The Peter Principle

Ed Smith
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Somebody thought it was a good idea. It wasn’t me. I didn’t know anything about the lieutenant-governor poll in The Telegram. My dear mother has passed on, otherwise I wouldn’t have put it past her.

Someone thought it was a good idea to have Edward Alexander Dorman Smith considered by the powers that be for the position of lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. I know others have gotten many more nominating votes than Gen. Rick Hillier, for example. There may be those who think he would make a better left-handed (as one of my friends put it) governor than I.

They may be right. Who am I to say? Who is anyone to say outside a select few? I’m just hoping that when it gets before the Queen, who will make the final judgment, that she looks at us objectively.

That, of course, is the way I hope to get consideration from God on Judgment Day. The Queen looks like she might be partially in tune with God and the way that other She goes about doing things. They are, after all, possibly of the same gender.

I’m not sure which one I have the best chance of getting past on the day of judgment. With God, I’m hoping He (God) just overlooks a few things and says to St. Peter, “Oh, pass him on, Peter. He did the best he could under the circumstances, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.”

And that reminds me. I wish I knew who the markers on the public exam marking board were the year I took Grade 11 In Western Bay (1955, incidentally). I’d send them a card of thanks every July for saying to the Department of Education after they had read my test papers, “Oh, pass him on for Pete’s sake. He did the best he could under the circumstances so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.”

I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that’s how I passed. I got 51 per cent in French, but the extenuating circumstance was that I was the only one who took French in the high-end of the two-room school, and the teacher didn’t know any French so didn’t teach it. I probably didn’t study it, either, so my 51 per cent was probably a gift from those wonderful markers.

My mark in mathematics was 50 per cent. The extenuating circumstance in that instance was that I hated math and refused to have anything to do with it. I know the person who gave me the final mark was a very religious person because they obviously intercepted my prayer on its way to heaven, or intercepted the return message (as in a return email) which said, “Oh, pass him on, for Pete’s sake, to someone else who may be able to do something with him.” The someone in this instance was Dalhousie University.

The question has often been asked, but never answered: “How in God’s name (that seeming to be the highest authority to which one could properly direct this question) did an institution of the stature of Dalhousie allow him into those hallowed halls?”

It must have been based on my English mark, because there I was admittedly fantastic. The best teacher I ever had once explained to my father that he was always hesitant to discuss English works to the class when I was there (which was generally intermittent) because I always knew so much more about it than he did.

I think he was being kind. But I did love English, from Shakespeare to Pratt, which is the reason I became an English teacher, although not the reason I became a principal. No reason on God’s Earth explains that.

At the same time, I don’t know why anyone would be admitted to a university and kept there for two years based on an English mark, and then give him a transfer in good standing to yet another university which also incredibly took me in until I finally grew up and got the first of my degrees.

Now if anyone involved with me in any of those former circumstances — except for Judgment Day, which has yet to be decided — is involved with the left-handed governor position, I may yet be favourably compared with Gen. Hillier, whom I greatly admire and would otherwise support for the post. Honest to God truth is, I don’t know anyone other than the two of us who have been nominated, so there may be someone else right up there as well.

This may be as good a place as any to point out that I have had several emails from former colleagues and friends supporting me for that position. Many of them have suggested that they were the responsible party for my nomination. I might have believed that had not the same people also asked me to consider them for a position in my office.

Since Other Half is fond of pointing out to whomever will listen that she is accepting applications for Wife Number Two, there may be some way we can combine both portfolios.

That’s not nearly as good as it sounds for me because I have not been told what duties would fall to Wife Number Two. It is clear, also, that I would not be involved in choosing the successful candidate. Should Angelina Jolie apply, I would want a say.

One friend already high up in government bureaucracy has offered to write a news release along the following lines.

“The newly appointed left-handed governor of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced the first 60 venues across the province for meeting the public. None of these are presently accessible.”

I do wish it to be known that this column in no way intends to denigrate the office of the Lt.-Gov., or the two admirable people who now occupy it.

I just think we should keep all our options open.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.

His email address is

Organizations: Department of Education

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador.I, Western Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador Springdale.His

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