Is it too early, I wonder, to start referring to Kathy Dunderdale simply as “Kath,” to talk of her as if she was a card partner fuming after you blew a hand of 120s or the missus cleaning up the beer bottles around the trailer next to yours after the Labour Day weekend or your seatmate screaming obscenities at an Ice Caps opponent?
Now, before Linda Ross of the Status of Women Council runs once more to the defence of the premier and accuses me of some vague form of sexism by treating Ms. Dunderdale with inappropriate irreverence, for getting too cozy in a way in which I would never stoop with premiers born with a male set of plumbing fixtures, let me note, for the record, Madame Speaker, that we’ve always made it a habit in Newfoundland of referring to our premiers as if they were buddy down the street: Joey, Frank, Brian, Danny, etc., da b’ys.
Well, you can call her Kath, or Kathy, or Premier Dunderdale, or Dunderdale, or the premier, or whatever suits your fancy (or political affiliation), but get comfortable with the idea that she and her government will be running Newfoundland for a good while, the next five years at the very least.
Those Corporate Research Associate poll results last week merely confirmed anecdotal evidence that Dunderdale has an insurmountable lead over the NDP and the Liberals and an approval rating that remains in the statistical stratosphere, somewhere near Williamsland.
Yes, I know all about polls, and how quickly they’re dismissed by politicians bringing up the rear.
Just the other night, Sarah Palin, that intellectual dynamo teasing the right wing electorate south of us, was telling her fans that polls (see poles) were strictly for strippers (Palin is a Fox Television sweetheart, a Tea Party sipper, and a scary possibility for the free world; in the everything’s relative category, though, Palin is not nearly as frightening as another on and off Republican hot shot, Michele Bachmann, who believes her Lord and Saviour is her campaign manager).
Closer to home, there was John Diefenbaker who has long been given credit, at least here in Canada, for declaring that dogs had found the best use for polls (see poles).
As I’m writing this, Bucko, my brilliant dog, whose political astuteness I’ve boasted of a couple of times in this Saturday corner of The Telegram, is looking over my shoulder at the computer screen — I’m patiently ignoring his bad breath and a constant drool that has found a disgusting place on my left arm — and admonishing politicians for exploiting himself and his fellow canines when trying to put their best spin on a losing poll.
“But you’re not a stripper,” I told Bucko.
“Grrrrrrrrrrr!” he responded with anger and indignation. “I’m talking about the reference to pissing poles.”
As our little intellectual exchange continued, I pointed out to him that he actually pissed on a poster of Kevin Parsons, the Tory candidate in St. John’s East Extern, while we were out for a walk this week in Flatrock.
“Does that mean you’re voting Liberal or NDP?” I inquired.
But Bucko explained that his pee attack was an editorial message aimed at the fact that Parsons’ face had appeared irritatingly early, that, surely be to Lassie, three weeks was more than enough time to have posters of politicians, complete with wide, plastic smiles, adorning poles throughout the province.
But back to the topic at hand: Kevin Aylward was forced to give the standard answer when asked about the fact that his Liberals were in third place, behind the NDP, the traditional last place losers in Newfoundland: “That’s not what I’m hearing in the districts,” Aylward basically said, in obvious desperation.
He may not be willing to publicly admit it, but, unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the next month or so (and anything’s possible in Newfoundland politics, he has to be thinking to himself), Kevin is going down for the count, and will eventually begin to wonder why he didn’t stay in the workplace, with a good job, supplemented by a sizeable pension earned during his career as a MHA and cabinet minister.
As for Lorraine Michael, she was smart to take the modest approach to the poll results, modesty having been an unavoidable choice of personality for the NDP in this province.
The NDP has come a long way from a time a few decades ago when it seemed to be a few votes away from oblivion in Newfoundland, when its support, as seen in stereotypical terms, was confined to a few profs at MUN and a couple of actors at the LSPU Hall. But it would be a mistake to get too big for its britches at this point. And there’s still the battle Michael has to wage in her own district against heavy hitter John Noseworthy.
As for Dunderdale, she can only hope she doesn’t blunder on the way to election night, and keep praying that the constant questions about Muskrat Falls continue to be a non-factor (inexplicably so, if you ask me) by Newfoundlanders answering the call when the pollster rings.
Then it’s Kathy for five years. Or perhaps it’s Kath.
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.