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

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Habemus porcum

With ten of forty-eight districts reporting, the labradore decision desk forecasts the Progressive Conservatives will form a Provincial Roads Improvement partisan Porkbarrel, and that the porkbarrel will be a majority. Repeat, a Progressive Conservative majority PRIP porkbarrel.

Friday, February 17, 2006

What does it say...

...about the provincial government's activities, achievements, and future plans, and its comms directors, that the "Atlantic Accord 2005" feature has now been featured on the provincial government's web page for over a year?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Tale of Two Parts of the Same Province

But why, oh why, isn't Newfoundland and Newfoundland Except When It's Convenient to Say Labrador Hydro going to "go it alone" on wind power projects in Newfoundland?

Why aren't they waiting until consultations on the provincial energy plan are complete?

Why aren't they developing the resource in a way that maximizes benefits to the province, instead of soliciting proposals from private industry? Isn't private industry bad?

Are these the types of companies that Newfoundland and Newfoundland Hydro wants to do business with?

Isn't NNH more than capable of pursuing this type of development for the full benefit of the province?


Nope. Scratch that.

Entirely believable.
Hydro Receives Strong Response to First Phase of Wind Generation RFP

February 14, 2006 St. John's - Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) announced today that it has received 13 Expressions of Interest in response to its December 2005 Request for Proposals (RFP) for the provision of 25 MW of wind generation to the Island Interconnected System.

"It's clear from the number of responses we've received in this first phase of the RFP process, that there is significant interest in wind generation," said VP Business Development Jim Keating. "Over the next number of months, these proponents will work to finalize their feasibility studies and their final submissions. We look forward to seeing those proposals at the end of August."

As a part of NLH's new mandate, the company is exploring the addition of cost-effective wind generation into its portfolio. Wind is a clean, renewable alternative that offers many environmental benefits, and has the potential to displace some energy produced from the oil-fired, Holyrood Thermal Generating Station.

"Our phased approach to wind generation will allow us to understand the development opportunities which exist and how they may be incorporated into our isolated island system," noted Keating. "I'm pleased with the response to our RFP, and look forward to the outcome of this open and competitive process. At the end of the day, any successful proponent will have to clearly demonstrate appropriate value and provide a cost-effective source of energy for consumers."

Newfoundland and Labrador has a world-class wind resource. Currently, the island system is isolated from the North American grid with existing capacity of 1919 MW provided by approximately 65% hydroelectric and 35% fossil fuel generation.

With over 1,100 employees across the province, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is the fourth largest power generating utility in Canada and operates one of the world's largest hydro generating plants in Churchill Falls.

For more information contact: Dawn Dalley, Manager, Corporate Communication and Shareholder Relations, 709-737-1315

A Tale of Two Provinces

In Quebec, the Haute-Côte-Nord regional municipality is looking to partner with forestry company Kruger to develop the regions’s significant wind energy potential.

In response, Quebec’s Natural Resources Minister, Pierre Corbeil, said:

“When this group made its presentation to government of its proposal, I was very clear and definitive with the partnership representatives that we are in the process of developing our provincial energy plan and, obviously, the development of wind projects would be a key element of the plan. Therefore, government was not going to make any decision regarding these projects until that process is complete.”

Minister Corbeil said there is an increasing level of interest in developing wind projects in this province due to the fact that Quebec has some of the best sites in North America for wind energy.

“The proposal from Kruger and the MRC Haute-Côte-Nord is just one of many that government has received,” said Minister Corbeil. “Wind is becoming an emerging resource and our responsibility as a government is to ensure that this resource is developed in a way that maximizes benefits for the people of the province. We are not going to give away 1,000 megawatts of power until we understand what opportunities there are for this province. This is a significant policy matter for this government, and we will simply not be pressed into making an inappropriate decision.”

Minister Corbeil reiterated that government sees the potential of Hydro-Québec developing this project and maximizing returns to the people of the province.

“You cannot help but question whether this is the kind of company we want to be doing business with.”

Hydro-Québec CEO Thierry Vandal also took exception to the comments, particularly those that questioned the capability and expertise of Hydro.

“Today, Hydro-Québec successfully operates over 165TWh of generation.” said Mr. Vandal. “We have over 50 years in the generation and transmission business. Although we understand the drivers of a privately-owned company like Kruger attempting to maximize returns to outside, private shareholders, we are more than capable of pursuing this type of development for the full benefit of the province.

“Our costs and reliability are competitive with the rest of the country and better than most areas, as a result of this company’s continual attention to performance and reliability,” said Mr. Vandal. “We have over 11,000 dedicated, high-performing Quebecers who are committed to building, operating and maintaining the largest electrical utility in the country for the benefits of our fellow Quebecers”
The entire indented text is made up.

Well, sorta.

Monday, February 13, 2006

File under "plus ça change..."

"There are people who put great hopes in the reported gold discovery in Labrador. From our past experiences of Responsible Government, I see no reason to expect that, even if Labrador increased the revenue of Newfoundland by ten million dollars a year, the people would be any better off, it is likely that an army of civil servants would be increased to such an extent, that the additional revenue would be just enough to pay them... Labrador may make a great difference, but not while we have Responsible Government."

– "Crown Colony", writing in the St. John's Daily News, June 29, 1933

Friday, February 10, 2006

Don't eat pork! Not even with a fork!

In the past month, the provincial government has made five announcements of projects under the Provincial Roads Improvement Program (PRIP).

All five projects are in districts represented by Progressive Conservative MHAs.

The average dollar value of the announcements – excluding the obligatory carry-overs from last year, which are already accounted for – is about $2.4-million.

In 2005, the average dollar value for PRIP announcments in government districts was $1.35-million. In opposition districts? $390K.

In 2004, the average dollar value for PRIP announcments in government districts was $840K. In opposition districts? $380K.

Admittedly, the value of the entire program has doubled this year over last: $60-million vs.$30-million. Hence, the dollar value of individual announcements ought to inflate similarly, and so far, they have: government districts, in the announcements made so far, are receiving projects that average 1.8 times the size they did last year.

There are no opposition districts to make similar comparisons with. At least not this year.

But last year, without any increase in the PRIP budget overall, government districts still got 1.6 times as much as they did in 2004. A 60% increase. Opposition districts? A 1% increase.

And for all of the Premier's and Transport Minister's supposed "committment" to the Trans-Labrador Highway, Labrador has received just $4.7-million out of the $78-million awarded under the past three years' worth of PRIP funding so far, or about 6% of the total. Cartwright–L'anse au Clair has gotten a particularly raw deal, receiving one of the chinsiest allocations for any district in the province overall, and at $100,000, tied for second-chinsiest last year with Carbonear.

(Make that third-chinsiest: Torngat Mountains has received nothing. Of course, local roads in that district were upgraded with LTIF money prior to the last provincial election.)

All of the funding that has been directed towards the completion of new segments of the Trans-Labrador Highway in the past three years has come from the dregs of the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, not a penny of which came from provincial revenues. PRIP funding has, however, gone to some road and bridge repair projects on existing segments of the TLH.

In 2004, eight of the ten smallest PRIP allocations went to opposition districts.

In 2005, it was seven of ten, and the five smallest were all opposition districts.

In 2006, we will see.

The disparity between opposition- and government-held districts might be a coincidence.

Then again, it might not.

VOCM reports today:

February 9, 2006

Tour operators in the province hope to see the federal government come through with lower rates on the ferry service between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador begins its annual convention in Gander today and president Nick McGrath says the ferry service is one area that needs attention.

Little inconvenient problem: the new government never promised any such thing.

Danny Williams wrote:
Immediate action is required of the Federal Government to:

Require MAI to implement a one – time rate reduction of 15% in 2006.

Both of these actions are consistent with recommendations of the Minister of Transport’s Advisory Committee on Marine Atlantic contained in the Committee’s Strategy for the Future of MAI.

Does your party support these actions?
Stephen Harper responded:
A Conservative government would live up to and respect its constitutional responsibilies to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and would give serious consideration to implementing your stated recommendations, however we would have to review the financial implications of the rate reduction.
In other words: a long-winded way of saying "No."

It seems as if Danny Williams isn't the only one who's been reading into Harper's letter that which he wants to read into it.

And when is Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador going to address the Labrador ferry situation, anyway?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sinn Fein

The Premier loves to make the (patently false) comparison between Newfoundland and Newfoundland on the one hand, and Ireland on the other. And he's also determined to "go it alone" on major development projects. (If by "go it alone", you mean "with billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees", of course.)

Call it the Sinn Fein Model of economic development.

Which is why it's not surprising today to learn that the provincial government is going to develop an oil refinery proposal:
Province to explore feasibility of second refinery for the province

Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne, announced today that the province has begun a feasibility study for establishing a new oil refinery in the province in the upper Placentia Bay area.

"We are very excited with this feasibility study which has tremendous economic implications for the province," said Premier Williams. "We committed in our Blueprint to pursue opportunities to expand the refining capacity in the province and, indeed, our government has undertaken a study to determine the potential in this regard. Our announcement to commence a feasibility study signals our confidence in the potential for further capacity and I look forward to the results."

The feasibility study is timely because a shortage of oil refining capacity worldwide has created strong market demand. The study area has been selected on the basis of its strategic location and the efforts of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in encouraging and promoting the building of new oil refining capacity in the province.

The province considers Placentia Bay as a strategic location and a natural choice as the basis for the feasibility study considering its skilled workforce, established ice-free, deepwater shipping lanes and proximity to both potential oil supplies and large markets for refined products along the east coast of North America.

Wait a minute. That's not what Danny announced at all.

What Danny announced was that a private company is exploring the possibility of building a refinery in Placentia Bay. Something that, if you believe the nationalist myth-makers, was forbidden by horrible Ottawa in the 1985 Atlantic Accord.

So, Private-Sector Company Considers Development in Province

Good news story, right?

Only if you're Newfoundland and Labrador Refining Corporation, and you're looking to invest in Newfoundland.

If you're Ventus Energy, and you're looking to invest in Labrador, well, it's a different story.

What the Sinn Fein government of Newfoundland and Newfoundland has failed to do, however, is to distinguish between the two projects based on any sound policy reason. Indeed, given Danny's penchant for basking in reflected glory – a sports team that wins a national meet, a musical artist who wins an industry award, a private company that announces something that private companies do all the time – the Premier and Ed Byrne should have been all over the Ventus thing.

Well, "all over" in a good way, not in the vicious way that they were.

If the province wants to maximize its benefits by going it alone on some things that private sector companies are good at, why not go it alone on all? Why not nationalize everything?

As long as there is no clear answer to that question, and as long as a cozy relationship with Sinn Fein is a pre-requisite to a potential investor getting at least a yellow light instead of the full-court political and bureaucratic red one, then the investment that the province needs in order to create a truly sustainable and self-sufficient economy will continue to go elsewhere.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Congratulations are due to the new regional minister and fishmin, Loyola Hearn.

Today is the first day of the rest of your career!

Yvonne bails out

Too bad.

It would have been one step closer to guaranteeing Labrador a seat at the cabinet table.