Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Protest Postmortem

The fishery protest that started with a media bang ended with a political whimper.

As I wrote last week, the return of the Premier meant one of two things: he would either wage rhetorical war against the protestors or cut a deal and throw money at the problem. As with the threatened nurses' strike, the provincial government blinked: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/07/11/shrimp-price.html

As I said when the nurses' strike was averted, I'm glad that the provincial government had the sense to cut a deal. However, while the government's response to the deal is a lot quieter than the aborted nurses strike (few media stores and no government press release thus far), a protest postmortem reveals some interesting similarities between the two incidents. These similarities are part of a broader pattern of governance. Let's call them the Williams Government Top Ten:

1) Procrastinate while the problem festers.
2) Attack when the problem generates significant media attention.
3) Blame everyone else involved and deny any responsibility.
4) Find a way to say it's all Ottawa's fault.
5) Issue a press release saying that the government has already done everything it can do.
6) Do nothing substantive until the Premier gets directly involved.
7) Cut a deal at the last minute.
8) Assume that the deal solves everything.
9) Return to ignoring the larger structural issues that caused the problem.
10) Return to your idée fixe: NALCO deal-making.

Press Release Update:
It will be interesting to see how much follow-up there is, but here's the press release:

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