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Brian Jones: Jumping off the ‘poor Dwight Ball’ bandwagon

Premier Dwight Ball.
Premier Dwight Ball — SaltWire file photo

It’s gaining speed with each passing day, so I’ll take the opportunity now to jump off the “poor Dwight Ball” bandwagon.

 

Brian Jones
Brian Jones

 

Yes, we should have sympathy for him as a father, because his daughter, Jade Ball, had a serious drug problem.

Yes, he did the right thing by going to the police when he saw news clips and recognized a suspected killer wearing his stolen jacket.

But no, he cannot expect and demand to be treated like any ordinary citizen would be in such a situation. That’s just the way it has to be when you’re premier and hold power over the lives of 500,000 people.

It is indeed amazing and impressive, as many people have commented, that Ball was able to campaign for the November 2015 election while undergoing such turmoil in his personal life.

I don’t often endorse politicians being secretive, but Ball was under no obligation to voluntarily declare during the campaign, “Oh, by the way, I ID’d my daughter’s boyfriend as a potential killer.”

According to news reports, Jade Ball was in her late 20s at the time. She is an adult. She lives her own life and makes her own decisions. Dwight Ball cannot and should not be judged for any trouble she encounters, including choosing skeet boyfriends and using illegal drugs.

But Dwight Ball can and should be judged for his own actions, regardless of the turmoil in his family life.

At this point, dear reader, you should jump off the “poor Dwight Ball” bandwagon while you can still do so without breaking multiple bones.

Too many Canadians naively believe “the personal shouldn’t be political,” i.e., that a politician’s personal life has no bearing on his/her political office and is therefore none of the public’s business. Ah, no. The Americans and British have a more accurate understanding of the personal/political, their media’s love of sensationalism notwithstanding.

In October 2015, Dwight Ball was experiencing the kind of personal and family tragedy we all hope to never see.

Since weed is such a popular topic these days, it can serve as a fine example. If a government insists on marijuana use being illegal, a leader’s personal use of it becomes a legitimate question, due to the hypocrisy of using a drug that is illegal for the citizenry. Thus the fame of Bill Clinton’s preposterous comment, “But I didn’t inhale.”

Some people occasionally ask why I have such a deep, visceral hatred of former prime minister Stephen Harper. It’s basic: the man lacks any semblance of kindness or generosity. Those personal traits translated into a loathsome government that reveled in selfishness and meanness. So yes, the personal does become political.

Here is why I am content to watch the “poor Dwight Ball” bandwagon recede over the horizon without me being on it: despite his personal travails, the premier didn’t display an expected compassion for others in hardship.

In October 2015, Dwight Ball was experiencing the kind of personal and family tragedy we all hope to never see.

And yet, a mere six months later, in the spring of 2016, he allowed his government and his finance minister to approve a vile and retrograde provincial budget. Ball was unconcerned that it heaped further fees and taxes on those who were least able to afford them, and he cared not a whit for their well-being or their ability to pay the extra expenses without damaging their personal and family situations.

Generally, it is expected that people who have suffered will show more compassion to others than will those who have not. Hence the oft-cited fact, especially this time of year, that people who are less well-off give proportionately more to charity than do the well-off.

Dwight Ball, to his discredit, is apparently immune to this phenomenon. Despite the estimable challenges in his personal and family life, he bumbled along in his political career being as condescending and contemptible as many Newfoundland politicians before him.

 

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at bjones@thetelegram.com.

 

 

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