Both Kennedy and King want to be Premier. King is not a lawyer and he is at a decided disadvantage in assessing the impact of Kennedy’s cutbacks to legal, administrative and other processes of our legal system. On the other hand, it is tough to find a Cabinet post that enjoys as much unwarranted prestige given that legal ‘professionals’ run the show. It is a great place for an ambitious politician to hang out in the “reeds” and to build stature while other Ministers deal with ceaseless demands and frequent public lashings.
Kennedy, not content to see King get a free ride, had him set up for a hard landing. But, Kennedy overplayed his hand. The cuts were too deep. Even partisans could see that.The public outcry was not only swift; it came from all parts of the legal system.
The political threat to Minister King from Kennedy’s gambit was explained on this Blog in the Queen’s English. Likely, Mr. King took a moment to “Log On”. The tremors, caused when he hit the ceiling, could be felt all the way to Cape Chidley.
Now, we have a Committee to review the decision. This is interesting for a couple of reasons.First, it was not established under the auspices of the Minister of Justice. No. Jerome Kennedy was having none of that. King was forced to run off to the Premier who might have cared less about Kennedy’s ruse except she was not blind to the backlash that had washed over the Government vis Open Line Shows, and other news slots, featuring myriad legal spokes people. We were even reminded of the name, Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer.
While King was the sole defender of the cuts on Thursday; by Friday, it was the Premier who had “directed that a committee be struck to hear those concerns firsthand and work together toward maintaining a justice system…”. Not about to offend her most loyal Minister (even if he is not terribly astute), the Premier stacked the Committee with Kennedy, Tom Marshall, the Attorney General and a small group of pivotal public servants and one “outsider”. Lawyer, Bob Simmonds, was a safe choice, though he spoke publicly against the cuts; as an old Williams’ Tory loyalist, he can be trusted not to get too ebullient (that’s just a single word to suggest he won’t get too carried away). Don’t expect any Report that places blame or is unkind. The fix will simply get made next week and that will be the end of the matter.
Note, too, that the Judges were left off the Committee. The Government’s Press Release stated, “Due to the principle of judicial independence, the judiciary is unable to participate directly in the work of the committee. However, Minister King will seek and welcome the views of the Chief Justices and Chief Judge for the province”.What nonsense. Who better to assess the needs of the judicial system than the men and women who spent years in private practice, or as Prosecutors, and possess the experience of dealing with all the people for whom that very system is constructed. This issue is about legal processes, the administration of justice; not about specific cases. Likely, they just recused (excused) themselves, not wanting to wind up in the middle of a political fire storm.
And what of Justice Minister Darin King? Now, that he has been plucked from the “reeds”, we will soon see if he carries any weight with the Premier and if he is able to stickhandle through the crises.Kennedy’s lack of judgement and finesse is further evidence of his unsuitability for senior roles. But, then, on whom is the Premier to rely? While we know that any talent King might have is wasted in Justice, at least, we know, now, he is awake.
King did note on the Friday news that the Premier will be making any final decisions on the Justice cutbacks. Good job, Darin! You are, indeed, out of your slumber. Let someone else take the hit, even if it is the Premier.
Teflon is another great tool in the art of politics.