10 July 2012

Maybe it’s just you, Kathy #nlpoli

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Alberta Premier Alison Redford when the Pm dropped in for the Calgary Stampede.

As the Globe reported:

Carl Vallée, a PMO spokesman who was travelling with Mr. Harper during his Stampede stopover, wouldn’t talk about what was discussed during the Prime Minister’s meeting with Ms. Redford.

“He meets with premiers across the country when he travels out East, out West, everywhere,” Mr. Vallée said. “And he does do that, but we don’t comment on the content of the meeting.”

Despite their political differences, the two leaders apparently meet regularly and, according to the Premier’s Office, “they talk on the phone on a regular basis maybe every six weeks or so.”

Now the fact that Harper represents an Alberta riding makes a difference in the relationship between the two.  But even allowing for that, you still have to notice the stark contrast between the Alberta situation and the one in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Down this way, the Premier apparently has trouble hooking up with Harper for a telephone call once in a blue moon.

Kathy Dunderdale’s most recent public mention of meeting with Harper was in May when the federal government changed some of the Employment Insurance rules. Dunderdale spoke briefly on the phone with him about search and rescue.  She met briefly with PMSH during the last federal election and before that it looks like the last time they spoke face-to-face was in February 2011.  Now there may have been other occasions but that’s what you get when you do a quick google search.

One of the things you notice about those meetings might also be a clue as to why the relationship between the current provincial government and the federal government is not working.  Kathy Dunderdale wants to speak with Stephen Harper when she is looking for a handout for when she is trying to bitch about something after the fact. In the case of search and rescue she was trying to foist blame for a tragedy on the federal government when there was no credible evidence to back her efforts.  There still isn’t, incidentally.

The other noticeable pattern is the way Dunderdale shifted her tone.  She went from trying to build a positive, professional relationship to one that is built on one based on amateur theatrics and political stunts.  It’s the shop-worn “Blame Ottawa” game.

There’s a long way between that and a Premier who is trying to develop an international trade relationship with a foreign country. In Alberta the Premier leads a government that has a sophisticated economic development plan. The province is one of the main centres of economic power in the country. 

Newfoundland and Labrador has a considerable amount of economic weight of its own.  It could have lots more. That would translate into political power, as a matter of course.  The province has more economic weight now than it had a decade or two or three ago.  And even back then provincial premiers had way more productive relationships with their federal counterpart than either Kathy Dunderdale or her predecessor have had.

So maybe, just maybe the problem is not with the federal government or some imaginary war on Newfoundland and Labrador.  Maybe there is a huge problem in the provincial government.