Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tunnel to Nowhere

There's still plenty of time left in this absolutely massive political cycle. There's nearly three weeks left in the federal election, more than a month in the territorial election and 40 whole wacky days left in the US presidential election. So I don't want to name the stupidest thing this cycle because, hey, there's lots of time left. Something stupider might actually come down the pipe.

I mean, today alone we had VP candidate Sarah Palin try to explain how being near an isolated part of Russia counts as foreign policy experience. If I'm the Democrats, I want her explaining that all day long. That's too much fun. There's no way it sounds any more intelligent or reasonable the more she explains it.

And hell, whatever John McCain is up to in Washington may well be the stupidest thing that we're likely to see in quite some time. But the jury is still out on that one.

But for right now, the winner for the stupidest things I've heard so far, goes to Canada. To which we can narrow it further to Newfoundland, and specifically Walter Noel, the Liberal candidate for St. John's East. Because with discussion happening in the United States about the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, maybe now is not the time to raise the idea of a Tunnel to Nowhere.

I'm sure the people of Bell Island would argue that they're nowhere, but a tunnel that would sure cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to an island with a population of 2,400, well, it might as well be nowhere. Hell, we can't get a tunnel built from Newfoundland to Labrador and that one almost kind of makes sense (Hey, how is that study going Danny?). This? This is the sign of a truly desperate man who just took a long walk off the edge of a wharf.

There was a time I liked Walter Noel. He's still the subject of one of my all-time favourite photos that I've taken, which would be this one.

Why do I like this photo so much? Because it was taken about a week before the 2003 provincial election. And while the other two candidates that I photographed for that riding profile flashed the big politician smile, this is what Walter gave honest, tired look of a man who knew he was well and truly fucked in that election. And he was. It's an honest look, which is why I like it so much.

However, that lost and the past five years have clearly eaten Noel's mind. A tunnel to Bell Island. Dear God. It's that stupid and crazy I almost wonder what the hell he's thinking.

Fortunately, there's no need to dwell on it too much. Noel has virtually no chance of winning that seat and there are two other far better candidates running in Craig Westcott and Jack Harris. Still, always a bit of a shame to see a half decent man clearly have lost it that badly.

Last Five
1. Clocks - Coldplay
2. I am talking to this flower - Camper Van Beethoven
3. Tonight tonight - Smashing Pumpkins
4. Past in present - Feist
5. Put your hands on me - Joss Stone


Greg said...

Nice photo. You nailed it.

fyodor said...

Good God ,we need a Highway across labrador and this guy wants to digg tunnels. Why doesn't he start with he one we need from Newfoundland to Labrador.Gee this guy sounds more like a Conservative to me.

Ron said...

Just remember that there is a long tradition of tunnel projects in Newfoundland politiccs going back to the 19th century. In the "old old days" There was a plan to dig a tunnel from quidi Vidi to the harbour to provide water/power for a flour mill. In the 40's there was a plan for a tunnel from downtown to the area near Bonaventure Cenmetary to cut down on traffic conjection. This latter one was relaunched in the late 80's except going from Long Pond to downtown again to cut down on traffic congestion. There was/is, as you mention the Belle Isle tunnel which Moores started in the 70's and Danny appears interested in finishing. There was also Kierans and his idea about hollowing out the southside hills as a bunker/business Park and in its last incarnation an Arena.

I actually liked the Rock Arena idea but there is a long tradition of tunnels in Newfoundland politics which raises the question of why? Is this some freudian thing in the Newfoundland psyche? Are Newfoundlanders aspiring mole people?

It probably is a signal that Noel has acheieved a state of poltical clarity which Newfoundland politicians aspire to after a certain period of time serving the public. All the contradictions, rules of order, conniving and constituency meetings combine into this one perfect moment of revelation. Or perhaps as Ray Guy put it "We like to drive them mad before we let them go".

KOTN said...

I like the photo because the depth of field is such that the candidate's sign is out of focus, but you can still tell who it is.

THat is a nice one.

towniebastard said...

Good lord, Ron, that was quite the acid flashback of tunnel digging. I'd forgotten about that tunnel they wanted to dig from downtown to deal with traffic. And I also kind of liked the idea of the Rock Arena. It was a doomed idea, but it was something almost clever, which is unusual when it comes to development, especially in downtown St. John's.

And while I have concerns with term limits I've also believed Newfoundland premiers should be restricted to two. By the end of the second one, they've normally lost their shit completely. We do drive them mad, it's true.

Still, with Noel, there is a tinge of pity mixed in with the "holy fuck are you completely mental?!" initial reaction.

Ron said...

Oh and it gets better - did you ever hear about the canal they wanted to build from Placentia to Trinity Bay? Or Robert Bond's Fog Free Zone.

towniebastard said...

You know, if someone offered me a job that paid half decent and all that was required was that I take photos and write columns and editorials, I think I would be all right with that.

I miss photojournalism. I wasn't a pro like Greg, but there's a certain joy in getting a really good photo. The Express in particular tended to emphasize good photography because of its tabloid format. I always thought the full page photo on the front was one of the paper's great strengths. You get the right photo, you can really capture a reader's attention.

WJM said...

The population of Wabana is 2400.

The population of the whole island is about 2700.

Not that it changes the equation (much), but SOMEONE has to stickle for details... ;)

WJM said...

Are Newfoundlanders aspiring mole people?

There was a canal-tunnel proposed for the isthmus of Avalon once upon a time, too.