POLITICS

Something's rotten in the state, er, riding of Avalon

07/04/2015 10:04 EDT | Updated 07/04/2016 05:59 EDT
Watching the events unfold in the riding of Avalon this week made me feel like I was back in high school, working my way through a play by William Shakespeare. To be honest, though, I'm not sure even the Bard could have come up with a plot like this.

Here's your Coles Notes version.

To recap, Lord Scott of Andrews' "jovial" nature got him booted out of the Liberal castle with allegations swirling that he was carrying on with ladies who didn't consent and weren't his wife. That left him weak with his county ripe for the taking, with Sir Ches of Clan Crosbie riding in with no other challengers for the Conservative banner, figuring King Harper would give him his blessing.

But alas, Sir Ches's prior stint as court jester had ticked off the king, who was displeased at being mocked of the problems he's had laid on by MacDuffy.

But was that the real reason or was it actually palace intrigue! The king of Clan Crosbie points the finger at one of the King's advisors who is said to be plotting to keep the power for himself, threatened by the influence Sir Ches might have with the king and not wanting anyone else interfering in the affairs of the New Found Land.

So how does the play end? I honestly don't know, and not just because I was never good about actually finishing my reading assignments in high school.

No one quite knows how the actual riding of Avalon will now play out, and whether the now independent Scott Andrews will run again (stay tuned, as Andrews is expected to announce a decision by next month).

Picking at the theories

So what's really behind the rejection of Ches Crosbie?

Let's look at the theories.

1. The reason given to John Crosbie is that his son Ches's time in a wig and a kilt playing MacHarper and mocking the Mike Duffy Senate scandal at a local arts fundraiser this spring was enough to disqualify him from running.

That's pretty hard to believe, and no one I've talked to is buying it. If everyone who cracked a Duffy joke over the past year was kicked out of the Conservative party, it would be a lonely place. The skit is no worse than anything politicians have done at the annual press gallery roast in Ottawa. It also seem strange that the party accepted Kevin O'Brien, who had been publicly critical of Stephen Harper in the wake of the ABC campaign of 2008, while it simultaneously rejected Crosbie, who had only joked about it.

2. The next theory is that Crosbie's involvement in a class action lawsuit on behalf of former aboriginal residential school students would have disqualified him, and that the party doesn't want someone who is suing the government. It's important to note, though, that it's not Ches Crosbie himself who is suing the government, but rather the group of people he represents. If you look at the previous legal career of the current minister of Natural Resources, Greg Rickford, you will find he also represented First Nations groups against the government. Thus, that argument is not holding that much weight.

3. That brings us to the theory from John Crosbie, who will tell anyone who will listen that Newfoundland Senator David Wells is behind it, eager to keep this province free from Conservative MPs, giving himself more power within the party.

It's an allegation that Wells vigorously denies, and it is hard to believe when you look at Wells' background.  He spent the last several elections working hard to get Conservatives elected in Newfoundland and Labrador, and has been on the record saying he'd rather have a cabinet minister responsible for this province who was actually from this province.

No guarantees

Having Crosbie as a candidate is also no guarantee he would win the riding. He doesn't have the same clout and appeal that his father did (and still does), and undermining his candidacy seems like a lot more work than just sitting back and letting him fight the uphill battle in Avalon.

So if it's not one of those explanations, what's behind it? Only the inner circle of the Conservative Party seems to know for sure, but what is clear after this week is the Conservatives have given up on the one seat in Newfoundland and Labrador that was a possible win.

Perhaps they're concerned that Crosbie would be too much of a liability in the campaign, unlikely to win it but likely to say something to embarrass them nationally. A poll out this week puts the Conservatives at just 15 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

That number doesn't bring out a lot of quality candidates, but it appears these beggars are still choosers.