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LETTER: Ministers’ behaviour goes beyond juvenile

Finance Minister Tom Osborne presents the 2019 provincial budget Tuesday in the House of Assembly.
Finance Minister Tom Osborne in the House of Assembly. — Telegram file photo

Liberal government MHAs Gerry Byrne and Tom Osborne recently demonstrated that they belong more in a schoolyard than in the House of Assembly, choosing to resort to personal attacks on their peers (MHAs Jim Dinn and Jim Lester) as opposed to answering legitimate questions posed by the latter two gentlemen in the House. In fact, their comments do a severe injustice to a schoolyard.

What is the problem here? Why are Tom and Gerry so reluctant to provide what should be straightforward responses?

Minister Byrne’s efforts to deflect any questions related to the Northern Harvest Sea Foods die-off of 2.6 million salmon on the south coast are admirable, in a scary sort of way. He can double-speak with the best of them, having honed his skills on the national stage before returning to what he might have felt would be a less challenging stage to play on.

Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne
Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne

His department’s, or his own, lack of oversight on such a fiscally important project raises all kinds of questions as to the safeguarding and appropriate use of our tax dollars. In his own words, “I’m calling (the CEO) here so we can have a back and forth as to how we expect this company to behave.”

Hey, Gerry, maybe that should have happened before you opened the door to our provincial treasury!

At roughly the same time that our provincial government was dishing out all kinds of funding and support to those involved directly in aquaculture, not to mention giving the final go-ahead to Paul Antle’s Marbase Marystown Inc. purchase of the Marystown Shipyard as a “coldwater aquaculture hub,” it is deeply troubling that the official release of any public information on the salmon die-off came, I believe, less than a week following the Marbase announcement, and almost a month following the disaster and, then, not from government but from the union. Then it took another month or so to find out the exact extent of the disaster.

I would suggest that aquaculture, under the right controls and guidelines, can help our province and our people. Unfortunately, the current government is undermining its future by failing to think, investigate and plan on a long-term basis.

Anyone with a suspicious mind would think that the provincial government, through Byrne and his department, was trying to keep a lid on the die-off until the Marbase announcement had been completed.

I would suggest that aquaculture, under the right controls and guidelines, can help our province and our people. Unfortunately, the current government is undermining its future by failing to think, investigate and plan on a long-term basis.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Minister Osborne was continuing his prayer vigil for guidance with respect to rate mitigation for the Muskrat Falls project, which was doomed from conception, as well as for divine intervention in the elusive balancing of the provincial budget. Here’s a thought, Tom, and I won’t charge you a million dollars for it: stop spending our tax dollars on the trappings of so-called “rate mitigation” endeavours. Anyone can tell you, even your own departmental people who don’t have to be brought in from outside the province or the country, that your provincial revenues are, in fact, comprised of our tax and resource dollars. You can allocate them any way you want, but they are limited. They do not stretch based upon how much you pay someone to tell you that they do.

It is the height of irony that the Public Utilities Board has now been tasked by this government with public hearings into options for rate mitigation. Yes, it was a different board, under a different government, that failed to use every option available at the time to demand and pursue all information necessary for informed decision-making on the Muskrat Falls project at inception. That, however, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for every other party and individual involved.

There may be a tendency to forget that you are our government, regardless of party. You are our PUB. If you are incapable of working together, and If you would like us to think that the failures of one are not the failures of all, then I would suggest that maybe we need to be looking into, or imagining, a different form of government, one that actually works.

Dave Randell
Mount Pearl

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