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

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.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Total recall

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

Comms advice

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On free votes

(Private to Sandy Collins.)

Herewith, a cleverly colour-coded table showing how each MHA voted in each final budget vote of the PC era, 2004 to 2015 inclusive. (Click to embiggen.)

Incredibly, in seven of those twelve years, the budget was adopted on a voice vote only, three members having failed to force a recorded division. Those voice votes are indicated in pale yellow.

To repeat: in seven of the twelve Danny Williams, Kathy Dunderdale, Tom Marshall and Paul Davis years, the multi-billion-dollar provincial budget was adopted without a recorded vote.

In the other five years, unsurprisingly, the recorded vote broke down entirely along party lines. PC MHAs present for the vote, voted yea. Opposition MHAs voted nay. Blanks indicate either that the member was absent, or was the Speaker or acting as Speaker for that vote. An asterisk draws your attention to the fact that that member was present for the vote, but in a different caucus, having changed affiliation.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

You can run it through a scanner, but you can't hide

A four-month old report containing recommendations on beefing up St. John's City Council's conflict of interest rules was finally posted on Wednesday, deep within the bowels of the City's website, and without any obvious link near the top of that site's navigation, after it was leaked.

Volume I — where's Volume II? — of the report by former Premier and Chief Justice Clyde Wells is intitled "Report to St. John's City Council on Recommended Adjustments to The City's Existing Ethical Conduct Legislation".

The report is fairly hefty and, for those interested in such matters, quite fascinating and eye-opening.

The reaction of City Council, of course, is to freak out about the fact that this document, dated September 2015, ever got before the public's eye in the first place.

The cat being out of the bag, the folks in New Gower Street decided they might as well post the report to the internet for computers. Despite being "born digital", the document was, naturally, printed off, then run through a scanner before being posted as a PDF.

A non-textual PDF.

Since it only takes a few seconds to convert a non-textual PDF to much more useful textual one, this corner has taken it upon itself to rectify this obviously inadvertent oversight on the part of the very open and transparent municipal government in St. John's. Here you go, OCR errors excepted.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Danny's Legacy (II)

From the Public Accounts, 2001-2015, passim, a chart of an abstract of the provincial debt and other liabilities, by category, as per yesterday evening's chart, but with the addition of contractual obligations. Values are in $-billion.
Contractual Obligations are described thusly in Note 11 to the Public Accounts:


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Danny's Legacy

From the Public Accounts, 2001-2015, passim, a chart of an abstract of the provincial debt and other liabilities, by category. Values are in $-billion.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016



Saturday, January 16, 2016

On consultation (V)

Paul Davis, March 17, 2015:

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Well, last year government delivered its Budget on March 27.  The year before that it was March 26, but this year the Premier has not said when he will introduce his Budget.
I ask the Premier: When will this year's Budget be introduced to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
PREMIER DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I thank the hon. member for his question on this.  We know that it is on the minds of people.  The Minister of Finance has said repeatedly that we would not be bringing down our Budget until after the federal government brings down their budget, which we do not have an exact date now but we know it is expected to be some time in the first or second week of April.  Following that time we will bring down the provincial Budget.
In recent weeks, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and other ministers in our government have been travelling throughout Newfoundland and Labrador consulting with the public, consulting with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.  We have been encouraging people to participate in the consultative process, either in person or online, and we have been asking people to share their views on the Budget process that we are currently undertaking.
I can tell you it is a comprehensive process that has been undertaken, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to receiving and presenting that Budget in April.

On consultation (IV)

Tracey Perry, December 10, 2008:

MS PERRY: With a net debt forecast of $9.2 billion by March of 2009, during a global economic recession, we have done an outstanding job governing this great Province. Ten short years ago our net debt to GDP ratio was 70.2 per cent. With Progressive Conservative leadership, governance and policies, this will soon be down to 27.5 per cent. Outstanding indeed!

Although we will not fully escape the global downturn, we are moving ahead. Again, using the Coast of Bays as an example, let's take a look at aquaculture. The fish are already in the water swimming. By the time they are harvested, the global recession - we should be coming out of it. We are anticipating the announcement of new developments and investments in the near future, so great things are happening in my rural, remote district.

Our policies will provide economic stimulus through investing in information technology, innovation, research and development, aquaculture, and business attraction. However, we must all realize it is imperative for government to continue to be prudent and responsible with the public purse. While there is significant good news, we do recognize that all is not rosy.


Now back to today's motion seeking a summit. Mr. Speaker, this government will act on interventions as they become necessary, and it will be in consultation with the greatest economic minds and expertise in the Province, the country, and within the G-20 nations. At this juncture we do not need to waste time, money and resources organizing a one-day blitz when the door is always open for input from the public at any time. We have many venues to consult, including the business caucus, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and the list goes on. We all have e-mail, too, and anyone with innovative ideas or advice is welcome to send it to us at any time, on any issue. Should our situation drastically worsen, perhaps this issue can be revisited, but for now staying the course is yielding the best results any jurisdiction can expect in a global recession. I would also challenge that an invited guest list to a summit is not as inclusive as the methods now in place.

Mr. Speaker, there is no one I would rather have as the captain of my ship than our hon. Premier, Danny Williams.

Friday, January 15, 2016

On consultation (III)

Steve Kent, January 21, 2015:

MR. KENT: I  sincerely think that we can achieve everything that an all-party committee could potentially achieve through the process we are going to roll out in the weeks ahead.  It will be a full, Province-wide consultation process and everybody in the Province is welcome to get involved.  We want to consult with over 500,000 people in the Province, not just politicians.  We want to engage the public, not just all the parties that are represented in this House.