If nothing else, Dennis Fentie has now confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is a Weeble.
What is a Weeble?
Well, for now all you need to know is that this is really good news for the Yukon Party. And it is really bad news for his opponents.
Especially the Yukon Liberal Party.
The last six months have been the worst in Dennis Fentie’s political career.
He’s been caught, redhanded, manipulating the Peel Watershed planning process, which he vowed he wouldn’t do.
He’s been caught making decisions behind his ministers’ backs, a situation that reflects very badly on Fentie and calls into question the competency of his cabinet.
He’s been caught trying to secretly sell off the Yukon’s public utility assets to an Alberta multinational, which forced the resignations of his handpicked appointees from the Yukon Development Corp., which owns the utility.
One, Willard Phelps, himself a former government leader, called Fentie a “tin-pot dictator.”
This schism in the party ranks went right into cabinet.
His colleagues’ confidence in his leadership started to waver, and that provoked an unguarded discussion, in Tim Hortons, of possible alternatives between Darrell Pasloski, the former federal Conservative candidate (whom Fentie campaigned for), and then-Energy minister Brad Cathers.
After that conversation was reported, Cathers resigned.
He told a news conference that Fentie had lied about his Yukon Energy privatization plans, and had asked Cathers to corroborate the lie, which is something he would not do. So he resigned.
That’s extraordinary stuff. Damning. He’s angered a lot of people.
And Cathers’ departure left Fentie with a minority government, which is worse.
That’s a pile of trouble, and it was all of Fentie’s making.
You’d think that would be enough to sink the Yukon Party.
But it wasn’t.
And that’s a real problem for both Cathers and the Liberals.
It’s a disaster for Cathers because his political powerplay to draw other disgruntled colleagues away from Fentie failed. Now, he’s all alone outside his party, which remains in power, and many of his constituents aren’t happy about that.
But it’s worse for the Liberals.
Despite Fentie’s scandalous actions, Arthur Mitchell’s Liberal team is still not pulling much public support.
It’s tepid at best.
And that’s incredible. People are clearly not happy with the government, yet they are not flocking to Mitchell’s Liberals.
That doesn’t reflect well on Mitchell and his crew.
As the legislature resumed this week, the Liberals have, somehow, to position themselves as a solid alternative government. But, after several years, there’s no indication they have a clue how to do that.
Of course, a week ago this mattered a lot more.
The Liberals were planning a confidence motion.
But they underestimated Fentie’s grasp of realpolitik.
In Fentie’s world, what matters is power. And clearly, he’s willing to fight to keep it.
So, through some as-yet-to-be-revealed promise, he mollified independent John Edzerza, who quit the party years ago citing Fentie’s abusive leadership style.
With Edzerza back on the government benches, Fentie restored his majority. There’s no foreseeable way, barring another weird defection, that his government will fall.
All this is good news for the 90-pound-weakling New Democrats.
Fledgling leader Elizabeth Hanson now has a shot at bulking the party up and selling it as a credible alternative government.
But the biggest winner is Fentie.
He’s bought time to save himself and his party.
Over time, the anger will pass. People forgive and forget.
So, today, there’s no doubt Fentie is a Weeble.
And, whatever you think of them, Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. (Richard Mostyn)