09 March 2005

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

John Hamm is enjoying a bump from the offshore deal too. Here's the story on the CRA poll for Nova Scotia as reported by the Chronicle-Herald in Halifax. (Known to some as the Chronically Horrid)

But here's the difference:

Hamm's satisfaction level is around 69% - people are pretty happy with the job he is doing.

His voter support is 38%, just 8 percent ahead of the Nova Scotia Liberals.

The largest part of this discrepancy comes from the length of time Nova Scotians have been governed by Tories. Voters are a little tired of the Progressive Conservatives. Undoubtedly, there are other causes that would explain the problem John Hamm is obviously having in translating satisfaction with his performance into potential votes at the polls.

By contrast, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams is still popular enough to run the risk of obliterating the Opposition parties entirely in an election held today.

What would be lost if there were no Opposition parties in Newfoundland and Labrador?

For the Tories, a one party state would make it easier for Danny to get his way. His contemptuous attitude toward the legislature is well known and some of his officials have been known to ask out loud - maybe facetiously; I suspect seriously - why there has to be anything other than an election every once in a while. Shut the House. Save a bundle.

As for the other parties, I find myself asking more and more what exactly distinguishes Liberals from Tories or indeed New Democrats from Tories. On the Atlantic Accord, all three parties agreed on everything. Roger Grimes is smiling through the latest dismal poll claiming that it was just a comment on the Accord and that everyone supported Danny anyway.

I'll just say two words: graveyard. whistling. You work it out.

So what is the difference?

I don't believe there is one in the current incarnation of the parties.

Roger Grimes mused last year that the province needed all seven MPs in Ottawa to vote as a group on issues. Roger wants our own Block-Heads to match the Bloc Heads from Quebec. Well, he has his wish. In Ottawa, the only MP not voting with the herd is John Efford and that may be solely because he likes his car and driver more than because he has a philosophical difference of opinion with Matthews, Doyle and Hearn on the one hand or Scott Simms and Gerry Byrne on the other.

On the provincial level, things are much the same. The Tories are nationalist or sort of nationalist. Grimes is the guy who blew $2.0 million of public money funding Danny's election platform, otherwise known as the Vic Young Royal Commission. Try sliding a piece of paper between the policy manuals from the Liberals or the Tories from the last election. Try to find a major Liberal policy initiative that the Tories haven't implemented in their first 18 months in office, haven't continued or haven't got under serious consideration.

Try to figure out why the provincial Liberals put forward a motion in Ottawa last week seeking ownership of the offshore - a long-standing nationalist fantasy - even though the matter was settled legally and practically 20 years ago. We may not own it but we reap all the benefits anyways - yet Roger and his 40 fellows pushed a resolution that would do what exactly? I dare you to spot a difference between Brian Peckford and the guys who put the resolution together.

In the upcoming budget, I suspect you are going to see the Conservatives move in a direction reminiscent of the Tobin Liberals; at the very least, they'll be investing in social programs, while ramping down the chatter about budget cuts and freezes. Expect to see less of Loyola now that Flo has gone.

Danny Williams supports same sex marriage as a matter of principle. Grimes does and he doesn't all at the same time.

My own father, staunch Liberal that he is, asked me last night why I picked on Roger Grimes in yesterday's poll post.

Well, I am not.

I am simply making a point and Roger just happens to be the leader of a group of people who largely share the same views which just happen to be the same as pretty well every other party in Newfoundland and Labrador politics.

So now, I'll go a step farther and ask why we have three political parties if they all say the same thing?

Democracy is based on choices.

Our particular system of parliamentary democracy depends on having opposition parties that put forward reasoned alternatives to government policies and programs.

As far as I can see right now, Newfoundland and Labrador has become a one party state, by default.

Somehow, we wound up with DannyJackandRoger from the Block.

[Don't be fooled by the votes that we got/We're still DannyJackandRoger from the Block/We seem different, but then maybe not/Things are all the same here on the Rock]

Why exactly do we have three political parties all claiming cash from the public treasury?

Why do we have a legislature?