From a strategic point of view, if an administration has some unpopular decisions to shove down your throat, the most optimal time to do it is early in the mandate. The latest round of opinion polls appear to bear out the negative impact that this session of the House of Assembly has had on the government, which has dropped to its lowest level of support in nine years.
With our fixed election cycle, the government knows it has plenty of time to recover. The voter always forgets! Sure people might be angry now. The choir of “I’ll never vote for her again” might be being synchronized in every hair salon, cab, bingo hall and post office across the province today, but that is today.
Sure this legislation is regressive in terms of this administrations forked tounged commitment to “openness and transparency”. It is draconian, backward and pushes this province's freedom of information mechanisms behind third world banana republics. The PC’s have actually just tied up some loose ends. They have been doing what the want for years. It certainly fits very well with the this government refusal to be accountable to the public, lack of respect for the legislature and an unsurpassed arrogance.
I am not as convinced that the Access to Information Legislation registers with the public in a significant way. No doubt the PC brand has taken a calculated hit but judging by the 29 people in the public galleries for tonight’s closure debate, the public is not nearly as engaged as the opposition and the media.
It is difficult to govern in the light when the decisions are made in the dark. Decisions that have left us with a huge democratic and ethical deficit.
Bill 29 has been a convenient distraction from the challenging issues facing the forestry, fisheries and health care sectors.
The political price of unpopular economic reforms and questionable leadership has been swift and apparent. So far the NDP has benefited but time will tell if those headed into the undecided camp will abandon the government all-together. At this point it is the same critics, making the same noise about the same issues. The limitations of the opposition are a boon for Premier Dunderdale.
Clyde Wells Lied (and tried to privatize NL Hydro), Danny William’s was out with the cows, Brian Tobin was going to be brought down by disgruntled Pentecost and Roman Catholics.
Each was re-elected with a comfortable majority.
The government’s strategy is based on the proven axiom that voters have short memories and they will have plenty of time to rebound before the next general election.