A BATTERED P.C. PARTY MUST CHANGE (PART I)

Premier
Dunderdale’s resignation was not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.  If the decision had not been made now,
following her unwise and unsympathetic response to the power “crises”, it most
certainly would have been made after the House of Assembly closed in the
spring.

The Premier’s
loss of popularity began shortly after the 2011 General Election and the decline
likely descended to a new low as the acrimony of the power outages unfolded.  At the best of times it is tough to build on an
approval rating nearing 20%.  It is
especially hard when fall-out continues from policies like Muskrat Falls, Bill
29, successive huge deficits, and an inability to recognize mutual respect as
important mark of leadership.

How could
the Premier command confidence when hugely important public policies were
subject to the dictates of Nalcor, a Crown Corporation and its CEO Ed Martin,
without as much as Department of Finance oversight?  The very idea of such a derogation of duty is
repugnant within any context of ‘Responsible Government’.      

Even if one
were to give the event a most generous appraisal, the resignation of the
Province’s first female Premier, after only 27 months, is a
disappointment.  Most people, regardless
of partisan leaning, would have wanted her to succeed; a Premier’s success is
closely related to the fortunes of the Province. Then, too, proof that the role
of First Minister is gender neutral also needed affirmation.   At least on that account, the Premier
succeeded.       

Dunderdale
was in many ways an incomplete Premier; long-serving and ambitious on the one
hand but, on the other, a politician lacking the disposition to share a common
bond with the body politic. 

Had she
possessed the ability to engage people, communicate, commiserate, argue over
differences, all the while showing confidence, a generosity of spirit, a shared
mission,  the word ‘empathy’  would have been omitted from Wednesday’s
narrative. The whole event might have escaped the annals of history.

But, the
Premier’s decision was taken well before she met her Tory Caucus.  Paul Lane’s departure may have been a
catalyst, but no one should doubt that prior feedback signified a Caucus ready for
revolt; her resignation was not optional. 

No one
should underestimate the power of a frustrated and angry public.
__________________________________________________________________
Related Reading:        WHY DUNDERDALE CAN’T CONNECT
_________________________________________________________________
The public
has soured on the P.C. Party.  The Polls
confirm this fact.  The numbers would
have been even worse had the public been surveyed following the
‘black-outs’. 

No one,
especially the Tory Caucus, should harbour an illusion that all will be well
upon the election of a new leader.  In
consequence of the monumental failures of governance, for which the whole Government
is solely to blame, more than one person’s head will be claimed, even if the
first one is the Premier’s.  The entire
P.C. Caucus, especially the Cabinet, will have to shoulder a large share of the
blame.

Real
contrition will require a reversal of some policies.  It will demand a wiser, more mature, and less
divisive approach to the implementation of public policies.  It will require manifest evidence of
widespread change.

The P.C.
Party is not about to embark just on choosing a new leader; it must embark on a
journey of self-reflection and renewal.

One more
point must be made. The P.C. party will ignore it at its peril. 

It may seem
unkind to conduct such analysis so soon after the Premier’s decision.  But, I suggest had the normal screening of a
Leadership Convention been permitted to occur, when Danny Williams resigned, Ms.
Dunderdale might not have become Premier in the first place. 

Williams’
arm twisting of the Tory Caucus to accept her name as the singular Leadership
Candidate, may have served some particular interest of Danny’s; but the
initiative was not only undemocratic, it was a mistake.  Reportedly, more than half did not perceive
Ms. Dunderdale as their personal choice. 
Yet, all submitted to the former Premier’s insistent demand.

The competitive
leadership race, in whatever form it may be devised, constitutes an essential
screening mechanism for ill-fitting aspirants no matter how well-intended their
purpose or motivation.  One person should
not prescribe for the many.  As we have
seen in Premier Dunderdale, arbitrariness blocks a balancing of interests. 

It may be of
some interest that in 1979, following the retirement of Premier Frank Moores,
then Fisheries Minister Walter Carter was the favourite of a province-wide
Poll, the Finance Minister William Doody was the candidate preferred by Moores,
but it was Brian Peckford who emerged the democratic choice of the
Convention.  He won three mandates
handily.

Doubt the
wisdom of the voters at your peril. 

The P.C.
Party may have already learned this essential democratic lesson.  We don’t know.  We do know that any judgment about leadership
legitimately belongs not to one member but to the whole Party. 

That is a
good place for such overdue ‘change’ to begin. 

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

THE PROOF MUSKRAT FALLS IS NOVA SCOTIA’S PROJECT

The substance of Hydro’s mission is to satisfy the contracts with Emera to get large amounts of power flowing into Nova Scotia for the betterment of that province and its ratepayers.  The Island could easily live without the Muskrat Fals project and in fact, other than for the onerous Emera contracts, NL ratepayers would be best off if it was abandoned and left to rust.

FIRST YEAR OF OFFICIAL ENERGY DELIVERY NOT QUITE WHAT EMERA BARGAINED FOR

PlanetNL52: Happy Anniversary Emera on 1 Year of Official Energy Delivery Not Quite What Emera Bargained For Despite all the bad news related to Labrador Island...

GROUP SEEKS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR CABOT MARTIN RESEARCH AWARD

Cabot Martin’s sudden passing, in September, has stirred his friends, colleagues, and others familiar with his work, to honor him and encourage continued work in applied research and public policy development.

1 COMMENT