NL Election 2021 District Focus: Terra Nova

Terra Nova has variously switched between the Liberals and PCs in the past, making this a race to watch in the last stretch of the 2021 provincial election.

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Terra Nova is a geographically large district encompassing Terra Nova national park, Clarenville, Glovertown, Random Island, and St. Brendan’s—as well as many other small communities.

The district has been variably represented by the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in the past, making this a race to watch in the last stretch of the 2021 provincial election. 

The PCs held the seat from 2003 until 2015, when Liberal Colin Holloway was elected. Holloway was unseated in 2019 by PC Lloyd Parrot, who is seeking re-election in the district. 

Parrott had a career in the Canadian Military as both a soldier and a civilian, and was later the general manager of a construction company that specialized in oil and gas. He is also a former councillor for the town of Clarenville.

He is up against Steve Denty who is running for the Liberals. Denty has had a career in the tourism and hospitality industry, including serving in volunteer roles as Chair of Hospitality NL, a director with the NL Tourism Board, and with Destination St. John’s.

The NDP are represented by Anne Marie Anonsen. Anonsen is a weaver and a craft marketing specialist for the province. She was also an inshore fisher in St. Brendan’s until that was no longer possible. 

The Independent spoke with all three candidates by phone this week on issues ranging from economic development and minimum wage to climate change and municipal regionalization. 

Why are you running in Terra Nova?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

So Terra Nova’s my home. I’ve got two small children, 11 and 14. I don’t see a future for my children or anyone else’s children to be honest, not one that I like here in Newfoundland. Newfoundland is my greatest love, so I want to raise my children here and I want them to be able to stay here. 

Given my history, I’ve travelled around the country and the world in my military career. I spent almost ten years working here in pretty heavy construction with offshore oil and gas. I’ve sat on the board of directors for Hebron, had the opportunity to see some fairly substantial construction projects. I’ve seen where we can do better, where we’ve done worse, and I’ve also spent some time in municipal politics as town councillor with the town of Clarenville. I thought that I had something to offer to be very honest. 

I thought long and hard because, to be very honest, it’s a very demanding role. And while some people would argue that the money is great, it’s not what I came from, I’ll say. But both me and my wife and my children discussed it and thought that I should [run] and did bring a lot to the table. 

So I jumped into the ring back in 2019 and I love what I’m doing. I love helping. I love the ability to put people first and give them the ability to succeed. And I think in the last 21 months I’ve been able to do that and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to do it.

Another part of that question people could ask is why the PCs. And I’ll say that throughout my life I’ve always been fiscally conservative, but I’m socially progressive, and they were a fit. But I also think that now and during the last election too—never has there been a time where Newfoundland needed to find a way to move things forward [as much as now]. And I don’t believe that one person is going to do that. I believe that the Conservatives have the best team. And I know when I sit back and compare all the men and women that sit for all the parties and the independents running, I think that the Conservatives would be best to lead us out of this mess we’re in.

Steve Denty (Liberal)

Well it’s an interesting question. I’m born and raised in Clarenville so it’s been my home for a number of years. Even as my career has taken me around the province I kind of feel like I’ve never really left. I knew I wanted to run for political office one day and this district, this area, was always in my head. And I’ve also been a long time believer that if you’re going to criticize or comment from the outside then you’d better be willing to jump on the inside and get to work to help out.

So my career has involved me with several public-private partnerships over the last several years. And the more I got involved in those kinds of things I really started to value the process of collaboration and healthy spirited debate in order to try to find a consensus and develop plans to help people. Again, I had always envisioned myself doing it at some point, but this felt like the right moment, at the right time, right now for me.  

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

My son and his wife and two of my grandchildren are living in Glovertown. And I was living out in St. Brendan’s island when I was a young woman and actually had two of my boys out there. And I loved it. My ex was a fisherman and I was a weaver and we had an idyllic life. And I really feel fairly strongly and emotionally that that idyllic life was stolen from us in a way that was characteristic of decisions that are being made in Ottawa and in St. John’s that have an impact on rural Newfoundland without the real consultation of rural Newfoundland.

So the fishery was dying. We were told we could fish herring when there was no herring, and as soon as the herring came in we had to stop—it was just really crazy science going on then. It wasn’t really relevant to what we were having to do so we couldn’t make a living. And we were both well-educated people. So we left that really idyllic lifestyle and came to St. John’s to make a living. And now that I’m back with my son and we go over to the island and I’m bringing my grandchildren over there, I’m realizing afresh what a tragedy that was. 

And I’ve met with a lot of the people there who say it’s continuing, they’re still at it, they’re still making decisions that make no sense whatsoever. There’s a woman who wants to farm cannabis and she wasn’t able to because municipal affairs said no. What’s that about? Has it something to do with the fact that they wanted this fancy company to come down from Toronto and farm it? It’s just a lot of stuff happening that’s not logical and I think it’s killing our province. I think that if you don’t work with rural Newfoundland and with rural parts of Labrador you’re very shortsighted as far as economic growth is concerned. It’s not going to be the oil industry—it’s going to be the people.

Who are your constituents, and what are their specific needs in this district?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

That’s a great question. So depending on who you talk to, we’ve got about 41 or 42 communities. Fishermen, refinery workers, offshore oil and gas workers, teachers, veterans. But the simple answer is that my constituents are Newfoundlanders and Labradorian, from rural Newfoundland. We all face the same issues. 

Cost of living is way too high. Throughout a lot of my district roads are in major disrepair. Lack of connectivity for internet and cell phone service. It’s 2021 now and we need to start acting like it. So healthcare is a big concern throughout the entire district. I look to the fishery and I say we need joint management of the fishery for the fisherpeople who are throughout our district and throughout the entire province. I look to the refinery—and I would argue that while the refinery isn’t in my district, the bulk of the people who work at the refinery live throughout my district and certainly the easternmost portion of it. And a lot of the businesses that are in my district are affected by the refinery specifically. 

So my constituents are everyday people that have the same needs as everyone throughout the province. I think they’ve been failed for the last six years.

Steve Denty (Liberal)

As you know Terra Nova’s a very big geographic region. We go all the way from Southport and Gooseberry Cove on the southwest arm out to the island of St. Brendan’s and the Eastport peninsula. So it’s a big swath. And who are those people? I think that’s a fairly layered answer. Clarenville obviously is the hub and it’s the service centre. You see a lot of transient people there in industries like healthcare, oil and gas, tourism, it’s a very diverse population. Then we have other major centres like Glovertown, they have other industries there. Whether it’s fisheries, hardwoods, there’s so many different industries that make up this very big, diverse geographic region. Likewise, the needs—it’s funny because when I first started to do this, you’re trying to go ok: what are going to be the two or three key issues? And I realized right off the bat that that was going to be fairly naive. Because those two or three key issues are different in every part of the province. 

Whether it’s roads and cell coverage on Random Island, obviously the causeway connecting Clarenville and Shoal Harbour has been a boondoggle for a long time and that needs to be resolved. The snowmobile trail going through Charlottetown and the connectivity through the national park. Everywhere you go there are key issues that are so pertinent. The district’s just so broad and wide-ranging, I don’t think there’s any easy way to identify the voter. It’s a very diverse region. 

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

It’s a very diverse district really. We’ve got Glovertown which is a fairly well-to-do town. They have a lot of people who work in Gander living there and they go to Gander for a lot of their needs. We’ve got Clarenville which is a service centre and a lot of service industries are there. And in between we’ve got people in the park. And they have issues of their own—people living in Charlottetown can’t go skidooing where they want to because of the park rules that are not a problem for people who live in Gros Morne but are a problem for Charlottetown. And Port Blandford. So we’ve got quite a diverse bunch of people.

We’ve got a lot of people who are still interested in farming for food. Farming vegetables and farming free livestock. There’s a fabulous free livestock farm in Glovertown. We’ve got really good high tech companies in Clarenville doing beautiful work for the planet, for customers all over the place. And we’ve got people still trying to make a living off of the fishery, inshore and offshore. It’s a real mixed bag.

What is your view on regionalization?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

That’s a great question. Right now the Eastport peninsula would be the best opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to do a trial, or experiments, or pilot program, whatever you want to call it, based on geographic needs. 

So once they get in past Terra Nova national park, all the communities in there are landlocked by Terra Nova national park. And they already have a co-dependency upon each other. They’ve made some serious efforts to regionalize some of their services and they have succeeded with some such as garbage disposal and stuff.

But the government has failed them. I mean they’ve reached out looking for funding for snow clearing equipment and other things as joint ventures from the communities. And they’ve been turned down, which I don’t agree with. I think it’s a very important step forward. I look to other communities within my district specifically such as Clarenville and I look at the Eastlink event centre which services a big portion of the district, as does White Hills ski resort. 

I don’t believe White Hills gets the support it deserves from government. I don’t believe the Eastlink gets the support it deserves. About 50 percent of the user group comes from other communities and the town of Clarenville absorbs about a $500,000 loss every year. So I think when you look at Clarenville and what they can offer other communities, that regionalization would be beneficial. But it has to be handled the right way.

I mean, you couldn’t expect a town the size of Clarenville to absorb towns from multiple kilometres away and bear the brunt of the expense. So I do believe that there are ways for regionalization and I think Eastport would be a great place for them to have a look at it. The communities have to be involved in the process. If there’s a way to save money through regionalization and still offer the same services then I think we have to do it.

Steve Denty (Liberal)

It’s hard to argue with some of the statistics on those sorts of initiatives. We saw it during Snowmageddon, I managed a hotel in St. John’s at the time. And we saw the difference in services between various parts of the northeast Avalon. 

Out here it’s a very interesting question, because there are parts of this district that are very very similar, and parts that have more in common with other regions in the province. And by nature of the way that the electoral districts were chosen, by population density, I don’t know that always, in this district for example, that the needs of each region match up.

Eastport peninsula is a great example. Regionalization has been the topic out there forever to try to improve services. And I think that there’s an opportunity to look at the specific needs of smaller communities to ensure that they’re represented as well as a larger community. And, again, a larger community in this region being a Clarenville or Glovertown.

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

I think there has to be regionalization of some services. But I also feel very strongly that people have to be able to make their own decisions for their local areas. So local area districts that feed into fire services, I’d like to see a lot more [of that] happening. Medical clinics shouldn’t be regional, they should be localized with more services in them so that they’ve got nurses, social workers, and nurse practitioners and people who maybe can do some counseling that people are having to go through without having to go to Gander or to St. John’s to make it happen. For some of the basic needs like fire services and paving, absolutely. The roads have to be managed better than they are now.

How will you address the province’s demographic situation of an aging population in your work as MHA?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

So it’s no secret: our population is aging. And I believe one of the key ways to address our aging population is to convince and find a way to keep young people here, which we’re really struggling with. I believe that jobs and growth are very important and people need to want to stay here. I think the greatest way to change our demographics is to secure our fiscal situation, make it better, obviously make people want to stay here.

Internet is a great example. There’s no reason why rural communities, if they [had] internet and good cell phone service, wouldn’t attract people from away to come here and live. I look at healthcare as another great example. We fail miserably at recruiting doctors and I don’t think that we look at them as a cohesive team. We recruit a doctor to come in, and we forget that most of these individuals have partners. And their partners are professionals, and these professionals struggle to find work in rural Newfoundland. And therefore they stay for a couple of years and then they decide to move on. 

The age of our population is indicative right now of the amount of work and the ability for people to be here. If you look at the last Conservative government when Long Harbour and Hebron and Muskrat Falls and all these construction jobs were on the go, I would think that you would have seen quite a few people that would have stayed here given the opportunity—if that type of work has carried on. Unfortunately, there’s no work for young people. Young people go to school, get educated, and they can’t get the experience they need to gain jobs. They can’t get their apprenticeships. 

So, again, I think we need to put our own local residents first and then we need to look at immigration which certainly is a key too. Technology will be key for us to [attract people here]. But in order to do all that our infrastructure has to be in place and it’s all about jobs and growth I believe. 

Steve Denty (Liberal)

Another great question. When I took the nomination here, when I first signed up, one of the very first events I attended was with the Premier at MUN’s Signal Hill campus. One of the topics that was discussed there was the pathways to citizenship program. It was basically making immigration easier for people who we’ve trained and who have great skills who’ve used our educational institutions. That kind of initiative and out-of-the-box thinking to me is exactly the way that we’re going to have to deal with some population shortages. There’s no secret that we just don’t have enough people for the geographic space we have in the province. But we’re also training incredibly skilled folks in technology, IT, healthcare, there’s a whole bunch of industries where our educational institutions are providing top notch education to people from around the globe. But we don’t have it set up for them to stay here and be part of the community. And you see them building communities in parts of the province.

This pathway to immigration announcement in November would allow for us to retain a greater amount of recent graduates in highly skilled areas by easing the path to citizenship. To me that’s just one [solution], and that’s a long answer to your question. But that is the first and foremost means by which we can address some of the population shortages in the province. 

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

Well actually I’m feeling that there are a lot more people staying home or coming back home now. So I think that the big thing to do to make sure that everybody is able to contribute, we have to have good education throughout [the province]. And really, the idea of having to put your child on a bus for a few hours a day is not going to help. But if we had a good education system, good sports complexes that were accessible to the smaller rural communities. Traytown, it’s a tiny little town, has a hockey rink and a community garden. There are things that are happening that will entice young families to stay or to move [there]. And I think that’s the answer—to make it so that it’s going to be fun to have your children there. My three sons are all living in this province because there’s nowhere that beats it in their minds as far as raising a family is concerned. 

So if we had more services that are family-friendly, then if you have a doctor coming into your little town they’re going to want to stay and bring their families with them. Because their children and their spouse will have lots of things that they can do to have a rich and gorgeous life. Things like drama festivals, swimming pools, that sort of thing. 

How will you address climate change in your work as an MHA if elected?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

I make no bones about it: I’ve been a big advocate of the offshore and a big advocate of the Come by Chance oil refinery and others. I’m a strong proponent in saying that I don’t believe we have a green future without a black present. And all you have to do is look to Muskrat Falls to understand the cost of green energy. The people who talk about green energy through one side of their mouths often talk about how bad of a project Muskrat Falls is. But the reality of it is, Muskrat Falls is the cost of green energy. It’s unfortunate but it’s true. 

So first thing, we need to take advantage of the resources we have in order to find a way to develop green energy. A great example is allowing people to put power back on the grid. For some reason this government has been adverse to that. There’s plenty of businesses around, we’ve actually got companies right here in my district and that’s what they focus on. And they struggle. They struggle because they can’t set a house up or a business up with a renewable resource, wind or solar. If there’s an abundance of power those people can’t put that energy back into the grid which is very common all over the world. And it needs to happen.

The next thing is I believe that we should find a way to, if we’re developing our resources, to make the development of those resources greener. So things such as the electrification of our current offshore oil and gas platforms. We can do that with wind power for sure or hydro. Further development of wind and hydro assets throughout the province. Obviously better initiatives for electric cars. I think that we’re nowhere near the rest of the world when it comes to that. We don’t have the stations to charge these cars. We haven’t educated people enough on the value of the cars. A lot of people are still of the frame of mind that these cars don’t work in our climate and that’s simply not true—they do. 

So I think right from a very early age we need to start educating our youth. And our youth are buying into it for sure—my two children talk about it all the time. I believe it’s a very important next step and we have to go there. But we have to be able to pay for it too. So there’s lots of different initiatives that we could put in place. Grants for companies to become greener, because everyone is looking for a way to get there but not everyone can afford it.

Again, I believe that there are a lot of industries out there that, if they had the opportunity to become greener, and perhaps put some of that power back into the grid they’d do it. A great example actually here in our district is White Hills. White Hills a couple of years ago looked at an initiative where they were going to utilize wind power. And the wind power I believe could probably save the hill upwards of $100,000 a year. A big investment—first off they had troubles getting any funding for the investment to move forward. And secondarily in the summertime when they’re not utilizing the power they can’t put it back to the grid. It kind of ruined the whole idea. So, government can do better. We’ve got to find a way to encourage people but we’ve also got to find a way to develop the resources we have in order to pay for the path forward.

Steve Denty (Liberal)

It’s very encouraging to me how much this topic has come up on the campaign trail. Funny side bar—I remember knocking on one of my first doors when we were doing Clarenville. And the lady at the door was very nice and she knew who I was so she asked me a couple questions. And as we were going, her ten year old child yelled out “climate change!” and I was like wow, that’s so great that you have an interest in pursuing those kinds of topics and that you want to hear about that as a young person. And they were only ten. So we had a great chat then. 

Obviously, the oil and gas industry—it’s no secret that that’s still important to this province. There’s a demand for petroleum products in this world and we can responsibly be players in that market while still developing cleaner energy. I have several friends, for instance, who had worked in oil and gas who are currently unemployed right now just by nature of that sector. But you can’t tell me that their skills, and their work ethic wouldn’t translate to developing cleaner, more responsible energy. That’s one step. I think obviously embracing alternative energy and cleaner energy to address climate change. I was very pleased to see that the federal government’s new climate plan, which I think was released in December, had some very good aspects that support our government’s work to address climate change. Like funding for retrofits on commercial buildings, funding for electric vehicle charging stations, tax write-offs for zero emission vehicles, etc. I think that we know that this is a global issue, but there are definitely specific issues that we can really tackle here locally. 

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

Well I wouldn’t give any more money to the oil companies unless it was to find sustainable solutions to heating our homes and our businesses. I think that that’s really one of the missed boats. There are a few organizations that are working on it. People who have been working in the oil industry are smart, they’re well-educated, they have transferable skills. Let’s get people working on finding new ways to manage our economy. I think that the idea of electric cars, shared cars [is key]. I’m also a big proponent of co-housing where there’s a number of people all living together in their own sort of condos but they have shared spaces in which they have gardens or they can have shared cars, where they can have a lot more community interaction. 

But we have to stop polluting this planet. Before Covid there was hardly a day went by when you didn’t hear about major forest fires, major floods, major hurricanes, all kinds of crazy weather. And it’s happening, and there are solutions. We can do it. We have brilliant people who can work on these things if they’re supported. But we’ve got to stop paying money into the dying industries like the oil and gas industry and start putting it into the burgeoning new developing industries. Have some faith—you will find ways.

Do you support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

I’ll say I think that universal basic income is a Canadian strategy. There was a private members motion put forward in the House of Assembly a little while back which we all supported. Part of that indicated that we wait for interest to come from the federal government. So right now I support regular increases. I will say that under the last PC government, [that] was the largest growth in minimum wage that the province has ever seen. 

And the wage portion, albeit very important—extremely important—the larger thing we need to look at is poverty reduction strategies. I think a poverty reduction strategy helps us find a way to get everyone at a livable wage. 

And when you talk about minimum wage and universal basic income, a lot of people don’t consider what we’re paying here. The best example is our ferry system. We pay double the taxes on a lot of goods and people don’t ever really pay attention to it. So I’ll just use something as simple as a TV dinner—a TV dinner over in Nova Scotia costs $2. Well, because of the ferry system and the cost of freight to get it to Newfoundland it costs $4 here. And because that’s processed food we pay taxes on $4 and a person who lives in Nova Scotia pays taxes on $2. So I believe the bigger part of wages is finding a way to address poverty and the cost of living here.

Steve Denty (Liberal)

It’s a very tough question. I think on the surface it sounds like an easy one—well of course everyone wants to make more money. One thing I will say is I was an advocate in my field, in tourism, for the last several years. This has been a topic that’s come up a lot. The main distinction that comes up all the time is a living wage vs. a minimum wage. And the difference between what that increase in minimum wage would do to small- and medium-sized businesses who are the lifeblood of the economy. Particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector. So I’ve been involved with very spirited debates on this topic.

I don’t think it’s any secret that a family making minimum wage can’t really get by. But I don’t know that the minimum wage was ever intended to be a living wage. And I get that this is a hot topic right now and everyone’s talking about it. But I don’t know that the science and the numbers dictate that $15 is the right amount. We need to keep having these conversations. Our industry was represented on the committee that met last year to sort of put forth the stance on this. That’s exactly what we need to do. Broad strokes aren’t going to fix anything. We need to talk to every small business, every person in this province to understand the impact that, first of all, living on minimum wage has for our employees. But also the impact of drastically increasing the minimum wage. It needs to be scaled, it needs to be tied to CPI, it needs to be gradual, or there won’t be any jobs left for people at any salary.

So it’s a hot topic, I get it, and one that we need to have more conversation on because I don’t know that there’s a very specific easy answer to it to be quite honest with you. 

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

I don’t think it’s enough frankly. I would like to see it be much more tied to our cost of living. There was a reason why they pulled $2000 a month out of the hat when they came up with the CERB payments. And $15 an hour doesn’t bring it up to $2000 a month. So my only problem with $15 an hour is that it’s not enough. It still has people staying too poor and unable to maintain their food and their shelter. So we need more. 

The other thing I want to say about that is if you give people more, they’re going to spend more. And they’re going to spend it locally. It’s going to rejuvenate our economy more than anything else. And for people to say, well, it’s just going to drive prices up—in fact prices are going up without it. So it doesn’t need an increased minimum wage to increase our cost of living. That’s happening anyway because people like [Jeff] Bezos and Galen Weston are getting more money in their pockets. 

Given the province’s current financial situation, what, in your view, should be its economic path forward?

Lloyd Parrott (Progressive Conservative)

I actually put [forward] a private member’s resolution in the House myself last year about putting Newfoundland and Labradorians first. I believe we fail at doing that at every turn. 

When I say that I mean, any infrastructure that we have or any project that we have or government money goes into, we should not only be compelled, but we should be obligated to ensure that it’s Newfoundland men and women who are working on those jobs. So that’s anything from natural resources to our [private-public partnerships] to highway work—anything government is involved in. I’m not suggesting that private industry can’t decide who they hire. I am suggesting that if it’s being funded by government, it ought to employ Newfoundland men and women. If it’s a natural resource that we’re getting money back from or we’re invested, it ought to employ Newfoundland and Labrador men and women.

That’s the very first and most important thing we can do. If we’re going to stimulate the economy, the best way to do that is to have the money. It’s like giving yourself a loan—if we’re paying Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to do that work they’re going to spend it here. If we’re flying people in from Quebec to do concrete work when there’s men and women here who can do it, all that money leaves the province the day those people leave to go home. So we absolutely need to do that immediately.

The next thing is our natural resources. We need to look at a new strategy for the development of our natural resources. And when I say that I mean anything from our forestry to our fishery—again, I believe that we should have joint management of our fishery—to our mining industry, to our oil and gas, to our hydroelectricity power. Everything that we do, we need to find a better way to utilize and develop. I think we’ve overlooked a lot of things. While I do agree people are here doing some exploratory work, we need to incentivize a reason for businesses to want to do business in Newfoundland. And I believe we’re on the cusp of it, we can make it happen. It’s just a matter of getting to that point.

A lot of our issues today, while the current government would try to make us believe that they were created by Covid, I always remind people that [on 20 March 2020] the previous Premier wrote a letter to Ottawa and said we’re on the edge of bankruptcy. That was 2 or 3 days after our first Covid case, so Covid didn’t put us in this situation. We’re in a situation now, certainly in my district when I look at the refinery has shut down. Very little was done, and it should have been done. Government will argue that they don’t get involved in private industry, but I will tell you that we are 100% responsible for any environmental obligations at that refinery which are going to be astronomically expensive so we should have been involved. We also hold all of the regulatory permits. So by those two very things, that puts us in a situation where we should have been involved from day one in the sale of the refinery. 

Those types of things have to go forward. I look to Burry’s—formerly Burry’s shipyard—which has recently reopened here in my district. But we need to find ways to get these smaller businesses here. We need to find ways to help them expand and do the things that they want to do. It’s really about putting people to work. And our first step in doing that is to make sure that we put our own people first. 

Steve Denty (Liberal)

There’s a line that I like, and I stole it from Minister Parsons so I want to give him full credit, that costs and investment aren’t the same thing. Investment by its very nature would signify a return. But costs are expenditures that we have an opportunity to improve on. I think that this idea that there’s going to be massive cuts coming from whatever report and task forces are out there—obviously there are going to be suggestions of hard decisions to be made. But investment’s still very vital. Government has a real role to play here. 

And again, it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you it is is lying. You need to balance responsible expenditures with meaningful investment. That’s how you’re going to create jobs, that’s how the economy is going to rebound. There’s no doubt that our province is battling its way out of a very tough financial situation during challenging global economic times. And I know that the Premier is committed to responsible debt management and will take better steps to do that. This is going to include best practices with financial experts consolidating debt across multiple government entities and rolling over expensive debt from past years to more affordable situations. So I think that there’s not one thing that will do it, but again the keys to me are responsible debt management and balancing the needs for expenditure reduction and investment in the province. 

Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP)

Well, the very first step is to find out exactly what our economic situation is. To have a little bit more transparency here. We go off begging to Ottawa because we can’t make payroll, but we’re able to give off all these [Nalcor] bonuses and now hire somebody from Georgia to do software for our [healthcare] scheduling problems? Really? There’s nobody here in Newfoundland that can come up with some software to schedule healthcare needs and HR stuff? I don’t think we’re being told the true picture about what our economic circumstances are. I just don’t believe what they’re saying. 

Really, I do not feel like we know what’s really going on. We are a wealthy province—we have a lot of really amazing things happening here that are making global headlines but not local headlines in our IT industry. We have a wealth of minerals and opportunities with our natural resources, with our forestry. We are a rich province. Why are we constantly being told that we’re poor? I don’t buy what they’re saying to us. 

So the first step would be: let’s get more transparent about where our revenues are and where our real costs are and where we’re really spending our money. And then we’ll see where to go for step two.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo: Candidates, L-R: Lloyd Parrott (PC); Steve Denty (Liberal); Anne Marie Anonsen (NDP).

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