Pla­cen­tia hosts bud­get protest

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

The effects of the 2016 bud­get brought down by the Lib­eral govern­ment con­tin­ues to re­ver­ber­ate around the prov­ince.

Protests of var­i­ous cuts and tax hikes have been preva­lent across the prov­ince and peo­ple are let­ting their local MHAs know that they’re not happy with how things are look­ing or where they’re go­ing.

At the fore­front of this sea­son of dis­con­tent is the New­found­land and Labrador As­so­ci­a­tion of Public Em­ploy­ees (NAPE). Last week, they con­tin­ued its provincewide protest tour with a stop in Pla­cen­tia.

At­tract­ing a crowd of more than 70 peo­ple, in­clud­ing mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials, public sec­tor work­ers and other com­mu­nity mem­bers, they were there to stand up for the cuts to the town’s x-ray cen­tre and school sys­tem.

Set to a sound­track that in­cluded The Bea­tles, Twisted Sis­ter and Shan­neyganock, pro­test­ers wielded signs and chanted var­i­ous slo­gans as a cho­rus of car horns re­sponded to them.

“This bud­get that was brought in a few weeks back is having a neg­a­tive ef­fect on ru­ral New­found­land in par­tic­u­lar,” NAPE leader Jerry Earle told the as­sem­bled masses. “It spans many demographics from health­care to education to li­braries to high­ways to our students to our se­niors and the list is ex­ten­sive.

“We make no apolo­gies … for stand­ing up for public ser­vices be­cause they are an es­sen­tial part of ev­ery com­mu­nity across this prov­ince.”

A com­mon theme at NAPE protests in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion has been point­ing out the ab­sence of local MHAs. It was done in Har­bour Grace, al­though at the time MHA Pam Par­sons was in a meet­ing con­cern­ing the court­house, and it con­tin­ued in Pla­cen­tia.

Earle made note of the ab­sence of Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s MHA Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh and ques­tioned why she wasn’t stand­ing with her con­stituents.

“I just wish the Lib­eral MHAs and the cabi­net could be as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple as we have been across this prov­ince be­cause their si­lence speaks vol­umes,” he said to a cho­rus of cheers. “They are not do­ing what you asked them to do, they are not do­ing what you elected them to do.”

Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. be­moaned bud­get cuts that di­rectly af­fect his town. Power men­tioned the loss of a teacher at Laval High and the x-ray unit at the Pla­cen­tia Health Cen­tre drop­ping its af­ter hours ser­vice.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate we have to gather in Pla­cen­tia for a demon­stra­tion like this to voice our con­cerns with the bud­get,” said Power.

The mayor made men­tion of a con­ver­sa­tion he had with Gam­bin-Walsh shortly af­ter she was elected to rep­re­sent the Pla­cen­tia area. In that meet­ing, she told Power that his com­mu­nity was one of the more vi­able ones in ru­ral New­found­land.

It’s a state­ment that draws a con­fused look now.

“How can we go on and pro­mote our­selves as a vi­able and pos­i­tive com­mu­nity when we’re los­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices?” said Power.

One thing is for cer­tain though. NAPE is not let­ting this bud­get go with­out a fight.

“We will con­tinue to fight on be­half of ru­ral New­found­land,” said Earle.


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