Liberals need an action plan now

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Newfoundland and Labrador is facing a serious and increasingly challenging fiscal circumstance. The impact of the oil price drop is so significant that we require a long-term fiscal plan to get us through the revenue crunch we’re facing.

However, the province can’t wait 15 months until 2017 for a Liberal plan. We need a plan now, in advance of Budget 2016.

Our Progressive Conservative-led government announced a long-range plan in 2015, and we were well on our way to implementing it. It included measures like decreasing government costs through attrition rather than layoffs, putting certain infrastructure projects on hold and raising new revenue through the HST — an unpopular decision, but the fairest way to raise the extra revenue we require to meet our immediate needs without slashing core programs and hurting the people who rely on them. The HST could be raising extra revenue right now while protecting the most vulnerable and lowest income families by expanded tax credits.

So far, the new Liberal government — which consulted on policy for more than two years before assuming office — has offered no new, comprehensive or long-range strategies to cope with the crisis our province faces. They have re-announced many of our policies, such as full-day kindergarten, tourism marketing, broadband and public-private partnerships for long-term care, but they have also reversed course on parts of our plan, increasing the deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars in doing so.

We are deeply concerned that their 15-month pre-budget dialogue plan is too lengthy and not the focused action that is needed to find the solutions we need right now.

It’s time for leadership. That does not mean making harsh decisions that hurt the vulnerable or leave our economy in shambles. It means making the right decisions that strike a proper balance and lead to growth rather than decline.

The premier needs to be active and effective in bringing Ottawa onside as we tackle the challenges. Saskatchewan and Alberta have been very vocal in calling for federal action to aid their provinces, which face similar crises to ours because of the oil price decline. They are campaigning publicly for equalization reform, infrastructure investments and stimulus initiatives. We need to be standing at the front of the pack, alongside Alberta and Saskatchewan, in demanding Ottawa’s intervention and fair treatment on equalization, transfer payments, infrastructure investments and other measures that will stimulate growth when and where it is needed.

We need to ratchet up our tourism campaign away from home, now that the low dollar makes Canada’s tourism product more attractive. We need to be aggressive in fighting for market share. Thousands of our people in rural communities will benefit as a result.

Ottawa should act right now to reduce Marine Atlantic ferry rates to drive tourism growth. We need to be out there calling for that, but we are not hearing much from our government or seeing evidence that anything they may be doing behind the scenes is making a difference.

We also need Ottawa’s promised share of the CETA fisheries investment fund to kick in right now, so plants can modernize to prepare for trade opportunities in Europe and elsewhere. The federal Liberals promised to deliver on that fund. Demand that they deliver, right now.

Those are just a few of our suggestions, but they are far-reaching  and will make an enormous difference if they are implemented sooner rather than later.

The House of Assembly should be opened now so we can discuss this openly, draw together the best suggestions, firm up a long-range plan, stand together in demanding federal action, and make any budgetary and legislative decisions that are required to implement the actions right now that are going to keep our province strong and growing stronger.

Time is a luxury that Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t have to waste. The government was elected to deliver. It’s time to start delivering.


Paul Davis

Leader of the Official Opposition

Organizations: Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Alberta Canada Europe Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Stimulus funds from the Feds
    January 24, 2016 - 10:33

    With regard to stimulus funding from the Feds, St. John's should be discussing how to spend the funds most appropriately (new Waterford Hospital?) - Calgary and Saskatoon are already way ahead of us:

  • Brian
    January 24, 2016 - 09:18

    Mr. Davis you have zero credibility and have shown that you are not a model for sound judgement ,leadership,negotiating skills or creative ideas. You and your government would have been annihilated if the taxpayers had the true picture of our present economic dilemma . During your leadership your highest approval ratings were when you REVERSED decisions that you had previously made . What does that tell you about your judgement and leadership? I agree that we cannot wait 15 months for changes and reviews ,we need action now. This province would be in a better position if you and your colleagues had not blindly forged ahead with Muskrat Falls ( against real expert advice ) . You failed to hold Nalcor accountable because you and your oversight committee didn't have the interest or were just incompetent . You failed miserably as the guardian of this provinces finances .This province is in a sever financial situation that won't easily be overcome but I have faith in our future and hopefully we will learn from the mistakes of the past ,get rid of the secrecy that allowed government and crown corporations to spend like there was no tomorrow The books need to remain open .It was heavy handed ,secretive , unnecessary and contemptuous to initiate and pass legislation like Bill 29 . Remember you are spending our money,making decisions about our money and we have a right to know. Thanks for your comments but you had as much of chance that I am willing to give you . You have lost the trust of the people .

  • John Smith
    January 24, 2016 - 08:19

    The PCs had a plan, and they put it to the public, and the public said Liberals lied their way into power...Dwight said there would be no layoffs, there would be hospitals everywhere, they would keep the HST at 13%...all the while knowing that we had a 1.8 billion dollar deficit....due to falling oil and mineral prices...and what is the Liberal master plan to get us out of this economic crisis? Go to Rocky harbor...and ask the people who live there what we should do? LOL I mean...if it wasn't so would be funny....Dwight Ball is not a leader....he vacillates and the drop of a can see the fear in his eyes when he does bother to get before a microphone...the Liberals are in way, way over their heads...and we will all pay dearly for their ineptitude...

  • Anna
    January 23, 2016 - 18:09

    Is this your new job now Paul, writing letters to the editor? I would be keeping a very low profile if I were you after the mess your government left this Province in. Between your letters and Steve Kent on twitter, you are both an embarrassment to the PC Party.

    • Dolf
      January 25, 2016 - 07:37

      Right on Anna. Davis is not only sleepwalking but sleep-writing too. The guy is on another planet.

  • HaHa Davis
    January 23, 2016 - 15:27

    Ex-Constable Davis, you poor man, do you think you have any shred of credibility left after you and your government put us into such an incredibly deep hole, approved MF costing us many billions, secrecy bill 29, and so on? And you have the face to write letters criticizing the people who have to try and clean up your disgusting mess. Go get a check up!

  • Bill Westcott
    January 23, 2016 - 13:48

    Mr.Davis. This is almost laughable coming from you sir. Wasn't it YOUR action plan that got the Tories booted out a few short weeks ago?

  • Randy
    January 23, 2016 - 08:32

    Where were all these great ideas last year when Davis and Steve Kent were looting the public purse by ratcheting up spending by 15% when oil was going down down down? Davis left a mess for someone else to clean up! He should just keep quiet while the adults do their work

  • Spaz
    January 23, 2016 - 06:44

    The unmitigated gall of Davis and Kent is astounding.

  • Charles Murphy
    January 23, 2016 - 04:40

    On many occasions I wish I could speak the true newfoundland language. and this is one of those times that I really could let go.but I'm going to bite my tongue and try to be polite.but there is a day coming that I won't be able to hold back anymore. why one of the richest province in Canada continues to fail.I can sum it up in one word that word I really don't like to use. because of that word it keeps holding us back.

    • Dolf
      January 25, 2016 - 13:51

      Come clean & spit it out Charlie!