Cheers and Jeers

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Cheers: to speed.

Around 30 minutes after he was sworn in as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, this was the first sentence of Tom Marshall’s Wikipedia entry: “Tom Marshall, QC, MHA is a Canadian lawyer, politician and currently premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.” Let’s hope all aspects of the new premier’s communications strategy unfold as smoothly. The change also occurred on the PC party website within minutes of his appointment; the headline of the page, however, still read “DUNDERDALE” in capital letters and boasted the former premier’s photograph. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Jeers: to unheated storage and heated issues. So, the auditor general tells us that the provincial government didn’t have enough heated hangar space to store all of its new, state-of-the-art waterbombers, but apparently did have enough space at one of its leased hangars to store personal items belonging to government employees, including “automobiles, campers, motorcycles, boats, golf carts, all-

terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.” Word is that the Department of Transportation and Works is now sending the private vehicles packing.

Cheers: to a blast from the past. Back in July 2010, then natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale wasn’t available to do interviews with The Telegram about the provincial government’s sudden interest — and investment — in cranberry farming. But John Decas, a cranberry farmer with 50 years in the business in Massachusetts, did talk: “The state of the industry is dire right now — if I had to use one word, that would be the word,” Decas said. “And so I would have to conclude that any investment in cranberries right now is a very risky investment, whether it’s a grower or a growing company or a government that’s doing it.” Almost four years later, the province’s auditor general has found the province’s $12.2 million, five-year cranberry expansion program has had more than a few hiccups: it hasn’t found farms to pick up the funding, hasn’t audited the program’s results, and cranberry farms account for just 200 acres of plants, instead of the ambitious 500 acres the government expected by now. As well, the Department of Natural Resources failed to comply with cabinet orders requiring cranberry farmers to pay 50 per cent of the cost of cranberry plants grown by a government nursery. Cranberry framers are still hoping the industry will strengthen.

Jeers: to government budgeting. The province’s waste management strategy chopped $80 million to $100 million in work from its province-wide waste disposal strategy yet the auditor general has determined the strategy will still overrun its $200-million budget by a whopping 58 per cent, shooting up to $315.8 million. And, in case that looks like the end of the growth of expenses on the strategy, consider these words from the AG: “Included in the infrastructure estimate … is approximately $75 million for the implementation of the province’s composting initiative, with which the department has no past experience. There was no supporting documentation outlining how the estimate for composting initiatives was arrived at.”

Elevator— going up!

Organizations: Wikipedia, Department of Transportation and Works, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Massachusetts

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