Newfoundlanders and Labradorians love politics. Federal. Provincial. It doesn’t matter. And while we might not always love the politicians themselves, if nothing else, livyers are never shy in expressing how we absolutely love to hate those elected to represent us.
Look at what’s happening within the provincial NDP party right now. As of press time, George Murphy looks about ready to call it quits for good. Why? He’s been receiving bucket loads of hate mail for his part in calling for Lorraine Michael to step down as NDP party leader. Hate mail!?Imagine?
And Dale Kirby has all but been branded a power-hungry devil for supposedly spear-heading the Michael head-hunt. Just this morning a Facebook friend of mine posted that Kirby had chucked him as a “friend” and, if that wasn’t enough, Kirby “blocked” this buddy entirely! Why? Well, knowing this particular individual, it was because he gave the on-the-hot-seat MHA a good piece of his mind, and left chunks of it all over Kirby’s social media feeds.
Politics. It’s messy stuff. Isn’t that great?
Getting passionate, and yes, downright ugly at times over politics and politicians, is one of the many things Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are particularly good at. It’s part of what makes us who we are. And I argue this; our feisty approach has served us well. Anyone willing to put their name on a ballot knows up front what’s in store. It’s voters “do good or hear you’ll about it” approach, I think, that attracts the best and the most fiery to politics in the first place.
NDP MP Ryan Cleary, and Liberal MP Yvonne Jones are great examples. These two might be relatively new to their roles, but they are second to no one in the House of Commons. Since assuming his role, Cleary had the fur flying so to speak when he made a statement that seemed to question the future of the seal hunt. He also had to apologize for a prepared statement he read in the House that said Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t know “his arse from a hole in the ground.” Polarizing? You bet!
And Jones, after winning a wild and woolly and very public by-election, made one grand, memorable entrance into the House of Commons. After shaking hands with the Speaker of the House, she walked toward the government side, essentially crossing the floor on her first day on the job. She didn’t hesitate to flash a wide smile before turning around and crossing back over to the opposition side of the house.
It made the national news. And it won’t be the last Canadians will hear from the outspoken member for Labrador.
But then Newfoundlanders have always had the best- and the most talked-about politicians. Danny Williams wasn’t just a celebrity at home, he was- and arguably is- a big deal just about anywhere in Canada. And who in this country hasn’t heard of Joey Smallwood? Bill Rowe’s latest book, a tell-all memoir that covers the years he spent in the political arena with premiers Smallwood and later, Frank Moores, made the Globe and Mail’s Bestsellers list a week after hitting book shelves.
John Crobsie is another of our more colourful politicians known country wide. Crosbie’s “Pass the tequila, Sheila” comment still enjoys a healthy viewership on YouTube. I’ve heard it said by many outside this province that Crosbie was the greatest Prime Minister this country never had.
Brian Tobin is another great example of a politician who punched above this province’s weight. Tobin, as Federal Fisheries Minister, launched a fierce and aggressive campaign against foreign over-fishing of waters on the nose and tail of our Grand Banks. For his efforts Tobin was awarded the nickname “Captain Canada.”
And now the torch has been passed down. With Stephen Harper as a common enemy, our mighty six; Scott Simms, Scott Andrews, Judy Foote, Jack Harris, Gerry Byrne, Ryan Cleary and Yvonne Jones, continue to fight the good fight.
Some, like Cleary and Jones, just happen enter the ring with an added flare, and that keeps the rest of the country on their toes. And no doubt that’s perfectly fine by us.