Monday, November 17, 2008

The space in between

I haven't really commented much on Newfoundland politics recently. I don't know why. I guess after the drama of the US election, Newfoundland politics seems so pedestrian and small. Even the "cabinet shuffle" a few weeks ago was so small. I almost understand leaving Ross Wiseman staying in Health because they're going to keep him in there until the judicial report on the massive fuck-up with the cancer screenings get released. Then they'll hang him out to dry.

But leaving the obviously incompetent Joan Burke in Education? Please. And once again the staggeringly qualified Elizabeth Marshall gets excluded. And then there's the whole idea of the House of Assembly getting called into session at the end of November, essentially just in time for it to break for Christmas.

God, it's just such an annoying government. I've probably used this quote before, but one of my favourite assessments of Bill Clinton was when someone essentially said that the gap between the potential of Clinton and the reality of Clinton was where the real tragedy of his presidency his lay. I feel that almost every time I look at what Williams is doing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Williams is a deeply smart man. And it's not so much that the rest of his cabinet is stupid - although I do wonder about a few of them - it's just that they aren't playing with the same number of marbles that Williams does.

And yet so much of his government is tied up in petty crap or vapid attempts to gain favour with the public. You're are 70% popularity levels, if you believe some polling - why not try and do what's right from time to time, even though it might not be the most popular thing in the world.

So where did this come from? This story about the province throwing a party next year about finally making it as a "have" province. Yes, now that we temporarily seem to have some money, all of which could be vanishing as oil prices plummet, lets waste a few million dollars on a party that is absolutely unnecessary except as an ego-stroke to the premier.

The party is symbolic all right. Not as a sign of Newfoundland's emergence on the national scene as a financially solvent entity. It's a sign that even in hard times, Newfoundland can still find a way to waste and fritter away money. And if you can't find better ways to spend that money, then you aren't trying very hard.

George W. Bush always argues (and prays) that history will be kind to his presidency and show that he was right on issues like Iraq. I think he's dreaming in technicolour on that one. I sometimes wonder how history will look at Williams premiership. Will he be the one to help turn the corner for Newfoundland and Labrador or will he be viewed as the one who frittered away a great window of opportunity for the province?

Time will tell. But I'd lean towards the latter and not the former right now.

Last Five
1. Montreal (live) - Blue Rodeo
2. Lou Reed - The Little Willies
3. Scar tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. One world - Dire Straits
5. Dear John - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals


Anonymous said...

I am with you on this stupid party.

Talk about bread and circuses.

As a proud Newfoundlander, what will the people of Ontario, who have supported Newfoundland for the past forty years think?

We are living up to our worst cliches. Strap on sou'wester, grab a bottle of rum, and dance a jig. I have seen the enemy, and they are us.

Anonymous said...

I knew Joan Burke when she was first campaigning in Stephenville and she's an absolute sweetheart. Of course being a sweetheart doesn't make you a good politician, but I thought I'd put that out there. Just 'cause.
I often wonder, too, how people in the future will look back at Danny. I know this part of Newfoundland's history will be a notable one - and one people will argue about until they're blue in the face - but I can't tell yet which way people will see it.
Is this all going to crash and burn or is it the beginning of a brighter future? Being a townie bastard you're probably pessimistic about it, and I hear ya on that. Newfoundland and Labrador's prosperity is a hard thing to feel positive about even today.
I think in a way Danny is comparable to Joey. They are complete opposites in most ways - personality, background, politics - but they are both looked at by many as either scoundrels or saints (yeah I said it). A lot of people still look at Joey as having saved Newfoundland and there are others who think we'd have been a lot better off without him. Maybe we'll look at Danny those ways one day, too. Maybe some people already are.
Blah blah blah.

Anonymous said...

P.S. The Chili Peppers blow. Just sayin'.

towniebastard said...

Joan may be a sweetheart....I recall thinking she looked like an interesting MHA when she got elected. But she's deeply over her head in Education. And the events of this summer proved it.

And I do tend to have a cynical view of Newfoundland politics, and I think with good reason. But I tend to view this has one of these windows of Newfoundland prosperity. If you look back in history, there have been a few.

And what they almost all have in common is that they were rare, very brief and then followed by years, if not decades, of struggle and hardship.

And when I look at what Williams is doing, it's not enough. Too much window dressing and wanting to be popular...not enough getting to work and setting up NL for the hard times that are sure to come when the oil dries up. Or when the world's economy went in the tank, as it is now.

As I said, the gap between what's there and what should be, is what drives me mad about Williams. He should be better than this, and isn't.

And you know, you need to put up some music selections on your blog so I can swing by and mock it....;)

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to disagree with your points there. As much as I want to 'strap on a sou'wester, grab a bottle of rum, and dance a jig' to celebrate the have status, I have this fear lurking in my gut. I hope Danny has a plan, 'cause anyone with half a brain knows oil won't last forever.

Song in my head right now: Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

WJM said...

Williams is a deeply smart man.

Could've fooled me.

But then again, unlike Danny Williams, who didn't know that when you look out over the Strait of Belle Isle, northward from Savage Cove, you're looking at Labrador, I'm not a Rhodes Scholar.

Anonymous said...

Hey WJM: You need to come out of the hatch and stop pressing the button. lol

TB: It is interesting to read a serious non partisan discussion on Williams and what his legacy will be. Quite refreshing. I agree the empasisis seems to be moving toward what is the popular decision versus what is the tough hard decision. And that is not good policy "on a go forward basis". There are lots of tough decisions that need to happen and he has the majority to ram them through. One is amalgation. It needs to happen. The evidence grows every day: regional waste management issues, bifurfication road held up by Mt Pearl etc. Another issue is reducing the size of government. This has not happenend.

I do think that Williams had to engage significant funds to attack a serious infrastructure problem in this province. But the game needs to change. As others have suggested on other blogs, I think that an investment fund is a great idea that needs to be implemented sooner rather than later.