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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Does anyone ever read anymore?

Maybe it's a lingering effect of the lockout, but CBC's story today, concerning the lamentably bad — in the methodological sense — Harris Centre report on federal civil service jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, is equally unsound.

CBC reports:
The report shows that Newfoundland and Labrador's share of federal jobs is lower than the national average.
Well, no.

The report shows the exact opposite of that.

Newfoundland and Labrador's share of federal jobs is not only higher than the national average, it's higher than Ontario's (where most of the national capital is), higher than Quebec's (where the rest of the national capital is), and higher than every other province but for the three Maritimes.

(And yes, the three Maritimes have a significantly larger share of the federal civil service, which is why the jingoes like to compare federal civil service staffing levels in NL to those in PE, NS, and NB, but never to the all-Canada average or to any province west of Edmunston.)

The Harris Centre report says, in black-and-white-and-PDF:

"In regard to employment, the study confirms that Federal employment in the Province, as a share of total Federal employment, has been somewhat higher than the Province’s share of the national population." (p.ii)

"This analysis will show that the Province’s share of Federal employment has been historically equal to or greater than its share of the national population..." (p.5)

"The remaining provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba, all have a greater share of Federal employment than they do of the national population." (p.7)

"Newfoundland and Labrador does have a slightly higher proportion of Federal jobs than it has national population..."(p.17)
The conclusion reached in the CBC coverage of the report is totally unsubstantiated by the actual content of the report. This sloppiness is totally unbecoming the usually reliable and well-executed reporting that can usually be expected of CBC-NL.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From the Memory Hole, IV

"We’re trying to hold government accountable. But it’s difficult when you have a government that doesn’t want — in any way, shape or form — to comply with giving you information. It’s been one roadblock in front of us after another. Government hasn’t broken the law; the act allows for this sort of activity in the extreme. There is no framework for accountability and no system in place that allows for the continuous and regular supply of information. Society generally wants to know more about what its government is doing today than, say, 20 years ago. We’ve come to a point in time where we need to put in place a system where access and the public’s right to know is guaranteed. We have literally asked dozens of questions on any number of fronts where we have received no information..."

The interview subject?

Ed Byrne, as quoted in a story by Tracy Barron in the St. John's Telegram of October 28, 2000.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Access to Information : update

You can't make this stuff up:
Consulting with stakeholders will be an important component of plans to successfully develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric resource, which is why Premier Danny Williams, several government members and officials from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro) will travel today to Happy Valley-Goose Bay for a public meeting.

Media representatives are invited to attend and record images prior to the start of the meeting; however audio and visual recording devices will not be permitted to be used while the meeting is taking place.
Heaven forbid the Premier should have to go on the record.

Even Joey Smallwood, in the middle of the Labrador Linerboard maelstrom, wasn't afraid of a truly public meeting in Happy Valley, with cameras present.

UPDATE!: The media bubble insulating the Executive Council office from Potential Bad Stuff has burst.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ryan Cleary interlined

More quality journalism from Ryan Cleary's Newfoundland Weekly Separatist:

Talk of separation — well, maybe not outright talk, whispers more like it — borders on blasphemous in certain quarters around this place.
It also jumps the border from "blasphemous" to "obligatory, in others.

Many of the Terms of Union are also ridiculous (except for the part about margarine, of course, the local bread spread had to be protected come hell or high water).
Which Terms of Union are ridiculous?

All that’s water under the Confederation bridge. (Notice how PEI got one — a Confederation Bridge — and the Strait of Belle Isle didn’t.
Notice how the Strait of Belle Isle is twice as deep at its shallowest point, as the Northumberland Strait is at its deepest, and wider, and traversed by icebergs as well as mere ice floes? Or how the Premier's vanity pre-feasibility study into a fixed link crossing shot down the bridge option at thirty paces? Or how PEI's Confederation Bridge was not a condition of its entry into Confederation? Or how there's nothing stopping a third-party commercial outfit from proposing, planning, and building a Strait of Belle Isle crossing, other than the horribly inconvenient fact that, unlike the PEI bridge, it doesn't make economic sense?

But then Labrador should have a road sometime this century so it will all work out in the end.
It should, but it won't as long as the provincial government of the province of which Labrador is a part keeps shirking its responsibility to Labrador in all other areas of provincial legislative competence besides tax and royalty collection. The provincial government has been outspent nine to one on the Trans-Labrador Highway, such as it exists, to date.

Where is Ryan Cleary's righteous indignation?
But ask yourself this: has Confederation been good for Newfoundland and Labrador?
Yes. Next question!
And DFO has stood in the way of the fish coming back, according to Etchegary anyway.
According to Etchegary?! Man, that's rich on seventeen different levels.

Simple … because they prevent journalists like me from doing my job.

Any similarity between the Independent and journalism is purely coincidental...

here’s what I propose: let’s give Canada five years to turn things around or we take a vote to separate. I’ll outline the terms and conditions over the next few months (suggestions are more than appreciated) and we’ll see what happens from there. Wild isn’t it, how a Newfoundlander can be a Canadian and a separatist at the same time?

Un couteau sur la gorge... I think the appropriate translation would be "A knife to da t'roat". Or, given the venerable tradition of Newfoundland crypto-separatism, has this already become "A never-ending visit to the dentist?"

Can we all play at that game? You know, perhaps it's time to give Danny "I'll recognize the Labrador Métis/practise what we preach/primary beneficiaries of the Lower Churchill/independent advice on the Labrador coastal service" Williams, and his government, disons, two years, to turn things around at the intraprovincial level...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An enduring mystery...

Why did the net forums over at The Independent, that paragon of fair, accurate, and measured journalism, never really take off?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Interlinear B

Some further interlinear notes and queries, in an attempt to decipher the Premier's interview with The Labradorian this week:

DW: Unfortunately when we looked at that, [the auditorium had to go into] the tier two category. But on the other hand in last year’s budget we made a significant contribution to culture generally in this province, to the island and in Labrador, for more general initiatives. But this [auditorium] was a specific initiative.
The Rooms is in St. John’s. The Magnetic North Theatre Festival will be held in St. John’s. And the auditorium for Happy Valley-Goose Bay is just as “general”, given the vast area it would serve, as any of the $2.4-million in cultural initiatives, centred in St. John’s, that the provincial government announced in last year’s budget.

DW: The cost had gone up significantly and at that particular time I guess quite simply we had to say from a money perspective that we couldn’t afford it. From a culture perspective we can’t afford not to do it either so it’s something that’s under consideration now. What we were hoping to do, leading into the last federal election, was to lever up the federal government to see if we could get them to increase their contribution. So as well there was some strategic political consideration going on there and that’s a very straight answer.
Why is it that provincial spending in Labrador is always contingent on access to federal funds?

Has Labrador ceased to be part of the province? Does Labrador not contribute to the provincial treasury? Has Labrador become a federal territory?

Is this insistence on federal funding for provincial initiatives consistent, or inconsistent, with the Premier’s stated goal from 2001?:

It’s high time that Labradorians, instead of feeling like someone else’s treasure trove, started feeling like an integral part of our province.
Danny continues:

DW: I’m committed to making sure we have the proper transportation infrastructure in Labrador. Minister [for Transportation and Works and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tom] Rideout has successfully gotten the [Trans Labrador Highway] into the proper category [part of the National Highway System], where it should be. We can now access significant funds from the Government of Canada.

How much provincial funding is the provincial government willing to put into a provincial highway in the Labrador part of the province?

How much provincial funding is the provincial government willing to put into a provincial highway in the Labrador part of the province, whether or not the federal government spends even more than the 90% of the public funding to date that has ever gone into the highway?

Why is it that provincial spending in Labrador is always contingent on access to federal funds?

Has Labrador ceased to be part of the province? Does Labrador not contribute to the provincial treasury? Has Labrador become a federal territory?

Is this insistence on federal funding for provincial initiatives consistent, or inconsistent, with the Premier’s stated goal from 2001?:

It’s high time that Labradorians, instead of feeling like someone else’s treasure trove, started feeling like an integral part of our province.
Danny continues:

DW: I can tell you when you look at the money that was spent last year for the entire island compared to the money that was spent in Labrador, you would see a significant disproportion in expenditure on a per capita basis for Labrador.
You will find the same thing if you look at federal spending in Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole. What’s your point, Premier?

DW: I just say that to point that out to you and it’s not because I’m not in favour of it — I’m totally in favour of it and so is my government — but on the other hand Labradorians have to realize that I have to find a delicate balance of spreading scarce resources around a very large province with a huge geographical area to which services have to be provided throughout.
Question for the Premier: What does Labrador contribute, on a per-capita basis, to the provincial treasury? Let’s make a fair comparison here.

DW: It is difficult but Labradorians need to know we’re on their side and I don’t sense that Labradorians feel that. I’m disappointed in that.
This may have something to do with the fact that the Premier’s own government has broken its own promise to Labrador to include Labradorians in decision-making processes, to make Labradorians the beneficiaries of Labrador’s resources, and to “practice what we preach”; and something to do with the fact that the Premier has carried on his predecessors’ proud tradition of making supposed provincial commitments to, and priorities in, Labrador, contingent on federal funding, even in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Labradorian: How are you going to try and turn that around?

DW: We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.
Blaming the federal government for your own shortcomings and unwillingness to commit provincial funding to provincial programs and projects in Labrador?

Collecting revenues from Voisey’s Bay, GWAC, and other Labrador sources, then pleading poverty?

Lowering expectations? Breaking promises?

Stupidity: doing the same thing over and over in expectation of getting a different result.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Map as I say, not as I do

The government and party of which Tom Osborne and John Ottenheimer are part, have no right to complain about the Quebec government publishing maps like this, as long as they themselves publish maps like this.

Quebec has a cartographic policy when it comes to Labrador.

Why doesn’t the province of which Labrador is a part?

Interlinear A

Some interlinear notes and queries, in an attempt to decipher the Premier's interview with The Labradorian this week:

DW: We went up there last year and we had a cabinet meeting.

A meeting of a cabinet which did not then, and still does not, have a Labrador MHA sitting in it.

DW: I’ve got to tell you quite bluntly, and frankly that I was very surprised at the negative reaction we got to the initiatives that we’d taken. We came back reeling… But I’ve got to tell you that I was taken aback by the fact that we got such a negative reaction.
That could be related to the fact that the executive council office is doing an excellent job at keeping the Premier in a bubble.

DW: […] it seemed that we got more criticism for things we weren’t doing, like the new auditorium for example. And that’s something of course that we are always considering. Minister Shelley, the Minister for Labrador Affairs, is looking at that.
Why wasn’t he “looking at that” when the arts-and-culture budget was announced back in March?

DW: People were saying, ‘Well, these are monies that have been announced before’ and everything else but they were monies that…were in fact being firmly committed by our government. So I thought we were making genuine attempts to really do things in Labrador.
As “people” said, and as Rob Antle reported in the Western Star and the Telegram, on March 10, 2005:

Most of the $56 million portrayed as new money for Labrador by the Williams administration this week was previously announced. And the vast majority of the money comes from federal, not provincial, sources.


What Williams didn't say is that $31 million of that $56-million total was announced six months earlier. In September 2004, the province said it would spend $35 million to kick start Phase 3 of the Trans Labrador Highway. ... [O]n Tuesday, Williams announced $40 million in spending on Phase 3... with, he acknowledged, some "carry-overs" from the previous year. But those "carry-overs" amounted to $31 million (of the $35 million announced six months ago) or 78 per cent of the $40-million total.... new, unannounced, work will account for only $9 million of the money spent in 2005-06.


Every dime of the $40 million announced for Labrador highway work is from Ottawa.
If you don’t want to be criticized for recycling money announcements and taking provincial credit for federal funding sources, the easiest way to stave off that criticism is to allocate genuinely new, genuinely provincial-sourced funding to government initiatives in Labrador.

It doesn’t get much more genuine than that.

DW: In the very first speech that I gave when I accepted the leadership of the party I said one of my major priorities was Labrador because I felt that Labradorians had the same argument with the island that the province has with Canada — the fact that we have a lot of resources and they’re being taken away from us and we’re not getting anything fair in return. I’m particularly sensitive to the needs of Labrador
This entire interview is a mighty funny way of showing that sensitivity…

DW: but I find…and maybe a lot of it is generated by the opposition up there, a lot of negativity has come out of some members up there. And I don’t mean Mr [Randy] Collins, but specifically Ms [Yvonne] Jones, who has taken a very negative reaction to any initiative we’ve undertaken… When we get down to the next election and Yvonne wants to win her seat and fire a bullet at everybody in government that’s her prerogative.
If Yvonne has made it onto The Enemies List, that’s probably prima facie evidence that she’s doing something right.