God Guard Thee: By-election Blues

The Boy Wonder will be sorely missed, if only because his empty seat in the House of Assembly means there will be a by-election that will force everyone to confront how dysfunctional our political system is right now.

It’s the end of an era in Newfoundland and Labrador politics, folks. After a decade climbing the greasy pole of provincial party politics, Steve Kent is trading it all in for a plum job managing the subur- er, city of Mount Pearl.

We salute you, Scoutmaster. We’ll miss your antics in The House, but we’ll always have that multi-billion dollar boondoggle in Labrador to remember you by. Dasvidaniya and good luck.

The Boy Wonder will be sorely missed, if only because his empty seat in the House of Assembly means there will be a by-election that will force everyone to confront how dysfunctional our political system is right now.

Despite losing one of their higher profile members, The Tories should probably be the most enthusiastic about the upcoming byelection in Mount Pearl North. You would be hard pressed to find a more true blue district this side of the Southern Shore. But Kent’s exit poses a bigger existential problem for the party; namely, it confirms that nobody seems to want to lead it.

Kent would never win, of course, but having people interested in acquiring the title at least makes it look like it’s worth something. Interim-ish leader Paul Davis is still of two minds about whether or not he wants to stage a comeback after abruptly resigning before a confidence vote last year, and crown prince Chesley Crosbie both is and is not officially running for leader depending on when and who you ask.

Personally, I think Schrödinger’s Candidacy is exactly the kind of decisive leadership the province is aching for right now.

If and when the PCs win this seat, it will be through the sheer power of inertia. On the one hand, this is not the rousing tour de force that a government in waiting wants to show barely two years before a general election. On the other, the mindless inertia of structural decay put Dwight Ball in the Premier’s office, so, maybe the forces blindly pushing us all into the void deserve a little more respect. I don’t know; I’m not a priest.

Speaking of The Liberals: oh dear. Normally a majority government two years into its first mandate, while all the key players from the unpopular government it ousted are still sitting in opposition, would be a shoe-in to rack up a couple of by-elections, but there is very little that’s normal about Team Dwight Ball.

They offer one hell of a package to prospective candidates: “the governing party is broke and everyone hates the Premier – get on board with the Government Side!” But who knows, Randy Simms might need a nice retirement project.

All of this, of course, is light years ahead of the poor New Democrats, God love them. Erstwhile leader Earle McCurdy chose to resign rather than run in a by-election in his own district, in case you were wondering about how well the NDP is holding it together. No doubt it’s a bittersweet moment for our long-suffering Dippers; they lost their leader, but they must also be relieved that he actually knew when to quit.

It could be a blessing in disguise if it puts the aggressively lovable Gerry Rogers in the party driver’s seat, but upgrading the NDP from a social justice hobby club into a real contender for political power still seems to be a Sisyphean task. It would be lovely if they could get the good people of Mount Pearl North to feel the proverbial Bern before they go to the polls, but I would not recommend that anybody hold their breath.

Did I mention that the province can’t even legally call an election until they sort out a way to use special ballots that don’t violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Yeah man. This byelection wouldn’t be Peak Provincial Politics if the mechanism to hold it wasn’t quite literally broken.

Anyways, the real winners here are the good people of Mount Pearl. They get the chance to peer into the crystal ball and tell the rest of us the precise degree to which everything in the House of Assembly is shagged up. Bonus if they actually get a good MHA out of it, too.

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