It was back when I wore the pony logans of a young boy that I first heard the word brazen.
It was probably one of the worst epithets someone could use towards you and it fit me to a “T.”
If anyone would tell me to do something I disliked, I would look them in the eye and say “make me.”
Even my poor mother at times was beside herself when trying to deal with the brazenness of it all. And to put this all in context, she was a lover of politics and I remember her doing everything she could to insure the success of “young Alfie,” as Ray Guy used to call A. Brian Peckford.
If she were with us today, she would not believe how politics has changed nor how brazen our politicians have become, especially those like Peter Penashue.
Even before there is a byelection called, he has his ads in the local paper looking for support.
This is the same man who only a few days ago resigned as the federal member for Labrador and the province’s representative in the Harper cabinet, minister of intergovernmental affairs and president of the Privy Council of Canada.
He did so because he had made some errors in listening to his election help.
That’s his story and he is sticking to it.
But his world has come unstuck. While he tells us that he’s done nothing wrong, documents show malfeasance of the highest order. He’s already repaid $30,000 and the Elections Canada investigation is not even finished.
But I want to come back to brazenness and the unmitigated gall of the man.
Not only does he claim innocence, but in his campaign ads he claims credit for Muskrat Falls and paving the Trans-Labrador Highway and so, so much more.
What he does not mention, however, is rather neglectful of him.
He does not tell us for example that he was the candidate — the person responsible for everything that happened in his name — and that he and he alone should be accepting full and total responsibility for all that happened. In other words, he could be showing the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador and the rest of us what it means to take responsibility for one’s actions instead of playing the part of the innocent victim that he is so adept at.
Nor did he tell us of his lack of political punch around the cabinet table or lack of influence in Ottawa in general.
I made it a point to go through a recent weekend Globe and Mail to see if there would be a story — I could not find a line.
This, from a paper that is supposedly Canada’s national newspaper.
It’s probably indicative of how much he will be missed as well.
For me, probably his greatest failing of all was the lack of action with respect to the death of Burton Winters, the young boy who, during the winter of 2012, died in the lonesome cold of the Labrador wilderness while a rescue helicopter was said to be sitting on a runway at Gander for fear it might be needed elsewhere.
Peter Penashue did nothing, said nothing and was totally unavailable to all who wanted to discuss an inquiry into the death of the young boy.
If there is one element of his lack of performance in Ottawa that the folks of Labrador might want to remember when they vote again, this is it in my opinion.
And already, because of comments on Facebook and other internet channels those of us who live on the island are being told that he is Labrador’s candidate and that we should stay out of it and that might be so — but when he messed up he put Canada’s election system to shame.
He surely let us down as our minister at the cabinet table and his actions as a Canadian lawmaker is just heartbreaking.
I think what we have here is a profound failure of ethics surrounded by an impenetrable moat of denial that perhaps needs the deepest study to be understood at all.
Should the good people of Labrador, however, vote Peter Penashue back into office, there’s nothing any of us can do, but I’m sure I will hear my poor mother scream as she rolls over, “how brazen is that at all?”
Wayne Norman writes from St. John’s