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EDITORIAL: No time to be coy

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are about to experience a provincial election during a pandemic. Many voters want a clear picture of politicians’ plans for economic recovery. — SaltWire Network file photo

On Thursday, Premier Andrew Furey was telling Liberals in a group message that an election call was mere speculation: “Speculation about an election call is mounting. As I’ve said, it’s a complex decision at this time — but we all know there will be a general election in this province between now and August, so we must get ready. Our political opponents are certainly preparing themselves, and have told the media they’re ready to go.”

Furey pointed out the Liberals were also ready, and clearly said that he wants a majority government: “It’s time to support us, any way you can, at this pivotal time in our beautiful province’s history. The province needs a strong majority government to lead us through this crisis. My hope is that the people will place their trust in my leadership and our government.”

And then, the very next day, there’s an election call.

Turns out it was a complex decision that had already been made.

Parties on all sides know very well what kind of financial state the province is in — bad, and getting worse daily.

Such is the world of politics — it’s hard to be both strategic and totally honest at the same time.

But there’s something in this election that has to be completely, 100 per cent honest.

Parties on all sides know very well what kind of financial state the province is in — bad, and getting worse daily. Muskrat Falls is piling up interest, and the pandemic is piling up costs as well, at a time when we were already in bad financial shape.

What all politicians in this election have to be this time is up front about what they know about our finances, what sort of fiscal capacity we have, and how those problems are going to be addressed.

Promises of school improvements, funding and fire trucks are the norm for this province’s election campaigns, instead of new ideas.

Another thing that’s a regular feature of politics in this province? Passing the ball to unelected specialized committees, and later claiming the advice those committees are giving negates the ability to deliver on election promises. (It’s second only to the common position of oppositions voted into power: “We can’t keep our election promises because the past government gave us no idea how bad the fiscal picture really is, and now we realize how bad things are.”)

So, back for a moment to Premier Furey’s message to the Liberal faithful on Thursday: “The Premier’s Economic Recovery Team’s report will be tabled in the House of Assembly for discussion, and will be released publicly as soon as the government receives it. Right now, there is no report, and there is no interim report.”

And yet, we have an election called by the Liberals themselves before that major report outlines what could be a complete restructuring of the provincial government.

Talk about hiding the punch line.


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