We need lead­er­ship, not vested in­ter­ests

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Editorial -

In the Tele­gram a few weeks ago, I an­a­lysed most of the wor­thy goals of the Lib­eral “Way For­ward;” their lack of ac­com­plish­ments com­pared to their grand ob­jec­tives, and con­cluded that Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­borne was put there to move the gov­ern­ment to re-elec­tion mode.

Ap­par­ently, my assess­ment drew the right con­clu­sions be­cause there was no ob­jec­tion.

“The Way For­ward” states: “To­gether, we will achieve a strong, di­ver­si­fied prov­ince with a high stan­dard of liv­ing.”

Fur­ther: “all New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans must be pre­pared to work to­gether to se­cure a more sus­tain­able fu­ture.”

As true as that may be, there are too many in­ter­est groups, too many in­di­vid­u­als with a vested in­ter­est, too many peo­ple look­ing out for No. 1. That has no chance of suc­cess!

All the unions fall in this cat­e­gory; lobby groups; the Lib­er­als; the Con­ser­va­tives; se­niors; peo­ple who want to live in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties as was done hun­dreds of years ago but now with full gov­ern­ment ser­vices; com­mu­ni­ties with less than 10 stu­dents want to keep their schools; Cor­ner Brook wants it’s bil­lion-dol­lar hos­pi­tal; Health Sci­ence wants it’s plumb­ing fixed … (Oops, that should not be there, it is on the de­ferred main­te­nance list, due to lack of elec­tion im­pact.)

That is not a frac­tion of the com­plete list but makes the point.

I, and many oth­ers want strong, in­tel­li­gent, no vested in­ter­est lead­er­ship!

Vested in­ter­est was on full dis­play a few weeks ago in the squab­ble be­tween NAPE and the Board of Trade.

NAPE loves their no-lay­off con­tract, com­plete with their $250-mil­lion sign­ing bonus, dubbed sev­er­ance pay.

The board, rep­re­sent­ing mostly small busi­ness ( you can count on one hand the big busi­ness in this prov­ince), dared to ob­ject to the gov­ern­ment/union’s no lay­off con­tract given the mas­sive over pop­u­la­tion of the pro­vin­cial pub­lic ser­vice, and un­con­trolled deficits.

NAPE’s re­ac­tion: boy­cott the board mem­bers.

The board mem­bers see our cost of liv­ing ris­ing, re­sult­ing un­em­ploy­ment in­creases, and an­other wave of out mi­gra­tion; the Lib­er­als plan to add bil­lions to our pro­vin­cial debt over the next few years; the Bank of Canada is pre­dicted to raise in­ter­est rates to cool the Cana­dian econ­omy as well as hous­ing mar­kets in Toronto and Van­cou­ver — all adding mega-mil­lions in in­ter­est pay­ments.

Fac­tor the fi­nan­cial hit to the so­lar-plexus that we are go­ing to take from Muskrat Falls, the in­evitabil­ity of con­tin­u­ing high taxes, and up goes the al­ready high­est cost of liv­ing of any prov­ince.

With that comes the poor­est busi­ness cli­mate, and high­est rate of bank­rupt­cies.

This looks to me like con­cern for the truth, not vested in­ter­est.

My vested in­ter­est in writ­ing these let­ters was out­lined per­fectly by Capt. Wilf Bartlett a few weeks ago, and I am sure he spoke for many of us.

Sim­ply put, we are con­cerned for our beloved prov­ince, our fam­i­lies and grand­chil­dren’s fu­ture. I am 74 years young and re­tired. I am not con­cerned about me. I am con­cerned about the short term, two to three years where debt ac­cu­mu­la­tion at some point will lead to third-party in­ter­ven­tion.

All Cana­dian prov­inces have debt prob­lems, how­ever “In rel­a­tive terms, New­found­land and Labrador is pro­jected to spend by far the most on in­ter­est pay­ments, amount­ing to 12.7 per cent of to­tal rev­enue.” (Frazer In­sti­tute, Bul­letin 7, two years ago).

We now spend 75 per cent of to­tal rev­enue on debt ser­vic­ing, health care and ed­u­ca­tion. Ev­ery pro­jec­tion from ev­ery source has our rev­enues shrink­ing, pop­u­la­tion age­ing, and de­clin­ing; to­tal debt and debt ser­vic­ing in­creas­ing. Cur­rently the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment through their lack of ac­tion on our spend­ing prob­lem is sab­o­tag­ing the econ­omy. I have it from a good source that when we hit the bor­row­ing wall they plan to go cap in hand to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for a bail out.

What I ex­pect is Canada will say: “You have a debt prob­lem, wel­come to the club; haven’t you ad­mit­ted to hav­ing a spend­ing prob­lem?” “Yes.”

“So fix it!”

MP Sea­mus O’Re­gan sub­tly de­liv­ered that mes­sage a cou­ple of months ago. Econ­o­mist Wade Locke, pulling no punches, graph­i­cally dis­played our prob­lem dur­ing a re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion.

It is clear that our gov­ern­ment needs to get a grip, now!

Jim Rad­ford Sal­monier Line

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