24 September 2015

That's Doctor King to you #nlpoli

Not surprisingly, Darin King has decided to leave politics after only eight years.

King is just the latest in a long line of pensionable Conservatives who have decided it would be better to quit politics now with a fat pension rather than risk sitting on the opposition benches for a few years.

If he is remembered at all, King will stand out among his colleagues in the current Conservative administration for two reasons.

First,  as with Joan Shea and several others, King represents a particular class of cabinet minister appointed since 2003.  They seem eminently qualified to be middle or low-level bureaucrats, yet they rose  far above their service ceiling and remained there despite their obvious shortcomings.  They defied the Peter Principle and rose well beyond their level of incompetence.

Neither King nor Shea were the first ministers to screw up. They just seemed to dominate the current administration and lasted far longer in their jobs than they might have in any earlier administration, regardless of the party stripe. It is hard to imagine so many Kings or Sheas surviving for very long in a cabinet in the 1970s, for example, that would have included the likes of John Crosbie,  Bill Marshall,  and Brian Peckford.

Consider King's performance in the House this past year.  In April, justice minister Darin King clearly had no idea what was going on in his own department with the Dunphy shooting.  Opposition justice critic Andrew Parsons exposed King as an incompetent and King seemed eager to confirm his incompetence day after day.

In 2010, King misled the House of Assembly and the people of the province about a serious contract problem at the College of the North Atlantic in Qatar. In 2012,  King's inept management of the House exacerbated the government's problems with the Term 29 debate in the spring sitting and the debate on Muskrat Falls in December. As trade minister, King played a central role in the government's stupid effort to blackmail the federal government over the European trade deal. And in his first stint as justice minister, King frigged up budget cuts in his department by ignoring the advice of his officials. Cabinet had to reverse cuts King made on his own.

Perhaps the defining moment of King's political career was his role in the lynching of Gerry Rogers.  As Government House Leader, King led the attack on  Rogers despite the fact that Rogers had  - quite obviously - done nothing wrong.  King never apologised to Rogers, let alone to the people of the province, for his behaviour. 

The episode combined King's first characteristic - ineptness - with his second defining characteristic:  being an officious prick. Throughout his political career,  King never failed to came across as a miserable little bastard about anything he was involved with, even when such a demeanour wasn't necessary. 

What's more, King seemed to like it.

That's good because it is the way people will remember Doctor Darin Luther King.