02 October 2009

When all they can offer is an E.A.…

There’s something about the life of provincial political parties that gets to be a bit predictable.

Like you can tell how healthy the party in government is by how successfully it attracts high quality, high profile candidates into its ranks after the first general election when it takes power.

You see one of the jobs the leader of a party gets to do is find candidates.  They get to pick the people or approve of the people who run for the party.  Leaders of parties in power usually have an easier time, but the leader still has some work to do in spotting talent and bringing it forward. 

Now some people like to think otherwise.

You’ll see comments in the local media lately that Hisself would not work with some of the current governing crop if this were his own private business.  But the thing is that Hisself actually did pick ‘em all.  And even if there were a couple he didn’t recruit to run or approve to run and work to get elected, he certainly picks the people who serve in his cabinet.

And it’s not just the health of parties in power that shows up in candidate selection.  Take a party like the provincial New Democrats during the leadership of the fellow now in Ottawa helping  Jack Layton keep Harper and the Connies in power.  Every by-election and general election seemed to come like a total surprise to them. The party never seemed to grow and never seemed able to capitalise on a couple of noteworthy successes in the 1980s.

Ditto the Liberals in the aftermath of 2003 or for that matter in Trinity North before the fellow changed teams.

Take a look at the pending by-election in the Straits and White Bay North. Just ignore the fact that the seat is vacated with unseemly haste by a fellow Danny Williams has come to rely on as a bit of an attack crackie alongside John Hickey.

Just notice that even though the seat used to be held by a Tory big-wing and even though said big-wig was looking to bail about six months ago and even though he made a firm decision a month ago, the best the Tories could come up with to replace Trevor was the guy who was Trevor’s constituency assistant.

You won’t see much mention of that in media stories on Rick Pelley but that’s who he was until today.

Now some executive assistants can wind up being superlative politicians in their own right.  But there’s something about a guy bailing out and his EA being the  one to get the nomination that makes you scratch your head.  Maybe what’s really so noticeable here is that Pelley is running a mere six years after these guys got to power.

Maybe it’s because the first Tory EA to run and get elected was in 2007, a mere four years after the party took power.  back in the 1990s, the Liberals got through two terms before the first executive assistants started turning up as candidates.  Before that there were fresh faces.

Now maybe there’s nothing to this at all beyond the original questions raised by the way Golden Boy Trevor Taylor bailed in the first place.

But still, maybe you only have to look at the stark contrast between what Taylor said back in 2001 and how things turned out to find out why the Tories got the candidate they got in this case:

I want to ensure The Straits & White Bay North is poised to ride the wave that's about to wash over this province. This is no time for backroom silence and backbencher obedience. Now is the time for the district to take a bold step in a new direction. It's a time for someone who will speak up loudly and effectively for this district, and people know that's exactly what they'll get in electing me.

Electing Trevor’s EA hardly would seem like a bold step in a new direction.

And as for that bit about backbencher obedience, well, these days everyone pretty well knows how much of a joke Trevor’s words turned out be.