There comes a time in every government's life when it's usefulness has outlived it's welcome. A time when arrogance becomes so common place as to become the political culture surrounding it's operations. It's not normally a sudden thing that announces this transformation, but rather a number of instances that crystallize a perception that a government has become "old and tired". This has certainly become true of the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, and more precisely the government they lead.
Just take the last few months - since Danny left to be exact. Parents losing kids over failed IQ tests. A botched appointment to the CNLOPB, and then the lies to try and cover it up. The Auditor General's Report with it's numerous points of governmental spending abuse, and general indifference to the rules governing it's operations. Of course there was the Parson's Pond fiasco,with a $25million price tag, when Nalcor drilled the two most expensive holes in this province's history. That little exercise made Ms Dunderdale's comments laughable when several weeks later she proclaimed "Nalcor knows what it does" in defence of the Lower Churchill development. The list goes on and on proving a week is a long time in politics, and three months can be a century.
As bad as those issues were, and remain so to this day, it is the comments of Ministers Jackman and Wiseman that have really blown me away. Mr Jackman's remarks on the MOU studying the long term feasibility of this province's fishing industry were disgraceful. Remarks that in any other government would have instantly resulted in his resignation. His callous comments that the government need not put any more money into the fishery as most fisherman will lose their boats in the next seven years was cold in the extreme. Then last week he proclaimed that shrimp and lobster fishermen should really get their collective act together as he was getting really tired of their protests. He actually referred to them as a "right of spring". He went on to say that what was really needed was "some leadership". What Jackman fails to see, but almost everyone else does, is that rural Newfoundland and Labrador is tied to the fishery. As the fishery goes, so goes the rural. So is he saying leave the rural areas to their own demise? That he's not about to even bring the issue to Cabinet because his buddies are far too busy discussing issues of real importance - like a dam and the black gold. That the poor old fishermen will have to die a slow and painful death, because frankly he has better things to spend the money on. That is what I call being out of touch with the rural part of the province, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
Then there is Mr Wiseman. This week, as Minister of the Environment, he proclaimed that rural boil water orders in the province were the responsibility of municipalities, and his government was not to blame. He accused these small councils of not doing their part in treating their water properly - in some cases shutting off their chlorination systems. What he fails to grasp is that it is a provincial government's responsibility to ensure these systems are running. Perhaps the government's attitude is that "if we don't have to enforce it we don't have to pay for it". After all, if they were to insist it be done properly then they would be approached to give the funds necessary to make it happen. Out of sight out of mind if you will. That is also ignoring the fact that Municipal Operating Grants have been frozen since 2006, and were only given a one time increase this year of $6 million. Most of these rural communities have a disproportionately high number of low income families and seniors on fixed incomes. Their ability to pay huge tax increases to do the necessary infrastructure work in their communities is not there. With hands tied things slide. This is the story of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Blaming the victim is becoming the story of this government.
In a way it speaks to the above average ability of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to suffer at the hands of their own politicians. The part that turns my stomach is the above average ability of this province's politicians to treat their own citizens with such contempt, and then smile as if they are somehow doing us all a collective favour by gracing us with their presence. It is a height of arrogance you won't see in too many other parts of this country - well, not for long at least. When things get that bad governments get replaced. This coming October it is time to end the arrogance, and start a plan that builds the whole province for her people's benefit. Note to the PC Party and your way of doing things - school is out.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)