07 October 2009

Kremlinology 6: the curious last days of Paul Oram

On September 10, 2009, then health minister Paul Oram gave a version of the health care cuts decision that contradicted what his boss was saying.

On September 21, 2009, then health minister Paul Oram said that his own administration had boosted spending to levels that were unsustainable.

That was an amazing admission that the province’s finances were in such a horrendous state.  Until then virtually every cabinet minister had claimed the opposite.

Paul’s talk of cuts prompted your humble e-scribbler to remind the universe of a previously unsuccessful health minister whose daughter now works for the Premier and of the current Premier’s own phrase when talking about a previous administration.  But that was just fun.

On September 29, 2009, then justice minister Tom Marshall turned up on a local call-in show to discuss the province’s finances.

Marshall said a whole bunch of things that tended to affirm Oram’s statement, although Marshall – who had been finance minister for the highest of the high-spending years never actually said the word “unsustainable.”

But notice that it was Marshall delivering the message.

Not Jerome Kennedy, the guy actually holding down the title of  finance minister at the time.

But Tom Marshall, the former finance minister, calling from his ministerial office in Corner Brook.

This was the day Danny headed off for a gigantic swan hobnobbing with the international environmental hoi-polloi that ran from the 30th of September to October 2.

On October 1st – and despite his previous insistence that the cuts at Flower’s Cove and Lewisporte were carved in stone - Paul restored at least some of the previous cut in Flower’s Cove.

Danny got back on the weekend.

On Monday, Paul told Danny he was leaving.  That’s by Paul’s own version of  the timing.

Paul heads off to Buchans for an emergency town meeting, called very hastily by the provincial government Tuesday morning.

The next morning, Oram ends it all, politically, in front of the House of Assembly.

Of course, Oram has some cock and bull set of talking points about health issues and the pain his family suffered and the evils of the CBC none of which explained why he was not only bailing out of cabinet but hauling ass out of politics altogether.

Oram was slitting the wrists of his own political body and yet he was blaming someone else for wielding the blade.

One of the examples Oram cited as painful was having his wife’s name on the television news in connection with the family business.

Odd that Paul Oram backbencher had no trouble with his wife’s picture and name being in a Labrador newspaper when she and her husband travelled to Labrador west talking about opening a new personal care home in the area.  Anyone got a picture of that to share for posterity?

But that’s to get away from the real oddity here namely the appearance of the former finance minister a week or so before he got the job back again to tackle a finance issue when there was a perfectly serviceable finance minister more than capable of sorting out the whole issue.  And to really add to the oddity, the formerly serviceable finance minister has now become the health minister.

The timing and the comments all seem a little curious.

One of the Premier’s most loyal foot soldiers leaving politics so quickly is highly unusual in itself.

The context might make it more unusual.

And if that’s the case, then Paul’s reference to Danny Williams as having been a father figure to him? 

Well, that’s just likely to give a body the heebie jeebies.