The Telegram (St. John's)
Politicians, they just don’t get it
Politicians can talk the talk. They’re all high on Dame Moya Greene — “good job Ace. We’ll get right on that now in a decade or two.”
In the meantime we have to borrow more money to pay for the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine we promised Corner Brook in order to win the election. That and more for the isotopes to go in it and still more to hire, train and pay staff to run it.
Doesn’t the paper city deserve one? Of course they do. In a perfect world we’d all have one in the back kitchen by the deepfreeze. If you think this is a perfect world then I’ve got a bit of bog on the Gaff Topsails you might be interested in. It’s going at a bargain — won’t last.
Our debt is mind boggling.
I’ve been floundering around for a comparable catastrophe to put it into perspective. Neither the Battle of Beaumont Hamel nor the eruption of Krakatoa come close. Even the Big Bang pales by comparison.
I said our finest folks on the hill can talk the talk but have you seen how they wiggle when they walk?
You happy motorists on the Trans Canada Highway can’t help but notice the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is out resurfacing many kilometres of asphalt. A good few of them you may not have noticed needed resurfacing. We were a great many shekels in the hole when the money was borrowed for those contracts.
Our government’s version of walking the walk goes something like this; “$16.4 billion looks really bad. It’s a debt so bad in fact the $17 billion couldn’t look any worse.”
Instead we should be on an economic version of the War Measures Act and we should stay on it until we have caught up to the second worst province.
What will that look like? Let’s stick with transport for the moment though belt tightening must be across the board. Cancel the paving contracts forthwith. Instead, rescue some scrap plywood from a dumpster and make two hand-painted signs for just outside of St. John’s and Port aux Basques: “Expect chassi-bending potholes for the foreseeable future,” they will say. The criteria for fixing any of them should be if a tractor trailer, having gotten into a pothole, can’t get out again.
Next, decree that any fourlane highway will only have two of its lanes plowed on the day of a snowstorm. Need I add that that would be one lane going and one coming? The other lane will be cleared whenever a non-overtime shift can get to it.
Now cancel the Bell Island ferry contract and have the whole department retreat en masse into a witness protection program. I’m coming with you because it was my idea.
What have I got against those out on the iron rock? Nothing really. It’s just that, like a great many of their fellow Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians, I am sick of paying for their commute to work in St. John’s while all the rest of us have to paddle our own canoe in that regard. The mine closed over half a century ago. Why are you still there? The dirt-cheap ferry.
Now before the mayor of Wabana lambastes me I suggest we all relax. Nothing so drastic is ever going to happen. It is not that our MHAS are gutless wonders — well, most of them anyway. It is just that they are realists.
Their sole aim is to get reelected and to do that they must keep voters happy. That takes more money.
Now who is going to lend us a buck or two to pay for Greene’s report?