Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bring back Commission of Government

I was chatting with a good friend of mine last night and we were, like most Newfoundlanders, making fun of the Tories. In case you missed it, this is the reason why you should make fun of the provincial Tories. Really, everyone should make fun of them. Just when I thought it would be almost impossible to see anything stupider than what the NDP did last fall, with a piece of self-sabotage that Aaron Sorkin would have rejected as being dramatically implausible and stupid, the Tories manage to find a way to up it.

But then she said something interesting. As a joke she said "Maybe we should go back to Commission of Government."

And I thought, "Well, it couldn't be any worse, could it?"

For those not aware of Newfoundland political history, a very brief primer. For the most part, we've really sucked at democracy. We've tended to elect crooks, idiots, egomaniacs or all of the above. My forefathers did such a good job of electing these people that they drove the country right into the ground shortly after the Great Depression hit. Out of desperation, they turned to England and said, essentially "Hey, we're done. We're bankrupt. You want to take a shot and running this place for awhile."

And England did. Welcome to one of the few places in history where the people willingly gave up their democratic rights to rule from abroad because we sucked at it so badly.

(If you have a Newfoundland history degree, I know this is a simplified version of events. Roll with it.)

After World War II, things were in better shape. The place was no longer bankrupt and, frankly, England had better things to do than to keep ruling us. So three options were presented in a referendum: Continue with Commission of Government, Independence, or Joining Canada. Commission of Government got almost no support on the first ballot, so they went to a second one, and the results, they say, are history.

(Unless you're a conspiracy theorist, in which case Canada and England rigged the election.)

Every Newfoundland history book I've ever read, or was taught, basically blew off the idea of Commission of Government. "Well, obviously nobody wanted to continue with that..."

Yes, because all it did was bring stability back to a place that was a gong show. If memory serves, there was actually a budget surplus when that cued up.

So to hell with it, let's bring it back. Essentially there's only one part in Newfoundland and Labrador anyway. The NDP are back into joke mode. Do not be at all surprised if they lose every seat in the next election. They deserve to. The NDP right now...you know how maybe you were dating someone and there was always this person pining for you, but you never gave them the time of day, because you kept lusting after the same chick/dude. But after getting burned so many times, and they're just so ernest that you go "what the hell, let's date them for a bit. Could be fun." And you do.

Then you find out they're batshit crazy and you run away as quickly as you can. Welcome to the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party and their last two years.

Least you think this means I love the Liberals or the Tories...I'm not sure if you've noticed, but they're the same damn party. There was a story that came out of the Liberal convention last weekend about all the people wanting to run for the Liberals in the next election. Same thing happened when Danny Williams took over back in 2003. Or Brian Tobin in '96. Etc, etc...Not because people suddenly became Conservative, or suddenly became Liberal, it's because people like winners. And right now, Red looks like a winner. In 2003, Blue looked like a winner.

Allow me to gaze into my crystal ball and tell you the next 12 years. Dwight Ball and Red wins the election. He'll win reelection around 2019 and will step down about two years into that term. Then Red will elect a new leader, who will start to make a hash of things, but will still win reelection in 2013. But shortly after that, people will get tired of the colour Red. Blue will have elected a new cult of personality who passes as a leader. People will start leaving Red and wanting to run for Blue, because Blue is awesome and Red has always kind of sucked.

And so the cycle continues. If the parties merged and renamed themselves the Reddish-Blue Liberal Conservatives, no one would know the difference. I assure you, there would be few policy fights. The Conservatives aren't true fiscal and social conservatives any more than the Liberals are economically and socially liberal.

So here's my plan. We have a referendum and get rid of democratically elected governments in Newfoundland because they're mostly idiots anyway (If Steve Kent becomes the province's next premier, emigrate as soon as possible. Seriously). I will be forming the Mad Bomber Party. I will then ask the Queen to appoint my party as the one in charge. This will consist of me and about 20 of my close friends from my time at MUN and a few other helpful lunatics. We get appointed for eight years and then we're done. Don't like us and what we're doing, you won't have to wait long. Really don't like us? Well, they had ways of dealing with unpopular governments in Newfoundland in the 1930s. It involved setting the legislature on fire. And really, would anyone mourn if Confederation Building burned to the ground? It's an ugly ass building.

How would we govern? Before we took over we'd spend a year travelling around Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Whatever the hell they're doing over there, we'll try and duplicate it here. I understand they're not perfect countries and they have their problems, but whatever their problems, they don't appear to be governed by complete idiots. Can the same be said of Newfoundland? So let's try and figure out their culture and try and duplicate it here. Because it's not just a change of politics that's needed...it's a change in mindset. A change in culture. An overhaul is needed, folks. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Because if you think things suck now, wait 25 years when the oil is gone, or people don't need it anymore, and we will have no oil, no fish and no money in the bank. You will need to create new words to describe how brutal that's going to be.

And my friends and I? We're all fairly smart. We're writers, journalists, lawyers, philosophers, teachers and tech people. We've run businesses. We're engineers. We care about the place, wouldn't mind it being fixed and have about zero tolerance for political bullshit. We're not set in the same old, same old bullshit that seems to be business as usual in the province's political class. We'd like to come in, be compassionate, fair, fix the place up, get it running ok, and then move along. Eight and Done. Appoint a new group after that or go back to democracy. You choose.

So there you go, a Baltic-inspired Commission of Government run Newfoundland and Labrador. Insane, you say. Sure. Then again, you saw what happened yesterday. Is my idea really any more ludicrous?

Last Five
1. Here comes the night time II - Arcade Fire
2. Prophets - A.C. Newman*
3. Dancing in the dark - Bruce Springsteen
4. Daniel (live) - Elton John
5. Refugee (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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