Bust, boom, bust

Pam Frampton
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“Money’s too tight to mention.
— Simply Red, “Money’s too tight to mention”

There’s an old Newfoundland saying that someone who can try their hand at anything “can put an arse in a cat.”
Clearly that’s the kind of person we need running this province, because the arse is out of ’er —again.

Pam Frampton

Is anyone else sick of this rags-to-riches-to-rags cycle?

I tried to explain the nature of politics in this province the other day to a couple from Toronto and was completely stymied. “Farcical” was about the only word that came to mind.

So here we go again.

Back just five years ago, when we were in the black, Premier Kathy Dunderdale pooh-poohed the notion that we should be putting oil revenues away for a rainy day.

“People talk about a legacy fund all the time and we respond to that by saying, ‘That’s our legacy fund, the investment in infrastructure,’” she said, “Because unless you have roads and wharves and hospitals and schools, your economy can’t grow.”

Dunderdale was responding to comments made by economist Wade Locke, who was warning “there could be $1.6-billion deficits by decade’s end,” as The Telegram reported.

But why wait for decade’s end? We’re already there! The PC government was a dab hand at pissing it all away.

I must say, it’s reassuring in these straitened fiscal circumstances to know that whenever we’re feeling down about all that debt, when the public service is soon to be on the receiving end of another whip-round with the Department of Finance machete, we can go admire a fresh patch of pavement or a shiny new culvert and realize that it’s all been worthwhile. What a legacy! What foresight!

I realize we were in sore need of infrastructure, but the good-times government should also have created a contingency fund with the foreknowledge that we wouldn’t be awash in oil revenues forever.

So we’ve gone from the good times, to the non-crisis days of DarkNL, to DarkNL 2.0, in which not only is there no light at the end of the tunnel, but the roof of the tunnel has collapsed and there are cars stuck underneath.

Meanwhile, our political leaders are fumbling around in the dark trying to blame each other.

The Tories blatantly refused to tell the people of the province the state of affairs during the election, for fear they’d be shown the door.

They were shown the door anyway.

(So much for that testimonial ad for Paul Davis’s campaign, in which a supporter says, “One thing for sure, you will know what’s going on. Full disclosure of everything. Paul will do that.”)

Now the Liberals have to make the very cuts they vowed during the election that they would not make. Why? Because they were so eager for power that they made campaign promises with financial implications before they even had a look at the books. (Incidentally, how much power do you actually wield when your hands are tied behind your back?)

Election promises are worth about as much here as Monopoly money.

The Tories, meanwhile, must have had their SIM cards wiped because they have no recollection of the fact that they squandered the best chance this province has ever had of achieving some sort of financial stability.

Is there anyone who can read Steve Kent’s tweets these days about how “Decisions are needed. Leadership is required” and not feel like you’re looking into a funhouse mirror?

He and Davis are hard at it, calling for immediate action and long-term plans, with all the misplaced sanctimony of TV evangelists.

Earle McCurdy’s bringing up the rear, knowing he can criticize the government all he likes because he will never find himself in the same sticky spot.

No wonder William Emberley’s lyrics are timeless:

“With holes in the roof and the rain it will pour. The chimney will smoke and it’s open the door. And it’s hard, hard times.”


Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email  pframpton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: Department of Finance

Geographic location: Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Stephen  Redgrave
    Stephen Redgrave
    January 27, 2016 - 13:16

    Ever wonder why some cities, and provinces in Canada do so much better than others? I've lived in a few , and I can say with confidence that it is the cities with the most immigrants that do the best. Whether it's third generation Italians, or East Indians who just stepped off the Jumbo jet. These are the people who come from places where, if you don't get off your butt and do something you literally starve to death. Our immigrants came from a place where there is no "Ottawa" to bail them out. In my case--my parents came from a bombed out city in England, and learned how to live on next to nothing , while Hitler sucked away all of their resources as they fought back. Originally, they were alone--it was Canada and England against Hitler. Newfoundland played a small part as well, but I've heard a lot of old timers here say "they enlisted just to get off the Island and see the world". I hope they liked what they saw. My family was bombed everyday for over 5 years. This is something the Western world never had to endure. This is where the guts to make a better life is born--not from being coddled by Ottawa since birth. Hopefully our new immigrants will help start new inland business in Newfoundland. It's easy to complain. It's a lot different actually doing something about it. Government will never make you rich, or successful. They will always, as history proves--take care of themselves first. If there is nothing left...to bad for the average Ahmed.

  • David Anstey
    January 24, 2016 - 16:30

    We get the government we deserve. Politicians are politicians because people are fickle. Anyone who didn't foresee this wasn't looking very hard.

  • Roger
    January 24, 2016 - 13:58

    It simply isn't in Newfoundland's nature to ever learn from the past; it has no memory. My wife was born there, grew up there, much of her family are there (of course many cousins left and will never return), but since going to school she has never returned. I've always spoken ill of the economy there, how it is chronically under-performing and if we ever returned we would watch our kids leave as well. Some years ago her parents started going on about all the oil money and how Newfoundland was saved, oh glorious day, all its ills gone! I knew it was temporary. An economy built in huge part on something so unstable as a commodity is risky. Easy come, easy go.

  • Observer
    January 24, 2016 - 08:29

    Diversify your economy. Grow root crops.

    • SkepticalNewfoundlander
      January 27, 2016 - 10:23

      The province isn't allowed to export potatoes or other root crop because of potato wart. Incidentally it was found in PEI in 2000 and they still can. But we can't expect Newfoundland to be treated like every other province.

  • Paul Hussey
    January 23, 2016 - 21:37

    $20,000,000,00.00+ Where is it? I smell a warren of rats running our Newfoundland Democracy. We need and we deserve an answer to that question.

  • Dolf
    January 23, 2016 - 21:16

    Just implying "the PC government" dunnit conjures up some kind of dark hole that's responsible for our downfall. Better we reflect on the district bobbleheadss we handed the reins to. Kennedy, Wiseman, Jackman, Davis, Hedderson et al who actually dunnit. But Dunderdale's umbrella for Nalcor will be NLs everlasting sin.

  • No Quick Fix
    January 23, 2016 - 10:14

    There are no miracles, no saviours, no magical and quick solutions, just hard work over time. That's the reality. Hopefully the new government is willing to dedicate itself to the serious challenges ahead, and thereof should be supported in their efforts to untie the tangle that they inherited.

    • dave
      January 23, 2016 - 15:06

      Hopefully???? That's about all we got because we've never had good government and all we got now is a government that is only good at planning.

  • Dale
    January 23, 2016 - 06:46

    So true Pam. Makes you wonder why people become politicians if this is the way you treat people. And Steve Kent....I am so tired of his rhetoric.