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Maybe, now that the “interim” is out of his job title, provincial Liberal Leader Dwight Ball will lean into the traces and actually start to leave a mark.

Editorial Cartoon 111913

Up to now, he’s been capable but relatively ineffectual — chances are, outside the political realm, he’s a bit of a cipher. Ask an ordinary citizen on the street about any of his policies and you’d likely come up blank.

Not only that, there are few areas where the opposition Liberals are actually hitting on all cylinders, and picking a leader from inside a party that’s hardly performing at the top of its game is not a great example of recognizing the need for change.

Take question period in the House of Assembly: the Liberals read questions by rote from notes, not even listening to the non-answers they are being given by the government before moving to the next portion of scripted question.

Honestly, if a government minister stood up and barked instead of answering, the Liberals would just go on reading their prepared questions.

It makes it seem like the Liberals are doing their darnedest to touch on hot-button issues without ever going any further or any deeper — but the opposition seems to come more from whoever is writing the questions than those standing to mouth them. Question period right now is like watching a particularly lengthy ping-pong volley where even the players can hardly summon enough interest to care who gets the point.

The House is the opposition’s biggest pulpit; the Liberals have to get beyond dull if they plan to get any attention.

The party’s finances are in a mess, while the governing Conservatives are sitting on fat packs of cash. The Liberal organization seems to be composed of remnants that don’t even realize why it was that they lost the past few elections, and think that pulling the same old levers might have a different result.

We’re not talking about arm-waving and false hard-nosed, dog-whistle positions to stir up the electorate. We’ve seen histrionics in opposition before, and it’s a waste of time and energy.

Making it look like you’re ready to govern is not a matter of waiting for Kathy Dunderdale to implode or suffer an NDP-like putsch. Without your own skills, you could be waiting for ages. That being said, the NDP’s stellar implosion is the best gift an incoming Ball could possibly wish for. But just as there are words that spring to your lips about the NDP’s recent performance — grade-school and lightweight, for example — there is a clear word for the current Liberal opposition.

Underwhelming.

And that has to change.

Because if Dwight Ball, for some reason, believes he’s already a premier-in-waiting, he’s delusional.

He has to be a clear option — and he has to be more than a pleasant fellow who does a fine job of reading a question.

There’s a lot of work to be done — and it starts now.

Organizations: NDP, Conservatives, Liberal organization

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Recent comments

  • joe
    November 20, 2013 - 02:37

    Sad part of this whole process was that the Liberals elected a man who literally disappeared for six weeks when the sign up period ended. He never commented on CETA, minimum wage increases or the Maritime Link. He decided to say nothing so he didn't screw up and the voters never even noticed. Good luck with Guy Smiley. Every time I look at him I think of the game show host from Sesame Street.

  • David Prior.
    November 19, 2013 - 16:33

    No name on this opinion. No doubt a friend of the the PC's.

  • Cashin Delaney
    November 19, 2013 - 11:29

    What my ears picked up from the editorial "dog whistle" Jackson gives us. Putsch = NDP = National Socialists = NAZI Therefore NDP = worse than Hitler. LIB = delusional unloyal opposition going through the motions, broke, boring, underwhelming (they're in over their head...do, do, di-do) Somebody has fat packs of cash, thanks be the Protestant god! So, the ruling elite, channeled through this lowly editor's simple nervous system, are telling us that the current setup of democracy is perfect. The money leads, the money hungry won't oppose, and the socialists are smothering there own young! We just need to work harder at that, that's all! Maurice, this may make you laugh, or cry, but, as it stands, you may as well be our leadership, journalistic, and patriotic. We have three parties managing our democratic outcomes via some strange combination of random savior-ism and pervasive salutary neglect. This is not leadership. It is the unified opposition of democratic leadership. A cabal of ease. The consortium of least resistance. Mock democracy. The house of assembly is like a harley davidson for a hells angel boss. Something that he may sit on a couple times a year to legitimize his authenticity in a fraternity that has grown far beyond mere freedom, or democracy, that in fact, he has grown to hate it, yet must keep up appearances.

    • Calvin
      November 19, 2013 - 15:09

      Lot of big words, but you still don't know the proper uses of there and their.... are you a philosophy major by any chance?

  • david
    November 19, 2013 - 11:22

    The Telegram appears to be under the bizarre impression that the mechanism for changes in government in Newfoundland have somehow changed recently. FYI, it does not involve any platform or policies or promises. It is simply a matter of eventuality. Being around at the right moment. That moment is when the electorate grows weary of the current deity/government. The Liberals sense that time is very near, and will (smartly) do nothing that might derail its chances at power...including revealing any semblance of policies or intentions. Why take such a crazy risk, with power in your reach? Let the pendulum swing, let the peasant mob anoint you, and enjoy the opulent ride.

  • elizabeth
    November 19, 2013 - 10:39

    mr.Ball seems like a nice man and maybe that is the problem,he is too nice ivoted for Paul Antle,he was the best in my opinion. Great editorial ,keep up the good work.

  • John Smith
    November 19, 2013 - 10:31

    The Liberals are counting on the electorate being stupid...but they are not, and they are listening to everything coming out of the Liberal party of NL...

  • Stephen  Redgrave
    Stephen Redgrave
    November 19, 2013 - 09:39

    My first, second, and third impressions of Mr Dwight Ball, were all identical. He is a great , secretly financed actor--his skill set would be usefull in a daytime drama, or maybe a cameo on "The Republic of Doyle". I'll take KD over Dwight anytime--at least we know Kathy goes in unscripted, and admits her mistakes. there is no way we could break in Dwight Ball to be so honest should he become premier.

  • W BAgg
    November 19, 2013 - 09:22

    I thought the exact same thing after hearing of Ball's win on Sunday. He's too bland. They needed a new face with some initiative, sadly, the same question will come up in 2015. There really isn't any viable alternative to the PCs........the NDp leader has shown she isn't capable of leading, the Liberals keep throwing up the same old same olds or status quo is fine, when the polling numbers tell us otherwise. I haven't voted PC since 2003, but may have to go back to them, because the Liberals are stuck in the 90s and the NDp couldn't put forth anyone to be finance minister.

  • Tammy
    November 19, 2013 - 09:14

    Absolutely agree. If the Liberal Party strives only to maintain the status quo, I would be surprised to see a change in government in 2015. So please, Mr. Ball, use the energy from the leadership race and make a difference. Business as usual isn't going to cut it.

  • Really Interesting
    November 19, 2013 - 08:49

    Another well disguised PC article that's posted without a name. Why not include the author's name in this article? Or is it that you just want to slam a party that IS trying, unlike the PC party or the NDP party. Is there room for improvement, definitely, however they've managed to sway many PC voters to open their eyes and THAT in itself will make 2015 an interesting race.

  • NO way work for it We're entitlted
    November 19, 2013 - 08:07

    dwight ON da mark Liberals work for something; did Yvonne Jones NO did Kev Alyward NO they have ENTITLED attituded; they aint gonna do it; they feel they are entitlted to their entitltements

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 19, 2013 - 06:55

    Insightful and to the point. Well said. Where is the opposition passion, the fire in the belly, the analysis, the counter punch (in short, where is the demonstrated leadership)?