Dan Crummell is picking up where Kevin O’Brien left off.
This is from a news release on Friday: “The Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services-Newfoundland and Labrador, will be joined by Clayton Forsey, MHA for Exploits, at two funding announcements tomorrow. At 11:00 a.m. Minister Crummell will make a capital works funding announcement at the fire hall in the Town of Northern Arm. A second funding announcement will follow at the fire hall in the Town of Botwood at 12:00 p.m.”
Yes, it’s the annual fire truck and municipal funding tour and road show, a trip that sees the municipal affairs minister travel from town to town, announcing fire equipment that’s already been announced in the provincial budget. Often, there’s a rerun of the tour, which happens when the fire trucks in question actually appear, and there’s a ceremony handing over the keys.
Local municipal officials are expected to turn out and offer effusive thanks to our most beneficent of all governments. Here’s a sample from Gambo, already helpfully written into the news release ahead of time: “‘I would like to thank the provincial government for their commitment to fire services. This new infrastructure is a considerable investment that will bring many benefits to the town of Gambo and strengthen the capability of our volunteer firefighters.’ — Peter Lush, Mayor, Town of Gambo.”
In addition, the minister would love a photo and caption in the local paper, please, preferably with the nearest local Progressive Conservative MHA front-and-centre.
Crummell is also reannouncing the budget’s municipal capital funding, trundling from town to town collecting the requisite gratefulness from the assembled rural masses. Here’s some money for your sewer system; here’s clean water for your taps; here’s some smooth black pavement and a culvert or two, brought to you by the Progressive Conservative minister and the Progressive Conservative MHA.
Nothing wrong with demanding credit where it’s due, right?
Sorry, but there is something wrong with it. Something very wrong with it, even though it’s been done for years by Tories and Liberals alike.
Governments are supposed to meet the needs of their constituents — they shouldn’t have to be thanked for clean water and proper fire protection. We don’t start the school day by having the students stand and give thanks to the minister of education for classrooms and teachers, nor should we. We don’t put every new premier’s face on the licence plate or spang in the middle of the province’s coat of arms.
Governments collect taxes from taxpayers and oversee how that money is spent. It should be spent fairly, based on need and without reference to the politics of the government at hand.
The fire truck tour is tired, old-school politics of the worst kind — the fact that it goes on every year says something about how tired the provincial government actually is.
When the fire trucks arrive, they’ll be brand new and they’ll probably start.
The same shouldn’t be said for the Conservatives’ vote-getting plan.
There comes a point when buying voters with the kind of services citizens deserve and pay for isn’t going to work.