03 March 2008

"Petty, mean and intimidating"

And those are words from a guy who likes Danny.

Now admittedly, the guy hadn't seen NTV news on Friday night or seen the Telegram coverage, so he was only commenting on Paul Oram's version of the attack on Lorraine Michael.

So when the opposition does its job the Government, or at least one of its ministers throws out the threat of not supporting providing the money needed to offer opposition. I have to say it was not a classy move on Oram’s part. Petty, mean and intimidating. The Premier should put him on a leash.

R'uh R'oh.

'Cause here's where the whole thing started:

“Lorraine Michael is out calling on us to do this and do that, and saying she’ll be annoyed with government if we don’t get this done,” the premier told The Telegram late Friday.

“By way of interest, you should know this — Lorraine Michael now has a request in to the management committee (at the House of Assembly) for a raise. So here is the champion of the people out there, who’s calling on the government to do this and do that, and now, after all the heat over MHA salaries … has come back and looked for a special raise as leader of the New Democratic Party.”

That's gotta hurt something, especially when the piece goes back to the standard government Blackberry line right at the end, even if the excuse of blaming it all on Harper contradicts everything that preceded it:

That said the stepping stone, the $10 Billion carrot dangled in front of us and than cruelly yanked away by Ottawa would repair a lot of hospitals, roads, bridges, schools, sewers, water supplies and allow us to pay down our debt while we are in a positive cash flow position. Spending all of our surpluses to catch up on generations of under funding is going to leave us more reliant on the federal government when our non-renewable resources are depleted than we ever were.

You see, the provincial government has had growing income of its own for the past four years.  The surpluses are not the growth:  they are a sign of how massive the growth has been. They are also a clue has to how the provincial government's spending has grown over the same time period.  There's been more money spent in the past three years than at any time in the province's history ever. Newfoundland and Labrador spends more per capita on government operations than every provincial government in Canada except for Alberta.

And on top of that growth in budgeted spending, the cash surpluses (the money left over on annual operating budgets at the end of the year), have totalled almost $2.0 billion in 2005, 2006 and 2007 combined.

Yes, the cash coming in the door on top of what was forecast has actually been as much as the entire one-shot transfer from Ottawa's coffers in 2005.

So even with all the growth in public spending and with all the surpluses piling up, the provincial government still opted not to repair critical health care infrastructure, even though it clearly had the cash.

Randy Simms made Paul Oram look foolish because Simms wasn't talking about  "[s]pending all our surpluses."  He was talking about budgeting.  And he wasn't talking about chronic under-funding:  that suggests the prior governments had the cash but opted not to spend it.

Dead wrong, and even wronger  - if that's possible - considering that those words came from a former executive assistant to a cabinet minister.  As he should know, until now the provincial government often had to face a drop in revenues every year.  Often, provincial governments didn't have money to meet existing needs and normal inflation.  Having a windfall of almost a billion dollars was unthinkable and having such a bonus on top of huge growth in revenue anyway was the stuff of wild fantasy.  "Underfunded" only works if you understand the word means "didn't have the cash to do things with in the first place."

But that's not what he meant, clearly.

Nope, trotting out the "promise" myth is just like the attack on Lorraine Michael;  it's just a subtle version of the same kind of distraction.  The provincial government doesn't want a discussion in public of spending priorities based on accurate information.  Open, informed public discussion  - like a sitting legislature - gets in the way of government doing whatever it wishes.

What the "promise" fable returned to in that post is actually what Paul Oram was trying to do:  make excuses for why government did what it did.  Oram went on at length trying to explain why there were more demands on government cash than there was cash.

Yada, yada, yada.

Yeah and if Harper...

The attack on Michael is a scurrilous personal attack, but the goal remains the same.

It's all just a distraction.

Pretty fast update:

Well, your humble e-scribbler and two others pointed out the obvious, namely that the Premier actually started the attack.

The response?

Well the Premier needs a better attack dog because Oram never pulled it off very well.



disgusted said...

how come the media isnt't calling the premier out on this one. his attack on Lorraine Michael was to say the least, unbelievable. not only did he personally attack her for raising important questions that she was elected to do, oh no, that wasn't enough, he deliberately misled the pulbic with his attack. Actually, Lorraine Michael isn't asking for as "raise" as the premier put it. she's looking for the $18,000.00 that was taken from her since the last election. there's a huge difference in asking for a raise and inquiring as to why your pay was cut.

Mark said...

My favourite part of Our Dear Premier's quote is the following:

"By way of interest, you should know this..."

Absolutely. He is dead right. The public should know this. And they shouldn't have to find out via his little tantrum scrum what is going on in a House committee. But that's the only way the public can find out because this man takes so cowardly to criticism that he has been afraid to open the House for months on end.


My ass.


WJM said...

Disgusted, haven't you heard? Questions have been banned.

Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 2004



1. This Act may be cited as the No Questions Allowed Act, 2004.

2. No person shall ask any questions about anything, ever.

3. Stop asking questions.

4. Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it!

5. I'll sue!

Peter L. Whittle said...


I thought my blog was my place for my opinions. You have continued to try and paint me in some corner or another for the past five months.

For your readers I am posting just a few links that illustrate that I am an equal opportunity pundit.

I support the pursuit of an equalization formula that acts like a stepping stone to a better future. That is a consistent and long held view that predates the Premier's arrival on the political scene. That said he showed courage on that file and I supported his efforts.






Your vitriolic, sanctimonious crap
undermines your decent research skills leaving you with absolutely no credibility because of your partisan arrogance.

Edward G. Hollett said...


You and Ward seem to have some difficulty with people commenting on your views, especially when it comes to pointing out flaws in your reasoning or your facts.

You both seem to have a lamentable tendency to make personal what isn't personal. That only confirms that you've got nothing else to offer but personal abuse.

On a related note I should point out that the claim I have no credibility only comes from one very particular segment: the Premier's most loyal supporters.

Since you didn't dispute any of the points I made, at all, including the switch of directions you took once you found out the attack started with the Premier, I gather you have nothing of substance to disgaree with.

As for listing your posts on other subjects, that's all fine and good. The issue here isn't a matter of whether or not you have been an equal opportunity slagger or have fairly criticised all.

In this case, you criticized Oram for attacking Lorraine Michael on an irrelevent issue. You suggested the Premier should leash Oram.

I pointed out that the whole thing started with the premier. I also noted that, as with your reintroduction of the Harper issue, you are both just trying to deflect away from the obvious problem with the government's account of the hospitals scandal.

There's nothing partisan in that.

You introduced partisanship in the discussion, even though it doesn't belong there.

WJM said...

I support the pursuit of an equalization formula that acts like a stepping stone to a better future. That is a consistent and long held view that predates the Premier's arrival on the political scene. That said he showed courage on that file and I supported his efforts.

And right there, you prove Ed's point.

Edward G. Hollett said...

That's one point, Wally.

The main point is that every provincial government must take responsibility for its own budget decisions.

That's the essence of responsible government.

Related to that is the idea of the Equalization ystem. It has always been and continues to be a system to assist provinces which generate less than a national average in per capita revenues. It remains the top up scheme it always was.

A provincial government which spends more per capita than every province than Alberta and which has a debt servicing load that is a mere 10% of its current account really can't be taken seriously if, as Peter seems to be suggesting the lack of spending on health care capital costs is because of something Stephen Harper did.

Perhaps the strength of the argument I presented is demonstrated by the fact Peter went off talking about irrelevent things. He never once dealt with the main point. He can't, obviously, because it is right in front of everyone's face.

Mark said...

Another point. Reading the first set of comments above, it dons on me that this is just the latest in the Premier's recurring narrative about the nobility of his wealth. By asking for more money, Lorraine Michael is essentially a lesser person than him, and unfit for office.

Long live the aristocracy.

Maybe Ms. Michael should get on her knees and apply to the Williams foundation to make up the shortfall. God knows that would make the little tyrant feel good about himself.

Bob said...

Without getting into the he said, she said, I was so distracted by the number of times Oram said "the fact of the matter is..." I was mentally comparing it to the number of times old time, now rewarded, PC Bill Marshall said it in scrums.