Mistaken Identity, Mindless Bureaucracy, and Lies
Not David Brazil.
Terry Gilliam’s 1985 science-fiction comedy, drama God-knows-what-to-call-it starring Jonathan Price and Robert De Niro. The Wikipedia entry says the movie is about “Sam Lowry, a low-ranking bureaucrat trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living in a small apartment, set in a dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines.”
The thing is a typical Gilliam blend of so many different things, the easiest way to go at this is to focus on the three ideas in the sub-title of this column: mistaken identity, mindless bureaucracy, and lies.
This column is not about David Brazil’s announcement on Friday that he would be leaving politics to spend more time with his heart. Nothing sarcastic. The long-suffering politician literally is packing in his political career because he needs to spend every day recovering from his heart attack.
The best reason anyone has ever given for leaving politics: to look after his own health. Good luck, Dave and may a long and healthy life be yours.
Not going right away but working to December 29th, which really makes you wonder why he won’t tough it out until Premier
George Andrew Furey drops the writ on the winter election and ends Tony Wakeham’s career as Pea Sea leader. If they timed it right, Dave might even be able to hold the door for Tony so the two can go off to political oblivion together. After all, both are placeholders until someone comes along who will be able to oust the latest in a string of feckless, hapless place-holder Premiers or whoever replaces the current one.
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With mistaken identity all over the place in that last paragraph, let’s now turn to the lie bit, which in this case came last week when young Andrew’s office tweeted out curated pictures of the Curated Image Hisself, the one currently warming the Premier’s chair until he can blow this popsicle stand for the directorships he covets.
“On time and on budget”, went the Tweet at 5:00 PM on Friday. The “new Western Memorial Regional Hospital construction is complete! Built by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, this state-of-the-art hospital will be a centre of excellence in health care and provide a modern environment for patients and staff alike.”
How many lies?
Well, not completed for one. Look at the key.
Danny Williams announced this hospital during the 2007 election.
Larger than the Health Sciences Complex.
Splendiferous in its gloriosity, just like the little fellow who announced always is, at least in his own mind.
Future Premier Tom Marshall sad he wouldn’t leave until it was finished.
Then he left and Dwight Ball - not to be offside with the guv’mint crowd, especially Danny - said the same thing.
And then he left and so Andrew has announced that the thing is “substantially” finished. The politicians got off but the taxpayers didn’t one might say. Like the power line to Labrador: not really finished, not ready to open, and not done racking up costs, but the guv’mint b’ys needed a photo op so they declared the job done and were dressed and on the way home before anyone knew what happened.
Truth be told, it has been 17 years from the date Danny declared victory before anyone dared say the job was finished. The thing has been redesigned and reconfigured so many times and had so many budgets no one knows what the cost is, was, or should have been. They could easily call it Muskrat Falls Memorial Hospital for like Danny’s other legacy, this one too has been an enormous Brazilian clusterfrack of wild political promises and millions of public dollars poured down a hole in aid of nothing. Strictly speaking if you go back to the Stephenville Hospital, which was built in the 1990s out of money that should have gone to replace Western Memorial, this hospital even in its latest version is decades past due and insanely over budget even by Muskrat Standards.
Anyway, it is sort of finished and sort of might be open next year. So not on time. Not on budget. Not finished.
They still have time to find a name.
Maybe Byrne Unit would be appropriate.
Credits a local politician.
With a homonym joke built in.
As for mindless bureaucracy, that is pretty much all we have in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The crowd in the Confederation Building read Kafka but don’t get the jokes.
Watched Yes, Minister but thought it was a how-to series.
Or announced that all was well in finance but buried the fact that borrowing this year will jump by 50%.
There is no explanation why borrowing of $1.5 billion needed to balance the books in the spring is now about $2.2 billion.
No explanation whatsover anywhere.
No explanation of how fixed costs went up by a couple of hundred million but that to make it look like that was covered without borrowing, the government added in one time cash from abandoned offshore leases.
Meanwhile, no one in any political party has wondered about the long-term implications of yet another round of bidding for offshore land exploration that has had precisely zero bids. After all, so much of the economy is based on oil money. So much government spending is based on oil money. Yet another year in which no one has committed anything to find more oil. A very bad sign.
This is the fourth year of the past five where no offshore oil company wants to drill for oil. No one has explained why the offshore board offered parcels if no one was interested. And given that finance minister Siobhan Coady balanced the books this year with money forfeited from cancelled exploration, the lack of bids means that bit of accounting slight-of-hand is over. Well, supposedly balanced. All the borrowing is really what balanced things out.
Still no bids is a bad omen.
Speaking of the offshore board, nor has anyone explained what the heck is going on with the talks between St. John’s and Ottawa about who will regulate offshore wind exploration. There are different accounts of the hold-up but none make sense. One is that they are trying to figure out what principal beneficiary means. Well, since the inshore is actually 100% controlled by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - something they have *not* agreed on either, apparently - there is precisely zero need to debate the definition with Ottawa.
For the holidays this year, give a gift subscription to Bond Papers.
If we began in Brazil, it is just as well to end there.
Dave packs it in December 29.
That forces the Premier to call a by-election within 60 days.
He could just call a general election and get the whole thing over with anyway.
That’s one possibility.
Or he could go for a by-election and try to ride the victory in that into a general election.
One possible candidate: Fred Hutton, currently working as Furey’s key aide, bag-carrier, and God knows what else.
Fred could be the star candidate in a by-election or a general election with my money being on a general election without the interlude.
Fred would go into cabinet.
And, given the way Liberals think, Fred would be the most likely replacement for Andrew himself.
Think about *that* for a while.
Gives a whole new meaning to Voice of the Cabinet Minister when Premier Fred calls Open Line.