won’t be heard by any of the men and women of the blue robe and red sash. Judges
have their role; but, in this narrative, it is one only of proximity. The decision, I describe, is purely
political. The justice system may be
affected, perhaps, profoundly. But, the full rationale for Jerome Kennedy’s
assault on Newfoundland’s criminal justice system won’t be understood until
after the next Tory Leadership Convention.
so-called “austerity” Budget abolished the Family Violence Intervention Court,
sent a number of Crown Prosecutors and Parole Officers packing and, among other
measures, laid off 50% of the staff of the Office of the Sheriff.
have been sold, to the public, as an integral part of the cost cutting program
of the Dunderdale Government. Yet, the cuts,
in their totality, have no parallel.
Most people, because of their
limited knowledge of how the justice system works, will find their impact difficult
to assess. These are not issues, anyway,
that engender great public sympathy.
Few, except judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and advocates, give
them any real thought, at least until an event transpires that compromises
public security. The public will get
worked up, but only if a case is dropped after years of neglect by an overworked prosecutorial
staff, if a parolee re-offends, who has been found not to have been properly
monitored, or if there is a miscarriage of justice, once again.
When one of these
news stories breaks, as inevitably it will, the Justice
Minister will be called on the carpet.
Darin King may feel comfortable defending the cuts, right now, but
ignorance is bliss. Remember, it is
not King but Lawyer Kennedy, masquerading as Kathy Dunderdale’s pit bull, who
has an intimate knowledge of how all these decisions will play out.
King, not a
lawyer, is nevertheless, smart and well educated. However, in the often arcane world of the
law, even lawyers are challenged by myriad technical and administrative complexities. Intelligence or education, in an unrelated field, is simply
inadequate. Were he schooled in that
business he would, at least, be capable of recognizing the risks inherent in staff shortages or other policy changes.
Department, with King’s unwitting approval, the key elements of his own undoing. King has been set up. He just doesn’t know
anger erupts following the first reports of perverted justice, the Budget
fallout will, by then, have subsided. Darin King, as Minister of Justice, not Finance
Minister Kennedy, will be the one forced to justify last week’s evisceration of
the criminal justice system. It is he who will have to respond to the indefensible.
Kennedy’s trap will have been sprung.
Jerome Kennedy engage in such an elaborate and risky strategy given its
potential costs to society and specifically to the cause of criminal
justice? Why would Kennedy set up a play
whose consequences could possibly nullify the career goals of another colleague? I suggest you now park your altruism and your
sense of fair play.
Kennedy wants to be Premier. He doesn’t
want Darin King to get the job. King may be the person most capable of
becoming Dunderdale’s replacement, but Kennedy has ambitions, too, and he is
the one most capable of frustrating King’s.
the current Premier will enjoy a brief tenure.
Anyone who has closely examined last week’s Budget document can see that
the pain of retrenchment has barely begun.
Public sector wage negotiations threaten a long year of political
acrimony. The Polls consistently confirm
that the Northeast Avalon has experienced a seismic shift to the NDP; even
rural Newfoundland is far from a safe bet.
The next two years will see a variety of machinations, but the reality
is, if she were to stay on, Dunderdale will be seeking re-election on her own
coattails, not those of Danny Williams. I am betting Dunderdale will move on,
not willingly perhaps, but she will go.
Her parting will make available the ultimate golden chalice for a
Kennedy is on the front benches slaying dragons having just faced down the Opposition
Parties and the critics on Muskrat Falls.
As the ‘slash n’ burn’ Minister, exorcising the Williams/Dunderdale
excesses, finesse not being one of his strong points, he must face down dozens
of angry groups out for his political hide. It is a thankless job and a
Minister in that position, is unhappy when he has to take the lash while
ambitious Ministers, like Darin King, get a free ride.
backs may thwart the cause of justice; but, the cost pales when stacked against
the ambitions of the conspiratorial Finance Minister. He will take the hits now; he expects, in time,
they will begin fade, as they always do. He may even
return to the Justice portfolio, in a timely manner, to fix Darin King’s screw
Choose whatever scenario you please; Kennedy is not Dunderdale’s henchman, for free. The Premiership is the price of his
that we should be worried about the cause of justice, when it may suffice if we
kept an eye out for the long knives.