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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Two quick TLH questions

If the province is willing to spend $10-million in provincial money on the Trans-Labrador Highway this year, cost-matched with the federal government for a total of $20-million, but if the province is also willing to "go it alone", does it mean it would "go it alone" with its $10-million "commitment", or would it spring for the other $10-million, too?

And, in either event, whether the province is in for $10-million or $20-million, why did it only budget $7.5-million in non-existent federal money?

Just askin'.

As you were.

St. John's takes its hit

From the CBC, another indicator of the Potemkin-village character of the economy of Capital City:
Sheriff's officers courting new jurors
Last Updated: Monday, April 30, 2007 12:57 PM NT
CBC News

Sheriff's officers in Newfoundland and Labrador have been resorting to extraordinary measures to find people willing to serve on juries.

For every 1,000 summons sent out, fewer than 200 potential jurors even show up for selection. In St. John's last week, three officers were working overtime trying to contact enough potential jurors for one upcoming trial.

Pauline Butler, Newfoundland and Labrador's jury co-ordinator, said her job would not be so frustrating if the mailing list that the sheriff's office receives from the province's motor vehicle registration system was more accurate.

"The problem is, I guess, that so many people have moved away and still carry, probably, a driver's licence here," she said.

"We have no control over that."
Yet another piece in the emerging picture of the impact of Dannynomics on the provincial Danographic picture.

This isn't just a problem on the Northern Peninsula, or coastal Labrador, or the Burin, or Bay St. George. Danographics have come, with a vengeance, to St. John's, the City of Legends, the City That Can Take The Hit.

A good question

"What exactly did he mean?", the Telegram asked last week after Danny Williams' Rant from the Throne:

“My government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-a-vis Ottawa. … Our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house,” the speech said.

As has been pointed by others already, the “masters of our own house” reference is one that is familiar to Quebec separatists: in the 1960s, then-Premier Jean Lesage used essentially the same terms.


Perhaps, then, Williams could explain in what way he intended the language to be taken. More to the point, perhaps he could have found a way to keep people from having to read anything into what he says — by, in fact, just saying exactly what he meant. No obscure references, no couched use of terms like “autonomy.”


It’s neither transparent nor accountable to make veiled threats or false promises.
Very good question. Very good points.

Questions that should have been asked, points that should have been made, when Danny venemously spat the line, "that flag'll be gone".

When he pointed out, on more than one occasion, the obvious fact that "Ireland is a country."

Or that Norway is a country, too.

Or when he kept making the Townie separtists' favourite dubious half-comparisons to Iceland.

When he started flirting with the Pink, White and Green.

When his pourparlers started flirting with the idea of a "Bloc" of seven "independent" MPs who pay fealty to him.

When he said, "we should be more like Quebec and fight for the province not a partisan position..."

And when he warned of "dire consequences".

So here's another good question: why has it taken so long for that handful of people who are still willing and able to ask questions, to start asking pointed questions about Danny's increasingly blatant crypto-separatist leanings and politique du pire brand of what passes for "federalism"?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Two wrongs don't make a right"

From Saturday's killer editorial in the Telegram:
One degree of separation

In other provinces, the office of chief electoral officer is filled by experienced impartial professionals with a track record of either elections law or past experience organizing elections.

Here, Premier Danny Williams has selected a person not only without those qualifications, but with clear and obvious ties to a political party. In fact, with clear and obvious ties to Williams’ own party.

Williams’ choice for what is supposed to be a politically impartial position is Paul Reynolds, who, among other things, was a director of the PC district association on the day he was picked, a role he has filled for several years.


Williams’ other defence is that, last time he picked a chief electoral officer, it was former Liberal cabinet minister Chuck Furey.

Well, two wrongs don’t make a right.
And they don't.

Which is why it's disturbing that Danny Williams, supposedly a Great Lawyer™ in his former career, has stubbornly, blatantly, and brazenly turned one of the most sensitive posts in any democracy into a patronage post.

Apart from the Telegram's tilting at this particular windmill, there has been little dissent within Dannyland, and no attention from outside. Under the circumstances, with Great Lawyer™ enjoying unprecedented, and wholly undeserved, popular support*, someone should be speaking for the minority.

But who is?

It's bad enough that Reynolds has a known partisan pedigree. It's utterly unforgiveable that he is also former president of the incumbent governing party, and held, up until being nominated for this NON-PARTISAN post, a member of one of that party's district associations.

This is the sort of anti-democratic behaviour that raises concerns in the Third World or in backsliding neo-democracies like Russia.

It should raise concerns in Newfoundland and Labrador, too.

Which is why it's even more disturbing that two on-line polls — and yes, take them with a grain of salt given the 8th Floor's concern about torquing such things, but come on, people! — as of the time of this posting, show 38% have no problem with, or no opinion on, the way the Chief Electoral Officer's post is filled, or that 70% agree with, or are agnostic about, the way it just was filled.

Those who despair about the provincial economy already had enough to worry about with the Danny Williams Regime. And yes, given that it is not administering or governing much these days, "Regime" is a wholly warranted choice of words.

Those who worry about his pseudo-separatist inclinations gained a lot more to worry about this past week with the massive escalation in the rhetoric, and the inversely proportional meltdown in the maturity level.

And now, there are legitimate fears for the integrity of the very democratic process which, starting with the October provincial election, and perhaps concluding with the long-whispered-about and much (in certain circles) dreamed-of referendum, will go a long way, if Danny is successful, towards advancing those inclinations.

Where is the criticism? Where is the dissent?

And why, in respect of a province of Canada, is it becoming ever more natural and comfortable to use the word "dissent"?


* Popular support: A question for the pollsters to ponder — is it not even a little possible that, in the existing climate, interview subjects, being phoned of a spring evening, out of the blue, by someone they don't know, are actually afraid to admit they don't support or agree with Danny Williams?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The first step is admitting you have a problem

Says the oft-vacationing First Minister in the slackest legislature in Canada, in today's Telegram:
“I’m very demanding,” Williams said. “I’m not easy to work for, in the sense that I’m a workaholic.

There’s a twelve-step program for workahol addiction, isn’t there?

Mixed metaphor of the year

Courtesy Jim Meek:
Today, in fact, the only people in Newfoundland who love Danny Williams are the people themselves. But while the man bestrides public opinion polls like a colossal Caesar, the huge butt of his ego is squishing the juice out of the province’s economy.

Once the voters catch on to this, it will be all over for Danny Williams.

More here.

Glorious Leader Speaks the Truth!

Headline in today's Western Star:
Williams says 'disdain' will continue
Whaddya know? If he opens his mouth enough, a fragment or two of truth is bound to spill out sometimes. Yes, it's absolutely true, Danny's barely-concealed disdain for Canada will continue.


That's not what the article's about?

Meh. Close enough.

The Challenge

Danny Williams, having spent the last 16 months successfully lying to enough people to convince them that Stephen Harper once promised the mythical "loan guarantee" to "develop" the so-called Lower Churchill:
"I am pleased that we are now in receipt of responses from all three federal party leaders," said Premier Williams. "The Conservative and NDP responses were very encouraging on several fronts, including support for a loan guarantee for the development of the lower Churchill..." — Danny Williams, Press Release, January 17, 2006

Among other things, Harper also promised to provide a loan guarantee to help the province develop hydro power on the lower Churchill River — CBC News, January 9, 2006

has now set his sights on convincing those same people that Harper broke a promise that he never actually made:
From a fiscal perspective, we can say to Steve and company, that we don't need your guarantee on the Lower Churchill. Thanks very much for promising it to us, but your promises aren't worth the paper they're written on." — Danny Williams, CTV News, April 27, 2007
So here's the challenge: $100 bucks to charity to the first person who can furnish proof — in Stephen Harper's own, first-person words, written or spoken; not in paraphrase, not in indirect speech, and not from the mouth of Danny Williams or anyone else — that Stephen Harper ever promised to actually provide this supposed "loan guarantee".

Averill? Danny? Anyone?

Bonus points to anyone who can also explain how it is that Danny Williams is given such a free ride to carry on with such lies for so long.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Off da hook

Back in January 2006, when he was still shilling for his then kissing-cousin federal Conservatives, Danny Williams stretched the truth, ever so slightly, by spinning the contents of Stephen Harper's list of election promises:

“The Conservative and NDP responses were very encouraging on several fronts, including support for a loan guarantee for the development of the lower Churchill, support for the reinstatement of the Gander weather office and support for a cost-shared agreement on the completion of the Trans Labrador Highway, among other issues,”
Danny, giddy as a schoolgirl, gushed.

Asked last fall by The Telegram, “are you worried the Harper government will change its mind on agreeing in principle to a loan guarantee for development of the Lower Churchill River's hydroelectric potential?”, Danny, lying through his teeth, replied:
That commitment, again, has been repeated and reiterated. It's there in writing. It's very clear.

On December 2, The Telegram reported:

Williams said he will hold Prime Minister Stephen Harper to his word that the federal government will provide a loan guarantee to allow the Lower Churchill development to proceed.

But, for the first time nuancing his comments, he added:

And if Ottawa is reluctant to provide such a guarantee, this province will go it alone...

Two days later, his cynicism was laid more bare for the CBC:

“I have a commitment in writing from the prime minister, for what it's worth.”

And now, Mr. Consistency Himself has declared:

“From a fiscal perspective, we can say to Steve and company, that we don't need your guarantee on the Lower Churchill. Thanks very much for promising it to us, but your promises aren't worth the paper they're written on.”

On the TLH file, Great Negotiator was very clear when he told The Aurora on March 12th:

“In fairness, because it’s such a huge contribution and expense, those 50 per cent [federal] dollars are huge to us. Why start and do half when if we can get them onboard with us we can get the whole thing done?

And also last month, Danny's Minister of Blaming Ottawa for All Our National Transportation Woes told the CBC:

“We are going to continue to press the federal government here. We are not letting them off the hook,” said Hickey. “I am not letting them off the hook, I can assure you.
But the increasingly dyspeptic and inconstant government presided over by the two year old Taoiseach is having trouble keeping its story straight. In fact, the Teasack himself told the Telegram, less than a week before John Hickey's “not letting them off the hook” pronouncement:

Williams said the province will move ahead on some issues, with or without the federal government. He singled out the paving of the Trans-Labrador Highway from Labrador City and Wabush to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. “We can’t allow the Government of Canada to have us on our knees all the time so we will remain behind the eight ball because they’re not going to provide funding. I’m not going to allow that the happen,” Williams said.
And in his budget speech yesterday, the Provincial Money Bunny stated:

Let me make it clear, that our government will proceed with hard-surfacing this year with or without a federal contribution.
So it is now official.

Danny Williams, Glorious Leader, Great Lawyer™, Master Negotiator™, has waived the two biggest-ticket promises made, or supposedly made, by Stephen Harper in the dying days of the last federal election campaign.

We'll go it alone.

With or without.

Off the hook.

Our Glorious Autonomous Nation's Glorious National Autonomy in Action.

Which is going to make it really, really, really, fun to watch, when Danny Williams does another U-turn, just as when he pronounced he could live without the “volatility” of Quebec and its politics, and goes crawling, nay, slithering back to Ottawa, half-demanding, half-begging for the very same money, in cash or in negotiable instrument, he has just said he can do without.

Transparency and Accountability

Danny Williams then, in the PC Party platform from 2003:
The Transparency and Accountability Act will greatly enhance openness and accountability in government, but a comprehensive and effective Freedom of Information Act is the best safeguard against the tendency of governments to descend into official secrecy and elitism.

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.
Danny Williams now, in today's Western Star:
The key recommendation of a report government has yet to publicly release became clear Thursday as Finance Minister Tom Marshall announced Sir Wilfred Grenfell College is going to get full university status.

The unexpected announcement came during Marshall's provincial budget speech in the House of Assembly.

"Sir Wilfred Grenfell College is a tremendous asset to the province's western region and has the potential to make an even greater contribution to the economic and social growth of the province," said Marshall. "Based on the information and recommendation of a recent feasibility study into the governance structure of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, our government will work with the Memorial University board of regents to implement the recommendations of the study, including granting the college full university status and a separate executive, senate and budget while maintaining a common board of regents."

The study was conducted last year and a draft copy was submitted to Education Minister Joan Burke last June. A final report was forwarded in September, but government had kept its findings under wraps until now.

Labrador Highway Then and Now (episode 3)


I rise to inform this House that government is today prepared to pledge an additional $50 million over five years for the Trans-Labrador Highway to reach a cost-sharing agreement that would see the federal government match this contribution.

The total cost of surfacing the Trans-Labrador Highway from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador City is estimated at about $100 million. We have written the federal government requesting a commitment for a 50/50 cost-sharing agreement to have this work completed over five years. [Trevor Taylor, Ministerial Statement, December 12, 2005]

Transportation Minister John Hickey is confident the federal and provincial governments will each contribute $10 million next year as part of the five-year, $100-million hard-topping contract for the Trans-Labrador Highway. [The Telegram, November 29, 2006]

$17 million for construction of Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway and $15 million (cost-shared with federal government) to provide a sealed surface on Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway. [2007 budget highlights]
Point of information: two times $10-million is $20-million, not $15-million. $100-million, divided by five years, divided by two governments, is $10-million per government per year. Or, alternatively, half of $15-million is $7.5-million, not $10-million. What the province (conditionally) "committed", and what the province (conditionally) budgetted, do not synch up.

Labrador Highway Then and Now (episode 2)

“I was talking with Minister Hickey this morning and was told by the Minister that he had recently inked a deal during his last trip to Ottawa and that the deal was in front of him, on his desk, as we spoke.” [Nic McGrath, quoted in 53 North, November 26, 2006]

The minister, in a phone conversation with Nick McGrath, the President of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, in Labrador City last week, indicated that he had a deal signed with the federal government on the Trans-Labrador Highway on his last trip to Ottawa. In fact, the signed deal was in front of him in his office on that day.” [Yvonne Jones, in the House of Assembly, November 28, 2006]
Just to correct the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, I never, ever said — she said, I never said — that we had a signed deal. [John Hickey, in the House of Assembly, April 25, 2007]

Labrador Highway Then and Now (episode 1)

“I am confident we will see success and that we will see an agreement signed between our government and the federal government on further upgrading of the TLH — that means hard surfacing from the Quebec-Labrador border to the Straits,” [John] Hickey said, adding that he will continue to lobby Quebec to improve Route 389 from Baie Comeau to Labrador City before finishing 138. [The Telegram, September 23, 2006]
Complete hard surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway [Strategic Plan to Elect Four PC MHAs in Labrador]
Point of information: “Phase I”, in Tobin Terminology, of the Trans-Labrador Highway, is the segment from the Quebec-Labrador border near Labrador City, to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

That is, not all the way to the Straits.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Funny Munny, 2007 edition

From the 2007 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial budget:

This is the second year running in which the provincial government voted itself federal revenues which the Parliament of Canada has not. (The 2006/07 Revised column shows that last year's budget line item was pure fiction.)

This imaginary $7.5-million in federal revenue for the Trans-Labrador Highway, on its own, accounts for 10% of the projected provincial surplus for the fiscal year just ended. The books are being balanced, in part, with imaginary funds.

So, again, how, legally and constutionally, does the provincial government get off voting itself $7.5-million in money that is not only not theirs, but which doesn't even exist?

Does the Auditor-General know? Or care?

Vote early, vote often!

Yesterday's VOCM Question of the Day was "Do you like what you heard in the Speech from the Throne?"

At around 5:00 p.m. yesterday, just over 6,000 votes had been cast. 49% had voted yes, 41% no, and the rest were not sure.

Over the next three hours, over 9,000 votes were cast, especially during the early hours of VOCM Nightline.

The final result?

Yes, 72%, no, 22%. Crunching the numbers, that means over 8,000 new yesses, compared to 700 new nos and 400 new not sures.

Hi, Liz!

TLH by the numbers

Rank of the Trans-Labrador Highway, among infrastructure projects, according to the Minister of Transportation and Works on Wednesday: 1.

Number of references, in Tuesday's Rant from the Throne, to the province's number one infrastructure priority: 0.

Number of times the paving of Phases II and III of the Trans-Labrador Highway is referenced in the Backgrounder to the Strategic Plan to Elect Tories in All Four Districts in Labrador: 1.

Number of times the paving of Phases II and III of the Trans-Labrador Highway is actually referenced in the body of the Strategic Plan to Elect Tories in All Four Districts in Labrador: 0.

Number of times the paving of Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway is referenced in the body of the Strategic Plan to Elect Tories in All Four Districts in Labrador: 3.

Apprehension of bias

Danny Williams is rumoured to have been a lawyer in a former career. A good one, in fact.

Danny Williams knows, or should know, a thing or two about bias, and about the need to avoid both real bias, and the mere apprehension of bias.

Which makes this particularly disgusting exchange, from proceedings Wednesday in the Kangaroo Court which passes, these days, for a legislature, especially disgusting:

MR. REID: On Monday, Mr. Speaker, government announced it would be appointing Mr. Paul Reynolds as the Chief Electoral Officer and Commissioner of Members’ Interests. Even though this position has been traditionally held and occupied by impartial and non-partisan individuals, as it still is in every other province in the country, the Premier appointed an individual who is the past-president of the provincial Tory Party, a close personal associate with the current PC election chair, Mr. Ross Reid, and is still an active member of the Virginia Waters PC District Association.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Why was there no mention of Mr. Reynolds political ties in his biographical information that you released on Monday?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, based on comments from the Opposition when we appointed the last Chief Electoral Officer, we felt that information was not particularly important because, to quote Mr. Kelvin Parsons, the Opposition House Leader: It is the Premier’s prerogative to nominate a person of his and the Cabinet’s choice. To me, politics are irrelevant. To me, if he is appointed for this job, which he no doubt will be, he parks his politics at the door. When he goes in to work, he is the Chief Electoral Officer and he is the Commissioner of our interests and he parks his politics at the door.

Politics was not relevant. It was not relevant when Mr. Chuck Furey was appointed, and it is not relevant now.

MR. REID: I say to the Premier, politics are relevant in this issue. He is supposed to be impartial. The Premier did not quote what I said when I stood and faced the individual sitting in the gallery at the time, and told him I would not be voting for him and did not vote for him, I say to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, one of the guiding principles of Elections Newfoundland and Labrador is that you must be non-partisan. As a matter of fact, ads - and I have a copy here for you, Premier, if you do not have one - currently being run in The Telegram and other newspapers around the Province say that enumerators and returning officers cannot apply if they had been in the service of a political party.

I ask the Premier: Do you see the irony in appointing a sitting member of the PC Association to the Chief Electoral Officer’s position while lower-ranking staff working in that office must be non-political and non-politically affiliated?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Leader of the Opposition: Why didn’t he raise that point in the by-election in Humber Valley when the sister of the candidate was working as the returning officer and was basically showing up at polling stations? I didn’t hear him mention any impropriety about that then. It was not an issue then, but he was out there, so it is not an issue.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Anyway, irregardless of that, Mr. Paul Reynolds is an exemplary individual. He has an outstanding record of public service. He was a former Mayor of Wedgewood Park. He was a councillor in Wedgewood Park. He was a councillor in the City of St. John’s. He served on many volunteer boards. He has been in the private sector. He has been in the public sector. He is very capable of doing that job. There is no need for you to disparage his reputation.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the individual to whom the Premier referred from Humber Valley was appointed to that position many, many, many years ago and she was not politically aligned, unlike Mr. Reynolds today.

I ask the Premier - he does not need to try to besmirch the character of that individual in Humber Valley whom he knows was non-politically aligned when she was appointed to that position.
The unprecedented decision, in Dannystan, in any province, to appoint the former President, not just of any old party, but of the incumbent governing party, to the supposedly impartial post of Chief Electoral Officer, is one product of an arrogant, out-of-control, hyperpartisan control freak, who is increasingly viewing his 70% or so poll support as license to do just about anything.

The way in which this indefensible decision is being defended by Glorious Leader, is perhaps a product of the 94% job approval rating he views as license to do anything else not otherwise covered in the 70% above.

This is blatant partisan cronyism. Bad enough on its own merits, but absolutely unforgiveable given the sensitivity of the post in question.

It is utterly unprecedented for a partisan to be appointed as CEO of a province. Any province.

It is (by definition) infinitely more so for a partisan to have been appointed to the post twice in a row, by the same government.

Yes, Danny, we all know, "I am sorry, Sir, I am just not going to follow what the Government of Canada does. We are going to stand on our own and (inaudible)."

But your crypto-separatists plans, and your utterly undeserved popular support, do not give you the authority to declare autonomy from the bounds of common sense, basic public decency, or respect for democracy and Parliamentary institutions.

The Reynolds Affair has transported Dannystan well back in time, beyond the nouveau-Smallwood era that the province has been languishing in for the past four years, and straight into the worst excesses of the late 19th and early 20th century politics of Newfoundland.

People should be worried. They aren't. And that's what's really worrisome.

The Reynolds thing is the symptom. The disease is almost too scary to think about.

PS - It's amazing, too, the selective nature of Danny's knowledge of the Standing Orders and the common law of Parliament. He repeatedly breaks rules against the use of props or the calling of members by their proper names, without sanction from the Speaker... yet has no trouble recalling that, as in the case of his comments about "the sister of the candidate" quoted above, whatever he says in the House is privileged speech and not actionable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reality control

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'.

-George Orwell, 1984 [public domain in Canada]

The fun thing about having a blog, or, say, a provincial government website, is that you can exercise almost perfect reality control.

So, for example, even though yesterday's version of the Rant from the Throne contained the following, immortal, if blatantly plagiarized line:

Our people are ready to take charge of our future and, under My First Minister’s leadership, our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house.

with the conscious choice of bold face type to drive home the point in case you missed it, today, with reality control in effect, the phrase is de-emphasized.

244 years, already


25 April 1763

GEORGE THE THIRD by the Grace of God of Great Britain ffrance and Ireland King Defender of the ffaith &c.

To Our Trusty and well beloved Thomas Graves Esquire


WHEREAS Wee Did by Our Letters Patent under Our Great Seal of Great Britain bearing Date at Westminster the twenty ninth day of May in the first year of Our Reign constitute and appoint you the said Thomas Graves to be Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Our Island of Newfoundland in America Our ffort and Garrison at Placentia and all other fforts and Garrisons Erected and to be Erected in that Island for and during Our Will and Pleasure as by the said Letters Patent Relation bearing thereunto had may more fully and at large appear;
NOW KNOW YOU that Wee have revoked determined and made void and by these Presents Do revoke determine and make void the said Recited Letters Patent and every Clause Article and Thing therein contained;

And Wee reposing especial Trust and Confidence in the Prudence Courage and Loyalty of You the said Thomas Graves of Our especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion have thought fit to constitute and appoint you and by these presents Do constitute and appoint you the said Thomas Graves to be Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over our said Island of Newfoundland and all the Coasts of Labrador from the Entrance of Hudsons Streights to the River Saint Johns which discharges itself into the Sea nearly opposite to the West End of the Island of Anticosti including that Island with any other small islands on the said Coast of Labrador and also the Islands of Madelaines in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as also of all Our fforts and Garrisons Erected and Established or that shall be Erected and Established in Our said Islands of Newfoundland Anticosti and Madelaine or on the Coast of Labrador within the Limmitts aforesaid[...]

Nation to nation

From the Rant from the Throne:
We as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians aspire, not to perpetual subservience, but to self-sufficiency. Our people are not content to tolerate a future of relying on others economically. However, our people have now also learned that we will achieve self-reliance economically only by taking charge of our future as a people. To that end, My Government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa. Our priority is the well-being of successive generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including those who live here now and those we welcome to join us from all over the world. My Government will affirm Newfoundland and Labrador’s status as a distinct people, not uniform in lineage but multi-cultural, one nation inclusive of many nations living in harmony together. As equal partners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal together, we will write a new future for Newfoundland and Labrador, a future of our own design, where mutual understanding, justice, equality and cooperation are the order of the day. My Ministers propose a political approach that unites our province rather than divides. They promote a positive and inviting political vision embracing all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, new and old. Our people are proud nationalists who believe it is only by affirming our identity as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that we will realize our goal of economic equality within the federation. Our people are ready to take charge of our future and, under My First Minister’s leadership, our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house.
If there was an opposition in Dannystan, which sadly there isn't, they could have a lot of fun by asking:
Mr. Speaker, can the Premier tell us, is the Labrador Métis Nation one of the "many nations living in harmony together", one of the "equal partners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal together" that he refers to in his Speech from the Throne?

Glorious Leader speaks

Q. What sayeth Glorious Leader concerning volatility?

A. Quoth Glorious Leader, volatility is not good; to wit—"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 politics in Quebec, could be a very, very sensitive situation in years to come." [Emphasis added.]

When everyone's thinking the same thing...

... someone's not thinking.

There are 48 members of the House of Assembly.

One of them, Glorious Leader himself, was the amanuensis for the Throne Speech which His Poor Old Viceregal Excellency Ed Roberts was subject to reading today.

That leaves 47 MHAs, any one of whom could have spoken out to at least subtly question the nationalist hokum, the crypto-separatist — is it time to stop qualifying it with "crypto" yet? — rhetoric, and the factual inexactitudes.

And that is to say nothing of the galling intellectual dishonesty of a government that is supposedly working to achieve "autonomy", "moral autonomy", whatever that is, included, by increasing the amount it receives in federal transfer payments from the rest of Canada, and jacking up the federal civil service presence in the province.

But did the Liberal Opposition leader challenge the underlying theses of this Rant from the Throne?


What about the newly-minted NDP leader?


Qui tacit consentire videtur.

If they disagree with the fundamentals of the Rant from the Throne, today was the day to start expressing it.

If they agree, well, then that leaves a huge vacuum in the federalist part of the local political spectrum. They may as well fold their parties into Bloc Dannystan now and be done with it. And make no mistake, the Rant from the Throne was aimed squarely at fracturing that spectrum along a federalist-separatist axis.

All of which leads a body to wonder: when Beth Marshall says:
Mr. Speaker, this government has invested significantly in the Province’s education system and will continue to do so to ensure our students have the knowledge and skill they need to become not only contributing members of society but leaders in our community and the nation.
which nation is she referring to?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Personality cult metrics

Number of times the phrase "my First Minister" or "my Premier" appears in the 2007 Throne Speech: 5.

2006: 3

2005: 3

2004: 2

2003 and in every previous Throne Speech, back to 1996, available on the Internets: 0.

You just know the Vice-Regal mouth will be thoroughly Listerminted tonight.

Danny Williams, adéquiste

What in the name of All that is Holy is "moral autonomy"?

Banana Republic of Dannystan

The only thing missing?

The bananas.

First, the appointment of a "non-partisan" Electoral Boundaries Commission with members from all the major parties.

Then, the "non-partisan" appointment of a former cabinet minister — it seemed to have mattered, at least in Glorious Leader's eyes, that he was of a different political stripe — as Chief Electoral Officer.

Danny isn't making that mistake again.

No, sirree.

Oh, no worries, it'll still be partisan. But this time, he's keeping it in the PC family. As Terry Roberts reports for The Telegram today:
The provincial government has announced that former municipal politician and Progressive Conservative party supporter Paul Reynolds will be the new chief electoral officer and commissioner of members' interests.

Reynolds served as president of the PC party for two years in the 1980s and was part of former MP Ross Reid's campaign team.


He will replace Chuck Furey, a former Liberal cabinet minister.


Furey's appointment caused a stir when critics complained that the position should not be filled by a politician.

Eyebrows were also raised by the fact that Furey, a longtime Liberal, was appointed by a PC government.

Political allegiances appear to have been respected in this case, however.
"Political allegiances appear to have been respected in this case, however."

"Political allegiances appear to have been respected in this case, however."?

"Political allegiances appear to have been respected in this case, however."?!?!?

For the information of the last remaining person, whoever he or she is, who cares about such niceties:
5. It is the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer
(a) to exercise general direction and supervision over the administrative conduct of elections and to enforce on the part of election officers fairness, impartiality and compliance with this Act;
Maybe that can be accomplished by a former President of the government party, and a close political ally of a senior official in that governing party's government.

But in the 21st century, the public should never have been placed in a position where it has to wonder.

Maybe he's a Canadian after all

From the House of Assembly Tuesday, this line from Glorious Leader:
I will never apologize for defending our rights...

Shades of O Canada. The French version. Et ta valeur... protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

But a pop quiz for anyone who knows... which of "our rights" has Glorious Defender defended lately? Comments, please.

On a bien étudié

The title of today's Speech from the Throne:
Achieving Self-Reliance by Becoming Masters of Our Own House
The Research Division of DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador has obviously been diligent in carrying out Operation Let's Be Like Mid-20th-Century Quebec Nationalists.

Having already channelled René Lévesque, Chairman Dan is once again channelling Jean Lesage and André Laurendeau.

So, when's that referendum?

Amazing coincidences

It is amazing how morning after morning, afternoon after afternoon, and night after night, numerous concerned ordinary grassroots citizens named Agnes, Tony, Carole, and others, call into the VOCM echo chambers, and pronounce themselves, in almost identical terms, on the minutiae of fiscal federalism, the internal workings of Confederation Building, the moral failings of the "mainland" media, and even what was or was not done to Glorious Republic of Dannystan's Most Esteemed And Worthy Economist.



Hi, Liz!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A living document

In their preamble to the Labrador Northern Strategic Plan, or the Strategic Labrador Northern Plan, or the Planning Northern Strategic Labrador, or whatever it's called, Ministers Hickey and Rideout make the following pronouncement:

This document should be viewed as a living document and we encourage you to read it and submit any thoughts that you would like to share with us. It will be updated regularly to adjust to changes in demography, technology, society and the economy.
In a backgrounder to the Northern Plan Labrador Strategic, appears this curious little promiselet:

The Provincial Government will continue to:
Secure funding to hard surface the remainder of the Trans-Labrador Highway upon completion of hard surfacing of Phase I
Setting aside the question of how you can "continue to secure" something you haven't yet begun to secure at all* — and this statement is also followed by the promise to "continue to ... finalize the decision on central airport for Southern Labrador", something most governments would not just do once, not continuously, but would also have long since done by now — this raises a couple of other interesting questions.

First: "secure" from whom? Why can't the province fund this on its own? Isn't Labrador part of a province? If so, which one?

Second: if this part of the plan, "continuing to secure funding for the remainder of the Trans-Labrador Highway", is so important, why didn't it make it into the published version of the mother document?

"Living document", alright.

Yet another subtle indication that the Labrador Strategic Plan Northern has been concocted on the fly, not with any Labrador plan or Labrador strategy in mind, other than re-electing the two incumbent PC members, and possibly adding to the PC seat total north of the Strait of Belle Isle. And to further that goal, if you have to make up things that aren't even in it, in order to broaden its appeal or neutralize potential criticism, all the better, if it meets the strategic objectives that strategic plan is meant to strategize: those of the Danny Williams cult.

* The Tobin/Grimes provincial Liberals were frequently guilty of the same thing, promising to "continue" doing things, in Labrador and elsewhere, which they hadn't actually commenced doing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Premier Launches Publicly-Funded Re-Election Plan for Labrador

"Northern Strategic Plan", "Re-Election Plan", what's the difference?

Some preliminary observations:

Cracker-jack Research
Page 13, alone, is footnoted. Many of the footnotes cite Wikipedia, which these days is a big red flag for an F in academic work. And for some odd reason, the document is still relying on intercensal population estimates, not the actual population figures, which were released over a month ago. How long has this document been "in the can", anyway?

Fiscal Imbalance
From page 15:
The province is forecasted to produce $2.5 billion worth of mineral shipment in 2006, 98% of which comes from Labrador. This is divided equally between iron ore operations in Labrador West and nickel, copper and cobalt production from Voisey’s Bay. Labrador mining operations are forecasted to employ 2298 persons in 2006, and mining in general will contribute 3.2% to the province’s GDP, most of which comes from Labrador.

Imagine if Newfoundland and Labrador produced 98% of Canada's anything, other than demagogues?

The Value of Committment
"Completing the Trans-Labrador Highway is a priority for our government," says Glorious Leader.

How much of a committment?

One-sixth of a commitment:
The Province committed to a Labrador Transportation Plan that will concentrate on specific outcomes while addressing the unique issues relating to transportation in Labrador. Some of these issues include the continued effective delivery of marine services on the Labrador coast; the completion of Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway and hard surfacing of Phase I of the Highway.


Complete hard surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway

Yes, DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador is committed, committed, they tell you, to finishing, up to paved — sorry, "hard surfacing" — one phase of three.

And even that is dependent on fifty-cent federal dollars:
No Progress on Highway Deal
April 22, 2007

The provincial and federal governments do not appear any closer to inking a deal on the Trans Labrador Highway. Provincial Transportation Minister, John Hickey, is calling on federal cabinet minister, Loyola Hearn, to get moving on the project. The province has set aside its share of the funding to widen and upgrade the highway but there has been no announcement yet from the federal government.
There you have it: Danny Williams and his Ministers are willing to complete one-third of the Trans-Labrador Highway if someone else pays one-half the costs.

Committment. Danny's full of it.

Right Hand? Meet Left Hand.
One of the stated tourism objectives is to "Negotiate the land transfer agreement for development of the Mealy Mountain National Park".

Is that the same National Park that Danny Williams has been holding up almost since he took office?

Or is that a different one?

Labrador Is An Integral Part of Canada
One of the resource objectives is "Support Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to conduct an ACOA funded assessment of technical options for natural gas developments off Labrador"

Why is this an ACOA responsibility?

Better yet, why is this a NL Hydro responsibility?

Why not leave this up to the proponents?

Oh yeah — there are none.

Funny, though, how it becomes a federal government responsibility by virtue, it would seem, of being the Labrador offshore.

What about the other four W's and the H?
The Labrador Institute will be physically united with the College of the Whatever It's Called This Year campus in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Now that they know where the Institute will be working, it might soon be time to unveil who, what, when, why, and how it will be working.

Lower(ing) Churchill (expectations)
Or, what do you need a stinkin' transmission line for, when we're subsidizing your power anyway?

Hey Ottawa, hurry up and say no!
It's a darn good thing that Danny, Tom, and John's dealings with the Labrador Metis have always been above board, beyond reproach, and totally un-Machiavellian.

Otherwise it would be way to easy to read way too much into this:
The members of the Labrador Metis Nation share similar aspirations to the Labrador Innu and Inuit. There is, however, ongoing deliberation over the status of the Labrador Metis Nation land claim and the eligibility of its members for federal Aboriginal programs and services. This has hampered the development of a good, productive and practical relationship. [between whom? — ed.] The Province continues to urge the federal government to make a speedy decision on the Labrador Metis Nation claim.

Not all Aboriginal people in Canada can demonstrate Aboriginal rights and title, nor are all Aboriginal peoples eligible for various federal Aboriginal programs and services. It is the federal government that determines who is and is not eligible for those programs and services.

It would be unfair to other Labradorians to grant the members of the Labrador Metis Nation rights and benefits that they have not established in law. This does not mean that we should not celebrate the distinctive contribution the Labrador Metis make to the culture of Labrador and work with them to improve the economic and social circumstances of its members. Thus, the Province has offered to work with the Labrador Metis Nation and its members in gaining access to federal Aboriginal programs and services where they meet the eligibility requirements, and has listened to and attempted to address the Labrador Metis Nation’s concerns expressed in the consultation sessions. The Province will continue to consult appropriately with the Labrador Metis Nation on developments, as required by law, and will work with them to ensure that their members, with other Labradorians, benefit from employment opportunities from developments that occur in Labrador.

Whoever introduced the word "lobby" to Newfoundland, please raise your hand
On page 51, we learn that "People want the Province to lobby the Quebec government to have Routes 389 (Baie Comeau to Fermont) and 138 (Natashquan to Elgin) upgraded to be comparable with the Trans-Labrador Highway."


Government work with one another.

They don't "lobby" one another, at least not when they have mature relations and competent departments of intergovernmental —

Oh yeah.

And "Elgin"?

Where in Samhain is "Elgin" on the Quebec North Shore?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And the hunt is now on for that treasonous six percent

Reports the Winnipeg Free Press:
The poll shows Doer remains among the most popular first ministers in the land with the job approval rating of 71 per cent given by Manitobans topped only by the 94 per cent rating that Newfoundland's Danny Williams enjoys.
Hollett, Lono, Westcott, Cochrane, Wangersky... be very afraid. Now is not the time to wear those "Dissident" t-shirts in public.

Circular time

More proof, not that much is needed, of the belief held by many cultures that time is cyclical:
Smallwood Says Canada Will Reassume Role Ignoring Nfld.

Ottawa, (CP) [April 4, 1959]—Premier Joseph Smallwood of Newfoundland said Wednesday the “excitement” will die down and “Canada will reassume its role of ignoring Newfoundland as it has done for the last 10 years.”

The remark in a speech before a record attendance of some 800 at the Canadian Club of Ottawa dissolved the audience into laughter, cheers, and applause.

Another remark which brought prolonged applause was “We will not allow union gangsterism or gangster unionism in Newfoundland.”

Nearly all of Mr. Smallwood’s address was devoted to his version of the Newfoundland logger’s strike and a bitter attack on the International Woodworkers of America (CLC).

Mr. Smallwood said the IWA “let loose the mob spirit” and had misused its power “shamefully.”


No PCs

The head table guests included Opposition Leader Pearson, J.W. Pickersgille, Liberal MP for Bonavista-Twillingate, and other Liberals but no Progressive Conservatives.

Mr. Smallwood said the Canadian Club doesn’t permit political discussion and that he therefore wouldn’t discuss Term 29 of the articles of Newfoundland-Canada patently become a partisan constitutional issue.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker has announced that the federal government will no pay special grants to Newfoundland after 1962 under Term 29. Mr. Smallwood has maintained these grants were supposed to continue indefinitely.

The Newfoundland premier said he is “trying hard under some little difficulty” to be a good Canadian and loyal to the national government.


“We don’t doubt that we have a democracy in Newfoundland despite certain rumours,” Mr. Smallwood said at another point.

All churches, newspapers, and political parties had supported [Smallwood’s actions against the IWA]. “Stark disaster” had faced Newfoundland and “we had to prevent the growth of gangsterism, mob rule and defiance of the law.”

Mr. Smallwood added he has had letters from Conservative MPs strongly supporting his actions in the loggers’ strike.

Mass media weapons of self-deception

GEOFF! Meeker asks:
Certain American networks are keen to play along, playing the ‘shock and awe’ video to its maximum, desensitizing effect. Is it any wonder Americans are killing each other?
Yesterday, nearly 200 people died in terrorist attacks in Iraq.

That's almost as many as in the Mumbai commuter train bombings last year or the Bali bombing in 2002, and more than the 2005 London tube bombings, the 2004 Madrid railway bombings, the 2002 theatre hostage-taking in Moscow, or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Yet, for many hours after the bombings yesterday in Baghdad, there were no links to the story on the main page of CNN and other major U.S. media websites. The ones that eventually appeared were placed well inside and below the fold, so to speak.

Yes, the attention of the U.S., and much of the world, has been caught up in a horrific domestic American act of mass violence these past several days.

But still, "desensitizing effect", indeed.

Huddled masses yearning to breathe free

If Greg Locke, Secret National, senses that "a weight seems to be lifting" as he disembarks from the Constitutional Cattle Car in North Sydney, then there's hope yet for federalism.

It used to be that people outmigrated interprovincially out of economic necessity.

When they add the language of personal liberty to the equation, as a reason for leaving one province of Canada and taking up residence in another, there is something very, very, seriously wrong.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fiscal imbalance

A tanned and refreshed Glorious Leader, back from one of the innumerable and lengthy breaks that the House of Assembly, the laziest legislature in Canada, gives itself these days, went before the microphones today and laid this hilarious turdlet:
What you have to do here is compare apples to apples. You have to look at a situation, for example, like Quebec. Or New Brunswick. New Brunswick has no oil and gas. But New Brunswick over that same period of time will get about $22-, $23-billion, according to Dr. [Wade] Locke’s calculations. Our $18-billion is Accord, equalization, and oil and gas revenues. So you have other provinces in a similar position, but have no oil and gas revenues, that are going to get a significant amount of federal money, and good for them, I have no problems.
O... K.

Interesting logic, with the use of the word “But” in the phrase “But New Brunswick...”

On par with an old French exam question, “Il est luthérien, mais il aime les fleurs.” (He is Lutheran, but he likes flowers.)

In Dannystan, if a province has oil and gas revenues, it should get more transfer money under the equalization formula.

Conversely, if a province does NOT have oil and gas revenues, it should get less.

This should come as great news to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Well, especially to those who are now resident in Alberta, the province with the largest oil and gas revenues, and the province whose government would benefit most from this – what’s a charitable word? – Martian understanding of what equalization is or should be.

Because yes, if the latest official Dannystan pronunciation on equalization is to be applied consistently, Alberta, too, should be compensated for having to collect all those oil and gas revenues.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Channeling the Archbishop

From the letters page of the April 9 edition of the St. John's Telegram, the following exercise in irony by Father John Maddigan of St. John's:
If I were to write a letter to Opposition Leader Gerry Reid, I would tell him to back off. Back off and back Danny Williams in this.

This is no time for you to develop the Stephen Harper syndrome of speaking out of both sides of your mouth. [you mean like Danny Williams did on the Labrador Metis issue? — ed.]

You cannot say, "Don't elect any Tory federal MPs in Newfoundland and Labrador," and at the same time say, "Let's cosy up to the federal Tories in Ottawa." Perhaps you don't say "cosy up," but that is how you sound.

Gerry, you are trying to eat the cake you don't have. If Danny doesn't win this battle, then we will probably still get some goodies from Ottawa but the main meal will be taken off the table.

I have no intention of entering the political arena, but I do make a plea for fairness. It is time for us to make a united stand. The rest of Canada seems to be against us. They are looking for a crack in our armour. Gerry, don't be the one to provide it. We need a united front, a strong shield of faith, a breastplate of righteousness.

This is a good fight to fight. Back off, Gerry. Back Danny. The real Gerry Reid needs to stand up. The last thing we need is another bipolar politician.
Yes, Father, absolutely, the very, very, very last thing we need is another bipolar politician.

This letter follows on an earlier one, from February 19, from another man of the cloth, Father Aidan Devine of Deer Lake:
I am a Catholic priest witnessing the slow death of a beautiful province. The recent Marine Atlantic fare increase is a small item, but extra stress for those who must use the service.

It's a sign of the lack of respect shown for this province, and it's added to previous indicators, such as: the premier having to have all Canadian flags lowered on all provincial buildings to get Ottawa's attention. Our inshore fishery closing in 1992, resulting in rural community death. (Ottawa maintains international trade balances as foreign countries strip away whatever fish are left.) Goose Bay in decline. Gander International Airport downgraded. The Stephenville mill closed with little assistance. The famous Churchill Falls Hydro contract - a Quebec robbery of our resources. The roads for our railway closure, which involved lots of Ottawa promises never met.

Regarding the ferry fare hike, the federal government will hear little outcry because it has beaten this place into submission to the point where we have become completely lethargic and apathetic. We deserve respect but in its place we see communities emptied, families torn apart, the moral fabric of our province destroyed. You don't do that to people you respect. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are a tired, angry, frustrated people; people who are bitter and demoralized and who see no hope of a future.

Ottawa has no idea what life is like for people living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador in any one of the hundreds of communities that exist(ed) outside the City of St. John's. They are rapidly dying and I fear the federal government could care less.
Next week in The Telegram: a missive from the grave by Archbishop Roche.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Walter Noel, Giant of Federalism

Walter Noel took out his crayons and wrote the following brilliant analysis for yesterday's edition of the St. John's Telegram:
The country would cease to exist without equalization. Ontario and Quebec would be the biggest losers. The other provinces would be better off financially as independent countries or American states. As Americans, citizens of the smaller provinces would also have more say in national affairs through effective Senate representation.
A few quick questions for Walter as he continues his in-depth study of the costs and benefits of being a province of Canada:

1) Which fraction is bigger, 6/105 or 2/102? Those are the fractional shares of Newfoundland and Labrador's representation in the Senate of Canada, and in the United States Senate as a hypothetical U.S. state, respectively.

2) Relatedly, which fraction is bigger, 508,548/32,777,304, 7/308, or 1/435? The first is NL's share of the Canadian population, about 1.6%. The second, about 2.2%, is its share of the Canadian House of Commons. The third is what, as a hypothetical U.S. state, NL would enjoy as representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Canadian Parliamentary representation formula is much more generous to small provinces than the American one is to U.S. states.

3) How large is the equalization payment that NL would receive as a U.S. state? (Hint: the figure starts and ends with the digit 0)

4) How large are the royalties collected by the U.S. federal government from offshore, and even onshore oil, gas, and other mineral developments? Are they larger than the comparable ones collected by the Canadian federal government? (Hint: the Canadian figure is effectively the same as the U.S. equalization figure; the American figure is a non-zero amount.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tom Rideout is a liar

No fancy verbal tricks, prolixity, or pompous punctuation this time.

Just this:

When Tom Rideout says "the provincial government has not broken any promises", he is not being truthful.

Danny Williams promised, in writing:

• 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.

• We will work in partnership with the Metis people of Labrador to promote and strengthen Metis communities and culture, and to ensure the Metis and all residents of Labrador share in the benefits that accrue from the development of Labrador resources.

• We will involve the Labrador Metis Nation, as we will representatives of all residents of Labrador, in the process of negotiating a Lower Churchill Development Agreement.
Danny Williams was not being truthful when he made those promises.

He lied.

And Tom Rideout is not being truthful when he revises history and defends Chairman's own history of broken promises and lies.

Tom Rideout has lied.

Not for the first time.

And probably not for the last.

If we can't accept at face value the promise of our Premier, then who can?

There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.
Et cetera.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


"Our No. 1 hurdle is transmission", says Jim Keating of National State Energy Bureau, regarding the development of wind energy in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Where does the notion that National State Energy Bureau, and only National State Energy Bureau, can or should develop that industry, that "we own the wind", rank on the list of "hurdles"?

Danny Smallwood

From bondpapers:
The Churchill Falls deal was unanimously endorsed by the legislature at the time. That's the deal, you will recall, which brought a tremendous immediate benefit from construction jobs but which was built - ultimately - around the idea of deferred revenues. It was only later that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador heard about the details of the deal and just how long the benefits were to be deferred.
For the benefit of the historically-minded, but especially for the benefit of the much larger class of people who forget their history, thereby dooming themselves to repeat it, here is a handy-dandy chart of past provincial election results.

"Williams must stay the course," writes Danny shill Marian Walsh of CBS.

"I strongly believe we should stand with our premier and further empower him...", writes another, Dr. P.K. Ganguly.

It would be a worthwhile exercise for someone with access to a full back-file of The Telegram, to go back through the 1950s and 1960s, and scour the letters pages for fawning missives pledging fealty and love to an earlier iteration of Glorious Leader.

It would also be an easy one — especially during Smallwood's final legislature, the one elected in 1966, the one in which he reduced the opposition to three seats.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Danny Honecker

From a comment by Gord Tulk in a posting at Small Dead Animals:
Below is what a friend of mine who was at the luncheon and heard the [Craig Westcott] speech first hand e-mailed me last night:

"Man, you coulda heard a pin drop today when Westcott spoke at the NOIA luncheon.... everyone was riveted... at the end people were kind of looking around, thinking, "If I stand up for an ovation, will someone see me and tell Him??" It's that bad here now, like East Germany or something. The comment I heard several people make was, "This needed to be said". ...

Newfoundland Idol

This is one of the most viscious responses ever yet posted to any Telegram online content since they started with this exercise in interactivity.

Danny Williams should be afraid. Very afraid.

For if Brad Gushue turns out to have had such feet of clay for his once-adoring public, there is hope yet that the voting public may yet have the sense to do the right thing in October.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Andy Wells, New Finlander

It's odd, isn't it, that such a strong Tibetan nationalist as Andy Wells can't pronounce "Tibetan".

Hint, Andy: not like "Taiwan".

Facts and figures

Walter Noel wants to see the numbers.

Why he didn't seek the numbers when he had access to them as a provincial Cabinet minister, or why his government didn't explicitly instruct the Blame Canada Commission to crunch them, remains a mystery.

As one, surprising, observer recently remarked, "In any 'revolution' its not the lawyers and accountants waving spreadsheets and legal precedents that lead the charge up the hill to freedom and self determination.".

But Walter Noel wants a balance sheet, so he can decide whether "we" are getting our "fair share" out of Confederation.

The short answer: yes.

The long answer: also yes.

Here are the figures from 2003 (the most recent year for which a comparable full set of numbers is available.)

(See also this StatsCan publication, on 2004 data, with a different methodology, and an even more favourable conclusion — or less favourable, if you are an emotive nationalist politician who is seeking to incite the populace to rise up and cast off the yoke of Confederation, blah blah blah.)
Where's the Harris Centre for the Study of Newfoundland Nationalist Mythology, or whatever they are called, when you could really use 'em?

Walter can expect an invoice.

Federal revenue/expenditure                   $000        Subtotal

Federal revenues (personal)

Federal Personal Income Tax (995,235)

CPP Premiums (219,654)

EI Premiums (103,971)


Federal revenues (production)

Federal taxes on factors of production (7,000)

Customs import duties (45,000)

Excise duties (48,000)

Other taxes (105,000)

GST (416,000)

Air transportation tax (4,000)

Miscellaneous federal taxes on products (1,000)


Federal revenues (corporate) (413,000)


Total, Federal revenues (2,357,860)

Federal transfers to individuals

OAS benefits 515,914

CPP benefits 436,724

Child Tax Benefit 143,123

GST credit 59,849

EI benefits 842,269

Veterans' benefits 44,000

Aboriginal programs 94,000

Scholarships 7,000

Other 111,000


Federal transfers to business 96,000


Federal transfers to government

Equalization 1,029,000

CHST 397,700

Statutory 1,700

Cost-shared (federal share) 71,138


Federal salaries 373,000


Total, Federal expenditures 4,222,417


The New (Brunswick) Math

Newfoundland and Labrador has an education minister who doesn't know the distinction between "less" and "fewer".

New Brunswick has an education minister who is a math and logic whiz, and a psephologist nonpareil to boot; a rare quality in a politician!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Census sensibilities III

On March 13th, when the 2006 census figures were released, Tom Marshall engaged in the following bit of self-congratulatory massaging of the digits:

The Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, said the census counts released today by Statistics Canada are not final population estimates, but merely a step in a larger process used to determine final official population estimates.

The minister said census counts are headcounts based on 2006 census forms actually received by Statistics Canada. "Some people are missed during the census process. Separate estimates are made to ensure that everyone who should be counted as part of our population to determine equalization entitlements, demands on health care and education services, are included in the official population estimates" said Minister Marshall. "Census counts provide raw data that must go through several levels of analysis and be used in conjunction with other information before a final population estimate can be reached."


"While these counts show that our population has declined 1.5 per cent, this is a far cry from the 7.1 per cent drop in the census covering the years 1996-2001. Government takes issues surrounding outmigration and challenges facing our rural communities very seriously."

[Emphasis added.]
Fair enough, on both counts (ha! pun!). The census figures are subject to post-censal revision. And the population decline between 2001 and 2006 is much less than that from 1996 to 2001.

But a closer look at the intercensal figures provides pretty compelling evidence that this "decline in the decline" is probably little more than a landing on a steep downward staircase.

First, consider StatsCan's quarterly interprovincial migration figures. This chart shows net migration (in-migration minus out-migration) for Newfoundland and Labrador from 1990 to 2006. At the far left, during the recession of the early 1990s, there were episodes of net in-migration. (Just as there were during the recession of the early 1980s; there was less reason for people to leave, and in some cases, reason to pack it all and go home. This will happen in the next North American recession, too.)

(Clickificate to enlargimafy.)

Things went downhill rapidly after the closure of the cod fishery in 1992, with net outmigration reaching its zenith (nadir) in mid-1997.

But the trend after 1997, for six years, was much more favourable. There was still net outmigration, to be sure, but the rate of that outmigration decreased to recent-historic lows.

On the other hand, since late 2003, apart from one quarterly net in-migration, the rate of out-migration has been picking up again. The most recent quarter (ending January 2006) for which stats are available show a level of outmigration that is on par with the darkest days of the post-moratorium period.

It would therefore appear that the more favourable census population decline in the latest census, of "only" 1.5% population loss, is due almost entirely to more favourable demographic trends in the first half of the latest intercensal period; that is, from 2001 to late 2003.

But in- and out-migration are only two components of population change. (Well, there are two others, in- and out-migration internationally, but (a) they don't change the big picture much, and (b) figures aren't available for the same time-period and time-scale.)

You also have to consider natural population change, births and deaths.

For most of the post-Confederation period, Newfoundland and Labrador has had high net out-migration, but, until 1996, no net population loss. This was always because the province had a high rate of natural increase, that is, more births than deaths, to compensate for the out-migration losses.

No more.

The rate of natural population change, as shown in this graph, has been sliding from a substantial increase to an insubstantial one, to natural population decline.

(Clickificate to enlargimafy.)

Birth rates are declining, not only of their own accord, but because out-migration is depleting the population of people in their child-bearing years. Death figures are climbing as the large populations of people born in the early and middle parts of the last century are succumbing to old age and typically 20th-century causes of death for the middle-aged and early retirement-aged demographic brackets.

The natural population change trend is clear enough. (And while NL is the first to reach natural population decline, all other provinces, with the temporary exception of Alberta, are showing early or advanced signs of the same statistical slope.)

And the recent outmigration trend, if it holds, is demographically scary enough. It is too early to say how clear it is, but given events in 2006, there is no great hope that the trendline since 2003 has reversed itself.

If anecdotes like this or like this are anything to go on, it certainly hasn't.

If current trends continue, not only will the 2006 census be just a brief landing on the staircase, the 2001 census may look like the good ol' days. And with billions of dollars in population-retaining or -building economic activity now tied up in a tightly-knotted ball of spite, there is nothing in the next four years, until the 2011 census, that appears likely to change the demographic course.

So when Danny Williams says things like, "If there doesn't happen to be a job for someone in St. John's in an engineering firm, that's unfortunate... but there has to be some price paid in the short term", or "St. John's can take the hit," the media, the public, the business community, the provincial civil service, and members of his own caucus have to start asking themselves (there's no point asking him) some serious questions.

Starting with "What is the big guy smoking, and where can you get some?".

The problem with predicting the future, they say, is that it hasn't happened yet.

But here's a confident prediction: History, other than that written by one historian in particular, is going to be viciously unkind to the reputation of the Hon. Danny Williams.

Second fiddle

How hard must it suck to be a Danny Williams Administration Newfoundland Labrador cabinet minister?

First, you have to issue a cryptic media advisory of the type usually reserved for announcing, shall we say, "changes to cabinet":
Media Advisory: Minister to Hold News Conference

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, has scheduled a news conference for today (Wednesday, April 4).
Then, even though it ends up being a run-of-the-mill, workaday government announcement, your name takes second billing to Glorious Leader's in your own press release:
Teacher Allocations Announced – Focus on Need Versus Numbers

To ensure the highest quality education for students across Newfoundland and Labrador, the Williams Government will invest $6.4 million in Budget 2007 in teaching positions. School districts will have 137 teachers above the current teacher allocation model to distribute to schools across their districts. The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, also announced today an additional 25 teachers to support a new Excellence in Mathematics Strategy and 13 new positions to address increased need in the province’s growth areas.

Loophole, loophole, who's got the loophole?

From the long-since bit-bucketted PC Party pre-election website:

Release the Voisey's Bay legal text now

ST. JOHN'S, September 30, 2002 — Opposition Mines and Energy critic John Ottenheimer has challenged the Grimes government to release the legal text of the agreement to development the Voisey's Bay project today.


Ottenheimer said, "It is better for the people of the province to see the final contract before it is signed than to discover after the fact that it has as many loopholes in it as the Statement of Principles presented to the House of Assembly in June."
The Tories have had the keys to the filing cabinets for over three years now.

They have The Greatest Lawyer In The Common-Law Universe as leader and Premier.

Isn't it about time they exposed those nasty "loopholes"?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Loyola calls

The Ministry of Truth reports today:
Funding for TLH - Apr 3, 2007

Federal cabinet minister Loyola Hearn has announced a chunk of money which he says can be used for the Trans Labrador Highway. A new infrastructure fund gives the province 175 million dollars over the next seven years. Hearn says Transportation Minister John Hickey has fought hard for funding for the TLH. Hearn says unlike other programs, this fund has no strings attached.

Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto says the funding for the Trans Labrador Highway has been a long time coming. Letto says there has been a lot of lobbying for improvements to the highway.

Transportation Minister John Hickey has welcomed the new 7 year, 175 million dollar federal infrastructure fund for the province. Hickey says department officials will be talking to their counterparts in Ottawa over the next few days to work out the details. He says it would take an estimated 3 hundred million dollars to complete the Trans Labrador Highway, but the provincial government remains committed to accomplishing that. Meanwhile, local officials are heralding it as a "new day" for Labrador. Wabush Mayor Jim Farrell says $100 million - half from the province and half from the feds - should be enough to hard-surface the road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West.
Most interesting. But, like any good answer, it raises some more good questions.

The "7 year, 175 million dollar federal infrastructure fund" is the baseline of $25-million, per province and territory, per year, as the federal budget puts it, "to support investment in national priorities throughout the country, such as trade-related infrastructure like gateways, roads, highways and other transportation facilities."

According to provincial transport Minister John Hickey, in the Aurora of October 2, 2006, the province "wants the federal government to throw in $100 million over five years, with the first $20 million ready for the 2007 construction season. ".

Question 1: Is the province prepared to put 80% of its annual $25-million HappyMoney into the TLH, leaving only $5-million per year for everything else that might have designs on the funds? Because if they're not, good on Loyola for calling their bluff.

Just last month, the province was rattling sabres on the TLH file. Minister Hickey told the House of Assembly that the provincial government "will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway with or without the federal government."

Question 2: If the province was, and is, truly prepared to spend $50-million "with or without" the federal government, and if the province is willing to take Loyola up on his offer to use the $25-million annual funding for the TLH... then why wouldn't the province put in the full $50-million anyway? Or was John Hickey not being truthy when he said "with or without"? If not, good on Loyola for calling their bluff.

Stephen Harper's now-famous letter to Danny Williams promised "Conservative government would support a cost-shared agreement to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway".

Jim Farrell says "$100 million - half from the province and half from the feds - should be enough to hard-surface the road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West."

John Hickey says "it would take an estimated 3 hundred million dollars to complete the Trans Labrador Highway..."

Loyola Hearn is offering up the $175-million, 7-year infrastructure fund as its contribution towards completing the TLH.

And in the Telegram today, Tara Mullowney reports "This province's share of the money - $25 million a year for seven years - may be used to help fund the $50-million Trans-Labrador Highway completion, [Hearn] said.

The Trans-Labrador Highway extends all the way from Labrador City, through, not just to, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to the south coast and the Labrador Straits. A portion of the highway in the middle, Phase III, is still not even completed.

Question 3: Does $50-million worth of pavement, on Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway alone (Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) constitute "complet[ion of] the Trans-Labrador Highway" in Loyola Hearn's eyes? In John Hickey's?

Question 4: If the completion of the TLH is estimated at $300-million, even if the province were to devote all of the $175-million, 7-year fund to the TLH, does this not still leave "completion" $125-million short?

According to the same Tara Mullowney piece in the Telegram, "[Loyola Hearn] credits provincial Transportation and Works Minister John Hickey, who is also the minister responsible for Labrador Affairs, for working with him on this and other projects, some of which will be announced shortly, he said."

Question 5: Which "other projects"? Are these "other projects" also claimants to the $25-million/year, 7-year funding? If so, how much does that leave for the TLH?

Question 6: Where does this "$300-million" figure come from anyway? Given that Minister Hickey, according to this week's Labradorian, says the TLH has to be widened before it can be "hard topped" — whatever that means — doesn't $300-million, to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway, all of it, seem a little optimistic?

Destination Edinburgh

The appeal of separatism in modern Scotland is linked to the country’s relative economic decline, as self- congratulation turns to grievance in response to failure. The crucial issue for Scotland’s future is whether independence would reduce that sentiment, or aggravate it.
Sounds like a good destination the next time Danny Williams or any of the Townie nationalist literati are looking for an international trip.

And for good measure...

When Greg Locke writes:
Sadly, I’ve been to Canada.

it's hard not to contemplate the question:

What if this had been Margaret Wente, Ric Dolphin, John Ivison, or Charles Lynch, writing, "sadly, I've been to Newfoundland."?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Try ABC!

From Bond Papers:
Williams told a radio call-in show this morning that criticism of his efforts across the country are coming from or are influenced by the "communications spin" coming from the Prime Minister's Office.
As opposed, one imagines, to the fact that praise of his efforts, on whatever battle of the week, across the province are coming from or are influenced by the "communications spin" coming from the Premier's office?

The Black Armband Brigade

Ever-so-predictably, Greg Locke joins the Black Armband Brigade, wringing his hands over Confederation, moping over what might have been:

How would politics, business and social structure be different than it is. Would we be like Iceland, Ireland …or even Malta!
Aha! A new one for the crypto-separatists. Malta. Greg, Chairman Dan, Sue Kelland-Dyer, Averill Baker, Lisa Moore, and the rest who are entranced by the entirely phony comparisons to Iceland and Ireland can perhaps explain: what are the Icelandic, Irish, and now Maltese equivalents of Labrador?

When is the CBC going to start underwriting those documentaries comparing Labrador to Yukon or the NWT, anyway?

He continues:
Sadly, I’ve been to Canada. Spent half of my life there and guess what? They don’t want us. Never did. What they wanted was to complete their country, from “sea to shining sea” …not to mention the natural resources. Like all colonialists, for Canada, it was always about what they could take out, not put back in. They didn’t think that once they took over everything they would have to actually feed and house the dirty little buggers.
Greg Locke, whose technically-proficient but otherwise intellectually dubious book "Newfoundland: Journeys Into a Lost Nation" pays just enough attention to Labrador to whinge about Churchill Falls, has some gall complaining, with no basis in fact, about Canada's supposed resource colonialism.

Perhaps Greg Locke can explain, what natural resources did Canada want? Which ones did they get?

And in his description of "colonialists", he captures perfectly, mutatis mutandis, the attitude of Newfoundland colonialist-nationalists towards Labrador. Why is the almost entirely fictitious Canadian "colonialism" towards Newfoundland worthy of denunciation, at annual and more frequent intervals, while Newfoundland's very real colonialist past — and present — in Labrador goes utterly unaddressed by the St. John's literati and glitterati?

The dead Beothucks get more sympathy from Newfoundland nationalists and the cultural élites in Town, than living Labradorians, of whatever ethnicity, do.

Indeed, those who dare raise Newfoundland's own little domestic colonialist streak are condemned by those same literati and gliterati as, at best, "whiners", at worst, four-letter epithets.

Locke continues:
What use are those MPs when they are 1/ beholding to the party over the people who voted or them and 2/ Newfoundland has no voting power in Canada.
Setting aside the overcorrection ("beholding")... the "Newfoundland has no voting power in Canada" is utterly bizarre. Newfoundland, with six MPs, obviously has a voting power greater than zero. And perhaps this point is too subtle for a Townie nationalist, but can't the same argument be made, mutatis mutandis, for Labrador's position within the province of which it is supposedly a part? After all, with only four seats in the provincial legislature, compared to Newfoundland's six in the House of Commons or Senate, wouldn't that make Labrador's provincial voting power 2/3 of zero?

When Newfoundland nationalists start being honest with the facts, and when they finally come to terms with the hypocrisy of how Newfoundland does onto its own little colony pretty well everything that Newfoundlanders claim, rightly or wrongly — and it's almost always wrongly — Canada does to them, then, and only then, will they find any sympathy in this corner.

And even then, not very much.