You think it's cold now?

Alex Harrold
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Politics is cold. A blood sport. You have to have skin as thick as an alligator's. Sometimes, you have to concede on a point in order to make another point. You may not have to sell your soul, but there are going to be times when you have to be willing to trade it off in hopes of getting it back at some later time.
Most of us don't want to take the risk associated with soul-trading. When it works, everything moves forward. When it doesn't work, you'll do well to get your soul back before you fade off into the sunset somewhere in British Columbia. The cold that comes from the Arctic in the form of a polar vortex doesn't come close to the near absolute zero that is politics in this province.

There rarely is a cult of leadership strong enough to reverse the swing of the pendulum that is politics. Whenever people start throwing around phrases like "the writing is on the wall," we start gearing up for an election, necessary or otherwise. It may not always be right, and this is one of those times. The electorate has always been a fickle thing, often governed more by what direction the wind is blowing rather than any sense of wisdom. Many a good politician have been sucked under by the quicksand, thereby ensuring that in the long run, the change that we get isn't always the one we went looking for.

The Premier started out her term of leadership by trying to mend fences with the federal government, a move that infuriated those who were still riding the bandwagon of the ABC campaign begun by the former Premier. At a time when the former Premier could be seen to do no wrong, he used his considerable influence to let people know how they should vote at the federal level.

Independent thinkers, hopefully, didn't pay any attention to that, even if they reached the same conclusion as him. But any premier who came after him that wanted to repair the relationship that was needed in order to cooperate with the federal government would have to do so subject to the electorate's criticism.

The more recent criticism levelled at the Premier was based on a perceived lack of empathy during the rotating power outages. It's difficult to fathom that something so relatively innocuous and short-term would be the basis upon which thinking people would want to bring down a government. Calling something a crisis that, in retrospect, could easily be determined to have been overstated, carries with it the same potential for being criticized for the exact opposite reason; it's the political equivalent of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Pundits are also looking at the defections from the PC caucus. Tom Osborne, who has been around as an MHA since before Danny Williams, clearly left on an issue of a difference in ideology. He sat as an independent for 11 months before deciding where to cast his lot. MHA Paul Lane is a neophyte member of the government, similar to the two neophytes who left the NDP caucus in a lot of noise after only two years of experience as an MHA. Lane is quoted as saying that, for him, the writing was on the wall. If that doesn't strike one as political opportunism, then people are just being willfully blind.

And what about that difference in ideology? The way that this government approached the passing of Bill 29 has created a definite problem for them. The communication of everything around Muskrat Falls was clearly less than ideal.

Differences amongst caucus members over new or proposed legislation is inevitable. But politics is an all-or-nothing affair, and therein lies the biggest dilemma we have over how to conduct ourselves as members of one group or another.

Any internal criticism is always perceived as shooting yourself in the foot, which really goes against the nature of solving a difference of opinion when you're all trying to row in the same direction.

Solve that problem, and politics may be less of a blood sport. At the very least, we wouldn't see politicians of the caliber of Kathy Dunderdale get swept away before their time. It's a lesson we've never learned, and likely never will.

Organizations: The Premier, NDP

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