N.L. politi­cians no­tice­ably ab­sent from PUB hear­ing

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Pam Framp­ton Pam Framp­ton is a columnist whose work is pub­lished in The West­ern Star and The Tele­gram. Email pamela.framp­ton@thetele­gram.com. Twit­ter: pam_framp­ton

If the ju­ve­nile meme brought to you by the New­found­land and Labrador Lib­eral Party this week is any in­di­ca­tion of where the party’s head is, God help us all.

In typ­i­cal at­tack ad fashion, it took a pic­ture of Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Ches Cros­bie and paired it with a quote from him — no con­text pro­vided, of course — and ridiculed him for show­ing a lack of lead­er­ship.

Talk about am­a­teur hour. Talk about be­ing out of touch with public sen­ti­ment.

The meme, shared in a tweet, at­tracted a brief flurry of re­ac­tion, mostly neg­a­tive.

Lorna Yard replied to Lib­eral Party of NL, “Last year amid the ha­rass­ment scan­dal the govern­ment heard loud and clear from the peo­ple of NL that we want deco­rum and re­spect from our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. I guess you weren’t re­ally lis­ten­ing at all.”

Se­ri­ously, if this sort of sopho­moric slam­ming of one’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent is what the Lib­er­als think will win them the up­com­ing by­elec­tion in Wind­sor Lake, it says far more about them than Ches Cros­bie.

If I’m get­ting any vibe from the elec­torate at all it’s that we are sick to death of petty par­ti­san pol­i­tics and want our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives — or those vy­ing for elec­tion — to lis­ten to our con­cerns and tackle the issues that are fun­da­men­tal to our daily lives.

When you think that or­di­nary ci­ti­zens took time on Thurs­day to make an im­pas­sioned plea in front of the Public Util­i­ties Board to re­ject fur­ther elec­tric­ity rate hike re­quests, and not one politi­cian was there to lis­ten, it speaks vol­umes, even if they have made ap­pear­ances at the protests out­side.

In an ear­lier col­umn, I sug­gested the po­lit­i­cal par­ties in this prov­ince put aside their dif­fer­ences and pal­try ri­val­ries and work to­gether to come up with a plan to ease the blow to ratepay­ers once Muskrat Falls comes into play in 2020.

In­stead, they’re still stuck inside their si­los, where it’s ev­ery party for it­self and the main goal is to hang onto power, or else snatch it from an­other party’s hands. It’s what’s wrong with pol­i­tics here and al­ways has been.

Do you know how many days pro­vin­cial politi­cians have ac­tu­ally spent in the leg­is­la­ture this cal­en­dar year? A whop­ping 29 days. You’d get more time out of a guar­an­tee for a toaster.

Twenty-nine days, as the prov­ince grap­ples with the big­gest fi­nan­cial cri­sis it has faced in re­cent his­tory and as tax­pay­ers are lit­er­ally wor­ry­ing them­selves sick over how they’re sup­posed to shoul­der the crush­ing debt of Muskrat Falls.

Twenty-nine days, some of it spent on asi­nine blather and rhetoric.

Of course, crit­ics will say the real work of pol­i­tics gets done in the con­stituen­cies, not on the floor of the cham­ber.

Fair enough. So, are our politi­cians out in their com­mu­ni­ties hold­ing town halls and lis­ten­ing ses­sions to ac­tu­ally pay more than lip ser­vice to peo­ple’s very real fi­nan­cial fears?

I’m see­ing pic­ture post­cards on Twit­ter from MHAS en­joy­ing the ice­bergs and the whales and the scenery and the sun, but I’ve seen pre­cious few tweets of­fer­ing so­lu­tions or real plans to tackle a gar­gan­tuan fi­nan­cial prob­lem that will drive some peo­ple out of their homes and into ab­ject poverty.

That’s a dif­fer­ent kind of pic­ture, eh?

Here’s a sug­ges­tion: if you see a politi­cian out on the bar­be­cue/fes­ti­val/kitchen party self-pro­mo­tion cir­cuit this sum­mer, while there’s still time to grip and grin with po­ten­tial vot­ers on a sunny day and post the photo-ops to Face­book and Twit­ter, why not ask them why they did not bother to at­tend a hear­ing of the Public Util­i­ties Board where or­di­nary ci­ti­zens told the sto­ries of peo­ple so over­bur­dened by the cost of elec­tric­ity and other ne­ces­si­ties of life that they had to close off most rooms in their house dur­ing the win­ter and just heat a space big enough to ex­ist in.

And ask why they did not bother to re­con­vene the House of Assem­bly to work to­gether to solve this most crush­ing and press­ing of prob­lems.

I’d love to hear the an­swer to that.

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