No sooner do I bemoan anything interesting happening in the federal election than two things pop up on the radar that have caught my eye. Granted, both of them are happening in Newfoundland and not at a national level, but still, it's a start.
First there was the news that Ryan Cleary is trying to land the NDP nomination in St. John's South/Mount Pearl. That alone would have bought me some amusement. Until recently, Cleary was editor of The Independent, an interesting, but flawed weekly in St. John's. It folded and I guess Ryan was looking for something to do, so he figured why not federal politics.
It would have been intriguing to follow for any number of reasons. First, Cleary has spent many, many hours ranting against how unfairly Canada has treated Newfoundland with more than a hint of a suggestion that Newfoundland would be better off on its own. Now, I have special contempt in my heart for Newfoundland nationalists, who I consider the most delusional and stupid breed of creatures inhabiting the Newfoundland political landscape. So watching Cleary trying to say nice things about Canada in an election campaign would have been amusing.
The more cynical might believe that Cleary is running in the hopes that Premier Danny Williams might throw his support behind him. For those outside the province who read the blog and are baffled by Newfoundland politics, well, join the club. The premier has entertained the genius notion of creating the ABC campaign - Anybody But Conservatives. Yes, the premier is a conservative, but that's a small matter. Williams is upset because Harper took the unprecedented historical move of lying to a premier.
Instead of growing up and getting on with it, or guilting the prime minister for this move, Williams launched his own little jihad from his home base. He is hoping to not only convince all Newfoundlanders, but a chunk of Canadians that they should listen to a Newfoundland premier and not vote for Harper. Because, after all, who knows better about the political concerns of Ontarians, for example, than a Newfoundland premier.
If Dalton McGuinty pulled the same stunt, most Newfoundlanders would feel insulted. But never underestimate my countrymen's ability for self-delusion. Playing politics has always been an artform in Newfoundland; Williams is now the Picasso of it. You're so blinded by the supposed brilliance of the work that you fail to notice it really doesn't make any kind of sense.
Anyway, Cleary. Who was also going to be amusing on one final level because local reporters, for the most part, loathe him. He at least partially built The Independent by taking shots, often cheap ones, at his competitors in the local media. Cleary has always had a healthy ego and chip on his shoulders. I realized that quickly enough when I worked with him briefly back in '95. But if this is any indication, he's going to be in for a rough ride. Consider that the warning shot.
But the absolute best news is that my former colleague and still very good friend Craig Westcott has decided to run for the Conservatives in St. John's East.
Now, under ordinary circumstances, I'm not the biggest fan of the Conservative Party in the world and over the years I have many reasons for coming to that conclusion. Hell, I have many reasons this election to be distrustful of the party. But Westcott running for them....this is genius. It's madness as well, you understand, but it's also genius. There's always been a fine line between the two and this dances right on the edge. But if you have to elect a Newfoundlander who absolutely will not be bullied or cowered, which so often seems to happen, then I can't think of a better person.
Craig could die and go to hell, meet the devil and tell him to go fuck himself. He's as close to fearless as I've met in a reporter and person. I've no doubt - none - that he would make a fantastic MP. He would also likely inject some much needed colour from the Newfoundland caucus, something that has been missing for years. My regret is that I can't vote for him. But I will send him a cheque and nag family and friends to vote for him.
However, it makes St. John's North that much more interesting. It's one of the most deeply conservative ridings in Atlantic Canada, which would seem to favour Westcott. But Williams hates Westcott for the many critical stories he's written about the premier over the years. Deeply and seriously. Plus, Williams good friend Jack Harris is likely going to run for the NDP in the riding.
See, all I need was some good drama to go along with my politics. It helps it go down easier. Now, I wonder if anything interesting will happen in Nunavut in the election?
1. Battle of who could care less - Ben Folds Five
2. Come calling - The Cowboy Junkies
3. Fix me now - Garbage
4. Snowy night - Figgy Duff
5. Save the population - Red Hot Chilli Peppers