THE DITHERERING DARLING OF DEER LAKE

The Government
of Dwight Ball risks putting the financial underpinnings of the Province in even greater peril than it is already, having failed to take early action to remedy the fiscal crisis.

With political
leadership so obviously missing, there is bemusement that a Premier, one given an
overwhelming mandate, wants the public to go first!

He should
worry bemusement will become derision, and that laughter will follow.

Liberal partisans
excuse Premier Ball’s attraction to the photo-op as he eschews the role of Chairman
of the Board. They watch, some without enthusiasm, as Paul Davis
saddles him with a problem the Tories created.  

Inexplicably,
Ball seems incapable of fighting back. Turning the other cheek may be fine for “church-goers” but, in politics, it means you are either weak or you are taking
advice from someone who wants your job.


The Telegram
reported recently: “Davis said if he were still premier, he’d look at deeper
public service job reductions through attrition. …he’d be taking the situation
seriously and taking action right away.”

Davis was in
the Premier’s chair for 14 months. He was elected under Danny Williams and served in the Cabinets of Premiers Dunderdale and Marshall. He was one of the
‘drunken sailors’.

We can summarily
dismiss Paul Davis, even if he has a legitimate role to play, as Leader of the
Opposition.

But we
cannot dismiss Dwight Ball, if only because he is the Premier. As one wit
offered, it’s not as if the ballot box offered another choice.

Ball is an
experienced businessperson, having operated on the west and east coasts; although entrepreneurship is not synonymous with enlightenment. But four years, as Leader of the Opposition provided plenty of opportunity to
acquire essential insights into budgetary practices, the intricacies of public
policies, and program spending.


He witnessed,
first hand, rising deficits and debt.

Did he not
see such spending behaviour as unsustainable?

Not once did he connect his own and his Party’s approval of Muskrat Falls sanction with
the speculation it implied for the public purse.

So, Dwight
is not Mr. Clean in any of this. Neither is he a newbie, who should be cut some
slack.


Three years
of Polls, presaging the Liberals’ return to power, held the clue he needed to
get ready to take the reins.

Is it
possible he did not know he needed to replace the most senior public servants
who advised Tory politicians and bowed to them?


Do we need to ask: just how weak is this Premier?

Ball,
seemingly, came to power with no plan and no expertise; he brought to his
Office none, but a single person, with public policy expertise at a senior
level; none, at all, who served at the highest level.

He has
surrounded himself with partisan political types; except the Premier’s Office is no
place for “yes-men” or “yes-women”.

Ball needs
capable advisors, some only temporarily, perhaps; but they must have skills in
the financial, engineering, and public policy fields. They must be able to
offer sound counsel and act as a bulwark to private agendas, especially those held by Nalcor.   



Crisis demands a response that is different than those that caused the trouble, in the first place. The solutions can only come from different and better people.

But this
Premier is content to be advised by a small handful of public servants, some of
dubious value, others proven dead-weight.

Ball blesses
them, as he did Nalcor CEO, Ed Martin. He implicitly confirms the acceptability of Muskrat overruns, Tory spending
practices, and even former Finance Minister Ross Wiseman’s delusional plan to
balance the Budget. For Ball, too, it’s just those damn oil prices.

This Premier
was not even astute enough to have banished all the PR types who inhabit the
Offices of Executive Counsel and government departments; a large group disguised
as purveyors of public engagement.



Would Ball have accepted if they had guaranteed themselves 4 years in place of 15 months of consultation?

The public
would laugh if they knew that there was a time when “normal” austerity afforded
one Executive Assistant, and one Press Secretary to the Premier in St. John’s,
and two scribes handling the Press for all
the other Departments.

Back then,
we had a larger population, and a more critical media, too.


In those
days, the 7th floor of Confederation Building employed thirty people
or so, including secretarial staff, which housed the Cabinet Secretariat and
Intergovernmental Affairs Office, combined!

Who thinks
we don’t have bloat?

Soon, the
government will have to choose between paying people to send out “tweets” and keeping
a social worker.

If Dwight
finds even this kind of decision-making hard, imagine when he has to make a
real choice.


The public doesn’t like bitter medicine; but they value vacillation and dither even less.

The Liberals probably think Dunderdale had a rough ride.

Let’s see now: what rhymes with dither?
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

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