29 December 2010

The Top Stories of 2010

So it’s time for the obligatory top stories posts. 

Danny quits?  Been there, done that, shoulda printed tee shirts in 2006 when he announced it.

The big story coming out of Williams’ hasty departure is the evident panic within the Conservative Party.  Ordinary Conservatives were obviously expecting Williams to carry on.  His abrupt exit left them decidedly uneasy. For its part, the party leadership seemed to be caught flat-footed and despite initial claims there would be a leadership contest early in the New Year, someone started to work behind the scenes to engineer a deal to keep Danny Williams’ hand-picked successor in place through to 2012.

But the deal as it is currently shaping up is a stop-gap, at best.

Dunderdale was planning to retire from politics. Like Tom Marshall – another supposed successor – Dunderdale is getting toward the end of her political career.  She isn’t likely to be the one to lead the party through two general elections. So sometime between 2011 and 2015, the provincial Conservatives would be back in the leader-finding business again.

If Dunderdale packs it in before October 2014, the province will be plunged into an election thanks to Danny Williams’ Elections Act fiddling in 2004.  If she hangs on for four years, the party will still have to spend the early part of 2015 running some sort of leadership contest.

And in the meantime – the second biggest story to flow from Williams’ escape -the policy doldrums that have beset the Tory party since 2006ish will continue.  Odds will remain decidedly against the provincial government launching any significant new programs unless it involves spending bags of money, that is. There’s also no chance the provincial government will reform its fiscal policy to cope with a massive public sector gross debt.

In the worst case scenario – the third biggest potential story to come out of Williams’ departure -  the Conservatives will forge ahead with Danny Williams’ Get-Outta-Dodge legacy plan and move the province into an even more precarious financial position.  Remember when the public sector debt and  and the size of the economy were the same number?  You will.

The there’s the fourth biggest story to come out of Williams’ departure:  who will replace him.  Bottom line is that we still don’t know.  Likely we won’t know for upwards of four years.

Ready for a fifth story tied to Williams’ surprise retirement?  Hurricane Igor.  Absolutely.  A huge story that affected thousands.  Revealed some serious problems inside the province’s emergency response organization.  And let’s not forget that natural disasters seem to be tied to the political future of certain types of political leaders.

Danny Williams’ political exit may wind up being the most commonly selected top political story for 20120 in Newfoundland and Labrador.  But it’s all the other bits related to his retirement that dwarf the event itself.

- srbp -