Election fallout

Bob Wakeham
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Monday’s federal election has been analyzed to death, and the overdose of punditry almost warrants the formation of a 12-step rehabilitation program for political junkies, similar to the God-fearing plan employed by alcoholics, over-eaters, druggies, kleptomaniacs, shoppers who shop till they drop, slaves to sex, and other unfortunates immersed in whatever the flavour addiction of the month happens to be.

Step one: we “came to believe that we were powerless over politics, that politicians had made our lives unmanageable.”

Unfortunately, I’m still playing the role of the “enabler”— as defined in the 12-step parlance — and can’t help but feed the appetite of the few remaining masochists out there craving more post-mortem hits, as it were.  

• When journalists decide to enter politics, to defect to the enemy trenches, the self-righteous neurons of my skull tend to slip quite naturally into overdrive.

Thus, I’ve made more than a few harsh comments in this Saturday space about Ryan Cleary, the former Telegram newsman, Independent editor, VOCM “Nightline” host (for an inexplicably short period) who unabashedly left his post as an aggressive skeptic of political verbiage to become a member himself of that reciprocal back-scratching profession, a place of expediency, an environment in which the truth is twisted, massaged and spun.

But, hey, guess who’s laughing now, all the way to the bank? Cleary, as we all know, is a newly baptized honourable member, and will be hauling in much, much more money (in the range of $150,000 or so) than his newsroom labours would ever have earned.

But here’s hoping some residue from his journalistic mandate

will carry over to his job as an MP, and that his Newfoundland-first policy, his “independent” style, doesn’t desert him in the corridors of power in Ottawa, a locale where a flexible conscience is often a key to advancement.  

• If anyone asked me — and they haven’t, and won’t — what might I offer up to Fabian Manning about his crushing defeat? I would simply say: Fabian, b’y, you reap what you sow.

Manning, as all political junkies are aware, initially took the high road out of Newfoundland several years back after a highly publicized pissing match with the dictatorial Danny Williams, a racket that earned the Cape Shore man a reputation (in multiple corners) as a principled rebel, nobody’s fool, his own man.

But hitching himself quickly, in such a shameless and definitive fashion, to Stephen Harper’s coattails was his downfall, starting on that day he nauseously and deliberately positioned himself within touching distance of Harper in the House of Commons, and looked on glowingly as the PM mocked a Newfoundland budget.

Then, after getting the heave-ho from voters in Avalon, he accepted from his hero a position in the Senate, and became a highly paid

messenger boy for a politician with a reputation hereabouts as a sleeveen.

Getting permanently under Harper's sheets had much more to do with Manning’s defeat Monday night than any leftovers from the much ballyhooed ABC buffet. But I’d be willing to bet all is not lost for Manning.

That Senate seat is still there for the taking, and Harper’s majority government can make patronage appointments with greater impunity than ever before. And that piano-playing hockey dad with the nice sweaters, our own “Father Knows Best,” with whom so many Canadians were suckered into an embrace last Monday, will think nothing of sliding Manning back into his chair for cobwebbed geriatrics.

If not the Senate, there’ll be another plum the PM can pluck for his loyal subject. And it’s not like Manning to turn down such favours.

• Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and parliamentary voyeurs will have a sight on their hands as Jack Harris and the aforementioned Ryan Cleary attempt to push the Newfoundland agenda while sharing the same caucus sack with so many Quebec MPs.

Jack Layton has been supportive of this province’s desire to equitably exploit Labrador power, an easy, motherhood stance to take when you’re the head of a third party, seemingly destined to remain in that position forever and a day.

Now, though, Layton sits in the opposition leader’s seat, ambitiously eyeing that prime minister’s spot  a few feet away, a move across the aisle that will only take place if he can maintain his party’s unprecedented popularity in Quebec.

And that, of course, will inevitably translate into policies of appeasement for Quebec and its NDP MPs.

But as he vigorously strokes Quebec, Layton will have the (hopefully) forceful voices of  Harris and Cleary delivering the Newfoundland homily on the immoral stance Quebec has taken time and again on Labrador power.  I’d love to have fly-on-the-wall status when those deliberations take place within the confines of the caucus room.

That’s enough Weekend straighteners for political addicts.

Now it’s time to start the recovery from the binge that was Election 2011.

And to prepare for a provincial election in the fall that will knock thousands off the wagon once again.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: House of Commons, NDP MPs

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ottawa Avalon

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Recent comments

  • McGee
    May 07, 2011 - 15:45

    As the only two provinces to reject Harper's neocons, we really should just bury the hatchet over Labrador power. You should come with us when we separate from Harperland. Not only do you guys have enough brains and hearts to not vote for Harper, but you're fun to drink with too! signed, Quebec p.s. Just kidding about the separating from Harperland, but if ever there were a time when it was tempting...