January 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Politics Out of Paving? Where’s the Evidence?

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking Premier Ball why he is hiding the evidence to back up his claim that his government has taken politics out of paving.

In a speech on January 12 to the Association of Heavy Civil Engineers, the Premier said his government is choosing road projects based on economic impact, safety and input from users in order to take politics out of paving.

Petten said, “This is the same Premier who claimed to be taking politics out of public appointments at the very same time that he was appointing Liberal supporters and failed Liberal candidates to seniors roles in the public service and firing others to make way for his friends – so people have a very good reason to demand evidence before taking this Premier at his word.”

“I raised the issue of roadwork priorities in Question Period on April 11 and 13, 2016,” said Petten. “I requested the entire list of road projects evaluated by the department, ranked in order of priority based on the evidence of need. The Minister would not supply that list. Nine months later, I am still waiting for that list. Neither the Minister nor the Premier will provide it. If the government does not have a list of all roadwork needs ranked in order of priority based on hard evidence, then how could they possibly be organizing their roadwork priorities on the basis of need? And if they do have the list, why are they refusing to disclose it, unless they have something to hide that contradicts what the Premier is saying?”

Petten said, “What shocked me last April was learning from the Transportation Minister that the department was not actually finalizing their roadwork priorities on the basis of need, but sending their roadwork list to the Premier’s office for approval. How is that taking the politics out of anything? Either the roadwork list is being finalized according to the experts’ evidence of need, or else some considerations other than the evidence of need are coming into play.”

“It certainly appears that politics is playing a very big role in determining which roads get funding from the Ball government, despite the Premier’s statements to the contrary. Otherwise, the final decisions would not be made outside the department where the experts and the evidence are,” said Petten.

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Media Contact:
Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105,heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca