Nfld. & Labrador

'Time for all of us to take the blame,' says MHA Jerry Dean on province's finances

The Liberal MHA for Exploits says politicians and the people who vote for them need to be realistic about their expectations and ability to pay.

Liberal MHA for Exploits responds to questions about 'entitlement' comments

Jerry Dean, seen here in a file photo, says the province's current financial situation is something everyone has to answer for. (CBC)

The Liberal MHA for Exploits says politicians and the people who vote for them need to be realistic about their expectations and ability to pay.

Jerry Dean is trying to explain comments in the House of Assembly this week about "decades of spending and borrowing by our governments to support our culture of entitlement," which led to the current fiscal crisis.

"It's time for all of us to take the blame. The unfortunate truth is we collectively, the current population and previous populations are to blame," Dean said during the budget debate in the legislature.

A Central MHA is in the hot seat after some comments in the House of Assembly this week. We speak with Jerry Dean. 11:12

Friday, Dean said his comments were "misconstrued" due to people "cherry picking" what he said.

"We're all guilty as politicians and sitting governments of unfortunately promising things to people and in a lot of cases delivering things that really the population themselves, the people themselves, every one of us collectively, couldn't afford to begin with," he told CBC's Central Morning Show.

"We've unfortunately found ourselves in this mindset … it's just something that's developed over time. That's not a bad reflection on anyone, that's just beyond the unfortunate circumstances that we find ourselves in."

We've got to try and put the harsh realities in front of the population.- MHA Jerry Dean

According to Dean, it's the role of politicians to sometimes deliver bad news to the people who elected them — and that's what the Liberals have been forced to do, he said, because of financial mismanagement by previous administrations.

"We've all got to aspire for what's better, and we're in a democracy and protests is part of being in a democracy. But part of a democracy also involves the willingness of the whole to do what's needed to protect the common good of the many, as opposed to the wants of the few," said Dean.

"Now that's a little bit of a socialist twang I'm putting on it, and forgive me, that's what I am in my heart of hearts for the most part. I think most civil human beings are like that, but there are times — and we're in one now — that we find ourselves in a hole."

'Sincere effort from start to finish'

Dean added people have rightfully "come to expect these services," but it's not feasible to expect the same level of services to be offered when there isn't enough money to pay for them.

Jerry Dean was mayor of Botwood prior to getting elected to the House of Assembly in November. (CBC)

He added government needs to lay the stark reality of the situation in front of the electorate, rather than try to sugarcoat it.

"More and more we've got to try and put the harsh realities in front of the population leading into elections and from start to finish, not in the eleventh hour trying to do things differently, just put a sincere effort in from start to finish."

Dean added if the Liberals didn't get tough in the latest budget, the population in four years' time would be looking back and wondering why they didn't do something to change the direction the province was headed.

With files from Leigh Anne Power