A new level of gall

Bob Wakeham
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Peter Penashue, I do believe, missed his true calling. He should have been a consultant.

After all, there are consulting firms throughout the world that make a fortune helping disgraced athletes, entertainers and, yes, politicians, crawl back into the good graces of the public, usually after a genuflection of apology and a time of penance.

But Our Man From the Labrador could provide those firms of spin-doctors with a unique take, based on first hand experience, on how to shed the cloak of ignominy in a flash, in a hurry, in the blink of an eye.

Have you screwed up immensely, made a complete arse out of yourself, let down your colleagues and supporters and acted in a rather pitiful fashion? Well, ladies and gentlemen of the consulting business, I give you Peter Penashue: he’ll show your clients how to just shamelessly plow ahead and take gall to a new level.

As that famous war cry would have it: damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!

If you’re in doo-doo, merely quit your position and immediately and simply inform your employers you want to return to your old position. Presto! Problem solved.    

Penashue’s tale would actually prompt consultants in the spin business to shake their heads in disbelief.

But it happened, is happening, right here in our own backyard.

Now, who knows at this point whether Penashue really believes there’s nothing ethically wrong with running in a byelection caused by his own questionable behaviour?

Or — and I’ll try and not to be unkind here — that he is so cerebrally challenged that he doesn’t actually grasp the magnitude of the gall, the arrogance, that it takes to resign as an MP and cabinet minister under troubled circumstances (a move that would have been described by some as honourable had it taken place months ago) and in the same breath, in the same press release, announce he’ll be on the ballot paper when the people of Labrador (who must feel at this point like manipulated fools) decide on his replacement?

Another possibility, of course, is that he always does exactly what he’s told to do, that his shocking decision last week was made under orders from above, that he’s the consummate “yes man,” that he’s a lapdog for Stephen Harper, prepared to roll over, beg, fetch, do whatever it is the PM insists he has to do to continue to earn his sizable income.

“Here, Petey boy, here boy, come to Poppy Steve. Obey Petey, take your punishment, your little slap on the bum, admit you were a big bad boy, and we’ll get you back in the kennel in no time. OK? OK, Petey boy.”

When people in this province heard what Penashue did this past week, I’m sure the collective reaction was one of near mortification, knowing their man in Ottawa had become a Canadian laughing stock (what tremendous ammunition for “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”); and just about all of them were wishing he’d slip quietly back home to Labrador and resume his leadership of the Innu people, a job for which he was so justifiably lauded an eternity ago (or so it seems).   

But maybe Penashue is banking on a bit of backlash here, that there’ll be pity for him in some circles, that there’ll emerge a sense that he’s being picked on, that he just has a difficult time explaining his actions to those media vultures and mean-spirited opposition MPs.    

Well, Penashue brought this on himself; he was the one who took the plunge into politics — a profession in which dishonourable actions are not an oddity — and was therefore accountable for whatever unsavoury breakage of rules that may have occurred to help put him in Parliament.  

And if you’re unable to properly articulate yourself to the press and, by extension, to your constituents and all Canadians, you shouldn’t be in the racket in the first place.   

It would be a stretch to say Penashue was performing at even a slightly adequate level as Newfoundland’s representative in the cabinet (he must have had his predecessors, politicians like John Crosbie, crying in their cornflakes) even before the electioneering irregularities began to surface. We hardly heard a peep whenever the province needed and demanded a strong voice, especially during those cutbacks in search and rescue capability. He literally hid from the press when that issue raised its ugly head.

And then we find out he was helped into his seat by a series of moves now being investigated by those responsible for maintaining Canada’s election rules.

Penashue blames it all on an adviser. He knew nothing. But he still feels a resignation was in order, to bring about a byelection to clear the air, as if he were doing the democratic process a favour. What a guy, Mr. Speaker, the Tories have been suggesting.

One can only hope the voters are not that stunned.

And send him packing.   

Right off to the consulting business.


Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • GINN
    March 25, 2013 - 17:28

    Bob Wakeham is my favorite columnist, he shows no mercy to any of the politicians regardless of their affiliation, but he's a wee bit overboard on this one. The voters of Labrador will decide this argument, which is what the lesser lights at the Telegram have been screeching about for some time. Now P.P. has resigned, the Tely will shed , once again, its journalistic ethics to try and deny the voters any semblance of balanced reporting.

  • Richard
    March 24, 2013 - 23:21

    Given the chance, Labradorians would have likely re-elected both Randy Collins and Wally Andersen after their respective ethical lapses and run ins with the law. Mark my words, they'll re-elect Peter Penashue. You betcha!

  • sdgreen
    March 24, 2013 - 20:36

    Leftoid Walkom will exploit any thing that is not in support of the NDP! Frankly, the Conservatives have been good for NFLD/Lab, and I understand that Penashue is quite popular in his riding. Given the NDP policies, NFLD/LAB would suffer greatly by high taxation, NDP policies against development along with the NDP socialist policies.

    • Eli
      March 27, 2013 - 19:31

      Vote early, vote often. The Al Capone syndrome hasn't left us. Outright cheating counts. That what you're saying S.D? God, what a joke you and those who share the same vipers nest are.

  • G.J.W.
    March 24, 2013 - 19:47

    There is no-one more arrogant than Harper. He was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation Party of 1989. He was linked with Christian Fundamentalists among, other very dubious Fascist links. All Dictators are arrogant, they don't even obey their own laws. Most of them belong in prison. Harper's list of degenerates working for him, is as long as his arm. Gordon Campbell, Bruce Carson, Wenzel, Parker, Front Porch Strategies, the robo-call crew, Boessenkool, Duncan, Brazeau, Porter and four others, have warrants for their arrests, now Penashue. That's the low life scum we have running this country. And, Harper is the Mafia Boss.

  • Louise
    March 24, 2013 - 10:56

    Harper seems to have many puppets. Why politicians feel like they have to say yes to this and that or better yet put down their own people ..... makes me sad to watch this .... Or is it that Harper is a "BULLY" Don't we preach about bullies? ..... yet we pay one .... All I say to this is " SUCKERS"

  • Dawn
    March 24, 2013 - 09:47

    It's all part of our Canadian Heritage thanks to Sheila Copps. Forced to keep her promise to resign if the Liberals didn't scrap the GST, she won her by-election and was then made Minister of Canadian Heritage.

  • david
    March 23, 2013 - 12:30

    Gall can only reach "new levels" with the complicity of an apathetic and easily duped/bribed electorate. In this regard, Newfoundland is 'world class'.

  • saelcove
    March 23, 2013 - 11:15

    All politicians are slime

    • SD Redgrave
      March 24, 2013 - 11:18

      Hey hey! play nice: All politicians are not slime. As long as we keep knocking the crap out of them, what kind of people can we expect to procure in elected government. To say they're all slime would have to include the most honourable and cause driven politician in Newfoundland...Lorraine Michael. I will appologise to Lorraine for your ignorance, but it would be best coming from you. Now...Be a man!

  • Fraser March
    March 23, 2013 - 10:24

    "From Sunny Blaketown" It is always amusing and entertaining to see The Telegram pontificate on the misdeeds and improper actions of others given the misuse of fact and the publishing of propaganda this media has been responsibile for over the years. Nevertheless, a free press is a requirement if we are to have a democracy. However, the ballot box is the ultimate adjudicator in a democracy. The decision of the ballot box is and has to be final even when questioned by such a moral authority as The Telegram.

    • Ken Collis
      March 24, 2013 - 00:33

      Even if the decision of the ballot box is based on cheating????

    • Pierre Neary
      March 24, 2013 - 07:52

      "Misuse of fact"? Care to be more specific where this takes place in the article?

    • Pierre Neary
      March 24, 2013 - 07:53

      "Misuse of fact"? Care to be more specific where this takes place in the article?

  • s parsons
    March 23, 2013 - 09:36

    good article. I think Mr. Penashue is getting some very poor advice on running again. Obviously, the PCs think they can buy the seat for their 'stellar' MP, but, if Mr. Penahue runs again, he will be eviscerated.

  • Susan
    March 23, 2013 - 08:37

    Sheila Copps (Liberal) promised that she would resign over an issue of conscience and her own campaign promises. When the time came though, she had to be forced out. Then she promptly ran for re-election - and the people of Hamilton voted her back in! Since the leaders of the Liberal party were pictured at the victory rallies - I'm assuming that there was approval and support for her unbelievable gall in running again. The writer of this article seemed surprised by Penashue's actions, and he drew snide conclusions about the leadership of the Conservative Party. Perhaps instead of indulging in silly assumptions about PM Harper, we could have had a little factual reporting on other politicians who have pulled the same stunt!

  • Jerome
    March 23, 2013 - 07:12

    Harper has to put a name on the ballot in the Labrador by-election, and even though there is no chance of Penashue winning, who else could they get to run? Peter Penashue will have a soft landing. Of that there is no doubt. Is there a Senate seat opening up soon or will Penashue have to settle for an appointment to a Board of some kind?