12 November 2012

Your Future is in Their Hands: Political Definition #nlpoli

Voters in Newfoundland and Labrador have a new political definition:
to crummell:  to have one's opinion completely reversed in a nanosecond by the whim of another.

There may well be others that will turn up in the wake of Tory Dan Crummell’s 180 degree reversal on Peter Penashue on Friday.

But no matter what witticisms crop up, Dan Crummell defined himself rather neatly, if unflatteringly, last week.

Crummell, the recently appointed parliamentary secretary to Joan Burke, told a CBC Radio audience on Friday afternoon than the federal intergovernmental affairs minister should resign until the questions about his campaign financial statements are cleared up.

Fair enough.

Plenty of people in the province think the same thing.


Crummell may not have even made it back to his office before he sent an e-mail to provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane changing his position.

In the statement – that sounded much like it had been dictated by someone else -  Crummell said that at the time he’d made his original comment he hadn’t known Penashue had a new official agent to help clear this up. 

The process must take its course.  The province needs a voice at the federal cabinet table.

Take Crummell’s Friday saga as an object lesson:  in an instant the noob politician showed us what he is made of.  Crummell just got promoted to a job that normally would lead to cabinet.  But Dan Crummell is definitely not cabinet material.

Crummell stated an opinion.  Agree or disagree with it, but he had one and he stated it openly.  It may not have been a popular opinion in some quarters, but there was nothing obviously wrong with it, as opinions go. It’s not like he invented a new word like “fairity” or anything.

Armed with that apparently considered opinion, Crummell reversed himself in a heartbeat. If you accept the e-mail at face value, Crummell changed his position completely because he didn’t know a simple fact that had been widely reported on a very widely covered controversy about a week ago.

If he’d been in hospital, in a coma or on vacation in a place where he couldn’t find a phone or a computer, you’d think he would ask for an update or refuse to go on the air given the risk he might be out of touch.  Had he been in a coma, or the hospital or on a vacation, and was therefore out of touch, Crummell could have said that and declined to make a statement that was based on old information.

Lots of possible choices.

He didn’t take any of them.  Odds are, therefore, he was wide awake and in the province the whole of the past week or two.

And to go a step further, Penashue’s seat at the cabinet table didn’t become miraculously important in the course of a couple of Blackberry pins.  You’d think a savvy politician a heartbeat away from cabinet might have thought of that already.

But no.

Crummell didn’t.

Crummell changed his public stance because someone told him to change it.

So either Crummell is woefully out of touch on a key piece of news that was widely reported or he is prepared to shift his opinion based on instructions from others, not on the basis of what he knows and believes.

Out of touch.

Or weak-willed.

Either way isn’t good for Crummell.

Either way, it isn’t good for the rest of us, especially since Crummell will be making some pretty big decisions.  To make sure you understand the gravity of Crummell’s responsibilities as a member of the House, consider the recent words of the very same person who appointed crummell to his new job. 

Here’s what Kathy Dunderdale said about Muskrat Falls:

Make no mistake about it, my friends. The quality of our children’s future will be determined by the choice we make right here, right now. This is our proving ground, and their future is what is at stake.

Dan Crummell:  your future is in his hands.