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

Monday, August 27, 2007

When bunfights turn sinister

The continuing, and evolving, bunfight on Geoff Meeker's Telegram blog, Meeker on Media, starting with a mis-communication over a letter by Simon Lono, had been an amusing bit of inside baseball.

Until now.

Today, Craig Westcott posted a lengthy rejoinder to comments by Peter Jackson of the Telegram. In his comments, Westcott makes the following assertion. He readily and properly admits it's just one side of the story, and he can't verify it... but still:
Because of some columns I wrote regarding the premier's handling of the FPI matter and his lowering of the Canadian flag during the Atlantic Accord debate, his press secretary has blacklisted me from having any interviews with Danny Williams. As well, a representative of one of our advertisers told a representative of The Business Post during the OTC oil conference in Houston in May that someone from the premier's office had called his company asking that it pull its advertising in this paper. I never checked the veracity of that claim and cannot vouch for it. But as readers of The Business Post know, there has been a glaring lack of government advertising in the paper.

The darkest sides of Joey Smallwood and Maurice Duplessis yet walk the earth.

And as for the incumbent in office? Well.... he is on record as having said:
Mr. Speaker, I respect freedom of the press, and I respect the opinions of any columnist who sees fit to write and express an opinion on anything that we are doing.
If that is the case, and if Westcott's story is true, then surely Mr. Williams will deal appropriately with that "someone from the Premier's office".

Word count is your friend (2)

The Hon. Trevor Taylor, R2D2, has released a bit more information from behind the cone of silence, concerning the fibre optic cable project.

The "Summary of Contract" appended to the press release runs to 551 words, meaning that the public now has access to more information on a $15-million project than on a $15-billion one.

For reference, there are 1000 millions in a (North American) billion.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don't wait up

The Ministry of Truth reports today:
Campaigning To Begin Soon
Aug 26, 2007

It looks like the campaign for the October 9th election will get officially underway sometime in mid-September. Premier Danny Williams isn't giving an exact date yet on when he plans to visit Lieutenant Governor Ed Roberts to ask him to dissolve the House of Assembly. Williams says he expects it will be on or close to September 17th.
And not a moment too soon! Especially not considering that, campaigning or no campaigning, the voting has already begun.

Is there any truth at all to the rumour that the next set of "reforms" to the Elections Act will involve authorizing CEO to announce the final results before the campaigning or the voting begin?

Long-term forecasting

Jim W. Walker, in the Amarillo (Texas) Globe Times of May 11, 1967, wrote:
A peak production of about 12 million barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids in 1975 was forecast today at the 37th annual meeting of the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association.

The forecast was made by Kenneth E. Hill with Eastman Dillon Union Securities & Co. of New York...


Hill said, "With demand continuing to grow at high rates, we should reasonably expect stability in crude prices and perhaps even continued, modest improvements unless government action intervenes."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Yeah, out of their *hats*

Russell Wangersky, who mustn't have gotten to Salmonier this week, writes in his Saturday column:
So, everyone who’s talking about this proto-deal — except the government itself — is essentially making judgments based on the premier’s speaking notes and his answers to questions.

So, pardon me, other pundits — but everyone who’s talking about this deal is talking right straight out of their hat.
It's good to know that Danny's word isn't good enough for everyone, especially not those who buy ink by the barrel and newsprint by the tonne.


Kathy Dunderdale, designated attack poodle on the file (in Paul Oram's absence, perhaps?), offered up an interesting excuse as to why Danny Williams sacrificed his formerly sacrosanct belief in accountability, and transparency, and all that rot, in his eagerness to get a pre-election Hebron "deal".

On Thursday's Here and Now, she said that the companies insisted on it.

They "felt strongly" about it.

So Danny was willing to sacrifice one of his supposedly inviolable principles of government up to his adversaries across the bargaining table.

Danny, to use a familiar phrase, has become a Big Buddy to Big Oil.

Obviously, Big Oil has some influence on St. John's.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Word count is your friend

Danny Williams, speaking about the Voisey's Bay deal, said in the House of Assembly, on June 19, 2002:
I was really surprised today, Mr. Speaker, in my last question to the hon. the Premier. It was a sincere offer, by myself and by the members of the Opposition, to help, because that is what we wanted to do. I said to the Premier: We have the benefit of all of our research, we have gone through the Statement of Principles and we have constructive suggestions as to how this deal could be improved. I wrote the Premier on two separate occasions and I asked him to delay the vote tomorrow on this Statement of Principles. I asked him to give us all the documentation, not eighteen pages, not a couple of percent of the documentation. I asked him to give it all to us, every single bit of it, and postpone that vote until September 30 and allow us to work with the Premier, to work with the Minister of Mines and Energy, to work with the Minister of Justice, to sit down and work on the documents to try and improve them, to try and make them the best possible documents for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He rejected that offer and I, for the life of me, cannot understand why he would reject that offer.


What he said in this Legislature yesterday and what he has said publicly outside this Legislature — with respect to the Statement of Principles he said — and when I asked him and I was talking about giving us more information, giving us the other documentation, giving us the final document that this Statement of Principles will be based on, giving us all the other agreements that are contained in the Statement of Principles, they refused to provide that to us. They have refused to provide the definitive and binding agreements. When he was asked how they would compare to those other documents he said: Nothing will be added to this Statement of Principles. He is categorically on the record as saying: There will only be eighteen pages of documentation to take care of a $50-plus billion project. Those are your exact words, Premier.

He also said nothing will be deleted. No additions, no deletions. On the public airwaves he said, "This is the full deal." Those are his exact words. "Nothing is going to change." Those are his exact words. He also said: Every eventuality has been covered off. This covers it all. This is full protection for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, this eighteen-page document.

I have done a lot of transactions, Mr. Speaker, some for myself, some for clients of mine, and I can tell you that a transaction of this magnitude would have documentation stacked three feet, to the top of that desk, before we started on it; I can tell you right now. Eighteen pages to cover a deal like this is absolutely disgraceful.

Mr. Speaker, we have to make tough decisions, we have to stand firm. When it comes to making decisions, we have to stand up. We cannot just do the things that may appear to be popular at a given point in time. That is the position that we find ourselves in. We are standing up for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and we are trying to make this a better deal, but we are not getting the information from this government that is not open, this government that is not accountable, and this government that is not transparent. We are in the dark, we do not have all the information, and it is impossible for us to make a responsible decision on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles, released in its entirety on June 11, 2002, including headings, totals 6,068 words.

The backgrounder to Danny Williams' August 22, 2007, press release regarding Hebron-Ben Nevis — the only documentation which has been released on the deal — including headings, totals 435 words.

Admittedly, the figure that has been bandied about for the value of Hebron is $16-billion, about a third of the $50-billion the Premier has attributed to Voisey's Bay. Proportionately, then, you'd expect that the Hebron MOU — the one that no one is allowed to see — to weigh in at about 2,000 words, if the value of the project is somehow keyed to the prolixity, verbosity, and wordiness of the lawyers involved in making it happen.

Or, alternatively, going by Danny's previous experience as his clients' super-awesome lawyer, there should be a one-foot stack on someone's desk.

"Above all else," Danny Williams said, "a government must be accountable and responsive to the people. Elected officials are the people's representatives, the people's voice, and must at all times act in the best interests of the Province as a whole. In particular, financial accountability and transparency is critical to any successful and effective government. It is a profound and significant responsibility which we as an elected body must never lose sight of, as ultimately our decisions determine the future course of Newfoundland and Labrador. My government will provide real financial management, real transparency, and real accountability."


Real transparency, there, Danny.

Democracy (Death)Watch

Seriously: Duff Conacher, Democracy Watchcat got your eyes, ears, and tongue?

Judgement Day

At some point in 2002 — no one seems to know exactly when or where — Danny Williams said that "Any lawyer worth a grain of salt could drive a Mack truck through" the Voisey's Bay deal.

In a May 6, 2002 PC party press release, he said, "The people need to know that the government is about to sign a bad deal."

In a bout of dyspepsia — the poor man suffers from it frequently, and ought to have it seen to — he told the House of Assembly on June 19th of that year:

For the last two days I have been going around — and I feel it tonight — with a sick, nauseated feeling in my stomach, that feeling that you have when something wrong is about to happen, something terribly wrong. The reason I find I have that feeling in my stomach is that the reason I personally got involved in politics was to stop the giveaways. In my address in April of last year the main theme of the address was to stop the giveaways - enough is enough - to stop giving away the resources of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give these resources back to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.


I cannot vote for this resolution because a vote for this resolution, in my opinion, is a vote for a giveaway, and I believe that we can do much better than this eighteen page Statement of Principles.

He really ought to have taken some Rolaids, telling reporters the next day:

"I've got to tell you I felt worse today and that's the truth... I still have that same feeling based on the statement of principles that we have before us, that we've done something wrong here... It's a terrible document. It's the worst legal document I have ever seen. It's not even a legal document because it's not legally enforceable."
Speaking of the proposed Lower Churchill development in the House on November 21, 2002, he used the V-word as a pejorative:

I do agree with the Premier on one thing: It is Voisey’s Bay two and it is, in fact, Churchill River number two as well.
On December 11, he used the dreaded G-word:

Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that the Premier has decided not to play Santa Claus for Quebec this Christmas I thought we would move from the Lower Churchill to another gift, another giveaway, Voisey’s Bay.
And the next day, he filed through his vast legal knowledge and long and successful career, pronouncing:

Mr. Speaker, in my thirty years of looking at legal documents, I have never seen a force majeure clause as open-ended as this one.
On September 30, 2003, during an election campaign stop in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, PC leader Danny Williams said, "the Voisey's Bay deal was over-sold, over-hyped; Premier Grimes sold out."

Last year, he was citing the Voisey's Bay deal as the reason Inco could commit the mortal sin of moving its smelter from one location in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, to another location, a few miles away, also in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. As Craig Jackson reported in the Telegram of January 21, 2006:

Williams said the fact is the Voisey's Bay agreement was signed by the former Liberal government.

The Tories, who were in Opposition at the time, publicly stated "you can drive a truck through it," the premier said.

Williams said Inco is using clauses contained within the agreement "to pull back out of Argentia."

The former Liberal government, which Reid was a member, also agreed to a confidentiality clause which "puts a piece of duct tape over our mouths," Williams said.

It restricts government from releasing any information on the matter, he said.

"To say that, you know, we've known about this for awhile and we can't disclose information, we're living by the terms of a poorly-negotiated agreement," Williams said.

On April 3, 2006, the Premier again cited the Voisey's Bay deal to imply that something was wrong with it:

Now, I am not going to go back and start to talk about the possible Lower Churchill deal that you were going to do, or Voisey’s Bay, and the implications of that, and where that has gone for the people of Placentia and Argentia, and where that is all at. Let’s just leave that.
And, less than a year ago, CP reported:

Williams said he believes the Toronto-based Inco, which is about to be bought by Brazilian mining company Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, will live up to its obligations. But the premier added he has long been worried Inco may eventually back out.

"I've had the concern all along because of the weak agreement that's been signed here," Williams said Thursday...

"I'm disappointed," Williams said. "Now it looks like things are going to start to lean towards moving to Long Harbour ... It's not something this government wants to do, however, if there's no indemnity and you don't have a strong, enforceable agreement, then we have no choice."

All of which made Wednesday's announcement on the Hebron Press Release of Principles all the more interesting, once reporters got to ask questions.

The video is available on the CTV web site (on the right-hand side, select "CTV Newsnet: Danny Williams answers media questions 7:27", or here's the direct link.)

At about 1:44 into the video file, in response to a barely-audible question comparing the Hebron MOU to the Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles that he famously condemned, Danny Williams made this amazing concession:

Well, you have to put that in context, there were other issues with regard to that MOU that we had concerns about at the time, and I’m not gonna get into this, because I don’t want to diminish this announcement by diminishing that project, which is a good project, and I’m prepared to say that.

There you have it: Voisey's Bay. Not a giveaway. A good project. Not to be diminished. Danny says so.

Which makes you wonder — If Danny Williams, Great Negotiator™, with his ability to judge the quality of a contract or the value of a development, didn't know the difference between a good deal and a bad one back in 2002... what indication is there that he knows the difference now?

The last word, for now, goes to Roger Grimes.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on December 12, 2002, the then-Premier said:
I guess the people of the Province are delighted to be discovering all these great loopholes that we have been waiting so long to find, that we are supposed to be able to drive Mack trucks through and so on, because they do not exist, Mr. Speaker, and the Leader of the Opposition has been exposed for what he was at that point in time — someone who made up a story and could not substantiate it.
Give Grimes his due: he had Danny down to a T.

Too bad the current incumbent in office was never exposed as a storyteller, then or since, to the much greater extent that he should have been.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Closed doors

"This is not going to be something that is unilaterally done behind closed doors, like the hon. party opposite did when they were in government, and turn around and virtually close the Voisey’s Bay deal, turn around and try to ram through the Lower Churchill deal. This will be an open process and you will know what is going on."

Guess who? Talking about guess what?

Labrador is an integral part of some province or another

Danny Williams tells the - spit - Toronto Globe and Mail's Shawn McCarthy today:
"Newfoundlanders feel really strongly about their natural resources and they always feel that, starting with the Upper Churchill, there have been significant giveaways."
What a staggering coincidence: there's an "Upper Churchill" in Newfoundland, too?

Ray Shillin'

Ray Dillon, the Nelson Muntz to Danny Williams' Andy Williams, writes, in a letter to the - spit - Toronto Globe and Mail today:
Danny Williams was vilified by the national media for not accepting the initial deal. His reason? He had promised the people of his province that he would not continue the tradition of giving away resources without optimizing the return. Fast forward a year: Oil prices remain high, proponents of the Hebron project continue to deliver great value to their shareholders, and Newfoundland continues on its path to fiscal independence. What better time to find a fair middle ground for sanctioning this deal.
While Mr. Williams was sharply criticized for his negotiating style, I find it refreshing to witness a politician who actually keeps his word.
That would be the same politician who promised:
No secret negotiations, no secret documents. If the people know the country will be safe, and they have a right to know. They need to know the details on major negotiations of a $50 billion resource. They have a right to know. Why should it be kept secret?... With regard to negotiations, it is the position of this Opposition that there should not be negotiations in secret, especially on major matters, especially on Voisey’s Bay.

Send in the economists

And where are the economists?
There ought to be economists.
Well, maybe next year.

Gerry Reid emerges long enough to do something that doesn't happen nearly often enough these days: he raises a good, tough, question:
Another factor that must be questioned is why an equity share is any better than an improved royalty regime. I am not aware of any information or economic analyses that backs up the premier’s position that we are better off under an equity position. Instead, the people of this province will put approximately $350 million forward in up-front costs to buy this equity stake and contribute to development costs. By taking this equity position, we don’t know what the potential and unknown liabilities the premier is exposing the taxpayers of this province to should problems arise in the future. To achieve this equity stake, we have sacrificed royalties that could have been even more lucrative and guaranteed to the province without risk.
So where's Wade Locke when you need him?

It would be interesting to see various projections for both provincial revenues, and return to the provincial economy — and, contrary to popular belief, these are not the same thing — under both the April 2006 proposals that spawned HissyFit 2006: Danny vs. Big Oil, and under the Press Release of Understanding released, at least by one of the parties, on Wednesday.

It would also be interesting to see those projections based on a whole range of oil price assumptions. It is just as big a mistake to assume that prices are going to remain consistently high for decades to come, as it is to assume that they are going to remain consistently low. After all, an assumption about the relative immutability of energy prices was the fundamental mistake in another energy megaproject, not that long ago.

Yeah, you know. That one.

On secrecy

Secrecy is bad. Danny says so.

He said so in the House of Assembly on December 3, 2001:

That is what my platform is all about; no hidden documents, no hidden agenda. That is why our position is so clear on Voisey’s Bay. No secret negotiations, no secret documents. If the people know the country will be safe, and they have a right to know. They need to know the details on major negotiations of a $50 billion resource. They have a right to know. Why should it be kept secret? That is why I said it.


With regard to negotiations, it is the position of this Opposition that there should not be negotiations in secret, especially on major matters, especially on Voisey’s Bay. I would suggest to hon. members opposite that this is the Voisey’s Bay clause. We know why it was there and it is wrong.
He said so again on March 14, 2002:

This clause hides negotiations. It was not in the old Freedom of Information Act. We are trying to have a more open act, and now what we have, is a more secretive act. That is what we have accomplished, which is sad. The people have a right to know. They have a right to know what the government is negotiating on their behalf.
He said so in a long-since-bitbucketted May 6, 2002 press release, again on the subject of Voisey's Bay:

"The people need to know that the government is about to sign a bad deal. We know from previous experience, such as Churchill Falls, that once a bad deal is signed, it cannot be changed no matter how hard we try. Debating the deal in the House of Assembly before it is finalized will at a minimum fully disclose to the people the benefits this province will receive from the development of a major resource."
And in another one on the 15th of the same month, regarding the impending Voisey's Bay deal:

"The whole point of debating the deal is to ensure it is acceptable and beneficial to the people of the province before they are forever bound by it. If the deal has already been signed, there is no opportunity to make meaningful improvements to ensure our people get maximum benefits from this tremendous resource."
He told the legislature on May 15, 2002:

The people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, are very, very concerned about the details of this agreement and they have a right to know before it is finalized.

My question, Mr. Speaker, for the Premier is: Why would you not bring it before this Legislature and before the people of the Province? If you are about to sign a deal that could possibly be another giveaway of our resources, of our future, of our children and our grandchildren, why would you not bring it before this House if it is going to be such a good deal for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians? What is the Premier trying to hide, Mr. Speaker?
Speaking of so-called Lower Churchill negotiations, he told the Telegram in October of that year:
"Unfortunately, because (the deal) is being negotiated in secret, we know very little about this deal and therefore are not able to provide constructive thoughts and suggestions as to how it can be improved. It is fundamentally different from the principles agreed to with Quebec in 1998. In fact, this entire arrangement sprang out of nowhere just days after talks between this province and Alcoa fell apart. There has not been a single update provided to the House of Assembly."
On November 18, he said in the legislature:

[Premier Grimes] originally said the deal would be done by the end of September, by the middle of September. We are now into November. Why now? Do you know why now? Because he lost a by-election in July. He has now gotten hammered in another by-election and these are the desperate actions of a desperate man and a desperate government. Once again, we are in the dark. It has all been done in secret. Negotiations are completely in secret. We get a two-page update today on what is going on. That is all he has provided.

Voisey’s Bay all over again. Everything is done in secret. No information provided. I call on the Premier to make all the information available, to have a full debate, but let’s do it before that agreement is signed and let’s have a real shot at it this time around.
And on December 5, 2002, he asked during Question Period:

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Will you table that deal so that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can have a look at it? Table that commercial and confidential deal so we can go through it?
In his post-QP scrum, he elaborated on the point:

"You can tell from question period today the premier talked about a commercially confidential deal... We should see it. We need to get an opportunity to go through it. I challenged the premier to a debate. Let's put the deal out on the table. Let's go through it clause by clause before it's signed."
What a difference five years, and sitting at the Speaker's left hand, can make.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sister he's a poet

Some found poetry, courtesy Danny's, how you say, emphatic, presser this morning:

We are becoming masters
Danny Williams

Today marks a historic day
in Newfoundland and Labrador
as We enter into a new era
of offshore oil development
with unprecedented benefits
to the people of Our province
taking real
and meaningful ownership
of Our resources

an improved royalty regime
and outstanding
local benefits
the construction
of a GBS
are the highlights
of a memorandum of understanding
that was finalized this week
for development
of the Hebron
Ben Nevis

and strength of conviction
has been Our government’s guide
and today We are proud
to present
a tremendous
for the people of the province
with a fair
and a reasonable return
for Our industry partners.

As a result
of hard work
and co-operation
between Our industry partners
and our negotiating team
we have signed
a historic M O U
for this province
which will assist Newfoundland and Labrador
in achieving the economic self-reliance
to which We have long aspired.

Step by step
We are
of Our own house.

Asterix in Dannyland

From the backgrounder to today's Announcement That Will Blow Your Minds™
All fabrication work will be completed in the province*, with the exception of the fabrication of the utilities/process module. (*subject to reasonable capacity and human resource availability).
Just imagine the invective that would have emanated from Danny Williams in 2002 if the Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles had had a jebus asterisk anywhere in it.

Not in a bind?

Back in 2002, the PC opposition made a Great Big Deal out of this particular provision — paragraph 2 — of the Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles:
"The Statement of Principles is not intended to and does not create any legally binding rights or obligations between the parties. The parties will use their best efforts to finalize mutually acceptable definitive agreements (the "Binding Agreements") embodying the Statement of Principles as expeditiously as possible and in any event by September 30, 2002, subject to paragraph 47."
Question: Does the Hebron MOU create any legally binding rights or obligations?

If not, were the Tories stupidly wrong or deliberately fearmongering in 2002? Or did Danny negotiate a "loophole" in 2007?

One or the other has to be true.


The Charter reports:

[Finance Minister Tom] Marshall says he is concerned that some provinces do not understand how equalization works.
There most certainly are!

Like the provinces which are apparently surprised to learn that as their own-source fiscal capacity goes up, their equalization entitlement goes down:

“That's the problem we had. We had these revenues, we had oil revenues, we had mineral revenues, but the problem is as those revenues came in, our equalization went down,” he says.


“The problem is the way the equalization formula works, as the revenues go up, equalization goes down. As our fiscal capacity gets higher and higher, we get less and less equalization.”
Or like the province which can write utter fiction like this:

“The Atlantic Accord was meant to protect us from the loss of equalization because of oil and gas. Now what the Atlantic Accord is doing, it now has a reverse result. It is now taking away equalization. It is doing the opposite of what it was first intended to do,” he says.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Bill Rowe asks, "whether we should stay in a Canada that reneges on $11-billion worth of promises."


We don't think we're getting enough out of Canada, so we should separate from Canada.

That'll learn them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Parallel universes

The Telegram throws out a high-five:
Cheers: to living in the parallel dimension. So, last week, Premier Danny Williams publicly spanked one of his own candidates, Dennis Normore, for suggesting that districts who elect opposition MHAs will be punished for their choice. (Normore later apologized for his "strong" statements. No word yet on whether his election signs will say "Vote for me - I'll get the stuff.") Meanwhile, the Liberal candidate in the same district, Yvonne Jones, praised the premier's comments and called him a "statesman." OK - now, we know things are different in Labrador, but just who's running for whom up there?
Better, parallel-dimension related question: in what parallel dimension would Danny Williams ever be considered a "statesman"?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Minority report

In his Saturday column, Comrade Rowe also recites the catechism of the Church of the Holy Minority Government:
There is but one saving grace that may control somewhat the little Napoleons at the top. Voters have taken a fancy to electing minority governments and, according to the polls, intend to do the same next election. Thank God for the wisdom of the motley crowd.
Not for the first time, either. In the opening hours of the 2005-06 election campaign, he weighed in:
The point is that when this election is over, the new minority government, Liberal or Conservative, could well be in power by a half a dozen seats or fewer. The scenario is such that someone with Danny Williams’ clout could be a deciding factor… the first thing he must do is cancel that laundry list of a letter he has already sent to the party leaders demanding their position on 16 issues. Such a nebulous, shotgun approach is useless. Whatever the leaders may say their position is on those issues, it will all be just so much fluff, and impossible to enforce.

Instead, Danny must go after a written commitment by a stated December deadline from the Liberal and Conservative leaders on one big Atlantic-Accord-size project for this province. A specific federal investment and guarantee for the Lower Churchill would be a good one.
Rowe, of course, is merely a parish priest in this Church of the Holy Minority. Archbishop Williams told the Telegram, on June 30, 2004, that his so-called Atlantic Accord crusade would be much easier under the new political circumstances in Ottawa:
“The purse strings will loosen up during this period,” the premier suggested. “Now we don’t know how long this minority is going to last — whether it’s going to be four months or four years — but over whatever time it lasts, I think (federal money) will be freed up.

“I think as a province here we do have an opportunity. So I see it as a good thing for us from a purely selfish perspective...”
After the change of federal government last year, the Archbishop was still proselytizing, saying, in response to opposition questions about federal child-care funding:
First of all, Mr. Speaker, this is a minority government and this government cannot do this by themselves, so it will be in co-operation with one or two or three other parties, whatever is done or whatever is decided at the end of the day. I think that should be pointed out. This is not a majority government.
A little later in the year, his faith was somewhat tested, telling an out-of-province business audience in November:
“If Stephen Harper does not honour his commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last election, I will do my very best to make sure that the Canadian people from coast to coast to coast know that he is not a man of his word,” Williams told the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“If he reneges with a minority government, we all better head for the bunkers if he gets a majority, let me tell you.”
The implication, then, is clear.

If you are a municipality, an organization, a region, an interest group, or anyone or anything that is looking to squeeze a bit of cash out of the provincial government, you can safely ignore Dennis Normore’s “Vote PC or else!” campaign theme.

Oh yes.

If you want to squeeze money out of Confederation Building, if you want clout, if you want to be well-served, if you selfishly want the provincial purse strings to open up, if you want provincial money to be freed up, then you must go out and do whatever it takes to ensure a minority provincial government is elected on October 9th.

Danny, and Bill Rowe, in their wisdom, wouldn’t want it any other way.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Biographical details

Comrade Rowe asks today, of the membership of the federal cabinet:
But most other ministers — Nicholson, Blackburn, Thompson, Skelton, Cannon, Van Loan, Hill, Guergis, Paradis — who the hell are these people?
A partial answer:

Rob Nicholson. Elected 1988, defeated 1993, returned to office in the June 2004 election. In 2004, he was opposition transport critic. Highways, airports, Marine Atlantic. Tunnels under the Strait of Belle Isle. That sort of stuff.

Greg Thompson. Elected 1988, defeated 1993, returned to office in 1997, where he’s been ever since. In 2004 he was opposition critic for ACOA. The “AC” in ACOA stands for “Atlantic Canada”. Newfoundland and Labrador is in Atlantic Canada.

Peter Van Loan. Elected in June 2004. In 2004 he was opposition critic for Human Resources and Skills Development, and hence, for programs such as EI.

Bill Rowe served as High Commissioner to Canada for the second half of 2004, and into early 2005, until one day, walking along Laurier Avenue West, probably near the corner with Kent Street, he realized he was a Newfoundland separatist, and went home.

So if he still doesn’t know who the hell some of these fairly well-known federal politicians are, or has forgotten, it kinda makes you wonder: what did he accomplish as High Commissioner anyway?

Blame Canada: the coming sequel

"Province progressing with plans for prison", the Telegram's alliterative headline reads. As Rob Antle reports:

But there are no guarantees on when the government will move forward with replacing the aging penitentiary.

One issue complicating matters is federal support. Osborne said Ottawa is on side with construction plans.

But he noted the feds won't commit to funding a share until the province provides cost estimates and design criteria for the planned replacement complex. Those answers will be provided by the consultant.
The masthead chimes in:

The government has just started the process to design and build a new prison and lockup. At this point, the plans are still in the “expressions of interest” phase, and the provincial government is hoping for federal money. It’s early enough that it’s not clear whether the two facilities — prison and lockup — will even be together in the same building, or whether the province might try for the politically expedient (but practically indefensible) idea of moving the prison outside the St. John’s-Mount Pearl area.

Sensible, competent provincial governments don't sit around like members of some South Seas cargo cult "hoping" for federal money. They identify programs which have been voted by Parliament, and apply for federal money — yes, a wacky concept to be sure, this whole voting "estimates" and establishing "Treasury Board guidelines" before spending public dime. But that is how the world — the modern one, anyway — tends to work.

In cargo cults (hi, Trevor), "hope" springs eternal:

I think, needless to say, having a highway added to the National Highway System is of little consequence if the funding that needs to be done to upgrade and further develop that highway is not associated with it. Mr. Speaker, this will be a priority of this government. We will be prepared to commit our 50 per cent to the ongoing upgrading of the Trans-Labrador Highway, and we would hope that the federal government will be prepared to do the same.
And as for political expediency... well, that's why the Codfather, John Crosbie, promised a federal pen during the lead-up to the 1988 federal election campaign. It's also why — well, it's why this happened:
Charges of favoritism flying over site for federal prison
Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 25, 1988
Graham Fraser

The announcement of plans to construct a long-awaited federal penitentiary in Newfoundland has led to charges of political favoritism.

Solicitor-General James Kelleher announced yesterday that the $29.3- million penitentiary will be built in Harbour Grace — in the Conservative riding of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception, held by Morrissey Johnson.

However, the decision was attacked in Question Period by Liberal George Baker and by New Democrat Jack Harris, who argued that other locations should have been chosen.

Mr. Baker argued for Buchans — which is in the provincial constituency of Windsor-Buchans, held by provincial Liberal Leader Clyde Wells. Mr. Harris argued for Belle Island [sic] — in his own constituency of St. John's East.
And that's why, two decades later, an expedient (and retiring) politician is still trying to cash that stale-dated IOU:
George Sweeney, Liberal MHA for the District of Carbonear‑Harbour Grace, is not pleased with the non-committal response he has received from the provincial justice minister related to the possibility of constructing a penitentiary in the Harbour Grace area.

"I was surprised to learn that a joint federal/provincial committee is being established to examine the possibility of a joint facility which would replace Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's and would also accommodate medium and low security federal offenders. I was disappointed because I had hoped that the minister would recognize Harbour Grace as the province's preferred location for such as facility," says Sweeney.

The Liberal MHA wrote both the federal and provincial ministers of justice on this issue in January. He had hoped to get, at the very least, a commitment from the provincial government that they would support efforts to construct a new penitentiary at a site in Harbour Grace. In the response to Sweeney, the provincial minister stated that "At this early stage, Government is not in a position to make a determination about the preferred location of the institution."

During the 1988 federal election, the Mulroney government announced that a federal prison would be built in Newfoundland and Labrador. Following an extensive review by a number of experts in the correctional service of Canada, Harbour Grace was chosen as the preferred site to construct the new penitentiary which was expected to be built and opened in 1993. The project was later delayed, but the site remains a viable location for such a facility. At the time, the facility would have cost $30 million to build over four years, $50 million to operate annually and would employ 100 full‑time people in the community.
Just don't tell Buchans or Bell Island.

Maybe not Belle Isle, either, just to be safe.

In any event, the province is setting two more landmines — one on the location of the pen, another on funding arrangements — in the battlefield known as federal-provincial relations. So while the cargo cultists sit back and wait for the parachuted crate full of Canadian lucre, the rest of us can sit back and wait for things to go boom, as they always do.

And yes, this is possibly a record for mixed and mangled metaphors.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Carrots and sticks (II)

The Wrath of Dan was brought painfully to bear on Cartwright-L’anse au Clair PC candidate Dennis Normore after Wednesday’s Telegram hit the stands.

On Thursday’s front page, Terry Roberts files a follow-up report:

Williams chastises candidate
Says districts will not be punished if they don’t elect PC member

Tory candidates who try to browbeat voters by saying they will be punished if they don’t elect a government MHA can expect a terse phone call from Premier Danny Williams.

“I won’t stand for those kinds of statements being made by any candidates on our behalf in this election,” Williams said Wednesday.

Williams said he contacted Normore Wednesday morning to “express my displeasure” about the “improper” comments.

“This is not the way we operate. There’s not a question of any district paying at all for not being a government seat,” Williams said, adding that he was “very annoyed.”

“It hasn’t been the pattern or the policy of this government to punish districts. I saw too much of that during the years when I wasn’t in politics and just standing back as an observer,” he offered.

“… he [Normore] certainly got a clear message from me as head of this party that those kinds of comments are simply unacceptable.”

It’s nice to know that Danny won’t stand for those kinds of comments being made in this election.

But what about past ones?

Here’s how Len Muise, a former PC candidate himself, explained the kerfuffle over Ron Dawe’s thwarted attempt to secure a PC nomination during the last election, in a March 2003 opinion piece in the Western Star:

Finally, voters in the district are in a dilemma. They want Ron Dawe as their MHA because of his past representation and the fact that he will likely win this seat regardless of his political affiliation. People have become used to their member being on the government side and being in cabinet. However, everyone knows that Danny Williams will stick to his decision not to allow Ron to represent the PC party. They have to decide if they want a member on the government side with a possible cabinet position or do they want Ron Dawe as a member outside the PC caucus. This will be a hard choice for the voters in this district.
Here’s how new-ish Labrador West MHA Jim Baker appealed for votes during his party nomination earlier this year, in the February 19th edition of The Aurora:

I really believe in Danny Williams and I like his leadership style. I think he is the type of leader that comes along once in a generation and I look forward to being part of that team. I really believe the people in this area are ready now to get onside with the government.
And here is how he deconstructed his ultimate by-election win in the March 11th edition of 53 North:

In closing, Baker said, “We will most definitely see Danny Williams re-elected, and that puts me in a good place. I will have day-to-day contact with the decision-makers.”
Labrador West Tories agreed, saying in the same paper a week later:

A dominant theory eventually emerged as to why Baker, a Tory candidate in a traditionally NDP riding, was successful.

Rudy Tucker, President of the Labrador West PC District Association, said, “We’ve been in the opposition in Labrador West for quite some time. We’re finally on the government’s side.”

Added [campaign manager and former PC MHA Alec] Snow, “I think the big difference here is that people wanted to be part of the Danny Williams Team – that’s what they voted for, and that’s what their going to get… Instead of always objecting, we’re going to be able to participate in the votes for the province.

Baker… also agrees with the consensus, saying, “I believe being part of the Danny Williams Team is certainly what did it for me. People see in Danny Williams a leader that comes along once in a lifetime. Everywhere I went people said ‘it is definitely time we got on side with the provincial government.’
Almost all is fair, and appealing to a desire to be on the government side is, really, fair enough.

But that appeal can quickly cross the line from carrot to stick. And it often does.

Item: In May, CBC reported that now-retiring MHA George Sweeney’s political colours were hurting efforts by Harbour Grace town council to secure provincial government funding:

Short believes the town received less support than it needs because Liberal George Sweeney — who represents Carbonear-Harbour Grace district in the house of assembly — sits across the aisle from the governing Progressive Conservatives.

“Since the PC government got in, I might as well say it, we never got nothing in Harbour Grace,” Short said.
Item: On June 29, the Western Star quoted Bay of Islands PC nomination contestant Leo Bruce:
Bruce said it’s time the Bay of Islands joined the Danny Williams team and left the “wasteland of the Opposition benches in the House of Assembly.”
Interesting admission there, Leo… that the PCs have turned opposition districts into a “wasteland”.

Item: The Telegram’s Terry Roberts relayed a curious account, in the July 6 edition, from the opposition leader’s district:

With public opinion polls predicting a landslide for Williams and his party, some are openly questioning whether Reid will also fall prey, and are suggesting that the district of The Isles of Notre Dame (formerly Twillingate and Fogo) will be the race to watch.

One of those is Harry Cooper of Twillingate, a former mayor, town councillor and fire chief.

The 76-year-old is a retired businessman and an admitted Liberal supporter for most of his life.

That support faltered in 2003, however, and this time around he’s solidly behind the PC candidate, Derrick Dalley.

“Most people think the PCs are going back in again. If you’re on the opposition side of the government, you don’t get very much in your district. We proved that over the years when we were 17 years on the opposition side of the PC government,” Cooper said Thursday during a telephone interview.
Interesting admission there, Harry… that the PCs engaged in government-by-punishment the last time they were in power, too. That confirms what might otherwise be an entirely self-serving anecdote that your incumbent MHA recounted to the House of Assembly back in 2002:

Since that time, I am pleased to be able to stand here today, along with my predecessor - who at the time was the hon. Walter Carter - since 1989 until the present. I want to tell you about some of the roads that have been paved in my district. I will list them. The Member for Windsor knows the ones I am talking about. Cottlesville, Virgin Arm, Chanceport, Bridgeport, Moreton’s Harbour, Valley Pond, Tizzard’s Harbour, Parkview. These are only half of the roads that have been paved since 1989, and we are going to continue to pave them. We also did Parkview, Fairbank, Hillgrade, Herring Neck, Merritt’s Harbour, Too Good Arm, Pikes Arm, Cobbs Arm. These are just roads that were never touched under the Tory regime up until 1989; never touched. All on one island in my district. All on New World Island. Never touched. They were told: No, we can’t even talk to you until you vote Tory. We hear them standing today and criticizing us. I will tell you, we will never, if we are here for the next 400 years, stoop to that level; that the then Tory government used to stoop to in that day.
But anyway, back to Labrador West, this is how the losing candidate, and Danny Williams himself explained, the Tory by-election win in a CBC morning-after report:

Baker, a Labrador City councillor, received high-profile support throughout the campaign, with Premier Danny Williams and numerous other cabinet ministers campaigning in the district.

[NDP candidate Darrell] Brenton said the presence of so many Tory ministers may have persuaded some voters to back the government side.

“It may have had an impact,” Brenton said Tuesday night. “[But] I’m going to keep Mr. Baker’s nose to the grindstone and make sure that they produce.”

Williams told CBC News he had no apologies for leading such an aggressive campaign in Labrador West.

“We threw everything at it,” Williams said.

“We were there in full force, but I have to be honest - that’s no different than any other byelection.”
Now, given that the Normore-style dark intimations of retribution for voting wrong have emerged from the mouths of Tories in diverse corners of the province, it’s easy to be skeptical about Danny’s protestations that “this is not the way we operate… there’s not a question of any district paying at all for not being a government seat….”, that he “saw too much of that during the years when I wasn’t in politics…”

It’s quite easy, in fact, to conclude that this was an official, well-scripted, and well-worn selling point... until they got caught out on it.

And given that the current government happily admits to doling out highway spending on a partisan basis, the question screams to be asked:

Just what was this “everything” that “we threw at it”, in Labrador West, or Humber Valley, or any of the other recent by-election campaigns?

And that’s where you come in, gentle reader.

Surely to goodness, someone out there on the internets has a tape or transcript, a clipping or press release, from any of the provincial by-elections in 2005, 2006, or 2007, in which Team Danny Williams candidates, supporters, cabinet ministers, or miscellaneous apologists, offered up not just the usual electoral carrot (“government membership has its privileges”), but an electoral stick as well (“not one red cent!”)


Putting out political fires

Howard Butt reported in the Lewisporte Pilot of December 6, 2006:

Twillingate-Fogo MHA Gerry Reid, who at one time taught at Coaker Academy, presented a personal donation to the [Summerford] fire department. Fire Chief Kevin Boyd accepted on behalf of the firemen.
As the Northern Pen reported on April 10, 2007:

The Port au Choix Volunteer Fire Department recently acquired a Firefighter Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) for fire and rescue use.


The purchase of the camera, valued at $11,500, was made possible through community support in the form of fund-raising carried out by the department over the past several months.

"The community support came from all different areas and we were overwhelmed by the way people came forward to help fund the camera," notes Chief MacKinnon.

The Emergency Measures Organization, through director Fred Hollett, approved a grant under the JEPP program to help the department get started. There was a corporate donation in the amount of $1,000 from Fishery Products International and the VOCM Cares Foundation, which supports firefighters in the province, came on board with $1,000. The United Towns Lions Club committed to the project with $1,000 and the Lioness Club contributed $500. Other support came from St. Barbe MHA Wallace Young...
And now, in the wake of the MHA spending scandal, and the Green report, we learn:

"It's going to mean a great big loss to us as a community here," said Mamie Chaulk, whose Firettes group helps raise money to assist the volunteer fire department in Charlottetown, Bonavista Bay.

The fire department — which collects scrap metal as one way of raising money — said Terra Nova MHA Paul Oram's donations will be missed.

"It means we really [have] to go out into the community and fundraise really hard, and it also means they're probably going to be minus some equipment, some fireman's suits, or some hose, or something like that," said Chaulk, whose husband is a 35-year veteran with the department.
But never fear. Fire protection services, "throughout the province", will not want, at least not in this, an election year:

Through the 2007-08 Municipal Capital Works Program, the communities of Burin, Flatrock, Deer Lake, Humber Arm South, La Scie, Lawn, Musgravetown, Southern Harbour and Springdale will purchase fire protection equipment through cost-shared projects between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and their respective municipalities. The equipment was identified as part of the Budget 2007 process and includes:
  • $280,000 in the Town of Burin for the purchase of a new pumper truck,
  • $51,300 in the Town of Deer Lake for the purchase of a new fire/rescue pickup,
  • $280,000 in the Town of Flatrock for the purchase of a new pumper truck,
  • $280,000 in the Town of Humber Arm South for the purchase of a new pumper truck,
  • $240,000 in the Town of La Scie for the purchase of a new pumper truck,
  • $54,000 in the Town of Lawn for the purchase of a new emergency response vehicle,
  • $240,000 in the Town of Musgravetown for the purchase of a new pumper truck,
  • $80,000 in the Town of Southern Harbour for the purchase of a new fire response vehicle, and
  • $240,000 in the Town of Springdale for the purchase of a new pumper truck.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

First, announce that you are going to announce something

Shameful kinds of elections

Tory MHA Roger Fitzgerald deconstructs the shameful 1999 campaign:

MR. FITZGERALD: The hand was placed on the shoulder, and it was said: Trust me. We are going back into government; it is obvious who is going to form the government of the day. Do you want to be on the government side or do you want to be on the Opposition side? Trust me and we will look after you.

I remember the Premier going down to my district. We have health care problems down there, many of them. I stand here many times and plead to have some of the health care problems corrected. One fellow - in fact it was a local doctor - approached the Premier at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista. He said: Premier, we have lots of problems down here. One of the problems we have is trying to get ten health care beds open, ten long-term care beds, at the Golden Heights Manor. Tell me, when can we expect that to happen and when can we expect to see an improvement in our health care system here on the Bonavista Peninsula?

The Premier put his hand on his shoulder and said: If you elect this man - pointing to the Liberal candidate - we will look after your health care. He said: Uh-uh, Premier, that is not enough. You have had ten years already, Premier, and you have done nothing. I am hardly going to trust you now.

That is the kind of election that was carried out. It is shameful.

On our own

From today's laughable-if-it-weren't-so-dismal editorial in the Western Star:
It appears we have to make it on our own ...there won't be much coming form Ottawa to help us become a 'have' province.
What a stunning revelation! Shocking! Earth-shattering!

"Help form Ottawa" is not what makes "have" provinces "haves".

"Have" provinces are "haves" by "making it on their own", thereby no longer needing "help form Ottawa" to begin with — at least beside the kinds of "help form Ottawa" that all the provinces get.

Is this is what it has come to in Dannystan? That people honestly and truly think the road to self-sufficiency, or autonomy, or "have" status passes through "Ottawa"?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Power of Blawg

Nain Bay leads, the others follow.

Fun for the whole family

And hopefully this one'll work out better than the whole Garrison Guitars thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How Smallwood We Is

In today’s Telegram, Terry Roberts does a profile of Smackdown 2007: Cartwright-L’anse au Clair Edition.

Without so much as batting an eyelash, Tory candidate Dennis Normore levels an ironically hilarious accusation against incumbent Yvonne Jones. As Roberts reports:
He [Normore] said her “Joey Smallwood-style politics” is out of touch with today’s voters.
So, what is Normore’s idea of modern, 21st-century, non-Smallwood politics?
“People realize that we have to be on the government side in the next four years. Otherwise, we’re going to pay dearly for it,” Normore said.

“People are telling me. ‘We’ve got to be on Danny’s team.’

He referred to Jones as an “outsider” when it comes to the decision-making process.

“If we elect her, we’re electing a person who will serve in opposition, and if we do that I guess we’re going to be the sacrificial district,” he said.
“Paying dearly for it…” seems to be an official Tory talking point. (Leo Bruce, come on down!)

And “sacrificial district”?

Nothing – absolutely nothing – could be more Smallwoodian than that.

Danny’s candidates seem to have adopted one of Danny’s own nastiest traits: the habitual projecting of his own political and personality flaws onto others.

Even Smallwood would be hard-pressed to out-Smallwood the Smallwooding that Danny and his Dandidates are already engaging in.

Bill Rowe: rube or stooge?

Bill Rowe gave nearly the first half hour of his show this afternoon over to an uninterrupted rant by climate change denier Dr. Tim Ball.

Ball – who spouted the very unscientific line “just a theory”, and claims, utterly anachronistically, that 1934 was “long before humans were producing CO2” – is Chairman and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project.

That organization, as well as Ball’s previous affiliation, “Friends of Science”, are well-known propaganda fronts for the oil and natural gas industry.

Or, as Bill Rowe’s Lord, Saviour, and former employer – “Our Dear Premier”*, as Bill Rowe called him in conversation with the next caller — might call them: Big Oil.

So.... was Bill Rowe just a rube, falling, for a quarter of his air time today, for Big Oil’s propaganda?

Or was he a willing accomplice, a stooge, gleefully giving Big Oil a quarter of his air time today to spout Big Oil’s propaganda?


* Seriously. You can’t make stuff like that up even if you try.

Countrihood and Un(anim)ity!

From the archives. The Premier talks to Transcontinental's Kirk Squires, September 11, 2006:

The Premier says there are many lessons to be learned from Norway in terms of energy.

"We go around and look at the best practices of these jurisdictions and adopt them. That's the way to go because there is no reason to reinvent the wheel," says the Premier.

Federal partnerships

But there is one major point which has to be recognized when comparing the two jurisdictions; Norway is a country, Newfoundland and Labrador is a province.

"That's a huge difference," Williams says.

"It is shameful quite frankly when you see their (Norway) territories and municipalities are all one because they move together with their government. The government knows exactly where they want to go.

How Norwegian we aren't

"It is clear that the NSEC has worked quite well in Norway and I was very impressed with the level of services provided by the council," said the minister. "While I recognize that Norway is a country whereas we are a province, I am confident based on our meetings that blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah."

Smallwood would be proud

As you read this, imagine George Baker doing his best Joey Smallwood impression.

"You don't just announce something once.

Oh no.

It takes three days to announce something.

Three days!

On the first day — the first day — you call the press together. You get all the reporters together.

And you announce that you are going to announce something.

Then on the second day!

On the second day!

On! The! Second! Day! — you announce it.

And on the third day?

You announce that you have announced something."

So that makes two down:

Monday, August 13, 2007

A peek over the fence

1) Work on the Route 138 extension to begin this fall. Radio-Canada reports:
Un premier tronçon de quatre kilomètres en gravier sera construit à l'ouest de La Tabatière, en direction de Tête-à-la-Baleine. Un second, de trois kilomètres, reliera La Romaine à Kegaska. La petite communauté de ce dernier village de 130 habitants contribuera d'ailleurs aux travaux en préparant du gravier.

« L'équipement commence à rentrer pour faire le concassé. On espère que ça va rentrer bien vite, puis que ça va nous donner un peu d'ouvrage pour les gens du village aussi. En espérant toujours que, d'ici une couple d'années, la 138 va arriver ici », a affirmé Lloyd Court, président du comité de Kegaska, chargée de ce projet.

À cet effet, Transports Québec, s'attaquera l'an prochain au dossier de construction du pont avec pilier central qui doit franchir la rivière Natashquan. Or, ce chantier, de plus de 30 millions de dollars, s'échelonnera sur au moins 5 ans. Les premiers villages de la Basse-Côte-Nord ne seront donc pas désenclavés avant 2012.
This maps shows existing highways in red, and the Kegaska-La Romaine and La Tabatière-Tête-à-la-Baleine projects in orange.

2) Nunavik — the northern, Inuit-populated third of Quebec — is set to become a "special territory":

OTTAWA -- A giant swath of mineral-rich land covering one-third of Quebec is on track to become a self-governing region for the province's 10,000 Inuit.

To be called the Regional Government of Nunavik, it will have its own elected assembly representing Quebec's 14 remote Inuit communities and a public service responsible for services normally delivered by provinces, such as education and health.


Also, unlike native self-governments such as B.C.'s Nisga'a, the agreement is not based on ethnicity, even though the vast majority of the region's residents are Inuit.

Jean-François Arteau, the head legal adviser for the Quebec Inuit, said he would expect all future maps of Canada to include the Nunavik region, which uses the 55th parallel as a southern border and makes up one-third of Quebec.

"This is going to be a special territory that I think we should see on any map of Canada," he said. "It's something new. A regional government. That doesn't exist anywhere."
Map (source):

Too close for comfort

Aaron O’Brien writes of his experience as a Newfoundlanders studying in francophone Quebec in the current edition of the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist:

...In government, English was placed on an equal footing with French. Consequently, many Quebecers feel their ancestors were made second-class citizens in their own land.

This is something I had to deal with whenever the issue of Labrador came up. Like many Newfoundlanders, I knew very little about Labrador — but I quickly realized that I would have to educate myself if I were to counter the arguments put forth by Quebecers covetous of the Big Land.

For many Quebecers, the decision by the British government in 1927 to give Labrador to Newfoundland is an example of their mistreatment. Newfoundlanders, say these Quebecers, historically utilized only the coast of Labrador. They believe the British gave us far more land than we deserved, while Quebec was cheated out of the land it used.

I may have been convinced of the injustice had I not learned why the boundary between Quebec and Labrador was drawn as it is. The entire border, except the southern portion (which is a straight line running east-west), follows the watershed divide: all the water to the east flows to the coast of Labrador; all the water to the west flows into Quebec.

It was argued Newfoundlanders had not only traditionally used the coast of Labrador, but also followed the rivers that empty onto the coast to the “height of land” to trap fur-bearing animals for cash.
Newfoundlanders did no such thing. Labradorians did. A Newfoundlander who admits to knowing very little about Labrador might be forgiven that.

It's not that Newfoundlanders and Quebecers are so different that make so it hard for them, so often, to get along with one another.

It's that they're too much alike.

A pox on both chez eux.

Have Mr. O'Brien, or his Quebec classmates, in their discussions about Labrador, ever once considered the perspective of people in Labrador? At least from this account, the answer, as per usual when dealing with both Newfoundland and Quebec nationalists when it comes to the vexed Labrador question, is a resounding no.

"Second-class citizens in their own land", indeed.

Grammatical number

Again from the Paul Banks report on Glorious Leader's speech to the CAW-FFAW conclave, in the Telegram:
"One of my darkest days in my life was looking out from the eighth floor office window at Confederation Building and seeing 10,000 of my own employees on the street protesting our action."

"My employees"?

Then why not "my action"?

Or is that, as so often the case with Glorious Leader (May His Preternatually Thick Hair Always Be Perfectly Parted), another instance of the Royal We?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


From another Paul Banks report in today's Telegram:
...the premier made a vague promise to public-sector workers in this province that they would soon be "rewarded."

"Things will be different. In part, because of the sacrifices those people made individually, collectively we have turned the corner in this province," he said, referring to the government's budgetary surpluses.

"I can't say too much about it here today because I'll be accused of electioneering, so I'll move on. But suffice to say, our public-service employees will be rewarded for their contribution to helping our province."
Gee, ya'think?

Straight faces

Nottawa quotes a couple of choice Danny lines from today's Telegram, with respect to the Hebron negotiations:

"We’ve narrowed that gap dramatically...

...Suffice it to say, we, as a province, have not moved on this position at all."

(La province c'est "nous"?)

In any case, the question is not how anyone can print that with a straight face.

It's how anyone can say that with a straight face.

And, yes, true enough, it is Chief Dan Two-Face uttering those statements, whose record on consistency, or even truth, is just a mite spotty.

But still... didn't it occur to anyone to ask how "we" narrowed the gap if "we" haven't moved on any positions?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Full credit to Comrade Rowe

For all his — how you say — wackiness, once in a while Citizen-Comrade Bill Rowe hits the nail on the head, and sinks it all the way, in one stroke.

Like today.

Can Danny Williams profit from those painful lessons of history? It’s going to be hard because he’s in a bind. On the one hand he needs to show Stephen Harper and the feds how strongly the electorate down here supports his stand against them. The more seats he wins in October, the stronger the message he sends. On the other hand, if he wins every seat, or nearly all, wait for the horrific backlash in a year or two as expectations are not met and visceral disappointment sets in.

So, while he drives towards massive victory in October, Danny might well remember that leaders as lovable and powerful as he now is, incredible as that now seems, sowed the seeds of ruin by their overweening success.

Sounds like an honours thesis in poli sci.

Back to the future

From a CP wire story by Don Hoyt that moved on August 17, 1959:
Liberal party workers are confident the premier will be given a strong vote of confidence and the 33 seats in the legislature he is seeking to back his condemnation of Ottawa's handling of special financial assistance to the province as "a betrayal" of Newfoundland.

No, not for nothing

The CBC’s David Cochrane, in a running commentary on last night’s Here and Now, made a funny:
There’s a few things we can look at here that show just how high the stakes are. For one, Danny Williams cut short a meeting with all of Canada’s other premiers, and he doesn’t just do that for anything.

He doesn’t just do that for anything.

He does it for show.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (4)

Les premiers ministres !
Unis !
Ne seront jamais vaincus !
«Il ne sera jamais question de ligne fédérale au Québec», a ajouté M. Charest, faisant valoir que l'énergie était de compétence provinciale et qu'Ottawa n'avait pas à s'immiscer dans ce marché.

De plus, Québec refuse mordicus de voir Ottawa financer le projet d'interconnexion entre Terre-Neuve et l'Ontario, faisant valoir que de tout temps le Québec a assumé seul la facture de construction de barrages et de lignes de transport.

«Est-ce que le gouvernement fédéral devrait intervenir pour financer la construction de lignes? C'est là-dessus où le Québec dit non», a-t-il déclaré.

At least this time he rushed in, first

Danny finds a reason to leave another meeting early.

Unusually, he rushed into this meeting before rushing out of it.

As opposed to, say, storming out of a Premier's meeting — before actually storming into it — in order to "be with My People"

Or cutting short a cabinet meeting because someone dared contradict the Great Man on the VOCM call-in show.

This is not a nature allegory

You have had those moments too: moments that make you stop, and wonder, and reconsider everything, and contemplate your place in a universe built of four forces and a veritable menagerie of exotic particles that seem to exist only as chalky mathematical equations.

Like the night you climbed to the top of Third Hill in Pack’s Harbour, with a full moon rising over the tickle, the black cliffs of Newfoundland Island, as the chart calls it, Prisoner’s Island as the folklore gives it, glinting and gleaming. You would think there was nothing left to reflect, those inky black rocks absorbing every ray of light that strikes them, but there they were, reflecting the reflected light of a moon whose rocks are just as black.

Or the first time your feet wandered the Forteau shore, trod those fossil seabeds where, uncounted millions of years ago, strange Cambrian animals first trod, or slithered, or whatever it is Cambrian invertebrates did. You can still see their burrows in the sand, long since cemented into stone. You contemplated the forces which first cleave those limestones and sandstones and arkoses into geometrical blocks, like some giant quarry whose quarrymen have downed tools and vanished into thin air; then tilt them into the sea, edges rounded like dice, then slowly dissolved, ashes to ashes, sandstone to sand. New sea bottom to be populated and fossilized by flora and fauna; will they seem equally bizarre and exotic, in fossil form, 450 million years from now? Will Danny Williams still be in power then?

Or the way that a warm breeze off the coast at Sept-Iles, counter-intuitively, warm from the north, but that’s the way an offshore wind blows there, carrying the esthers of spruces and birches, empetrum nigrum, mossy bogs, and dying forest fires, could trigger a cloud of memories. The nerves that run from the scent receptors, they say, connect to the brain near the memory centre. Newly-mowed grass. Spilled diesel. Jeye’s Fluid. What mystery and magic must there be in the olfactory sense, working equally on the gunpowder scent of a freshly-smashed rock, or a dog fart.

Or how the rays of the setting sun in winter set every notch, every crevasse, every ravine and gully of the Mealy Mountains off into crisp relief, like some kind of massive intaglio block, the purplest shade of purple, a purple that drives out even the thought of all other colours, purple-prose purple, as the shadow of the earth deepens beyond, somewhere far out over the icepack on the open ocean, and how a passage from a journal, from 1843, describing the same scene, never fails to bring it flooding into view, if only in the mind’s eye.

Or like the time, early one morning, late in the summer, on the crest of a hill, on a stretch of a highway the government seems to have forgotten even exists, where a brook babbles down over a rocky bank, lush with the native vegetation that anywhere else you’d call weeds, but here are as perfect specimens of natural selection as Darwin ever found in the Galapagos, then, by becoming the roadside ditch, turns an unnatural and ugly brown, a shade that Edward Burtynsky might have captured in his “Shipbreaking” series, a brown fast-food coffee cup, long since crushed, half-rotted, but not enough, the non-biodegradable bits anyway, with the corporate logo still visible, sneering, leering at you out of the lightening mist, made you think to yourself out loud:

I'm not spitey, am I?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Highway porkbarreling, before and after

Williams to address infrastructure needs
under a new priority-based plan

Gander, October 2, 2003 - Progressive Conservative Party Leader and Humber West incumbent candidate Danny Williams says deteriorating or unfinished infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, will be brought up to an acceptable standard under a new priority-based plan that his government will implement if elected.

"Today, I visited a hospital that has been under construction for years. The initial cost of $29 million has ballooned to $69 million, yet the structure still has exposed beams. Surely this is not evidence of sound infrastructure planning on the part of the government," he said. "How much public money is wasted as projects linger on and infrastructure is left to deteriorate? It's time for a government that will do a much better job of planning and following through on capital works projects."

Williams said the PC infrastructure plan will be designed to lay the foundation for new investment and growth that is particularly needed in rural areas of the province.
As he stated in Lewisporte on Wednesday, "To lay the foundation for growth, we will recognize the importance of sound, modern infrastructure for business and enterprise to thrive - in particular, transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. Rural firms must be able to access raw materials and ship their products to market without being put at a competitive disadvantage compared to urban firms. Our approach will be to identify what needs to be done, to prioritize projects based on their contribution to economic development - not political expediency and patronage as under the present government - and get on with their development as early as possible."

Williams said the government must be much more vigilant in managing the public dollar and getting maximum value for the money it spends on the taxpayer's behalf.

- 30 -

Media contact at PC Campaign Headquarters:
Elizabeth Matthews

August 12, 2005
(Transportation and Works)

Minister addresses road construction and maintenance
in Humber East and Bay of Islands districts

Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, today addressed the construction of the access road connecting Massey Drive to the Corner Brook ring road and the maintenance of Route 440 in McIver’s.

Minister Rideout said, "I have not received any recommendations from my senior officials to address the north shore road during this construction season. At no point has Route 440 been brought to my attention as requiring immediate upgrades by my senior officials or the MHA for the Bay of Islands District.

"Mr. Joyce is trying to pit me against officials in my department, which is neither constructive nor helpful in getting district road issues addressed. He claims that our officials are similarly concerned about the maintenance of this road. However, if he has something specific to bring to my attention, then he should do just that in the appropriate manner."

Minister Rideout says the Bay of Islands MHA is not approaching this issue with appropriate protocol.

"If Mr. Joyce has an issue with road work in his district, then he should call myself or one of my senior staff directly," said the minister. "Our engineers will investigate any concern that one might have, whether it be a politician or someone in the general public. He doesn’t have to issue press releases to make his concerns known. That is simply a matter of professional courtesy."

The minister added that a senior official from the Department of Transportation and Works will be in the Bay of Islands District in the next day or so and will visit the north shore road to determine if anything has raised its level of priority. It is practice for the department to investigate any reasonable concerns raised.

Minister Rideout also commented on the Massey Drive access road that will connect the community to the Corner Brook ring road in Humber East District.

"When the access road was constructed just off the Trans Canada Highway for fire, forestry and emergency access, a number of citizens in the area made it clear to government that this road could be used to tie into Massey Drive since it is in close vicinity to the community," said the minister. "This will provide an additional exit from Massey Drive and may provide opportunities for new development.

"Government is simply responding to the requests of people in this area that were generated upon completion of this initial project."

The minister also says it is completely appropriate to pass this road over to the Town of Massey Drive upon completion, as the previous administration did with multiple road projects.

"This will not be the first time an action of this nature will be taken," said the minister. "The previous administration did this a number of times during its time in office. Examples include Griffith Drive and Riverside Drive in Corner Brook, constructed in the early 1990s, and the Grand Falls industrial access road, developed in 1990. A more recent example is the portion of the outer ring road between Logy Bay Road and Harding Road. This was constructed under the previous administration in 2002. All of these roads were turned over to the respective municipalities upon completion, fully constructed and paved."

Minister Rideout says he offers no apologies for addressing transportation issues in government districts throughout the province. "When the previous administration was in power, opposition districts were highly neglected," said the minister. "This neglect now needs to be addressed, and that is exactly the action our department is taking.

"I had an analysis completed for the last five years that the previous administration was in office. Statistics from this analysis clearly indicate that the largest percentage of the allocated funding for roads went to government districts.

"I make no apologies now for addressing areas that were neglected when the previous administration was in power."

Media contact:
Lori Lee Oates, ABC,
(709) 729-3015, 690-8403

His Highness Is Pleased

"Premier Pleased with Release of COF Energy Strategy," the press release is headline.

The views of COF — that's Council of the Federation for all you un-hip folks who didn't already know that — on Premier's own energy plan are still unknown. As you might expect.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (3)

The Premiers!
Shall Never Be Defeated!

MONCTON, N.B. (CP) - Canada's premiers are encouraging the concept of a national energy grid to make sure the country benefits fully from its energy resources.

Although the premiers failed to make a firm commitment to the idea of an east-west energy grid, they are supporting the development and enhancement of transmission facilities across the country.

However, Premier Jean Charest says that Quebec must be able to maintain jurisdiction over its own energy supplies and transmission facilities, with no interference from Ottawa.

Charest says the province is willing to supply other provinces. He says Quebec is anxious to make money from the sale of its enormous hydro and wind power resources, hot commodities on the green energy market.

The premiers acknowledge the lure of big money from selling Canadian power into the United States.

But Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador says it is essential that Canadians have the opportunity to benefit first from Canada's rich energy resources

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (2)

The Premiers!
Shall Never Be Defeated!

"We don't think the federal climate change plan went far enough," McGuinty told reporters, referring to the April 2007 plan laid out by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government.


But Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said he can't support mandatory caps and a carbon trading system. He said it would hurt the oil industry across the country.


Charest said he wants to see a cap and trading system that includes provinces and even some American states, and possibly some European countries.

Back to you, Myles

Myles Higgins of Portugal Cove had a most interesting letter in the Edmonton Journal earlier this summer:
History lesson
Edmonton Journal, June 29, 2007, p. A17

Re: "Leadership needed from Harper," by L. Ian Macdonald, Opinion, June 21.

I'm shocked that an Alberta paper would print such an ill- informed column. Macdonald contends that the Atlantic provinces should not expect to keep both their oil revenues and equalization payments.

Albertans would do well to remember that, in the '40s and '50s, Alberta also received federal equalization and, in order to build its economy, it was also allowed to retain its oil royalties while receiving equalization.

Myles Higgins
Portugal Cove, Nfld.
Ill-informed is as ill-informed does. The paper printed the following, somewhat better-informed retort — at least on the "Alberta got to keep its equalization" myth — early last month:
Helping hand
Edmonton Journal, July 4, 2007. p. A14

Re: "History lesson," by Myles Higgins, Letters, June 29.

I challenge Myles Higgins's assertion that Alberta received transfer payments in the 1940s and '50s while getting to keep our oil revenues. The transfer payment system was enacted in 1957 (see

Far from the federal government helping Alberta develop her oil and gas resources, the feds actually got in the way with the national energy program in the 1980s. Alberta doesn't owe the federal government a darn thing.

Rob Jurchuk,
Fort McMurray
Perhaps Myles can explain what it means that Alberta was "allowed to retain its oil royalties while receiving equalization", and, ideally, compare it to the equalization implications of Newfoundland's offshore oil and gas revenues.

Watch another cherished Newfoundland nationalist myth go >poof<.

Fake Newfoundlanders to the left... fake ones to the right

It’s been most interesting these past twenty-four hours to hear the outrage being manufactured, as if on cue, over the letter in Tuesday’s Telegram by Shirley Mullins of Kingston.
Among other ThoughtCrimes, Ms. Mullins said:

Danny should have taken his mind off himself and his own ego and put the Newfoundland people first for a change. Instead, he ridiculed Harper, whined and complained, wondering how come he wasn't contacted first, like a little spoiled child. Forget the people and their needs, it's about Danny. It's always about Danny.
The Union of Spontaneously Organized Outraged Ordinary People have gone so far as to not only question whether Mullins is really a Newfoundlander, but whether she even exists at all!

Which brings to mind the VOCM Questions of the Day for August 4th and 7th, and, in particular, the comments on those questions.

What would the Union of Spontaneously Organized Outraged Ordinary People have to say about the people who had the temerity to say things like these?

Are they real Newfoundlanders? Do they even exist?

What i think is danny rushed because of elections, and wanted to show up the feds. The feds yes they acted on it quickly. When are the people going to realize when they are taking for a ride. Its their money not governments no matter who they are. They are the ones paying for this not feds or our provinicial government. Learn people, educate yourselves as to how things work. Dont let CANADA think were stupid all the time. Show them not only feds our own government that we are not stupid people. Its no more than they should do. Thats why we pay them.

I was very pleased to have the Prime Minister, Fabian Manning and Loyola Hearn visit devastated areas. I hope that the provincial government will cooperate with the feds for the sake of the people.

Danny needs to stop the rhetoric and get on with getting things done for the people affected by the disaster. I was very happy to have the Prime Minister of Canada, Fabian Manning and Loyola Hearn visit the hardest hit areas. I hope that Danny will stop with the election campaign and politics and cooperate with the federal government; to get things moving in the right direction in the flood affected areas and the province.

Danny says he's the elected Premier, well Fabian is the elected MP too and has every right to bring the federal leaders and his party leader and the Prime Minister of CANADA into the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland, CANADA. If Danny is so offended he can separate, that's what he wants anyway. That and lots more money from the country he wants to separate from.

Name:To the point
Will somebody please tell "Danny" that he is not the only "important" person in the country. For heaven's sake, he wasn't invited to tour the affected region by our Prime Minister. Williams, get a grip. You didn't need two trips to the region, or did you? My question would be: How many times before this disaster have you been to these areas? Give me a break. PM Harper was here to show his support and offer money (through the right channels of course) to rebuild the area. Unlike some, he is not just going to give the money away and then have to deal with some internal audit afterward because it wasn't done properly. I guess, if you make enemies with the PM of the country, you don't get invited to these sorts of things. Anyway, it doesn't bother "Danny" anyway, or so he says (he wouldn't have mentioned it if it didn't bother him). At least PM Harper is not turning his back on the people of the province. "Danny" should get back to burying the rest of rural NL like he has been doing for the past while. Good luck there "Danny boy." Maybe if you manage to separate us from Canada you will sink us in the Mid-Atlantic, we'll probably be better off at that point.

Name:Drunk ank Drunk with power.
Both the Prime Minister and Premier are drunk with power. Both have promised things - both have failed to live up to them. Both could care less what we think. We have minimal choice in Ottawa - and less choice here. Danny Williams should not be the Premier - he is only the best of a dismal lot.

Danny got what he deserved. He acted just like a spoiled child who had his toys taken away. Grow up Danny and hopefully Harper will be gone after the next election.

I think when you represent people of a province and the people of Canada, you should NOT act like you are a "STEVE" or a "DANNY"; act like the PRIME MINISTER and PREMIER. I'm paying you to act in an official capacity, not as street boys.

Name:Jethro B.
NO; ABC & ABD : Get rid of both of them.

The two bullies are at it again. If you had 2 kids acting like those two you would send them to their rooms and discipline them. Wake up Steve and Dan you are acting like children and its time to get on with running this province and country or ours.

I am an old man now but when I was a child I remember my Grandmother and another old neighbour (woman) always in the most horrible angry confrontations, almost to the point of a knife fight. One day there was a tragedy in the small community. These two adversaries (enemies) put down their knives and joined in support for their grief stricken community. They worked together like real human beings for a common cause. Those two old warriors had more common sense than Harper and Williams and a hundred more like them all put together.

If I had a relative who was avoiding me (like Danny Boy) I would not want to inform him either of my visit! Here we go again with Danny wanting to rule! Grow up!

No, I did not care and if the shoe was on the other foot Danny would not have informed him either. Sorry to say this but I now feel the so called "power" has gone to our top guys heads. Too bad they are only people like the rest of us but are acting like the Paris Hilton's and Britney Spears from the Holywood scene, get on with our affairs

To be honest, I don't think any leaders, political, business, or otherwise want to deal with Danny. He behaves like a rich spoiled brat. I find it ironic, that in a province with so many low income earners, he gets so much support. How's he fooling us, I wonder.

Name:Just my Opinion
No, it doesn't bother me one bit. I would be surprised if he had informed. I think we have a case here of two spoiled brats and one is not going to give the other an inch. It is time to kiss and make up and by that I do not mean give everything away. But you cannot solve things if you are not talking. He is not dealing with the Provinical government employees now where he pounds his fist and says go back to work. I think you have two bull headed people here and either will give an inch. Stop playing around and do what you are being paid to do and don't say Danny is not getting paid for what he is doing, this giving back his salary is a farce, it is a tax right off we are not all fools

Name:frustrated taxpaxer
Williams again tries to deflect from his own inadequacies by directing attention to the big bad mainlanders out to screw Newfoundland. Get on with your job Williams and do something for the province other than whine about why you can't.

As long as Danny Williams continues his childish behavoiur who in their right mind would want to talk with him. His "MY WAY OR NO WAY" attitude is enough to make you sick, his arrogance is eveident in every move he makes even to his phoney smile. Get a life Danny when your own affairs are in order then complain about other people. The world really dosen't revolve around you believe it or not.

No, don't care. And what would be the point? I didn't hear the mayor of Placentia complain, just Williams. Isn't the issue to help PEOPLE out by getting their municipalities back in order. The whole thing in both their cases, but especially Williams was politicking and photo ops. Time for them to get over themselves and concentrate on people and their problems. The picture of Williams in his goat boots is no more confidence inspiring than Harper dropping by in a chopper. Neither of them are experts in these problems than the other. Leave it to to the engineers both provincial and municipal and let those 'leaders' concentrate on working out the compensation packages. For God's sake, just get on with it!

THis is foolishn ess time for Danny to smarten up and run the province in a mature matter!! at least the PM was man enough to go look at the damage! was Danny out looking??? Dannys mad cause he never got a ride on the Helicopter!

When you create war conditions Premier, don't expect the enemy to come garbbed in diplomacy. This was hardly about you - as you think everything is - this was about a PM supporting his MP - and those two people you have declared war on. You do know Relationships are a two-way street right?!! No? ...Oh, so now that you are enlightened, perhaps you can try harder to create a better fed-prov cooperation for the betterment of this province.

No, the Prime Minister of CANADA can visit any part of CANADA at any time. I am so sick of Danny's drama queen hissy fits.

Name:A Po Litical
YES is right on the money. Danny is too much like Harper that's why they don't get along. Both egomanic control freaks with spitey tempers like two-year-olds. GROW UP BOTH OF YOU.

Danny Williams seems to forget that Fabian Manning and Loyola Hearn are Newfoundlanders. Fabian Manning got as many votes in Avalon as Danny's little trained seal MHAs ever did, and he has every right to represent his people and that includes bringing the leader of the federal government. Danny isn't running a dictatorship, not yet, he just wants to be.

Name:Beg to differ :
I beg to differ that Danny is the best thing to happen to us in a long time . With all due respect to the Premier I believe he is the worst thing that has happened and untill and unless he learns that to negotate is a two way street we will be in trouble . You people that vote for him in October will be in denial for a long long time to come , sorry .

No, not after Danny Williams with his childish antics of calling Prime Minister Harper "Steve". How childish can Danny get?
As to Codger's question... The answer is, pretty darn childish. Keep watching.