“The amount of influence we have is certainly now on the table for examination. There is no question about it.” Kathy Dunderdale, 17 May, 2012.
Those bewildering remarks came from Premier Dunderdale in response to the federal government's decision not to expand the role of the Goose Bay military installation that had been promised. She indignantly screeched at the cameras her utter dismay, her complete confusion, and her total contempt for the Minister of Defence Peter MacKay. She even put in a not so subtle threat to the Prime Minister:
"For me, at the moment, it’s a Minister MacKay problem.”
Dunderdale proclaimed, in an indignant rampage, that Newfoundland and Labrador had been let down once again by the dastardly federal government. She questioned what it would take to get the federal government to do her will:
"What is it that we have to do down here to get your attention?" she said. "We try to cooperate, it doesn't work. We vote for you, it doesn't work. We don't vote for you, it doesn't work. What is it?"
And in those remarks lies the mentality for all to see. The simple, fatal flaw that has befuddled Newfoundland and Labrador politicians since 1949. The truth of the matter is that the corrupt, disloyal, divisive feudal politics used by Newfoundland and Labrador's politicians doesn't wash in the greater Canadian political culture. Not because it is unique or cultural, but because it is the type of politics that most people in Canada want to see banished to the annals of history.
The Premier's attempt to manipulate a campaign promise some 6 years old to play the victim card illustrates the point well. Feeling political pressure on the Island she abandons her own, very public, alliance with the Prime Minister and in the process fans republican/separatist feelings in the province with the tried and true strategy of: "they screwed us again". Not over some life or death issue like say the Marine Search and Rescue Centre (I was at the protest in St. John's, but didn't see her..). That happened too close to her deal with Harper, and she didn't want to jeopardise the Muskrat Falls loan guarantee. Not over the feds agreement with Quebec which recognized their jurisdiction over Old Harry - one day before the last federal election. No, she picks a six year old campaign promise, and attacks Peter MacKay instead of the man who made the promise - Mr. Harper.
Instead of taking responsibility for a political arrangement that she freely entered into, Dunderdale blamed the federal government for failing on their end of the deal. In that way Dunderdale managed to live up to the most ancient political trend in politics - lack of accountability. She then fired a verbal assault on Peter MacKay that didn't even make the national news - and when has it happened that a premier attacking a federal minister hasn't made the headlines? And what does she have to leverage over the federal government's head if they don't listen? Absolutely nothing. She has no cards to throw on the table. She doesn't even know how to create cards to throw on the table. Her whole strategy is: "I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down."
Course the feds are likely sitting back and having a good laugh. After all, a Premier with no cards that sets her own house on fire is hardly a going concern for the federal government. The feds are cutting across the board. They are applying their own brand and view of fiscal federalism - which they are entitled to do as a majority government (not an endorsement by the way). They are going to get grief from every provincial government. The key difference is most provincial governments aren't going to try and manipulate that in order to excite the provincial separatism that may exist in their jurisdiction. They aren't going to try and alienate their own people from their country. They aren't going to equate loyalty and citizenship to the dollar. They aren't going to commit the disloyal, some would say treasonous, act of taking flags down from government buildings.
They realize that they are stronger as one, despite the ideological differences. They understand budgetary decisions as they make them as well. To commit the despicable act of lowering flags, and alienating people from their own country only serves to isolate the province. It does not create allies in the rest of the country - unless you count Quebec separatists. It makes you look small, petulant, and childish. It makes you look untrustworthy. Without trust you can count on repeating this little diddy over and over again:
“The amount of influence we have is certainly now on the table for examination."
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.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)