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Friday 30 September 2011

At The Doors

Normally I do my best to keep my blogging and politics separate, but for a brief moment I wanted to post a few notes regarding some of the issues that have come up during my conversations with people in the Terra Nova District. I simply want to provide a simple list of the issues with no political commentary from me.

In no special order these are the main items that have been mentioned thus far:

  • Healthcare. Wait times and availability of services and family Dr.s 
  • Muskrat Falls. Mostly people wanting more information and less rhetoric. 
  • Roads and other infrastructure. 
  • Public service pensions.
  • Seniors issues. In a general sense with healthcare, places to stay and otherwise.
  • Small Business development and assistance. 
As I said no partisan comments from me just the top half dozen issues. There are some others but these are the most popular.

Monday 26 September 2011

The Party, The Platform and the Person

Two weeks and counting until the voters of NL get to decide who forms the next Government of NL, while simultaneously choosing a person to represent each of the 48 electoral districts. I have little doubt that anything I write or say will be sen as blatantly partisan so I'll keep it brief and factual.

When I vote in any election my decision is based on three main factors: the party, the platform, and the person. Those three factors are all equally important in making an educated and informed decision. While the issue of the person and the issue of the party are sometime very personal opinions, the policies of those people and parties are public documents that can, and should be publicly debated.

All three parties have now released their platforms and my suggestion is simple: GO READ THEM! If you are even slightly considering parking your vote with a party then you should at least take the time to have a skim through the platform documents. To make things a little easier for you I'll provide direct links to each policy document so you can go and do you democratic duty.

PC Policy Platform

NDP Policy Platform

Liberal Policy Platform 

Whatever you do, even if you don't know the proposed policies of the party you plan to vote for (shame on you) then you should at least get out and vote. Earlier in the year I wrote a spot on how NL has seen democracy over the years here, and I wrote this satirical piece on voter turnout here. Don't let apathy win, encourage everyone to get out and vote on October 11th!

Friday 23 September 2011

I'm still here!

Just a quick blog note to let readers know that I'm still around! It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks and the blog writing has taken a bit of a back seat. I've been Working a piece for a while but it's slow going. lol Hoping to have a real post up soon!

Thursday 15 September 2011

An Honour Just to be Nominated!

Those of you who are regular readers will know that as of late I've been involved in the NL political scene in a pretty serious way. It has been, and will continue to be, a whirlwind experience that has brought a raft of surprises, both pleasant and other wise. Yet it was a message today that really gave me a moment to pause. The Rural Lens has been nominated for the top political and commentary blog in NL. WOW.

When I began writing here back in February it was because I felt I had something to say and I needed a place to say it. I have been writing articles in one form or another for about 10 years, including a stint on the Community Editorial Board with The Telegram. The funny thing is that when I started this blog it was as a side project while my main idea got off the ground. I wanted to make a film about rural NL. I had collected all the materials I needed, started to arrange interviews and was on the way to filming a documentary on the issues of rural NL. Unfortunately I couldn't secure the required funding to cover the operational costs and so the project went on hold. I started The Rural Lens as an outlet for some of the ideas germinating in my brain for quite a while, and it's been full steam ahead ever since.

Shortly after I got started a friend suggested I send my address over to the NL Blog Roll where you'll find over 325 blogs focused on or written from Newfoundland and Labrador. Over time I could see my traffic increasing from links from the Blog Roll and I've been glad to be part of such a fantastic blogging community ever since.

So today I find out that along with The Sir Robert Bond Papers and The Fighting Newfoundlander, The Rural Lens has been nominated for the top political and commentary blog. If you don't already read the other two blogs then you certainly should. We are merely three of many blogs of folks who speak out on many community and political issues in NL. So go read the other two blogs and then head over to here and vote for your favorite.

While your over at the NL Blog Roll check out the Science and Technology category as well. And if you have any interest in the tech sector check out I Code By The Sea and if you like what you read go to the Vote Page and throw a vote his way.

On a final note we all owe a huge thanks to Stephen Harris at the NL Blog Roll for providing us a way to keep in touch and share our thoughts.

Thursday 8 September 2011

The Biggest Picture

October 11th is fast approaching and the politicking is already well underway. Every cent of Government cash doled out is accused of having the intention of buying votes, and every complaint levied at Government is called blatant negativity, and the name-calling is just getting ramped up. The PC’s want to hold on to control, the Liberals want to take it, and the NDP want to continue the “orange wave” into NL. It’s why they affectionately call election time the “silly season.”

The finger pointing is rampant and unfortunately forms the crux of many political campaigns. Luckily we have not yet gone nearly as far as the American style of political attack ads, even though the research seems to indicate that negative ads actually work. It seems contrary to what reasonable people say about wanting to hear messages of positive plans and directions. What is it that voters really want?

Those with a few campaigns under their belt will say that voters want to be told that you can fix their problems. “They” say that just saying you will do your best just isn’t good enough. It seems that the battle is turning into a silly argument of who can promise the most. Unfortunately the delivery of those promises is often long forgotten except by those of the other parties.

Winston Churchill is supposed to have said “The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter.” While I can understand where that sentiment comes from, I don’t agree with the premise that average folks aren’t up to the task of voting for good representation. I have to believe that people can make the right choice when it’s offered to them.

Politicians who underestimate the intelligence of voters do so at their peril. I happen to think that the main reason people are disenfranchised from politics and often feel that all politicians are out for their own best interests is because some of them are. It’s unfortunate but true that some people enter public life for less then altruistic reasons. These are the politicians who underestimate the abilities and passion of the average voter, but there is an upside.

Luckily the majority of people who throw their hat into the political ring do so because they see an issue that needs to be addressed, or they really want to make a positive difference in government. Despite how some people feel, the truth is that politicians are normal folks who want to make a difference. They commit their time, money and effort to bringing good government to everyone.

Of course the results vary greatly but there’s one thing that’s for sure. No matter what the results of the coming election, we will get the government we deserve. Lets hope we choose wisely.

Thursday 1 September 2011

By The Numbers

It must be a good time to be on the receiving end of any of the public funding being spent these days. Government has been on a rampage of spending as of late and I have no doubt that many feel that it's long overdue. Maybe 5 or 6 years overdue? Millions and millions of dollars have been announced and re-announced over the past few days, weeks and months. This money is not new and in fact was included in the provincial budget brought down a few months back, but it appears that voters, I mean residents, need reminding just how much the current administration has done for us, with our own money.

Of course with an election coming on October 11th there are cries of electioneering and buying votes, and the requisite denials across the board. Well, not exactly. Certainly the Premier denies any "vote buying" over here, and says it's all within the budget. And never to cross swords with the leader, Minister Kevin O'Brien has been denying the political ties to funding for a while now. But there's at least one member who's not afraid to tell it as it is. Minister King was on Open Line and made no excuses for spending in his district. The story posted on the VOCM website isn't available but the text was as follows:
MHA Makes No Bones About Pre-Election Spending
Aug 9 , 2011

A cabinet minister is unapologetic for the rash of pre-election spending announcements coming from the government. The MHA for Grand Bank, Darin King, announced some money for health care recently. There has been a steady stream of news releases, most announcing money that had already been allocated in the budget, over the past several months.

On VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, King said he is dedicated to bringing in as much money as he can to his district.
So What more can you say? Well lets let the numbers speak for themselves. The last three days of August in 2010 saw 23 press releases from Government, with 13 of them being related to funding allocations and 10 related to other purposes. If you look back over the last 3 days of August of this year it's a little different. From August 29 to 31 of 2011 the Government issued 53 press releases that included only 7 that were not related to funding. That means that 46 of the 53 were either announcements or advisories for announcements. Compare that 46 in 2011 to the 13 in 2010.

Dunderdale insists that everything is on the level as she says "But telling people how their money is going to be spent, how that offends people given that the money was announced in April, I'm at a loss to understand." Well, I think people will draw their own conclusions and I'm fairly certain that unlike the Premier, most folks will understand it just fine.