Monday, 29 December 2014

THE POPE AND PAUL DAVIS

2014 could be rightly named the year of missed opportunity.  It didn’t begin with Paul Davis at the helm, but it ends that way. Already hindsight confirms that, in contrast to Pope Francis who will never have to face re-election, Davis’ failure was pre-ordained.

Almost at the start, Premier Dunderdale vacated her post amidst appalling insensitivity to widespread public endangerment and economic disruption.  Nalcor had visited upon the Island the vicissitudes of DARKNL. Her “not a crisis” comment was just the latest in a series of gaffes exhibiting an incapacity for empathy. A frustrated public had reached their breaking point.

Temporary first minister, Tom Marshall, took no opportunity to right what had become a ship-wrecked administration. While opinion polls awarded him barely higher marks than his predecessor, the local media did its best to award him an undeserved pedestal. The man of great girth warranted little stature.


His defense of Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath, in the HVP affair, weighed heavy on the corruption scale; even the worst skeet found the ‘favour’ unacceptable, in a place where integrity is claimed. 

Then there is the “Oversight” Committee on Muskrat Falls which is less a farce than a fraud. And why was the incompetence associated with CETA left for his successor to disclose?

Marshall, having sought the advice and received the disapproval of the Justices of the Supreme Court, named the Corner Brook Courthouse after Danny Williams, anyway; affirming the status of both puppeteer and puppet.  

Fortunately, the ‘stop-gap’ Premier will not get to occupy the neurons even of the feeble-minded for long. If history can devolve any space to long term memory, that nexus was claimed even before Tom Marshall had completed his farewell tour of Too Good Arm.

You can spend an eternity tending the meat counter of a Coleman’s grocery and not get noticed.  But, in politics, ‘boring as a eulogy at Fillatres’ might still win you a spot on history’s hard drive. Frank Coleman earned that distinction. He must surely be the best paid fellow in the world for a job he didn’t take.

Reflections on the departure of Williams, Dunderdale, Marshall and Coleman have raised questions as to why proffered leadership talents were so paltry. Those issues require a book, not a page.

Discordant Tories re-grouped under ‘Davis and the Leftovers’ and found themselves unable to win new band members. Judy Manning was vilified for her petite heft among inauspicious company. 

Davis could barely take solace that the Pope had assessed his own shop and confirmed the secular Davis Cabinet represents as much political baggage as a curate of Cardinals at the Vatican.

While the Constable Premier failed to comprehend the depth of the pain inflicted by his predecessors or even grasp the implications of the doctrinal departure of the Danny era, especially in the fiscal arena (Vatican Bank scandals notwithstanding), the interloper from Argentina displayed a truly envious political skill-set. 

It is immaterial if we fail as adherents to scripture or whether we embrace the Pope’s reform theology; it is sufficient to acknowledge his adroit employment of the political art and craft. Rightfully, it might be thought by the less skilful, such sophistication ought to be denied one already boasting a supernatural connection.

Yet, there he was, echoing the sentiments of his flock, taking the gloves off to the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy; demanding the very stuff this Blog had urged of Paul Davis.

The Pope said it “was suffering from 15 "ailments" which he wanted cured in the New Year”; no small feat for an institution that has banned the word ‘change’ for two millennia.

The Pope compared the Curia to that of an orchestra playing “out of tune" because they fail to collaborate and have no team spirit.  Said the Pope, the ailments include “Spiritual Alzheimer's”, “existential schizophrenia”, and the belief they are “feeling immortal or immune”. Locally, those same maladies resonate like the sound of pop caps on an Ugly Stick.

The Pope is mindful that his constituency has been vacating pews for decades; though, in percentage terms, at a rate far less than that which local Tories have deserted the P.C. Party.  The Church’s doctrinal backwardness is likely not the cause of the Pope’s concern as much as it is parishioners’ discovery that even theocracies contain elements of participatory democracy; people can and do vote with their feet. 

Here at home, Davis ought to have reminded his own inept and arrogant ministry their window of political immunity was narrowing and the opportunity for re-connection thin. After all, wasn’t the adage ‘where there is life, there is hope’ coined just for him?

The problem is: opportunity is limited when enlightenment clings to a Premier on training wheels.

At the Vatican, a savvy Pope evidently decided enough is enough; he knows he was dealt a difficult hand; one which only enduring honesty, genuine contrition and decisive leadership can hope to repair. The Pope maybe of his Curie; but he is not like them. Unfortunately, Paul Davis can make no such claim.

We will suffer Paul Davis a little longer; his nominal biblical connection evoking no public anticipation of a Damascene moment.

We will endure Ed Martin and Gilbert Bennett for another while, too, despite the Liberty Report and the PUB’s portrayal of Nalcor’s endemic incompetence. Such forbearance has nothing to do with any collective resignation; rather the public has prepared well in anticipation of more nights under DARKNL. An armada of power generators has been witnessed coming out of every hardware store with an urgency reserved for Black Friday. Nalcor can be counted on to confirm they are a good deal.

2015 will arrive inexorably. Then, we will want Davis and his Cabinet gone, all of them, Ed Martin and Gilbert Bennett, too. There is only so much “existential schizophrenia” any one mind or one body politic can endure.

There is no guarantee Dwight Ball does not suffer “Alzheimer’s”, as does the Vatican Curie, even if NL’s issues are more temporal. It will fall to Ball to inaugurate a reformation of biblical proportions. 

2015 will be truly an ‘interesting’ year. Hopefully, that is the only Chinese curse with which we are visited.

Happy New Year. 

4 comments:

  1. I'll lay the political crisis aside, and ignore the catastrophic cost on the taxpayer that Muskrat represents as being next year's problem. Right now the question is what we will have to do to survive 2015. Let's recap:

    The budget deficit on a "nonsense as usual" basis, has got to be creeping toward 2 billion.

    1. Delays in Hebron and shelving the approach to White Rose expansion means a significant cut to the highly paid construction workers who've lifted personal income tax to almost one billion.
    2. Oil isn't coming back soon but it will eventually 2015 will reach serious price lows as spring starts.
    3. Iron ore is back to its long term price level and that's where it's staying. There is no new development or revival for Wabush coming. Period. PS. there's 150 spare megawatts of power up there with no user.
    4. Health Care as job creation is costing us 30% of the 3.5 billion we spend annually. No one has the political courage to shut down the "hospital" buildings in Stephenville, Gander, Carbonear etc. that drain away health care dollars. the 800 million for a real hospital on the west coast is not available until we come to grips with this issue.
    5. The bond rating agencies will not buy any scheme that doesn't address the revenue and cost side. We probably can't borrow for a 2 billion shortfall given we don't have a plan.

    the result is a sham budget tossed on the table and a snap election in late march or early april. Dwight Ball will be forced to address the sheer incompetence of the Williams legacy, as he has thrown away the money so hard earned by Peckford, Wells and even, god help us Tobin.

    Can this be done? Yes, but we have to stop impeding developments here by constantly tinkering with offshore issues, shut down unused hospitals and focus on health care and long term care, stop the burn on Muskrat and hope, pray and hope some more that oil doesn't simply crash

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  2. I too have purchased a generator. I chose a Costco 3000w (4000w peak) for 899.00. They ship from the mainland warehouse to your door. One can buy a 6 or 7 kw for a couple of hundred less, or another standard 3kw for half the price I paid. The difference is the amount of fuel it uses. The others will use a hundred dollars or more a day. Mine has an inverter built in, it allows the unit to run at one quarter capacity at low loads and get up to 8 hours on 2 gallons of gas. In a serious outage, gas can be hard to get as many stations do not have backup generators to run their pumps, Even Nfld Power ran out of fuel for their gas turbine last January. This is `third world country` conditions , every man for himself. Does Nalcor have a site advising the most efficient household generators.....gosh, what a stupid question.
    Also I have a switch over panel, about 180 dollars from Home depot. It is connected to a 40 amp circuit in the main panel, and a 30 amp from the generator. Six of the main house circuits are connected, mostly lighting, fridge and water pump, the essential ones. All of these are 115v, no 220 v. I have one 5 gallon of gas on hand, and will likely get another, and hope gas is available during a power outage. The change over panel needs to be manually switched, one click. Thank you Nalcor, I would have never needed to to this without you. I expect many will have generators and cause fires. Fortunately I know the fundamentals, having worked at this.

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  3. It was 11:35 pm on December 30th. Nursing a painful pinched nerve in my back, I strategically placed my electric heating pad on my sore left side and was cuddled in a snuggly on my lazy boy waiting for the meds to kick in. My attempt to bore myself to sleep involved flipping channels on the television. Suddenly I found myself in the dark; the silent dark. My placid geriatric dog sounded a quiet "woof" from across the blackened room. Grabbing my walker I stumbled over to the living room window - a vista of all things Portugal Cove, the ferry, and the battery of wind attacking us from Bell Island. All was in darkness. Only the tail lights of a few slow moving cars gingerly maneuvered Beachy Cove Road. Without street lights that sharp turn near Trinity Church could lead them right over the cliff into the ocean. It was happening again. All over again. Having lost power seven times between January 3rd and mid-March this year (all documented in my submission to the PUB) I was more prepared than a Girl Guide heading for a camp challenge. My battery operated lantern is easier to find than my car keys. And my crank radio was quickly cranked and tuned into VOCM - the only media still working at that hour. The wind whipping this hill had me reaching for my winter parka as the house cooled far too quickly. I grabbed lamp, radio, and an extra blanket as the dog followed me pushing the walker down the dark hall for a soon remembered night of shivering under the covers. I could not turn off the lamp. I hung on every sound VOCM broadcast - waiting for the PR announcement from NALCOR. Instead I got a half-hour of country Christmas tunes. When I heard "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy, my pain and cold turned to rage as I envisioned Ed Martin's stone face on the blank screen of the bedroom television. While I was huddled in my humble bungalow Martin was likely enjoying a scotch in the mansion he affords with the $565,000 (according to a 2010 CBC story) he accepts from the public treasury. I used my one land line to phone a friend in St. John's who was quite comfortable in her neighbourhood - surrounded by empty office buildings all lit up. She offered to come and get me as I am too lame to drive. We finally agreed to wait and see. Sure enough, about 30-minutes after fumbling around in the dark, the power returned - just in time for me to discover that my toilet seat had not been put down since the daily cleaning. My little lantern would have missed that catastrophe for sure. As the house warmed up, so did my temper. I took to twitter with a temper that I could not rein in. For the first time in several decades of writing for a living, I did not hold back. I edited nothing. Having delivered an invisible blow that Martin will likely never read, I went back to bed. And waited. These blackouts never happen once. They return like bad seeds on an ill wind. Sleep in your parka. Keep the spare batteries in the bedside drawer. This morning's news quoted Hydro's Vice President Henderson as saying it was all: ".... a minor problem with the auxiliary steam system. Hydro officials say the outage didn't happen until 11:30 last night and ..." "... the generator tripped, but even with the #3 generator down there was still enough power being generated to supply all customers. Crews made the necessary repairs to the generator and had it working again by 3 a.m. this morning." So why did 17-thousand customers spend a dark night in the freezing cold if "there was still enough power being generated to supply all customers."?? These paltry words do not inspire confidence in speakers who continually contradict themselves. Our vulnerability is now ingrained. I would not trust these engineers to organize a one-man rush to an out house. Get ready, folks. These idiots have a $9-billion budget for Muskrat Falls, but they can't keep little Holyrood running. DarkNL is back for another winter.
    Cathy White (alias McCadden)

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  4. Great article and well written. 2015 will be interesting in many ways, in particular as it relates to the current conservative government. Their failure to win either of the bi-elections, even in districts they considered a stronghold is a sign of what will be for Paul Davis and his merry band. I for one hope Dwight Ball will take a firm position on many of the troubling issues that face the province. His steady as she goes approach to date has served him well, however, that being said, the conservative party's failings which you so aptly captured, have made his life an easy one as leader of the opposition. This is not to take away from any hard work on his part or anyone of his caucus, but taking over the current fiscal fiasco left by this government will be a daunting task.

    And finally, I too hope the current administration for Nalcor are brought to task and that we the taxpayers get an opportunity to see the full story behind Muskrat Falls, even if it means closing down the project or salvaging some aspect of the operation where is is feasible.

    Happy New Year to you and I look forward to reading the many interesting articles that I am sure you will delight us with given that there will be no shortage of opportunities and interesting topics.

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