«2012 Speech from the Throne The First Session of the Forty-Seventh General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador March 5, 2012 ...»
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Speech from the Throne
The First Session
of the Forty-Seventh
of the Province of
Newfoundland and Labrador
March 5, 2012
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Speech from the Throne
Delivered at the Opening of
The First Session of the Forty-Seventh
General Assembly of the Province of
Newfoundland and Labrador
by His Honour
The Honourable John C. Crosbie, PC, OC, ONL, QC Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador March 5, 2012 1 NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR MARCH 5, 2012 Celebrating Our Heritage Diamond Jubilee
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:
It was on a Wednesday, the 6th of February 1952 – just a week after my 21st birthday – that King George VI passed away. His eldest daughter, only 25 at the time, inherited a burden of responsibility the weight of which none of us can truly comprehend. Canada was the very first Commonwealth realm to proclaim Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, with a prayer that God would bless our new Queen “with long and happy years to reign over us.” Long and happy years they have indeed been, and throughout 2012, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will join others around the world in celebrating a very rare Diamond Jubilee.
Once as Princess and three times as Queen, Her Majesty has honoured Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with a visit. As we embark on a year of commemorations, we convey to Her Majesty not only our joy, gratitude and profound respect, but also our hopes and prayers for the years to come. As the prayer in the third verse of the Royal Anthem states: “Thy choicest gifts in store, / On Her be pleased to pour; / Long may She reign: / May She defend our laws, / And ever give us cause / To sing with heart and voice / God save The Queen.” The Colonial Building Of our many Sovereigns, only one other marked a Diamond Jubilee: Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and seven months. It was in the tenth year of Victoria’s reign, 1847, that construction began on the Colonial Building, the site where Responsible Government was given to Newfoundland in 1855. In the coming year, My Government will advance the restoration of this historic site, which also served as our province’s first official legislature.
Once restored, the Colonial Building will be a flagship Provincial Historic Site, a place where residents of and visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador can step back through those ionic columns to learn about our unique and colourful history interpreted within.
2012 Speech from the Thr
Soldiers, Sacrifices and Security Ours is a history written with the blood of sacrifice. The freedoms we cherish were purchased by heroic Newfoundlanders and Labradorians willing to lay down their lives that others might reap from the crimson soil a harvest of peace. From Beaumont-Hamel to Suvla Bay, the stories are told of valour unsurpassed. To all who suffered and all who died, we owe our gratitude and honour. It is atop their proud shoulders that we stand tall. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, where the Newfoundland Regiment – as it was then called – served gallantly in what is now Ontario and in the United States in the battles of Crysler’s Farm in 1813 and Lundy’s Lane at Niagara Falls in 1814. A century later, our soldiers’ heroism was immortalized at such places as Gallipoli in 1915, Beaumont-Hamel in 1916 and Masnières in 1917. As the 100th anniversary of World War I approaches, My Government is working with others both locally and internationally to develop initiatives by which we will commemorate, as we must, the sacrifices of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who served.
Even today, our sons and daughters are serving to secure peace and save lives. On the front lines overseas and in training missions here at home, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are stepping into harm’s way to deliver others from peril. Whether in combat or preparation for combat, as protectors of the peace or guardians of the vulnerable, they deserve our gratitude and our admiration for all they do.
Just as Newfoundland and Labrador has played a strategic role in national and international defence in times past, we can play a strategic role in times to come. We urge the Government of Canada to take full advantage of our strengths by investing in defence infrastructure and initiatives at key centres such as 5 Wing Goose Bay, 9 Wing Gander and Canadian Forces Station St. John’s on our country’s easternmost flank.
2012 Speech from the Throne 3 NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR MARCH 5, 2012 Canada has a responsibility, not only to ensure the security of our nation’s coasts, but also to ensure the safety of those who travel them. Whether it is fishers sailing the seas in boats or rig workers skimming the seas in helicopters, people are not unjustified in expecting the Government of Canada to provide the resources to enable Coast Guard and Search and Rescue personnel to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies.
Sadly, there are times when searches end tragically. We as a people have witnessed far too many terrible endings. While each and every tragedy is profoundly felt by the loved ones of those it touches, some grip the hearts of people far and wide. Such has been the impact of the death of 14-year-old Burton Winters in January on the icy coast near Makkovik.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will never forget Burton’s fierce determination to get back home to the ones he loved. We are heartbroken by his loss. We mourn for the many like Burton whose lives have been so tragically cut short. Even in recent days, we have been reminded how swiftly a tragedy can strike. We also share the burden of those who brave the elements to search for the missing, putting their own lives in jeopardy to focus on others.
Sometimes, even the most vigorous and valiant rescue efforts are unsuccessful. As we remember those we miss, let us also honour those whose extraordinary efforts are dedicated to bringing people home. Sons, daughters and friends of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians serve bravely in vital Search and Rescue capacities. As we pause for a moment now to reflect on those we have lost, let us also remember those who serve and commend them for their selfless dedication.
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:
The responsibility for representing the best interests and legitimate aspirations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians rests on the shoulders of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Elected with a fresh and decisive mandate in October of 2011, My Government is fully prepared to bear that responsibility with new energy and firm resolve. Our Premier is celebrating our province’s strengths and vigorously pursuing new opportunities for growth in dealings with Canada’s other First Ministers, American Governors and leaders of industry both nationally and internationally. The people of our province share this determination to realize our full potential. How far we have come already! We have finally embraced our newfound status as one of Canada’s leading economies, buoyed with confidence and optimism that we are poised to witness successes unprecedented in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history Those successes hinge on the choices we make today. Whether we are talking about 30 years from now, or ten years from now, or two years from now, the future we reap will be determined by the seeds we sow – the choices we make – right here, right now. We will not allow poor choices based on failed philosophies and narrow agendas to reverse every gain we have worked so hard to achieve and squander the very opportunities that our approach this past eight years has made possible.
Three Objectives Moving Forward To ensure Newfoundland and Labrador takes maximum advantage of the unprecedented
opportunities before us right now, My Government will focus this year on three principal objectives:
▪ The first is to refocus the Government’s approach to the delivery of services to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
▪ The second is to give Newfoundlanders and Labradorians the added support they may require to seize career opportunities.
▪ The third is to improve the conditions that give businesses and communities the power to grow.
These three objectives encompass everything our Government does, so this year’s strategy is an ambitious one. What follows are some details of the ways My Government intends to make progress on all three of these objectives in the year ahead.
Refocusing the Government’s approach to service delivery is vital. The world is changing.
Technology is advancing. Governments must adapt. Public service delivery in the 21st century does not have to be complicated. It must be focused. It must be flexible. It must be responsive to the needs of our people and receptive to feedback from those it serves.
It must be transparent and accountable.
My Government’s commitment to accountability is solid. This is the Government that proclaimed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and strengthened its provisions. This is the Government that introduced the Transparency and Accountability Act and the Lobbyist Registration Act. This is the Government that opened the books of 2012 Speech from the Throne 6 MARCH 5, 2012 NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR the House of Assembly to the Auditor General, commissioned the Green Report and led the implementation of its sweeping recommendations to overhaul House of Assembly operations.
This is the Government that began legislating and publishing performance-based plans and progress reports from government departments and agencies. This is the Government that commissioned Justice Margaret Cameron to inquire into failures of hormone receptor testing and recommend sweeping reforms, and then took action to implement those recommendations. This is the Government that has repeatedly earned the praise of the Auditor General for exceeding targets in acting on the recommendations of the annual reports of this independent office of the House of Assembly. My Government will build on this solid record by bringing forward amendments to the Public Tender Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
A Clear Focus on Priorities
Just as My Government will strengthen accountability, it will also take measures to ensure public service delivery is versatile to adapt to people’s changing needs, user-friendly and clearly focused on priorities. Each department will undertake a structured review of departmental functions to identify opportunities to do things better. These reviews will be complemented by cross-departmental studies and ongoing reviews of the province’s Regional Health Authorities. The objective is to ensure all the Government’s personnel and resources are focused first and foremost on delivering high-priority services and achieving high-priority goals. This process will identify not only the current best practices for service delivery but also innovative approaches to deliver services more effectively.
A Responsible Approach to Fiscal Management My Government’s 2011 policy Blue Book makes a commitment that: “The pace of growth of public investments must be sustainable. Our commitment to fiscal sustainability is firm. In implementing the commitments identified in this Blue Book and in fulfilling our
responsibilities as a Government, we will ensure annual provincial expenditures do not grow beyond the level our economy can sustain.” My Government stands by these words.
When facing the global recession two years ago, My Government opted to take a long-term, multi-year approach to fiscal management. It opted to bridge the period of decline in private sector activity by accelerating the pace of growth in public investments, knowing it would be ratcheting back the rate of growth once the recession was over. This was the right approach, and it worked. The two-year period of accelerated growth did precisely what it was intended to do. No province weathered the downturn more successfully than Newfoundland and Labrador. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said our approach served as a model for the country. Now that the recession has ended and private sector activity in the province is rebounding, this is the right time to contain the pace of public investment growth to ensure we continue to live within our fiscal means.