17 March 2016

Tiny pebbles in an empty washtub #nlpoli

For the third day in a row,  the opposition has asked one question over and over again, with a couple of minor variations.

They’ve asked education minister Dale Kirby why the New Liberal government that took over last December hasn’t called elections for the school board the Conservatives appointed in 2013 after they crammed all the English language school boards together in one pile.

Even if you have never heard of this issue before the instant you read that sentence, you know precisely where this is going.

The first question on the subject on Wednesday came from former Conservative cabinet minister David Brazil.

Kirby did what he has been doing for those three days.  he repeated the simple cold facts of the matter:
  • The election commitment was to hold elections within 12 months of taking office.
  • Kirby got the mandate to do precisely that.
  • He’s met with the trustees of both the English and French boards with an eye to having both boards elected on the same basis.
  • They are in agreement so the government is busily drafting legislation.
And every time Brazil or New Democrat Gerry Rogers asks some variation of the same question, Kirby only has to repeat the same thing over and over and over again.

Brazil says something ridiculous.

Kirby calmly explains things how Brazil is wrong.

The same thing happened later in question period went Rogers went after the related issue of school closures.  Why is he rushing to close schools?  asked Rogers.

Kirby simply had to point out that he hasn’t closed any schools at all since this is the responsibility of the school district.

What's worse for the opposition is that anyone vaguely familiar with the issues would know that five schools currently slated to close in the English school district are overdue for closure.  They should have been shut and their students moved to larger schools nearby not so much as a matter of saving money as of delivering more opportunities to the students.

The  whole thing has been a spectacular display of political impotence by both opposition parties.  The two New Democrats in the House have considerably more experience sitting on the opposition side of the House than the Conservatives.

The Dippers should be eating the Tories’ lunch every day. They should know House procedure.  They should excel at the theatre of Question Period.  Instead, they are locked in a race to see who can bore the people of the province first.  So far Rogers in a dead heat with Brazil and his colleagues for worst performance by an experienced politician facing a noob government. 

The effect in the House is like the one on Twitter:  a handful of tiny pebbles clattering around in an empty metal washtub.  What becomes evident from the questioning in the House is that the politicians have no substance.  That’s just pathetic given that, in the case of the Conservatives, they actually ran the government a mere four months ago.  Things haven’t changed that much yet. 

Things aren’t that much better for the other opposition members.  Steve Kent has always alternated his public  persona between goon and buffoon. With a leading role on the opposition benches, Kent has an opportunity to demonstrate some depth and maturity.  Instead,  his performance in the House has been as vapid as he’s ever been.

Health minister John Haggie has started to make fun of Kent's relentless questioning on the same subject, proving in the process to be one of the best members of the government when it comes to the verbal dueling of the legislature. Things are unlikely to get better for Kent at this rate. Kent mocks himself every time he opens his mouth. As the photo shows -  tweeted this week by the Telegram's james McLeod -  Kent's Instagram account is apparently no kinder to him.

The only place where the opposition has scored anything close to a hit on the noob cabinet has been on finance minister Cathy Bennett.  And if she hadn’t inexplicably stumbled with some unsubstantiated claim about massive savings,  the opposition would have run out of questions at the start of the first normal sitting week in the new session.