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When I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, if you said something that was not well thought out, some adult in the room would likely say, “Give yourself a good shake, my son.” It was their way of saying that you were out of touch with reality. In today’s environment, the phrase is an imperative to re-evaluate our ideas, behaviours and actions, and to begin acting or thinking sensibly.
For most of the past year, two important issues have dominated much of our news.
First and foremost were stories related to various aspects of COVID-19. These stories were, and are, a priority because they help us become informed citizens about the virus and to help us prevent its spread. No one sets out either to get this illness or to spread it around. The best that we can do is to offer our support and encouragement to those caught up in this COVID-19 outbreak and not to lay blame. Those who do so might need to take a good look at themselves.
When the election was called there were very few cases of COVID-19 in the province. No one is to blame for the latest outbreak of infections; it is an unfortunate set of circumstances, or, as some in the national media have said, “It was just bad luck.” If you think otherwise, please give your head a good shake!
Second, were stories related to our finances. More specifically, the urgent need to get our fiscal house in order. Although covered by the media, these stories have been overshadowed by the pandemic. We absolutely must establish a pathway for dealing with the financing of Muskrat Falls or suffer the consequences of unbearable electrical power rates. Then, there is the need to develop and implement plans to help small businesses survive the effects of the pandemic and to grow the economy. A healthy growing economy is in all of our best interest.
Finally, there is the challenge of dealing with the annual deficit and the debt of the province. We simply cannot sustain our current level of spending and must get on with the development of plans to restructure government services.
Given these financial problems, who would ever suggest that we should have put off the election until late spring or for sometime during the fall? Every day we put off the election and fail to deal with the fiscal challenges of the province, we add more debt for our children and grandchildren to pay. If you think otherwise, you should give your head a good shake!
Selecting the date for the election must clearly have been a matter of considering both our status with regard to COVID-19 and the urgent need to get our fiscal house in order. Having a majority government in Newfoundland and Labrador with a minority federal government in Ottawa (for the time being) might just have given us a little more credibility and leverage to get financial help on at least the Muskrat Falls project. On the other hand, deferring the provincial election until a later date would only run the risk of getting caught up into the timing of a federal election and delaying any progress on important fiscal matters.
Give your head a shake, Ches Crosbie and Alison Coffin, if you really think that we should have delayed dealing with our fiscal issues for three or four months down the road.
Dr. Victor G. Kendall