24 September 2007

Rural neglect a tacit strategy by Liberals says Williams

Remember April 2006 and the big Hebron fiasco?

Danny Williams told local CBC news that "St. John's could take the hit" resulting from Hebron's failure since his focus was on rural Newfoundland.

Well, it's an election and that sentiment is no longer the view of the first townie to hold the Premier's chair in the better part of a century.

Apparently St. John's has been neglected, not by the Tories, mind you but by the evil Liberals.

And the venue for this little revelation? A speech in rural Newfoundland where the Premier decided also that rural Newfoundland has not been neglected by him.

Nope. It was the Liberals who neglected rural Newfoundland to drive people out.

There is obviously no limit to what a politician will say to grab a few votes.

Well, at least one politician.

As you ponder that little piece of reality, take a look at this post on outmigration from a time when local politicians didn't want to talk about it.

Since outmigration has mushroomed again under Danny Williams, would that be part of a tacit strategy as well?


St. John's has been neglected, premier says
Terry Roberts
The Telegram (St. John's, NL)
September 24, 2007, p. A7

St. Anthony - Growth in the province's economy may be most noticeable in the capital city region, but Premier Danny Williams acknowledges St. John's has been "neglected" during his government's first four years in office.

Ironically, Williams made the admission during a campaign stop in rural Newfoundland Friday night, where cabinet minister Trevor Taylor is seeking re-election in the district of The Straits-White Bay North.

"St. John's will need work," Williams said before a crowd of some 150 people at a rally in St. Anthony.

The provincial government will invest about $440 million in infrastructure this year. It's part of a $2-billion infrastructure commitment.

But only a fraction of this year's budget will be spent in the St. John's metropolitan region.

It's part of a strategy by the Progressive Conservatives to modernize roads, education, health and telecommunications in rural areas in order to stimulate economic development.

Williams also complained Friday in St. Anthony that significant spending was needed because of many years of Liberal neglect.

During the 1990s, many Liberal heavyweights - Paul Dicks, Chuck Furey, Chris Decker and Brian Tobin - represented districts on the west coast and Northern Peninsula, yet the region was ignored, Williams said.

He believes allowing the infrastructure to crumble was part of a tacit strategy by the Liberals to make life more difficult for residents "so there is no reason to live there."

While the bulk of future investments will continue to be made in rural areas, Williams said St. John's will begin to see a large piece of the pie.

"There's going to come a point in time where we need to do some things within the city as well," he said.

Williams said there's a need to expand the Health Sciences Centre. He also committed to increased investments in long-term care facilities and schools in St. John's.

Williams' comments come at a time when the Liberals continue to rail against the Tories over what they claim is an abandonment of rural Newfoundland.

Williams said that's not true.

He said areas such as Clarenville, Bay Roberts and Deer Lake are beginning to boom. The Coast of Bays region, which has fallen on hard times in recent years, is also seeing growth in aquaculture.

"There's a misperception out there that things aren't good in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, when nothing is further from the truth. And in fact the irony is that there's still things that need to be done in St. John's," he said.