Editorials - May 13, 2021
Newfoundland and Labrador is a difficult province to manage. The rugged and rural landscape makes it very expensive to provide services like education and healthcare. Plus, due to outmigration for young people to find work, the population is aging and putting a strain on resources, with a smaller workforce left to pay for it all.
Newfoundland was used to being a have-not province, but then the economy boomed for a time based on the oil industry, resulting in surpluses which were used to balloon the size of government and increase spending. As the economy stagnated, suddenly the surpluses were gone and the province began running deficits again. Premier Andrew Furey set an economic recovery team on the task of creating recommendations to reel in the province’s debt, as it sits on the brink of bankruptcy. A 338-page report released by the recovery team, led by Moya Greene, estimates the actual debt load of Newfoundland and Labrador to be $47.3 billion.
Now, as they say, it’s time to pay the piper. Tax hikes, salary cuts, a change to a single health board and cuts to universities are all on the table. Much debate will likely ensue after last Thursday’s report, titled The Big Reset. But it is a reminder that a government, just like a household that puts things on a credit card, eventually has to pay for its deficits, and if a new source of revenue is not available, then something has to give. It’s a lesson that we may have to keep in mind, as the world begins to dig out from a pandemic. – DS
The loss of a platform
The world has at least another six months before it has to hear from former U.S. President Donald Trump again, at least on Facebook. Last week the company extended its suspension of Trump’s account for another six months, kicking the can further down the road.
Trump was scrubbed from all major social media platforms after being accused of using his accounts to “incite violence” with the riots at the Capitol earlier this year. However, while Twitter was clear and banned Trump for life, Facebook suspended him indefinitely, which the company’s new oversight board says was wrong. Now, Facebook has six months to decide whether to reinstate his account, permanently suspend him or suspend him for a defined period of time. (Facebook, seemingly, had hoped the board would handle the Trump situation, but it has sent the decision back to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.)
Just about everyone but Trump’s most ardent supporters were united in feeling that enough was enough when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, causing death and destruction. A clear line could be drawn between Trump’s social media posts and comments at the preceding rally and the actions that followed. Reporting even claimed Trump was “delighted” when his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Now, however, the discussion gets much more complicated. Trump is no longer the president and tens of millions of people care about what he has to say. On the other hand, investigations into his dealings while running for office could uncover some very nasty details.
One of the bedrock tenets of life in North America is free speech. Crossing the line has consequences, but at what point does action to silence Trump mutate from convenience into censorship? – SL
Look beyond the borders
While the province is supposed to be coming out of the stay-at-home order soon, some experts feel it should stay in place until the entirety of the province is back into the yellow zone of the provincial response framework. That requirement is a daunting task as, even outside the greater Toronto area, many counties and health units are still in the red level, including Huron and Perth Counties.
As of Monday, Huron Perth Public Health had, thanks to some significant increases in COVID-19 cases, posted both incidence (weekly new cases per 100,000 people) and per cent positivity (based on a seven-day average) values in the red zone, meaning that, in the Ontario Health - West, all but three of the 13 health units are in the red zone.
While many people have been claiming that “other” areas deserve to be under lockdown while spaces like Huron and Perth Counties should be treated differently due to low case counts, this past weekend proves just how quickly things can change. Between May 3 and May 10, 70 new COVID-19 cases were reported, more than double the increase of previous weeks. Nearly half of those new cases were reported on Monday, having been tallied over the weekend. The change lends further credence to the experts who say the entire province needs to be in the yellow zone before the stay-at-home order is lifted.
The increase in Huron and Perth Counties proves there are no borders stopping the virus from arriving and flourishing in areas that have kept low case counts. While we don’t know where the cases came from, outside of where the patients live, we do know these increases are still happening and we need to remain vigilant. – JDS