‘That don’t im­press me much’

The Compass - - Editorial -

I be­lieve such bla­tant po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age sends the wrong mes­sage in the ap­point­ment to this vice-re­gal po­si­tion. The sug­ges­tion is that po­lit­i­cal at­tain­ment and con­nec­tion trumps other forms of mag­is­te­rial recog­ni­tion.

I was out of the prov­ince re­cently and when catch­ing up on the lo­cal news upon my re­turn I no­ticed that for­mer St. John’s mayor, Shan­nie Duff, is to re­ceive the Free­dom of the City Award and for­mer MHA and MP Judy Foote has been ap­pointed the first fe­male Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of New­found­land and Labrador.

In re­gards to the LG po­si­tion there are many New­found­land and Labrador, non-po­lit­i­cal, com­mu­nity-ori­ented women with the in­tel­li­gence, com­po­sure and re­spect re­quired to ad­mirably ful­fill the du­ties of Queen’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Com­mu­nity ac­tivists, or­ga­niz­ers and vol­un­teers such as Pene­lope Rowe, Marie Ryan and Joanne Mac­Don­ald are three that come read­ily to mind.

I be­lieve such bla­tant po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age sends the wrong mes­sage in the ap­point­ment to this vice-re­gal po­si­tion. The sug­ges­tion is that po­lit­i­cal at­tain­ment and con­nec­tion trumps other forms of mag­is­te­rial recog­ni­tion.

Even parochial Ot­tawa has moved away from such bene­fac­tion, with no­table fe­male Gov­er­nor Gen­eral ap­point­ments such as Adri­enne Clark­son, Michaelle Jean, and most re­cently, Julie Payette.

The lack of pub­lic out­cry, to date, is both­er­some. Must we con­tinue to ac­qui­esce with­out com­plaint and ac­cept such brazen pa­tron­age as nor­mal and ap­pro­pri­ate? To con­tinue to act more like serfs than cit­i­zens?

And this is not meant to un­der­mine the good work done for this prov­ince by Judy Foote dur­ing her per­ilous, po­lit­i­cal ten­ure. Pub­lic re­spect, an ad­e­quate salary along with pro­vin­cial and fed­eral pen­sions is her just re­ward for that.

Sim­i­larly, I have no prob­lem with Shan­nie Duff been given the largely cer­e­mo­nial Free­dom of the City Award.

What I do have a prob­lem with is the re­ported $10,000 cost.

Ar­guably, if the city has that kind of ex­tra tax­payer money lay­ing around it should go to help­ing those liv­ing on the edge such as youth at risk, the poor or oth­ers who are dis­en­fran­chised.

Al­ter­na­tively, for that kind of cash the city could buy sev­eral snow­blow­ers to al­low down­town busi­nesses to clean win­ter side­walks or clear trails within the city’s parks. In­stead the coun­cil has de­cided to spend it on pomp and cir­cum­stance.

To quote Sha­nia Twain, an­other woman of dis­tinc­tion, “that don’t im­press me much.”

Tom Hawco, St. John’s

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