When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing.
In this case, a bunch of politicians in a tough spot with voters are fishing among a small bunch of politicians in Ottawa for support in their campaign to turn a deal achieved in 2013 into something else entirely.
This isn’t really news, by the way, but in the world of the provincial government these days, intergovernmental affairs minister Keith Hutchings sent out a news release on Friday to tell everyone what was reported before Christmas. That is, Keith and Premier Paul Davis are trying to get federal members of parliament and senators a from Newfoundland and Labrador to back the provincial government in its latest war with Ottawa.
We can imagine how the letter to Conservative senator might start. a least in the blunt, honest version of it:
“Dear Fabe” – as in Fabian Manning – “we want you to say publicly that the guy who appointed you to the senate twice is a lying sack of shit. We have already said so publicly because we think that the best way to negotiate is to insult people personally.
“Either that or we know there’s no hope so we are desperately picking a fight with Ottawa to boost our standing in the polls.”
“Anyway, here’s hoping you have forgotten how we all backed Danny like the weak-kneed bunch we are back when he frigged you over, but that’s all in the past, right, now, Fabe, ole buddy?
love ya, Fabe.
Counting on ya buddy.
Hear from ya soon”
The real letter used different words, most likely, but you get a sense here of the way someone like Fabian Manning might just read whatever words are on the page, based on his own experience.
The provincial Liberals are unlikely to back the provincial Conservatives if only because they understand there is no profit in helping a gang of politicians circling the bowl get a hand-hold on the rim that might work against your provincial Liberal friends.
The only support Keith and Paul have so far in Ottawa is from the federal New Democrats. Thomas Mulcair and his crowd oppose the European free trade deal but have pledged to give Davis the cash in the unlikely event that the NDP win the next federal election. Paul likely won’t be cashing any cheques any time soon on that promise.
Provincially, the Conservatives have the FFAW on their side. That’s not as significant as it might seem. For one thing, the entire processing sector hasn’t sided with the provincial government ploy. For another thing, the FFAW isn’t the fisheries organization it once was. These days it is more of a government sub-contractor than a union, handing out government cheques and administering government programs of one kind or another. Their support of the government’s plan to create a giant provincially-controlled slush fund seems to be more about the future of the FFAW than about the future of the men and women in the fishery.
Among politicians, the provincial New Democrats stand four-square with the provincial Conservatives. That counts for exactly nothing since Lorraine Michael has set the party toward the political rocks and lashed herself to the wheel to make sure no one changes course. The only people who think that’s sensible are people like Brian Jones at the Telegram. Brian thinks that Lorraine is brilliant and that the provincial NDP deserve – in his word – to be the official opposition. Just remember that, without any exaggeration whatsoever, Brian is to the Dippers what Open Line Tony was to the Tories.
The provincial Liberals initially focused on minute details of the dispute, criticising the Conservatives for not nailing down all the fine points up front. They spent the rest of the House session niggling over those points. They might be forced to take a firm stand in the New Year, but for now, the Conservatives don’t have a firm ally in the provincial Liberals either.
If the Liberals spent Christmas getting their skulls around this mess, they’d understand what Davis and Hutchings are doing. Their best position in the New Year would be to slag the provincial Conservatives on the substance of the issue. If they wanted to be sensibly political, they’d also slag the Conservatives for being incompetent twits.
Bottom line for the Liberals is that there is no profit for them and there certainly is no value for the public in supporting the Hutchings/Davis fraud. The Liberals still have to take a clear position, though. They’ve been critical of the Conservatives but Liberal leader Dwight Ball has also said he’d go with Davis to Ottawa if it would help get the cash. They need to spit the hook out of their mouths rather than appear, as they do now, to be eyeing the picture of the bait that Hutchings and Davis are dangling.