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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Danny Williams, on how to deal with governments

From this past week's Labradorian:

“We have to look at what is recognized here. There is an obligation by the federal government here to deal with the Métis claim, and they have to deal with it. What Chris is doing, he is not only on the local stage, and he is on the national stage of trying to embarrass the government. That is not the way to be dealing with this,” he explained.
Trying to embarrass a government.

Not the way to deal with things.

Danny says so.

Danny “practice what we preach” Williams says so.

Is there any limit to the lies and hypocrisy that Danny Williams is allowed to get away with, unchallenged, scot-free?

So, a questio for Danny, and, especially, for any reporters who may be following in His entourage as he makes a last-minute campaign swing to Labrador this coming week:

What difference does it make whether or not the federal government "deals with" the Labrador Métis land claim? Why is it a necessary prerequisite to involving the LMN, as all other Labradorians, in a process of this, a supposedly open and accountable government?

Remember, during his last-minute campaign swing to Labrador in the last provincial election, Danny said:

“We will not develop the Lower Churchill unless the primary beneficiaries are Labradorians. You have my assurance on that.” (The Labradorian, October 6, 2003)
And, two days later, Danny made the following written promise:

We will involve the Labrador Metis Nation, as we will representatives of all residents of Labrador, in the process of negotiating a Lower Churchill Development Agreement.
That written promise was made without being contingent on any federal policy or action.

And there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept, right?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This just in!

Rob Antle and Terry Roberts report for The Telegram today:

Tory MHAs delivering cheques for government
Handover of money appears to conflict with Green Report


Earlier this summer, Tory Exploits MHA Clayton Forsey turned over a $500 cheque to a Bay D'Espoir cancer benefit concert on behalf of the provincial Health Department.

Not true! G'won!

Future Progressive (Conservative) tense

There is a bit of a strange headline today on Peter Walsh's story for The Telegram (not online) concerning Danny Williams' fisheries platform announcement yesterday:

Williams to keep heat on feds over fishery

Walsh reports:
Williams stepped onto well-trodden political ground by saying he will fight for more power in the federal-provincial balance over fisheries management.

Well-trodden, to be sure. Williams promised exactly the same thing in his 2003 platform, too, if anyone — Peter Walsh is as good an anyone as anyone — would go back and check. In fact, the 2007 and 2003 campaign promises are, other than the insertion of the phrase "in its second term" after "A Progressive Conservative government", word-for-word identical.

But in order to "keep heat on" something, the necessary semantic implication is that heat has already been placed on that something, and that it is still being placed on that something.

The Tory leader may just have subtly conceded that, up until now, he has done nothing on that front. While many of his lapstrake fisheries planks talk about how he will "continue" to do this, that, or the other thing, the joint management - ugh - "piece" is something he is merely going to "pursue".

In other words, the dog hasn't caught the car yet. And the dog hasn't tried to catch the car yet. And the dog wouldn't know what to do with the car even if he caught it. And the dog knows that he wouldn't know.

Which is why, when the car slowed down for the dog in January 2006, the dog stopped trying to catch it.

The reviews are in

From another sometimes-critic of O.D.P.:

Ouch: It is Election Time

Owie-ouch: A thousand bucks for every baby?

Super-owie-ouch: It is official, Danny is on crack

Bill on the boats

Bill Rowe went off on another anti-Marine Atlantic, anti-Confederate rant today, all because of the disaster training exercise that went awry.

The subtext of Comrade Rowe’s comments were, slightly, ever so slightly, re-phrased:

Rates too high? Separate.

Cafeteria coffee is cold? Separate.

Not enough sleeping capacity? Separate.

There is no problem with Marine Atlantic’s service, from the serious to the trival, that can’t be solved by separation.

Comrade Rowe, complaining of the lack of sleeper capacity on the Cabot Strait runs, sputtered, “Why wouldn’t they have sufficient cabins to meet the demand?”

A good question and a fair question.

But, while Comrade Rowe is at asking those questions, perhaps he should cast his lines a little closer to home.

Where is the outrage of all of the Comrade Rowes out there, from the VOCM studios to Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland, who rant and roar like true Newfoundlanders, rant and roar on deck and below, about Marine Atlantic, its service and its rates, but say nothing, not a thing, not one word, not one measly syllable, about the state of the provincially-run ferries that serve Labrador?

John Hickey, Tom Hedderson, Bruce Sparks, where are you?

Bill Rowe, where is your venomous, frothing, hate-filled, spitting blue anti-Confederate rage?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Labrador, electrified

Our Dear Platform contains an interesting promise:

A Progressive Conservative government in its second term will:
    • continue to provide off-farm access roads and electrical services for agricultural operations
The solution for coastal Labrador communities not linked to the road, and which won't get a transmission line under Our Dear Dan's Our Dear Energy Plan, is simple:

Start farming.

Gardening advice for Liz

If you really want to help out Jim and John, you might want to re-think what you are feeding to your plants.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

J'int Management

In its 2003 election platform, Our Dear Premier’s Our Dear Party pledged:
In particular, a shared fisheries management structure should be developed that will merge federal-provincial policy and management responsibilities into a complementary process for better conservation and management of the resource… A Progressive Conservative government will pursue a Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries.
While still in opposition, on May 8, 2003, Our Dear Opposition Leader (as he then was) said, of joint fisheries management:
Although I welcome this, and I take great pride in the fact that it is now on the table and that we pursued it for so long, the timing concerns me. We want to make sure that this does not become political; that this does not simply become an election issue; that it is not simply grandstanding and takes our attention away from the important matter.
In its founding policy declaration, the federal Conservative Party set forth:
v) A Conservative Government will adopt, with any interested coastal province or territory, a system of increased provincial management over fisheries through a system of joint management and joint fisheries councils modelled on the system proposed by unanimous resolution of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in May 2003 and as detailed in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador's white paper on the subject as released in 2003.
And during the 2005-06 federal election campaign, the Harper Conservatives promised:
The Conservatives will also give the coastal provinces – particularly Newfoundland and Labrador – an increased role in the management of the fisheries. The Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly has requested greater involvement in the management of the fisheries around the province. This has been strongly supported by the province’s Conservative MPs.
Our Dear Leader should recall that the Harper Conservatives, with his help and tacit endorsement, when he wasn’t endorsing the NDP for some bizarre reason, won a minority government in the January 2006 election.

Then, suddenly, on the joint fisheries management front, nothing happened.

As Loyola Hearn told Alisha Morrissey of The Telegram, on June 7, 2006:
Joint management across the board, nobody wants it. The provinces certainly don't want (to pay for) it ...
Loyola’s assessment is borne out perfectly by the current provincial Liberal platform, which states:
A Liberal Government will aggressively pursue complete control over the resource management and licensing of our adjacent fishery resource, while leaving enforcement and science to the federal government.
Or, translated into plain English, we’ll take the powers, you pay the bills.

Which makes the current PC platform pronouncement on the subject all the more curious:
A Progressive Conservative government in its second term will:
    • pursue a Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries
    • press to ensure the federal government, in revising the Fisheries Act, continues to recognize the primacy of adjacency in licensing and allocation decisions and ensures Newfoundland and Labrador provincial representation on organizational structures for fisheries management and any co-management agreements with harvesters
The platform plank is doubly curious.

First, because of Our Dear Premier’s sudden pronouncement on Monday that he, unlike Gerry Reid, and contrary to Loyola Hearn’s assessement, is quite willing to take on the expense of fisheries science, in part because, apparently, Us make better scientists than those horrid Non-Usses out there. This is a major financial undertaking. It is a major departure from the province’s “historic demands”, such as they are, concerning joint fisheries management. And, most importantly, it is nowhere to be found in Our Dear Platform.

And secondly, it is curious because Our Dear Premier promises to “pursue” joint management in Our Dear Second Term, if We get one, despite the fact that for the second half of Our Dear First Term, with a federal government in office that was, at least on paper, committed to the whole Joint Management business, Our Dear Premier, Our Dear Fisheries Minister, Our Dear Minister of Intergovernment Affairs, and Our High Commissioner and Minister Plenipotentiary in Canada, did absolutely nothing to pursue this supposedly sacred and historic goal or Our Dear Nation.

Did we know what we were fighting for?

I noticed something interesting about Our Dear Theme Song the day it was posted on Our Dear Party’s website.
The copyright date. 2004.

It’s interesting how this jaunty number has been sitting in the can for three years, instead of being in constant radio play on that Sunday morning show, How Irish We Are. There must, surely, be some reason for that.

And lo and behold, today Our Dear Premier explained it away, at least in part:
You've just heard the lyrics of our campaign theme song, and I have to tell you - the more I hear it, the more I love it. It hits the nail right on the head.

Darrell Power, one of the original members of Great Big Sea, wrote that song in 2004 just after we won our major victory on the Atlantic Accord. It was one of those pivotal moments that electrified our whole province, from western Labrador to Cape Ray to the Cape Shore.
That’s one way for Labrador to get electrified, I guess, even without access to the Lower Churchill power. Badump-chink!

There’s just one really pesky inconsistency in that account of events.

Our Dear Premier — Our Dear Saviour, actually — didn’t descend an escalator, fists pumping in the air, pronouncing “We Got It”, Our Dear Atlantic Accord, in 2004. It was not until January, 2005, that We won Our Major Victory.

So, if Our Dear Theme Song was, in fact, written in 2004, not just before the election, but in the calendar year before the event it supposedly commemorates, what were we to have been fighting for then, given that the general election was, at the time, three years away?

Are the lyrics of the audio file, and as published on Our Dear Party’s website, the original ones?

And is it the same political party campaign theme song, identically, to the very chord and syllable, that Our Dear Premier, with His Dear Premier’s hat on, premiered at an official public speaking engagement the week before the writ was dropped?

Clarification, explanation, and mp3 audio from Our Dear September 12 Speech to the Board of Trade are welcome.

e-lection time

The e-lection continues! The latest entry is the Labrador Metis Nation, weighing in on Our Dear Energy Plan, and reminding readers of Danny Williams' most infamous famously-broken promises from the last campaign.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lift us up where we belong

Our Dear Premier said in last night’s debate:

[The public has] seen Gerry Reid in opposition. They’ve seen what he’s done in that House of Assembly. Negative. Pessimistic. Personal attacks. That’s the way he proceeds. That’s the way he conducts himself.
As opposed, one presumes, to Mr. Positivity, Optimism, and Nice Guy, Q.C., M.H.A.

(Yes, you’ve heard this before.)

Mr. P., O., and N.G. continued:

It’s that negativity, and that pessimism, that has had Newfoundland and Labrador down as far as it was before, and we’re lifting it up.
Here are just some of the ways in which Danny Williams has lifted politics out of the morass of negativity, pessimism, and personal attacks, so far in his illustrious career.

Danny Williams told Tracy Barron of The Telegram, in a New Year’s interview early in 2002:

Progressive Conservative Leader Danny Williams is alleging a bias in the way he was treated by Speaker Lloyd Snow, a Liberal, during the fall sitting of the legislature.

“It seemed that in the few days where we particularly had them on the run, the Speaker seemed to be a little more active than normal. He seemed to be setting a different standard for me, which I think somewhat restricted the scope of the questions and the way I could go at questions. He has got the right to interfere, I suppose, for want of a better term, and his rulings can’t be appealed, so you tend to have to live with it.”
Speaker’s rulings can’t be appealed, no. That’s a lesson Mr. Positivity would end up learning again and again. It would be difficult, in fact, to find any MHA who has been forced to apologize for, withdraw, or retract more comments in the House of Assembly since he made his debut in the chamber on November 19, 2001 - starting with the groveling apology he was obliged to give on the first day the House resumed sitting after his Telegram tirade:

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to you privately in your office on two separate occasions, and as I have reiterated in writing in a letter which I delivered to you this morning, that I do sincerely apologize for any comments that were made outside the House of Assembly during December that may have offended you or any member of this House of Assembly. It certainly was not my intention to do so.

I would also like to point out that I did not use the term bias in my comments. Comments that were made to the reporter at that particular point in time may have implied that, but that term was never used.

Mr. Speaker, and to all members of this hon. House, I do sincerely apologize.
Notice the curious use of the passive voice. “Comments that were made… that term was never used.” That is another recurring them with Mr. Positivity, Who Always Takes Responsibility For His Actions.

On May 15th of the same year, Mr. P. asked in Question Period:

My question for the Premier is: Why did he try to mislead the people into thinking that there was going to be a debate in this House on Voisey’s Bay that could actually influence the outcome of whether a deal would be signed or not, when in fact nothing is further from the truth?
“Mislead”, of course, is unparliamentary language, for which Mr. Positivity was required to make another apology, again in the passive voice.

If I am going to withdraw it, I want to make sure he is here to do it, Mr. Speaker. I respect the ruling of the Speaker and I certainly withdraw my comment. My remark was certainly no intention to imply that there was any deliberate intention to mislead the House. That remark is withdrawn.
On May 1st, Mr. Positivity-Nice Guy sputtered:

You are pathetic, Premier.
In November of that year, Mr. Positivity again dabble in the Unparliamentary, saying:

The hon. the Premier - and the record of Hansard will tell the truth - said that I spoke to Mr. MacDonald all through last week about this matter, and he used other terms which I didn’t hear, but we will check the record. This is improper, you are misleading the House, and you are lying to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Misleading” was found to be just as unparliamentary as it was in May, as was “lying. Mr. P. managed to find his active voice for that retraction:

I withdraw the remarks with respect to lying, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. No Personal Attacks, again in November 2002, also said:

Just for the record, our caucus also supports a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, if it can be done in a strategic manner that does not negatively impact our economy. What I am at a loss to understand today is, which side of his mouth the Premier is speaking out of. I got this, I guess, maybe half an hour ago.*
For which Mr. Positivity, who never, ever engages in personal attacks, groveled again, six days later:

I graciously accept your ruling, and I withdraw my remark that the hon. gentleman was anything less than honest.
One of the more spectacular examples of Mr. Postivity being positive came on May 18, 2004:

So it is a little two-faced, to say the least, to get on this way in questions.
Mr. P. “withdrew” his positivity in the following words:

I actually withdraw that remark, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the Opposition is, in fact, no-faced.
And, having been called on the carpet both for the original remark and for compounding the “positivity”, made a more abject apology at the start of the next sitting:

I unequivocally withdraw that comment, Mr. Speaker, and apologize to the House.
On April 20, 2005, Mr. Nice Guy, cloaked by Parliamentary privilege, tried to besmirch the reputation of someone who isn’t even a member of the House:

What about when the Member for Torngat, whose brother was a negotiator for the LIA –
Withdrawing yet other remarks after Question Period, Mr. Positivity said:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that ruling which I certainly honour. I do indicate to this House, and I do indicate to all members opposite though, that I will stand in my place and I will defend the honour of any of my members at any particular point in time, whether that is the hon. minister or any of the other thirty-two people. On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I hereby withdraw my remarks.
The caveat, “on that basis”, wasn’t good enough. You’d think a lawyer, who deals with rules for a living, would have learned after nearly four years as an MHA, but no. So, in a later sitting day, he was required to be a bit more emphatic, again groveling:

Mr. Speaker, I unequivocally withdraw those remarks.
On May 25, 2006, Mr. Positivity, who really doesn’t seem to want to learn from his close reading of Beauchesne, said:

First of all, I would like to deal with the deliberate misleading of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that the hon. gentleman opposite has done on Open Line this morning.
The M-word being just as bad in 2006 as it was at any previous instance where Mr. P. used it, Mr. P. – the P can stand for Positivity or Passive-voice, take your pick, “withdrew” it yet again:

The statement is withdrawn, Mr. Speaker.
And of course, there were those unfortunate little comments that Mr. Positivity made about a judge.

And the use of the name “Joyce Hancock” as an insult.

The tone of debate in the House all too often takes its cues from Le Chef. It was like that under Brian Peckford and Brian Tobin, where theatrics, invective, and vitriol where, as now, the order of the day. Clyde Wells and his much leveller head brough some semblance of sanity to the Bow-Wow Parliament, though when the cat was away, the mice had a tendency to play.

But, all in all, it’s a good thing that “we’re lifting it up.”

Cause goodness knows, things would be really bad if there were a negative and pessimistic Premier in charge, one who engages in personal attacks.

In fact, they would be almost as bad as they are under a Premier who takes every one of his own character flaws, personal failings, and minor neuroses, and projects them onto everyone and anyone who dares challenge his world view.

- - -

* During the same sitting, Mr. Positivity also said something which is, in hindsight, pretty funny:

MR. WILLIAMS: Imagine, being bought with your own money. I just cannot fathom it.
And something which will, in the fullness of time, become equally so:

MR. WILLIAMS: I won’t be remembered as a quitter, though, Premier, and you will.

The Debate (3)

The money quote, from Danny Williams:

The opposition has to earn the vote.
The same is true of the government. Only more so.

Does the arrogance and hubris of the man know any bounds?

And yes, that is a rhetorical question.

The Debate (2)

The best moment of unintended humour of the night came from Danny Williams.

Early in his legislative career, newly-minted MHA once referred to the Speaker as “Your Honour.” On another occasion he even ended a Question Period, like the Great Lawyer that he is, with “I have no further questions, Mr. Speaker.”

As Danny reminded everyone last year when he engaged in verbal attacks unbecoming an officer of the court, “he is no longer registered as a practising lawyer with the Law Society.

But that doesn’t stop him from playing one on TV. Cross-examining Lorraine Michael! Hilarity!

The Debate (1)

The winner: ?. The loser: Civility. The Debate on the Debate was short, vicious, and unequivocal – the format stank, just like it did last time. Take out two TV panelists and replace them with a newspaper journo and a schoolmarm. Or Linda Swain.

Partisan posturing

On Friday, the Combined Councils of Labrador issued a press release critical of the substance and the process of Our Dear Energy Plan.

For the record, here is the release in its entirety (source):

Labrador Leaders Request further Consultation on Provincial Energy Plan

Saturday, 22 Sep 2007 8:47 pm ADT (-0300 GMT)
September 21, 2007

The Combined Councils of Labrador along with HVGB Mayor Leo Abbass, and Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto met in Happy Valley – Goose Bay today to discuss issues and concerns with the Provinces Energy Plan. In a unanimous voice all agreed that further consultation with the Combined Councils of Labrador, the Business Community and Labrador's Aboriginal Groups is required. There are many unanswered questions and concerns that must be addressed before support for the Energy Plan can be given.

Deputy Mayor Stanley Oliver, Combined Councils of Labrador President stated: "As President of the Combined Councils of Labrador I would like to extend to government the opportunity to sit, meet, and discuss the concerns of the Labrador Communities regarding the Energy Plan as it currently exists."

Mayor Jim Farrell, VP Labrador West – "I can see how residents of Coastal Labrador are concerned with the Energy Plan. Premier Williams in his speech while in Labrador City on September 18th, 2007 recognized that the Energy plan is short on detail and he understands the concerns of residents of Labrador and will be looking further into it."

Councillor Alton Rumbolt, VP Labrador Southeast – "As VP for Labrador Southeast I cannot support a plan that will see a transmission line bypass the Southeast Coast of Labrador and go directly to the Island. I would definitely like too see further consultation with the Combined Councils of Labrador."

Deputy Mayor Ernie McLean, VP Labrador Central – "The plan in its current form is unacceptable, and does not address the needs of Labrador Communities. This has always been and always will be my view. The need to get to the table is necessary."

Mayor Nath Moores, VP Labrador Straits – "As CCL VP for the Labrador Straits I cannot support the Energy Plan until such time that it addresses the energy needs of the north and south coast of Labrador either through the extension of power lines or the development of alternate energy sources at the same time or prior to the development of the Lower Churchill Project."

AngajukKâk Sarah Erickson, VP Labrador North – "The Energy Plan does not seem to have any long term benefits to the residents of the North Coast or Labrador as a whole, it has excluded any concerns or recommendations from the community consultations that were held prior to the development of the Plan. And until it is shown that there is anything in the Plan that will progressively improve electrical services and offer alternative sources within Labrador, as was discussed at the consultations, it is unacceptable."

Mayor Leo Abbass, Town of Happy Valley – Goose Bay – "The Energy Plan in its current form is unacceptable and can only be improved with further consultations with the people in Labrador."

Mayor Graham Letto, Town of Labrador City – "Labrador West has always maintained the view that in order to reach full potential we need extra wheeling capacity on transmission lines for recall power and any future power developments. It has also been our position that the power issue in Labrador can be addressed with 92A of the constitution. These and other issues were put forward by the Town of Labrador City during a consultation session that took place on January 16th, 2006. None of which were addressed in the current energy plan. For these reasons we can not support the energy plan in its current form"

Media Contact: Stanley Oliver, President, Combined Councils of Labrador
The fax machines and email inboxes had barely stopped spinning when Danny Williams started.

He accused the Combined Councils of partisan bias.

Stanley Oliver is a former staff member for former Liberal MHA and cabinet Minister Ernie McLean. Aha!, says Danny. Conspiracy!

Nice theory. Too bad it doesn't fit the facts.

Just take Jim Farrell. Mayor Farrell made no secret of his PC inclinations during last winter's Labrador West by-election. He hit the airwaves to support Jim Baker in the nomination, and, in the days following Randy Collins' resignation from the House, was even floated as a possible PC nomination contestant.

Jim Farrell is sufficiently on the ins with the provincial Tories that he was invited along on a 2006 provincial junket to Ottawa to seek the federal funding that Danny Williams wants to get in order to be able to "go it alone" on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

The other guests on that important mission? Graham Letto and Leo Abbass.

That would be the same Graham Letto who was the PC Danny Williams Team candidate in Labrador West in 2003. And the same Leo Abbass who is described by the Canadian Press as a "supporter of Williams", and by the CBC as a "Tory supporter".

The Combined Councils comes close to being all-partisan. In Dannystan, by Danny's own standards, that makes it non-partisan.

Which means it's not the Liberal supporters Danny Williams has to worry about in Labrador.

It's his own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Negativity, pessimism, and personal attacks

Our Dear Premier said in tonight's debate:

[The public has] seen Gerry Reid in opposition. They've seen what he's done in that House of Assembly. Negative. Pessimistic. Personal attacks. That's the way he proceeds. That's the way he conducts himself.
As opposed, one presumes, to Mr. Positivity, Optimism, and Nice Guy.

At random, the headlines from ten randomly-selected press releases on the PC Party website from Danny's days in opposition:
Williams says something is terribly wrong with the Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles [June 19, 2002]

Québec to finance Lower Churchill from the $56 billion they've stolen from us in the last 30 years
[November 19, 2002]

Voisey's Bay Statement of Principles not the final binding agreement
[June 18, 2002]

Why is the Premier afraid to debate a Voisey's Bay deal before signing it?
[December 4, 2001]

Conflicting messages about Voisey's Bay: Who is misleading?
[May 6, 2002]

Government not fighting hard enough for offshore oil benefits
[March 26, 2003]

Grimes' statements about protesting cod fishery closure cause confusion, concern
[May 8, 2003]

Minister flounders on wharf takeover deal
[December 3, 2001]

Mismanagement is nothing new from this government
[November 21, 2001]

Grimes' Churchill plans coloured by "can't-do" attitude and poor working relationship with Ottawa [December 4, 2002]

Like rabbits

Tory leader Danny Williams today elaborated more on his population plan. As the Telegram online quotes him as saying:

I’d love to see (the population) double, but we’ll have to do it incrementally… What we have to do first of all is reverse the outmigration.
On CBC On the Go, a fuller extract was aired, including where the Premier made reference to the

dozens and dozens of people who are saying that either they’re back, or their families are coming back, or their families are about to come back. There seems to be a change in attitude, and I think, you know, that Hebron made a difference. It was kind of a reversal of what, I guess, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians felt was a negative trend that they had to go outside the province to work. But now I think they are feeling very good about the province, they see hope, they see security.
Today is September 25th.

The Hebron MOU – which is still a far cry from a development agreement, let alone the development itself, was announced barely over a month ago, on August 22nd. Very little information has been released on it, let alone enough to make any prudent people bet a job and a mortgage in some other part of the country on. Danny’s statement about how “Hebron made a difference”, in the past tense, is Dannyperbole at best, or dangerous wishful thinking at first.

(Given that it’s been only a month, and that the human gestational period is substantially longer than a month, Hebron has done nothing, yet, to increase the birth rate. Presumably it hasn’t done much about the mortality rate, either.)

But Danny is right on one thing: before there can be population growth, the current trends, those of net outmigration and natural population decline, have to be halted.

(Actually, one of those trends could conceivably continue, as long as the other was reversed to such a degree to compensate for the loss. But that’s math, and math is so hard.)

And that’s where things get really interesting.

If population decline magically stopped overnight tonight – either through net in-migration, or natural population increase, or a combination of the two – the population decline of the past decade and a half would screech to a halt at just over 500,000 people (if it isn’t already under that figure).

The peak years of population growth, contrary to popular myth, were in the first 25 years post-Confederation. The provincial population grew at an average annual rate of 1.81%, driven by a continuing high birth rate, resource development, especially in Labrador, and the massive investment in public works made possible by the infusion of federal transfer payments and cost-shared program funding. That rate was below the all-Canada average, but still better than five other provinces. It was also half a percent higher than the pre-Confederation average, starting with the census of 1836, and in the compounding game, that half a percent is a potent mathematical force.

At that fairly steep rate of population growth, even if it started tomorrow, it would take two years to under the population loss since Danny Williams came into office, a decade to undo the population loss since the population peaked in the late 1980s, and forty years for the provincial population to double.

In the century up to the end of the Second World War, the average annual growth rate in the irregular and decennial censuses of Newfoundland and Labrador was around 1.35%. At that rate, it would be nearly 2020 before the population rebounded to its peak level, and half a century before it reached a million.

More realistically, perhaps, in the brief episode of population increase associated with the Hibernia construction in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the peak year-over-year population increase was 0.26% recorded in 1990-1991.

At that rate, it will take nearly the better part of a decade just for the Williams government, if re-elected, to oversee the growth of the population back to where it was in the fall of 2003.

It will take more than half a century before the population re-attains its historic peak.

And it will take 260 years for the population to hit a million.

Those demographic and mathematical realities are why Danny Williams is very prudent not to set any hard and firm targets… especially since, as he himself concedes, before he can start a new trend, he has to reverse the current one.

To You With Love From Danny

There’s Dido.

There’s Donovan.

There’s Dante.

And there’s Danny.

Imagine that. A Premier who’s so famous he needs no last name.

The signature block to the covering message from the leader in the PC platform:

Tomorrow's Independent Today

This week, the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist asks some pretty good questions.

Numbers 7 and 10 in particular.

Next week, the ads start drying up again.

Lorraine's or Danny's?

The Ministry of Truth informs us:
The Federal NDP Leader is coming to the province to help with the provincial campaign. Jack Layton will participate in several events Wednesday, including a stop at the Holyrood Generating plant and a 'Soups On' fundraising event at the Hub in St.Johns.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Something Fishy (1)

In a clip from an interview with the CBC, aired this afternoon on the Fisheries Broadcast, the Premier said:
We don’t have enough scientific information of our own. We always depend on the federal scientific information, and what they have, and how much they want to give us to go look. I think as a province, and I’ve said it time and time again, that we need to be putting money into science, and we are going to do that. I’d love to see us also get our own vessel. I was in Iceland about six or eight months ago, and they have their own vessels up there, they go through their own research, and they make their decisions based on those findings. So if we could get our own research done, and tie the scientists to the fishermen, and the fishermen got the bulk of the knowledge, then I think we are going to be in an informed position to make informed decisions. I don’t like relying on other information or for me to make decisions, I like to get my own information and then make a decision on that basis, so that’s what I’m hoping to do.
The research vessel idea is curiously missing from the Tory platform document. You have to wonder whether he’s making things up as he goes along (again). Wacky. But Danny’s entire pronouncement is like one big wacky onion. You peel away one layer of wackiness, and there’s still more wackiness underneath.

How much information does the federal scientific establishment within DFO give to the province? How much do they “want to” give? And how much, and what, are they holding back?

“We” already do exactly what Iceland does. “We”, in Canada, are a country, just like Iceland is. Who else would Iceland, an independent, unitary state, “rely on” for scientific information but “their own vessels”?

The nationalist overtone to this bizarre pronouncement, let alone the fiscal implications, are rather disturbing. As Anton Chekhov wrote,

There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.
There is nothing that Our Own Money Into Science, and Our Own Dear Research Vessel, can tell us from the point of view of marine biology and ecology, that DFO’s money and vessels can’t… assuming both sets of results generated by both pots of money and both ships are truly scientific.



The mystery is solved.

We now know why Our Dear Energy Plan involves transmitting so-called "Lower Churchill" power to Holyrood, on the border of the St. John's metro area, but not to anywhere in Labrador.
St. John's needs it.

Terry Roberts reports in today's Telegram:
Growth in the province's economy may be most noticeable in the capital city region, but Premier Danny Williams acknowledges St. John's has been "neglected" during his government's first four years in office.

Ironically, Williams made the admission during a campaign stop in rural Newfoundland Friday night, where cabinet minister Trevor Taylor is seeking re-election in the district of The Straits-White Bay North.

"St. John's will need work," Williams said before a crowd of some 150 people at a rally in St. Anthony.


"There's a misperception out there that things aren't good in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, when nothing is further from the truth. And in fact the irony is that there's still things that need to be done in St. John's," he said.
Poor St. John's.

That explains why there are so many grubby street urchins down on Water Street, playing their bongoes, grimey ball caps upturned on the sidewalk, with signs scratched onto cardboard scraps in Sharpie markers, "Brother, can you spare a megawatt?"


Curiouser and curiouser...

A visual theme in the tourism ad campaign launched last year eerily foreshadowed the dominant political theme of week one in the election campaign launched this year.

Now even the visuals are being pinched. (Photo source:


Prediction for the coming week: Danny rides back into Fogo on a Newfoundland pony, and hikes to the Corner of the World. As if on cue, a humpback whale breaches in the offing.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Revenge is a dish best served on YouTube

Everyone is getting into the blogging and YouTubery game:

As of right now, this recently-added video only has 37 views.

How much you want to bet that increases, significantly, by October 9th?

On agendas


An interesting bit of intelligence from Lloyd, posting to the ever-informative message board:

I just heard Dan Williams, the Premier of Newfoundland on VOCM news. He was saying that Combined Councils of Labrador President Stanley Oliver was taking the position that he is (Stan is objecting to Labrador being ripped off) because he is supposedly pushing a LIBERAL agenda. Leave it to Williams - if you don't agree with him you have to be a Liberal or some such thing that he can attack - instead of responding to the actual criticism. He can't seem to undertand that people might disagree with him. We can, because after all - he's just a man.

Well Mr. Premier I disagree with this energy rip-off too, and I can tell you I have no Liberal agenda, nor membership and not currently active in any party.


[Emphasis added.]

It's interesting to note that "Dan" had no such concerns about a partisan agenda when the head of another municipal umbrella group put out its position on Our Dear Energy Plan.

Of course, that position was supportive. And issued by a failed PC nomination candidate in Port au Port:

For Immediate Release
St. John's, NL
January 17, 2007

Seven candidates for the PC nomination in Port au Port

Progressive Conservative Party Leader Danny Williams and Party President John Babb announced at the close of nomination for the upcoming by-election in the district of Port au Port, there are seven candidates:

  • Lorne Barbour

  • Tony Cornect

  • Christina Kendall

  • Wayne Lee

  • Danny McCann

  • Wayne Ruth

  • Wayne Wheeler
It's OK to have a partisan agenda.

As long as it's Our Dear Partisan Agenda.

Blown away

On Thursday evening, Labrador was visited by a “hard blow”. On Friday, Labrador is being visited by a blowhard.


But, seriously… As Peter Cowan reported for CBC Radio Noon today (.ram audio file):
There wasn’t much warning at all. the first wind warning that came out was at about just before seven o’clock, Labrador Time, because they were calling for gusts of up to about 70 kilometres an hour, it was what the forecasts were, but, in fact, those warnings really didn’t come out until we were already seeing 85-kmh winds, 90-kmh winds, with those big gusts that we’ve been talking about. So people here are sorta wondering why there wasn’t any sort of warning, that these sorts of really strong winds were gonna be coming.
In fact, at six p.m., the hourly obs at Goose Bay had already recorded sustained winds of 87 kmh, gusting to 111.

Wasn’t this sort of thing supposed to end with the relocation of the met office back to Gander?

As then-opposition provincial fisheries critic Trevor Taylor said in a March a 14, 2003 press release:
“I am particularly concerned about how the movement of weather forecasting from Gander to Halifax will affect the quality of forecasting and how that may cause problems for the traveling public and for mariners… It would appear that our climate and our location on the ocean would make us the practical location for weather forecasting in eastern Canada.”
And of course, everyone knows that the forecast quality declined after the Gander staff were moved to Halifax. As the great Bill Rowe wrote in a July 2005 column for The Telegram:
Is there a person among us who truly thinks our weather forecasting out here in the North Atlantic Ocean is anywhere near as accurate as before it was pilfered from Gander with the con that Nova Scotia’s high tech would keep it just as good? … The capital city of this province, St. John’s, and indeed the province as a whole, is viewed by much of Canada, and especially by the faceless power brokers of Ottawa, as nothing but a pimple on the arse of Halifax. And that is precisely how we are treated.
Cliff Wells reported in the Western Star the following month:
Jack Harris, a fisherman in Jeffrey’s in Bay St. George South, said the forecast has gotten much worse since the centre moved.

“In my opinion, it (Gander Weather Centre) should never have been moved,” said Harris. “Once this year, we were out fishing and got caught in one of the worst storms we had this summer. The forecast for this area called for 15-20 miles an hour of wind and we had about 50, or 60 miles an hour.”
In September of that year, Leona Gillette of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities told the same paper:
“This isn’t just a Gander problem, this is a provincial problem… The government should certainly have another look at it. Statistics are showing now that our forecasts were off so many times last winter. There’s been numerous stories of people being caught on the highways in a storm that was never forecasted. That’s dangerous and we could certainly make a fuss over that.”
The lack of accuracy in the Halifax forecast, and the inherent superiority of Gander, was an article of faith in Newfoundland during the Meteorological Interregnum. It was rarely questioned in public, although the Western Star editorial of April 12, 2006 did concede:
There is no scientific evidence to back it up but there has been lots of complaining about the poor quality of weather forecasting in this province since the change was made.
Last fall around this time, the Gander Beacon interview Blair Sparkes of Environment Canada:
As for more accurate and efficient forecasting, Sparkes said the office will be using the same technology as other locations. However, the difference will be, when the public calls the 1-900 phone service, responses will be given from local forecasters rather than from staff in Quebec.

“Plus, if you’re here in the region, over time you get a better feel for the local weather because you’re experiencing it yourself,” he said. “Certainly, the weather (forecasts) for Gander should be better because you can look out the window and see it yourself. From that point of view, there is an expectation that we should be able to improve things locally.”
In other words: having a weather forecaster near where you are is a bonus, because he or she is physically well-situated to tell you what the weather will be like an hour ago.

Kinda like what happened last night when a wind warning was issued an hour after the trees started disengaging from their roots.

Never mind the scientific facts, though, Randy Simms is convinced the weather itself, not just the forecasting thereof, has improved since last April, and he works for the Ministry of Truth (provincial).

(Of course, the whole debate over the forecast accuracy sounds like perfect subject-matter for the Harris Centre for the Study and Promulgation of Newfoundland Nationalist Mythology to delve into and pronounce upon. They could start with Leona Gillette’s “statistics.”)

When the forecast office was moved back to Gander in 2006, the Prime Minister said:
For years now, this province has had to endure inaccurate weather forecasts from nearly a thousand [sic] kilometres away in the Maritimes.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians* deserve better than to be told to expect five centimetres of snow over night only to wake up to ten times that amount.

In short, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians* deserve accurate forecasts that reflect the reality of the province’s unique weather.
Of course, we all know how so very far Halifax and Montreal are from Newfoundland. And never mind the exact figure, the whole weather office debate have never worried much about facts, anyway. They are far away from Newfoundland. Gander is not. The end. La la la, thumbs in ears, I. CAN’T. HEAR. YOU.

And the distance from Halifax to Newfoundland surely means Gander is too far from most of Labrador to forecast its weather... right?

It would also mean that Environment Canada has to pepper forecasting officers in the centre of overlapping 500-km radius circles across the country, in order to bring the system up to the “accuracy” level of Gander.

Meanwhile, Our Dear Premier will no doubt be diverting from his campaign itinerary to survey the peeled-off rooves and siding, the downed power lines, the shattered trees, and shifted sand dunes. Standing among the wreckage of century-plus trees in North West River and smashed porch steps in Happy Valley, sharing the pain, he will condemn the federal government for not rushing its Rapid Reaction Battalion in from Bagotville to deal with the situation, and then dramatically announce that the province will “go it alone” on compensation to property owners for the damage.

But if you pick through the debris carefully, among the many other things that were blown away, blown down, and blown apart by the Big Blow of 2007, you should find any remaining pretence that, on the Gander weather office issue, “this is not about federal jobs, this is about public safety.

- - -

* As delivered and quoted, Harper didn’t actually say the “and Labradorians” part that was either in his speaking notes, or inserted into the press release after the fact.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Autonomy Index

Based on an analysis of the three major parties'* platforms, labradore is pleased to present The Autonomy Index.

The Index is a guage of how reliant a party’s platform is on federal policy, federal goodwill, or federal money – above all else, money – on its being accomplished; and on the degree to which the party is running on federal issues in this, a provincial, election.

For the purposes of this analysis, an entire “bullet point” in a party’s platform document is treated as one “promise”, even if it contains several promiselets.

The Index is scored like golf, apparently, says the non-golfer. The lower the Autonomy Index score, the more autonomous the party’s platform.

So, in alphabetical order:


Number of times “federal” or “Government of Canada” appear: 30 (all “federal”)

Number of promises which depend on federal policy, goodwill, or money: 17

Total Autonomy Index: 47

Some examples:

A Liberal Government will advocate leaving North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and demand strong action from the federal government on foreign over fishing off our coast.

A Liberal Government will aggressively pursue complete control over the resource management and licensing of our adjacent fishery resource, while leaving enforcement and science to the federal government.

A Liberal Government will respect the rights of our Metis and Mi'kmaq people in accessing federal programs and services to which they are entitled.

A Liberal Government will work to secure a Federal/Provincial Highways Agreement for Labrador.

Progressive Conservative

Number of times “federal” or “Government of Canada” appear: 38 (26 “federal”, 12 “Government of Canada”)

Number of promises which depend on federal policy, goodwill, or money: 28

Total Autonomy Index: 66

Some examples:

A Progressive Conservative government will:

present to the federal government options for a new paved airstrip for Nain

present to the federal government options for paved airstrip improvements for Port Hope Simpson regional airport

press the Government of Canada to restore funding for the federal Court Challenges Program

support local artists in seeking various federal targeted grants

New Democrats

Number of times “federal” or “Government of Canada” appear: 8 (all “federal”)

Number of promises which depend on federal policy, goodwill, or money: 4

Total Autonomy Index: 12

Some examples:
The NDP will call for:***

The provincial government to negotiate for federal investment in new hydro projects, creation of a national east-west power grid and transfer of the federal 8.5 per cent Hibernia share to the province.

Federal early retirement benefits for fisheries workers who have given their working lives to the fishery and their communities, and who deserve to retire with dignity and security.

Increased provincial government funding of post-secondary education to counter federal cuts, along with a demand that the federal government increase education spending to pay its share for our post-secondary system.

The elimination of federal taxes on books.
The winner and champion Autonomists: the NDP!

The totally not autonomous Überfederalisten: the Tories!

- - -

* Other parties' platforms will be Autonomy-scored if they are posted to the internets.

** Such refreshing honesty about what provincial politicians mean by “joint management”!

*** What, no pretence of forming an NDP government?

And this is only Day 5?


Thursday, September 20, 2007


Tara Brautigam reported for Canadian Press on Monday, the day the election campaign launched:
For his part, the populist Tory Premier insists he does not want to obliterate the Liberals or NDP, but emphasizes that the only opposition worth having is one that’s positive.

“It’s good to have an opposition, but it’s important that that opposition be a constructive opposition, it not be a name-calling, mudslinging, personal- attacking type of opposition,” Mr. Williams said in an interview.
But being a name-calling, mudslinging, personal-attacking type of government?

That’s perfectly fine.

Terry Roberts reports for The Telegram today, from out on the campaign trail:

Premier Danny Williams said Wednesday his visit to The Isles of Notre Dame was nothing personal against Liberal Leader Gerry Reid.


But as the day progressed, it became more and more obvious that Williams wants nothing more to do with Reid after the Oct. 9 provincial election.

By late afternoon, Williams was criticizing Reid’s “attitude” and his “scowl” and his negative position on every issue.

But Wait! There’s More!
Williams also questioned why Reid, who has made saving rural Newfoundland and the fishery one of his main rallying cries, would launch his campaign in St. John’s.

“Gerry Reid is a capable guy in his own way, but he’s got an attitude, and he can’t get over it. And everybody in the province is seeing it,” Williams said during a rally in Twillingate.

“When they look at him, they see him on television, they see the scowl on his face.”
But Wait! There’s More!
Later, in Virgin Arm, a small community on New World Island, Williams again went on the attack.

“If the fishery is so important to him, can you explain to me why he would start his campaign in a boat in St. John’s Harbour?
Says the man who started his campaign in a traditional outport Newfoundland inshore Lear Jet?

And oh yeah — someone oughta ask Ross Reid how making fun of your opponent’s face worked out for his re-election campaign in 1993.

- - -

UP-DIDDLY-DATE: The anonyblogosphere chimes in, with moderately hilarious consequences.


On Tuesday, Danny Williams said of his population plan
We've had some lengthy discussions on this in caucus and at cabinet... and what we've done is we've looked at the jurisdictions across Canada, to the best of our ability, and as quickly as we could in advance of the election, government had started to do this process
Maybe it wasn't so quick. And maybe it was quite lengthy. How's this for foreshadowing?

(Nicer-res version available here.)

These were the award-winning ads produced by Target Margeting.

Any chance anyone from Target might be involved in the Tory campaign?

Back to the future

Last week, The Telegram editorialist (though probably not this one) took "A refreshing look into the future".

Marty McFly there ought to have taken A refreshing look into the past.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to be like Quebec

No, not paying people to procreate.

From Radio-Canada:
Half of the wind-farm projects submitted to Hydro-Quebec are situated in eastern Quebec.

Ten proponents have submitted a total of 33 projects; 17 in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, 13 in the Gaspé, and three on the North Shore. The total production capacity of the submitted projects throughout Quebec is 7724 MW, 5205 MW of which is from the three eastern regions.'s also in the Matapedia Valley, in Saint-Irène, where the smallest of the projects, the Saint-Irène, is located, with a capicity of 9 MW. It is a community project put forward by the Société intégrée de développement éolien de la Matapédia. Community support is one of the important factors for consideration by the crown corporation.


Elsewhere, the largest project on the North Shore, at 300 MW, is that of a consortium formed by the First Nations community of Betsiamites and Nortland [sic] Power. The two other projects are in Port-Cartier and Aguanish, on the Lower [sic] North Shore, with a capacity of less than 100 MW each.

The limited number of projects originating from the North Shore is also explained by the availability of transmission lines.

According to this related Radio-Canada report:
The Boralex and Gaz Métro consortium, Innergex, Kruger, Northland Power, St-Laurent Energies and Transcanada Energy are among the largest [wind] project proponents.

The accepted submissions should be announced in the spring of 2008. Those accepted will have to meet certain criteria:

    • a minimum of 60% of the overall costs of each wind-farm must be spent in Quebec.
    • a minimum of 30% of the cost of each wind generator must be spend in the regional municipality of Matane and the administrative region of Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine
    • projects which contribute to the development of and participation by local and Aboriginal communities will be encouraged.
In Dannystan, "we" — that's Ed Martin and Danny Williams — own the wind.

And that's why private-sector wind-energy investment, and lots of it, is happening in Quebec.

And PEI.

Birthday money

In the announcement on Tuesday of his plan to induce not just labour, but pregnancy itself, the Premier said:

We've had some lengthy discussions on this in caucus and at cabinet... and what we've done is we've looked at the jurisdictions across Canada, to the best of our ability, and as quickly as we could in advance of the election, government had started to do this process, but it's a very detailed process, and we want to make sure we follow through. We're also looking at some precedent in Europe, and other modern countries, trying to encourage young families to have children. It's a clear problem, and it's an economic problem... This government is open to suggestions, and good suggestions... It's probably one of the key points in our platform, that we feel very strongly about. It's something we'd certainly like to implement as soon as possible. It hasn't been budgetted. One of the best jurisdictions and one of the most successful, of course, was Quebec. And they have found it to be one of the most successful initiatives. But I'd be remiss in saying that we're still preliminary on this.

  • "looked at... quickly... advance of election..." We're still making things up as we go along, in other words?

  • "precedent in Europe". Iceland, Ireland, and Norway, you mean?

  • "haven't budgetted". And not much need to. In 2006, there were 4,292 live births in Newfoundland and Labrador. At $1000 per little miracle, that's just under $4.3-million. Even if the $1000 baby bonus doubles the annual number of births over recent figures, it's still less than $9-million a year. There. Budgeting done.

  • "Quebec". The chart below shows the ratio of births per year/total population, for NL, QC, and Canada as a whole.

    Quebec brought in its "pay-the-stork" plan in 1988. The birth rate blipped up, though in line with previous, pre-baby-bonus blips, and in concert with a similar trend elsewhere.

    It promptly started to blip back down.

High-fibre diet

Jamie Baker reports in Tuesday’s Telegram:

Province will pay $15million-$20 million extra to light up fibre: AG

Newfoundland and Labrador, [Auditor-General Noseworthy] said, is the only jurisdiction in the country not to have access to an alternate fibre-optic provider.

That means, for example, benefits such as improved access to medical and academic research efforts, as well as economic benefits from network construction and operation.

Those are the benefits from a government and business perspective.

But what about the average Newfoundlander and, more specifically, Labradorian?

An external review listed in Noseworthy's report found the upgrades to government systems would mean faster, improved access to government services such as online health and education opportunities.

But looking at the direct benefits for residential Internet users in Newfoundland and Labrador, the results were somewhat less conclusive.

Noseworthy found, while there will be increased broadband availability for people on the island portion of the province, "there will be no significant cost savings."

In addition, he noted Labrador would be "connected to the network through a separate project under the (government broadband initiative) at a later date."

"The Labrador component of the government broadband initiative is not resolved at this point, "Noseworthy said.

"Government has it included in the 10-year (government broadband initiative) plan but details are a little scanty."

Scanty? Not at all!

Danny Williams is going to talk!
A Progressive Conservative government in its second term will:

• continue discussions on the concept and feasibility, including engineering and environmental-related work, of a fibre optic link throughout Labrador
And his government has already indicated that, because it’s in Labrador, they expect the federal government to pay for it.


What’s really interesting in Noseworthy’s report, though, is the Figure (IT’S A TABLE, NOT A FIGURE!) 3, on p. 17. It itemizes something called
Payments to [Electronic Warfare Associates Canada] for [the Government Broadband Initiative] by the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development Fiscal Year 2006-07
EWA got a nudge over $40,000 for what is called a “Technical and Financial Feasibility Analysis on Potential Fibre Optic Connection through Labrador”

In the last provincial election campaign, the PC platform promised:
A Progressive Conservative government will:

• Release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet.
Which means that if the Fibre Optic feasibility analysis was received more than 30 days ago, it should already be out on the government intertubes somewhere.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Back to that CP wire piece:
But Williams insists he detests engaging in the scraps for which Newfoundland's political landscape is renowned.

"If I was able to devote 100 per cent of my time to doing what I should be doing in the Office of Premier, I think the people of the province would be much better off," he said.

"But you spend at least 50 per cent of your time dealing with the negativity that comes from all sources, whether it's from the media, whether it's from the opposition."
That must mean Danny didn't succeed in his 2000 New Year's resolution, when he told the Telegram's Tracy Barron (hi!) that his plan was "just to develop a nice thick skin."

Maybe if Danny Williams had, he wouldn't be devoting 50 per cent of his time "dealing with the negativity."

And he wouldn't be rushing out of cabinet meetings to react to something "negative" that someone dared utter on the airwaves of VOCM.

And maybe his ever-so valuable time would be better spent.

If his obssession with being adored, and with crushing all dissent, is getting in the way of doing the job he was elected to do, 100 percent of the time he is paid to do it, then he should either grow that thick skin, get back to doing it, or start questioning whether he really wants to continue in it at all.

Back to the 50s

It's a good thing, for Danny, that he caught himself on his own "baby bonus" reference today.

Smallwood held out the baby bonus as one step towards Confederation.

Danny holds out a baby bonus as one step towards... no, it can't be... can it?

Anyway, he defused the situation himself. (audio link)

The Smallwood analogy is lame now.

But the Duplessis-Quebec analogy is still fair game.

"We can't be a dying race"?

Shades of Lionel Groulx, Maurice Duplessis, and the rest.

"L'agriculture est la banque nationale, où notre race garde ce qu'elle a de plus cher, nos traditions," Duplessis said.

Lionel Groulx wrote "Birth of a Race" and "The Call of Race". And, for good measure, "Why We Are Divided".

How not to go it alone

On March 22, Transport Minister John Hickey told the House of Assembly, "we will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway with or without the federal government"

In the 2007 budget, FinMin Tom Marshall said:

Last year, we also made a commitment to apply a sealed surface on Phase I of the highway and budgeted $15 million, to be cost-shared 50-50 with the federal government. Once again, we are putting forward our $7.5 million share and challenging the federal government to match it. Let me make it clear, however, that our government will proceed with hard-surfacing this year with or without a federal contribution.
And on April 25th of this year, Danny Williams himself told CBC Radio News:

We’re going to do it without’em. Now if that happens to be the Trans-Labrador Highway, or if that happens to be the Lower Churchill, we’re going to move foreward. We can’t wait for the presumed generosity and largesse of Ottawa to advance our province.
On second thought, apparently, We can:

We are determined to build on our work to date by completing the Trans-Labrador Highway and working with Ottawa to ensure Labrador's main highway is raised to a proper national standard and properly maintained.
Question: What the...?

Ibidem: Since when does the federal government maintain highways? Is the TLH the only highway that province wants Ottawa's help in maintaining? Cochrane? Antle? Hi!

When further is closer

Remember the rule when Danny says stuff like this:
There has been much discussion in this region over the past week that our newly released Energy Plan leaves Labrador out. Nothing is further from the truth.

Labrador is an integral part of the province

"Labradorians have long aspired to take a place of prominence and priority from a province-wide perspective," Danny Williams writes, in a real Hallmark moment.

"We have already made tremendous investments in Labrador to demonstrate our unwavering determination to ensure Labrador achieves its full promise."

One of those "tremendous investments"?
[We] Invested $1,440,000 in regional waste management initiatives which included:
$540,000 on the Northern Peninsula;
$290,000 in the Green Bay region;
$89,000 in Western Newfoundland
$286,000 in Central Newfoundland
$60,000 on the Burin Peninsula
$175,000 on the Avalon Peninsula
Labrador is an integral part of a province.

Anyone know which one?

Lies, damn lies, and damner lies

The PC Party Bull Sheet contains the following howler:

A Progressive Conservative government in its second term will:
demand that the Government of Canada situate more federal offices and jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has fewer per capita than any other province
[Emphasis added; original emphasis removed.]

That assertion is blatantly wrong. Whoever insisted on its presence in the platform document is stupid, or a liar, or possibly both.

The following table* shows the population of Canada and the ten provinces, the number of federal civil servants employed in each, and what that works out to as a percent of the total population (= per capita × 100)
             Pop.   As % of pop.

PE 138,571 3,776 2.72%
NS 933,923 24,277 2.60
NB 748,997 15,036 2.01
NL 508,832 7,357 1.45
MB 1,179,026 16,944 1.44
ON 12,706,493 162,807 1.28
Canada 32,701,551 395,057 1.21
QC 7,663,823 82,271 1.07
SK 986,886 9,868 1.00
BC 4,324,796 38,795 0.90
AB 3,406,407 28,534 0.84

Newfoundland and Labrador does not have "fewer [federal jobs] per capita than any other province."

In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador has more federal jobs per capita, not only than the all-Canada figure, but more per-capita than all but three other provinces. And that includes more than Ontario or Quebec.

What other lies, or stupidity, or both, lurk in the Bull Sheet?


* Population from CANSIM table 051-0005; employment from CANSIM table 183-0002; data for 12 months ending March 2007, annualized average.

Newest, coolest

For such a new, cool, province, Danny Williams' hand-picked campaign theme song sure exhibits a nasty case of same-oldness:
Now when others take and condescend we will wink and nod no more

We can list mistakes it's true, this ain't 'once upon a time'

But with poisoned tongue and attitude, and a sharp and clever mind*

We are tired of thinking small, dancing someone else's dance
You and I can make the difference, stop your 'more for me please' rants
'Cause if we don't stand together, then we don't stand a chance

Will the 'haves' who finally conquer, thank the 'have nots' in their graves? (chorus)

Tell naïve patronizers the whole truth, they need it most

'Cause it's now or never, we've been pulled apart forever
If we'd only pull together, all for home now, lend a hand

There are layers upon layers upon layers of psychoanalysis in that one. But that's our Danny: an overcompensation, wrapped in a neurosis, inside an inferiority complex.

Why does Danny need to "fight" all the time? What are "we" fighting for, anyway?

* "poisoned tongue and attitude"?

A question for Tony the Tory

Tonight on VOCM, Tony the Tory Talking Point said that the revenues from Voisey's Bay would be used to buy the equity in the offshore oil and gas projects that Danny Williams, for no obvious reasons other than federal-provincial penis envy, seems to want.

Is this the official Eighth Floor position, that Voisey's Bay revenues will be used for this purpose.

It's always better on holiday

From a CP wire story on the election launch:
Politics has also dominated his life. Few decisions of any importance are made before landing on his cluttered desk.

"It's 24/7. It never leaves you," says the 58-year-old.

"There's never a full day off unless you actually take a vacation, and even then, when I'm away from the province, there's not a day goes by that I don't have some contact with this office or with members of my cabinet or with members of my caucus."

But... but... but... there's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home! Someone obviously needs more "urging".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Things on paper; things not on paper

In the message introducing his platform, PC leader Danny Williams writes:
Our struggle for fairness in Confederation has not been without its opponents. Prior to the last federal election, Stephen Harper made a solemn written promise to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to remove nonrenewable [sic] resource revenues from equalization calculations. He also promised to honour the Atlantic Accord. Had he honoured his promises, the positive impact on Newfoundland and Labrador would have been enormous. However, he did not honour those commitments. Although the additional revenues would have made an immense difference to our bottom line, no federal leader or government will deter us in our march toward self-reliance and prosperity.
Yes, Danny, promises on paper are important.

Just like these ones:
• A Progressive Conservative government will acknowledge that the decision in the Powley case applies to Metis in Newfoundland and Labrador, and will participate with specific rights affirmed in the Powley decision and other rights protected under s. 35 of the Constitution.

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

• We will involve the Labrador Metis Nation, as we will representatives of all residents of Labrador, in the process of negotiating a Lower Churchill Development Agreement.
Those are the things that are on paper.

But there's something else that isn't on paper.

Stephen Harper's name isn't on the ballot paper. (Not that the ballot paper seems to matter under the local election law.)

So, while Danny Williams is busy running against Stephen Harper, the opposition parties are presented with a fantastic opening.

They should run against Danny Williams.

Going it alone

According to the platform of Glorious Leader's The Party:

A Progressive Conservative government in its second term will:
- continue to demand that the Government of Canada follow through on its commitment to establish a Rapid Reaction Force and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Squadron at 5 Wing Goose Bay, to continue to market 5 Wing for foreign flight training, to ensure 5 Wing is an operational requirement of the Department of National Defence, and to identify and secure other pportunities for military and non-military use of the base, building on 5 Wing’s strengths

- demand that the Government of Canada work with the province in completing the hard surfacing of Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway; and secure funding to hard surface the remainder of the Trans-Labrador Highway [so much for "going it alone", "with or without the federal government" - ed.]

- work with the Government of Canada to ensure the proper maintenance of the Trans-Labrador Highway portion of the national highway system [since when is maintenance under federal jurisdiction? - ed.]

- present to the federal government options for a new paved airstrip for Nain

- present to the federal government options for paved airstrip improvements for Port Hope Simpson regional airport

- continue to encourage the federal government to make a final decision on the Labrador Metis Nation land claim; until then, remain committed to work with the Labrador Metis Nation to access federal programs and services
So, in other words, in Our Second Term, We, Danny Williams, will do the same thing We did in Labrador in Our First Term.

We will shirk Our responsibilities, break Our promises, and Blame Canada.


Absolutely, utterly, pathetic.

Shovel and shut up

On Friday, when it was released, the AG's report into the MHA spending scandal was at the top of the list of reports on the AG's website.

On Monday, it's been buried under a flurry of other reports which are suddenly direct-linked from this page.

"Legislature" is now at the bottom of what is, if you print it, a seven page list of all the important reports the AG has done for the past seven years.

As a public service, here's a direct link to The Report. Warning: it's big, and a .pdf file.


There will be 45 jobs... but will there be equity?

Why are We settling for stupid ol' jobs?

Busy little beavers

On Friday afternoon, something over 4,000, and under 5,000 "votes" had been cast in VOCM's question of the day:

The provincial election is less than one month away. If it was held today, what party would you vote for?

At that time the results were about 55-60% PC to about 30-35% Liberal.

As of right now, the total "vote" count is over 16,000, and rising by multiple votes per minute. The Tories are now at 79% to the Liberal 17%.

The comments don't match that breakdown by any means.

Are there many lights on in the upper floors of Confederation Building tonight, by any chance?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Apples to apples

In the rush to condemn, in the wake of the Auditor General's final (really!) report on the House of Assembly scandal, a great deal of hay has been made of naming the MHAs who spent the most on booze, "donations", or double-billing.

What hasn't happened is any attempt to put the raw figures into context. After all, not all MHAs had, or have had, the same length of time in the House of Assembly. Nor did all MHAs have access to the same pile of constituency-allowance cash.

It would be very hard, for example, for Clayton Forsey, who has been in office for only one full fiscal year, to have blown as much money as Ed Byrne, who was there for 13, or Wally Andersen, for 11. Similarly, MHAs from rural and remote districts had different allowance allocations than those from Sin City.

But no one — this means you, St. John's Telegram — bothered to account for such differences.

So, as a public service, here is an apples-to-apples comparison which will adjust for length of service and the amount of allowance that the MHAs were entitled to draw on.

Category One: Double Billing.

This is a problematic category, as much, if not most, of the "double billing" problem may end up being revealed to be a problem with House administration, not with the MHAs filing the claims.

In any event, on an annualized basis, the top-ten largest amounts double-billed per fiscal year were:

N  Collins, Randy  3457$
L Andersen, Wally 1589
C Byrne, Ed 1497
C Goudie, Kathy 1273
C Hickey, John 1257

L Aylward, Kevin 1115
L Jones, Yvonne 1106
L Vey, Gary 931
L Tulk, Beaton 724
C Shelley, Paul 701
As a percentage of their overall allowances, the top-ten double-billing MHAs were:

L  Vey, Gary       5.27%
L Matthews, Lloyd 4.03
N Collins, Randy 3.59
L Aylward, Kevin 3.51
C Goudie, Kathy 3.30
C Hickey, John 3.12
C Byrne, Ed 3.02

L Tulk, Beaton 2.91
C French, Terry 2.55
C Ridgley, Bob 2.25
Overall winner? In one assessment a Dipper took top spot; in the other, a Liberal. All three parties are represented on both lists; five Liberals dominate the first list, while five Tories dominate the second. A draw.

Category Two: Vote-buying.

Nothing says "I love you, now vote for me" quite like a donation. The overall champions for "donating", according to Noseworthy's list, are or were all long-serving MHAs, ranging from Wally Anderson, who "donated" almost $90,000 over 11 years, to Roger Grimes's 37K over 17 years. Of the top ten, only Liberal Sandra Kelly served less than 10 full fiscal years in the House, and the top ten averaged nearly 13 years in office. On a partisan basis, there are six Liberals in the top ten, and four Tories.

However, when you adjust for time served — perhaps not the best choice of phrase — and the amounts available for an MHA to "donate", a different picture emerges.

On an annualized basis, the top-ten largest amounts "donated" per fiscal year were:

C  Hickey, John    8277$
L Andersen, Wally 8087
C Whalen, Dianne 7325
C Williams, Danny 7126
L Foote, Judy 6285
C Skinner, Shawn 6207
L Butler, Roland 5847
C Marshall, Tom 5831
C Ridgley, Bob 5214
C Byrne, Ed 4868
Not just Tories, but Little Ms. Fiscal Propriety herself, and the Premier, figure prominently on this list. Curiously, other than John Hickey and the Premier, who at least notionally is not a St. John's MHA, the Townie Tory caucus dominate the category.

The same thing happens, only more so, when you adjust for allowance amount. As a percentage of their overall allowances, the top-ten "donating" MHAs were:

C  Whalen, Dianne          49.05%
C Skinner, Shawn 46.96
C Dunderdale, Kathy 46.90
C Ridgley, Bob 38.21
C Marshall, Elizabeth 34.23
C Osborne, Tom 30.16
L Kitchen, Hubert 30.10
C Osborne, Sheila 26.30
C Denine, David 25.96
C Ottenheimer, John 25.49
Number 11, by the way, is Danny Williams himself, at 24.26%. Little Ms. Fiscal Propriety shows up again, as do eight other Tories, all Townie Tories. All but the Osbornes, Sr. and Jr., and Ottenheimer Jr., are recent additions to the House of Assembly; six were elected in the Blue Wave of 2003 that was elected, we are told, to clean the mess up. And all but Ottenheimer are incumbents who are running again, if you are looking for anyone to punish.

Winners, and still champion vote-buyers: The Progressive Conservatives, in a cakewalk. Or a raffle. Or a turkey supper. Or something like that.

Category Three: Hooch

The expense-account boozing is the one category where total amounts and apples-to-apples adjusted amounts match up the best. From Paul Dicks to Tom - erm - Lush, the top-ten total hooch hounds on Noseworthy's list are all Liberals, with the sole exception of retired Tory Paul Shelley. In fairness to MHAs past and present, taxpayer hooch was indulged in by the fewest MHAs of any of the Big Three categories, and it was also the smallest dollar value of the Big Three sub-scandals. Not that it matters.

Adjusted on an apples-to-apples basis, Paul Shelley's name disappears. The Tories aren't entirely off the hook, though. On an annualized basis, the top-ten largest amounts of alcohol-only claims per fiscal year were made by:

L  Dicks, Paul            2627$
L Andersen, Wally 1407
L Sweeney, George 1291
L Parsons, Kelvin 1095
L Hodder, Mary 730
L Noel, Walter 596
L Joyce, Ed 466
C Goudie, Kathy 303
L Tulk, Beaton 264
C Marshall, Elizabeth 227
There's Little Ms Fiscal Propriety again.

As a percentage of their overall allowances, the top-ten tipplers were:

L  Dicks, Paul             9.22%
L Noel, Walter 4.63
L Sweeney, George 3.87
L Hodder, Mary 2.08
L Parsons, Kelvin 2.01
C Marshall, Elizabeth 1.75
L Andersen, Wally 1.33
L Aylward, Joan Marie 1.17
L Joyce, Ed 1.07
L Tulk, Beaton 1.06
Paul Dicks' figures, rightfully so, have been denounced as staggering. (Ha!) The Liberal sweep is spoiled only by the pesky presence, yet again, of a former Auditor-General.

Winners of the publicly-subsidized pub crawl? Liberals, hands (and knees) down.

Overall Triathlon Winner

To recap, there were three categories in the Triathlon of Bad, Bad Spending that the Auditor-General singled out for special condemnation: double-billing, "donations", and alcohol-only expense claims.

"Donations", by far and away, represented the largest amount of improper spending, at nearly $1.5-million since 1989. The $212,000 in double-billing, and $119,000 in booze, as outrageous as they are in relative terms, are much smaller in absolute ones.

It's because of the heavy skewing of the "donations" line item that, on an apples-to-apples comparison, the Tories do not come out smelling as much like roses, or the Liberals like manure, as the Premier (or others; hi, others!) would like.

On an annualized basis, the total amount of "improper spending", per MHA, per fiscal year, the top ten are:

L  Andersen, Wally    11083.45$
C Hickey, John 9534.00
C Whalen, Dianne 7422.33
C Williams, Danny 7256.20
L Foote, Judy 6423.36
C Byrne, Ed 6394.69
C Skinner, Shawn 6305.33
L Butler, Roland 6169.60
C Marshall, Tom 6025.33
L Sweeney, George 5957.75
The gold medallist is former Liberal MHA Wally Andersen... but it's a little like being the one Romanian who manages to snatch the Olympic championship in a field otherwise dominated by the Chinese.

As a percentage of their overall allowances, the top-ten "money-wasting" MHAs were or are:
C  Whalen, Dianne       49.7%
C Skinner, Shawn 47.7
C Dunderdale, Kathy 47.3
C Ridgley, Bob 40.5
C Marshall, Elizabeth 36.9
C Osborne, Tom 31.9
L Kitchen, Hubert 30.1
C Osborne, Sheila 27.2
C Denine, David 26.0
C Ottenheimer, John 25.5
Every one, except Hubert Kitchen, a Tory; every one, except Kitchen and Ottenheimer, a re-offering Tory incumbent; and of those, only the Osbornes were not first elected on the coat-tails of the guy who was going to clean it all up.

And speaking of him, here's the next five in the overall percentage ranking:
C  Williams, Danny     24.7%
C Hickey, John 23.7
L Foote, Judy 21.5
C Marshall, Tom 21.0
L Kelly, Sandra 19.3
Another three Tories, another three re-offering Tory incumbents, including Mr. Clean-Up-The-Liberal-Mess himself.

It's a good thing he cleaned it up.

Just imagine how ugly things would have gotten if the Osbornes, Beth Marshall, or Danny Williams ended up serving as MHAs as long as the long-time Liberals who preceded them.