Cheers: to dates. On Dec. 17, Premier Kathy Dunderdale announces the sanction of the Muskrat Falls project. Jan. 28, a job posting closes for a director’s job in the Department of Natural Resources — the Electricity and Alternative Energy Division. The job? Director of electricity and alternative energy. Among the skill sets the government suddenly needs? “Knowledge of the North American electricity industry or industries in other jurisdictions, and knowledge of electricity programming in the province and the impacts of planned electricity developments (hydro) would also be an asset.” Given the complexity of the lead-up to Muskrat Falls, perhaps the government could have used someone who could be “responsible for the identification and implementation of policies/initiatives related to the structure and regulation of the electricity industry and alternative/renewable energy sources” a lot sooner.
Jeers: to $27,485. That’s the level of the average Canadian’s consumer debt, according to credit monitoring company TransUnion, despite warnings that we are becoming critically overextended. It’s a six per cent single-year increase, the first time the number has crested $27,000, and the fastest single-year growth in debt since 2009. The culprits? Mostly new car loans and instalment loans, the sorts used for furniture and other high-expense home items. We owe more than we can pay, and we’re reacting by firmly pushing our fingers into our ears so we can’t hear it. You can’t do it forever, folks — and it sure looks like all the warnings in the world about the dangers, should interest rates rise, are falling on deaf ears. As ye borrow, so shall ye pay. With interest.
Cheers: to the way access to information is supposed to work. There’s been plenty written in this paper about the government’s changes to access to information and the way Bill 29 restricted what’s supposed to be a right to access information. There have also been plenty of stories about how slow the process has become, with some requests dragging on for months after the legislated deadline. Well, here’s a little ray of sunshine: on two recent requests, The Telegram not only received an answer within the 30 days required by law, but actually received all the information requested in fewer than 30 days. Maybe 49 pages of released material is not a complete sea change, but at least it’s a start. Then again, there’s Advanced Education Minister Joan Shea, who, when asked this week if she would release a $148,000 report prepared by former auditor general John Noteworthy, said she would release it — unless she was prevented from doing so by the access act. If its purpose is to facilitate blocking the release of information, shouldn’t it be called the Removal of Access to Information Act? Literally: two steps forward, one step back, and all in one week.