From riches to rags in 100 days

Pam Frampton
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“We will continue to build productive relationships; we will continue to provide vision and leadership; and we continue as a people to prosper and flourish.”

— Premier Kathy Dunderdale, Muskrat Falls sanctioning speech, Dec. 17, 2012


“Fortunately, a fundamental shift in our history has occurred in recent years, and we are no longer compelled to leave to provide for our families. Now our aspirations can be met here at home, and as of this day, we may never be forced to leave again.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale spoke those words just over three months ago during the sanctioning of Muskrat Falls, an event she called “a significant milestone in our progression as a province and, more importantly, as a people."

The premier might want to rethink those words, and how much difference 100 days can make, particularly to the roughly 1,000 public service employees who may well be "forced to leave" this place now that their jobs have been eliminated.

One hundred days is all is took for us to go from prosperity to impoverishment, from the land of milk and honey to a land where hundreds of civil servants had to be thrown out of work because we can no longer afford to pay them. Cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to justice.

And those are just some of the ones we’ve heard about. The government has not identified where, exactly, the cuts are occurring.

The Justice Department alone is being cut by 12 per cent — roughly 200 jobs — at a time when the system is suffering from overcrowding and inadequate working and living conditions at The Pen, insufficient space for court and too few security measures.

I guess we’re supposed to believe that all those lost jobs will just make the wheels of justice turn ever so much more smoothly.

And presumably the 150 or so managers being cut from the health authorities didn't do anything of value, and we’ll hardly notice that they’re gone.

We can afford to spend billions on a megaproject, but we can no longer afford to offer folks a discount for paying for their car registration online.

Does that sound like progression to you?

Let’s see if I have this straight. One hundred days ago, the premier made this boast:

"Today we stand tall and proud on the shoulders of those who’ve come before us, knowing that we have not squandered their gifts, but invested them to give our children a brighter, more secure and prosperous future."

And yet “squander their gifts" is precisely what this government has done. We’ve gone from “have not will be no more” to have not is once more in less time than it takes most folks to pay off a used car.

A government that can make no better fiscal predictions than this one, which sees nothing but rainbows and roses one day, then forecasts a $1.6 billion deficit the next, and then that amount becomes $563.8 million, is not one I’m confident is capable of being prudent with taxpayers’ money.

You can’t run your household like that, let alone a province.

We keep up our end of the bargain and keep paying our taxes, for what? Massive layoffs, downgrades to programs, increased fees.

“The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members,” Gandhi said. Well, we’re now telling people who have dental emergencies but no money that we can’t afford to give them more than $150 towards their medical costs. Had a cleaning lately? That’s what $150 will get you at my dentist’s office, and having a professional cleaning is a luxury many people simply can’t afford. We’re talking about people with dental health requirements that should not be ignored or they will end up as patients in other parts of the health-care system in the long run.

I hope the 1,000 or so civil servants whose jobs were lost as a result of budget cuts will remember when the next election rolls around that this administration pays some employees good money for job duties that include voting multiple times on the VOCM Question of the Day.

If the province is looking for meaningful ways to avoid duplication and to save money, it might look a little closer to home. Instead of paying communications professionals to trumpet the positive aspects of the budget in social media, just leave that work to MHA Steve Kent. He does it anyway, with an almost evangelical fervour.

Here are some examples from Tuesday’s Twittersphere, beginning with tweets from the government followed by those from Kent:


Government of NL @GovNL 26 Mar

Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy set to deliver Budget 2013 2:00 today. Watch here for live tweets from the Budget speech.


Steve Kent, MHA @stephenkent

Minister @jerome_kennedy is now delivering the Budget Speech in the House of Assembly.


Government of NL @GovNL

Minister: Tuition freeze at MUN and CNA to remain in effect for 2013/14 academic year through $3.8M investment.


Steve Kent, MHA @stephenkent

Our tuition freeze at @MemorialU and @CNA_News will remain in effect for 2013/2014 academic year through $3.8 million investment.


Government of NL @GovNL

Minister: Over next two years, we will invest over $6.3 million in co-operation with private sector to advance Rural Broadband Initiative


Steve Kent, MHA @stephenkent

Over the next two years we’ll invest over $6.3 million in partnership with private sector to advance Rural Broadband Initiative.


See what I mean? I don’t think we really need to pay multiple messengers to play the very same track.

One hundred days since prosperity, 1,000 jobs cut.

And we have government members with so little to do that they have time to replicate the work of communications people all day long on social media. Maybe the government’s next trimming exercise should be to cut the number of MHAs in the House.

Because, back in December, when the premier spoke about how the province has been “propelled to greatness by the strength and ingenuity of her people and the vast reserves of her energy resources,” I don’t think Kent’s prolific Twitter habit was quite the kind of energy resources she had in mind.


Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram’s associate managing editor. She can be reached by email at

Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: Justice Department, CNA, House of Assembly.Government of NL

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Recent comments

  • jj
    April 03, 2013 - 07:11

    'A BUSINESS MAN' seems to exhibit all the signs of a sociopath.

  • Tony Rockel
    April 01, 2013 - 17:56

    An excellent article that sums up perfectly the outright arrogance, ignorance, hypocrisy and puffery of this government. I suspect that "businessman" is trying to wind us up, or is simply playing devil's advocate, in order to illustrate just how screwed up and antisocial business ethics are today.

  • Skeptical Cynic
    April 01, 2013 - 11:48

    Business "man", I don't thnk any of the posters here takes your sociopathic ravings seriously anymore. I certainly don't... personally I don't even bother to read through them. Far be it for me to deny anyone their right to free speech, but quite frankly, you've become an annoyance on these posts by taking up valuable space that could be used for sensible, thoughtful commentary. Haven't you anything better to do? Shouldn't you be occupying yourself by lavishly planning to spend thousand$ on your kids' prom again? It IS that time of the year. So why not give yourself and the other posters a break from your shrill, greed-induced rants, and just go away. Thank you.

  • James G. Learning
    March 31, 2013 - 22:54

    It's not hard to see how low the mentality of the average NL voter has gone in still claiming to support this bankrupt government administration. The whole this is going down and they are satisfied to go with it, that's either being very loyal or very stupid, take your pick.

    • a business man
      April 01, 2013 - 11:29

      Actually, I support the government because I am making money as a result of its decisions, and because I will be sure to liquidate my assets and get the hell out of this province before the whole thing goes down. Simply, I vote for ME and my wallet.

  • Gino
    March 31, 2013 - 21:41

    Is there an echo in the room with Steve Kent and Lane. Two little twigs on a very large tree of deceit and misinformation. We have been going down hill since the last election with having false prophet like even having their own economist. We are in a downward spiral out of control and being sucked in further.

  • Ed Power
    March 31, 2013 - 10:29

    Forgive me, but I just cannot imagine "A Business Man" being any more sociable when he "went door knocking for them" than he appears to be in his regular Ayn Rand-ian comments on here. It might be prudent for his party organizers to review the polling data from the districts where he door knocked to determine just how many votes he cost them.

  • saelcove
    March 31, 2013 - 08:34

    Dental cleaning $150 thats a deal, cost me $300

  • EDfromRED
    March 30, 2013 - 23:43

    I truly believe if a random selection was made out of the phone book for MHA's, they would do a much better job than this bunch of pitiful PC nincompoops we have now. Who needs vikings when we have elected officials raping and pillaging us?

  • Cyril Rogers
    March 30, 2013 - 13:46

    When someone doesn't have the good sense to see that Muskrat Falls is a disaster-in-waiting, you can't expect much else from them. Kent and Lane are on a stage too big for them...but people didn't see that. A sorry lot occupying the seat of government nowadays.

    • a business man
      March 30, 2013 - 14:42

      However, the are some who DO have the good sense to see that Muskrat Falls is a disaster-in-waiting but still support it because they will benefit. I am one of those people. It is my right to support my own interests even when I see a disaster-in waiting. For the record, I don't completely think that MF is a disaster-in waiting, but I do beleive it i could end being a disaster for many different reasons. Nonetheless, I support it because I expect an indirect benefit. The best part is that because the party I voted for has a majority government, they will push this project so far/fast that it will impossible to turn back. It makes me appreciate my contribution to the majority government, as I went door knocking for them and donated money in support of the party.

  • Ed. Anstey
    March 30, 2013 - 11:20

    this is an excellent article. i would reccomend that everyone keep a copy of this so you can read it before you vote in 2015. furthermore it should be printed two days before the next election just to remind voters how incompetent this government is. thank you for the good work. keep it going.

  • picky
    March 30, 2013 - 08:41

    In regards to the online motor registration, I will no longer be using this service. I will be "mailing" my registration to Motor Registration Division. Maybe if we all did this, it will possibly save a job in Motor Registration.

    • a business man
      March 30, 2013 - 18:25

      And I will register online because using technology to replace the job of a worker is a good thing that should be encouraged and supported. Frankly, I don't want to pay for that worker's wage and salary. I am happy to see that technology is replicating the functions of workers, and I am glad that the government is using technology to replace workers instead of coming to the taxpayers for more money. Hopefully, there is more cuts to come. Cuts are preferable to tax increases.

  • Corporate Psycho
    March 30, 2013 - 06:59

    Kent and Lane have been nothing but an embarrassment to NL. Trying to mislead the people at every chance. I predict they are finished in 2015, that's even if they foolishly try and run again. To bad they didn't put as much time into doing their jobs as they did trying to manipulate polls. Keep cleaning those cookies Steve and Paul.