At what point, I wonder, does it become so easy for opposition parties that it’s not fun anymore?
Like the Black Knight in the Monty Python sketch, making quips about scratches and mere flesh wounds as his limbs fall off, Justice Minister Cecil Clarke has seen better weeks.
The exact timing isn’t clear, but it’s entirely possible Clarke was speaking to reporters about fixing the mistaken release problems at the same time a new prisoner was accidentally released.
Have fun doing anything when you’re dealt that hand.
Reportedly, a frustrated Clarke’s response to the news was “you’ve got to be kidding me.”
And for once, as the opposition calls for a minister’s resignation, he actually offers it. Of course, with practically no backbench and trying to maintain integrity facing down an election, Premier Rodney MacDonald stood by his man.
Clarke insists he’s ready to debate his record with anyone. But there’s been 11 prisoners released over the last three years, and several common sense changes only came into place this week. Short of actually being a convict – and then being mistakenly released – it’s hard to see how he could be in a worst spot.
Meanwhile the government is trying to change the laws to avoid going into deficit. And the person selling this plan is Finance Minister Jamie Muir, a retiring MLA who clearly has one foot out the door.
“I really don’t think there will be an election. I mean if you were the opposition parties, why would you force an election?” asked Muir last week.
“Because you’re in third place,” one reporter explained.
“I don’t think we are in third place,” Muir replied. “I think in the minds of most Nova Scotians we’re in first place with a majority government.”
Presumably, in Muir’s world the Conservative majority will ride into the legislature on unicorns.
The bottom line is it all rests on the Liberals. They know they can’t win this time around but an election will give them exactly what they want – more exposure for still newish leader Stephen McNeil.
Then they’ll still get to be an opposition party during a recession, and if this week has shown anything it’s that it’s a good time to be an opposition party.
So circle late June/early July on your calendars. If we’re lucky, the campaign will be even close to as ridiculous as this last week has been.
– Paul McLeod is a staff reporter at Metro Halifax. He is currently in rehab for being a political junkie. It’s going badly.