By Chris Lewis | Vol. 32 No. 8 (May 8 2019)
Fresh off a successful January by-election, PC incumbent Paul Dinn is back on the campaign trail in Topsail – Paradise.
“It seems every time I turn around, I’m doing an election,” he joked.
Dinn assumed office February 19. Before that, Dinn had successfully ran in the Paradise municipal election of September 2017, keeping his spot on town council.
“I’m hitting the road every day, hitting as many houses as I can, and talking to as many people as I can,” said Dinn, who also noted that he’s hearing things at the doors now that he wasn’t hearing three months ago (and trudging through less snow.)
“What I’m hearing different now, from three months ago, is the anti, not so much Liberal, but anti-Ball sentiment is more prevalent this time,” he said. “I think that has more to do with putting out the budget with no discussion, and the Atlantic Accord deal, so I’m hearing a little more of that at the doors, no doubt about it.”
The Liberal government dropped the 2019 Newfoundland and Labrador budget on April 16, and the next day called a May 16 election. Because of the tight timeline, the budget will not be debated, nor officially passed, until after the election.
Dwight Ball’s signing of a renewed Atlantic Accord April 1, which Liberals said would guarantee a $2.5 billion revenue stream, was also criticized by the likes of former premier Brian Peckford— who inked the deal on the 1985 Atlantic Accord.
Dinn said he was busy during his first three months as MHA.
“I’m not one to sit down,” he said. “I’ve been doing more standing in the House then sitting, and I hope people see that.”
One of the issues he addressed in the House is the “unnecessary” garbage tax collection service for cabin owners.
Dinn argued the ongoing strife between cabin owners and the Eastern Regional Service Board over waste collection fees has been muddied by the Liberal government’s recent directive that cabin owners can opt out of the service — without offering a way for the board to make up those lost revenues.
“The bottom line: everyone values our environment, and sees the need for a strategy,” said Dinn. “But we need clarity and a definitive direction on that information.”
Another issue Dinn has been touting is the need to lift the province’s busing restriction, which sees children who live within 1.6 kilometres of their school ineligible from riding the bus. Dinn is also arguing for more accessible transportation options for seniors, better healthcare, and permanent, full-time jobs.
Dinn said his record speaks for itself.
“What I tell people is, ‘Look, I’ve been on municipal council, you know how I operated there, in an honest, open, and accountable way.’ I always respond to people. We may not always agree, but you will get a response from me,” he said. “And for those who know me as an MHA, they know I’ve done the same. People know me as being open and honest, and I think that’s what they want more than anything… I’m in there to work for the people of Topsail—Paradise.”
Dinn said he has met people at the door who say they either won’t vote, or intend to spoil their ballot, because they don’t like their candidates. He said it’s only a handful of people who avouch this philosophy, but that it does seem more prevalent than when he knocked on doors three months ago.
He discourages the practise.
“I’m taking noting for granted,” he said. “I’m trusting in the people that they’re going to get out and vote and vote accordingly to what they see is best. My point to them is to get out and exercise your right to vote.”
Running against Dinn is Liberal candidate Patricia Hynes-Coates, and NL Alliance candidate Lori Best-Moore. An advance poll is scheduled for May 9.