Bust, boom, bust

Pam Frampton pframpton@thetelegram.com
Published on January 23, 2016
Pam Frampton

“Money’s too tight to mention.
Cut-back!”
— Simply Red, “Money’s too tight to mention”

There’s an old Newfoundland saying that someone who can try their hand at anything “can put an arse in a cat.”
Clearly that’s the kind of person we need running this province, because the arse is out of ’er —again.

Is anyone else sick of this rags-to-riches-to-rags cycle?

I tried to explain the nature of politics in this province the other day to a couple from Toronto and was completely stymied. “Farcical” was about the only word that came to mind.

So here we go again.

Back just five years ago, when we were in the black, Premier Kathy Dunderdale pooh-poohed the notion that we should be putting oil revenues away for a rainy day.

“People talk about a legacy fund all the time and we respond to that by saying, ‘That’s our legacy fund, the investment in infrastructure,’” she said, “Because unless you have roads and wharves and hospitals and schools, your economy can’t grow.”

Dunderdale was responding to comments made by economist Wade Locke, who was warning “there could be $1.6-billion deficits by decade’s end,” as The Telegram reported.

But why wait for decade’s end? We’re already there! The PC government was a dab hand at pissing it all away.

I must say, it’s reassuring in these straitened fiscal circumstances to know that whenever we’re feeling down about all that debt, when the public service is soon to be on the receiving end of another whip-round with the Department of Finance machete, we can go admire a fresh patch of pavement or a shiny new culvert and realize that it’s all been worthwhile. What a legacy! What foresight!

I realize we were in sore need of infrastructure, but the good-times government should also have created a contingency fund with the foreknowledge that we wouldn’t be awash in oil revenues forever.

So we’ve gone from the good times, to the non-crisis days of DarkNL, to DarkNL 2.0, in which not only is there no light at the end of the tunnel, but the roof of the tunnel has collapsed and there are cars stuck underneath.

Meanwhile, our political leaders are fumbling around in the dark trying to blame each other.

The Tories blatantly refused to tell the people of the province the state of affairs during the election, for fear they’d be shown the door.

They were shown the door anyway.

(So much for that testimonial ad for Paul Davis’s campaign, in which a supporter says, “One thing for sure, you will know what’s going on. Full disclosure of everything. Paul will do that.”)

Now the Liberals have to make the very cuts they vowed during the election that they would not make. Why? Because they were so eager for power that they made campaign promises with financial implications before they even had a look at the books. (Incidentally, how much power do you actually wield when your hands are tied behind your back?)

Election promises are worth about as much here as Monopoly money.

The Tories, meanwhile, must have had their SIM cards wiped because they have no recollection of the fact that they squandered the best chance this province has ever had of achieving some sort of financial stability.

Is there anyone who can read Steve Kent’s tweets these days about how “Decisions are needed. Leadership is required” and not feel like you’re looking into a funhouse mirror?

He and Davis are hard at it, calling for immediate action and long-term plans, with all the misplaced sanctimony of TV evangelists.

Earle McCurdy’s bringing up the rear, knowing he can criticize the government all he likes because he will never find himself in the same sticky spot.

No wonder William Emberley’s lyrics are timeless:

“With holes in the roof and the rain it will pour. The chimney will smoke and it’s open the door. And it’s hard, hard times.”

 

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email  pframpton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton