08 March 2012

Shooting fish in a barrel #nlpoli


So with the Premier babbling about cuts or not cuts, you could guess where the opposition parties would go during their second Question Period.

Yeah, well guess again.

Because something so obvious as a Premier who has no idea what she is talking about would seem like such an obvious, easy target that the opposition decided to go one better and show how clued out they are instead.

Liberal opposition leader Dwight Ball led off with a question about Muskrat Falls.

I would be remiss if I did not ask the Premier to allow a full debate and a free vote in this House.

If  - by some miracle – the Liberals actually had a policy on the scheme in the first place, having a debate and free vote on it might possibly make sense.

But since ball and his crowd don’t know whether they are punched or bored, further exposing their weakness with a debate is just plain dumb.

To make matters worse, his question is lamely worded.  it lacks forcefulness.  He should have just begged her pretty please with sugar on top and called her “Mommy” for good measure.

Remember that thing about demonstrating to the public that the opposition could be entrusted with government.  yeah, well Ball’s question raised doubts about his ability to be leader of the official opposition.

So Kathy gave him the wish to go down in history. There’ll be lots of time to debate, sez the Prem.

No kidding about the history thing. That’s what he said:

I think it would be nice for all of us to know where each and every one of us stood in history.

Then Ball switched to a lame question on natural gas that natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy knocked out of the park with ease.  to complete his self-immolation, Ball asked about pricing for electricity.

At no point did Ball give any indication he had a clue about the project at all.

But the Liberals weren’t done with that embarrassing opening.

Just to complete the show, they turned it over to Yvonne Jones.  Now just to give you context, Jones is campaigning hard to be the next federal member for Labrador.  All Yvonne sees is Labrador.  If it isn’t about Labrador she doesn’t give a crap about it.

So Jones wanted to know why the surplus power from Muskrat falls wouldn’t be available for projects in Labrador.

Of course it would, sez Kennedy.  And he’s right.  The Tories have said from the beginning that they wouldn’t be using 40% of the power.

Had Jones taken her head out of whatever bodily orifice she’s been storing it in, she’d also know that Muskrat Falls power is too expensive to sell anywhere else. This has been obvious for a year or more.  She’d also know that there are serious questions about whether the dam would be able to supply its minimum in the middle of winter, let alone have any to feed to industrial projects in Labrador.

Rather than try running on some of the numerous, well known weaknesses of the project, Jones decided to invent some slight against Labrador so she can fool someone into believing she is fighting for them.

Kennedy had no trouble telling her that when those projects came along he’d be happy to sell them the extra electricity from the wonderful, glorious project at Muskrat Falls.

Then  Randy Edmunds got up and tossed a set up question to Kathy Dunderdale about search and rescue and Burton Winters’ tragic death and the evil federal government that was somehow responsible for it. Having already successfully taken control of that issue, Dunderdale was suitable sad and pledged to do everything she could to make things right.

Edmunds then switched to the bullshit issue of all bullshit issues – Merv Wiseman’s workplace – and again Dunderdale put on her indignant crusader hat.  Which team is randy playing for again?  Not once but twice, he set Dunderdale up better than a Tory backbencher sucking for a promotion.

Andrew Parsons did ask a decent set of questions about skin surgery and got equally decent answers.

That was the semi-sensible interlude.

Jim Bennett then asked about a sooper sekrit agreement about the Marystown fish plant that supposedly involves the province, OCI and a company that no longer exists.

Fish minister Darin King talked about something else.

There endeth the Liberals.

Not to be outdone, NDP leader Lorraine Michael  decided to join in the fun.  To her credit, she did ask about Dunderdale’s budget comments.

But rather than point out the obvious confusion they Premier has, Michael asked a question fed to her by people who haven’t been paying attention:

What are government’s intentions with regard to potential loss of positions in the public service sector?

Dunderdale already said there won’t be layoffs and if any jobs do go it would only be through attrition.

Dunderdale didn’t waste time.  She just recited the basic ideas was a review of things to make sure it all worked properly.  Proper, responsible and all sorts of other good things,m Dunderdale said, even though she was in cabinet the whole while things got into a mess.

Michael went back to the same question again.

So Dunderdale noted that the NDP had talked about a one percent cut in their platform.  Dunderdale’s cut is only about the same amount and – in case you forgot – won’t involve any job losses.

having successfully set herself on fire with that one, Michael decided to go down the same blind alley the Liberals did.  She wanted to know about electricity prices and Muskrat Falls.  Jerome Kennedy recited the same, tired  - and inaccurate - numbers he’s used all along. 

The key thing for the government though, is that they twice got to allay public concerns about the costs of Muskrat Falls courtesy if incompetent questions from the opposition parties.

Noob NDP backbencher Geri Rogers then asked about housing.

Good topic.

She could have hammered away at the housing crisis in western Labrador caused as much by government incompetence at the provincial and municipal level as anything else.

That would make too much sense.

So Geri asked:

Mr. Speaker, when will this government create a housing division within government to deal with the critical need for affordable housing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as other provinces have done for their people?

That would be Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, an agency Rogers seems to have never heard about.

The minister responsible for that agency muffed the answer by talking about how much government had spent on housing.

Then Rogers recited all the initiatives from the housing corporation herself.  Had she not read her first question?  Or her follow on before she asked the first one?

The minister went back to the stats again, so Rogers countered with a question to the Premier.  Rogers wanted the Premier to organize a standing committee of the legislature to study housing.

And once the minister smacked that one out the window,  time expired.

On Day Two of the legislature, both opposition parties displayed a consistent and stunning display of the most fundamental incompetence anyone could imagine.

And for the government, as troubled as they are, Question Period was like shooting fish in a barrel.

It’s easy when the fish jump up and wrap their maws around the muzzle like that.

- srbp -