recent Telegram interview with newly-minted Tory leader Ches Crosbie leaves a
disturbing impression of how he will address the challenges of a Party recently
described on this Blog as “broken”.
Telegram article saw Crosbie shifting the blame for the Muskrat Falls project
onto the Liberals. “What they should have done was make sure that a proper
stopgo analysis was done as soon as they got into office. They frittered that
opportunity away,” he was quoted as saying. Crosbie is correct on the point,
but he needs to deal with the ghastly mistakes of his own Party before he is
ready to throw stones at his rival.
to his credit, Crosbie asserted: “… PCs are like everyone else in this world:
we’re only human. If mistakes were made we’ll have to take the approach that
that was then, and this is now,” he told the reporter.
could be forgiven if Muskrat was actually just a “mistake”. But his assertion barely
dignifies civility. Indeed, the view puts him at risk of falling into the same cesspool
of deceit occupied by every recent Tory leader from Danny Williams to Paul Davis.
is not just that all of them were reckless with the Treasury — as much as with
the truth — or that they offended fundamental principles bearing on disclosure,
transparency and oversight. It’s not even that their lack of civility towards
legitimate criticism was offensive. Crosbie forgets that literally every leg of
the business case for the project has fallen apart. Construction estimates,
electricity demand forecast, oil price forecast, management capability, Water
Management Agreement — not one has survived even the construction phase of the
project. Not a single one.
that reason, it seems absurd for the neophyte politician to have also asserted that
“his party made decisions based on the best information available at the time.”
“best information” to which Crosbie refers was given by not just one but two
senior Panels — the Joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Panel and the PUB —
and ignored. In so doing, the Tory
leadership skewered a bright economic future for this place.
one expects new political party leaders to have all the answers, especially
given the enormity of our fiscal problems, including Muskrat. But
reasonableness also suggests that a ‘new broom’ will not attempt to excuse the
inexcusable, as Crosbie is attempting.
accountability is not popular among partisans; any attempt to clean house will
be resisted at every turn. But when the stench of recent leadership is so
odious that it cannot be allowed to co-exist with a style of governance that is
values-based — one we expect Crosbie to be guided by — it is incumbent on him
to the challenge of leadership, Sir.
defeat of most Tory Members in the last election has not voided the influence
of the Williams tribe. Besides, the elephant in the room — Williams’ legacy —
is inseparable from the growing questions that overhang the project sanction process.
Crosbie is content to carry the can for Danny Williams, I suggest to him: good
luck with that.
truth, he will not be capable in Opposition any more than as head of the
Government. The conflict between the ‘elephant’ and doing right by the public
is simply too large.
any democratic polity, the official Opposition is an integral part of the
process of informing the public; its job is to explain problems, giving them
context and dimension. They are expected to challenge the Government and to
expose the absence of leadership.
forget, Premier Dwight Ball didn’t become feckless only when he arrived at the
8th Floor. The Liberals miserably failed to face down the Tory Government
inside or outside the House of Assembly.
the process made difficult by the Tories? Yes. Was it impossible? No. It just
wasn’t politically expedient for the Liberals to burn much political capital on
a project the public supported. They were not willing to risk bursting the
bubble that Danny Williams had inflated.
Ball became Premier and Davis took over as Opposition leader, only the Government’s
colour changed; the ineffectiveness did not end. It was worse than dull — it was
with confirmation from Consultants E&Y and from (selectively) frank-talking
Stan Marshall, that Muskrat was a failure before it began, how could effective
Opposition from Davis be reasonably expected? It wasn’t in him to do the
honourable thing and resign. It wasn’t in the Party’s remnants to push him out
or to recognize that his lingering presence was only causing the democratic
deficit to worsen.
Ches Crosbie is not an elected Member in the House of Assembly, as Party leader
he is still expected to perform — to set new markers for a Party whose
performance under Williams, Dunderdale, Marshall and Davis justifies less a
period of rejuvenation than a day of judgement.
being leader of anything — a political Party or the neighbourhood social club — is not
easy. Crosbie must have known that. He knew that he would be leading a Party in
trouble; one that had blundered badly. Now that Party wants another chance —
even before the public has been made fully aware of their misdeeds, for which
the Liberals are largely to blame.
Crosbie is vying for the uninformed vote. If that is not the case, he can’t
justifiably ask for anyone’s support until he can tell them that the culprits
have been banished.
should quit the talking and start shaking things up. If the PC Party is ever to
be worthy of a second chance, he must shake out the self-aggrandizing
blunderers who have delivered the province into an abyss.
must stop this sordid business of dragging around Danny’s and Kathy’s baggage.
information available”? Crosbie must have been talking to Nalcor.
would offer this simple advice: No leader should be so burdened that they are
unable to carry the can for the public.