They are a staple of the slow news period just before Christmas and through to the New Year: self-congratulatory government news releases.
There must even be a publication schedule set for the missives somewhere, one that keeps them dripping gently onwards like a kind of water torture.
Here are a few lines of the first wave of releases.
“Minister Reflects on Achievements of 2013 — There has been plenty to celebrate this year with natural resource development in the province. Successes in the areas of energy and mining have helped to propel the economy forward and generate jobs for residents and businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
“The provincial government made significant progress in the past year in providing access to information to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. ‘As a government, we recognize the importance of providing people with access to records and other information while upholding our obligation to protect personal and private information. In the past year, government departments have posted numerous reports and documents online that were not always publicly available. We encourage residents to go online to access this information, so they will be informed on key activities of the provincial government.’ — Honourable Steve Kent, acting minister responsible for the Office of Public Engagement.”
“Newfoundland and Labrador continued to benefit from a strong economy in 2013, leading all provinces in gross domestic product and capital investment growth. Over the last decade, the province has shown substantial growth in capital investment, employment, average weekly earnings, personal income, disposable income and retail sales. ‘This past year we have seen continued economic growth in our province, fuelled by record high capital investment in major projects, which has led to increased employment opportunities. This continued economic growth, along with unprecedented reductions in income tax by our government putting over $500 million annually back into the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, has resulted in more disposable income for residents. This, in turn, has resulted in an increase in retail sales.’ — Honourable Tom Marshall, minister of finance and president of Treasury Board.”
By now, you should get the drift, so there’s probably no reason to cite any more of the other eight that had already tumbled into the email bank by noon on Friday. (And there is certain to be at least one for every government department by the time the year ends.)
But here’s a thought.
Certainly, if the government feels it needs to use its communications staff to spend time writing vapid self-praise that few will ever see, so be it.
But once — just once — wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to hear a government say, “As the year draws to a close, we see some areas where we clearly need to improve — and we’re going to set about doing just that in the new year”?
A heartfelt resolution or two might be a welcome change from the tradition of governmental protestations of near-perfection.