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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

History lesson, II

Apropos of Premier-FishMin trips to Norway, a little history lesson about Premier-FishMin trips to Norway. From a CP dispatch of November 7, 1961:
Premier Joseph Smallwood of Newfoundland will be the personal guest of Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in Madrid Nov. 15...

The visits to Spain and Portugal are part of a European trip Mr. Smallwood is making with Fisheries Minister John T. Cheeseman...

The Premier and his fisheries minister will also visit Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom...

In Spain, Portugal and Switzerland the Premier and Mr. Cheeseman will confer with officials about fish and tour processing plants.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

History lesson, I

A few choice snippets from the increasingly fascinating Newfoundland: Dawn Without Light; Politics, power and the people in the Smallwood era, by the late Herbert L. Pottle (Breakwater, 1979):

The Department of Economic Development, over which the Premier presided from beginning to end, was [the professional parasites'] communal beehive, the ready answer to most any prayer.

In summary, those who kept obeying the Leader did so mainly for immediate gain or the hope of future gain, or because they could never achieve anything like comparable security in the competitive world at large. Those who rankled under the chain of command and disagreed with the plan and operation were encouraged to quit, or voluntarily resigned, oftener than not on matters of principle. [p. 16]

To this supreme priority all else, however important in itself, was to be subordinated. Serious opposition to this instant revelation, or in fact to any major initiative of the government, either within the legislature or without, was spurned as something akin to disloyalty. [17]

As premier, he took into his own hands, powers to which he had no moral or constitutional right. He held so much power that many people were actually afraid of him. It seems incredible that such could happen in the 20th century in a democracy operating under the British parliamentary system. How far back in history must we go to find a minister of the crown whom law-abiding citizens had reason to fear? If we omit Mr. Duplessis we have to go all the way back to the Earl of Stafford in the 17th century. [24, quoting Ted Russell]

Another classic technique of control is to pre-empt the field of all possible competing interests and to fill the vacuum with the overriding interest to be promoted. [24]

[In Newfoundland] "a gift of the gab" is as likely as not to be complimentary rather than offensive — it depends largely on the role and reputation of the person bearing the gift. In popular local usage it carries the current equivalent of "speaking in tongues", in the sense of the speaker's being generally understood. When applied to Smallwood by those who had ears to hear, it was tantamount to the voice of prophecy. [34]

The House had barely opened when a Bill to establish a Department of Economic Development was introduced by the Premier and Minister-of-Economic-Development-to-be, and had reached Second Reading before the Opposition had had time to read it thoughtfully even once. [35]

Smallwood did not give me the impression of one who, in times of conflict, behaved as if sweet were the uses of adversity — excepting when his own status was not on the line. Otherwise — in his public performances, for instance — he seemed to revel in a contentious role... During the first years of Newfoundland as a province, when Smallwood was unchallenged in the saddle and there was not enough of his record yet to draw ominous criticism, he was actually looking for a fight. [131-2]

[Smallwood's] most withering fire seemed to be reserved for those victims who functioned outside the House, although part of their duties might lie within — such as press reporters.

In trying to come upon anything like a principle to help explain this, the most reliable one I have discerned is that Smallwood was most sensitive to criticism, by word or deed, which challenged his right to rule, which disputed those areas in which he was his own expert — any move that he regarded as calculated to cut down the prestige of his leadership... the rumblings of the underground at large, especially those which were stirred by decision-making powers or by the media — all of them with multiplier effect in the voting constituency — those were the clarion call to all-out warfare. [133]

Mrs. Dora Russell complained to the local press of being "verbally lashed" by the Premier for her reporting, and that any hint of criticism "drives the Premier to a frenzy that is fascinating to watch. It doesn't seem human or decent." The enlightening footnote is that Mrs. Russell's husband [Ted Russell] had earlier resigned from the Smallwood cabinet over its financial policy. [136]

One of the first things we can say with assurance is that, in spite of the battery of adverse judgment that could rightfully be brought against [the anti-IWA] legislation, Smallwood was not primarily concerned about the constitutional propriety of the steps he intented to take. [143]

... I cannot think of any Canadian occasion notably involving Newfoundland at this national level of national concern. Instead, whenever the Smallwood government and the federal government came to the point of serious interplay, it was invariably, as I recall around such issues as finances and jurisdiction... [179]
How does that thing go, you know, about how those who ignore history are doomed to do something or other?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Arctic Taliban

This is truly depressing.

Ad Randy Boswell reports for CanWest newspapers today:

Canada's only major Arctic petroglyph site — a 1,500-year-old gallery of mysterious faces carved into a soapstone ridge on a tiny island off of Quebec's northern coast — has been ransacked by vandals in what the region's top archeologist suspects was a religiously motivated attack by devout Christians from a nearby Inuit community.


More than 170 mask-like images, animal shapes and other symbols have been recorded on the island since the 1960s. Studies suggest Qajartalik was a sacred place, used for Dorset spiritual ceremonies and coming-of-age rituals.

But the site has been called "the Island of the Stone Devils" because some of the faces — possibly depicting a Dorset shaman in religious costume — appear to be adorned with horns. In the past, crosses have been scratched on the "pagan" petroglyphs and some area residents have told researchers they believe the site is infested with evil spirits.


Daniel Gendron, chief archeologist with the Inukjuak-based Avataq Cultural Institute, the key promoter of indigenous history and identity in Nunavik, said the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks by members of what he called "a very strong movement" of conservative Christians in Kangiqsujuaq and several other Inuit communities in northern Quebec.
Just what we need; our own version of the Taliban.

What did he know and when did he know it?

On yesterday's Backtalk, Bill Rowe, Danny Williams' former Ambassador of the Pinkwhiteandgreenian Fantasy Republic of Newfoundland in Ottawa, said something interesting.
He mentioned — pardon the paraphrase; if someone has a transcript, post it as a comment, please — that all the polls he'd seen in the last few days showed that the public was behind Chairman Dan in Chairman's unceasing and inexplicable campaign to install Danny Williams as head of the CNLOPB, despite what the Atlantic Accord says, despite the fact that there's already an open provincial seat on the board.

Now here's the darnedest thing: such a poll has not been reported in any media outlet, print, broadcast or other, in the past few weeks.

Nor the past few months.

Nor the past few years.

Let alone the past few days.

So this leaves two alternatives:

One, that despite Bill Rowe's statement, no such poll exists.

Two, that such a poll exists, but it was not conducted on behalf of any media outlet.

This latter alternative screams out the obvious follow-up questions:

If such a poll exists, who paid for it? how much did it cost? who carried out the work? what was the methodology? what were the questions? what are the results? and how, oh how, did the report end up on Bill Rowe's desk?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Railing for roads

Jean Charest has announced the construction of the "missing link" in Quebec's Route 138. Sorta.
As Radio-Canada reports:

But the fight to extend the 138 is still not over: in order to undertake the work, the federal government will also have to invest at least $100-million. [Translation; similar story from CBC Montreal here]
Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Too familiar. In fact, it sounds identical to Danny Williams' "committment" to the Trans-Labrador Highway. Jean Charest is taking a page from Danny's playbook: "commit" to something — a road here, an auditorium there — with the caveat that someone else, i.e. Ottawa, pay half the freight (or more).

Some committment.

Furthermore, in the Route 138 case, Quebec didn't even nominate the highway east of Sept-Iles as part of the National Highway System in the latest round of additions. (As far as Sept-Iles, it was already on the list.)

Given that there are already roadblocks to federal funding — no program yet exists — for most of the NHS system, what will be the policy basis on which Quebec will request a minimum of 50% federal funding for Route 138? And what will be the policy basis on which the federal government would provide it?

Besides than the obvious geographical one — another piece of the highway puzzle would link Labrador to the rest of the continent — there are other, and more immediate, implications for Labrador and for The Williams Administration, as the provincial government formerly known as The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador now seems to be official known.

1. Charest is asking for a minimum of 50% federal funding. That's a floor, not a ceiling. What if Lawrence Cannon agrees?

2. As previously noted, Harper didn't promise 50-50 funding in his much ballyhooed election letter, Danny's spin and BS notwithstanding. What happens if Harper lives up to his promise to "cost-share" the TLH, but at a formula which involves a federal contribution of less than 50%?

3. Finally, as part of the polling-period HappyTalk barrage that The Williams Administration is currently engaged in, transportation minister John Hickey yesterday told the state broadcaster — no, not that one, this one — that he might get his money next summer. But there's a catch:

The Minister of Transportation says he expects to see federal funding for the Trans Labrador Highway flow from Ottawa next summer. Speaking on VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, John Hickey said he has made the case to the federal government for additional funding for the highway, and has received assurances from Federal minister Lawrence Cannon. Hickey says an agreement with the feds for $100 million over the next five years for hard surfacing of TLH from Goose Bay to Labrador West should be signed by June of next year.

[Emphasis added]

Catch that?

Harper promised, in writing, to "cost share", whatever that means in terms of a formula, the completion of Trans-Labrador Highway. But Danny Williams and The Administration are prepared to settle for a cost-sharing of the paving of the 1/3 of the TLH which connects Labrador City to Happy Valley-Goose Bay as fulfilment of Harper's promise.

So much for the reputation of Danny the Great Negotiator and Slayer of Federal Dragons! He has just given away any political claim he might have to federal funding for the other, longer, 2/3 of the TLH from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to L'Anse au Clair!!!

This coastal segment of the Quebec-Labrador highway system could end up being politically sandwiched between a highway connecting the not-coincidentally vote-rich (by Labrador standards) regions of western and central Labrador, paved with 50-cent dollars, and a Lower North Shore Route 138 built with 50-cent-or-less dollars.

Danny could easily end up sandbagged here. If Lawrence Cannon accedes to Charest's request, it will make Danny look to be the chump. And if Lawrence Cannon accedes to Danny's request, it will mean Danny has bargained Harper's commitment down from what the PM put to paper during the election, and that he has settled for less than what was on the political table.

If Lawrence Cannon accedes to either request, but not both, where does that leave the frustrated Premier? Cannon and Harper can hardly agree to Danny's request, let alone honour Harper's full paper promise to Labrador, without (further) alienating voters in the province that may just hold the key to Harper's much-coveted majority. And they can hardly agree to the Quebec demand, made in a policy vacuum, when the TLH, unlike the 138, is part of the NHS and supposedly has priority for federal-provincial (note: not just federal, Danny and Administration) funding.

And Route 389, without which the paved highway in western and central Labrador will be a transportation orphan, seems to have been utterly forgotten.

Perhaps more than ever before there is a need for a common, two-province vision for highway transportation in the northeast. But perhaps more than ever, domestic politics in both provinces, and their relations with the federal government, are working against it.

In the meantime one has to wonder: what kind of a committment is it, how integral and important a part of a province are you, if your Premier will only ever make 50% of a so-called "commitment"?

PS — Charest's 138 plan still has a notable gap in it. Assuming the road gets built according to his plan, there would still be a hiatus in the highway between Natashquan and Kegaska. The villages from Kegaska to St. Augustine would become linked by highway to Labrador... but not to the rest of their own province. Quebec nationalists seem blissfully unconcerned.

Can you imagine a universe in which the reverse were true — Labrador was connected to Quebec but not to Newfoundland — and the Newfoundland nationalists didn't break a sweat?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Plus ça change

Union with Canada is, and will be, opposed by demagogues everywhere. Nothing frights folk more than the cry: "Selling the country."

- Newfoundland Matters, The Manitoba Morning Free Press,
Winnipeg, October 29, 1902.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Two-Hour Hate

It was incredibly impressive to hear Chairman Dan's Telephone Tree of Hate marching back into action today, after an anaemic few weeks, dutifully turning Parker MacCarthy of the Canadian Bar Association into An Enemy of The People.

Bill Kelly, Bill Rowe, and the rest... good work!

Now, let's play Guess Which Great Lawyer Said This Stuff Back In 1999!

A plain-spoken Newfoundland judge has been reprimanded by the province's judicial council for comparing the conduct of a well-heeled defendant to that of the "damaged goods" he regularly sees in his courtroom.

But Judge John Rorke of the Newfoundland provincial court appears to have gained credibility among many Newfoundlanders by uttering comments the council deemed unacceptable. Even the defendant felt the judge's unvarnished words were on the mark, and several critics of the decision have leaped to the judge's defence.

Mr. Aylward's lawyer, D____ W_______, applauded the judge's decision to use blunt language, saying his client "appreciated" the directness and effort to speak his language.

"There's no doubt [Judge Rorke] made an impact on this young man. He related to him, and this guy hasn't been in trouble since."

W_______ said he was surprised to learn a complaint had been made to the council and that Rorke appeared at an inquiry concerning remarks he made during the sentencing.

"I sat there and I saw nothing way out of line that he did. As an experienced lawyer, I see absolutely no reason why he should have gone before the judicial council," said W_______, who has practised law for almost 30 years.

He said while the public's view of the court is a concern, the emphasis should be on the person before the (judge), and the rehabilitation of the accused.

"And if he's able to save a soul by having to use words that might be a little bit beneath the dignity of the bench, if he accomplishes that rehabilitation, then I wish there were a lot more judges that would do it," W_______ said.

Danny Williams, Great Lawyer

The CBA weighs in on Danny's getting up on the wrong side of bed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Where's Spaceman Dan?

News this week of a proposed rocket launching facility at the Cape — Breton, that is — should have had Chairman Dan in a tizzy.

After all, if one rocket, passing overhead many miles to the east of anything on land, could cause such an existential crisis, what will multiple rockets, many of which would necessarily pass directly over Newfoundland or Labrador, and at lower altitudes than those launched from Florida, do to the Chairman's blood pressure and finely-tuned sense of outrage?

The lack of a, well, ballistic response from Chairman this time can only mean one of two things.

Either he's getting soft in his government's — sorry, Administration's — middle age, no longer bringing us the regularly-scheduled spontaneous Fighging Newfoundlander outrage that worked so well for his first two years.

Or he was off his rocker last year during the Titan incident, and knows it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Over the top

If anyone would be able to recognize "over the top"...

... it would be Chairman Dan.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More double standards

This evening's CBC Radio news is a prime example of why radios should have spit guards.

Just minutes after the Hon. — and that use is pro forma here — Danny Williams, LL.B., Q.C. waxed outraged, bizarrely outraged, verging on unbalancedly outraged about Max Ruelokke, Mr. Justice Halley, and other Enemies of the People, the Hon. Tom Rideout, LL.B., explained that the decision not to grant a groundfish license to Ramea was made — get this! — by an arms-length body independent of government, and government couldn't overturn it.

Now wait a minute... doesn't that sound suspiciously like how Max Ruelokke got his job in the first place?

Either there is hope for Max Ruelokke (arms-length decisions like the Ramea one can't be overturned by government) or there is hope for Ramea (arms-length decisions like the Ruelokke one can be overturned by government or the court), but there cannot be hope for both.

Not at the same time in the same universe, anyway.

Turtles all the way down

There's an old chestnut that's been told about at least a dozen prominent scientits, going back at least to Darwin, and in Darwin's day the probably told it about Newton or Copernicus.

The scientist gave a lecture in which he talked about how the earth rotates about its axis and orbits the sun, as do the other planets; the moon rotates about its axis as it orbits the earth; and how the sun and the whole solar system, orbit around in our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a dotty old lady stands up at the back of the room and harangues him.

"What a lot of rubbish! The world is really a giant saucer supported on the back of a giant turtle."

Expecting some flat-earth nonsense, the scientist smirked a knowing smirk and asked, "Then what is the turtle standing on?"

"You're very clever, young man, very clever,"said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

Some people have unusual notions of cosmology. Today we got good insight into that of Danny Williams.

In one of his polling-week forays onto the open line show — expect more of them; the Bunker in the Sky at Confederation Building is obsessed with massaging the Great Man's, ahem, ego — Danny says that the Chairman and CEO of the CNLOPB is the most important job in the province.

In the province! The whole province! Right from St. John's to St. Anthony!

So it turns out that Danny is playing Copernicus to his own Ptolemaic vision of the universe. The earth doesn't pivot around Danny Williams. The sun doesn't set each night when he swallows it and rise each morning when he farts it out. Danny Williams isn't the centre of the universe.

The Chairman and CEO of the CNLOPB is.

Max Ruelokke is the centre of Danny's cosmology. The Premier of the province is not the most important person in it anymore. Danny said so. It must be true.

The only question now is, where does Danny now rank?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


From a message-board thread over at cartwrightlab:
15825. Flagman: So how many of you fly the "PWG" in the Labrador part of Newfoundland?

15827. I can't speak for every part of Labrador, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that you would be hard pressed to find a single solitary pink, white & green flag flying in Labrador. Now the blue, white & green is a different story

15828. Ralph: What Dean said! Even here in my little basement apt.

15829. Pure Labrador: Are you serious, a PWG flag flying in Labrador.Treason is a serious crime you know. Anyone that flies that kind of flag should be whipped with a sealskin dog whip.

15831. Marilyn: Sadly....we have seen a couple of pink/white/green flags flying here in Goose Bay. I'm not fond of that flag nor the official NL flag. The unofficial Labrador Flag is by far the winner overall. Maybe someday it will receive deserving recognition. That will be a day to celebrate!!

15833. why: why would anyone in Labrador even fly the provincal flag .let alone the pink,white & green.only the Labrador flag for me

15835. Pure Labrador: The people who fly the Newfounland flag here in Labrador should be deported back to their foreign country of NFLD

15836. Lloyd: Guess I missed them somehow Marilyn... I personally have never seen the pinkwhitegreen in these parts. As you said the other one is seen pretty much only on 'official' flag poles. ... That green, white, blue is sure pretty eh?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ferry foibles

If this were a Marine Atlantic ferry, the usual crowd of suspects would be issuing press releases and hitting the airwaves. But this is just Labrador, and it's a ferry run by Chairman Dan to boot, so no one, other than the passengers themselves, says anything.

Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland, Councillor Sandy Hickman, Wayne Ruth, where is your outrage? Aren't the Labrador ferries an extension of the Trans-Labrador Highway?

From VOCM news today:

Tourists Pleasure Trip Turned Nightmare
August 9, 2006

What was supposed to be a pleasure trip to Labrador turned into a nightmare for a group of eight tourists. On the Northern Peninsula for a Come Home Year, the eight, most of whom were from the U.S., decided to take the St. Barbe ferry to Blanc Sablon for a day trip. But after they got to Labrador, the group ended up spending Monday night there. The ferry cancelled the Monday night return trip because of high winds in the Strait. With no accommodations booked, they stayed in Quebec that night. On VOCM Niteline with Denis Mulloy, Margaret said they ended up having to stand in line for several hours the next day to get a spot on the boat. It's doubtful they'll ever make a return trip.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Abide with he

On December 6, 2005, Danny Williams was quoted by CBC as saying, of the ongoing political mess of his own making over the Chairmanship of the CNLOP, that "a process was put in place and that will take its course and of course we will abide by that process."

That, of course, was a big fat lie, as later events would demonstrate.

On July 13, Alisha Morrissey, writing in the St. John's Telegram, indirectly quotes Danny, writing, "Responding to Halley's courtroom comments, Williams told reporters Wednesday the province will have to abide by the judge's decision."

The judge has decided. Danny lost.

Will Danny let it go now?

Or was he lying in July like he lied in December?

Human shields

When “Government outraged by Abitibi decisions”, the press release was issued jointly by Executive Council and Natural Resources, with Danny Williams leading the outrage.

When “Extensive negotiations with Abitibi unable to produce resolution”, despite the best efforts of Great Negotiator, the press release was issued jointly by Executive Council and Natural Resources, with Great Negotiator, naturally, getting top billing.

When “Government meets with Abitibi to discuss future operations”, the press release was issued by Natural Resources, but Glorious Discusser still gets his mention.

When “Government reaches framework of an agreement with Abitibi” (“which should see the continued operation of the mill in Stephenville”, to boot!) the press release again was issued jointly by Executive Council and Natural Resources, with Great Negotiator, of course, getting top billing.

But when “Government disappointed in Abitibi decision”, it was up to the late Ed Byrne to be disappointed. Glorious Leader’s name does not appear.

When Stephenville has to rest its future on a task force, led by a Ministerial Committee to boot – never put your future in the hands of a task force – it’s up to Kathy Dunderdale. Glorious Leader is not a member of the Ministerial Committee, and his name does not appear in the press release announcing it.

Again it’s Kathy’s job to deliver non-news, and again, Glorious Leader is nowhere to be found.

And finally it falls to Clyde Jackman and Kathy Dunderdale to turn out the lights and lock the gates behind them.

Heaven forbid Glorious Leader sully his hands with such work. After all, He is the Minister of Sunshine and Business. Rain (when it’s not a federal issue, the product of mainland corporate Enemies, or Quebec’s fault) is Someone Else’s Department.

This is what cabinet government has descended to in Chairman Dan’s empire: He is solus inter pares. The rest are human shields.

Not so-simultaneous translation

In the public interest, here is today's St. John's Telegram editorial, translated into plain, plain, English:
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Danny Williams gets a smackdown
By The Telegram

You had to know this was coming: after a few short days of consideration, Supreme Court Judge Raymond Halley has resoundingly ruled that Danny Williams has acted reprehensibly in continuing to block the appointment of Max Ruelokke as head of the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).

Premier Danny Williams has squirmed and wriggled and done just about anything he can to install his own candidate as chair of the board.

But unless someone decides to play fast and loose with still more of the taxpayers’ money, the wriggling is now over.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of Halley’s decision: “It is therefore declared that (Ruelokke) is the de facto chair and chief executive officer of the board and has been since Dec. 5, 2005. It is further declared that (Danny Williams) is legally bound by the panel’s decision to select (Ruelokke) as the chair and CEO of the board.”

It doesn’t get much plainer than that.

It doesn’t get much plainer because, on top of everything else, Halley has determined that Danny Williams’ behaviour is so unreasonable as to be judged “reprehensible,” and the government has been ordered to pay Ruelokke’s legal costs.

Here’s what the judge had to say about Danny Williams’ stubborn insistence that St. John’s Mayor Andy Wells should get the job: “It may have been a mistake for (Danny Williams) to promote an unqualified candidate for the position of chair and CEO of the board prior to the panel’s selection of (Ruelokke), but it was mischievous for (Danny Williams) to continue to ‘push’ for his appointment after the panel had made its decision. … (Danny Williams) chose to support one person and urged the panel to select his candidate, who was a long-term local politician. (Danny Williams’) campaign to promote his candidate was ‘doomed to failure’ because he had neither the professional background nor the industry experience to be qualified to act as the chair and CEO of the board.”


Then Halley took the gloves off: “On the whole, (Danny Williams) has treated (Ruelokke) with contempt and disrespect.”

On top of everything else that has now transpired, you have to look really hard to see just how Danny Williams has gained anything from his foolish intransigence.

How exactly is Ruelokke supposed to work with provincial officials, especially after Williams darkly hinted that he was against the appointment because of Ruelokke’s former employment with the oil industry?

This was a process that was badly and pigheadedly dealt with from the beginning — Danny Williams made a bad choice, and then dug himself further into a hole with each passing effort.

If Danny Williams decides to appeal this case, let’s hope everyone realizes that we’re staggering into an area where due process is being abused to the point that it does personal injury.

If Danny Williams appeals and loses again, the judges had better be thinking about punitive damages on top of everything else.

Believe one thing: taxpayers are already going to be paying through the nose for the stubbornness of Danny Williams.

The first step is admitting you have a problem

Why, oh why is it that Newfoundlanders, so worried about their supposed dependence on Marine Atlantic, spend so much effort lobbying for this, that, or the other change to the service... and absolutely none on getting an alternative that would cure that dependence in the first place?
Look at a map, folks: if there was a highway system linking Labrador and Quebec, you wouldn't be so dependent on Marine Atlantic and the maritime route to begin with.

Has the city of St. John's EVER stated its support for the Trans-Labrador Highway?

From VOCM news today:

Capital City Wants Ferry Service Upgrade
August 8, 2006

St. John's is urging the powers that be to upgrade the Marine Atlantic ferry service. Councillor Sandy Hickman says the recent break-down of the Leif Erickson during peak tourist time shows the need for new, faster, upgraded vessels. Hickman says if travellers cannot depend on timely crossings they will lose confidence in the service and ultimately in Newfoundland and Labrador as a vacation destination. Hickman wants Marine Atlantic CEO Roger Flood to sit down with the city's tourism committee to hear their concerns.

Monday, August 07, 2006

That was still then, this is still now

Once upon a time there was a party called the PC Party. Its shrills and its shills raised holy hell every time their Liberal opponents, then in power, did something that attracted a lawsuit.

It was no way to run a government, the PCs would holler. First Ed, then Danny, made great hay out of every statement of claim. They kept a running total of all the amounts the provincial Liberals had the taxpayer on the hook for. At one point, they alleged it was $30-million.


Shock and appall ensued.

Now that Danny Williams, the Great Lawyer, has led the province straight into what everyone with two clues to rub together could have told him would be the losing end of — you guessed it — an embarassing lawsuit, what happens next?

Will there be shock and appall all over the State Broadcaster and its three daily call-in shows?

What will the province's taxpayer be on the hook for in the form of Max Ruelokke's costs?

Will Danny Williams, Great Lawyer, call for his own resignation?

Failures to communicate

Not for the first time, either, the $60K-a-year communications geniuses in the provincial government publish a document by not publishing it.

Jacquelyn, Danny, how hard would it have been to provide a direct link to The Path to the Good Life, instead of a link to a site where, contrary to what you state, the document cannot be viewed?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

From the memory hole VIII

From the 1974 Report of the Royal Commission on Labrador, pp. 796-797:

In a vast northern land with magnificent scenery, highly attractive sports fishing and impressive possibilities for development of several untouched aspects of tourism, the industry faces these drawbacks in Labrador today:

1. No important Provincial or Federal parks;

2. Building restrictions which place the construction and acquisition of tourist camp facilities beyond the reach of all but a very few residents;

3. No adequate training for guides, tourist camp operators, service personnel;

4. No capitalization on the skills and qualities of native people;

5. Lack of awareness on the part of many coastal Labrador people of the potential of tourism;

6. A coastal boat schedule that allows visitors only the most cursory shore visits;

7. An almost complete absence of adequate tourist accommodation in most coastal communities;

8. A ferry service across the Straits that acts almost as a deterrent to tourism;

9. Lack of a Government tourist development presence in Labrador;

10. Lack of a Labrador tourist development organization;

11. An almost complete absence of coastal air strips that prevents tourism by private plane;

12. Inadequate communication in much of Labrador to service the needs of tourists;

13. A frequent shortage of hotel accommodation in the larger centres;

14. Lack of handicraft and local food items for sale in most communities;

15. An absence of a concerted tourist promotion program on the part of the Province and transportation companies serving Labrador;

16. Lack of development capital;

17. A short season and virtually no serious attempt yet to promote off-season activities;

18. Lack of aggressive promotion of special tours to Labrador;

19. A manifest lack of Government concern of any significance for the preservation or redevelopment of sites of historica1 importance, or for the preservation of important historica1 materials;

20. Lack of basic research data on fresh water fish resources, and on most aspects of the industry in Labrador;

21. Lack of overland transportation to Labrador except by rail to Labrador West, which is not aggressively promoted as a tourist route;

22. A concern among residents of some coastal communities that leases and licenses have been offered by the Government at the expense of involvement in the tourist industry by Labrador residents;

23. Concern that there will inevitably be a serious confrontation between commercial and sports fishing interests and that the Labrador residents who have traditionally relied on the sea for their livelihood will be the losers in some areas.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ben Michel

From Ben Michel's speech to the Combined Councils of Labrador in January 2005:

In most of the countries, treaties were settled hundreds of years ago, but here in Labrador have been unfinished business. As you all know, leaving business unfinished has a cost. The uncertainty which results from the legal ambiguity over the ownership of land and resources creates a climate which is difficult for investment, difficult for partnership, and difficult to efficiently manage and govern.

Projects like Voisey’s Bay, which should have been operating years ago, become tied up in litigation and negotiation as a result. The same can be said of the Lower Churchill or military flight training or any number of other major developments.

The ongoing cost to all of us of this uncertainty — and I stress us — that’s every one of us here. I’m Innu, you’re settler, and we have some Inuit people here, and that’s us — the ongoing cost to all of us of this uncertainty, whichever the side of the table we may be on, can be measured in millions of dollars a year.

Modern land rights agreements are fundamentally about certainty. Now that the Inuit claim has been settled, we all know the rules for future projects in that part of Labrador. We can expect that the same will hold true in our territory when the Innu agreements have been concluded.

There will also be a clear and well-defined process for permitting development on Innu land, and there will be greater participation by Innu in decision-making in the co-management or settlement areas in our future agreement. Because Aboriginal people participate directly in the royalty benefits from resource development within their settlement areas, there is a clear incentive for Innu to partner with businesses who recognize and value our participation.

Land rights agreements are also about jurisdiction. Just as the Inuit collective lands have become Inuit Lands, there will be Innu lands. On these lands there will be Innu self-government, Innu laws will apply, and our members will enjoy certain rights and privileges.

How will these changes in jurisdiction affect other Labradorians? Unless you have a fundamental objection to renewing your cabin lease, or getting a hunting permit, from the Innu government instead of the Newfoundland government, it shouldn’t make much difference to anyone. If you are someone who thinks you can trust the Innu to make better decisions than the government in St. John’s, then that shouldn’t be a hard call for any true Labradorian to make.


It might even be an improvement.

If you are someone that is looking forward to the opportunity to supply products and services to our communities as we implement self-government and move our people forward, then a land rights agreement is something that you should be actively supporting. Once the treaties are in place, I firmly believe that the development of Labrador can unfold in a co-operative context. If negotiations continue to be obstructed by prejudice, or delayed by government inaction, we will lose this golden opportunity to work constructively together, and be force back into the confrontations and the conflicts of the past.

Achieving reconciliation between the Aboriginal peoples of Labrador, and those who have come here more recently, is, on the other hand, the key to unlocking Labrador’s economic and human potential, while on the other hand vital — vital — to ensuring that Labrador’s aboriginal peoples are able to sustain their culture and ways of life, and effectively steward the land and resources on which all of our futures depend.


I dream about the day where Innu can work together with Labradorians in the spirit of partnership, respect, and co-operation for the future of our great land and the benefit of our children and all future generations, regardless of what their colour is or what culture they belong to. I firmly believe that. As the President of the Innu Nation, I want to say I believe there is tremendous opportunity for all of us here in this great land. But you must also try and understand that there is a door to which we can only come in. And that door is through the Aboriginal peoples. And that is something that I truly believe can be secured with respect, recognition, and reconciliation.

Allegory relief

Usually allegorical editorializing of the Russell Wangersky school drives me around the bend. But this one isn't a nature allegory, and it's explosive stuff to boot, so here goes. Kudos to Ossie Michelin for a terrific piece:

A matter of marital issues

The Labradorian [July 31, 2006]

Newfoundland and Labrador have lived in the same neighbourhood as long as either one can remember. They had many friends in common; their aboriginal groups were cousins and they had both entertained groups of lost Norsemen.

They were best of friends as British colonies, Queen Victoria, or 'Old Miss Vickie' as Newfoundland affectionately referred to her as, knew that there would be magic between the young couple.

And so over the years Labrador began to move away from her longtime beau, and neighbour to West, Quebec. As much as Labrador loved her past with her charming French friend, she felt that she had more in common with Newfoundland. Although he could be a little distant at times, Labrador would remind him affectionately that “No man is an Island.”
[Full text]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland, again

Boy. It sure didn't take the crack team at Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland very long to get on top of the problems at Marine Atlantic stemming from mechanical difficulties on the Leif Ericson.

How bad would things have to get on the provincially-run Labrador ferries and coastal marine service before you'd start seeing Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland going aboard of Tom Rideout in the press, the same way they go aboard of Marine Atlantic, without fail, any time there's a mechanical delay?

Especially given that the tourism impacts of the Labrador marine services are entirely the product of provincial goverment actions, whether of commission or omission, what, exactly, will it take for Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland to speak out about Labrador's marine transportation services?