A couple of day-after comments about Darrell Dexter's cabinet shuffle seem worth passing on: First, a longtime New Democrat writes that, "Having to take Maureen out of Health to backfill Finance indicates a lack of bench strength." Précisément. Second, a friend notes that, as a former paramedic, incoming Health Minister Dave Wilson should put paid to Nursing Union president Janet Hazelton's campaign to featherbed the new Collaborative Emergency Centres. Hazelton has complained the staffing model of one nurse and one advanced care paramedic, with telephone backup from an emergency room specialist physician, is insufficient to meet, ahem, professional standards. Nothing less than two union nurses will do,...

My postings here and on Facebook, voicing mixed feelings about Dave Wilson’s situation, provoked a ton of feedback. Publishing most of it will make for unusually long post, but it also shows public sentiment to be less lopsided than media coverage indicates. In cases like this, I believe reporters seek out and highlight the most dramatic responses, usually the vengeance-seekers, and this distorts our impression of the public mood. Plenty of people agree with me that Wilson has already suffered mightily. But not this neighbor:
As soon as he was caught, he went into hiding, now he's fessing up. A thief is a thief. I'm not kicking him when he's down. I just want him to pay for his crimes. I had a brother who went to the county for bootlegging when he had no work. He knew the job was dangerous when he took it. He got what he deserved and mama taught him better. Dave will get his pension and this will blow over. Just don't trust him with your signature. He is one of many who are the reason people don't have any faith in governments and other large institutions, like the catholic church!
A Dartmouth resident:
Revoking [his pension] makes no morse sense than any other random, vindictive retribution the mob might conjure. I don't care what [the neighbor quoted above] says, I think you're you're right to feel some pity for an addict. Gambling ruins lives. And the more we destroy the guy, the more we show other gambling addicts to keep their mouth shut and hope you win enough to hide your problem.
A reader:
Beautifully said.
Another reader:
I agree with your sentiments and arguments on this. Two successful and high profile MLAs publicly crumbling, with a gambling addiction the most likely poison, should have us questioning the social costs of that government-promoted world.
A Sydney businessman:
Well said, well done.
A former journalist who has moved on:
I don’t think you’re alone in that view on Dave Wilson. I always liked Dave, right back to the time I worked in the CJCB news room.
From a woman who has occupied high-profile federal and provincial posts in NS:
Thanks, Parker. You have expressed my view in far better, more complete terms than I could.
From a trade union official:
You softy, you.
From a reader
I have to agree with the sentiments expressed here. I also believe the Speaker of the House, Gordie Gosse, should appear in court and make a submission on sentencing. I firmly believe that Gordie should stress the damage caused to the reputations of all politicians and of all stripes. The idea of "tarring them all with the same brush" is not fair to the honest and conscientious politicians, whatever party they belong to. That is why I believe it is important to make a submission on behalf of all MLSs.
From Rick Howe:
Would you be available for a chat on my radio show re your thoughts on David? [And in response to my asking how he felt about it] I’m waffling. I, too, feel bad about David, he’s a friend, but I think a short jail sentence might be necessary to appease public outrage and send a message to other politicians.
A journalist who has moved on:
On the pension issue, point taken. There's no provision in the Criminal Code for appropriating offenders' pensions. But the rest -- the "fine man who's suffered enough" argument. Really? Ordinary scam-artists don't suffer when the law catches up with them? [And on further reflection] I agree about the disgusting bloodlust. Where does it come from? Is it from 3+ almost unbroken decades of short-sighted governance? Maybe Contrarian readers would like to catalogue the poor decisions for which we're still paying the consequences: Buchanan's decision to spend the offshore wealth before it made landfall; the neglect that's causing Halifax rot from the centre outwards; the indifference behind the decision outsource the immigration file; Sysco; the decision to kneecap John Savage before he could stand for re-election, etc. Or maybe people just sense that there is a ruling class in NS and it doesn't care about the suckers who pay the bills. Maybe it's the Bluenose equivalent of finally coming over the walls, lovingly sharpened sickles in hand and a gleam in the eye.
A reader:
Well said. Damn gambling got him and Zinck and goodness knows how many others have been victims of those damn machines. Just disgusting that all three parties refuse to say they will shut down the machines in bars and and anywhere else.
A Sydney woman:
His misdeeds - petty and poorly-executed, moves me to pity for it's ineptitude and pathos rather than righteous indignation. He "reads" to me, though, and again- unfortunately- as an older white man in a suit, seemingly above a little graft, or worse, entitled. Probably he believed in it a bit too much as well. Entitlement. The real question might be - *ahem* - are you identifying with it a bit too much yourself? We hate to see the white male do such a shabby job of a little sad cheat.
After the jump, some responses from Facebook:

Perhaps something is wrong with me, but I feel bad for Dave Wilson, and faintly nauseous at the mob clammoring for his neck. Wilson f**ked up — spectacularly and inexcusably. In doing so, he violated a public trust and brought disgrace upon himself and upon democratic institutions already in public repute so low as to undermine civil society. Consider also what Wilson has lost: a dream  job that was probably his as long as he wanted it; his home; his family (or parts of it, to judge from his brother-in-law's published comments). He has suffered public humiliation that is hard to...

In the wake of Glace Bay MLA Dave Wilson's surprise resignation while under forensic audit of his expense claims, a young Contrarian friend asks if I'm ready to retract my post all but dismissing the expense brouhaha. Answer: I'm getting there. We don't yet know the story behind Wilson's abrupt departure, and I don't wish to imply otherwise. But even before that news broke Friday, the premier's ham-fisted attempts to resolve criticism surrounding his expensing of Barristers' Society dues had me rethinking the issue. Contrarian's alter-ego is currently submerged in a writing assignment, so I will merely flag the topic for later elaboration....

cabinet - 2 - cropped - medium
As Nova Scotia’s new government begins its third week in office, a critical early mistake is coming into focus: Darrell Dexter’s 12-member cabinet is too small for the job at hand. Cabinet selection inevitably requires consideration of gender, ethnicity, and geography: Women must take a prominent place; there must seats for Cape Breton, northern Nova Scotia, the south shore, and the valley; Metro MLAs must not appear to dominate. Legitimate political and cultural considerations of this sort do not necessarily trump such factors as experience and merit, but they compete with them. That leads to problems.