“A positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream,” Justin Trudeau told Canadians after he won a truly historic victory in the October 19th federal general election. That victory, said Trudeau, “is what positive politic can do.”
“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.”
Premier Paul Davis spoke to the St. John’s Board of Trade on Tuesday. Earlier in the day he released another letter he’d written to Trudeau listing off Davis’ demands, things he wanted Trudeau to give the province as soon as possible.
The provincial government had problems dealing with the federal government, wrote Davis, as if he and his colleagues had absolutely nothing to do with creating those problems.
Davis complained about not having a federal cabinet minister from the province, as if Davis and his colleagues had absolutely nothing to do with creating that situation either.
“But with your election, we now have change,” wrote Davis.
And just to prove how Davis himself had nothing to do with change, he then proceeded to rattle off a list of demands.
At the board of trade, Davis made it clear that he had absolutely no idea what Justin Trudeau represented. Surely provincial government officials had put it in Davis’ briefing notes. That is, if Davis himself had missed the election. It was in all the papers.
Davis talked to the business folks about fear. Everyone should be afraid of the Liberals, Davis said. They would do bad things to people.
Davis said the same thing to the unions last week.
Fear the Liberals.
Davis preached division just like Danny Williams and Kathy Dunderdale before him.
Liberals were the enemy.
Conservatives were not our enemy, Justin Trudeau had said, they are our neighbours. Reasonable people can disagree, as people used to put it. We do not need to engage in these savage attacks on one another. We need change.
Paul Davis made it clear he is firmly opposed to change. He relied in his two recent speeches on all the old vicious rhetoric the Conservatives used to gain power in 2003. They copied they style from the Republicans in the United States. And Stephen Harper did exactly the same thing.
Fear the foreigners, they all said. They just picked different foreigners to serve as their embodiment of evil. For Davis and his colleagues it was mainlanders, generally, or Liberals and Quebeckers. They changed the enemy like some people changed their socks.
There were lots of enemies.
The news media were the enemy. Every October, Danny Williams would tell his fellow Conservatives about the evil media who were trying to destroy him. When Williams tried to sneak off to have heart surgery secretly, Williams’ acolytes attacked some reporters viciously.
Williams hated the CBC even though the CBC loved him only slightly less than VOCM did. Kathy Dunderdale hated the Telegram and Russell Wangersky. She hated them even though the Telegram had backed the Tories time and again. She despised Russell even though Russell loved Danny only slightly less than she did. I voted for the most secretive Premier in our history wrote the guy who is apparently big on public access to government information and I’d vote for him again. You could not make this stuff up if you tried.
A lawyer in Grand Falls was a traitor for daring to question what Williams was doing with hydro generators Williams had stripped from three companies on the basis of false accusations. Kathy Dunderdale, bless her, told everyone the truth years later.
In 2007, the crowd who have piled up more pubic debt than all the governments before them put together attacked the Liberals for a plan to spend $100 million annually on public works in Labrador.
Dangerous, they squeaked..
Irresponsible, the parrots all squawked on the open line shows.
The evil Liberals will bankrupt the place.
We will make no deal on the Lower Churchill without redress for Churchill Falls, the Tories said. Then they spent five years secretly trying to sell Quebec a one third ownership in the Lower Churchill, no redress at all.
The Conservatives’ stock in trade in 2001 is their same stock in 2015. Skunks can’t change their spots, to borrow a phrase from former Conservative Premier Tom Rideout.
Paul Davis is going to the people talking about change but embodying in every respect the same despicable behaviour he and his colleagues have exhibited every day since 2001.
Some people seem impressed that Davis has practised his public speaking, that he is somehow being specific when he says that his government will use money from Muskrat Falls power exports to lower the cost of electricity in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Yet Davis cannot name one customer for the power outside the province, let alone one who will cough up full price for the electricity from Muskrat Falls. Davis does not talk about such customers because they do not exist.
There is nothing specific about Davis’ claim.
There is nothing truthful about it either.
And we have heard it all before.
“Liberals are a threat to your customers and your businesses,” Davis told the board of trade folks. Indeed. What would he call his own plan to give businesses and customers a massive increase in electricity prices, thanks to Muskrat Falls?
Moody’s told Newfoundland Power what it would mean. Prospects for recovering your costs and being profitable are uncertain, they said because so much about the Falls is not known. Moody’s did not say, but we can easily see that the inevitable price increases – the highest in our history, surely, if not on the continent, ever – will make it hard for businesses to compete.
Customers will have to cut their spending to pay for Davis’ project. They will cut back too on electricity because it will be so incredibly expensive. That means that rates will have to go higher still. The less electricity Nalcor sells the more they have to charge for it. And since they only plan to collect any payment from the very small market in Newfoundland and Labrador, those people at the Board of Trade will get the full effect, not from the Liberals but thanks to Danny, and Kathy, and Tom, and now Paul.
If the folks at the board of trade stood and gave Paul a standing ovation they are either excessively polite or even stupider than Danny Williams ever counted on.
Fear and Conservatives and high energy prices go together, just not in the way they have tried to put it since 2010.
Government’s job is to create a climate for the private sector to create jobs, Davis told his audience. Then Paul Davis talked about a new aquaculture project he announced this week. An example of his new thinking?
The crowd from Norway and the government are forming a new company, in which the provincial government will pour $45 million. This new company will then have to borrow another $131 million to build this project. That would mean at least another $50 million the taxpayers will have to fork over.
This hardly sounds like a new idea. Public money propping up a private business. Will the new company get to ignore local environmental laws or fisheries regulations? Will they get more money if the first plans turn out to be a bit too optimistic?
On that second one we can say – without much fear of being wrong – that Davis and his friends will spare no public expense. That is what they have done since 2003. Tens of millions in public money given away in one half-assed venture or another since 2003, little of it ever repaid, and few of the big projects running still on their own, without government help. We could all get a good laugh out of it except that we are the ones left to pay the bills.
For all that is uncertain, this much is certain:
There is real change.
And then there is Paul Davis.
Let’s see if voters can tell the difference.
* edits to correct spelling mistakes, to remove anomalous words and phrases, and to clarify meaning.