"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another Grimes policy pays off

In his last couple of years in office, Roger Grimes mused about a bit of self-help as a means to fixing the then un-named, supposed, problem called the "fiscal imbalance".

The "problem", of course, is that in the eyes of provincial governments, provinces never have enough money, and Ottawa always has too much.

Grimes proposed addressing part of the first half of that problem, with a simple, two-step program:

1) Legalize pot.

2) Tax the living snot out of it.

And now on some totally unrelated matters....

John Ottenheimer was, recently, ever so pleased with himself:

“Minister O’Connor reiterated to me his commitment, along with that of his government, to ensure the future viability of 5 Wing Goose Bay. We had an open discussion about the importance of this facility to the people of Labrador and to the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces. I emphasized his government’s written commitment to our province and I take him at his word, given to me once again Friday, that the future of 5 Wing is safe. I do plan to monitor this situation closely and ensure that the federal government lives up to its commitment to the people of Labrador.”
John Hickey is ever so pleased with Gordon O’Copter:

“Money has been all approved for 5 Wing Goose Bay and the commitment to put 700 troops there is still there by the Minister of National Defense and the Federal Government.”
Meanwhile, the 2007 Trans-Labrador Highway paving program, which is still contingent on the imaginary federal funding that the province banked last year (memo to Tom Marshall: if you count Monopoly money, you can balance the books every year, even if the oil industry dries up, even without federal transfer payments) has transmogrified into a wider-but-still-gravel-highway program:

The next step in construction, he says, is to spend $50 million widening the road by thee metres. Once that is complete, hard surfacing begin.
And, how’s this for real progress?
Mr. Hickey expects to hear back as early as Monday on the timelines for a meeting.
He expects to hear back.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.

There you have it: After 13 years of Liberals, and Ottawa, and Liberal Ottawa, doing absolutely nothing for the Trans-Labrador Highway, other than, well, you know, paying 90% of the costs of the construction of three quarters of it, finally, Danny Williams' ministers have achieved real progress on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

The provincial government is going to take a phone call.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.

John Hickey told the House of Assembly on November 28 last:
Mr. Speaker, as has been said here in this House, they do not like hearing the truth. They do not like seeing the successes of this government and this minister.

Let me say this, Mr. Speaker: We are working with our federal counterparts and I have every confidence - every confidence - that we are going to see hardtop on the road between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West, and we are going to see that in June of 2007, I say to you and the hon. member.
Such is the power of committment.

Such is the value of good federal-provincial co-operation.

Such is the measure of success.

A phone call.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.


And as Danny told The Aurora in an interview earlier this month:
“We already indicated last year that we are prepared to put $50 million into surfacing the road. The $50 million we allocated last year we couldn't use because we were waiting for the feds to step up.”

Even if the feds don't step up to the plate, the premier assures the province will go ahead with the hardtop anyway. The reason the province waited until this year, he explained, was to ensure the whole thing got done.
So... there's going to be a TLH “hard top” deal by June... assuming the phone call about the timeline for the meeting goes well... unless it’s a deal to widen the existing gravel road... unless there’s no deal at all, in which case the province will magnanimously “go ahead with the hardtop anyway”... unless it goes ahead with just widening the existing gravel road anyway?

All in all, it’s a good thing that Danny Williams was elected on a promise to “foster... a more congenial relationship with Ottawa...”

Because, you know, just imagine how unimagineably difficult it would become for Danny's government to get all the things on its federal wish-list if federal-provincial relations were to fall victim to a “hostile approach... waging war with MPs... and personal attacks.”

Yes, it’s a good thing everything's all different, and better now.

Those 700 troops (did Hickey negotate up from the promised 650, or down from the promised 750?) will be on the ground, any day now.

The hard-top will start flowing in June, probably on a widened highway, even, because Stephen Harper’s government will be so eager to please, and help ensure Danny Williams’ re-election.

Buying love and happiness worked so well for Jean Charest, after all.

Meanwhile, Roger Grimes’ unorthodox, but far-sighted revenue plan must be bringing in hundreds of millions to the provincial treasury.

Enough to build two Trans-Labrador Highways.

Because someone really must be smoking lots of something good.


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