Pondering the Coleman enigma

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What do we really know about Frank Coleman other than he was chosen by a large cog in the PC party machinery while others were either dissuaded from or disinterested in the job?

Terracotta warriors for sure.

His being proclaimed as the PC party saviour is eerily similar to former Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announcing Pierre Peladeau as the one who would cement the good fortunes of the Parti Québecois.

At first there was the stunning realization that the PQ, devoid of political vision, was taking the high-risk gamble of pinning its electoral success on the banning of outerwear religious insignia. Then followed the shock they might actually win a majority by inserting an anti-labour, heavy hitting business mogul into the campaign.  

Peladeau, being our version of Danny Williams, signalled that the PQ had now acquired business heft. The rewards of nationalism and trickle down-economics would carry the day. Oops! was the general sentiment expressed by perennially dozing federalists.

But then Peladeau, whose great wealth allowed him to wax philosophic in a demonstration that his issues were not those of the struggling class, made the unfortunate decision to bare his soul and announce that he was a sovereignist. This, of course, as we know, put the PQ campaign into a tailspin from which it never recovered and allowed the Liberals, previously detested due to allegations of corruption, to win a majority government.

The more Quebecers got to know Peladeau, the less they liked. He will now likely be relegated as a footnote in Quebec history.

This may not be unlike the situation with Frank Coleman. He also came from the top down with no previous political experience.

We know nothing of him other than he knows how to make money and may not have paid all his bills. He is extremely cautious and not particularly articulate as determined by his propensity to have hired talent write his news releases.

He is strongly attuned to his religion but quickly willing to bail previously avowed tenets that get in the way of his ambition.

So we know he is a typical politician who, to this point, has decided not to cast his pearls among swine and to keep his light well hidden under a bushel.

Like Williams, Kathy Dunderdale and Tom Marshall before him, he reached the pinnacle of NL political success (not to be confused with democratic attainment) without first going to the people and yet we know less about him than we know about what happened to Malaysian Flight 370!  

Does he see the province as a business to be run based on getting to the bottom line?

What needs to be fixed? What new ideas or processes is he bringing to the table? What is his take on our already eroded pension and social programs? Will some products no longer be carried in aisle four?

Now, Frank may turn out to have the wisdom of Solomon, the integrity of Ulysses and the purity of Caesar’s wife, but his invisibility and silence is as much a conundrum as the sad spectacle of the promise of the Net Zero home in Flatrock.

Quite possibly providing all of its own energy requirements, it could contribute excess generation to the Nalcor grid were it not for the inexplicable PC law that makes that illegal.

Perhaps our general lack of a thoughtful and measured response to Coleman’s emergence as our unelected leader can be attributed to the two winters we just experienced within a single season? Or maybe it’s the result of Dunderdale burnout, or perhaps we are just busy preparing for the possibility of spring?

In any case, we seem to have become even more complacent than usual.

Not to worry, though. The issue could resolve itself, Peladeau-style.

Without a significant change in his modus operandi, Frank will be leader, all right. Of the opposition.

Unfortunately, that eventuality is a year and a half away.

Prepare for more lost opportunity and a long winter of political discontent.

T. F. Hawco

St. John's

Organizations: Parti Québecois

Geographic location: Quebec, Flatrock

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Recent comments

  • Cyril Rogers
    May 10, 2014 - 11:00

    If ever any party had lost it's mandate and right to govern it is this sorry excuse we have for a government. They reel from crisis to crisis, from leader to leader….all the while holding onto the reins of power for dear life. How they ridiculed the Liberals when that party went through a series of leaders..while outside the corridors of power…but, here they are, having to get the party insiders choose a leader without no leadership contest. That they are unable to amount a real leadership campaign illustrates the dearth of leadership within the party. The best Mr. Coleman could do for the province is to step aside or assume the reins of power…then call an immediate election….and let the electorate put him, and his party, out of their agony.

  • Maxwell J.
    May 09, 2014 - 14:16

    Coleman's view this morning on VOCM is that he and his family are being persecuted over this paving contract. Only the most rabid, dyed-in-the-wool partisan could possibly think that such an unusual and suspect transaction between his company and a government over which he is shortly to become master should be allowed to pass without challenge. The implications - not so much of the transaction itself - but of his reaction to the public scrutiny of it is very worrisome. It is worrisome because it gives us a measure of how high Mr. Coleman believes the bar should be set when it comes to accountability, transparency and integrity in politics. Coleman's defenders have posted comments attacking anyone who has called for a thorough review of this matter by the AG – postings that are reminiscent of the thugs who assailed the critics of Muskrat Falls. These same people lambast the opposition parties in the House for even raising it as a matter of public concern. What are we to make of all that? I am not one to prejudge and I am in no way prejudging the outcome of the AG’s review. Other than this paving contract, I am aware of nothing in Mr. Coleman's background that would give me cause for concern. His defenders have predicted we'll all have egg on our faces when this is done and Coleman is exonerated. I genuinely hope that he is exonerated but either way I am convinced that the review will have been the right thing to do. It worries me that Coleman thinks otherwise. As a long time Tory supporter, I had harboured the hope that Coleman would charge in on a white horse and set about the business of reforming his own party and the government it controls. Alas, my hopes were dashed when Coleman publicly proclaimed how amazingly well he thought this government and his predecessors had done in running the province this past decade. Evidently he couldn't see that government had become arrogant, insensitive, self-serving, indifferent, undemocratic and - worst of all - incompetent. It was quite a disappointment - so much so that it is very unlikely that I could vote Tory in the next election. Likely I will vote Liberal for the first time despite having some reservations that Mr. Ball is not aggressive enough in demanding change and accountability. My sense is that he is keeping his powder dry and that might be a reasonable strategy in the short term. In the end however I will gravitate to whichever party and leader can convince me that upon assuming office they will not simply sweep still more dirt under the rug. I am waiting for a promise that questionable activities of the past several years will be investigated and if wrongdoing is found, those responsible will be held to account. Without limiting the scope of that house cleaning, I am especially anxious that a new government will appoint a commission of inquiry to review the manner in which Muskrat Falls came about, whether that project was truly in the best interests of the province, and what the implications are for ratepayers and taxpayers down the road. And hopefully it is not too much to ask that new government release the identities of any companies or individuals hired by government and/or by NALCOR to attack the integrity and credibility of those people who thought it their duty to question the merits of the single biggest investment by government in this province’s history. If there are John Smiths out there pretending to be private citizens who were in fact paid to assault honest, conscientious citizens, I think we are entitled to know who they are.

    • Maurice E. Adams
      May 09, 2014 - 18:32

      Great post. I am not optimistic that much of what you hope for will come about. Unfortunately, the Liberals seem to now support Muskrat as much as the government --- even though there is no real evidence to show that MF is in the best interest of ratepayers and the province, while there is evidence that the risks have neither been fully costed nor properly and independently assessed.

  • I hope the Auditor does a THOROUGH audit of this contract.
    May 09, 2014 - 12:19

    I'm satisfied that the Auditor General is going to do an audit on the messy contract of Happy Valley Paving. I hope he does a THOROUGH review of that contract. From what I have heard from the media, the contract, if you can call it a contract, was constructed in the most elementary way possible with very little protections for the government and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who they are supposed to be acting on behalf. And most of the Contract was conduced by telephone with n written documentation. Any future contracts drawn up should be iron-clad and in order for that to happen, the necessary conditional clauses have to be included in the contract that covers all possible liabilities, for instance the forest fire, that was used as the scapegoat for exit in the case of the Happy Valley Paving contract.

  • Torey Nomore
    May 09, 2014 - 11:58

    A bullying, former premier hand-picking the last 3 premiers; reason # 785,671 that I cannot vote Tory no-more.

  • david
    May 09, 2014 - 08:32

    This process has been a covert operation, with the "chosen one" being revealed as both a willing accomplice and pawn of his puppet master, Williams. This is in itself an awful situation.....but it is made much worse by Mr. Coleman adopting from Day 1 the same arrogance, complete indifference to the public, and deceitful obfuscation that it at least took Danny Williams a few years to nurture. The 'era of oil' in Newfoundland: We are witnessing a 'world-class' heist by a small group of ambitious gangsters in real time, folks.

  • Marshall Art
    May 09, 2014 - 08:15

    Frank Coleman up in Danny's box at Mile One at the IceCaps game grinning like a cheshire cat. He's just so damn happy that Danny didn't take his own advice, ie., that former Premiers should just shut up and go away.

    • Uncle Dolf
      May 11, 2014 - 05:38

      Actually Marshall is up in Danny's....you called his box, there's a more apt description.

  • Too Funny
    May 09, 2014 - 07:33

    His role is that of Roger Grimes; the person selected to lead the party circling down the toilet.

    • Christopher Chafe
      May 09, 2014 - 19:57

      Thank You! It seems that some Liberals in this province have a very short term memory loss. When Brian Tobin abruptly left politics Roger Grimes became leader of the Liberal Party (also in controversial fashion) and Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador. So can someone please enlighten me how the Liberal Supports had no problem with "their party doing the same thing". A Premier should not be elected by simply becoming leader of the governing political party, they should be elected by the people of the province. NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY BELONG TO!

  • John Smith
    May 09, 2014 - 06:52

    we know a lot more about Frank Coleman, than we do about Dwight Ball...then again maybe no one cares about Dwight Ball, his history, or what he thinks....

  • Morris
    May 09, 2014 - 05:49

    Excellent commentary! When the heat is on , an enigma wrapped up in a Touton will eventually explode. It's a sticky mess right now .

  • citizen kane
    May 09, 2014 - 05:26

    Great article bud. Just call the election and we can send Colemen back where he came from, if he even makes it to the election. That is not a given with all this HVP stuff emerging. You hear Colemen on the TV and radio talk shows and he does not answer a single question ever. Just more useless platitudes.