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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A brainwave

Someone should organize a rally for Trust and Confidence in the health care system.

Keep our trust.

Restore our confidence.

Abdication and non-abdication

A few weeks ago, Comrade Bill Rowe took out his crayons and wrote the following for his column in the St. John's Telegram:

...Danny should emulate Jean Charest, but in the opposite direction. Charest left the federal Tories to become leader of his provincial Liberals. Danny should leave his provincial Tories to run federally for the Liberals. He has always been a middle-of-the-road, progressive liberal anyway. Half his problem in dealing with Harper has been his contempt for Harper’s conservative policies...

And what a blessing for this province to have a commanding minister in Ottawa again, exercising supreme brawn and brains on our behalf. [Emphasis added]
"On our behalf".


No surprise from Comrade Rowe there, not even in a province where critical thought and pointed questions are at least venial, and in some political theologies, mortal sins.

Just listen to the Holy Father — no, the other one — and his snide and snotty remarks about certain bloggers, for instance. Or how easily put out he is when opposition members use Question Period in the House of Assembly to... to... to ask questions.

But even as the province traipses la-dee-la-dee-da, blissfully-blithely down the path towards little old ladies being buried with framed pictures of Danny Williams clasped across the breast, it was refreshing to see Comrade Rowe's own outlet issue the following alarm in today's editorial:'s easy to pick and choose the evidence when you already know what you want the result to be, and it's easy to justify the abuse of incomplete information when you already firmly believe that your ends are in the best interests of a province or nation.
Unless you've already made up your mind on a political issue - whether it's the idea that the federal government destroyed the fishery or the belief that Confederation has been bad for this province, or even that oil companies are corporate monsters robbing a provincial birthright - you owe it to yourself to ensure that you have the most information possible.

We've lost a lot in this province when we've made decisions without complete information.

We've lost even more when we've let political masters tell us what we're supposed to believe.
It is your patriotic duty as a citizen to question everything, including this advice.

It was bad enough in the 1950s, when people expected Smallwood (Manning, Duplessis, Angus L., Wacky Bennett) to "exercise supreme brawn and brains on our behalf."

In this century, it's not only unforgiveable, it's the biggest single part of the problems that we demand and expect the elected to fix.

Non-photo finish

It's been almost three weeks since the Non-Partisan Rally To Demonstrate Love And Admiration Of Danny Williams.

Despite the ubiquity of the technology, there do not appear to have been any digital cameras present to take a wide-field shot of the massive crowd, exaggerated estimated at up to 3,500 strong. Most peculiar.

And there's been plenty of time for anyone who was there burning up film with a conventional camera to have had their rolls developed, and a suitably impressive shot of this massive crowd scanned.

Yet the only photo of people over on the according2 website is a stock shot of people who had nothing to do with the rally, or the organization of it, at all.

Why has no one yet produced the money shot of the supposedly massive crowd of 3,500 people which rallied to show how much they love, in a non-partisan way, Danny Williams? Or how much they want to be part of the budgetary process? Or whatever it was it was all about?

Peter? George? Anyone?

Monday, May 28, 2007


On September 30, 2002, the provincial government of then-Premier Roger Grimes made the Voisey’s Bay Development Agreement with INCO.

It provided that:
4.13.1 In consideration of the Government granting the Exemption Orders, the Proponent guarantees that it shall, prior to Cessation of Mining Operations, commence shipping into the Province Replacement Concentrate for processing into Finished Nickel Product at the Processing Plant. Such Replacement Concentrate shall be shipped to and processed by the Processing Plant in sufficient quantities to permit the Processing Plant to operate continuously at a rate that will produce not less than 25,000 tonnes of Finished Nickel Product annually and such shipments shall continue at least until such time as the contained nickel and cobalt in the Replacement Concentrate shall have equalled the total quantity of contained nickel and cobalt in the Nickel Concentrate shipped out of the Province under the terms of the Nickel Concentrate Exemption Order and otherwise than under the provisions of an Exemption Order.

4.13.3 The Proponent acknowledges that if it does not perform its contractual obligations…the Government may at any time subsequent to such breach commence an action against the Proponent for any one or more of the following remedies, whether claimed as primary or secondary alternative relief: an order for specific performance; appropriate injunctive relief, whether mandatory or prohibitory; and monetary damages, including for consequential and economic loss, reflecting the substantial losses suffered by the Government and the economy of the Province as a result of such breach.
According to Danny Williams, section 4.13 of the Voisey’s Bay agreement is a “loophole”. A “giveaway”. Horrid stuff.

Today, the provincial government of Danny Williams announced a deal to continue its micro-management of the company formerly known as FPI.

A feature of the deal is said to be that:
"In addition to the immediate benefits that would be associated with this transaction, the deal also includes a series of conditions that will be triggered should either company fail to honour their commitments," said Minister Rideout. "These include financial compensation for the Provincial Government and the workers involved, as well as our government’s right-of-first-refusal, in the case of OCI, should that company attempt to sell various assets…"
Danny Williams is a Great Negotiator.™

Taxing the innumerate

With all the Newfoundland nationalist myths swirling around, it’s almost impossible to find the proximate birth date and place of any of them. Sometimes it’s possible to speculate intelligently on who started a rumour, and when, and why. But it can be hard to prove.

Which is why you should mark yesterday on your calendar: Sunday, May 27, 2007.

The place? The airwaves of VOCM.

The myth?

That Newfoundland and Labrador is getting ripped off on lotto 6/49. And, to boot, that Ontario, and especially Quebec, of course, unfairly benefit.

This is the thesis put forward last night by the myth’s midwife, Linda Swain, who can’t help but notice that Quebecers and Ontarians always seem to win 6/49, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians never do.

To her credit, Swain mooted the biggest single cause of that observation. Quebec and Ontario has a lot more people, and hence a lot more people available to buy lottery tickets. All things being equal, you should expect Quebec and Ontario to account for most of the jackpot winners, roughly 62% of them. And, all things being equal, NL should account for only about 1.5% of the winning numbers.

But all things are not equal.

Quebecers consistently have a higher participation rate in government-run lotteries such as 6/49 and Super7 than the all-Canada average. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, on the contrary, until recent years have had a consistently lower one.

This CBC report from 2001 illustrates the variation cross the country.

The raw and up-to-date Statscan data, and measuring per-capita instead of per participating household, shows that Quebec, alone among the ten provinces, has consistently had a higher participation rate in government-run lotteries than the national average. With just under 25% of the national population, Quebec has accounted for up to 30% of the spending on government-run lotteries. While that share has slipped in more recent years (Statscan data is available up to 2004), Quebec’s share of national spending on government lotteries has ranged from 2% to 6% higher than its share of the national population.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, participation in such lotteries has, again until recent years, consistently been lower, one to two tenths of a percent lower, than its population share.

There is no conspiracy. The game is not fixed — or at least not in such a way that certain provinces are favoured and others disfavoured.

Indeed, the lottery commentary last night is a classic case of selective evidence. What was one of the dominant stories in the local press in 2001, the year of the CBC report cited above?

Why, it was the extraordinary run of Lotto 6/49 jackpot winners (or sharers) in Newfoundland. In the first six months of the year, winning tickets were sold in, or to people from, Petty Harbour, Stephenville, Glovertown, Goulds, the St. George’s area, and Gander.

There do not appear to have been any media commentary at the time in Quebec, or anywhere else, about how the game was rigged in favour of Newfoundland, and against Quebec.

But never you mind. By the end of this week, the “lotteries are rigged against us” myth will be firmly entrenched in the conspiracy canon, and will be recited as part of the nationalist-cum-separatist catechism for decades to come. Facts? Stats? Who needs ‘em when we have our comfortable little white lies to comfort us in our hour of whine.

It’s a shame, really.

So far both Randy Simms and Linda Swain appeared to have been spared the Bill Rowe Syndrome of buying into, mindlessly repeating, actively promoting, and acting as an echo chamber for the Newfoundland nationalist mythology. Simms and Swain could usually ask pointed, balloon-busting questions.

There’s still hope that the other hosts can avoid catching the crypto-separatists cooties.

But after episodes like last night’s, it’s fading.

Memo to Carl Powell

Every time you show your geographical ignorance about the Voisey's Bay area — Nain is about 20 miles from the dock by an inside passage, not over the open Labrador Sea; every time you show your cultural ignorance — those waters have been traversed by Inuit in open boats for centuries; and every time you show your just plain ignorance — it's not "Andalak Bay", and no, strikers do not have the inalienable right to block legal traffic to and from the workplace they are striking — your already meagre amount of credibility shrinks just that much more.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Garage sale finds (II)

"Conspiracy theories of history have a life of their own, for no amount of contrary evidence can ever conclusively refute them. After all, it is always possible to believe that the 'real' evidence has been destroyed or hidden or the official record cunningly falsified, and that only when the secret archives are opened (or the long-lost diary found, and so forth) will the 'true story' at last be told. Such notions are hardy perennials, especially in the case of historic events where the margin between success and failure, victory and defeat, was razor-thin, as it was in Newfoundland in 1948."

— closing lines of Peter Neary, Newfoundland's Union with Canada, 1949: Conspiracy or Choice? In Buckner and Frank [eds.], Atlantic Canada After Confederation; The Acadiensis Reader: Volume II. Acadiensis Press, 1985, at p. 386

Garage sale finds (I)

"In Newfoundland, for the first time since confederation, politices have become competitive. Yet competitive politics are by no means new in Newfoundland's experience. Sharp electoral swings were common occurrences in the past, and most were hailed at the time, at least by the victors, as marking the dawn of a new era. Whether the ending of a unique period of personal rule will lead to the emergence of a new and more democratic political order or a return to the rancorous political instability of the past, must therefore remain an open question."

— closing paragraph of S.J.R. Noel, Politics in Newfoundland, University of Toronto Press, 1971, p. 265

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chief Dan Two-Face

Anther knee-slapper from yesterday’s edition of Politics:
Susan Bonner: On the issue of leadership, I know you met with the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine yesterday… He wants a seat at the table with the Council of the Federation. What’s your position on that?

Chief Dan Two-Face: I think Chief Fontaine and other leaders are quite comfortable with the arrangement that we have right now, which is in fact that they have a meeting before our official meeting. Over time there may be a time and there may be a place when they will join that Council of the Federation. Right now I don’t sense that there’s a unanimous appetite for that to happen at the Council.
Which is funny, because not five minutes before that, Danny Williams was speaking in the distinctive style of a First Nations leader himself:
Chief Dan Two-Face: My people and my province have been seriously affected by the promise of Stephen Harper.

Danny's version of events

From CBC Newsworld's Politics With Don Newman With Susan Bonner Instead, yesterday:
Susan Bonner: Maybe [Stephen Harper] doesn't want to meet with you because of your general demeanour towards him?

Danny Williams: The feeling is mutual. His demeanour towards me — he attended Gander for a meeting at our National Convention [sic]. He was rude, for want of a better term, when he'd been received very graciously.
Alternative, and probably more lucid, versions of events last fall: Lono. Hollett. Liam. CBC.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Crowd control

Courtesy the world’s worst amateur photographer, the crazy scene today in “Red Square”, in Federal Capital:

The crowd estimate, according to the (Federal) Ministry of Truth, was 7,000. A private radio station said it was 15,000. Private TV prefers the less-committal “thousands”.

(FWIW, said photographer says the 7,000 figure, factoring in the neighbouring closed-off streets, is probably closest to the truth.)

Notice how, in order to get a shot of the plaza from ground level, using only a pocket camera without a wide-angle lens, showing most (about 90%) of the crowd, it was necessary to (crudely) stitch together two separate shots.

If the Ottawa Senators crowd is 7,000 people, then there is no way that the St. John’s “Trust and Confidence” crowd was 3500, or 3000, or even 1500.

Or, alternatively, “multiplying the sample selection”, subtracting the hypotenuse, and dividing the result by the cube root of pi, if Non-Partisan National Rally To Show Non-Partisan Support For Glorious Leader had 1500 in attendance, the Ottawa crowd pictured above is, in fact, over 35,000 people. If Non-Partisan National Rally To Show Non-Partisan Support For Glorious Leader had 3500 show up, then the Red Rally had over 80,000 militants.

It is unusual, though, that in this day of almost ubiquitous digital photographic equipment, neither the According2 or NLDL websites have yet produced a shot even remotely similar to the one above in terms of field of view.

Why’s that?

It all becomes clear

The Trans-Labrador Highway has been the subject of a curious choice of phrase by the provincial government over the past several months.

For example, Minister John Hickey, in an article published on October 2, told The Labradorian, "From our province's perspective, the Trans Labrador Highway is the number one project..."

He told the House of Assembly on November 27 that "This is a number one priority, the Trans-Labrador Highway, for the Department of Transportation and Works and for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador."

In another article published in The Aurora on December 11, he said, "I can assure you the premier has made this a priority..."

And again in the House of Assembly on April 25, that "This is the number one project for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

But the provincial comms shop has been very careful not to answer the obvious question: "number one project" as ranked how?

And why the indefinite article, as in "a number one priority"?

How many "number one priorities" can a body have?

The province has been very, very, very careful not to say that the Trans-Labrador Highway is their one, single, number one infrastructure priority, or even the number one transportation priority.

And now that the Torbay Bypass Road will provide five alternative lanes of traffic for the northeastern suburbs of Capital City, thereby siphoning off the dregs of the CSIF funding for the province, we all know why.

Democracy Watch Watch

Two things that Duff Conacher and Democracy "Watch" — whoever they are — have been curiously silent about:
Does Democracy "Watch" not care about such issues east of the Ottawa River?

Not know?

Not care?

Like to let Tory governments off the hook?

What's up, Duff?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Standing on our own and (inaudible)

In an important statement concerning the practice of oral questions in the House of Commons, the late James Jerome, then-Speaker of the House, said in 1975:

There can be no doubt that the greatest enemy of the Question Period is the Member who offends this most important principle. In putting the original question on any subject, a Member may require an explanatory remark, but there is no reason for such a preamble to exceed one, carefully drawn sentence.'

It is my proposal to ask all Hon. Members to pay close attention to this admonition and to bring them to order if they fail to do so. It bears repeating that the long preamble or long question takes an unfair share of the time, and invariably, in provoking the same kind of response, only compounds the difficulty.
No kidding.

From Thursday's proceedings in the Bow-Wow Parliament, a 308-word "question", followed by a 484-word "answer"; perhaps the most spectacular example yet of how "we are just not going to follow what the Government of Canada does. We are going to stand on our own and (inaudible)":
MR. PARSONS: Notwithstanding the Health Minister’s comments a couple of days ago about the balance, I guess, between the need to inform and disclose information versus the possible negative consequences it might have on litigation, I come back to this issue again: We need to find out what went wrong here to make sure that it does not happen again. That is what this is about. This is not a blame game, and we are not only concerned about civil liability. We do not know, for example, even if there was any criminal responsibility here. That is the point we are missing here, and what government seems not to be acknowledging.

I say to the Minister of Justice again, I asked this question yesterday and I will continue to ask it because I think it is foolhardy and misguided and misdirected of this government not to undertake what is an essential, necessary and obvious judicial inquiry that needs to be done.

We have had inquiries, Minister. When we had an industrial accident at Come By Chance, we did a judicial inquiry because we wanted to know what happened so it would not happen again. When we had the police shootings in this Province by the RNC and by the RCMP, we did a judicial inquiry. We have twenty-four judges on the Provincial Court; they are equipped to do it. It is not costly, it is not time-consuming.
I say again to the Minister of Justice: To ensure that every woman in this Province has the full details of what happened, including the families of the 176 women who have passed away since the details of this have been made public, will you and this government commit to a full judicial inquiry to ensure that all of the information is put on the table and disclosed here? It is absolutely necessary.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think everybody in this room is very, very sensitive to the issues involved here. I think everybody in this room, on both sides of the House, want to have the answers, want to have all the answers. I think that is very, very important. In the interest of openness, it is extremely important that this be done properly.

This government is certainly prepared to do a review in order to find the information. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but most importantly the people who are affected here - the patients, the people who have suffered, their families - they all need to know the answers.

It is a very sensitive issue and a very delicate issue, and there are issues of confidentiality of information here that are very important because it is a medical matter. On that basis, now, we are seeking advice from the Department of Justice with regard to the best way to go about this, to make sure that this is fully reviewed in a proper manner.

The other thing we want to do is, we want to make sure that we do not create a problem in the Province whereby people lose complete confidence in the health care system because that is unfair to the people of the Province and it is also unfair to medical professionals and people who are in the medical field throughout the Province. So, we do not want to do anything that sort of reflects on everybody in the system in any manner whatsoever, and I think you would agree with me in that perspective.

So, we want to move properly, we want to move carefully, we want to move cautiously, but we will move expeditiously. We will not delay this for any extended period of time. The first step, of course, is what the minister has indicated today, is that we are going to ask Eastern Health immediately, to get out and have a technical briefing so that all the facts are disclosed. When it comes to the legal issues, Eastern Health are on the front line here, and the hon. gentleman opposite knows that. The legal advice came from Eastern Health because it is their issue and that is where the liability rests.

On this side of the House, however, there is a moral responsibility as well that rests with this government, and rests with everybody inside the House. So, we undertake to have a very, very hard look at this. We are going to do something. It is a question of going about it and doing it right, but, at the end of the day, we want to assure people of the Province, particularly the people who have been affected here, that we will get full disclosure and we will get the answers that they require.
It would be nice if the Bow-Wow Parliament had a Speaker of one-tenth the calibre of a Jim Jerome, or, indeed, if it had a Speaker at all.

Welcome to Soviet Dannystan

Comrade Andy Wells, Mayor of National Capital, future star ego candidate in Danny Williams Regime Administration, as quoted in a Moira Baird report in today's St. John's Telegram. (Subscribe now before it gets Chavezed):
"The bottom line is they haven't taken a stand on these issues - that's all. So, they're neutral... As far as I'm concerned, if you're neutral you're not for us. If you're not for us, you're agin' us."

Gathering stuff

Further to the 53 North report, this comment by Wabush Town Councillor Terry Curran was kind of interesting:

“Laying chipseal over gravel is also a common practice, and it holds up well. The areas of road that we see cracking and heaving on now are areas of single chipseal. From what I gather, the double chipseal is holding up quite well.”

This follows a report last fall out of Happy Valley-Goose Bay Council, as covered by the Labradorian on October 2:

Council is still waiting on a report from the province about which sort of chip seal is best for paving the Trans Labrador Highway. “At this point, we don't know what the report says,” said Councilor Dean Clarke. “We were supposed to have it months ago. What's the big secret?”

What is the big secret?

There should be nothing left for Councillor Curran to “gather”. After all, the Danny Williams Regime Administration is the one which came into office on the following lofty words:

Above all else, a government must be accountable and responsive to the people... In particular, financial accountability and transparency is critical to any successful and effective government.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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 TLH chip-seal report is a government-commissioned report.

Why is it being treated like a nuclear secret?

Translating Hickeyish to English

John Hickey tells 53 North this week:
With regard to the TLH, Hickey says his department is working on starting the project as early as mid-June.

It's paraphrase, but the Hon. the Minister has been known to use it before:
We have had a number of meetings, and I can say with all confidence today, Mr. Speaker, that at the end of the day here, we will see the hard surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway start as early as next June.

Which is why it bears repeating now: "as early as" IS NOT the same thing as "by".

It is, in fact, the opposite.

"As early as" is a lower limit for the start of something.

"By" is an upper limit.

The project could start in June.

It could also start in 2098.

Take your pick.

Question and answer

Randy Simms asks this morning, of politicians and the so-called Lower Churchill, “Can you actually do any kind of a deal and survive it?”

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: nope.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Carrots and sticks

"I don't need you. I've been elected. But you need me. I'm sitting on the public chest, and not one red cent will come out of it for Ferryland unless Greg Power is elected!" — Joey Smallwood, 1949, as attributed by Harold Horwood, Joey, Stoddart, 1989, pp. 164-165.

"Since the PC government got in, I might as well say it, we never got nothing in Harbour Grace... I mean, Mr. Sweeney is the member for this district, but I mean with a PC government in, he can't do nothing." — Harbour Grace Town Councillor Tom Short, May 22, 2007, as reported by the CBC.


Media cheerleading

No, not cheerleading by the media.

Cheerleading for it.

If there was ever a time where something in the paper makes you give the author a standing ovation, Russell Wangersky's column today should be it.

The money shots in this latest ThoughtCrime:
Disagree with my arguments — perhaps I’ll disagree right back.

But once we get to the point that all dissent is suddenly proof of disdain — or worse, proof of disloyalty to some cause — then we’re in real trouble.

And believe me, there is more written and said now about the fact that some people in our province shouldn’t be allowed to make their positions known than there has been in years.

Unanimous and constant backing of our provincial government? Let’s be careful what we wish for.

That would give us a media that specializes in cheerleading, printing speeches and delivering political adoration — and I don’t think it is disdain to suggest that that sort of media will serve our politicians very well, but our population not at all.
That last para is perhaps not so subtle.

Hi, Ryan!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wilfully colourblind

Listening to Jobn Babb, President of the PC Party of Dannyland (and future Chief Electoral Officer) the other day on VOCM, was a perfect example of why it's smart, if you value clean shirts and monitors and a functioning keyboard, to drink your coffee through a straw.

John Babb, you see, outlined reasons why — other than the fact that he's a bitterly partisan blue-goggle-wearing Tory and a designated attack poodle, like Paul Oram, whose job it is to go out and say the things that might seem unseemly coming from His mouth — he doesn't like the provincial Liberal opposition.

They are too "negative", he says.

They engage in "non-constructive criticism."

And "personal attacks."

Assuming that this is true, or at least that it is more true than the behaviour of Danny Williams, or anyone else, in opposition, it then raises the question...

Why does John Babb support Danny Williams?

After all, Danny Williams has built his political career one nasty personal attack at a time:
Mr Justice Raymond Halley: On Tuesday, the premier commented on Halley's ruling, saying the judge possibly "got up on the wrong side of the bed" before he made his decision [in the Max Ruelokke case].

Joyce Hancock: "These people should do their homework, the Opposition and the Joyce Hancocks of this world, who selectively criticize when women are replaced, but who conveniently forget to support us when women are appointed."

Max Ruelokke: "I want people there who are going to represent the interests of the people of the province. I have a problem with the fact that Mr. Ruelokke came out of the oil industry."

Steven Harper: "For him to come out and conduct himself in the way he does, Steve doesn't deserve any better than that."
Suggestions for additions to this list are more than welcome.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Danny the Compassionate

Danny Williams is not only a Great Lawyer™, he is a man of great compassion. As he said in his scrum this morning:
“As a lawyer, I’ve seen over the past years, sometimes people who have already been harmed or wronged go through long, prolonged litigation processes, and that can be just as hard for them some times.”
So true. So true.

Serial loyalties

Steve Kent, who's in favour of Canadian unity except when he's not, licks his index finger, sticks it in the wind, and decides that a provincial PC candidacy is "worth exploring".

Or something like that.

This is, what, the third political party — or is it the fourth? — that the twelve year old mayor of St. John's West has considered running four, federally or provincially.

Confident prediction: Steve Kent is a future party leadership candidate.

No prediction as to which party, though.

Back to the Present, II

The excitement in the colony over the Convention of 1857 was most intense and wide spread; the British flag was hoisted half-mast; other excited citizens flew American flags; everywhere there was burning indignation over this proposal to sell our birthright for a mess of potage. The proceedings of our Legislature in 1857 are a guide to us as to what our conduct should always be in dealing with the fisheries, "there none were for a party but all were for the State." Government and Opposition united to maintain our rights.

— Prowse, A History of Newfoundland, pp. 473-474

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back to the present

Hard to believe, yet easy to believe, that this was 26 years ago. From the Globe and Mail of January 23, 1981:
A trans-Labrador highway, from Labrador City in the west to Churchill Falls and perhaps Happy Valley-Goose Bay, has long been a Labradorian dream, and over the years has been dubbed "the freedom trail." A five-year provincial Government plan, released last October, says a proposal already has gone to Ottawa and pledges that substantial progress will be made toward this highway by 1985; but federal minister William Rompkey said two weeks ago that no such proposal had been received.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whatever happened to...

... Danny Williams, rumoured to be not just a lawyer, but a Great Lawyer™, and his threat to sue the federal government over fisheries management?

... Danny Williams, rumoured to be not just a negotiator, but a Great Negotiator™, and his opposition-era demand for "joint management" of the fishery?

Loyola Hearn called his bluff nice on that one. But wouldn't "joint management" be the solution to the FPI situation?

Where is that Danny Williams?Where, these days, is any Danny Williams?

Person and number

"It is the custom in the House that no Member should refer to another by name. Members should be referred to in the third person..." — Beauchesne.

Just another day in the Bow-Wow Parliament, where, mercifully, the least effective Speaker in the known history of the Westminster parliamentary tradition is apparently set to retire:
MR. REID: I ask the minister today: What discussions have you had with your federal counterpart since that meeting last Sunday pertaining to this very serious issue?

MR. REID: I say to the minister, you missed a golden opportunity to, at least, bring it to his face when you met with him in Ottawa last week. Unfortunately, you forgot to do that. I ask the Premier: Will you step in to help these fisherpeople who are in such a bad need right now?

MR. REID: I ask the Premier: What is it that you do not understand about the people who live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador? They are in a desperate need of help. Some of them have been without an income, they and their families, for well over a month now. I know that is hard for you to understand, but I want to know: Why are you sitting idly by and watching the federal government do nothing whatsoever to help these people and help them with their plight? When are you going to step in and try to do something for these individuals, I say to the Premier?

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, how low can you go to suggest that the Premier does not understand? How low can you go?

MR. REID: I say to the minister and I say it to the Premier, if you had more interest in the plight of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as you do in political polls, something might be done to help those individuals who are in such dire straits today, I say to the minister.

MR. REID: I ask the minister: What is your government’s position today? What is your position here and what is it going to be when you walk outside the House? Because you have two very different positions on a daily basis.

MR. REID: I say to the minister that he has no monopoly on poverty, and if he did think a lot about the people he represented and the people on the Baie Verte Peninsula and every other peninsula north of the Bonavista Peninsula, you would be doing something more than yelling and screaming and talking about political polls. You would be doing something to help those individuals.

MR. BALL: I ask the minister: How long did you and your department have the results of these re-tests, and when were the women involved notified of the errors?

MR. WISEMAN: If you had to ask me the question last week, what was included in that figure, I would have laid out $2.5 million for you to respond to home support that would have provided a salary increase for home support workers and another $4 million to increase capacity for home support. All you had to do was ask it.

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, I am sure when I leave here today the question I am going to be asked, so I will ask the minister right now: How much an hour are you prepared to pay home support workers and how much in block funding will you give to the agencies?

MS JONES: I ask the minister today: Have you considered a similar rebate program for commercial and industrial power users in that region of Labrador, and have you done any analysis on what that cost would be to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro?

MS JONES: Minister, if you want to support your rural agenda, why not reduce the rates to those businesses and do it immediately?

MS MICHAEL: Minister, with regard to the quality control that you are telling us about, what has been put in place to assure that this kind of lack of direct information to a patient is never going to happen again?

MR. WISEMAN: The unfortunate thing about it was many patients heard about the retesting process, as you have described, through the media, rather than having it coming directly from Eastern Health themselves.

MR. WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the member opposite, that is an excellent suggestion and I will, in fact, relay that directly to the CEO of Eastern Health, because it is an ideal suggestion. Thank you very much for making it.
Mitigating factor: There was one brief glimmer of hope:

MS JONES: I would like to ask the minister: In that analysis, I am sure you have estimated what the cost would be to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to extend that rebate program to those businesses and industrial users. I am wondering if she could give me what that cost would be and to table the report and analysis that was completed?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Town vs. Suburbs

"He's a stuffy, pompous, rather self-important little politician on the make. Other than that, he's perfect."

That's Andy Wells, quoted by Terry Roberts in today's Telegram, speaking, without any obvious self-conscious attempt at irony, of St. John's West Mayor Steve Kent.

And speaking of mayor Steve, is this Steve Kent, who demonstrated that he isn't anti-Canadian by taking down the Canadian flag and replacing it with the favoured banner of Newfoundland separatists, the same as the Steve Kent of Canadian Unity Council fame? That would sure be funny.

By the numbers

Revenue from Mining Taxes and Royalties budgeted by the Government of Newfoundland and Somethingoranother for the single fiscal year 2007-08: $270-million. [Source]

Somethingoranother's share of the Newfoundland and Somethingoranother mining industry: 98%. [Source]

What 98% of $270-million works out to: $264.6-million.

Total value of the much-touted Northern Strategic Plan for Somethingoranother, over five years: "over $250-million."

Where's Danny?, II

Another day, more valuable Premier's time not wasted

Whatever is keeping Premier Danny Williams from, well, Preming in the House of Assembly — he was MIA again on Monday — it wasn't too serious to keep him away from Absolutely Above Board Definitely Non-Partisan Certainly Not Organized Or Influenced In Any Way By Premier's Office Glorious National Rally of National Glorification In Which We Sing Songs About Generic Fictional Person Named Danny Not Premier That's Just Strange Coincidence.

With those shades, maybe it's his eyes, like Diane Finlay.

Poor Danny.

So, is Danny never in the House any more, or does he just not bother submitting himself to menial work like, say, being accountable to the Opposition during Question Period?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Expressions of Interest

The Provincialist Communists have issued a call for Expressions of Interest to develop forestry in Labrador.

Which makes a body wonder: why don't the Provincialist Communists just "go it alone"?

No more giveaways!



From the Terry Roberts' report on Friday's rally, in the Saturday Telegram:
One of the most powerful statements came from Tom Badcock, executive director of The Hub, an organization that represents disabled people.

Badcock was disabled during his service in the Canadian Forces.

"What I'm saying to Mr. Harper is that I was an officer and a gentleman. And I was taught not to lie and to be honest. So, why is my commander in chief lying to me?" Badcock asked.
What did Michaëlle Jean do to deserve this?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Take that, Canada!

The whole point of Glorious National Rally Of Unity And Unconditional Love And Admiration For Glorious Leader was, according to its organizers, to show Canada how serious "we" were about getting enough equalization to stand on our own two feet, or something.

It's all a little unclear.

Anyway, a big rally would generate all kinds of national attention and the federal government would have to sit up and take notice, and we're not going to take it any more and down with the causeway etc.

"We feel our message was properly delivered," the ever-cheerful organizing committee said on their website, "and we await a positive return from Ottawa!".

Ah yes.

Waiting for Ottawa.

Favourite strategy of Newfoundland nationalists from Grimes through to Williams.

And tonight, it would appear that the message was, in fact, "properly delivered", and that Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, sat up and paid attention.

Canadians, that is, from the east coast of Newfoundland to the west coast of Newfoundland, to the south coast of Newfoundland.

As of midnight, the only Canadian media which have reported Glorious National Rally Of Unity And Unconditional Love And Admiration For Glorious Leader are the Telegram online, in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Newfoundland and Labrador newsroom.

But surely that's the media calm before the storm. Wellington Street and Bay Street are on tenterhooks. Everybody, but everybody "upalong", as Peter Whittle might say, is glued to CTV Newsnet and RDI, waiting for the official response from Harper to Glorious National Rally Of Unity And Unconditional Love And Admiration For Glorious Leader.

No sir, there will be no sleep "upalong" tonight, nor for many nights to come.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Good thing it was non-partisan

The last note, for now, on the aftermath of Glorious National Rally Of Trust and Confidence And Love of Glorious Leader:

Danny Williams steps up on a milk-crate and speaks to a small sea of PWG-waving adulation, 1,500, or 3,500, depending on whose crowd estimate you accept, after they begin chanting "Danny! Danny! Danny!" like a bunch of deranged personality-cultists.

The audio and visual couldn't have been any better for Chairman Dan even if he had orchestrated the whole, "non-partisan", thing all along.


From the VOCM BackTalk rally debriefing, which was, mercifully, hosted by Linda Swain and not Comrade Rowe, yet more snippets which makes you wonder... who's this "we" anyway?

Peter Whittle: The pictures that we wanted, we got, a lot of Newfoundlanders standing together supporting one message

Linda Swain: Was there an anti-Canada feeling there?

Whittle: There certainly was a lot of pink-white-and-greens flying out there at different times. For the most part the speeches were about asking to have confidence in Canada, we're Newfoundland-Canadians, we're Canadians, we happen to be Newfoundlanders as well.

* * *

Paul Oram, MHA: There's a half-million of us on this island.


Quoth Paul Wells:
Peter Van Loan tables a constitutional amendment to increase the seat representation of faster-growing provinces. Watch the reaction in Quebec, whose share of the House of Commons seems sure to decrease.

This must, of mathematical necessity, also be true in every other province which doesn't gain additional seats.

Watch the reaction in Dannystan, where the "we're only 7 seats out of 295" of the early 1990s became "we're only 7 seats out of 301" in 1996 and "we're only 7 seats out of 308" in 2004.

Where's Danny?

Number of sittings of the House of Assembly since budget day: 8.

Number attended by Danny Williams: 2.

Number of rallies attended by Danny Williams in the same period: 1.

Whatever else he's doing, he's not wasting time.


The provincial opposition says that the Chief Electoral Officer should meet the same qualifications regarding non-partisanship that lesser electoral officers have to.

Not a bad suggestion, really.

And here's another one: the Chief Electoral Officer should be able to pronounce "electoral".


That "Newfoundland and Labrador Anthem" by Ward Pike is sure gonna be something.

Know Who You Are At Every Age

Sloganeering is fun!

The Terry Milewski rule

There is a rule of journalism, which for the past decade has been jocularly called, in some circles, the Terry Mileski Rule, which states: Journalists should never become part of the story.

Which is why, of course, it's perfectly OK that Ryan Cleary of The - >snicker< - Independent is also a featured speaker, and a highly-anticipated one, no doubt, at Friday's Glorious National Rally Of Unanimous Love And Support of Glorious Leader, an event which will no doubt feature heavily in the next printing of The - >snicker< - Independent, what with Mr. Cleary and his organ having long since abandoned any pretence of practicing journalism.


From today's proceedings in the Bow-Wow Parliament, the hon. the Member for Placentia and St. Mary's:

MR. [FELIX] COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, I do sympathize very much with the Opposition this year, because they have a formidable task in trying to find any holes in the fiscal policies of this government.

I was told when I came into this House - and I am beginning to understand it as I sit through the House - that it would be great training for everybody, at some time or other, to spend time in Opposition. It would be good political training to spend time in the Opposition. Several people on this side have done that, and I can see the benefits of it. I, unfortunately, haven’t had the chance to do that and it is highly unlikely, Mr. Speaker, that I will.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Not to begrudge anyone anything

Craig Westcott, in his CBC Commentary piece on Monday, said:
The St. John's area, which has nearly half the population of the whole province, is getting a whole one million dollars out of the 66 million the government is spending this year.


Meanwhile, Labrador, where Hickey is from, is getting some 34 million dollars worth of road work this year.

It may actually be more than that.

I lost count of the projects and funding for the region.

Now I don't begrudge anyone in Labrador their road work.

But it seems passing strange that a place with less than six per cent of the population is getting over half the provincial roads budget.
It's a good thing that he's not into begrudging.

Still, you have to wonder... where were people like Craig Westcott when Labrador, which has always had a population share of greater than zero, was getting, for decades, zero percent of the roads budget?

And since when should highways budgets be doled out on a per-capita basis, anyway?

More to the point, though, a good journalist like Westcott really ought to be asking, how much of the money promised to Labrador is Labrador actually getting? You can't build or pave highways with an IOU; the $1-million for St. John's is, literally, infinitely more valuable than the $35-million in imaginary federal money which the House of Assembly has voted itself for the TLH in four of the past five fiscal exercises.

And why is so much of the money promised to Labrador contingent on getting a commensurate amount from the federal government? Why the double-standard? Why don't Newfoundland journalists ever ask John Hickey or Danny Williams important questions like these?

And when Westcott rhetorically asked:
Has Hickey even driven the arterial road between CBS and St. John's I wonder, with its patchwork quilt of potholes, ruts and crumbling asphalt?

you just know the entire CBC listening audience in Labrador rhetorically asked, "what is this 'asphalt'?"

A Hypothetical

From the Debates of the Bow-Wow Parliament for the past two sitting days, some of the most pathetic, flimsy excuses, from Danny's batch of barking trained seals, including Tom Rideout, LL.B., who well and truly knows better, to justify the appointment of the former President of The Party as Chief Electoral Officer:
MR TOM RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the only - not only, I suppose - criticism that I have heard surface on this appointment is the fact that Mr. Reynolds had the good sense in his lifetime to be associated with a political party. Now, it happened to be the political party of which those of us on this side of the House are associated, and that, I think, is imminently good sense as well, but that really does not matter.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Reynolds has made a tremendous contribution to the public life of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Reynolds has been a sterling member of the business community in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Reynolds has served his community and the people in the community where he lived, in the Province in general, in many, many volunteer capacities. Mr. Reynolds has done exemplary, as an individual serving his community in many, many ways, in many volunteer ways.

MR DAVE DENINE: Mr. Speaker, when I look at a position that a person holds, I look at that person and I will put it in my mind: Can that person do the job? Without hesitation, this person can do the job. Can he do it independent of all of government? Yes, he can. Can he put aside his bias? Yes, he can. He is a man of impeccable character, Mr. Speaker, impeccable character.

MR CLYDE JACKMAN: Indeed, Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure today to rise in support of this motion and of Mr. Reynolds moving into the position of Chief Electoral Officer.

I have to be honest, Mr. Speaker, I did not know Mr. Reynolds personally. I have heard certain things about him. Therefore, before I decided to get up and speak, I wanted to check as to Mr. Reynolds’ credentials, and so on and so forth.

A very important characteristic that I like to judge people on - certainly, there are two things. Qualifications is always a consideration when you are moving into a position of authority, but also I find it good to get impressions. Therefore, as I sought out certain things about Mr. Reynolds, I spoke to people who knew him. I guess, Mr. Speaker, when you speak to people one-on-one sometimes they are very much more apt to speak to you honestly than if they are in a larger group setting.

Some of the things that I heard about him: In his role as a volunteer, he was spoken of very highly as someone who gives energy and brings vibrancy to the positions that he got into. Those people I spoke to, spoke very highly of him in that regard. Equally, I heard about his role in municipal politics. I think the words that I heard would be dignity in which he carried out that role. Likewise, some of his business associates spoke very highly of him in that regard.

MR JOHN DINN: We talk about political affiliations! Where in this Province will you find somebody without political affiliations? Go around and knock on doors and say: Okay, now what is your political affiliation? Most people in Newfoundland have political affiliations. We are foolish to deny that they do. We are only fooling ourselves.

How far do you want to go with this idea of political affiliations? If you talk about it in this position here, are we going to also make it a condition of employment for all government jobs? What is fair for one should be fair for all. Most the civil servants who are here, even though they might not express it publicly, have political affiliations.

MR SHAWN SKINNER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes, if I could, and explain why I believe Mr. Reynolds is a very capable and competent person for that position and why I feel he should be allowed to and should be able to hold the office.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know Mr. Reynolds on a personal level. I have met him. My colleague from Kilbride indicated earlier that he knew him through political circles, and that is sort of how I got to know Mr. Reynolds. I knew him as a business person. I knew that he was involved here in our community on a business level and I certainly knew him as well in terms of being a community person. So, he has a lot of involvement in the community. He has professional involvement, work related involvement and, apparently, for some reason, they believe that part of his community involvement, which happened to be supporting a particular political party, somehow disenfranchises him or should somehow disqualify him for this position.

Mr. Reynolds is a person who I believe has similar characteristics and similar attributes. I look at him for the skill set that he has. I look at him for the qualifications that he brings to the job. I look at him for the knowledge that he has. I look at his reputation. I speak to people in the community every day. I have spoken to people for many, many years in this community and Mr. Reynolds’s name and Mr. Reynolds’s character and Mr. Reynolds’s reputation have always come up. It has never come up as being a partisan person, it has never come up as being a political person, any more than it does about his religion. I do not know what religion the man is, and I do not care. It does not matter. What matters is that we get the best person possible to fulfill this job.

MR FELIX COLLINS: Now, we are not here today to discuss whether or not he is going to do his job in a non-partisan manner. That is a rather silly amendment to put before the motion. The fact that he has been appointed for this job - we are only concerned with his capability, his ability to do the job. It is implied in that, Mr. Speaker - his ability to do the job, he is going to do it in a non-partisan manner. There is no doubt in Mr. Reynolds’ capacity to be able to do this job. His reputation as an able administrator and community worker demonstrates true leadership characteristics. That is what we are looking for in this position, a well known and respected individual and professional who can handle this job and handle it very well.

MR PAUL ORAM: I can tell you now that when I look at this political appointment thing that they are talking about, every person in Newfoundland and Labrador - pretty well every person in Newfoundland and Labrador - has some association with some political party, and that is a fact; everyone does. I will go a little step further. I will say this: Every employee of government probably has some affiliation with some political party. That does not mean we are going to turn around and say: Oh, you cannot be appointed to a position within government. My goodness gracious, what kind of a mess would we have in this Province if we decided, because somebody had some particular political tendency, that we would not be able to have them be appointed to a particular place in government? That would be so foolish that we cannot even do that.

When you look at Mr. Reynolds’ resume - and, again, I think it was the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s who actually spoke and said: This guy, Mr. Reynolds, came out and he actually sent his resume; he sent it over. He did not try to cover up that he was a particular member of the PC Party. He did not try to cover that up. He wrote it all here. He said it all, this is up front, I want to be up front with this. Absolutely, I was, no question about it.
So here's the hypothetical question.

What if, instead of Danny Williams', the government doing the appointing in this case was that of "Steve" Harper?

And what if, instead of Paul Reynolds, the partisan Tory named Reynolds being appointed as Chief Electoral Officer was John Reynolds?

What then would Danny Williams have to say about Loyola Hearn, Norm Doyle, or Fabian Manning making the same kind of trained-seal, speaking-note, weak justifications for this shameful appointment, that his favourite caucus sycophants have during made the past two sittings?

Are things really so bad in Dannystan that no one is willing to call Danny Williams out on this?

Monday, May 07, 2007


From the Saturday Telegram:
Rally to stress provincial unity: organizer
Rob Antle

The organizer of a planned rally to protest changes to the federal equalization program insists partisan politics will be kept out of the event.

"We just think that it's an opportunity for the people of the province to vote with their feet and show Ottawa that any unilateral move to change the Atlantic Accord is unacceptable," event organizer Peter Whittle said.
This is, presumable, the same Peter Whittle whose radio exhortations for the Masses to attend Glorious Rally of National Unity and Unconditional Love of Glorious Leader are repeatedly addressed to "people from all across the island."

All across what island?

Bill Rowe: Accidental Comedian

“I’m so sick and tired of the victim attitude.”

— Bill Rowe, referring to Quebec, VOCM Backtalk, May 7, 2007

Michael Temelini: Not a Separatist

Michael Temelini is not a separatist. Michael Temelini says so, so it must be true.

He has, however, assimilated the Newfoundland-o-centric nationalist mindset, and quickly become just as geographically ignorant as any Townie Newfoundland nationalist-cum-separatist:
Two weeks ago some of my comments regarding the future of Newfoundland and Labrador were featured in the pages of The Independent (‘Is there a better way?’ by Katie Hyslop).

I offered various suggestions and possibilities to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Perhaps for guidance we could look to other neighbouring island states, nations, and territories. For example, with only a fraction of our population and resources, Iceland is a developed sovereign state.
Whatever Newfoundland and Labrador is, when 72% of its landmass is contained in Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador is not an island. Hence, the comparison to "other islands" is meaningless. Repeat: Newfoundland and Labrador is not an island.

So, when are the Newfoundland nationalists and crypto-separatists, the media types, and the supposed academics at our supposedly provincial university going to start comparing Labrador to, say, Yukon or Nunavut?

Compare islands to islands all you want, but remember that Labrador, and the province as a whole, do not fit neatly into that deceptively attractive, and dubious, comparison.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Offalnews asks, labradore answers

Offal News asks:
Is this journalistic laziness or an explicit effort to kiss the Premier's feet or just an example where ideological principles have overridden journalistic integrity?
No, it is not. Anyone who knows The Newfoundland Weekly Separatist should know that.

It is not an "explicit effort to kiss the Premier's feet."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rowe the Repugnant

Still more from Comrade Rowe's verbal flattery — there's another f-word, which also contains an a, a t, and at least one l, but it would cost this blog its G rating — in today's Telegram:
Danny should emulate Jean Charest, but in the opposite direction. Charest left the federal Tories to become leader of his provincial Liberals. Danny should leave his provincial Tories to run federally for the Liberals. He has always been a middle-of-the-road, progressive liberal anyway. Half his problem in dealing with Harper has been his contempt for Harper’s conservative policies.

The polls now show the federal Liberals and Conservatives neck and neck. The Liberals could easily surge back to a minority government next election and soon after that to a majority again. What a coup Williams’ candidacy would be in helping the Grits achieve that.

And what a blessing for this province to have a commanding minister in Ottawa again, exercising supreme brawn and brains on our behalf.



On our behalf?!

Rowe the Revisionist

Comrade Rowe took out his crayons and wrote this in his column this week:

But did Danny support Harper? Oh, no. He did muster a little tepid support for Norm Doyle, but mostly he gave the impression he would gag on the name Harper without a bottle of Gravol handy.


"Tepid", huh?:
"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.

"Gag on the name Harper"?:
Williams said he is pleased with Harper's responses, especially on issues involving Labrador.

Bill Rowe should remember that Glorious Leader shilled for Harper in the 2006 election, if for no other reason than that Comrade Rowe was in on the shilling, too.

Having made their bed with "Steve", they can lie in it.

Wangersky 2007

Russell Wangersky for Premier!

Party favours. That's the two-word reason why the provincial government shouldn't have control of Fishery Products International's groundfish quotas.

I repeat, they should not have control over the company's groundfish quotas.
And it just gets better.

Takes volatility to know volatility

Let's work with Quebec, Preeeciousssssssss!
January 20, 2006: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is set to forge ahead with plans to move electricity from a potential Lower Churchill development across Quebec, Premier Danny Williams said Friday.

Crown-owned Hydro, which is taking the lead on the province's behalf on developing power on the lower Churchill River, will be submitting an application to Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie, the transmission division of Hydro-Québec.


Hydro will be applying through Hydro-Québec's open access transmission tariff, for the possible sale of power to markets including Ontario, Quebec, the maritime provinces and the northeastern U.S.

May 8, 2006: Hydro continues to assess all market access options including monitoring the progress of its application to Hydro-Quebec TransEnergie that will allow power from the Lower Churchill Project to be transmitted from the Labrador/Quebec border to markets in Quebec, Ontario, U. S. northeast and the Maritimes.
No, no, we hates Quebec. Yes, Preeeecioussss, we hates them.
September 28, 2006: "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," Williams warned.
But the Quebecerses is so kind to Smeagol. Quebecerses never hurt Smeagol.
October 19, 2006: "If I have offended anyone in Quebec, I'm sorry for offending them, and I can state that quite honestly, quite sincerely, to the people of Quebec," Williams said.
Precious Hates Them! HATESSSS! THEM!
May 3, 2007: In the late 60’s, we also lost most of the return on our Upper Churchill hydro-power resource to Québec, which received an outrageously-lopsided contract for 70 years to buy and sell our power after the federal government refused to allow Newfoundland and Labrador to transmit our power through Quebec.

Our loss is estimated at 1.3 billion dollars minimum every year – a billion dollars from our resource that goes directly into Quebec’s revenues. Our return is approximately 75 million dollars annually.

And yet this year once again, we see Quebec receive massive benefits from equalization changes while Newfoundland and Labrador is made to beg for what was promised.

At the time of the Upper Churchill contract, the Prime Minister of the day told our Premier that the price of doing otherwise could have been civil unrest in Quebec. Sounds extreme. But the reality is that we made the sacrifice for the sake of national unity.


Our challenge is to get cooperation from Quebec and let me tell you they do not make it easy. But we are extremely pleased by the approach of Ontario’s government and particularly the support of Minister Dwight Duncan who has said that this project is an exciting one for your province.

The Ontario government is also a staunch supporter of an east-west power grid, which is fundamental to effectively meeting the future energy needs across this great country.
Unfortunately, Quebec is fundamentally opposed to such a concept with federal government involvement. I cannot understand how opposing such a wonderful national initiative can be considered good for the country – especially in these days of climate change and environmental urgency.

Without Quebec’s cooperation, the alternative for our province will be that we send our power south to New Brunswick and the U.S. They are equally as hungry this is a very feasible and real option that we are actively pursuing right now due to stumbling blocks in Quebec.

Friday, May 04, 2007

This is not a Nazi comparison

There will be no links, for a whole raft of reasons

But Peter et al., when the slogan for your event or your movement or whatever you think you've unleashed, if only subconsciously, echos "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer", and brings it to mind, you have a problem.

Danny Williams: Not a Separatist

« J’ai jamais – j’ai jamais pensé que je pourrais être aussi fier d'être québécois que ce soir ! » - René Lévesque, election-night victory speech, November 15, 1976.

“I have never been more proud to call myself a Newfoundlander. And Labradorian!” – Danny Williams, January 31, 2005

* * *

« Maîtres chez nous. » – Jean Lesage, 1962

“Our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house.” – Danny Williams, April 24, 2007

* * *

“For the first time ever, everyone in the House of Commons recognizes the existence of the Quebec nation. For my part, I am very happy that after so many years, the Bloc Québécois has succeeded in winning recognition for Quebec as a nation.” – Gilles Duceppe, November 24, 2006
“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.” – Danny Williams, April 24, 2007

* * *

“Nearly 20 per cent of young Quebecers and Canadians are unemployed today…” – Gilles Duceppe, March 14, 1994

“I am encouraging Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and Canadians, in the next federal election to simply vote ABC…” – Danny Williams, May 3, 2007
* * *

“Our people have learned that the best way to achieve self-reliance economically is to achieve self-reliance politically, by taking charge of our future as a people. I do not mean this in any separatist way.” – Danny Williams, April 24, 2007

“The fans of sovereignty are here. If anything, I've been trying to dampen those fires as much as I can.” – Danny Williams, April 25, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Nation of Nation's Business

With a legislative agenda like this, there can't be too many more QPs to inconvenience cabinet ministers or delay their departure to the districts for the spring-summer cheque distribution season, can there?

The Transmogrifier

When, on the Two-Hour Daily Hate With Bill Rowe yesterday, Greg Byrne raised the idea in this Saskatoon Star-Phoenix story, Bill Rowe called it "stupid", one of the "stupidest" ideas he'd ever heard:
Finance Minister Andrew Thomson hinted Friday the provincial government is looking seriously at working around equalization rules to prevent what he calls a $1.2-billion con- fi scation of resource cash by Ottawa.

Under the scenario, petroleum, potash and uranium companies would make direct contributions to build infrastructure such as hospitals or highways.

Those contributions would be deducted from their royalty contributions.

It would mean the money would go directly to third parties or specifi c projects -- royalty resources would not end up in the province's general revenue fund and be counted by Ottawa in its equalization calculations.
When, mere minutes later, Sue Kelland-Dyer called in to espouse exactly the same argument, Bill Rowe was "intrigued" by the idea.

Sue Kelland-Dyer, Transmogrifier, turning Bad Ideas into Good, at least for Comrade Rowe.

Your weight and fortune

Mr. Speaker, all that has been done in the reclassification and the reorganization of staff in the Premier’s office is to bring those who were at the ADM level closer to the ADM level of pay across the system, and those who should have been at the DM level closer to the DM level of pay across the system. That is what has happened in the Premier’s office, Mr. Speaker. Those staff are worth their weight in gold. They provide great service to the people of this Province

That was Tom Rideout on Tuesday, upbacking, on behalf of Chairman Dan, the Premier's office's pay hikes.

At $US 680.90/troy oz., and at the current exchange rate of $Can=$US0.9037, that means that the Director of Communications must, on an annualized basis, weigh a svelte 135 troy ounces.

The Chief of Staff? 174.

Deputy Chief? 125. Special Advisor weighs in at 122 ounces; Principal Assistant, 119; Director of Operations, 108; and "Manager of Community Operations" [Whatever THAT is. What is it? — ed.], 106.


Draft Danny

From Peter Whittle, organizer of National Rally to Show Unanimity and Non-Partisan Love of Glorious Leader — which witty epithet is only slightly less Stalinesque than the event’s official title, the “Trust and Confidence Rally”, though not by much — comes yet another plea for a grassroots cry for Glorious Leader to grace the stage with His presence:
If I could use this venue to re-iterate the question you just have made. Your show, or Bill’s show, or Linda’s show, make absolute opportunities for people to talk about this rally. But in particular, if our political leaders, the three leaders of the major parties, who I’m sure are listening, would like to, at some point in time, address this issue and say “look, you know, this is a good idea, please be there, we’re gonna be there,” I’d welcome it, because it would help create momentum as we move towards next Friday and what I would hope would be the largest rally in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Acts of Clarity

Courtesy John Hickey and others, labradore is pleased to offer up the following clarification of the still-murky situation surrounding the “deal”, or lack thereof, to pass the buck — that is, cost-share — the “completion” of the Trans-Labrador Highway, or at least the part of the TLH that is anchored on either end by a PC MHA:

Does your party support a Federal-Provincial cost-shared agreement to complete the TLH? [Danny Williams to all federal party leaders, November 28, 2005]

Yes, a Conservative government would support a cost-shared agreement to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway. [Stephen Harper to Danny Williams, January 4, 2006]

The Town of Labrador City… is urging the Conservative government to keep its election promise concerning the Trans Labrador Highway. Mayor Graham Letto noted he had the chance to speak briefly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference from June 2 to June 5 and while he didn’t receive a firm response, Mr. Harper said he would have an answer for Labrador soon. “The time is getting late for this year... They made a commitment (to the people of Labrador ) during the election campaign and it’s time to live up to that commitment.” [The Aurora, June 19, 2006]

Leo Abbass… said, is running out for meaningful work for this year. “We’re probably in the middle of our construction season right now, and if there’s no funding designated [soon], this year’s a write-off, which is disappointing,” he said. [CBC News, June 19, 2006]

It’s time the federal government honoured its election promise regarding the surfacing of the Trans Labrador Highway. That’s the view of Waylon Williams, executive director of the Combined Councils of Labrador… “The Combined Councils of Labrador are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Lawrence Cannon to now honour that commitment. With Labrador’s short construction season rapidly passing by, the time to act on this commitment is now.” [Northern Pen, July 10, 2006]

Asked why the province didn’t proceed with its own $7.5M worth of work this year, Hickey says he and his government “aren’t willing to let the federal government off the hook.” [53 North, July 23, 2006]

The Labrador City town council is disappointed with the federal government. In last week’s council meeting, a letter was tabled from Lawrence Cannon, the federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, which referenced a letter that was sent to the minister in December regarding the paving of the Trans Labrador Highway... “I don’t know how long we are willing to wait,” Mayor Graham Letto said indignantly. Mr. Letto said he expected the federal government to honour its commitment to put $50 million into the TLH this year, but he now believes Labrador may have a fight ahead. “It’s safe to say that this construction season is a wash,” he said. [The Aurora, July 24, 2006]

“No, I don’t think the lack of federal money should have prevented work here this summer,” says [Graham] Letto. “If [the provincial government] had $15M committed to this project, they should have gone ahead and begun work.” [53 North, July 30, 2006]

The federal government will not spend money on the Trans-Labrador Highway this year, but it is promising millions in funding for the project in 2007, says a municipal leader in Labrador. Mayors from Wabush, Labrador City and Goose Bay, along with the province’s transportation minister, were in Ottawa on Tuesday. They were trying to get the Harper government to live up to the federal Conservatives’ election promise to help complete paving the highway. During the last federal election, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams offered to spend $50 million on pavement if the federal government contributed the same amount. Stephen Harper wrote back, saying that a government run by the Conservatives would participate in the completion of the road. However, Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto said they were told Tuesday that the road is not eligible for funding this year because it is not classified as a core highway... “I certainly am very disappointed, and so is the rest of the group, that there will be no work in 2006,” said Letto. “In all honesty, I thought we would see some work this year. So 2006 is a wash and nothing will make up for lost time.” [CBC News, August 2, 2006]

There’s some big money under discussion between the federal and provincial governments for work on the Trans Labrador Highway. A delegation from Labrador, including Transportation Minister John Hickey and the mayors of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Wabush, and Labrador City, were in Ottawa to make the case with the federal government. Regional Cabinet representative Loyola Hearn suggests it was a good discussion. Hearn indicates the province is talking about 100 million dollars over ten years, with the feds to come in with half of that. [VOCM News, August 3, 2006]

No money for the Trans-Labrador Highway this year” was the message from Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon during a meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday. Says [Graham] Letto, Cannon is now assuring them that will change “before the end of the year”, and that funding will be in place for the 2007 construction season. [53 North, August 6, 2006]

John Hickey, Minister of Transportation and Works and Minister responsible for Labrador Affairs, is optimistic that surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City-Wabush will get underway in 2007. “Minister Cannon reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s earlier commitment to Premier Williams to cost-share completion of the TLH, and also committed to sign an agreement by the end of the year,” said Minister Hickey. [Press Release, August 7, 2006]

“It will be done.” Those were the words spoken by federal Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon last week when Labrador ‘s leaders asked for a hardtop on the Trans Labrador Highway. …Minister Cannon committed to putting a program in place before the end of 2006 which would allow the feeder group to be funded. “That’s the commitment that we got,” [Mayor Graham Letto] said. “What we asked for is $100 million over five years to be cost-shared between the province and the feds... If all goes as planned, we can have upgrading started early in the construction season of 2007, which considering where we are today is probably the best we could have hoped for… I was given the impression during the election campaign that we should have seen some upgrading this year,” he stated. “It’s certainly been a disappointment.

Wabush Mayor Jim Farrell… said he is confident now, that after all three mayors and Minister Hickey put forward their case and enlisted the support of Newfoundland MP Hearn, the case for hardtop on the TLH was made clear to Minister Cannon. “I am sure that by the time December comes that money will be there from the federal government to match the $50 million already committed from the provincial government,” he said with confidence. “I feel that Cannon and Hearn will get the support in Cabinet for this...Cannon committed to us that he will have the agreement in place by the end of December.” Farrell fully expects to see work commence by June of next year on the $100 million-hardtop project that will span five years before completion. “It will be a little over $20 million per year for that five years and I am very happy about that,” he said. “I think it was good to go to Ottawa and give them, firsthand, the cold hard facts of life in Labrador. We gave it to them and the Minister sympathizes with us and he understands it. And I said to him (Minister Cannon), ‘is it safe to go back and say the road will be started next spring or early summer?’ and he said, ‘yes, you can say that.’ So, it gives me the feeling that’s it’s all in the bag. I think, finally, this is all going to happen.” [The Aurora, August 7, 2006]

The Minister of Transportation says he expects to see federal funding for the Trans Labrador Highway flow from Ottawa next summer. Speaking on VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, John Hickey said he has made the case to the federal government for additional funding for the highway, and has received assurances from Federal minister Lawrence Cannon. Hickey says an agreement with the feds for $100 million over the next five years for hard surfacing of TLH from Goose Bay to Labrador West should be signed by June of next year. [VOCM News, August 23, 2006]

The mayor of Wabush is pleased with the work of the province’s new transportation minister. “I walked away from the meeting [with John Hickey] with a great feeling,” he said emphatically. “We’ll have an agreement signed by Christmas hopefully on $100-million 50-50 cost-shared for the Trans-Labrador Highway between Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Hopefully it’ll be done early enough that we’ll be able to get the best prices and we should be able to start construction in June.” [The Aurora, September 18, 2006]

“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,” 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]

Prior to the meeting in PEI, a delegation consisting of Minister Hickey, Mayor Leo Abbass of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mayor Jim Farrell of Wabush, and Letto met with Minister Cannon in Ottawa. Cannon promised a framework [for the TLH] by the end of the year, and an early start to the construction season. [53 North, October 1, 2006]

Minister Hickey wants the federal government to throw in $100 million over five years, with the first $20 million ready for the 2007 construction season. “I also spoke with the minister [Cannon] and told him I would be in Ottawa certainly by mid-October to look at these issues and have this agreement signed by the end of October or the first of November.” [The Aurora, October 2, 2006]

Mr. Brian Jean (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): We are awaiting at this stage a business case from the province in order to ensure that the project will provide results for Canadians and accountability for Canadians. [House of Commons Debates, November 23, 2006]

Transportation Minister John Hickey says the federal conservatives and the province are still 100 percent committed to the Trans Labrador Highway. This morning on VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, Labrador MP Todd Russell said he raised the issue in the House of Commons yesterday and was floored by the response from a spokesman for the federal minister of transportation. Russell says the Parliamentary Secretary to Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon, who is Brian Jean, indicated Ottawa is waiting for a plan from the provincial government for the Trans Labrador Highway. But Minister Hickey says what Russell failed to mention was that the feds renewed their committment moments later in the Commons. Hickey says Jean said — quote — “the Conservative government intends to honour it’s committment to contribute 50 million dollars for the surfacing of the Trans Labrador Highway.” The minister says it doesn’t get any clearer than that. [VOCM News, November 24, 2006]

A senior member of the Harper government suggested this week that provincial delays are holding up improvements to the Trans- Labrador Highway... But provincial Transportation Minister John Hickey said the Williams administration is simply concluding its “due diligence.” He expects to have a deal in place by the end of December. [The Telegram, November 25, 2006]

Transportation Minister John Hickey says paving of the Trans Labrador Highway should begin next year. [VOCM News, November 25, 2006]

“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]

MS JONES: A year ago, the previous Minister of Transportation and Works along with the current minister, who is the Member for Lake Melville, announced in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with tremendous fanfare I might say, Mr. Speaker, that the Province would ante up $50 million for the Trans-Labrador Highway and go after the feds for matching dollars. In fact, the then minister, Mr. Speaker, predicted an agreement by June, in his own words, and it did not happen or materialize. In August, the current minister told myself and others in Port Hope Simpson that he would have the roads deal signed off come December, he said. Well, Minister, we are four days away and through questions by the federal Member of Parliament for Labrador in the House of Commons over the weekend, the feds claim that they have not even received a submission from you.

MR. HICKEY: Mr. Speaker, this government has been engaged with our federal counterparts. This is a number one priority, the Trans-Labrador Highway, for the Department of Transportation and Works and for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am happy to report here today, Mr. Speaker, that we are in discussions with the federal government. We have had a number of meetings, and I can say with all confidence today, Mr. Speaker, that at the end of the day here, we will see the hard surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway start as early as next June. [House of Assembly Debates, November 27, 2006]

MS JONES: Maybe he can clarify another falsehood, Mr. Speaker. 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. Yet, in the House of Assembly yesterday the minister said that, we are negotiating. I quote, he said: We are now negotiating with the federal government on this deal. Mr. Speaker, the federal Department of Transport has said that there has not even been a business proposal submitted. I ask the minister today, Mr. Speaker: Why is he misleading the public on this issue? For God sakes, come clean and give us the proper information.

MR. HICKEY: There is no misleading the House, Mr. Speaker, none at all. Mr. Speaker, this government, as I stated yesterday, is working with the federal government on a deal to hard surface the Trans-Labrador Highway. I will tell you, I will tell the people of this Province, what is going on here today. You see, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, along with her cohort there, the Member of Parliament from Labrador, has been doing nothing on the file regarding the Trans-Labrador Highway. They now know that we are near to having a successful agreement on the Trans-Labrador Highway, now they want to get onboard and make the people believe that they were the ones who got this.

MS JONES: Mr. Nick McGrath was quoted in the 53 North newspaper in Labrador City, saying that: I was just talking with Minister Hickey this morning and was told by the minister they had recently inked a deal during his last trip to Ottawa, and that this deal was in front of him as we speak today. Yesterday, in the House of Assembly, the minister told me that he is only negotiating with the Department of Transport. I ask the minister again: Can he find it somewhere in him to provide proper information to this Legislature?

MR. HICKEY: Mr. Speaker, we are providing information. We are also providing progress, I say, on the Trans-Labrador Highway. Mr. Speaker, as has been said here in this House, they do not like hearing the truth. They do not like seeing the successes of this government and this minister. Let me say this, Mr. Speaker: We are working with our federal counterparts and I have every confidence — every confidence — that we are going to see hardtop on the road between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West, and we are going to see that in June of 2007. [House of Assembly Debates, November 28, 2006]

“Earlier this month, I, along with departmental officials, met with Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, after which Minister Cannon presented an offer for federal funding to surface the Trans-Labrador Highway.

“Prior to signing any contract, this government will perform due diligence to ensure it is the optimum deal for the people of the province. We remain optimistic that an agreement will be finalized next month with an expectation that hard-surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City-Wabush will get underway next summer and construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway will be complete in the fall of 2009.” [Press release, November 28, 2006]

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. Hickey, the Tory MHA for Lake Melville, told reporters outside the House of Assembly Tuesday no deal has been signed between both sides but one is coming. “We don’t have a signed agreement,” he said. “What we have said is we have every intention on getting all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, and it is my hope and intention to have a deal signed... so that we can begin work on the Trans-Labrador Highway in June next year.” [The Telegram, November 29, 2006]

JOHN HICKEY:We have not inked the deal. We are, as I said earlier, we don’t have a signed agreement. What we have said is we have every intention on getting all the Is dotted and the Ts crossed and it is my hope and intention to have a deal signed and an agreement so that we can begin work on the Trans Labrador Highway in June of next year. Officials within the departments are working out the details. The commitment that the Minister Cannon made to me and to my officials that were there is that the federal government is prepared to partake in the fifty-fifty funding arrangement on the Trans Labrador Highway and that we’d like to see that start as early as June the first. [CBC Labrador Morning, November 29, 2006]

Provincial Transportation Minister John Hickey says the federal government will live up to its commitment to cost-share the hard-topping of the highway. Hickey hopes the final deal will be inked before Christmas. He says the first 20 million dollars will be spent on the highway next June. [VOCM News, November 29, 2006]

Mr. Letto also had the opportunity to talk to Minister Cannon about the Trans Labrador Highway while in Ottawa. He asked about the status of negotiations between the province and the feds regarding the upgrading of the Trans Labrador Highway. “Minister Cannon did tell me at that time that they’re (the federal government) still waiting on a business plan from the province on the upgrading of the Trans Labrador Highway,” he said. “I’m not sure what a business plan consists of, but it’s my opinion our proposal put to him back in August regarding the funding required, provided enough of a business plan to move forward, but I guess we have to go through the process.” [The Aurora, December 4, 2006]

“I must respond to set the record straight. Earlier this month, I, along with departmental officials, met with Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, after which Minister Cannon presented an offer for federal funding to surface the Trans Labrador Highway,” Mr. Hickey said. He said the province intends to ensure the contract is the best possible deal before any contracts are signed. “The hope is that an agreement will be finalized this month.” [The Labradorian, December 4, 2006]

Ottawa and St. John’s are apparently on the verge of inking a deal to cost-share, 50-50, the next stage of the Trans-Labrador Highway from Labrador City to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. That’s according to Nov. 24 comments by provincial Transportation Minister John Hickey. [The Telegram, December 9, 2006]

The last meeting he had in Ottawa, Hickey received a proposal from the federal government. “There was $10 million to start work next year on the hard surfacing on the highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West,” Minister Hickey stated adding that the province will match that amount. “These are funds that have been identified by the (federal) minister…identified by the Department (of Transportation).” Just a little over a week ago, Hickey again met with Minister Cannon along with Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn and says there is nothing but positives to report. “I can tell you, the Trans Labrador Highway wasn’t the biggest issue because it’s understood we are moving forward on that,” Hickey said of his latest meeting with Federal Minister Hearn and Cannon. “What happens now is standard paperwork back and forth. There is a commitment there from the federal and the provincial side, we can’t get any better than that… something we have been wanting for a long time. [The Aurora, December 11, 2006]

Deal, or No Deal! The MHA for Labrador West Randy Collins says he doesn’t think there is a formal deal, just yet, on upgrading and eventually black-topping the Trans Labrador Highway. But Collins believes there is an understanding between the provincial and federal governments that funding will be provided for construction and paving to go ahead in 2007. Collins says as of late, there has been a lot of activity on the road, including brush cutting and surveyor crews on the highway doing the necessary prep work to widen the road in places. [VOCM News, December 27, 2006]

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC) : Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact it is March 2 and we are working with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have had the opportunity to meet Minister Hickey to discuss this issue with him and the discussions are ongoing. [House of Commons Debates, March 2, 2007]

We have worked diligently and trying with the federal government and I have got to say my patience has absolutely been worn thin at times. You know we thought we were going to be able to sign an agreement with them in early January and then of course the Christmas holidays came in and of course you knows that everything stops in Ottawa... I’ve had a good relationship with Minister Hearn and Minister Cannon on this particular file. And I never forget when we had those three Mayors in Ottawa and it was Mayor Jim Farrell from Wabush who looked across at the Transportation Minister, Minister Cannon and he said to him, he said Minister can I go back home to my community and tell the people of Wabush that this is a done deal and that you are going to participate in a fifty-fifty cost shared of the Trans Labrador Highway and Minister Cannon looked across the table, he said, “it is done, you can go back and tell your people that we’re committed to this project.” [John Hickey, VOCM Nightline, March 11, 2007]

Premier Danny Williams took time out for media last week to discuss happenings and future plans for Labrador West. When asked what the people of Labrador Wet should expect in the next couple of years, the premier talks of what is already committed. “The one thing is, I didn’t want to come in here and be accused of making all kinds of election promises,” he stressed promptly.

“We already indicated last year that we are prepared to put $50 million into surfacing the road. The $50 million we allocated last year we couldn’t use because we were waiting for the feds to step up.” Even if the feds don’t step up to the plate, the premier assures the province will go ahead with the hardtop anyway. The reason the province waited until this year, he explained, was to ensure the whole thing got done.

“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? The total cost of doing all that alone by the province given what we are trying to do in other phases of Labrador is a big nut to crack.” [The Aurora, March 12, 2007]

The province is planning to begin hard surfacing the section of the Trans Labrador Highway between Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay this year. Transportation Minister John Hickey said the province has been ready to start the project for some time now. Though money was set aside, he said the start of the project was delayed when the federal government didn’t come up with its share of the cost. He added there are times when the federal government doesn’t progress as fast as one would like. “I have a solid commitment from the regional minister that he wants to move this forward. He certainly wants to do this sooner rather than later, but then again, sometimes things are slow. I wish it were faster.” Once the agreement is signed with the federal government, work will begin. Hard surfacing will be done in the same order the road was built. The first stretch will be from Happy Valley-Goose Bay because that section was built first, Mr. Hickey said. ‘The second phase was from Cartwright to Red Bay. We would hard surface that next. Then of course, we’ll look at the completion of Phase III between Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which would be completed in 2009 and that would be the last surface to be hard surfaced.” [The Northern Pen, March 19, 2007]

MS JONES: Back in November of 2006, the minister issued a news release that the federal government had presented an offer for federal funding to surface the Trans-Labrador Highway. I ask the minister: Is this deal signed and ready to go, or is this another area where the federal-provincial relations are strained and the Province cannot reach a deal with the federal government?

MR. HICKEY: The Department of Transportation and Works, and indeed this government, has been in discussion with the federal government for a number of years now about the Trans-Labrador Highway. It has been a priority for this government and it has been a priority for this Premier. I say to the hon. member, that just yesterday, Mr. Speaker, I spoke to Minister Hearn and we are about ready, in his words, to get this deal signed off on the Trans-Labrador Highway. Along with that, Mr. Speaker, another $45 million of (inaudible) funding in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MS JONES: I heard all of that before, Mr. Speaker. I even heard a deal was inked, Mr. Speaker. I heard it was inked. I heard the contract was ready to be tendered, Mr. Speaker, and it is still not done. The Prime Minister committed in writing to the Premier, and I quote: That a Conservative government will support a cost-shared agreement to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway. I ask today: Has the Province submitted a proposal for a cost-shared agreement to complete the full Trans-Labrador Highway from L’Anse au Clair to Labrador City? If not, how come you have been lax in asking the federal government to deliver on that commitment, I say to the minister?

MR. HICKEY: This government has been committed, and will continue to be committed, to the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. Just this year, Mr. Speaker, we spent up to $70 million on construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. We have just completed $25 million on a new bridge across the Churchill River. I can say to the hon. Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, that we will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway with or without the federal government, I say, but it is their responsibility, Mr. Speaker, to cost share this fifty-fifty with the Province, and that is what we have been in negotiations with, with the federal minister and with the regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the federal budget there was a $600 million infrastructure agreement signed on highways, the largest infrastructure agreement announced, in the federal budget yesterday. The money is for core highways only in a country which does not include the Trans-Labrador Highway, so I am glad today to hear the minister say the Province will go it alone. Do I have a commitment from this minister today that his government will put the funds necessary to do the Trans-Labrador Highway servicing this summer, with or without the federal government’s (inaudible)? [House of Assembly Debates, March 22, 2007]

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. [The Telegram, March 23, 2007]

Premier Williams has said the province will complete the highway with or without help from the federal government. [CBC News, March 26, 2007]

Mr. Hickey is most encouraged that Mr. Hearn has committed to setting up a meeting with him soon so they can sign off on these two projects and the federal government’s $50 million share for the TLH. “I can tell you the business plan from the province on the TLH has been in to Ottawa since January. We’ve got to get down to brass tax [sic] here. “Once this is signed off with the federal government, there’s no turning back, they’re committed.” Mr. Hickey says once the deal for the TLH is signed off, officials in his department will put together a tender almost immediately as they are eager to get started on the work. The next step in construction, he says, is to spend $50 million widening the road by thee metres. Once that is complete, hard surfacing begin. [The Labradorian, March 26, 2007]

“Other than that, I have yet to talk to any officials, but I don’t see any money allocated to the Trans Labrador Highway,” [Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto] stated. “Whether it’s hidden in the fine print, I guess that remains to be seen.” [The Aurora, March 26, 2007]

MR. HICKEY: I have received word today from the hon. Loyola Hearn that he is now looking at dates to sign off on the agreements, on the CSIS agreements here in this Province, Madam Chair. [House of Assembly Debates, March 26, 2007]

The Newfoundland and Labrador government will start paving the Trans-Labrador Highway this summer, even without a written agreement for federal participation, a provincial minister says. Transportation and Works Minister John Hickey said Ottawa has informally pledged to match a $50-million provincial expenditure on paving a stretch between Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. However, there is no written agreement, and Hickey said the province can wait no longer. “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.” Hickey — who said he expects a firm commitment from Ottawa soon — said paving work will start in June. Putting pavement on the gravel surfaces that cover much of the Trans-Labrador Highway has been a key issue for years in Labrador, and surfaced most recently in this month’s Labrador West byelection. Premier Danny Williams reiterated the pledge during a campaign stop. “The premier made the commitment, and when this premier makes a commitment, he lives up to it — each and every time,” Hickey said. [CBC News, March 29, 2007]

“I’m very disappointed there was no money allocated for the Trans Labrador Highway,” [Wabush Mayor Jim] Farrell said in a separate interview with The Aurora. “A promise was made to us on the first of August last year in Ottawa when we met with Minister Cannon. He said ‘how can we refuse when you already have a letter signed by the Prime Minister saying that you will get money for the road?’ It’s like a kid waiting for Santa Claus to come and he didn’t come.” [The Aurora, April 2, 2007]

[HVGB Councillor Dean Clarke] then weighed in federal funding from Ottawa on the Trans Labrador Highway. Coun. Kelly chimed in saying Mr. Hickey had been quoted in the press recently that the money is there and the road will be widened this year. Coun. Clarke says he’s looking forward to Minister Hickey securing the funding so the residents of Labrador can begin to see hardtop — not chip seal — on the TLH. [The Labradorian, April 2, 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. [VOCM News, April 3, 2007 ]

“The provincial government has stated in the media several times in recent weeks that the Trans-Labrador Highway is a high priority for them. I am pleased to announce that this $175 million basic infrastructure amount may be used to help fund this $50-million project,” Hearn said. [The Telegram, April 3, 2007]

Since the release of the federal budget in March, there’s been much controversy over commitments the federal government failed to live up to, not the least of which was Ottawa’s share for the completion of the Trans Labrador Highway. The uprising in the local area may have been quelled slightly last week as Newfoundland’s representative in the federal cabinet announced $150 million in per capita funding and an extra $25 million in base funding for infrastructure projects in Newfoundland and Labrador. “What had been happening, and was highlighted by projects like the Trans Labrador Highway, was that under the regular infrastructure fund, by the time you’d carve out the need within any province if you took a major chunk out of that money, you’d have very little left to do all the others.” “Are you going to satisfy twenty communities or one? You know what the answer to that is,” contends Mr. Hearn. Mr. Hickey, in speaking to the Labradorian from St. John’s, however says that the TLH is the number one infrastructure priority in the province for the Williams administration and that the federal share of $50 million can come from the $175 million announced. He says his officials from the department of Transportation and Works will be working with their federal counterparts to work out the details of the arrangement, but the plan is to begin completion this year. “The first phase of that we hope to have out this summer, will start this summer in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador West, and as soon as the weather clears, we are sending a team to Churchill Falls because the first thing we have to do here is that we have to widen the roads by an extra metre. Then of course, once the widening is done, of course the hard surfacing is laid. “Once the project is started to hardtop the Labrador highway, no government will be able to stop it until its completion,” insists Mr. Hickey.The day the announcement was made, he says it’s one of those rewarding days in politics. [The Labradorian, April 9, 2007]

All systems are go for the Trans Labrador Highways says the province’s Transportation Minister John Hickey. The $175 million allocated for infrastructure in the federal budget, he says, definitely contains the $50 million needed to match the province’s contribution to pave the TLH. “Mr. Williams has said on a number of occasions — and I have said it on a number of occasions — this is the No. 1, and I repeat, the No. 1 infrastructure project for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Hickey. “The $50 million is there from the federal government and I think Mr. Hearn has made that clear. And the $50 million is there from the province and will continue to be there.” [The Aurora, April 9, 2007]

“The provincial government has stated in the media several times in recent weeks that the Trans Labrador Highway is a high priority for them. I am pleased to announce that this $175-million basic infrastructure amount may be used to help fund this $50-million project,” Mr. Hearn said. [Northern Pen, April 16, 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. [VOCM News, April 22, 2007]

Phase I was supposed to be completed this summer with the commencement of hard surfacing between Labrador West and Central Labrador, and following an announcement by regional federal Minister Loyola Hearn two weeks ago that Ottawa would supply its share through a $175 million infrastructure funding program, it looked to be a reality. But now there’s a speed bump along that route. Minister Hickey says Transport Canada Minister Lawrence Cannon has indicated that it will be up to three months before an official announcement regarding the funding could take place, essentially negating the commitment made by Mr. Hearn. The provincial minister finds it particularly upsetting when he considers how Labrador is “fuelling the economies of Central Canada.” “When we look at the billions of dollars in mining resources alone, not to mention what’s happening on the Upper Churchill and the 5400 megawatts that we ship off to the U.S. each and every day, for the federal government to say they’re not going to come forward, and start reneging and making a bunch of bureaucratic red tape out of this, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” he states. The premier likens it the scenario that has played out between Ottawa and the province recently on the equalization formula where the regional minister says one thing and the departmental minister and prime minister say another. “The other cute game they’re playing, is that if this money gets approved, it could be eight, 10, or 12 weeks coming,” explains the premier. “We have to start on this now because we have a short season in Labrador.” “What they’re saying is that if you start, you don’t qualify for the funding, you go it alone. That’s the type of shenanigans this government is up and what they’re capable of.” [The Labradorian, April 23, 2007]

We’re going to do it without’em. Now if that happens to be the Trans-Labrador Highway, or if that happens to be the Lower Churchill, we’re going to move foreward. We can’t wait for the presumed generosity and largesse of Ottawa to advance our province. [Danny Williams, CBC Radio News, April 25, 2007]

MS JONES: The minister continues to announce the money for ‘hardtopping’ of the Trans-Labrador Highway, telling people, going back as early as six months ago, he had a signed deal in front of him, on his desk, with the federal government. Then, like a broken record again just a few weeks ago the minister announced — for the fourth time, I think, this government, in the last three years — that a deal is now reached and they will proceed. Yet, the federal Member of Parliament in the Cabinet for Newfoundland and Labrador has said that there is no deal signed.

As recent as Friday the Premier was noted in the news as saying that without a deal, if the Province moves forward, the federal government has said they are on their own.

I would like to ask the minister today, Mr. Speaker: What is the real story? Will your government be moving forward with the paving of the Trans-Labrador Highway, and is there a deal with the federal government?

MR. HICKEY: 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. What we had from the federal government, Mr. Speaker, was a proposal, which we accepted, of $10 million from Minister Cannon and Minister Hearn. That was in November of last year.

Mr. Speaker, I went through the correspondence there just yesterday. We have had seventeen engagements with the federal government, and that includes my predecessors, in this government since we have been.... This is the number one project for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The sad part of all of this, Mr. Speaker, is that just recently in a meeting in which my deputy minister spoke with the deputy minister from the Department of Transport Canada we were informed, after Minister Hearn had made a $175 million infrastructure announcement in the Province, of which he had included the Trans-Labrador Highway, we find out in a meeting of the officials that the deputy minister of Transport Canada said he really did not care what the regional minister had announced, but he had also stated that we could not — because obviously we would like to start this, this June — the deputy minister has stated that it will take ten to twelve weeks before the agreements are signed. Further, Mr. Speaker, he said that Treasury Board and the Cabinet had not approved the funding up to this particular point in time.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the minister that it was him, in a telephone conversation with an individual in Labrador City, who ended up in the local papers in Labrador, quoting him as saying he had a signed deal in front of him. I just remind him of that, Mr. Speaker. He has a short memory; short on facts, for sure.

Mr. Speaker, communications are so poor now between the Province and the federal government they cannot even get clarification on a public announcement.

On March 22 in the House of Assembly you committed, in Hansard, Minister — you can read it — that the provincial government would proceed with or without the feds on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

I ask you today: Do you stand by that commitment, and will the Trans-Labrador Highway start this spring?

MR. HICKEY: Mr. Speaker, let me say without question that this Premier, this government, this minister — the Trans-Labrador Highway is the number one infrastructure going forward in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we will start this highway this summer and she will have the pleasure to come in to the announcement. [House of Assembly Debates, April 25, 2007]

MR. T. MARSHALL: …we are making a major commitment this year of $17 million for construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. Last year, we also made a commitment to apply a sealed surface on Phase I of the highway and budgeted $15 million, to be cost-shared 50-50 with the Government of Canada. Once again, we are putting forward our $7.5 million share and challenging the federal government to match it. Let me make it clear, that our government will proceed with hard-surfacing this year with or without a federal contribution. [House of Assembly Debates, April 26, 2007]

There are still some minor details to work out, but federal cabinet representative Loyola Hearn confirms funding has been found for work on the Trans Labrador Highway. Hearn says they have just recently identified monies to complete the TLH and they are looking forward to meeting with the provincial minister shortly to finalize plans to get the project up and running. The province has indicated it will start work on the Trans Labrador Highway this year - with or without the federal government. They were hoping to have about $15 million spent on sealing the road surface this summer - split 50/50 with the feds. However, the province's $7.5 million share will be spent either way. As well, the provincial government has reaffirmed that $17 million will be spent on phase three of the Trans Labrador Highway. [VOCM Radio News, May 2, 2007]

I have word from Minister Hearn’s office, my office this morning is in contact with his office in Ottawa looking at a time when we can sign off on the federal share for the Trans-Labrador Highway… I’m just elated this morning to hear that Minister Hearn may have identified the money and they’re about ready to contact the province and myself as the Minister to get that signed off. We have said that we would start it alone. This is a very, very important project for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is certainly the number one infrastructure project for the province. [John Hickey, VOCM Open Line, May 2, 2007]


All cleared up.