Nfld. & Labrador

Political involvement in Bonavista letter stinks: NDP

A letter written by a Tory political aide speaks volumes about the "nefarious" political culture in the province, a NDP MHA says.
A political aide wrote a letter for the signature of Bonavista's mayor, denouncing a councillor who pointed out that the town's iconic lighthouse may be falling into disrepair. (CBC)

A letter written by a Tory political aide and meant for the signature of the mayor of Bonavista speaks volumes about the "nefarious" political culture in the Newfoundland and Labrador government, a New Democratic MHA says.

Gerry Rogers said Monday she finds it unsettling that an aide to PC MHA Glenn Little wrote a letter that takes aim at a councillor who raised concerns about deteriorating conditions at Bonavista's iconic lighthouse and the Mockbeggar Plantation, both of which are provincial historic sites.

MHA Gerry Rogers said she believes the 'politics of fear' are connected to a letter that was to have been sent to the province's tourism minister. (CBC)

Late last week, CBC News obtained a copy of the letter, which was supposed to have been sent to Tourism Minister Derrick Dalley, with the signature of Bonavista Mayor Betty Fitzgerald.

The letter said the council does "not wish to jeopardize our standing by going to the media with this type of negativity." [Read the text of the letter here.] 

The letter also said the comments of Coun. John Norman were "in no way indorsed (sic) by the Council of Bonavista" even though the town had twice written to Dalley over the last year about the conditions at the properties, most recently just this April.

"That's a problem of the politics of fear," said Rogers.

"That's a problem of groups or in this case municipalities being worried that if they look like they're in opposition to the government in any way shape or form, or if they have a good relationship with their elected MHA who may not be part of the governing party, then that may impact them negatively," she said.

"This is nefarious. This is a real problem."

Rogers added that in her own district of St. John's Centre, she has been uninvited from attending official events by non-profit groups, on the instruction of government communications staff.

Fitzgerald told CBC News on Friday that it was her idea to have Little's aide write the letter, citing both her own carpal tunnel syndrome and the fact that town staff were either away on leave or overwhelmed with work.

Rogers said the incident unveils the thinking of government, and does not reflect well for addressing issues that affect people.

"We're seeing a whole, unheard-of level of control and micromanagement," she said. "It's not good."