By L.F. Pike
I consider myself apolitical — keen about politics, but not bound to any one particular party. However, I never pass up an opportunity to participate.
So when the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador opened the leadership election for the masses to vote, I signed up, believing that the Liberal party has the best chance of forming a majority government in 2015.
But for the Liberals to be successful, it can’t be business as usual. This province is tired of political rhetoric and double-speak. We need new blood at the helm, someone who thinks outside the box and will challenge the way government is run.
I applaud Dwight Ball’s desire to take credit for the surge in the Liberals’ popularity. But while the party has gained in popularity, he has not. Recent numbers show Ball shares the same popularity rating as our premier (22 per cent according to a CRA poll in September). That’s not going to win the next election.
In a recent debate, in pushing his view on fracking, Jim Bennett declared, “I will lead” rather than listen. Honestly, I’ve had enough of the current government’s quasi-dictatorship. For the next premier of our province to lead us effectively, they need to hear what we (the people) have to say. Otherwise, don’t even bother showing up for work.
So considering I’m keen for new blood, and sincerely believe that whichever party has it will form a majority government in 2015, I’m left with two choices: Paul Antle and Cathy Bennett.
Sadly, I wonder when Antle (and his male counterparts) will let go of the fact that Ms. Bennett appears late to the Liberal table. As a voter in the next provincial election, I don’t care. In fact, I prefer it.
I’m also tired of hearing the candidates attack Ms. Bennett for her stand on Muskrat Falls. The majority of the province supports it (CRA poll, April 2013).
And as Danny Dumaresque admitted in the VOCM debate, the project is going ahead; it’s now a matter of making sure it is run efficiently. Did he miss when Ms. Bennett said that Muskrat is fundamentally a good business decision but that she can’t take responsibility for the poor mismanagement by the PCs?
The candidates have no difficultly slinging mud so long as it’s at Ms. Bennett. But didn’t I read in the news a while back that a trust established by Antle for his wife in the Caribbean — to shield more than $1 million from capital gains taxes — was deemed a “sham” by a Federal Court of Appeal judge?
Antle’s team recently tweeted the following commitment: “I will ensure that the wealth created by our province will be shared by all.” Really? So it’s OK to share the wealth so long as it’s not Antle’s?
Thus, I am left with Ms. Bennett. And I’m OK with that. Ms. Bennett has championed the issues most important to me — fixing the inefficiencies and poor management of our education and health-care systems and making our province the best place to work, raise a family and grow old.
I’m not so sure that the other candidates have these as their priorities. And that scares me.
My rant is done. And yes, I remain apolitical, albeit a current supporter of the Liberal party.
But I sit nervously wondering if we have the good sense to put the right person at the helm.
L.F. Pike writes from St. John’s.