Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Is this Newfoundland or Cuba?

You could be excused for wondering what is going on in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador these days. Since Danny Williams suddenly left his post as Premier, with the declaration "it is time for new ideas and new blood", things seem to have warped into a comedy of error and fancy. Firstly there was the rigged leadership race to replace him. No cabinet ministers stepped up. No MHAs stepped up to run. When one person did step up, yours truly, the entire PC machine turned on him for having the audacity to be counted. So much for new ideas and new blood.

Rather quickly the doctors and specialists were given every cent they wanted which ended a long standing labour dispute. Ms Dunderdale proclaimed it a new era of cooperation. All was to be well and the days of the overbearing Danny were over. Then, just recently, the same health minister unilaterally took money from the Island's pharmacists. The money, part of the drug companies allowances to pharmacists, helped make rural pharmacies viable. The rural pharmacies revolted for their very lives and gave 30 days notice that they were going to stop accepting the province's drug card. The minister then, in  the "new" spirit of cooperation unilaterally changed the amount of notice needed to opt out of the drug plan to 120 days. He also gave notice that any pharmacist not following his edict would be reported to their professional association for discipline - eerily akin to the warning given to the doctors during their job action.

Things really began to spiral for the PCs when Elizabeth Mathews appointment to the CNLOPB was leaked to the press. It got even worse when they were caught in an apparent lie that the whole thing was just a miscommunication issue, when in reality it was proven to be an attempt by the government to conceal the appointment. Then we warped into the issue of family services and the judging of parental ability based on IQ tests. This fiasco became so heated that two months into its very public life the government went to court to have the specific case banned from media publication.

From there the action headed to the House of Assembly where the new fiasco, the Lower Churchill, became the daily fight. It dominated the airwaves, talk shows, and news print. The government took a hammering and the many flaws of the deal became very public and very messy. Public opinion on the deal and the government began to dramatically shift. The answer: leadership makeover. Ms Dunderdale quietly packs up and takes off to the US for several weeks on "holidays". When she returns her weight has dramatically, almost unnaturally, declined. She comes back a much more tanned and fit person than she was a precious two weeks earlier. Most people were too polite to say much, but the transformation was fairly obvious.

The newly minted Ms Dunderdale then went on the offensive with a new twitter account, a new hair colour, a new running regime - all deliberately very public. She and her ministers began sprinkling spending announcements all over the province. She had Nalcor executives take over the reigns of defending the newly minted Muskrat Falls deal (which was referred to as the Lower Churchill deal until then) to take the political heat off her and the ministers. Then, backtracking slightly, there was the comment made by Minister Tom Marshall on the day of the by-election in Humber Valley, when he stated "the government has done many good things for the people here and I'm sure they will do the right thing..."

The whole thing has reminded me, eerily, of the regime in Cuba. The 'great' Fidel leaves office, and his brother is hand picked to take over. A "new" era is ushered in that remarkably looks alot like the old era. Dissent is not tolerated, and prosecution goes on - just not as publicly. Instead of using the cry "upwards and onwards" the Cubans use "long live the revolution". Yes, sadly, the politicians in the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador have far too many things in common with those dastardly reds in Cuba - and I'm not referring to them both living on islands. Both governments prefer state-managed discussion as opposed to true democracy.