A small business owner has turned the sign he usually uses to advertise his services into a protest against Newfoundland and Labrador's premier and her cost-cutting budget.
"Dunderdale Boo Hiss," reads a sign outside the Avalon Chiropractic Clinic in Conception Bay South, where proprietor Lee MacAllister usually has the words, "Got Back Pain?"
McAllister said he disliked the steep cuts in the March 26 provincial budget, which eliminated about 1,200 positions, most of them through direct layoffs and the rest through attrition and not filling vacancies.
"The government has not understood how this is going to affect everybody — not just the people that are being laid off, but the entire economy," MacAllister said in an interview.
The governing Tories claim that robust activity in the private sector will counterbalance the spending cuts the government needed to make to reduce its projected deficit of $563.8 million.
MacAllister, however, believes the cuts will hurt many small businesses, because so many people will be curbing their spending.
"It has directly impacted several of my patients already. There is pain going around here," he said.
"One fellow phoned me last week, on the day of the budget, and informed me that now he was out of a job, so he was canceling his appointment."
No complaints yet, owner says
The sign, which is on the main drag in Conception Bay South, has attracted attention — and support, MacAllister said.
"I have heard no negative comments. If this were a survey, I don't think Ms. Dunderdale is doing too well right now," he said.
A Corporate Research Associates poll released in March showed that support for the Progressive Conservatives had dropped sharply, putting the Tories in a statistical dead heat with the NDP.
As well, the poll found that Dunderdale's personal popularity had also dropped significantly from last year, and that dissatisfaction with the government was rising.
MacAllister, who said he will keep his message up for at least another week, said he did not expect to get any reaction from the provincial government.
In a response to a request for comment, Tory MHA Steve Kent said that people have the freedom to express their opinion.
"Premier Dunderdale is a compassionate and principle-centered leader. I remain inspired by her vision and strength," Kent wrote.
"We have to ensure that our province stays on the right path toward a sustainable future. It's about providing responsible stewardship and being innovative in the delivery of services."
Kent added that Dunderdale enjoys the full support of the PC caucus.