Liberal party ready for election

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James McLeod
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Jones promises to axe gas tax if elected

Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones speaks the party convention Friday night in St. John’s. Jones was formally declared leader of the party as they prepare for the fall provincial election. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones had two simple messages at the Liberal party convention Saturday night: Premier Kathy Dunderdale is not good enough, and the Liberals would do things differently.

With just over four months until the provincial election, Jones also made her first big campaign promises: eliminate the gas tax and light up rural Newfoundland and Labrador with fibre optic cable.

But after nearly eight years out of power, Jones said it is now a great time to be a Liberal.

The weekend was full of high spirit by provincial MHAs, federal MPs and party officials.

“I think it’s a good time to be a Liberal,” said party president Judy Morrow.

“We’re not naive for the challenges that lie ahead, but we’re up for the challenge.

“We’ve got a lot of energy, we’ve got young people being recruited into the party.”

The two-day convention formally declared Jones as party leader, and held an array of planning sessions to get candidates ready for the fall election.

Over the course of the weekend, the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project was a major focus for convention organizers. The party rolled out a video of “Winston” a water droplet who explains why Muskrat Falls is a bad project for people of the province. The Liberals also distributed “Muskrat Fails” postcards, water bottles and buttons. (The video can be viewed at MuskratFails.ca)

Jones said that if elected, she will work to negotiate a different deal to develop Muskrat Falls and the much larger Gull Island hydro project, and that any deal would be vetted by the Public Utilities Board and the Auditor General.

“The deal that I will sign will not be secret,” she said. “It will not hide the real cost from you, the people.”

“I think it’s a good time to be a Liberal. We’re not naive for the challenges that lie ahead, but we’re up for the challenge. Judy Morrow

But as things wrapped up Saturday night, Jones used her speech to supporters to turn attention to some other issues as well.

She said the cost of living for people of the province is too high, and she promised to eliminate the 16.5 cents per litre provincial gas tax.

The tax cut would cost the provincial government $174 million, but Jones justified it by saying the government had spent more than twice that on Nalcor Energy in the 2011 budget.

Jones also promised a comprehensive home care strategy, expanded access to information laws, and a new push for high speed Internet connections in rural Newfoundland.

“When you look at the province as a whole, there’s certain things we need in order to be successful,” she said. “One of those things is information technology; today we’re being held back in parts of this province.”

The speech didn’t have much in the way of specifics, but Jones promised more of that, and a fully costed policy platform in the coming months.

But while Saturday night gave an injection of new policy ideas, there were also plenty of shots at the current government, and Dunderdale in particular.

West coast MP Gerry Byrne said coming on the heels of the federal election, he thinks the government is in trouble.

“I was knocking on doors. I was on the ground,” he said. “I’m the hearing the discontent, the concern and quite frankly, the confusion that the Dunderdale Government is bringing to Newfoundland and Labrador.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Gull Island

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Recent comments

  • Matt
    May 30, 2011 - 11:53

    I would certainly support a cut to the gas tax since we are paying the most in the country at 16.5... it would be nice to be closer to the average of what the rest of the provinces are charging. I have to agree with "Mount Pearl Guy" too... justifying this cut to the budget set aside for Nalcor just doesn't make sense. I have to laugh at Yvonne pushing for Fibre Op to light up rural NFLD. Good luck on that one. I hope it's not one of the major points of your campaign...

  • EuroGuy
    May 30, 2011 - 11:51

    The 'muskratfails.ca' website itself is a joke. Lame design, just a video, which ends with 'If you want to know more, visit muskratfails.ca'. Wait, that's what I'm looking at, and there's only a that video, so how can it give me more info? Website fail, indeed. Also, why doesn't this Telegram story talk about how Liberal MP Scott Andrews thinks that Muskrata Falls is a good idea, like the CBC story does?

  • sam
    May 30, 2011 - 11:44

    You know i thought Yvonne had more class than that!! It is pitiful the way she is getting on!! For her to say Kathy Dunderdale is not good enough...well Yvonne, look in the mirror!! We will let the electorate decide that in October. And as for policies that they unveiled...it sounds like a parent promising a child something to get them to obey. When its done they never have to complete it. According to all comments not many in the province are buying it either!! And where are all the new candidates? Is it Jim Bennett? No its Eddie Joyce!! Wait I think Danny Dumeresque is running too!! Yep lots of new faces for sure!! Oh and the biggest laugh was the video they released. Whoever thought this up was out to lunch. If thats the alternative, all Lorraine Michael has to do is get her act together and she maybe the official opposition. PS...Having Gerry Byrne as a spokeperson is not a bonus. Just ask the Federal Liberals!!

  • Gd
    May 30, 2011 - 10:09

    Yes and I got a bridge to sell at a low price. The liberals can promise the moon knowing full well that they will never get elected to govern the province for a long time to come. Too bad Byrne didnt get defeated in federal election. Another four years of him complaining about marine Atlantic. If taxes were to be cut. Do it to personal income tax Not the gas tax. Re write that red book again liberals. But then again you will have years in opposition to work on it

  • Robb
    May 30, 2011 - 09:55

    Who is the name of god would vote for these clowns?....they offer nothing, and think that dangling a tax on gas will get votes.....well they need to get the money from somewhere, so we would eventually pay somewhere else.....the only platform they have is to bash any PC ideas....really they only wish they had thought of them. With jones at the helm, the liberals look like a bunch of classroom clowns just trying to figure out who or what to poke fun at next...they know nothing, but really want you to think they do. I predict even less seats for the disappearing liberals this fall.

  • Bernadette
    May 30, 2011 - 09:08

    I have to agree with Paul,that taxes should be cut back on income taxes,not gas.It is the oil that is giving the government a surplus,so why fix something if it isn't broke.Why is she cutting on taxes on gas in the first place?I thought that all was under the guise of the oil companies, federal and provincial governments?

  • Paul
    May 30, 2011 - 08:32

    I don't like the idea of cutting the gas tax, I'd much rather see cuts to income taxes. Cut taxes on what I earn and then let me decide how I want to spend the money, if I want to spend it on gas I will.

  • Grandma
    May 30, 2011 - 08:14

    So Yvonne has foremally been given a job no one else wants. It is indeed a sad state of affairs that this once powerful party has been led to ruin. It began when they had to pay Clyde Wells a yearly bonus to take the job and continued with the lynching of John Efford. The one photo accompaning the article shows youth, who for the most part, are not old enough to vote. Where are the strong candidates needed for the fall election? Yvonne says Cathy "is not good enough". Well Yvonne, show us better!

  • Mount Pearl Guy
    May 30, 2011 - 08:08

    I don't like the gas tax very much however to cut it and take out 174 million a year out of the budget without saying where that money is going to be made up, seems a bit off. To say that's it half of the money that went into Nalcor is a bit silly. We don't know what the money to Nalcor is providing us (that's another issue). So where will we make up this money?

  • Robert
    May 30, 2011 - 07:44

    It will be interesting to see if the Liberals put forward a solid alternative vs. simply bashing the government. One thing for certain is that the PC government had better become a lot more transparent and demonstrate why they feel the Muskrat Falls proposal is necessary and how it will benefit the taxpayers of this province. Putting ourselves billions into debt for a questionable project is not something that the province will tolerate. While the electorate didn't ask enough questions about Churchill Falls I don't think they'd be stupid enough to make the same mistake twice.