Flashes of brilliance

Pam
Pam Frampton
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We remain committed to making our government more responsible, transparent and accountable than any other in our province's history.

- From the "Strong Governance" section of the PC Party Blueprint, (www.pcparty.nf.net/blueprint200702.htm)



Well, we are truly blessed. With rookie Health Minister Paul Oram's revelation last week that he didn't require briefing notes to get up to speed in his new portfolio, we learned that we have not one, but at least two geniuses in the provincial cabinet.



Oram can now proudly stand alongside Joan Burke in the lineup of gifted ministers who have such massive brain power, they can take in critical information verbally and draw upon it with astounding accuracy at any time.



Kudos to Premier Danny Williams for recognizing those impressive talents and putting them to work for our best advantage.



We can relax now, safe in the knowledge that only good things can happen in the departments of Health, and Child, Youth and Family Services, respectively, with such mental strength at the helm.



What a relief!



Oram has great respect for the spoken word, and he told Telegram reporter Rob Antle it's his favourite way to learn new things.



"I didn't ask for any briefing notes," he acknowledged, humble despite his great gifts.



"To tell you the truth, I don't get much out of briefing notes. I get more out of people sitting and talking to me about what we've got to do."



I imagine that in the coming months, he'll be hearing from quite a few people who have opinions about what he should be doing, with words both choice and not-so-much filling the air.



We wish him the best of luck, and hope he has the capacity to take it all in and file it away "upstairs," as they say.



But Oram's admission shouldn't take any of the shine off of Joan Burke. Let's face it, you've got to admire the moxie of a cabinet minister who's willing to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, all for the good of the province and its people.



"I want to dig in," the tenacious minister told The Telegram in June, when asked why there were no briefing notes prepared for her when she selflessly handed the reins of her beloved Education Department over to another minister so that she could head up a brand new initiative.



"I didn't want to be handed a binder with 500 or 1,000 sheets of paper to try to determine what's important and what's not, and what's current and what I need on my radar. I want to be in a position where it's dialogue, and I'm able to dig in and ask the questions."



And we all know how fond Burke is of questions, particularly when they're aimed at potential presidential candidates for Memorial University - although in that case, even Burke had to write a few things down.



Who knows? Maybe Environment Minister Charlene Johnson will jump on the intellectually awesome and planet-friendly bandwagon next and give her papers a toss.



Down with briefing notes! Up with trees!



Think of it - the province could then tout itself as "responsible, transparent, accountable and paperless."



Granted, it wouldn't do much to help the pulp and paper industry, but think of how much less trash would make it to the landfill. And all those shredders could be returned for refunds!



It's an admirable idea.



Of course, working in the newspaper industry, I don't long for a paperless world. Paper is our lifeblood, for goodness sake. We breathe paper fibre and bleed ink; the press is our altar, the print our creed. ...



But I digress.



Journalists love the planet, too, and we've got pretty good memories. So perhaps we could reach some sort of compromise in order to help the government further its paperless agenda.



What say from now on we take no notes? Straight-up verbal interviews. No e-mail followup questions, no faxed court documents.



I, for one, would be willing to do my part as a columnist and put myself "in a position where it's dialogue, and I'm able to dig in and ask the questions."



Just don't get upset if you think I've misquoted you at some point and I flatly deny it.



You won't be able to prove it, though, will you? It'll just be your word against mine.



What? Can you see my notes?



Sorry, there are no notes.



It's almost like the whole thing didn't happen.



Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail at pframpton@thetelegram.com. Read paperless versions of her columns online at www.thetelegram.com.

Organizations: PC Party Blueprint, The Telegram, Youth and Family Services Education Department

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  • mercedes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Boy Pam. Have you qot it spot on! These people simply don't want to work and no one can take them to task for it because there's no paper trail! Remember all the 'i don't recalls' last year at the inquiry? And they'll get in again, just you watch! Put in by 80% of Newfoundlanders who think this govt, will personally line their pockets with gold!

  • mercedes
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Boy Pam. Have you qot it spot on! These people simply don't want to work and no one can take them to task for it because there's no paper trail! Remember all the 'i don't recalls' last year at the inquiry? And they'll get in again, just you watch! Put in by 80% of Newfoundlanders who think this govt, will personally line their pockets with gold!