"The decisions in Flower's Cove and Lewisporte are final decisions, They won't be changed." - Health Minister - Paul Oram
"We can't bring every service to the doorstep of every home in Newfoundland and Labrador, if in fact they want us to build new hospitals and they want us to provide pharmaceuticals and that. You know, there's only so many dollars to go around," - Premier Danny Williams.(03/09/09)
What would happen if your kid told his teacher "The dog ate my assignment", or if at work you failed to deliver on a contract because someone else failed to send you the information to finish it. Yea Right! The provincial government is now engaged in a bit of blame game and a reversal of policy related to health care clinics and services in rural areas, after being hurled into a couple of unanticipated by-elections.
The excuses offered up by the government do not pass muster with the public. Trevor Taylor's hasty resignation was the catalyst for a reversal that has nothing to do with responding to the health care needs of rural residents and everything to do with winning by-elections. If it was about catering to the concerns of rural residents the cuts would not have been made and local MHA's would not have been marched out to humiliate themselves publicly in defense of the GOVERNMENT LINE! The new Minister of Health, Paul Oram, said in response to protests and concerns that the government would not back down from the decision to cut X-ray and laboratory services to clinics in Lewisporte and Flower's Cove. Wade Verge must be wishing he had stayed his original course and backed his constituents.
The Progressive Conservatives are in damage control mode, throwing everything they have at this by-election. I have not seen so much interest in one little seat since Tom Burgess held the balance of power as the New Labrador Party member in 1971. At that time Joe Smallwood's tenuous hold on power was at stake. The results of this election will change very little in the House of Assembly. The opposition has the potential to grow from 4 to a big 5 up against a government of 43 or 44 members.
This by-election will not impact the balance of power one iota. For the people of Flower's Cove and Lewisporte, and St.Alban's, and the other communities that were told to prepare for changes, it has meant something. Clinics and services will remain as they were. Not because government was sold on the merits of keeping these services in place - those arguments held no water when there was no seat up for grabs - but because the government will sell its soul to win.
If you've read this blog at all you will know that I've been accused of a lot of things. Often folks chide me for supporting initiatives of this government. I am guilty as charged. Sorry, I am not colour blind. However, I could respect the government reversing policy in normal course, or even respect them following the original course, but this waffling, pandering for votes, is vote buying at its worst.
I ask myself, how important is winning? Is holding all the marbles worth your integrity? Do people care? Do politicians think people are too stupid, or are they too arrogant to care?
Whatever the outcome of this by-election, the Progressive Conservatives are a lesser party and Danny a lesser politician.