A week to go, and the arse is right out of 'er
Less than a week now before the election. Have you decided yet? Like many, I find it hard to get excited about any of the options. But this said, I agree that this election may be a crucial one, given our economic situation. By the way if you haven’t read the piece from this past Sunday’s Toronto Star on just how precarious our financial position is, you should - before you vote. It’s here.
Let’s face it. We are going to end up with a Liberal or Progressive Conservative government, despite apparently more people than ever before saying it is time to give one of the third parties a chance. There could be some third party breakthroughs though, and a possible minority government, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
To my mind it is both disappointing and irresponsible that neither Gallant nor Higgs have offered up a strategy to get our financial house in order, despite claiming they have it figured out.
But let’s look at it. Gallant has gone on a spending spree trying to buy votes, and really, why not, given it has worked so often in the past. He gives lip service to our financial situation, suggesting that all this spending will grow the economy and put us in a better position to tackle our $13+ Billion debt. But he has all but ignored it over the past four years, in fact he grew it. Despite him trying to put polish on his fiscal record, it’s really not very good. Pretty much all economic indicators suggest we are falling further behind.
Higgs is taking a different tact. His promises, by comparison to those of Gallant, are very modest. His mantra “I am not going to buy your vote. I’m going to earn it” makes for a nice bumper sticker, or sound bite, and it sounds like a great idea, but it’s risky.
At a campaign event in Grand Falls, a former PC MLA who was in the audience, Jean Guy Laforest, challenged Higgs. He demanded to know what Higgs was going to do for the area, mentioning that when he was an MLA he delivered a school. This is an example of the old school politics that, if you believe Higgs, has gotten us into this financial jam. Election promises that then had to be met, at whatever cost.
Credit to Higgs for not following that road, something that I expect took some determination, with what I can imagine was considerable pressure from his own candidates who felt the road to local victory is paved with promises of a new this or that, just like their opponents were rolling out. As I say, it’s risky, and requires an electorate that thinks of the province as a whole, not just what they can get for their specific area.
But back to the financial mess, or the elephant in the room as the Toronto Star calls it. The Liberals are doing their best to tell people Higgs will cut, cut, cut. But Higgs says no, no, no he won’t. Except for the civil service by attrition.
But to give him the benefit of the doubt that he won’t cut programs, he hasn’t explained then, with no cuts to health or education, two of the most expensive departments by far, how he’s going to tackle our monstrous debt? He talks of spending smarter, but no real strategy to right our financial ship.
So we have Gallant who appears to not care about how much we owe at all, and Higgs who may care but doesn’t appear to have a plan. There’s a saying in Newfoundland that applies to a situation like this. “The arse is right out of ‘er.” It means the situation has all gone to hell.
Will it get better after Monday? I wish I felt more optimistic. I really do.
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