29 March 2005

More offshore goings on - what is happening.

Flip around the net today and you'll see some stories on the offshore bill currently before parliament in Ottawa.

CBC Radio has Loyola Sullivan writing the feds, as noted in the Blarney post. This story also has Roger Grimes criticizing Danny Williams for not seeing this problem and negotiating a separate piece of federal legislation.

VOCM is quoting a number Bill Matthews encouraging his [former (?)] political soulmates Loyola Hearn and Norm Doyle to pressure their party to vote the right way on the offshore bill.

So what is it all about in as few words as possible?

1. On one level, the federal Opposition parties are flexing their muscle to see what they can get the government to do to make them happy. It is a cosmic game of chicken among the parties in Ottawa, the Libs included.

Even Jean LaPierre's musing about not wanting an election feeds into the game since it is possible the Opposition types would be dumb enough to defeat the government and head to the polls. Since the Liberals are on an upswing and all the Other Guys are not, it isn't the government that stands to lose. LaPierre's comments about losing seats in Quebec is almost laughable; the Blocheads know full well they are about at their peak - they have to wonder if it's worth gambling their huge winnings last time on picking up a handful of new seats next time.

Contrary to appearances, the Cons still have some deep internal divisions, especially here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Everyone might blunder into an election, but no one should feel smug about the outcome. Expect the Martinites to fight a slightly better campaign than their last one.

2. On another level, the federal Conservatives are playing to their money base with the play against Kyoto. Irony of ironies, even though the provincial government here doesn't like some aspects of Kyoto either, the local take on this pits oil money against oil interests and oil interests are losing in popular opinion. The Harperites might be emboldeneed by some internal polling and their supposed convention bounce; personally if I were a Con strategist, I'd count on a few policy meltdowns on the trail. That is, unless you manage to dump every single one of your old Reform/Alliance members of parliament.

3. The Libs are trying to hide their Kyoto tardiness. Big announcement, but so far no plan and no progress. The measures in C-43 are little bits of Kyoto that look like action without being substantive moves forward. They will play well across the country, except in some segments of Alberta opinion. Truth is, health care is more important to Albertans than Kyoto. Ask any polling firm. The Martinites are looking strong on health and toher key issues.

4. On an individual level, Loyola Hearn is using this for his own purposes, aided and abetted by his buddy Loyola Sullivan and the letter to John Efford. They are identifying the wrong problem (it isn't the government, guys) and the jabs at Efford suggest the Loyola Twins are still setting one or both of the pair up for a run at federal politics next time out. It's a pretty crass game, boys. Be ashamed.

5. The provincial government stopped working before the fight was over. I had some government sources telling me a few months ago that no one on The Hill had bothered to do a count and see if the offshore bill would pass. They took it for granted; I was floored. Now we have the proof that the provincial government wanted to declare victory and start the floor show long before the job was actually done.

6. Roger Grimes scores big on other issues; flubs the offshore. Despite a strong and effective performance in the budget aftermath, especially on the Grand Falls cancer clinic, Grimes is just throwing something at the wall when he talks about negotiating some kind of deal beforehand on how the bill would proceed.

No government is going to stand for having its running of the House a subject for negotiation with the outside world. I don't tell you how to speak to your wife at breakfast, Roger. There are some things that are just none of anyone's business. If someone had suggested to Roger the format for government legislation, I would hope Roger would have told them to sod off.

More to the point, though: Look up, Roger, at point 4, and see a stronger argument.

7. Efford is shocked; Who cares? The CBC Radio story says Efford is shocked at this situation - that's their starting comment. Who cares how you feel John? Make a substantive comment. Too many politicians, Efford and Grimes included, like to start their media comments with phrases like "shocked", "dismayed" or "appalled" as in 'The politician in question is shocked at recent media reports..."

Short answer from the news rooms of the world: who gives a flying toss about your mental state? If you are feeling something try taking a pill, getting some exercise or seeing a psychiatrist. Your moods aren't news. Give me some substantive comment or get lost.

8. Efford may be sleeping. As I have noted, in Nova Scotia, their federal cabinet rep took the lead on the story. Here it was Blarney, the Dinosaur. Efford was unseen and unheard until a couple of days into the story. John needs to revamp his office in a big way. Start with yourself. When it comes to any staff changes, just make sure you hand out the pink slips correctly the first time, John.

9. Last but not least, VOCM needs new talk show hosts who actually understand current events. If Open Nite Line is actually pure entertainment, then by all means replace the current talking heads with actors and other performers. Brian Tobin is looking for work. Maybe you can cut a deal with Rogers to borrow their Out of the Fog team now that they have a stronger call-in show on Sunday nights to handle news and current events.