A buffet of political straight talk
It doesn't happen very often, but I love it when a journalist tells it like is.
Wednesday night, for example, David Cochrane had a lovely moment of truth on Here & Now.
He reported dutifully on Premier Williams's reaction to federal election results, including Williams's statement that the ABC campaign was over and it was now business as usual with the Harper government.
"There's no battle with the prime minister right now," Williams said. "Those issues are behind us, from my perspective. That day is done. The battle is over, from my perspective and the perspective of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We've achieved our goal."
Cochrane pointed out that ABC did nothing nationally; that Harper has a stronger majority than before and the Liberals are in disarray. And then, one of the best wraps I've heard this year:
"Now that the election is behind him, Premier Danny Williams says he expects to have a normal working relationship with the federal government and the prime minister and he actually sounds like he believes that's possible."
Nicely done, David.
Those in the premier's camp might complain that Cochrane was editorializing on this.
I disagree absolutely. Cochrane made an objective conclusion based on the facts, as straightforward and clear as any fact can be. It was quality reporting, and we need more of it around here.
Since were calling a spade a spade,' how about the motion put forward recently by Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, who would like to see snow tires required by law, from mid-November to mid-April.
Can you believe the reaction of Kevin O'Brien, the minister of government services? He says he needs proof that snow tires are safer than all-season tires.
What a load of crap! Anyone who has driven our winters on snow tires - and there are many thousands of us knows the truth of it.
O'Brien might as well put on a clown nose and funny shoes, because what he is saying here with a straight face no less is pure comedy.
Several times over the years I have had the luxury of buying a new car, and each time attempted to get through the winter on the supplied all-season radials. By January, I was in the line-up at Canadian Tire, buying something with a winter tread.
The difference was most obvious when trying to move forward when stopped on an incline (think of the traffic light at Duckworth and Prescott) and especially when entering the highway on-ramp, only to discover that it hasn't been ploughed. All-season tires have always failed in these situations, whilst winter tires thus far have always gotten me home safely.
To continue telling it like it is, O'Brien's concern is purely political, and has nothing to do with whether or not snow tires are better. People of limited means can't afford a set of winter tires, which are expensive, and would be pissed off at such legislation. Simply put, government would lose more votes than it could gain from enacting such a law.
Never mind that lives would be saved (without question, such a law would reduce accidents in winter).
When told that tire dealers say snow tires are better, O'Brien's response was typical of this government's approach he attacked the motives of snow tire dealers, saying they were the ones who would benefit from such legislation.
He also blamed drivers for not adjusting their driving habits for poor weather conditions, which does have a trace of truth in it. Every year, I see several four-wheel drive SUV's upside down in the ditch because the driver got cocky. But then there's the rest of us sensible folk who drive safely by, having already slowed down. We just want to get where we're going safely. Snow tires work for us. All-seasons don't.
And then there's this Telegram story, which was summed up nicely by NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, Thursday on Open Line. She said, in effect, that while Premier Williams was out in the lobby, telling us that we can have effective federal representation through opposition, his ministers were in back, putting the screws to the Liberal Opposition.
Last night, on CBC Here & Now, Trevor Taylor defended the decision by saying, in effect, that the Liberals had already received a comparable sum through other interim measures. If that is the case, why not enshrine the increase, as per their own study, on a "go forward basis"?
It's Friday morning, and I just heard Trevor Taylor on Open Line offer a bunch of bafflegab in defence of this. He could not defend it in clear language, with concise points, which is telling in itself.
The editorial in today's Telegram pulls no punches on this subject, comparing the government to "schoolyard bullies".
"They're using their control of a supposedly non-partisan committee to push their weaker compatriots to the ground and steal their lunch money, while pompously claiming to be standing up for the rights of the taxpayer," says The Telegram, and bully for them for cutting through the baloney.
You want more straight talk? Well, on today's Open Line, a surprising number of callers seem to have an ABC hangover, wondering what will happen in the months and years ahead. One person, who voted ABC, is now concerned about our lack of representation in caucus or Cabinet, and thinks Harper is obliged to appoint a Newfoundlander and Labradorian from the Senate. Another suggested that Jack Harris should cross the floor and join the Conservatives.
I credit a friend of mine for coining this quote, which sums it up in the most elemental language possible:
"This situation is very much like shitting in your pants," he said. "It feels great while you're doing, but afterward what a mess."
Finally, since we're telling it like it is, I think the term "go forward basis" is the worst bit of political pretension I've ever heard.
What's wrong with "From now on"?