08 September 2011

Rideout tags Tories for election pork-fest #nlpoli

Former premier Tom Rideout didn’t mince words about the orgy of pork-barrel spending his former caucus colleagues have been pushing in the run-up.

On a political panel on Tuesday morning, Rideout told the audience for CBC Radio’s West Coast Morning Show that the public mood has changed over the past few decades and that people view these things differently now than the way they used to.

Rideout, who said he liked to think he had an independent mind, said he thought the provincial Conservatives can go too far with their announcements, and re-announcements and announcements of the same spending for the third and fourth time.

Rideout singled out municipal affairs minister Kevin “Fairity” O’Brien, saying that O’Brien had acted “like a buffoon”’ by going around the province “dropping off fire trucks” all over the place.  Rideout said that he could have left it up to the local member of the House of Assembly.

The issue wouldn’t be enough to defeat the government, said  Rideout, but he did feel there could be a backlash in some areas.


Rideout basically confirmed what your humble e-scribbler has been picking up for months from all around the province.  Lots of people are miffed for lots of reasons.  The blatant pork-barrelling is just the latest thing.

The fire trucks have become a twisted symbol of the Conservative’s old-fashioned political mentality.

What’s really startling here is that Rideout openly laced into his political colleagues and tagged one minister in particular.

That’s a huge sign that the provincial Tories are not the invincible political behemoth they once were no matter what the townie media would want to read into CRA’s always dubious poll results.

Stable political environment? 

Try not to pee your new back-to-school pants no matter how hard it is to stifle the guffaws.

Kathy Dunderdale did say she thought the poll suggested the polling numbers had stabilised but that was just because the Tories have been in a pretty sharp decline for most of the last year.

But with the Tories having the support of 40% of respondents to a recent poll and the opposition parties at 18% and 16%, it wouldn’t take much to give Kath and Fairity a visit from the Old Hag.

There’s more to it than fire trucks. O’Brien could well be a liability in other parts of the province, too,  becoming the poster-child for perceived political arrogance in the face of some fairly obvious cock-ups over the provincial government’s response to natural disasters.

On the Great Northern Peninsula there are other issues.

On the northeast coast there are others.

Still more on the Burin peninsula and in central Newfoundland.

And then there is the threat of Muskrat Falls.

Look around.

The mood is anything but settled.

Rideout is right:  it might not be enough to bring down the government yet.

But when a prominent Tory takes such a smack at other Tories as Rideout did this past Tuesday morning, it is enough to think things in this province  could get quite a shake in October.

- srbp -