Opposition blasts 'blame,' 'platitudes' in Tuesday's throne speech

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Opposition blasts 'blame,' 'platitudes' in Tuesday's throne speech

Newfoundland and Labrador's latest speech from the throne was long on talk, but short on actions, according to the province's opposition parties.

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy and PC Leader Paul Davis both said that the government didn't lay out the definitive actions needed to get the province back on track in their speech from the throne, delivered Tuesday afternoon in St. John's.

"If you could make a buck on empty platitudes and meaningless targets, we'd balance the budget in no time," McCurdy said after the speech.

"A throne speech is supposed to be about a fresh start, but I saw nothing in today's throne speech that indicated there would be anything different than what we've seen for the past 15 or 16 months." 

McCurdy said the speech, and the glowing report card that Premier Dwight Ball's government gave itself on Monday with their Way Forward Plan, sends signals the government won't be changing track with their upcoming budget.

He was skeptical of the throne speech pronouncements that the provincial government could do better with less.

"Quite frankly, what we did with less last year was we doubled the tax on gasoline, we closed libraries, we took away dental coverage, we did a whole lot of things like that," he said.

'Waffling and wavering': Davis

Davis repeated much of McCurdy's attack, saying the government did not deliver hope and confidence in its throne speech, but "waffling and wavering."

"At a time that we need hope, we get uncertainty," he said in the House of Assembly. "At a time that we need accountability, we hear blame."

The Liberal government did take shots at their PC predecessors during Tuesday's speech. Davis said that charges that the PCs had no plan or hid the province's financial state were untrue, and said time should have been spent taking accountability and charting a a grand vision for the province.

While Davis praised some of the steps that were announced — like a repeated commitment for the establishment of a Serious Incident Response Team — he asked why the government did not talk about resources in the education system or the pending carbon tax.

"The throne speech is almost absent on a focus on people, which is terrible. You don't cure an illness by killing the patient." he said.

"You can't celebrate targets if, in the process, you leave the economy in ruins, too weak to grow, and tens of thousands of fewer people working in our province."

Just what a plan looks like: Ball

Ball said he was anticipating hearing some criticism — charging it's been a long time since Newfoundland and Labrador had a provincial government stick to a long-term plan.

"We have never had a plan before for our province and now we're finally getting one, so I understand that it's an unusual circumstance for people," he said.

"Certainly unusual for the opposition. I would expect them to say, you know, to make comments like that."

Ball wouldn't tell reporters many details about his government's upcoming budget, saying that government would stick to its fiscal targets, and more would be revealed on April 6.

But he did say that just because his throne speech talked about doing better with less does not necessarily mean service cuts are coming.

"It means spending money wisely. When you do better with less it means that there are more efficient ways to spend taxpayers' money," he said, adding it's possible to maintain important services while cutting spending.