09 August 2009

Another Homer Simpson moment

So a couple of communities on the coast of Labrador are complaining of lack of action by the provincial government. One is a roads issues which falls under the responsibility of Trevor Taylor, the transportation minister.  The other concerns water and sewer work which is the responsibility of Diane Whelan, the municipal affairs minister.

To answer the media questions, the provincial government deploys John “The Shoveller” Hickey, the minister of Labrador Affairs.  His response sets him up for a big fall:

"I can't act on issues if people to raise them with me," Mr. Hickey said. "I got to say, these communities need leadership. Getting on an open line show is just not cutting it."

Now right off the bat, we have no idea which level of leadership Hickey is criticising:  Is it the mayor and town councils in the affected communities?  Is it the local member of the House of Assembly or is it his cabinet colleagues who are showing inadequate leadership by not bringing this issue to his attention?

But the real problem with Hickey’s comments is that he has set himself up for a huge political smack between the eyes.  All someone has to do is produce letters to his office concerning these issues and the old boy will look like a complete idiot.

Not a good spot.

And how likely, you may ask, is it that someone would be able to produce such correspondence?

Well consider that the issue of a road to connect Norman Bay to the rest of Labrador came up at the 2005 annual meeting of the Combined Councils of Labrador.  If a townie could find this on the Internet with a simple google search, surely John Hickey or someone from his staff could have noted this issue. And it’s not like Hickey wouldn’t have already been aware of these issues:  he attended a session with Labrador politicians. 

On top of that there’s the story in the Northern Pen - and reprinted  in the Western Star - from last February about a letter from one resident of Norman Bay to Barack Obama looking for help with roads.  This didn’t turn up in Hickey’s media clippings?

How about the letter the fellow says he wrote to …wait a minute…John Hickey:

Roberts said he's exhausted all possible avenues locally, having sent letters to Labrador MP Todd Russell and other federal politicians, as well as to Labrador Affairs Minister John Hickey.

Did John get the letter?

And if that wasn’t good enough, it’s not like the issue of roads in the area didn’t come up in the House of Assembly in 2007.  Again, a simple google search turned up a wonderful couple of answers from Hickey, none of which blamed others for the situation.  Rather Hickey just deployed the traditional bureaucratic response that he’d take the issues under advisement.

Then there’s the Northern Strategic Plan, which includes references to communities along the southeast coast of Labrador raising concerns about an inability to cost-share water and sewer work.  Hickey must have heard someone mention this stuff given that his picture and a message are included at the front end of the plan document.

So there it is:  Hickey says he’s never heard of the issues because no one has sent him letters.  There’s ample evidence he is aware of the issues in southern Labrador and that at least one person has actually written to him.

This is a classic Homer Simpson moment.  You can see the letters turning up all over the place and Hickey being embarrassed at his own stunnedness in making a comment that is only too easy to prove false.

All the rest of us can do is laugh and utter a “D’oh” in unison.