20 April 2007

Your serial government at work

There's a northern "strategic plan" for Labrador.

Labrador is north, so that bit is redundant.

Well, unless the plan is for northern Labrador.


As the news release notes, this "plan" fulfils a commitment from the 2005 throne speech. That means it has taken two full years to generate this document.

That's a pretty long time, especially considering that things like a wind power project and Lower Churchill development have already started in the case of the latter, or been postponed (the former) while this plan was being developed.

So what's the thrust of the document? Well, there is the obligatory commitment to sweeping goals of making things "better". There is plenty of cash committed here and that likely is the real purpose of the document: spending in an election year.

Other than that, most of the initiatives in the plan are already in train or are the sorts of things that one might expect, like building schools where needed and improving access to health care.

There is a curious one under natural resource development:
Support Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to conduct an ACOA funded assessment of technical options for natural gas developments off Labrador...
If Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is going to get into oil and gas development, then that could be a good thing. It could be - conditional language - since we don't know what Hydro's role will look like or what the financial implications are.

In this specific case, the technical options for developing gas offshore Labrador could be explored and likely would be explored - if they have not been explored already - by the license holders.

It is curious that the Hydro corporation will be studying these options. But it is even more curious that studying the options requires federal funding through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). Surely Hydro has enough retained earnings to fund the study.

Beyond that, though and aside from all the good things to happen in Labrador, this document bears all the marks of something completed over two years ago. Note the number of phrases which project ore shipments and employments levels...for 2006. In early 2007, those projections should be easy since the year is past. Hindsight is always more accurate than foresight.

This is your serial government at work.

Not only does it take two years to complete a "strategy", but the strategy contains no concrete measurable goals to judge success. Major strategic decisions on everything from a new hydroelectric project, delay of a wind power project and decisions on new mine developments in western Labrador are all taken before the "strategy" is in place. On top of that, document is actually held up through the bureaucratic process to the point where it is announced fully two years after it started.

Surely it would have been nice to develop an actual strategy, one that lays out the guiding principles for its various components like health care and resource development.

Surely it would have been nice to have those principles before decisions are made.