Either way, you can call it a plague.
There's no other word that comes easily to mind to describe the insidious, weasel-politicking that goes on in far too many organizations across the province.
The federation of agriculture is not the first group and it sadly won't be the last one to have a board whose members, at some point, think it more important to cave in to perceived political pressure rather than do the right thing.
The sorry truth is that boot-licking and arse-kissing are old political staples in Newfoundland and Labrador. Politicians don't even need to ask to have their best wellies tongue-shined to perfection.
What we have in the case of the agriculture federation and Merv Wiseman is not something as simple as a poorly worded letter conveying a board decision about the dates of Wiseman's leave of absence. That's what the federation tried to say when this issue erupted.
Rather we have clear evidence that the federation board wished to avoid causing any difficulty with the current administration by directing the president to stay away from the meeting. This could have been handled more diplomatically. This certainly might not have even been an issue, given that Wiseman will hardly be in any shape to go back to his usual job with the federation tomorrow.
From the context of the letter, the meaning is unmistakable.
And it is wrong.
This sort of situation is not something unique to the current administration; the same sort of anti-democratic decisions have been taken by groups in the past. It's just that with the current crowd, in an environment where going against the government is called treason - and people actually stand up for their right to use such savage language - the weak-minded and morally bankrupt out there take that as a sign that all those who are potentially not in the favour of the government must be silenced.
Take a look at two of the final paragraphs and you can see that the board understood full well the gravity of the decision it made and the reasons for it.
Notice that last bit: it says - in effect - that if Wiseman wants to put the best interests of the industry first he will concur with the board's decision to stay away from the next meeting.
What sanctimonious tripe.
To her credit, the provincial minister responsible for agriculture has already distanced herself from the federation and this letter. She couldn't do anything else and still retain a semblance of dignity.
But for the record, she ought to make it plain that it is never in the best interests of the province for any board of any organization anywhere to take the decision that the federation did.
We are all cheapened by such a fundamentally anti-democratic sentiment.
Wiseman ought not to attend the meeting because he is on a leave of absence.
The board told him not to attend because of the ongoing controversy between the current provincial administration and its federal counterpart.
The former is legitimate.
The latter is indefensible. The board ought to resign immediately, en masse. It has shown itself to be incompetent at best or political corrupt at worst.