"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Size matters

Way back when, there was a guy, who was leader of some party or another, who was very concerned about the size of the provincial government, including the size of the cabinet.

Indeed, when the other guy somehow ended up with an eighteen-member cabinet, plus the other guy himself, the guy had some things to say about that. Like this press release:

Cabinet shuffle a desperate attempt at damage control

ST. JOHN'S, February 17, 2003 — Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition and MHA for Humber West, is calling today's cabinet shuffle an act of damage control by Premier Roger Grimes.

"Roger Grimes was clearly embarrassed by Friday's unexpected resignation of four senior cabinet ministers. Today's shuffle was nothing more than a desperate attempt to offset the political damage caused by those resignations," Williams said.

Williams sees the fact that the Premier broke his longstanding promise to reduce the size of his cabinet as further evidence of continued turmoil within the Liberal party. "This government has now lost nine senior ministers over the last two years: Brian Tobin, Beaton Tulk, Paul Dicks, Chuck Furey, John Efford, Lloyd Matthews, Sandra Kelly, Ernie McLean and Kevin Aylward. That's a significant amount of experience that has not been replaced in the Liberal caucus. These nine resignations provided Roger with ample opportunity to reduce his cabinet but he has been unable to do so because of internal problems. Numerous members threatened to resign or not run again if they weren't appointed to cabinet. The Premier had no choice but to hold cabinet positions as political plums for his entire caucus.

Or like these gems from Question Period a few weeks later:

MR. WILLIAMS: Yesterday, we all listened with great interest as the government announced a number of proposals concerning electoral reform; proposals, Mr. Speaker, that bore a striking resemblance to policies announced by our party in early February.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago, the Premier stood in this House and promised to implement all the policies brought forward by our party. It was a commitment he made and it was a commitment he kept.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech reduced the size of Cabinet to no more than one-third of the number of electoral districts, which would allow for sixteen Cabinet ministers including the Premier; yet, a brief glance at members opposite shows eighteen Cabinet ministers plus the Premier. In fact, almost every member opposite who plans to run again, currently has a Cabinet portfolio.

My question for the Premier is: If he is sincere about reducing the size of his Cabinet, why didn’t he take the opportunity to lead by example and implement that principle when he recently shuffled his Cabinet? Shouldn’t the Premier practice what he preaches?

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, one of the first promises that the Premier made was to have a smaller Cabinet. Yet, he did not deliver on that promise, despite having the opportunity to do so on several occasions. His Cabinet has actually grown to the point that it is now the largest Cabinet in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier acknowledge to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that he did not take the opportunity to lead by example because he is more concerned about shoring up his chance of re-election than he is about conducting the business of this Province in an efficient and a proper manner.

This cleverly colour-coded graph shows the total size of the cabinet, including the Premier, at each change in cabinet composition in the internet era.

Two striking things should jump out at you.

One, that over the seven Williams-Dunderdale years, there have been roughly twice as many changes in cabinet through shuffles, resignations, and additions as there were during the seven Tobin-Grimes years.

Two, that the Blue Team’s cabinet is larger than the 2003 Red Team cabinet whose size was complained about. It has been larger, or as large, as the late-era Grimes cabinet, for most of the duration of the current legislature.

And take a wild guess as to which Atlantic Province now has the largest provincial cabinet. Go ahead. First three don't count.

Maybe it's because of all the turmoil?

Lots more historical humour to be found by following this link.


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