Government decisions about Labrador flag, group funding 'quite strategic', says professor
Announcements this week by the provincial government to fly the Labrador flag at border crossings and guarantee base funding for community groups are "simple and smart moves" by a political party lagging in popularity, says Memorial University professor Kelly Blidook.
- Professors call House of Assembly decision undemocratic
- Labrador flags to 'officially' fly at N.L.-Quebec borders
Blidook says neither decision will hurt Premier Paul Davis and the governing Progressive Conservatives.
"I can't see anyone being angry over it," Blidook told CBC Cross Talk on Tuesday.
The government reversed course this week on a lobby to officially fly the Labrador flag at border crossings in western and southern Labrador.
Under former premier Tom Marshall, the government refused repeated requests from Labradorians to hoist the familiar banner alongside the official flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.
That all changed this week when Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Keith Russell rose in the House of Assembly this week to pronounce that flag poles will be erected in the coming weeks.
The government also faced mounting pressure from community groups, especially those who run women's centres in the province. There was uncertainty about whether grants from the province would be cut as the government wrestles with a serious shortfall in oil revenues ahead of next month's budget announcement.
Under questioning this week from NDP MHA Gerry Rogers, Davis said the $70-million allotted annually to a large number of community groups will remain unchanged for the coming fiscal year.
Up to that point, government officials had refused to make any funding guarantees, saying "everything was on the table."
Blidook called the two decisions "no brainers," with "all benefit and zero cost."
From an electoral perspective, he added, the government is doing what it must to try to win back supporters.
"It's not democracy at its finest. People were upset, they said something and government responded. I
I think this is really just looking at where there are potential votes," he said.
The Tories now have just one female in cabinet, and are still stinging from the highly controversial appointment of former unelected cabinet minister Judy Manning.
Blidook said the commitment to funding women's centres sends a message that the government cares about women's issues.
"I think the announcement around that is quite significant, but also something the government had to do, given where they're at," he said.
With files from Ramona Dearing