Perpetually PC

Brian Jones
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Such is the optimism in Newfoundland (and Labrador) that all three leaders were happy with their party’s performance in Tuesday’s provincial election.

Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale, Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael expressed satisfaction soon after the polls closed, early in the evening, so it is evident they were influenced by the outcome, rather than by, say, celebratory substances.

A visitor from another planet or province might be confused by the exuberance displayed by the party leaders.

She’s happy with five seats out of 48?

He’s happy with six seats out of 48?

She’s happy even though the electorate blasted six of her party’s seats into oblivion, i.e., into opposition hands?

Dunderdale, obviously, has the most reasons to be satisfied. Her party may have dropped to 37 seats from the 43 it had under that guy who used to be premier but went off to play with pucks, but she will be premier for the next four years and — if Newfoundland tradition holds — for the four years after that.

Struck out

This being October, the joy in the NDP and Liberal camps can be compared to the joy in Mudville.

The NDP increased its seat count by a factor of five, which in other jurisdictions would be phenomenal. Let’s set baseball metaphors aside, and think of the election outcome as a football score: 37-5. Not many coaches would enter the locker room after such a trouncing and declare, “Way to go, guys!”

The Liberals, for their part, lost 37-6, and — despite winning official opposition status  — couldn’t even score a touchdown. Watching Aylward congratulate himself for scoring a two-point convert — in real terms, gaining two seats — was as painful as seeing reruns of Joe

Theismann getting his career-ending broken leg.

Speaking of Aylward and the ends of careers, it was clear halfway through the first quarter of Tuesday’s game that former Liberal quarterback Yvonne Jones might win back the starting position on the team.

No open house

When democratic representation eventually returns to Newfoundland, and Dunderdale deigns to reopen the House of Assembly, there will be twice as many opposition MHAs as there were during 2007-11, when that hockey guy was in charge.

Overwhelming optimism will prompt some to say — as they did Tuesday night — that those 11 Liberal and NDP MHAs will constitute a stronger opposing force against the PCs.

Perhaps. One thing is certain — there will be more voices during question period.

But as for actually preventing disastrous PC policy — such as the immensely foolhardy Muskrat Falls debt/development — the opposition will be as powerless as Casey.

An essential feature of Newfoundland politics remains undisturbed: the province is still ruled by one dominant party.

There isn’t even an approximation of equality of influence. The NDP and Liberals can have their say, and then the PCs can do as they wish.

Dunderdale didn’t even wait until election day was over before she proved that unsavoury fact, by declaring the House of Assembly would not have a fall sitting.

If democracy is about more than just voting, it’s apparently news to the newly legitimized premier.

Politics and pathogens

But the prospect of four more years of arrogant Tory rule should be kept in perspective. After all, life extends beyond mere politics.

For instance, news reports this week described how researchers have completed the years-long study of the bacteria that caused the Black Death in the Middle Ages. They succeeded in mapping the genetic code of Yersinia pestis — which still lives today in dirt — and determined it is essentially unchanged from six and a half centuries ago, when it killed 50 million people in Europe alone.

In comparison, political dirt is harmless.


Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at

Organizations: NDP, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Middle Ages, Europe

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Recent comments

  • Harvey
    October 15, 2011 - 10:13

    No opening of the legislative assembly until the spring????Kathy is already showing that she is a mere fledgling from the Harper nest. Watch for feminine dictatorship of the highest degree!!!

  • Geoff Meeker
    October 14, 2011 - 15:47

    Hey, "Newsey Batch", Jones is far from alone in voicing concerns about Muskrat Falls. There are hundreds of outspoken critics, including two Tory Stalwarts: Cabot martin and Dr. John Collins. They have expressed their opposition with clearly-stated, solid arguments. I have tried to do the same in my blog item, which you can find elsewhere on The Telegram's site.

  • Newsey Batch
    October 14, 2011 - 14:34

    In saying: "the immensely foolhardy Muskrat Falls debt/development" Jones is letting personal biases get in the way of reality and misleading the public. The Environmental panel simply asked for more analysis, the review from NAVAGANT said it was a good move, the Liberals say its bad, the PC's say good and the NDP say they need more information before they'd agree to it. If none of these people, who are no doubt far more informed than Brian Jones, can reach agreement merits of the project what gives Jones the all knowing ability to condemn it?

    • Eli
      October 14, 2011 - 15:09

      NAVAGANT review? That's as phoney as convincing voters the $15,000.00 cheque for the community firetruck actually paid for the firetruck. (P.S. NEWSY, the people raised most of the money themselves. But don't tell 'em that). Actually NAVIGANT was a whole lot worse.

  • Carl
    October 14, 2011 - 12:08

    Once again, Jones is tossing rhetorical turds at the PCs (calling them "foolhardy", "arrogant" and "political dirt"), without offering even one single substantive reason. He is obviously too blinded and apoplectic with partisan hate to make any actual argument.

  • We need an impeachment process in government
    October 14, 2011 - 10:58

    There is so much manipulation of the electorate in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador by the ruling party, for years it was the Liberals and Now the Conservatives. We have been manipulated for 62 years now by Ottawa whose idealogy on Government is Centralist. We have had the wool pulled over our eyes on the development of all of our natural resources, yes, every last one of them, which saw one or the other of the Canadian provinces become the primary beneficiary, while we languished with the worse economy in Canada and a Politician-Made impoverished people. As NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the ruling party MHAs talk in circles. We, the electorate, are spoken to that way so that we remain unaware forever of what is transpiring within government, that concerns our economic well-being. This morning I heard from the News Media that Darrin King, Conservative MHA alledgely told Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberal MP Judy Foote, that since she exercised her democratic right and assisted another contestant in the Provincial Election race, who was running against him that he would not be easy on her in the future or something to that effect,indicates to me that what he really said is that he will not toe the line for his electorate, but instead he will toe the line for what PM Stephen Harper wants, afterall MP JUdy Foote is our Opposition against PM Harper desires. Isn't that the type of MHA and MP that we have voted in for the past 62 years? But for the most part of the 62 years we hadn't really figured out how the politicians worked. If he actually said that he is shafting his electorate and that can only fall under the category of Corruption. We need MHA Darrin King to come to the microphones and clear up what he really said. And then there were two other MHAs I heard being interviewed on how they would conduct their tenure in the Legislature, one was a seasoned MHA and the other just newly elected, and both said they would have to talk to their Premier because they could make a statement on that question, but both said they would be toeing the line for what the Premier desired. And we all know the Premier before the election pledged herself to PM Stephen Harper. He told her he wanted loyalty and she told him "You Got It". We are SHAFTED again. Is there anyway of impeaching those MHAs who have already shafted their electorate by telling us they are not working on our behalf?