Gentle readers: I am bursting with excitement.
Provincial politics is in for a gangbusters tumble when the Progressive Conservatives choose a new leader in the spring. The contest runs the full, rich spectrum of conservative politics in Newfoundland: rural-ish businessman/bureaucrat Tony Wakeham and ancient downtown lawyer Chesley Crosbie II. You can feel the vigour just pulsing through your phone’s liquid crystal screen. What an exciting time to be alive.
On the surface, these two giants may appear very similar. And there is indeed some overlap. Clunky websites from 2007; two men well into retirement age looking to determine the province’s future; an overwhelming, inhuman desire to drink from a poisoned chalice — that sort of thing.
But there are some very important differences between them as well. For instance, they both had different jobs. Ches Crosbie practiced law and Tony Wakeham used to own a bunch of KFC franchises before becoming a bureaucrat at the commanding heights of rural healthcare. These differing backgrounds bring many valuable perspectives to each candidate in their own unique way.
“Both have the same half-defrosted grasp on Twitter and its role in provincial politics.”
You can see it reflected in their campaign styles. Both have the same half-defrosted grasp on Twitter and its role in provincial politics. But Wakeham likes to post endorsements, ads for his campaign stops, and the generic hyper-enthused NL boosting that’s basic issue to Boomer baymen when they get their modem box. Crosbie, meanwhile, is a real St. John’s Cicero, eloquently tweeting his considered opinions on public policy out into the void.
There are subtle shades of grey when comparing their policy platforms, too. Both want to give citizens the power to recall any underwhelming MHAs at their leisure, and both think debt is bad.
But whereas Tony wants to somehow both cut and enhance rural healthcare delivery, Ches launched his campaign by admitting he once refused a breathalyzer, and then announced he wants to make it illegal for politicians to lie or run a deficit. A sweeping transformation of our entire society, Premier Crosbie would establish a legally fraught definition of “true speech” in the context of politics and establish a panel of judges to oversee and veto government spending bills. Endless constitutional crises roil the House of Assembly as Newfoundland and Labrador tumbles down through an austere death spiral. The province’s head fixed firmly in a guillotine, forced to watch as large swathes of its coastal towns are burnt in a downtown courtroom in the name of a blind and cruelly indifferent Law, the terrible and undying revenant of the Commission of Government. And he’s also got some great recipes that come free with his campaign newsletters, which is just super.
So in that spirit, I too will leave you with two pieces of counsel.
The first is that all political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador are more or less as intellectually bankrupt and bleakly moribund as the PCs. It’s only obvious here because unlike the Liberals, they can’t hide behind the inertia of government — not that it does much for Dwight these days either. The NDP race may appear more lively because its base is in the young, rowdy, and progressive boroughs of the St. John’s metro. But the provincial party has historically shown itself to be organizationally and psychologically unprepared to cope with even a limited political success. The party system here is already broken. It just might take some time for the wheels to more obviously fly off as the proverbial arse goes out of her.
The second is that, in my experience, the essential additions to any great chili are as follows: dark chocolate, fish sauce, a slow cooker, and a tablespoon or two of sambal oelek. Let me know if it works out for you – especially if you find improvements!