Poor Jerome Kennedy.
It’s hard to tell what was most laughable about his appearance on Backtalk this afternoon.
Was it the fumbling and stumbling to remember to add “, and Labrador,” after “Newfoundland”, complete with audibule punctuation?
Was it being turned into an audibly not-very-enthusiastic shill for the Blame Canada theme that is being pumped out of the Eighth Floor at record volume of late?
Was it the awkward engagement in the ABC campaign, and the not-overly-subtle attempts to backtrack once engaged in it?
Was it the masterful, lawyerly success in answering the questions he wished he’d been asked, and not the questions he was actually asked?
Was it the constant, scripted, use of Our Dear Stockphrases: “real members of this federation”, “we are not going to be anyone’s poor cousin”, “treatment by the Harper government”, “show us the money, Minister Hearn!”
Was it the implication that the prison proposal is part of Our Dear Population Strategy? “Bring the boys home (from Dorchester)!”
All hilarious, to be sure.
But perhaps not as hilarious as Minister Kennedy’s adoption of one of the basic, founding, tenets of Dannyism: that history begins with Danny.
Rebutting the charge from Loyola Hearn that the federal government hasn’t received a formal proposal regarding a new penitentiary, Kennedy said
Well, Bill, what I’m looking at right here now, what letter is dated May 18, 2006, March 8, 2006, January 30, 2007, a letter from Minister Joan Burke dated…. May 2007, when I’m looking at letters at that, and I know that my Assistant Deputy Ministers for Corrections and Policing has been in contact with his Ottawa counterpart as of two weeks ago, emailed them, and they emailed him back, it seems to me that Minister Hearn is certainly out of the loop.
This is hilarious on its own merits, because just moments before, Kennedy had said:
In fact, up to several weeks ago, my Assistant Deputy Minister had sent an email to the people in Ottawa, and were waiting to hear back from Ottawa.
That’s a neat trick: waiting to hear back, while simultaneously having been emailed back. And you can almost imagine the contents of that email:
To: Hon. S. Day, Minister
Subject: Gissa federal pen
SEND MONEY SOONEST.
Of course, if Kennedy was willing to concede that the history of NewfoundlandLabrador doesn’t begin in Danny Williams’ first term, his concern here might be allayed:
My concern, quite frankly, is that this is not as legitimate a proposal as it seems, but it’s an election ploy.
An election ploy? Playing penal prison and penitentiary politics? One of the oldest tricks in the recent Newfoundland political playbook?SAY IT ISN’T SO, JEROME!
Penitentiary may not be built
Wednesday, October 03, 1984
ST. JOHN'S -- ST. JOHN'S (CP) - A proposed penitentiary at Windsor, Newfoundland, announced by a Liberal MP during the federal election campaign, may not be built, Justice Minister John Crosbie says.
Mr. Crosbie told a news conference the Aug. 6 announcement by William Rompkey, then minister of transport, was premature. No agreement exists between the federal and provincial governments for the prison and the federal Treasury Board did not approve construction, he said.
ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. (CP) January 14, 1987
- A $26-million federal prison that was to be built in Newfoundland was aborted because Prime Minister Brian Mulroney decided to give a costly patronage plum to his own riding in Quebec, provincial politicians have charged.
"The Mulroney Port-Cartier penitentiary set us back... because of the extra cost associated with putting it there, instead of the location recommended by the government officials," said Newfoundland Attorney General Lynn Verge.
"What I was told by (federal Solicitor General James) Kelleher was that there was a moratorium on construction in the aftermath of Port-Cartier."
Documents obtained by the weekly St. John's Express through the Access to Information Act show that in 1985 Mulroney's Conservative government had planned to build a minimum-medium security prison in Newfoundland. The 160-cell institution was approved by Correctional Services and the plan was submitted to the Treasury Board for final approval.
But in June 1985, the prime minister announced he was changing the site of the new Quebec penitentiary from Drummondville to Port-Cartier, in his Manicouagan riding.
Building the prison there cost an additional $41 million, for a total of $68 million.
The federal government decided to halt all construction and renovation of prisons almost two months before the exempted Port-Cartier prison was announced.
Verge said both the provincial government and then federal justice minister John Crosbie, the province's representative in cabinet, had agreed the central Newfoundland town of Buchans was an acceptable site for the new prison, which would have created about 100 permanent jobs. One in four workers there is looking for work.
Bill Rompkey, the Liberal MP for Buchans, says Port-Cartier definitely killed funds for the Newfoundland prison.
The 1985-86 financial estimates for Correctional Services showed that Treasury Board had approved $6.9 million for the Newfoundland prison project. But in the 1986-87 estimates, there is no mention of any funds for the prison.
However an optimistic Mayor Power said: "Mr. Crosbie tells me that there will certainly be a penitentiary announced for Newfoundland before the next election call."Newfoundland town's survival hopes pinned on proposed federal prison
Nelle Oosterom, The Ottawa Citizen, July 7, 1988
BUCHANS, Nfld. _ Not many communities would be eager to live with a federal penitentiary, but for Buchans, it's either that or extinction.
''If we don't get it, I'm doubtful as to the future viability of this community,'' says Sean Power, the energetic young mayor of this former mining town in central Newfoundland.
The community expects to know in a few weeks whether it will be chosen as the site for the proposed prison.
However, International Trade Minister John Crosbie, Newfoundland's representative in the federal cabinet, has refused to say when the decision will be made.New prison for Nfld. likely to go in PC riding
OTTAWA (CP) August 24, 1988
- Trade Minister John Crosbie will announce today that a $29.6-million federal penitentiary will be built in Newfoundland, sources say.
Crosbie has scheduled a news conference in St. John's, where it is expected he will announce construction of the prison at Carbonear, in the eastern Bonavista-Trinity-Conception riding held by Progressive Conservative MP Morrissey Johnson.
There has been fierce competition among several Newfoundland communities for the minimum-to-medium-security prison to house about 150 prisoners and employ about 100 people. The previous Liberal federal government had picked the town of Buchans. 3
But sources say the government will build the new prison at Carbonear, on Conception Bay about 50 kilometres northwest of St. John's. The prison will replace an aging penitentiary in St. John's.Sweeney says penitentiary should be replaced with new facility at Harbour Grace site
October 26, 2005
George Sweeney, Liberal MHA for the District of Carbonear-Harbour Grace, says recent reports on the inadequacy of Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John?s should lead to the phasing out of that facility and the construction of a new structure at the previously proposed site for a federal penitentiary identified in Harbour Grace.
"There is growing evidence that Her Majesty's Penitentiary is no longer meeting the needs of the justice system in the province and alternative options should now be explored," said Sweeney. "The Town of Harbour Grace was identified by the federal government in the late 1980s as a site for a penitentiary that was expected to be built and opened in 1993. The project was later cancelled, but the site remains a viable location for such a facility.