20 February 2012

If she said that about the fishery… #nlpoli

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, answering media questions about the future of the province’s last paper-making machine:

“[Kruger are] going to run their operation in consultation with the union on how they can manage their operations here in Corner Brook so that they can compete and compete globally because that's what they need to do,” she said.

Manage operations of the plant so they can compete globally.

Sensible idea.

And the provincial government isn’t going to interfere.

Watch the whole scrum.

Dunderdale talks about the company needing to run efficient, lean operations, “especially in this kind of a climate”.  She means a globally competitive business climate in which plants are closing up because they can’t compete.

Note as well that Kathy Dunderdale acknowledges that neither she nor natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy know about running paper making operations.

Then the scrum switches to the fishery and immediately Kathy Dunderdale changes her headspace.  Suddenly she knows so much about the fishery that she needs to have overwhelming control of the industry – by her account – in order to sort things out.

Dunderdale’s premise in the fishery is that everything should continue as it is, with the government presumably dictating how much companies should take in losses each year.  After all, that’s what fisheries minister Darin King was talking about recently when he told the world that he and his cabinet colleagues had rejected OCI’s processing proposal.  The provincial government looked at the company’s financial statements and made up its own mind about how much work needed to be done in the province.

Now neither Dunderdale nor King know more about the fishery than they do about forestry and papermaking. Yet,  King insists that when it comes to the fishery, the government is interested in getting the most out of the industry for the province.

Two resource industries.

Both facing significant economic pressures that come, ultimately, from the need to operate lean, efficient operations in an intensely competitive global economic environment.

And yet the provincial government follows a policy in one diametrically opposed to the policy they follow in the other.

No need to wonder for a moment why the fishery remains in a mess.  The current provincial government is just the last in a long line of cabinets that simply lacked the political will to come to grips with the fishery problem and fix the problems.  The simplest fix would be to treat the fishery the same way they treat the forestry.

Kathy Dunderdale knows, though, that if she said about the fishery what she said about the forest industry, the dinosaurs would lace into her from all sides.  When you listen to what King and Dunderdale told reporters and how they said it, you’d be making a pretty big ass of yourself if you assumed that King and Dunderdale even thought of doing such a thing in the first place.

- srbp -