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Russell Wangersky: Congrats, Minister of Thingamajigs and Whatchamacallits

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball made some changes to his cabinet today at Government House.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball made some changes to his cabinet Thursday at Government House. — David Maher/The Telegram

It’s a long and honoured tradition.

Or is it a long and honours tradition?

 

Anyway, on Thursday at a little after 5 p.m., Premier Dwight Ball shuffled his cabinet, and crossed a crucial line in the land of politics. The shuffle formally crushed the idea of either Eddie Joyce or Dale Kirby returning to the cabinet fold, and, unlike the usual cabinet shuffle announced a day early and dutifully attended by the media at Government House, this one just got a news release.

But back to that crucial line just crossed.

As of now, two-thirds of the 27 sitting Liberals are now either cabinet ministers or parliamentary secretaries. (If anyone’s wondering what a parliamentary secretary does, it looks pretty much like attending public events on behalf of cabinet ministers who can’t or don’t want to attend.) Another four Liberals have legislative titles: Perry Trimper is the Speaker of the House, and there are Liberals who are the deputy Speaker and chair of committees, the deputy chair of committees and the Liberal caucus whip. Another will soon become the Liberal caucus chairperson.

That means, of course, only four Liberals are left who don’t have an extra title to cut and paste onto their business cards.

Titles are a fine thing; heck, some people are even willing to pay money for them.

Apparently, you and your spouse can become the 21st Lord and Lady of Backenhoe for just 2,650 British Pounds (sales tax extra) — it’s the perfect title, isn’t it, for the neigbourhood construction titan? There doesn’t appear to be a Lord of Front-end Loadern.

Becoming the 15th Lord and Lady of Little Holwell or Nether Holwell is the same price, as is the opportunity to be the 4th Lord of Ainderby Quernhow (and that’s a lordship with history; it was originally held by Flotmann the Saxon in, like, 1066).

But you don’t have to pay for the current round of Liberal titles; in fact, in Liberal-land, some of the senior ones pay you.

Sometimes, there are so many titles rolling around that they just get stacked up on one another.

Dwight Ball could be “His Excellency the Premier and Slayer of Past Tories, Ambassador to the Others and Sitter at the Head of the Big Table.”

Look at Tom Osborne, who is — take a big breath — “minister of finance and president of Treasury Board, minister responsible for the Human Resource Secretariat, minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, minister responsible for the Office of the Chief Information Officer and minister responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation” or the MFPTRMRHRSMRPSCMROCIOMRNLLC for short.

Seriously, at this point the Speaker of the House of Assembly just calls Chris Mitchelmore, the minister of tourism, culture, industry and innovation, “the minister of TCII” in question period, because no one can be bothered to say the whole thing anymore. (It’s better than the old 2010 Department of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, which used to go by the nickname “In-turd.”)

There aren’t many lively titles, though there is the fact that Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote is “the Keeper of the Great Seal of Newfoundland and Labrador,” able to stamp documents, including those naming cabinet ministers.

Imagine, though, if the names were a little bit more florid.

Dwight Ball could be “His Excellency the Premier and Slayer of Past Tories, Ambassador to the Others and Sitter at the Head of the Big Table.”

Osborne could be “Tom Osborne, Lord High Paymaster, Keeper of the Colossal Debt and Key-Master of the Great Liquor Cellar.”

The mind boggles.

In any event, sprinkling a few new titles around should quell the grumblings in the backbench for a while — except for those left sitting without them. (But guys and gals, if you’re really desperate and down in the dumps about being titleless, drop me a quiet note and I’ll show you how to become the next Lord or Lady of Thingden and Burton Latimer — 3,150 quid, and worth every last penny.)

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.

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