Cheers: to the fun, laughs and bills of an election year. Thursday brought 13 separate news releases from the not-electioneering, there’s-no-election-date-chosen Liberal provincial government, on everything from highway camera studies to upcoming reviews of post-secondary education. Well, actually, there were 14: the government news service had to re-release one of them, on an impending mining announcement featuring the premier, the health minister and the education minister. Why the re-release? To add the fact that three Liberals on the podium wasn’t enough: they had to point out that Derek Bennett, MHA for Lewisporte-Twillingate would be there. Oh, and Derrick Bragg, MHA for Fogo Island-Cape Freels would be there, and that Jerry Dean, MHA for Exploits, would also be there. Jeez — hope they at least car-pooled.
Cheers: to the latest in ministerial travel numbers. And while we’re talking car-pooling, cabinet minister document their travels in blocks of six months. The newest list is from June 2018 to November, 2018. The winner? Tourism Minister Chris Mitchelmore, with $35,799.42 in trips, including travel to the Gallipoli war memorial in Turkey and a visit to Hunan Province, China. Next up? Gerry Byrne at $33,363.83, pretty much all inside the province, but with a $3,953.43 trip to Qingdao, China. Then it’s Advanced Education Minister Al Hawkins, at $31,214.78, with most of his trips being to St. John’s for ministerial business. The other $30,000-plus club member ministers? Steve Crocker ($30,993.48) and Lisa Dempster, at $30,094.42.
Jeers: to the need for translation. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary version: “RNC Operational Patrol Services responded to a report of a shoplifter at a business in the City of Mount Pearl. As a result of the Police investigation a 25-year-old male was arrested for theft under $5,000.00, possession of property obtained by crime and for having outstanding warrants. He was conveyed to St. John’s City Lock-up to appear in Court in the morning.” English version: “Police arrested a shoplifter. He will be in court in the morning.”
Cheers: to fresh starts. So, the provincial NDP’s new leader, Alison Coffin, probably isn’t exactly a household name at this point. Most have probably only heard that she’s an economist at MUN. But sometimes liabilities are also opportunities: there’s nothing like a clean slate to offer up an opportunity for Coffin to define herself. Here’s an idea: shed the packaged-speak that so many politicians wrap themselves in these days. Be blunt, clear and direct, and don’t be afraid to shake up the status quo — because the status quo in this province is the two parties who did the most to bring us the full nightmare of Muskrat Falls and our current massive debt load. Let them natter back and forth about who’s most to blame. It’s a great time to take the gloves off, shoot from the hip and the lip. There’s nowhere to go but up.