Repairing the damage

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There’s a scene in the movie Bull Durham where the manager blasts his players who are having a rough start to their season, calling them lollygaggers and bums.

At one point he asks the assistant manager what their win-loss record is, and the assistant replies: “Eight (wins) and 24 (losses).”

“Eight and 24!?” the manager yelps, before adding, “How’d we ever win eight games?”

“It’s a miracle,” the assistant replies.

I thought about that scene when I saw the federal by-election numbers for Labrador recently: how did nearly 4,000 normally functioning human beings ever cast a vote for Peter Penashue? It’s a miracle.

Forget the improper campaign expenses and question dodging. Forget the bragging he did about stuffing a Newfoundland project until he got what he wanted for a Labrador one. Forget the hogwash about how “Labrador lost” because they voted for someone else (the last bastion of an arrogant political sack is to intimate that you need to be on the government side or you’ll get screwed, an act we have seen many times around these parts).

Right now, somebody has to find a way to start fixing all the damage that has been done in the past two-and-a-half years on Penashue’s watch. With apologies to Stephen Harper and his assertion that Penashue is the best MP Labrador ever had, quite frankly he has been one of the worst and least effective cabinet ministers in the history of this province.

Cuts came and services changed; jobs were lost or relocated to Halifax from St. John’s; search and rescue services were changed wholesale and faith was lost in those services; emergency medical calls went to Rome while confusion abounded about the difference between the Port au Port Peninsula and Port au Prince in Haiti; federal fish science continued to be sliced; EI programs crucial to seasonal workers (and that includes the fishery, forestry, tourism, construction, etc.) were demolished and changed to the point of being almost prejudicial and discriminatory; and the list goes on.

And it all happened without any explanation or even a response from our supposed federal cabinet representative. Even a ventriloquist dummy speaks now and then, despite the fact the hand is doing the talking.

Look it’s easy to keep kicking at Penashue’s “legacy” but we have bigger fish to fry right now. There is a lot of damage to repair and it’s going to be a massive challenge. Our recent political machinations (the ABC nonsense, the constant quarrelling with Ottawa, the provincial voting results in recent elections, the growing myopia of the current government as it relates to regions not named Quebec, Ontario or Alberta) will all conspire to make the task more difficult.

All we know for sure is that Penashue simply wasn’t doing the job.

The question now becomes, who or what will?

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine,

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