Is it any wonder that I am so cynical about party politics in this province?
Back in 1999, I worked feverishly with Marystown Mayor Sam Synard to prevent the PC elected M.P for Burin - St. George's ,Bill Matthew's from securing the federal Liberal nomination.
It was an exercise in futility.
A free and open nomination became a fixed game when the local party bosses and the federal leader's office conspired to get the outcome they wanted.
Matthews had crossed the floor and joined the Liberal caucus. The powers that were (and many remain) were determined to reward his astute survival instincts with the nomination.
I grew-up in a Liberal household on the Burin Penisnula where tory cabinet ministers like ministers like Glen Tobin and Bill Matthews ruled like benevolent dictators. The only thing they did not do was drive down-over-the-road on Sunday's and snatch the children of known Liberals and boil them for Sunday dinner.
Sam Synard and the great grassroot Liberal machine in the district successfully defeated the PC incumbent on nomination night. It was a night for celebration and perhaps too much boasting.
The former PC's and Liberal mandarins appealed the outcome on the basis of unfounded allegations about the potential for tampering with the ballot boxes.
The appeal was led by the former PC campaign manger for Joe Price who went on to become a Liberal MHA, Cabinet Minister and current Chief of Staff.
The result of the appeal was pretty much guaranteed. The non-biased appeal committee ordered a new vote. This time Matthews and his crew won. The message from on high was pretty clear. Regardless, I worked the second campaign for Sam and grassroots democracy.
I got called in for a chat with the Premier's Chief of Staff. I was the Executive Assistant for a Liberal Cabinet Minister and my independent streak in working against the desired outcome had made some waves. After a grilling and a dressing down about the "big picture", I left the eighth floor feeling less than passionate about the party.
I fell in line like the good little blind soldier I was and worked hard
in the 2000 campaign going door-to-door and campaigning all down the
south, south-west coast and in Bay St. George. Matthews went on to win the
district as a Liberal three more times. Sam ran as an Independent. I
stayed with the team.
After the election, I quickly learned that some of my detractors in St. John's, including staff, MHAs and a few cabinet ministers were telling people that I had "stuffed ballot boxes". This was despite the fact that I was not involved in the electoral process in any way. It was a vicious game of character assassination.
Despite having a tough hide, this gossip really hurt me and my reputation. It still burns me when I think about how a group of Tories within the Liberal Party erased my decades of commitment to the party.
So imagine, if you can, how frigging dismayed I was to learn that Bill Matthews who is receiving a grand federal pension thanks to the Liberal Party taking him in, was Campaign Manager for the Frank Coleman's drive for the premiership. Frankly, I could not believe it.
Let it go, it is all water under the bridge now you say. I agree, but it makes me so bitter to realize how naive I was. I am the keeper of a lot of secrets but on days like today it is easy to feel that I wasted 25 years of my life.
Does anyone care to try and convince me that NL politics is not all about cliques, fixes and personal gain!
For your own good - please do not attempt it today!