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Myopia leading to delusions


I was surprised indeed to read a headline Monday of last week in the Globe and Mail online, that Danny Williams was looking to bury the hatchet with Stephen Harper. The piece was by Roy MacGregor, a journalist I know and whose work I respect. So, I read on: "Canadian voters could soon see a dÉtente between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his east coast nemesis, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams. In the realm of politics making strange bedfellows and a week being a long time in politics, such possibility staggers the imagination - and yet is being discussed in the highest political circles of Newfoundland, including the Premier himself.

Neither here nor there -

I was surprised indeed to read a headline Monday of last week in the Globe and Mail online, that Danny Williams was looking to bury the hatchet with Stephen Harper.

The piece was by Roy MacGregor, a journalist I know and whose work I respect. So, I read on: "Canadian voters could soon see a dÉtente between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his east coast nemesis, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams. In the realm of politics making strange bedfellows and a week being a long time in politics, such possibility staggers the imagination - and yet is being discussed in the highest political circles of Newfoundland, including the Premier himself.

"If the Prime Minister reached out," Premier Williams told the Globe and Mail, "we would accept any kind of an olive branch."

Premier Williams further declared he did not intend to continue the ABC campaign in the next federal election.

Well, well, well I said to myself, "Hmmmmm."

That was Monday morning. On Monday evening, the news was full of the premier's trip to New York to speak to businessmen about the difficulties he was having with Hydro Quebec. That corporation was frustrating the premier's every effort to guarantee transport of the potential hydro power from the possible future development of the lower Churchill to markets in the New England states.

I began to see the light. It is a fundamental principle of military tactics to avoid fighting a war on two fronts at the same time. Since our angry premier regards all of life as a war, he realized if he is going to launch an assault on Quebec, maybe it would be prudent to try and make peace with Ottawa first.

In his typical diplomatic way, rather than coming out and offering peace, he invited Prime Minister Harper to make the first move and that he, his Dannyship, would then consider whether to shake hands.

The Globe and Mail piece went on to repeat the very optimistic, some might say delusional hope, held by many in the inner circles of the provincial Conservatives that Prime Minister Harper would agree to help NL with the Lower Churchill in return for the guarantee from the premier to deliver all seven federal seats to the Tories at the next election.

I use the term delusional because I try to be polite in this column.

The greatest of all the delusions is the notion that all this tactical manoeuvering on the battlefield of national and international energy politics makes the citizens of this province salivate with ecstatic anticipation of the premier's next move.

It is not so.

It is particularly not so in those places beyond the view of the premier's overpass eyeglasses. Similar to the side mirrors on some cars Premier Williams' glasses should be printed with the warning "Rural voters may be farther than they appear."

That's how it was with the people of Flower's Cove. Their heroic resistance to government myopia caused the premier to take off his glasses, polish them, take another look and realize, too late, the support he thought was automatic had vanished.

Something similar seems to be happening in the Terra Nova byelection this week. The government, in the process of renewing the antiquated fleet of ferries around the province, has put out a call for private sector entrepreneurs to submit bids to operate the vessels. Many of these craft are so old that according to the government's terms they must be replaced with ships younger than 15 years. In practical terms, this turns out to be new ships. They must be built, but where?

Forgetting an earlier promise that this sort of infrastructure should be built within this province by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the government neglected to say anything about that in their call for offers. As a result, at this writing, it seems likely that the contract to build six ferries, with all the person years of employment and spin-offs

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