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Sunday 16 September 2012

For the current Government of NL

So Tom Osborne has decided that he's had enough of being muzzled, and being strong-armed into voting for legislation he doesn't support. He's unhappy with the current leadership and he's jumped out of the current governing party to sit as an independent, at least for the time being. His departure is simply the manifestation of the current feelings of many folks in NL over that last year, and it's going to get worse.

People are loosing faith in this government and this leader, and before the next election the current government had better pay attention and work towards re-gaining public faith or it will be time for the ultimate cabinet shuffle. This downward trend seems to currently apply to both the Opposition Liberals and the Reigning PC's, and a while back I took a few moments to send some advice to the Liberal side of the equation in this entry here. Now of course they didn't seem to take too much notice to it, but it did spur a dinner meal with at least one sitting MHA, so who knows who'll call me after this entry!

My involvement in politics has always been from the standpoint of improving the system. I want better Government. It's true I consider myself a Liberal but I accept good ideas and policies for what they are, not who brought them forward. So if the current crowd were doing a bang up job I'd be happy enough to say so. But that's obviously not the case currently. The interesting thing is that due to their position in Government the current group still has incredible potential to make good things happen, and the bonus is that at this point they couldn't possibly make things any worse for themselves.

The simple fact is that unless they start inspiring people again the control of Government will change hands again at the next election. So with that in mind my advice to them is to look within the public sector and the general public to bring forward some ideas and policies that may be risky but could also be great for NL. Here's a few to get them started:

  • Privacy legislation. Repeal that ridiculous Bill C-29. Just admit it was a mistake and move on. Most will respect your honesty and the others don't really matter. 
  • Legacy Fund. Accept that oil isn't going to save us or be around forever so take some of that revenue, what's left anyway, and create some kind of legacy fund. 
  • Serious Government Reform. There are too many Districts and too many Cabinet Seats. As a province we are over represented and it isn't working out for us. Oh and while you're at it stop renaming Departments and painting red things blue. It's just silly and a waste of money.
  • Be Accountable. Stop blaming everything on past Governments. Accept successes and failures as your own.
  • Reform the public sector. We don't need more managers and less frontline staff. And actually let them do their jobs and stop getting in their way. 
  • Fund the opposition parties better. They have an important job to keep you honest. They have been underfunded lately and we see where that has gotten us...   
  • Scrap Muskratt Falls. At least for now until we can do the appropriate analysis of the new costs and the real alternatives.
There are many more great ideas out there that can turn things around, all you have to do is be open to the fact that you don't know everything and you'll be headed in the right direction. I want the best Government possible for NL and if it's a PC Gov then so be it! But I have no real fear that anyone in the current Government or in the PC party will take my advice, so I'll continue to hope that before the next election at least one of the parties, preferably the Liberals, can get their act together enough to plant the seeds of good government for NL. A guy can dream can't he?

Monday 3 September 2012

Finishing up Tidy Towns

I've got a pot of turkey soup on the stove and that should give me a few minutes to hammer out a final chapter in the Tidy Towns Chronicles for 2012. When I last checked in there were three towns left to visit, and of course Sheila and I have since had the immense pleasure of getting a guided tour of each of them. Up first: Bell Island. 

Well kind of Bell Island. Technically it's the town of Wabana. Bell Island is actually made up of the Town of Wabana and a smaller community called Lance Cove, and since Tidy Towns is for municipalities only, Lance Cove was not part of our judging. But, it is part of the judging to recognize how communities partner on community based issues and on that front Wabana and Lance Cove deserve a special shout out. While the Town has some unique challenges in the realm of the North East Avalon boom, it is making significant strides with the resources and residents available. The community groups and the role that they play in enriching the lives of those who live all over Bell Island is evident and noteworthy. Had a great day and would recommend the visit to anyone!

Up next was Carbonear. I'm not sure why but to be honest I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this visit. I think it may have been because I have been to Carbomear before, but just in passing, and couldn't recall any details about the place. Boy was I in for a shock. Both Sheila and I were very impressed with our day in Carbonear. After we finally found the Town Hall we were given a tour of a town that has a very good understanding of how to tie tourism with cultural preservation. There is a great deal of history worth preserving in every community in NL, but few have a grasp of it the way Carbonear does. I remember being impressed with Trout River last year for their work in historical preservation, partly because it was still interwoven in their current way of life. In Carbonear I saw a Town moving forward and evolving to meet modern challenges while still understanding and showing great appreciation for where they came from and why they were there. In addition it just happen that the Town seasonally hires a local horticultural expert to help them plan and maintain their flowers and green spaces, and he was a face I had met many years ago when I was living in Wabush! I  learned a great deal about the town and look forward to going back again.

The Last stop on the Tidy Towns tour was the Town of Bay Roberts. This was another case of me being surprised by a place that I thought I knew. However if there's one thing I've learned as a Tidy Towns Judge is that you never really see a community until you've been given a guided tour by those who live there and care for it every day. While there were many noteworthy stops along our tour of the Town, like where the connection with the "Klondike" comes from,  one of my favorite stops was at the Town Museum. It is housed upstairs in the same building as the Town Hall in very historical built as a undersea cable terminal that played a vital role in communications for all of North America. While I have seen a great many community museums this one was impressive not just because of the number of artifacts or the fantastic layout, or the relationship to Christopher Pratt, but what impressed me was the professional manner in which the artifacts were treated, preserved and presented. Many museums contain fantastic displays but they are not properly maintained with regard to temperature and humidity, and unfortunately those can be devastating to fragile historical relics. Bay Roberts has invested the time and money to do it right, and I was impressed.

Well the trips are over and scoring is nearly finished so I guess I'll go check on my soup and Sheila and I will sit down over a cup of tea and tally the results. At the MNL convention in the Fall someone will be standing at the podium and announce that the Tidy Towns winners for the category of 2500 to 5500 for 2012 is..... Well I guess you'll just have to stay tuned if you really want to know!