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

Sunday, December 31, 2006


An absolutely spectacular example of innumeracy today courtesy of PSAC. VOCM reports:

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says it will continue to push for more federal government jobs for this province as the next federal election approaches. Local spokesman Larry Welsh says while they thought Stephen Harper was going to do something about this issue, he's failed to deal with the matter. Welsh says they had a commitment from Harper that there would be an equal sharing of federal government jobs based on population across the country. Welsh says that isn't happening in this province and the prime minister told PSAC he would work towards rectifying the problem.
[Emphasis added.]
Assume that that is, in fact, what Harper said.

It isn't:

"There is an over-concentration of certain federal government services in some areas of the country and an effort must be made to ensure that there is a a fair distribution of the federal government presence across the country."
But people believe what they want to believe. Harper doesn't say that Newfoundland and Labrador is short-changed when it comes to federal civil service jobs. He doesn't mention the "areas" by name where he thinks there is an "over-concentration".

Which is good for Larry Walsh, because, as the Harris Centre at Memorial University, in its final attempt to whip up hysteria on this issue, concluded:

As shown in the figure, throughout the 1980s, about 2.4% of federal employment was located in the province. That share rose to slightly more than 2.5% during the early 1990s; and this share of federal employment was larger than Newfoundland and Labrador’s share of Canada’s population. [...] By 2003, 1.8% of federal government employment was in Newfoundland and Labrador, which was little different from the province’s share of the national population at the time, about 1.65%. [pp. 15-16]

The share of federal government employment in Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia is disproportionately lower than their respective shares of the national population. [...]

The remaining provinces, namely, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba, all have a greater share than they do of the national population. [p. 17]
But again: people believe what they want to believe.

Welsh wants to believe that his union "had a commitment from Harper that there would be an equal sharing of federal government jobs based on population across the country."

It isn't true, but humour him, and assume that it is both what Harper promised, and what Welsh and PSAC want.

The mathematically-necessary implications of this are clear.

First, the province's percentage share of the federal civil service would have to go down.

Second, that share would have to continue going down, as the provincial population continues to decline, both in absolute population, and as a share of the national population. Indeed, even if absolute population decline were to come to a complete halt overnight, the provincial population share would continue to decline as other, and more populous provinces continue to grow. According to Welsh, this would, of necessity, result in further civil service reductions.

Third, assuming no change in the overall size of the federal civil service, something in the neighbourhood of 575 federal jobs in the province would have to be re-allocated to other provinces in order to mathematically meet Welsh's understanding that Harper promised "an equal sharing of federal government jobs based on population across the country".

Or, on the reciprocal, if NL were to experience no absolute reduction in the number of federal civil service jobs in the province, but yet have "an equal sharing... based on population", the federal civil service would have to be increased in size by 10% or more. If the federal civil service presence in the province, the civil-servant inflation at the national level would, accordingly, have to be even higher.

As the Harris Centre concluded, and as any rational examination of the numbers can tell any numerate person, Newfoundland and Labrador is one of six provinces with a disproportionately large federal civil service presence.

St. John's ranks fourth-largest among the 25 major metropolitan areas for its per-capita — that means "based on population" — federal civil service presence.

You don't hear Ray Dillon or Andy Wells talking about that.

By selecting the outlying cases as its baseline year of comparision, by focusing on rates of change rather than share, and by looking at absolute share difference rather than proportional share difference, the Harris Centre engaged in what Darrell Huff, in his classic phrase, called "How to Lie with Statistics". It did a gross disservice to public discourse, one which the provincial government has cynically exploited.

Welsh's comments are a perfect example of how, as a result, too many people have become too convinced that somehow the province is short-changed in its share of federal spending.

Though you would never know it, reading some of the coverage of the issue, it is not.

And by playing into some myth of entitlement, that there is some level of federal civil service presence that is "deserving", that some provinces get "more than they deserve", and others less, the Harris Centre not only managed to further that gross disservice to public discourse, it entrenched a public myth about which category, more- or less-deserving, the province falls into.

And by willingly suspending disbelief, Welsh and PSAC have sharpened the very blade that is already being held in reserve by the Harper government.

That government, Loyola Hearn included, know full well the statistical truth about the federal civil service presence; the truth presented above, and the truth revealed in a careful, non-hysterical reading of the Harris Centre report, and especially of the raw statistics. Loyola has already, if obliquely, indicated this, saying, since becoming a federal cabinet minister, that the "federal presence" issue he once championed is "overblown".

"Overblown", indeed! Newfoundland and Labrador is one of six provinces with an "over-concentration" of federal civil service presence, as measured against its share of the Canadian population.

By believing what he wants to believe, Welsh has made it that much easier for the federal government to cut his membership's jobs or transfer them to other provinces. There is no other way for Harper to satisfy Welsh, and keep his supposed "commitment" to ensure "an equal sharing of federal government jobs based on population across the country."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sneak New Year's Peek

Executive Council

Premier Announces Changes to Cabinet

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland Labrador, today announced changes to Our Cabinet.

Effective immediately, the Honourable Danny Williams, Q.C., M.H.A., will assume the responsibilities as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Minister of Health and Community Services; Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board; Minister of Transportation & Works; Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs; Minister of Government Services; Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; Minister of Education; Minister Responsible for Status of Women; Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development; Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat; Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Municipal Affairs; Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment; Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs; Minister Responsible for Newfoundland Labrador Housing; Deputy Premier; Minister of Fisheries & Aquaculture; Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs; Minister of Environment and Conservation and Minister of Business, whatever that is.

“We thank Ourselves for accepting Our new roles, and for embracing the opportunity to serve Us in new capacities,” said the Premier. “2007 will be a very busy year for Our province, as Our government continues to implement Our vision for a stronger and more prosperous Newfoundland Labrador. We look forward to Our continued contribution as We move forward.”

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland Labrador, and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Minister of Health and Community Services; Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board; Minister of Transportation & Works; Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs; Minister of Government Services; Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; Minister of Education; Minister Responsible for Status of Women; Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development; Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat; Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Municipal Affairs; Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment; Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs; Minister Responsible for Newfoundland Labrador Housing; Deputy Premier; Minister of Fisheries & Aquaculture; Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs; Minister of Environment and Conservation and Minister of Business, whatever that is, thanked departing Ministers Tom Hedderson, Tom Osborne, John Hickey, Dianne Whalen, John Ottenheimer, Joan Burke, Trevor Taylor, Tom Marshall, Kathy Dunderdale, Jack Byrne, Paul Shelley, Tom Rideout, Clyde Jackman, and Kevin O'Brien for their service and dedication, and wished them well in all their future endeavours.


Media contact:
Office of the Premier

2007 XX XX XX:XX X.m.

"Across Newfoundland and Labrador"

"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."
- Danny Williams, April 7, 2001

Thursday, December 28, 2006

L'état, c'est nous

It is one thing when a political party engages in leader-centred, personallissimo political puffery, viz., this.

But why are provincial government resources being engaged in puffing and bumpfing "the Williams government" and "Williams administration"?

L'état, c'est lui.

Or, perhaps after last night's first-person-plural laden CBC year-end "interview" with Glorious Leader, L'état, c'est "nous".

Has no one learned anything from the other three personality cults that have passed for leadership in this province over the years?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A tale of two provinces

Self-sufficiency, N.B.-style:
Graham said becoming financially self-sufficient will require a major shift because the province currently relies on Ottawa to provide a big chunk of its annual budget.
Self-sufficiency, Dannyland-style:
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is getting lukewarm support from members of Parliament for his threats to campaign against Stephen Harper if the prime minister doesn't keep his word on equalization.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The unpublic domain

CBC St. John’s reports today:

Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general has been unable to gain access to cabinet documents he needs for an investigation into a controversial fibre optic network.
John Noseworthy said he acknowledges that provincial legislation governing his office clearly rules that cabinet documents are not meant to be released, but he believes the records are important enough that he asked for them to be released anyway.

Glorious Leader, meanwhile, issues this Stalinesque press release:

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, today called upon the Official Opposition to start acting with greater responsibility and integrity as they dispatch their public role, which is to provide fair, balanced and credible opposition.
It Is Unpatriotic To Question Glorious Leader.

“Our government made a $15 million investment that will save taxpayers, businesses and educational facilities hundreds of millions of dollars. That is a fact […]” concluded the Premier.
It may be a fact.

It may not be a fact.

Who knows?

Evidently Glorious Leader does. He says so. “That is a fact.”

This strongly suggests — necessarily implies, in fact — that someone else has, in fact, crunched the numbers, and ascertained that the “$15 million investment” will, as a statement of fact, “save taxpayers, businesses and educational facilities hundreds of millions of dollars.”

There ought to be documents already in existence which prove this fact. There must be if he is denying access to them. You cannot deny access to documents which do not exist.

Never mind that Glorious Leader’s statement today contradicts what he said less than a month ago. Last month the benefits were beyond counting. Today’s official story is that the calculation can be quantified (“hundreds of millions of dollars.”) And by necessary implication, the documents must exist: Glorious Leader is denying access to them, by hiding behind cabinet secrecy:
“Having been in government for more than 14 years, the official Opposition is fully aware that providing access to cabinet documents is not permitted by law,” Williams said in his statement.
This would be the very principle of cabinet secrecy, protected by law, which he pledged to abolish in his own 2003 election platform:

A Progressive Conservative government will:
Proclaim new Freedom of Information legislation which will include amendments that will clearly identify information that should be in the public domain, including cabinet documents, and will require full and prompt disclosure of the information to the public.
Why is Glorious Leader allowed to get away with this blatant flip-flop?

Was he lying in 2003? Or is he breaking a promise now? One of these must be the case.

In which the Christmas parody wars is joined

Bond shouldn’t start something he can’t finish.

After this, this, and this, Christmas in Dannyland 4:

He’s beginning to look a lot like Smallwood,
   In everything he does.
Refineries over here,
   And hydro dams over there:
   He’s everything Joe Smallwood ever was.

He’s beginning to sound a lot like Smallwood,
   Circa ’59,
He’ll rally the troops to fight,
   He’s the Equalization Knight,
   Like Joey Smallwood and “Term 29”.

He’s beginning to talk a lot like Smallwood:
   “This is OUR ore!
And egomaniacally,
   He speaks with a “Royal We”,
   As in, “We have the deed to Labrador”.

He’s beginning to sound a lot like Smallwood,
   Promising fixed links!
They’ll be lined up across the Gulf,
   To take the Express to golf,
   On one of the Williams’ many fancy links!

He’s beginning to be a lot like Smallwood,
   Count the reasons how.
To liberate our shores,
   We need a new Frankie Moores,
   To tell us “It Won’t Be Long Now!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Why is the paper that rightfully called VOCM out about planted partisan callers running something like this from Tony the Tory?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Transparent as mud

It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the surprise Friday proclamation of the Transparency and Accountability Act into law had something – everything, really – to do with the smackdown that DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador received at the hands of the Auditor General earlier in the week.

But it should come as no surprise to any careful observer of Danny’s accountability record. As he promised:

During its first mandate, a Progressive Conservative government will bring in a Transparency and Accountability Act which will provide the legislative framework for the conduct of fiscal policy, encourage better decision-making by the government, strengthen accountability and ensure more informed public debate about fiscal policy.
Well, at least one part of that promise has been kept.

It is, after all, just three years and change “into its first mandate.”

Other parts of Danny’s accountability platform, though, have fallen laughably short.
A Progressive Conservative government will:

Release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report’s recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet.
The (in)famous “fixed link” vanity study, for example, landed on Glorious Leader’s desk in November 2004. He acknowledged its existence on January 11. But it wasn’t released until the very last day of February 2005 – far longer than the 30 days that were promised.

Glorious Leader did speak the truth – just barely –when he said on January 11th that it would be “released within the next month.” February was the “next month” after January, after all.

Or when he told NTV on February 19th that “the feasibility report on the proposed fixed link between Labrador and western Newfoundland will be released within 10 days. Williams says it’s too early to publicly discuss details. He says the cabinet has been “busy” with offshore energy discussions, and now it can turn its attention to the idea.”

Funny though – there was no such “unless the government is busy” caveat built into the original “within 30 days” promise, was there?

And despite the occasional public assurances from Trevor Taylor that Glorious Leader is still fixated on a fixed link, the 60 days for government’s “action” response have long since come and gone.

Or try on this fib for size:

A Progressive Conservative government will:

Proclaim new Freedom of Information legislation which will include amendments that will clearly identify information that should be in the public domain, including cabinet documents, and will require full and prompt disclosure of the information to the public.

On June 29, 2005, Rob Antle of The Telegram reported:

Opinion polls are secret cabinet documents not to be released to the public, the Williams administration has decreed.

The decision overrules the findings of a report issued Tuesday by the province’s information commissioner.

“We disagree with the interpretation that’s been put on this by the information and privacy commissioner,” said Tom Rideout, who is acting justice minister while Tom Marshall is out of the province.

“We don’t feel that his interpretation is within the confines of the spirit and intent of the legislation. ... Based on that belief, we will not be releasing the information.”

The province says releasing public-opinion polling commissioned over a 14-month period would reveal cabinet confidences.


“There are still certain protections for the system, and one of the protections has to do with the confidentiality of cabinet documents,” he said.

It would almost be funny, if it weren’t pathetically laughable, to hear Tom Rideout relying on the very principle of cabinet confidence that his own Glorious Leader had platform-promised, less than two years before, to abolish!

Since last year’s episode, DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador has also used the “cabinet confidence” and “proprietary data” excuses to deny public access to the report by the Department of Transportation and Works into the use of chip seal – which the current minister, in a former incarnation, used to call “cheap seal” – on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

So let the current crowd up in the bunker-in-they-sky on the eight floor of Confederation Building believe their own bumpf about “transparency and accountability” if they want to.

With the record of the first three DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador years behind us, they are about the only ones left who still do.

A question for Sue Kelland-Dyer

She won't answer it anywhere else.

She won't even allow it to be asked on her own blog.

So here goes, again:


Do you support an "infeed" line to bring Labrador hydro power to Newfoundland? Is it part of your self-styled expert vision for the development of the so-called Lower Churchill? Yes or no? And for good measure, why or why not?

A post so nice...

... it's posted twice:

The ostensible reason for driving private energy development out of Labrador was the ongoing planning of the energy plan. As then-Minister Ed Byrne said on January 18:
"We are currently in the process of the most comprehensive energy policy review ever undertaken in this province to develop an Energy Plan. This plan will set out the framework for policy decisions on how our energy sources are developed to achieve maximum benefit for the province. Obviously, the development of wind power will be a component of that plan. As a result we will not be making any decisions on such large wind development projects until government has its Energy Plan complete."
and on January 26:
"When [Ventus] made its presentation to government of its proposal, I was very clear and definitive with the partnership representatives that we are in the process of developing our provincial energy plan and, obviously, the development of wind projects would be a key element of the plan. Therefore, government was not going to make any decision regarding these projects until that process is complete."
Vector Wind Energy, a private energy company just like those which, apparently, must be kept out of Labrador at all costs, has been awarded a contract by the State Ministry of Energy Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to provide 24 megawatts (MW) of wind power to Newfoundland from its Fermeuse Wind Project.

Even though that provincial energy plan, until which no decision on wind energy was to have been made, has been delayed by Glorious Procrastinator.

So, again, it must be asked:

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh, it's probably mutual all right

Writing in the Vice-Regal, Speech-from-the-Throne mode, plain old Danny Williams, as Glorious Leader then was, wrote in The Party's 2003 platform:
My government will work cooperatively and collaboratively with our federal counterparts. In so doing, we will develop a mutual respect with the federal government, which in my experience is the key to successful and productive relationships.
Someone obviously didn't get that memo.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Faux amis: the simple solution

From today's fantastic editorial in The Telegram:
Friend or faux?

Well, when it comes to open-line radio, politicians have imaginary friends, too.

Even open-line hosts will admit that few of their callers are everyday people anymore. The shows have become political soapboxes, free political broadcast time for both cabinet members and the opposition.


Let's hope some of the hosts see the value of unmasking those callers who are little more than models with scripted messages. Otherwise, the value of having a public radio forum will be severely diminished.
This morning, "Minnie", whose enthusiasm for Glorious Leader knows no bounds, confessed to Randy Simms that "people" "get her" to call in. When Randy started to ask her some tough questions, she dutifully attacked him.

It Is The Duty Of The Citizen Not To Question Glorious Leader.

Questions Are Unpatriotic.

The very firstcaller to Comrade Rowe, another of Danny's usual plants, picked right up where "Minnie" left off, praised Glorious Leader's wretched plywood "brand" signs erected in St. John's and Goose Bay, and resumed the attack on Randy Simms. The caller also kept to a series of points, expressed in terms that seemed a tad too polished, and managed to cite chapter, number, and verse from years-old articles that appeared in The Telegram and Western Star.

It may be too much to expect from a certain one of the Ministry of Truth's hosts... but as for the other two, there's an astonishingly easy solution to the "Minnies", "Carols" and "Lizzes" that the Bunker in the Sky at Confederation Building orchestrate from Sunday night to Friday afternoon:

Don't put them on the air.

Keep them on hold until they hang up if you have to.

But they play by your rules, or should.

Not by Glorious Leader's.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

“For what it’s worth”, indeed!

In Tuesday’s Telegram we learn in a Craig Jackson piece that Danny Williams is preparing to do unto Dion what he bin done unto Harper and Martin:

Williams also plans to find out Dion’s position on this province’s attempt to secure a federal loan guarantee as a means of developing the Lower [sic] Churchill River’s hydroelectric potential.
In all seriousness, what is left to “attempt to secure”?

According to Danny Williams, Q.C., M.H.A., G.L., G.N., C.I., E.L.* (May His Preternaturally Thick Hair Always Be Perfectly Parted) himself, he has already secured it.

Or, as D.W., Q.C., M.H.A., G.L., G.N., C.I., E.L. (M.H.P.T.H.A.B.P.P.) might say, “we gawt it!!!”

Think back to last January, when Harper wrote Danny in these not overly-committal terms. In response to Danny’s question:
Does your party support efforts to develop the hydro-power resources of the Lower Churchill River System for the primary benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador, including the provision of a Federal Government guarantee to proceed with the project?
Stephen – can we call you Steve? – replied:

We support this proposal in principle and believe that it is important for Newfoundland and Labrador to have greater control of its energy mix.A Conservative government would welcome discussions on this initiative and would hope that the potential exists for it to proceed in the spirit of past successes such as the Hibernia project.
Bof! But that didn’t stop Danny from spinning it as yet another of His Great Victories™:

The Conservative and NDP responses were very encouraging on several fronts, including support for a loan guarantee for the development of the lower Churchill...
As he told CBC on January 17:

Williams said Martin failed to match the other parties’ commitments on issues such as a loan guarantee to develop a hydroelectric project on the lower Churchill River,
And as Tom Rideout gushed on behalf of the frequently-vacationing Boss (as they used to say about Richard Hatfield, just because he’s Premier of a province, doesn’t mean he’s gotta live there):

“We're pleased that he’s joined sides with the Conservatives in terms of providing a guarantee for the development of the Lower Churchill.”
In the next day’s Telegram, Rob Antle reported:

Liberal Leader Paul Martin stresses his party’s record, recently reached federal-provincial agreements and ongoing programs in response to a letter on local issues from Premier Danny Williams. But Williams panned the response, saying it doesn’t stack up against those provided by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton.
And with only three more sleeps to election day, Craig Jackson reported in the pages of the same outlet:

Williams has concluded Martin’s response isn’t on par with that of Layton or Harper, noting he finds the Conservative and NDP reaction of “support for a loan guarantee for the development of the Lower Churchill” very encouraging.
It was a good thing Danny stayed out of the 2006 election campaign, as he claimed to have done. It must have been dizzying to do all that pro-Harper, pro-NDP, anti-Liberal spinning in the last week of the election campaign, while simultaneously staying out of it!.

Pass the Gravol.

Post-election, as late as May 17, Danny was still playing the “we gawt it!!!” charade. As he told the House of Assembly:
With regard to the commitment of the Prime Minister: I wrote the Prime Minister during the last election as I wrote a previous Prime Minister during a previous election. I wrote all leaders and got commitments from them in various aspects of the election. This particular Prime Minister came back and said that he would seriously consider a guarantee. When he was in St. John’s, at an interview at CBC, he said: I am quite prepared to do that. Now, that is a definitive commitment and we will hold that government to that commitment.
So with today’s news that Danny is going to “attempt to secure” a Grand River (so-called “Lower Churchill”) loan guarantee from Stéphane Dion, it can only mean the following:

First, that contrary to his own spin, Great Negotiator™ did NOT secure support for a loan guarantee from Stephen Harper... just as a plain reading of the black letter of Harper’s letter would tell anyone who is literate in English, let alone a Great Lawyer™.

And second, that Great Negotiator™ spun, and blatantly lied, by saying, repeatedly, that he had secured such a loan guarantee in the first place.

Great Negotiator™ nearly, if inadvertantly, conceded as much late last week. As the CBC reported:
A key point, with political implications, is securing a loan guarantee from the federal government that could run between $6 billion and $9 billion.

Williams is confident that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will come through with such a guarantee.

“I have a commitment in writing from the prime minister, for what it’s worth,” said Williams, referring to a letter Harper wrote Jan. 4, during the federal election campaign.
Last winter, Great Negotiator™ would tell all who would listen, that it was worth, well, a loan guarantee.

Now... not so much. Great Negotiator™ wants us all to forget his own spin and his own shilling for his federal Conservative brethren.

All of which makes Williams’ attack on Bernard Lord all the more funny, and pathetic:
“Obviously [Bernard Lord] and Stephen Harper are very, very close,” Williams said. “He hitched his wagon to Stephen Harper’s horse during the New Brunswick election, and you know where that got him.”
Danny Williams – and for that matter virtually his entire caucus – did exactly the same thing during the 2006 federal election. Despite his earnest protests to the contrary, he and his provincial party were very much involving themselves in the federal campaign by praising the very Harper letter Great Negotiator™ now poo-poos.

They spun. They campaigned. They hitched their wagons to Stephen Harper’s horse. Not just on the empty Lower Churchill “commitment”, either.

And they got what you inevitably get when you sit behind a horse.

If Danny Williams is now, nearly a year later, questioning what Harper’s promise (such as it is) is worth, and is “attempting to secure” what he said, over and over and over again, that he already had… it can only mean that he never actually had it in the first place.

And that he publicly, knowingly, and repeatedly, lied about having it.


* Queen’s Counsel, Member of the House of Assembly, Glorious Leader, Great Negotiator, Captain of Industry, Emperor of Labrador.