Opposition parties read the budget tea leaves, see an election in future

James
James McLeod
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Budget 2014

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said the word “election” seven times in the space of a three minute media scrum while he was reacting to the provincial budget Thursday afternoon.

Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party Leader Dwight Ball speaks with reporters in the lobby of the Confederation Building on Thursday afternoon after the budget was presented in House of Assembly by Finance Minister Charlene Johnson.  — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

“It’s an election budget. It’s quite clear to me. Any time you’re willing to take out your kids’ credit card and put a billion dollars on it, it’s an election. It clearly says to me that this is all about an election budget for this government.”

Ever since Kathy Dunderdale resigned as premier in late January, the clock has been ticking, and people of the province will go to the polls in July of 2015 at the absolute latest.

Once the Tories pick a new leader on July 5th, that man will have one year at the most to call an election.

Within political circles, there’s plenty of speculation about the new premier calling an election as soon as this fall.

Ball said that the government’s decision to run a $537-million deficit to deliver budgetary goodies like full-day kindergarten and grants to replace student loans for post-secondary education smacks of political posturing.

Ball likes the goodies — he called full-day kindergarten “the right thing to do” — but he said the larger balance sheet picture is a huge problem.

“They have done nothing to diversify the economy; they are strictly about oil revenues right now, and we know you can only spend that money once,” Ball said.

“They’re more concerned about their own jobs than they are about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

But in a way, Ball had a hand in writing this budget.

Looking down the list of new spending announcements, a lot of the government’s budget priorities were exactly the same as the issues that the Liberals and NDP raised in the House of Assembly.

Full-day kindergarten is something both parties have advocated for. The Tories cut to small business taxes was a plank in the NDP platform back in the 2011 election.

The Liberals have been calling for more to be done on smoking cessation, and lo and behold, the government came up for $712,000 for that too.

Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien didn’t make too much of the striking similarities between the opposition’s demands and the government’s priorities this year.

“If you weren’t going to do something that was asked in question period, well, you wouldn’t do anything at all,” he said.

It was all so good for NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, that she issued a news release late Thursday declaring multiple victories for her party.

“We’ve been pushing for it, and I’m glad they’re listening,” Michael said.

She also said she believes that this is a budget the Tories could go to the hustings on.

“They certainly have a budget that they can run a campaign on. There’s no doubt about that,” she said. “Are they going to do that? We don’t know.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: NDP, House of Assembly.Full

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Linda
    March 28, 2014 - 15:31

    @ Virginia Waters, Cathy why don't you come out of hiding, Yes I do agree with you on a couple of items. There's a price tags on some thing, and Mr Ball is going right along with its, At no time did Ball say to the people that they NEED to put the ( BRAKE ON MUSKRAT FALLS.) Sorry Virginia, Look at the Liberals colors, RED - BLUE - ORANGE, like the old song from the past. ( COAT OF MANY COLOR ),AND THE LEADER IS Dwight Ball. To bad Virginia you didn't speak out back in 2013, When the Liberal were looking for a new leader, Maybe today we would of gotten a leader, NOT JUST OPPORTUNIST.. Sorry don't matter how you sing this song. He will go down in history. As the known for ( ELECTS ME THEN FIND OUT ), Leadership at its fines ..lol

  • Ed
    March 28, 2014 - 15:12

    Nothing to diversify the economy? Does he not get Muskrat Falls? We pay rates now to buy oil from other countries to burn and will replace that with the building of a dam that we own and pay to own treasury that is then dispersed back to NL residents. Leveraging non renewable oil revenues to renewable hydro revenues the ultimate economic diversification.

  • Ed
    March 28, 2014 - 15:11

    Nothing to diversify the economy? Does he not get Muskrat Falls? We pay rates now to buy oil from other countries to burn and will replace that with the building of a dam that we own and pay to own treasury that is then dispersed back to NL residents. Leveraging non renewable oil revenues to renewable hydro revenues the ultimate economic diversification.

  • KD
    March 28, 2014 - 13:57

    It seems to me mr ball is full of hot air he doesnt have a policy in place just opposing anything the pc government does also with the pension shortfall once he becomes premier and it is not a popular thing to do he will do the same as all past governments stay away from it then the taxpayers will be left with higher taxes so civil servants can have a pension

  • david
    March 28, 2014 - 13:54

    Only in Newfoundad could a giant neon sign flashing the message: "WE BUY VOTES --- with your cash! Top dollar for YOUR spineless complicity!" be construed as "reading tea leaves". What complete buffoonery.

  • If We Make it Through December..
    March 28, 2014 - 13:50

    IMHO (1) "Full Day Kindergarten" used to be called "the grandparents". The change in social demographics where households swing regularly from multiple income to single parent will continue to play havoc on economic stability.. (2) The "unfunded liability pension fund": They borrowed from this to build the Labrador Highway..... the amount of the deficit is same as that diverted to Nalcor... is this another "investment" in Labrador? (3) Another media story quoted the NDP leader talking about seniors that could only afford ice cubes to eat?? Some senior households cashing in their multiple public service pensions might frugally use their ice cubes in their beverages on Caribbean beaches while skyping to their grandchildren in full day kindergarten?? Really LM!!? Probably true, but is your or my hyperbole an accurate cross section? [Would they have been better off to have stashed their pension equity in the Caymans?] (4) Nice try TM (nice smile CM!! - really) but DW's legacy scared a lot of good leadership talent away? 85% approval? What will FC do for a "stay the course" encore... 95% approval. The NL Oil industry was built up since Joey in 1968. DW showed up to MC the "oil patch kitchen party". Even mummers parties are only seasonal. Is this a December 24 budget or a January 07 Budget?

  • Virginia Waters
    March 28, 2014 - 12:55

    Why wouldn't he keep repeating this is an election budget. He knows a set-up when he sees it. The Tories latched on to the opposition demands in the House and ran with them. What are the Liberals and NDP going to say - we really didn't mean it. What Ball is trying to get across (but I think it's falling on deaf ears) is that there's a price tag on all this stuff. Here's a province bringing in more revenue per capita than almost any other in Canada and yet we are still running the largest deficits in the country. As Ball says, the Tories are happy to use the kids' credit card to pay for it. Political labels stand for nothing any more - if they ever did. If there are any people left in this province who actually worry about the long term grief of running billion dollar deficits in a small province - and at the same time taking on risky mega project that will squeeze consumers like never before in our history - they'll be voting Liberal next year. Pretty bad when you can't tell Tory from NDP eagerness to spend the taxpayer's own money to get re-elected. Watched yesterday as the NAPE-type people spouted off - insisting government owed it to public employees to keep the gravy train going even if it means poverty down the road for the rest of us. Yep - not only will the cupboard be bare by the time Ball becomes premier, but the Tories will leave a giant size rat there waiting to pounce.

    • Frank
      March 28, 2014 - 17:17

      So when KD presented an austere budget I bet you were one of the ones jumping up and down about the cuts. She should have cut a lot deeper. At least she had the guts to do it..

    • Frank
      March 28, 2014 - 17:18

      So when KD presented an austere budget I bet you were one of the ones jumping up and down about the cuts. She should have cut a lot deeper. At least she had the guts to do it..

  • Crazy
    March 28, 2014 - 11:29

    Mr Mcleod, Sir were you listening to the Paddy Daly show. when him and Dwight Ball was carrying on a conversation. concerning the N&L economy. And then , they got into a conversation concerning population growth, its was very entertaining to listen to... two great minds coming together. LOL.. Sir this is one of problem we have in Government lack of knowledgeable people, yes they be educates, but in what field. its don't appear to be in common since.

  • Charles
    March 28, 2014 - 05:20

    Mr Ball, Here my question to you, How would you go about (Diversify the Economy )? After all you stood by , when 110 million was past over to CBPP. With out any new job creation. in the plant or the forestry. Maybe like you did in Mary Town, You told the people of that district you see potential there, and you would be back. To date still nothing. Because if the Liberals do have a plan concerning the future of our great province, don't you think its time to present it?, But I will tell you one thing, If Cathy Bennett do win the byelection in VW, You Sir will packing your bags. Because This Lady will be the next leader of the Liberal party.