Jeers: to carts before horses. St. John's councillors Tom Hann and Sheilagh O'Leary have spoken out against a proposed project to separate oily materials from offshore waste water. The proposed facility, which would go on St. John's Port Authority lands, is only in the early stages, but Hann and O'Leary want to send a letter to the provincial Environment Department outlining their concerns - even though they admit they haven't seen any details of the project yet. Hann told reporters, "Until we see what they want, we can't support it." That may be true - but, in fairness, until you see what they want, you can't legitimately oppose it, either. Perhaps a better plan would be to find out what's on the table, before deciding it should go in someone else's backyard?
Cheers: to a stitch in time saving nine. The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association is onto a good thing: the association pointed out Thursday that 87,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians smoke, and that a disproportionate number of those puffers are low-income earners. The spinoff? The association is suggesting that the provincial government pay for treatments that would help the smokers stop - and regardless of the endless complaints you're likely to hear about poorer members of society always being able to afford their smokes, it's a forward-looking investment in reducing future health-care costs. A hook-shot? Kevin Coady with the Alliance for Control of Tobacco suggested the province could recoup its spending through higher tobacco taxes. It's hard to see why this wouldn't be a good idea; the provincial government might or might not agree. Responding by email (something that's fast becoming the Dunderdale government's own particular addiction), a spokesman for the Department of Health and Community Services said the government will continue to monitor how such ideas work in other places.
Jeers: to road shows. The provincial government's fire department road show is underway again. Here's a release from Friday: "The Honourable Kevin O'Brien, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, today announced the Town of Stephenville will receive funding to purchase a new firefighting vehicle. Minister O'Brien was joined by the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills and MHA for St. George's-Stephenville East; Tony Cornect, MHA for Port au Port; Tom O'Brien, Mayor of Stephenville; and members of the community's fire department this morning for the announcement." It's just one of a series of annual announcements. Often, the government announces the money in one news release and then issues another when the equipment arrives, sending the minister along to hand over the trucks. In firefighting, costs are often huge and every penny counts - and some towns are getting mere thousands of dollars in help for essential gear like hoses and ladders. Why not save travel money and add it to the totals available to buy bunker gear and equipment for firefighters? Issue the press release and take the credit - although taking credit for the basic duty of protecting citizens does seem a mite crass.