Liberals target Dunderdale for ‘mismanagement’ of treasury

James
James McLeod
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The yelling began almost immediately during question period in the House of Assembly, as Liberal Leader Dwight Ball tore into the government for “fiscal mismanagement.” It was a raucous start as politicians returned to the House Thursday.

For months, politicians have been talking about the forecasted $1.6-billion budget deficit looming for the coming year, but this was the opposition parties’ first chance to question the government directly on the floor of the legislature.

In the House, Ball argued that the fiscal crunch is the result of years of Tory carelessness and poor planning.

“It took us almost 50 years to get to $9 billion in debt. You are forecasting $4 billion in three years,” Ball said.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said the government has been forecasting budget shortfalls for a while now, and this is nothing new.

“We have known for some time that we’re going to have a large deficit,” she said to reporters following question period. “It’s news to me that anybody predicted that in 2014-2015 that we’d be back in the black.”

In fact, when then-finance minister Tom Marshall delivered his budget speech last April, he predicted a $44-million budget surplus for the 2014-15 budget year.

Times have changed since then, though.

Due partly to lower-than-forecasted oil prices, the province is facing a $1.6-billion deficit in the 2013 budget year, and another $1.6-billion deficit in the 2014 budget year.

The government has been doing a “core mandate analysis” over the past year, and is preparing to make deep spending cuts to reduce the size of the budget shortfall.

Both the Liberals and the New Democrats said the current fiscal mess is the result of poor planning on Dunderdale’s part.

When she was asked by reporters what she would cut to reduce the deficit, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said if she were premier, things would have gone differently.

“I really do believe I would have been doing longer-term planning,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been waiting until $1.6 billion was upon us.”

As often happens in the House of Assembly these days, the issue quickly devolved into a debate on the Muskrat Falls megaproject.

Michael used her first question of the day to ask whether Dunderdale knew the province was facing a $1.6-billion deficit before she formally sanctioned the $7.7-billion hydroelectric project in December.

Dunderdale seemed exasperated talking about the issue. She has gone to great lengths to explain that Muskrat Falls spending won’t be counted as part of the budget deficit.

“Let me repeat again how happy I am to be back in the House of Assembly because we really have to start dealing with fact as opposed to spin. Muskrat Falls is one of the best projects to happen to this province in a very long time,” Dunderdale said, responding to Michael during question period.

The yelling about the province’s fiscal position will likely continue for many more weeks. All three parties have said it’s the No. 1 issue for them in the spring session of the legislature.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

 

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  • jonathan
    April 02, 2013 - 17:09

    Well here she is making cuts in this province and saying how muskrat fall is the best thing thats happening to this province but from what im hearing this province of Newfoundland and Labrador isnt hardly going to get much power coming from muskrat falls and that she sending it down the state , now i might be late on my imformation ,and also about the cuts ,it might not be look bad for here since shes probably sitting in her in some five star hotel ,dinning fine with a bunch of other air heads while the people of NL that got laid off are now trying to get by . I think in my personal opinion its time that something should be done.

  • jdw
    March 31, 2013 - 18:25

    So, was the extra $300 million in the budget estimates this year for the Dept of Natural resources earmarked for Nalco, I guess they have nothing to do with Muskrat Falls? Either that or we are being mislead!

  • wanda white
    March 31, 2013 - 15:39

    Lets see now Dental plan 1 year ago-good, Muskrat Falls rammed though the House-bad, Dental plan too successful,scrap it-bad, manipulation-bad, Fiscal mismanagement (celebratory parties)-bad, ignoring public queries for info, bad, 2000 job cuts-way bad, MHA's ignoring emails and not returning phone calls-very bad, media manipulation-bad. If this were a childs report card, he/she would fail. So I give Dunderdale a big fat -F . Next stop NDP.

  • Yve
    March 31, 2013 - 15:37

    Instead of full steam ahead as a have not province this individual has us going bk in the wrong direction.First it was the closed door on the freedom of information .Then like a previous comment Nalcor was against the idea at first then all of a sudden they are on board. Shes dumping money into kruger in Corner brook until Muskrat is finished cause shes knows if Kruger goes the excess power from deer Lake can be put into the grid and then there will be no need for Muskrat. If the norwegians can put wind turbines in the middle of the ocean and make it profitable we can stick some on the hills and make it work.Bottom like she has to go before she sinks the rock!!!

  • ahem ahem
    March 09, 2013 - 09:25

    We should abandon the island all flee to the mainland.. i mean labrador, afterall that's where all the wealth is, what are we doing on the edge of this destitute island anyways? theres nothing but ocean and rock for miles around

  • What Next
    March 08, 2013 - 20:16

    This regime will go .. but the other parties don't have good track records either. We need an independent party where decent, intelligent people can run and have a decent chance at election. We also need to enable gov departments to come up with solutions and not be dictated to by the ministers, or at least allow them to challenge ministers publicly without getting fired.

  • Erin
    March 08, 2013 - 12:11

    Lorraine Michael says that she would have had more long term planning, does that mean she would not have given public service workers the insane wage increases that Danny Williams did because lets face it, they are the ones bankrupting this province. Danny did the damage now this present government has to deal with it. I have heard some insane figures of the salarys of the union leaders in this province now lets see them published for everyone to see. Here is a list of the groups bankrupting this province. 1. Public service wages & benefits. 2. Doctors & Nurses 3.Overnight Indians 4. Island dwellers & ferrys

  • A Tory No More
    March 08, 2013 - 11:22

    Yes, Muskrat is such a great project that they had to pass a new Secrecy Law to block access to the details. They also withheld information from the PUB that it needed for a proper review, and then when the PUB declined to rubber stamp the projecdt, Dunderdale and Kennedy attacked them unmercifully. From her first day as Premier, Dunderdale decided to give the feds a pass on anything and everything it ever wanted to do to this province - all because she was desperate to get a loan guarantee that she and NALCOR kept insisting wasn't all that important. But while she couldn't find words nice enough for Harper, she behaved like a pit bull terrier in her dealings with the opposition and the media. In that regard I have to agree with Barbara, she is no leadership model for young girls or guys for that matter. No, this has been a failed administration from every conceivable angle - for which Dunderdale, her cabinet, her caucus and Williams (the man who single handedly put her there) will eventually have to take responsibility. I don't think there's much doubt in anyone's mind that she will be gone with the next election - if not before - but the real worry is how much more damage can she do before then. So sad in many ways that this province's first woman premier, who arrived at the pinnacle of our economic wealth, will have managed to turn those good fortunes into a giant gaping hole in just a couple of years.

  • Steve
    March 08, 2013 - 11:05

    It's quite apparent that the PC Government that we as pround Newfoundlanders elected to represent us, have forgotten that they were all "one of us" a while ago. It seems that the PC's have lost sight of what Newfoundland stands for and where we are headed. Ms. Dunderdale and her following should be ashamed of themselves for the actions as of late. Fiscal mismanagement is one this, but destroying the public service and using layoffs to scare that those that remain is an act of bad faith. I'd hate to see the same people in power now, given the same power in the next election. They are manipulative, and underhanded and above all, have forgotten that they represent the people. Id suggest that a vote of non-confidence in the house is in order and their actions be stoped before they force Newfoundlands hand in the wrong direction.

  • taxpayer
    March 08, 2013 - 10:52

    Incompetence at its best. Turf them next election before they even do more damage to our province.

  • CJ
    March 08, 2013 - 10:39

    "She (Dunderdale) has gone to great lengths to explain that Muskrat Falls spending won’t be counted as part of the budget deficit." Well where exactly will it be counted? If you're spending money out of the government's coffers, even if it's on a box of pencils let alone a multi-billion dollar project, how can you not include it in the budget?

  • Philosopher King
    March 08, 2013 - 10:39

    Minister of the Clown Marshall's predictions have less accuracy then the Mayan Calendar.

  • K
    March 08, 2013 - 10:33

    Only 3 comments. Price of oil is increasing, so how is it gaged for 1.6 billion?, 2 How much of the money going to NALCOR for MUSKRAT being spent on searching( exploring ) for oil and ? What the hell kind of government is in this Province. Only time you see or hear from Dunderdale is when the bottomis gone. Fishplants closes ,deficit control change cabinet. I have never recalled such an inadequate buncs in Government. Danny they do you proud.

  • jimmer
    March 08, 2013 - 10:32

    ah, political bickering babies like everywhere else in the world

  • Drop and Add Your H's
    March 08, 2013 - 10:32

    It is bad enough that Dwight Ball's yelling and shouting are devoid of any real content. Content is the responsiblity of his staff people. But his delivery is terrible. He yells about "ealt" policy when critiquing our health care system. Dropped H's on both ends of the same word. No Premier has ever been elected by the public with diction like that. Tulk and Rideout were selected by dying political parties, not the general public.

  • saelcove
    March 08, 2013 - 10:29

    The truth be told little man dan started us on the road to deficit,s

  • roy
    March 08, 2013 - 10:28

    I feel that this problem we are in is not totally the blame of the PC govt. Yes thery spent a lot of money but when they came to power they faced years of cuts by the Lib govt. Nothing was done with roads and the ferry service. Govt employees hadn't gotten a raise in years and even had roll backs by the Wells Govt. The govt got revenues from oil and everyone wanted to catch up. They under Williams gave huge raises because civil servants were far behind every other province. They put money into the unfunded pension plan, because other govts used money paid into the plan as general revenue, so if you look at it govt employees were double taxed and now find their pension plan in jepordy. They spent millions on roads and hospitals and schools that was neglected by previous govts and a debt that almost put the province in bankruptcy. Yes they overspent but for the good of the prov. because everyone wanted to catch up . Now unions are saying don't spend any money that might be beneficial in the future for everyone, their attitude is give us the money and to hell with everyone else. Everyone wants a new road a new ferry a new hospital a new school in every community a fish plant in every community . Fogo wants a new ferry and a new airport. It would be interesting to see the Lib and NDP plan for all of this without spending money.

  • Mary C.
    March 08, 2013 - 09:59

    I have to wonder what has happened, financially, with this province since March, 2012 and why has it happened. It has to be fiscal mismanagment because that is the only thing that makes sense and justifies what this government is doing to it's employees and, therefore, it's residents. I am wondering was there a big increase in government personnel in the last couple of years and now there needs to acutal cutbacks or are we really in such bad shape to need to layoff this many employees?? It has got to make people in this province wonder what is really going on.

  • Des
    March 08, 2013 - 09:30

    Dunderdale knew the province was facing a $1.6-billion deficit before she formally sanctioned the $7.7-billion hydroelectric project in December. She was never, never, ever qualified for this position to begin with. Now look where we are.

    • Fred Penner
      March 08, 2013 - 10:48

      Quite the contrary, if she knew about about an impeding deficit and sanctioned the project anyway, that obviously indicates that she was considering the long term.

  • Ben
    March 08, 2013 - 09:25

    Dunderdale and her caucus have turned our House of Assembly into an embarrassment.

  • Don
    March 08, 2013 - 08:43

    The opposition are great at criticizing the government over the deficit but have not offered any solutions. I don't think thay have one.

    • Red
      March 08, 2013 - 09:55

      Even if they did have a solution do you think this arrogant government would listen to them? They do things their way because they have such a majority. Also it is difficult to clean up someone else's mismanaged mess.

  • Barbara
    March 08, 2013 - 08:41

    What a disgusting display! In a time of constant news articles on bullying and anti-bullying campaigns, Premier Dunderdale is a 'textbook' bully. Her constant agressive, loud and belligerant approach to ANYONE who dears to ask her a question is appauling. It is time someone in her PR campaign had the nerve to ask her to sit down and take a long hard look at herself on screen and see how she appears! What an absolute ridiculous role model for any young girl!

    • Ben
      March 08, 2013 - 10:32

      Well said Barbara

    • JT
      March 08, 2013 - 20:46

      I think it's a prerequisite to be in the Conservative Party. Her little puppet Kennedy gets on the same way.

    • Anna
      April 01, 2013 - 18:57

      Absolutely agree, she is a bully, terrible "leader"!

    • Disgusted
      April 01, 2013 - 19:00

      Absolutely agree, she is a bully, terrible "leader"!

  • Starr
    March 08, 2013 - 08:09

    I am so glad I am no longer trapped in NL. Made my escape a few years ago. At that time I thought some day we'd go back but so glad we don't have to now with this mess. Its been a mess for a long time. Danny was not my personal favorite but as a politician he 's done the most for the province. Clyde Wells was the all-time worst, hands down. I wish we could have escaped then during his long ,hard six years of dictatorship. But Kathy is messing it up just as bad.

  • Robb
    March 08, 2013 - 07:56

    What a laugh.....the liberals talking about fiscal mismanagement....they must really believe that people forget their track record....and the ndp, well it is probably best that they just keep quiet in the corner....or maybe they could have some of their members do some economics classes at MUN, as they have no concept of finances and economics......

    • W McLean
      March 08, 2013 - 10:47

      The Progressive "Conservative" party of NL has out-NDPed every NDP government in history in the past seven years. Not even an NDP government has increased spending, increased the size of government, and increased the government's role in the provincial economy, as much as these "Conservatives" have. Now the public, the government, and especially the "Conservative" party have to pay the price for such leftist policies.

  • Cold Future
    March 08, 2013 - 07:22

    The money sent over to Nalcor and Hebron came from the tooth fairy. And the money for the lift feature of the bridge at Placentia (probably $20 Million of the $40.6 Million) will be paid in tolls charged to the users( yeah right!)

  • Sheer incompetence
    March 08, 2013 - 07:03

    Now Muskrat Falls is one of the best projects to happen in the province in a very long time?? And here we were told that it was just the least cost option to provide power for mining projects that may or may not go ahead. Stating that the project has nothing to do with the projected deficit is downright deceitful. It's being paid for by our resource revenues and in the future our electrical rates. That money could and should be going towards our purposes, not those of private mining interests.

  • coco
    March 08, 2013 - 06:49

    Mrs. Dunderdale, "....we really have to start dealing with fact(s) ...." The truth is more important than the facts.