For the first time ever I am here to commend Peter Penashue for doing the absolute correct thing: quitting.
I’m sure there have been worse, more inactive, more indifferent cabinet representatives in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, but I just can’t think of their names right now.
If you work or are involved in any type of marine industry in this province (you know, small stuff like oil, fish, shipping, cargo, energy — that stuff) I’m sure you would have to be nodding in agreement right now.
The Alfred E. Newman of the federal cabinet, giddily grinning and humming along with his “What? Me worry?” demeanour as Newfoundland and Labrador-based federal services and personnel were cut, slashed, moved or hampered by his government was pure theatre of the absurd.
A man who once stood at the end of a runway at 5 Wing Goose Bay and dared fighter jets to challenge him couldn’t muster up the gumption to keep his government from kicking this province in the federal gonads.
They moved the Rescue Centre from St. John’s to Halifax and we ended up with people getting Italians on the other end of a phone for emergency calls and others mistaking the Port au Port Peninsula for Port au Prince in Haiti. Make no mistake, someone is going to die, and the changes made by Penashue and his cohorts will be at least partly to blame.
They cut and slashed fisheries personnel leaving fishermen to an online service that will undoubtedly create headaches and problems. They are downloading the cost for conservation of the fishery on the fishermen who now have to pay for logbooks, tags and at-sea observers.
Cuts have come and are coming to federal fisheries science.
Scratch that. Penashue didn’t sit idly by while these changes were made. He was absolutely culpable in it. He ducked protestors, offered up feeble excuses for the things his government was doing, dodged media, and refused to talk about the issues.
Whether or not his campaign fundraising practices were wrong, is not for me to say. I can only speak to his ineptness as a cabinet minister and a representative for this province. And his record in the position was a poor one.
Everyone is better off with his resignation.
Look, it cannot be at all disputed that Penashue has had some success in the past as an Aboriginal and community leader. He was a mover and a shaker who made things happen for the Innu in Labrador and the communities of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu. He was, at times, a trail blazer and a great advocate for his people.
Federal MP and NL cabinet representative just isn’t a job he’s cut out for.
Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com
You can also find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenavigatormagazine
And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NavigatorMag