can be forgiven if they feel baffled, not by Peter Penashue’s resignation, but
that he was anointed, by the Federal Tories, to run again. Evidently, the Tories have calculated that
they can attract no one more electable.
Quite possibly, they harbour an illusion that the locals are passive
enough to be forgiving of both his poor performance and bad behaviour.
missteps were, at first, discounted by his freshman experience in the large and
complex political environment that is Ottawa.
It was thought that all he needed was a period of orientation. Yet, as the weeks went by it became clear he
was no quick study. Nor, indeed, had he a penchant for forthrightness or an
ability to communicate with his constituents, the media or the people of the
Minister’s vocal support, in Parliament, declaring Penashue ‘the best MP ever
from Labrador’ had all the arrogance of one who could care less whether the
former MP prevails. Had the PM indicated,
openly and sincerely, that Penshue’s behaviour was unacceptable, that a higher
standard of behaviour is expected from his MPs, that he wants him re-elected, and
if successful, he will keeps tabs on him, we would only have expected as
If Peter had
echoed the PM’s remarks and offered his own apologies, taken together, the
whole exercise might have had an ounce of credibility. As it stands, the PM, wittingly or not, raced
to place himself on the same level as the unworthy MP. Getting one over, on the Chief Electoral
Officer, in this case, has all the marks of ‘too slick by half’. Harper is smarter than that. I once thought.
Penashue is not formally charged with an offense, following the Report of the Chief
Electoral Officer, he has been forced to resign not because he may be too pleasant
a fellow but because he overspent, collected donations and services from illegitimate
sources and failed to accurately report.
is too recent not to remember that Penashue’s start, in Parliament, was even
less illuminating than his departure. Still, his appointment to the Federal
Cabinet offered hope that Danny William’s ABC campaign, which erased the
chances of P.C. hopefuls in the traditionally Tory held seats of the Avalon
Peninsula, would offer a larger dimension of engagement than that permitted an unelected
like Ontario, Quebec and a few others, because of their larger populations and
hence, more numerous MPs, benefits from holding multiple seats in any one Party. They are better positioned when one MP, like Penashue,
falls short and the Prime Minister, of whatever stripe, needs a ready
replacement. But, Peter was the lone Tory MP from this Province; election
night’s surprise. For no other reason,
the PM elevated him to the rank of Cabinet Minister.
in the Federal Cabinet is no small matter.
We lose a great deal when we lack a John Crosbie or a Brian Tobin to
advance our issues and compete for limited federal largesse. The notion that Nova Scotia’s Peter McKay
will make sure that NL gets its just desserts requires the innocence of one who
believes in the tooth fairy.
for the Liberal Party and the NDP will jockey for position, as they must, and
seek to be elected. That is how our political system works. The rest is the decision of the voters of
Tories should have stepped back a bit. Someone
ought to have reminded the PM that they owe Peter nothing, that if there are
any debts outstanding, those of the Party, the District and the Province come
well ahead of his personal aspirations.
Now that his desk has been cleaned out, a good Lieutenant should have informed
the nascent and delinquent political soldier that he is back to square one; that
the competitive nomination process will be employed, one that is an important
hallmark of that Party.
Tories have a high risk of being shut out in this Province. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have
an equally high risk of being without the influence of one who is a Member of
the Nation’s Privy Council. Undoubtedly,
the ‘sillies’ will gloat over denying the Federal Tories a seat, having delivered
PM Harper another kick in the teeth, but their ignorance of how real life
works, especially the importance of being represented in Cabinet Government,
should not be interpreted as rational thought.
Their slavishness, to left wing dogmatism, is equally as corroding as
the far right positions of Vic Towes.
newspaper ads already begun, including the misspelling, Peter Penashue assures
us he will neither voluntarily walk away from the by-election nor apply any additional
depth to the job, should he get re-elected.
commitments made, including the Federal Loan Guarantee, for Muskrat Falls, (notwithstanding
the Project’s threat to the financial integrity of the Province), quite rightly
guaranteed jobs and other benefits to First Nations people and contributed to his
initial electoral success. But, as his Ottawa experience has already
proven, Peter is not strong on follow through.
So far, very few Native people have gotten jobs on the Project. How will Peter explain that even the lowest
skilled, the security jobs, are being filled by others? Likely, with resignation; but then, he has
done that already.
the Prime Minister and his so-called ‘strategists’, in the Federal Conservative
Party, who claim a grip on ‘big picture’ politics can’t figure out that Peter is
toast. They can’t see that Labrador and the whole Province deserve better than
what Penashue has on offer. They can’t
even see that trying to out-pace the Chief Electoral Officer, is just too
have to learn to do without those ‘smart asses’ in the Imperial City.