I first got involved with partisan politics because of inequities in the distribution of government services when I was a kid. St. Bernard's was part of a very liberal voting seat that rejected the Moores and Peckford administrations of the 1970's, and it showed.
The roads were not paved, the potholes were more like swimming pools and there was no water or sewer. I used to joke that Tory cabinet ministers would drop down here and kidnap a child for Sunday dinner, they held so much disdain for us.
Hence my political evolution began.
Surprisingly, over the years, I have developed an on-again, off-again conversation with Brian Peckford. It began in university when he granted me an interview to discuss his administrations approach to the function of the cabinet. From time to time we have exchanged letters and spoken on the phone about equalization, the Atlantic Accord, Section 92 (A) of the Canadian Constitution, his role in getting the premiers to agree to the 1982 Constitution and the significant role that John Crosby (and Brian Mulrooney) played in the economic fortunes we are currently experiencing.
The last time I spoke with him he was working on his memoirs. This week he released his book, it is entitled Brian Peckford: Someday the Sun Will Shine and Have Not Will Be No More. I have been looking for a copy, as of yesterday I could not find it at Chapters but perhaps it will be available at Cost-Co.
This will be the Peckford’s second memoir. He released a political manifesto of sorts (The Past In The Present) in the 1970’s that traced his early life in rural Newfoundland and Labrador (his move to Marystown); his early careers as an educator and social worker; his passion for rural Newfoundland, his conversion from Liberalism to a Progressive Conservative; and his vision for the province.
What has been interesting to this observer of Newfoundland and Labrador politics is the recent opportunistic embrace by many Liberals, many of whom were on Clyde Well’s team that helped hasten Peckford’s departure in 1989.
Than there are former critics like former Harper Conservative Candidate Craig Westcott, who was part of the “Sunday Express” team that’s hard nosed investigative journalism led to a regime change. It was all I could do not to choke when I read Craig’s book review stating “A. Brian Peckford, the man whose Atlantic Accord is largely responsible for the province’s prosperity today”.
It was 25 years ago when Peckford's government undertook a massive expenditure of Newfoundland tax dollars to finance a project which could not loose. The result: 22 million committed, and lost by the Newfoundland government. There was massive public outcry, and with a change in government, a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate.
Of course, Westcott is on record recently as having been a bit rough on former Roger Grimes who he villianized in the media, helping to fuel that regime change.
Revisionism or a case of how difficult it is to be a prophet in your own kingdom!
I am looking forward to Peckford’s version of his career. For example, his take on Frank Moores biographer Janice Well's allegation that Peckford scuttled a Lower Churchill Deal with Quebec and led a coup by Peckford that eventually forced Moore's to step aside.
It should be a great read.