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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Paying the price

Leo Bruce, PC nomination contestant in Bay of Islands, just told Bill Rowe, referring to the fact that the incumbent MHA is in opposition, that “the people of the Bay of Islands have paid the price for the past four years.”

The ghost that haunts us”, indeed:

“I don’t need you,” said Smallwood. “I’ve been elected, but you need me. I’m sitting on top of the public chest and not one red cent will come out of it unless Greg Power is elected. Unless you vote for my man, you’ll be out in the cold for the next five years. Those settlements which vote against Greg Power will get nothing, absolutely nothing.


Jeff Webb, professor of history with Memorial University, says William Browne authenticates the quote in his autobiography, 84 Years a Newfoundlander.

Browne ran against and beat out Liberal Greg Power in the district of Ferryland in 1949, taking 2,456 votes of the 3,160 cast, thus securing a seat in Parliament. On five separate occasions during the campaign, Smallwood attempted to bully the people by insisting they would not receive “one red cent” if they defied his demands.

In the end, Joey’s threats alienated voters and they subsequently snubbed his man. Webb is equally aghast at Smallwood’s heavy-handed threat.

“To be so naked in your partisanship,” Webb muses. “Some people say Joey wasn’t always corrupt, that it happened over time. But this speech was in 1949 — the very first election after Confederation. It’s quite a grievous action.”

Someone, perhaps Jeff Webb or Mandy Cook, should ask Leo Bruce: who exacted the price? and why? and how?

As long as personalismo and patronage politics lives — and Danny Williams can out-personalismo- and -patronage-politic Smallwood any day — then Smallwood himself lives.

Remedial media

Michelle Stewart of The Aurora, special to The Telegram, popped Glorious Leader's balloon real nice in her coverage of The Big Announcement:
Money announced for Labrador highway
Province accused of not co-operating with feds on project

Premier Danny Williams sounded his government's horn in person Wednesday while at the same time trumpeting a blow to the federal government.

He, along with Minister of Transportation John Hickey and Labrador West MHA Jim Baker, met in Wabush to announce $15 million from the provincial purse for the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) with work to begin by August.

Unlike the headline on the government news release, the $15 million will not be dedicated to hard-surfacing. Rather a portion, eight kilometres in the Churchill Falls section, will have a double layer of chip seal with the remaining money to be spent on widening the highway.
The press release in question, complete with dubious headline, is available here.
Her article continues, with the following odd indirect quote:

Hickey said he had nothing in writing that the federal government will sign off on a cost-sharing agreement with the province.
"Odd", because remember, it wasn't that long ago that "the signed deal was in front of him."

That deal would, one presumes, have been written in some language or another.

Meanwhile, healthy skepticism, if partisan, is still alive in Labrador West, even if it's a moribund quality elsewhere in Dannystan:

In the meantime, Darrel Brenton, the Labrador West NDP candidate for the October election questioned the premier and Hickey on the type of chip seal to be used on the TLH.

"I guess a half a loaf is better than none, but the half loaf you do get should be edible," Brenton said. "We have come to know what chip seal is and we are not satisfied with the half a loaf we are getting."

Brenton asked why ordinary pavement rather than chip seal is the government's choice given the test chip seal is not holding up after only three years being laid on the section near Labrador City.

"I challenge Jim Baker and the minister to take the premier over the chip seal we have on the road," he said.

"Mr. Hickey said he came over the road and it's in good shape, but I don't know if he flew over the road or what, but he certainly didn't hit the potholes I encountered last night."

In response the premier said, "Well, the chip may be on your shoulder Darrel, that might be where the chip is. But let me tell you something, we are doing what ever we can here to try and do what we can for Labrador. We have limited funds available and in the last couple of years we managed to turn the fiscal situation around and we expect even better in years to come. When money becomes available we intend to put it back to the people of this province."
Contrast that with the CBC's coverage:
Williams pushes ahead with Labrador highway work
"Williams pushes..." Personally? L'état, c'est lui?

Baby bust, and vice-versa

Everyone talks about outmigration. Like the weather, no one ever does anything about it.

Almost no one, however, is talking about the other demographic trend that has huge implications: natural population decline.

"Natural" population change is the sum of births in a given population, minus the number of deaths, during a given period of time. The following chart shows the number of births and deaths in Newfoundland and Labrador, as measured quarterly, since the quarter beginning July 1961.

Even in the 1960s, the province was a net population loser through interprovincial out-migration — moving away is nothing new by any stretch. There were only two quarters in the entire decade in which there was net in-migration. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the only protracted periods of net in-migration, and even these were short, have co-incided with economic downturns that have made it less attractive to leave, or more attractive to stay or go back home.

Yet the provincial population continued to grow, quarter after quarter, until 1979. That was the year of the first quarterly decline. There were other, sporadic quarters of population loss, and a particularly bad episode from mid-1985 until the end of 1986, but there were roughly as many quarters of gain as of loss until April 1993.

Of the 56 quarters since April 1993, only two have registered population increases. It's been almost downhill the whole way.

Since 1961, a net 156,000 people have left the province. (In fact, the total number who have left is over 554,000, offset by just under 400,000 who have moved in. And it should be made clear that these are not individual people, but individual movements of people; a person who moved away in 1973, moved back in 1979, moved away again in 1983, back in 1986, away in 1992, and back in 1999, would be counted each time.)

But net outmigration was largely offset for decades by a high rate of natural increase as shown in the chart: many, many, many more people being born than dying. Again, until April 1993, there were never more than two consecutive quarters in which the natural population increase failed to compensate for the out-migration loss.

Since April 1993, there have only been three where net out-migration has been offset by a surplus of births.

In the first quarter of 2003, the province registered its first quarterly natural decline, more deaths than births. In the 17 quarters since, there have been seven more such quarters. The first half of 2006 saw the first back-to-back quarters of natural decrease. And with the latest figures, four of the last five quarters have seen more births than deaths.

The implications are big, for virtually every aspect of public policy and the economy.

They are huge.

Everyone's talking about out-migration. And, even though the two demographic phenomena are linked in many ways, no one's talking about this.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


As any careful examination of the figures from last year would tell you, right on cue, the Maritimes have joined Newfoundland and Labrador in the Natural Decrease club, where deaths now outnumber births.

So far only Radio-Canada seems to be reporting this. (Link.)

They won't be alone for long.

But barely a word from Sheila Osborne

From the memory hole:

Population drops by another 4,000
but barely a word from the government

ST. JOHN'S, October 8, 1999 — Opposition Human Resources and Employment critic Sheila Osborne says there's been no adequate response by the Tobin government to news from Statistics Canada that Newfoundland and Labrador's population dropped by another 4,407 between July 1998 and July 1999.

The drop brings the province's estimated population to 541,200 – the lowest it's been since 1972.

"It astounds me that we get these regular reports of severe population decline, year after year, yet the government reacts as if the bad news is not worthy of attention," said Osborne. "Government is far more comforted than it should be that the population is declining at a slower rate than it declined last time, when the bottom line is that our population is still heading rapidly in the wrong direction. The Tobin government doesn't even give the appearance of caring about the chronic loss of people that is driving our population to record lows."
By contrast, between April 2006 and April 2007, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador declined by just a few nudges under 6,000 people.

The official Statscan quarterly population estimate for the province, 506,548, pushes Osborne's historical comparison back in time four more years, to mid-1968, the last time the provincial population was under 507,000.

In 1999, Osborne concluded her press release with the following words — prescient, true, and oddly familiar:

"One of the fundamental mandates of any government is to provide opportunities for its people and to give its young people the option of staying," she said. "Our chronic population decline is a sign of the government's inability to meets the needs of our people or to lay a solid foundation for growth and diversification."

Osborne said the loss of young working people bodes poorly for the province since it reduces the tax base needed to fund social programs for those who have retired.

Osborne said the Tobin government is coasting on good news about resource developments but wasting opportunities to turn that resource wealth into opportunities for diversification into the value-added enterprises that create jobs, wealth and spinoff opportunities.

More hits

Natural population change — the number of births minus the number of deaths — was -220 in the first quarter of 2007. That's about the population of Postville, Conche, L’anse au Clair or Red Bay.

Outmigration cost the population a further 1850 people. That's the largest quarterly drop, numerically and as a percentage of the population at the start of the quarter, since the second quarter of 1998.

Bill Rowe's factual inexactitude

Bill Rowe claimed today on CrackTalk that the Churchill Falls deal happened before he was elected as an MHA.

The Churchill Falls contract was entered into in 1969.

Bill Rowe was first elected in 1966.

Bill Rowe has no business — none — frothing at the mouth to challenge Morris from King's Point for his grasp on the facts.

Just so we're clear here: 1966 came before 1969.

Taking hits

According to the latest Statscan figures released today, Newfoundland and Labrador's population declined by 2000 people in the first quarter of 2007.

That's roughly equivalent to the entire population of Gambo, Glovertown, or Holyrood, and more than Stephenville Crossing, Harbour Breton, or Wabush.

That's also the largest numerical drop of any province or territory, and the largest percentage drop of any province or territory, during the same period. (Only NB and Yukon showed population declines during the same period, although a few others came close.)

It's also the largest quarterly decline that the province has seen since 2001.

Not at the table

Glorious Leader, speaking at his whistle-stop announcement that he isn't actually "hard-topping" the Trans-Labrador Highway this year, is quoted in The Telegram today:

"Our government has had its share of money on the table for the past two years and, unfortunately, the federal government is not doing a great job of keeping its promise of providing their fair share the past two summers."
Again with the "fair share". Could someone, anyone, in the press gallery, please, for the love of decency, the next time Danny uses that phrase in relation to anything, ask him to define "fair share"? Thank you.


In the context of the Trans-Labrador Highway, anyone with a memory — and yes, that class of people is pathetically small — will recall that the Trans-Labrador Highway has been built through a hodge-podge of ad-hockery since the 1970s. Things really kicked into gear in the 1980s, though, first through the Special Recovery Capital Projects Program, which pumped $16-million into the TLH, 85% of which was federal money.

From 1986 to 1992, the ERDA money budgeted in the last Trudeau administration paid for further $47-million worth of work, 62.5% of which was federal money.

In the early 1990s, another $10-million was channelled in, under the RTRA program, 100% of which was federally sourced. And that was a mere stop-gap until the 1997 Labrador Transportation Initiative, which supplied $231-million worth of Trans-Labrador Highway work, again, 100% paid for from federal, not provincial, coffers. And that doesn't include LTI Fund money which was channelled into branch roads on the south coast, community streets, and other highways and road work in Labrador, not TLH in the strict sense of the phrase, which easily brings the federal share, for LTIF alone, to over a quarter of a billion dollars.

It might sound so very generous of the provincial government to announce that it's "going it alone" with $15-million in TLH spending this year. However, at that rate, if the province spent $15-million per year on the TLH, and the federal government nothing, it would be at least 13 years before St. John's and Ottawa had kicked in equal shares of TLH spending since 1983. If you factor in federal funds spent before 1983, and federal funds spent, before and since, on roadwork in Labrador other than the TLH, it would take even longer for the province to come up to it's "fair share", if you define "fair share" as a 50/50 split.

And when the province brags about what it's "had on the table", it might also talk about what it's taken off. Or, alternatively, someone might ask them.

In 2004-05, the province budgeted $22.5-million in its main estimates. In the following fiscal year, that amount was revised downwards to $6.8-million. In 2005-06, the budgeted amount was $41-million, revised down the following year to $32-million. In 2006-07, the TLH budget, on paper, was $41.7-million, revised down, this year, to $23.6-million. Nor is this pattern exclusive to the current government; the downward revisions, for budget years since 1998/99, has totalled over $75-million. What accounts for the discrepancy?

Nor is this the only bit of budgetary funny business involving the TLH. In four out of five fiscal years, beginning in 2003/04, three of those years being in the Danny Williams Era, the province voted itself nearly $35-million worth of federal revenue for the TLH project — federal revenue which, inconveniently enough, the Parliament of Canada had never itself appropriated. This highly unusual (to say the least) budgetary practice contributed to balancing the books on paper, but, more imporantly, provided a convenient way of fed-bashing, trotting out the same old tired "fair share... come to the table" lines.

That $15-million announced this week should also be looked at in the context of what the province derives in revenues from Labrador. In terms of both taxes from persons, and resource revenues, Labrador more than pulls its fiscal weight within the province. The provincial government's "fair share" of TLH spending should be measured not only as against the very substantial share that the federal government has already contributed over the years, but as against the very real contribution Labrador makes to domestic finances.

After all, the provincial government complains that, in respect of fiscal federalism, they are only looking "for what is ours", or "for a fair share". Does the same principle not apply within?

"...We have been three years trying to get the federal government to come to the table on this," Minister Hickey complained to The Aurora earlier this month.

If the provincial government of the province of which Labrador is supposedly an "integral part" had come to the table, it might have had a leg to stand on.

But it didn't. So it doesn't.

Labrador is part of a province; according to Danny Williams an "integral one", even.

It's time he started acting like it. After all, what does it bode for the separatist fantasy of his separatist supporters if all the grand plans for Labrador are dependent on funding from the country you want to separate from?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Playing politics

Danny Williams’ reaction to Stephen Harper’s laying on of federal cash in New Brunswick was most interesting. As cobbled together from a CP and Canada East report:

“I wish Premier Graham well. Whatever he can do to advance the issues of his province, I certainly do wish him well…

I guess it’s a divide and conquer mentality from the prime minister’s perspective. Premier [Rodney] MacDonald and I have been the anti-federal government for want of a better (deal) because they haven’t fulfilled our promise. Perhaps he’s going to try and appease New Brunswickers and others. I don’t know what the reason for his visit [to New Brunswick] is, but all I know is that it’s politically motivated.

I don’t think that’s the way a prime minister should operate. If he thinks he’s punishing us by giving funds to New Brunswick, I’m not going to play that game. The childishness doesn’t become a prime minister.”
There you have it: announcing highway funding shouldn’t be politically motivated. And highways funding shouldn’t be doled out to appease or to punish. That’s just childish.

Moving right along, on a totally unrelated topic, here is a handy, colour-coded graph, showing the allocation, by provincial electoral district, for Provincial Roads Improvement Program for 2007, as cobbled together from provincial government press releases. (This does not include highways funding from provincial or cost-shared programs, only PRIP.)

Here is the comparable chart for 2006:

And 2005:

And 2004 (the figure for Trinity-Bay de Verde has been arbitrarily set to $1-million, as the costs of four projects were not given):

Finally, for good measure, here's the equivalent for 2001. (2003 and 2002 figures were not press-released on a dollar-per-district basis.)

No punishment. No appeasement. No divide-and-conquer. And certainly, absolutely, without a doubt in the world, nothing politically motivated, absolutely nothing, can be gleaned from those figures.

U, S and A

The newly-minted leader of the Economic Union Party and Responsible Government League, Danny Williams is musing about statehood.

"Not interested in a new state, are you?", he said to U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins.

David Jackson in the Chronicle-Herald called it a "quip."


It was yet another dog-whistle for the benefit of his hard-core crypto-separatist Danny Fans.

So perhaps one of those Danny fans can explain to The Master, in small words he'll understand, some of the following:

As Danny is fond of complaining, Newfoundland and Labrador has only seven seats of 308 in the House of Commons. How many members would the State of Newfoundland — Labrador would not likely be part of this scheme — have in the House of Representatives? (Hint: Newfoundland's population is less than that of the least-populous existing state.)

The average U.S. state government receives 26% of its revenues in transfer payments from the federal or local governments. The average Canadian provincial government gets 26% of its revenues in transfer payments from the federal government alone.

Of the U.S. state government's federal transfer revenues, how much is in the form of equalization? (Hint: it's a really round number.)

How much does the U.S. federal government collect in royalties from offshore oil and gas? For that matter, how much does the U.S. federal government collect in royalties from onshore oil and gas, and other mineral extraction? (Hint: unlike the situation in Canadian provinces and offshore Canada, the amount is not zero.)

Prisoners all their lives, radio listeners

For the snobs who look down their noses at talk radio in NL — and apart from CBC Crosstalk and the gardening phone-in, that means the up to 8.5 hours per day of navel-gazing and echo-chambering on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth — a stark message today from StatsCan.

Stop. Looking down your nose, that is.


Radio listening increased in only three provinces in 2006: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.


Talk radio was a tremendously popular format in Newfoundland and Labrador, capturing a share of almost 30% of the province's radio audience. This contrasts sharply with the rest of the Atlantic provinces, where talk radio's listening share was virtually non-existent.
The tables tell the tale. NL has higher radio-listenership rates than the national average in virtually every demographic except for teens and the 25-34 bracket. The (growing) 50-65 demographic has among the highest rates in the country; the 65 and up bracket, the highest, period.

Interestingly, the CBC, despite [editorial alert] having perhaps the best local and regional programming in the country; many other CBC regional radio broadcasts are utterly unlistenable [/editorial alert] has the second-lowest share of any province's audience, at 9.6%.

Talk radio — this means the VOCM-CFCB All-Newfoundland and Labrador Radio Network — has an astonishing 29.3% audience share. The next-highest share for talk, in any province, is Quebec, where the notorious, and notoriously right-wing, talk radio format, centred especially in Quebec City and Québec mou, has less than half the NL figure, at 14.5%. Manitoba takes bronze at 14.0%. The influence of CFRA in Ottawa, Rutherford in Alberta and Mair in BC may be somewhat overstated, as all three provinces have below-average talk radio audience shares. And when Statscan says talk is virtually non-existent in the Maritimes, they aren't kidding: New Brunswick's talk industry is the highest of the three, at a whopping 2.1%.

The message is clear for anyone trying to get a message out through the mass media in NL: You look down your nose at the Ministry of Truth at your own peril. You can decry the use of the airwaves by those with competing, opposing, or downright incorrect messages to communicate.

Or, if you can't beat 'em, you can join 'em. Truth spreads just as quickly from your phone line to the transmitter, as BS does.

VOCM Valley has powers. Awesome powers. They can be used for evil, or for good. If you're good, that's your call.

Divine Ms Minnie

My, but Minnie Wells' call to CBC On the Go's Talkback line was nicely-scripted, weren't it?

She read it real good, too. Boy, did she ever confute our traducers, in terms that Danny Williams himself couldn't have said better:

Ted, these people, including Mr Harper, seems to be truly trivializing the dismantling of our Atlantic Accord. I take great exception to that, as it diminishes our place in Canada. British Columbia, give me a break Miss Yaffe., with all their seats, can get Mr Harper to give them just what they want, i.e. the Pacific Gateway. She may well have lived here, but she fails to understand our history. Where else in Canada would a Premier sit back and say nothing while a Prime Minister breaks a contract? And by the way, Ted, in New Brunswick, he only re-announced road work for the second or third time. Big deal. The Premier doesn't have no [mumblemumble] from here on in. We will never forget what Mr Harper did. I, like most other people, are sick to death of these mainland pundits. Thank you.
CBC used to have, or seemed to have, an "anti-reading rule". That went out the window some time ago. Too bad.

PS: and Minnie: speaking of "only re-announcing road work for the second or third time"... Where's your finely-tuned and well-scripted sense of cynicism now?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Honor thine commitments

From a story which moved on the CP wire on Friday:
In his opening remarks at the first national aboriginal women's summit, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams called on Ottawa to revive the Kelowna Accord, contending that the optimism that came with the $5-billion agreement has been lost.

"The first ministers' meeting in Kelowna brought with it great hope for aboriginal communities. It is unfortunate that this hope has not been fully realized," said Williams, who is hosting the conference. "I once again would call upon the federal government to fulfil the commitments made at the historic meeting in Kelowna."
Danny Williams would know all about governments not fulfilling commitments to Aboriginal people, wouldn't he?

A blackfly in your chardonnay

“You can’t believe everything you hear or read; you have to keep an inquiring mind.”

— Bill Rowe, without any obvious sense of irony, today on Cracktalk.

No sod left unturned

By October 9th, will there be any pristine sod left anywhere?

Don't just stand there, announce something!

Following on BondPapers' deconstruction of a previous Glorious Leader's use of the Lower Churchill as a political MacGuffin, here is the comparable exercise for the incumbent in office.

Note two significant differences.

First, BondPapers' work is on a particularly concentrated period of MacGuffinism in 1998, in what was the lead-up to a rumoured aborted fall 1998 election plan, 2.5 years into Tobin's first term. (In the end, the election was held in the winter of 1999, a Smallwoodesque nudge under three years after the 1996 electoral event.) The DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador list covers the entire Williams Era, so far.

Second, and more interestingly, in the 1998 Tobin run-up, all but one of the announcements were issued as releases from the line department, then known as Mines and Energy. During the Danny Williams era, on the other hand, all press releases pertaining to the so-called Upper or Lower Churchill have emanated from Executive Council [EC] — that is, the Eight Floor — with the exception of two from the current incarnation of the line department, Natural Resources [NR].

L'état, c'est lui.

It's a fairly safe bet, though, that the announcement that the project is, surprise, surprise, being shelved, again, will be made by the Minister of Natural Resources.

March 16, 2004: New agreement on recall power from Upper Churchill [NR]

September 20, 2004: Premier Williams outlines preparations to explore development opportunities for the Lower Churchill [EC]

September 20, 2004: Premier Williams announces Expressions of Interest process and outlines province’s strategy for development of Lower Churchill [EC]

January 10, 2005: Premier releases Request for Expressions of Interest and Proposals for development of Lower Churchill hydro resource [EC]

March 30, 2005: Premier Williams welcomes Ontario and Quebec joint response to
Expressions of Interest on development of the Lower Churchill

April 4, 2005: Premier Williams pleased with response to Request for Expressions of Interest and Proposals on Lower Churchill development [EC]

August 8, 2005: Premier announces results of phase one of Expression of Interests process for Lower Churchill development [EC]

January 20, 2006: Province directs Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to apply for transmission access with Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie [EC]

May 8, 2006: Newfoundland and Labrador will lead Lower Churchill development [EC]

June 23, 2006: Premier and Innu President talk on Lower Churchill [EC]

December 1, 2006: Environmental Assessment Process Initiated for Lower Churchill Project [EC]

February 6, 2007: Hydro Continues to Explore Market Access Options for Lower Churchill Power [NR]

Monday, June 25, 2007

Apologizing for freedom of speech

Why should CBC On the Go, and host Ted Blades, have to even defend bringing Jeffery Simpson onto his program?


Pushing up dandelions

It was most interesting to hear Linda Swain on the Sunday night running of Nightline musing aloud about the numerous properties she's noticed around National Capital which seem to be unoccupied, if their unkempt lawns are any indication.

Of course, we all know "St. John's can take the hit." Danny said it, so it must be true.

And now anecdotally, as well as statistically, there are signs that the hit is being taken.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

None of your business

From Jeffery Simpson's latest dispatch from Dannyland for — insert gob of nationalist spit here — the Globe and Mail:
Mr. Williams's modus operandi is simple: You're with me or you're not. Black or white; friend or foe. Adversaries abound, and they must be brought to heel or, as he said this week, "told to mind their own business."
Somewhere, there's a newspaper clipping from the late 1960s which reads something not dissimilar to:
Mr. Smallwood's modus operandi is simple: You're with me or you're not. Black or white; friend or foe. Adversaries abound, and they must be brought to heel or, as he said this week, "told to mind their own business."
Heaven forbid that anyone have legitimate concerns for the way public business is run, and yet, simultaneously, fail to supplicate themselves before Glorious Leader.

The passive voice

In one of the several hastily-arranged interviews Tom Rideout did on Friday to put out the latest spending-scandal fire, he fed VOCM the following heap of compost:

Look that's all poppycock nonsense and dribble from people who don't know what they're talking about. Members have to concur with the, with the ban on donations. Members have to concur with the fact that discretionary spending is gone. All of these matters that was in the rules as brought forward by Judge Green have been accepted and implemented. There's the matter of some mechanisms that can't be put in place overnight.
The use of the passive voice is always a tip-off that someone is being cute about something.

The rules "have been accepted and implemented" by whom or by what?

Certainly not by the House of Assembly: the rules, including those against discretionary funds, donations from public funds, and limits on charitable donations with personal funds by "independently wealthy" sitting MHAs — hi, Danny Williams and foundation — do not come into force until October 9, 2007.

Repeat: the rules do not come into force until election day.

By necessary implication, as Tom Rideout, LL.B., can tell you, that means they are not in force now.

So when Tom Rideout, LL.B., says, "members have to concur with the, with the ban on donations... Members have to concur with the fact that discretionary spending is gone," perhaps Tom Rideout, LL.B. can explain, why not?

What is the legal obligation? — Bear in mind, repeat: the rules are not in force now, and will not be until election day.

There is none.

Meanwhile, yesterday on VOCM's Morning Running of the Reptiles, Paul Oram told the former Ambassador and Minister Plenipotentiary:
Well, you know, just on a quick note first of all amendments were put in place because of course as you know this was a very detailed report and you know, to all parties in the House including Justice Greene wanted to give us time to be to implement this in the correct manner and we wanted to get this thing passed through the House.
The report was so detailed they had to amend it?

Justice Greene wanted to give them time to implement it in the correct manner, so they passed the bill at all stages of debate in a single day's sitting?

The Premier's attack-poodle continues:
We wanted to get it done so . . .but as our caucus, you know, we sat down and we said look we are going to follow the rules are there by Justice Greene and . . .and you know move forward and that's what we've done.... I can tell you now that when it comes to our caucus that we are not making donations.
Very good. The PC caucus, at least, has agreed, internally it would seem, to follow the Greene rules, including the ones on donations.

But if they didn't have a philosophical, moral, or legal objection to restraining themselves so, why the reluctance to put it into legal force until October 9, 2007, which is, again, election day?

And if they were in such a rush to implement the Greene recommendations, why bother with a deferred commencement date at all?

MHAs patted themselves on the back during the June 14th debate (such as it was) on the bill implementing the Greene recommendations and report, for moving so quickly not just to pass the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, but also to move even quicker than the good judge recommended, to pass the just-add-water House rules, the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules.

As Kelvin Parsons said,
I can say to the Government House Leader right now that, on the understanding that amendment is coming forward, we will certainly be in favour of that. As far as we can see there will not be any need for detailed discussions or whatever in Committee with respect to enforcing and having those rules become a part of this bill as well.
They can take that back-pat back.

Tom Rideout says that MHAs have to "concur" with rules that are of no legal effect for another four months, without offering up any mechanism that obliges them to "concur" so.

And while he says there are mechanisms that "can't be put in place overnight", rules such as the ban on donations are laid out in black and white. There is no room for "implementation". It's a rule, or it's not; no guidelines required.

And the "detailed report" "can't be put in place overnight", yet there was no need for debate or discussion when it came before the House, which passed it, at all stages, inside of 24 hours?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Apples and oranges

Today’s Telegram editorial puts a strange footnote to a line from Gary Lunn: The Speech He Never Gave:

“In a province so rich in oil and gas potential, how can it be that 50 per cent of working-age people are not working? That is 10 per cent below the national unemployment average.” (Note: that curious statistic includes everyone from teenagers to retirees; Nova Scotia’s number is 64 per cent.)
First of all, that’s not so. The employment rate in NL is 51.5% in May, down slightly from April. Some take that figure, subtract it from 100%, and come up with the figure of “people who are not working”, whether through unemployment or otherwise. The number for Nova Scotia, then, of people who “are not working”, is 100% - 63.5% = 36.5%. When you are working with statistics, you have to compare apples to apples, not oranges.

Secondly, there’s nothing “curious” about the statistic: that’s how you calculate the participation rate, in every province and nationally. That’s how you get the apples, and the oranges, you want to compare and contrast in the first place.

Rather than deal with the message of the stats, the provincial government, and the usual gang of anti-Confederates, have trotted out this shoot-the-messenger argument, whether against Derek DeCloet, Jeffery Simpson, Gary Lunn, or the statistics themselves. It’s disappointing to see the Telegram picking it up as well. Not only did the editorialist compare apples to oranges, he or she then shot the guy who brought the apples.

Not polite.

Their energies would be better spent asking why it is that the employment and participation rates are consistently so low and why the unemployment rate is consistently so high.

And no, the facile “because of all the giveaways” won’t cut it.

Once more, into the trough

So for MHAs of all parties, it'll be one last, glorious summer of traditional summer activities: n-Festivals, Dildo Days... and handing out cheques.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Voice Of Criticism, Maybe?

A change of gears is coming this summer over at the Ministry of Truth. There'll be a six-week hiatus in Nightline.

Perhaps its just as well for Voice Of Cabinet Ministers. After all, even the Eighth Floor has started to lose its grip on discourse, on the air and over the bits and bytes.

Just take some of the responses — a curiously small number, just 21, were posted that day, for some reason — to the June 20th Question of the Day, "Do you think enough is being done to attract new oil and gas exploration offshore?"

"atb" said:
To me there appears to be opposition to all matters of development and survival for this Province. The leader of all the province's people [like, totally so stealing that epithet -ed.] is very high in the polls, he and his party appear to be determined to extricate all peoples from "rural NL". People in exploration jobs do not need to live in St John's. NL people are leaving by the thousands, including exploration businesses, most will not return. Their homes, fishing spots, hunting grounds etc. are being filled (acquired) by every culture but Newfoundland and Labrador people. Will someone please explain to me, in my lack of understanding. What has this Premier and this Government done during their term as our managers to oversee and encourage living in Newfoundland Labrador. I shall watch the response of VOCM question. I would like to be better informed in the event I am not being fair in my judgement.
Fred said:
Premier Williams is going too far. He really needs to cool it ! Other than that he is doing a great job.
And Blunder opined:
The government is not doing enough. It's fine to walk away from negotiations when you own your own company, the only one to suffer is you. While we don't have to give everything away, we still have to live here and survive. We won't have any grandchildren to give it to because we are moving to the mainland in droves and they (our children and grandchildren) will not want to come back to a province with a population of elderly people and a few jobs in oil and gas. Walking away and cutting off your nose to spite your face is childish and stupid. The government has a responsibility to the people here and now as well as the future. The oil and gas industry will only last 20 to 30 years, so our grandchildren will still have to carve out a living somewhere in the country. All of them won't be in the oil industry, we have to stop believing the oil and gas is the be all end all. At the rate this government is going right now, our grandchildren will be already be working elsewhere and won't ever want to return. We also have to be careful of what we wish for. Are we ALL ready for a Fort Mac. environment in our communities, drugs, prostitution, overcrowding, too dangerous to walk the streets etc. etc
Those were the dissenters. Most of the rest were the usual fawning sort that the Eighth Floor writes loves to see:
"Danny is out [sic] Keeper!"

"Our Premier is ensuring we get the best possible deal. So if not today, them maybe tomorrow some company will come along that's willing to deal with Danny."

"I certainly agree with Premier Williams approach to the development of the offshore resourses. NO MORE GIVE-AWAYS. So what if I don't reap any benifits from the offshore,atleast my grandchildren will have something to look forward to and I thank Premier Williams for that."

"I say stick to your guns Premier Williams. no more give aways. god knows we seen enough of that for one life time. if they want it, pay for it. if not let it stay were it is."

"I think the Premier knows what he's at with this."

"The panic is with the oil companies who want to get at a cheap resource now and wish that the dynamic duo of Danny and Andy would just disappear."


"I do believe Premier williams is right on this one."
But over at The Telegram, where, unlike VOCM and elsewhere on the internets, the DannyFans don't have the cover of total, no-questions asked anonymity; and in a forum where the Eighth Floor hasn't yet figured out how to organize a spontaneous Danny-loving flood-fill; a totally different picture (and a well-informed one) emerged on the same day:
Robert Power from St. John's, NL writes: Talks about having talks? Expected to start in August you say? Uncanny timing, considering that the election is in October. I'll hold my applause until the province has something substantial to announce.

Mark from UAE, Duba writes: Having worked on offshore projects for the last 15 years including a couple of years in St.John’s I know for a fact that the risk is high , it’s the most challenging environment to develop a field . It’s not just the operator who decides , share holders and the banks need to be onboard or the project can’t be financed . Fields can be developed elsewhere for a fraction of the cost . The Province has everything to gain and nothing to lose if this goes ahead , but realistically I think this is just Danny Williams dangling a carrot for the voters.

Newfoundlander in Houston from Texas writes: The lukewarm applause described in this article is very telling. NOIA participants are being polite at best to even try to clap. The local industry in Newfoundland knows Danny is doing them no favors. During a period where Oil and Gas Companies are stretched for personnel and human resources to complete projects, they will work first on the sure bets and most economic. What is also telling in the article is that Chevron’s cost estimates are over a year old. Oilfield inflation in this market is now running 20-30%. Capital costs are rising and Hebron’s payout point is getting pushed further in the future. That means Newfoundland’s actual royalty potential is probably shrinking both in a real and nominal money terms. The average Newfoundland reader is thinking Danny is great and he is the fighter and savior of Newfoundland. I will give him credit as he is a master of the political system, but his approach to the oil and gas business in Newfoundland is doing the province no favors.

Tom from Singapore writes: I agree with comments from Newfoundlander from Houston Texas and Martin from Doha, Qatar. It will take years to repair the damage Dan Williams has inflected upon this province.....out migration at it's highest ever, fish plants closing, papermill closing, local Buisness scared to speak out in fear of loosing Government work etc, Fighting with everyone will get us no where.....slow down Dan, try a less confrontational approach.....uh uh God forbit, should one critize Dan Williams.

X. Pat from Toronto (like the rest), ON writes: Premier Danny Williams has done nothing but good for this Province It's easy to do nothing bad when you do nothing.

Dave from St. John's, NL writes: Recently, I've heard (and read) this premier continue to refer to the 8.5% stake the federal government has in Hibernia, and uses that fact to suggest that his demanding of 4.9% of Hebron is justified. Why doesn't the media and the industry explain this apples and oranges comparison. I'm sure the majority of Danny's loyal sheep either forgot, don't know or don't wish to know that the fed's 8.5% equity stake in Hibernia was purchased from Gulf Canada who had decided to pull out of the consortium, thus threatening the project. After several failed attempts by the remaining partners to find a buyer for Gulf Canada's stake, and since neither of the remaining partners were interested in increasing their stake, the Government of Canada stepped in and purchased it so that the project would be able to proceed. That is vastly different from the premier's demand that the Hebron partners, who have already assumed 100% of the risks and exploration costs, simply surrender to the province a percentage of their stakes.

David from Houston, TX writes: I'm tired of talk. Let's see some action. For some reason Eastern Canadian projects take a month of Sundays to get off the ground. Many of us would like to return to Nfld to work, but we can't survive on promises. Politics has put a strangle hold on too many projects. Premier Williams needs to put aside his ego and entice business to invest in our province.

Mark from Dubai, UAE writes: I’m not a big buddy to big oil , there has been plenty ups and downs but I’ve done very well out of them and right now I’ve never had it so good. It should be good times in the Province right now , it is a golden opportunity missed . Danny Williams has done nothing , he is a disaster for the Province & one day people will wake up and realize that but it will be too late. You only know what Danny tells you , don’t believe him he is very economical with the truth.

Newfoundlander In-Calgary from Alberta writes: A few general comments 1. I see nothing for optimism in Premier Williams comments. The Hebron team was disbanded and are now all doing other projects. They are NOT sitting around waiting for the call to come back. Its also telling that Chevron's studies are not fully updated since that would be a number of MONTHS of work before that can even talk seriously. If the premier really thinks he can get a deal now when he couldn't attain one when there was a project team rarin' to go with space already rented in St. John's-- what has changed [...] Its laughable to cite Hibernia as an example for Hebron. Gulf gace up their interest in Hibernia for NOTHING because they thought the project was too risky. Chevron and Mobil took on small additional shares and Murphy took a piece as well but 8.5% remained that they could find no one willing to take. The province turned it down. Finally the Canadian government took the share, solely to kick start the industry and paid 8.5% of costs on a go-forward basis. THis shows two things--First, the province asking for this share is convenient revisionism. Second, the Hibernia deal that has worked out so well was not seen as such a sweet deal by the oil companies at the time. But you win some and lose some. From Mobil's point of view, the did great at Hibernia but Sable (offshore NS) has been a huge disappointment. To cite a government stepping in when no one else would as some example why another government should force their way in when they were not needed
Same issue. Same day.

Different rules of debate.

Totally different outcomes.

Danny can't risk having voices of dissent emerge in the lead-up to the fall election, the one in which he hopes to pull a modern-day Smallwood '66, a Moores '72, a Peckford '82, or a Tobin '96.

He wants a near-sweep, if not a full one, and those voices of dissent — they are growing in number and in volume — are the only thing even remotely threatening him at this stage.

So perhaps it's just as well that Voice Of Cabinet Ministers is going a little quiet this summer. It could, after all, just as easily turn into Voice Of Critical Mutterings, or Voice Of Concerned Murmurs.

Now, if only there was some way of recalling the House to implement the Justice Green plan — as promised — without having to submit to Question Period, eh?

News from the Spontaneous Outrage Committee

Right on cue — and it is on cue; hi, 8th floor! — the Spontaneous Outrage Committee has been directing the usual Spontaneously Outraged suspects to express their Spontaneous Outrage about some of the late musings of the "mainland" press.

Latest target for the Lynch-Wente-Dolphin Periodical If Irregular Memorial Media Lynching?

Jeffrey Simpson of the — insert spitting noise or rude gesture here — Globe and Mail, come on down! You're the next contestant on Whatever You Said, It's Not Right.

Your crime? Saying things that many people say, in private, but are afraid to say in public.

Of course, this is all part of Mainland Media Anti-Newfoundland Campaign of Anti-Newfoundlandishness.

Except that it's not, for, among other reasons, that no such campaign exists.

Of course, everyone "knows" that Mainland Media are out to get poor little old us.

But the problem with something that everyone "knows" is that everyone gets selective in the evidence they gather.

Everyone remembers the offence they took at the words of Charles Lynch, Margaret Wente, Ric Dolphin. They were emailed around; faxed around before email; passed around before fax; read over the air into the echo chamber of Newfoundland nationalist outrage, possibly the easiest thing in the world to stir up.

Even today there are people who still won't touch the Globe and Mail because of "what that *&%$# Charles Lynch said in 1990"... even though Charles Lynch wrote for the Ottawa Citizen.

That'll larn 'em.

What no one remembers, though, in part because they weren't emailed, faxed, or passed around; in part because they don't meet the selection criteria for the self-selection process of the Spontaneous Outrage Committee and all its local cells; what no one remembers is the in-depth and sensitive coverage of Newfoundland, and even Labrador, by now-prominent national journalists like Barbara Yaffe in the Globe and Mail, during the early and mid-1980s.

No one remembers that back in the 1930s, the same Financial Post that is now often the target of Spontaneous Outrage Committee's Spontaneous Outrage, was the defender of poor little ol' Newfoundland against the stylings of Saturday Night.

And no one remembers that the Globe and Mail that it is now your Patriotic Duty to hate — hi, 8th floor! — ran the following editorial, and others like it, on May 5, 1984:
Legal, but unfair

The Supreme Court of Canada had no choice but to strike down Newfoundland's Reversion Act of 1980 as unconstitutional. The act was a thinly-veiled attempt to break the 1969 contract between Hydro-Quebec and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp. which led to the creation of North America's second-largest hydro plant in Labrador. However unfair that contract has turned out to be - and it is grossly unfair - the Supreme Court had no legal ground to let Newfoundland interfere with contract rights outside its territory.

We can't fault Newfoundland for trying. It finds itself burdened with a singularly outrageous contract, negotiated in unfavorable circumstances in the mid-sixties. Quebec Premier Jean Lesage had refused to let Newfoundland drive a power corridor across Quebec soil to deliver power to the United States, and seemed quite prepared to outwait Newfoundland on the terms of developing Churchill [sic] - an issue complicated by Quebec's reluctance to concede that Labrador is unquestionably Newfoundland territory.

What the Churchill Falls Corp. arranged, and what the Newfoundland Legislature ratified, was an agreement to sell almost all of the falls' 5,225-megawatt output to Hydro-Quebec at a modest rate for 65 years. If the agreement initially looked like a contract both sides could live with, so much so that Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood considered it a triumph of his political career, the effects of inflation and OPEC have made it untenable - a predictable consequence of signing a contract stretching halfway into the next century. Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford says Quebec now benefits by $790-million a year under the contract, re-selling the power to other provinces and to the U.S., while Newfoundland receives only $8-million.

The ball is in Quebec's court to restore some balance to a contract which is plainly iniquitous. Quebec Energy Minister Yves Duhaime says his province is willing to negotiate a package deal with Newfoundland involving other potential hydro-electric projects, particularly on the Lower Churchill River, but neither he nor Premier Rene Levesque will say whether Quebec, as a gesture of good faith, will raise the share of money Newfoundland receives under the existing contract. And that, surely, is where the matter should begin; to use the current inequities as bait to make Newfoundland sign additional contracts would inject a most unwelcome note of duress into the bargaining.

Mr. Peckford has appealed for help to the federal Government, which has the power, for example, to order a transmission corridor driven through Quebec to help Newfoundland unilaterally develop the Lower Churchill. We would prefer to think that Quebec, recognizing the justice of Newfoundland's claim as well as its financial woes, will have the grace to strike a reasonable bargain on its own, for the sake of future development and of its neighboring province.
There is no vast anti-Newfoundland mainland media campaign, just as, despite the best efforts of certain columnists, past and present, for the Telegram, there is no vast anti-Labrador one.

So just whose interests are being served when politicians and pundits try to convince the public that there is?

What is their ultimate goal in doing so?


The All-Newfoundland and Labrador Marblemouth Network

Recent ads or PSAs airing on VOCM, evidently produced in-house, contain phrases or words such as:
“We’ve all heard the phrase Dat Show” [urm - no, we haven’t]

“AIDS-related macular degeneration”
and the head of all, the delightful:


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


In his speech to ANNOIA today, Danny Williams uttered this nose-stretcher:

Given that success, it should be little surprise that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has determined that we want to have an equity participation in our own fields as we go forward.And let me clear up another misconception. We are not insisting on a free ride for our equity.

It's easy enough to see how that "misconception" could have arisen:

Danny Williams, Leader-designate of the Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party, says the Government of Canada should transfer its 8.5% share of the Hibernia project to Newfoundland and Labrador. [Glorious Leader press release, March 12, 2001]

A Progressive Conservative government will seek to acquire the federal government's shares in Hibernia as a way to increase benefits to the Province.

A federal-provincial agreement to transfer ownership of the shares could provide for the federal government to recover its equity investment in the project. That could be done in one of two ways: either Ottawa can wait until it has recovered the value of the investment before transferring its shares to the Province, or it can transfer the shares earlier and be reimbursed by the Province, up to the value of its investment, from future earnings. [Glorious Leader's platform, 2003]

Priorities, as Williams sees it, are for the province to become the true economic beneficiary as envisioned in the Atlantic Accord on offshore oil and gas and for the province to gain a stake in Hibernia... [St. John's Telegram, December 13, 2003]

Although [Ed] Byrne would not provide details, one element of the [PC government's economic] strategy is convincing Ottawa to transfer its 8.5 per cent ownership stake in the Hibernia project partnership to the province. "We want it. I believe, and we believe, that it should come to us... [Ed Byrne in the Western Star, December 16, 2003]

Danny Williams, the Premier of Newfoundland, has demanded the asset be handed over to his province, so it can enjoy a further interest in its own resource. [National Post, March 25, 2004]

"When I saw that Petro-Canada was announced as being up for sale I considered it positive the fact that Hibernia wasn't mentioned," Williams said from St. John's, Nfld. "The fact that it wasn't there indicates that it may be part of an overall compensation package to Newfoundland and Labrador." [Canadian Press, March 29, 2004]

Canada’s 8.5 per cent ownership stake in the Hibernia project – an entirely different kind of public investment – should be transferred to Newfoundland and Labrador which currently has no ownership role at all in its principal offshore petroleum project. [Glorious Leader, July 1, 2004]

Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, complicated the matter last year when he asked Prime Minister Paul Martin to "return" its stake in Hibernia, located 300 kilometres east of St. John's, to his province so it could enjoy benefits from the oil industry. [National Post, February 16, 2005]

Even today, Newfoundland Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne maintains that Canada's share of Hibernia should be transferred to the province. [Western Standard, May 2, 2005]

Prior to being elected, the Danny Williams government expressed its intent to acquire the federal government’s Hibernia share. [Newfoundland People's Separatist Weekly, July 17, 2005]

“Our position before was that they should transfer it to us,” says Williams... [Newfoundland People's Separatist Weekly, October 23, 2005]

Does your party support the transfer or sale of the Federal Government's share in Hibernia to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador provided the Federal Government is kept whole on their expected return at the time of their initial investment? [Glorious Leader's Glorious Letter, 2005/06 federal election]

And especially, because, just seconds before, in Danny's same speech to ANNOIA, he said:

The idea of participation of the producing jurisdictions having some degree of ownership in its own oil fields is not a radical idea. Rather, it is normal state of affairs within the industry worldwide. We have an example right here in our own backyard with the Government of Canada's 8.5% equity interest in Hibernia. This percentage in no way impedes the private operating partner's ability to reap large profits from this project.

To date Hibernia alone has produced approximately $15 billion with over $1.2 billion to Newfoundland and Labrador, over $4.8 billion for Canada, and approximately $8.8 billion for industry.

In fact, the Government of Canada has recouped its investment three-fold to date; a good time, I think, for Ottawa to give its equity interest and MPI benefit to the province.


More from Chairman Dan's speech to ANNOIA:
The only thing probably more insulting is that in a province where 80% of eastern Canada's discovered oil and gas resources are located, and where we produce almost 50% of Canada's conventional light crude oil, there is absolutely zero Natural Resource Canada employment presence in this province.

In fact, the Canada Hibernia Holding Company is located in Alberta, a slap in the face to a province that contributes over one billion dollars a year to federal coffers in oil revenue.
Voisey's Bay Nickel has 25 corporate jobs in St. John's, and none in Labrador, a region that contributes over $200-million to provincial coffers in mineral revenue. Danny, is that a slap in the face to Labrador? Why or why not?

Labrador generally far outstrips Newfoundland in terms of annual mineral exploration expenditures and claims staked, and over 96% of the annual mineral output of the province. Yet the Department of Natural Resources Mines Branch is concentrated in St. John's. Danny, is that a slap in the face to Labrador? Why or why not?


From Glorious Leader's speech to NOIA — or is it still ANNOIA? — via OffalNews:

Welcome to the place where the sun rises first in North America - but notice I said rises, not necessarily shines...

I have said before that I was absolutely fed up with the record of giveaways and bad deals that has been our province's history.

What probably irritates me most of all is that we continue to listen to central Canadian editorialists and armchair critics decry the nerve and audacity of the welfare recipients in Newfoundland and Labrador looking for more than our fair share.
Boy, but that Danny Williams... he's so... so... negative, isn't he?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Crack research

Sue Kelland-Dyer, having recently emerged from self-imposed radio silence, spoke out last night on Nightline with Linda Swain.

Once again, she demonstrated her incomparable research skills:

Ottawa, or the federal government, is simply an institution, it owns no resources other than what they’ve taken from us offshore. It’s not a body, I guess, if you want to call it that, we have provinces and together we’ve joined together for a federation, and we call it Canada.
OK, so much for SKD’s knowledge of both the constitution and fiscal federalism. (The offshore is what’s keeping the federal government afloat?)

But it gets better:
But all of the jobs relative to that federation, whadda we say, seventy percent are in Ontario and Quebec.
Er – no.

According to Public Service Agency statistics, the "National Capital Region", and Ontario and Quebec not otherwise accounted for as part of the NCR, have 64.6% of public service jobs in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador, by the way, has 2.1%.

Statistics Canada figures for federal public-sector employment (a larger class than the federal public service) puts the Ontario and Quebec combined share of federal jobs even lower, at 62.0%. Newfoundland and Labrador accounts for 1.9%.

In other words, federal public-sector employment in Ontario and Quebec is therefore lower than those two provinces’ share of the national population.

And Newfoundland and Labrador’s is higher.

But of course these statistics do not mesh with the SKD and Newfoundland nationalist orthodoxy that NL is somehow short-changed in terms of federal government employment. She even goes so far as to say:

...when it comes to Crown corporations, we have none. Even PEI has one, we have none. So we don’t have the headquarters here in Newfoundland and Labrador for anything.
Marine Atlantic is a Crown corporation.

A federal Crown corporation.

It is headquartered at 10 Fort William Place, Suite 802, Baine Johnston Centre, St. John's, NL, A1C 1K4.

As part of her crack research, she being a superb researcher and all, SKD should swing by some time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Territorial integrity

Townie nationalist and culture vulture Kevin Noble calls into The Daily Two-Hour Hate today in response to Sue Kelland-Dyer's clarion call for separation in Saturday's Telegram. ("The only way for Newfoundland and Labrador is to find people who have the courage to lead a separatist movement and become the economic powerhouse we can be.")

Challenged by Bill Rowe that maybe Labrador wouldn't be so keen on this whole separatism (from Canada, anyway) thing, Noble responds:

The way I feel about it, you hear that talk, and Labrador has been short-changed over the years, they haven't gotten their fair share, but there' s something about Newfoundland and Labrador that's inseparable, historically, and as a matter of mutual pride, I think that would take quite a jarring.
Canada is divisible, but Newfoundland and Labrador is not divisible.

Now where, oh where, have we heard this type of thing before?

Next up: the Newfoundland nationalists and crypto-separatists will start airing their historic grievances over losing the North Shore, Anticosti, and the Magdalen Islands.

Blame Canada

From the PEI Guardian on Saturday comes this tidbit:

Prince Edward Island Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Allan Campbell said Friday he is strongly opposed to cuts in the province's share of the halibut fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Earlier this week, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced an increase in the 2007 total allowable catch, but Prince Edward Island's share is being reduced to 1.46 per cent, or approximately five metric tonnes. Last year, Island fishermen landed 13 tonnes.


Campbell said that the increase in the total allowable catch should be shared equally in the region. Most of the increase this year goes to the Newfoundland and Quebec fleets.
Coming soon: an existential crisis, a massive rally on the Charlottetown waterfront, and the start of a campaign by PEI radio hosts and self-appointed experts on everything to separate from Canada. Down with the bridge! We brought the halibut into Confederation, etc.!

Fraser March

Hooray for Fraser March! Hooray for democratic choice!

Socially conservative Newfoundland separatists who want someone to champion their EI claims, and who think Fraser was robbed by the House of Assembly, finally, finally, have a place to mark their X. They are Fraser March's kind of people!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Danny Williams is now guaranteed a top-fifteen finish.

Stimulating the private sector, or not

It's been fun watching the Thompson-Wabush thingie play out.

June 6: Consolidated Thompson announces it conditional purchase of Wabush Mines [.pdf link]. The release refers to the company's prior "consultation with the Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec and the employees of Wabush Mines." No mention is made of the role of Great Negotiator™ in the transaction. No worries though. It's covered

June 7, later: Labrador Affairs Minister John Hickey rises in the House on a Ministerial Statement:

Premier Williams engaged both Consolidated Thompson and Cleveland Cliffs, Stelco and Dofasco during the negotiating process to expedite a deal...

However, early in 2007, Consolidated Thompson announced that it had ended its negotiations on the purchase of Wabush Mines. Our government was very disappointed with that news; yet, we remained optimistic as the door was left open for future talks.

As our government firmly believed there were significant opportunities to be realized through a partnership with the operations of Wabush Mines and the Bloom Lake project, we were not prepared to give up and let the prospect of such an arrangement pass by. It was our view that a successfully negotiated arrangement would add to the life of Wabush Mines.

The Premier personally intervened and spoke with representatives of Consolidated Thompson in early February at which time he impressed upon them the benefits of continuing to hold discussions in an effort to secure a deal.

Today, we are seeing the results of how that direct intervention by our government helped to pave the way for an announcement that a deal has been reached.
June 6, moments later: Critic Yvonne Jones throws a little cold water on this version of events:
Mr. Speaker, what makes me grin in this statement is how the government is desperately trying to take credit for the consolidation of this particular deal and the purchase of Wabush Mines.

Mr. Speaker, we know that these are two very prominent mining companies in the country and I am certainly sure that they did not need the intervention of the government to see the real capital and fiscal benefits of being able to do this.
June 7: The Ministry of Truth reports the pointcounterpoint:
Tories Take Credit for Wabush Mine Sale
June 7, 2007

Government is patting itself on the back for helping secure the tentative sale of Wabush Mines to Consolidated Thompson. The company has some ambitious plans set out for Labrador West, including upgrading the mining facilities at Wabush to produce high-quality iron ore concentrate from the Bloom Lake deposit and Scully Mine at a rate exceeding eight million tonnes a year. Current production stands at under five million tonnes annually. Labrador Affairs Minister John Hickey says the deal was off the rails until government got involved. Hickey says the premier personally intervened and spoke with representatives of Consolidated Thompson, impressing upon them the benefits of continuing with the negotiations.

Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones is pleased with the sale but says government's attempt to take credit is laughable. Jones says both companies are giants in the mining world and didn't need this province to point out the benefits of such a deal.
June 10: Ngaire Genge reports for 53 North that:
[Steelworkers Local 6285 president Jim] Skinner doubts the provincial government had any real impact on the discussions. “We talked to the department, and they had no idea what we were talking about. We talked, of course, to Consolidated, and they have no idea either.”

Calls to the Premier’s Office revealed no clearer role. Said their representative, “There is no further information than is in the release.”
June 11: In an interview with The Aurora, Minister Hickey says:

Minister Hickey: Obviously there is a 90-day thing there and obviously there is a lot of due diligence that has got to be played here. But I think what Mr. Skinner and what the people of Wabush and people of Labrador West must know…this [deal] was off the rails. Premier Williams got it back on the rails and left the door opened to get it back. We have been in talks with the company [Consolidated Thompson] to encourage them to look at the Wabush option and now they have come back with a proposal to do it. I don’t understand why people have got to be negative about it. It’s a very positive story for Wabush and for Labrador West. It’s positive for the whole region. This will give Wabush Mines a whole new life. I am disappointed with Mr. Skinner’s take on it but you know at the end of the day I am certainly not negotiating this deal or involved in the negotiations. ...

The Aurora: Have you heard anything at all from Dofasco as to what their intentions are?

Minister Hickey: I have not talked to Dofasco, no.


The Aurora: Can you do anything to speed up the process…as in can you approach them and ask what their intentions are?

Minister Hickey: All I am saying is, I am not going to get down into the middle of deal not with any of these companies. I mean they will work this out themselves. I don’t think it’s my job as a minister to get into all that. What I am saying is we are very happy this is back on track and we will let the due process take its course. I think it’s great news. I know that people try to shed negative comments you know, which happens over there from time to time. But, hey, this thing was off the rails and it’s back on now. I am looking at it with a great deal of optimism.
The narrow questions out of all of this are, why would the provincial government try and claim credit, if, indeed, it had no real involvement in what seems to be a corporate transaction? Why the changing stories?

The broader question is: has it never occured to anyone, in any provincial government, of any political stripe, that if they stopped taking the credit for business success, then, over time, they might stop getting blamed, or at very least get blamed less, for business failure?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Really, though

Where is  Mr. Fair Deal now?


Wade Locke, ThoughtCriminal:

"It's time for us to move on here, guys," Locke told a Rotary luncheon in St. John's Thursday.

"We need to develop the White Rose extension and we need to have Hibernia South go forward. That's in our interest to do."
The reaction of the 8th Floor, which not so long ago canonized St. Wade of the Can Openers, should be fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sage, if belated, advice

Mr. Speaker leaves the House of Assembly with these words of wisdom:

Speaker Leaves Suggestions
June 14, 2007

The speaker of the House of Assembly may be leaving politics, but not without some suggestions for the leguslature. Harvey Hodder, known to run a stop-watch on questions and answers in the legislature, offered some advice on House administration. He suggests a maximum of 45 seconds for questions and responses during Question Period.
Very sensible.

But on May 17, Hodder's stopwatch must have been missing or malfunctioning.

Or, in the alternative, it was present and working, but Kelvin Parsons and Danny Williams are both professional auctioneers, capable of delivering 6.8 words per second in their questions, and an astonishing 10.8 words per second in their answers, respectively.

Even by the machine-gun standards of the more rapid-fire of Newfoundland accents, that's fast talkin'.

Locke on economics

It was most interesting, in the weeks following the hasty and necessary revision of his economic analysis back in April, to hear the Spontaneous Callers of Dannystan, spontaneously calling in to the usual radio shows, to decry the treatment at the hands of the nefarious federal government, of Our Dear and Well-Belovèd Economist Dr. Wade Locke.

It will be even more interesting, in the weeks ahead, to hear the radio scripts, now that the good Dr. of Economics has stated the obvious, if heretical: that the best way for the provincial treasury to benefit from the offshore oil and gas resource, is to develop it by moving on Hibernia South and Hebron-Ben Nevis.


Any day now, all those proud Newfoundlanders, who are passionate about the sacred principle of adjacency, will be blockading the Marine Atlantic ferry at Port aux Basques, to prevent shrimp from being trucked...  in.

And soon thereafter, Nova Scotia will pass anti-Bill Barry legislation.

Rodney MacDonald will be heard to say, "What we've tried to do is make sure that there wasn't a quick flip on this, and that this wasn't perceived or was a sham for some takeover by Bill Barry or anybody else, at the end of the day." Or something like that.

From the CBC today:

Laid-off Canso workers cry foul over shrimp trucking
Last Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2007 2:38 PM NT
CBC News

Unemployed fish plant workers in a Nova Scotia town are angry that shrimp landed in their community is being trucked to eastern Newfoundland for processing.

The Seafreez plant in Canso has been idle for several years, even though shrimp is still being landed locally.

"We believe that anything caught here should be processed here," said plant worker Kathy Dorrington, who punched in 27 years at the plant under different owners.

"It's a very sad state of affair that's going on right now in this area. … We have no hope."

The shrimp is being trucked to a plant in Clarenville, in eastern Newfoundland.

Free comms advice

Danny Williams has used a clever talking point lately in whining whiningly, and at length, about the content of certain "unsigned editorials" in various daily newspapers.

How dare they, says he, question or contradict me? Don't they know who I am?

Memo to Danny Williams, a very intelligent man who shows, on frequent occasions, the true value of a Rhodes Scholarship: Editorials are always unsigned.

If it's signed, it's not an editorial. It's a column or an op-ed. An editorial, properly called, it is not.

An editorial, you see, is an opinion piece which emanates from the paper. Its "author" is the masthead. (Which explains why "unsigned editorials" annoy the Boss so. It makes it that much harder to figure out who to call up and berate for questioning the Gospel According to St. Dan.)

This rule tends to go out the window with weeklies, campus papers, etc. But for a quality, daily, newspaper, its lack of a signature is one of the defining things that makes an editorial an editorial.

Perhaps one of the many comms assistants — surely, some of them came from the ranks of the wretchedly ink-stained — in the provincial government can explain this, in small words that he can understand, to Glorious™ Rhodes Scholar... if they dare correct, contradict, or gainsay the Great Man™.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This just in

From VOCM News:

Premier Angered by Budget Vote
Jun 13, 2007

Premier Danny Williams is not in a good mood today following last night's vote on the budget, calling the Newfoundland Conservative MPs traitors. Williams says the vote made his stomach turn and his skin crawl.

Danny Williams.


Not in a good mood.


Since when does that qualify as "news"?


In his report from the legislature tonight on CBC Radio, David Cochrane repeats the lie — and it is a lie — that Danny Williams stayed out of the last federal election.

Well, maybe a Danny Williams stayed out of the last federal election.

But this Danny Williams, and this Danny Williams, certainly didn't stay out of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

All across the island

The provincial decides it needs a "Status of the Artist" policy.

Bad enough.

Then it convenes a committee from all across Newfoundland and Newfoundland to hash the idea out.

Labrador is an integral part of the province.


"Who would imagine," asks Danny shill Janice Wells on Open Line this morning, "that the Prime Minister of Canada would act like a dictator and do whatever he thought of doing?"

Not so far-fetched to anyone who's familiar with, say, the promise-breaking actions of Premiers who "do whatever they think of doing."

Discretion: the better part of valour, when it suits

Danny Williams, The Greatest Lawyer in the Universe, is quoted by Jennifer Ditchburn of CP tonight:

"To go on into the courts and to deal with that on an extended basis, that's not the answer... There's going to be a federal election before there'll be a Supreme Court of Canada decision, and that's my goal."
Too bad Max Ruelokke didn't have the same luxury.

And while we're on the subject of the hypocrisy of legal strategies, why is Harper so keen to test the Atlantic Accord and equalization in court... but not, say, the constitutionality of his Senate bills?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sage advice

"We have a responsibility to the public airwaves, and that is that we do have to make a little tiny bit of sense." — Bill Rowe, VOCM Cracktalk, Monday, June 11th, 2007.

"If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all." — Cynthia the Tory, shortly after not taking her own advice, ibid.

No stopping Ron Smith

Ron Smith is "for support our troops."

Ron Smith is against the Taliban.

Yay, Ron Smith!

Another Tory crackerjack

Danny Bath, PC nomination contestant in some other district, has a crackerjack platform that even puts Ron Smith's to shame.

Danny Bath has just used his four minutes to proclaim — and boy, this is a novel idea — that even though he's from one particular community, if elected, he will treat all areas of his district equally.

Furthermore, he wants to address the issues, deal with them, and get the government involved.

Where have people like Danny Bath been all along?

Danny Williams, watch out! With clever whippersnappers like Danny Bath nipping at your heels, you have much to fear.

To his credit, Mr. Bath did have one intriguing idea: that power from the so-called Lower Churchill could be used to create industries and jobs — or, as one of Danny (Williams') plants is fond of saying, "economies" — in his central Newfoundland district.

What would John Hickey say to that?

Or, for that matter, Danny Williams?

"We will not develop the Lower Churchill unless the primary beneficiaries are Labradorians," Williams told a campaign stop in Goose Bay in October 2003. "You have my assurance on that."

NOT(X) = X

When someone protests, perhaps a little too much, that something isn't X, then the chances that that something is X go up substantially.

E.g.: The first caller on VOCM tonight protested that "it's not like I've got Danny Williams' office calling me and telling me what to say on the air", or words to that effect; the second caller in the past two weeks to make that same, very curious, pre-emptive protest.

Further e.g.: When a rally-organizing contract-losing government-suing caller protests that "this is not about showing support for Danny Williams", or words very nearly to that effect, it is, in fact, about showing support for Danny Williams.

It is a general rule, not quite infallible, but pretty close: when someone claims that something is NOT(X), your antennae should be vibrating, and you should start assuming that that something = X.

Spontaneous show of spontaneous spontaneity

It's fascinating to hear well-known provincial PC Party Dannyfan after well-known provincial PC Party Dannfan, lo, this past week or so, lining up on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth, using the word "corrupt" to describe Stephen Harper or the federal Tories, and protesting that "even though I've always voted X, this time I think I'll give the NDP a chance."


Utterly fascinating.

And, of course, totally, absolutely, 100% spontaneous.

What jaded, cynical person could ever doubt it?

A man of the people

Ron Smith, PC nomination contestant in some district or another, has come up with a novel new platform, something never, ever, done before, which he hopes will catapult him into his party's nomination and then the House of Assembly.

As he just outlined on VOCM, for nearly his full four minutes, when people call him, if he's not available, he will call them back.

It's astounding that no one has ever thought of this before.

If he wins the nomination on this innovative and quirky campaign gimmick, rumour is his election campaign is going to go even further:

As MHA, he will pledge to show up for votes and attend committee meetings.

Ron Smith: innovator, man of the people.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Party's latest catch

Another fascinating tidbit via Greg Locke, from MigraTory nomination contestant Robert Jeans:

The Newfoundland tradition is that you are born with your political stripe. You come into the world as a Tory or Grit. Jeans says he has been pretty much a PC all his life but admits, that in Newfoundland there really isn't much difference politically and feels those days are, hopefully, over.

A Danny Williams The Party candidate expresses a fervent hope for one-party rule.

Adding insult to insult

Greg Locke's take on the "Danny Chavez" article by Dirk DeCloet in the Globe and Mail that's created the usual Psychodrama of the Week in NewfNat circles:

Maybe we won't have to be insulted with more stories about how Newfoundland's economy is "leading the country"...
No, instead "we" can be insulted with stories about how the economy is tanking.

Or about how it is often foggy or rainy.

Or how "Newfoundland" is a twelve-letter word with three syllables.

In fact, it would seem that, for as long as there have been "mainland newspapers", no matter what they print, the usual jingo suspects will take offense and whip up psychodramatic hysteria:
In an article conspicuously displayed in the Toronto Saturday Night of June 10th, the writer, who is described in the headnote as “an able scientist and economist who is well acquainted with conditions,” and who signs himself “Islander,” has little to say to the credit of Newfoundland or its people. He expresses the opinion that the natural resources upon the development of which the islanders rely for economic recovery are chimeras. No one, says the writer, “has as yet deliberately pricked the bubble of delusion and shown the people the true limitations of their inheritance.” Speaking of the country’s administration, he declares that Newfoundland has never been wisely governed, and that “every inch of progress has been accompanied by acts of either gross incompetence or downright fraud.” The people are accused to have been as busy as their representatives in looting the Treasury. Throughout the whole article, there is little to suggest that Newfoundland or the people had any redeeming virtues and there was little hope of further progress or prosperity...

it can only be inferred that Saturday Night, either by accident or for some unaccountable reason has permitted a writer with some grudge against the Dominion to avail of its pages to vent his spleen upon us.
Tune into the Ministry of Truth tonight for a full dose of "confuting of traducers".

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More separatism from Comrade Rowe

Having never met a separatist movement, or a political partition, real or hypothetical, he didn't like, Comrade Bill Rowe takes out his crayons and writes in this week's column for The Telegram:

In Bratislava, I asked some Slovakians how their little country was doing after their separation from the former Czechoslovakia. Great, they said, because Slovakia is finally able to attract investment and industry that would have gone before to the powerful Czech part of the union.

Food for thought there for this little province?
"Food for thought," indeed.

Comrade Rowe's Newfoundland nationalist-imperialist fanbase had better hope that this idea, or his previous column almost convincingly arguing in favour of Labrador's secession from Dannystan, don't get wider circulation in the "little" Labrador part of the province.

Who knows what the outcome might be for the "powerful Newfoundland part of the union"?

Finding fault

The ink was barely dry on the Green report before Danny's Plants were lighting up the airwaves and the internets with their avant lui, le déluge revisionist history.

From the VOCM Question of the Day, a brief sampling:

Don: "If it was not for Danny Williams, this mess would never have been cleaned up. Thank you Danny for helping protect my tax dollars from the Liberals."

General Lumpfish: "Way to go Premier Williams and Team! You are continuing to clean up the mess left by years of Liberal corruption."

Brian: "Yes, I support it completely. As usual, the Tories are left to clean up the mess left behind by the previous Liberal government. I'm sure the premier will do an excellent job here. It's time for the Liberal party to take responsibility and apologize to the people of NL for their role in creating this situation."

Fair Share: "Hats off to Danny Williams for cleaning up something that has been there for years in the reign of both past Liberal and P.C. governments."

Stella: "thank goodness this gov't lead by Mr. Williams is cleaning up the mess not only in the House of Assembly but in the province as a whole."
There's just one pesky problem with the thesis that Danny Williams, Glorious Leader, is cleaning up a mess bequeathed to him by the Grimes and Tobin governments, or at least solely by them.

It's not factual.

Check out this chart, lifted from p. 3-19 of the Green Report, copyright warning notwithstanding (infringement suit welcome):

As Mr. Justice Green writes on the same page on which the chart appears:

No conclusion can be drawn from this analysis other than that, for the last number of years, the “revised” expenditure projections for the MHAs’ Allowances and Assistance account, reported in the estimates tabled in the House with the budget, have underestimated the amount that was actually spent. The extent of the difference has been most pronounced in 2004-05 and 2005-06, when the ultimate variances from the revised estimates reported to the House were in the order of $500,000.

[Emphasis added.]

In 2004-05, and 05-06, the Speaker of the House, the majority of the House of Assembly and of the membership of the Internal Economy Commission, the Premier and his cabinet, were all Progressive Conservatives, not Liberals, Dippers, or Communists.

And, as the graph very clearly shows, the "variance" between what was spent in Allowances and Assistance, and what was budgeted, got progressively worse during the Danny Williams years, and even blew the previous record for overspending — that recorded in 1999 — out of the water.

Two years running.

It is true that, to the extent that the spending scandal stems from decisions made during the Tobin and Grimes years, the current House of Assembly and current government are left to clean it up.

But it is equally true that they are cleaning up their own mess, too.

Funny, though, how a government, and its designated, talking-point armed apologists, for all their pretty rhetoric about "autonomy", "responsible government", and "standing on our own two feet", are so keen, whenever an opportunity presents itself, to shift the blame.

You would think the provincial motto, or at least the PC Party one, should be replaced with "Nobis non est lapsus."

"Through no fault of our own."