"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


On August 29th, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner submitted a supplemental submission to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Review Committee (PARCNL).

The Commitee requested that presenters or submitters provide their submissions in PDF format. For some reason, while the OIPC's original submission was a perfectly-searchable text-based PDF, their supplemental was not. It is a graphical PDF whose text cannot be read by machines, including by machines which assist human beings with sensory impairments to read digital content.

Here is the OIPC's supplemental submission with OCR (optical character recognition) applied to the page images, in order to make them legible and useable for a broader class of end users. In 2014, it should not be necessary for a third party to have to do this.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Comparative contests

If you are still wondering why Progressive Conservative members and prominent operatives, having spent the latter half of 2013 ridiculing the provincial Liberals' leadership process, are now rushing to adopt it — for the 2016 leadership race — wonder no longer.

This map expresses the turnout at the PC leadership delegate selection meetings (DSM) held over the summer as a percentage of the total vote in the Liberals' "virtual" leadership vote in each district. (Click to enlarge.)

In only three districts — Kilbride, Lewisporte, and Lake Melville — did the PC leadership turnout exceed half that of the Liberal leadership vote. In twenty-six districts, more than half the province, the PC leadership turnout was 15% or less that of the Liberal leadership turnout in the same district. This "enthusiasm gap" is especially pronounced outside metro St. John's and "around the [Conception] Bay". However, in both Tory-held districts where the sitting MHA is a leadership candidate — Paul Davis' Topsail and Steve Kent's Mount Pearl North — the PC leadership turnout was less than 10% that of the Liberal vote last year.

The low turnout in Davis and Kent's back yards may be attributable, in part, to the fact that they were among the first districts to hold DSMs. The other metro-area district with particularly poor turnout, St. John's Centre, also held its DSM during the first week of meetings.

There is some evidence that either enthusiasm among PC supporters, or ability of the camps to get their supporters out to the bingo halls, or both, increased, if modestly, as the campaign went on. This is what happens when you sort the DSMs chronologically, and group them by week (starting on Mondays) of the campaign period. Where multiple PC district associations held their DSMs on the same day, the districts are sub-sorted alphabetically. Again, the PC leadership turnout is expressed as a percentage of the comparable figure for the 2013 Liberal leadership contest. (Click to enlarge.)

And here's the PC turnout expressed as a percentage of all eligible voters in the district (per the 2011 election return), which yields a clearer upward trend as the campaign progressed:

Expressed this way, the highest PC leadership turnout was in Lake Melville, at 3.4%.

The lowest turnout in last year's Liberal leadership? Lewisporte. 4.0%.

H/T to @TelegramJames for compiling the PC DSM statistics:

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cognitive dissonance

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Michael Crummey, condensed

Let me save you a click:

Newfoundland and Labrador









William’s Harbour in southern Labrador









Monday, August 04, 2014

Effect v. Cause

Cory Hurley reports for today's Western Star:
Paul Davis, Steve Kent or John Ottenheimer will assume the role as leader after the Sept. 13 election at the party convention.

Depending on what the leader, and future premier asks of him, Marshall will then step down as premier.  
"It's on the weekend, so it could be right then ... a day after ... a week after," Marshall said. "I'm not sure. It will be whatever the next leader wants or asks."  
As with [sic] his seat in the House," Marshall said he will resign when the new premier chooses to call a byelection.

As the Progressive Conservatives have shown repeatedly over the past decade, election law is not their strong suit. Marshall has it exactly backwards: Premier Kent/Ottenheimer/Davis can't call a by-election in Humber East unless and until Marshall vacates his seat. You can't call a by-election for a district which still has a sitting member.



Monday, July 21, 2014


A little refresher for Steve Kent, from the marathon House of Assembly sitting of December 18-19, 2012. Here are the 5000 or so words he spoke to Bill 61; emphasis added:


MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just need to make a few comments in speaking to Bill 61 now that we are in Committee. I think it is an appropriate time to remind members about Bill 61.

We have dealt with Bill 53; it has been passed through third reading. We still have Bill 60 and Bill 61 to deal with. Right now we are in Committee of the Whole discussing Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.
I am really pleased, Mr. Chair, in the last half an hour or so that we have gotten back to where the focus of this debate needs to be. We are here in this House for an important process. These are vital pieces of legislation. We have sanctioned a project that is truly a game changer for Newfoundland and Labrador that is going to allow us to reach our goal of becoming the energy warehouse that we know we can be, Mr. Chair.

For that reason, it is important to get on with it. We are here because we want to answer whatever questions need to be answered, particularly on these specific pieces of legislation that we are actually here to talk about. I hope that the focus for the rest of our time, however long that is – and it has been quite a journey so far. I hope that our focus will truly be on the legislation in question.
Let's get on with this. We have sanctioned the project. There is no turning back. We have made the bold decision. We have been elected to make bold decisions. We have been elected to provide leadership and that is exactly what we intend to continue to do, Mr. Chair.

In terms of the comments from the Leader of the New Democratic Party, I would like to make a few remarks on what she just said. In response, I hear the Leader of the Third Party suggest that we need to slow down because we have not looked at the alternatives, because we need to look at other technologies, et cetera.

I take the point, but I take grave exception to the point, Mr. Chair. The folks at Nalcor, the world-class expertise that we have engaged, the folks within the Department of Natural Resources, they are on top of technology all the time, Mr. Chair.
For years, people have been trying to develop tidal power. In fact, I would hope that the Leader of the New Democratic Party is aware that we have our own wind-hydrogen project, Mr. Chair. In Ramea, we have a project that is all about new technology. That is just one example. We have explored all the possible alternatives. We have spent millions of dollars doing research on all of the alternatives and we are embracing new technology wherever possible.

Wind-hydrogen –


MR. KENT: Mr. Chair, I know I am being heckled and yelled at by the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi and unfortunately the Member for St. John's East, who has been rather well behaved for the most part during this debate. His language has certainly been appropriate.

The wind-hydrogen project in Ramea is new technology and the magic of that, Mr. Chair, is that it has the potential to connect communities that would otherwise be isolated.
The folks at Nalcor, the folks at the Department of Natural Resources, the expertise that we have engaged to implement the Energy Plan that is going to set a bold, new future for Newfoundland and Labrador, they are focused on new technology. Do not believe for a second that they are not, Mr. Chair.

We are spending millions of dollars every year on research and design, Mr. Chair, but the Leader of the Third Party would have you believe that we are not interesting in new technology, that Nalcor is not interested in new technology. I assure you, Mr. Chair, nothing could be further from reality.
In fact, I have been in this House now for five years and I have witnessed Ministerial Statements on new technology when it comes to meeting the energy needs of this Province. I have seen educational videos developed by Nalcor, developed by the Department of Natural Resources, to inform the public and to inform decision makers about the potential that exists for new energy. We have consulted with world-class expertise to guide our decisions when it comes to meeting our future energy needs. People like Wood Mackenzie and Ziff Energy; these are the types of people who have informed the process. It has been a long process. It has been a process that is involved an incredible amount of public debate.

I ask the Leader of the New Democratic Party to tell this hon. House what technologies she is talking about. What is it she wants us to study more? What is it she wants to look at that we have not looked at to date? Mr. Chair, it takes years to develop and to plan for and to build a hydroelectric development. These things do not just happen overnight.
We are all convinced on this side of the House – now I realize that the host of VOCM Open Line and a few of the folks opposite may not be convinced that we need power in the future, Mr. Chair, but the folks on this side of the House, based on all of the information available to us, are quite convinced that as soon as early as 2017, if not sooner, we need power to meet our energy needs in this Province.

If that is the case, we cannot wait until 2015 to decide hey, maybe let's build some generation facilities. These things take years to plan for. If we want to put hydroelectric generation infrastructure in place, we cannot wait any longer. We need more power by 2017, and countless studies have been prepared. We have invested millions of dollars to ensure that we do all the necessary due diligence to make sure that we make the right decisions and responsible decisions that are going to impact our future.
Systemic change, Mr. Chair, takes an incredible amount of time. That is what we are talking about here. We have consulted with the best expertise available to us, yet the Leader of the New Democratic Party has the nerve to stand in this House tonight, Mr. Chair, during this debate and suggest that there is still not enough information available.

I have sat in this House, Mr. Chair, and watched the Minister of Natural Resources table fifteen or twenty boxes of information on this project, one after another, and I am not sure that she has taken the time to read any of that information based on some of the comments I am hearing here over the course of the last number of days.

AN HON. MEMBER: Eddie read it.

MR. KENT: I do not doubt the Member for Bay of Islands read it.
I know that our Natural Resources Minister, since we have been engaged in this debate on this bill and Bill 61 as well, has tabled a number of reports once again, Mr. Chair, seventeen reports just last night; last night being Tuesday, today being Tuesday, and tomorrow being Tuesday. The information continues to flow, but the information is not a whole lot of good and there is no point continuing to provide information if the hon. member opposite is not going to read it. Mr. Chair, there is lots of information available.

We know we have made the big, bold decision to chart a new course for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the right decision. There is an endless amount of research available. For that reason, there is no need whatsoever to continue to delay from the real issues we need to be talking about.
I do not know if anybody opposite missed this, but we have sanctioned the project. We have two important pieces of legislation that are necessary to pass. Let us talk about the specifics. Let us hear your concerns. If you have legitimate questions that need to be answered, I can assure you the Premier, who is sitting here with us and the Minister of Natural Resources who is sitting here with us, are quite prepared to answer your questions as are other members of this hon. House. We are not prepared to stall and play the kind of political games we are witnessing here, Mr. Chair.

I have heard the Leader of the Third Party continue to say we control the process. Mr. Chair, we have a compelling mandate from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to lead, and that is what our Premier is doing, that is what our Minister of Natural Resources is doing, that is what this government is doing, and that is what we are going to continue to do.
I support Bill 61. We are in Committee. We had an informed debate during second reading. Let us talk about the specifics of the clauses and then let us get on with this because that is what we are here to do. That is what we were elected to do, Mr. Chair.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!
The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I am so tired I can hardly hear myself speak, let alone think. Nonetheless, I am getting increasingly frustrated by a debate that is supposed to be about Bill 61. I thought it was time to get up once again and remind particularly the Member for St. John's Centre and the Member for The Straits – White Bay North what we are actually here in this House to do.

What we are debating is financing legislation for Muskrat Falls, Bill 61. I have heard a lot in the last forty-eight hours or so about the Member for The Straits – White Bay North and his adventures in Iceland – Iceland. It is a wonderful country.
There is a bright light in my face, Mr. Chair.

It is a wonderful country. I do not dispute that for a second. I am glad the hon. member has enjoyed his time in Iceland. He talks about some of the geothermal energy opportunities and the geothermal energy in the great country of Iceland. That is fascinating stuff. It really is.
There are flashes going off, Mr. Chair. I think it is unparliamentary, actually.

I love Canada. I have travelled in Canada. I have not been to Iceland. I hope to get there some day. In certain places in Canada there are hot springs. Have any of you been to Banff?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Hot springs are wonderful. In Iceland, there are about 600 hot springs, Mr. Chair, which makes the whole geothermal thing work a little bit better than it would work, say, in St. Anthony.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: No, I am being serious. I would like the hon. member to just explain to us when he gets up, which I am sure he is going to do in about seven minutes, maybe sooner, to tell us a little bit more about his energy plan that involves wood pellets and Icelandic hot springs.
Then on multiple occasions tonight and this morning – it is now morning, I guess.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is still Tuesday.

MR. KENT: It is still Tuesday, though. That is a good point. That is probably the first thing we can actually agree on here this evening.
Over and over again the Member for St. John's Centre has gotten up and quoted Doc McStuffins. That is great, but we are here to talk about Bill 61.

Bill 61 is about making legislative amendments to the Energy Corporation Act, the Hydro Corporation Act, and the Electrical Power Control Act. That is going to help us advance implementation of the Muskrat Falls Project. While we want to talk about why these changes are necessary and achieving the most desirable financial arrangement possible for the project, the only thing that we are hearing from the New Democratic Party is about trips to Iceland and Doc McStuffins.
Mr. Chair, we really do have a lot of work to do and I hope that we can start talking about the actual bill. These folks are not interested in progress. They are not interested in actually talking about the legislation that is before us. It is really telling. While they want to stand in the way of progress, I just think that we have to get on with this important piece of legislation.

This opportunity before us, Mr. Chair, represents a major paradigm shift in our direction as a Province and a major paradigm shift in terms of our place in this country. We want to manage the development of resources. We want to manage the development of clean energy and green energy. We want to manage the flow of legislation in this House in a responsible way, but the folks opposite, these two in particular, want to talk about Icelandic hot springs and Doc McStuffins.
There are far more pressing issues for us to talk about. We want to manage development of resources. We want to manage the development of clean, green energy and they want to manage decline. They certainly do not want to talk about the legislation that we are here to debate.
Filibustering is wonderful, it is fine. We can do it until the cows come home; however, we should at least talk about the legislation that is before us.

We want to have an open, informed debate. In fact, interestingly enough, the debate on Muskrat Falls has been going on four months in this Province. In fact, the project has now actually been sanctioned, as the hon. member next to me points out.
It is time to get on with this. If you are going to talk about alternatives, talk about legitimate, viable alternatives that make economic sense. We have not seen that yet during this debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENT: Now I am hearing reference to mummers from the New Democratic Party. Beyond the nonsense we are hearing tonight, they have not been able to tell us how the project is flawed. They have not been able to even explain why Bill 61 is flawed, Mr. Chair.
In an effort to further cause confusion and disruption in this important legislative process, every now and then when he is not talking about his trips to Iceland and the hot springs, he will say Stephen Harper's loan guarantee. The loan guarantee is going to save this Province $1 billion, Mr. Chair. It is fine for the hon. member to make light of that, but I think it is a positive step forward for this Province. It is going to allow us to develop a renewable energy resource that is going to meet the needs of this Province for decades, in fact for generations to come.

They have failed to provide alternatives. Instead of providing constructive, positive contributions to the debate on Bill 61, we hear them talking about Iceland, Doc McStuffins, and now mummers – now that the Member for St. John's North has joined in. They can talk all they want about threats, control, fear, secrets and Stephen Harper, but people are not buying it, Mr. Chair. People in this House are not buying it and I do not believe the people of the Province are buying it.
Bill 61 is a sound piece of legislation, and we need to do it now. We need to get the legislation in place before Nalcor can approach potential lenders. That needs to happen early in 2013. That is part of the project schedule.

These amendments are actually designed to facilitate the project's financing structure. We need to be able to clearly demonstrate to lenders that the project is going to generate sufficient revenue to cover costs, including debt repayment. Government needs to take the necessary actions to ensure the project's long-term success.
We do need to get on with this. It is time to stop the foolishness. We have lots of clauses that members could debate. They could propose amendments. They could tell us what they like about the legislation and what they do not like. What they would change, how they would improve it. Instead, we hear them over and over again in ten-minute intervals get up and talk about irrelevant matters that have very little if anything to do with the legislation in question.
Perhaps in the next little while we will hear a few more stories about travels to Iceland, dips in the hot springs, perhaps even Doc McStuffins. I hope we will soon talk about Bill 61 and the legislation that we are here to actually debate.

It feels like days ago – several days ago the Member for The Straits – White Bay North was telling us that Muskrat Falls was too small. It could not possibly meet the energy needs of the Province. Tonight, this morning, we are hearing him say it is too big. Now it is too big.
Geothermal energy, with a vast amount of hot springs in this Province, will be the answer. If we have any questions about their nonexistent energy strategy, we can talk to Harvard graduate Doc McStuffins. It is perplexing, Mr. Chair. I hope soon we will get on with this because we have much to do. There are many clauses in both bills that are worthy of discussion in this House. I hope the foolishness will soon stop.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!
I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

MR. LANE: What a city.

MR. KENT: It is a great city. Mount Pearl is a great city, Paradise is a great town. It is a real honour to represent both communities here in this House of Assembly.
I am enjoying tonight's debate. The tone has certainly changed in recent hours, and I feel we are getting close to getting some things done with this piece of legislation. Again, I remind hon. members that we are debating Bill 61; we are at the committee stage.

Bill 61 is An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act And The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

MR. KIRBY: (Inaudible).

MR. KENT: The Member for St. John's North is suggesting that I have a photographic memory, and I would beg to differ. I do have a good memory. I have a long memory, and I do enjoy photography, Mr. Chair, but certainly I would not be snapping photos in this hon. House.
We have heard some discussion about excluding the PUB, and we have no intention of excluding the Public Utilities Board. In fact, as we make these changes to the acts in question, and as we move towards passing Bill 61, the PUB is going to continue to regulate rates for the Province. The PUB will also assess the utilities, capital, operating, and other costs, Mr. Chair, to determine the utilities, revenue requirements and also the rates, but we have to provide lenders with the required revenue certainty. That is really important to the viability of this project, and that is why these amendments are so necessary.

Muskrat Falls is actually only one input into overall rates, Mr. Chair. So, the PUB still has a valuable role to play. It will continue to fulfill its mandate in terms of setting capital budgets, setting rates for utilities, and the other regulatory roles that the PUB plays today.
We have heard some concern about oversight being removed from the PUB, and that is not exactly what is going on here. This amendment gives us the authority to direct the PUB to accept project costs for inclusion in electricity rates for the Province. Lenders require certainty, Mr. Chair. They require certainty that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is going to be able to recover all project costs, including debt repayment. This precludes the ability of the PUB to allow or disallow project costs. The legislative changes we are proposing through Bill 61 actually help us achieve those goals.

Contrary to perhaps the belief of some members opposite and because of the discussion that has occurred, there are probably even some people outside of this House who are thinking there is a move afoot to exclude the PUB, we are not excluding the PUB. This amendment allows us to direct the PUB to include project costs as one of many outputs into rates that are charged to customers. That assurance is important. That is the kind of assurance lenders need.
We have to achieve the most desirable funding arrangement possible for this project. I believe it was the Minister of Municipal Affairs who talked about the fact that this involves non-recourse project financing. That means only the project assets themselves are at risk. Protecting non-project assets has always been a fundamental principle of our approach here in terms of developing this resource.

In terms of PUB exclusion, there are examples of specific project exemptions in the past. In fact, as recently as 2002 there was the Abitibi-Consolidated, Abitibi partner exemption. There were exemptions in 2000 for the Labrador Hydro Project and the Granite Canal. As well, Star Lake in 1998 and Rattle Brook in 1998 were exempted under existing provisions under the Public Utilities Act and the Hydro Corporation Act. There is some precedence, but it is also important to note that none of these projects were as significant or similar in size and scope, or even project cost, as what is happening with Muskrat Falls.
In order for us to achieve the kind of financing structure we are seeking, Mr. Chair, and in order for us to protect non-project assets, project financing needs certainty. It needs certainty that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro can recover all of the project costs, so we are not excluding the PUB.

I thought it was important to rise once again to speak actually to Bill 61 and the clauses that we are here to debate, and to provide some clarity on that particular issue. I hope, given the amount of time we have spent on clause 1 and considering much of the debate has not even addressed clause 1, that we are going to get to a point really soon – especially given the positive spirit that seems to exist in the House this morning; maybe it is the Christmas spirit that is getting to people.

I am hoping that we can soon start to get into the specifics of this bill and move forward. There is a lot of stake. There is a lot of time and resources being spent here. There are a lot of people involved in conducting this important process.
Again, I urge the members opposite, continue this co-operative spirit that seems to be evolving here and let's get on with it. Let's get into some of these clauses and advance progress of Bill 61.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!
I recognize the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning once again. It is certainly a spirited debate. I want to acknowledge the comments made by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile. He makes an interesting point around acknowledging the disagreements that we may have.

During a debate that is as lengthy and as extensive as this one, I think we have to come to a point, Mr. Chair, where we agree to disagree on some issues. We cannot stifle progress, as the member is suggesting. We have to agree to disagree on certain points and move on. Otherwise, we will take the NDP approach and just simply stand still. We cannot do that.
I also want to join the Member for Burgeo – La Poile in acknowledging the special delegation that seems to have gathered in the Speaker's gallery. We have had some spirited discussion as well this morning on the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, his escapades in Austria and Iceland. I think some of his friends from the hot springs have joined us in the gallery, so I acknowledge your presence here.

I am disappointed though that the Member for Burgeo – La Poile would suggest that we are somehow stifling progress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Chair, when I look at Bill 61 and what we have on the table here, we are talking about legislative amendments that would actually support the advancement of Muskrat Falls and help move the project forward, which is all in the interest of growing the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador and securing our renewable energy future.
I want to address a few more things that he said. The Member for Burgeo – La Poile talked about Newfoundland Power having to buy power from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. That is exactly what they do today, Mr. Chair. We are not proposing any change in that regard. Ensuring that Newfoundland Power and industrial customers have to buy their power from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is actually going to avoid rate increases. It is going to avoid rate increases that might have occurred if these customers could buy their power from another wholesaler.

Nalcor, since its inception, has been incredibly prudent. They have been incredibly cautious in managing the project and its financing, and this has been proven by a number of external studies. It has been proven by independent studies by Manitoba Hydro International. It has been proven by studies by Navigant, and other consultants as well as we have moved through the decision gate process. We are really confident in Nalcor's record. We are proud of the careful management they have exhibited and we are pretty sure that this kind of success is in fact going to go continue.

In terms of what the Member for Burgeo – La Poile is talking about, we are simply formalizing a status quo arrangement that exists currently. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is the wholesale supplier for the majority of the power that is consumed on the Island through sales to industrial customers and through sales to Newfoundland Power. The fact remains, Mr. Chair, that Muskrat Falls is the least-cost option and it meets the long-term generation requirements of the Province.
When you look at the take-or-pay financial obligations that have been referenced during the course of this debate whereby Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is committed to buy Muskrat Falls energy, sourcing additional power, Mr. Chair, would simply layer additional costs on customers. That is not something that this government supports. It seems to be something that the other parties are suggesting, but government has to ensure that no such additional costs are passed on to customers. That is what we are attempting to achieve and that is what I believe we will achieve through Bill 61. Some members opposite did support our industrial rates policy, which was a good thing.

Given the take-or-pay financial obligations and the requirement for Newfoundland Power to source energy from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as it has been doing, if Newfoundland Power sourced additional power it would simply layer additional costs on customers. We cannot do that, Mr. Chair. We do not support that.
Newfoundland Power's current stock of generation projects will be exempt as well, and I think that is important to note. The prohibition that we are talking about only applies to new generation, Mr. Chair. Government is requiring that energy for domestic use is sourced from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as it is today. It does not preclude new power generation for export. It does not preclude self-generation for commercial and residential customers. It also does not preclude generation for emergency purposes. It does not preclude exemptions that are approved by government at any point in the future.

Muskrat Falls has been proven, Mr. Chair, to be the least-cost option for long-term generation to meet the needs of the Province. It is going to lead to lower and stable rates in the long term when compared to the available alternatives.
We have heard discussion tonight, this morning, yesterday, today – whatever day it is, Mr. Chair. We have heard a lot of discussion about natural gas and about wind generation, particularly from members of the NDP. Numerous studies, the best experts in the world, have confirmed that neither of those alternatives is viable and that Muskrat Falls is, in fact, the least-cost option.

Given the take-or-pay financial obligations where Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is committed to buy Muskrat Falls energy, which makes good sense, we are not prepared to allow competition that is simply going to layer additional costs on customers. We have to ensure that no such additional costs are passed along to customers.
There has also been some reference, I think by the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, to other commercial, not industrial, but commercial and also residential customers and the impact of self-generation by commercial and residential customers on electrical load would actually be rather limited. The Member for Ferryland – I am sorry, the Member for Gander district. I believe he was born in Ferryland; he is the pride of Ferryland, Mr. Chair. He has miraculously appeared right here in from of me. I know those watching on television or on the Web cast cannot see, but I can tell you, Mr. Chair, it is rather uncomfortable. I think I would go as far as saying that it is disturbing.

Anyway, the impact of self-generation by commercial and residential customers on electrical load is actually going to be very limited. When you think about it, Mr. Chair, there are very few opportunities for residential or commercial customers to self-generate in a way that would be economical and in a way that would be competitive with retail power from the grid.
Small businesses and homeowners are not expected, in significant numbers of customers, to spend the substantial sums of money that would be required for self-generation. Any self-generation options would be cost prohibited in terms of the installation, especially when you look at the cost associated with the retail supply that is available on the grid. While people can generate energy for their own use, commercial and residential customers will not be able to sell such energy.

I am a little perplexed, though, by some of the comments I have heard, particularly from the Member for The Straits – White Bay North. He does not want Nalcor to make a profit. For some reason, a corporation that the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador own, it would be bad for some reason for them to make a profit, according to the Member for The Straits – White Bay North. He does, on the other hand, suggest that the company should set up projects to devalue our investment in Nalcor. Then, on another hand, he suggests that the cabin owners and individual homeowners should not be allowed to, for instance, set up solar panels to generate their own electricity. I am a little bit confused at the logic or lack thereof that we are hearing from the members of the Third Party.
I have heard talks about the hot springs in Iceland. I have heard talks about pellets, Austrians, and other things that do not necessarily seem to connect. Perhaps when he gets up shortly, he will connect the dots. It is rather perplexing, Mr. Chair, because I believe this is a piece of legislation that provides clarity and makes a lot of sense.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!



Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steve Kent, Reformer

Having been a proud member of a governing caucus that has brought an already dismal legislature to new lows, but now enjoying the clarity that comes with facing electoral oblivion in the morning, PC leadership candidate Steve Kent is now musing about vaguely-specified "reforms" to the House of Assembly, including Question Period.

(There's also a delicious promise to institute a functional committee system — the same idea that PC winged monkeys ridiculed without mercy when an opposition party had the temerity to propose such a foreign concept.)

It's not too hard to figure out how the Tory mind works. Former Premier frothed about the very existence of Access to Information, and lo and behold, a sham "review" of the Access to Information Act later, there was Bill 29.

And what seems to have young Mr. Kent, Reformer, inclined to believe Question Period needs "reform"?

It would appear to be the fact that the nefarious opposition can ask more than one question about a Thing:

MR. KENT: It is a simple question and I will give him a very simple answer, as I just did previously, if he was paying attention. (November 18, 2013)

MR. KENT: Mr. Speaker, it should not come as any surprise to anybody in this House that we are only a few days into a new session of the House of Assembly and the Liberals are already recycling questions.
I answered the member's question last week related to that request for information about marketing and advertising.  (March 20, 2014)

MR. KENT: Mr. Speaker, it is rather unfortunate that we have only been in the House a couple of weeks and I think this is the third, if not the fourth, time that the member opposite has asked me the same question. (March 25, 2014)

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They are clearly not interested in listening, which is not much surprise. They were not interested in the answers to the first questions this afternoon; they are not interested in these ones either. (ibid.)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Private to Lynn Hammond

For the benefit of Lynn Hammond, here's a chart showing the relative change in the size of the provincial public sector (sum of direct civil service, health care system, and education system employment; crown corporations not included), and change in the provincial population, 2002-2014.

Figures are an annualized 12-month (employment) or 4-quarter (population) average, indexed to 2002 = 100.

Not only did the rapid rate of growth in the provincial public sector under the "Conservative" government outstrip a very modest rebound in population, it actually preceded it.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Panic on the streets of Gambo

CRA got scooped on today's release of its NLpoli fieldwork for the month of May.

Here is what the notional-projection electoral map would look like in a general election where today's CRA vote-intent figures reflected actual popular support across the province. Dark colours indicate holds. Light red indicates notional Liberal pickups, while light blue indicates narrow PC holds. Notionally NDP seats (see below) are yellowy-orange. Grey indicates districts where the forecast models are in disagreement about the notional outcome. (Click to enlarge.)

The Liberals would take a minimum of 29 notional seats, and would be in contention in another nine being "tossup" districts where the seat-forecasting models are in disagreement with one another. Even without winning a single tossup seat, this is a solid majority of the House of Assembly's 48 chairs.

For the incumbent PCs, increasingly torn between pollyannatastic denial and desperation, if their Twitter feeds are anything to go on, only five districts would remain in their notional win column, though they would be in contention in the nine previously-mentioned "tossups". But even if all the tossup seats tilted Tory, the governing party would be reduced to an opposition of fourteen members, with only two MHAs west of Harbour Main... and that, assuming that the PC candidate who succeeds Tom Marshall in Humber East holds the seat for the Blue Team. If the Tories fail to win even half the tossup seats, the opposition Liberals would win a commanding majority government of thirty-something members.

The NDP would notionally hold five seats, the same number, though distributed differently, that they won on election night in 2011. However, one of those is St. John's North, where the incumbent MHA, having one for the orange team, just this week won re-nomination as a relatively newly-minted Liberal.

In fact — and this is a major caveat — across the board, the notional model does not take into account changes in affiliation since the last election. These districts are marked with asterixes. There have been quite a few:
  • In St. John's South, former PC Tom Osborne, after an interlude in self-imposed exile as an Independent member, is now a Liberal.
  • In Mount Pearl South, former PC Paul Lane has also donned a red uniform.
  • In St. John's North, as previously noted, former NDP MHA Dale Kirby will re-offer, this time as the newly-nominated Liberal candidate in the 2015 (14? 16?) general election.
  • In The Straits and White Bay North, former NDP MHA Chris Mitchelmore is a contestant in next week's Liberal nomination in that district.
  • In Virginia Waters, Liberal Cathy Bennett now holds the seat following the by-election to succeed former Premier Dunderdale.
  • In Carbonear–Harbour Grace, Liberal Sam Slade carried in last fall's by-election what was in 2011 the second-Toriest district in the province.
  • In Cartwright–L'anse au Clair, a purely academic change saw Liberal Lisa Dempster succeed Liberal Yvonne Jones.
Finally, just this week, Joan Shea resigned cabinet and the legislature, leaving a vacancy in the west coast district of St. George's–Stephenville East. This district has been a notional Liberal pickup seat in forecasts derived from public polls going back nearly 18 months, to early 2013. A by-election will have to be called here by August 1st, and held by the end of that month. The rumour mill is rife with delicious speculation about other impending vacancies from the government side of the aisle as well.

As with all poll projections, the overall seat-count result tends to be more accurate than the district-by-district count when the models are tested post-election. The errors in individual district forecasts tend to cancel one another out in the overall composition of the notionally-projected legislature.


Friday, May 16, 2014


From the memory hole... thirteen years ago today.

Opposition resolution urges Premier to call an election

ST. JOHN'S, May 16, 2001 — Following is the Private Member's Resolution put forward in the House of Assembly today by Opposition Leader Ed Byrne. Government members voted down the resolution.

WHEREAS the current Premier ascended to that post by being elected leader of his Party on February 3, 2001 by 638 delegates to his Party's leadership convention;

AND WHEREAS it is reasonable and proper to demand that a new Premier overseeing a new administration, unless merely filling a caretaker role in continuation of the mandate of his predecessor, should move swiftly to seek a new mandate directly from the people, whom the Premier presumes to govern;

AND WHEREAS on every other occasion in this province when there has been a change in leadership of the governing Party, a general election has followed within 100 days;*

AND WHEREAS the current Premier, during the first 100 days of his administration, has stated and demonstrated his desire to take his administration in policy directions that deviate significantly from those of his predecessor;

AND WHEREAS on the bulk water export issue in particular, the current Premier has stated publicly he now prefers to pursue a policy that defies not only the policy but indeed the legislation that was drafted, passed unanimously and enacted under the administration of his predecessor, with the current Premier's support at the time, and that is now the law of the province;

AND WHEREAS on the Voisey's Bay development issue in particular, the current Premier has articulated a position on the export of nickel ore prior to finished processing that explicitly defies the position that was published and provided to voters in the Liberal Party's 1999 election ‘red book', on the basis of which the voters of the province gave the current Premier's predecessor his mandate;

AND WHEREAS at least two prominent Members of the Cabinet of the current Premier's predecessor have, publicly and repeatedly, expressed grave concern and opposition with respect to the approach of the current Premier on the Voisey's Bay development issue;

AND WHEREAS the current Premier has stated in this House that he is willing to sign a binding contract on Voisey's Bay development without first bringing it directly to the people of the province and their elected representatives in the House of Assembly for scrutiny and approval, thereby shackling the people of the province to a deal on which they have had no input;

AND WHEREAS the current Premier has failed to articulate a strategic plan for the province's fishing industry as a principal means of fostering the economic development that rural Newfoundland and Labrador desperately needs;

AND WHEREAS numerous other significant public policy issues with enormous long-term implications for Newfoundland and Labrador and its people – including energy supply, Churchill Falls development, oil and gas development, forest management, infrastructure management, federal-provincial agreements and others – are now before the provincial government for decisions, yet the people of the province have been given no clear articulation and no direct opportunity to approve or disapprove of the direction the current Premier intends to take on these vital issues;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House urge the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to promptly ask His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor to dissolve the General Assembly and to issue a writ of general election.

- 30 -
For more information:
Ed Byrne, MHA Kilbride
(709) 729-XXXX

* Note: In this province, there have been four changes of leadership in a governing party. In the case of three of those, a general election followed within 100 days. Brian Peckford succeeded Frank Moores as Party Leader on March 17, 1979 and as Premier on March 26, 1979, and a general election was held on June 18, 1979. Tom Rideout succeeded Brian Peckford as Party Leader on March 11, 1989 and as Premier on March 22, 1989, and a general election was held April 20, 1989. Brian Tobin succeeded Clyde Wells as Party Leader on January 17, 1996 and as Premier on January 26, 1996, and a general election was held on February 22, 1996. Roger Grimes succeeded Brian Tobin as Party Leader on February 3, 2001 and as Premier on February 13, 2001.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Sign o' the times

The Telegram's intrepid boy-reporter @TelegramJames captured this list of donors/attendees at the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador fundraising dinner tonight (click to enlarge):

The corporate donors listed, or their predecessor companies or subsidiaries, have contributed a total of nearly $1.2-million to the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador or its candidates since calendar year 2004 — the first full year that the moribund PC regime was in power — to 2012, the most recent year for which Elections Newfoundland and Labrador has published data. (Some donor data for 2011 may or may not be missing; the sheer incompetence of Elections NL makes it impossible to say for certain.)

Over the same period, the same set of donors have collectively given approximately $288,000 to the opposition Liberals. (They have contributed just over $4,000 to the NDP and $400 to Labrador Party candidates.)

That history is summarized in this cleverly colour-coded chart:

Not only have these donors been more generous to the incumbent PCs in the aggregate, their individual donations have also heavily favoured the Tories: 630 individual contributions to the PC Party or candidates have averaged $1904 a pop, compared to 274 contributions averaging $1047 to Liberals... an amount inflated slightly by the inclusion of 14 contributions to Dwight Ball's leadership campaign, disclosed voluntarily outside the operation of the Elections Act.

It is especially fascinating to observe, on a very close reading, the number of donors who, since 2004, did not give a single red copper to any party other than the governing, moribund, Progressive Conservatives.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Counting is hard

On April 7th, there was a provincial general election in Quebec.

Quebecers collectively cast 4,232,262 valid ballots in 18,658 polling stations (plus special and advance polls) across 125 provincial electoral districts.

Just 25 days later, the Quebec electoral office has published the detailed poll-by-poll breakdown of the election results, and in machine-readable .csv format.

In the Former Republic of Dannystan, the provincial elections act gives the Chief Electoral Officer nine months to publish a "book" of detailed poll-by-poll election results. And you bet your sweet bippy, the Chief Electoral Office takes every single one of those nine months before "publishing" those results by depositing a copy at the legislative library, then, some days later, after prodding, posting the document on-line, in the form of a bloated, non-manipulatable PDF.

This same pattern of extreme hesitancy to publish election results has obtained for decades in the FRD, even as every other electoral agency in the country has moved towards quicker and quicker publishing of election results, and in formats that lend themselves to GIS and other data applications.

By way of comparison, in the 2011 election, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians collectively cast 222,842 valid ballots in 1563 polling stations across 48 provincial electoral districts. The task of tallying the 2011 NL provincial election was equal to tallying about 6.5 Quebec electoral districts in 2014.

There is something fundamentally wrong with Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. Fundamentally, profoundly, inexplicably wrong.

But what?