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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Yet More New Math

Via the Ministry of Truth:
TLH Will Get Done
December 31, 2007

Transportation Minister Dianne Whalen says government is committed to completing the Trans Labrador Highway. Government recently signed a cost sharing agreement with the federal government to the tune of $100-million to widen and pave a portion of the road. Whalen says if that money is not sufficient to finish the project, government will consider its options. She says the Trans Labrador Highway is an integral part of the economy in Labrador.
A couple of interesting admissions there.

First, that the project is "to widen and pave a portion of the road."

Which "portion"? The Minister ought to be specific. When can coastal Labrador's Phase II, and the still-unfinished Phase III, expect to be paved? Have those portions of the road been built to width, or will they have to be widened, first, too? If so, why was the province penny-wise and pound-foolish in not building to width in the first place?

Second, that the money might not be sufficient to finish "the project", whatever "the project" is. No, really? Ya think?

It's interesting to hear the Minister, at least as reported by the Ministry of Truth, clinging to the quaint little fable that the provincial and federal government just signed off on $100-million for the Trans-Labrador Highway.

They have not. They might be trying to convince themselves they have. The are definitely trying to convince the people of Labrador they have. But they have not.

What they have done, is signed off on up to $100-million (and change) for a number of highway projects, including "extra roads", all in Newfoundland, none in Labrador, that the provincial government wanted to be able to access that pot of money.

And remember, this is the same provincial government that used to — in the past, formerly, once upon a time — call the Trans-Labrador Highway its "number one project".

Which "extra roads" are those? Why, according to Fabian Manning, at least two of them just happen to be in his riding: the Argentia access road, and the CBS bypass.

Which other "extra roads" are on the provincial government's list?

Given that the provincial department of transportation, Tom Rideout, MHA for Lewisporte, prop., was particularly insistent on putting the Lewisporte branch road onto the National Highway System list, is that highway also on the list of "extra roads"?

Given that Danny Williams and his government are super-committed to Absolute Openness and Accountability in Everything Always, how about publishing that list of "extra roads", and their cut of that $100-million "Trans-Labrador Highway" pot.

Because, you know, if they keep spreading the myth that they have allocated $100-million to the TLH, and have people believe it, and then they don't follow through, Dianne Whalen and company might just end up being accused of the same sorts of things they once accused the previous provincial government of doing to TLH funds...

How much of that $103-million pot of money, that Whalen and her Williams Government colleagues keep referring to as "funding for the Trans-Labrador Highway", will be spent on the Trans-Labrador Highway?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nice to mole you-Meet you!-Nice to meet your mole!


From the CBC:
Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has thrown more fuel into an ongoing feud with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, with a claim that he has eyes and ears inside Williams's own government.

"There are times I'm sure I know as much as what's going on in cabinet and caucus or on the eighth floor as the premier does," said Hearn, referring to Williams's office in Confederation Building in St. John's.

"I always do. That's why we can always be one step ahead of him," Hearn said in a year-end interview with CBC News. "I have friends throughout cabinet and caucus."
Mole — er, more, here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Making Walls Talk

It has now been more than a month since Barb Sweet of the Telegram revealed to a breathlessly awaiting public the existence of a report, commissioned by the provincial government, on the future of the Colonial Building, entitled "Making These Walls Talk."

A report.

Commissioned by the provincial government.

A report, therefore, of the type that was the subject of one of Danny Williams' The Party's 2003 election campaign promises to:
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.
Why, then, hasn't "Making These Walls Talk" been released to the public on the Internet at all, let alone within the promised 30 days?

Isn't it ironic, a veritable black fly in your chardonnay if you wil, that the walls of Confederation Building are even more clammed up, less prone to talking, than the walls of the poor old Colonial Building.

Tourism, Culture and Recreation, which received the Dunbar-Apropos report that it commissioned for $200,000 but has yet to post to the internets, can be contacted at (709) 729-0862.

The Minister's office is 729-7032.

Danny vs. Duplessis (IV)

Duplessis dominated his cabinet ministers in every respect. They existed only to satisfy his insatiable hunger for power. That one part member instead of another should hold a portfolio had little import. For Duplessis was the beginning and the end of everything. On certain questions that came under their authority, he did not even consult them.
- Pierre Laporte, The True Face of Duplessis, 1960, p. 67

The government has not yet developed a plan on tackling water quality. In fact, Williams said he has not even consulted his cabinet on it.

However, he described the issue as a personal priority for the coming year, which likely means it will become a government mission for 2008.


Constitutional Law 101

It's hard to tell whether this particular bit of stupidity, among many, is out of the mouth of the Hon. Danny Williams, LL.B., Q.C., M.H.A., Rhodes Scholar (for whatever that's worth), or wheteher it's an interpolation by the interviewer/reporter Steve Bartlett. (Please, give us verbatim. Thanks!)

But here goes:

Ottawa, he contends, has held the province back by not allowing it to transport power across Quebec and controlling resources like iron ore, the fishery and now oil and gas.
Danny. Steve (Bartlett). Repeat:

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.
"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.
"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

Got that?



"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.
"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.
"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

Seriously: "Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

Got that, yet?

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore, "Ottawa" does not control iron ore.


"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

(Nor, for that matter, does "Ottawa" control oil and gas, but the iron ore nonsense is easiest to debunk.)

Does the Premier actually believe that "Ottawa" does control iron ore? In what words did he express that belief?

Verbatim, please.


And while you're preparing that verbatim, look up Term 37 of the Terms of Union, that constitutional document that everyone whines about, but no one ever actually reads.

"Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

Seriously, guys: "Ottawa" does not control iron ore.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Not Mr. Smiley-Face

Peter Pickersgill commits heresy:
It’s true that a lot more oil will go up the chimney before March 21st, the first day of Spring, but enough has already been turned to smoke even before the official start of winter to put a smile on the face of a Saudi Prince.

Or on the face of our own King of Crude Danny Williams. And that takes some doing. A smile on the face of our premier? Who can remember seeing one? He’s not Mr. Smiley-Face our Dan. Despite his huge successes, it seems he believes Anger is the new Happy.
Nouns to nouns, adjectives to adjectives, it ought to be "Anger is the new Happiness", or "Angry is the new Happy", but still, Pick has a very good point about Mr. Happiness, the guy who directly, or through the intermediaries of such lowly creatures as planted VOCM callers or cabinet ministers [what's the difference? - ed.] portrays anyone who dares oppose Him as "negative".

Or says that they have a "scowl on their face".

Yeah, that Mr. Happiness.

How does that thing about rubber and glue go, again?

We Are The Cabinet

From the Ministry of Truth (Federal):
Major water improvements on tap, Williams promises
Last Updated: Friday, December 28, 2007 10:36 AM NT
CBC News

Newfoundland and Labrador's premier says his government will likely spend heavily in the new year to improve the quality of the province's drinking water.

Danny Williams said he intends to do something meaningful about the discoloured and often foul-smelling water he has seen in plenty of communities, mostly in rural areas.

"I remember when I first got into politics, I was horrified at the drinking water in this province, in many communities, that was contaminated," Williams told CBC News.

Now armed with a record-setting surplus — the province reported earlier this month it is expecting to finish the fiscal year with $881 million in the bank — Williams said the province can start fixing longstanding water quality issues.

...he described the issue as a personal priority for the coming year, which likely means it will become a government mission for 2008.
Interesting, how the provincial government's infrastructure priorities can shift about so.

Not that long ago, the Trans-Labrador Highway was - past tense - was, supposedly, The! Number! One! Priority!

Interestinger: who needs a stinkin' cabinet, anyway!
The government has not yet developed a plan on tackling water quality. In fact, Williams said he has not even consulted his cabinet on it.

Where's Bob Benson when you really, really, really need him?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

False distinction

More from the Ministry of Truth:
Changes Needed in Labrador Justice System - Dec 27, 2007

Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy is heading back to Labrador in the next couple of weeks. There was a public outcry of unfair treatment after two high profile cases in the region - one of a young boy and another of an Aboriginal woman, both held in custody in Goose Bay. Kennedy has already visited Labrador to tour the RCMP lock-up. He says his next trip will be focused on meeting with Aboriginal and Innu groups and hearing their concerns. Kennedy says there is no question that something needs to change in the delivery of justice in Labrador.
"Aboriginal and Innu groups"?

Innu aren't Aboriginal?

Feelin' groovy

According to the Ministry of Truth, Our Dear Premier is upbeat:
Province Feeling Good - Dec 27, 2007

Premier Danny Williams says compared to this time last year, this province is much better off. Williams says not only are we further ahead financially, people of the province are feeling very good about themselves.
But wait! There's audio, too!

What did we ever do without Danny Williams to tell us how good to feel, including about themselves?

What will we ever do without Him to give us the self-respect we crave?

And how many times is He going to repeat His boosterist message of sunshine and roses before someone openly wonders: who is He trying to convince?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Conditional of possibility

In his year-end interview with the Transcontinental weeklies, O.D.P. says:
"And we could have the lower Churchill project underway," said Mr. Williams. "We could have a possibility of an aluminum smelter spinning off from the lower Churchill project."
"Could have". "Possibility".

That's awfully tentative for someone who is, or was, supposedly, "working towards a project sanction in 2009".

"More for MUN, please" rant

Someone didn't get the memo about no-for-me-please-rants:
More Money For MUN?
December 26, 2007

Memorial University is looking for a big increase in funding from the provincial government in the next budget. Acting president Dr. Eddy Campbell says they're currently working on their budget submission for government. Campbell says the extra money could be used for things such as increasing their research capacity and expanding a number of faculties.

Question period

When even professional, "scientific" pollsters can ask unbelievably stupid questions, it's too much to expect the amateurs, like the online media straw "pollsters", to do any better.

But even by those standards, one of the Advertiser's online polls might just take the cake:
If today were election day would you still vote for your party of choice?


Assuming you actually vote, how could you not "vote for your party of choice"?

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Once again, Joan Burke saves the week, this time with Tom Marshall's able help; a week which would otherwise have passed without a suitably sycophantic press release paying fealty to "William Government":
"This is the third year that the Williams Government has provided funding for the prevention of violence against Aboriginal women and children and provided services to victims of violence in their communities," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Lead Minister of the Violence Prevention Initiative. "Providing funding to help raise education and awareness of violence prevention is a positive step towards creating safer communities."
Yay, Williams Government!

How excellent this water tastes!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Danny Williams Effect revisited

The latest StatsCan population figures are out. This graph shows the quarterly population change for Newfoundland and Labrador since 1990, including the figures released today:

There will be a lot more attention paid to the quarterly population growth in the latest reported quarter, the first since — well, since the last quarter of 2003, and the last of the Grimes administration.

That would be the government that Danny Williams vilified in 2002 on the outmigration issue.

(Some media outlets have reported, incorrectly, that this is the first population increase since 1992. It is also the first net in-migration quarter since 1992, but remember there are four components to population change. The population briefly showed population growth in 2003, despite net out-migration, due to natural increase and relatively low net out-migration.)

What did not get as much attention, however, was the steep, and steepening, rate of population decline that attended the first fourteen quarters of the Williams years. Just look at the previous quarter: a population drop 2200 or 2300, larger than the entire population of Wabush. It barely made a blip in public opinion or the media coverage.

How odd, that outmigration and population loss should have been such a (negatively) defining issue for Grimes at a time when the situation was actually improving.

How odder, that outmigration and population loss, or demographic trends generally, should not have become such an issue for Williams until the trend, at least for one quarter, reversed.

If the "Williams Effect" is responsible for economic and demographic trends in the province... why did it only become so responsible in the fifteenth quarter of the Williams era?

Whose "effect" was responsible for the previous fourteen?

And, a final, cautionary note: outmigration, and even net outmigration, has been a demographic fact in Newfoundland and Labrador since well before Confederation. In the Confederation era, there have been several, brief, periods of net interprovincial in-migration.

They have had the nasty habit of coinciding with North American recessions. It's far too early to conclude that's the case here, based on one quarter... but let's watch those March and June figures.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Actually, it doesn't take three ministers to be disappointed in Marine Atlantic.

It takes four. Either that, or O.D.P. couldn't stand the thought that one (or three!) of his ministers might grab a headline that he could grab, so he rushed to the mic and sputtered:
We take two steps forward, and then the federal government government claws us back two, three steps, whatever it feels like. You know, as an island, it’s very, very important that we have cheap and very competitive rates. We’re spending a lot of money marketing our province from a tourism perspective. People love to come here. But, you know, with the cost of fuel, and with the cost of the ferry, if that’s prohibitive, then they simply won’t come.
Interesting. First, for the absolute venom with which the word "federal" passed his lips, kinda like a vampire being forced to say the Paternoster while swallowing garlic-coated silver bullets. But hey, if you're gonna fed-bash, you might as well fed-bash in style, right?

Then, for the speculation about the impact of ferry rates on "them", the "they" who "simply won't come." Last winter, Marine Atlantic hiked its rates too. (And it only took two ministers to express the outrage of Williams Government, neither of them named Williams.)

The impact on Marine Atlantic traffic? According to the provincial government's — apologies, Williams Government's own stats:

• Overall, Marine Atlantic passenger movements were up +3% to end of October 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. Passenger-related vehicles were up +5% during the same period.

• Marine Atlantic non-resident traffic was up +4.8% for period ending October 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. The number of residents exiting was down -3% over the same period.

And finally, of course, who's "an island."

Who's "we"?

Take Out the Trash Week

My, what a strange thing to try and bury, late on a Thursday, the week before Christmas:

Environmental Assessment Bulletin

Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation, has announced the following event relative to Part 10 Environmental Assessment of the Environmental Protection Act.


Lower Churchill River Hydroelectric Generation Project (Reg. 1305)
Proponent: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation (the Department) invite public comment on the draft guidelines for the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project.

The draft guidelines identify the information that the proponent, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, will be required to address in order to prepare the EIS.

Written comments on the draft guidelines received by January 28, 2008, will be considered. Please forward your comments, in the official language of your choice, by mail or e-mail to:

Maryse Pineau
Panel Manager
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
Tel.: 613-948-1364
Fax: 613-957-0941

Paul Carter
Chairperson, Environmental Assessment Division
Department of Environment and Conservation
4th Floor, West Block, Confederation Complex
PO Box 8700, St. John’s NL A1B 4J6
Tel.: 709-729-0188
Fax: 709-729-5518
Toll-free: 1-800-563-6181

The draft EIS guidelines as well as information on the proposed project are available on the agency’s website at and the department’s website at Copies of the draft EIS guidelines can also be obtained by contacting the above-mentioned persons.

The agency and the department are developing an agreement to guide a joint environmental assessment of the proposed project which would include procedures for appointing an independent review panel to conduct public hearings on the EIS, the proposed terms of reference for the joint review panel, and procedures for conducting the review process. The draft agreement will be made available for public comment at a later date.

Cause of action

How many ministers does it take to be disappointed? Three.

Marine Atlantic Ferry Rate Increases Unacceptable to Provincial Government

Provincial Ministers of Transportation and Works, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and Business are extremely disappointed over Marine Atlantic’s latest rate increases.

Interesting comment from Dianne Whalen, too:
"The Federal Government has given Marine Atlantic orders to recover at least 65 per cent of operating costs from the users of the service. This rate of cost recovery will lead to a continuous series of rate increases, and is not, in our view, at all in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Federal Government’s constitutional commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Whalen.
Most interesting. Terms of Union provide:
32. (1) Canada will maintain in accordance with the traffic offering a freight and passenger steamship service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, which, on completion of a motor highway between Corner Brook and Port aux Basques, will include suitable provision for the carriage of motor vehicles.
If Dianne Whalen thinks the Federal Government is not acting in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Federal Government's constitutional commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, then there is easy solution.

Sue them.

If the Federal Government is not honouring the Terms of Union, a constitutional document, then Williams Government has cause of action in court. There is ample precedent from other cases, including ones dealing with the P.E.I. Terms of Union.

Williams is Great Lawyer.™ He should sue.

Just like he was going to sue over equalization.


Now let's take a GANDER at the weather

This bit of weather-forecasting related news should raise quite a stink, right?

There will be petitions, provincial cabinet ministers will express their outrage, the VOCM open lines will light up, right?

And why not? After all, Halifax is 460 kilometres from Newfoundland, making it much too far away to forecast the Newfoundland weather, which means that Gander, 620 kilometres away, is much, much too far away to forecast the weather in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.



Bill Rowe, in today's preamble, is unimpressed that Yvonne Jones dares to be unimpressed with Our Dear Equity Gambit:
She’s not impressed that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, on behalf of us all, has equity... Why is she wondering about it now?
Yes, Bill.

She should wait until after Danny has left office, maybe until after he is dead, maybe long, long after that, before she dares to raise questions about His Dear Policy Choices.

We all should.

Simply not the case

Another weird example of the creeping official state-sanctioned inferiority-superiority complex, from Joan Burke’s scripted comments at the announcement of the new schools in Paradise last month:
We’ve got a lot to be proud of, even though sometimes we can be our own worst critics. Sometimes we might assume that schools in Ontario or Alberta must be better than ours. This is simply not the case. Our graduates are leaders on the national stage. We wake up every morning to Seamus O’Regan on Canada AM. Rex Murphy is a well-respected commentator for CBC and the Globe and Mail. The leader of the Canadian Armed Forces is General Rick Hillier, born and raised in Campbellton.
Remember: these are scripted comments. Nothing off the cuff.

So what’s this bit about “our own worst critics”? Who assumes that about Our schools?

The script. This was in the flippin’ script!

And, in the same script, Minister Burke reassures everyone about the news schools, that “they will be fully ventilated.”

That’s a relief!

Finally, the dark, dark years, during which the Liberals suffocated your children, have come to an end.

(For some reason, Open And Accountable Williams Government hasn’t seen fit to publish Minister Burke’s speaking notes…)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Extra! Extra!

Most interesting to hear the Tuesday-morning quarterbacking on VOCM today on the infrastructure deal.

First, Minister Loyola Hearn says:

There were some technicalities, some bureaucratic concerns that we quickly put out of the way. That was it, signed the agreement, the province wanted it, the Minister certainly wanted it, the extra roads that we wanted to make sure were done
“The extra roads that we wanted to make sure were done…”?

But – wasn’t the TLH the province’s number one project? Or a priority? Guess we know now why they always carefully avoided calling it the number-one priority!

Then, Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto chimes in:

We think that will go a long way. Whether it will complete it or not, as you know, prices are going up every year, and the longer they wait, the more money it’s going to take to complete it. But it’s a good start, and I believe, that once we see it started, we will see it to the end, so I’m confident that once this work is done, a hundred million is done, and if that doesn’t complete it, the extra money will be there. And if not, we certainly will be knocking on those doors again.
“A good start”? It’s as if the past three decades of highways work in Labrador, the vast majority of which paid for with federal dollars, and especially the work done under the 1997 LTIF, simply doesn’t count. Start? The TLH started in the 1970s, notwithstanding the avant-moi-le-déluge rhetoric of the current provincial administration and its admirers.

(For that matter, even Tobin, like Danny, thought he was “commencing” the TLH.)

And, once again, math, Graham, math: The amount under this deal for the Trans-Labrador Highway is not $100-million, unless the province is kicking in more than fifty percent of the funds, which would be an interesting and long-overdue change for Labrador highways funding. The total amount for the TLH AND the Argentia access, and, since to muddy the waters a little more, there are even more roads poneying up to the hose. As Tara Mullowney reports for the Telegram today:
The completion and improvements to the Trans-Labrador Highway and the upgrading of the Argentia access road are two priority projects already identified by the governments. Ottawa will contribute 50 per cent of the total eligible costs of the project, up to a maximum $51.5 million. The rest will come from the province and municipalities. [?! -ed.]

Fabian Manning, MP for the riding of Avalon, said the completion of the Conception Bay South bypass road is also on the list of projects.

The work to be done on the Trans-Labrador Highway includes widening and hard-surfacing. Provincial Transportation and Works Minister Dianne Whalen said 200 kilometres of the highway will be widened this summer, and 40 kilometres will be hard-surfaced.
Again, Graham, “up to $51.5-million” is not the same thing as $51.5-million. If this funding is matched evenly by the province (and which municipality, as per the Telegram, is going to be contributing to which highway project), this means a global budget of $103-million for 200 km of TLH widening, 40 km of TLH “hard-topping” (surely not “cheap seal”!?!?), and the upgrading of the Argentia road, and the Conception Bay South bypass, AND whatever other road projects might be “on the list of projects” alluded to by Mullowney, or among the “extra roads” alluded to by Minister Hearn.

Just so you’re clear, Graham: this is not a $100-million Trans-Labrador Highway deal.

Let alone both the “start” and the “completion” of the TLH at the same time.


Don’t say you didn’t know.

The Danny Williams Effect

An interesting bit of pseudo-statistics from the Globe and Mail:

On the back of a phenomenon industry watchers are calling “the Danny Williams effect” – after the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier who hammered out the oil deal – home sales in St. John's surged 68 per cent from October to November, data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show.

But if the recent monthly home-sale "surge" is part of the Danny Williams Effect, does it mean that other statistical trends in St. John's, or in the entire province, are also attributable to that Effect?

What about the population decline of more than 12,000 since the last quarter of 2003?

Or the declining size of the labour force?

Accelerating absolute out-migration?

Accelerating net out-migration?
Declining housing construction in the province overall...
...and in St. John's in particular?
Is it only a certain, selected, month-over-month statistic that is the result of the Danny Williams Effect — but not the important statistical indicators, quarter after quarter, year after year, that might not reflect quite so favourable on the Big Guy and his time in power?

If Danny Williams is responsible for sunshine, why not for rain?

Conversely, if Danny Williams isn't responsible for rain, why attribute sunshine to his authorship?

Chair and tell

The last time Dean MacDonald quit as chair of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, he gave extensive, um, exit interviews to the press on his way out.

Given that Danny Williams has ushered in a new era of openness, or, as they say in Russian, glasnost, surely Mr. MacDonald will oblige the many in the press who will, without a doubt, be wondering what has been going on at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in recent months.

The spirit of the season

An interesting exchange today in Our Dear Premier’s scrum with reporters, in which Our Dear Agenda got derailed by the continuing saga of Rideout’slewisporterentgate:

Reporter: Does it [Tom Rideout’s rental arrangement] meet the spirit of the new rules, sir?

Premier Williams: Very little that went on in the past met the spirit of the new rules, I mean, that’s the other side of it. The new rules are now in, they were put in place during this last year, they’re intended to deal with this on a go-forward basis.
Yes, those new rules.

Like s. 46 of the House of Assembly Somethingoranother We Passed It In Like Five Minutes And Who Remembers What’s In It Act:

46. (5) A member, in his or her capacity as a member, shall not make a donation or gift, whether of a charitable nature or not, to any person, group or community except as may be contemplated by subsection (3) and section 27.

(6) Where a member makes a donation or gift, whether of a charitable nature or not, in a personal capacity, the member shall, in making the donation or gift, stipulate that any acknowledgment of the donation or gift shall not identify him or her as a member.
Question: Does it [the Williams Family Foundation and its charitable activities] meet the spirit of the new rules, sir?


From Tara Mullowney's report in today's Telegram on the big infrastructure announcement:
The work to be done on the Trans-Labrador Highway includes widening and hard-surfacing. Provincial Transportation and Works Minister Dianne Whalen said 200 kilometres of the highway will be widened this summer, and 40 kilometres will be hard-surfaced.

Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto, in St. John's for the announcement, called the announcement "gratifying," and said it was a long time coming.

"We've always said that the most important thing that could happen to Labrador for economic development is a good transportation system," he explained. "What we're seeing today is the beginning of that and, hopefully, that hard-surfacing across Labrador will enhance the transportation system immensely and provide the opportunity to get goods in and out of Labrador.

Letto said he's confident the highway can be completed with the money allotted, but if not, he'll be "knocking on those doors again" for the rest.
Define "the highway".

And define "completed".

Name change?

You’re Amy House and I’m listening to CBC Radio One in NewfoundlandLabrador?

Ferry fairness

Today’s press release by Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland brings to six the total, out of 22 for the year, that HNN has issued regarding Marine Atlantic.

All but one of them have been critical.

The single press release on the provincial ferry service was positive.

Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland has yet to pronounce itself, publicly, on the service on the Labrador ferries.

Why’s that?

More for me, please?

Does this qualify as a more-for-me-please rant?

Andy, don't you know, if we don't stand together, then we don't stand a chance.

Don't you know what you're fighting for?

Or is it just some way of financing sidewalk clearing?

Past tense!

Dianne Whalen manages to issue a press release that uses the phrase "Provincial Government" instead of you-know-what. But she also cleverly uses Our Dear Hackneyed Phrase, in the past tense no less:
In regards to the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH), Minister Whalen points out that the Provincial Government went it alone to start the widening and hard-surfacing of Phase I of the TLH last summer.
She says that like it's a bad thing. Not that long ago, another minister of Roads and Happiness was using the phrase like it's a good thing.

In any event, given that the vast majority of funding that has ever gone into the TLH has come from federal coffers, isn't it about time that the province went it alone, at least a little?

While Dianne Whalen is at it: how much of the money that W.G. has spent on the TLH since 2004, inclusive, came from the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund? How much of W.G.'s "going it alone" has been done with federal-source dollars? Inquiring minds...

On cavalier callousness

Bill Rowe, yesterday, in an Air Canada inspired anti-Canada anti-federalism froth, spouted, about transportation providers generally, “unless there is a concerted effort to improve service, a certain callousness, and a cavalier attitude, sets in at the top.”

Indeed, Bill Rowe.


What was that Mulroney line about patronage?

John Ottenheimer. His health forced him out as MHA or Minister any more.

But he's healthy enough for a patronage post.

And that John Ottenheimer. He'll show Quebec what-for.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Yet more strange inconsistency emerges from today’s infrastructure announcement.

As noted earlier, according to VOCM the Trans-Labrador Highway munnypot of “up to $51.5-million” — which is not the same thing as $51.5-million, and which is split with the Argentia access road project — will be used to widen 200 kms of the TLH, and hard-top 40 kms.

However, over on the Ministry of Truth (Federal), David Cochrane reports:

The big one for Labrador is the Trans-Labrador Highway, this is the stretch of road between Lab City, Churchill Falls, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, it’s $100-million to hard top that, put a hard surface on it, the province has said its money is there today, the feds came up with their money. So that’s 100-plus million dollars that’s gonna be done on that. Just to give you a sense, people on the island hear about the Trans-Labrador Highway and this stretch of road in particular, this is like paving from St. John’s to Deer Lake. That’s how long this stretch of road is.
Fascinating, for several reasons.

First, the TLH project is “100-plus million dollars”. The federal share, as announced today is “up to $51.5 million, representing a maximum of 50 per cent of total eligible costs of these initiatives.” Again, this bears repeating over and over and over again for those too dense or devious to appreciate the distinction, “up to $51.5-million” is not the same thing as $51.5-million itself. (Similarly, recall that “as early as” is not the same thing as “by”.)

Given that the “up to $51-million” is split with Argentia, the necessary implications are (take your pick):

The federal share will be less than the 50% commitment that Danny’s fertile imagination thinks he has from Harper; or

The federal share will be the maximum 50% of eligible costs, but the project’s eligible costs will total less than $103-million, even if ever penny of the federal contribution is spent on the TLH, with nothing for Argentia.
One of the two must, arithmetically, be true.

Second, the project described by Cochrane is for the re-surfacing of the section of TLH from Labrador City to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is also known as Phase I of the TLH.
There are two other Phases, numbered, appropriately enough, II and III. Phase II is the segment built from Red Bay to Cartwright in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Phase III, which is still uncompleted, will link Phases I and II.

How does the “hard-topping” of Phase I of III, constituting less than half the length of the Trans-Labrador Highway, constitute its “completion”?

Third, VOCM reports the hard-topping of 40 kilometres of TLH. Cochrane reports the hard-topping of the entire stretch from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador City, which is 533 kilometres. Were the two radio reporters at the same press conference?

Fourth, as Cochrane says, the segment of TLH to be paved “is like paving from St. John’s to Deer Lake”. Well, not quite: at 533 kilometres, it’s more like paving from St. John’s to Springdale, but it’s close enough. But even if the project didn’t include, as VOCM reports, the widening of 200 kilometres of existing road, and even if every penny of the up to $51.5-million, cost-shared up to 50% with the provincial government, totaling up to $103-million, was spent on hard-topping that section of the TLH, could you really do so for less than $200,000 per kilometre?

Finally, Fabian Manning, MP, and Felix Collins, MHA, who represent the Argentia area in their respective chambers, were at today’s announcement.

None of the Tory MHAs for Labrador were.

Do the math.

Word count is your friend (3)

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

That document wasn't good enough for Danny Williams:
MR. WILLIAMS: It is a useless document. Why are we being put through this sham here in the House of Assembly? Why won’t the Premier provide the beef, the real deal? Why don’t we get all the documentation?

Mr. Speaker, in paragraph 3, and this is just another indication of what we are not getting, "The principal conditions to be met in order for the Proponent to proceed with the Project are: (a) the passage into law of any changes to the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act contemplated by the Statement of Principles, (b) the completion of an Environmental Management Agreement, (c) the completion of required aboriginal agreements, including Impacts and Benefits Agreements and the Voisey’s Bay chapter in the respective land claims agreements or other interim arrangements...". As well, Mr. Speaker, there are corporate tax agreements and there are Industrial and Employment Benefits Agreements.

We have not seen any of them. They are all relevant agreements to this entire large commercial arrangement. We have not seen them. We are not going to be given them. We are being asked to vote tomorrow without the benefit of that documentation.

This is a government that will tell you, that will tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that it is open, it is accountable, and it is transparent. Well, Mr. Speaker, why aren’t we getting all the documentation? I can understand why the former Auditor General said that this is the least accountable government in this entire country.

Mr. Speaker, we do not have all the deal.


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 backgrounder to the White Rose deal, announced today, the only public documentation on it, consists of 601 words.

Mitigating factor: that's still 166 more than the 435 words that have been released on the sooper-sekrit Hebron deal.

De-mitigating factor: At least Roger Grimes opened the House of Assembly in the summer five years ago, giving then-opposition leader Danny Williams a soap box for his rant against sooper-sekrit resource deals.


Interesting to hear CBC Radio’s news update report that today’s infrastructure announcement will see the “completion” of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

It’s not easy to tell from the CBC report whether the government reps called it “completion”, or the CBC interpolated the term.

But the Ministry of Truth reports that “up to $51-million”, which isn’t the same thing as $51-million, and which is the same pot of money that will fund the Argentia access project, is being funneled into the TLH for a

project that will see 200 kilometres of the [Trans-Labrador] highway widened* this summer, and 40 kilometres hard-topped.**
The Trans-Labrador Highway, as defined in the National Highway System report, is 1163 kilometres long, from the border near Labrador City to the Blanc Sablon ferry terminal.

A hundred or so of those 1163 kilometres, between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Paradise River, do not even exist yet.

How, other than in some parallel universe, does widening 200 kilometres, and hard-topping 40, constitute “completion” of the Trans-Labrador Highway?


* Why didn’t the provincial government build the TLH to width to begin with?

** Does “hard-top” mean “chip seal”, the same surfacing substance that a certain provincial cabinet minister once derided as “cheap seal”?

On charity

Bill Rowe, just now, on the business of governments making charitable donations:

I was looking through some requests for funds, making a decision, hard decisions, on who I was going to send some cheques to, regarding charitable donations. They’re hard decisions to make, who you’re going to support, how much you’re going to send, but I’m doing it myself, and gladly, and I don’t want anyone else doing that for me.


Bill Rowe complains that he has heard that the Trans-Labrador Highway is a "priority" many times in the past.

He questions whether the funding, such as it is, announced today, is new money or old money.

He says he's a cynic.

And for some reason, he directs his cynicism at the federal government — the government that has funded the vast majority of TLH work over the past three decades — and not at the provincial one.

Why's that, Bill?

Hey mista build road numba one project

The Trans-Labrador Highway is "the number one project for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

The Trans-Labrador Highway is "a priority for this government".

"Number one project."

"A priority."

But not quite the number one priority:
The governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador today also jointly announced that improvements to the Trans Labrador Highway and upgrading of the Argentia Access Road will be among the first funding priorities under Building Canada. The Government of Canada will provide up to $51.5 million, representing a maximum of 50 per cent of total eligible costs of these initiatives, after the successful conclusion and signing of a base funding agreement.


As well, $75 million of the Building Canada Fund will be dedicated to major infrastructure projects, including investments in St. John’s, particularly in priority areas such as the core National Highway System, transit, water and wastewater treatment and green energy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Transparency rides again

When the current PC leader appointed Len Simms, former PC leader and campaign chair, as chair and CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation — or as it's taken to calling itself in a fit of institutional sycophancy, NewfoundlandLabradorHousing — there were important facts lefts out of the announcement.

Like the fact that his term, conveniently enough, ended right before the next provincial election.

When he "resigned", or his term "expired", depending on who you believe is telling the truth and who is a big fat liar, to return to his old job of running PC election campaigns, another fact was conveniently left out: that he'd get his old job back right away, as soon as that pesky little business of getting the fixed election out of the way was over.

All documented here.

Now we learn, thanks to the Western Star, that Mr. Simms, like so many very generous current and former (Progressive) Conservative politicans, donates his government pension to charity.

Correction: he continues to donate that pension to charity.

Oddly, though, you glean none of this important information from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation's — oops, NewfoundlandLabradorHousing's — own press releases, which haven't been updated in half a year anyway.

Why not?

Danny vs. Duplessis (III)

Duplessis knew how to be fierce when necessary.He never drew back an inch in the face of a threat to grab from him that which he desired more than all else in the world: the great power he enjoyed as Provincial Government leader. At Shawinigan, in the St. Maurice constituency, he once declared that if the voters re-elected a member of the Opposition, a bridge needed for the heavy local traffic would not be built. They were warned. And when they elected a Liberal Opposition member anyway, the bridge was no built while Duplessis was alive.

In Verchères County, Duplessis said during a political meeting in 1952: “I warned you not to elect a Liberal candidate. You did not listen to me. Unfortunately your riding did not receive any of the grants, the subsidies that could have made it a happier place in which to live. I hope you have now learrned your lesson and that you will vote against the Liberals this time.”

Examples of this type of bullying are plentiful. In Huntingdon riding, during a by-election, Duplessis declared: “You want roads, schools? ou want your riding to make progress? Let us know about it by your votes. We will respect this expression of your desires.”

- Pierre Laporte, The True Face of Duplessis, 1960, pp. 86-87

“Since the PC government got in, I might as well say it, we never got nothing in Harbour Grace,” Short said.

Minister Rideout says he offers no apologies for addressing transportation issues in government districts throughout the province.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Integral Part of the Williams

The Williams Government of Williams and Williams is building a broadband network that will link Williams Government offices and public institutions all across the province, in 219 communities right from one side of the Island of Williams to the other side:

Labrador? A federal problem.

Labrador is an integral part of the Province of Williams. And Williams.

Couldn't have that now

The State Information Bureau almost went through a whole government week without issuing the phrase "Williams Government".


INSTA-UPDATE: Why are so many of the "Williams Government" press releases issued in Joan Burke's name?

Danny vs. Duplessis (II)


The Liberal Member for Pontiac riding from 1935 to 1948 was E.G. Lawn. Duplessis always called him 'Lawn de Pontiac' — 'that l'âne (ass) from Pontiac'.

The Liberal Member for Hull elected in 1956 was Oswald Parent. Duplessis spoke often of "le député d'Hull' — ' the dull Member''.


Seeing Mr. Bruchesi approaching the box containing the Great Seal, Duplessis said, loudly enough for others in the hall to hear:

"The little sôt brings the Great Sceau." With both words pronouced alike in French, the pun means 'the little fool brings the Great Seal.'
- Pierre Laporte, The True Face of Duplessis, 1960, pp. 50, 53



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deputy Minister of Happiness

Congratulations to Ross Reid!

Next step: issue RFP for oversize novelty cheques?

Affairs of state

Some ink-stained wretches didn't get the memo that Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, recently re-elected with a big can of electoral woop, has better things to do with his time than, well, be Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

And what was the pressing business that kept Our Dear Premier from representing the province he loves fighting for at the Council of Atlantic Premiers?

Adding to his model airplane collection.

Danny vs. Duplessis (I)


Press conferences given by Mr. Duplessis were notable in one respect... questions were rarely asked. He did not provoke questions. Only those that came up with monotonous regularity, and were perfectly inoffensive, were tolerated.


Sometimes Duplessis would simply ignore a question or even the presence of a reporter who had displeased him. If the reporter persisted in questioning, he pretended not to have heard. Or, he would look at him for a second or two to show that he had understood the question... and then would talk about the weather.


Duplessis scrutinized everything the press published about provincial politics. He did not hesitate to criticize brutally anyone who displeased him.

- Pierre Laporte, The True Face of Duplessis, 1960, pp. 126, 131



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hugo Williams?

Danny Williams didn't take too kindly to the Hugo Chavez comparison, preferring Hugo Boss. In any event, it's all Stephen Harper's fault.

Danny says so. It must be true.

But now that same petro-dollar fuelled democratatorship to the south, who also, it seems, likes putting his stamp on the symbols of state, is emulating the petro-dollar fuelled democratatorship to the north.

Hugo Chavez — or is that Hugo Williams now? — has punted Venezuela into its own unique half-hour time zone.

Important business

If King Premier Williams can defend his honour before the mics in Confederation Building, then what, oh what, is the pressing matter that keeps him, and not for the first time, from doing so in front of the mics in Halifax?

On exaggeration

A Williams spokeswoman is said to have dismissed Craig Westcott as a serial exaggerator.

Today, the line comes back, with a vengeance.

Which has to make a body wonder: assuming, without knowing for sure, that Westcott is an "exaggerator", why is his exaggeration morally culpable in a way that, say, the exaggeration of Danny Williams is not?

Contemporary documents (I)

In May, 1980, the Hon. A. Brian Peckford, was Premier and Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs in what is now Dannystan. Peckford claims that there were sooper sekrit “trade deals” by which fish quotas off Canada were traded to other countries in exchange for trade considerations which benefited provinces other than his own.

Make that – Peckford now claims.

In that month of May, 1980, Mr. Peckford, in his official role, issued a document entitled “Discussion Paper on Major Bilateral Issues; Canada-Newfoundland”.*

The document is fascinating and fun. Run down the library and look it up. Marvel at both how much, and how little, has changed in the past 27 years.

There are eight pages dealing specifically with the fisheries, making particular mention of northern cod, and Canada’s dealings with other countries in fisheries management decisions.

There is, curiously, not a word, not a syllable, not one letter, expressing concerns over the “trade deals” in which Canada is supposed to have traded our fish for blah blah blah. (Feel free to furnish your own value for “blah”.)

Three months later, August 18, 1980, Peckford issues another document – there were a lot of documents, all bearing the new flag, flying out of Confederation Building in 1980 – this one, entitled “Towards the Twenty First Century – Together; The Position of the Government of Newfoundland Regarding Constitutional Change”.

Seven pages on fisheries. Aha! A perfect occasion to rail against the nefarious Canadian “trade deals” and lay out the case that things would be different if the province called the shots.

But nope. Page 15-16:

The fisheries should be an area of concurrent legislative jurisdiction with the federal government having paramount authority regarding matters of national and international concern and with the provinces having paramount authority regarding matters of provincial and local concern.

In specific terms, the federal government would, therefore, have paramount authority regarding international negotiations, surveillance, international enforcement, basic research, conservation and the determination of total allowable catches, inspection and quality standards for exports and licensing of foreign vessels.
Catch that? The Peckford government, in 1980, was expressly arguing for federal jursidction over setting allowable catches, licensing foreign vessels, and international negotiations. An extremely odd stance to take, if the federal government was trading Newfoundland fish quotas for Quebec Hyundai plants or wheat sales, no?

Two months pass. Then it’s time to issue yet another handsome document as a brand-building exercise; this time the pictorial cover shows the then-new provincial flag fluttering on a pole. It’s the famous “Managing All Our Resources” from October, 1980.

Pages 55 through 73 deal with the fishery. The document rails against “the rape [ugh - ed.] of the stock in recent years by foreign flag freezer trawlers”, “management decisions taken by the federal government”, “certain countries” who have “engaged in indiscriminate fishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks”, “exclusive federal control of the resource”, and “federal control over licensing policy”.

Curiously, there is no mention whatsoever of Canada trading quotas or allocations of fish to foreign countries in exchange for other stuff.

It is strange that every statement, from every claimant, alleging the existence of these “trade deals”, or offering up the supposed particulars thereof, dates from long after the time – the 60s, 70s, or 80s, depending on which version you hear – during which the “trade deals” were supposedly being made. There is an astonishing, and so far, total lack of contemporary evidence for these “trade deals”, and the only “evidence”on offer, much after the fact, is of dubious probative value at best.

Peckford, like the rest, now claims the existence of these “trade deals”. But he didn’t then.


And Brian, have you found your smoking-gun contemporary documents yet?

No? Well, keep looking.


* Interestingly, this is one of the first provincial government publications to bear the new provincial flag, the act adopting which received Royal Assent on May 28th – the original “re-branding”. Prediction: the Pitcher Plant thingie won’t survive the transition to Premier Oram or Premier Skinner or Premier Kennedy or Premier Pottle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bill Rowe is a Great Lawyer™

In the Supreme Court of VOCM
(On Appeal from the
Kangaroo Court of Dannystan)

Re Labrador Métis Nation

[2007] VOCM (Backtalk) 12:11
Per Rowe J.: [The Labrador Métis…] have traditional and long-lived historical claims as well.

R John E weighs in

Another day, another entry from the parallel universe of broadcast journalistic standards that is the Fisheries Broadcast.

Today’s edition featured one R. John Efford, former provincial cabinet minister, former federal cabinet minister, and current proponent of the “trade deals” narrative. John Furlong will take it from here:
JOHN FURLONG: The issue of whether fish stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador have ever been traded for other international concessions seems to have taken on a life of its own. Just to recap, Father Des McGrath mentioned it to me in an interview a couple of weeks ago, making the direct allegation that fish stocks have, in the past, been used to sweeten trade deals with other countries. Then, former Premier Brian Peckford wrote a piece in the Telegram, saying he certainly felt that that’s what Ottawa had done, and while John Crosbie said he had never seen any evidence that fish was used in trade deals, he said here on the Broadcast last week it was used to smooth over external affairs matters, such as when France was given access to northern cod to try to straighten out the St-Pierre boundary dispute.
Interesting: Furlong uses the phrase “such as”, and the plural “matters”, implying thereby that the St-Pierre boundary issue – in which fish resources were used to settle a dispute over, well, fish resources – is but one of two or more such “external affairs matters.

What were the others?

Furlong then introduces his guest:

FURLONG: Someone else who sat around the federal cabinet table, and who has sat around provincial cabinet tables, is John Efford.

Well, John Efford, tell me, what’s your view of this whole issue?

EFFORD: I go back first to when I was Minister of Transportation in Newfoundland, and I happened to be in Ottawa, in meetings, transportation meetings, when Brian Tobin was involved in the Estai. And I’ll never forget the day that I was in Brian Tobin’s office, and I saw the colour in his face at the time that the, everything, was coming to its head in Ottawa. The Prime Minister, I guess, was coming to Brian Tobin, saying, “you can’t do this,” you know, he was about to, I would suspect, about to lose his job.* And it was a big issue, the Estai, and the firing of the guns, and all that stuff. I came back to Newfoundland, put my job on the line, Bud Hulan was Minister of Fisheries, and I put my job on the line, and organized a big rally in Newfoundland, and Beaton Tulk, and others, and Earl McCurdy got involved, and escalated that, and went right across Newfoundland. And that was an issue where we won the day. But at the end of the day, it was showmanship, because nothing ever came out of, to give us any encouragement that Newfoundland was going to get anything done outside the 200-mile limit, because I think we even had to pay the fines, or the costs of the Estai at that particular time, so that’s one example. But let’s get down to the real things, where the trade relations came into be. When I was Minister of Fisheries in Newfoundland, I was in Ottawa on a number of occasions, re the seal fishery, and opening the seal hunt, and every time you mentioned seal products, or seal hunt in Ottawa, the issue always came up with trade relations, canned salmon from British Columbia, Quebec, in particular Ontario, that was always, always the big issue.
At this point, a really good journalist would have jumped in and asked, “But Mr. Efford, how does that prove that Canada traded fish quotas for other trade considerations in other provinces? We didn’t give any seal quotas away to foreign countries, and the seal hunt has gone ahead anyway, hasn’t it?”

But alas, Efford is allowed to continue unchallenged:

EFFORD: The other example comes in decisions not being made in favour of Newfoundland was the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, and that was the big issue, protecting the fish stocks on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, and every time we mentioned custodial management, every time we talked about extending jurisdiction, every time we talked about Canada becoming involved in issue, it was always come down to trade relations. Ministers from other provinces, and we talked about Ontario with 107 members [sic] versus Newfoundland [sic] with seven members. And the other big issue that was detrimental to Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular Goose Bay, and I was involved in this at the time, in trying to keep the Goose Bay base open, and is this an example nothing to do with fish –
Good admission, John, because neither of those two examples shed any light whatsoever on the supposed “trade deals”, of fish quotas for other consideration in other provinces, that Furlong called you to talk about. He continues:

but it gives you an example of how much the power of other province [sic] got this sway towards decisions being made in Newfoundland and Labrador. And a Minister, a colleague of mine, said in a meeting, this was not a cabinet meeting, this was a meeting where the officials of the other departments was there, and the forces, the armed forces were there, and he said very clearly, about closing the one in Quebec versus the one in Labrador, and “God, we can’t close the one in Quebec, we’ll be slaughtered, what’s the population of Quebec versus the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.” And that was the kind of comments was made. So those things happened all the time, and in particularly [sic] in the fishing industry.
Particularly in the fishing industry? It would have been nice to proffer some, well, particulars there. Particulars particular to the particular industry that is the subject of the whole trade-deals thingie. Furlong senses an opening;

FURLONG: So just let me go back to the Brian Tobin example, now, the Estai, so was the implication that if Brian Tobin upset, you know, Spain or Portugal that it would have a detrimental effect on our trade relations, and that’s why the Prime Minister was upset.

EFFORD: His other ministers were certainly concerned about it, but in the Prime Minister’s case, I guess it was the fact of firing the bullets, that was the big issue, and how far could you go. I mean Canada starting a war, but other ministers from other provinces, on anything comes to relations, comes to with major issues like the fisheries in Newfoundland, when it comes to Spain, Portugal, Russia, and all those other countries, yes, trade relations do play a major role.

FURLONG: Now what about the political reality, though, you mentioned it, though, you mentioned it, the number of seats in Newfoundland, seven, in Newfoundland and Labrador we have seven seats, we don’t have the same clout as Ontario’s hundred-plus seats, I mean, that’s just an economic fact of life, though, isn’t it, or a political fact of life, I spose, is a better way of putting it.

EFFORD: It’s a political fact of life, and that’s the unfortunate thing, and the other thing, you know, that you have to realize, is that the people in Ontario, the people in Alberta, or the Ministers I’m talking about, when it comes to issues like the fishery, they know very little about the fishery, not like Newfoundland and Labrador, we realize how important it is to our economy. One of the messages I tried to get through all the time was that, look, the fishery off Newfoundland and Labrador is not only vital to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s part of the world food chain, and we can’t keep destroying the stocks and wiping them out, because it’s going to have a major impact on the whole world, not just the economy of our province. But when it comes down to the final crunch of factories closing or losing trade relations, you know darn well who’s gonna win out the day. The larger the population, the more favouritism, the votes. You got 107 [sic] against 7, Ontario versus Newfoundland, or British Columbia, or any other large province.
(Hey, John? Larger population versus smaller. Does that explain your support for FANL, even as against the interests of Labrador fishermen, back 15, 20 years ago?)

FURLONG: Now, you told a Commons committee a few years ago, that, you had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the will is not there, and I’m quoting now, “the will is not there for Canada to take the necessary action for the best interests of the fishing industry”. You said it’s because of trade relations, you said, “I believe very strongly that it’s because of what the loss may be to other provinces, and on other products in this country.” But do you have evidence of that, John Efford, or is it just your strong opinion?
Finally! A darn good question!

EFFORD: It’s not only my strong opinion, it’s what I heard, it’s not evidence that I have on paper, written documents –
Good call! It’s not evidence at all, then: it’s hearsay. Just like everyone else seems to have.

– but when you hear Ministers from provinces like Ontario make the statements I just told you about. The Ministers have the power, in numbers, to override something like the issues that we bring forth. Now, you know, if you could get all the Ministers from those provinces to agree, that, yeah, you know, that the fishery is part of the world food chain. But when it comes down to their own particular riding, their own factories closing up, definitely. It is a factor, and it has been a factor, and it will be a factor –
Which is about where Furlong ought to have jumped in and asked:

Which ridings, John?

Which factories?

Which factories in which ridings have been threatened with closure by which countries (and which countries own factories to close?) because Canada wouldn’t give those countries which stocks of which fish, and when?

– until a Prime Minister, and the only person can change that is a Prime Minister, can say, look, this has got to stop, this is part of the world food chain, this is a major, major issue, and I don’t see that happening in the near future.

FURLONG: And do you get the sense it’s the same way with the seal hunt, that if certain countries object to the seal hunt, that it may have a detrimental effect on foreign trade?
Interesting hypothetical question John. Now, remind everyone again: is there a seal hunt, yes or no? Which “certain countries” have objected, what has been the detrimental effect on foreign trade, and how has Canada capitulated to that pressure by, shall we say, stopping the seal hunt? Efford answers:

EFFORD: Oh definitely. Now I was Minister in Newfoundland and I was Minister in Ottawa, and I can habsolutely tell you clearly, it is definitely a major, major issue.
So there is plenty of “proof”, as John Efford can tell you.

The proof?

Ontario has more seats then “Newfoundland”.

Sometime countries put pressure on Canada over the seal hunt.

John Efford organized a rally one time.

Some people think that extending Canadian jurisdiction outside 200 miles would harm relations with other countries.

Someone made a political calculation once regarding military porkbarrelling.

The Prime Minister was worried about starting a war.

Cod is part of the food chain.

Some ridings have factories in them.

The one thing Efford can’t, apparently, tell you?

The answers to any of the big questions:

WHO traded fish quotas to foreign countries? To WHICH foreign countries? WHAT fish? In exchange for WHAT trade or foreign policy considerations or concessions? WHEN did these deals occur? WHAT was their duration? WHERE were they signed or otherwise approved, and by WHOM? WHY did this happen? HOW, that is, under authority of what domestic or international legal regime, was this fish-for-X practice carried on?

Dénouement: Furlong points to the Telegram’s on-line poll from the weekend, cleverly implying, but not openly stating, that the results are somehow further proof of the trade deals myth.

The only fact that the poll – or any poll – can prove, is that X percent of people responded A, B, or C, when asked question Y. In this case, that 92% of respondents answered yes to the question, “Have you or do you hold the belief that, in the past, Ottawa traded Newfoundland fish quotas for better foreign markets for other Canadian products?”

Even I would have answered yes. Why? Having thought, once, that the “trade deals” story was true — along with the assertion that the federal government collects offshore oil royalties — I would have had no other truthful option in answering the Telegram poll, but to answer yes.

But the question would be methodologically unsound even if the sample was random, because the question is double-barreled: it asks about your views in the present (“do you hold the belief…”) and in the past (“Have you… hold the belief… [sic]”).

92% of respondents now hold, or held in the past, the belief that these trade deals exist. That is the only fact that the poll proves.

If the Telegram also asked, even as a single-barreled question, “Do you believe that the universe is, like, one big giant atom, dood?”, it, too, would elicit a non-zero positive response. It would have been an interesting exercise in finding out what a self-selected sample of people (or the same guy over and over again) believes about the universe, but it would be entirely useless as cosmology or physics.


* Finally, an excuse to break open Tobin’s All in Good Time, which does not corroborate Efford’s version, or vice-versa. Take your pick.

Monday, December 10, 2007

One step closer to the truth

Yesterday, in a letter to the editor of The Telegram (not on-line, sadly), Agnes Noseworthy, AKA Senga P., AKA An_N, the most recent and most tenacious of the popularizers of the “trade deal” narrative, writes:

Fish-quota issue deserves more discussion

Re the article titled “Were fish stocks used as bargaining chips?” by A. Brian Peckford which appeared in the Sunday edition of The Telegram on Dec. 2. First, I would like to thank the former premier of this province for weighing in on this very important topic. It is a topic which must be talked about by everyone concerned.

Fish quotas are a renewable resource and, if looked after properly, this province - with the adjacency to what was one of the greatest fish resources in the world centred off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, an appendage of land which juts out into the North Atlantic Ocean - could still create a vibrant fishing industry here in the future, with the assistance of the federal government which holds the fish quotas. The industry should be created here, instead of Ottawa doling out the resources to foreign nations for trade concessions.

In his article, Mr. Peckford says that he thinks it is “fair to suggest, if not maintain,” that based upon the documents that he has in his possession, “there is a case to be made that the federal government was trading fish off the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for questionable return, either in the form of so-called market access or involving other products or issues.”

Agnes Noseworthy
St. John’s
The best part is the part she didn’t even write: the headline. It is absolutely true; the issue does deserve more discussion. Lots of it.

By people who actually know what they are talking about.

As for the substance of Agnes’ umpteenth re-iteration of her favourite fable, she successfully tilts at a windmill in writing:

The industry should be created here, instead of Ottawa doling out the resources to foreign nations for trade concessions.
Agreed! Of course, Agnes should also start eating real people-food for three meals a day, instead of eating adorable puppies.

It is entirely immaterial whether she does, in fact, eat adorable puppies; she should stop doing it, and it’s up to her to prove anyone else wrong when they say she does. The proof is out there, and besides, someone else says she does, so it must be true.

And she bolsters he case by quoting the logically tenuous conclusions, such as they are, of Brian Peckford, when he cites, well, Brian Peckford, and his locatable documents which don’t bolster his case, and the conveniently-unlocatable documents, which, apparently, if anyone could find them, do.

But she has no evidence, let alone novel conclusions, of her own.

Please play again, Agnes!


It is most interesting to note Our Dear Finance Minister (and strangely, Our Dear Premier is nowhere in sight) praising up the provincial GDP:
The GDP forecast for this year has been revised upward to 8.9 per cent from 8.5 per cent because of stronger domestic demand, as evidenced by solid gains in retail sales and housing starts.
And not for the first time. As Minister Marshall noted in February, shortly after Williams Government ended Our moratorium on any discussion of the Gross Domestic Product:
Retail sales are up at the highest level ever, incomes are up, our credit ratings have never been higher, we are leading the country in labour productivity and GDP growth, and with more of our people working than ever before.
Interesting, and, in the Church of Danny, entirely heretical:
Premiers Tobin, Tulk and Grimes have all heralded the fact that we have been leading the country in GDP growth? What a smoke screen that is!

What does GDP really mean? By definition it means the value of all goods and services produced in the province during the year. But always remember something about GDP: it means the value of what is produced in the province not the value of what stays in the province.

Bobby Kennedy defined it best just before his assassination in 1968 when he said "GDP means everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile." [Board of Trade (2001) 11:1]

* * *

"After thirteen years in office, the Liberals have nothing to show for their efforts but decline. All the GDP growth they've been boasting about isn't generating a single dollar of new revenues for the province. Ths budget's revenue situation reflects what we're seeing in the latest census figures: that Newfoundland and Labrador is in sharp decline," said Williams. [Press Release (2002) 3:21]

* * *

However, when I hear the Minister of Industry, Trade and - and I did refer to him as the Minister of Industry, Trade and no Rural Development, and I apologize to him for that. That was done in debate, and I should have said the Minister of Industry, Trade and very little Rural Development. Anyway, every time he gets on his feet, he talks about how wonderful things are. How great he art. In fact, he talks about the GDP, and how we have the highest GDP in the country in GDP growth. He talks about the strength of the economy. He talks about how employment numbers are going up. What does that mean to the ordinary, average Newfoundlander? I cannot believe that he stands on his feet and talks about how great things are and how wonderful things are.

Oil and gas: Our oil is the greatest contributor to GDP. What does that mean? It means nothing. They put it on a ship and it leaves Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not processed here. Nothing happens to it here. It drives up our GDP number. So what? It comes in, it goes into holding tanks in Whiffen Head, and then it is shipped out. It is not processed in this Province. Gone! [Dansard, (2002) 3: 19]

* * *

Mr. Speaker, the problem is, we have had to sit here for two sessions of this House of Assembly and see the former Minister of Rural Development, and current minister, get up and talk about how wonderful everything is in this Province. How great thou art. How wonderful everything is in this Province. Jobs are being created everywhere. The GDP is going through the roof. Everything is wonderful.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if I may move on to GDP - and I will not deal with this at any great length because it was handled very capably by the Opposition House Leader during Question Period. Bobby Kennedy said before his assassination, "...GDP measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile." No truer statement was ever said. We have had it shoved down our throats for the last four years.

When Premier Tobin was here, he heralded the GDP. It was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The GDP is going up, leading the nation, our worries are over; highest GDP again this year. Don’t worry about it Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as long as that GDP is going up we have no problems. It is a meaningless number. It is smoke and mirrors. All it does is mislead the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Ask the people in Gaskiers what the GDP means to them. Ask the people in Ramea what GDP means to them. Ask the people in La Scie or Rushoon what an increased GDP means to them. It means absolutely nothing. Ask the 40,000 people who have left Newfoundland and Labrador what GDP means to them. It is absolutely meaningless. [Dansard, (2002) 5:21]

* * *

Our government boasts that we have led the country in GDP growth in three of the past five years, but what do Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have to show for it? They had the highest rate of unemployment in the country, at 18 per cent. They have among the highest per capita debt, the highest out-migration and tax burden in the country, and they have among the lowest per capita income, birth rate and fiscal strength. [Dansard, (2003) 3:19]

* * *

We hear today about the wonderful GDP, how our Province is growing, how we are the toast of the country. The Globe and Mail is talking about the great GDP we have. What does that mean to the fishermen in the gallery? It means absolutely nothing, because their lives are being devastated by this particular closure and how the government can get up and talk about a GDP. We have to talk about what is important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. [Dansard, (2003) 4:30]

The Word of Our Dan. It is written.

The First Sign (II)

The First Sign is the vagueness, the lack of details.

In The Telegram of February 3, 2001, citizen Danny Williams told Tracy Barron (whatever became of her?) “We always seem to be traded off — whether it happens to be fish, hydro or oil and gas. There’s always a national or international picture.”

In his speech to The Party faithful on April 7, 2001, the night he became Leader of The Party, he said “Our fishery is bartered to foreign countries in the interest of international relations.” Interesting use of the present tense there.

A few months later, as guest speaker at John Hamm’s party convention over in Nova Scotia, he said:

Our fellow Canadians must wonder why Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are always angry, always complaining about the inequity of the Upper Churchill… not to mention the gross mismanagement of our cod fishery by the federal government, resulting in its destruction; the bartering of our fishery rights for favoured access to international markets.
(Are you always angry?)

In a January 7, 2005, op-ed in the Globe and Mail — this was a couple of years before Danny complained that the same paper would never let him get a printed word in edgewise — he writes:

Canada permitted foreign overfishing off our coast to continue, to our detriment, in order to secure trade agreements that benefited other regions of our country.
Two days later, he told Craig Oliver of CTV News:

We had to get the Canadians’ attention about the history, the deep history of Newfoundland and Labrador. How we’ve been wronged and slighted by the federal government, how they’ve mismanaged our fishery basically to oblivion, and have allowed foreign trawlers to take everything off our banks in the interests of external trade.
The next month, in a speech to the Empire Club, he claims:

We lost the power to manage our fisheries when we entered Confederation, and Ottawa used our fishery to trade quotas to foreigners for favours benefitting other Canadians.
And on May 18 of that year, he tells Will Hilliard of The Telegram:

I reiterated our position on custodial management and I can tell you it was something that made the EU officials very uncomfortable. I also pointed out to them that I felt that Canada had, at times, traded off our interests in the interest of the bigger trade issues.
On January 23 of this year, as reported by Craig Jackson in The Telegram, Premier Williams told a University of Saskatchewan audience of about 200 that “Ottawa, in turn, used its control of our fishery to trade quotas to foreigners in exchange for other favours.”

And, in his speech to the Economic Club of Toronto in May, he said:

In entering confederation, we also lost the power to manage our fisheries, and Ottawa in turn used its control of our fishery to trade quotas to other countries in so doing, it mismanaged some species of our domestic fishery to the point of commercial extinction.
The first sign is the vagueness, the lack of details. None of the trade-deal proponents, not even someone, like Premier Williams, with access to the files, a legal mind who can prove a case, and a flair for communicating his argument, can answer any of The Big Questions:

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Danny is long on vague, un-detailed accusations.

He, like the rest of them, is short on the details:

WHO traded fish quotas to foreign countries?

To WHICH foreign countries?

WHAT fish?

In exchange for WHAT trade or foreign policy considerations or concessions?

WHEN did these deals occur?

WHAT was their duration?

WHERE were they signed or otherwise approved, and by WHOM?

WHY did this happen?

HOW, that is, under authority of what domestic or international legal regime, was this fish-for-X practice carried on?
Why, in any of the many instances over the past six years in which Danny Williams has raised the “trade deals” spectre, has he not been able to give any of the details of those supposed trade deals?

The lack of details can only be explained by one of two things:

The trade deals, and their details, exist, but Danny is deliberately holding back the information.

Or they don’t, and Danny is, inadvertantly or deliberately, misleading the public by claiming that they do.

Which is it?