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BRIAN JONES: Ball deserves to lose; Crosbie doesn’t deserve to win

Surrounded by supporters and Liberal MHAs, Premier Dwight Ball kicks off the campaign Wednesday in the lobby of Confederation Building for the provincial election to be held May 16.
Premier Dwight Ball announced an election call for May 16, earlier than the expected fixed election date in the fall. — Telegram file photo

Mark 2019 as the year Newfoundlanders officially affirmed they are OK with having leaders whose main strategy is manipulation and machination.

Pity the thinking voter. Liberal Leader Dwight Ball deserves to lose. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie doesn’t deserve to win. And yet, on May 17, one of them will wake up as premier of the province, and Newfoundlanders’ nightmare will continue.

There are at least 14 reasons Ball deserves to lose this election, but the main one is that it is taking place now instead of in November. Ball ignored the province’s fixed-date election legislation for his own benefit.

This is typical of his government, which since 2015 has done what is best for the Liberal party rather than what is best for Newfoundlanders. (Cancel Muskrat Falls? And risk shifting public anger about that debacle onto the Liberals? Never!)

A Ball victory will be more than pathetic — it will be an insult to the fine concept of democracy.

There are at least 12 reasons Crosbie doesn’t deserve to win this election, but the main one is that his party is the crowd that foisted the Muskrat Falls disaster onto this doomed province.

The harm that will result from the Progressive Conservatives’ arrogance and foolishness should result in their electoral annihilation, let alone their loss on May 16. But this being Newfoundland, the PCs are the leading alternative to the self-serving Liberals.

Ches Crosbie
Ches Crosbie

It is as if Newfoundlanders decided to play a joke on themselves.

The Tories remain unapologetic. They have never said they are sorry for the financial hardship they have inflicted on the people of this province. They have never admitted they made a massive mistake.

Crosbie’s single defence against the damage done by his party is to say voters are more interested in the future than in the past. This is what passes for leadership vision in Newfoundland. Yes, Ches, when people receive their electricity bills in 2021, they won’t care a whit about what happened in the past.

Speaking of electricity bills, the favoured euphemism of the day — “rate mitigation” — is being flung by Grits and Tories alike. Don’t be so easily fooled. “Rate mitigation” is the apex of political manipulation. The government might put money aside to subsidize your electricity bill, but it is public money that will, by definition, not be available to fund schools, hospitals, roads, the crumbling university and whatnot.

If you wish, be glad for the subsidy, but then don’t complain about potholes, crowded classrooms or long waits in the emergency room.

The crass manipulation and crude machinations employed in this province’s politics during the past decade is either acceptable, or it is not. That is what will be decided May 16.

In a single week, Ball introduced a budget and then called an election. Such manipulation is Reason No. 2 he deserves to lose.

Ball wants this election to be about his budget. Fair enough. But an astute electorate would make the election about his 2016 budget. Is it forgotten already? A poll tax. Higher taxes. New fees. A preposterous claim that the Liberals didn’t know how badly off the province was after 12 years of Tory misrule.

May 16 will tell us how easily, or not, voters’ anger can dissipate.

This election is about much more than Ball vs. Crosbie, or Liberals vs. Progressive Conservatives. It is about how much political abuse Newfoundlanders are willing to endure.

The crass manipulation and crude machinations employed in this province’s politics during the past decade is either acceptable, or it is not. That is what will be decided May 16.

People who deem it acceptable can vote Liberal or Tory. People who deem it unacceptable must look for some kind of alternative.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many other choices available to disgusted voters. Of the 40 districts, 14 are a two-candidate race of Liberal vs. Tory.

In the remaining 26 districts, voters will have a wider democratic choice, and there is a third or a fourth option — candidates who are independent, NDP, or Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance.

It is in those 26 districts that Newfoundlanders will get a glimpse of their common future. If few, or no, alternative candidates win, well, get ready for more manipulation and machination.

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

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