Spin to Win
By: Ryan Young
The premier held another fancy event yesterday. As usual it was full of glossy graphics and plenty of pats on the back for a job well done. The occasion was a report on Phase 1 of “The Way Forward,” the Liberal roadmap designed to make people believe that our government has the slightest clue of what they are doing. The funniest thing is that someone in the premier’s office really thought that the information presented yesterday would actually impress the individuals and groups in attendance and instill confidence in the public at large.
What we learned from Premier Ball’s announcement was that after nearly a year and a half in power, and six months into “The Way Forward,” the Liberals have only managed to find a meagre $45 million dollars in savings. I wonder if that includes the cost of developing and marketing “The Way Forward” to the masses? Finance Minister Cathy Bennett promised that immense savings would come from the utilization of zero-based budgeting, but according to their own numbers they were only able to find $24 million dollars of government waste to trim. “The Way Forward” also pushes many of the government targets well into the future, some as far as 2025, without any definitive information about how they plan to meet them. There is plenty of fancy jargon, but when it comes to actual ideas and plans, “The Way Forward” leaves much to the imagination.
Phase 1 of “The Way Forward” was touted as a plan to reduce government costs, but despite all of the spin and hoopla from the government, it fell flat. With all of the extra taxes and fees that are burdening the population of this province, and job cuts likely coming in the very near future, $45 million is hardly enough to convince anyone that the government is willing to clean up its own house before looking for cuts elsewhere. Despite all of the pretty red checkmarks, very little has been accomplished so far, and there are little or no details on many of the initiatives that have been brought forth.
As James Mcleod pointed out in The Telegram, many of the things the Liberals are claiming as completed with red checkmarks are not entirely factual. For instance, the leased space savings they indicate at the very top of the report card was actually a move made by the school board months before “The Way Forward” was even released. In fact, out of the dozen red checkmarks on the section titled” “A More Efficient Public Sector,” the only two initiatives that actually showed real savings were the $24 million from zero-based budgeting and another $20-25 million from laying off core government management positions.
Phase 2 of “The Way Forward,” will focus on job creation and growth, and promises 14 000 person years of new employment, whatever that means. While new jobs should be a positive thing to announce, this ends up being just another example of the poor job being done in the government communications office. God forbid that they tell us how many actual jobs they plan to create or how they expect their plan to offset the predicted 20% unemployment in a few years. Instead we get 14 000 person years of employment. No matter how much the communications staff try to dress up the incompetence of their masters, people are not being fooled by fancy vocabularies and glossy brochures full of rhetoric and spin. For a government that is so out of touch with the common person, you would think they would try to communicate in a way that will allow voters to feel connected to them, but nope…14 000 person years of employment is the best they can come up with.
I’m sorry dear reader if I sound a little bitter, but in the age of fake news and alternative facts it is very difficult to sit back and watch this government spending our tax dollars on these asinine events designed to pat themselves on the back and make them look better in our eyes. People are tired of empty promises and endless spin, and a leader that can talk for hours without saying anything at all. They voted for a government that promised openness and transparency over and over again, but instead have become one of the most secretive and tight-lipped governments we have ever seen. People want the truth and a little hope, but instead they are constantly given the same old political runaround that has become so common that it is the only thing we have ever known.
Maybe the Liberal’s do have some real ideas on how they expect to meet all of the outcomes promised in “The Way Forward,” but why they would keep it all to themselves is beyond this bloggers comprehension. More likely, as it seems to the public, they are actually trying to keep up appearances and look competent, while they hope and pray for a return to high oil prices so that they can start spending money again and be all things to all people before the next election. The major problems with that strategy are: 1) According to all the best experts the price of oil will continue to hover around $60 a barrel for the foreseeable future, at least as long as the current Liberal reign. 2) People don’t want another spending spree with our oil revenues. They want a stable economy where oil royalties are a bonus and not the basis of our entire economic fortunes.
The people who are running the communications for the government on the hill would do well to take notice that all of their unique language and high priced promotional materials are falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. The time for political spin has passed, and with the Liberals having burned every bit of their political capital so early, they have no credibility left to convince people that their spin holds any weight. The people are ready for the openness and transparency they were promised and Dwight Ball would be wise to realize that no matter how much he smiles and talks in circles, that we are just not buying it anymore. It’s time for them change the narrative and try something radical and new. You know, like telling the truth…