Throne speech signals major change in course for Dunderdale

James
James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderdale signalled a sharp change of direction for the government in this year’s throne speech.

Newfoundland and Labrador is at a pivotal point in the province’s history, according the the throne speech delivered by Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan Monday afternoon.

The 17-page speech celebrated the accomplishments of the PC government over the past decade, but it also came with a stern warning that the government needs to alter its course, or risk fiscal calamity.

“It is about a balanced plan, a sustainable plan,” Fagan said in the throne speech. “Let no one pretend we have arrived. Let no one pretend the need for fiscal prudence has passed.”

The speech is written by the premier’s office, and ceremonially delivered by the Lieutenant Governor.

The message coming from Dunderdale’s government was that it needs to scale back spending and operate in a more sustainable way — in fact, the title of the speech was “A sustainable future for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

 

The government timed the throne speech for one day before it delivers the provincial budget.

Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy has said that the government is forecasting a $1.6-billion deficit for each of the next two years. Kennedy has also been preparing people for significant cuts.

“We have to live within our means and continue to set clear and responsible priorities. It is about a balanced plan, a sustainable approach. To that end, my government embarked last year on a core mandate review to identify efficiencies and eliminate duplication and waste,” Fagan said in Monday’s throne speech. “The review protects essential functions while identifying innovative ways of consolidating and streamlining operations to meet these core functions more effectively and more affordably.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball blasted the government in his response to the throne speech, accusing Dunderdale and the Tory government of “reckless spending” and “a decade of lost opportunity” despite talking about fiscal restraint.

“Government’s actions rarely equal their words,” Ball said. “This is a premier and a government that walks in irony.”

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael was similarly unimpressed.

In her response she complained about the province’s public service is going to be “cut to the bone” in an effort to balance the budget.

Michael also tore a strip off the government for Bill 29, the comprehensive amendments to the province’s access to information legislation which greatly increase government secrecy.

In the throne speech, the government said it was “the most open and accountable government in this province since Confederation, and among the most transparent in the country.”

Michael disagreed, calling it a “backwards step” for transparency.

“Do they think people are stupid in this province?” she said in her response to the throne speech. “I know the people in the province aren’t stupid, Mr. Speaker, because the people of the province are telling us what they are seeing with this government. They see Bill 29 for what it is, Mr. Speaker.”

When it was Dunderdale’s turn to speak, she dismissed Michael and Ball entirely, saying she heard “not one constructive suggestion” from either of them.

“No plan, no vision, no hope,” Dunderdale shouted at opposition politicians in the House of Assembly

Speaking to reporters, Dunderdale said the major shift in direction is necessary.

She talked about the 2004 budget, and the Tory government’s decision to spend $3.5 million to buy fish quotas as part of a deal to keep the Arnold’s Cove fish plant open.

“Those quotas today are worth about $16 million, and if the cod returns like it’s expected to, they’ll be worth considerably more than that.

“They’re the kinds of strategic investments that we’ve made, even when we didn’t have any money. And it’s paid off,” she said.

“We’re always going to have to be making investments so we don’t get back to where we were before, but we’re at a place now where we have to ramp back that spending.”

Dunderdale said that because of the cuts the government is looking at, the deficit won’t be $1.6 billion, as originally forecasted, but she wouldn’t give any hints on what the final number will be.

She also confirmed that today’s budget will contain a long-term map for how to manage the province’s finances, and mitigate the wild swings that come from volatile oil prices.

“We need to lay out a 10-year plan, and that’s what you’re going to see,” Dunderdale said.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

 

Organizations: House of AssemblySpeaking

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Appropriate Title
    March 26, 2013 - 12:35

    The speech from the throne is appropriate named; pure BS presented by a brown-noser.

  • MARY
    March 26, 2013 - 11:26

    well i don't see why there is a Lt Governor, as he is appointed by the blunderdale congress, his only role in my opinion is to read what the Government tells him what he is allowed to read, never got any thing to say on his own accord

  • gerry
    March 26, 2013 - 11:15

    perhaps if ALL forms governments (federal, provinicial, municpal) would: -- ACTUALLY see past the next election & plan into the future of the country, province, city, town; - ACTUALLY govern their respective territories - departments, INSTEAD of the constant circus in th parliments trying to slander the other parties; -ACTUALLY TRY to prioriterize spending & reduce the deficits instead of cutting essential services & taxing the lower & middle classes to death, while they appear to quielty vote themselves pay raises & keep padding their expenses & titanium pensions plans: lead by example.... Take a close look what's happening in Cyprus, Greece, Italy & the other EU countries (let alone the middle east, Russia, etc)...wer'e all connected economically;.... 'it can't happen here' was also spoken just before WW1 & WW2...here's hoping history doesn't repeat itself again....and again....

  • roy
    March 26, 2013 - 11:02

    How quick we forget, remember the Clyde Lied slogan, Tobin we won't forget, the Lib govt not putting their share of pension money into the pension fund and taking the public service share and putting it into general revenue. The freeze on wages and rollbacks and disregard for contracts by the Lib govt that was agreed upon by the previous PC govt. The mouldy schools and neglected roads. Govt workers were far behind the country in wages, schools had to be repaired or torn down, roads had to be repaired, bridges repaired and what about the trans Labrador hwy Labrador was completely neglected by previous Lib govts All of this and more cost the govt a lot of money and the Williams govt a PC govt came through. Now these same unions are blasting the govt with adds we are forced to listen to. It costs a lot to catch up what will the Lib or NDP do if elected. I wouldn't take a chance on either.

  • Grtaham
    March 26, 2013 - 09:23

    The major changes are coming in 2015 when we dump Dunderdale.

  • Don
    March 26, 2013 - 09:22

    To hear the liberal leader accuse the government of "reckless spending" is a laugh. It was Clyde Wells and Brian Tobin ( two liberal premiers) who put the province on the brink of bankruptcy with "reckless spending" that the PC's had to try and overcome when elected , and the government is still trying to get us out of the hole. How quick they forget.

  • Todd
    March 26, 2013 - 09:15

    If this is the most tranparent government in Canada, I pitty the rest of Canada. Who does Dunderdale think she is fooling? Please.

  • SHARON
    March 26, 2013 - 09:08

    well i don't see why there is a Lt Governor, as he is appointed by the blunderdale congress, his only role in my opinion is to read what the Government tells him what he is allowed to read, never got any thing to say on his own accord

    • Pam Frampton
      March 26, 2013 - 09:14

      Just to clarify, the lieutenant-governor is appointed by the prime minister, not the provincial government.

  • Jon Smith
    March 26, 2013 - 08:57

    The throne spin continues the parroting of misguidance by the government. Ten years in and foundering, we now need a ten year plan. What will be the 50 year plan to ease the excessive taxation, caused by the Muskrat boondoggle,upon the captive ratepayers-taxpayers who are locked in and denied the benefits of cheaper imported energy from the mainland.

  • Harvey
    March 26, 2013 - 08:57

    Every gov't member should hang his/her head in shame.What are they up to?They could be taking us on the road to Cyprus.Am I hearing right? A 3Billion deficit over two years?What's happening to our offshore wealth?

  • My Government
    March 26, 2013 - 08:01

    If you ever wondered, even to a fraction of a percentage point, that the Lt.-Gov plum appointment is neutral; then think again after the current freeloader kept referencing "my government" throughout the speech. Not, "the government"; or, the current administration, or, our governing party; or, the PC government...or any other option. He kept repeating, "my"....as in ownership. Political patronage appointments has to stop; it's long overdue to abolish this bobblehead, freeloader capacity.

    • Jordan
      March 26, 2013 - 08:41

      That's because it is his government. He is the head of the government.

    • Pam Frampton
      March 26, 2013 - 08:44

      As the story points out, the speech is written by the premier's office and the lieutenant-governor merely serves a traditional and ceremonial role in reading it; in other words, the government puts the words in his mouth, not the other way around.

  • holy smokes
    March 26, 2013 - 07:57

    the government needs to alter its course, or risk fiscal calamity...........I believe that this has been said for years since Dandy Dan 'left' politics.....Tories...whatastunderdale bunch!!!

  • Bryan
    March 26, 2013 - 06:58

    How many more directions can they go? First they boast we have lots of money and then they mismanage things so we don't have any money. Can't have a lot of confidence in a crowd like that.