Big backlash

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Voters may have short attention spans, but they don't soon forget disavowing themselves from a party they've voted for all their lives.

And that should make Premier Kathy Dunderdale worry.

Earlier this week, a local blogger highlighted the results of an access-to-information request seeking "all correspondence from the public to the premier ... regarding Bill 29."

Bill 29, if memory fails, is the controversial information law the government passed in the spring of 2012. Opposition parties filibustered for a few days, but were eventually shut down when debate got too testy.

Dunderdale and her ministers repeatedly said the legislation makes the government more transparent. Practically no one - including the media, policy experts and the public - agrees. The law essentially leaves access requests totally to the whim of ministers and other heads of public bodies.

The aforementioned request for documents garnered 72 pages of emails (see link at bottom). Some were angry and venomous; others pleaded politely for common sense to prevail. But all invariably condemned the bill in no uncertain terms.

And there's more - a common theme that arises again and again. It's best explained through examples gleaned from only the first dozen or so pages.

° "I for one will not vote for YOU ever again."

° "I feel like I can no longer support you or your party if this is the type of leadership I will receive."

° "I have voted Progressive Conservative provincially since I have been eligible to vote (I'm now 60 years old)."

° "I never thought I would hear myself say I was ashamed to be a provincial Tory."

° "I am writing as a lifetime provincial PC voter."

° "Please don't make me regret voting for you in the last election."

° "Bill 29 is unacceptable and will cost the PC Party my vote, and, I am certain, the vote of many others."

° "I voted for you in the last election, but you have lost my vote and my husband's and many more, I'm sure ..."

This is the sort of uprising that should send shivers down the spine of any politician. Yet the premier and her cabinet seem utterly cavalier about the criticism.

There may be many reasons why the Tories have slid so precipitously in the polls since Dunderdale became premier in 2010. Most will likely fade from memory when the next provincial election is held.

But the emails presented here demonstrate that losses in Tory support have cut straight to the bone. And little of that is likely to come back.

It's hard to imagine how a government can expect to ride that out for a mere two years.

Online: http://www.atipp.gov.nl.ca/info/completed/2013/pdf/pre_11_2013.pdf

Organizations: PC Party

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Recent comments

  • Enacting Bill Twenty-Nine was a Death Sentence for the PC Government.
    August 30, 2013 - 10:04

    The PC Ruling Party by enacting Bill 29 was like giving itself the "Death Sentence" for its elected government. It was no different than telling the electorate that we came into power as a Democracy but now we are changing the system to a Dictatorship because being covert will serve us better than being overt. What were they thinking?

  • Corporate Psycho
    August 29, 2013 - 19:25

    Bill 29. One of the biggest nails in the PC's coffin. What were they thinking?

  • FINTIP
    August 29, 2013 - 13:26

    Dunderdale might have been in denial for some time - refusing to recognize the depths of electoral anger in this province. But since she is not a stupid person, my belief is that she now accepts that her's will be a one term government. Frankly there is little she or her government could do to stave off defeat two years from now. That is not to say there aren't things that could be done to minimize the size of that defeat and, in particular, to avoid the kind of decimation that befell - for example - the federal liberals in the aftermath of the sponsorship scandal. As a minimum, provincial Tories need to pull a Wynne-McGuinty move - that is, for Dunderdale to step down immediately and be replaced with someone who can begin restoring some of the party's credibility. A new leader would repeal Bill 29 as an immediate first step to disassociate themselves from the disastrous, ham-fisted Dunderdale leadership. All of this, again, with the caveat that we're talking about minimizing the damage. Inevitably we will have a new government in 2015, the only question being whether it will be Liberal or NDP. That will be largely determined by the Liberal leadership election. The likelihood is that Ball becomes leader and that Antle stays on to run in the next election. A revived, credible liberal party would be a welcome alternative to an NDP government. It isn't that Michaels is disliked. She has many good points but her comments continue to reinforce the very concern that most voters have with the NDP - that it cannot be trusted with the public purse. Her recent dismissal of deficits as unimportant is a real cause for concern. A win by Cathy Bennett (which granted is almost as unlikely as a win by the other Bennett or by Dumerasque) could dramatically change that scenario. Cathy II is widely seen as a Tory in Liberal clothing - a rat abandoning a sinking Tory ship. Voters would have trouble with that scenario. Many would see a conspiracy of business interests indifferent to which of the two mainstream parties control Confederation Building as long as they control both. That conspiracy would be seen as a device to protect the status-quo and limit, for example, any unwelcome business and political fallout from what, by 2015, might have shaped up as an absolute fiasco at Muskrat Falls. If Cathy Bennett became liberal leader, then voters would likely hold their nose and elect this province's first NDP government.

  • Harvey
    August 29, 2013 - 12:37

    It is inconceivable that a cabinet would decide to pass Bill 'C 29 against such strong 'opposition....not just from the Opposition but from the whole electorate.Never could I vote -P.C under this inept gov't.

  • Wild Assumptions
    August 29, 2013 - 12:04

    Interesting but it's based on some big assumptions: 1) do you think the Tories care? Especially now that almost all of them have their platinum pensions. 2) do you really believe all those e-mails are from people who voted Tory? Not all but maybe most are. NL governments seem to follow a schedule for change - a decade of that crowd followed by a decade of this bunch. The public can tolerate a government for only so long and then votes it out. Afterwards we find out that the next government is as bad as the previous and the cycle starts over. Sure the opposing parties will promise to change the secrecy bill but does anyone actually believe they'll replace it with anything better? After all, these are the same parties that banded together to keep the AG away from the constituency spending scheme.

  • EDfromRED
    August 29, 2013 - 11:15

    Why don't the media directly question the PC's about the furor about Bill-29 anymore? Looking at comments concerning stories like this it's clear the disgust over Bill-29 is as strong as ever, if not more fervent. The media ignores the concerns of the public at it's own peril. If they cease to ask the questions the general public want's answered, we'll ignore the media.

    • Eli
      August 30, 2013 - 11:35

      So we know YOU won't be voting for the media next time around Ed. Grow up b'y.

  • MrSqueaker
    August 29, 2013 - 11:08

    This is all going to plan. Osborne is now a liberal, a great, labored decision announced in the same week the Federal party leader went dope show on everybody. Dunderdale done her bit, got muskrat, Daniel tiger got his neighborhood and hockey. Bill 29, now play defense. Do you, Tony Rockel, or any other geniuses out there really believe that the liberals will recind this bill somehow. They will not, and I doubt the NDP would. This is just a stage drama that gives the illusion of democracy to our continued bastard feudalism that has dominated NL since Cort Real and Caboto. When oppositions filibuster, it is the equivalent of municipal workers leaning on a shovel. Bad bills do not bury themselves.

    • Tony Rockel
      August 29, 2013 - 11:57

      Mr genius squeaker, what makes you think I support the Lieberals or or Dippers? I am objecting to the stupidity (including yours) that is endemic in the politics of this province.

  • saelcove
    August 29, 2013 - 10:38

    Fine mess danny boy left behind

  • Tony Rockel
    August 29, 2013 - 09:33

    Stupidity and power make a toxic and ultimately lethal combination.