It’s unusual for this publication to let an election or even byelection go by with nary a comment. Yet despite the rapidly approaching Windsor Lake byelection, it took me a while to figure out what to say.
I considered focusing on the Liberals. Oh, where to start? Their failure to tackle unemployment, which is the province’s biggest crisis and one nobody seems interested in talking about? Their failure to do anything remotely constructive to grow or diversify the economy over the past three years? The fact they fall to their knees grovelling at any big industry that comes knocking, handing the big mainland industrialists whatever they ask for on a silver platter, whether it’s royalty concessions or waiving environmental regulations? The fact that they’ve done nothing to secure the people of the province against ruinous energy bills as a result of the Muskrat Falls debacle, besides some vague promises that they will? Promises we can probably tack on to all the other unfulfilled promises left over from the last election? Perhaps they intend to wave a magic wand to make the rate hikes go away (unless the oil, energy, gas, mining and aquaculture industries object to use of a magic wand, of course).
Then I considered the Progressive Conservatives. Oh, it’s just too easy really, to skewer the party which was responsible for the whole Muskrat Falls mess in the first place. Ches Crosbie’s combative commentary hasn’t particularly helped their image (it’s the province’s future, man, not a reality TV show!), which has fallen even further thanks to their federal cousins in this province, submitting racist resolutions to the federal Conservative convention that the provincial PC’s didn’t exert themselves very heavily to denounce. Ches Crosbie’s a likeable maverick in several regards, and the PC’s promising free post-secondary education does win them a lot of cred for starting to plan for the long-term future. But until they do more to distance themselves from raving chowderheads like Andrew Scheer and snarling industrialists like Danny Williams, the only P that I C stays in the toilet, not the ballot.
I even tried to think up some bad things to say about the NDP. Not that they deserve it, of course. In fact, the only logical and sensible thing for people in this province to do would be to elect an NDP government. Whether or not they improve things, god knows they can’t mess things up any more than the Liberals and PC’s have already done. ‘It’s the devil you know or the devil you don’t’ shrugs my cynical neighbour when I point this out. WRONG! It’s the one and only party that hasn’t made things worse for this province, versus the two that have royally ruined everything EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ TIME THEY’VE BEEN GIVEN THE CHANCE FOR THE PAST SEVENTY YEARS.
But of course, journalists don’t dare say anything too pleasant about the NDP, lest it tarnish their hard-boiled image as cynical analysts of power politics. (Plus, they’d take away my key to the journos’ speakeasy, and I really can’t afford the price of a pint on my own any more.)
What a dilemma. But as I was struggling over what to write, I took a cab (home from the speak-easy). The cabbie and I got to talking about the weather (which was awful), and he said something I have heard all too often in recent days.
Ever since the weather started turning cold (which was about six weeks after it began turning warm), I’ve been hearing people complain about the weather, and then torpedo their fully justified complaint with the following adjoinder: “Well, we can’t complain, we had a lovely summer!”
Come on. First of all, we most certainly did not have a lovely summer. There was frost in June. It wasn’t remotely summer-like until some point in July. A few weeks of summer, however glorious, does not equate to “a lovely summer.” It often appears people in this province are incapable of holding any objective weather-related memories in their heads longer than seven days. We could have three weeks of heavy snow in July, but give people a three-day streak of sunshine, and suddenly everyone’s gushing that we’re “having a gorgeous summer.”
People, come on! It’s okay to hold a grudge. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel resentful that you’ve only had six to eight weeks of nice weather. By no objective analysis – nor even any remotely sensible stretch of the imagination — did we have “a lovely summer.”
And even if we did, a few weeks of nice weather does not negate the fundamental right to complain that we deserve more. That’s like saying “Aww, well we had five years of economic growth fifteen years ago, can’t really complain that government misspending has driven us bankrupt now, can we?” Or “Gosh, I had a job for three years last decade, can’t really complain the job market’s fallen to pieces ever since then, can I?” Or “Gosh, that party gutted our economy, drove all my family out of the province and dashed my dreams for a career and a home, but that was five years ago sure, can’t really hold it against them now, can we?” Or “Gosh, this time fifteen years ago I was earning $30 an hour with benefits, and now I’m on minimum wage with none, but it could be worse, I could be unemployed, so I can’t really complain now, can I?” Or “Gosh, that party bailed on all their election promises, but sure that election was nearly four years ago now, and there’s a new election just around the corner, so can’t really hold it against them anymore now, can we?”
Anyway, like I said, it’s been a rotten and short summer and there’s little that irks me more than people who fantasize otherwise.
That said, the meteorological sentiment does begin to explain quite a lot.