Alas, poor Percy. I knew him, Horatio. A man of infinite….well, bullshit it felt like most of the time. But I did cover him for the three years I was in Clarenville with The Packet. Others have covered or dealt with him for longer periods of time than I and know him better. But let’s just say that when the Auditor General outed him the other day, my first reaction was not to collapse to floor in shock.
(For those not in the know, Percy Barrett is a former Liberal cabinet minister, now in Opposition, from the district of Bellevue in Newfoundland. He's also been accused of claiming more than $100,000 in his constituency allowance than he was legally entitled to over a period of about five years)
I don’t know, maybe it’s something about Bellevue. I liked the area. It’s very scenic and the people were mostly friendly (except Southern Harbour, which was always a weird place to visit) whenever it emerges from the fog. But I doubt there are many people around Arnold’s Cove or Sunnyside going “Not Percy! Jesus, we never saw that one coming” today.
The scary thing is, if Percy runs in the next election, I honestly think he might get elected. It’s not so much his brilliance as a MHA, but more to do with the fact that Bellevue is one of those last, lingering districts where the quality of the candidate or which party has the best chance of forming the government.
“Bellevue would vote for a dog if it wore a Liberal button” a wise friend once told me.
Percy is denying any wrong doing, of course. And he may be right. It’s the one thing about these allegations that is almost making me feel sorry for those involved. They’ve be hung out to dry for months and months with everyone basically believing they cheated taxpayers out of more than a million dollars and the only defence they can offer, because I think they’ve all lawyered up, is “I didn’t do it.” It is a touch unfair.
Having said that, I am pissed off with Ed Byrne. I’ve said before I don’t like by-elections. Most of them are held for what I consider to be unnecessary reasons. Such as running in a federal election or wanting to spend more time with the family. Whatever. You were elected, tough it out.
I’m sorry it’s hard for Ed. He’s been hit the hardest in this scandal and maybe it’s unfair. But he’s not been found guilty of anything yet. Plus, the next provincial election is less than a year away. I know why he’s quitting now – to try and give the party a chance to win the seat in a by-election rather than have to deal with it during the provincial election. Still, it’s a waste of taxpayers money on ego and political strategy.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A by-election costs around $75,000. Unless it’s for death or a medical emergency, then the party abdicating the seat ought to pay for a portion of the costs. It’s too bad that Ed can’t tough it out. That doesn’t mean we should have spend unnecessary money on a politician. Again.