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The provincial Liberal train continues to pick up speed. Cathy Bennett’s 40-vote win in Virginia Waters Wednesday night was the third straight byelection victory for the Grits since the 2011 general election.

Expectedly, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball used the win in Kathy Dunderdale’s old district to note his party was paying attention to people. He also forecasted a Liberal win when province goes to the polls in 2015. That, too, is to be expected from him.

“Liberals are listening to the people of the province in our province,” Ball said. “We will deliver, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be a better province because of the next Liberal government.”

After years of wallowing in the political weeds, Ball’s party has been gaining momentum for a few months and this has become the kind of political rhetoric expected from the well-coiffed politician.

But it’s time the darling of Deer Lake proved he’s not all flash and no bang.

What are the Liberals actually going to deliver to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians if they win the next election?

Ball attempted to provide some sort of an answer in a letter to the editor published here Wednesday.

He wrote that the Liberals want to restore accountability and transparency, develop a new energy plan, improve health care and develop a long-term plan for infrastructure.

As well, the Liberals would hold a forum for municipalities, introduce economic development strategies and appoint a group of “driven and innovative people to create a diversification strategy.”

Sadly, Ball even trotted out the “our greatest resource is our people” line — a true, but abused and overused phrase by people reaching for power.

It was as deep as Ball got in a forum that provided little detail.

“Right now, we’re collaborating with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, creating a comprehensive plan that addresses the concerns and interests of all people across the province,” he wrote. “We’re more interested in that work right now than rolling out a Red Book months ahead of general election call.”

But Ball’s letter seemed like it could have been taken from past Blue Books, especially the new energy plan part. (“New Energy” was Dunderdale’s slogan during the 2011 general election.)

There was noting in Ball’s piece that showed vision, innovation, principle or leadership. If he’s listening to people as closely he says, he should have realized these are things Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need.

Until Ball shares more details about where he’d like to take us, and what makes him different, all we’ve got is guy who dresses well and carries himself decently.

That sure doesn’t make him the best choice to become premier.

C’mon, Dwight, enough of the surface rhetoric. Show us what you’ve got.

If you don’t, especially with a new Tory leader coming soon, the Liberals could find that train off the track.

Organizations: New Energy

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Deer Lake

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  • FINTIP
    April 11, 2014 - 14:03

    It's a common thing for editorial writers to demand opposition leaders put meat on their political bones. Trudeau has been hounded for months now on the same issue. The reality however is that, while the media do well to ask, opposition leaders do well to ignore. Not completely of course. The public deserves to know the principles on which political parties stand - things like openness, fairness, transparency and accountability. But governments-in-waiting are under no obligation to provide a detailed policy or legislative platform before taking office. It is a misunderstanding of the British parliamentary system to believe otherwise. In Britain and in the colonies, the intended role of the opposition has been to keep governments honest, to criticize, to hold their feet to the fire. Prime ministers of Canada renowned as great protectors of parliament - e.g. Diefenbaker and Pearson in the modern era - have elucidated the opposition role quite well. Said Diefenbaker, "It must be vigilant against oppression and unjust invasions by the Cabinet of the rights of the people. It should supervise all expenditures and prevent over-expenditure by exposing to the light of public opinion wasteful expenditures or worse. It finds fault; it suggests amendments; it asks questions and elicits information; it arouses, educates and molds public opinion by voice and vote. It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the short-cuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make." It is in its dogged attacks on government policy, programs, and decisions that an opposition party best conveys its own intentions to the public. And while it is also the tacit goal of opposition parties to displace government whenever they can, the existence of a ready-to-roll legislative agenda is rarely ever the key to that happening. The old saw, of course, is that governments defeat themselves. At the present time in Ottawa and in St. John's, we have two governments whose record well illustrates the veracity of that statement. There is an overwhelming consensus in this province that the Williams-Dunderdale-Marshall-(and soon-to-be) Coleman government has simply run out of steam, that it is well past its best-before date, and that it has become anti-democratic. Ball must continue to promise good government based on the very principles the existing crowd has shown such willingness to ignore. Of course the public must have a general idea of Liberal priorities. But too much specificity poses risks - not just to Liberal party chances of forming the next government but more especially on the flexibility it will need upon becoming that government. Today's party is not tomorrow's caucus or cabinet; nor at this stage does it have access to the machinery of government. While bureaucracies are often derided, they are an extremely important element in the governance structure. In the absence of their advice, opposition parties can go too far in defining their agenda. Doing so can result in policies being implemented merely to keep an election promise - not because they are right. Alternatively, election platforms are abandoned in the face of expert advice but to the political detriment of the newly minted government.

    • Maurice E. Adams
      April 11, 2014 - 14:52

      Very much agree. However, just saying "a new energy plan" tells us nothing. Surely, there could be some indications, at eh very least, of what is wrong with the existing energy plan. "Principles" can apply to various policy issues, without locking oneself into too many specifics. I think there is room, and about time, that the opposition put more meat on the bones of their concerns and how they would improve things.

  • KoolAid Keyboard
    April 11, 2014 - 09:37

    It shouldn't be hard, the Tories are that desperate now that they'll latch on to anything to look better. It makes it sound like everyone in the province knows what the Pc's policies are. To keep information from the people must have been one of them. We all can remember when MHA J. Kennedy call the Blue Book for what it really was, basically trash on in book form! But maybe Danny will give them something to say last minute is the best thing people can hope for, where's Timmy when you needs him! Because once again what the Pc's say and actually do are two different things. But the people in VW asked themselves two major questions 1) do they think they actually need these programed coat tails loyal to only to one person 2) how can they be the least cost option when we don't have anymore free power to give away. No wonder they look so bewildered when asked a question. They are trying to remember the lines to some fake story from a over price kids novelist instead of giving the people the straight up goods. And as regards of listening to the people, maybe when the covers come off the confederation building, it will reveal Dunderdale had Bell Tone build the worlds biggest Earing Aid on top of the 8th floor. but it seems the people have found a big RED Q-tip now instead.

    • Happily Retired
      April 11, 2014 - 17:02

      Kool Aid, What is an "Earing Aid"?

  • Roy
    April 11, 2014 - 07:56

    What kind of games are they playing at the Telegram? The day before the by-election they printed ball's letter but don't bother to critique it until after the election.

    • Pam Frampton
      April 11, 2014 - 08:35

      No games being played here. Dwight Ball's letter to the editor was in response to an earlier (i.e. pre-byelection) editorial we had published that asked the Liberals to divulge their platform.

    • Maurice E. Adams
      April 11, 2014 - 10:22

      Seems that the editorial is pretty much on the mark......... Both the Liberals and the PCs have an opportunity to show voters "...vision, innovation, principle (and) leadership".... So far, neither has delivered.... Platitudes about Bill 29 just don't cut it for me.