Hooray for semantics, that wonderful branch of study that seeks to debate the finer points of what words really mean.
And thank goodness for Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy, for explaining something that the electorate has probably always suspected, but has probably dreaded being told outright.
Last election’s Tory Blue Book, the party’s policy bible was, as it turns out, fiction, not non-
fiction — or, at least, as Kennedy explained it to The Telegram Tuesday, it was never meant as a set of election promises.
“You use the word ‘promise.’ I’m not sure the Blue Book can be described as a promise,” he said in an interview. “It’s a blueprint or a platform as opposed to an absolute promise.”
Well, OK then. Not only does Kennedy admit that the book’s discussion of post-secondary grants, rural broadband accessibility and paid family caregivers are basically a wish list, he doesn’t even take the commitments seriously enough to remember them all. He was the minister of health when the election promises — er,
platforms — were put forward, and has those ones in mind.
The others? Well, “I’m not aware of all the commitments that were in the Blue Book,” he said.
As finance minister, he’d have to be at the very heart of delivering the commitments. That would mean, if they were even on the most distant of drawing boards, he’d have to have an idea of the cost implications involved for the Blue Book offerings and an idea of how they were meant to fit into the province’s fiscal plan.
But not only does he not know what commitments were made, he doesn’t even know where they came from: “I’m not aware who wrote this, who put this in the Blue Book, what exactly they meant.”
To be fair, the Tories always made clear that everything included the caveat that their Blue Book commitments depended on the province having the fiscal capacity to deliver the goods.
That being said, though, one might assume that, after close to a decade in power, the Tories should have a good idea what was possible — and what was simply impossible pipe dreams.
Otherwise, why not offer everyone manned space travel to their very own moon-cottage? Why not offer — if the finances allowed — free electricity or discount gas or a job for every member of the unemployed?
Or why not rename the Blue Book the Election Wish Book?
It’s all something well worth keeping in mind the next time the Conservatives — or any other party, for that matter — trots out election offerings that are supposed to be that much more trustworthy because they’ve actually been put on paper.
If a party offers a plan, the reasonable expectation is that they at least believe that they can deliver on it.
Otherwise, it isn’t a promise or a platform.