Cold weather not kind to politi­cians

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY PETER PICK­ERS­GILL

Nei­ther Here

nor There

“Sta­tis­tics show that ...” You hear these words of­ten in the lead para­graph of news sto­ries. An­other favourite is, “As sci­en­tific stud­ies re­veal ...”

There are nu­mer­ous vari­a­tions. A jour­nal­ist who is declar­ing a no­tion to be this or that, de­spite not hav­ing the first clue whether it is true, might find these use­ful words to throw out there.

So, here goes. Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies just re­leased, there is a di­rect and im­por­tant link be­tween the weather and the pub­lic’s ac­cep­tance of the po­lit­i­cal party in power. In times of sunny skies and gen­tle breezes, New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans are pre­pared to for­give their lead­ers their short­com- ings. When bit­ter bl­iz­zards of snow and ice sweep the land, politi­cians be­come the tar­gets of a frozen pub­lic seek­ing re­venge. This should be a warn­ing to those seek­ing power or hop­ing to hang onto it.

This has been a harsh, long win­ter that started too early, bru­tal­ized the pop­u­la­tion for too long and just re­fuses to quit. Don’t be fooled by this re­cent warm­ing trend. Sta­tis­tics show that tak­ing off your snow tires be­fore Vic­to­ria Day is as fool­ish as be­liev­ing a politi­cian six months be­fore an elec­tion.

It is un­likely that folks in New­found­land and Labrador will be fooled.

They un­der­stand what their tele­vi­sions and ra­dios ought to be an­nounc­ing now is: “Spring has come to the main­land, half-a-sea­son later in New­found­land.”

The long win­ter has left us grumpy and short-tem­pered. People are fed up. We are un­likely to ac­cept hap­pily the lat­est ma­nip­u­la­tion by the back­room hench­per­sons of ex-pre­mier Danny Wil­liams to place in the pre­mier’s chair the third con­sec­u­tive un­con­tested, un­elected leader of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party.

For the record, when he quit abruptly with mere min­utes’ no­tice, and then, with­out wast­ing valu­able time on a lead­er­ship con­test, anointed Kathy Dun­derdale with the sa­cred oil of power, the pub­lic was pre­pared to ig­nore what­ever weather pre­vailed. Af­ter all, it was Danny. What wrong could he pos­si­bly do?

When Queen Kathy be­gan to see what was ex­pected of her af­ter the corona­tion, she no­ticed she didn’t re­ally en­joy the scent of the sa­cred oil of power the ex-pre­mier had slathered over her. At the per­fume counter in the mall, she picked up some­thing more to her lik­ing, and then – you can check the weather sta­tis­tics for this – the skies be­gan to darken.

There fol­lowed a pe­riod of in­creas­ingly un­sta­ble me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal events. The polls dropped steadily un­til she was de­clared the least pop­u­lar pre­mier in all of Canada at a time of record low tem­per­a­tures and heavy snow. You can look it up. That forced the hap­less man­age­ment at Nal­cor and New­found­land Hy­dro to crank the provin­cial ther­mo­stat up to bust. And bust it did. Rolling black­outs fol­lowed. In the dark­ness of her un­lit Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing of­fice, Kathy Dun­derdale pulled on her snow­boots, and ex­it­ing into a rag­ing blizzard, cried out over her shoul­der, “You can’t fire me. I quit!”

The fin­ger­print ex­perts are still an­a­lyz­ing the data, so we can’t con­firm if ex-pre­mier Wil­liams and his hench­per­sons were en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for Tom Mar­shall’s ap­point­ment as the sec­ond un­elected pre­mier in a row. It’s im­por­tant to note, how­ever, that the sunny stretch of post-NewYear’s weather when he as­sumed of­fice co­in­cided with the black­outs rolling to an end. In any case, the big sham­bling aw-shucks teddy bear only has the job tem­po­rar­ily, so what­ever ef­fect this eter­nal win­ter has on the voter’s opin­ion of him won’t last.

Wait­ing al­most en­tirely mute in the wings is Frank Cole­man, the one and only per­son left stand­ing af­ter all the po­ten­tial can­di­dates had fin­ished milling about, wait­ing for ex-pre­mier Wil­liams to de­clare the win­ner.

In truth, not all of them were milling about. For a brief pe­riod, it seemed there might be a con­test for the Tory lead­er­ship when Bill Barry pro­claimed first. He de­cided damn the weather and full speed ahead. He set out to make it clear to the pub­lic and mem­bers of the PC Party his unique views on how to gov­ern the prov­ince.

But any de­bate about what kind of govern­ment the Tories will pro­pose to the vot­ers must wait for an­other time. Ex-pre­mier Wil­liams, a for­mer hockey player, de­liv­ered a vi­cious check to Barry, send­ing him head first into the boards, then straight to the show­ers. No penalty.

That leaves Frank Cole­man wait­ing un­op­posed. He will be ac­claimed pre­mier with­out ever hav­ing been elected to any­thing, ever. The third straight un­elected Tory party leader on the top floor of the Con­fed­er­a­tion build­ing.

All thanks to ex-pre­mier Wil­liams, for­mer hockey player, now of­fi­cial coach. A hat trick.

De­spite the grum­bling, spring will ar­rive even­tu­ally. With it, hockey will be re­placed by base­ball.

In base­ball, three strikes and you’re out.

Keep­ing a weather eye out for tur­bu­lence ahead, Frank stands alone. No one can pre­dict what the weather might be next July when he as­cends to the throne.

To­day, what a win­ter-weary pub­lic re­ally wants to know is: “Can Cole­man cut the mus­tard?”

pick­ers­[email protected]

PETER PICK­ERS­GILL

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