Hold­ing on to power

The Compass - - OPINION - An­drew Robin­son is The Com­pass’ ed­i­tor. He can be reached at ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca.

Here’s Premier Paul Davis, as quoted last week by The Tele­gram, talk­ing about the need to carry on gov­ern­ing de­spite a string of by­elec­tion de­feats for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives.

“I’m never con­vinced that a by­elec­tion is re­flec­tive of what the peo­ple of the prov­ince are look­ing for in to­tal­ity. We still have a solid majority in the House. We still have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to gov­ern. We’re do­ing that.”

In­deed, the gov­ern­ing PCs still have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to gov­ern. And maybe a par­tic­u­lar by­elec­tion re­sult does not tell a full story. But what about seven by­elec­tions? One of those seven by­elec­tion vic­to­ries was not al­to­gether sur­pris­ing. The Cartwright - L’Anse au Clair dis­trict has re­mained Lib­eral for decades, even when the party was swept aside by Danny Wil­liams’ big vic­tory in the 2003 gen­eral elec­tion.

But in ev­ery other case, in­clud­ing last week’s by­elec­tions, the Lib­er­als picked up seats pre­vi­ously held by for­mer high-pro­file cab­i­net min­is­ters or, in two cases, pre­miers. In pre­vi­ous elec­tion, those dis­tricts were easy wins for the PCs.

As far as cre­at­ing a pat­tern goes, those re­sults are noth­ing to sneeze at.

Fol­low­ing pre­vi­ous by­elec­tion de­feats, the PCs have sug­gested there were com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues im­pact­ing gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to get the right mes­sages out to the pub­lic. In Heart’s Con­tent last week, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Susan Sul­li­van said the party must look at why it’s los­ing th­ese by­elec­tions.

Paul Davis has a pretty thank­less task ahead of him. Bar­ring some sort of dra­matic col­lapse by the Lib­er­als, he is bound to lose the next elec­tion. Davis him­self has made some de­ci­sions dur­ing his short time in of­fice that have not sat well with the pub­lic — ap­point­ing the un­elected Judy Man­ning to the jus­tice min­is­ter post comes to mind.

How­ever, his tone in deal­ing with is­sues pub­licly has been com­mend­able. There have been mo­ments dur­ing Ques­tion Pe­riod and me­dia scrums where Davis’ an­swers were seem­ingly frank and straight­for­ward. Kathy Dun­derdale could have used some of that in her stint as premier.

But sug­gest­ing the by­elec­tion re­sults do not amount to a whole lot when look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture seems a tad naïve. The party still has a solid majority in the house, yes. It legally has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to gov­ern. How­ever, ev­ery in­di­ca­tor sug­gests the vast majority of res­i­dents in New­found­land and Labrador would like to see another party tasked with that re­spon­si­bil­ity.

A gen­eral elec­tion is not sup­posed to hap­pen un­til next fall. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how sit­ting MHAs within the PC cau­cus re­act to the lat­est by­elec­tion re­sults in Hum­ber East and Trin­ity-Bay de Verde.

If more de­cide they want to jump ship be­fore that gen­eral elec­tion, one has to ask whether it’s worth hold­ing more by­elec­tions in­stead of let­ting ev­ery­one go to the polls to get the in­evitable over with.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.