Friday, 1 May 2015


Minister Ross Wiseman called the Budget “a measured approach to dealing with the fiscal realities facing…” the province. 

No, it wasn’t. 

It was an awful example of political leadership.

Worse, virtually every group cheered him on. The exception was the NL Employers’ Council.

"We're here for a spending issue not necessarily a revenue-generating issue and if taxpayers don't hold them accountable they'll be back again — whatever government is in power — looking for tax increases again."

That’s Richard Alexander. He is spot on.  He’s just bloody late.  His bosses at the Employers’ Council lost their tongues over Muskrat Falls.  None had the courage to help stop this madness right from the beginning. 

It is hard to win back credibility when it is squandered. But they should keep trying.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball’s response was that government needed better management and that he will “roll back” the hike in HST. Pressed on how he would replace the revenue, he states, if necessary he will borrow more!

The Government is rubbing its lucky rabbit’s foot; hoping for the price of oil will go back up, not to where the market will send it, but where the Minister of Finance wants it to go.

The Government is heading off a fiscal cliff. The Leader of the Opposition thinks it should put its foot on the gas pedal.

Ball is fast becoming parody for what is wrong with this place. He should worry we might start laughing.

At him.

Churence Rogers is excited about the long-term impact of the HST rebate on municipalities; oblivious to the fiscal crisis that threatens the Province, especially rural NL.  He was just as oblivious to the implications of electoral redistribution on rural NL.

He wears ‘municipal’ well.

The Union leadership Mary Shortall and Gerry Earle are in a tizzy over the Government’s use of public/private partnerships.  There’s not enough spending says Shortall (imagine that!); Earle is concerned that 1420 jobs might disappear by attrition over five years.

Like Dwight Ball they only know self-interest.  They can’t admit that many public services, including the current health care system, is unsustainable.  The very idea that the Province’s fiscal crisis can be dealt with by “attrition” is, in fact, a lie.  But their leadership styles leave no room honesty; for their membership or for the Province.

Then there is Kim Keating of the St. John’s Board of Trade. No leadership here.
Never was.

For certain, the filing of last Monday’s Post which contained a review of the Last Prime Minister, a book by former journalist Doug Letto, was timely. It’s depicts a NL political leadership weak, conflicted and self-interested; a group who cheered as the Country, mired in debt, forfeited Responsible Government.

The current leadership have learned nothing from their history.   

Again, politics is still about personal and local interests; any sense of community or larger national purpose plays second fiddle to partisan objectives; of the Government, of the Opposition, of Unions, of business.

What does it matter this Province has squandered an historic opportunity to flatten the demon of dependency via the Atlantic Accord?

How is it, that debt is inter-generational but self-interest is immediate?

One reporter termed it “a tough budget in a tough time”. He must have been reading the Budget for a different year.

Ross Wiseman forecast Budget expenditures for 2015-16 of $8.1 billion representing an increase of 2.3% over last year, stays roughly in line with the rate of inflation.

How can it be a tough Budget when Government gets to hold the line on expenditures, after nearly a billion dollar deficit last year, and as revenue declines this year?

What’s tough about it….that Davis chose to wait until January 1st to impose the 2 point increase in the HST…well after the election date, when a prudent government would have applied 1% at the beginning of the fiscal year and save consumers and the economy the larger jolt?

Remind me who the Board of Trade represents, again!

But that’s not even the kicker. That is located on page 19 of the Budget Speech:
“Oil production is expected to be 2.42 million barrels higher than last year at 80.32 million barrels.”

The Finance Minister has the audacity to forecast a deficit this year of $1.1 billion. Last year’s deficit was revised upwards twice. The new forecast deficit hinges on an average price for oil/barrel of $62.00, the ability of industry to pump the additional 2.42 million barrels and no major currency fluctuation. No small expectation.

But we are supposed to cheer.

The Government borrows not $1.1 billion but $2.0 billion. Nalcor must be sated, too.

The Government’s net debt exceeds $13 billion.  The Finance Minister says the Government will have to borrow another $4.85 billion over the next four years.
He is not budgeting for cost overruns at Muskrat Falls or for any economic problems that may throw that number off.  In other words, a total debt of $18 billion, four years from now, is his best scenario.

Why should you be worried?

You have the likes of Paul Davis, Dwight Ball, the municipal leadership, the Unions and the Board of Trade at your back.

Thinking of Doug Letto's book: we shouldn’t be too unkind to the last Prime Minister.