03 October 2007

The smell of desperation

Danny Williams came within a hair of promising a cabinet seat for Patty Pottle if the voters in Torngat Mountains would elect her as the MHA.

That's about as pathetic a gamble as it gets; there really is no other word for it.

Normally, that sort of thing is the hint dropped by desperate candidates trying to hang on to a seat. Normally, when a candidate resorts to spreading that rumour - always denied by the Leader for a whole bunch of reasons - it's a sign that all hope has gone.

Now when the party leader who is the Premier starts running around openly promising he'll pretty much surely plunk Patty in a cabinet seat, you can bet two things:

1. He's reasonably sure his current Labrador cabinet minister is toast.

2. he's desperate to have a seat on the mainland that he is prepared to promise anything to get it.

Might be a clue to voters everywhere.

If you want Danny Williams' attention: elect an Opposition MHA.

But seriously, it is long since past due for political reporters to stop spreading the campaign executive jet spin.

Wipe the Kool-Aid from your lips. brush the salmon flecks and cheesecake crumbs from your lapels.

Put the Premier's run through Labrador in perspective. It isn't about taking seats away from anyone.

It's all about desperately avoiding losing the two seats in Labrador the Premier's already got.

The run is Torngat is actually beyond desperate.

It's pathetic.

As pathetic as another Premier from another party running around claiming that Kilbride and Ferryland were going red.



Jason Hickman said...

The PC seats in Labrador do appear to be in jeopardy, as near as I can tell from Toronto. And picking up Torngat and/or beating Yvonne are tall orders.

But note that Danny does not seem to have to spend a lot of time defending most of the other near-three-dozen seats the PC's hold. And while I don't have access to a lot of local media, it doesn't seem like a lot of those seats are in jeopardy.

According to your most recent "leaders' travel update", Gerry Reid is also busy trying to hold on to what he has - the difference being he has a hell of a lot less to hold on to than Danny does.

So while "desperation" may or may not be appropriate for the 4 Labrador seats vis a vis the PC's (though now I see you say DW in Torngat is a sign of desperation; a couple of days ago, you described it as "a race", implying that it could go either way - which is it?), I hardly think it applies to the Tories' prospects as a whole.

Edward G. Hollett said...


Thanks as always for the feedback.

First of all, you're right. Williams hasn't spent much time on the island. Where he has gone it has been to seats where there is a chance of a turnover from the Liberals.

Second of all, Labrador wasn't supposed to be a problem for the Tories but it quickly became one. Hence my comment - half in jest - that DW might spend the rest of the campaign in Labrador.

As it has turned out he spent far more time in the districts than any premier in any previous campaign. On top of that he has been holding his itinerary close to his chest, suggesting either last minute decisions on where to go (based on polling and other intel) or that he wants to avoid the chance of a Liberal or NDP demonstration.

Those are tactical issues but they tell you something about the campaign. Does he need to go to St. John's? Nope. Even in a race or two on the island, he could stand to leave it alone even if it is teetering.

The challenge in Labrador is that the media story is increasingly focusing on the idea that the island could go blue and all the opposition seats are in Labrador. It's largely bullshit (there'll be opp parties on the island), but the Tories need to avoid at all costs such an obvious rejection of the PC party by the place with all the resources in it, especially Lower Churchill.

Third of all, yeah there was a race but things seem to evolving in a way that has drawn DW back to Labrador.

The Patty Pottle play and the comments about Jones crossing the floor all suggest an all out pitched battle to try and do anything to create a story, flatten out Liberal vote and/or give heart to the Tory troops.

Torngat may have been in play a few days ago but when Williams heads down the coast and makes this kind of an over-the-top unprecedented cabinet seat play, I tend to think desperately trying to hang on to a chance as opposed to watching the tide turn in your favour.

The "crossing the floor" story was one left over the the 2003 campaign used at that time against Eddie Joyce. Frankly this sort of comment mystifies just like it did in 1999 when Tobin used it on the Tories.

Edward G. Hollett said...


As you are aware, this blog doesn't accept anonymous comments.

Your profile is blocked so you are functionally anonymous.

Your comment has been removed but a copy has been saved. If you want to supply a valid, verifiable e-mail address and/or open your profile, I'd be happy to put the comment back.

If you want to post anonymously, there are plenty of places to do that.

In the meantime, take a leaf from jason's book. He has posted here several times and made critical comments that added to the discussion substantially. that example was right in front of you and it's one I'd recommend to you.

Jason Hickman said...

First, thanks for the kind words. I enjoy this blog (I wish I had time for my own), even when I disagree with where you're going, and I like the back-and-forth that can take place. I miss being involved in politics at home, even if my own "team" - let alone the Liberals - have (and will) drive me 'round the bend at times!

The Patty Pottle play and the comments about Jones crossing the floor all suggest an all out pitched battle to try and do anything to create a story, flatten out Liberal vote and/or give heart to the Tory troops.

This, I agree with, at least in large measure. If Danny can take either Torngat or Cartwright, it would arguably be the equivalent of doing what Tobin surely wanted to do in Kilbride & Ferryland back in '99, but couldn't pull off. I'm just not sure it's a sign of "desperation" per se (though I'd love to be reading reliable polls about Hickey's seat...).

I can't tell from here whether there's any drama left in many of the island seats, nor can I tell whether Reid has done enough to hold onto those seats he has.

I'm probably being unkind, and I'm tempting fate by saying this before the votes are counted, but I get the sense that Reid wants to get this campaign over with (albeit with some dignity, and while taking some swings at Danny along the way) so he can get out of a LeaderOpp job he never really seemed to want in the first place. (Notwithstanding his recent comment on the Telegram's website.) Which leads me to wonder who'll be the next person to take up the job.

If Danny is able to hold on to one or both of the current PC seats in Labrador, and if he's able to pick up one or both of the Liberal seats, *and* if he holds on to virtually all of the island seats ... well, that'a a lot of "if's", but if(!) it happens, finding the next Leo Barry, let alone the next Clyde Wells at this point becomes that much harder.

Edward G. Hollett said...


From the outset it was pretty obvious Williams would be focussing on the seats he didn't have while the Libs and even the NDP would be more defensive in overall approach.

What happened in Labrador is a pretty widepsread rejection of the energy plan or at least enough aggravation to mobilize people.

It didn't so much create problems on the coast as it did threaten the Tories in the interior. As a result Williams has gone on the defensive there and on the offensive - even if it doesn`t work - in the traditionally Liberal seats to try and tie down assets.

The plants have been deployed and basically the incumbent Tories have abandoned the energy plan. Hickey did that at the start saying it wasn`t carved in stone.

If there are no Tories elected in Labrador, then it creates both an optics problem for Williams and practical political problem.

People in Labrador will remind him relentlessly of his comment after his first cabinet - when Hickey was left out - that seemed to say labrador was an insigificant region.

But practically, the major develop on the agenda is in Labrador and the Tories would need at least one seat there to move forward without significant political problems.

There`s also the optics of a division within the province which Williams is campaigning to unite against outside forces.