Show us what you’ve got

The Compass - - OPINION -

The provin­cial Lib­eral train continues to pick up speed. Cathy Ben­nett’s 40-vote win in Vir­ginia Wa­ters Wed­nes­day night was the third straight by­elec­tion vic­tory for the Grits since the 2011 gen­eral elec­tion.

Ex­pect­edly, Lib­eral Leader Dwight Ball used the win in Kathy Dun­derdale’s old district to note his party was pay­ing at­ten­tion to people. He also fore­casted a Lib­eral win when the prov­ince goes to the polls in 2015. That, too, is to be ex­pected from him.

“Lib­er­als are lis­ten­ing to the people of the prov­ince in our prov­ince,” Ball said. “We will deliver, and New­found­land and Labrador will be a bet­ter prov­ince be­cause of the next Lib­eral govern­ment.”

Af­ter years of wal­low­ing in the po­lit­i­cal weeds, Ball’s party has been gain­ing mo­men­tum for a few months and this has be­come the kind of po­lit­i­cal rhetoric ex­pected from the well-coiffed politi­cian.

But it’s time the dar­ling of Deer Lake proved he’s not all flash and no bang.

What are the Lib­er­als ac­tu­ally go­ing to deliver to New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans if they win the next elec­tion?

Ball at­tempted to pro­vide some sort of an an­swer in a let­ter to the edi­tor pub­lished here Wed­nes­day.

He wrote that the Lib­er­als want to re­store ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency, de­velop a new en­ergy plan, im­prove health care and de­velop a long-term plan for in­fra­struc­ture.

As well, the Lib­er­als would hold a fo­rum for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­tro­duce eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strate­gies and ap­point a group of “driven and in­no­va­tive people to cre­ate a di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion strat­egy.”

Sadly, Ball even trot­ted out the “our great­est re­source is our people” line — a true, but abused and overused phrase by people reach­ing for power.

It was as deep as Ball got in a fo­rum that pro­vided lit­tle de­tail.

“Right now, we’re col­lab­o­rat­ing with New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans, cre­at­ing a com­pre­hen­sive plan that ad­dresses the con­cerns and in­ter­ests of all people across the prov­ince,” he wrote. “We’re more in­ter­ested in that work right now than rolling out a Red Book months ahead of gen­eral elec­tion call.”

But Ball’s let­ter seemed like it could have been taken from past Blue Books, es­pe­cially the new en­ergy plan part. (“New En­ergy” was Dun­derdale’s slo­gan dur­ing the 2011 gen­eral elec­tion.)

There was not­ing in Ball’s piece that showed vi­sion, in­no­va­tion, prin­ci­ple or lead­er­ship. If he’s lis­ten­ing to people as closely he says, he should have re­al­ized these are things New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans need.

Un­til Ball shares more de­tails about where he’d like to take us, and what makes him dif­fer­ent, all we’ve got is guy who dresses well and car­ries him­self de­cently.

That sure doesn’t make him the best choice to be­come pre­mier.

C’mon, Dwight, enough of the sur­face rhetoric. Show us what you’ve got.

If you don’t, es­pe­cially with a new Tory leader com­ing soon, the Lib­er­als could find that train off the track.

— Orig­i­nally pub­lished in the April 11, 2014 print

edi­tion of The Tele­gram

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