Sunday, 29 November 2015


I have always found voting day invigorating, reassuring, and a source of pride.

There is something unmistakably dignified about civil society exercising its right of self-determination, bringing change to democratic government. It is impossible not to think how lucky we are the process is conducted peacefully and within the rules of a constitution which receives almost unanimity.  

Yet, it has been a long four years. Public exasperation with recent Administrations is palpable.

Poll results, social media, and radio talk shows seem to confirm that the Tories have rubbed raw every fiber that constitutes our collective patience.

Likely, that is why evidence exists of a persistent and unveiled determination to put an incompetent regime out of its misery, and out of our sight. This time ‘round even those who are normally careful to reveal their voting intentions don't bother.

No one, not even the partisans, should take delight we are in this spot. A nascent prosperity has been squandered to be sure. 

But even worse, abuse of the processes of government have persisted without triggering recognizable condemnation or public protest. 

As a society, we have been far too demure. The acrimony of the last four years reflects poorly on us all.

The failures of this government extend well beyond the Dunderdale, Marshall, and Davis Administrations; though they must endure the largest share of the blame.

Issues of transparency, over spending, deficit spending, Muskrat Falls, the erosion of institutions like the PUB, and the professional public service have reached critical levels of concern, even if their worst effects are not readily felt.  

The vulnerability of “This Marvellous Terrible Place” has eluded our business, social, and academic elites, as well as mainstream media for much of those four years. The Official Opposition, composed of many who will form the next government, have been negligent. They chose to let the government fall on its own sword rather than parse deficits, budget bills, or Muskrat follies that might challenge them, their values, and their election prospects.

We would all feel relieved if a government of failed policy is replaced with one promising meaningful renewal.

Given what was on offer, none of the campaigns could justify such hope based upon their platforms, whether applying text, sub-text, or context. The very most we can say is that this election, at least metaphorically, was over long before it began.

There are those who say the public “just” wants change. I believe the statement lacks respect; it is ignorant of human behaviour and of the motivations that drive us to action, especially why and how we vote. I suggest the public never engages in “just” anything. 

Indeed, if there is any one lesson I have learned from many years involved in elections, no act is more self-serving than the casting of a ballot. Most people regard their vote a profoundly personal asset, one given as an act of faith; the decision having been judiciously taken.

The public does not throw out a government it believes to be doing a good job, in search of some undefined notion of change. But they will throw out bunglers, and others whom they perceive as a threat to their self-interest.

It is a moot point, perhaps, but this election is not solely a judgment on Premier Davis’ stewardship.

Much of the political damage inflicted on the Tories, as a political party, occurred long before Paul Davis arrived. Still, he was given a chance to remedy the failings of Premier Dunderdale; she not having understood the corrosive culture of governance that was her predecessor, Danny Williams’ trademark.

Davis was simply not up to the challenge.

It wasn’t just his missteps at the outset. I think we could have gotten over the appointment of Judy Manning and his predilection for matters related to law enforcement. The one exception was his mishandling of the Don Dunphy case, considering its relationship with his Office.  

He ought to have been disturbed, too, by Dunderdale’s abuse of power in the House of Assembly, her disdain for detractors, and even for the public’s right to know and he ought to have said as much. 

His willingness to parrot Nalcor propaganda, continue the government’s deference to CEO Ed Martin, and to persist in giving fake oversight of the Muskrat Falls project, robbed him of any perception that he possessed the qualities of a leader.

He would not even challenge Tom Marshall’s handling of the Humber Valley Paving affair, which, put baldly, would have been a “good cop” thing to do.   

Davis, as Premier, was gifted with opportunity. Rather than attempt remedy, he chose to compound the worst decisions of his predecessors.

“Four years of amateur hour” seems an apt characterization of the government that was.
Now, having examined the alternatives, the voters will make their judgement official. 

There is risk they will choose another amateur.

Only time will tell if we will have a new beginning or just more of the same.


  1. Great summary! With all the oil revenue we have taken in, this government should have been in solid position to reflect on a long list of accomplishments, but that is not the case. The money is gone and the provincial deficit is a major concern. We struggle to think of how we might address funding for health care and yet Mr. Davis is awarding funding for swimming pools and a fish hatchery that hasn't even been properly assessed. To add insult to injury, he stated on VOCM that if elected he would make a full disclosure of Nalcor's handling of Muskrat Falls. This to me speaks volumes as to how poorly he has performed and his slogan of leadership you can trust, is an insult to your intelligence.

  2. No matter how long we say we need to do things better, history always has a way of repeating itself.

    The PC Party will be ruined for generations. Power Bills which can not be afforded will be Danny's legacy.

  3. And beginning tomorrow we will need commentary like this more than ever and you can count on it but in the mean time bye, bye Paul Davis, it will surely be good to see your back and that of your party as well. Cheers.

  4. The Day of Reckoning is finally here!

  5. "No one, not even the partisans, should take delight we are in this spot. A nascent prosperity has been squandered to be sure." Hardly another word needs to be said.

    I would also argue that Mr. Williams has much to answer for as well. The growth of the public sector by some 10,000 on his watch combined with massive wage & benefit increases is his to wear.

    Now the tough times are upon us and the public sector, for some reason, is untouchable while layoffs are happening in the private sector.

    Keith R.

  6. Ahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.......some people should just Not become politicians unless they are truly concerned about the people who vote for them! Read into this what you may!