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LETTER: The fourth territory?

Newfoundlanda and Labrador premier Andrew Furey calls a provincial election for February 13.

Keith Gosse/The Telegram
On Friday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey called a provincial election for Feb. 13. — Telegram file photo

Your news item on the election call does a great service to the province, because it highlights the great disconnect. The people do not realize there is no money. Almost all the people you interviewed talked of more money — especially in health care.

The people have no idea just what a state the province is in.

Here is my reaction: so here you have it. More spending on an unnecessary election.

Of course, it comes before any action on the economic and financial crisis in the province. The first report of the unnecessary economic recovery group is due in late February. Everyone knows that cuts are coming and the government hasn’t got the decency, let’s not mention courage, to show leadership — rather, get an election out of the way before the axe falls. How cynical is that?

How many more promises are coming which see less revenue and more spending when the province is almost bankrupt?

And it gets worse. The government is now promising royalty relief to the oil industry and having announced no PET scanner for Corner Brook, is now promising $2 million to be set aside for one. How many more promises are coming which see less revenue and more spending when the province is almost bankrupt? The irresponsibility being displayed (which follows years of the same) is simply breathtaking. The search for power is all that matters.

Given the response of those contacted by The Telegram, the province has not prepared the people for the harsh reality — a fundamental, gigantic error.

The Royal Commission of 1933, usually referred to as The Amulree Report, was established to examine the difficult economic and financial plight of the place. On page 59 of the report the following was said:

“The broad facts of the financial position in Newfoundland are unfortunately all too plain. Ever since the war, the country has been living beyond its means, and the budget has not been balanced since 1920. The island is now in extreme financial difficulties.”

In 2019, two Memorial University economists, Wade Locke and Doug May, made a presentation entitled: “Newfoundland and Labrador’s Debt Management Strategy: Kicking the Can Down the Road While Waiting for a Saviour.”

The years 1933 and 2019 are 86 years apart. The more things change, the more they remain the same. In 1982 I wrote a book, “The Past in The Present,” in which I speculated on whether we could discard a troubled past and launch into a newer world.

The only difference now from 1933 is that we are a province of Canada, and automatic support — regardless of how badly we manage our place — is forthcoming in health and social transfers. Over $800 million in 2019. And notice recent announcements. Ottawa can’t have a bankrupt province.

So go ahead and call an election, Mr. Premier. Get it out of the way. Then do your false cuts as Ottawa’s grip grows even further as we move towards becoming the fourth territory of Canada.

Brian Peckford

Parksville, B.C.


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