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EDITORIAL: Two ministers, zero comment

Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster was all smiles as the province announced cellular expansion in six communities in her district. - Stephen Roberts
Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster, currently the acting Environment minister. — SaltWire Network file photo

Five times now, The Telegram has asked senior Liberal cabinet minister Andrew Parsons for comment on his time as minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment, when the deadline for wetland capping at Muskrat Falls was inexplicably missed.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons is a former minister of the Environment.
Justice Minister Andrew Parsons is a former minister of the Environment.

Monday, Parsons once again passed the buck to Lisa Dempster, who is the current temporary minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment and was not in the portfolio at the time.

In an interview with The Telegram, Dempster offered this remark when asked what happened within her department to cause the failure: “I wouldn’t even attempt to comment on something that happened before I went into the department.”

Well, that’s such an obvious crock that we just had to bring you Lisa Dempster not attempting to comment — extensively — on something that happened before she went into the department.

At the beginning of April, the provincial government announced its plan for a ban on single-use plastic bags. Ms. Dempster was not the Environment minister at the time.

Fast forward to Hansard from June 18 in the House of Assembly.

“Mr. Speaker, we were really pleased when we went out and consulted. We had more than 3,000 people that weighed in in the feedback — the highest we’ve ever had on the EngageNL website. … We actually went out and we invited public comment because the success of all of this — we wanted to know where people’s thoughts were and if they were ready (for) this… I’m sure, Mr. Speaker, that they will be able to have further input.”

Note that the word “we” is used more times than in a foot’s-worth of “This little piggie went to market.”

In an interview with The Telegram, Dempster offered this remark when asked what happened within her department to cause the failure: “I wouldn’t even attempt to comment on something that happened before I went into the department.”

Here’s Ms. Dempster again, on June 26, not even attempting to comment on methylmercury decisions made before she was minister: “Mr. Speaker, when it comes to methylmercury, that file has been a priority for this government. … The methylmercury levels are extremely low. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in most of the samples the levels are too low to detect, but it’s certainly a file that remains a priority. We have a first-class monitoring program, the design of which was supported by all of the Indigenous groups on the (Independent Expert Advisory Committee). … Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the people of the province again, our priority is to ensure that we protect the health of the residents and that we do what we can. As I said in my first question, the IEAC applauded the water monitoring plan that we have in place. It is one of the best plans that’s out there; more than 1,200 samples to date, very low or below the level of detection.”

Once again, notice the delightful use of the word “we” that Dempster uses to describe events that, she put it, “happened before I went into the department.”

The only reason both Dempster and Parsons aren’t commenting is that they don’t want to.

Draw your own conclusions as to why.

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