Petty pol­i­tics at its finest

The Labradorian - - Editorial - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky’s col­umn ap­pears in 36 Saltwire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@thetele­gram.com — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

I know pol­i­tics is some­times a game of hold-your-nose prag­ma­tism.

Strange bed­fel­lows some­times re­sult from peo­ple’s sim­ple base de­sire to stay in gov­ern­ment or in cab­i­net, with the end re­sult that peo­ple who ac­tively de­spise each other end up mak­ing happy-face across the cab­i­net ta­ble.

But last week in the provin­cial Lib­eral party pretty much de­fies de­scrip­tion.

As it stands right now, the House is con­sid­er­ing what ac­tion to take af­ter the com­mis­sioner for mem­ber’s in­ter­ests looked at a se­ries of com­plaints against for­mer Lib­eral cab­i­net mem­bers Ed­die Joyce and Dale Kirby. The com­mis­sioner found both Kirby and Joyce were de­serv­ing of one rep­ri­mand each for their ac­tions.

Since then, though, more wheels have fallen off the cam­paign bus.

Ed­die Joyce made a “not-an­ul­ti­ma­tum” ul­ti­ma­tum that he wouldn’t come back to the party or cab­i­net un­less the MHA and cab­i­net min­is­ter who com­plained about his be­hav­iour, Sherry Gam­bin-walsh, leaves.

A very high-stakes game of chicken in­deed, and one that, if Premier Dwight Ball ac­qui­esces, can only make him look weak. I don’t know any for­mer premier, placed in the same po­si­tion, who would not im­me­di­ately say, “Bye, Ed­die.” Imag­ine try­ing that lit­tle stunt with Brian Peck­ford, Clyde Wells or Danny Wil­liams — you’d find the con­tents of your desk in a box by the curb.

The op­tics of cav­ing in are just too po­lit­i­cally hor­ri­ble to con­tem­plate.

And Joyce is not alone in his at­tempt to put a stick in the Lib­eral spokes.

Dale Kirby was also found to have con­tra­vened the MHA Code of Con­duct for his be­hav­iour with Lib­eral MHA Pam Par­sons.

Kirby’s no-hold-barred, fir­ing-at­ev­ery­one at­tempt to make his way back into the gov­ern­ment fold or to com­pletely scorch the earth in the process?

His ac­tions are al­ready be­ing re­viewed to see if he should be found in con­tempt of the House of As­sem­bly for re­leas­ing the re­port on his con­duct early, so that he could de­scribe it as some­thing of an ex­on­er­a­tion. He re­leased it say­ing that, out of seven al­le­ga­tions, he’d been cleared of all but one, which he was dis­put­ing.

His so­lu­tion to the con­tempt con­tretemps that’s arisen since about his re­lease of the re­port? To drag in an­other MHA, fel­low Lib­eral Colin Hol­loway, and say Hol­loway should also be pun­ished for leak­ing a dif­fer­ent re­port early — even though Hol­loway ap­par­ently first got per­mis­sion from the Speaker of the House of As­sem­bly to go ahead. How far will Kirby go? Don’t for­get, if things con­tinue in this vein, the provin­cial Lib­er­als would be the sec­ond provin­cial po­lit­i­cal party that Kirby’s had a hand in blow­ing up from the in­side. Kirby was also front and cen­tre in break­ing up the provin­cial NDP when they had the high­est num­ber of seats they’d ever won in an elec­tion, a hair’s-breadth away from be­ing the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

If both Kirby and Joyce end up back as Lib­er­als, how ex­actly are Lib­er­als Pam Par­sons, Sherry Gam­bin-walsh and Colin Hol­loway sup­posed to work with them, any­way?

I’m not sure how Dwight Ball thinks he can fix an at­mos­phere that’s guar­an­teed to have his MHAS play­ing watch-yourown­back for, at the very least, the rest of the cur­rent man­date.

Prob­a­bly pretty much ev­ery­one has had dirt done to them in the work­place. I know I have. And even if you’re not vin­dic­tive, even if you don’t take di­rect re­venge, you re­mem­ber.

Should the premier find a way to put a tem­po­rary patch over this elec­toral pot­hole, I pre­dict bring­ing Kirby and Joyce back into the fold will only last un­til the first hard freeze.

They’ve dou­bled down with very weak cards, hop­ing the premier will fold.

The prob­lem is that if Dwight Ball folds now, there’s a risk he’s fold­ing his own fu­ture.

“A very high-stakes game of chicken in­deed, and one that, if Premier Dwight Ball ac­qui­esces, can only make him look weak.”

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