Monday, 5 November 2018


“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”

                                      – Vince Lombardi

The message from the hall-of-fame coach to his Green Bay Packers was unmistakable: equanimity should never be perceived as resignation or acceptance even when a loss is beyond your control. Lombardi might have added, for certainty as much as a warning: there’ll be a next time.
Dwight Ball is no Vince Lombardi. The weakling Premier, oblivious to the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, has confirmed — again — that he does not have the stuff of leadership.
What did he say when the Supreme Court of Canada gave its 7-1 decision last Friday on reopening the Upper Churchill Contract? “The past is the past for us. The decision is the decision,” Ball told the media in a tone of resignation. He added: “It will not interfere with the working relationship we have with Quebec.”

When a kick in the balls for the first player giving the opposing team a compliment would have constituted Vince Lombardi’s sole command, for our leader the ink isn’t dry on the SCOC decision before he is playing supplicant to Quebec. 
Dwight is fond of turning his cheek a little too much!
Premier Dwight Ball Photo Credit: CBC
If the SCOC — less the Justice from NL— doesn’t understand the sordid history of Quebec’s connivance during the BRINCO negotiations, when Hydro Quebec lured the company to the brink of bankruptcy with assurances of a deal before blackmailing it into putting another 25 years on top of the 40 already agreed to — the price of continued solvency — it is the Premier’s job to remind those Justices, the media and the Canadian public of the facts of history. 
A more thoughtful Premier might have commented that the decision deepens our sense of grievance, that it is another hard day for NL in Confederation.

Instead, the Premier was heard saying: “… we also know that 2041 is coming,” the CBC reported. Evidently, he forgets that’s 23 years away!
NL will always have business to conduct with Quebec. But saying ‘let bygones be bygones’ is neither a sensible nor realistic response to an inequity that had been repeatedly compounded by the Superior Court of Quebec. That Court can be counted upon to give Hydro-Quebec — and the Quebecois political leadership — legal cover for their connivance and their disregard of certain fundamental principles of Confederation. 
While the untenable position in which we find ourselves was no excuse for Williams to act with the knee-jerk response of the narrow-minded — screwing ourselves via Muskrat in order to screw Quebec — real leadership, the kind that is smart, contemplative and resourceful (even Machiavellian) will send a strong message to an adversary that the settling of scores is unfinished business.
Ball’s response is akin to Dunderdale’s during DarkNL: ‘I have my fireplace. I’m doing fine. Why aren’t you?’

As one might expect, Hydro-Quebec’s solicitor reacted to the SCOC decision with a statement the equivalent of ‘everything is great’. “… The two sides can now embark on a new era of collaboration,” said Cendrix Bouchard. A far more truthful comment came from the CFLco solicitor, Doug Mitchell, who suggested that the Contract “was a wound on Confederation.”

Ball, on the other hand, could not even publicly opine that the Upper Churchill Contract, if legal, was unfair or that the SCOC had failed to drain the swamp of entitlement around which it and Ottawa tiptoes in matters dealing with La Belle Province. Instead, our Aw Shucks Premier is happy that he gets to carry on.

Opposition Leader, Ches Crosbie, inserted himself following the Supreme Court’s release not to bolster the flagging courage of a public poisoned with shallow politicians and bleak economic prospects but to invoke notions of leverage that never ever existed. The very idea that NL could have negotiated a deal with Quebec in return for dropping the case is about as silly as expecting the SCOC to overturn the Quebec Superior Court’s Decision in the Renewal case now winding its way to the higher Court. Crosbie forgot to note that all Quebec ever offered was talk.

Indeed, Crosbie ought to admit that NL’s best defense against reckless Premiers and big egos is an institutional framework that stops them from engaging in tomfoolery, and a public too willing to give them unfettered licence. Given the behaviours of Williams and Dunderdale he should know where to begin.
Of course, Crosbie is not the Premier now and his suitability, while far from reassuring, is still on test.  The immediate worry is Dwight Ball and his inability inspire public confidence and to confirm that he is fit for work.
Please, someone — anyone — tell me that this Premier is not sitting in some backroom negotiating with Hydro-Quebec! 
In this Province stupidity, it seems, is punished only when we are freezing in the dark.