25 March 2014

How do they run things? Budget Lead-Up #nlpoli

Finance minister Charlene Johnson will read the new provincial budget speech on Thursday.

In keeping with the provincial Conservative tradition, though, they’ve been announcing bits and pieces of the budget already.  On Monday, for example, justice minister Darin King announced that the new budget would contain money for 20 new sheriff’s officer to provide court security and new lawyers and staff for the legal aid division

Both news releases specifically indicated that the money was from Budget 2014, that is, money that isn’t supposed to be announced until Thursday.  Reporters asked King if the finance minister would have money for these announcements.

Now that’s a strange question because reporters should know by now that the budget is already set.  As a result, they should already know that King knows there is money in the budget for this stuff. 

How much stranger it was, then, that King pretended like he didn’t know.  You’ll have to ask the finance minister or some such drivel.

In any event, the real importance of Monday’s announcement is not that King announced budget money before Johnson read the budget.  Rather,  what’s important about this announcement is that it remind us all of the fiasco of last year’s budget and cuts in the justice department.

That, too, wasn’t King’s announcement alone.  Cabinet approved the whole thing. When people started complaining and pointing out serious problems with the cuts to the sheriff’s office and legal aid, cabinet reversed itself.  Kathy Dunderdale confirmed that cabinet’s policy was to back-track on any decision, whenever it was appropriate or expedient

Just as it was with cuts in the justice department, so has it been with whistleblower legislation, Bill 29 and all the rest.  So too will it be with the budget. This year, we can expect a budget that resumes the Conservative’s old spending habits.  It’s what they did a decade ago when their polling dipped.  And it’s really what they did once Loyola Sullivan left and Danny Williams appointed his right hand man  - Tom Marshall - to handle the province’s finances.

You see, what the Conservatives are doing with Tom Marshall as the chief spokesperson is the same as what they did with Kathy in the Chief Parrot position.  It isn’t a case of Tom Marshall doing stuff because he is now in charge that he couldn’t do before. Tom has been part of the innermost circle of influential Conservatives since 2003.  What’s happening now is more of the same stuff that they’ve been doing for years.