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Friday, April 01, 2011

What Kind of Shell Game is Stephen Harper Playing?

What kind of shell game is Stephen Harper playing and why are the political elite in Newfoundland and Labrador willingly stepping up to be conned once again?

During the 2006 federal election Stephen Harper promised – in writing – that if elected his party would exclude revenues from non-renewable resources when calculating equalization payments to the Provinces of Canada. The logic being that since those revenues are finite they should be used to allow Provinces to diversify, pay down debt and grow their economies in preparation for the day when the resources run out. They should not be considered on the same footing as other types of revenue.

It was that commitment which paved the way for several Conservative MPs to be elected in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2006, including the now locally infamous Fabian Manning, who would later stand next to Stephen Harper in the House of Commons and laugh, clap and cheer (literally) as Mr. Harper ridiculed Newfoundland and Labrador over the issue claiming the Province wanted to “Have its cake and eat it to…”.

Even after signing a letter to the Provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador to the effect, once elected, Mr. Harper walked away from his commitment.

So much for election promises, even ones in writing with a clear and distinct signature (sure looks like Stephen Harper’s to me).

Fast forward to the 2008 election and, thanks to the broken promise, the Province rallied behind Premier Danny Williams, leaving nothing but scorched earth at the feet of every Conservative MP who dared to stand with Stephen Harper. Not a single Conservative was sent to Ottawa, except that is for Fabian Manning who, after losing his election bid, was rewarded with a Senate Appointment (another broken promise by Harper who said he would not appoint senators). One can only surmise Mr. Manning’s appointment was Harper’s way of thanking Manning for his very public betrayal of constituents and his Province.

During that 2008 campaign every elected member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Legislature participated in the ABC (Anyone But Conservative) campaign that drove the Tories out, including all members of the local PC party. Some even campaigned along side Federal Liberal hopefuls, not the least of which was Newfoundland and Labrador’s new Premier, Kathy Dunderdale.

After the broken promises and public ridiculing that flowed directly from Mr. Harper’s commitment on non-renewable resource revenues, the 2010 election campaign has led to a resurgence in Newfoundland and Labrador, not of local politicians willing to stand up and fight, as was seen in 2008, but of the sort of pre-Danny Williams politicians the Province has been accustomed to for generations. The self serving spineless kind.

No worries about broken promises this time around, no siree. Now they all say "...this time is different".

This time Mr. Harper has said he’ll back a loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill hydro project. We don't have a signed agreement and never mind that a few hours before the big announcement on Thursday Mr. Harper told a crowd in Halifax that there was still a lot of details to be worked out and nothing was final, "...this time will be different".

Never the less, Danny Williams is barely out the door and suddenly we find Premier Dunderdale (remember her, she’s the one who walked the campaign trail at the side of a Liberal MP in 2008) is crowing about how great this deal will be for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fabian Manning (yes, he’s back) has left the senate and is running in his old riding again. In fact former provincial politicians, former Williams' cabinet members no less, are tripping over each other in a scramble to get to the Harper trough in time for feeding.

They’re coming out of the woodwork, but for what?

Do they really believe that Stephen Harper will keep his promise, even after Quebec has publicly said, time and time again, that they do not want Ottawa to help with the development of the Lower Churchill Project?

Just this week Gilles Duceppe called it a slap in the face to Quebec.

I can picture what the next few months will bring, it won’t be only Fabian Manning standing in the House to cheer on Mr. Harper as he belittles NL over this latest commitment, it’ll be all the Conservative MPs the people of Newfoundland and Labrador might be foolish enough to send to Ottawa.

Here we are, barely a week into the 2010 election and, with Williams now out of the picture, the political hacks from Newfoundland and Labrador are once again showing their true colors, looking out for number one.

It’s too bad they can’t show a little intelligence and moral fibre. It might not serve their greed and avarice but it's something that might serve the Province far better.

At this point one can only hope the voters of Newfoundland and Labrador, if not the politicians, are willing to stand by their principles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's the biggest problem Myles...most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians do not ever stand behind their principles thinking they will be so much better off listening to promises instead. Empty promises they think will make them wealthy. Promises and this promise in particular, will die suddenly when this awful dictatorial Federal Government is reestablished with a majority. Who made Harper King? I thought Canadians voted him into power in a democratic manner, not as a soverign head of a country. Not even the King of Thailand acts in this manner. Why is Harper acting in this manner? I for one would like to have the opportunity of telling HIM not all Newfoundlanders are stupid and to ask him point blank, why he thinks it this manner? Having just recently returned from South Korea, we Canadians need to demand Harper spend six months in South Korea and learn how to build an economy including Dunderblat...one that had 6.2% growth last year and an expected 6.8% this. ASME