31 January 2011

A Hugh Shea for our time

In the most recent twist of an already bizarre tale, Brad Cabana has managed to turn what had been a fiasco inside a tragedy into a farce.

There is no other word for it, but farce:  a member of the federal Conservative party and wannabe leadership candidate for the provincial Conservatives expresses his fervent desire to perpetuate Dannyism in the province…and having been rejected by his own party now proposes to take that bag of ideological and other wares to the Liberal party.

Not to be left out of the play, some local Tory supporters – the most ardent of Danny-ite diehards among them - are claiming that this is proof that Cabana was just the tool of some dark Liberal or Harperite conspiracy in the first place.  The smallest problem with that thought is that they are deadly serious about the idea.

Some might put this down to being nothing more than another symptom of a political system still working through a great shock. Danny Williams’ hasty departure would certainly count as that shock.  And perhaps Cabana is nothing more than the usual local political gadfly or eccentric character with a rare opportunity to get more attention than he might otherwise.

There might be something to that.

Then again, if that is the case, we may well have yet more proof that the province’s political culture is in a precarious state.

Forty years ago, as Joe Smallwood’s political empire crumbled around him, even the most ossified corner boy could rhyme off four or five potential premiers from the Liberal or Progressive Conservatives.  Most of the prospects had served in Smallwood’s cabinet at one time or another.  And there were the colourful characters thrust into the limelight at different times over the course of 1971 and 1972 as they changed parties and plotted and planned. 

These days, the most addled patient in a methadone program couldn’t name a single politician, most likely, let alone a brace.

And as for the others, let’s just say that as the province seems to be missing the broad range of political talent it once produced, so too is it short the rest of the spectrum.

Brad Cabana is no Hugh Shea.

Not by a long shot.

- srbp -