Well, Tuesday came and the provincial New Democratic Party’s slow-motion train wreck continued.
While the governing Tories were announcing a $400-million fisheries package (albeit it won’t take effect for another couple of years), two members of the NDP caucus were announcing that they’d be sitting as independents when the fall session of the House of Assembly starts.
Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore held separate meetings with reporters to announce that they couldn’t remain in the caucus under Lorraine Michael’s leadership, essentially proving that politics may grow through shared ideals, but flies apart as a result of individual personalities. Meanwhile, the party’s executive announced that a review of Michael’s leadership will take place in May. Both Mitchelmore and Kirby are keeping their membership in the party, so presumably, they’ll be there to put in their two cents.
What’s it all mean for the party?
One thing’s for certain: the party’s supporters seem to be pretty much united in their disappointment over the whole mess. It’s also a tough message for the party’s electability: if a five-member caucus can’t deal with issues well enough to stay in the same set of House of Assembly desks, what does that say about their ability to handle a larger caucus and greater responsibilities?
More than anything else, it’s an unexpected gift.
It’s a gift for the provincial Tories, currently languishing in last place in public opinion polls and, even more, it’s a gift for the restructuring Liberals.
And if there’s a lesson the Liberals might take from the whole thing, it’s about the dangers of having internal politics blow your own boat out of the water. If the Liberals manage to make their way through their upcoming selection of a new leader without internecine warfare, they’ll at least position themselves for good things in the future.
It also means an interesting fall session in the House: the Tories’ regular attack minister, Jerome Kennedy, is not only off his chain, he’s out of the House completely. Dale Kirby, who is already a favourite target of heckling Conservatives, will no doubt get a pasting every single time he stands in the House. The NDP members will get an equal pasting and, over in the Liberal benches, acting leader Eddie Joyce, a regular creator of legislative fireworks, is bound to spend a fair amount of time lighting fuses. Tom Osborne, always sharp, will now actually get more question time because he’s with the Liberals (and probably thanking his lucky stars he didn’t end up as part of the NDP gong show). The Tories, churlish and knowing they are trailing their political opposition, will probably be more sharp-tongued than ever.
All in all, interesting times. One thing you can say for sure: right across the House, everybody’s made their own bed — it just seems they all want to blame someone else for the sleeping arrangements.