27 May 2016

Last Rites #nlpoli

This week Premier Dwight Ball became the punchline to a joke.

Ball spent yet another day not giving straight answers to simple questions about what they knew and when they knew about Ed Martin's severance.  For good measure,  the opposition Conservatives managed to drag natural resources minister Siobhan Coady into the mess.  She had the same lines as Ball.  That's no good for her.

The Telegram's James McLeod tweeted on Thursday that Ball had denied in the scrum that afternoon that he knew any details.  Then someone reminded Ball of his interview with  his answer to VOCM's Fred Hutton during a news conference on April 21, the day after Martin's resignation.  Ball said that he would be speaking with Nalcor board chair "Kenny" Marshall to find out details of what Ball described as Martin's severance.  Later that afternoon,  Ball told reporters about the other payments approved by the board that morning, confirming in the process that he had spoken with Marshall immediately after his morning interview with Hutton.

McLeod is apparently planning a piece for the paper this morning that tries to document the twists and turns Ball's version of events has taken.  If anyone can pull it off, McLeod can.  What he will be doing, in effect, is writing Ball's political obituary.

If people voted for anything last fall, it was for an end to the political blunders of the crowd that used to be running the place.  The massively depressing budget with its promise of pain with no end in sight? Well, that was bad enough.  But this week,  the public has been treated to watching the Premier talk about facts and consistency as he tells fibs inconsistently.  Voters wanted grown-ups back.  It looks like they didn't get it.

With Ball's approval rating at 17% we can safely say that voters have made it clear they have zero tolerance for his shit.  Next week,  they'll hear more crap on Monday.  And likely Tuesday and Wednesday.

And then on Thursday, with gas in the metro area already at a buck fourteen,  they will discover the joys of Dwight's gasoline tax.  Overnight,  gasoline will jump by 14%. While Ball tries to remember what story he told last in the fairy tale world of Newfoundland politics, in the real world, folks will finally get the first of many reminders of why they hated the budget. Things will not get better for the Liberals between now and Christmas.

The longer this sorry-assed spectacle drags on, the less likely it is that Dwight Ball could do anything that would change their judgement about him even if Ball realised that he is already at the bottom of a very deep political hole and needs to climb out.  We may well already be beyond the point where Ball could salvage his own political career.

That leaves us with the question of how long Ball will last.  On the current course,  Dwight Ball will either get fed up and quit politics or his caucus will rebel.  It would only be a matter of time. When Kathy Dunderdale and the Conservatives hit this point - over Bill 29 - they staggered on largely because the caucus full of pensionable pols just had to hang on and fatten up their pensions. They had no incentive to change. Ball's Liberal caucus  - by contrast - is full of people who have a lot invested in their political careers. They won't likely be too anxious to sit for three years staring at political oblivion in 2019.