Friday, June 24, 2016
Saturday, June 11, 2016
On the settling of scores
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act provides:
9. (1) For the purpose of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, social origin, religious creed, religion, age, disability, disfigurement, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, source of income and political opinion.
The Code of Conduct of the Newfoundland and Labrador Law Society provides:
11. (1) A person shall not, on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination,
(a) deny to a person or class of persons goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily offered to the public; or
(b) discriminate against a person or class of persons with respect to goods, services, accommodation or facilities that are customarily offered to the public.
6.3 HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
6.3-1 The principles of human rights laws and related case law apply to the interpretation of this rule.
6.3-2 A term used in this rule that is defined in human rights legislation has the same meaning as in the legislation.
6.3-3 A lawyer must not sexually harass any person.
6.3-4 A lawyer must not engage in any other form of harassment of any person.
6.3-5 A lawyer must not discriminate against any person.
 A lawyer has a special responsibility to respect the requirements of human rights laws in force in Canada, its provinces and territories and, specifically, to honour the obligations enumerated in human rights laws.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
Great, another "comedian".
1. "NL" does not stand for Newfoundland.
2. Babiche ("babbish") is not a Newfoundland word; it is a Labrador one. A Newfoundland and Labrador one, even. But not a Newfoundland one. It is a loanword from Innu-eimun, via the French (hence the giveaway -che spelling).
3. Babiche is not "like, snowshoes". It is what the webbing of snowshoes was traditional made with.
4. Call me old-fashioned, but aren't comedians supposed to be, like, funny?
Labels: culture vultures
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Govsplaining is bad, mkay?
Oh my, gov member explaining various things. Has said "for those who don't understand" 3 times; Just said "it's hard for people to grasp."— Milly Brown (@Millybrown8) June 8, 2016
Some choice govsplaining quotes from the former Hon. Member for Virginia Waters while she served as Premier:
If it would help the members opposite understand what we have agreed to with Emera better, then I am prepared, Mr. Speaker, to talk to Nalcor and to the Department of Natural Resources to prepare further briefings for the members of the Opposition. (December 6, 2010)
Mr. Speaker, I am embarrassed for the Leader of the Opposition. She does not even understand the kind of process that is required to settle a boundary dispute. (March 31, 2011)
Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to commit that outright here today because, first of all, it is not affordable power. This is a $6.2 billion project that has to be paid for by ratepayers. You see, Mr. Speaker, that is the problem, that is the problem we have here in the House of Assembly. They do not even have the fundamentals of hydro or electricity generation down. They do not understand what they are talking about. (April 6, 2011)
Mr. Speaker, these are serious accusations that are being tossed across the House by the Leader of the Opposition, and I do not know quite where they come from. I am not quite sure if she is not aware of the facts, that she does not understand how the transmission of electricity works in this Province, and that there is a regulated rate of return when people invest in utilities in this Province, and that is what Emera has taken advantage of, Mr. Speaker, or there is some other plan afoot. (April 12, 2011)
Mr. Speaker, we get good return through our royalties from our oil and gas. We are going to also get a return from our equity, through Nalcor, because of what we are doing in oil and gas, Mr. Speaker. Electricity is a regulated activity in this Province, something we are well aware the members of the Opposition do not understand, Mr. Speaker. Anybody who has been listening to the debate on Muskrat Falls must be scratching their head in wonderment that three members who are part of a government, two part of a Cabinet, do not understand the regulation of electricity in this Province. (May 18, 2011)
Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of foolishness that one has come to expect in this House of Assembly on questioning around Muskrat Falls. When you understand how a utility operates, how debt is incurred, how that debt is paid down, and the responsibilities of rate payers, Mr. Speaker, then we understand what the cost of electricity is to the people of the Province. We have spent the last year explaining that. You tried to commission this project twice under your own Administrations. You think you would have understood that. Perhaps if they were not trying to give it all to Hydro-Quebec to do, they might have been a bit more successful and they might have understood some of these processes better than they obviously do. (April 26, 2012)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I encouraged the Leader of the Third Party to read the MOU. Mr. Speaker, I am going to give her the same advice today. Yesterday, we heard the former Minister of Fisheries speak about the fact that he was twenty-three months in that portfolio without a question from the Leader of the Third Party, Mr. Speaker. Now we know why, because she does not understand about the fishery. (May 8, 2012)
Mr. Speaker, one of these days I would be absolutely delighted to hear from the Opposition Parties – both the Liberals and the NDP – what their issues are around Old Harry, because I do not believe either one of them understands the project. (November 26, 2012)
You might not understand all the engineering decisions and all of the market complexities: selling on the spot market; selling high and selling low; that you blend power out of Bay D'Espoir with power coming out of Muskrat Falls; that your transmission system can only integrate so much wind; that you have backstop wind; tidal energy is not sophisticated enough yet to be fully commercialized; and whatever else is out there, Mr. Speaker. People get up and they throw things around. (December 20, 2012)
He clearly does not understand the difference between capital, investment, and current. I truly, sincerely invite you to a briefing where we can explain the difference or you will stop pretending that you do not know the difference, because it is not good enough, Mr. Speaker, for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to be subjected to these kinds of false arguments. (March 12, 2013)
Mr. Speaker, I find the position of the Leader of the NDP absolutely incredible. Obviously, she does not understand again the structure, or she pretends she does not understand, although she claims to represent a significant portion of the labour movement in Newfoundland and Labrador. (April 18, 2013)
It is nothing short of incredible, Mr. Speaker, that we are at this stage in the development and the Opposition does not understand that the court case in Quebec is about continuous power under the 1969 hydro contract, Mr. Speaker, and not about water management. (November 14, 2013)
Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the members opposite understand anything about the ATIPP legislation. Fifty per cent of the requests, by the way, that we get at the ATIPP office come from the Opposition Parties; 24 per cent come from the media. There is only one-quarter of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians looking for information, Mr. Speaker. (November 19, 2013)
Mr. Speaker, more information on this project has been released than any other project in our history. I get that the Opposition does not understand that, Mr. Speaker, because they still think that Muskrat Falls falls under the ATIPP legislation, and it does not, Mr. Speaker. (November 20, 2013)
On the cost of filibusters
Tom Marshall, before his brief stint as Premier, speaking on June 12, 2012 — so long ago, and just the other day — during the opposition filibuster on Bill 29:
MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Once again we are here debating amendment 124 to section 6 of the act. I do not know how many amendments have been brought forward – I am sure there is plenty – over and over, bringing in amendments to the same piece of legislation and wasting the time of the Legislature of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a filibuster and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are looking on television to see what is happening in this House, and looking at the waste of money and waste of resources on this.
Friday, June 03, 2016
Forget meaningful reforms to private member's business; cast aside any idea of a functional committee system... the House of Assembly has turned its attention to that most pressing of issues: the intersection of the Standing Orders and Twitter. From the proceedings on Thursday:
However, just because a comment is tweeted or retweeted by a Member does not mean that the comment is not offensive. I remind Members that they are not only bound by the Standing Orders and precedents of this House and of other parliaments, but are also bound by their Code of Conduct. In particular, clause 1 of our code states, “Members shall inform themselves of and shall conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Members' Resources and Allowances Rules, the Elections Act, 1991, the House of Assembly Act and this Code of Conduct and shall ensure that their conduct does not bring the integrity of their office or the House of Assembly into disrepute.”Clause 4 states, in part, “… there will be occasions on which Members will find it necessary to adopt more stringent norms of conduct in order to protect the public interest and to enhance public confidence and trust.”Members are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with higher standards of ethical practice while holding public office. I call on all Members to respect the integrity of the office they hold and not violate the principles and intent of our rules and precedents, even if not violating the actual provisions. As indicated, we must be held to a higher standard.There is no prima facie breach of privilege here, and while I could rule today that the statements made are out of order, it is more appropriate that I address the issue of our Standing Orders. Our Standing Orders are very old and were meant to address parliamentary behaviour and conduct of business in this House at a time when social media was not even contemplated. It is my hope that the Standing Orders Committee will commence consideration of the Standing Orders and our practices after the House rises this spring.Social media can present a great challenge to procedures followed in this House, so I ask that foremost amongst the Committee's considerations should be the use of social media by Members of the House as it pertains to the proceedings of the House in order to ensure that our existing parliamentary practices and conventions adapt to social media use.
Friday, May 27, 2016
The Oracle of Brunei
The former Minister of Finance has some ideas on how to address the mess that she played no small role in creating. From her Facebox feed:
Yesterday at 2:35am · Kuala Belait, Brunei ·
There has been much discussion about the negative impacts of Budget 2016 and how it no where closely reflected the Government's election platform and there has been lots of blame tossed around. What I haven't heard a lot of - at least in the channels that I follow- are constructive ways to find savings to either reduce the deficit or undo some of the choices made in Budget 2016. In my view it would be great to hear more dialogue around that. I can start with a few suggestions. I know some people will say that I should reserve my comments because I left politics but my belief is if there is opportunity to highlight potential improvements from past experience then why not do just that. While I no longer live in NL I still care very much about it.
So here are a few of many suggestions that I have. Some will be unpopular -in fact perhaps very unpopular- but again this is only my opinion and if others weigh in perhaps we can build on these ideas and amend them to find suitable proposals to submit to government.
1) End night sittings in the HOA. Air time is premium price at night and then there's the over time for staff. I don't know the exact figures (I was given an estimate years ago but don't recall) but it is significant and every dollar counts. Why not sit more weeks or even months if necessary. Besides the financial savings it would go a long way to attract more good people to politics in particular women. I remember doing a 43 hr session days before Christmas. It's not good for all involved- staff of the HOA, security staff, MHAs and especially their children. I offered wondered who was watching at 2am on Dec 21st anyway??
2) Eliminate all business class/premium economy travel (if not already done) and limit the number of staff attending meetings,etc. This is not just for Ministers but for Boards and Agencies - Nalcor, Health Boards, CEOs, VPs, anyone paid by the taxpayer. The reasons for allowing business class - at least the ones that I heard- were that people needed to be rested and that others close by could see any documents you may be reading. My view - arrive a day earlier to rest and review as a hotel and meals are cheaper than a business class ticket and have your staff sit next to you so others can't see what you are reading. I used business class once paid for by government in my political career and only because it was advised medically that if I went I had to have my legs elevated due to being 7 and a half months pregnant (I had a very difficult pregnancy medically) and I was traveling to one of the territories. It was a meeting of Canadian ministers with the federal minister of environment regarding waste water regulations that would severely impact the province and I had worked on the file for some time and felt I had to put the provinces view forward. Most if not all Ministers were diligent with business class travel as far as I could tell but I passed by staff (not mine) in business class several times while I headed "to the back".
3) Provide an allowance for accommodations and meals for MHAs from out of town. This was in place before but the changes in my view were overkill and some MHAs ended up charging significant amounts (figures need to be checked but my recollection of some examples was $30000) a year for hotels/per diems. This was within the rules but this needs to be revisited and common sense applied. I don't know how many staff are currently employed (worth checking) but when the new Green Rules came into effect my recollection is that there were upwards of 20 staff (needs verification) processing/checking/rechecking claims at a cost of $2M a year. While layoffs are never popular I believe this is an area for improved efficiency.A Danny Williams Tory suggests further erosion of the House of Assembly and democratic oversight? Say it isn't so!
But set that aside for a minute. Yes, it's always worth looking at expenses, benefits, and perks, to see if there can't be some savings to find and some blubber to trim. Why the PCs spent a dozen years increasing the size and cost of government, instead of, y'know, delicately doing the opposite, is a mystery that will endure for generations.
But even if you cut out every dime of spending on the House of Assembly, even if you abolished it entirely, you have saved $16-million.
That is less than a single percentage point of at $2-billion annual deficit.
A fortiori, assuming you merely identify some "improvements" or "savings" within the legislature's financial habits, however laudable that goal might be, you are at most talking about hundreds or tenths of a percentage point of the $2-billion deficit that is due, in no small measure, to the profligate ways of Ms. Johnson, her predecessors, her successor, and her colleagues between 2004 and 2015.
If a former finance minister cannot grasp the true size of the fiscal problem; if a former finance minister cannot entertain the serious, and tough measures, that would have to be taken, short of a deus-ex-machine economic and fiscal surprise, to bring the public finances back into something resembling balance; if a former finance minister can only propose populist tinkering around the edges that results in cost-savings with less fiscal impact than a few cents' fluctuation in the price of Brent crude or the exchange rate, then what hope is there for the public at large?
 For a whole bunch of reasons, you can't do that.
 Seriously, you can't.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Blast from the past (II)
From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on April 30, 2013, the wisdom of the former PC MHA for Lake Melville, Mr. Keith Russell:
MR. RUSSELL: It comes down to, I guess – we have heard it many times in this House about living within our means and when expenditures surpass our revenues we have to adjust. Of course, a lot of us in this House have felt the sting of cuts, of layoffs and things like that. Nobody is happy to make those decisions, but we walk a path on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, where we are prepared to make the tough call, the hard decisions in the best interest of the people of the Province.
We could have taken the easy way out. We could have simply gone and spent spent, borrowed a little more and then went for the political favour that comes with that. I am sure that would have been reflected in the polls but, personally, I do not take too much stock in them anyway.
When it comes to living within our means and addressing our debt situation, Mr. Speaker, we have heard the Minister of Finance and many of our other hon. colleagues in this House get up and talk about the servicing cost of that debt, between $800 million and $880 million, almost a billion dollars to service the debt. There is a significant opportunity cost associated with that. It is as simple as this it is money that is not available for programs and services. This is something that has been addressed. I am proud to say we have addressed the debt to the tune of over $4 billion since we have taken office, Mr. Speaker, and that is no small feat indeed.
If you look at it very briefly, and I will just say if you had a credit card in your own personal household – to the people out home who are watching – if you rack that up, you max that out, you get to a point where you are paying on the interest. You do not hit the principle any more. You are simply not going to be able to do all the things in life that you want to do. You are going to have to make some sacrifices.
Those sacrifices either come in recreation, it either comes in entertainment. It comes in support of your children, their extracurricular activities. God forbid, it gets to a point where it comes down to the running of your household and you have to make decisions, which come down to things like the basic necessities, such as food and utilities.
We have to be responsible. This Province has to be run like a corporation that is responsible to its shareholders. In essence, we have to be responsible to the people, the taxpayers and the voters, those who we are servicing. This is their money. We have to make sure we do our very best in order to service the people who are all part of this.
When I talk about the debt, we have heard the NDP say many times they are not interested in taking surpluses and putting it on the debt. Mr. Speaker, we have done that time and time again. Yes, when it comes to all of the money we spent on the debt and the money we have spent in the past on infrastructure, those were necessary. You have to strike while the iron is hot. We had the money at that time.
We have all heard mention of the crumbling infrastructure we inherited as a government when we came in, in 2003. We have made gigantic strides in upping the quality of life for the people of this Province by our dedication to doing right by them and addressing the infrastructure needs, Mr. Speaker. I am certainly proud to be a part of that.
We have also heard of, I guess, the people from across the way and their methodology of how we would do all of those wonderful social things that they seem to want to have, such as the universal health care, the dental, housing for everybody. We have heard of chicken in every pot and thirteen in every dozen. Tax, tax, tax and spend, tax and spend. That would put us into a vicious cycle, Mr. Speaker, which basically, I do not think we would be able to recover from.
In getting up and saying that time and time again, they send a very dangerous message to the people out there in terms of having a sense of entitlement. In terms of everybody deserves all of this stuff. I say to the people of the Province, we are here as a government to foster development, industry, to get jobs for people, Mr. Speaker, to have megaprojects and smaller projects that are necessary in order to provide for the people of the Province. They have to meet us halfway.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Blast from the past (I)
From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on May 8, 2012, the wisdom of former Kilbride MHA John Dinn:
MR. DINN: One of our members mentioned today, the Member for St. John's South, that we are saving about $250 million a year now in interest payments on our debt.
Over the last several months, I have been keeping an eye on what is going on in the rest of the world. I have been watching the economies in Europe and in the States. If you look at what is going on in Europe for example, countries in Europe have overspent for decades. They are now reaching a point where they are having very, very serious trouble.
I think it was only this past weekend in Greece they had an election. They could not even establish a government; they have to have another election. There are very serious problems in Greece. I can remember this past February watching TV and they were rioting in the streets of Greece because they were in a position where they had to get bailed out. They were in debt so much that they could not afford to go on any more.
In order to get bailout money, Germany and France and some of other banking agencies of the world said that Greece had to curtail their spending. They ended up laying off 15,000 public service workers and had to cut a lot of the programs that they had brought in the past. The people were very upset over that in Greece, they did not agree with it and they thought they should keep spending, spending, spending and spending, but it could not happen.
I saw a man on TV one night; he was a diplomat from Britain. He was interviewed on one of the American stations. He said that there has been very, very few private sector jobs created in Britain in the last eight or nine years. The reason he said that is because so many entitlements have been brought in for British people over the last number of years that people who own businesses will not hire them any more. If they have a store, they would rather close the store up for two or three days a week than hire extra people. He said if you hire them, you have to pay them all kinds of benefits, pay for all kinds of holidays, child care, daycare, all kinds of stuff. He said if you hire them, it is almost like you own them and their families, so they do not hire any more.
I was reading in the paper the other day that Spain is having a terrible time. Unemployment in Spain is 24.4 per cent. Youth employment, people who are under twenty-five years old, the employment rate for them is 52 per cent in Spain. Spain has to take a lot of drastic measures. Their economy is shrinking. They now see that taxes have to rise and wages are going to drop.
Anyway what is going on in Europe, I mentioned Greece, Britain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy have all had their troubles. What they are doing, they have taken a fiscal path that is directly opposite of what we are doing. They are not paying down debt; they are accumulating debt. They are not looking at what is going on in the future. They brought in programs not even considering that they had to be sustainable sometime. One of the foundations of our economy, of the fiscal path we have put ourselves on, is sustainability. We do not want to bring in stuff that we cannot forward. We do not want to bring in programs that in two or three years' time, if the revenues drop, we are going to have to cut them out. It is better to take an opportunity to take your time and analyze them. Just because you are flush with cash now, does not mean that you should spend, spend, and spend.
One of the most interesting things that I see happening is what is happening in the United States. We talk about going in debt in Newfoundland – people are concerned about it – going in debt in Canada. Do you realize that the United States of America are going in debt $4 billion a day. Every man, woman, and child in the United States owes $46,000, and that is going up from $13 to $15 a day, every day. What they have done, they are spending without any control. They are putting themselves in a position where they too are going to have difficult times ahead. I think, as a government, we are on a path, economically, that is quite the opposite of the direction that these countries are going in.
We have heard in the House in the last few days about all-day kindergarten, universal child care, universal home care, and affordable housing. I can say this to you: This government, and no government, can provide the level of affordable housing for people in the future – nobody. You cannot expect governments to pick up the tab for housing. It cannot be done. If you do, you are going to have very, very few years of success. We have to take our time and make decisions that are sensible and sustainable.
One of the things we can say that is kind of traditional for Newfoundland is that we are hard workers. I can remember, for years, Newfoundlanders were known as hard workers. We cannot, Mr. Speaker, expect to get a share of the pie without working for it.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
I remind the member his time for speaking has expired.
MR. DINN: I do not need too much leave, anyway. I am just about finished. I do not have time to go into Muskrat Falls.
Thursday, May 05, 2016
Don Mills has another one of his brilliant ideas:
A pollster thinks it's time for Newfoundland and Labrador to take a hard look at the feasibility of continuing to provide services to its rural communities, and to consider consolidating those services into regional hubs.
Don Mills, CEO of Corporate Research Associates says a lot of the province's recent financial challenges could be mitigated if people in rural communities would be more open to commuting to larger centres, a change in thinking that he says may be inconvenient but is long overdue right across Atlantic Canada.
"We promise Atlantic Canadians they have the right to live anywhere and expect the same amount of public services and economic opportunities. or that to be subsidized in that choice," he told CBC's On The Go .Um, done?
Fully 90 percent of the provincial civil service jobs are located in one of just eleven cities and towns. In descending order, they are St John's (nearly 2/3 of the provincial total), Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Gander, Clarenville, Stephenville, Carbonear, Whitbourne, Deer Lake, and Marystown.
With the exceptional case of Whitbourne, all of these communities, in the context of Newfoundland and Labrador's population distribution and structure, are "regional hubs" or "larger centres".
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Herewith, a compendium of every word ever uttered in debate in the House of Assembly by Steve Kent, or any PC MHA, or any MHA from any party, between 2007 and 2015, and since that time, and since 1991, on the subject of the idea of "recalling" an elected MHA:
Thursday, April 21, 2016
PREMIER WILLIAMS: If we could only keep the Quebec lovers quiet, Mr. Speaker, it would be nice.
PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we are in the process, and we are in the process, of course, of estimating exactly what those liabilities are. As I indicated in a previous question from Mademoiselle, the Leader of the Opposition...
"It's really unfortunate when one of our own comes out and betrays us like that."
WILLIAMS: Mark your "X" for "Eddiot"! Good luck to ya.