Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball defends record, strikes at opposition in $500-a-plate fundraiser speech

Dwight Ball said his Liberal government, which has been beset by political turmoil since last year's election, "chose to govern, not to gamble."

Premier says upcoming October event to test ideas

The Liberal Party held a $500-a-plate fundraising dinner in St. John's Thursday evening. 2:17

Premier Dwight Ball took aim at some of his political opponents — and defended his own record — at a speech delivered at a high-priced Liberal fundraiser on Thursday.

Ball said his Liberal government, which has been beset by political turmoil since last year's election, "chose to govern, not to gamble." He made the remarks at a $500-a-plate Liberal Party fundraising dinner held in St. John's.

Over 550 people bought tickets for event at the St. John's Convention Centre, which included a performance by comedian Shaun Majumder. Despite the party's recent polling woes, it's a slight increase in sales from last year, when over 500 people bought tickets.

Dwight Ball speaks to a crowd of more than 550 at a Liberal party fundraiser in St. John's (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Ball addressed the widely unpopular budget his government unveiled this spring, which has seen support of his party plummet.

"Well governing in Newfoundland and Labrador that's a little harder," he said.

"We have one of the oldest populations in Canada spread across a very vast area. We spend more on basic services than any other jurisdiction and based on the research we've seen, I'm certain we don't have the learning outcomes, the health outcomes or the economic outcomes to justify those expenses."

Targeting the opposition 

Ball's keynote address took aim at the past PC government, calling them fiscally irresponsible. He also took a shot at the NDP leader, Earle McCurdy, saying he understands why McCurdy doesn't understand his independent appointment legislation because "the lights in the gallery makes it a little difficult to read up there," he said, pointing out that McCurdy wasn't able to win a seat in the last provincial election.

The premier also defended his government's choices, saying they had little option but to abandon some election promises — which included a promise not to raise the HST — when they were elected.

"The joy of victory was quickly replaced with the province's financial realities," Ball said. "The economy was in deep trouble."

Event to 'test' ideas

Ball also revealed more details about a full day consultation session he's holding in St. John's at The Rooms on Oct.11, billed as "The Way Forward".

He said it's "mainly about things we want to have further discussions on, see where people are and just test it a little bit." 

Ball said what his government hears at that event could impact the fiscal update expected later in October, but is more aimed towards the budget for spring 2017.

"It could have an impact let's say on what the next the next budget looks like, so as I said it's never too late for a good idea," he said.

Ball wouldn't give a date on when the fiscal update will happen, saying only that it would be after the Oct.11 event but still early enough to be "the earliest we've had in the history of the province," he said.

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