16 May 2007

Cat Fight, the new series

Conservative member of parliament Fabian Manning, left, and Paul Oram, parliamentary assistant to Premier Danny Williams, spent a few minutes on Tuesday night bashing each other in public, courtesy of VOCM's Night Line talk show.

Oram, right, started the row by calling the show to slag Manning for supporting the federal government's budget. Oram claimed that, by way of a gigantic contrast, Oram had voted for a controversial fisheries measure because he was told it was in the best interests of the province. [Now the wording he used was curious enough in itself, but that's another story.]

While claiming purest motives for himself, Oram could not grant the same courtesy to Manning; after all, the guy who holds the keys to Oram's future as a cabinet minister had already declared Manning an un-person. A senior member of Williams' staff reputedly attended the caucus meeting that punted Manning to the opposition benches.

Manning would not be outdone by the likes of Oram. So he called the show from Ottawa to give a spirited defense of himself and his reasons for supporting the budget measure. Not surprisingly it had something to do with best interests of the province.

At some point, Manning also noted that he and Oram had discussed said controversial fisheries initiative back in the days before Manning's image was airbrushed out of every photo of provincial Tories.

Da byes were apparently gnoshing at a local eatery ironically called "My brother's place" when Oram allegedly declared he would cross the floor before he would support the fisheries package.
[Photo removed by request] Of course, Oram didn't cross the floor. He backed the deal to the hilt. By-the-by, in the photo at left that's Oram in the shades and sans 'stache along with a bunch of what appears to be Tory political staffers.

The event was the the supposedly non-partisan Rally for Danny last week in which the rhetoric flowed thick and heavy even if the crowd was thin and the results were light to non-existent.

While Manning was on the air, Oram called to refute Manning's version of events. Smart producer and host put the two together and let them hammer away much to the delight of their audience.

It was a truly spectacular bout of "You did. I din't."

Now the real point isn't what Oram or Manning did back then, although frankly, Manning has nothing to gain by telling a whopper of a fib.

Neither side can likely prove his version of events.

But that isn't the point.

People should notice that the current crusade against the federal Conservatives has opened up deep divisions in the local Connie/PC camp. There are plenty of close friends caught up in the divide, just as two years ago there were some deep divisions among Liberals.

The Tory and Connie cleavages might be bigger though since at no point in the Liberal case did one crowd call for the public lynching of the other. Premier Danny Williams wants to see every Conservative in the province defeated at the next election. Heck, in the process, DW's even turned on a guy he once supported to be provincial Tory leader and Premier.

Oram and Manning's pissing match could be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. More blood may well flow yet before the whole thing is settled.

Meanwhile, the federal Grits are quietly going about their business.

And the Dippers?

Likely they are doing a very fine impression of Jon Lovitz from The Wedding Singer.