Well, here it is, officially: the first day of summer. Or, at least, it will be, officially, at 8:21 a.m. today.
It’s also just two days before the official start of the latest race to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, and, in the process, the next premier of the province; nominations for the job open at 11:30 a.m. on Monday.
It’s going to be an uphill climb. The Tories are trailing in the polls, their last nascent premier vapourized on Monday past, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone chomping at the bit to make their way to the front of the line.
On top of that, circumstances, some beyond their control, have picked, for the Tories, the single worst three months for a leadership campaign. The Tories have at least recognized that they can’t drag the leadership out forever: every passing week makes them look more like caretakers than leaders. Their window of opportunity isn’t just closing, it’s threatening to crush their fingers in the process.
That being said, a summer convention is also a difficult choice. Think about this: going into the last attempt at a campaign, there was considerable concern about having the actual leadership convention collide with the beginning of summer and July 1st, thereby draining the much-needed public attention the event could garner.
Now, the party has to campaign through the three slowest months of the year — with, so far, a second rank of pondering candidates, most of whom turned down the opportunity to even run last time.
What reminds you most of summertime? Fishing for trout, cooking on the barbecue, or Steve Kent?
What’s top of mind on the way to the cabin? The rising price of steaks, whether you’ve got enough beer for sudden company, or John Ottenheimer?
Where do you want to spend time? At the cabin, out on the water, or in a nearly-windowless, oven-hot legion hall that smells like urinal disinfectant?
And finally, you’ve got two weeks away from the office on vacation (and you are neither Tory leadership convention committee co-chair Sheila Kelly-Blackmore nor Tommy Williams): how many times will you ponder the dubious machinations of delegate selection in the Tory party? A) once B) five times C) Wha?
And therein lies the problem.
Even if the party rustles up enough competition to put together a really spirited leadership battle, something like one-third of the voting population is likely to be distracted by summerly pursuits — and that’s even more likely in this province, where summers are short and you have to grab the good days whenever and wherever you can.
About the only candidate sighting you can guarantee is their presence at the Regatta, forlornly trying to shake as many hands as possible.
So here’s a final deckchair deep thought to ponder, for this, the first officially summer day of the year.
If a candidate falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear, will he or she even make a sound?