Peter MacKay stated that if re-elected, Peter Penashue would sit across from Harper at the cabinet table. He presented an image of Penashue being able to approach Harper saying, “Sir, this is what’s needed by the people in Labrador.”
Harper has made no secret of the fact that he holds Atlantic Canadians in disdain and accuses them of having a culture of defeat.
To my mind, MacKay's use of the word “sir” in the above scenario immediately allocates Penashue to a subordinate position and conjures up an image of Penashue as a 19th-century outport fisherman, cap in hand, tugging his forelock and approaching “sir,” the local fish merchant, to beg for what’s needed before being soundly rebuffed and put in his place.
Penashue has been in cabinet since 2011, yet has little to show for it.
Harper did not even allow him to speak for himself in the House of Commons when he was found guilty of overspending on his election.
When he is allowed to speak, it’s only to parrot approved government talking points.
When people in this province were outraged at the gross mishandling of the Burton Winters search, Penashue doggedly spouted support for the federal government’s totally inadequate response to a desperate situation involving a child.
He further let us down when he didn’t protest the Harper government relocating our much needed search and rescue centre to Halifax.
And everyone is still waiting for Penashue to deliver federal action on Five Wing Goose Bay, something that has been promised by the Conservatives for many years — always held out as a carrot to the electorate but never concretely pursued once elections were over.
If re-elected, Penashue would not be sitting across from the prime minister at the cabinet table; he’d be back at the children’s table obediently tugging his forelock and hoping for a few meagre crumbs from the big table to fall his way.