Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Horror show

Well folks, there are ass-kickings and then there are ass-kickings. And this is obviously one of the more impressive ones in Newfoundland history. Even the limited success I had forecasted for the opposition parties proved to be generous. I said it would be 40 PCs, 5 Liberals and 2 NDP. Instead we get 43 PCs, 3 Liberals and 1 NDP. And let's be honest, once they hold the special by-election out in central in November, the Tories will have 44 seats. Because if you're voting in a few weeks time, are you going to vote for a decimated opposition or the people who just did the decimating?

Yeah, that's pretty much a no-brainer.

This was pretty much a horror show to watch all evening. It wasn't just the low voter turnout. It wasn't just the fact there were precious few close races. Most of the Tory victors won by not just comfortable margins, but humiliating ones. There were times this evening where I wanted to just walk around the province with a gun and put Liberal candidates out of their misery. It was just the humane thing to do.

No, there's kind of something sad about watching democracy in the province be absolutely dead in Newfoundland and Labrador for the next four years. Oh sure, the arguments are there - democracy just happened. The majority of people in the province went out and voted and nearly 70 per cent of them choose Danny Williams party. That's democracy. The results might not always be pretty or smart, but they are what they are.

And it's hard to blame most people for voting the way they did. The NDP were only competitive in three seats. The Liberals were resorting to throwing warm bodies into some districts just to have a name on the ballot.

Still, there are four opposition members. The NDP may or may not keep their party status. I hope they do, just so they can keep some of their resources and give the opposition a bit of a hope in hell of doing their job. But the people of the province essentially just gave the Tories, and more specifically Danny Williams, free reign of the province. It should be interesting to see what he does with it.

Dear god, the next four years are going to be deeply weird.

By the way, while I appreciate Gerry Reid is deeply hurting this evening, having lost by only a handful of votes and having watch Williams slaughter the party he led like fattened cattle, he'll be glad for it in a few days. Once the pain eases a bit, he'll realize the pain of this evening will be much easier to bear rather than the pain of sitting in the House of Assembly for the next four years with Williams sitting across from him, smug and taunting (the premier is many things. A gracious winner is one of those things he's still working on).

It's roughly the difference between ripping off a band aid and fighting cancer for the next four years. Trust me, Reid will gladly take the band aid in a few days.

sigh...It's a good night to be a Tory. But I wonder if we won't all regret this evening, like a bad one night stand where you get herpes, in a few years time. I don't begrudge the win. But the scope of it is ridiculous. Nothing good can come form an opposition this small.


Jackie S said...

Allow me to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, not too long ago... there was a little island by the name of PEI, that liked to elect Conservative provincial reps.

So much so that one year, every single body in the provincial legislature wore blue.

Except for one. A one, Ronny MacKinley.

And he had to carry the opposition on his back (luckily he was not exactly a slight fellow).

Eventually it got to be too much, and Ronny threw a chair in the legislature. It was sad.

The end

Ron said...

Hey Craig:

You're obviously too young to recall the heady days in the early 80's when Brian Peckford walked over the Liberal Party I don't recall the numbers but they were on a similar scale to what occured last night. Is this good or bad? Hard to say. Williams is a consumate negotiator in a period when the Federal Government is weak. I wouldn't be pessimistic in that regard and he is having more success than Peckford did playing the scrapper in the school yard.

Administratively Williams also doesn't have the egregious economic management skills of the former Wells regime whose hatred of the public service and ignorance of basic economic fundamentals drove the province deeper into the ground. Altho I must say that Williams does share some of that quintessential Wells arroagnce which does not make him an attractive personality in my books. At least when he became party leader in 2000 I remember asking caucus members if he was "playing nicely" with the other MHAs and was given an affirmative answer. I could have been getting a "caucus solidarity" answer but this was from someone with a pretty good reputation for rational honest responses to difficult questions.

Strong leaders are rarely "nice people" to paraphrase Lord Acton. Having met lots of nice people working in the Public Service and Libraries I'd vote for a strong leader anyday, as nice to my mind seems to often be a code for being unwilling to make difficult decisions. Robert Bond was quite bitterly described as a "man who would brook no opposition" in his caucus by a member of Edward Morris' cabal shortly before the First War.

The only things I have noticed so far which give me pause is that despite the money flowing into the province there don't seem to be alot of new legislative initiatives going on (unless you count the provincial logo - blech!). One of the trade marks of previous PC regimes was their attempts to set up administrative structures in gov't, Frank Moores set up the Public Service Commission and the Tendering Act. Peckford set up the Women's Policy Office and initiated the rural development programs. I stand to be corrected but I haven't seen similar initiatives in Williams regime. Even Wells started the whole strategic planning program in the prov gov't.

Over the next four years what will happen? Williams will continue to stomp around looking for Federal controversy to build his reputation on. If the next Fed gov't gets a majority they wikll do the same thing to Williams they did to Peckford. They will ignore him and rely on time and local political forces to wear Williams down. He simply can't maintain this level of popularity and as his numbers ebb local controversies will arise which will sap his and the PCs political will. If he has any sense he will retire at the end of this term and let someone else take over. Of course I always like Ray Guy's line on these things which is that we keep our leaders in office until we have driven them insane.

In the meantime little will change for rural Newfoundland which is an economic basket case and has been for the past 120 years. Fixing that broken egg is going to take a complete reorganization of the fishery at the International, Federal, Provincial and local levels.

WJM said...

Allow me to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, not too long ago... there was a little island and Labrador by the name of Newfoundland and Labrador, that liked to elect Liberal provincial reps.

So much so that one year, every single body in the provincial legislature wore red.

Except for three. They wore blue.

And during the life of this legislature, the Come-by-Chance oil refinery and Churchill Falls deals were inked.

The end

WJM said...

ignorance of basic economic fundamentals

Would that be kinda like the current office-holder who has spouted some nonsense about how every public-sector job creates 3 or 4 spinoff jobs?

Ron said...

Interesting quote can you find an attribution for it?

Anonymous said...

You want to know what would constitute an even worse horror show? John Efford leading the Provincial Liberals.

I would like to make an appeal, or even beg that Efford not get the nod to lead the provincial Liberals. The Liberal party needs fresh faces, new blood and new ideas.

John, give it up man, sail around on your boat, catch a few cod (legally of course) or even try your hand at a music career, but for all our sakes stay the hell out of provincial politics.

towniebastard said...

For the record, I agree. Efford coming back would be terrible. His days of being respected in the province are gone. Federal politics did that to him.

And yes, fresh young blood is what the vampires, I mean, the Liberals, need. But it's not going to happen. No one wants to step into the breach while Danny is there. Barring some total meltdown, the Liberals will not win a provincial election until 2015.