Tom Marshall made history on Saturday when he became the first premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to address the Great Humber Joint Council.
He opened by talking about his appointment to the job.
“Obviously, it’s a very important position in government,” he said. “It’s never a position that I sought.”
But Marshall said “life is funny,” and relayed a conversation with Liberal Leader Dwight Ball where he remarked on Ball spending $340,000 on the leadership race.
“And I said ‘I became premier. I only had to get this suit pressed,’” he said, lifting the lapel of his jacket to loud applause and laughter.
The premier later took a bit more serious approach as he spoke of his priorities to not compromise growth in the province, to ensure everybody shares fully and fairly in the benefits of the province’s new prosperity and to be open, transparent and accountable.
“We got to make sure that we’re listening, that we’re communicating,” Marshall said.
He also touched on two issues that have received a lot of attention in this area — the loan to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. and the new hospital.
On the $110-million loan, he said “the mill was in trouble, big trouble, and they came to us for help.”
Marshall said there was no question the province would help because it wants the mill to survive.
On the hospital, Marshall said he knows that the lack of a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner and a radiation unit is a concern for the area.
He said he agrees with specialists who say a PET scanner may not be vital now, but will be in some point in the future.
“The secret is to have the diagnostic imaging to be sure that they can expand for whatever new is coming,” said the premier.
As for the radiation unit, Marshall said he sees and feels for the human side of the issue, but he wants to look at the numbers and information on staffing presented by government and by the Western Region Hospital Action Committee and conduct an independent study of it.
“I want to find out for myself,” said Marshall.
“I’m not going to accept second-rate service here. Whatever we put here has to be the best in the country.”
The Western Star