Facebook farce embarrasses entire province

Brian Jones
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If Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Justice Minister Darin King are so frail and gormless that they feel threatened by a few smartass comments made on a Facebook group, you have to wonder if they have been paying attention to the three-dimensional world beyond computer screens and realize a real threat they face: electoral decimation by voters who are ashamed and embarrassed to be governed by them.

Dunderdale and King’s pathetic antics in the House of Assembly this week quickly, and predictably, made national news.

Canadians on the coasts of all three oceans, and all points in between, now know that Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) elected leaders who get frightened by a few insipid comments posted on social media.

Some wag with a monitor commented on said Facebook group he was surprised Dunderdale hadn’t been “jfk’d.”


As anyone who isn’t a Tory cabinet minister knows, plenty of web posters are habitually obnoxious and boorish — whether aiming to shock or impress, or merely reflecting their real personalities, readers cannot know.

But to read such a comment and infer a “threat” is beyond preposterous.

It is moronic and shallow — and laughable, coming as it did from a man who was high up in this province’s educational system. (Kids: don’t try this at home. Mr. King is a seasoned professional and has been trained to make a fool of himself.)

NDP MHA Gerry Rogers showed composure and class by refusing to apologize in the House, and explaining why she refused.

Apparently, someone signed Rogers onto an anti-Dunderdale Facebook group without her knowledge.

Rogers did not make the Facebook comments that raised the ire of King and Dunderdale. Nor did she support them, either in the House or, presumably, by clicking thumbs up.

Even so, Speaker Ross Wiseman ruled Rogers must apologize. With her refusal, she was ejected from the House.

The swoosh you hear is the sound of Democracy sailing out of the harbour.

Many people have quite rightly, and easily, defended Rogers. It is equally easy to criticize Wiseman, and point out how short he came of fulfilling the speaker’s role of objectivity and impartiality.

Wiseman, Dunderdale and King’s comments and actions are bothersome, to put it politely, and outrageous, manipulative and revolting, to put it bluntly. The inescapable conclusion is that Newfoundlanders are ruled by sectarian simpletons.

If somebody didn’t do an evil deed, you can’t demand that they apologize for it.

If you know that somebody didn’t behave wrongfully, you can’t punish them for what they didn’t do.

Unless you’re Dunderdale, King and Wiseman.

It is incomprehensible. Get out your thesaurus and see if you can find a synonym for “stupid” that does it justice. It is a rare instance in which the English language falls short.

Maybe the three of them are attempting to become as reviled as their colleague, Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy.

It is what they deserve.

It is what their whole administration deserves. They have embarrassed the province in front of the entire country.

Apparently not content with that, King then went continental.

Imagine what any Bostonian, or any American, would think if they heard King in one putrid train of “thought” compare online comments with the bombings at the Boston Marathon. They would think what many Newfoundlanders are concluding: that governance in this province has reached a new low in vileness.

Just in case King needs to be reminded of the obvious, that was real blood on the pavement in Boston, and those were actual people who were killed and maimed. To bring that up in the context of Facebook “threats” is an insult to decency and intelligence, and to the victims of real violence.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at

The Telegram. He can be reached by

email at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Bostonian, Boston Marathon, The Telegram

Geographic location: Boston

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Recent comments

  • Stephen D Redgrave
    July 02, 2013 - 09:11

    Somehow hundreds of Facebook recommendations (probably a record) for this article have been reduced to 6? weird, or what?

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 21, 2013 - 19:27

    They embarrassed the heck out of NL on a national level. Brutal.

  • Patrick
    April 20, 2013 - 17:12

    Sadly folks the level of incompetence that was displayed in the HOA this week by our so-called leaders is commonplace. As we start to unravel this recent budget we are bombarded by the fallout from the changes that have been put in place by Dunderdale and her cronies. Change was eminent, but according to several friends who lost jobs in recent weeks, there was no plan in place for the changes. You can't just slash jobs from departments and have no plan for the effected parties, but that is what happened. No wait there was a plan....insult the fired employees (and those they served) and state that they didn't do their jobs or provide "a compelling argument" on why they should not be fired. WOW!

  • Justine
    April 19, 2013 - 22:49

    A top notch column, Brian. Your readers would be well served to drop by the legislature for Question Period. The level of ignorance, arrogance, and contempt is breathtaking. I seem to remember Premier Dunderdale's early priority of restoring decorum and respect to the House of Assembly. She needs to move her desk away from our resident crackie, Mr. Kennedy. His snarling, sneering, putrid demeanor is rubbing off on her. She has duplicated Jerome to a tee - leaning back in her chair, in full smirk, taunting the opposition while one of their members is speaking. Kathy (we don't govern by polls) is in way over her head. Great column!

  • sc
    April 19, 2013 - 18:40

    I trust that the people who voted Conservative in the last provincial election are proud of their government. Dunderdale and her minions have embarrassed the entire province in front of all Canada, made complete fools of themselves, and have proven that they have a very fragile grasp of what democracy entails. Congratulations to Mr. Jones for a well-written column.

  • Jay
    April 19, 2013 - 17:01

    There seems to be an emphasis on petty political issues and settling personal scores coming from this government. Some of the people let go in the last round of lay-offs wren't exactly drinking the Tory Kool Aid. Wasn't there some veiled threats made to Yvonne Jones awhile ago, and wasn't Tom Osborne eviscerated by his old friends when he made a stand? This government seems to have totally dismissed the big picture of running the province in favor of sinking into the muck of personality attacks and pettiness. And that comes from the leadership..

  • WF Power
    April 19, 2013 - 16:51

    "Smartass comments"? Burn down someone's home, put a bullet through someone's head is smart ass? What a scary place this world has become to trivialize such madness.

  • Brian Crane
    April 19, 2013 - 16:22

    Although I've disagreed with Brian Jones' opinion in quite a few of his other articles, I can't help but wholeheartedly support everything he's said here. This administration is an embarrassment to the entire province. Shame on Darin King for his small-minded, unempathetic diatribe.

  • Carolyn
    April 19, 2013 - 15:32

    Amazing article... so, so very true.

  • will browne
    April 19, 2013 - 14:22

    i wrote that comment, well more like i copied it from the top of the group and quoted it, i didn't threaten anyone so to imply that what was said is a threat then you are sadly mistaken and should take up reading the dictionary.

  • david
    April 19, 2013 - 13:40

    Social media is for youngsters with ADD and self-esteem issues. In the hands of Newfoundland politicians, it provides a real public service: exposing them as youngsters with ADD and self-esteem issues.

    • Jeffrey
      April 19, 2013 - 16:22

      As an adult with ADD and self-esteem issues, I resent that. But I accept your analogy and the point you've made.

    • david
      April 20, 2013 - 18:48

      Well then, there's a good chance you're one of two things...

  • Anon
    April 19, 2013 - 13:27

    So one thing I learned from the people of Newfoundland Labrador is that bullying is not ok, unless you're a member of the PC party. The next time I see an NDP party member wearing a pink anti-bullying T-Shirt, I'm going to yell "Hippocrite" at them.

    • Justin
      April 20, 2013 - 00:14

      You, Anon, have completely missed the point. Probably on purpose. TROLL ALERT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! The issue isn't about bullying--it's about hypocrisy. If you want to call someone a hypocrite (instead of a hippocrite because, you know, that's insulting to hippos...) then called Dunderdale one, because her point was that someone in the public eye has the responsibility to monitor their accounts--something that she herself failed to do. It's not her fault that her name bears similarity to the term "Dunderhead". It IS her fault that she's EARNED the comparison now.

  • EDfromRED
    April 19, 2013 - 13:22

    A kindergarten classroom would have more common sense and decorum than the PC's. It staggers the mind that these nincompoops are in charge.

  • Tina Martin
    April 19, 2013 - 13:05

    Thank you Brian Jones for saying (and very well too) what any sane newfoundlander must be thinking as we watch this farce unfold.

  • Anon
    April 19, 2013 - 13:00

    So one thing I learned from the people of Newfoundland Labrador is that bullying is not ok, unless you're a member of the PC party. The next time I see an NDP party member wearing a pink anti-bullying T-Shirt, I'm going to yell "Hippocrite" at them.

  • Shawn M Fitzpatrick
    April 19, 2013 - 12:10

    This problem gets fixed when symbolic gestures like removing the fences now in place on OUR harbour-front COMES DOWN.. We, as in the USA, CANNOT live our lives under threat!! WE the FREE need to BE!! It is as simple as this, as a start. We need symbolism to show that CHANGE is happening for the better, for our freedom! The word in the USA from their President, is to pick up and live to show, we will not be defeated. Fences along our harbour-fronts are obvious signs of our fears!! Put there by fear mongers, with self-serving indulgences!!

  • alice
    April 19, 2013 - 11:14

    Do they even realize that what they are bickering about is something that 12 year olds would?? seriously I think you have more important things on your plate ,then crying over what someone said about you on face book ,grow up for God sake ! wait a minute ,"grow up for the provinces sake "!! And to think this is what Danny Williams left in charge of running our province ! enough said!!!!

  • Sylvia J.
    April 19, 2013 - 10:33

    Careful about using the word "stupid". Remember what happened to Randy Simms?

    • holy smokes
      April 19, 2013 - 14:36

      Well Sylvia.............In THIS case "stupid" is a mild evaluation of the events and those who perpetrated them.....Id have preferred ASININE....more to colloquial of of the less polite! Adz holes!!

  • lulu
    April 19, 2013 - 09:37

    years ago they actually used voilence.. remember when they closed the fishery?? now people "use their words" and she claims its bullying! come on seriously can no one critisize what the govt is doing to the province without being called a bully or a hater?? apparently the must think we are in a communist country where they are right and we the people are wrong. we must do as they say not as they do. and to pay someone a $53000 salary to "manage" the govts social media WHAT!!! are you kidding me! get off the computer and do your work running the province! or better yet step asifde and let someone that knows what they are doing clean up your mess.

  • James Dwyer
    April 19, 2013 - 09:03

    This government has failed to reinvent itself. They have lost touch with the day to day concerns of Newfoundland and Labradoreans, such as high food cost, housing and day to day living. Let alone their bizarre views on the environment and rural concerns in this province, and attacking the public sector will not make up for their short comings. This is clearly mismanagement of the public purse. To go from where we where to where we are now, smacks of incompetence. Sadly, instead of correcting the problems they created they are lashing out and belittling others to pump up their public persona. Not working, Kathy, Genome and Darren.

  • Justin
    April 19, 2013 - 09:00

    Dunderdale is not cut out to be a leader, and she doesn't have the grace to know when to bow out. Politics should be a respectable career, but it's turned into a crap-flinging contest--they're no better than monkeys in zoos.

  • Gary Johnston
    April 19, 2013 - 08:53

    It is so embarrassing to see those in powerful, governing positions cannot comprehend and manipulate the simple technology used by our children to pass notes in class. They need to get over themselves, get to work and do the jobs they were elected to do.

  • Stephen Redgrave
    Stephen Redgrave
    April 19, 2013 - 08:52

    A standing ovation for the writer!! It's a good feeling to agree with every written word, be informed, and laugh out loud at our government. At a time when I thought Justice Minister King finally had his act together, I now see him as a cartoon character. I've chosen to have a good laugh with Brian's great article, only because laughter is good. I could just as easily cry knowing the gravity of the situation. We'll fix this problem come election time. That is my goal for the future of Newfoundland. Voting day...I'll be up at five am waiting to do my part and take as many people to the poling station as humanly possible. I promise, we will fix this problem!

  • Debbie
    April 19, 2013 - 08:00

    Wonderful article. As an aside, Dunderdale also wants to "have a talk about bullying" with the gentleman who erected the 'Dunderdale Boo Hiss' sign; an insult to anyone who has suffered at the hands of a real aggressor.

  • Well Said Brian Jones
    April 19, 2013 - 07:57

    I completely agree with everything you've said from beginning to end! Well said, Brian. This administration is embarrassing themselves and the entire province for electing them.

  • concerned
    April 19, 2013 - 06:56

    This government has lost the plot. But it was lost about 7 years ago. But with this issue in particular their general incompetence is plain for all to see due to the general knowledge the public have on the issue (facebook and twitter). But their managment of Muskrat Falls, the provincial finances, Abitibi, FPI, among pretty much every major issue of the past 7-8 years has been to the same low standard. But because of the relative complexity of the issues, it is not as visible for the general public. The combined record of Dunderdale and Williams has been deplorable. It should be our golden age in Newfoundland. Now we have a government who just do not simply have the capacity to govern. Their intent is there, the capacity is not. Their management of 'twittergate' just makes it visible for the entire province and country to see.