30 November 2009

88 and a wedgie!

There’s an old Newfoundland joke about a fellow jumping up and down on a manhole cover on a street in downtown Ottawa.

A crowd gathers to watch the guy.  They are amazed at his exuberance in jumping up and down and yelling “87!” at the top of every leap.

Finally one of the mainlanders strikes up the courage to ask what he’s doing.

“Jumping up and down,” sez the Newfoundlander.  “You should try it.  Lots of fun."

So after a couple of minutes the fellow puts down his briefcase and steps forward to take his spot. The Newfoundlander steps aside.

The mainlander jumps up and as he does, the Newfoundlander whips the manhole cover out.  The poor mainlander drops straight into the sewer.

The Newfoundlander pushes the cover back in place and starts jumping again, a big grin on his face.

“88!” he yells.

Danny Williams could be that Newfoundlander.

And Michael Ignatieff is the hapless fellow staring down at the open sewer beneath his feet.

The Ig-man, you see, deigned to visit Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday and pledged any government he leads will be a “good partner” and pay for the Lower Churchill.

According to a story in the Saturday Telegram  here’s what Ignatieff told reporters after the Board of Trade luncheon:

When it comes to the Lower Churchill, the federal leader said every Canadian wants the project to be developed and pledge the Liberal’s support [sic] for it, if his party takes office. [Telegram, Saturday Nov 28, 2009, p.A5, “Ignatieff says Harper lacks vision”,  not on line]

Now Ignatieff didn’t offer to foot the whole bill,  but the actual words and their meaning has always been no never mind in the world Danny Williams’ lives in.  If Williams wants to make the claim, he will.  Not a single politician or reporter in the province will take the time to find out what – if anything – the other party actually said.  They will do as they have always done:  accept Danny Williams’ version at face value, even if there is evidence readily available which contradicts his claim. 

At the very least, Williams will use Ignatieff ’s naive comments as a political poker to ram into whatever part of Ignatieff serves Williams’ purse.  He did it to Paul Martin.  He’s done it to Stephen Harper. 

And if Danny Williams wants to impress Stephen Harper as a way of mending broken fences between the federal and provincial Conservatives, Ignatieff has given Williams the perfect weapon with which to beat Liberal candidates about the head.  Some will undoubtedly sheer off, as they have sheered off in the past desperate for any sign of Williams’ favour.  Others will feel the pain as their leader’s words are pounded at them from every corner.

If that were not bad enough, Ignatieff also waded into the transmission corridor issue, talking about getting Newfoundland and Labrador power to market.   Ignatieff ’s advisors should have warned him off such an issue since it is entirely fictional.   They didn’t or he ignored them.  Either way, Ignatieff ’s comments on transmission corridors will do do nothing but give Williams a wedge for himself or for Stephen Harper to use between Ignatieff and provincial Liberals in New Brunswick and Quebec. 

Maybe none of that will occur.

But if recent history is any guide, Michael Ignatieff just set himself as the next federal political leader to jump up off the manhole cover in the modern-day incarnation of a very old joke.