It was with his familiar soft, but well-spoken tone that leadership hopeful Paul Davis conveyed his vision for the province if he’s successful in gaining the confidence of his party.
Paul Davis addresses the crowd at the Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre Friday morning as he outlines his plans if he becomes PC leader and premier. — Photo by Josh Pennell/The Telegram
Davis, one of three leadership candidates for the provincial Progressive Conservative party, met with media and supporters at the Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre Friday morning in Conception Bay South.
Energy, financial leadership, health care, fisheries, crime and education were topics Davis highlighted in his address.
They are apparently the first in a series of such focus areas Davis will be discussing in the coming weeks, but if his stance on these is any indication, it’s a proactive approach rather than a responsive one which Davis is carving out to set himself aside from his two leadership contestants and also the opposition parties.
On the energy front, Davis committed to inviting Statoil to the table immediately following his possible election to start negotiating new deals for new discoveries.
The fact that the feasibility of such projects is still being measured by the company didn’t seem to phase Davis’ plan.
“What we’re talking about here is the long-term substantiality of our province,” he told reporters following his presentation as he spoke about what resources such as oil have done for the province.
“It contributes significantly to our budgets and to our economy today. It has provided job opportunities that are second to none. It has provided growth for our province that’s been second to nowhere in the country.”
Whether encouraging such projects will flatter the ear of voters or alternatively backfire, is a question Davis will likely have to face as his campaign continues.
But he left little room for doubt about his desire to see such projects develop and develop quickly.
In addition to proposing a new energy plan be penned, Davis also committed to shortening and streamlining review approval processes that help such oil projects become a reality.
Instead of waiting for companies to bite, Davis spoke of taking advantage of the province’s situation as an “emerging North Sea” to bring in future revenues with policies that encourage offshore and onshore exploration.
Likewise, his stance on health care also suggested a proactive approach, reducing the amount of money that has to be spent on health issues by reducing their prevalence.
“We need to focus on improving the population’s health to create a healthier society so there’s less reliance on those needs down the road,” he said.
With an aging population, Davis wasn’t missing the inevitable need of health care for elders. As part of his health-care commitment, he proposed a new health human resource plan to ensure quality care is available and delivered.
Whether Davis’ ideas will revitalize the industry, it’s certainly not an industry he’s ignoring in his campaign.
He spoke of building on trade opportunities in the seafood industry, establishing a research chair in fisheries economics and getting more private investors interested in the aquaculture industry.
Setting himself apart
Davis refrained from taking shots at his two leadership competitors — Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer — but he didn’t have any trouble speaking confidently about his position when it came to party delegates.
“I hate to say it, but I can tell you that we are comfortable. As I just told you, if we were gonna go to the convention today, we’d be quite happy where we are.”
One thing Davis didn’t seem to dislike talking about was how his approach as premier would be different than that of Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.
Not just from a financial point of view, Davis said the overall tone of his campaign is a positive one and suggested Ball’s is one of negative criticism.
“To suggest we are the worst, the last or the lowest among province’s in Canada is simply not true. Dwight Ball has access to the same information I have available to me and the opportunities, I can tell yo, are staggering. It’s just not politically expedient for him to say no at this time,” Davis said as he addressed the crowd.
The leadership convention will be held on Sept. 12-13 in St. John’s.