Friday, June 12, 2009

Will the Real Premier Stand Up?

If you have a few minutes today during your coffee break or lunch, it's worth your time to watch the video feed from VOCM linked to the latest fishery story:

At the 45 second mark, after declaring that he will provide "backstop" funding for "income support" (whatever that means), Mr. Williams says that all this is "bearing in mind that we obviously will want to work with the federal government on such a program."

Fascinating stuff, coming from someone whose recent comments on the federal government included not only a reference to kissing backsides, but also this unqualified declaration: "If they choose not to fund us at this particular point in time we couldn’t care less, quite frankly."

There are two possible explanations for the cognitive dissonnance between the public statements made in the House of Assembly on 30 April and in the media scrum recorded by VOCM on 11 June:

1) Two different people made the statements.

2) The statements were indeed made by the same person, but he changed his mind at some point between 30 April and 11 June.

If it's number 2, then it will be interesting to see how the federal government responds to Mr. Williams' new policy direction. Did Mr. Williams consult with the Prime Minister or the federal Minister of Fisheries before announcing this new income support plan?

If, as seems likely, Mr. Williams has not chatted with Mr. Harper about this, did the Premier's Office at least send an email heads-up to DFO, letting them know that they are now being expected to support a vague and open-ended commitment to provide income support for certain groups of fishermen?

Does this mean that Mr. Hedderson will be able to get a meeting with the federal Minister of Fisheries?

It's still possible that explanation number 1 is correct, but the fisheries edict fits a larger pattern whereby the provincial government procrastinates and then, after the media attention has reached a critical level, the premier jumps in suddenly and announces that cash will be thrown at the problem.

This was the government's pattern in dealing with the medical crisis, when it singled out oncologists for a special raise, and we all know how well that has worked. It will be interesting to see whether the fishery income support initiative works any better, but I suspect that by the time the provincial government gets around to actually implementing this policy, it will try to pin the mess on the federal government.

Given the shifts in provincial policy since April, I may have to update Triva Pursuit:

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