The year when everything changed
In a long and rambling exchange with VOCM's Paddy Daley on Friday, Kathy Dunderdale says:
This government doesn't need to be forced to make investments in Labrador. We had a history in this province of ignoring, taking from Labrador, without giving back. And there is no question about it, I mean, the facts speak for themselves. That changed in 2003. You can't sit here outraged as Newfoundlanders [about not being] treated well by the rest of Canada, and then be doing the same thing to Labrador. We made a very conscious decision, and we made committments to the people of Labrador that that practice ended in 2003. And we have invested billions and billions of dollars in Labrador as we ought to, as we absolutely ought to.
[Small audio dropout paraphrased]
Ah, yes. History begins in 2003.
In actual fact, the Premier glosses over the very important prequel to the "billions and billions" of investment in Labrador, including the millions in highways spending.*
In 1997, the Government of Canada made the single biggest ever infusion of cash for the Trans-Labrador Highway, the $340-million Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. (This was at a time when some of the Premier's fellow partisans were overtly hostile to the notion of a Trans-Labrador Highway that would link Labrador with Quebec.) Over the next decade, the money in that fund would be used to reconstruct and upgrade the 533km "Phase I" between Wabush and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, most of which, east of Churchill Falls, was still in "tote road" condition from the days of the Churchill Falls project; to build 336 km of "Phase II", the new highway between Red Bay and Cartwright; and to build 80 km of branch roads to Charlottetown, Pinsent's Arm, and St. Lewis.
The Premier should recall this, because her government was still spending money from the Fund for at least two years into their first mandate.
It's nothing to sneeze at, of course, but the "only" new segment of highway which was built after 2003, and was already planned at that date, is the 287 km "Phase III" which connects the previous two "Phases". And yes, there has also been some paving on Phase I, which somehow managed to get done even before The Best MP Evar came along.
But it is disrespectful, dishonest and disengenuous for the Premier to suggest that somehow Nothing ever happened before, and that Everything "changed" in 2003 (Old Style), the Year of Our Dan 1.
* Quaere, what has been the revenue from Labrador during the same period? And what "investment" is actually ordinary program spending that would be incurred in, or in respect of Labrador, no matter which party might have been in power?