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Brian Jones: Electorate enables politicians’ stupidity

The SeaRose, Husky Energy’s floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.
The SeaRose, Husky Energy’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel. — Submitted photo

Perhaps someday, psychologists and/or behavioural scientists will be able to pinpoint why stupid people have an advantage in getting elected to public office.

Brian Jones
Brian Jones


You follow the media coverage in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at a Florida high school and you can’t help but think, how did such stupid people get elected?

This week a committee of the Florida state legislature approved a bill that will allow teachers to have guns in the classroom. In a more innocent era — say, a few years ago — such a news item would have been deemed to come straight from the You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up Department.

But today, Americans are seriously debating whether teachers should have guns in the classroom. No less than the U.S. president opined that teachers should be armed. He later edited that opinion by declaring he meant only those teachers who are good shots.

As Florida state politicians were voting 23-6 in favour of the bill to arm teachers, far north of the everglades and Disney World, in Washington, D.C., U.S. President Donald Trump proclaimed that if he had been at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, he would have dashed in, unarmed if need be.

It is a measure of the man that this isn’t even the most stupid thing he has ever said, although it is likely a candidate for inclusion in the Top 10.

It is popular these days, especially on social media, to mock the stupidity of ’mericans. But ’mericans are also generous, and they’re willing to share their stupidity around.

For instance, closer to home, Newfoundland politicians went all in for a certain mega-project in Labrador that indisputably puts them on a level of world-class stupid.

Also, this week Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady delivered a quote that collectors of stupid should engrave and hang on the wall beside their pictures of Joey.

Safety is Number 1? Then why didn’t the SeaRose disconnect? Maybe they couldn’t find the right wrench.

Addressing Husky Energy’s failure in March 2017 to disconnect the SeaRose FPSO vessel and sail out of range of an approaching iceberg, and the subsequent suspension of the SeaRose’s operations by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), Coady declared, “Safety trumps all. Safety is the Number 1 responsibility that we all have in our offshore. And I think that is understood by all of us in our community and in our industry.”

Safety is Number 1? Then why didn’t the SeaRose disconnect? Maybe they couldn’t find the right wrench. Maybe the iceberg was deemed to not be a danger because it looked like one used to make vodka. Surely financial considerations didn’t factor into the decision. Disconnecting would mean no oil and no money. But sure, safety is Number 1, Ms. Minister.

Coady’s statement should be considered an insult by every Newfoundlander capable of critical thought and who could instantly and accurately surmise why the SeaRose didn’t disconnect. Her assertion makes no sense, and is demonstrably false, even with the little information that has been made public.

If safety is Number 1 at the CNLOPB, why did it take 10 months for the offshore regulator to make public the details of the incident and to temporarily suspend the SeaRose from operations?

There has yet to be a logical explanation for the 10-month delay, from the CNLOPB or the government.

Action was delayed because safety is Number 1 is classic doublespeak.

But that preposterous notion is exactly what Coady implied with her statement — never mind the inexplicable and indefensible delay, safety is Number 1.

Let’s belabour the point, because it is worth belabouring. If safety is indeed Number 1, why has the CNLOPB not fined Husky Energy? Surely the company’s transgression is worth a fine of $10 million or, say, $25 million.

No? Then stop blabbering stupidities about safety being Number 1.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

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