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LETTER: Citizens’ assembly needed for post-COVID recovery

The Confederation Building in St. John’s. Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The Confederation Building in St. John’s. Joe Gibbons/The Telegram - Saltwire

I am not a fan of this provincial government, nor any others in our fair country for that matter. Intelligent leadership is lacking, as it has been for some time on all files in all provinces.

I don’t however think it’s useful to rail against these politicians who, after all, were elected to manage relatively small matters and certainly not an epidemic, even pipelines and Muskrat Falls are small matters when compared to an existential threat.

Our politicians weren’t chosen to deal with a viral pandemic and are, for the most part, clearly unequipped to do so; we should not be surprised at this nor berate them for it.

The corollary to their obvious inadequacies is that neither will they be equipped to deal with the decisions and plans that will be required post-COVID.

We are going to be broke, more so in Newfoundland and Labrador than elsewhere in Canada and deciding how to remain solvent, hopeful, and forward thinking will require planning, creativity and expert advice.

In the past the civil service could be relied upon for scenario planning but unfortunately we have denuded and politicized the civil service to such an extent that their ability to provide expert advice is practically non-existent.

There are a lot of very smart Newfoundlanders, Labradorians and others who, I believe, could through a citizens assembly or some such innovative representative crisis planning process, develop a plan that will move us forward, despite oil being at the price of water and the demand for our natural resources being weak for at least a decade.

This would require suspending the political status quo for some time and rebuilding a truly representative process to launch at some future point when the ship has been righted somewhat.

What do we have to lose?

Well, our sovereignty for one, and if we wring our hands and wait for the price of oil to rise and the cod stock to revive this will surely be the inevitable outcome.

We have assets here that could build a new economy for us.

One that is worth mentioning is distance learning, this is something we happen to be very good at and it seems that this will be a growth industry, indeed it already is.

There are countless other N.L. assets that could form the basis for a post-COVID economic revival.

Let’s try for a citizens’ assembly which will put partisanship aside, bring our best ideas to the table, and make the hard choices together that will be necessary if, as I do, we want to continue to live in this wonderful place.

William Radford
St. John’s.

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