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

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You lose some, you lose some

During the 2003 provincial election, Danny Williams wrote to the Labrador Metis Nation, courting LMN members’ votes in the hotly-fought district of Lake Melville.

In his October 8, 2003, letter, Danny wrote:
A Progressive Conservative government will acknowledge that the decision in the Powley case applies to Metis in Newfoundland and Labrador, and will par ticipate with specific rights affirmed in the Powley decision and other rights protected under s. 35 of the Constitution.
In a clever bit of lawyering, Chairman Dan, shortly post-election, nuanced his pre-election comments:
Premier Danny Williams today announced that the province has concluded its legal review of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Powley, handed down on September 19, 2003, and has applied the criteria set out in the decision to the Labrador Métis Nation (LMN). "I made a commitment that this court decision would apply to Métis in the province, and I stand by that commitment. Based on the province's legal review of Powley, it is our assessment that members of the LMN do not meet the criteria put forward by the Supreme Court to determine who may be Section 35 Métis and enjoy aboriginal rights," Premier Williams said.
Catch that?In Danny’s measured, lawyerly view, Powley applies to Métis in Labrador. It’s just that the Métis population of Labrador is 0.

Powley × 0 = 0.


Except that, as any good lawyer knows, under our system of government that’s not Chairman Dan’s determination to make.

It’s the courts’.

And in the yet-unreported Labrador Métis Nation v. Her Majesty in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2006 N.L.T.D. 119, handed down on July 19, 2006, the Hon. Justice Robert A. Fowler respectfully, and spectacularly, disagrees with that illustrious legalist, the Hon. The Premier.

[3] What this court is being asked to consider is whether or not the government of Newfoundland and Labrador in constructing the 250 kilometre, Phase III Section of the Trans Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright Junction in Labrador had and has a duty to consult those people who claim Aboriginal status as Inuit-Metis of south and central Labrador? [sic]

[4] To analyze this question I intend to follow the ten step approach employed by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley...


[131] While counsel for the Provincial Crown argues that it has a problem in determining with whom it should be consulting; “the difficulty of identifying members of the Metis community must not be exaggerated as a basis for defeating their rights under the Constitution of Canada.” (R. v. Powley (supra) paragraph 49).

Powley is referenced nearly a dozen times in Judge Fowler’s 135-para reasons for judgment.

Once upon a time, Danny Williams used to criticize the provincial government for being taken to court, and losing, so often.

That was then.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another tale of two standards

Another day, another problem with the provincially-operated Labrador marine transportation system.

And yet Hospitality Newfoundland and Somethingoranother maintains its curious radio silence on anything to do with Labrador ferry service, its shortcomings, or its impact on tourism in distant Somethingoranother.

One, two, three press releases and news items so far this year about Marine Atlantic.

What is HNN doing, if anything, to represent the best interests of tourism development in Labrador? And if anything, why are they so hesitant to go public about it?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Double dose of double standard

Once again, this corner asks:

What is the sound, rational, coherent, and articulated basis on which wind power in Labrador is distinguished from wind power in Newfoundland?

Friday, July 14, 2006

A tale of two concert halls

Allan Bock, in the July 4, 2006 edition of the Northern Pen, reports:

Govt’ supports Polar Centre proposal

The provincial government says it will provide 80 per cent of the cost for phase one of a new regional civic centre complex at St. Anthony.

Straits and White Bay North MHA Trevor Taylor, in a short address to more than 2,000 people at St. Anthony Olympia last Monday prior to the Rex Goudie concert, [talk about reflected glory! – ed.] said his government had agreed to support a proposal from the Town of St. Anthony to construct a facility to replace the aging stadium.

The first phase is valued at $6-million, which means the province will commit $4.8-million.

“We have decided to fund this project under the Municipal Capital Works Program, not the federal-provincial-municipal program as suggested by the town,” he told the Pen. “Since this is a regional facility, the town has the ability to look at other sources for the 20 per cent it will be responsible for.”
Contrast this with the provincial government’s stance on the long-awaited, long-delayed, and evidently still-delayed Mealy Mountain Auditorium project in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

In 2003, the former provincial Liberal administration committed to pay 80% of the costs of this auditorium, which will replace the former Goose High Auditorium. There is no other comparable performance space anywhere in Labrador outside Labrador City. The former Liberal federal government committed the remaining 20% through the Cultural Spaces program of Heritage Canada.

During the 2003 election campaign, Loyola Sullivan cited the auditorium project as one of many examples of the former Liberals’ “trying to buy people with their own money” (Western Star, September 20, 2004). And one of the first acts of the Danny Williams government was to shelve it.

And off the shelf it sat for over a year. Then, during the 2005 federal by-election in Labrador, Chairman Dan, always on the hunt for a new enemy, and always looking for any opportunity to sing “Blame Canada”, wrote in a letter to the Goose Bay Citizen’s Coalition:

May I also take this opportunity to highlight for you our recent efforts on another issue of importance to the people of the region - namely, the request for a new auditorium. My Minister for Labrador Affairs and Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Paul Shelley, was just in Ottawa where he spoke with his federal counterpart on this matter a number of times. A senior member of my staff has also raised it directly with the Prime Minister’s Office. With a federal by-election looming in Labrador, federal parties are paying closer attention to Labrador’s unique needs and considering ways that Ottawa can do a better job of addressing them. This is the ideal moment to draw attention to these needs and to propose solutions. Our government is endeavouring to work collaboratively with the Government of Canada to identify ways for the federal government to bear the majority of the costs of an auditorium project.
This statement was bizarre on three counts. First, in the middle of a federal by-election, suddenly the federal government is expected “to bear the majority of the costs” for a provincial project in the Labrador portion of the province.

Second, the Goose Bay Citizen’s Coalition is concerned, solely, with military issues at Goose Bay. The choice of audience was bizarre, but Chairman Dan, knowing that the letter would get a wide circulation, especially among voters not inclined to vote Liberal, wouldn’t dare miss a chance to play “Blame Canada”, especially with a federal Liberal government in office at that time.

Third, from the physical formatting of that paragraph, it was very, very obviously thrown into the letter in haste. (By whom? And why?)

When Chairman Dan ostensibly took the project back off the shelf earlier this year, making himself the hero (and hoping that people would forget he was the one who deferred it in the first place), the same “Blame Canada” proviso applied. From a March 13 press release:

Government is announcing a $1.9 million provincial contribution to proceed with performance space in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Government will continue to explore a partnership with the federal government to share in the total project cost estimated at $4 million.

It is anticipated that the capital construction cost will be roughly $4 million with the funding requirement being shared between the federal and provincial governments. The provincial government will commit $1.9 million towards the cost and will seek partnerships with the federal government for cost-sharing.

(Never let it be said that Chairman Dan hasn’t learned anything from Tobin or Smallwood: Announce It, Then Announce It Again!)

On March 23, Bev Oda, the new Canadian Heritage Minister, recycled the previous government’s commitment on the proportion of funding shortly thereafter. (The dollar amount is larger, reflecting the increased expected project costs, due largely to increasing materials cost since the original, 2003, commitment was made.)

But heaven forbid the provincial government, especially the provincial government of Chairman Dan, actually pay full freight, or even 80% freight, for anything in Labrador, whether auditoriums or highways. On March 27, CBC reported the provincial reaction to the federal contribution:

Labrador Affairs Minister Paul Shelley welcomed the funding announcement. He said the provincial government will be pursuing additional federal support through a municipal rural infrastructure fund.
Through a municipal rural infrastructure fund”.

The very same one that Trevor Taylor and Chairman Dan’s government thinks isn’t appropriate for the facility in St. Anthony, for which they, the provincial government, are kicking in 80% of the cost.

In an October, 2005 interview with The Labradorian, Chairman Dan feigned surprise, and found an enemy to blame, for the negative reaction to his original decision to defer the auditorium:

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 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 [Labrador West MHA Randy] Collins, but specifically Ms [Cartwright-L’anse-au-Clair MHA Yvonne] Jones, who has taken a very negative reaction to any initiative we’ve undertaken.
A few weeks later, his Parliamentary Secretary was again playing the blame-shift game. As VOCM reported on November 11:

The only government member for Labrador says two major projects continue to move forward as high priority items on government's agenda. Lake Melville MHA John Hickey told VOCM Back Talk with Linda Swain, government is working with Ottawa to cost share the construction of an auditorium in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
No, Chairman Dan, the “negativity” surrounding your backstabbing and hypocrisy wasn’t generated by Ms. Jones.

You yourself set the bar.

You yourself said, in your first speech as your Party’s leader:

“It’s high time that Labradorians, instead of feeling like someone else’s treasure trove, started feeling like an integral part of our province. We cannot expect fair treatment from Ottawa if we don’t practise what we preach.”

And hence the “negativity”: You have not lived up to your own words. You have not met your own standards. Demanding that the federal government pay the majority of the costs of a project in Labrador, for no other apparent reason than the fact it is in Labrador, while you commit 80% of the costs of a comparable project in Newfoundland; shifting the blame for your own policy decisions and funding priorities to the federal government; that, Chairman Dan, is not treating Labrador “like an integral part of our province.”

It is not “practis[ing] what we preach.”

And the announcement to proceed with the auditorium project — maybe, kinda, sorta; the thing still seems to be in limbo — especially with a time line that puts shovels in the ground in the weeks before the 2007 election, you might even call that, as Loyola Sullivan would put it, “trying to buy people with their own money”.

Except that he and Chairman Dany are trying to buy them with the federal government’s money, or at least the majority of it. Labrador, in Chairman Dan’s view, can be bought with fifty-cent dollars.

So why the double standard?

Why one set of rules and priorities and funding schemata for St. Anthony, and another for Happy Valley-Goose Bay? Why 80% for the former, while the federal government is expected “to bear the majority of the costs” for the latter?

What is the sound, rational, coherent, and articulated basis on which an auditorium in Labrador is distinguished from an arena in Newfoundland?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Danny's double standard

Vector Wind Energy, whoever they are, have filed an environmental undertaking to build a wind farm near Fermeuse.

Fermeuse is on the island of Newfoundland. Presumably that is the only reason why the Provincialist Communist government that Danny Williams presides over is determined to "maximize[...] benefits for the people of the province" and "accruing benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians" from any wind farm developments in Labrador by nationalizing any such development through State Energy Minister Ed Martin's Ministry of Everything.

Presumably, the fact that it is on the island of Newfoundland is also why the province is looking for — SHOCK! — a private company to develop a gold deposit, instead of "going it alone" or "accruing benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians".


Because, as near as can be determined, the only meaningful distinction between the Stog'er Tight property and the Vector proposal at Fermeuse, on the one hand, and the Ventus proposal in Labrador on the other, is that the latter is in Labrador. And is a partnership with the LMN.

Can Danny and his Provincialist Communists rationalize their double standard in any other way? If so, they should let us all know.

Why is private enterprise and investment so good for Newfoundland?

Why is it so bad for Labrador?

What is the sound, rational, coherent, and articulated basis on which wind power in Labrador is distinguished from wind power (or gold mines) in Newfoundland?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Oversight in hindsight

There is something deliciously ironic about this. From a CP wire story:

Since it only makes passing reference to Newfoundland and Labrabor, Hasbro Canada Corp.'s new Canadian Monopoly game should never have passed Go, says the province's tourism minister...

The only mention of Newfoundland is St. John's International Airport, which holds a lesser status on the board — the equivalent of a traditional railroad position. Like Nunavut and the Northwest and Yukon territories, it has no regular properties — a coveted position in the game.


"I am delighted to see that St. John's International Airport made it on to the new Monopoly game, however, I am disappointed that not one of our historic landmarks or tourism destinations were named among the 22 Canadian properties on the board," he said.

"I understand this is a game, but it is not truly a 'Canadianized' version. Leaving out Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nunavut and the Northwest and Yukon territories, is a significant oversight."

Nancy Healey of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador shared Hedderson's disappointment, saying if Hasbro wanted to make a Canadian version of the game, it should have included properties from all provinces.

Both Hedderson and Healey said the board could have included such Newfoundland landmarks as Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Gros Morne and the Cape Bonavista lighthouse.


So... Hedderson, whose Newfoundland and Newfoundland tourism department, year after year, gleefully collects taxes and fees from Labrador, and year after year fail to present Labrador in Newfoundland and Newfoundland tourism advertising campaigns; and Healey, whose Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland collects membership dues from Labrador and then year after year does nothing to advocate for the Labrador tourism industry it supposedly represents, are upset that Newfoundland and Newfoundland is left out of a game. And they can't even come up with a Labrador example of a property, to boot!

Do they even begin to appreciate the hypocrisy?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Congratulations to Lake Melville MHA John Hickey who has belatedly, but finally, been invited into Danny Williams' growing inner circle.

Given the Premier's propensity for the usual Newfoundland-nationalist jingoistic rhetoric about how Labrador is an "integral part of the province", etc., the slighting of Labrador over the past three years has been, and remains, unacceptable. Indeed, Danny even justified his original decision not to bring Hickey into cabinet on the basis that "minute" regions of the province could safely be left out.

With so much of Danny's political capital invested in Labrador-centred policy planks such as the so-called Lower Churchill development, the fixed link fantasy (which he has never abandoned despite the negative results of the pre-feasability study he ordered), and possible mineral developments in the iron patch and the uranium belt, it has never been more important that someone who is directly accountable to the electors in Labrador is seated at the table that makes the key decisions.

Hopefully the Hon. John will also be able to convince the Premier and his colleagues that being an "integral part of the province" means that Labrador will receive honest-to-goodness provincial funding commitments under provincial heads of jurisdiction... not just promises that are entirely conditional on federal matching funding that may or may not exist.

Credit must go to Danny for finally doing the right thing.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Remembery I and II

January 26, 1919. James Goudie arrived from Battle Harbour bringing the glorious news that Peace had been declared. A revolution having occured in Germany, this expedited the termination of the War. We are now anxiously awaiting the mail.

January 27. Flags flying today, celebrating peace. Bonfire at hospital grounds.

May 1. Arrivals Robt. Montague.

— Hudson's Bay Company Post Journal, North West River.

18th April, 1932

Prime Minister,

Dear Mr. Bennett,

...You know how I feel about the whole thing and have felt for many years and how the fishermen feel; that is, they would like to be tied up with Canada. I feel sure that if at the present time we could get the Newfoundland fishermen to understand that Canada really cares about them and the Empire, it would be very easy to get them to vote confederate and bring Newfoundland and its dependency of Labrador into the Canadian Dominion without anybody having to pay a cent at all...

I would like to have a talk with you the next time I come to Ottawa on the whole problem of getting Newfoundland and Labrador into the Dominion. I believe if I could give time to it, seeing the condition they are in now, I could get the majority of the country to vote for it. This is confidentially, but I believe it would be absolutely true.

Wilfred T. Grenfell.

— National Archives of Canada, MG26 J1, C-2329, pp. 162,785-87