PCs want transparen­cy in 2018

Davis says he will con­sider po­lit­i­cal fu­ture af­ter lead­er­ship vote

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - BY ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK ash­ley.fitz­[email protected]­gram.com

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Paul Davis said it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Op­po­si­tion mem­bers to hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count, but it was a chal­lenge in 2017.

In his year-end in­ter­view with the Tele­gram, Davis claimed the Tories re­ceived less-than-di­rect re­sponses from the gov­ern­ment to Op­po­si­tion ques­tions, atop un­ex­pected an­nounce­ments and big pol­icy de­ci­sions backed by lit­tle de­tail.

There was the end­ing this sum­mer of RDC— the prov­ince’s Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Corp. — cre­ated un­der the PCs in 2009. Davis said it and the launch of the new In­no­vateNL went un­men­tioned ahead of time, even when the PCs had asked about RDC on the heels of Bud­get 2017.

Car­bon pric­ing and the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis were big pol­icy changes where more in­for­ma­tion is called for. While the main de­ci­sions are com­ing through the fed­eral level, with pro­vin­cial Lib­er­als promis­ing more to come on both, Davis ques­tioned the as­so­ci­ated time­lines ver­sus where we are to date, with so much yet to be un­der­stood.

He wants to see what the ap­proaches will be — the break­down on car­bon tax, or how cannabis will have to be dealt with in the work­place, for ex­am­ple. He gave no credit for in­for­ma­tion re­leased at the end of 2017 on how the gov­ern­ment plans to pro­vide a le­gal sup­ply of cannabis for the pub­lic. He chal­lenged the an­nounce­ment of a deal with Canopy Growth, as­sur­ing early sup­ply while in­clud­ing a long-term deal for a new grow-op in the prov­ince. There was no pub­lic re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFP) or call for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est be­fore that deal was an­nounced, he said, leav­ing the Op­po­si­tion to won­der aloud if it was the best deal to be made.

Davis said the new off­shore oil and gas roy­alty regime went with­out an­nounce­ment be­cause the Lib­er­als didn’t want to talk about it; there was a se­niors’ ad­vo­cate ap­pointed with­out the pow­ers to com­pel re­sponse; and new manda­tory re­port­ing to the child and youth ad­vo­cate’s of­fice re­mains lim­ited to cer­tain de­part­ments and cases of “crit­i­cal in­jury” ver­sus “crit­i­cal in­ci­dent” — less than what was orig­i­nally called for.

While the lat­ter def­i­ni­tion was signed off on by the cur­rent child and youth ad­vo­cate, Davis said it was an­other ex­am­ple of the Lib­er­als work­ing to just “tick their box” on a list of prom­ises.

Look­ing to 2018

Davis said he re­ally hopes the gov­ern­ment will find The Way For­ward that Pre­mier Dwight Ball keeps talk­ing about.

Davis would like to see the gov­ern­ment tackle so-called pre­sump­tive leg­is­la­tion for first re­spon­ders, so they can change the ex­ist­ing re­quire­ment for paramedics and oth­ers to iden­tify the root of their post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) when seek­ing sup­port through Work­placeNL.

“I don’t think we’ve un­der­stood yet the enor­mity and com­pli­ca­tions that are ex­ist­ing with first re­spon­ders in our prov­ince on PTSD,” he said.

On Muskrat Falls, Davis said he hopes the in­quiry into the megapro­ject will in­clude more re­cent time un­der the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

And on pro­vin­cial fi­nances, he wants to see the prov­ince ad­dress its spend­ing.

“It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to see what they do in the bud­get and how they’re go­ing to deal with that,” he said. “They can’t tax peo­ple any more.”

A new leader

In Oc­to­ber 2016, Davis an­nounced he would not lead the party into the 2019 elec­tion.

In April 2018, the party will elect a new leader. There are two can­di­dates at this point: lawyer Ches Cros­bie and civil ser­vant and busi­ness­man Tony Wake­ham.

Davis said he wouldn’t have any is­sue fol­low­ing ei­ther. He’s not mak­ing an en­dorse­ment.

“As th­ese cam­paigns roll on, I would ex­pect we’re go­ing to hear more on pol­icy and plat­form from the two can­di­dates and then peo­ple will de­cide if they like those poli­cies and plat­forms and the peo­ple we have to of­fer,” he said.

While there is un­cer­tainty amongst party sup­port­ers and the pub­lic at large, he ex­pects that will change with time.

He is per­son­ally com­mit­ted to see­ing the new leader set­tled in.

“I don’t have any plans to go any­where. The next gen­eral elec­tion is sched­uled to be the fall of 2019. I have not made a de­ci­sion if I’m go­ing to run again in 2019,” he said, adding he plans to take time to con­sider his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture af­ter the new leader is in.

“When I say we, my fam­ily and I, we’ll take some time to con­sider our fu­ture af­ter that.”

JOE GIB­BONS/THE TELE­GRAM

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Paul Davis in his of­fice.

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