18 May 2006

Everything old is new again, part deux

Danny Williams is beseiged by problems with the fishery, for which he has no solutions. He is fighting, as he puts it, a lot of battles on a lot of fronts.

So, from out of no where he announces that there will be a fisheries summit - or as he just told talk show host Randy Simms, it will be a town hall style meeting. It sounds like something is being done while it is obvious nothing is happening. It will be a nice little show and, with any luck it will buy some time until the issue can slide off the radar screens or someone comes up with a brilliant solution.

It's a nice job of shifting the focus of the discussion from government's obvious impotence to its apparent ability to bring something off.

Sounds familiar.


Health care.

Brian Tobin, pounded day after day in the legislature about hospital bed closures, suddenly announces a health care forum. His cabinet colleagues and health department officials had never heard about it until Tobin announced it. People were pulled together to discuss "the issues" and work toward "solutions".

A brilliant shifting of the debate focus.

And a complete waste of time.

The whole thing was formally announced in the House of Assembly by then-health minister Lloyd Matthews but Tobin had blurted out the commitment in Question Period a few days before under pressure in the House. The episode stands out so clearly since I worked at the time for a health care group. We spent two days trying to find any information about the forum. Once it was announced, we were told we wouldn't be invited because there was a shortage of chairs - I kid you not. We offered to bring our own fold-outs.

Lloyd Matthews.

That's Liz's Dad, by the way. You know. Liz Matthews. Gerry Reid's comms director at fisheries under the Liberals. The one who late one Sunday night packed up her office and skulked to work for Danny Williams.

The similarities in these two fluffy forum ideas are just a bit too much for comfort.

The results are likely to be equally vacuous.