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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Witness to Political Suicide

With an election looming in mid October the swords are beginning to rattle and the battle is heating up to shut out the federal conservatives in Newfoundland and Labrador.

After backtracking on written promises to exclude non-renewable resources from the equalization formula, walking away from a commitment to custodial management of fish stocks on the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap, stonewalling on a promise to station a battalion at 5 Wing Goose Bay and reportedly telling Premier Danny Williams, “…I don’t need Newfoundland and Labrador in order to win…” it’s no surprise the wheels are beginning to fall off Stephen Harper’s Conservative bandwagon in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Shortly after helping to pass the budget that is estimated to have cost Newfoundland and Labrador $10 billion in resource revenues Conservative MP Norm Doyle was the first to read the writing on the wall and quickly announced that he would be retiring from politics when the next election was called. The Conservative’s other two MPs in the Province, Loyola Hearn and Fabian Manning, were not as astute in their assessment of the impact supporting the Prime Minister would have on their careers and continued in spite of a growing wave of anger against them. This week, for one of them at least, the attempt to weather a pending storm has finally come to an end.

Before the writ has even been dropped reports are beginning to surface that long time Conservative MP and Federal Fisheries Minister, Loyola Hearn, will not be seeking re-election. No doubt the reality of his situation has finally dawned on the Minister and he now realizes that by crawling into bed with Stephen Harper, at the expense of his constituents, he has written his own death warrant and, like Liberal John Efford before him, he has hurled himself onto the political dung heap of Newfoundland and Labrador history.

With two of the three Conservative incumbents in the Province no longer running and with reports of total disarray and disorganization inside the local Conservative election team the possibility of a Conservative shutout in the Province is becoming more of a possibility every day.

With Fabian Manning, who gleefully sat by Stephen Harper’s side clapping and smiling as the PM ridiculed statements that the Province had been wronged by his decision on equalization, the only incumbent running this time around things are not looking good for the Harper team. Party organizers are now admitting that they are having trouble finding anyone to run in several ridings and that they can’t find enough volunteers to run a solid campaign.

The road ahead looks pretty bleak for anyone willing to put their name forward on a Conservative ticket this time out.

The question now is whether Fabian Manning, like Doyle and Hearn before him, will opt out of the fight and simply fade into political oblivion.

My prediction is that he will not.

Fabian Manning, unlike Doyle and Hearn, is a one term MP. He doesn’t have the ability to simply retire with a fat federal pension, an option another term would afford him. As much as Manning would likely love to move out from behind the bullseye directly aimed at his career he’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

Having hitched his future to Stephen Harper’s wagon Manning has burned his bridges on the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, undermined those who elected him to federal office and in in doing so allowed us all to witness his political suicide.

His short time in office has left Manning with no pension to fall back on, no real influence or connections inside the party and little hope that conservative insiders, either Federal or Provincial, will even return his phone calls should he decide not to run or if he loses this election bid. Not an enviable position to be in but one of his own making.

Fabian Manning’s only hope of avoiding a future that includes regular trips to the local food bank is to soldier on in the hope that by some miracle his constituents will overlook his betrayal and give him a second term. All is not lost though and there may still be one ray of hope flickering for the Manning campaign, however dim.

With the feud between Danny Williams and Stephen Harper raging and Williams’ ABC (Anyone But Conservative) campaign moving into full gear Stephen Harper will be inclined to pull out all the stops to ensure that he is not completely shut out of Newfoundland and Labrador, a situation that would allow Premier Williams to claim victory.

Winning just one riding, Manning’s, will give Harper the ability to spin the result as a clear indication that William’s ABC campaign was a failure because his party simply lost in ridings that didn’t have experienced incumbents running.

There is little doubt this strategy is already being planned inside the Conservative election machine and that all possible resources will be poured into making it happen.

With the mood in Newfoundland and Labrador these days the possibility of this tactic actually succeeding are slim but it’s about the only hope Manning or Harper have of holding onto any kind of foothold and saving face. Then again, it may just work. Who knows how much money and how many promises will be heaped on the voters of the Avalon riding in an effort to buy them off between now and polling day.

Who knows if they’ll fall for it.


Anonymous said...

Manning and the rest sold us out for the benefit if his career and now that career is in tatters. Don't expect anyone to shed a tear from him. He'll soon see how much he can depend on his Conservative buddies to take care of him when he's no longer of use to them.

Anyone who would sell their soul for a few bucks and fleeting prestige deserves exactly what they get. It looks good on him.

Anonymous said...

Nothing ever changes, read on...


The federal Conservatives rushed out billions of dollars in new spending announcements Wednesday while the Liberals made their own billion-dollar announcement, a sign that an election campaign is underway in all but name.

In Windsor, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Ottawa would send Ford Motor Co. an $80-million cheque as a repayable loan to help the Detroit-based company reopen a mothballed engine plant here. In Quebec, Infrastructure Minister Lawrence Cannon announced that Ottawa and Quebec had signed a deal that will spring $4 billion of federal funding for roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure projects.

Other ministers rolled out millions in spending announcements across the country, from a $30,000 grant for an organ festival in Montreal to a $2.8-million program to help street youth in Vancouver get a job.


Anonymous said...

Manning is a Judas. I live in the his riding and I'd rather cut my own throat than vote for that SOB. Give it up Fabian, we don't elect traitors

Anonymous said...

And were does this campaign money come from???

Canceled contracts to build and maintain navy and coast guard ships. Contracts that were likely to go to some place called Marystown.

Can't be many Federal seats in Marystown

Newfoundland_Inkslinger said...

Hello Patriot. Great blog, as is the rest of your work. I've been following your series for awhile now. I'll be providing my take on the election next month in my newspaper/online column series.

The Public Eye said...

It is the nature of all governments to cling to power, by any means necessary. I lost my political virginity when I realized that, no matter their public pronouncements, politicians always govern with an eye toward re-election.