I write in response to an article in the July 10 issue of The Telegram titled “Bluebook is a platform, not actual promises: Kennedy.”
Let me begin by inviting your readers to read the entire transcript of
my interview with your reporter (http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/24626/Jerome-Kennedy-in-his-own-words) and to compare that to the article that ran in your paper.
In particular there are a number of areas I would like to highlight:
The Blue Book represents our government’s vision for the province over a four-year term. It sets out clear goals and objectives we commit to achieve during that time. We are less than two years into the mandate and 43 per cent of the Blue Book commitments have been completed or substantially completed.
In implementing these commitments, the fiscal situation has been considered and it will continue to be considered in implementing the remainder of the commitments. That has been stated by the premier and is referenced in the Blue Book. It would be irresponsible to not consider the province’s finances.
I did a lengthy interview with the reporter, the majority of the interview was focused on the budget, fiscal commitments and the commitment in the Blue Book regarding the establishment of a fiscal ceiling for new spending in each budget year. It was not clear in the article that my comments were made about the fiscal ceiling specifically and not about the Blue Book overall. As an example, when I made the comment “I’m not aware of who wrote this, who put this in the Blue Book, what exactly they meant,” I was specifically referring to the fiscal ceiling. I went on to say in the next sentence “Essentially, what we’re saying is that each year we will try to keep our new spending within certain parameters and that we will make our choices accordingly ….”
I acknowledged during that interview that “the Blue Book is a very serious document which we outline our platform and which we try to outline what we will do in the next four years.” Later in the interview I said that “we strive as best we can to ensure that the commitments made or the components of the platform are complied with.” There was no reference to either of these comments in the article.
Specifically referencing the establishment of a ceiling for new spending growth, I referenced that in 2012 new spending was 2.2 per cent and in 2013 it was 1.5 per cent and outlined the budgetary process and how we work to keep new spending low. There was no reference in the article to the spending caps that were established in each of those years in the article.
The article states that I couldn’t talk about specific campaign promises. I did refer the reporter to individual ministers for specific information on commitments, but used the example of the Corner Brook hospital as a commitment made and kept. I said “In terms of the other issues you’ve talked about, you’ll either have to talk to the minister of Education or Advanced Education or the minister of (Innovation, Business and Rural Development.)” Again, no reference in the article.
Our government is proud of the progress we have made to date in implementing 43 per cent of our commitments less than halfway through the mandate.
We will continue to implement commitments in the coming years while maintaining our commitment to fiscal sustainability.
Minister of Finance and president
of Treasury Board