The tories are desperate to find some traction, a hail-Mary pass that rescues them from the certain electoral disaster that appears to be looming in the months ahead.
This is more a quick note and thought than an extensive analysis (which I’ll write up later).
Yesterday, a few days after floating a few test balloons, Premier by convention, Paul Davis announced his intention to introduce legislation to cut 10 members from the House of Assembly prior to the next provincial election scheduled for this Fall.
I have posted dozens of times about the need for true democratic reform in this province. Long over-due changes are needed to electoral financing, to MHA pension reform, the democratization of the committee system of the legislature, for ballot initiatives, recall and more free votes by our elected officials. It would be an exercise in hypocrisy for me to not support a reorganization of the province's electoral boundaries.
The on-going reality check brought on by the dramatic and unexpected free fall in oil prices has forced government to look at ways to become leaner and live within their fiscal means. This means change to the way government operates. Savings must be found in every backyard. Hard choices have to be made. Taxes and fees will be increased. We will all be expected to share in digging out from the hole that we helped dig.
It is ironic to me that the Progressive Conservatives are making the reduction of the number of representatives in the House of Assembly the corner stone of their re-engagement policy.
Ironic because Paul Davis, Kathy Dunderdale and Danny Williams have always shown disdain for the power of the legislature. The tories have used their majorities to limit debate, to close the house, to ignore legislation, to not open the house, to nationalize, to strip resources from the opposition parties, to reward friends, to limit access to information, to fund mega projects and play games. This is the government that appointed an unelected, junior lawyer to cabinet.The government that promised election financing reform in 2003!
They have had 13 years to bring about real democratic reform, but find themselves on the eve of being booted out of power introducing a populist measure in the hopes that you will be distracted and fooled.
In many respects the Progressive Conservatives have become the anti-democratic party. Their arrogance, ambivalence and cockiness has brought them to the very edge of complete collapse. They are nearly universally despised by the voting public. So much so that people just want change for the sake of change. The Liberals are not the PC's and that is all that matters. A free ticket to ride to power.
There is no doubt in my mind that eliminating ten seats from the legislature will have the support of the public. The general public could care less about democratic reform. They think there are too many politicians - like there are too many public servants. Hack away.
This is political theater and maneuvering. Paul Davis has shown that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. He knows the Liberals have a war chest, that they are much more organized than the P.C.s and many of their candidates have already been nominated. He has thrown the cat in with the pigeons. The Liberals have already canceled plans for upcoming nomination calls. He has caught them off-guard.
Sure it smacks of opportunism but the Tories have the "right line" on the proposed seat realignment. The Premier has "changed the channel" hoping the opposition will misstep.They are throwing policy at the wall trying to find something that sticks.
Spare me the moral relativism. It may be an old cliche but politics is a form of war. It is a zero-sum
game of strategy, tactics and constant reaction to current events.
Did anyone really think the Tories were just going to roll over and play dead?