Slim pickings on the local political front

Trevor Taylor
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I was in Ottawa last week for a staff meeting with my work colleagues, but I took the opportunity to attend parts of the Northern Lights Conference 2014.

The Northern lights Conference is a trade show organized by the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and the Baffin Region Chamber of Commerce.

It is a semi-annual event, occurring every two years since 2008, bringing together the world of business, government, academia and the NGO community operating in the North.

With just about 1,400 registered delegates at this conference, it is the premier gathering place for those doing business in Nunavut, northern Quebec and Labrador. No offence to those who weren’t there, but just about everyone who is anyone in the North showed up.

So, I spent most of the week speaking with a multitude of people, a great cross-section of the community: Newfoundlanders work­ing in Nunavut, business people from the island, leaders in Labrador and the occasional politician and ex-politician.

And while much of the discussion was about the opportunities in the North, the conversation invariably turned to the political environment in Newfoundland and Labra­dor.

Leadership concerns

The most striking thing about the conversation, even among the diehards of the Liberal ranks, who think their time is coming again, was an underlying concern about leadership. Yes, the Tories are on the ropes, yes, Dwight Ball has taken over as the new leader of the Liberals, yes the Tories are going to get a new leader, the NDP are the NDP, but. …

To put it as nicely as I can, the prevailing view was that there isn’t much there to pick from. That view was followed most often by, “but who would want to do it anyway?”

Who would want to take a perfectly good reputation — because most people who get elected do so because they have a good reputation in their respective communities — and subject themselves to the constant scrutiny of the public?

Lacking confidence

I found myself mostly agreeing. Let’s face it, Newfoundland and Labrador politics is at least as much driven by what the leader and team look like as it is by party affiliation. Right now, the general public, at least if those attending the Northern Lights are any indication, don’t see a team they feel confident in putting on the ice.

When you look at the Liberal bench, beyond Andrew Parsons, do you see a cabinet minister? I don’t see a cabinet minister. Dwight Ball, while a nice guy, is not seen as a leader who is going to inspire the six or eight strong individuals he needs to step forward to form his first line. But he desperately needs them if he is to credibly portray the Liberals as the government in waiting.

Retiring Tories

And then look at the Tories. They have a significant portion of the cabinet and some of the caucus who will not run in the next election. They need new blood. While they are selecting a new leader, they had better select one who can bring the six to eight new cabinet ministers they need for 2015.

I don’t know what to say about the NDP. It usually takes a political party a couple of terms to achieve the level of infighting and dysfunction that they achieved in less than one. Maybe they are like that old TV commercial: they are just slightly ahead of their time.

In any event, they weren’t a consideration amongst the wide cross-section of people attending the Northern Lights Conference … so maybe they can reflect on that when they conduct their leadership review.

Trevor Taylor is a former cabinet minister under the Danny Williams administration. Email:

Organizations: NDP, Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, Baffin Region Chamber of Commerce.It

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Northern Quebec Labra

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Recent comments

  • Linda
    February 05, 2014 - 18:00

    @ Pierre Neary, Please explain yourself a little more, First of all Ball and company went up into the polls only because what's going on in the PC's and NDP. As for the extra four seat's, they are being fill by turncoats. Has of to date, Ball and company hasn't present any polices or ideas to the people. So Mr Neary, are you saying the liberal , right people for the job?

    • Pierre Neary
      February 06, 2014 - 15:49

      Hi Linda, I agree that the shift in the polls does have something to do with what is going on with the PC Party and the NDP but also to Mr. Ball as well. As for the "turncoats" I don't much agree with MHA's crossing the floor myself but in the end the voters in their districts will get the last say as it should be. When it comes to policies or ideas minutes after Mr. Ball was elected he stated he was going to resind Bill 29. As far as whether they are the right people for the job the voters will have the last say on that I guess. Have a good day. Pierre Neary

  • Pierre Neary
    February 04, 2014 - 16:17

    Mr. Ball is not a leader? As it stands right now he has lead his party into first place in the polls with a 49% and has gained his party 4 seats in recent months. I don't follow your logic in reaching this decision Mr. Taylor.

  • david
    February 04, 2014 - 10:49

    The qualifications and capabilities of the people elected in this province are so sadly lacking. The truth is the only reason we really have such large cabinets is really to pay and reward people for their political loyalties....not much "public service" part to that, is there. And yet we are continually told that 'we' (!) need to raise their salaries to "attract higher quality candidates"...So. After raise after raise after raise, where are these people?

    • Muggins
      February 04, 2014 - 13:48

      Couldn't agree with you more. Trevor Taylor is a case in point. Then he quit, content to spew his tripe from the sidelines. It reminds me of the old saying " A wise man speaks when he wants something to say. A fool speaks when he wants to say something".

  • Rudd van Naselroy
    February 04, 2014 - 09:29

    Is this the secret society within the bilderbergers - Igloo-icebergers - that runs the cabal of expired Northern Store salad dressings and keeps resurrecting the Astron?

  • Agg Butler Maher
    February 04, 2014 - 09:27

    Have to agree if you were capable of being a Cabinet Minister any one of the of the people in there now is .

  • Partisan politics is for the weak minded
    February 04, 2014 - 09:08

    Potential Cabinet Ministers? Take credit Trevor - you have proven one thing with certainty - if you were capable of being a Cabinet Minister annnybody is capable of being a Cabinet Minister.

    • dont agree
      February 18, 2014 - 11:40

      sorry Mr. Taylor is quality individual; risked his own life to save friend in swimming drowing incident; the man is top notch; smart down to earth; u dont know him; or his parents; apparently.......u r another whinner moaner complainer; fav past time nlfd lab; go figure....

  • Not blinded by my own image
    February 04, 2014 - 08:13

    More narcissistic sooking from the quitter. Face it Trev, the only team that you would endorse is the one that includes you. That's nobody right now, which would be a likely reason you would declare ''slim pickings'' when the slate of candidates for the next election hasn't been announced. You quit - which you rationalize would be expected because if you don't want the job, nobody could. Time for you to gain some perspective and concede just because that you were not up to the task, there are others that are.