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Monday, December 05, 2005

Paul Martin Visits the Colony of Newfoundland and Labrador

Paul Martin was on the campaign trail in Newfoundland and Labrador this week and took some time to speak with Randy Simms on the VOCM radio open line program. Anyone who may have heard his comments and responses to the host’s questions were witness to political side stepping and spin at its best.

It was patently clear throughout the interview that Mr. Martin was not going to be pinned down by making hard commitments on any of the issues discussed. A prime example of this was when he was asked about re-instating the Gander weather office. His response was to the effect that there should be centers of excellence in Canada to study the weather and global warming and the unique climatic situation in this province made it a clear choice for this kind of study.

I may be a little dumber than the average bear but nowhere in his answer could I find anything that told me he planned to reopen the office. In fact I’d even go further and say that his political double-speak could only be interpreted as a definite NO on opening the office, regardless of the positive spin he applied to it.

On whether or not the federal government would assist in the development of the Lower Churchill, he simply said that federal involvement was up to the provincial government. Nice side step Paul, what does that mean exactly, other than the fact that you are trying to shift responsibility from your shoulders to the province. Weren’t you the one who called for an East-West national power grid? Aren’t you the one who obligated us on Kyoto and supposedly put billions in a pot for that cause?

According to Martin, custodial management of the fisheries is at the top of his priority list. He didn’t show anyone the actual list however. This voter would love to see it because it must be one hell of a long list. If I remember correctly custodial management was a key priority for the Liberals during the last election campaign, yet a year and a half later it is still no closer to being done and once again it is a key priority.

According to pundits Paul Martin, as the incumbent PM, is planning to highlight his government’s successes in this campaign. He will talk to the fact that unemployment is at a 20 year low, how the federal government, through sound fiscal management, is seeing yearly surpluses and how they have put so much into improving wait times in the health care system. I certainly hope he isn’t depending on these points to get Liberals elected in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In reality, federal surpluses are the result of high oil prices and ongoing cuts successive liberal governments have made in transfer payments, health care and education throughout the Country in the past decade or more. In this province unemployment is at 15%, hardly an all time low, and wait times at hospitals are some of the highest in the Country.

A recent poll suggests the Liberals may capture all 7 seats in Newfoundland and Labrador. If this poll proves to be correct, I can only speculate what that means for the province. One thing is certain. Once again, Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans will have given the rest of the nation plenty of ammunition to use when discussing the intelligence of our population.

4 comments:

WJM said...

Nice side step Paul, what does that mean exactly, other than the fact that you are trying to shift responsibility from your shoulders to the province.

It's a provincial resource, just like all hydro-electric potential, mines, forestry, etc., etc., etc. Resources within the province fall under provincial jurisdiction.

If a federal leader were to say "we're getting involved in the Lower Churchill", you'd complain that they were trying to take control of a provincial resource, so no matter what, your nationalist mythology always wins.

Brian said...

WJM’s efforts aside, PMPM still acts as if N&Lers are still big shmucks and will fall for his BS every time. Judging by the polls, his assumption is correct.

BNB said...

PMPM will concentrate his efforts in Quebec where the Bloc are like Rock Stars these days (have you seen Gilles Duceppe these days, like friggin Bono) and in the West were the Reform Party Revisited is all the rage.

N&L has already been paid off in his books.

WRT The question of the lower churchill and federal involvement, Myles can correct me if I'm wrong but I think he was referring to the National Energy Plan - Kyoto and such, and the fact that the Feds indeed stick there noses into Provincial jurisdiction in other cases when these are involved.

WJM said...

In reality, federal surpluses are the result of high oil prices and ongoing cuts successive liberal governments have made in transfer payments, health care and education throughout the Country in the past decade or more

Actually, federal transfers to the provinces and territories, including the health and education transfers (why do you talk about them as if they are not transfer payments?) hit an all-time record of $42-million in the last fiscal year. Transfers to the provinces and territories are growing, both in absolute terms, and as a proportion of the federal budget.

Yes, there were reductions in those transfer payments in the early 1990s (starting with a Conservative government, incidentally), in order to tackle the deficit and debt. But guess what? Federal transfers to the provinces had been growing faster than general federal government spending for the previous thirty years. In other words, transfer payments helped dig Canada in the debt hole to begin with. Modest cuts to transfer payments -- about $5-billion from more than $26-billion -- were required in the short term, and have paid off big time by now through smaller debtloads, and smaller debt servicing payments... which gives more room to the federal government for transfer payments!

That's partly how transfer payments to the provinces and territories have in fact GROWN every year since 1998, in fact, they've nearly DOUBLED:

99: 23,243 ($million)
00: 24,724
01: 26,616
02: 30,645
03: 29,392
04: 41,955