NL NDP Leader Earle McCurdy has been saying what most Newfoundlanders & Labradorians are thinking this month – Dwight Ball is not the right leader for our province during its darkest hour of the new millennium. And if you can’t lead us through this, let someone in who can; If you can’t be trusted, you can’t have our faith in you.
Between the budget, broken campaign promises, at least a few lies surrounding the Nalcor shitstorm, and in general not seeming to have a handle on things (nor an innovative swath of solutions for what ails the province), Dwight Ball’s integrity as a premier may well have too big a dent in it to ever be fixed in the public eye.
“Misleading the House of Assembly is a very serious matter,” McCurdy has said. “The Premier and the Minister have had repeated opportunities to level with the people of the province, including in Question Period.
“He said the Auditor General will determine ‘the appropriateness of the severance provided to Mr. Martin by Nalcor’s past Board of Directors.’ What the public needs the AG to do is to inquire into the conduct of the Premier and the Minister.”
McCurdy is presumably right in implying Ed Martin’s side of the Nalcor story is more likely. “The denials by the Premier and the Minister have been explicit.”
On June 2nd, McCurdy issued a press release candidly titled Premier and Minister Must Resign, saying they’ve lost the confidence of the people of the province. A sentiment The Liberals flung Ed Martin’s way that started the whole Nalcor kerfuffle.
“People are up in arms that the Premier and his Minister have told so many conflicting stories about what they knew and when they knew it. Their house of cards collapsed with the release of email correspondence between the former Nalcor Chair and the Premier.
“Even before details of Martin’s severance started to emerge, the government took a spectacular drop in polling numbers for breaking every major promise they made in last fall’s election campaign,” McCurdy said.
McCurdy adds that “the Liberals have completely and utterly lost the trust of the people of the province.” And that’s a fine segue into today’s piece from Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail, which opens thusly:
“He was elected last December on a campaign message of hope and optimism. But the first six months of Dwight Ball’s tenure as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador has instead been one of the most deflating and grimmest periods in the province’s recent history.”
The article goes on the articulate a highlight reel of broken promises:
“During the election campaign, he had pledged to reverse a 2% increase in the HST planned by the Tories – a hike he insisted would be a job killer. He broke that promise.
“He said he would bring the province’s finances under control without layoffs; about 600 public service positions were eliminated in an April budget that projected a nearly $2-billion deficit.
“Motorists are furious over a nearly 19-cents-a-litre gasoline tax hike brought in this week. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is expected to hit 20% in the next couple of years.”
The thing is, and it’s surprising it’s not coming up more: the Nalcor debacle never would have happened if Ed Martin hadn’t have prematurely departed his position at Nalcor . And he only left the position because Bennett and Ball publicly called him out on the day they dropped the austerity budget bomb. A pretty sleazy diversion of public outcry, as far as some people are concerned.
It was arguably a needless, somewhat off-topic comment – a deflection of discontent – that wasn’t really the professionally proper time or place. (And c’mon, projects of this scale are always behind schedule and over-budget. Hebron and Hibernia were, but those were better times, so I guess no one cared?)
In any case, whether or not Martin should have been vacated from that position, Ball dropped the ball on handling Martin’s dismissal, and can take the blame for Martin’s severance package being evoked. The seemingly unmanaged way he was pushed out — or even the fact he was pushed out in the first place — resulted in him getting the contentious severance package.
Remember the week the budget dropped, and Ball’s excuse for its intensity was “we didn’t realize how bad the our financial situation was”? That should have been a warning sign the man doesn’t feel the need to do his research or due diligence in handling a situation or making a promise.
As the Globe article stated, “The Premier knew, in at least a general sense, there would be payout consequences” to throwing Martin under a bus, and prompting an entire board (of competent and well-respected individuals) to quit, feeling they’d lost government’s confidence.
In terms of Ball’s evasiveness on what he did and didn’t know in the Nalcor shitshow, the Globe article reads, “Suffice to say, Mr. Ball has looked anything but confident in explaining his involvement in the whole affair, which is now in the hands of the province’s Auditor-General.
“It doesn’t get much darker for a political leader who now finds himself absorbed with saving his political skin when he should be focused on conjuring the economic miracle his province so desperately needs. The good people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve so much better than what they’re getting right now.”