Wednesday, 24 February 2016

National Unity for Whom?

National Unity for Whom?

By Ryan Young

Over the past few weeks there has been a renewed debate about the proposed Energy East pipeline and not surprisingly the debate has turned to national unity. How can a country function when one province is able to prevent the economic expansion of another province? That is the summary of the questions that are being asked of Canadians in order to put pressure on Quebec to allow the pipeline to proceed as planned. The main talking point seems to be that what is good for Alberta is good for Canada.

As a Newfoundlander I find myself having to question the merits of these discussions. My nationalist pride insists that I ask why it is acceptable to have a discussion about national unity for the benefit of the Alberta oil industry without having the same conversation about the transmission of Labrador electricity across another province. Maybe it is just the age old ire towards Quebec that has been inherited by each and every Newfoundlander born since the Churchill Falls deal was signed that brings forth these questions. Even so, I believe that you can’t have a legitimate discussion about national unity without including the best interests of all provinces in the discussion. I am not anti-Alberta. Far from it. I certainly recognize the great contribution made to the Newfoundland economy because of Alberta oil. I support the national unity argument, I just want to see it extended to all provinces suffering under the oppression of  energy restrictions.

Certainly I was blown away a few weeks ago when I read a quote in the National Post from Quebec City Mayor Regis Lebeaume in which he stated:

“I think that in a normal country, all organizations that want to build infrastructure for transporting energy should be able to do it. I am talking about pipelines, but also about electricity transmission,”
“I wonder how I would feel if a province or a region in another province prevented Hydro-Qu├ębec from building its transmission line. I would feel exactly like the people in the West do now. I understand them.”
As soon as the shock in my hands wore off and I was able to get my jaw back into place, I quickly searched out Mayor Lebeaume’s contact information and sent him a letter outlining exactly how it feels to be a province suffering under such a situation. Is Newfoundland and Labrador of such little value to the rest of Canada that not a single person would make the comparison between Mayor Lebeaume’s comments and the lengthy battles between Newfoundland and Quebec over power transmission rights? Will not one journalist point out that in those battles the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of Quebec?  Is Mayor Lebeaume himself so naive as to fail to recognize the arrogance of such a statement? All fair questions that nobody wants to ask.

Just when I was starting to calm down I decided to check out the latest rant from Rick Mercer. Imagine my shock at seeing Rick, a good Newfoundland boy, selling out to the national unity argument! Sure it can be argued that he was bashing Quebec more than he was promoting Alberta, indeed, that may very well be true. But when the focus of the rant turned to national unity and Newfoundland was again left out of the discussion I felt angry and betrayed. What does national unity mean then exactly? Appeasing Alberta or serving the best interest of all provinces?

Whether Energy East ever gets approved or not is of little consequence to the people actually living and working in Newfoundland and Labrador. The issue is not with the pipeline. The issue is with a country having a discussion about national unity for the benefit of one province while ignoring it for another. Fair is fair and all Newfoundland has ever wanted is the same rights as any other province. One simple fact remains clear in my mind. If Quebec is forced to allow the pipeline it should also be forced to allow our transmission lines to cross its borders. One without the other is just not good nation-building.  By all means let’s have the national unity discussion, but let’s include everyone this time.

You can find the quoted National Post article here:


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Blame the Welfare Crowd!

Blame the Welfare Crowd!

By: Ryan Young

Oh Bill! Another caller on the open line calling for cuts to welfare recipients. 90% of them scamming the system said Bill. If they can cut jobs and services they can cut all the people taking advantage of the welfare! I cringed at the thought of the collective heads of hundreds or maybe thousands of uneducated curmudgeons nodding in agreement. After all, that is the way people like Bill have been taught to think. Only a lazy bum would be on welfare right? 

As a single father who has worked since age 15 and recently fell through the cracks myself, I could tell Bill a thing or two about how the system works. If people like Bill actually educated himself by talking to some of the 15 people he described as scammers in his neighborhood, then people like me wouldn’t have to write blogs explaining how silly their logic is. I would tell Bill that I don’t get everything paid for by the government. I get help with rent (max $550 a month!) and prescriptions for the kids, but I pay my own power bill and my own phone bill. I don’t have cable because I can’t afford it. I don’t have a social life. I buy my own groceries and I have to pay for all of the extras that come with having three children in school. My bi-weekly pay after the power bill comes out is $211. Do the math Bill. That is $422 a month left over to raise three children. I don’t know how all these welfare crowd types are living as high on the hog as Bill describes. Maybe he can put me in contact with them so I can seek their advice!

Now I won’t disagree with Bill that there are a fair number of people in receipt of income support that could probably be working. I would also have to agree that there are certainly families that have multiple generations living on the system. We all know the type of people he is referring to. Most towns have at least a few, but throwing the number 90% out there is a little much don’t you think Bill? Like any government system, people will always find a way to scam but I personally think it a very unfair assumption to publicly state that all but 10% of income support recipients in the province are receiving their pittance legitimately. C’mon Bill, time to turn off the radio and come back to reality.

Never mind the fact that Bill has no idea what the personal situations of most of these people are. He doesn’t care if they are unable to find child care, or if they have an addiction, or maybe a disability that keeps them from working. People like Bill would only be happy if you had to go declaring your personal business to him and every other curmudgeon by wearing a placard on your chest pronouncing you a lazy bum! People like Bill are so struck by jealousy at the fact that someone might be getting something from the government that they are not that they feel compelled to lash out and make absurd statements. Bill doesn’t care that a single parent with three children is living on less than $1000 a month including their rent. It doesn’t hurt him that those kids will never get to eat a $9 cauliflower because they are eating dented cans of snap peas and diet cola that they got from the food bank. No, people like bill don’t like to think about those things because they do not support the narrative that they want to believe.

All of these things make me angry but the thing that makes me angriest is where people like Bill point his finger. Cut em all off! Let em fend for themselves! They are the ones to blame for what is wrong with this province! I wish people like Bill would stop to think for a minute about the words they say and how foolish they sound to anyone who has had the misfortune of falling through the cracks. Why is it that the finger is always pointed at the bottom and never at the top? It is the elected officials and bureaucrats who make the rules. They are the ones who put up barriers where they should be building bridges. They are the ones who encourage three generations of welfare recipients because it is easier not to act than to do shake the boat and something different. I wish people like Bill would call open line and say, you know I wish the government would do more for people to help get them back to work. I wish the government would support our vulnerable citizens and help to build them up into productive members of society instead of sinking deeper and deeper into bad health and depression by the endless cycle of a dead end system. The Bills of the world need to wake up and realize that the problem does not lie with the single mom of the single mom. It lies with the lack of courage of bureaucrats and members of government to create strong policy that supports the people at the bottom and encourages them to believe in themselves.

Bill was a real caller, but he is also a metaphor for all of the people who feel the way he does. It is always easier to blame the person at the bottom than to take on the top. I guess it is hard to see the point of view from the bottom unless you have been there.


Is it Time for Independent Auditors and Performance-Based Layoffs?

Is it Time for Independent Auditors and Performance-Based Layoffs?

By Ryan Young

Inefficiencies said Dwight Ball. Streamlining said Cathy Bennett. Getting more for less was one of the only things the Liberals had to campaign on in-lieu of an actual platform during the general election last November. Surely that idea had been lost on the previous PC governments who, in contrast, embraced a less for more mentality by not only bloating the public service, but by increasing the amount the government spends on “professional services” to tell the bloated public service how to do their job. Dwight Ball promised over and over that a Liberal government would eliminate “inefficiencies” in the government sector that would provide “massive” savings for the province.
So far Premier Ball has asked his Ministers to look for 30% savings in each of their respective departments. While there are many inherent problems with this approach, let’s focus on just one aspect of how it will fail to produce results.

Most Ministers are currently saddled with several portfolios due to an ineffective gesture by the government to make it appear like it is saving taxpayer money by reducing the number of members in cabinet. In reality this is stretching the duties of the Ministers (See Christopher Mitchelmore and his 3 major portfolios) to the point that they are unable to effectively engage in the operations of any single portfolio. More plainly, it means that they can’t do a proper job as a Minister if they can only devote 30% of their time to any one department. Because of this, most of the real work within the departments is done by the bureaucrats. By asking departments to look within for 30% savings, the Premier is asking managers to identify friends and co-workers that may be expendable. Newfoundlanders are good hearted people by nature and dropping the ax on a friend whose job is redundant  is not something that many managers will be happy to do. Even the fairest of managers in the group will have some bias. It is human nature and it would be foolish not to take this aspect into consideration. Certainly we need to find savings but maybe we need to look at a different approach. Instead of sticking with the status quo, wouldn’t it be fair to assume that in order to find real inefficiencies in the system, it might be wiser to take the responsibility of making cuts out of the bureaucrats and put it into the hands of independent auditors. These auditors would be given full access to each department and would compile comprehensive reports on how each department functions and provide recommendations on how to streamline services and become more cost-effective.

As part of this process it may also be time to take a look at performance-based layoffs as opposed to job losses based on seniority. I know at first glance that all of my union friends will cry foul at me, but it is no secret that there is a lot of dead weight in our public service. Anyone who has had to deal with the government bureaucracy will agree that our government sector could be performing better to serve the needs of the public. As JM pointed out in his “Decade of Squandered Opportunity,” no union boss or shop steward would ever publicly agree with performance-based layoffs, but if it were put to a private vote, most of the rank and file would rather trim the dead weight than let go of the fresh new hires that so often do the brunt of the work. If the decision is left to managers we will have a public service with just as many bureaucrats and less front line staff to actually get the work of running the province done.

We are in a deep hole financially but many still choose to bury their heads in the sand and think that our problems are all because of the price of oil. The media fails to report that the size of the public service has doubled in the past twenty years. Public sector salaries and benefits rose from $1.7 Billion in 1997 to nearly $4 Billion in 2013. Since the unions are nearly due for a raise and Premier Ball has repeatedly said that public service layoffs are “off the table,” we have to wonder who will take a leadership role and do what needs to be done to bring the public service back to a sustainable level.

None of us wants to see any person lose their job. We certainly understand the negative effects of cutting public-sector jobs, but if it has to be done, shouldn’t we make that decision in the best interest of the province instead of the best interest of the bureaucrats? Isn’t it better to trim dead weight than new growth? If we are ever going to get this ship back on track we need someone to show some courage and leadership, both of which seem to be currently in short supply. The time is now. The notion of big brother taking over our government if we can’t take care of ourselves should not be a foreign concept to any thinking Newfoundlander. They just have to ask themselves if that’s what they want to see happen or will they choose new ideas and demand real leadership to lead us through. I guess only time will tell.  

Won't Somebody Please Help the Premier!

Won’t Somebody Please Help the Premier!

By: Ryan Young

(Originally Published at http://risingtidenl.blogspot.ca/)

In light of the updated facts about the dire economic situation facing our province, good hard-working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been bracing themselves for the hard knocks they have long suspected were coming their way. We quickly and unceremoniously swept Paul Davis and his PC party from their role as keepers of the purse, and ushered in a new era of Liberal government on the basis of not much more than the fact that they were not the outgoing PC party. 

Certainly Dwight Ball and his team did not give us much to go on. With a policy of mums-the-word, Premier Ball has been very adept at playing “duck and cover politics,” since his ascension to the Liberal throne in 2013. Even the Liberal platform, which was finally made available a few short days before the general election, held no real clues to how the new government intended to right our course. There was plenty of talk of public engagement and consultation, plans to make plans if you will, but no real substance to the direction the party would take to ensure the restrengthening of our fiscal situation and the prosperity of future generations.

Is it really a shock then, that when the government announced their approach to tackling the economic situation there was no real affirmative plan to make the necessary changes in the short term? For some, the shock of it all must have been too much to bear. Imagine bracing yourself for the inevitability of cuts and restructuring that could cost you your job, only to hear that the government was quite willing to go on with business as usual. For some it must have felt much the same as someone who has narrowly avoided an auto accident. Shock and awe indeed!

So just what does this fifteen month public engagement process really mean? I am certainly in favor of more public engagement in the political process, but anyone who follows provincial politics closely has no choice but to question the motives of such an extended period of consultation. Indeed during their time in opposition the Liberals held dozens of public engagement events on a variety of issues. I myself attended several of these, and found that the suggestions being offered were very often well thought out and appropriate. Why then, with so much of this work already done, do the Liberals feel the need to repeat the process with such a long and drawn out process? Some would argue that the government is trying to buy itself some time in an attempt to wait for oil prices to rebound and that this whole public engagement process is just a cover and a waste of taxpayer money. Surely I am very reluctant to agree with such a cynical statement but when you look at how the Premier has reacted to early engagement it does make one wonder.

Last week the government launched an online portal where people could make suggestions directly and users would be able to vote on which suggestions they liked the most. News quickly surfaced on social media that someone had suggested a communist revolution as the best way out of our economic situation and that it currently had the most votes. When asked about the story Ball was quick to say that the government would not likely be taking that approach. Now certainly I am not suggesting that we do actually engage in a communist revolution, but the point that struck my mind is that if the Premier is so quick to dismiss the top rated idea so far listed under his public engagement project, even if it was a joke, then how serious is he and his team about actually looking at new ideas? Again I am not saying Ball should bring down the veil of communism down upon us, but if it is to be so obvious that they will not entertain any idea that they do not consider worthy of further consideration, then indeed what is the point of this whole public engagement process?

What this province needs now is a strong leader with a clear vision. From his earliest days as opposition leader to his present job has Premier Mr. Ball has not been willing to share any vision with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and as a result we continue to fail our province and our people. Indeed we can be compared to an unruly teenager who needs the tough love of a strict master. The time has come to tighten our belts and do our best to undo the mess that the previous government has left us. Oil prices will rise again, but we must be ready when that time comes to use it wisely and create a Newfoundland that our forefathers would be proud of.

Should We Drug Test Welfare Recipients?

Should We Drug Test Welfare Recipients?


By Ryan Young

(Originally Published at http://risingtidenl.blogspot.ca/)


Should we drug test welfare recipients? It is a hot question that evokes an emotional response in many people. Anyone who has a Facebook account has seen one of those memes where somewhere that has decided to drug test welfare recipients and that we should do it here. Yes, we probably all know someone who fits the bill. Too lazy to work. Sitting home all day and getting drunk and high on the taxpayer dime. I won’t deny that this does happen and I certainly understand the emotional reaction people get when they think of people “living it up” on their hard earned tax dollars. But is that really the case? Does it happen as often as we think? What are the causes? And what happens to the most vulnerable users when the plug is pulled and the safety net is gone?


Addiction is no simple issue and certainly there are no simple answers. We are only beginning to scratch the surface on the root causes. For half a century we have been hell bent on treating drug use as a criminal and moral issue instead of a public health issue. Even the most conservative estimates show that the United States has poured over a trillion dollars into its war on drugs, with the net result being that drugs are more prevalent now than when Nixon first declared war on recreational drug use nearly fifty years ago. History has shown that increasing prison terms for drug users only drives the trade even further underground and the availability of drugs on the black market makes it easier for youth to get access to them.  Furthermore, people who have developed a problem are often afraid to seek help lest they end up in jail.


So what happens when we pull the plug? Firstly we will see a wave of addicts clogging up medical facilities when they are unable to procure their drugs. Addiction IS a disease and people WILL get sick when they are forced to go cold turkey. Without support, many will soon become homeless and in many cases will turn to crime to feed their addictions. Those who get caught will end up in prison, but at what cost to society? The cost per month to house a prisoner can be from five to ten times higher than the cost of sustaining them through social welfare programs, and in many cases the drugs are even more accessible in prison than they are on the streets. In turn we also will need more police resources to combat the rise in crime, which will cost the government even more money, not to mention the cost of the tests themselves which are certainly not cheap. So where does that leave us? What is the point? What are the real costs to society from such a “cost saving” measure?


In 2014 Tennessee introduced drug testing for welfare recipients on a large scale. Out of nearly thirty thousand applicants only 55 tested positive. That works out to about 0.19%, far below the national drug use average of 9.4%. With an average cost of two hundred dollars per test, the program turned out to be a big waste of taxpayer money and is now under review. A total of 7 states have introduced similar programs at a total cost of over a million dollars. Not surprisingly, the results are very similar across the board. In every case the number of positive tests was far below the national average for drug use. The evidence seems to suggest that the popular conservative myth of the rabid drug users living large on the taxpayer dime just doesn’t appear to have any factual merit. In Florida, their testing program was ruled unconstitutional and discontinued, proving that there are strong moral as well as financial arguments against these drug testing programs.


At the other end of the spectrum, Portugal decided to decriminalize all drugs in 2001. Despite the popular american drug  myths, the country was not run into the ground by drug fueled hooligans. In fact, things got dramatically better. The lifetime prevalence of drug use dropped dramatically, as did the number of drug related deaths. This wasn’t just because of decriminalization but due to the fact that Portugal coupled their new drug law policies with new health policies that recognize addiction as a public health issue, and they began to treat it accordingly. They shifted drug control from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Health and instead of building new prisons they invested in rehabilitation centers and health clinics. They introduced a guaranteed minimum income program to expand the social welfare program which helped to lift many people out of poverty and beyond the siren song of addictive drugs. Major changes in policy, and even more importantly, the resources available over the past fifteen years, are a major factor in Portugal’s positive results with their drug policy.


Just this week Ireland has made “a radical cultural shift” in its drug policy. Small amounts of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin will be decriminalized and safe injection sites will be set up for intravenous users. Moving from shaming addicts to providing them with a support network will be the basis of the new policy shift. Some dispute the opening of injection sites on the grounds that it promotes drug use, but the minister responsible stated that by opening safe injection sites they would aim to prevent vulnerable individuals from exposing themselves to further risk. This is indeed a radical shift in thinking from the traditional anti-drug establishment. While the program has many opponents, many more are praising it as a long awaited step towards lowering HIV/AIDS rates and breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction in Ireland.


So what lessons can we learn from places like Tennessee, Portugal, and Ireland? Abandoning our most vulnerable citizens is not only morally questionable, but it doesn’t seem to make smart financial sense either. Many welfare recipients claim that the cost of recreational drugs are out of their reach, even if they wanted to do them, and the low numbers of positive results back up those claims. We have also learned that when it comes to reducing drug use among the poor, the best path is by empowering people caught  in the system to take control of their own lives. Creating programs that address the root causes of addiction and treating people like human beings has been proven to do much more for drug users than any prison term ever could.

So what can we do here at home to combat our increasing addiction problems and all of the bad elements that go along with it? As tragic as the recent shooting death of Mr. Wellman was, it is a sad indicator of the way things are going under the current system. Our approach to drug use and addiction is simply not working. If we want to seriously address the issue and make progress we need to look past the status quo and find new ideas to tackle this problem. It is time to heed the lessons of those who have gone before us and start to rethink our approach to drug use and addiction in this province. Only by changing our attitudes will we ever make headway and see real positive change.

Why We Need Democratic Reform

Why We Need Democratic Reform


By: Ryan Young

(Originally Published at http://risingtidenl.blogspot.ca/)


Well the dust has settled from the longest election year in modern history and the new Premier and his cabinet have been officially sworn in. The most optimistic of us are looking forward to the stronger tomorrow that the Liberals have promised, but now more than ever we need to hold the feet to the fire and get government working for the people again.


For this reason I was a little disappointed that there was no mention of democratic reform in any of the thirteen mandate letters that Premier Ball issued to cabinet this week. With a record low voter turnout of 55% in the November 30th general election you might think that the new government would be more concerned with the state of democracy in our province.


Almost half of the eligible voters in the province couldn’t be bothered to take the time to cast their vote and participate in the democratic process. Premier Ball need not look far to find the reasons that keep people away from the polls in droves, the major reason is quite clear. People don’t feel that their vote matters. I mean why take the time to go out in the cold November wind to cast a vote for the PC’s or the NDP when we all knew that the red tide was on the way in?


Videos by several comedy groups surfaced during the campaign where residents were asked to name their electoral districts and/or the candidates vying to be their MHA. The results, while amusing, were downright embarrassing. The simple truth is that the majority of Newfoundlander's are not engaged in the political process and have very little knowledge of what is happening on Confederation Hill. When you ask them why, the answer is usually simpler still. People don’t vote because they don’t feel that the current system is representative of them. But how do we change peoples minds? How do we get people involved in the process? The answer to those questions might be the simplest of all.


During the federal election campaign there was plenty of talk about electoral reform. Canadians overwhelmingly support a shift towards a proportional representation style of democracy. There are many different forms of PR to be studied but the main point to be considered is that a PR system makes every vote count. The number of seats in the legislature would be directly related to the percentage of the vote. Prime Minister Trudeau has promised that we have seen the last first past the post election in Canada, even if we don’t know yet what the new system will be. But why have we been so quiet about the issue here in Newfoundland and Labrador?


The Liberal government promised an all-party committee on democratic reform as part of its election plank on openness and transparency. As part of this plan, the Liberals promised to consult with the public on new ways to restore democratic integrity to the province. It was surprising then, that when the Premier issued his mandate letters, there was no mention at all of democratic reform. No minister has been appointed responsible for democratic reform and there is no mandate for the creation of the all-party committee as was promised during the election campaign. With the clock already ticking on the next election we don’t have the time to drag our feet on this issue. It needs to be addressed immediately with a clear mandate from the Premiers office.


Some critics argue that we would be best served to wait until the federal government has established how it will conduct its elections and change our system accordingly. That is a fair statement that does have some credibility as we certainly want to minimize the amount of confusion that will result in any major change to the democratic system. It would be wise, however, to start laying our own groundwork so that we don’t be left having to do all of that work in a short amount of time when the feds make their final decision.

The real question to ask is this: Is there sufficient political will to make major changes to the democratic system in Newfoundland and Labrador? Remember that this new government was elected with a large majority,  and any changes that would be made to the system would reduce the amount of power they wield. Can we really expect any political party to give up the power for the betterment of the people? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Child Care Key to Population Growth

Child Care Key To Population Growth

By: Ryan Young

(Originally Published in The Telegram, June 13, 2015. See Link at Bottom)

The front page of The Telegram on June 5 proclaimed that “population issues are getting to a crisis point" Over and over in the media we hear about the need for a population growth strategy due to our continued declining population, and according to all indicators we are nowhere close to turning those numbers around.

But what I fail to understand is the reason why, when we discuss population growth in this province, there is no mention of the need for a provincial child-care strategy that encourages residents to have more children.


The Conservatives have tried offering financial incentives to encourage more births, but a thousand dollars and tiny tax incentives have failed to turn the tide on population issues. Most recently there has been a push to attract more immigrants to the province, but that, too, has had limited success as many of these newcomers quickly move on to bigger centres such as Montreal and Toronto where there are more opportunities for them and their families.

Through my work with child care, I have heard from hundreds of parents in this province, many of them professionals, who want to have more children but they are holding off due to lack of accessibility and the high cost of quality, regulated child-care spaces.
Many professionals, most often women, are being forced out of the workforce if they do decide to have children. We know this, yet for some reason we are still not looking at child care as a part of the population growth solution.
There will always be the handful of people who will ask why their tax dollars should pay for child care. The answer to that question could be quite complex if we were to get into all of the social benefits of quality, universal child care, but let’s keep the discussion purely along economic lines.
Study after study, all over the world, has concluded that investing in child care nets a return of $1.50 to $2.50 into the economy for every dollar spent. Even without taking into account that early education has been proven to create a better educated, less incarcerated society, the benefits of putting parents back into the workforce just makes sense.
When you add in the fact that the reason we need to grow our population is to grow our tax base to keep the economy strong, it makes even more sense that we would want our future workers to be highly educated, productive members of society. That is the capitalist dream after all.
Before we start coming up with radical plans and expensive programs to attract a wave of new residents to the province, why don’t we try supporting our own families and try to grow our population from within? All you have to do is listen to the people and remove the barriers that are holding young families back.
Sure, immigration should be part of the plan for our province to grow and diversify, but the real issues that are holding us back need to be addressed if we are going to get back on track. Newfoundland families want to have more children, they just can’t afford it. Remove the child-care barrier and the population will grow.
It really is that easy.
Original Publication:

http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-editor/2015-06-13/article-4178806/Child-care-key-to-population-growth/1

Welcome to The Rogue Bayman!

Welcome to The Rogue Bayman Blog!

This blog is for all of the people who want to believe in a better tomorrow for Newfoundland and Labrador! 87 years ago we lost our sovereignty, and for most of those long years the residents of this great province have lived under the thumb of despots and tyrants. Strong words? Sure they are, but any real study into the political history of Newfoundland and Labrador will prove them to be true words as well.

In 2016 our province sits at a crossroads. The status quo of elected egos and an inefficient bureaucracy, long left unchecked, has brought us to the edge of a fiscal cliff. The continued mismanagement of our finances and unsustainable spending have left us in a precarious position from which there will be a painful fall if things do not change soon. The time has come for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to stand up and demand better from our elected officials. For the sake of our children and of grandchildren we must act now to take back the power and change the course of our history. The 2015 general election set a record for the lowest voter turnout rate ever at just 55%. When I ask people why they didn’t vote they tell me it is because of a lack of real choice on the ballot. As far as they are concerned, no matter who wins elections, the people lose.

The purpose of The Rogue Bayman is to educate and inspire the people of this great province to believe that we can do better. It is to tell them that we don’t have to wait around for someone else to do it for us. Somewhere along the way we forgot that we are the boss. Not the Premier or the members of the House of Assembly. We forgot that the idea of democracy means a government of the people, for the people. We need to remember that the power belongs to us and not the blow-hard politicians and bureaucrats.

I have been a political junkie for as long as I can remember. I was raised by a PC mother and a Liberal father and for a while I voted NDP just to be a rebel. I now hold no political affiliation as I believe that we currently do not have a party that represents the needs of the residents of this province. In the past two years I have been involved in an ongoing saga with our government to fight for better rights for the citizens and families of this province. Through many meetings and endless research and reading, I have uncovered some disturbing truths and have developed a very unique understanding of the many problems that plague our public service.

The inefficiency and outright insanity that I have encountered on an ongoing basis has led me to speak out publicly and to continue to hound and harass our elected officials to do their jobs and perform better for the many people who depend on them. I will share some of these experiences with you from time to time in order to demonstrate the sad reality of a public service that has been taken over by the bureaucrats. From incredulous indifference to out and out lies, I have experienced it all. Someone asked me why I don’t write a book, but I always reply that nobody would believe the stories! I have been able to live in this province as part of a working-poor family, a single father on welfare, and as a small business owner. This combination of experiences has allowed me to develop the unique perspective on which this blog will be based.

So please join me on this journey of personal political exploration to expose the hard truths that are right in front of our eyes. The power really is in our hands. I’ll write the words, you be the voice.

Ryan Young
The Rogue Bayman