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PAM FRAMPTON: Yes, Newfoundland and Labrador voters can handle the truth in this election

The Confederation Building in St. John's. Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Confederation Building in St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

So, for months you’ve been feeling off— unexplained persistent pain that keeps you awake at night, an unshakeable feeling of foreboding.

Determined to get to the root of the problem and start doing something about it, you talk to your doctor and go for the requisite tests.

It’s diagnosis day.

Lucky enough to have a family physician, you’re sitting across from him or her (masked up, of course).

“How are you?” they ask.

“I don’t know — you tell me,” you say, trying to quell your nervousness with an old joke.

Then they ask the big question: how much do you want to know?

What would you say?

Me? I’d say, “That sounds ominous, but please, tell me everything.”

And I’m lucky. My doctor would tell me everything. Because he knows, and I know, that information is knowledge and power.


It has a familiar ring so far: vague promises, bold commitments, short on details and math.


And without the full picture, you can’t make informed decisions about your future — however long or short that might be. You can’t make the best decisions on behalf of your family.

Your decisions may not lead to a cure or reverse the harsh truth, but at least you’d be making them as best as you could, with your eyes wide open, all the facts at your disposal.

Of course, some people would prefer their doctor to soften the blow with partial truths and best-case scenarios. Those people might also be satisfied with how this provincial election is playing out.

It has a familiar ring so far: vague promises, bold commitments, short on details and math.

The Liberals will put some of our money in a pot and — hey, someday, it could be used towards the purchase of the PET scanner that was promised six years ago for the new Corner Brook hospital. And there’s millions to keep the Come By Chance refinery warm in case it ever attracts a buyer.

The Progressive Conservatives will axe the payroll tax and create jobs, jobs, jobs!

The NDP will provide seniors with better dental care and they’ll pay for it by making the right choices, once they’ve seen the books.

It all sounds rather nebulous.

I’d like to live long enough to see an election where politicians put their cards on the table instead of stashing one or two up their sleeve as a last-minute trick.

Imagine someone knocking on your door and, (standing two metres back), saying, “Here are the facts. This province has been financially mismanaged and is on the brink of ruin. You’re going to have to pay for Muskrat Falls and the bill is coming due. We have to pay down a staggering amount of debt and we’re still spending beyond our means. We can’t borrow. Look at the empty buildings and vacant storefronts. The economy has contracted — that can’t mean business as usual. We’ll have to make hard decisions. Taxes and fees may go up, you may wind up with fewer services, but this is what we have to do to try and stabilize. Here’s our basic plan.”

Once you picked yourself up off the floor, you might find the honesty refreshing.

It’s a cop-out to accept that all politicians make promises they can’t necessarily keep.

When Dwight Ball was vacating the premier’s office, he told the Canadian Press, “The next leader will find this province in much better shape … than it was in 2015.”

Wrong. Our net debt has gone from $12.8 billion to $16.4 billion since 2015.

Yes, politicians promise things, for all kinds of reasons: good intentions, wishful thinking, to win power, to keep power, to make a grand exit. Whatever.

And politicians have to be held accountable.

How will they pay for their promises — in other words, how will we pay?

We need to know the fiscal truth so that we can make informed decisions.

Ask questions. Demand details. Settle for nothing less.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s managing editor.


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