Fool me once

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“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Are we hopelessly naive or what? Tuesday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale seemed almost aflutter with the idea that a campaigning Stephen Harper might come to town and promise loan guarantees for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

“The prime minister is coming on Thursday, and I’m looking forward to that with a great deal of anticipation, and we’ll see what Thursday brings,” she said. “I’ve said time and time again that I would be struck amazed if the prime minister wasn’t supportive of Muskrat Falls. It’s a very good project for the people of the province.”

That may well be happening today — but even if it does, no one should be struck amazed if any promise made turns out to be completely hollow, despite the sudden flocking of provincial Tories to the campaign launches of federal Conservative candidates.

Because it’s happened before.

For those with short memories, then-premier Danny Williams wrote to Stephen Harper during the 2006 election campaign, and asked specifically about whether a Harper government would provide loan guarantees for the Lower Churchill project. Harper wrote back that his party “would welcome discussions” on a project they supported “in principle.”

Williams took that to mean he had the prime minister’s support. He didn’t.

And that wasn’t the only bit of flimflammery.

That year, Harper also wrote “we will remove” non-renewable resources from the equalization formula.

He repeated that when asked about equalization, saying: “We’re certainly aware of the commitments we made in the 2006 election campaign, and our government does pride itself on fulfilling its commitments.”

Heck, Harper was making the same promise as far back as 2004, when he said in Parliament “This is a commitment that was made by me in my capacity as leader of the Canadian Alliance when I first arrived here and has it origins in the intentions of the Atlantic Accord signed by former Prime Minister (Brian) Mulroney in the mid-1980s. These are longstanding commitments, our commitment to 100 per cent of non-renewable resource royalties. It was our commitment during the election, before the election, and it remains our commitment today.”

In fact, Harper did not do anything of the kind — he took equalization in another direction entirely, capping financial returns to provinces in a move that the provincial government classed as deceit.

Here was Williams, talking about how that election promise turned out: “Stephen Harper came into our province and said, essentially, here is my promise to you: elect me and my party and we will give you more than what you have now, because it is the right thing to do. … Yesterday, he told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador ... that his promises do not matter, and they most certainly cannot be relied upon.”

Yet here we are again, in the midst of a federal election campaign, breathlessly waiting to see if Harper will come to town and bestow yet another promise of federal largesse. Are we rubes, or what? To hear Dunderdale talk about it, the value of federal loan guarantees to the project is priceless.

The actual value of those promises from federal candidates during a federal election?

Truly worthless.

Organizations: Canadian Alliance

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • jerome delaney
    March 31, 2011 - 18:50

    Newfoundland pride left with Danny Williams, and the cronnies took over. My stomach turns to see the provincial PC's sucking up to the federal Conservatives, may they all get a rude awakening in the next election, federal and provincial. How short their memories are, hopefully the people will not forget so easily. We now know why Danny was POed with his party, and so he should, we all should be. Please Danny come back and get us back on track again, of pride and self determination.

  • Gordon
    March 31, 2011 - 17:18

    "It's as simple as ABC," said Danny Williams. It was true then and it's true now.

  • DeeDee
    March 31, 2011 - 14:27

    Yup. The loan is guaranteed....until May 3rd.

    • please
      March 31, 2011 - 18:57

      he said IF we are voted in after may 3rd .......no guarentee right now ...only an empty promise ....did ya see the bloc leaders in quebec the comments they made !!

  • Geoff Meeker
    March 31, 2011 - 10:23

    I find this whole transition, from "Harper is a fraud" to "Harper will deliver us", to be totally surreal. I think the provincial PCs have sadly overestimated the influence they have over the electorate. Do they really think they can tell us that Harper is now a changed man, that he can suddenly be trusted, after telling us the exact opposite in 2008? And what is the trade-off? A loan guarantee that requires the feds to spend NOTHING? I think they are playing with fire on this, and may seriously damage their own popularity going into the provincial election in October.

    • MGP
      March 31, 2011 - 14:45

      Hear, Hear!!!

  • Robert Taylor
    March 31, 2011 - 09:54

    I fear that Kathy Dunderdale will be a pushover for Harper. Already we have seen no reaction to the Old Harry giveaway to Quebec, a paltry loan guarantee is all it took for the province's support and silence. I guess our days of standing up to the Ottawa clique are over.

  • peter peter pumpkineater
    March 31, 2011 - 09:48

    great editorial; probably one of best i ve every read

  • Steve
    March 31, 2011 - 09:37

    What is it that Harper is offering, a loan guarantee, big deal. The odds of the federal government having to bail out this deal due to some kind of failure would be no better than winning this week's Lotto Max jackpot. Does he really think we are all that stupid. We all have vivid memories of some of his previous promises!

  • RON
    March 31, 2011 - 09:23

    Dunderdale is like a teenager on prom night with the anticipation that this might be her lucky night and Prince Charming might sweep her off her feet. BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT THE CHARIOT TURNS INTO A PUMPKIN!!

  • Gerry
    March 31, 2011 - 09:02

    I remember Paul Martin making similar promises and then trying to renege until Danny went nuts and tore down the flags. Really, are there any fools out there that actually believe any politician, Conservative, Liberal or miscellaneous (NDP) will keep their promises or give a sh1t about NL.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 31, 2011 - 08:32

    Yes, I too am "struck amazed" that the 'one from on high' might grace NL with his presence. Who knows, he may even bless us with another 'promise'. I thought that we, as a Province, and as a people, were past that subservient attitude. Maurice E. Adams, Paradise

  • Dave from Mt Pearl
    March 31, 2011 - 08:30

    Cathy better beware because if she is struck amazed anymore this month it could be bad for her.Let's hope she does not get struck as often as she states that she will.Harper will remain the same,he is the same,the same as he was in the old Alliance party and ever since.Worth a look to see him in action over the years,he is, to use a newfoundland term ,rather oily.I am a Tory but really how can anyone fall for the guff that spews from any politicans mouth.All the old boys are now jumping on board trying to get elected out of concern for the province,hmmmm, I wonder where that concern was during the ABC campaign of last election,are they simply opportunists or genuinely concerned.Danny for prime minister,we want Danny,we want Danny.I cannot wait for a tell all book to come out in the years to come of the past ten years of Government in Newfoundland,The Danny era.Danny was in power they all latched on,listened to every word as they had to,obeyed all orders to do whatever it was that was demanded by the King,went against popular opinion as was ordered,did not listen to the voters that elected them but choose to remain loyal,what happened,why has he been exiled from the party.We are in a Country governed by a Government that was put in place by less than 30% of the population how odd is that.Please people get out and vote if you know someone who is not going to vote encourage them ,drive them,do whatever it takes to get the vote out there.It does not matter for which party one votes for as long as they get out there and do vote.Let us make democracy work for us.

  • Townie
    March 31, 2011 - 08:15

    He doesn't give us much credit does he? Is he under the impression that because Newfoundlanders are famously hospitable, we are also fools? Fool me once, indeed!

  • Disgusted citizen
    March 31, 2011 - 07:42

    Dunderdale certainly has earned the nicknames "Stunderdale", "Blunderdale", "Dunderhead", etc. Unconscionable what this crowd of betrayers is doing, and especially when you consider that we will be billions of dollars more in debt with skyrocketing energy bills to pay for the Danny Williams Memorial Dam. Oh, and not to mention these fickle minions were cursing the evil Harper only 2 1/2 short years ago. Total pigs at the trough. Oink oink. And on our backs, and that of our children's and grandchildren's. Kathy Dunderdale is the Joey Smallwood of the 21st century. You must be proud, girl.