16 July 2007

Chaos in Control

There are times when deputy premier Tom Rideout seems to be channeling the late Don Adams in Adams' most famous role, that of Maxwell Smart, left.

One of those times has been the series of media interviews Rideout, right, has done trying to explain why the Green accountability bill is not actually in place today, despite the fairly obvious way in which Rideout and his colleagues attempted to suggest it was when the bill was passed - extremely quickly - on June 14.

"Zany" and "madcap" are fine words to describe comedy, but it has been entirely bizarre to have Rideout engage in the sort of semantic gymnastics that would make Buck Henry and Mel Brooks envious.

Consider Rideout's efforts to explain that while today might well have been June 14 when the bill was passed, tomorrow did not actually mean June 15. Rather it meant some date four months hence.
Since Green didn't say the act comes into effect today, we, in consultation with him, said what can come into effect today comes into effect today, what needs time to come into effect tomorrow comes into effect tomorrow, and tomorrow is Oct. 9, 2007.
The latest instalment in Rideout's apparent audition tape for the forthcoming Get Smart movie came in the Telegram's July 14 edition in which Rideout took exception to having it pointed out that a week before he acknowledged that the accountability provisions of the Green bill would not take effect until October 9th, Rideout had said they were in place now.

In a letter to the editor, Rideout accused the Telegram's Rob Antle of engaging in petty semantics and then explained that now was in fact not now but then, and when then arrived, Rideout's statement would be accurate, retroactively in the future. The whole thing has been eerily reminiscent of Max Smart attempting to explain that Antonio Carlos Carioca, also known as "The Lover" was in fact "The Blaster" and that Carioca's boat was named El Amador, which is Spanish for "The Lover".

The problem for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in all this, though is not that Rideout, right, and his fellow members of the legislature have demonstrated remarkable unaccountability in dealing with a bill on accountability, using their own version of the Cone of Silence.

Nor is the problem that Rideout apparently cannot tell time.

Rather the problem is that, to paraphrase a former English teacher, chaotic use of language suggests a chaotic thought process.

For those who aren't familiar with the local cabinet, let us recall that Rideout is the minister of fisheries. He is the province's attorney general and as such is the chief legal advisor to cabinet. He is also the government house leader and, as such, is responsible for piloting the government's legislative agenda through the House of Assembly. Rideout is also the deputy premier and, as such is, in a manner akin to Dan Quayle, a mere heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the land, an office he one occupied.

Of all the people the Premier might have chosen for those extremely important jobs, he chose Tom Rideout.

The problem for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in all the Green mess might well be that chaos is in control.