MacDonald calls for action from business community

James McLeod
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Dean MacDonald. — Telegram file photo

Dean MacDonald has some major grievances with the current government led by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, and he wants to rouse the province’s business community to action.

In a speech to the St. John’s Board of Trade, MacDonald — a businessman who is widely expected to run for the leadership of the Liberal party — laid out a litany of complaints against the PC government, and called on business leaders to be more vocal when it comes to government direction.

“We’re knowledgeable stakeholders on this, and we should have a very, very loud voice on it, and provide leadership, because I think leadership on these matters would be helpful,” MacDonald said. “It’s not about partisanship. It’s about good stewardship.”

MacDonald called into question the government’s handling of the provincial budget deficit, Muskrat Falls, access to information legislation and the current skilled labour shortage.

Speaking to reporters following the speech, he didn’t mince words.

“As a citizen of this province, when a premier walks in the door on Day 1, we all want them to succeed,” he said. “Unfortunately for the premier, it’s been an unmitigated disaster. There isn’t a file that you can show me that she’s handled well — she really hasn’t.

MacDonald said no other jurisdiction in North America has budgeted based on oil being at $124 a barrel like the province did, and that overestimate initially masked massive overspending.

“What really makes me mad is I think it’s just a plug number to balance the budget, which means there’s all sorts of overspending,” he said, saying that Alberta budgeted on a $95 barrel of oil.

“Maybe we could lean across the table at a first ministers meeting and say, ‘Hey Alberta, what are you budgeting this year for oil per barrel?’ or, ‘Hey Ontario, what are you doing?’ That’s not a difficult conversation.”

He told the crowd of business people that the business community has expertise that can be helpful to the government, and they should be more vocal in their advocacy.

“The message is that we have to speak up louder. We haven’t been doing that. We really haven’t,” he said. “The body of knowledge is there, the expertise is there to really have an impact.”

The St. John’s Board of Trade does do advocacy work, and speaks to the provincial government regularly. Chairman Steve Power was lukewarm on what he was hearing from MacDonald.

“Dean is certainly very passionate about the business community and there’s no question that he’s very passionate about our province. Dean is certainly right, the business community needs to be heard,” Power said. “We certainly feel that our voice is heard, we follow a number of the key issues that are impacting our members, and we feel both publicly and privately through discussions with key members of government that our voice is certainly heard.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Board of Trade

Geographic location: North America, Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Duggan
    September 17, 2012 - 08:02

    Just because you used to work for Danny Williams does not mean you are as capable as Danny Williams. Let me give a simple example: if you are a secretary at a doctor's office that does not mean you have the skills to perform surgery. Finally, i have read and heard in other media of the references to Dean being Danny's "Number Two" . Unfortunate descriptor, makes me think of Cottonelle and not a leader.

  • Danny's Boy
    September 16, 2012 - 06:14

    In the presence of Dwight Ball, Siobhan Coady and Yvonne Jones or in any political setting you always appear like you would rather be somewhere else – you’re like the proverbial ‘fish out of water’. Alone, at the podium your speech lacks any variation, originality or freshness you do not show a great deal of charisma or eloquence. I would call your speech contrived, predictable and uninspiring, and, yes, you can be a little crude at times. Your heart and soul is just not in it and you don’t possess the passion one would expect from a leadership hopeful. In fact, I’m not convinced that you will ever run for the Liberal leadership. I think that you are simply biding time, doing Danny’s bidding on Muskrat Falls, that is, ensuring the Liberal caucus don’t mount a meaningful opposition during the upcoming Muskrat debate. And then, back to business.

  • Ben
    September 15, 2012 - 20:13

    Ask most of the business world how this previous govt has been to their interests, and still continue to be highly involved. They have a good record with business interests in this province...not sure where Dean has been for the past while! Dean...if you are going to put info out there make sure you deal with facts!

  • Randy
    September 15, 2012 - 17:24

    Richie Rich was against Muskrat Falls all along. Watch him switch to the no side when he sees he can ride it to power.

  • Brad
    September 15, 2012 - 16:37

    "Most will not be concerned about the good of NL, but their own good. I hope I am wrong by the way. " - Casey. Um, yeah, that would be Dean, Danny and the rest off their group.

  • The electorate has to be entrusted, along with a capable and an honest government, to run the affairs of Newfoundland and Labrador's.
    September 15, 2012 - 12:17

    I hope the business class never gets control of what is left of Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources, if so there will be precious little left to run the affairs of the province, let alone create industry and jobs for our people, after the business class members have filled their boots. We have already seen more than enough pilfering of our natural resource base by the politicians and their business affiliates over the past 550 years! It has to stop! The electorate has to be entrusted, along with a capable and an honest government the power, to run the affairs of Newfoundland and Labrador's. We cannot allow the status quo to go on any longer.

  • Casey
    September 15, 2012 - 11:39

    I think I understand Mr. MacDonald's point that people with business experience need to step up and lead NL. However, I believe that most people do not have a social conscience when it comes to such matters. Most will not be concerned about the good of NL, but their own good. I hope I am wrong by the way. We can only hope that Dean MacDonald will be another Danny Williams in the sense that he will fight tooth and nail for the good of NL and that good people will follow him.

  • Underwhelmed
    September 15, 2012 - 10:15

    In other words, this guy still got nothing to say.

  • Kevin
    September 15, 2012 - 09:52

    My memory may be failing me, but where was Dean MacDonald when DANNY WILLIAMS was massively overspending by hundreds of millions of dollars every year? Where was Dean MacDonald when DANNY WILLIAMS fought access to information and turned government even more paranoid and secretive than it already was? Bill 29 review began under Danny. Not a peep out of Dean. If I was a NDP-er I'd support Dean too! The PC's are imploding, D(e)an will do the same to the Liberals.

  • Steven
    September 15, 2012 - 09:20

    It's been all set up this way. Danny leaves hastily (and why??), Kathy is anointed as she will be seen to falter and does, then Danny's buddy Dean comes in to take over the Liberals. Couldn't have scripted it more obviously. They are fooling no one.

  • Don
    September 15, 2012 - 08:49

    Can't wait for him to become Premier. He and Danny Williams are cloned when it comes to the way to run government.

    • Eli
      September 15, 2012 - 19:14

      Thanks DON but surely you realize Dean is nothing more than a king in waiting. The last thing we need is another anointing .

  • George S
    September 15, 2012 - 08:18

    The Williams and Dunderdale governments endeavour to destroy the personal and/or business lives of anyone who voices a different opinion or challenges them. Just ask Darlene Neville or Brad Cabana, for example. Conversely, they reward the very few who shower them with yesses and vertical nodding. Witness the plurality of appointments for John Ottenheimer, Ken Marshall, Cathy Bennett or anyone else who worked as management in Cable Atlantic or Spectrol. The oligarchies of Williams and Dunderdale have created a democratic deficit marginally abated by the anonymity afforded to the population by The Telegram and Twitter. The environment within which we live is unbelievable. In the period between the publishing of the Energy Plan and the vitual sanctioning of Muskrat Falls in 2010, Williams, Dunderdale, Natural Resources officials, Memorial Uni professors, NOIA, ACOA, et. al. all promoted, spoke of, presented, advertised, funded efforts to promote the enormous natural gas resources offshore Newfoundland. Then when Williams sanctioned Muskrat all talk stopped. Fundingfor natural gas research and studies stopped. Government presentations and Nalcor print advertisements were changed. The resource didn't go away. The oligarchy made it a matter of which no one should discuss. Coincidentally, the oil industry put it on the back burner too for economic reasons. I find it interesting that the government wants to pursue a $8billion small hydro project with no real return in investment whilst ExxonMobil will spend $5billion on Hebron.and yield $25-30 in outside revenue. Where should we be putting our money. Better yet, why is government allowed to treatthe treasury like monopoly money and bankrupt our province? You see Dean, we're afraid to speak out. Indeed, both opposition parties support Muskrat, so what can a.democratic population do?

  • Stefan
    September 15, 2012 - 08:00

    Mr Macdonald should really educate himself on this matter before speaking blindly to the business community. Regarding the price per barrel of oil the budgeting by our current government has been made based on forecasts by international experts. As would be the case if the liberals were in government and as is the case in Calgary. The oil in AlbertA was budgeted at 94 per barrel at a different time and also oil sands oil fetches less per barrel than the crude from offshore NL. Its amazing to see Mr MacDonald the opportunist speak to items he know very little to nothing about. The sad thing is that there is members of our business community that left this luncheon believing this nonsense.