As all rational-thinking, objective observers have concluded by now, the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador seems to have an all-embracing, wide-open-door policy as it reels in defectors from both sides of the ideological pond.
In fact, the criteria for caucus membership laid out by the Grits — if there’s been criteria at all — have been loosey-goosey as Paul, Christopher, Tommy and Dale, The Traitors Four, sought their way into the confines of the institution first headed by the Confederation stooge for Canadians and Brits, Joey Smallwood himself. (If you believe Bill Rowe’s latest gossipy book on Newfoundland politics, Joey was inebriated most of the time he was handling party and government business; now his old party appears drunk with ambition as it adopts a policy of haulin’ ’em in hand over fist, filling that caucus basket with anybody gobbling down the bait of government power).
And Dwight Ball’s theme song could be the rollicking rock tune that plays during the memorable torture scene in that provocative and tremendous Quentin Tarantino movie, “Reservoir Dogs” (one of my all-time favourite flicks): “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
With turncoats arriving in the Liberal fold from the socialist and conservative camps, it’s becoming painfully obvious that political ideology is an old-fashioned, archaic notion, and drooling MHAs making a switch do so because they’re desperate to be on the winning side a year or so from now, their modus operandi characterized by opportunism and expediency — not surprising, of course, given the fact that they are, after all, politicians.
As it turns out, my tremendous source, Harbour Deep Throat, has uncovered a secret document and had it slipped under my door in a red envelope full of ice and snow, but its contents are still legible. It gives a glimpse at the parameters Ball and company are using to determine who they might welcome to their growing band of caucus members.
And it actually contains the names of individuals the Liberals might be interested in approaching, and how their potential inclusion should be measured.
FROM: Dwight Ball
TO: Future ministers and backbenchers
RE: New caucus cousins
As we once again begin to glow after too many years in the darkness of opposition impotency, we’ve been deluged with overtures from impeccably principled individuals, like those stalwarts of democracy, Messrs Lane, Osborne, Mitchelmore and Kirby, deeply concerned citizens who wish to join our exalted party for no other reason than to contribute to the well-being of our beloved province.
The dedication to Newfoundland of the four newest members of our brilliant caucus makes me want to belt out the first and last stanzas of “The Ode” and cry a bucket of tears.
Lest, though, that you might think for even a second that we’re not particular about who we will accept into the caucus, I thought I’d share with you the names of some of the people we intend to contact about becoming proud Liberal MHAs.
For example, there’s a three-legged dog in Torbay we’ve contacted. My advisers and I think he might be interested in what he and his fellow canines refer to as the bow-wow parliament.
According to one source, the three-legged dog, who’s also deaf and blind and goes by the name of “Lucky,” says he’ll join the Liberals if we help him as he continues to search, in old-fashioned western fashion, “for the man who shot my Pa.”
I told him we’d do whatever we could to find the shooter, just as long as our three-legged friend hooks his leash onto our bandwagon and promises to use a scooper whenever he poops on the floor of the legislature. As he accurately pointed out to me, though, while sipping on a beer out of an empty (and clean) ashtray on the floor at Liddy’s Bar in Torbay: “It wouldn’t be the first load of crap to make an appearance in the House of Assembly.” Of course, he immediately stipulated that he was referring strictly to Tory and NDP crap.
Then there’s that fine Canadian actress, Pamela Anderson. Yes, I realize her Meryl Streep-like performing days are behind her, as fine as they were, but she still has certain attributes that might make caucus meetings more lively. And she says she loves my hair. And so what if she hates sealers? We can forgive and forget as we forge to power.
If Pam gives us the bum’s rush, we’re thinking about contacting Shannon Tweed, the Newfoundland native whose remarkable and moving, award-deserving performance on “Republic of Doyle” has revitalized her career.
And, yes, you may have heard we’re thinking about contacting Brad Cabana. Now don’t laugh — we’ll give him a shot. We’ll give anyone a shot. We might have to ask him to tone down that mainland twang of his, and I’m sure he’ll agree; after all, he’s desperate to win our hearts as he tries to improve the lot of all Newfoundlanders. He’s been a godsend since he parachuted into the province several years ago to help bring us out of the Dark Ages. His courtroom work on Muskrat Falls would have made Perry Mason proud.
What a coup for us if Brad were to become a member of the Liberal caucus.
Now there’s another fella, whose real name I can’t reveal at this time (he goes by the handle “Jimmie the Nose”), who’s getting out of Dorchester Penitentiary pretty soon, and wants to join the caucus. He said he can help immensely with our fund-raising. His IQ is that of a turnip, but since when has that been a factor in our caucus recruitment?
We’ve also thought about approaching Darren Langdon. Remember him? He had an auspicious NHL career, mostly with the Rangers — scored a couple of goals that bounced off his jock and into the net and spent several months in the penalty box. Anyway, we need a bouncer, a goon, someone to intimidate those meek and mild NDPers, if they ever get out of hand.
Then there’s this intriguing mannequin in the window of a men’s shop downtown we find appealing. He always manages to look great, is impeccably dressed, but says very little of substance. Actually, he reminds me of myself. But there’s always room for two mannequins in the caucus.
We’re also thinking about contacting some of the girls applying for jobs at that soon-to-be-opened Hooters restaurant in St. John’s and seeing if they’re interested in joining our caucus. They’d make great cheerleaders on the floor of the legislature. I can hear them now: “TORY TWITS! TORY TIMES ARE HARD TIMES! TORY TWITS! TORY TIMES ARE HARD TIMES!” which, when you think about it, is the extent of the Liberal ideology, the entire Liberal platform.
And last, but not least, we’ll accept anybody with a pulse, with even the slightest of heartbeats. Come one, come all.
Yours in power and principle,
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.