the new Chief of Staff to Premier Kathy Dunderdale, has always eschewed steady
work. Whether as Chief to John Crosbie, as
MP and Federal Minister of Fisheries, in his multiple NGO roles or, more recently,
as head of a population growth strategy, Ross was always the perfect “temp”.
when to leave; he is wise enough to keep his hat on.
capable of giving the Premier much needed help; but, she needs a lot of it.
has stumbled badly. More than one person, a savvy, experienced team is necessary to form a Plan; one that includes policy and reflects current political
realities. If the challenge is ignored,
the Government may not survive the next election.
remember how Pierre Trudeau was rescued from Minority Government status, in
1972, by a combination of experienced and astute politicians and politically savvy
bureaucrats. Most people won’t remember the likes of Marc Lalonde, Keith Davy,
Allan MacEachen, Jim Coutts, Michael Pitfield and now Senator, Michael
Kirby…but Ross Reid will.
is no Pierre. The stumbles repeat. The “Newfoundland owns
Labrador” gaffe was just that, a gaffe. But, it served to remind the public of the
Premier’s incessant misspeak, whether in the House of Assembly or outside. If you can’t think on your feet, you have to
be prepared to follow a script.
particular time, the Province needs a Leader who can think big issue politics. This
Premier can’t or won’t.
are less able to help her than, possibly, at any time in the history of the
modern public service. That is not so
much a reflection on them, as it is on their lack of experience, operating at a
Premier has had the turnover of senior public servants, in as short a time, as has Premier
Dunderdale. Blogger Ed Hollett, who writes Sir Robert Bond Papers, has tracked executive
changes, in the Provincial Government, over a number of years.
posted, confirms the story. Notes
Hollett, “the number of changes in 2013 is on track to exceed even … 2011 and
2012…” Most recently, the Premier
replaced her three most senior people, the Clerk of the Executive Council, the
Deputy Minister of Finance and her Chief of Staff.
is the last thing a Premier needs when in trouble. I really don’t think Dunderdale understands the
depth of it.
is nobody’s fool; though he will have to endure several who are. (See “A Government of Fools”).
Premier had the role handed to her, enjoyed Danny Williams’ reflected glory,
and within a year and a half, found herself and her Administration in third
place, as the favourite of only a few. The Premier is not just unpopular among the
general public; ardent Tories, who once defended her frequent faux pas, no
longer restrain their distaste for how she has unwound a potential Tory
dynasty. Many are saddened at her
incapacity to relate to the electorate.
surely parse the Poll numbers. He knows
what they imply, both for the Government and his own longevity.
has placed himself in harms’ way before. He has taught, or acted as an Observer, in some
of the roughest countries of the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
heading to the eighth floor, suited in battle fatigues and head
gear, don’t think him AWOL. Likely, he
knows that breaking bad news to this Premier is a bit like walking an Afghan
minefield. Lurking in the shadows, too,
is the mercurial former Premier, Taliban Dan and one of his Clan, the volatile
Minister of Finance. He has frequently proven to be his own best Improvised
Explosive Device (IED).
there’s the Minister of Natural Resources, who has always displayed signs of Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, even though he has never fought for anything, except the
Corner Brook Hospital; even that victory remains something less than assured.
not have a lot with which to work.
expect any Facebook fiascos under his watch, though; nor will Darin King be asked to follow any more
scripts hatched in the Premier’s office.
Gerry Rogers will have to write her own Press Releases from now on.
take away access to social media from two particular lowbrow types who inhabit the
backbench. Like the Taliban, Paul Lane
and Steve Kent are not ready for democracy, just yet.
Of course, they
are mere annoyances compared with the larger problems. Just how does Reid get the Premier back on track? See the difficulty? Even the very question is
has never defined a course; she has no Plan and no new policy unless
you count Bill 29. She equates spending with vision. She performs cutbacks with
all the grace of a pick axe. Even the Finance Minister has confirmed the
Tory Blue Book was poppycock, from the start.
Dunderdale vs. Kennedy; one is truly as good as the other in the art of being astute. Truly, where is there room for empathy?
I asked an Outport wit, recently, why he felt Premier Dunderdale’s
popularity was so low. He responded: “When she speaks, she doesn’t speak for
me. I don’t think she speaks for hardly
anyone”. (See also “Why Dunderdale Can’t Connect”.
say the problem was Muskrat Falls; nor did he refer to the Budget cutbacks of
the Spring. His words speak to isolation,
to a sense of alienation from the very person with whom connecting should be
easy. Hence, the problem is not just
policy; it is personal.
coming days Ross Reid will think about Afghanistan, often. He may wish to
return. Right now, he is facing a
Provincial Government about as ready for fight as a platoon of Afghans waging
war, in flip-flops.
are optimists who think Dunderdale is just experiencing some mid-term blahs. They
believe Ross will tweak the script here, put together a few photo ops there,
and presto, the Polls will start to bounce back.
might the public expect from a Premier willing to change her ways?
is a Government that offers to repeal Bill 29, that agrees to open Nalcor and
Muskrat Falls to the kind of scrutiny performed by the Nova Scotia Utility
Board (UARB) and even more…because so much public money is at stake.
would see the CEO of Nalcor replaced with one more qualified.
is a Government committed to treating the House of Assembly and Opposition
Parties with respect.
would confirm a plan to institute a proper Budgeting process.
reasserts the role of the PUB; it insists on complying with the full mandate
and original purpose of the Treasury Board, the Public Service Commission and
the Public Tendering Act.
just a beginning.
public administration, disclosure and accountability have badly suffered since
the beginning of the Williams’ Administration.
Premier defer, if Reid makes any of those proposals? Not Likely.
an excellent fellow. But, I wouldn’t get too carried away with a group who is on track only to undermine our long awaited and still nascent prosperity.
Ross Reid should keep
his hat on.