Stop the spin

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The Telegram’s Steve Bartlett reported this past weekend on a series of leaked electronic messages that proved Tory MHA Paul Lane and others were up to their necks in stacking online polls and co-ordinating calls to open-line shows.

As underhanded as that is — and conventional wisdom suggests it’s common practice  — what’s more disturbing is the way Lane seemed willing to boldly deny charges and bend the truth, even in the face of such evidence.

It lends credence to the all-too-common belief that politicians, by nature, are devious and deceitful. And that’s just not healthy.

On Friday, more tomfoolery surfaced in the form of a government news release titled “Changes made to the provincial ferry service.”

This release falls into a well-known category: the Friday bombshell with the buried lead. The only saving grace was that it didn’t arrive at 4:45 in the afternoon, when newsrooms are winding down for the weekend.

As Telegram reporter Barb Sweet noted in her weekend report, the release talked about a number of changes in schedules and vessel assignments before getting to the big news.

In fact, it’s not until the sixth paragraph that the release mentions the fate of one of the province’s most famous floating disasters: the MV Nonia.

To whit: “The MV Nonia is currently in dry dock, and is not expected to return to service until January 2014.”

Now if, for some reason, you were just scanning this report, you’d be inclined to think the Nonia was still going to be part of the province’s fleet — at least by next winter. But the next sentence veers in the opposite direction: “Given this time frame and the estimated cost of $9 million to complete repairs, a decision was made to remove it from the provincial fleet, have it decommissioned and sold.”

The PC government has taken many hits over the years for throwing good money after bad. This Estonian vessel, which came with a Russian owner’s manual and a boatload of flaws, has drained far too many millions from the provincial treasury already. Its demise was long overdue.

Why, then, wouldn’t the government want to flout its decision to get rid of the thing? After all, it was Brian Tobin’s Liberal administration that purchased the rust bucket in the first place.

The answer is simple. Ducking hot topics is instinctual in government. Even though this could have been presented in a positive light, it was instead quietly tucked far down the page.

It’s the same attitude that got Eastern Health officials in hot water back in 2009, when a late Friday news release meandered on about insignificant matters before casually mentioning that more breast cancer patients had been identified as possible victims of faulty hormone tests.

“They should be shot over there,” then premier Danny Williams famously thundered, signalling that that sort of cynical spin was even below his standards.

Eastern Health has at least tried to change its tune since that time. Clearly it’s time for other government members and departments to straighten up and fly right with their messaging.

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Recent comments

  • EDfromRED
    February 20, 2013 - 10:36

    The biggest problem this government has is that it is attempting to fool a populace who are more intelligent than they are. Every week that goes by, there seems to be one story, or several, coming from the PC's, that defies logic and common sense. Bill C-29, No Burton Winters inquiry, an orgy of Plum Patronage Appointments...followed by desperate cries of deficit, just when public service employees contract negotiations are ongoing. Using our tax dollars to fund poll fixing and schedule open line calls. I suggest our provincial PC's adopt an animal symbol for their party, like they do South of the border. The Hear,See,Speak no evil monkeys: The PC's don't Hear peoples concerns --unless they are big business. Thanks to C-29, we don't See the truth. They are afraid of, try to influence, free Speech.

    • david
      February 20, 2013 - 10:58

      Ed do honestly believe that first sentence? Really? The proof is in the pudding, friend.

    • Edward Sawdon
      February 20, 2013 - 12:45

      EDFROMRED You are completely right! We need a ABCD campaign in the next provincial election! It is strange but not surprising that the Dunderdale, Kennedy, Marshall P.C. Government is talking about the deficit, cutbacks way after they sanctioned their multibillion dollar deficit driven Muscrat Falls project!

  • Score clock Hypnotism
    February 19, 2013 - 15:05

    Now I know why they go to the ice cap games. That's where they all get organized.

  • Colin Burke
    February 19, 2013 - 09:42

    Far too many modern writers get "flout" and "flaunt" mixed up. Why didn't the government flaunt its decision?

  • W Bagg
    February 19, 2013 - 09:35

    I'm sure Paul Lane lives by the Seinfield philosophy, "It's not really a lie if you truly believe it" Yes the decision to scuttle the Nonia is a sound financial decision, however the PCs are gonna need as many "outport" votes as possible next election, hence the attempt to hide the announcement

    • Corporate Psycho
      February 19, 2013 - 19:17

      If anyone in an outport votes for this crowd again they get what they deserve. We will be years recovering financially and rooting out all the patronage appointments.

  • Scott Free
    February 19, 2013 - 07:35

    You can't expect anything more from that Secret Society known as the Con Party of NL. They are absolutely paranoid that someone may have a differing opinion or independant thought. Lies, deceit, corruption and cover-ups are hallmarks of the Tory Party and that will never change.

    • Mr.U
      February 19, 2013 - 14:28

      Don't worry about the haters Paul. Some ppl have nothing better then to conplain.

    • Eli
      February 19, 2013 - 15:19

      U doubting this story Mr. U? No wonder we're in a mess. By now I know the woods are full of clowns like you.

  • JM
    February 19, 2013 - 07:20

    Does anyone believe that this kind of activity is partial to the conservatives? All parties are up to this sort of thing. It's kind of like campaigning. The fact that there not boasting there not so great decisions is the same as we seen with previous governments whether they were red or blue.