Lo­cal MHAs stick with gov­ern­ment

Paul Lane’s re­moval from Lib­eral cau­cus gen­er­ates plenty of re­ac­tion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER AND AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

Like their for­mer col­league Paul Lane, Lib­eral MHAs in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area have heard plenty of com­plaints from con­stituents about the new deficit re­duc­tion levy.

That said, it doesn’t ap­pear any of them are look­ing to fol­low in Lane’s foot­steps by openly op­pos­ing the bud­get.

Paul Lane sur­pris­ingly sided with op­po­si­tion MHAs last week when he voted against a mo­tion in the House of Assem­bly linked to the levy. He sub­se­quently told re­porters he would vote against the bud­get in its cur­rent form. The next day, Pre­mier Dwight Ball told me­dia the Lib­eral cau­cus voted unan­i­mously to re­move Lane, who now sits as an in­de­pen­dent MHA.

“Each MHA has to make their own de­ci­sion and that was the de­ci­sion he made,” said Car­bon­ear-Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Steve Crocker when ap­proached by The Com­pass.

All fours MHAs rep­re­sent­ing the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area have told The Com­pass they’re pre­pared to sup­port the bud­get when the time comes to vote on it.

Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s MHA Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh ad­mits she was sur­prised by Lane de­ci­sion. She’s had nu­mer­ous dis­cus­sions with con­stituents and is hear­ing some feed­back about the levy, but not to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent.

“I mean, the po­ten­tial deficit of $2.7 bil­lion and just try­ing to wrap your head around that, and I cer­tainly un­der­stand why my con­stituents are con­cerned. I re­ally truly do. I have more knowl­edge than they have, so I’m OK with my de­ci­sion and what I con­tinue to do and how I rep­re­sent them.”

She notes gov­ern­ment has in­di­cated many times over the last few weeks it will look to re­duce the im­pact of some of those changes when the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion al­lows it to do so.

“I’m con­fi­dent that’s what’s go­ing to hap­pen, and I hope it’s sooner rather than later,” she told The Com­pass.

Car­bon­ear-Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Steve Crocker said he’s heard plenty from his con­stituents on the levy as well as other is­sues. He’s re­turned thou­sands of phone calls on the mat­ter and re­minds peo­ple it is a tem­po­rary tax.

I have more knowl­edge than they have, so I’m OK with my de­ci­sion and what I con­tinue to do and how I rep­re­sent them. Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh

“The levy starts to leave in 2018 and we’ve also said that if we can achieve a more tem­po­rary or quicker exit of the levy, we’ll cer­tainly work to­wards it,” said Crocker.

Mean­while, Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons de­clined to com­ment on the de­par­ture of Lane from the Lib­eral party.

Like Crocker, she’s re­ceived lots of feed­back about levy in her dis­trict. Parsons stressed she will con­tinue to fight for the court­house in Har­bour Grace and a re­place­ment for Co­ley’s Point School.

“The peo­ple of Har­bour Grace-Port de Grave elected me and they gave me man­date … and a job to do. There’s 15,000 con­stituents in our dis­trict and I’ve been hear­ing from them and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them daily. It’s my job to rep­re­sent them and their best in­ter­ests. The best place to do that is in gov­ern­ment,” said Parsons.

Har­bour Main MHA Betty Pars­ley could not be reached for com­ment last week. How­ever, she did tell The Com­pass last month she has no in­ten­tions of leav­ing the Lib­er­als over the bud­get.

“I’m most ef­fec­tive as an MHA in gov­ern­ment, be­cause I have a voice and I will still fight for the peo­ple who elected me,” she said fol­low­ing the April 28 Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing in Clarke’s Beach.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Lo­cal MHAs Steve Crocker and Pam Parsons won’t be fol­low­ing the lead of their for­mer cau­cus col­league Paul Lane when it comes this year’s pro­vin­cial bud­get.

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