Try these easy-to-keep resolutions

Russell
Russell Wangersky
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Ah, the time of the year when resolutions are all the rage. Here are four that the provincial government might want to stop and think about for a minute or two.

On Muskrat Falls: find something else other than the mantra "No one's showed us anything scary enough to make us stop."

Negative-option politics is a heck of a thing to use as the basis for spending $6.2 billion in public money. So far, the response to concerns about the project has often been "dismiss and diminish" - kind of the political equivalent to "duck and cover."

When someone asks a question about the project, answer it fully and completely, and don't be afraid to admit if circumstances have changed.

And by all means, let the Public Utilities Board have the time to finish its full review of the project.

The Lower Churchill will always suffer from comparisons to the elephant up the river - rushing now and saying "just trust Nalcor" is every bit as scary a concept as "just trust Brinco" should have been.

On the fishery: fish or cut bait. The way things stand, the provincial government has essentially allowed market forces to dictate the direction of fisheries reorganization. The main problem with that? That only one factor - the market - will dictate the evolution of the industry.

You could say that is a good thing, because evolution means the strongest will survive. The problem is that's rarely the case, even in the evolution of species.

The luckiest will certainly survive, those who happen to have the right combination of low debt, species with stable prices and a host of other considerations. If you happen to have lungs when the water recedes all around you, you're not particularly skilled - you do get to survive, though.

We've already thrown away the first and strongest opportunity to build a whole-province fish products marketing entity - there's no telling what else we might toss out by simply letting the market rule.

On access to information legislation: not all advice is good advice. Every five years or so, the provincial government has to meet the legal requirement to have access to information law in this province reviewed.

Access to information is a balance, and often, that balance teeters back and forth.

In the coming year, the province will have to develop legislation based on the latest report, one prepared by a career bureaucrat - and a report that, by and large, echoes concerns from inside government departments that the current legislation takes up valuable time and, to put it bluntly, is a bother to deal with.

The government is at a fork in the road: it can either side with the report and tighten the legislation (which is already stodgy enough that, if you ask for a copy of a public speech, the copy you get will have every name removed, even though the minister's already read those names in public) or it can live with the status quo.

It might even broaden the act. Then again, it might rain 50-pound sacks of potatoes.

The easiest route is to say, "We called for a review, so now we're going to follow the report to the letter."

That may be easiest, but you can also ask the government in that case, who's the one doing the governing?

On decorum: time to find a new leaf and firmly turn it. The House of Assembly hasn't been in session for so long now that we're virtually in last place for the number of sitting days in the nation.

When, sometime in March, the august House gets back together, it will include many new faces, and several of the most offensive hecklers of the last session will have retired to those golden pensions in the sky.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale has already said how much she dislikes the regular nastiness in the House, so why not rein in the loudmouths on her side?

Then, at least, she has the moral high ground to ask the opposition parties to do the same. Then, maybe, the House will be a true legislature, rather than a holding pen for the kind of bullies who get tossed out of their high schools and junior highs.

The best part of these resolutions?

Unlike trying to get back to your old high school weight, these ones are possible.

Necessary, even.

Russell Wangersky is The Telegram's editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at rwanger@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, The Telegram

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  • Cyril Rogers
    December 27, 2011 - 11:45

    Mr. Wangersky, I heartily agree with your sentiments on these issues but fully expect Ms Dunderdale to cheerfully ignore all of them. They just don't fit with the PC government's perception of what is good for the province. They foolishly think that getting somewhere around 33% of the eligible voters to cast their ballots for the PC's gives them a divine right to rule. That the results translated into a huge Tory majority is the only aspect of this pitiful electoral process that one can't argue with, but it simply highlights the deparate need for electoral reform in this province and, indeed, in this country. Where are the statesmen or women who will look at this deeply flawed system and have the intestinal fortitude to say: this process is wrong and needs to be changed? Who will show the courage of a Michail Gorbachov or a Lech Walensa? Sad, isn't it, that we, in so-called democratic countries, don't produce those kinds of leaders anymore. The only heroes of democratic reform nowadays are emerging out of countries that have not known any. We, on the other hand, are letting petty tyrants deprive our democratic institutions of any real people power and entrusting it to the ruling elites. I would hope that more and more people in this province will resolve to not sit back and allow this process to continue, but will get involved and oppose this trend.