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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Must... hate... Quebec...

The series of daily, oh-so Smallwoodian, Two-Minute Hates continues. Quoth the Great Man Himself on CBC Labrador Morning:
What they [Quebec] want to do, they don't want to put any of the social services in, they don't want to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars that my government is now putting into Labrador in order to improve you know, the College of the North Atlantic Schools for example, the hospital in Lab West, the new long term care facility or put money into transportation infrastructure. They just want to come in and they just want to cherry pick a situation where they can take the profits out as they've done with the Upper Churchill and reap the benefits from Labrador and have no social responsibility.

In the name of proving that his own government and his own province don't view Labrador in exactly the same way that he alleges Quebec does, and given that his self-styled "commitments" to Labrador, from the TLH to the auditorium in Happy Valley-Goose Bay are predicated on financial buck-passing to Ottawa, perhaps Premier Williams would like to itemize each and every million of the "hundreds of millions of dollars" that his government is supposedly spending in Labrador.


Today's Telegram editorial is almost perfect. Just add two words to the last line, and it's perfectly perfect:
Separating fact from fantasy
By The Telegram

Supreme Court Judge Garrett Handrigan in Grand Bank doesn’t suffer fools gladly. As judges go, he tends to be direct and to the point, and it makes reading his verdicts a useful exercise in understanding the basic, untrammeled law.

Wednesday brought his verdict in an appeal by Rick Bouzan and George Nichol. It’s a case that should be required reading for anyone who’s thinking of fighting the federal government’s jurisdiction over the fishery.


It might take more guts to point out that there is a huge difference between what is actually the law, and what is popular, but wishful, thinking.

If you disagree, read the verdict. It deals with fact, not fiction, Ryan Cleary.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Just run with it

Craig Jackson reports in today's Telegram:

A portion of Labrador territory remains "non-definitive" on Quebec maps. Despite the ruling, the boundary line still hasn’t been officially surveyed, an issue this province is examining.

Even so, Williams says he isn’t concerned about it.

"It only gives people in Quebec an issue to run with, that perhaps there’s some dispute over the boundary," he said.
Newfoundland politicians have a much greater propensity to "run with" the Labrador boundary issue than any recent Quebec ones. Indeed, playing the jingoistic Quebec "bogeyman" game has been in the playbook of every Newfoundland politician from Cashin and Crosbie, through Moores, Peckford, and Tobin, and even, to some extent, Grimes.

The only exception would seem, at least to this corner's recollection, to be Wells.

Danny might just as easily, and much more truthfully said, "It only gives people in Newfoundland an issue to run with, that perhaps's Quebec has some real claim over the boundary."

It's also extraordinary that the Premier didn't know the boundary was, for the most part, unsurveyed. Surely a lawyer of his calibre, and one who has obviously spent so much time studying the Smallwood playbook, would know that. If he investigated, he might learn that Canada, before Confederation, had offered to jointly survey the then-international boundary... and that Newfoundland declined the suggestion.

Then again, this is also the Premier, a Rhodes scholar, who, on his first visit to the Northern Peninsula, had to ask what those lights off in the distance, across the Strait of Belle Isle were — having confused Labrador, then still an "integral" part of the province, and not the "minute" one it would become on swearing-in day, with Quebec, or ships at sea, or the Northern Peninsula curving back on itself in Einsteinian space, or something.

Labrador geography? Not his strong suit.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Takes volatile to know volatile?

"The more we can spread out our energy supply means that we won't be totally dependent on Quebec for energy, which given the volatility of the politics in Quebec, could be a very, very sensitive situation in the years to come,'

So says Chairman Dan today.

Well, perhaps compared to Chairman's own province's tendency to elect one-and-a-half- to two-decade-long dynasties, Quebec, which has stuck religiously to electoral alternation since Maurice Duplessis' pallbearers buried the U.N. the first time, can be said to be "volatile".

Otherwise, Quebec and its leadership is a paragon of stability. Chairman's has a disturbing pattern of histrionics, theatrics, drama-queen antics, and never-ending quest for fights to pick and Ottawas to bash. Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, who, ever morning over breakfast found five things to be humiliated about (can't you just picture Bouchard, jowls quivering, spitting out the word "humiliation"?), can't hold a candle to Chairman Dan in the volatility department.

This whole Labrador-Quebec-hydro thing is sounding more and more Smallwoodian by the day.

Delusions, indeed

Perhaps Ryan Cleary would like to outline, what is the "argument, under the Terms [of Union], for as many as nine [seats in the House of Commons]"?

For the record, here are the relevant Terms:


3. The Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, shall apply to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the same way, and to the like extent as they apply to the provinces heretofore comprised in Canada, as if the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador had been one of the provinces originally united except in so far as varied by these Terms and except such provisions as are in terms made or by reasonable intendment may be held to be specially applicable to or only to affect one or more and not all of the provinces originally united.


4. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by six members, and in the House of Commons by seven members out of a total membership of two hundred and sixty-two.

5. Representation in the Senate and in the House of Commons shall from lime to time be altered or readjusted in accordance with the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940.
Term 5 is the key here: under what possible interpretation of Term 5 would Newfoundland and Labrador be entitled to nine members of the House of Commons?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two questions for Brian Dobbin

1. What "territory" did "we" ever lose?

2. What "island of 500,000 people" are you talking about.

Thank you.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Labrador border post

It is one of the oldest tricks in the Newfoundland nationalist jingo political playbook:

The Quebec Card.

Whenever you want to engage in some jingoistic sabre-rattling, and are in need of an enemy, an other on which to focus your two-minute hate, just play the Quebec Card.

The ploy has been around for decades.

Shortly before he dramatically collapsed, National Convention delegate, and staunch anti-Confederate Ken Brown, fustigated:

Canada wants Labrador, and she wants Newfoundland. Perhaps the Dominion government is not so interested, or the people at Ottawa, but the Quebec government is, and wants Newfoundland, and thinks today, Mr Chairman, that Labrador should never have been ceded to Newfoundland. [National Convention debates, October 30, 1946]
Or how about that great hero to anti-Confederates past and separatists present, Peter Cashin; he who once offered to sell Labrador:

Peter Cashin, former finance minister and leading proponent of self-rule for Newfoundland, declared in a broadcast Saturday that Canada wants Newfoundland to enter the confederation because the province of Quebec wanted Labrador. [Reuters, August 11, 1947]
Nor was the great anti-Confederate hero above playing the linguistic bigotry card:

Either the people wouild have to find additional revenue in the form of direct taxation, or a deal would have to be made, possible forced upon us, whereby the 110,000 square miles of our Labrador possession would be mortgaged or taken over on a rental basis by the Canadian federal government or by the French Province of Quebec. [National Convention debates, January 8, 1948]
How about this for a bold prediction, again from the great anti-French bigot Cashin?

My object is to simply impress on delegates the hidden significance of this latest move on the part of the premier of French Canada [Duplessis, who was agitating against the Labrador boundary in the press at the time] and to ask fellow delegates to give the matter their serious consideration. Vigilance, it is said, is the price of safety. Let that then be our watchword... You or I may not be here, but you will find if we go into confederation with Canada, that within five years, Labrador will be taken from Newfoundland. [National Convention Debates, December 1, 1947]
Much closer to the mark, on the predictions front, was this one from the Member for Labrador, Rev. Lester Burry:

I feel that we might have more reason to be afraid of losing our Labrador territory not so much from anyone outside taking a hold of it, not so much that Quebec will come and take it from us but perhaps their might be some weakness within our own selves, or in our governments of the future which might succumb to offers made for Labrador and we might lose it in that way. [National Convention Debates, January 13, 1948]
Despite being entrenched even more firmly into law with Confederation than it even had been before, the Quebec bogeyman made a wide target for many years after 1949.

Opposition leader James J. Greene (PC, St. John's East) said it was urgent that the [Labrador] border be determined as soon as possible. He urged the Liberal Government to keep in mind the importance of every square inch of Labrador. [Canadian Press, January 25, 1962]

"It must make a man's blood boil," Mr. Smallwood said, "when he sees, on countless occasions, our great subcontinent or rich and valuable wealth described as part of the 'New Quebec'." He said the reason for the bill was that "we need the world to know." Opposition leader James Greene interjected: "We want one man in Quebec to know". "And that man in Quebec will make no difference," Mr. Smallwood replid. " All he can do is talk. He can do nothing about it." The bill would officially change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador. [Canadian Press, May 16, 1964. The "one man" was then Quebec Resources Minister, René Lévesque.]

Newfoundlanders fear they may lose Labrador to Quebec through quiet infiltration, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was told [in St. John's] last night. Some speakers at a general meeting said French Canadians may form up to 70 per cent of the Labrador population in a few years and either seek union with Quebec or status as the 11th province of Canada. [Canadian Press, June 9, 1964]
As recently as 1999, Danny Williams' The Party was playing the Quebec Card for its own crass political purposes:
MR. OTTENHEIMER: My questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I know he is on top of his job, so therefore he must be aware of a new glossy brochure called The Territory and a new map of Quebec, produced by the Government of Quebec, which includes a large part of southern Labrador in the Province of Quebec. Has the government protested this claim on our territory directly to Quebec and to the Government of Canada? I would ask the minister to table those letters protesting this act, along with the responses from
both Quebec and Ottawa.

MR. NOEL: As the member well knows, the border between Quebec and Newfoundland is recognized by both provinces. We are content with the level of recognition that exits. Obviously from time to time some questions are raised by particular individuals. I am not specifically aware of the one that the member raises today. I will look into it and have a further answer for him in the near future.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Following Question Period, I will e pleased to show both a map and brochure, one dated 1998, one dated 1999, both official government documents which make quite clearly the point that I raised earlier. It is a serious matter, I say, Mr. Minister. Quebec is building a legal case by openly claiming ownership of our territory. Every time our government fails to reject and protest Quebec’s claims, we build credibility for their case. Some court, somewhere, some time, may be influenced by the history of Quebec’s persistence in claiming our land and our failure to do anything about it.I ask the minister: Why are you so silent, as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? Why are you and why is this government afraid to stand up to the Province of Quebec?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, our Province has not been silent on this issue when it has been necessary to be vocal, but we do not feel that it is necessary to be very vocal at this particular time because we think that the border is recognized by all Canadians, by the Government of Quebec. I think the Premier of Quebec, just a few days ago, indicated that the border between his province and our Province is not in question. There is no serious disagreement about that border. From time to time the question is raised by various interests. From time to time we see certain publications that we would prefer would be printed other than they are; but, if we at any time feel that there is a serious issue that has to be dealt with, it will be dealt with. At the present
moment we are quite content with the recognition of the boundary that exists in the country.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the minister, he should really treat this issue much more seriously. Both of these official documents clearly speak for themselves. How can this government keep on doing business with a province that claims our territory, does not recognize our laws, has captured almost all of the benefits from our resources in Labrador, and uses its overwhelming influence in Ottawa to deny federal support for our rights and interests as a Province? How do you continue to do business in this manner, Mr. Minister?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I think that recent events will indicate that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is doing excellent business with the Province of Quebec. We do not feel that there is any credible question raised about the border. I will look into the couple of specific instances that the member has cited to satisfy his mind and to make sure that he has a peaceful and happy Christmas.
The exchange was followed up with a suitably ominous press release:
Legal implications of ignoring Québec maps claiming Labrador territory

ST. JOHN'S, December 14, 1999 — Opposition Justice critic John Ottenheimer is urging the Tobin government to challenge the latest publications of the province of Québec whose maps claim the southern Labrador boundary is in dispute and part of Labrador may belong to Québec.

Ottenheimer said there is a danger in leaving such longstanding claims unchallenged, that a court at some future date may view the lack of response on Newfoundland and Labrador's part as a tacit recognition of the legitimacy of Québec's claim. At the very least, it could lend legitimacy to the notion that the boundaries of Labrador are in question rather than firmly resolved, he said. "By not protesting, we enhance their case," he said. "In a court of law, our silence on this issue can speak volumes."

Ottenheimer questioned Intergovernmental Affairs minister Walter Noel on the matter in the legislature Tuesday and expressed concern that the minister dismissed the issue as trivial.

"Both these official documents speak for themselves," Ottenheimer said. "It is unseemly of this province's government to carry on business-as-usual, without protest, with a government that has not only benefitted tremendously from our resources at our expense and denied us basic interprovincial rights that other provinces readily grant to one another, but has then had the audacity to claim our territory as its own."
And was carried in the Telegram the next day:
Quebec maps claiming Labrador cause for concern: Ottenheimer
Deana Stokes Sullivan
The Telegram
December 15, 1999

St. John's East MHA John Ottenheimer is urging the Newfoundland government to take a stand to stop Quebec from claiming part of Labrador in its promotional materials.


Showing the materials to reporters outside the legislature, Ottenheimer said the brochure printed in 1998 shows an ``obvious encroachment'' into Labrador, while the map dated 1999 includes a notation, "the 1927 boundary of the privy council (not definitive)."

"So it's a clear expression of what Quebec wants to espouse with respect to its territorial rights and I'm concerned, as a Newfoundlander," said Ottenheimer.

"This government has to take serious these sorts of presentations by a neighbouring province."
But as with so many other things, Danny and his The Party, in power, sing a different tune. As Chairman Dan told the Telegram, quoting him on May 28 of this year:
"I don't even understand why it's being raised ... the boundary is not an issue for us," Williams told The Telegram. "Every so often it will come up on a Quebec map showing the border being wrong, but from our perspective it's not a concern. [...] I wouldn't even raise it - by just raising it, with all due respect, even doing articles on it just acknowledges maybe there is an issue here, in the minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."
And for once, you know, Chairman is right: All the maps in the world do not change the fact that the boundary was set in 1927 and entrenched in 1949; or that to change it would require very specific procedures, set out in the 1871 British North America Act and the 1982 Constitution Act, procedures which require the consent of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature. To suggest, as the conspiracy theorists and francophobes do, that Quebec's silly map tricks have any legal bearing, is to concede an important point and to beg the question: "Does Quebec have a legal claim, or even a possibility of one, to Labrador or any part thereof?"

The answer, as both Danny Williams and John Ottenheimer, with their legal backgrounds, will well know, is that Quebec absolutely does not. And with his French language skills, Ottenheimer should also read, if he hasn't already, the report of Quebec's own Dorion Commission, which concluded that the Labrador boundary issue is a hopeless cause for Quebec. Even Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard have conceded, quietly, that this is the case. Chairman is legally and politically right to be dismissive. Taken together, s.3 of the 1871 British North America Act, Terms 2 and 3 of the Terms of Union, and s. 43 of the 1982 Constitution Act, mean that the Labrador boundary absolutely cannot be changed in any way, other than in the ways those statutes set out: with the express approval of the House of Assembly in St. John's.

And yet the question remains: why does this question keep coming up? why is it given so much more credence in Newfoundland than it has been given in Quebec these past two or three decades? why does it find such a receptive audience? and why, knowing what they know, did the provincial Tories of Danny Williams and John Ottenheimer make hay out of it in opposition?

The Labrador boundary "problem" is perhaps the best example of a danger that Chairman Dan faces. His brief political career, in opposition and in government, has consisted far too much and far too often of playing into and playing up the many myths which make up the political orthodoxy of the soft white underbelly of Newfoundland politics. His actions and rhetoric are deliberately and consistently geared towards ratcheting up the Newfoundland nationalism, creating enemies to hate, and casting doubt on Canada and the idea of Confederation.

"They" — you are to say it with a sneer — are out to get us. "They" are out to rip us off. "They" ≠ "us". They : bad. Us : good.

One day it's Quebec and its "claim" to Labrador. Next it's the federal government collecting all our resource revenues. Then the foreigners are taking all the fish. Short, snappy headlines, meant to generate negative, visceral, emotional reactions, facts be damned.

After all, who needs fact when you have unbridled outrage and the power of VOCM to act as its echo chamber?

So herein lies the danger: what happens when you play into those myths, and when you play them up, so early, so hard, and so often, that they get away from you? What happens when you are a large part of having the public believing things, rightly or, for the most part, wrongly, which may in fact hinder your own agenda or undermine your reputation as the Scrapper, the Great Negotiator, the Fighting Newfoundlander?

What happens if the Newfoundland nationalist myths grow larger, and become more entrenched, than you can control? What if they set the agenda, instead being part of yours? What happens when they paint you, your reputation, your government, your electorate, and your society, into a corner?

Loyola Hearn, who fustigated against those dem furriners for nine years in federal opposition, and years before in his provincial career, is starting to learn that lesson. One of his teachers will, without a doubt, be the Premier.

But Chairman Dan's turn to learn, whether he wants it to or not, will yet come.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Google is your friend

If anyone had ever bothered to check, they would find that Hydro-Québec's Romaine hydro project, as planned, would not flood any territory in Labrador.

Will it have upstream environmental impact in Labrador? Almost certainly.

But does it change the border?

Certainly not.

Does Quebec's map funny business change the border?

Certainly not.

Read Term 2. Then read s. 3 of the British North America Act, 1871. Finally, read s. 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Danny then, then, then, then, then, and now

"No More Giveaways!"

Remember that famous line?

Danny then, then, then, then, and then:
Danny's inaugural address as party leader, April 7, 2001: We must create laws that obligate governments to manage the use of our resources to obtain the highest long-term benefit for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our resources must be utilized to ensure employment and stable communities throughout the province. That principle, too, should be enshrined in our laws. Bulk nickel, bulk oil, bulk water, bulk fish ? bulk is just another word for unprocessed. Unprocessed is just another word for less jobs and less benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. No wonder we have the highest unemployment in the country.

Danny in the House of Assembly, March 19, 2002: The place to start, Mr. Speaker, is with our resources. We need to start and we need to deal with those who want to exploit our resources. No more giveaways.

Danny in the House of Assembly, June 19, 2002: The reason I find I have that feeling in my stomach is that the reason I personally got involved in politics was to stop the giveaways. ... Mr. Speaker, Mining Lease, paragraph 36, it talks only about primary processing. It does not talk about secondary processing. It speaks only of primary processing. What about the processing for the people of Argentia? Where are the safeguards in all the documentation? I do not see it here. Maybe it is here. I do not know, we do not know, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not know. ... I do honestly believe - as I said that is why I got in politics in the first place - that enough is enough; enough giveaways. We have given it all away before and we cannot let it happen again.

Danny's 2003 campaign launch speech: We will identify and capture opportunities for secondary processing whenever possible. No more give-aways.

Danny's 2003 election platform: Our goal is to increase the activities associated with the processing of minerals in the Province and related business activities in the service and supply industries, such as construction, energy, engineering and environmental services, research and development, equipment parts and supplies, and financial and legal services. A strong mineral industry for the Province will be built on progressive legislation that will: Require that ore concentrate be processed to a finished metal product in the Province where it is feasible to do so. Link royalties and taxes to market prices and the extent of value-added activity undertaken in the Province.
And now:
Danny, speaking through Minister Dunderdale, in the St. John's Telegram of September 17, 2006: Dunderdale says the province won’t place processing restrictions on prospectors and mining companies because it would just drive them away.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Crack Talk With Bill Rowe

If any additional proof was needed of why Bill Rowe should be frog-marched off the air, Thursday’s version of Backtalk provided it.

First there was a call from regular Jim Halley, complaining that the 20-km road to Cape Race is unpaved. Oh, woe. Guess what, Jim? There’s a highway over fifty times as long that’s in the same situation. Sure enough, someone from Labrador, the location of that highway, called in to point that out. Here’s the exchange between Lewis from Labrador City and Bill Rowe:

LEWIS: I’m referring to the call I just heard from Jim Halley about the road to Cape Race not paved. […] I wonder how would he feel if he was living in Labrador when he had no roads at all paved. We have to drive 800 kilometres to go to the coast. I wonder how would he feel about that?

BILL ROWE: Yeah, well is that, is it an either or situation, Lewis? I mean, I don’t see the two in competition with each other, do you?

LEWIS: Well he’s talking about the, I mean a nice place at Cape Race, a tourist attraction and all this. But Labrador I think got tourist attractions too. And I don’t understand why the people in Newfoundland is complaining about a road ten or twelve miles long and don’t care about the people in Labrador. The government don’t seem to care as long as we’re here making the money to keep the government going.

BILL ROWE: Lewis, do you ever hear the, did anyone ever tell you that you whine an awful lot? That there’s an awful lot of whining going on when it comes to a situation in Labrador?
Wow. It’s amazing how the same type of discourse, on the same type of issue, is “whining” when it comes from Labrador. But when it comes from Newfoundland, and from the mouth of Bill Rowe or Chairman Dan, it’s “national liberation” or something.

And it gets worse. Bill Rowe shows his propensity to shill for Glorious Leader. A giant banner with some sovietesque slogan, “Danny Williams Father of the Nation Will Liberate Labrador From Isolation” or some such, could not be more, well, sovietesque than what Bill Rowe says next:

BILL ROWE: I mean, you’re making progress in Labrador as a result of your efforts and the efforts of political figures and municipal leaders and town people generally. I mean, you are making progress are you, or are you not?[…] isn’t that, there’s going to be a hard top put on that, isn’t there, over the next reasonable amount of time.

LEWIS: Well, there was supposed to be, two years ago they put a 15 kilometres or seven or eight on each side from between here and Goose Bay and that’s two years later and we haven’t heard nothing since. I mean, we’ve been hearing things, but there hasn’t been nothing done.

BILL ROWE: Yeah. I mean, I don’t see this, I’ll tell you straight, I don’t see this kind of either or situation. I mean, Cape Race is a historical point down there and Jim Halley’s and mine and a lot of other people’s idea would be that there should be adequate access to this historical site which is part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I mean, there should be and as a, not only a tourist attraction, but as a, as something we all as citizens of this province should be proud of. But the same argument applies to infrastructure in Labrador, too. I mean, it’s not either or, it’s both; both should be done. Isn’t that correct?

LEWIS: Well, yes, but a person only got to drive twenty kilometres to go see a historical site, well when another person got to drive 800 kilometres just to go to the coast, I mean, it’s quite a difference, isn’t it?

BILL ROWE: Yeah, but, okay, obviously what I’m trying to say here is not getting through to you, Lewis, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. Not that I don’t welcome your point of view, but I, what I don’t understand, I don’t understand your point of view, that’s my problem. It’s not, I mean, paving the road to Cape Race is not going to stop is it? I mean, is this your argument; that paving the road or fixing up the road to Cape Race is somehow going to stop development in Labrador? Is that what you’re saying?

LEWIS: No, I, I don’t think so, but I think Labrador should be considered first. I mean, Labrador, I mean, is a cow, give it the milk right here and now and it seems like the Newfoundland government is milking the cow for the province of Newfoundland, for the island of Newfoundland.

BILL ROWE: Where do you get that idea, that Labrador is the milk cow for all the rest of the province?

LEWIS: I mean, they’re getting all the benefits and we’re reaping all the plums.

BILL ROWE: Yeah, I’d like to see a cost benefit analysis on that argument you’re making there. It’d be very interesting, Lewis.
Where does Lewis get that idea, Bill? Maybe from Chairman Dan himself!

“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.”
That was what Chairman said on that night in April 2001 he became The Party’s Leader.

Then Comrade Rowe opens up an invite:

BILL ROWE: Anyone who’s got a point of view on anything on that exchange between myself and Lewis, please, by all means, give us a call on it. We, this idea that there’s somehow we should be competing against each other in parts of our province of Newfoundland and Labrador is, to me it’s, and sort of complain about somebody getting something, I don’t hold with that, although I could be hopelessly wrong and out to lunch. If so, don’t hesitate to tell me.
Before you know it, George from Happy Valley-Goose Bay takes him up on it:

GEORGE: I’d just like to refer back to the conversation you had with, I guess, the gentleman from Lab West […] I’m actually appalled that you would even think and make the comment about whining. I mean, I’ve listened to your show now on a number, numerous occasions, both your show in the afternoons, mornings, evenings. When people get on and complain about the ferry service from Bell Island. When they get on and complain about the Northern Peninsula Highway. When they get on and complain about rocks on the road, bad bridges, nobody’s whining. When somebody gets on from Labrador and complains about the lousy transportation system that we have here, we’re whining. I think the biggest problem with it is, is there’s a mindset and, obviously, you’re a seasoned politician as well, you’ve been there, you’ve done this, you’ve done that. That’s the mindset that we have to battle. All we’re asking for, I think, up here, Mr. Rowe, is to come up to a reasonable parity with the province.
Heaven forbid in a call-in talk show that a caller-in should be able to, you know, talk:

BILL ROWE: I think the whining remark, George, if I could just interject.


BILL ROWE: You can have, you know, ample time to make your point.


BILL ROWE: The whining remark had to do not with demands or requests or statements as to what Labrador needs. The whining remark had to do with the point made about Cape Race needing-

GEORGE: But, Mr. Rowe-

BILL ROWE: -needing-

GEORGE: -it’s directly, it’s directly related.

BILL ROWE: -needing- Can I speak?

GEORGE: Yes, go ahead, sir.

BILL ROWE: Or do you want to say it? If you want to talk, George, go ahead and then we’ll go to the other caller.

GEORGE: Make your point, sir.


GEORGE: Yes, sir.
Comrade Rowe, perhaps now cognizant of the implications of what he had said – or maybe not – tries to explain himself:

BILL ROWE: Well, thank you, George. I appreciate that. My whining remark had to do with the comparison between the Labrador Highway and the historical site in Cape Race and the need to get access to that. And what I found, and still find, hard to take is that there’s any competition between the two concepts. I mean, everyone supports, certainly I do, the idea of a good, hardtop road right across Labrador. I mean, you know, but the idea that somehow, trying to get an access to Cape Race undermines that concept, to my mind, does not hold water.
But caller George will have none of it:

GEORGE: And, and I appreciate, I appreciate your opinion. But the problem with it is it becomes the priority. Because we will hear Ministers turn around and say that we only have so much money to do something. So, right off the bat, you look at your, your road that you want down in Cape Race, and you look at the priorities from the Labrador transportation system – the whole, right from coast to coast up here. And, all of a sudden, it gets back burner because Cape Race has to, because what you just mentioned, a historical site.

BILL ROWE: You believe that?

GEORGE: And it’s a priority because we are making progress in Labrador. How many times, sir, have you gone from St. John’s to Gander and had to pack extra tires, had to pack maybe some food in the wintertime, some extra clothes, maybe a tent, axe to cut wood, how, you know, that’s the problem that we’re here. We don’t even have a, a, and it’s effective, but it’s not all vehicles can use that road, I don’t think, in an effective manner. But the problem with it is, is that we always seem to be getting, I always seem to hear and, as a former municipal politician here, that’s the thing. It’s priorities. And, yes, we’re given some pittance and we’re, we’re doing this and we’re doing that. The next time you put the double lane, you hardtop it with the chip seal. And, I mean, that’s the thing. All I think that people want up here is to come up to a level that’s acceptable. And then, if everybody else paves every single part of, every other part of the province, fine and dandy. But I think all we want is...
George continues expounding on his theme, to which Comrade Rowe comes back with a highly unusual, and dangerous, counterpoint:

GEORGE: I mean, when someone’s got to travel from Lab City to a doctor’s appointment, it takes them seven and a half hours to travel to, five hundred kilometres, over a dirt road. In this day and age, and then we’re talking about a tourist attraction. I mean, to me, there has to be something. And I’m not using Cape Race, but it could be anything. There has to be some kind of parity. And I don’t think the majority of people up here feel that there is.

BILL ROWE: All right. Now, George, let me, does the difference in population, does that figure into, if you have a population of five hundred thousand on an island and twenty-seven thousand, say, a large, three or four times large territory, does that figure at all in the spending priority of a government?
And again:

BILL ROWE: Compared to what you’re trying to achieve in Labrador, and I was asking the question, if that’s permissible, the question is does the population of five hundred thousand as against twenty-seven thousand, does that have any bearing, in your mind, on the spending priorities of the government?

GEORGE: It probably does. But, at the same time, I think that basic needs, which is basic transportation, etcetera, etcetera, should be at a certain level whereby then those other items that you’re talking about, like the road to Cape Race or anywhere else that, that are nice to haves, can be met.
Perhaps Bill Rowe has never bothered to crunch the numbers, but Labrador has 6% of the province’s population. The province has less than 2% of Canada’s population. If someone “up in Canada” were to make that same argument – that Newfoundland only has 2% of the population, that our priorities have to be up in Ontario and Quebec and B.C. where most of the people live, it’s a very safe bet what Comrade Rowe’s reaction would be.

Then, just minutes after having pumped up all the amazing things that Chairman Dan’s government is supposedly doing for Labrador, Rowe admits he doesn’t have the first clue what he’s talking about when it comes to Labrador transportation issues:

BILL ROWE: Well, I mean, I understand that point of view and I think I agree with it. I mean, I don’t see, I can’t see how anyone can disagree that you need basic priorities met. What is the status now of the Trans Labrador Highway? What is the, what is the status of it in terms of the schedule, planning, of the construction of that basic piece of infrastructure? What’s the situation?

GEORGE: I’m not totally sure. I did believe, you know, we had been told that there would be studies on, or future studies, or results released on studies, about the, the paving. I think they’re waiting from a federal government perspective to get some kind of buy-in on the commitment that they, promises, made et cetera. I don’t know.
BILL ROWE: I thought, you see, I thought it was a done deal in terms of the money being available and the go-ahead given and all that kind of thing. So, you don’t know and I, obviously, am not clear about it, so, anyone listening to us who could tell us the answer to that, including the Minister of Transportation. I would certainly welcome that information. Because I thought, I thought that the basic transportation needs of Labrador he now been agreed to by the government – provincial and federal – and that it was a go-ahead situation. I’d be very surprised to hear that it’s not, George, to tell you the truth, because I thought it was.

GEORGE: And, Mr. Rowe, it may have well been. I’ve been gone out of town for a month of so. But, like I say, I mean, when I hear other people talking about the transportation systems that word whining has never come up. But when somebody gets on complaining about it, our road et cetera, and it’s not only just yourself, there have been other people made the same comments. And other callers have made the same comments about the whining. But it’s not a whining because it’s just a want and a desire to come up with some basic level of service that’s acceptable.

BILL ROWE: And, by all means, fight for it. Continue on.

GEORGE: Absolutely.

BILL ROWE: And thank you for your call, George. And if you find out the question I asked, give us a call back.
Didn't Bill already know the answer? After all, "I mean, you are making progress are you, or are you not?[…] isn’t that, there’s going to be a hard top put on that, isn’t there, over the next reasonable amount of time."

Bill Rowe continually shows a willingness to shill for The Williams Administration (as the provincial government is now officially called, apparently), a venemous and frankly abusive conduct towards callers who don’t toe the line in Danny Williams’ Newfoundland, and a laxity with annoying things like facts. Any or all of these should, in a just universe, see The Daily Two-Hour Separatist Hate With Bill Rowe replaced with something listenable and socially productive.

Even the syndicated John Tesh Soporific would be a step up for Voice Of the Conservative Mouthpiece.

And just remember: Bill Rowe, the misinformed, the belligerent, the obnoxious; Bill Rowe, who accepts no dissent, will not hear criticism of Danny Williams, even if it means sticking his thumbs in his ears; Bill Rowe, who wears his antipathy to Labrador like a badge; this Bill Rowe was once Danny’s choice to represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Retro Jack

Back during the 1980s and early 1990s, the Toronto newspapers had a nasty and hard-to-extinguish habit of failing to distinguish between Inuit and Innu. Stories about low-level flying or substance abuse in Davis Inlet would refer to "Inuit"; the residents of the Arctic archipelago would end up being called "Innu".

Well look what Jumpin' Jack Layton — or his speechwriter — managed to utter last year:
In Canada there is a very broad and complex aboriginal agenda and while we recognise that Innu and Métis face many issues today I will speak only of the issues facing the First Nations.
Catch that?

Innu ARE "First Nations".

Jumpin' Jack meant, in his address to the AFN, an organization of which the Innu of Labrador and Quebec are members, to set aside Inuit and Métis issues. But true to good Toronto form, Jumpin' Jack — or his speechwriter — mucked it up.

There is no excuse in 2005 (when this speech was given) for anyone in Canada to confuse Innu and Inuit, any more than there is to confuse Guinea and Guiana or Iceland and Ireland. This is a bad throwback to the 1980s, which, like legwarmers and George Michael, should be relegated to the dustbin.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

As He says, not as He does

There is something galling, self-interested and hypocritical in the extreme about Chairman Dan, he of offshore supply company Spectrol Energy Services, and Andy Wells, the mayor whose candidacy was bankrolled in part by North Atlantic Pipeline Partners and Brown Offshore, claiming, as they has these past 24 hours on the airwaves of both CBC and the Ministry of Truth, that Stephen Harper is "under the influence" or "Big Oil" and that Max Ruelokke is that industry's "flunky".

What is it?

The agenda again

One day, four fights to pick with "Canada".

First, despite finally acquiescing to the law, common sense, and something similar to, but not exactly quite, human decency, Chairman Dan agrees that Max Ruelokke is, and has been, Chairman of the CNLOPB. But that doesn't stop a few, last-minute, embittered swipes at "Canada" for, oh, let's see, following the letter and spirit of the Atlantic Accord.

Second, Chairman sics the collection agencies on "Canada". (Questions: why is it taking so long? And is this situation any different than any other claims made under the federal disaster plan? And why does the Ceeb story not quote a federal official?)

Third, province seeks something. (It's fun, as well, to see Chairman Dan's Minister's media spokesperson citing, in the last paragraph, the Voisey's Bay agreement that Chairman Dan said had holes big enough to sail a battleship through. Holes that would be revealed after Chairman Dan, Great Lawyer, got the keys to the filing cabinets. Three years later, where are the holes?)

Finally, Chairman again graced the airwaves up in Canada this evening with an appearance on Don Newman's Politics, making the case for fallow field legislation. Chairman, and Great Lawyer, made a highly unusual analogy, though, comparing the situation to the cable license he obtained, with his Great Businessman hat on, lo these three decades ago.

Chairman said that if he had just sat on that license and done nothing with it, either the federal or provincial government would have taken it away.

As any Great Lawyer, who had paid attention and obtained good marks in Constitutional, would know, and as any Great Businessman, involved in the cable TV industry, would know, broadcasting is under exclusive federal, not provincial, jurisdiction.

But that's a digression.

Why, one must ask again, why is Danny Williams so keen to pick so many fights with the federal government?

What is his agenda?

What is his real agenda?


Until Google provides a Danny-to-English babelfish product, here as a public service:
Government Won't Appeal Reulokke Decision - Sep 11, 2006

Max Ruelokke has been confirmed as Chairman and CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Premier Danny Williams says there were grounds for an appeal against a Supreme Court ruling upholding Ruelokke's appointment, but Williams says the likelihood of success would not be more than 50 per cent, so on that basis the government is not going to appeal. Williams also announced the appointment of Mayor Andy Wells to a vacant position on the CNLOPB. He says government attempted to have Wells appointed as Vice-Chairman, but this was rejected federally.
Translation: there was a greater than 50% chance that Chairman Dan was wrong.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Of Danny and dog-whistles II

In his bizarre CBC radio interview today (RealAudio available here), Chairman Dan continues his crypto-separatist dog-whistle campaign:
"I don't need his support... we're going to go it alone... the federal government generally in major issues in Newfoundland and Labrador has not been supportive, and we've tended to try and wait for them to come on side... we will move on forward... It's about what's best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and ultimately what's best for the people of Canada... he wants Newfoundland and Labrador to go it alone... if the Government of Canada which is reaping HUGE benefits from the offshore oil and gas of Newfoundland and Labrador through Hibernia and other projects is not prepared to step up and assist us, then that's their choice... we'll move on with other things".
This latest rant, of course, follows the Chairman's startling recent discovery that Norway is a country.

Right on cue, the separatists whom this series of dog-whistles are aimed at, start baying in response. Here, for example. And especially on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth, where Bill Rowe, the former Ambassador of the Republic of Newfoundland up in Canada, appointed by Chairman Dan himself, launched his daily show this afternoon with a two-minute separatist hate (what else is new?) with the Danny-vs-Harper motif.

"We'll go it alone".

It's Danny's favourite phrase.

Lower Churchill? "We'll go it alone".

Fallow-field legislation? "We'll go it alone".

About the only thing "we" won't go it alone on, apparently, is spending money in Labrador. On anything.

Why is Chairman Dan threatening "dire consequences" here, making tenuous comparisons to Iceland and Norway (to say nothing of Ireland fixation), and trying so hard to burn the phrase "we'll go it alone" more deeply into public discourse than "no more giveaways" or "burn your boats"?

The day he arrived back to a Caesar's welcome at St. John's airport after concluding the so-called "Atlantic Accord 2005", Danny Williams said something very interesting.

"I've never been prouder to be a Newfoundlander. And Labradorian."

If you think you've heard that line before, you have.

November 15, 1976. Montreal. The Paul-Sauvé arena.

René Lévesque.

"Je n'ai jamais pensé que je pourrais être aussi fier d'être Québécois que ce soir."

What is Chairman Dan's agenda?

What is Chairman Dan's real agenda?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hook, Open Line, and Sinker

Is Bill Rowe a journalist, or does he just play one on the radio?

In his latest collection of listener-email rants — the Republic of Newfoundland's former Ambassador to Canada is too busy these days to write his own rants, and has been for months — Rowe reproduces this old canard:

Do not apply for your old age pension. Apply to be a refugee. It is interesting that the federal government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1,890.00 and each can get an additional $580.00 in social assistance for a total of $2,470.00.

This compares very well to a single pensioner who, after can only receive a monthly maximum of $1,012.00 in old age pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!
Blah, blah, blah. Outrageous, maybe.

If it were true.


This piece of net.lore has been circulating for far too long. Next thing you know, Ambassador Rowe will be posting emails about the impending approach of Mars to Earth, Bill 602P, the email tax, MPs-are-all-crooks, or any one of a zillion other email hoaxes that have been gathering suckers ever since, well, since those same suckers stopped being taken in by fax hoaxes. (What came before fax hoaxes?)

The "pensioners better off as refugees" nonsense has been debunked repeatedly. Like here. And here. AND ESPECIALLY HERE.

A responsible media personality would withdraw this piece of false news immediately.

A really responsible one would never have published it in the first place.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lessons learned

It's hard not to escape the conclusion that the entire purpose of Chairman Dan's late junket to Scandinavia was to make this comparison:
The Premier commented that obviously the main difference in Norway and Newfoundland and Labrador is that Norway is a country
Very good, Chairman. Any grade-school student could have saved you, Tom Rideout, and the collective taxpayer the airfare and hotel bills, and told you exactly the same thing.

But then, Chairman wouldn't be able to come home and subtly ratched up the not just the nationalist, but increasingly not-so-covertly separatist rhetoric that he's been slowly ratcheting up since April 2001.

One could just as easily justify a trip to Greenland, Nunavut, the NWT, and Yukon, and compare those regions to Labrador, another northern resource hinterland, and discover the obvious truth that Greenland has "Home Rule", and the three Canadian jurisdictions are semi-autonomous territories.

But what, other than ratcheting up Labrador separatist rhetoric, would discovering that self-evident grade-school truth accomplish?

Perhaps Chairman should also visit Alaska, which, despite being part of a federation, and a federation in which the federal government has jurisidiction over fisheries to boot, ain't doing too bad.

And perhaps along the way he can stop in and see what lessons Yukon might have for Labrador.

Next stop, with winter not that far around the corner, is probably to see what lessons that "other island", or half-island, the Dominican Republic, has to offer the Republic of Newfoundland.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Royal Commission, Schmoyal Commission

There are circles in which the Blame Canada Commission — otherwise known as the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada — is still discussed as if it was relevant. There are even those, for whatever reason, have put its report up on a pedestal.

In reality, the thing was promptly put on the shelf. Which is where it still sits.

One of the Report's now-dusty recommendations was:
Since the members of the Canadian Senate are not elected, the Senate lacks the democratic legitimacy to represent the interests of the provinces. An elected Senate, with equal representation of the provinces, would ensure that provincial issues receive greater federal attention. While this is a longer-term objective, the provincial government should join other provinces in advocating Senate reform. The Commission supports the calls for an elected and equal Senate in order to improve the representation of provinces in the federal parliament.
Another was:
The provincial government must have direct participation in the management of its most important resource. The Commission recommends the negotiation of a new fi sheries-management relationship between the two governments, leading to the development of mechanisms for joint management of the fi shery, integrated policy development and implementation. Achieving joint management does not require constitutional amendment, and could follow the same route that led to the current joint management regime for offshore oil and gas.
(One hopes that the latter sentence does not mean that joint management would follow three decades of bombast, contradictory provincial "positions", sabre-rattling, fed-bashing for fed-bashing's sake, and expensive, fruitless, litigation.)

On the latter recommendation, it has fallen to Loyola Hearn to reveal why Danny Williams has no interest in it, despite sorta being offered it by Stephen Harper. As Loyola was quoted in the St. John's Telegram of June 7, 2006:

Joint management across the board, nobody wants it. The provinces certainly don't want (to pay for) it ... To say that the province will take over the surveillance of the nose and tail and the Flemish cap, they don't have the wherewithal to do it, and many of the things when you're dealing with the fishery, it's not just a provincial issue.
And now, on Senate reform, neither Chairman Dan, nor his Ambassador to Canada, have bothered to show up Stephen's confab on the subject. As CanWest's Jack Aubry reports today (link won't work forever):
The Harper government's proposed reform of the unelected Senate, which is a legislature often mocked as the sleepy chamber of Parliament Hill, is drawing a collective yawn from the provincial governments.

Only two provinces have accepted an invitation to appear before a parliamentary committee next week for discussions of term limits in the Senate, even though it's unofficially considered by some as the ''House of Provinces.'' [...]

So far, only officials from Ontario and Quebec have agreed to appear before the committee, which begins its hearings next Wednesday. Governments in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland-Labrador [sic]and the NorthWest Territories have turned down the invitation to come to Ottawa and discuss the upper chamber.
Chairman Dan has not only forgotten the Royal Commission he once drew so much jingoistic inspiration from. He has even forgotten his own campaign rhetoric. Classic suff like:
A Progressive Conservative government will begin the task of seeking a new relationship with Canada from the perspective of Newfoundland and Labrador around the following core issues: [...] How federal institutions like the Senate [...] can better represent provincial and regional interests in Canada, as they do successfully in other federal states.

A Progressive Conservative government will establish the Newfoundland and Labrador Office of Federal - Provincial Relations in Ottawa. Some areas of focus will include: [...] Joint fisheries management
Royal Commission?

What Royal Commission?


Two items from VOCM of note this evening, both centering around The False Comparisons That Will Not Die.

That is, the ever-so popular Newfoundland ≈ Ireland comparison, and its up-and-coming cousin, Newfoundland ≈ Iceland.

First we are off to the Emerald Isle:
Railway Should Have Been Retained: Scholar
August 31, 2006

The Chairman of the Centre for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland believes the Newfoundland Railway should have been retained. A new book launched at the Railway Coastal Museum features poems by Dr. John Ennis. One of the works tells the story of the struggle and hardship of building the Newfoundland Railway. Dr. Ennis says rail development is booming in Ireland.
Ah yes. Train nostalgia. There's probably a multi-syllabic German word for it somewhere.

Newfoundland. Island. Ireland. Island. Tempting comparison. Newfoundland. Used to have a railway. Ireland. Still does. Convenient similarities. No one bothers to look at the differences, though.

Ireland has a relatively continuous ecumene of agricultural and generally settled lands. Newfoundland has strings of small settlements, concentrated along the coast, and separated (other than in the comparatively rare cases where the settlements run into one another) by wilderness.

Ireland has a much larger population (over 6.2-million for the Republic and Ulster together) than Newfoundland, and in a smaller area, that's a higher population density. Much higher: 76.3/km2, vs. 4.5/km2 in Newfoundland, and that's including non-"mainland" Newfoundland populations like Fogo and Change Islands (but not Labrador). Comparing rail network to population, today's Newfoundland population would have given about 350 people for every route-kilometre of the Newfoundland rail network at its zenith. Ireland has over 2300 people per route-kilometre. Passenger rail demands high population densities or, in their absence, no other option for getting around, or massive subsidies.

Or a combination thereof.

Ireland also has several cities comparable in size, metro-to-metro, to Newfoundland's only largish city, St. John's: Limerick, Galway, Cork, and Derry, plus others that are Corner Brook sized and larger. And Ireland also has Belfast, whose metro population is larger than all of Newfoundland combined, and Dublin, which is roughly 10 times the size of St. John's alone. Large cities, and cities in close proximity to one another, favour passenger rail transportation. This is why you will find it in Ireland, in Canada primarily in the Windsor-Quebec corridor, and in the U.S. in the northeast. Conversely, this is why you will not find it in Newfoundland, not since the development of the highway system.

It would be nice if there were still a train in Newfoundland. It would be nicer still if St. John's had been long-sighted enough to keep streetcars instead of buses; it might have helped the post-war city avoid becoming Just Another North American Suburb Of Itself. But the fact is, for all but five fiscal years between 1904 and 1946, the Newfoundland Railway lost money. [Source: Hiller and Harrington, volume II, p. 104 et ff.] Four of those five surplus years were during WWII, and attributable solely to the short-lived wartime boom in traffic.

If you want to fall into the tempting comparison between Ireland and Newfoundland in matters of rail transportation, consider the 20th-century atrophying of rail transport in Ireland. Yes, given Irish demographics, and the geographical factors outlined above, rail will never disappear from Ireland. But just as in Newfoundland, and most everywhere else in the developed world, rail has declined for most of the past 100 years. In Newfoundland, it declined to the point of disappearing; the system was never that large to begin with, so it had less distance to fall to its death. Many branches and services had already been abandoned, after short histories, long before Newfoundland became part of Canada. And the recent renaissance of rail in Ireland has everything to do with geographical and demographic factors that Newfoundland simply does not possess.

Now to hop across the Atlantic to Iceland.
Premier Continues Iceland Trip
August 31, 2006

Premier Danny Williams and Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout are in Iceland this week, studying new energy technologies and how that country restructured its' fishery. Williams dined with Iceland's Prime Minister and met with officials of the local marine institute. Given what he has seen so far, Williams says the possibilities for Newfoundland and Labrador are endless. He says Iceland is an island on the edge of the Arctic Circle and if it can be done there, it certainly can be done in this province. Williams says he'll be taking a close look at Iceland's energy model. Williams and Rideout are also visiting Norway for meetings with government officials and Norsk Hydro.
It's too bad VOCM is paraphrasing here, and not direct-quoting. Yes, Iceland is an island. Very good, Danny.

Newfoundland AND LABRADOR is not.

If the Premier is looking to Iceland as a tempting North Atlantic "island" comparison, he may as well also look to Yukon, the NWT, or Nunavut as tempting northern Canadian ones.

And why not? He wouldn't be the first to make such a comparison, even if, for obvious political and nationalistic ones, he'd likely want to be the last.

Newfoundland ≈ Ireland. Newfoundland ≈ Iceland. Comparisons so tempting, and, for the most part, so very wrong.