Five thousand word news release lists action on PC ‘commitments’
Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy spent the day batting back at The Telegram for reporting comments that cast doubt on Tory election promises.
Kennedy called VOCM Open Line in the morning, and then called VOCM Backtalk in the afternoon to say that his comments had been “taken out of context” by The Telegram.
He also sent a letter to the editor (See page A6) and late in the day, he capped it off with a 5,069 word news release laying out — in excruciating detail — all of the PC Party campaign promises that the government has already fulfilled.
“Our government is proud of our record in implementing commitments we have made to the people of the province and we will continue to do so in a responsible manner,” Kennedy was quoted as saying in the news release.
On Tuesday, The Telegram reported on the PC Party’s fiscal promises from the campaign.
The party specifically committed to “establish a ceiling for new spending growth and make our choices accordingly.”
In fact, in the two budgets since the 2011 provincial election, the government has not publicly stated a ceiling on new spending growth ahead of the budget process.
Speaking specifically about that election promise, Kennedy said, “I’m not aware who wrote this, who put this in the Blue Book, what exactly they meant.”
More broadly, all of the $135 million worth of election commitments the PC Party made came with a caveat that they would only be implemented if the provincial government could afford to.
With the government running a $563.8-million deficit, and a $650 million forecast deficit next year, The Telegram asked whether some of those promises need to be reconsidered.
“You used the word promise. I’m not sure that the Blue Book can be described as a promise,” Kennedy said.
“It outlines a platform of initiatives that we plan to undertake during a mandate, which is the election in 2011 until 2015. We strive as best we can to ensure that the commitments made or the components of the platform are complied with.”
In Thursday afternoon’s news release, the government said that 228 of the 534 election commitments were “either complete or substantially complete and moving towards implementation.”
As of press time, The Telegram was not able to fully analyze the list of campaign commitents, but it appears that the PC party may be understating things slightly.
In the PC party’s 2011 platform, it promised to act on recommendations to overhaul the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“We will introduce appropriate reforms to the legislation. We will continue to protect personal information, commercially sensitive information and cabinet documents,” the Blue Book says.
But on Thursday, Kennedy’s news release does not appear to mention access to information or Bill 29, the controversial legislation the government passed in 2012.
Bill 29 greatly increased government secrecy by making many classes of documents off-limits to public disclosure under the province’s access to information laws.