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)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Does NL need a new political party?

It's a refrain I've been hearing more and more lately: "we need a new political party". It's often accompanied by "the Liberals are no different than the PC's" or "they're all crooks" or "I can't vote for any of them". Different comments, but essentially the same message - people here are becoming deeply estranged from the existing political parties. It's not just voter apathy. It's more like voter disgust.

It's been slowly evolving over the last few years. The disengagement from the people. The lies. The attempts to cover things up. The secrecy. All of it has eaten away at people's trust in their government, and specifically the PC party like cancer on the bone. People began looking at the NDP as an alternative, and for a while Lorraine Michael was not just leading in the polls in this province, but she was the most popular opposition leader in Canada. Then, while she was on holiday, from the backrooms came a cynical attempt at a palace coup. When that failed, 2 MHAs left the party and eventually joined the Liberals after a "believable" time out period. People here turned on the victim rather than the perpetrators, and knocked the NDP and Lorraine Michael out of contention in the polls. The party fell and she fell.

The Liberals then became the flavour of choice. Like a great, hopeful wave people switched their preference to the Liberals - or so the polls say. The Liberals became confident, many so much it bordered on arrogant, and before you knew it the Liberals were indistinguishable from the PC's. The smell of power washing over them. The backroom interests cocooning around them. The money comforting them. They no longer had to stand for anything. They just had to remain silent and ride the wave to power. Then reality hit.

People started asking what the Liberals stand for. The provincial radio shows, at least one of them, began openly mocking the Liberal Party for refusing to let people know what they would do any differently than the reigning PC's. As time unfolded, it became shockingly clear to some that the Liberals were in fact not going to do much differently at all.

Two of the most recent examples of that trend are Bill 42, and the police-death of Don Dunphy. Bill 42 seeks to take 8 seats out of the provincial House, and bring the number of MHAs to 40 from 48. Almost all the lost seats coming from rural Newfoundland. The Liberals got together with the PC's in the House of Assembly, sometime during a late night session, and made a political deal to get the seat reduction legislation through. Now, people are up in arms about their districts being carved up like Swiss cheese, and the Liberals are practicing the line "wasn't me". Little do they apparently realize that they look absolutely foolish and pathetic as they now try and claim they never voted for the seat reduction, just the amendments (political deal) that allowed it to become law. You could almost feel a collective rolling of the eyes on the Island.

Then, the Liberals joined the PC's in decrying those that insisted on a judicial inquiry, over the killing of Don Dunphy by a member of the Premier's security detail, were simply playing politics - as opposed to what it really is - obvious accountability. Again, like Bill 42, the NDP came on the side of the people in demanding an inquiry be announced. After all, announcing a judicial inquiry will happen in no way impedes an investigation into Don Dunphy's death. It merely states what should be the obvious, and that is an inquiry will be held after the investigation is complete. Not might. Not maybe if we can control the outcome. So, the NDP is coming up like roses on these last two huge issues. Whether or not that will translate in the polls is questionable. A key problem for the NDP is their new leader. His rise to that position stinks badly of backroom politics as well. And, where there is a backroom game afoot, there is control. The new leader suddenly retired from head of the "fishermen's union", when he was near retirement in any case, just before Michael suddenly stepped down as NDP leader, after she just won a leadership review handily, and after stating she would lead the party into the 2015 election. The hands of the backroom are all over this.

So all this brings us to the question: Is it time for another political party in this province? The answer, to my mind, is yes. The problem is that the last thing people here likely want is more politicians. That's a convenient truth for the boys pulling the strings on the other three. However, the dilemma remains that if a different commitment to democracy and integrity is not somehow invented, then the province is on the brink of no-return. And, if you love this place, that's a very hard pill to swallow. It seems unlikely that integrity, honour and accountability can rise to the surface of these parties controlled as they are by a very small group of people within the province. Their goal is control. Control of the people, but more importantly to them - control of the budget. They want those public dollars going to their interests, their companies.

So, if a political party can be born in this province that is firstly committed to integrity, honour, and truth before agenda, then yes it's time for a new political party here. The breath of fresh air is badly needed. Otherwise, there may well be a complete collapse of the governing "order" here. Too many of the people who should be the gatekeepers on power here have been corrupted by self-interest. Ordinarily, they would have been weeded out before they got in to that position - for having that weakness. But, in a place where that group is so small, and so exclusive, the order has become too introverted. Too compromised. Eventually when that happens, no matter where in the world, that order collapses and social chaos results. That's why there's an order in the first place. Order is the cure for chaos. However, order in a democracy comes from a firm set of rules that exclude "self-enrichment".That is to say, those with the real "influence", not the politicians, must be disciplined beyond self-enrichment. That hasn't happened here. Perhaps the real need in Newfoundland and Labrador isn't a new political party. Perhaps the real need is for a new set of Gatekeepers with the discipline to do their duty responsibly - for the best interests of the people, not their own.


  1. I love the idea about leadership that... "is firstly committed to integrity, honour, and truth before agenda, then yes"... As usual Sir, you're right on!
    Given the financial state the province is in now, (or more accurately, now that the state is publicly revealed), I agree to the YES. I don't agree however to the term "party". It's been a G.D. party for too long.
    We need complete change in thinking by new people. Egos, arrogance, agenda and closed door decisions must be eradicated. We now have new people, there is at least an attempt at transparency, and we have such a dire financial mess now exposed, that the time is ripe for real change in NL.
    Effective leadership for this province can be had only through real people coming together by way of a citizens' think tank, a citizens' advisory committee (to vet/control government decisions), and project committees that contain citizens, (without personal agendas), who give a damn.
    Principles must replace politics. Big thinking and antiquated ideas must be replaced by small thinking and progressive/futuristic ideas -
    * We can’t afford Muskrat Falls, implemented via government and foreign contractors, We need solar and wind power implemented through small businesses.
    * We can’t afford more local cable/other companies selling out to mainland companies for great gobs of cash, and thereby exporting future portions of NL incomes into perpetuity , – We need real local entrepreneurs who will compete with any/every mainland entity/idea for the good of the province, (people).
    * We can’t afford foreign ownership of large fish processing plants - We need self-sustained small boats selling directly to restaurants and grocery stores in local and other markets. (cudos to the good folks on Fogo Island)
    * We can’t afford to continue to export (pay) roughly 100 million dollars per year for a purportedly corrupt lottery corporation to provide addictive “services” that destroy lives, and tickets of (mostly false) hope – We need a locally developed (ethical and legal) alternative that keeps the manufacturing and jobs in our province, and that exports similar products/services to other provinces... thereby converting the tide of poverty to one of prosperity. ... (someone started that in 2001, without subsidies, but the “establishment” under the Grimes administration illegally shut it down – Refer Supreme Court File # 2007 01 T 2104).
    * We can’t afford to construct a new law school at MUN – We need to better utilize existing premises, and/or provide online training and incentives, for existing and new lawyers to mediate, solve disputes and improve access to justice, instead of overcharging because they engage in multi-year adversarial arguments that serve to further erode (any remaining) confidence in the justice system, and that serve to vastly impede “access to justice”.

    ..... continued

    Peter Austin,

  2. Excellent well thought out comment by the previous poster. I had just written this down as a note to the new ideas forum put out by the new government. Thought I’d put it in here as well as a contribution to the citizens think tank idea.
    -Promote Musgrave as a clean factory for the world’s first ecological and carbon neutral society. Too much has been invested to turn back on the project now in my opinion. Shine that turd.
    Put forth considerable revenue once it’s up and running and concurrently while construction is ongoing to minimalize the environmental impact of Musgrave.
    -Make the entire project open to the sciences and the public and media. Promote it as an entire branch of Environmental Science and run under MUN. Fund it adequately and invite top scientists to work with developers and environmental and Native groups. Fund research grants and give scientists a chance to practice their discipline instead of just warning us of impending disasters. Use this knowledge and promote the newfound skills into helping other Nations/projects into reducing costs and avoiding similar possible environmental impacts from their own projects (at a cost of course )and funding for the university.
    -This will take considerable investment I know but when were already damned we might as well gamble on ourselves. Invest in its people educate them and then apply their skills to building a sustainable self -sufficient Land.
    -Come up with a long term attainable plan based upon where we want to go as a people. Determine the skills and materials we need to attain that goal and fund those programs that develop those skills.
    -Save the Outports by restoring the inshore fishery. Gut quotas for foreign and corporate trawling. We’ll fish it for them? Give them the excuse that the only way to properly keep the stock from going extinct is to institute a program to strictly monitor all the grand banks. Get the grand banks declared a UNESCO Site??? Ha! Properly maintain the stocks and promote the visual of the responsible fishery. Keep its resources for us it’s our lifeblood.
    -Properly monitor the stock with the use of the sciences. Determine the amount of sustainable fishing that can be done and distribute licences to outlying communities where people want to practice the profession of “small boat” fishing (how big?). small fishplants distributed throughout the island The outports need not die despite the urge to centralize everyone in St. John’s.
    -Explain to me why we have such debilitating interest payments projected? It could be so much more properly invested. Why can’t we nationalize our own bank? Fund our own projects at zero interest and then repay the costs as the “new economy kicks into gear.
    -We need to go all out. Not keep looking at places to put on the brakes.
    -Legalize Weed. Yes I know. I’m one of them! Many places are on the verge of making it mainstream. Business opportunities are going to get limited. Imagine little greenhouses run off of lights powered by sustainable energy for the coffee houses for the tourists . We could export our own brands as a cash crop with places that it would be legal to trade with. Netherlands? I know I’m dreaming but hey cha-ching.
    Just a few thoughts. We need to start making sense and thinking big picture.
    I think the Swiss would give you a Moose’s weight in gold for it. Hell they’d probably punch their own mother’s in their faces for Moose Sausage.

  3. Revolving door party politics has ruined this great province. I can hardly stand to go sit in the gallery anymore and listen to the he said/she said childishness that they call question period. I, for one, am fed up with the way we do government. I think we need to totally change our governmental structure so that things like Muskrat Falls and Budget 2016 can't happen. A real democratic movement, of the people for the people is what we need in this province. Will people care enough to get behind such a movement? I don't know but this is the maddest I have ever seen people and I am just old enough to remember Cylde Lied...


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