NL Alliance looks to save province money, invest in small business and cut spending
'We certainly have a spending problem,' party leader says of government
It's the first day on the campaign trail in Newfoundland and Labrador and the NL Alliance is busy putting together a strategy to potentially land its first seat inside the House of Assembly.
The party — founded in 2018 — has four candidates running as of Saturday with election day about a month away and is focused on saving provincial money.
NL Alliance Leader Graydon Pelley told CBC News the province's growing debt is a big problem the "mainstream" political parties appear to be avoiding.
"There's so many things we can do as government, there's so many things leaders can do to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the future," he said.
"We certainly have a spending problem. We have to get our spending under control. We're borrowing to pay our bills."
While his party is relatively new, Pelley isn't a stranger to politics.
In 2015, as part of the Progressive Conservatives, he ran against former Liberal premier Dwight Ball in the district of Humber-Gros Morne. Pelley also led district associations and was elected president of the provincial Tories in 2016, helping rewrite the party's constitution.
But in 2018, he walked away to form his own party, citing at the time he felt people were "fed up" with the way party politics operated the province.
In the party's first general election the following year, the party ran nine candidates, garnering less than 2.5 per cent of the overall vote.
Learning from the pandemic
As the global coronavirus pandemic wears on, Pelley said things have changed that could make for some money-saving options.
He said some people who are now working from home have told him they would not want to go back to an office setting if given the option.
Pelley said business has changed and become more efficient, and as a result, some government buildings, travelling, food allowances and lodging fees aren't necessary anymore.
"This would save money on operations, on maintenance. We can erase funds by selling or leasing properties that we own," he said.
"These are ways whereby we can save dollars and we can certainly help Newfoundland and Labrador reduce their debt."
When asked if having people work from home would then cost the employee money for tools such as computers and an internet bill, Pelley said if government were to invest in that, it would still create a savings.
Pelley said making large investments in large corporations looks fine on paper, but making small investments in startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses within the province ensures local employment and a bolstering of regional economies.
He said among the biggest barriers facing small businesses are the "red tape" and "bureaucracy" owners have to go through in order to be successful.
"Over the last little while, we have heard the reports about hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in the oil industry. We're not against the oil industry, we believe that the oil industry has a role to play, but we look at all these investments that were made over the last little while and what did we get in return? We've got a lawsuit or two," he said.
"If it's a resource in Newfoundland and Labrador, we must, and we have to be the first to benefit and benefit the most.… The tax breaks that we give, it's much better that we invest in small businesses rather than these large companies."
Pelley said the NL Alliance is now working to recruit more candidates for the Feb. 13 election.
With files from Lukas Wall