15 October 2012

The Language of Newfoundland Politics #nlpoli

Some of you may have noticed a couple of words turning up in any discussion of Muskrat Falls.

One is “confused”.

The other is “tired” as in tired of hearing about it.

These are very interesting code words, once you realise what they mean.

Let’s take the second one first.

Tony Collins has been writing a weekly column in the Telegram for decades. On Saturday, he wrote that he was fed up with all the “blather” about Muskrat Falls.

Get on with it, sez Tony.

Of course, Tony wasn't content to stop there.  He added some gratuitous and completely unfounded slurs along the way:
There are far too many critics out there with their own hidden agendas who are being given a degree of credence and credibility by the media which they certainly don’t deserve and for reasons which are difficult to fathom given the vested interests many of them no doubt represent.
The only experts Tony recognises are the ones at Nalcor.  He thinks the project is a good one.
And for good measure, Tony imagines a sinister, unnamed conspiracy:
It’s almost as if opposition to Muskrat Falls, in all its many guises, is being used as a cover for something else, something deeper and far more sinister, something which won’t become apparent until such time as the Lower Churchill project is permanently shelved and that small window of opportunity open to us now is slammed shut on our fingers.
By now some of you will have realized how familiar those phrases are.  That’s right, Tony is a died-in-the-wool Tory of the “cut-him-and-he-bleeds-blue” type. 

They are the only people who are tired of discussing Muskrat falls, who know only the experts at Nalcor and who imagine that there is some god-awful gang of evil people somewhere plotting against Newfoundlanders. 

There’s not a shred of logic or fact in anything Tony wrote that might add up to an argument. Tony is just full of shit.  Tony has been full of shit for years.

But that’s not important.

Just notice the words Tony uses and notice who else uses them.  Draw a logical conclusions from Tony’s lack of logic.

Then there’s the other crowd, the “confused” people.  Telegram columnist Ed Smith is one of those. In his Saturday column, Ed related this recent conversation:
The point is that the average citizen of average intelligence and keen interest, like me, is totally overwhelmed by the weight of expert opinion. I was sitting at a table with a pretty sharp fellow from our council office a few days ago who asked me what my view was on Muskrat Falls. I felt he deserved the benefit of my reasoned perspective. So I gave him my honest answer. “I’m confused,” I said. I felt bad about it because I thought I might be letting him down, and perhaps the whole council as well. No doubt they had had many deep and insightful discussions on Muskrat. “Me, too,” he said. From what I can gather, confusion over the merits of Muskrat Falls, outside the experts that is, is universal. And therein lies the problem. We have too many blessed ( for want of another adjective) experts.
Ed may or may not be a Tory.  Ed is a Believer.  He believed in something.  Perhaps it was the infallibility of the Old Man.  When Danny Williams announced Muskrat falls, Ed accepted – on the face of it – that this was a good idea.

It had to be a good idea because Danny did it and Danny can only do good.

Ed’s confusion is code for the sort of cognitive dissonance people get when they believe one thing and then are shown substantial evidence that their belief is wrong. Faced with such a dilemma, lots of people, especially hard core fanatics, will make shit up rather than accept that the sun came up this morning.

But Ed is not a fanatic.  He’s just suffering a lot of mental anguish at having his belief system so severely challenged.  A bunch of smart, respectable, credible people have come forward to raise doubts about Muskrat Falls and the way the provincial government is handling it.

So Ed is confused.  He could go either way on Muskrat Falls. In a wider sense, Ed is probably one of those people who could likely go either way on Kathy Dunderdale’s administration.  And Ed Smith’s column is Kathy Dunderdale’s political problem in a nutshell.

Now your humble e-scribbler doesn’t know for sure about Tony or Ed Smith’s political views, but odds are Ed Smith is fairly typical of voters in this province.  They aren’t blindly partisan.  They shift from party to party based on different issues or different leaders. They will stick with one crowd for a while, but at some point, they are bound to shift their allegiance to someone else.

That’s been happening across the province this past year.  We’ve seen it unmistakeably in the polls. Muskrat Falls has been a key part of political climate that contributed to the Tory decline. That’s why the active Tory partisans want to get rid of Muskrat Falls. They are fed up with watching their team take a shit-knocking every day over it. They think that if Muskrat Falls goes away, then all the other people will stop being confused.

Let’s see how that works out.