the Liberals under Dwight Ball is the answer. Just don't understand. Is that man a LEADER? My answer is no.

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  10. Frank Coleman's decision to step down is perhaps the best thing for the province. His credibility is shot and as many know the reason for him being offered the job as premier was orchestrated by the backroom boys within the PC caucus and executive. He did not come across in the media and I would hazard to guess that he would seriously lack what is needed to defend the province's position on issues involving the federal government as well as the other provinces. Whether or not he is leaving for bonafied reasons or just because he realizes he's in over his head, it's a mute point at this stage in the game. All we do know is he gained financially from the exercise.

    The future of the party however, is in serious peril. With this dilemma comes the bigger concern and that being the affairs of the province. Marshall wants out at the earliest opportunity and quite frankly, I think he's had enough of the backroom antics that brought on this entire mess. As for the who's next , well Steve Kent is delusionary and Ottenheimer is probably looking to top up his pension. While I'm sure the PCs will hold off calling an election for as long as they possible can, it is unfortunate that it cannot be forced upon them sooner in order to provide better leadership and to grapple with significant matters such as Nalcor.

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    1. Marshall was part of many of the so-called "backroom antics" and for some unknown reason gets a free ride from many in the media.

      Marshall was one of the chief proponents of MF and was one of King Danny's henchmen. As UG noted on an earlier post he has much to answer for on the HVP fiasco. Does anyone really believe that the Minister McGrath acted independent of the premier's office (Marshall)?

      Marshall gets no free pass from me.

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    2. My choice of words in reference to Marshall was incorrect and doesn't correctly reflect my views relative to Marshall. I too believe he's in this up to his neck, but I also think he's desperately trying to run away from the mess that he helped create under the guidance of King Danny.

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  11. This fiasco grows worse by the day…with the media totally asleep with respect to the fundamental damage to the province's affairs. The need for oversight of Muskrat Falls and other debacles was never greater…. while they are simply preoccupied with who Danny Williams will "anoint" this time around. Mr. Williams can deny it "til the cows come home" but the evidence is there and he knows it. Never in our history has there been a better time for a former Premier to "shut up" and butt out. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Williams but his meddling in the affairs of the PC administration did not end when he stepped aside…and they have continued to pursue his half-baked scheme to develop Muskrat Falls…to the eternal detriment of the province's economy. It appears that he and he corporate cronies confused their interests with the interests of the people.

    In my opinion, this is a government in crisis, due to the shenanigans of internal and back room wheeling and dealing. Now is not the time for these individuals and the Tory Party to ignore the interests of the province for nefarious purposes…but that is precisely what is going on. We do need a mechanism whereby such governments can be brought to heel but it is clear that they have ensured themselves to any voices of reason and fail to understand the dangerous path they are taking us on. Therein lies the scary part of it for me. We are the lemmings being led over the cliff…and most of our populace continue to slumber.

    Despite my apprehensions about a Liberal government doing what is right for the people, it is painfully obvious that the current administration considers this province to be their personal fiefdom and…for that reason alone…they need to go…the sooner the better. But, it is also obvious that the present administration will twist and distort the process to suit their own purposes…possibly for up to 2 years more yet. That will give them sufficient time to get Muskrat Falls along to the point where it will be argued that it can't be cancelled….and that, in my opinion, is the end game.

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