Well, if you made the pilgrimage to Gander to see the anointed and wait for it all to become clear, you probably travelled in vain.
Because, while it was apparent that this province’s Liberal party thinks that it is on the road to an election victory in the next provincial election, the party’s strategists aren’t really comfortable telling people just what it is everybody should be voting for.
Right now, it’s very much a “keep your powder dry” campaign. Well ahead in the polls, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball actually spent time telling delegates at the party’s annual convention that they shouldn’t be celebrating in the streets just yet: “We’ve got to be careful because we’re nowhere near the finish line.”
Nowhere near the finish line? Heck, we haven’t even seen what the Liberal team uniform looks like yet, unless it’s several shades of political opportunism. So far, the party has been content to run silent and run deep, watching the governing Tories lurch from misstep to misstep.
In some ways, you can’t blame them: why go to the trouble of coming up with examples of what they believe a Liberal government would do, when the Tories are doing such an exemplary job of showing what a governing party shouldn’t be at — for example, how to turn a leadership convention into a virtual clown show?
Every time Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath holds a news conference to try to explain away inconsistencies in the way the government treats paving companies, another little piece of the Tory-supporting electorate simply withers and dies. The man who was to become the next Tory premier doesn’t have personal guarantees on paving contracts called because what would have been his subordinates let his former company out of paving contracts. More leaves fall off the Tory plant. Other companies explain how unusual — no, actually unique — that deal was. More dead foliage falls to the floor.
Monday’s announcement that Frank Coleman was leaving before even becoming premier made the waiting game seem even more attractive.
But you can’t argue that you’d make a good, responsible and accountable government simply because you wouldn’t do what the current government is doing. Eventually, you actually have to present some policy ideas, if for no other reason than to show that you can actually formulate them.
It’s a point the Tories occasionally hammer home, but whether it’s political or not, it’s a good one. Eventually, if you’re in a boxing match, you have to stop dancing around and actually box.
The Liberals have argued that they don’t want to put policies on the table too early, in part because other parties might steal their policies and the accompanying political thunder.
If you want to form a government, perhaps you have to ignore the machinations of politics and focus on speaking directly to the electorate — and the time for that is now, not at the start of a short election campaign.
It’s government by democracy, not government by default. And watching Liberals rubbing their hands together in anticipation of an easy win just brings back bad memories.