Imagine, if you can, what it must be like to be Sandy Collins. Sandy is a very young man who is - right now - living the first line of his epitaph.
Imagine, if you can do two at one, what it must be like to be Veronica Hayden. Veronica is Paul Davis’ principal assistant.
Both took to Twitter last weekend to harass Liberal leader Dwight Ball over the fact that he seemed to be saying contradictory things.
They must have been feeling very proud, strong, and determined.
And then it was Monday.
In the House of Assembly that afternoon, Darin Luther King told the members that money was so tight in a budget that would see spending increase by 12% that the government could not afford $500,000 to build a monument to the dead from the First World War. They had promised to do this, by the way, back in 2011 as one of their major election promises.
Now they couldn’t afford it.
No greater fraud, someone once said, no greater fraud than a promise not kept.
On Tuesday, Veronica and Sandy’s boss issued a statement that told a completely different story. Premier Paul Davis met with the Turkish ambassador in December. Paul asked if the provincial government could put up a monument at the Turkish battlefield where Newfoundlanders died a hundred years ago.
No monuments, his Excellency told the Premier.
Oh well. That’s too bad said Paul. But if you ever change your mind let us know.
That’s probably not exactly how the thing went but you get the drift of things.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, cabinet minister Clyde Jackman was getting in a bit of jam over news that the university would be raising tuition for graduate students and international students by about 30%. We can’t force the university to do anything, Jackman said.
The intense sucking sound that followed was caused by people puzzled by Jackman’s statement. After all, the Conservatives had been claiming credit for years for freezing tuition at Memorial University. Jackman’s statement was like saying that there was no Santa Claus for all those families in Nova Scotia who have been getting a wonderfully cheap education thanks to the government on this side of the Gulf.
Cue Paul Davis.
On Wednesday the Premier said that Jackman wasn’t quite right about the whole tuition freeze thing. The government had blackmailed the university board of regents each year. Davis didn’t use that word but it adds up to the same thing. Unless the Regents froze tuition, the government wouldn’t give them one red cent toward their expenses.
As VOCM put it, somewhat more genteelly, “the Premier admitted today that if government provided funds for a tuition freeze and the Board of Regents didn't do so, then the money would be clawed back.”
The government covers the lion’s share of the university budget so they’d have to shut down if the government didn’t send over a cheque or even dramatically reduced the cheque they did send. But it was always up to the Regents, said Davis with a completely straight face.
Blown out of the water not once but twice by their own boss in a mere three days.