One enduring characteristic of Conservative political comments since 2003 is the resort to personal attacks.
It must be Rule Number One in the Connie political playbook: Go sleaze ball. Don’t deal with the issue.
This past week the public got a good example of that from a provincial Conservative politician.
Glen Little is the Conservative member of the House of Assembly for Bonavista South. He’s been in the news lately because his political staffer in Bonavista drafted a letter for Bonavista mayor Betty Fitzgerald that attacked a town councillor.
The issue was problems with the maintenance of two provincial government historic sites in Bonavista. The letter didn’t deal with those issues. Instead, the Tory political staffer who wrote the letter - addressed to tourism minister Derrick Dalley - resorted to the old Connie tactic of trying to isolate the critic:
“Please know that Mr. John Norman is acting independently in this matter as a ‘concerned citizen’ of the community,” the letter noted.
The letter noted that Norman didn’t handle the issue “properly” by going through the local Tory politician, Glen Little. Norman had committed the sin of going to the media.
Not surprisingly, Little tried the same line on the Packet, local paper. The story is online. The Telegram carried a copy of the story in its Friday edition.
The comments were not in line with the views of the rest of council or Mayor Betty Fitzgerald, said Little.
"Some of John's comments and opinions are independent; they're not the opinions of councillors and Mayor Betty Fitzgerald."
Little said he wanted to set the record straight.
In between, the Packet story quotes Little that “there is some peeling but that doesn't take away from the beauty.”
Norman’s concerns, included in the same Packet story, included leaks in the roof at one site that caused the historic sites staff to cover furniture and other artefacts with plastic. Later in the story, Little didn’t deny that these were issues. In fact, he noted that provincial public works staff were dealing with the problems Norman highlighted.
What went up Little’s nose was that Norman raised the issues publicly rather than go quietly to the local MHA and play up the superficial:
He said it's important to emphasize the positives surrounding the sites.
"We can get caught up in a negative thing and certainly do damage or we can be positive and identify the problems, move forward, correct some problems. There are challenges, no doubt, and this government is committed to doing the best we can do under some of our challenges in relation to the tourism sites in Newfoundland and Labrador."
Going public is negative and that’s bad, according to Little.
But hang on a second. Norman can take credit for getting serious problems fixed. good for him. Good for the people of Bonavista and a couple of important provincial historic sites.
For their part, Little and his Conservative pals weren’t smart enough to take credit for fixing a problem immediately now that Norman raised it. In the process, they’d have been be able to take credit, treat the issue positively and relegate Norman to the sidelines.
What better way to accentuate the positive about which Little is supposedly so concerned? And if Little was worried Norman might be a rival for the MHA seat, he’d have sidelined his potential opponent pretty quickly.
Instead, Little went negative and personal. For a guy who wanted to set the record straight, according to the Packet, it would seem Little made it pretty clear who is focused on the positive and who gets things done for the people of Bonavista.
It sure wasn’t Glen.
Little by name, little positive by action.