Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jack Reimer, Your Timing is Exceptional

The Progressive Conservatives of Manitoba spent thirty-three campaign days attacking the NDP, hoping that the election would swing their way.

As we all know by now, of course, it didn't.

So one day after the election, the Tories abandoned the strategy of attacking the NDP and have instead gone back to doing what they traditionally do best -- attack each other.

Here's how it shakes down. Hugh McFadyen has been the leader of the PCs for about a year, and despite his almost complete inexperience in this position he held his ground against what we now know as perhaps the most continually popular Manitoba government in history. But he lost one seat in this election, so clearly it's time to fire him. (If you can't follow this logic, you aren't qualified to vote Conservative!)

Yesterday, Jack Reimer -- the recently ousted Conservative MLA for Southdale, who must feel really jazzed about losing his job to some prop from the Breakfast Television set -- appeared on CJOB radio to tell everybody that Hugh McFadyen is a liar who was lying to us.

No, really. I'm not kidding; that was about the extent of his argument, as he announced that McFadyen's promise to bring back the Winnipeg Jets was considered unfulfillable by his own party from the second it left his lips. Reimer claimed that he wouldn't have supported any party, even his own, if it meant public money would be used towards some sports team; this is all kind of a moot point now, of course, but even still. He just wants us to know that. Y'know, about McFadyen being a lying liar who likes to lie, and all.

McFadyen would later defend his position as leader as best he could, given the circumstances -- but the internal march to replace him is on, and right now some of his party allies are intent on being his biggest enemies.

Now, these kind of antics are nothing new, per se; stating that the PCs like to frag their lieutenants when anything goes wrong is about as bold as stating that the Atlantic Ocean is kind of damp sometimes.

But I think that Jack Reimer's timing may have been off on this particular announcement. A little. Somewhat.

Because just this afternoon, two days after the Manitoba election, the announcement was made that Jim Balsillie has plunked down $220 million and bought the Nashville Predators.

Jim Balsillie, whether deserved or not, already has quite the reputation by now as a man who wouldn't hesitate for a second to bring an NHL team up to Canada -- and according to the standing clauses in the Predators' lease agreement, the team could be moved out of Nashville as early as the end of next season if their existing attendance base doesn't pick up dramatically.

Er. Hmm.

Did Hugh McFadyen, or whoever it was that reputedly pushed McFadyen into the Jets announcement, know this was about to happen? I wouldn't doubt it for a second; had the Conservatives won the election (which turns out in retrospect to have been a mighty big 'had'), well, you can see the sort of serendipitous synchronicity this would have stirred up. (I am given to brief bouts of alliteration sometimes.)

Did Jack Reimer know this was about to happen? Well, obviously not -- or he wouldn't have gone on the most popular radio station in Winnipeg to publicly bury his own leader for even pretending that his promise of an NHL team in Winnipeg was anything but instant lies, one day before an NHL team got snapped up by a freewheeling Canadian billionaire rumoured to be looking northward for its next home.

Ah, well. I don't mean to get on Reimer's case, or anything; everybody makes mistakes sometimes! I know people around here can get kind of crazy when the Jets are brought up, and I would sure hate to see a fine gentleman like Jack Reimer lose his job over this.

Hey, wait a s--


The Hack said...

Not quite so fast on your call there James. There wasn't one public dollar committed to bringing them back. That was simply a misconception that got out there and wasn't properly challanged by the Tories because they wanted to ignore it as soon as it got out there. It came because the Tories were trying to do too much with their much more basic announcement, which was: "We going to *TRY TO* bring the Jets back and here's how...".

So saying Hugh was a liar isn't fair.

However, Jack obviously was in the majority of Manitobans when he didn't believe it was even possible from the beginning and that is what came out on CJOB.

This was a bad promise, handled badly at every step no doubt about it, however considering today's action in Nashville, the NBC dumping hockey for horse racing, and the projected dismal ratings for the Cup final, you have to wonder if maybe the four-year window Hugh was giving himself isn't big enough for a league that still has at least one more major humbling in its future. I think four years is a pretty tight timeline, but who saw the Predators' story coming 48 hours ago?

JCotton said...

Maybe instead of ignoring some of the misconceptions , they should have dealt with them before things got out of control . Like the nurses .....they should have dealt with that crap.

James Howard said...

Well, of course, us enlightened internet types (not that any of us were able to predict the election results at all, and I'm including myself in this category) understand what the Jets promise was supposed to convey -- Manitoba improvement as a whole would make the return of the Jets a reaction to economic improvement and not a catalyst, spirit of optimism, can-do attitude equals have province, so on and so forth.

These things, however, do not always come out the way they're supposed to. By the end of the same day, somehow, the public perception of the story had morphed from "we will improve Manitoba to the point that we can do what we can about bringing the Jets back" to "the point of doing what we can to bring the Jets back is to improve Manitoba", then somehow to "we will do anything we can to bring the Jets back".

It was a garbled message from the get-go, the media reaction garbled it further, and the Tory machine was not terribly successful at clearing up misconceptions and mistruths during this previous campaign. (Unless they wanted to be branded as Hydro-selling nurse-haters, in which case mission accomplished.)

And, yes, obviously labeling McFadyen a liar isn't fair to him; then again, neither is a high-profile ex-MLA popping up one day after the election to publicly distance his leader from the rest of his party. Heck, not many things having anything to do with this election were fair to McFadyen -- including, it could be argued, the resulting seat totals.

I can understand how Reimer would be, well, slightly upset about the whole thing; under McFadyen's leadership they lost one seat overall, and the seat they lost was his. But, even ignoring the subsequent announcement scant hours later that an NHL team was fixing to go mobile, I would put it to the gentle reader that there were roughly infinity ways of better going about this situation.

I'm no fan of the ruling party -- at all, now that I think about it -- but at the very least the party built on pandering to unions understands the concept of solidarity. (At least for now, because they won -- but still!)

What's done is done, though! A big mess has been made, and we get to wait and see who if anybody cleans it up. Oh, the fun we'll all have!