Monday, 30 January 2017

Validate and Prioritize

Validate and Prioritize

By: Ryan Young

Last week the government announced its 2017 pre-budget consultation schedule. Yes, that’s right, more expensive consultations, just so the government can say that they consulted with the people prior to bringing down their new budget next spring. I am all for consultation, as long as it is productive. That, however, would mean that the government actually listened to what the people were saying instead of cherry-picking a few ideas that suit their plans and presenting it as what the people said they want.

During the public sessions that were part of the Government Renewal Initiative that the Liberals began last fall, people were asked three questions:

1. Thinking of all of the things government spends your money on to provide the residents of the province with services, what are three things that could be stopped in order to save money?

2. Given the financial challenges facing our province, what three things do you think government could do to raise money (increase revenue)

3. How can government be more innovative or efficient to provide quality services at lower costs?

While the official results of these consultations are not due to be released until March, likely at the same time as the budget, these questions guided the direction of The Way Forward document that was released last fall. This year, people are now being asked to provide their input on the four main pillars of The Way Forward.

1. A more efficient public service

2. A stronger economic foundation

3. Better services

4. Better outcomes

Looking at the “Our Fiscal Future” road-map, the consultations happening next month are listed as “Validate and Prioritize” with the subheading as “Seek Public Feedback on Choices Presented.” That indeed seems to be what they are attempting to do by setting the events up with the four main questions for discussion. This will be the final phase of the renewal initiative before it is completed and incorporated into The Way Forward, and future Liberal budgets. Whether on not what people have to say will change anything in The Way Forward will remain to be seen, but this writer wont be holding his breath.

You can be sure that the last thing that these Liberal ministers and MHA’s want to do right now is to publicly engage with people across the province. Unfortunately for them, it is a necessary step for them to be able to complete their promise of public consultation, and so they will be able to fall back to the argument that they asked the people what they wanted when more “tough decisions” come down the pipe in subsequent budgets. For them it is all about the optics of it, but as we recently saw on the Prime Ministers optics tour, things can quickly backfire when you put arrogant politicians in a room with angry people who are directly suffering under their policies.

It will be interesting to see if there is any productive discussion at all or if the whole thing just turns into a long parade of people who want to air their grievances directly to government. I expect it will be a very tough tour for the Liberals who will be asked to publicly answer for their poor choices so far. Last time around people were still somewhat optimistic that they might actually have a say in the future of their province, but with the actions of this government over the past year, only the most partisan reds still share that view. The rest of us just see it as an exercise in futility and even more wasted taxpayer dollars. I really wish I could write with a less cynical view, but I can only work with what I am given. At the end of the day, Dwight, Cathy, and all the rest already have their minds made up and no matter what they hear from people over the next couple of weeks, it will be full steam ahead for The Way Forward.

If you are interested in attending a session, you can find the information here:

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Go Home Out of It

Go Home Out of It

By: Ryan Young

The ongoing feud between former premiers Roger Grimes and Danny Williams got raised up another notch last week with an indirect war of words between the two former political heavyweights. Williams was making headlines with his speech to the St. John’s Board of Trade while Grimes was speaking out to the media, with both men coming to very different conclusions.

You can’t really blame Roger Grimes for taking his chance to get in a few shots. The man was dragged through the mud and back again during the 2003 election and campaign and for years afterwards by an angry Williams who was resentful that Grimes could hang on as premier for so long without ever being elected to that high post. Cummupins were a long time coming for Ole Grimey, but with the facts we now know about Danny’s legacy, Muskrat Falls, Roger Grimes has been eager to let the public know that despite all the mud-slinging, Danny didn’t know best after all.

In a recent CBC story, Grimes calls Muskrat Falls “the price of pride.” He maintains that his government was very close to reaching an agreement with Hydro Quebec to develop Gull Island, but that the deal was nixed after the election because Williams was unwilling to deal with Quebec. He refers to the Maritime Link as an “extension cord across the gulf,” and blasts Danny’s vision as being a short-sighted and petty “screw you” to La Belle Province that never made any economic sense.

Williams fired back in his Board of Trade speech by assuring us all that Muskrat is indeed a good deal, but the benefits will not be realized until years down the road. He rationalized mitigating electricity rates by saying that we only had to extend the debt terms and use profits from Nalcor to keep rates down to manageable levels. It all sounds very well and good when you listen to Danny go on in his great oratory style, but when you look a little deeper, things begin to fall apart. For starters, Nalcor has not returned one cent of dividends for the province since it was created by Williams in 2007, and any future revenue will come from the rate payers who will be forced to buy Muskrat power at outlandish prices. As for extending the debt schedule, that is all fine and good for the now, but do we really want to push any more of that debt along to our children and grandchildren? Muskrat Falls is not, and never has been a good deal, no matter how much Danny may try to spin it that way.

Just why are we listening to Danny Williams and Roger Grimes anyway? Both men have had their time in the sun, and are long past the time that they should be bowing out of the public eye. Yes, Danny wants to do his best to convince us all that his legacy project is anything other than what it actually is, a big mistake, but no amount of speeches can contradict the realities that the common folk will now face because Danny likes a good gamble. Grimes wants to enjoy the “I told you so” for as long as he can, and you really can’t blame him after the abuse he took, but you have to wonder if he might have been better served by doing his gloating on the inside and letting history settle the score for him instead of taking every possible opportunity to speak-out against his old political nemesis.
Its time for Danny and Roger to bow out and give up on the game. They each had their turn and they will each have to let the years decide who was the better premier. The petty back and forth between two grown men just highlights how much of a joke #nlpoli has really become. When you have two former premiers going toe to toe on an issue, while the current premier stands back and enjoys the brief distraction, you really have to wonder what the hell is going on in this province.

What we need right now is strong leadership and accountability. Dwight Ball promised both in abundance, but has delivered on neither. If Muskrat is such a good project and the North Spur is really nothing to worry about, then show us the data and open the books. It doesn’t have to be so shady, all you have to do is tell the truth and let people see for themselves. Instead we are treated to a great big game of egos and we never get any closer to the truth. We don’t need the egos of two former premiers hanging over this project any longer. It’s time for the by’s to go home out of it and leave their legacies for history to decide.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Willful Blindness

Willful Blindness

By: Ryan Young

I generally make it a point to stick to local politics and not delve into the worlds of national and international politics, but with so few people seeming to notice or care that our Prime Minister just broke a federal law, I felt that I had to chime in on the matter.

The issue in question is Justin Trudeau’s family vacation to a private island owned by the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader to more than 15 million Ismaili Muslim. The fourth of the line Aga Khan, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, is a noted billionaire philanthropist in addition to his role as a respected spiritual leader. He was granted honorary Canadian citizenship by Stephen Harper in 2009. While not a registered lobbyist himself, his foundation is responsible for lobbying millions from the federal government for international development. He is also a long-time family friend of the Trudeau’s and was even a pall bearer at Pierre Elliott’s funeral.

The Aga Khan owns a private island in the Bahamas and that was the site of a new year’s celebration that was attended by Trudeau and his family, as well as Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan and the President of the Liberal Party of Canada. Canada has very strict laws regarding the interaction of public officials with known lobbyists, and the trip has raised several red flags with opposition MP’s and ethics watchdogs. Given that the families are close, a holiday get together is not such a strange or bad thing, but the Liberal guests traveled to the island via Khan’s private helicopter, which changes the whole issue from a bad judgement call to a violation of the Conflict of Interest Act. Section 12 of the act clearly states:

“No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary, no member of his or her family and no ministerial adviser or ministerial staff shall accept travel on non-commercial chartered or private aircraft for any purpose unless required in his or her capacity as a public office holder or in exceptional circumstances or with the prior approval of the Commissioner.

That means that the Prime Minister was strictly forbidden from accepting the ride on the private helicopter, even if it was a family friend, and even if there was no other way to reach the island, as has been alleged. He had the option of clearing the trip beforehand with the ethics commissioner, but chose not to do so. Some have suggested that this was a poor lapse in judgement by Trudeau, but given the Liberal track record with ethics in the recent past, I think that is giving the Prime Minister a free pass. It is a clear violation of the act and the Prime Minister must be held accountable for his actions.

You can read the conflict of interest laws here:

Let me be very clear here. The fact that Trudeau and his family and friends spent some time vacationing with a family friend on a private tropical island is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. With all the problems in our country right now, where the PM took his holiday vacation is small potatoes. But we can’t ignore the fact that the leader of our country willfully broke the law, when he had every opportunity to go through the proper channels to make it right. A simple call from the PMO to the ethics commissioner explaining the situation likely would have led to the request being granted. Unfortunately, through either incompetence or pure arrogance, the PM decided to act first and ask for forgiveness later and failed to inform the commissioner until days after the trip, when it had already been reported in the media. Asking for forgiveness later is not always a bad strategy for life, but it is behaviour unbecoming a Prime Minister, and Trudeau’s pure disregard for the ethics that come with his title should not be easily dismissed.

What bothers me the most is the willful blindness from people on these issues that should really matter, but apparently don’t. I mean our Prime Minister breaking the law should be a big deal, but instead of outrage on twitter, all you see is golden shower jokes and Trump Bashing. I am no more of a Trump fan than I am a Harper fan, but neither one of them has publicly admitted to breaking the law, yet we are willing to ignore Trudeau’s actions and brush a blatant breach of trust by a so-called progressive world leader under the rug while we watch the squirrel down south and assure ourselves that at least we have better than Harper now. Do we really?

The position of Prime Minister should not be a popularity contest. We need our leaders to be role models. Selfies are fine, and I have no issues with having a young Prime Minister with good hair, as long as he is willing to be the leader that he sold the country on.  So far, despite the sunny media coverage, that has not been the case. It is just business as usual in Ottawa. Trudeau continues to sell himself as a progressive, and it is an easy story to buy when you see him marching in the pride parade or talking tough about climate change. But when you look at the policies he has implemented, and the ones that he is dragging his feet on, he begins to look less like a saviour and more and more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In Trudeau’s own words on the use of Khan’s private aircraft, "It's something that certainly we look forward to discussing with the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, but we don't see an issue on that." That statement alone should be enough to raise red flags about the Prime Ministers understanding and respect for our federal conflict of interest laws, which is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the country. Laws that safeguard against our politicians being “bought.” That the Prime Minister doesn’t see an issue with the situation only creates more questions about his ability to lead the country and his commitment to making Canada a better place than it was under Harper.

The private aircraft clause might even be a silly law in the big picture, especially when you consider the circumstances of the logistics involved in getting to Khan’s island. But being a silly law does not make the Prime Minister above it. Our current marijuana laws are considered by many to be silly as well, but try lighting up a spliff next to a police officer and see what happens to you. No matter what we think of it, the law is the law, and when we allow our elected officials to be above the law, we set a very dangerous precedent for ourselves and for our future. Elected officials need to be held to a higher standard, and we need to stop giving them a free pass through our own political apathy.

It will be very interesting to see how much life this story takes on. Will Trudeau face consequences for his blatant disregard for the law or will the media let him off the hook and let the story fade into the night? It usually drives me crazy that most people are more concerned about Trump or Trudeau than our own shit-show of a political scene here at home, but this is one instance where I would like to see people take a real interest and demand that the Prime Minister is made to answer for failing to respect the laws of the land.

A resignation seems a little extreme for this situation, but after days of refusing to provide details, and then acknowledging that he knowingly broke the law, I can’t really think of another course of action that would be suitable. The Prime Minister had plenty of time to get the trip approved, despite being fully aware of the illegality of his actions, and we cannot condone such actions from our elected leaders. While it is doubtful that a resignation will happen, and far more likely that the story will be swept under the rug, I hope that my readers will remember stories like this that continue to prove that there is no difference in party politics. Laws are for the plebes and government is no place for the concerns of the common man. As long as we continue to be willfully blind to the failings of our leaders, this will never change. Whether people believe it or not, the power really is in our hands. It’s time for us to stand up and use it. If we make enough noise, together, we can make sure that politicians are taken to task and held accountable when they fail us. Power to the people.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Eddie the Entertainer

Eddie the Entertainer

By: Ryan Young

I seem to talk about communication problems quite a bit on this blog, and just when you think that it can’t get any worse, the Liberal’s had the bright idea to set Eddie Joyce loose on the media to defend the government’s snow clearing performance this year. While Transportation and Works Minister, Al Hawkins, is away on vacation, Joyce was appointed “acting minister” in his absence. Eddie assures us all that absolutely nothing has changed in the government’s snow clearing policy and that the level of service is the same as it always was. In the last week, he has managed to blame everything from bald tires to bad weather forecasts as reasons why people are upset about snow clearing in the province. Despite repeated videos and pictures from across the province showing otherwise, Joyce maintains that everything is business as usual on our highways.

An expert on all things, Eddie says that in his 20+ years in government, not a thing has changed with snow clearing. The only thing that has changed is that operators are no longer being paid to sit in depots on clear nights. He has dismissed concerns by NAPE President Jerry Earle and Independent MHA, Paul Lane, and emails that have been provided by T&W staff showing abysmal equipment availability rates and trigger points.

Joyce says that availability rates are misleading and that the 10cm trigger point is incorrect, despite department emails from last week that specifically refer to that number. Eddie says the trigger point is actually 6cm and during a call with Pete Soucy on Tuesday, he said that would explain when the change was made to make it 6cm, but he never actually got around to giving us that information. I hope that when Minister Hawkins returns this week, that he can clarify what the actual trigger point for forecasted snow is, and when the actual change was made. I don’t envy Hawkins though for having to come back from a nice vacation to have to deal with the PR nightmare that Joyce has turned the department into over an eventful couple of weeks.

During his call to Pete Soucy and his interview with CBC on Tuesday, Joyce kept answering questions by making veiled personal attacks at Paul Lane. Soucy even called him on it, asking if they could discuss the issue instead of trying to discredit another person for information that they did not even provide. It should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Eddie’s career. Coming from a boxing background, Eddie doesn’t know much about anything, but he does like to pick a good fight. I mean I honestly feel embarrassed for the man every time he opens his mouth. Whenever you can’t answer a question with facts, play the blame game. Then again, Eddie is certainly not alone in that as this current crop of Liberals has not been able to accomplish much in the past year, other than to blame everyone else for their blunders and mistakes.

At a time where confidence in government is at an all-time low, you really have to wonder if it is arrogance or incompetence that is really running the show up on the hill. When the premier and the communications team decides let Eddie Joyce have full reign to run his mouth about something as complain-worthy to NL’ers as snow clearing, then you really have to wonder if they even give the smallest fuck about the public perception of this government. I mean Eddie Joyce…c’mon. The man sounds like a cartoon character on a bad trip at the best of times, and no matter what the Liberals might owe Eddie Joyce, they have to know that every single time he opens his mouth, their government loses a little more credibility.

Many of my readers may not know that Eddie got his start in politics by winning a seat back in 1989. Unfortunately, Clyde Wells lost his seat and needed to win a by-election in a seat that was guaranteed Liberal. Eddie resigned from his seat in Bay of Islands and became a high-level staffer and Wells won the seat by acclimation. So, in case you are wondering how in the world Elmer Fudd became a cabinet minister, now you know. The good old boys club owed Eddie a carrot and Dwight Ball, aka Mr. Nice made sure that Eddie got it, even if it meant having a cabinet minister to represent his government that has absolutely no educational qualifications or communication abilities. Dwight would do well to shuffle his cabinet in the near future, but unfortunately, he probably does not have the foresight to realize the damage being done to his governments reputation by ministers who continuously put their own egos above the good of the people. When your judgement is so poor that you send Eddie Joyce out to communicate with the public, there doesn’t seem to be much left to say….

Thursday, 5 January 2017



By: Ryan Young

not able, wanting, or allowed to communicate with other people.

MHA Colin Holloway finally issued an apology to Mayor Veronica Broomfield of St. Brendan’s. Sort of. In a bizarre story that just kept getting stranger as time went on, Holloway issued a Facebook post yesterday, apologizing for his “poor choice of words.” In case you are unfamiliar with the story in question, Mayor Broomfield released a text message to the media on December 15, 2016 in which Holloway responded to a question about ferry trips by saying “Remember, you didn’t vote for me.” Holloway had flatly denied making the comments on VOCM, but when the text messages were released he quickly became silent.

The whole issue left a very bad taste in many people’s mouths. While it may be no secret that cronyism still exists in fine form here in NL, to outright tell a municipal leader that her town would be losing ferry trips because she didn’t vote for him goes well beyond the expected level of arrogance from an elected official. To make matters worse, Holloway’s refusal to address the matter or make an apology for more than 20 days only added fuel to the fire and continued to reinforce the idea that the Liberal’s are completely out of touch with the people.

Holloway’s half hearted apology yesterday said “"I regret that a conversation which took place over text messaging has led to the perception that I do not care about certain communities,"

"In view of this, I wish to apologize for the poor choice of words I used in my message. I am the MHA for every community in the District of Terra Nova, and I take this role very seriously."
It might have been okay if he had issued the apology within a day or two of the release of the message by Broomfield, or if he had issued it publicly, but to wait more than 20 days and then post it via Facebook where a large number of constituents have been blocked from viewing it may not have been the best way to deal with the situation. It has been suggested that the premier finally stepped in and made Holloway issue the apology, even though the MHA did not really want to admit that he was wrong. That is painfully clear, first through his denial, and then the long silence between that and his forced apology. It makes you wonder what all of those highly paid communications people are doing up there on the hill anyway? Certainly, they should have been on top of it as soon as the story broke but it seems like another case of the Liberals thinking that the situation was just not that big of a deal.

That brings us to my next point. Politicians just don’t seem to understand how communications work in this new digital age. Sure, they use social media to send out updates and messages, but they don’t seem to have a very firm grasp on how it all works and how to use it properly. The dumb comments that they make are one thing, but this latest crop of Liberal MHA’s have widely adopted the fine art of blocking. I can understand blocking people who are making threatening comments or who are not contributing to discussion in any meaningful way, but these MHA’s are so sensitive that they will block you just for asking a question. While part of me finds it very amusing that these grown men and women who are paid to represent the people of the province are so quick to block any type of conversation that doesn’t fit their narrative, I mostly find it very sad.

Christopher Mitchelmore is a great example. I had tried to establish a relationship with Minister Mitchelmore after he was elected, and even went so far as to send him a number of observations that I had made during more than a decade of working in the tourism industry. I met him at public functions, and had respectful discussions regarding his vision for the future of our tourism industry and the lofty goals that were outlined in The Way Forward. I could sense that he was very uncomfortable in speaking with someone such as myself, who is so publicly outspoken, but I had hoped to let him know that I was here to talk about problems and solutions and not to blow political smoke. Shortly after, I reminded him with a comment on one of his Facebook posts that people were sick of hearing the government blame the PC’s every single time that they were asked a question, and that they should focus their energy on talking to the people to build a better plan for our future. I guess the good minister did not take too kindly to my suggestion as I was promptly blocked by him on Facebook. No threat. No nastiness. Just a simple opinion that is shared by many in the province and poof! Blocked.

I use Mitchelmore as an example of how petty these MHA’s and ministers can be. He was one of the few members that I still had any hope for, but unfortunately, he seems to have caught the blocking bug from his friends in cabinet. I guess it is easier to block someone than to have to discuss your near-sighted decisions with the people you represent. Sadly, Mitchelmore is not alone. Sherry Gambin Walsh, Dale Kirby, Neil King, and Andrew Parsons are all prolific blockers, and poor Pam Parsons even earned her own hashtag, #pamparsonsblockedme, for her proficiency in blocking concerned constituents from any type of discussion on social media.

People are mad and they want answers from their elected officials. The Liberals may think that they can slink away into the shadows and insulate their social media accounts by blocking all but the most partisan supporters, but someone in the party needs to start shaking people and waking them up to the realities of communicating in the digital age. They don’t seem to realize that by blocking people and refusing to engage in meaningful discussion, they automatically take away any chance of winning over potential voters to their point of view. While there are plenty of nasty people who hide behind anonymous online monikers, there are also plenty of real concerned people who just want to engage with their elected officials in a meaningful way and have their voices heard.

As long as members like Colin Holloway are willing to let comments as negative and outrageous as the ones directed towards Mayor Broomfield define the perception of this government, any attempts of re-branding themselves for 2019 will be an exercise in futility. Back in the good old days elected officials could hide behind the weak media and let stories like this be quickly forgotten. For one, the comments would probably never have been written down in the first place. But that is not the world we live in now and if politicians continue to be slow to adapt they will quickly find themselves left behind. Dwight Ball would also do well to remember that in a few years nobody will remember who Colin Holloway or Dale Kirby were, but they will remember the weak premier that could not keep his government in line.

I have said it before and I will say it again, if this Liberal government intends to have any chance of being elected to a second term, they are going to have to learn to communicate with the people. Hiring high priced communications officials to write fancy propaganda messages is not money well spent when you have ministers and MHA’s continuously undermining anything good that the government may do with a permanent case of foot-in-mouth disease. They are not the first government to face harsh criticism and they will not be the last, but by trying to push it all under the rug and trying to block all of the problems away this government has created an image for themselves that will be remembered the next time voters go to the polls.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead

By: Ryan Young

Welcome to 2017, my dear constant readers. As you may have noticed, The Rogue Bayman has been a quiet space for the past couple of weeks. I apologize to my readers who may have been expecting some commentary to digest over the holidays, or some response to the big items that are currently dominating the headlines such as snow clearing and gas prices. I had intended to be more active over Christmas, but after finding my way back home to Bonne Bay on Christmas Eve, I decided to take a step back from writing and commentary to reflect on the year that just passed, and the new one that just began.

The previous year was certainly an eventful one. I don’t think anybody could have predicted the turmoil that resulted from a change in government from the Tories to the Liberals. We all knew that times were tough in the provincial treasury, but when the new Liberal Government brought down their first budget last April, it quickly became apparent that the “Stronger Tomorrow” they had campaigned on was not actually what they intended to deliver. I had contemplated doing a “Best of 2016” style post, but there have been plenty of those to go around, and to be honest, I don’t really have the stomach to go back through it all. Instead, I have decided to do a list of stories to watch for 2017 that I hope you will enjoy.

1. Grieg NL

The proposed aquaculture development by Grieg NL on the south coast was a major story in 2016, and it will likely become an even bigger story in 2017 as the project begins to move forward. The decision by Perry Trimper to excuse Grieg NL from a full environmental assessment has raised many questions about the project and many people are worried about what the negative effects of the development might be. On the other side of the coin, we desperately need the employment that the project will provide for the province, especially with unemployment numbers predicted to hit 20% by 2019. We can expect to see plenty of discussion about this story in the coming year, including a feature post by The Rogue Bayman in the weeks to come.

2. Public Sector Job Cuts

Despite Dwight Ball assuring us over and over again that there would be no public-sector job cuts under a new Liberal government, unions are bracing for a battle as it is becoming apparent that job cuts are very likely on the table for Budget 2017. It is very hard to imagine that the government can reach its own financial targets without job cuts, but they money they save will come with a very deep cost to their political capital, which is already dangerously low. Any job cuts will result in a negative PR campaign by the unions that will likely include more public protests and marches in the streets. With contract negotiations due to begin soon, it will be interesting to follow how this story unfolds in the months ahead.

3. Ed Martin Severance Report

The Ed Martin Severance story dominated the news for several weeks in the spring of 2016 and then it kind of went away as we were asked to wait for the Auditor General to complete an investigation into the matter. The report was expected in the fall, but as of yet we have not heard anything from the office of the AG. People want to know who knew what, and when they knew it. The premier was caught in several lies on the issue, and it was the first of many knocks against Dwight Ball’s credibility. When the report is released it will bring the story back into the light, and from the way I see it, there is no way that Ball can come out of this looking good. He simply lied too many times for people to trust him on this issue.  While this may not be enough to force a resignation, this story has the potential to do serious damage to the premier’s already rocky reputation.

4. Hydro-Quebec

There was plenty of talk about backroom deals with Hydro-Quebec during the last sitting of the House of Assembly and I expect that it will evolve into a major story to watch in 2017. For starters, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a legendary distrust for Quebec, and in particular, Hydro-Quebec. Even if the government were in a position to get a good deal, (which they are not) it would be a hard sell to the voting public. With the Upper-Churchill renewal kicking in last summer, we were reminded again of that great Smallwoodian giveaway, and people will be wary of any deal with the Quebec boogeyman. Any discussion around developing Gull Island will create even more controversy and will draw the ire of Land Protectors in Labrador and create an even wider divide between the big land and St. John’s. Will Ball and Coady sell out our future once again for a little bit of short-term relief for Muskrat Falls? I guess we will have to wait and see

5. Budget 2017

It might be hard for many to imagine that Budget 2017 will draw the same sort of backlash that Budget 2016 caused, but with the aforementioned public-sector job cuts, the budget this spring will be a major story to watch. With nothing left to tax or put fees on and no real diversification plan, cuts are the only thing the Liberals have left to meet their own financial targets. We can likely expect more cuts to unionized jobs such as teachers and health care providers and less money for programs and services. It is hard to predict how deep the cuts will go, but there will be cuts and people will be angry. There will likely be more protests and marches and if the unions are hit hard they will spend plenty of money to make sure everyone knows that Dwight Ball lied to public-sector workers. No matter how much the government and the media try to portray the problems last year as just bumps in the road, people will not forget, and they will continue to be very vocal in the year ahead.

2017 has the makings to be another very eventful year, and The Rogue Bayman will be here to bring you the issues that matter to you. I believe that while we need to keep the governments feet to the fire on the issues that matter to us, we also need to start looking ahead and talking about how we can do things better. If 2016 was the year of anger and disappointment, then let us make 2017 the year of creativity and innovation. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The research and the solutions are out there, we just need to bring it all together and start looking at real evidence-based policy decisions. It is clear that our politicians do not understand the reality of information sharing in our new digital age, and we must continue to share the real truths about our lack of democracy and what we can do to enact real change. I wish you all the very best in the year ahead as we dig in our heels and show this government that we, the people WILL be heard.