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

Friday, May 07, 2010

Better never than late

It was the battle of the future Premiers during Question Period on Thursday, what, with the current occupant of that office choosing, wisely perhaps, to keep his mouth shut for the day. Fortunately for Him, the protégée has memorized her lines well:

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, at the same time that the minister had the report on Buchans, you also had the report on Grand Falls mill site which showed that heavy metals and other toxic pollutants exceeding human health guidelines were not only in the soil but discharging into the Exploits River.

I ask the minister: Why did you not bring that information forward to the people of Grand Falls in a timely fashion and on a precautionary basis as you did in Buchans?

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, her question is about forty-eight hours too late. Do you know why it is too late? Because under her direction, an e-mail was sent to the Town of Grand Falls stating that there is some very serious health and safety concerns for the people in your community.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing further from the truth. There are environmental issues there; they are not of immediate health and safety concern. What she did was absolutely, totally irresponsible. Mr. Speaker, I had to pick up the phone and call the mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor yesterday to reassure the people of that community that there is not an immediate health and safety concern there.

Yes, there are environmental issues; they are on an industrial site, very different than the case in Buchans where we stepped up to the plate. Had there been issues that related to the public in that area in health and safety concerns, we would have done the exact same thing in Grand Falls-Windsor that we did in Buchans.


MS JONES: The only one who needs lessons here is the Minister of Environment in how to do her job, Mr. Speaker, because she has failed at it miserably.

The consultants also found significant pollution in six logging camps in the Botwood site and the former Stephenville mill site.

Why did you not release this information to the public so that they could take precautions similar to the one encouraged in Buchans? I ask the minister: Will she release all of these reports to the public today and explain the implications of this contamination of human health and environmental safety to the people of this Province? What you should have done (inaudible) –

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, this information is public. I have offered it to the member, to come over to my office, and she has sent her staff over. I have offered it to the mayor of Grand Falls –


Now, the thing is, in the 2003 provincial election campaign, Danny Williams-Opposition (as he then was) promised, in his Bull Sheet Blue Print:
A Progressive Conservative government will ... release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet
[Emphasis added.]

So Ms Johnson can accuse the other future Premier of being late with her question.

However, Ms Johnson herself is at least 30 days late with her answer. She has broken a solemn Danny Williams-Opposition promise, and one can only imagine that Danny Williams-Government is, yet again, furious about the breach.

Now, some kids aren't all up to date with the internets and the twitters and the facebox and wireless telegraphy and other technical mumbo-jumbo, but offering a report to someone, and inviting them to come over to the office to look at it, are not the same thing as releasing it to the public within 30 days and ensuring prompt public access on the internets.

Nothing, they say, could be further from the truth.



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