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)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's Hard Being a Liberal Right Now


Normally, when your party is close to an electoral victory, a party supporter is quite happy with the state of affairs. That doesn't apply to me this time around. Back in 2011 when I joined the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party it was a much different place. Back then a Liberal was a Liberal, was a Liberal. There were no Tories in sight. In fact there were very few Liberals in sight. It was the core supporters of the Liberals that came to meetings or conventions. A small core.The party rested somewhere around 14% in the polls.

Yet, it had soul. The people gathered had purpose and spirit. They were 100% against things like Muskrat Falls and duplicitous PC conduct. That was a principled group of people in it for the good fight. Today things are much different. It really began when Yvonne Jones decided suddenly, just before the 2011 election, to bolt and rather quickly become involved in federal politics in Labrador. There were plenty of rumours she had been offered a pay off to leave, but they were just rumours.

Then, with approximately 15 minutes left in the filing deadline, Brian Tobin faithful Kevin Aylward jumped into the race and filled Jone's place as leader.That was the first indication things were taking a backroom turn. Shortly afterwords a $10,000 a plate dinner in Toronto was set up by Tobin for Aylward to raise election funds. Mining interests in Labrador figured prominently, and their pitch for Muskrat Falls became a shove. Thereafter, the Liberal fight to halt Muskrat Falls began to whither.

Fast forward to today. Dwight Ball is now the leader, and with him has come an exclusive-type of leadership that centers on a very small circle within the party. Many Liberals, especially old-time Liberals, aren't happy with being virtually shut out of the Liberals "new vision" and campaign. There are whispers. Plenty of whispers. So many in fact that it has become hard to distinguish between genuine complaints of autocratic leadership, and not so upstanding attacks from internal leadership hopefuls like Bennett and Antle. Now of course all that will be denied from the highest mount, but it has become very real.

Layered upon the internal dissent of eternally ambitious people, is the stealth election campaign. Ball is doing his damnedest to dance around all the minefields laying before him. He hasn't been upfront with the people on the real state of the province's finances, even though an economics student with no access could clearly see the mess ahead. Instead, he has chosen to place power over honesty. Sad when you consider the people are jettisoning the PCs from power for the very same reason.

Yes, it's a sad state when the Liberal Party here is merely imitating the departing PCs. It's sad to see people like Paul Lane, disgraced stacker and fixer of on-line polls and radio shows, leave the PCs for the Liberals. It's harder yet to see him embraced. After all, wasn't he the most savage of all PC members and defenders? And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It's painful to watch the lawyers and law firms jockey for place within the Liberal Party. Down to a man (and woman), the vultures are circling for the crumbs that are left of what was an oil inheritance for the people of the province - now squandered.

Finally, as if by some Shakespearean twist, it was very painful to watch Ball offer empty promises, at best, during the last televised leaders debate. It had the aura of the future surrounding it. It had the leap of faith, even though you know full well there is nothing to have faith in, kind of feel to it. It had the "I'm taking power and I have no earthly idea how I'm going to fix this mess" kind of feel to it. It was disingenuous, and insulting to the intelligence.

Whatever the electoral result is come November 30th, one thing is crystal clear - there will be no Trudeau moment. The promise of a more just society isn't even on the cue cards, let alone the heart. There is no promise of "sunny ways". Nope, none of that. Instead there are tightly gripped jaw bones, fake smiles, red jackets, etc. You get the idea. The provincial Liberal Party, as it stands today, is a disheartening imitation of the PC machine it has ambitions to replace. Discarded are the lessons of the PC downfall by those that are tripping over themselves to grasp at the empty cookie jar. Man, it's hard being a Liberal right now.  

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