Not buying votes, Dunderdale insists
'Spending the credit card wildly to get elected': Aylward
Premier Kathy Dunderdale says she has made the last of pre-election spending announcements, and rejects criticism that the governing Tories are doing anything wrong.
Dunderdale and her ministers have unveiled a cascade of spending announcements around the province through the summer months.
On Wednesday alone, her government laid out the details of more than $100 million in spending, with a chunk of it going to an expansion of the St. John's Convention Centre that will almost double its size. The government will also refurbish the Colonial Building, and will build new hockey arenas in three towns.
Opposition politicians and pundits have accused government ministers of using their status and the announcement as ways of buying votes in the Oct. 11 election.
"If I were spending outside of the budget, then I could understand that kind of a criticism," Dunderdale said Wednesday.
"But telling people how their money is going to be spent, how that offends people given that the money was announced in April, I'm at a loss to understand."
Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward said Thursday that Dunderdale is clearly using spending announcements for political gain.
"She's out spending the credit card wildly to get elected," Aylward said in an interview with CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
"They've abandoned rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and yet they're going around with the chequebook ... This is a photo-op government. They're not dealing with the major issues of the province right now."
The latest spending announcements include a new swimming centre in Marystown, and hockey arenas in Harbour Grace, Conception Bay South and Paradise.
In St. John's, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said the $45-million expansion of the downtown convention — with funding shared equally between three levels of government — would trigger even more development.
"This announcement will stimulate some of the proposed hotels that had been in the offing over the last year or two," O'Keefe said.
"To the best of my knowledge, these developers had been kind of holding back, pending the expansion of the convention centre."
A Hilton hotel, for instance, has been proposed for a nearby area of New Gower Street.