The Government should be relieve
that the public is not being asked to grade the 2013 “Speech From The Throne”. No election looms.
really symptomatic of larger problems. After
all that has been said in the media, these past few months, regarding poor
governance, poor leadership and profligate spending, it might have been
a reasonabe expectation that the Government would signal, in a new Session of the
Legislature, that it was ready to take responsibility for the our fiscal mess. The Dunderdale,
together with the former Williams’ Government, largely helped create it. As a precursor to the Budget, we might have expected
the broad strokes of a plan to invoke change and earn the public trust.
disappointing. It eschewed any
responsibility for the predicament in which the Government finds itself. It contained none of the markers that
suggest the Administration is trying to rehabilitate itself from a very shaky
beginning or that it is learning from the messages sent via a series of bad
Polls. The Speech confirms that the Premier lacks an understanding of the
demands of public administration or of the themes and ideas that underpin a
I don’t think a Lieutenant
Governor has ever been asked to refer to the First Minister as “My Premier”. “My Government” has a constitutional basis;
“My Premier” does not. In Cabinet Government, the Premier is merely the “First” among
equals. Perhaps, this First Minister feels
some sense of déjà vu for the heel clicking Latvian, Dr. Alfred Valdmanis, who
paid deference to former Premier Smallwood, with the same boot licking salutation.
“My Premier”; indeed.
Speech had greater shortcomings.
the financial condition of the Province before oil; then, it proceeds to take
credit for rescuing us from the worse statistics. States the Speech: “Thanks to the
leadership of My Premier and My Government, and the deliberate efforts we have
taken together since 2003, all that has changed”. Not oil
revenue, not the Atlantic Accord, not the leadership of the Peckford
Administration, almost three decades ago, and not the perseverance of ordinary
citizens, contends the Premier; it was
her leadership that has gotten us where we are, today.
by this Premier was made to differentiate her Administration from that of Danny Williams. Perhaps, the two are peas in the same pod. Though Danny,
likely, would not see himself, as Dunderdale’s equal.
Speech notes that prices have experienced “…large and unpredictable price
fluctuations on the world market” and states that Ottawa and the western
provinces have been equally side swiped.
Of course, there is no mention of Alberta’s huge discount to the WTI
price (the benchmark for western Canadian crude) caused by its inadequate pipeline system to the U.S. and the enormous cost
of sending oil on rails. Nor was there
any reference to the fact that Newfoundland’s oil is priced, not on the basis
of WTI, at all, but on the Brent crude price, affording NL oil a substantially
higher valuation. And, it doesn’t
mention that her Administration failed to include a discount, to the forecast
estimate last year, and essentially using the estimate of $124/barrel as a
Speech, are just plain silly. As an example, on page 5, we are treated to a
piece of fiction over the Government’s attempts to control public
spending. States the Speech, “Still,
there are some voices in this province calling loudly for us to take this other
path – to grow the size and cost of the public sector and raise taxes and public
debt levels to pay for it. These same voices have also disagreed with My
Government’s decision to develop Muskrat Falls”.
Unions have been opposed to Budget cuts and lay-offs. None of them have called
for higher taxes; all the Unions have been in favour of Muskrat Falls (which I believe, they will all come to regret).
a humorous side. I don’t know if His Honor was able to maintain a straight face: “We are running the government the way a sound
business is run – in accordance with effective management principles” (page 6).
ground if I postulated that business simply would not survive if it emulated
the spending practices of this Administration.
evidently thought it a credible proposition.
The Speech offers this additional comment: “We cannot dismiss
out-of-hand the suggestion that there might be better approaches worth trying
just because things have been done a certain way year after year”. Peter Drucker, the guru of business management
would cringe at the thought that unbridled spending followed by drastic job
cuts constituted any management style, at all. Recklessness is not a strategy favoured, in any
of his books, dealing with the subject.
that, ““Thinking outside the box” is not just a catch phrase: it is a principle
we are embracing…”
principle. It is a good idea. But, it is
not a principle. I am not going to
explain the difference.
a glimpse that the Government may be entering the light: “Good governance means
serving the people as effectively as possible while living within our means. It
means making choices that will leave our people better off than they would
otherwise be. That is the essence of sustainability”.
9, the Throne Speech disappoints again. It states, “My Government is fulfilling
its Blue Book commitment…”
Lieutenant Governor in his seat!
horrified being placed in a position where he was forced to endorse the Tory
Blue Book…in the Throne Speech, no less! No class among this crowd, Your Honor.
advice for the new Lieutenant Governor: whether or not you invite anyone from “Your
Government” to Government House, any time soon, the fine China won’t be
required. I suggest, given Budget constraints, His Honor might trade a cup and
saucer for a red marker.