Paul Davis fired Judy Manning from cabinet on Wednesday.
He didn’t meet with her in person.
Davis called her on the phone.
Short of sending her an e-mail or a text message, Davis couldn’t have shown less class, tact, or respect for the job he holds and for Manning herself than in the miserable way Davis he fired her.
To make matters worse, Davis couldn’t even come up with a good reason for dumping Manning. Take a look at three minutes from the post-shuffle scrum that CBC posted to its website.
David Cochrane asked a simple question. Davis wandered all over the place and never gave a plain answer. Even at the end of Davis’ answer to the second question, we aren’t really any further ahead in understand why Davis threw Manning under the bus and then backed over the body a few times for good measure
Sure he muttered in the scrum about doing things differently now that the world is so radically different, but was that his excuse for appointing her or for giving her the flick in such a contemptible fashion?
And even if being all bravish and leadery decisive was the reason for appointing Manning, that still doesn’t really explain why Davis punted Manning to the curb at the first opportunity.
Davis tried to blame his decision, obliquely, on Felix Collins. The father of Bill 29 was supposed to quit politics, as Cochrane reported Thursday night. Collins didn’t quit. He decided to stay.
That’s not very leader-like of Davis. After all, Davis alone decides who sits in cabinet. He’d already backed Manning. If he wanted to cut cabinet and was ticked at Collins for changing his mind, then he didn’t have to give Felix a seat at the cabinet table. If he wanted Manning to run, he could have told her to do so.
Collins is a strange case, though. This guy, after all, performed so brilliantly badly during Bill 29 that he should have been punted from cabinet then. Instead, Kathy Dunderdale announced he was leaving in a cabinet downsizing. Collins got to stay in cabinet for months afterward. He went out of cabinet, briefly, only to get back into cabinet during the leadership merry-go-round that happened in 2014. He’s only been out of cabinet for six months.
Now Collins has thwarted Davis’ plans. Rather than get a punishment, Felix gets a reward. Collins must have some heavy-duty black magic going on. Or maybe he has some seriously bad dirt on Tory leaders such that he can always get his way.
Whatever the real story is – the one Davis told isn’t true - there’s clearly something else going on here that is only tangentially related to the budget. Davis fired Manning over the phone. Davis appointed Collins to a seat in cabinet. Why he did so is the unanswered question. .
Tony Cornect got to pretend that he resigned on Thursday. His comments to reporters looked pathetic. So too did Fairity O’Brien. Judy Manning got told over the phone she was gone. And while Cornect will run again, Davis had no such understanding from or with Manning. If Judy wants a career in politics, she should run for a Liberal nomination in the fall. Why the Premier made all those decisions remains completely unanswered.
Instead, we got the ridiculous claim that Collins will be a half a minister because he isn;t taking full salary. It’s hard to believe reporters actually recited that foolishness as if it was serious. He sits in cabinet. He gets a paycheque. Does Collins only get half a vote at the cabinet table? Does he only sit in the meeting on half a chair or attend ever other meeting? Is he the minister every second day?
The most obvious incongruity in all this, though, is that Davis didn’t actually re-organize his ministry. He didn’t create 12 new departments to go with the radically new situation he claimed we are now in compared to the one last September. He just dropped a couple of bodies and handed out bits and pieces of other departments to some of the others. The justice department went to Darin King, for example, even though King screwed up the last time he had it, and even though King is already overloaded with a raft of unrelated departments.
This little shuffle and Davis’ weak-assed answers reinforce the idea that the whole thing was cobbled together on the fly. Davis would have made a far bigger political impact if he had actually changed the cabinet and punted the parliamentary assistants to the various ministers.
Instead, Davis frigged at the margins. He has also gone to the Speaker – as if he alone decides this stuff – and asked him to slash pay for House Leaders, whips and so on. According to Davis, they only work when the House is sitting but collect the pay all year long. Maybe the answer would be to have the House sit more, but Davis isn’t thinking any big thoughts here. He also doesn;t seem to care that the House should actually set the House’s financial arrangements.
Davis and Speaker Wade Verge are just one of the gang when it comes to the House and its privileges. Verge is supposed to protect the members’ rights and privileges. Instead, Verge will act like the incompetent, nakedly partisan buffoons who have held the job since 2003.
Nothing Davis has done since September seems well-thought out. There’s no sense of a plan or a vision or anything beyond what is happening right in front of Davis’ face. This cabinet shuffle seems to be more of the same.
Judy Manning is pissed off and well she should be. Judy helped get the guy elected and he treated her with the utmost contempt. She can get over it. Now she is just getting what the rest of us have received from Paul and his pals for quite some time. If they eff over their friends like this, Judy, imagine what they’ve been doing to the rest of us.