02 May 2012

Diversifying the economy and slowing things down #nlpoli

Paul Oram was a colourful politician.

Well, colourful in the sense that he flamed out very quickly.  Regular readers of these scribbles will remember him as the guy who had no idea what had happened in the province during his lifetime.  Not long after taking over the health department, Oram precipitated a huge political crisis.  Then he high-tailed it from politics altogether with some pretty damning comments about how his colleagues were spending public money. 

These days Paul turns up as the token Tory on CBC Radio’s West Coast Morning Show political panel. he is still colourful.

On Monday’s show, Oram said that Muskrat Falls was a wonderful thing because it diversifies the provincial economy.  He did not say how.  Oram just said that it would.  No one asked him to explain what he meant.

That’s a lucky break for Paul.  You see, Muskrat Falls will not diversify the provincial economy. It is a public utility project.  What’s more, it does not produce any revenue other than what the people of this province will be forced to pay.  In that respect it is less of a way to diversify the economy as it is a new kind of government tax on the local economy.

But that’s okay: Paul has usually had trouble understanding this whole economic development thing.  That’s probably why Danny put him in charge of economic development at one point.

After bashing that around, the panel switched to talking about the provincial budget and health care.  Bernice Hillier – the host – asked Paul about the money in the budget for planning the new Corner brook hospital. 

Not a problem, said Paul.  The hospital is important.  The government will build it.

It’s just that times are tough, according to Paul.  The government is just slowing things down a bit until they have the money to build the hospital.

Interesting idea Paul had there.

Interesting because it is something that Oram’s old colleagues have categorically denied. 

Don’t have the money to build it now?

“That is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in a long time,” said finance minister Tom Marshall last week.   Here’s what health minister Susan Sullivan said in the House of Assembly on Monday:

What we had in the past was a replacement design. Mr. Speaker, we are much more progressive than that. We do not want a replacement of the Corner Brook hospital; we want a hospital that is going to see us into the future. Therefore, we have asked them to go back, and with this $1 million we will look at a hospital that will meet the needs of the future in terms of essential services that are going to be in that hospital, Mr. Speaker. When that is done, then we will move forward with a design concept for the facility itself.

Paul Oram was a colourful politician.

He still says some curious things. Makes you wonder what he is going to say next.

- srbp -