19 September 2014

Political Definitions #nlpoli

Political conservatives like to talk about how government ought to be run like a business.  They talk about it so much that it’s odd, then, that they never actually do it.

Part of it has to do with language. They use words that appear to mean the same thing when, in fact, they actually have two distinctly different meanings.

Danny Williams is a good example of how that peculiar breed of politician.  The Old Man talks about the public money his buddies on city council gave to his hockey team as an investment. As a businessman, though, Williams means something different when he talks about investing his own money.

18 September 2014

No-brainer #nlpoli

Perhaps it is just Danny Williams’ ingratitude that pisses people off.

The multi-millionaire hockey team owner just got a massive subsidy from the taxpayers of St. John’s so that he won’t suffer any lost revenue.  It should be a no-brainer for the guy to say thanks to the people who have made him wealthy for the cash Williams’ buddies on city council handed him this week.

A simple “thank you” wouldn’t have hurt him.

it was a no-brainer.

But no. 

Instead, Ole Twitchy called the media together on Wednesday to whine, moan, bitch, and complain about those who don’t like giving tax dollars to people like Williams who don’t need it.

What a douche.

17 September 2014

No more give-aways #nlpoli

Danny Williams is one of the richest people in Newfoundland and Labrador.  He is a multi-millionaire who owns a successful hockey franchise in St. John’s.

Danny Williams makes a lot of money from the St. John’s IceCaps,  If he didn’t,  Danny wouldn’t be in the hockey game.

Good for Danny Williams. If his business is profitable,  then Williams’ business is good for the city and good for the province.  That’s the way free enterprise works. 

16 September 2014

The Ins and Outs of Newfoundland Politics #nlpoli

Ralph Champneys Williams was a career British public servant who came to Newfoundland as the Governor at the tail end of one of the greatest periods of political turmoil in the country’s history.

Sir Robert Bond went to the polls in the 1908 at the head of the Liberal to face his rival Sir Edward Morris, the Leader of the Opposition and head of a coalition of Conservatives and some others under the name of The People’s Party.

The result was a tied election.  Unable to form an administration that could survive the election of a speaker.  Bond went to the Governor to advise him to issue a writ for a new election.  The Governor – Sir Williams MacGregor – refused to issue the writ and instead called on Morris to form an administration.  He was in the same position, of course, and, when the House could not elect a Speaker,  MacGregor dissolved the House on Morris’ advice.  Morris went to the polls as Prime Minister and won a majority.

Williams arrived in Newfoundland in the wake of two years of political upheaval.  He found himself in a place that was likely very strange to him.

15 September 2014

Insider baseball, again #nlpoli

Paul Davis delivered one of the shortest victory speeches Saturday night of any person elected to lead a party in power.

Davis said very little but what he said might reveal much:

This weekend we started down a path, a path to rebuild the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I ask all of you to work with us as we work together and continue on that path to rebuild our party for the future and prepare for 2015. [via The Telegram]

Davis wasn’t alone in saying that. Rebuilding the party in order to defeat the Liberals was a common theme.

After a while, though, it seemed a bit…well… odd.  After all, Davis was the leader of the party in power, with a majority of seats in the legislature.  Sure, the party is in second place in the opinion polls but that’s not the same as the result of an actual election.

14 September 2014

Premier Paul Davis #nlpoli

It took one more ballot than expected but Paul Davis is the new leader of the provincial Conservative Party and the Premier-designate of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Conservatives spent a lot of time talking about the value of the leadership in rebuilding the party. A majority of the delegates didn’t vote for that, though. Paul Davis was the candidate who talked the least about substantive change in the party’s direction as government.  At the convention, very few of the Conservatives themselves talked about change beyond getting the public to vote for them again.  That was Davis’ core message. 

If you go back to the Abacus poll released during the campaign,  you can see the results of the vote mirrored in the results.  Davis was the choice of a plurality of the respondents and had the support of a higher percentage of those who had voted Conservative in 2011. Of the three candidates,  all were the second choice behind the Liberal’s Dwight Ball as the choice for Premier.  The key thing for Conservatives would be that Davis was closer to Ball than either of the other two.

13 September 2014

Disconnection Trending #nlpoli

Tom Marshall got lots of coverage for his little ego-stroking farewell in the tradition of his ego-stroked predecessors.  The media advisory billed it as a thank-you to public servants and by jingo the local media reported it extensively and called it exactly that.

The one who organized the little show for him got a nice parting gift from her current boss.  Marshall appointed Kathy Dunderdale’s former communications director, whom Tom kept around, to the most senior communications position in the provincial government on Friday.  Milly Brown will be assistant secretary to cabinet for communications. 

Brown succeeds another of Kathy Dunderdale’s former communications directors,  Glenda Power, whom Kathy rewarded with a sweet little promotion in 2012.

There are a few things about this and the other goings-on the weekend that are worth mentioning because they are part of the pattern.

12 September 2014

The Spectators and the “Me” Generation #nlpoli

The official media advisory describes the event at Confederation Building this morning as an opportunity for Premier Tom Marshall to thank public servants “for the support provided by their work over his time as Minister and Premier.”

In reality, this is another one of the grandiose celebrations that have become the trademark of Conservative Premiers first elected in 2003.  Danny Williams gave himself an enormous going-away show when he decided to leave office suddenly and unexpectedly in 2010.  Kathy Dunderdale, Williams’ hand-picked successor, did much the same thing when she decided to leave office suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year.

And now the third member of the Williams dynasty,  his trusty and well-beloved right hand, is going to make a grand spectacle of his own in the main lobby of the Confederation Building on this the occasion of his imminent departure from office.

11 September 2014

At last! #nlpoli

Without a doubt,  this is the most interesting, entertaining and revealing thing to come out of the Conservative leadership campaign.

This could probably use a bit of writing and editing to tighten it up, but fundamentally, it’s the kind of thing that distinguishes John Ottenheimer in a positive way in the leadership campaign.  Where Steve Kent came off looking a little desperate and nasty in his most recent debate appearance and Paul Davis has just flat out flat-lined,  The Big O just gave everyone a real glimpse of himself.  it’s the kind of thing that could swing some people his way, especially if it is part of a trend.

At last, there’s some sign of freshness and life in the Conservatives.


10 September 2014

Ragging the puck #nlpoli

The Conservatives will have a new leader this weekend. 

Tom Marshall will resign as Premier not long after and the new guy will take over. Terry French announced last week that he will resign from cabinet and leave politics “later this month.”  That fits too, because the new premier will need to swear in a new cabinet.

And at some point we’ll have an election

So when will that election happen?

Good question.

09 September 2014

Everything has a price #nlpoli

Danny Williams famously once said that at some point,  “principle converts to cash.”

When his old friend Tom Marshall named a court house after Williams,  the former Premier said this to reporters about his emotions: "I can't put a price on it."

He may not be able to convert his emotions to cash at this point, but how curious that he ties the two things together so effortlessly.


A fitting reminder #nlpoli

Tom Marshall has a few days left as premier so he figured the best thing to do would be to name the courthouse in Corner Brook after Danny Williams,  Marshall’s patron.

One of the reasons Marshall gave for his decision was that the province has not done as well as the time when Danny Williams was Premier. 

Marshall couldn’t have found a more fitting legacy for Danny Williams if he had really tried. After all,  The courthouse and Williams go together

08 September 2014

Trash, Give-aways, and Conservative Policy #nlpoli

Friday is trash day in the world of political communications. It’s the day when you slip out stuff that is unpleasant in the hopes people will miss it.

If you can slide in another story, like say the completely unnecessary appointment of a finance minister who will have the job for a mere two weeks or so, it’s possible you can bury one load of trash under another.

That’s what happened last Friday in St. John’s.

05 September 2014

They’ve got a little list #nlpoli

Justice minister Terry French announced on Thursday that he’d be resigning in a couple of weeks time to take up a job in the private sector.  French’s announcement looked like an effort to get in front of rumours that have been circulating for a while in some circles and that intensified in the past couple of days.  It didn’t look like a well rehearsed or planned thing.

This was also the same day that Charlene Johnson confirmed she is quitting politics to go live in Brunei where her husband has been working for an undisclosed period of time.  Johnson told reporters that she and her husband had actually decided over a year ago that she would leave politics.  It’s still curious that with all the work- and health-related reasons Johnson offered for taking a year or more to leave actually, she couldn’t manage to hang on for just a couple of days or weeks longer.

In any event, we found out that Johnson really wasn’t leaving now for family reasons after all.  There was some other reason for her to go, not that it matters at this point.  What does matter is that she has gone.  In a couple of weeks, Terry French will go and that means the provincial Conservatives will face three by-elections before Christmas.

04 September 2014

Voter Choice #nlpoli

When Kathy Dunderdale jumped or was flicked out of office in the first part of 2014,  CRA boss Don Mills issued a release covering his company’s February 2014 self-promotion poll that claimed that Tom Marshall was doing wonders for the Conservative party because public satisfaction with the government was up in the poll.

NL government satisfaction improves with new leader” said the headline. Unfortunately for Mills and CRA,  that headline connected up two things  - government satisfaction and new leader – in a way the poll data didn’t support.  You see, satisfaction went up the quarter before that as well, with the old leader.

There’s just no connection between “satisfaction” and the public choice for best party to form government or for best premier.  The Conservatives have strong satisfaction numbers and yet a clear majority of respondents want to vote for some other party to run the government and someone other than Tom to be Premier.

Skip ahead six months and Mills is at it again.