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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sentence fragments.

Lots of sentence fragments. Sentence fragments are, "young" and "cool", perhaps?
Rich with history. Rife with culture. Sprawling with natural beauty. All these wonders have been here for thousands of years, embraced by those who happened upon them. It’s up to the traveler to enjoy them, to go vigorously in search of people, adventure, of experience. Around every corner, around every bend, you will find a piece of heaven, a delightful sight, a playful breeze that will help your journey.
And oy! Holy redundancies Batman:
Below is a map of Labrador Skies, the region covering the Labrador portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Labrador Skies"? Other places don't have skies? Isn't the point of tourism marketing to highlight what you have that is unique?

And wow! The "Lighthouses" page manages to ignore Point Amour, the tallest in the province, tied with Point-au-Père as the tallest on Canada's Atlantic seaboard, and second-tallest in the country, and about to celebrate its sesquicentennial.

If Point Amour was anywhere near St. John's, you think the tourism people might have noted any of that?

Monday, January 29, 2007


It's reassuring to know that no, Danny Williams, Great Businessman, isn't deliberately throwing the provincial economy down the toilet, he's just rationing.


John Efford got one. So did Dr. Max House and Sister Elizabeth Davis, simultaneously. Team Gushue got theirs, and then some. And Gen. Rick Hillier, of course, got one. He has guns.

So you've gotta wonder... even though it's local boy does good, and it boosts the much-coveted "federal presence" to boot... why didn't Loyola Sullivan's appointment as Ambassador to the Fishes merit one of Chairman Dan's laudatory press releases?

Williams' Alberta Trip Successful: Williams

Premier Pleased with Opportunity to Promote
Newfoundland and Labrador in Alberta

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, was accompanied by 13 Newfoundland and Labrador business people representing nine companies, to Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta January 25 – 27. The delegation was part of a mission organized by the Council of Atlantic Premiers to link companies from the Atlantic region to business opportunities in that province. While in Alberta, both Premier Williams and senior representatives of the companies took part in receptions in both cities, a breakfast meeting with a local development association and its members, and a tour of the Syncrude oil sands site. The business representatives also spent a couple of days making contacts on an individual basis. Everyone involved in the mission believe it was a success and look forward to building upon the relationships established.
and this:
Williams Pleased With Trip Out West
January 29, 2007

Premier Danny Williams travels would appear to be paying off -big time. At least that's his consensus after his trek to Saskatchewan and Alberta. Williams says he's gained more support in his stand against inclusion of non-renewable resources in the equalization formula. Premier Williams told VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, we have to face the reality that Alberta is the nation's major oil player. Williams says the business groups that accompanied him on the trek are looking forward to big things. The Premier says Fort McMurray will become one of Canada's leading communities over the next couple of decades.
are exactly the sorts of behavior that Dr. Kellogg was obsessed with eradicating.

Is the party over?

Maybe it's an antiquated notion, but isn't the purpose of a supposed political party to, like, you know, run in elections?

Things that bug people

From the Sunday running of the St. John's Telegram, and Tara Mullowney's pre-appearance profile of historian Margaret MacMillan:
Examples of history influencing residents and policy-makers in Newfoundland and Labrador abound, she said, with this province's history as a British colony often shaping local people's attitudes towards the rest of Canada.

"It seems to me when I meet people from Newfoundland, you have a very different sense of yourself culturally," MacMillan said. "It's partly geography, too - you're an island and that affects people. Also, I notice when you're talking about the Churchill Falls deal, it obviously still bugs people."
Hey, you know what else bugs people?

Those people who "have a sense of themselves... as an island" who insist on still being "bugged" by the decidedly non-insular Churchill Falls deal.

That bugs people.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An early Groundhog Day

You ever have one of those days where you wake up, and it's like you're re-living the same day over and over and over and over and over and over and over again?

Today is one of those days. From the Ministry of Truth:
Just Wait Ten Years From Now
January 28, 2007

The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is promising compatriots who've moved to Alberta that in about 10 years, they'll have an economy worth coming home to.

Danny Williams spoke yesterday at a 15-dollar-a-head meet and greet for Newfoundland's expatriates in Fort McMurray. Appealing directly to about 150 of his compatriots working in the city, Williams said he knows some will remain in Fort McMurray for the rest of their lives because their family is there. But for others who want to go home, he said his job is to boost Newfoundland's economy so they can get the kind of jobs they have in Alberta.
Brian Peckford couldn't have said it any better himself: "One day, the sun will shine, and 'have-not' will be no more."

"One day."

"Ten years from now."

It might have been Crosbie who complained about the tendency of Newfoundland politicians to fall into "El Dorado" syndrome: hold out the hope of some future megaproject, however mythical, that would embarrass a sheikh; that the current megaproject, or artist's sketch, would be "the one to save us."

They also used to say "Cape St. Mary's Pays For All."

"Ten years from now" is conveniently beyond Danny's personal event-horizon. By choice or by other circumstances — remember, on her way out the door, Margaret Thatcher famously, and bittersweetly, quipped, "It's a funny old world." — this will be long after Danny Williams isn't there to kick around anymore.

Playing out the "have not will be no more" is a cynical and cynicizing game even at the best of times.

These are not the best of times.

In about six weeks, the 2006 census figures will come down. The numbers are going to go off like a bomb on the local political scene. And the province does not have the luxury of Danny's self-established timeline of ten years to start mitigating the trends that those statistics will lay bare.


"Williams" is to "homing pigeons" as "Parizeau" is to "lobsters".


Friday, January 26, 2007

Questioning Danny's version

Fast-forwarding to today’s Telegram and its editorial, “Danny’s version”.

Williams pointedly told the audience that the per capita debt of individual Newfoundlanders increased tenfold when we joined Canada. It’s an interesting
number, but like most subjective and selective numbers, unlikely one that tells
the whole story.

The fact is that you can take a whole host of numbers out of context to defend any argument. And further, if you’re allowed to include some numbers — like the total landed value of the fishery and the total value of the oil and gas in the offshore (while discounting the fact that those resources gain their value through commercial exploitation and the necessary profit-taking involved) — and choose to simply disregard others, you can make an economic case that holds attention without ever really holding water.
Sadly, that’s almost the National Sport of the Secret Nation these days. Just witness the sorry statistical spectacle that was The Independent’s “balance sheet” exercise the other year.

The editorialist ungently pokes a Great Big Hole in the Premier’s logic and rhetoric:
The problem is, the argument — perhaps unintentionally on Williams’ part — also
makes another point.

It is the natural precursor to the “It’s my football, and if I can’t set the rules, I’m taking it and going home” school of negotiation.

And that’s a school of argument that you could easily suggest has done a tremendous amount of damage to this country as a whole.


The “we were better off without you” argument may be popular with the home crowd, but it’s not likely to garner much more than polite applause from a few hundred students when you’re giving that speech away.
It is the natural precursor to that argument. And Danny keeps making arguments of that ilk at every possible occasion.

There’s only one rational explanation, though to attempt to apply rational explanations, of course, is to beg the question of whether you are dealing with rational behavior in the first place.
That rational explanation? That it’s deliberate on Danny’s part.

It’s not as if Danny hasn’t been above not just 1960s-era Quebec nationalist rhetoric in the past… he’s even dabbled in 1970s-era Quebec separatist slogans. He’s fallen short, though just, of inciting his now-diminishing band of fans into a chant of “un pays, nous l’aurons”. But his flirtation with the Pink White and Green was a blatant, if aborted, pander to the downtown St. John’s separatist crowd, evoking the Quebec nationalist usage, and abusage, of the fleurdelisé... to say nothing of his January 2005 impersonation of Jean-Paul L'Allier. His celtophilic fascination with Ireland is another, probably unconscious echo of Quebec nationalism’s appeal to Québécois de souche, the ethnically-correct, the good old stock, the “us”, the “nous”, in contradistinction to the less-virtuous Canadian “them”.

Already he’s taken to Parizeau-esque blaming “money” – in the form of those horrid Canadian capitalists who would swoop in from outside and rob Terra Nova of her virtue and her resources. (There probably aren’t enough, unless you count the Labrador Metis, who, in any event, according to Chancellor Williams himself, don’t exist, to invoke the other half of Parizeau’s bile-laden invective, the bit about “la vote ethnique”.)

Danny’s constant resort to Newfoundland nationalist, even crypto-separatist, logic and rhetoric, has gone, too often, without comment in the local press. What little there has been, has usually been of the fawning, PWG-waving variety. The Telegram’s editorial marks a welcome relief on both fronts.

But the questions still need to be explored: why does Danny do it? what is his purpose? what is his goal? Because, you know, arguing, if only subtly and implicitly, that we should get more money out of Canada or we’ll [UNSPECIFICED DIRE CONSEQUENCES TO BE INSERTED HERE], is kind of self-defeating.

After all, if Danny were to lead virtuous Terra Nova into [UNSPECIFIED DIRE CONSEQUENCES TO BE INSERTED HERE], how much more money would she be getting out of horrible, horrible, Canada then, than she pays in?

Don't say you weren't told

For anyone who is surprised about Loyola (H) giving Loyola (S) the Fisheries Ambassador position, three pieces of advice:

(1) Subscribe to The Telegram.

(2) Read it every day, even on New Year's Eve and other festive days.

(3) Pay particular attention to anything under Jamie Baker's byline:

'Sullivan was always there'
Friends, political foes praise former finance minister

The Telegram
Jamie Baker
December 31, 2006, p. A1


Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has been a close friend of Sullivan's for many years.


"Loyola has always took the high road, he picked his time, the time is right and the people who know him will accept the fact he made the right decision," Hearn said, noting he and Sullivan had taught school together, played hockey together and even worked on each other's political campaigns.

"I have been involved with all his campaigns, and he has been involved with all of mine - even when we were sort of persona non grata to other people," Hearn said. "Sullivan was always there."


Meanwhile, Hearn doesn't believe the province has seen the last of the man who has often been jokingly referred to as the human calculator for his penchant with handling numbers.

He expects the private sector, and maybe even public office again at some point, will seek Sullivan out.

"Whether it be the private or public sector, people are not going to sit back without using talent like that to the full advantage," Hearn said. "My own guess is that we will hear more from Mr. Sullivan because he has a tremendous amount to offer."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Found poetry

Some found poetry, by way of Ryan Cleary and the wonky formatting of his latest column in The Independent.

Probably coming soon, complete with beret and bongos, to a bohemian watering hole’s open-mike night near you.

Look, up in the sky…
By Ryan Cleary

Big Oil has discovered our

Danny’s kryptonite, or maybe

they knew his secret weakness

all along.

Danny may be a

Newfoundlander of steel, but his people

are flesh and blood. We are his

weakness, his Achilles heel.

Not that Big Oil would ever cut back

on production on purpose to make us

suffer, to have their way with us. I

would never think that.

Danny may

have walked away from Hebron negotiations

and turned down the Hibernia

South application, but the oil companies

would never dream of retaliating.

Never in a billion dollars — my apologies,

I meant billion years.

Personally, I can’t see Danny in a camouflage

suit and beret, Cuban cigar

dangling from his mouth, preaching to

the masses from the top step of

Confederation Building.

That style of

leadership/wardrobe went out with Leo


Imagine Danny laying down the law

— ’bout time we had the ball in our

court. Someone is making billions in

profits … and it ain’t us.

We’d have to be

an independent Newfoundland and

Labrador to nationalize anything.

There’s that evil word — separation.

Better not go there … too scary.

What the hell, it’s time we started

thinking outside the box.

Consider this

column an exercise in freeing the mind.

The question remains: why isn’t the

province making more from the oil

resources off its shores?

It’s clear what Hugo Chávez would

do. Our own Hugo boss, Danny

Chávez, has heard the comparisons, but

he doesn’t seem particularly bothered.

Said Danny: “All I know is he is trying

to get a greater return for his

resources to pour it back into social

programs for his people … when they

try to tag you with someone like

Chávez, they’re trying to compare you

to someone in South America who they

consider to be unreasonable.”

“From my perspective, it’s not so

much stubbornness as it is being hardnosed

in our negotiations to get what’s

fair for the people of the province.”

Sounds reasonable.

Holy hypocrisy, Batman!

From the Ministry of Truth, this astounding exercise, even by Williams standards, in DoubleThink:
As for the issue of Hibernia South being viewed as an independent development, [Danny Williams is] maintaining his stance on the issue. Williams says he's surprised a federal minister has put their support behind the CNLOPB when there's not enough information available yet. He says the inherent conflict of interest is the feds supporting the CNLOPB while they own part of the project.
You mean... while they have "equity"? As in the state-ownership stake Chairman Dan himself covets?

"I have also informed him that without equity and enhanced royalty, there will be no Hebron project as long as I am Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Perhaps the Hypocrite in Chief can explain, in his own words, given that both the federal and provincial governments are represented on the CNLOPB, how it is a federal government vice becomes a provincial government virtue!

For your "favourites"

Dennis Rice, a welcome addition to the local blogoverse. And I.P. Freely — no known relation to the Frelichs — who has suddenly become world-famous all over Newfoundland.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Danny Williams: Spice Boy

Caught in a scrum yesterday in Saskatchewan, Premier Williams had the following bizarre exchange with a well-known national political reporter:

REPORTER: Premier Williams, on this equalization and fiscal imbalance issue, I have seen you on record as wanting natural resources included in the formula, I’ve seen you wanting them taken out of the formula, your position seems to have been, how should I put this, fluid. So can you tell us what it is you really want?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want!

REPORTER: So tell me what you want, what you really really want!

WILLIAMS: I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want!

REPORTER: So tell me what you want, what you really really want!

WILLIAMS: I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigga-zig ahhhh!
OK, so maybe that whole bit’s made up. But “zigga-zig ahhhh” is no less nonsensical than Danny Williams’ actual utterances. Such as when he tells Don Newman, on CBC Newsworld’s Politics:
There would be no reason why a Prime Minister who has given this commitment in writing would arbitrarily move off that position. See, this is not about us trying to take finances or resources or monies from other provinces… So we don’t want to be in a situation where it’s seen as taking money from one province and giving it to the other… We didn’t ask to be in a situation where we’re pitted against other provinces.
And tells the Canadian Press:

... don’t pit provinces against each other, don’t take from one to give to another and use it against them…
But then turns around and tells the locals, via the Ministry of Truth:

On VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, Williams says despite the commitment from Stephen Harper, he’s not out to hurt those already classified as have provinces. Williams says he wants the federal government to make all of the provinces whole however if they experience a financial setback while Newfoundland and Labrador gain more money, then so be it.
The Spice Girls provide about as much clarity about Danny Williams’ stance on equalization, as his own recent dyspeptic contradictions and inconsistencies do.

Be careful what you wish for

Speaking today at the University of Saskatchewan, Premier Danny Williams gave the following advice to Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
...don't pit provinces against each other, don't take from one to give to another and use it against them...
Reached late tonight, Prime Minister Harper announced that he will accede to Premier Williams' demands.

The first order of business when the House of Commons resumes sitting later this month, will be the abolition of the equalization program.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Wintertime, which means the Newfoundland and Newfoundland Department of Tourism is rolling out the latest incarnation of its ads.

They haven't changed that much this year over last. Still no substantial Labrador content. The brand-new, urm, brand, is given prominence.

What's interesting though is that these new ads direct you to a brand-new, shiny, tourism website:

Unfortunately, the Newfoundland and Newfoundland Department of Tourism started the advertising campaign before the new website was ready to go "live". We are assured the e-cobwebs will be swept out soon, but it hasn't quite happened yet. So, at least for now, after a quick detour through a slick splash page, you are redirected to the old, mid-1990s vintage site.

Which, if you think about it, is a perfect metaphor for the Danny Williams era: lots of flash, little substance, devoid of content, and spouting the same messages that Brian Tobin's government was spouting back in 1997.

The Labrador border post, recycled

In response to this yawn-inducing piece of non-news from CBC "News", rather than research and write up a brand new posting from scratch, here, for your reading pleasure, is a September 22, 2006 number called "The Labrador border post", with the following novel front-matter:

1) John Ottenheimer presumably has the same legal and French-language skills he had in September 2006. If he hasn't done so already, he should therefore consult the quite authoritative Rapport de la Commission d'étude sur l'intégrité du territoire du Québec — 3. La frontière du Labrador (a.ka. the Dorion Commission). The full report is available for the Minister's information and interest at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies under the call number FF1029.9 L3 Q75. Dorion's 1991 précis of his findings, in English and French, is available here, along with related documents.

2) Sue, go back to law school, or at very least read the constitutional statutes cited below really really carefully.

3) If Quebec maps which purport to re-draw the Labrador boundary are of legal or evidentiary, what about Newfoundland maps which omit Labrador altogether?

Now on with the re-run.

= = = = = = = = = = ( ) = = = = = = = = = =

It is one of the oldest tricks in the Newfoundland nationalist jingo political playbook:

The Quebec Card.

Whenever you want to engage in some jingoistic sabre-rattling, and are in need of an enemy, an other on which to focus your two-minute hate, just play the Quebec Card.

The ploy has been around for decades.

Shortly before he dramatically collapsed, National Convention delegate, and staunch anti-Confederate Ken Brown, fustigated:

Canada wants Labrador, and she wants Newfoundland. Perhaps the Dominion government is not so interested, or the people at Ottawa, but the Quebec government is, and wants Newfoundland, and thinks today, Mr Chairman, that Labrador should never have been ceded to Newfoundland. [National Convention debates, October 30, 1946]
Or how about that great hero to anti-Confederates past and separatists present, Peter Cashin; he who once offered to sell Labrador:

Peter Cashin, former finance minister and leading proponent of self-rule for Newfoundland, declared in a broadcast Saturday that Canada wants Newfoundland to enter the confederation because the province of Quebec wanted Labrador. [Reuters, August 11, 1947]
Nor was the great anti-Confederate hero above playing the linguistic bigotry card:

Either the people wouild have to find additional revenue in the form of direct taxation, or a deal would have to be made, possible forced upon us, whereby the 110,000 square miles of our Labrador possession would be mortgaged or taken over on a rental basis by the Canadian federal government or by the French Province of Quebec. [National Convention debates, January 8, 1948]
How about this for a bold prediction, again from the great anti-French bigot Cashin?

My object is to simply impress on delegates the hidden significance of this latest move on the part of the premier of French Canada [Duplessis, who was agitating against the Labrador boundary in the press at the time] and to ask fellow delegates to give the matter their serious consideration. Vigilance, it is said, is the price of safety. Let that then be our watchword... You or I may not be here, but you will find if we go into confederation with Canada, that within five years, Labrador will be taken from Newfoundland. [National Convention Debates, December 1, 1947]
Much closer to the mark, on the predictions front, was this one from the Member for Labrador, Rev. Lester Burry:

I feel that we might have more reason to be afraid of losing our Labrador territory not so much from anyone outside taking a hold of it, not so much that Quebec will come and take it from us but perhaps their might be some weakness within our own selves, or in our governments of the future which might succumb to offers made for Labrador and we might lose it in that way. [National Convention Debates, January 13, 1948]
Despite being entrenched even more firmly into law with Confederation than it even had been before, the Quebec bogeyman made a wide target for many years after 1949.

Opposition leader James J. Greene (PC, St. John's East) said it was urgent that the [Labrador] border be determined as soon as possible. He urged the Liberal Government to keep in mind the importance of every square inch of Labrador. [Canadian Press, January 25, 1962]

"It must make a man's blood boil," Mr. Smallwood said, "when he sees, on countless occasions, our great subcontinent or rich and valuable wealth described as part of the 'New Quebec'." He said the reason for the bill was that "we need the world to know." Opposition leader James Greene interjected: "We want one man in Quebec to know". "And that man in Quebec will make no difference," Mr. Smallwood replid. " All he can do is talk. He can do nothing about it." The bill would officially change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador. [Canadian Press, May 16, 1964. The "one man" was then Quebec Resources Minister, René Lévesque.]

Newfoundlanders fear they may lose Labrador to Quebec through quiet infiltration, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was told [in St. John's] last night. Some speakers at a general meeting said French Canadians may form up to 70 per cent of the Labrador population in a few years and either seek union with Quebec or status as the 11th province of Canada. [Canadian Press, June 9, 1964]
As recently as 1999, Danny Williams' The Party was playing the Quebec Card for its own crass political purposes:
MR. OTTENHEIMER: My questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I know he is on top of his job, so therefore he must be aware of a new glossy brochure called The Territory and a new map of Quebec, produced by the Government of Quebec, which includes a large part of southern Labrador in the Province of Quebec. Has the government protested this claim on our territory directly to Quebec and to the Government of Canada? I would ask the minister to table those letters protesting this act, along with the responses from
both Quebec and Ottawa.

MR. NOEL: As the member well knows, the border between Quebec and Newfoundland is recognized by both provinces. We are content with the level of recognition that exits. Obviously from time to time some questions are raised by particular individuals. I am not specifically aware of the one that the member raises today. I will look into it and have a further answer for him in the near future.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Following Question Period, I will e pleased to show both a map and brochure, one dated 1998, one dated 1999, both official government documents which make quite clearly the point that I raised earlier. It is a serious matter, I say, Mr. Minister. Quebec is building a legal case by openly claiming ownership of our territory. Every time our government fails to reject and protest Quebec’s claims, we build credibility for their case. Some court, somewhere, some time, may be influenced by the history of Quebec’s persistence in claiming our land and our failure to do anything about it.I ask the minister: Why are you so silent, as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? Why are you and why is this government afraid to stand up to the Province of Quebec?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, our Province has not been silent on this issue when it has been necessary to be vocal, but we do not feel that it is necessary to be very vocal at this particular time because we think that the border is recognized by all Canadians, by the Government of Quebec. I think the Premier of Quebec, just a few days ago, indicated that the border between his province and our Province is not in question. There is no serious disagreement about that border. From time to time the question is raised by various interests. From time to time we see certain publications that we would prefer would be printed other than they are; but, if we at any time feel that there is a serious issue that has to be dealt with, it will be dealt with. At the present
moment we are quite content with the recognition of the boundary that exists in the country.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the minister, he should really treat this issue much more seriously. Both of these official documents clearly speak for themselves. How can this government keep on doing business with a province that claims our territory, does not recognize our laws, has captured almost all of the benefits from our resources in Labrador, and uses its overwhelming influence in Ottawa to deny federal support for our rights and interests as a Province? How do you continue to do business in this manner, Mr. Minister?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I think that recent events will indicate that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is doing excellent business with the Province of Quebec. We do not feel that there is any credible question raised about the border. I will look into the couple of specific instances that the member has cited to satisfy his mind and to make sure that he has a peaceful and happy Christmas.
The exchange was followed up with a suitably ominous press release:
Legal implications of ignoring Québec maps claiming Labrador territory

ST. JOHN'S, December 14, 1999 — Opposition Justice critic John Ottenheimer is urging the Tobin government to challenge the latest publications of the province of Québec whose maps claim the southern Labrador boundary is in dispute and part of Labrador may belong to Québec.

Ottenheimer said there is a danger in leaving such longstanding claims unchallenged, that a court at some future date may view the lack of response on Newfoundland and Labrador's part as a tacit recognition of the legitimacy of Québec's claim. At the very least, it could lend legitimacy to the notion that the boundaries of Labrador are in question rather than firmly resolved, he said. "By not protesting, we enhance their case," he said. "In a court of law, our silence on this issue can speak volumes."

Ottenheimer questioned Intergovernmental Affairs minister Walter Noel on the matter in the legislature Tuesday and expressed concern that the minister dismissed the issue as trivial.

"Both these official documents speak for themselves," Ottenheimer said. "It is unseemly of this province's government to carry on business-as-usual, without protest, with a government that has not only benefitted tremendously from our resources at our expense and denied us basic interprovincial rights that other provinces readily grant to one another, but has then had the audacity to claim our territory as its own."
And was carried in the Telegram the next day:
Quebec maps claiming Labrador cause for concern: Ottenheimer
Deana Stokes Sullivan
The Telegram
December 15, 1999

St. John's East MHA John Ottenheimer is urging the Newfoundland government to take a stand to stop Quebec from claiming part of Labrador in its promotional materials.


Showing the materials to reporters outside the legislature, Ottenheimer said the brochure printed in 1998 shows an ``obvious encroachment'' into Labrador, while the map dated 1999 includes a notation, "the 1927 boundary of the privy council (not definitive)."

"So it's a clear expression of what Quebec wants to espouse with respect to its territorial rights and I'm concerned, as a Newfoundlander," said Ottenheimer.

"This government has to take serious these sorts of presentations by a neighbouring province."
But as with so many other things, Danny and his The Party, in power, sing a different tune. As Chairman Dan told the Telegram, quoting him on May 28 of this year:
"I don't even understand why it's being raised ... the boundary is not an issue for us," Williams told The Telegram. "Every so often it will come up on a Quebec map showing the border being wrong, but from our perspective it's not a concern. [...] I wouldn't even raise it - by just raising it, with all due respect, even doing articles on it just acknowledges maybe there is an issue here, in the minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."
And for once, you know, Chairman is right: All the maps in the world do not change the fact that the boundary was set in 1927 and entrenched in 1949; or that to change it would require very specific procedures, set out in the 1871 British North America Act and the 1982 Constitution Act, procedures which require the consent of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature. To suggest, as the conspiracy theorists and francophobes do, that Quebec's silly map tricks have any legal bearing, is to concede an important point and to beg the question: "Does Quebec have a legal claim, or even a possibility of one, to Labrador or any part thereof?"

The answer, as both Danny Williams and John Ottenheimer, with their legal backgrounds, will well know, is that Quebec absolutely does not. And with his French language skills, Ottenheimer should also read, if he hasn't already, the report of Quebec's own Dorion Commission, which concluded that the Labrador boundary issue is a hopeless cause for Quebec. Even Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard have conceded, quietly, that this is the case. Chairman is legally and politically right to be dismissive. Taken together, s.3 of the 1871 British North America Act, Terms 2 and 3 of the Terms of Union, and s. 43 of the 1982 Constitution Act, mean that the Labrador boundary absolutely cannot be changed in any way, other than in the ways those statutes set out: with the express approval of the House of Assembly in St. John's.

And yet the question remains: why does this question keep coming up? why is it given so much more credence in Newfoundland than it has been given in Quebec these past two or three decades? why does it find such a receptive audience? and why, knowing what they know, did the provincial Tories of Danny Williams and John Ottenheimer make hay out of it in opposition?

The Labrador boundary "problem" is perhaps the best example of a danger that Chairman Dan faces. His brief political career, in opposition and in government, has consisted far too much and far too often of playing into and playing up the many myths which make up the political orthodoxy of the soft white underbelly of Newfoundland politics. His actions and rhetoric are deliberately and consistently geared towards ratcheting up the Newfoundland nationalism, creating enemies to hate, and casting doubt on Canada and the idea of Confederation.

"They" — you are to say it with a sneer — are out to get us. "They" are out to rip us off. "They" ≠ "us". They : bad. Us : good.

One day it's Quebec and its "claim" to Labrador. Next it's the federal government collecting all our resource revenues. Then the foreigners are taking all the fish. Short, snappy headlines, meant to generate negative, visceral, emotional reactions, facts be damned.

After all, who needs fact when you have unbridled outrage and the power of VOCM to act as its echo chamber?

So herein lies the danger: what happens when you play into those myths, and when you play them up, so early, so hard, and so often, that they get away from you? What happens when you are a large part of having the public believing things, rightly or, for the most part, wrongly, which may in fact hinder your own agenda or undermine your reputation as the Scrapper, the Great Negotiator, the Fighting Newfoundlander?

What happens if the Newfoundland nationalist myths grow larger, and become more entrenched, than you can control? What if they set the agenda, instead being part of yours? What happens when they paint you, your reputation, your government, your electorate, and your society, into a corner?

Loyola Hearn, who fustigated against those dem furriners for nine years in federal opposition, and years before in his provincial career, is starting to learn that lesson. One of his teachers will, without a doubt, be the Premier.

But Chairman Dan's turn to learn, whether he wants it to or not, will yet come.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Danny Williams Administration: stimulating the private sector

Synchronicity! Just when some folks around about were starting to wonder about the Stog’er Tight gold-bearing property, along comes this announcement from Kathy Blunderdale:

Company Issued Mining Lease for Stog’er Tight Property

A local private junior exploration company has been issued a mining lease to carry out further work that could result in the development and production of the Stog’er Tight property on the Baie Verte Peninsula.


The mining lease has been issued to a company?

To a company?

To a private company?!?

Don’t “We” own all “Our” resources?

Why didn’t “We” “go it alone”?

No federal loan guarantee available, or wha?

Perhaps if Minister Dunderale can’t, then the Minister of Business (Whatever That Is) can explain: what it is that distinguishes the gold resource of Newfoundland from the wind resource of Labrador.

And perhaps Chairman Dan himself can explain how this mining lease is not, to use his popular terminology, a “giveaway” that you can drive an ore truck through.

Finally, a little good news

What a difference half a year makes. Premier Williams has actually, for once, ratcheted down his nationalist-cum-crypto-separatist rhetoric on the equalization issue, and in particular, the possibility that Stephen Harper might not keep his promise to remove resource revenue from the complex equation.

Just six months ago, Danny was predicting that the consequences of any such action by Harper would be "dire". (Though the "direness" of the consequences was left unspecified, there was no doubt in certain quarters what those consequences would be.)

But the Ministry of Truth reports today:
Equalization the Focus as Premier Heads West
January 22, 2007

The campaign on equalization garners more attention this week, as Premier Danny Williams travels out west to continue his pitch. He'll talk about equalization in a speech at the University of Saskatchewan, a province where Williams has an ally in Premier Lorne Calvert. Williams told VOCM Night Line with Linda Swain if the prime minister breaks his promise, it will have significant consequences for this province, but he's giving Stephen Harper the benefit of the doubt.
This is an important development. The consequences, though still vague and unspecified, have been downgraded from "dire" to merely "significant".

In light of this, the Office of Dannyland Security is pleased to announce that, having re-assessed its intelligence, it has lowered the National Threat Level to "Guarded", effective immediately:

Nice money, if you can get it

An oddly-timed announcement — well after close of business on a Friday — from the ITAR-DAN news service:
Town of St. Anthony to Construct New Civic Centre: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada's New Government Invest in Centre

The Town of St. Anthony will construct a regional civic centre, to be called the Polar Centre, with a contribution of $4,576,148 from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and an investment of $540,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). [i.e., from the federal government.]


The facility will house an arena with the capacity to seat 1,295 people, a conference centre and an indoor walking track, and will provide the necessary amenities to enable the town to host significant conferences, trade shows and other events.


The town will provide $568,508 towards the cost of the project.
For the less-mathematically and more-visually inclined, here are those figures again, in a handy-dandy pie chart, showing the dollar figures of each government's contribution, as well as the percentage each order of government is putting towards the total:

Note two very interesting things:

One, the provincial government is picking up by far and away the majority of the Polar Center's costs, 81%.

Two, and more subtly, even the municipal share of the project is even larger than the federal one.

Now, contrast the provincial government's willingness and ability to do for St. Anthony — build a public cultural and events space — with what it is evidently not willing to do for Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

During the 2005 federal by-election, Chairman Dan penned the following non-sequitur appendix to a letter on military issues, in a not-so-subtle attempt to elect a Conservative (Danny was still a federal Conservative back in those days; only Mrs. Danny and His hairdresser know for sure what he might be now):

May I also take this opportunity to highlight for you our recent efforts on another issue of importance to the people of the region - namely, the request for a new auditorium. My Minister for Labrador Affairs and Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Paul Shelley, was just in Ottawa where he spoke with his federal counterpart on this matter a number of times. A senior member of my staff has also raised it directly with the Prime Minister’s Office. With a federal by-election looming in Labrador, federal parties are paying closer attention to Labrador’s unique needs and considering ways that Ottawa can do a better job of addressing them. This is the ideal moment to draw attention to these needs and to propose solutions. Our government is endeavouring to work collaboratively with the Government of Canada to identify ways for the federal government to bear the majority of the costs of an auditorium project.

[Emphasis added.]

The public also learned, through sources like other ITAR-DAN press releases, that

Government is announcing a $1.9 million provincial contribution to proceed with performance space in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Government will continue to explore a partnership with the federal government to share in the total project cost estimated at $4 million.
And that:
Government is moving forward with construction of the $4 million Mealy Mountain Auditorium.


In March, the Provincial Government committed $1.9 million to fund construction and is confident further federal funding will be approved in the near future.

And especially that:

DLAA acted as the coordinating body for Government and approached various federal Ministers, requesting their assistance to secure federal funding for the auditorium. DLAA, in cooperation with various provincial departments, continues to research options to determine the most viable location for an auditorium to ensure that public infrastructure needs are met in the most cost effective way for the provincial taxpayer.

[Emphasis added.]

Translated from the Danny-ese: "that public infrastructure needs in Labrador are met in a way such that as much of the cost as humanly possible is shifted from Her Majesty in Right of Dannyland, to Her Majesty in Right of Canada."

Surely, if the provincial government has $4.5-million in election-year money for St. Anthony, it is not a question of money that is preventing it from putting more than $1.9-million — and that is dependent on federal matching funds to boot — into the Labrador auditorium. If Danny's government can afford, politically speaking, to put in 81% in St. Anthony, or, conversely, if just 9% federal money is acceptable, then the same formula ought to be available to a Labrador municipality, no? All one province... right?

And surely, given Danny's stated philosophy, as expressed on the night he became The Party's The Leader:

It’s high time that Labradorians, instead of feeling like someone else’s treasure trove, started feeling like an integral part of our province. We cannot expect fair treatment from Ottawa if we don't practise what we preach.

it is not a question of fairness. Danny solemnly swore to be fair to Labrador, to treat Labrador like "an integral part of the province". Surely Danny is treating St. Anthony and Happy Valley-Goose Bay equally "fair", even if it's in some subtle way that mere mortals cannot fathom.

But has Danny, or anyone in his government, ever stopped to consider this:

When their definition of "fair treatment" for Labrador seems always to be entirely contingent on getting enough money from that horrible, nefarious, insidious Ottawa to practice their "fairness" with; even as their own same government does unto St. Anthony — "bears the majority of costs" — that is evidently a federal responsibility north of the Strait of Belle Isle, can it then truly be said that they are treating Labrador like "an integral part of the province", or that "we practise what we preach"?

All parts of the province must, in the Dannyverse, be treated fairly. To do less, would be to not practise what one preaches.

But somehow, in this same, ever-so-fair Dannyverse, while all parts of the province are treated integrally, some are treated more integrally than others. Just three years into the Danny Williams Revolution, and already the revolutionaries are practising Animalism.

The question, then, for Jack Byrne, Danny Williams, and others in this, The Fairest Government In The History Of The Universe, must be:

What on Earth or in Dannyland distinguishes the Polar Centre in St. Anthony from the Mealy Mountain Auditorium in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, other than the fact that the one is in Newfoundland, and the other is in Labrador?

Are "We" really, truly, honestly practising what "We" preach?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Back to the Future with your host Bill Rowe

Having proposed in past runnings of his Weekly Hate, inter alia, that Quebec should separate from Canada ("We love you Quebec but please leave", April 16, 2005); that Newfoundland should separate from Canada (every other week, basically, but if you want a specific cite, try "An independent Newfoundland and Labrador", June 18, 2005); that Labrador should separate from Newfoundland ("Should Labrador separate?", May 28, 2005); that the provincial capital should be moved to some location in the central part of "the province" ("It's time to shut down St. John's", July 2, 2005); and goodness knows what else; and having, on the airwaves of the Daily Two-Hour Hate, fustigated Quebec over the supposed Labrador boundary "dispute" (passim), and even suggested Quebec be kicked out of Canada (ibid.); now comes the Republic of Newfoundland's former Ambassador to Canada, Comrade Bill Rowe, and his latest brain fart in the Saturday pages of The Telegram:

Time to get in bed with Quebec?


Does the idea of Newfoundland and Labrador joining the Maritime provinces look geographically natural to you? Not only do we have little in common with them culturally, but even the geography of such a union looks weird to me.

Now look at that map again. Doesn’t it strike you that geographically we have an awful lot in common with Quebec? Labrador is the same land mass, and Newfoundland, just a few miles away across the Strait of Belle Isle, is a very natural extension.

In which literary effort Comrade Rowe laments:

Quebec forges ahead with another multibillion-dollar hydroelectrical project while our Lower Churchill stays stuck in neutral.
without investigating why "our" [sic] "Lower Churchill" [sic] is stuck in neutral. Is it Canada's fault? Quebec's? Any chance, however slight, that it might be "our" own? Who knows; Comrade Rowe raises the question, but runs away from the answer. Hard-hitting stuff!

Comrade also whines:

Every redistribution of seats in the House of Commons will increase the number from the rest of Canada while leaving us with our paltry seven.
without noticing that, as a region of declining population within a united province of "Quebec and Newfoundland", Newfoundland and Labrador and would lose the "paltry seven" representation it is currently guaranteed as a stand-alone province. (Or, for that matter, that only three provinces in "the rest of Canada", as of late, have been increasing their representation; the other six being in exactly the same position as "us". Or that the ONLY province which has never, ever lost a seat in redistribution is... Province No. 10!) Regions within provinces do not have the same protection against seat loss that provinces do.

Example: In Quebec, from Lévis to les Îles inclusive, there are now five federal electoral districts: Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine; Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia; Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques; Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup; and Lévis—Bellechasse.

In this same space, as late as the mid-1960s, there used to be ten: Bellechasse; Bonaventure; Gaspé; Îles-de-la-Madeleine; Lévis; Matapédia-Matane; Kamouraska; Montmagny—L'Islet; Rimouski; and Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata. Les Îles, Gaspésie and the Bas-Saint-Laurent regions in Quebec, among others, have been experience population decline on similar orders of magnitude as rural Newfoundland... only it started much earlier.

(Contrary to popular myth in Newfoundland, the provincial population increased dramatically in the post-Confederation years, growing at roughly double the pre-Confederation rate, and despite the recent population loss, is still much higher than it was in 1949.)

As part of a united province of Quebec and Newfoundland, the area formerly known as Newfoundland and Labrador would be entitled, under the electoral boundaries legislation, to five ridings. Assuming for the sake of argument that recent demographic trends continue unabated, by the 2080s, Newfoundland would be down to a single MP.

Comrade Rowe also asks:

Do you think Ottawa would say no to fallow field legislation for our offshore resources if Quebec was asking for it?
Perhaps Comrade Rowe should have asked, what jurisdiction does Quebec exercise over offshore petroleum exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Or over any activity at all in Hudson Bay and Strait? How does that jurisdiction compare to what the current province of Newfoundland and Labrador has under the Constitution, according to the courts, and under the Atlantic Accord? And how does that answer square with the Quebec-tail-wagging-the-dog conspiracy?

Finally, Comrade Rowe gushes:

Add to that magnificent mix our half million feisty, brainy people with our resource-rich land mass surrounded by a resource-rich ocean, and the united province of Quebec and Newfoundland would be unstoppable in Canada and the world.
Maybe it's Comrade Rowe who needs to look more closely at maps.

While most of "our half million people" may be "surrounded" by an ocean (and it's less than half a million once you account for "our" people, the 30,000 or so, who are not surrounded by water), most of "our resource-rich land" — you know, the chunk that contains "our Lower Churchill", and, presumably, "our Voisey's Bay", "our iron ore mines", "our spruce forests", and whichever else of "our" Labrador resources strike the fancy, from time to time, of the Newfoundland nationalists — is firmly attached to the continent.

No one has yet dug a canal along the Labrador-Quebec boundary. "We", as a province, are NOT surrounded by an ocean, resource-rich or otherwise, even if that island to the south of Labrador is.

So, having condemned Quebec on many occasions, sometimes passim, sometimes more forcefully, for its supposedly wanting to change or erase the Labrador boundary, it is now Comrade Rowe himself who proposes pulling out the giant eraser, wiping the 1927 line off the map, and uniting not just Quebec and Labrador — an idea which he used to bristle at — but Quebec, Labrador, and that island to the south of Labrador to boot!

And, as it turns out, the idea of uniting Quebec and Newfoundland into one jurisdiction is actually not original, or even new. It is very old. It was proposed in the 1860s that "Canada East" and Newfoundland be merged into one, "unstoppable", sub-national jurisdiction.

The proponents? American Annexationists.

For all purposes of State organization and representation in the Congress of the United States, Newfoundland shall be part of Canada East, and Prince Edward Island shall be part of Nova Scotia, except that each shall always be a separate representative district, and entitled to elect at least one member of the House of Representatives, and except, also, that the municipal authorities of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island shall receive the indemnities agreed to be paid by the United States in Article II.
It was a loopy idea from them, then. It's a loopy idea from Comrade Rowe, now, and that's probably the point. Comrade Rowe is a one-man loopy idea conglomerate, overly fond of his own brain farts and the sound of his radio voice. "Uh huh, uh huh," he grunts disinterestedly at half of the callers — it IS a call-in show, Bill! — to the Two-Hour Daily Hate; usually just before he bellows at them, "WHAT IS YOUR POINT?"; oblivious to the fact that the listening audience, who are actually, you know, listening, know full well, nine cases in ten, what the caller's point is.

Moderator, Moderate Thyself!

But if this "column" is the sort of thought experiment that Comrade Rowe must engage in, to decide for himself, once and for all, whether he's a Federalist, Separatist, or just a Contrary Old Jackass, he should keep 'em comin'.

If nothing else, they are of great infotainment, and historic, value. Who knew the American Civil-War era Annexationists were on to something?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Quick! To the patent office!

From the Ministry of Truth today:
Ruling Out A Spring Election
January 20, 2007

Premier Danny Williams has ruled out a spring election. With a rash of resignations in the House of Assembly and the cost of byelections, Williams was asked yesterday if the October general election might be moved up. He says no. Williams says it was decided there would be fixed elections to give certainty to the public and to prevent oppurtunism by a government. He says it would be two-faced of the government to turn around and do otherwise.
Spec! Tac! U! Lar!

On this issue, Danny says he will keep a political promise, because to do otherwise would be "two-faced".

Yet, on another issue, and another promise, Danny has no qualms whatsoever about being "two-faced". Quite the double-standard.

Yes, folks, Danny is being two-faced about being two-faced.

Doing his part for the knowledge economy, Danny Williams has invented meta-two-facedness!

As a Great Lawyer™, he will need no reminder about the need to rush posthaste to the Patent Office. Perhaps the Embassy can handle the paperwork.

Another question for Sue

When you say "take the Flag down for Good", what are you getting at?

Reply comments welcome, even, especially, from Sue.

An exercise in closed government

Can anyone figure out why the report of the provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission is treated, even if only for a little while, like some secret of state? At the federal level, the reports of each of the ten provincial Electoral Boundaries Commissions may be made public on up to ten different days, but neither MPs, let alone the government, are given advance copies.

The provincial E.B.C. submitted its report to the provincial Minister of Justice on November 30th. What sound policy purpose is served by keeping it away from the prying eyes of MHAs until January 19th, and longer still from the eyes of the public?

For that matter, why does the provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission even report to government anyway, instead of to the Chief Electoral Officer and the Speaker, as is the case federally?

(Yeah, yeah, "We are going to stand on our own and (inaudible)." We all get it, Danny. Canada sucks, P.W.G., rah rah rah, blah blah blah.)

Still, this rule long pre-dates Danny Williams. Why isn't the Electoral Boundaries Commission held, by statute, at a longer arms' length from the government of the day?

Upon further investigation

Further to "The other way to square the circle", it would appear that five other provincial and territorial jurisdictions, besides Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan , and the federal government, have enacted legislation which avoid the necessity of by-elections in the last year (or so) of a legislature's constitutional or statutory term.

Such provisions are also to be found in s. 32(3) of the Alberta Legislative Assembly Act; s. 130 of the Quebec Election Act; s. 10(2) of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly Act; s. 18 of the Yukon Legislative Assembly Act; and s. 11(2) of the NWT Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act.

In other words, it is the standard practice, in almost every one of the fourteen Canadian jurisdictions, to avoid by-elections in the dying days of a legislature's general election mandate — a fact that can be gleaned in about fifteen minutes on Google.

If only The Great Lawyer, or the House of Assembly as a whole, had done their homework (and their job!), and properly investigated all the implications of fixed-term elections prior to rubber-stamping one of Great Lawyer's bills, including looking at the practice in other jurisdictions, then there might not have been this nasty little serial by-election problem that has thrown such a wrench into Great Lawyer's heartfelt desire to break his "fixed election date" promise and go to the polls early.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In Which Danny Channels Bill Clinton

"There is no spring election." — Danny Williams, on CBC Radio News, today.

"There is no sexual relationship." — Bill Clinton, 1998.
As Slick Willy went on to say, "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is."

There was a reason why witnesses in the McCarthy hearings were asked "Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?".

That reason is the multiplicity of verb tenses, and the tendency of lawyers to play with them.

The value of written promises

While Danny Williams publicly ponders the value of a written political promise, in the context of certain promises, pertaining to certain issues of fiscal federalism, made by the current Prime Minister, the Premier would do well to consider as well the value of written political promises made by members of his own provincial administration.

Written promises made by Danny Williams, for example:

At our meeting on Friday, September 12, 2003, I outlined a number of commitments a Progressive Conservative government would undertake with respect to the constitutional rights of the Metis people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the involvement of the Labrador Metis in the benefits that would accrue from development of the Lower Churchill and other resources in the region. The commitments include the following:
•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 and strengthen 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.

Danny Williams should hold Danny Williams to account.

A promise, after all, is a promise.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Can't fault'em for trying

Wonders will never cease! Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador has finally broken its long public silence about Labrador marine transportation services. As Rosie Gillingham reports in Wednesday's running of The Telegram:
Ferry changes lacking: HNL president

The schedule for the Sir Robert Bond ferry has been released much earlier than usual, but don't expect to make bookings any sooner.


... Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) president Nick McGrath doesn't think it goes far enough.

He is concerned that while people can see the schedule, they cannot yet make reservations.

"People can make travel plans, but they can't move forward with those plans," McGrath said.

"If they're going to put the schedule out, it's important to have the infrastructure in place that you can act upon that and that's not the case here."
So far, so good. But wot's this now?
[McGrath] believes there should be more frequent runs between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright and that the ferry times should change from night runs to day runs.


"The entry points or departing points at Happy Valley-Goose Bay are losing out. Businesses there are not reaping the benefits.

"Plus, people are missing out on all the natural beauty of the Labrador Straits because they're travelling it in the dark."

The Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Cartwright segment of the Sir Robert Bond's route passes through Hamilton Inlet and Sandwich Bay. Natural beauty? In spades and then some: the Mealy Mountains, Mokami, Highlands, the Narrows, the islands of Groswater and outer Sandwich Bays, puffins, grampuses, whales, George's Island caribou.

The Labrador Straits, however, is several hours' drive, and 150-ish miles, as the crow flies, south of Cartwright. The closest the Bond gets to the Labrador Straits is as it passes to seaward of Belle Isle on her way to and from Lewisporte.

Here, for HNL's benefit and that of the general blog-reading public, is an explicatory map (click on it to enlarge) with the Goose-Cartwright ferry route highlighted in red:

A point to ponder

If the provincial government's stance on Hibernia South is such a great thing; if it's such a great day; if it's the Fighting Newfoundlander Incarnate, Danny Williams, taking one for the good of The Nation of Newfoundland. and Labrador; if it's an historic moment of "no more giveaways"; a day for the ages; if it's Danny Williams once again taking a stand, basking in the love and adoration of the proles, as evidenced again today on The Many Different Ways In Which Danny Williams Is So Effing Awesome, With Host Bill Rowe...

...then why was it Kathy Blunderdale, and not Glorious Leader himself, who went before the cameras yesterday to announce it?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Promises, promises

In the 2003 provincial election, Danny Williams promised

A Progressive Conservative government will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway.
He did not promise

A Progressive Conservative government will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway if and when the federal government pays us to do it.
But that's all what he's offering:

Other road improvement plans include:
• $17 million for ongoing construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway;
• $15 million to commence hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway – subject to cost-sharing with the federal government;
A "promise" or a "commitment" that is made contingent on someone else, other than you, doing something, is not a promise or commitment at all.

Given that the overwhelming majority of the funds that have ever been dedicated to building the Trans-Labrador Highway have come from federal coffers, the question must be asked: when is the province of which Labrador is supposedly a part going to kick in its share?

Danny Williams has become Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes; the Premiers whose governments one year promised:

"This compensation package makes it possible for the province to complete the Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay section, and a highway between Cartwright and Red Bay. However, it will not complete the link between Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The province will provide additional funds to complete that portion of the road[.]"
and then turned around and passed the buck:
"We have requested the federal government enter into a cost-shared funding agreement to complete Phase III, but we have not yet received a favourable response. We have gone on record as saying that the Trans Labrador Highway is the province’s number one priority, and we made a commitment to the people of Labrador that we would find a way to complete Phase III. Today I am pleased to say we will live up to that commitment."
Living up to a commitment by breaking it, is to have no committment at all.

In his coronation speech as PC Party leader, Danny Williams said:

It’s high time that Labradorians, instead of feeling like someone else’s treasure trove, started feeling like an integral part of our province. We cannot expect fair treatment from Ottawa if we don’t practise what we preach.
How's that going, anyway?

If Danny Williams is so "committed" to Labrador, and to the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway, why can't his government start paving the road with or without federal money, and without prejudice to any future federal-provincial highways agreement?

Doesn't Labrador pay provincial taxes and contribute other provincial revenues?

Is Labrador part of a province? An integral part?

If so, which one?

If it is, and if it's so very integral, why do the Sun King's solemn promises and firm commitments come with federal strings attached?

When it comes to Labrador, when is Danny ever going to practise what he preaches?

One thing He's not

Danny Williams, when it suits him, likes to think of himself as the federal, provincial, local, executive, legislative, and judicial orders and branches of government rolled into one.

In all fairness, though, there is one government official, though, that Danny Williams definitely is not.

Danny Williams is not the minister who ever delivers bad news.

He is the Sun King. Let the others have exclusive jurisdiction over rain.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Trans-Labrador Information Highway

The provincial tourism information website has long since started to look and feel "quaint". It's a stretch of the information highway with more ruts and potholes than its Trans-Labrador gravel equivalent. And it seems people are really starting to notice. From the CBC today:
Tourism operators in Newfoundland and Labrador say outdated listings and information on the provincial tourism department's website could hurt their bottom line.

Linda Green, who operates Bradley's Bed and Breakfast in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said potential visitors could be deterred from planning a vacation because they cannot obtain accurate information online.


Some events listed, for instance, actually took place 2006, while events planned for 2007 have not been added.
Yes, you've seen this movie before. From the June 1, 1998 running of The Telegram's Cheers and Jeers entertorial*
JEERS: The Newfoundland government tourism Web site is a tad outdated -- the bulk of the material on the site consists of last year's Cabot 500 celebrations. When the province revised its Web site this past year, it neglected to do anything with the tourism portion of the site.

The worst part about it is that Web sites are not difficult or expensive maintain, despite what Tourism Minister Sandra Kelly might say to the contrary. Any high school kid with a basic understanding html coding (the language of the Internet) can design and maintain a site. So why can't the provincial government maintain a first-rate tourism site? At the very least, the department should get of the obviously outdated 1997 material.

Here's an suggestion: How about putting the entire accommodations book on-line? That's the most valuable information a tourist can get.
The only problem with the latest report of "cobwebs" is that it comes out of Labrador... which will make it so much easier for Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland, and the Newfoundland and Newfoundland Department of Tourism, to ignore it.


* (wow... they've been cheering and jeering that long already?)

Facts and figures

And again this week, The Independent puts on a stunning exhibit of its crackerjack research skills. As Ryan Cleary columnizes:
Incidentally, when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949, we had 36 MHAs and a population of around half a million. Our population today is about the same, with 48 MHAs.
In the last pre-Confederation census of Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1945, the population was 321,819. In the first post-Confederation census of Canada, in 1951, the new province's population was 361,415. Interpolating for 1949 gives you a ballpark figure of 350,000, which, as it turns out, was also a frequent estimate used by the press reporting on the entry of the new province in 1949.

If 36 MHAs was appropriate for the 1949 population, which was roughly 350,000, then, measured per-capita, the current population should mathematically merit 52 — the size of the House of Assembly before the redistribution of 1996.

The other way to square the circle

So the Premier is willing to amend the law if the October 9th, 2007 election date, that his government set down, is no longer convenient. As Rob Antle reported for The Telegram last week on the 7th:
A law passed by the Tory government in 2004 set the next election date for Oct. 9, although the lieutenant governor can choose to dissolve the legislature at any time.

Williams indicated he would recall the House to change the law if he decides an election is necessary before then.

If Danny Williams suddenly finds himself concerned about the expense and inconvenience to the electorate of having a batch of three (or more) by-elections this spring, then the regularly-scheduled general election this fall, and if he is keen to change the law to fix this "problem"...

... then why not change this section of the House of Assembly Act:
Writ of election
54. Where a vacancy occurs in the House of Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall, within 60 days after the seat becomes vacant, issue a proclamation for the holding of an election and return of a member for the district in respect of which the vacancy has occurred.
which, after all, his own government instituted in 2004 in the fixed-election bill itself?

It is passing strange that such a Great Lawyer didn't have the foresight to include in his brand-new s. 54 a provision that would obviate the need for a by-election to fill a vacancy in the final year of a government's general election mandate.

Such provisions are to be found in s. 38 (2) of the Nunavut Elections Act, s. 27(2) of the Ontario Legislative Assembly Act, s. 5.1(2) of the Prince Edward Island Elections Act, s. 46(2) of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, and s. 31(2) of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Now Danny's allergy to anything and everything federal and Canadian — other than federal transfer payments and federal government spending — is well-established:
I am sorry, Sir, I am just not going to follow what the Government of Canada does. We are going to stand on our own and (inaudible).
But surely to goodness some member of the House of Assembly could have seen this issue coming, and examined other Canadian jurisdictions for tips on how to handle it.

Perhaps if Bill 40 had spent more than six calendar days getting from the start of second to the end of third reading, and perhaps if it had been referred to a real committee instead of the Whole, one of them might have.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A dismal heritage moment

In a successful attempt to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial government once again exhibits all of the exemplary administrative and constitutional professionalism that 1930s could offer.

From the Ministry of Truth:
Chief Electoral Officer Anticipates More MHA Resignations
January 15, 2007

Chief Electoral Officer Chuck Furey says he's been advised that more MHA's may be vacating their seats in the House of Assembly prior to the provincial election in October. Furey is already preparing for upcoming byelections in Kilbride, Ferryland, and Port au Port and says more may be coming. Furey estimates the provincial general election will cost about 4 million dollars and says the by-elections will be expensive. He says the three byelections so far will cost well over 3 hundred thousand dollars. Meantime, Furey says he doesn't know yet whether Premier Danny Williams will change the electoral boundaries this year.
Interesting use of the passive voice there. "Been advised" by whom?

It is of dubious propriety that the Chief Electoral Officer would be notified of possible vacancies in the first place.

It is of no propriety at all that he would blab about it.

Then again, it's also of no propriety at all that an ex-partisan would be appointed Chief Electoral Officer in the first place.

Then again again, it's also of no propriety at all that he would engage in politics from his impartial, non-partisan, apolitical office.

Then again again again, this is also the same government that considers "all-partisan" to constitute non-partisan. (Boy, did that ever work out.)

Where's Duff Conacher when you need him?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Move over Joe Stalin!

The word "Sovietesque" is hereby abolished.

After his latest performance, pledging fealty to Dear Leader on the Ministry of Truth tonight, this blog is pleased to give you... "Oramesque"!

A tale of three rivers

Today's Telegram editorial raises — finally — an enduring mystery.

Where are all the local environmentalists?

The editorial discusses the Quebec plan to go ahead with the damming of the Rupert River, discussing the controversy and voices of dissent, concluding: was poignant because it’s a voice we don’t often hear, certainly not in this province.

Hydro in Newfoundland and Labrador means the Upper and Lower Churchill, and is often discussed solely in terms of power and politics.

There are people there, too — people to whom dams and turbines spell not progress and power, but destruction and death. You have to listen carefully to hear them, but when you do, their story is powerful and troubling.

And eye-opening.
It wasn't until this past week that Grand Riverkeeper, one of the few voices in this vein that there even are to be listened to, managed to get any significant pan-provincial media attention. After years of being (literally) a voice in the wilderness, they could only get their message across, despite all the modern technology, by taking it directly to the media capital of the universe, St. John's.

Local attitudes towards environmental stewardship leave much to be desired. Wildlife management, for example, is centred around protecting the edible species from the inedible (or less edible), the commercially-valuable from the market-less (or less commercially-valuable). If a species is in decline, the four-legged predators are too often the fall guy even when there is probably a goodly share of moral culpability that could be assigned to the two-legged ones.

(It's surprising that a four-legged scapegoat, scapemoose, scapebeaver, or scapesomething hasn't yet been found for over-cutting of pulp logs, or the ATV scarring of marshlands that's so evident as you fly over Newfoundland.)

To the extent that there is a local environmental movement, too often it is focussed on international issues rather than local ones. It's easy enough to get 12,000 signatures on a petition to stop a hydro project in Central America. Or 30,000 protest letters. Or to call it "the BRINCO of Belize".

How many of them, though, would dare publicly question the environmental impact of the so-called "Lower Churchill" project?

Yo, Greg Malone... where are you? What about the "BRINCO of Labrador"?

Macal, Rupert, Grand.

You have to listen carefully, indeed.


A long time ago, someone decided, erroneously, that Newfoundland is the tenth-largest island in the world.

It isn't. But that hasn't stopped this "fact" from becoming "fact", in Newfoundland anyway.

This myth needs some serious busting.

For the record, here are the sixteen largest islands in the world, with their areas in square kilometres:
1 Greenland — 2,130,800
2 New Guinea — 785,753
3 Borneo — 748,168
4 Madagascar — 587,713
5 Baffin Island — 507,451
6 Sumatra — 443,066
7 Honshū — 225,800
8 Great Britain — 218,595
9 Victoria Island — 217,291
10 Ellesmere Island — 196,236
11 Sulawesi — 180,681
12 South Island of New Zealand — 145,836
13 Java — 138,794
14 North Island of New Zealand — 111,583
15 Luzon — 109,965
16 Newfoundland — 108,860
And oh yeah — not only does Stephenville not have the longest runway in Canada, it doesn't have the longest in Canada, or the province, or even in Newfoundland. Sorry.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

...and broken records

Certain provincial politicians, who should know better, have recently repeated the lie — and it is a lie — that the House of Assembly Act (sometimes it's erroneously given as the Elections Act) would have to be amended in order to legally allow Chairman Dan to break his solemn 2003 campaign promise (supra) of fixed election dates.

And certain reporters, at last count three of them, have swallowed this line, hook, and sinker, and repeated, like a broken record, the misinformation that such a legislative amendment would be necessary.

It would not.

As the late Jack Harris pointed out in debate on the "fixed election" bill on December 7, 2004:
We heard comments yesterday from the Premier talking about notwithstanding clauses, how they might be used, how they might have effects on what might happen, notwithstanding clause having the ability to overrule everything else that is in the piece of legislation. What do we have here? "Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Lieutenant-Governor may, by proclamation in Her Majesty’s name, prorogue or dissolve the House of Assembly when the Lieutenant-Governor sees fit."

Who does the Lieutenant-Governor take his advice from? He takes it, I think, from the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Cabinet, the Premier. I guess it depends on what kind of advice the LG is going to get, then.

What is the point of a fixed date, four years, if, under this section, the Lieutenant-Governor is still required to take the advice of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council as to when he calls an election?


What if the Premier gets up some morning and decides, I want to have an election next month? He does not have to wait. There is nothing that I see in here that prohibits the Premier, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, from telling the Lieutenant-Governor to call an election.
Prescient words. Possibly a little too prescient.

The text of the Bill itself, and the House of Assembly Act as thereby amended, provide:
Duration of House of Assembly
3. (1) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Lieutenant-Governor may, by proclamation in Her Majesty’s name, prorogue or dissolve the House of Assembly when the Lieutenant-Governor sees fit.

(2) A polling day at a general election shall be held on the second Tuesday in October, 2007 and afterward on the second Tuesday in October in the fourth calendar year following the polling day at the most recently held general election.

Reading between the constitutional lines, "when the Lieutenant-Governor sees fit", translated from Westminsterese to the real world, means "when the Premier sees fit". Chairman Dan already has the power, under s. 3(1), to cynically break his "fixed election" promise. The election date is only as "fixed" as Chairman wants it to be.

Any reporter or political panellist who has trouble understanding this should get it explained to them by a good lawyer, not by The Great Lawyer.

Go ask Jack Harris.

Fixed elections...

Hints and speculation continues to mount (like here, here, and especially here and here) the We are going to break another of Our promises, and, fixed-election legislation be danged, We are going to pull a Tobin (Peckford, Smallwood) and dissolve the legislature less than 3.5 years in.

Should that Tobin get pulled, here, for the record, is what Chairman Dan and The Party used to say about the virtue of fixed election dates:

"We are now within one year of the next general election," said Williams. "For the first time in our province's history, everyone knows well in advance exactly when the next general election will be held, and that is because we kept our Blueprint promise to establish fixed election dates through legislation to ensure greater openness and transparency."
- From a The Party press release which may or may not still be available at:
MR. SULLIVAN: Went out in the last election, out there, going down through his district, and almost got run over with a spreader and so on, trying to (inaudible) some pavement to get him the fifty votes he needed to get him into office. That is what happened. That is what he did. That is the type of politics they play.

We have laid out fixed elections. We are not going to manipulate them when the poll is high. We are not going to manipulate them when the poll is high and run to the polls. We said that the people will have four years to judge us.
- House of Assembly Debates (Hansard), May 18, 2006
MR. WISEMAN: As the former speaker and the Leader of the Opposition points out, there are three separate pieces of this legislation and I want to comment on the three of them if I could. The first one, being fixed terms, is obviously a significant issue. If you look at the history, and most recent history, of elections in Newfoundland and Labrador, we saw, in a period of 1993, 1996, 1999, rapid successions and rapid calls of elections.

Mr. Speaker, in each of those election calls there was a significant amount of staging, a significant amount of manipulation that took place in advance of those elections. One could say that it was a manipulation of the electorate.

This particular provision in this bill very clearly now forces a government, any government, whether it is this government today or some future government, it forces government to focus on governing the Province and not positioning itself for an election, or continuously thinking about how it might be opportunistic and call an election at a time when it suits their circumstance best. I think that is the significant issue with respect to this particular component of this bill. It now forces government to focus on a mandate that we all now know will be four years. We know today that on October 9, 2007, the people of the Province will be going to the polls again. This government recognizes that, the Opposition Party recognizes that, but, most importantly, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador recognize that.

As a government, our responsibility is to provide good, sound, governance today, create legislation that reflects a progressive government, reflects the protection of the people of this Province. That is what our responsibility is, and that is what our focus will be. We are not, today, thinking about whether or not we have an opportunity today to call an election.
- House of Assembly Debates (Hansard), December 7, 2004
The party in power always has an advantage in political fund raising, but it has an unfair advantage over other parties by being able to determine when elections are called, and by spending unlimited amounts of public money to buy pre-election advertising that does nothing but polish its political image.

A Progressive Conservative government will propose amendments to the Elections Act and other relevant acts that will:
Require that provincial elections are held on a fixed date every four years, or immediately if a government loses a confidence vote in the House of Assembly, or within 12 months if the Premier resigns during the first three years of a four-year term.
- From The Party's 2003 election platform, which may or may not still be available here:

Finally, from a long-since bit-bucketted, but well-archived The Party press release, dated February 5, 2003 — should we circle that date, February 5? — comes this gem:
B. Effective Government

We also have seen problems arise over timely elected representation. There have been numerous situations over the last few years in which the electorate has gone unreasonable periods of time without elected representatives. In fact, one district did not have representation for the entire Voisey's Bay debate, which was one of the most important debates that occurred in this province last year. We have an ongoing situation in which the Premier has governed the province for two full years despite the fact that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador did not have the opportunity to elect him. And we have situations in which individuals are not able to obtain information from their government because of countless restrictions and excessive wait periods. This is wrong.

A Progressive Conservative Government will address these issues decisively.

We will amend the Elections Act to require that provincial elections be held on a fixed date every four years, or immediately if a government loses a confidence vote in the House of Assembly.

The legislation will ensure that, if the Premier resigns or the Premier's office is vacated within the first three years of a term, an extraordinary election will be held within twelve months and a new government will be elected to a fixed four-year term.
To boot, this document also includes this now-quaint throw-away line:
We will establish a new procedure to provide for the proper auditing and disclosure of the expenses of Members of the House of Assembly.
As well as this howler:
We will amend the Access to Information legislation to enhance the transparency of government actions and decisions.

Our legislative changes will clearly identify information that should be in the public domain, and will require full and prompt disclosure of the information to the public. The Access to Information legislation proposed and passed by the Grimes government in 2001 (though it has not yet been proclaimed) allows the government to exclude a great deal of information from release to the public under the umbrella of "cabinet confidences". We will limit that exemption so more information that rightly belongs in the public domain will be accessible to the public.

Also, the legislation will be changed so any information that continues to fall under the umbrella of "cabinet confidences" will be released earlier.

We will enact changes to tighten up the exceptions to the release of information.

We will remove provisions that allow the cabinet to override the legislative provisions of the Act by regulation at their discretion.

Finally, we will shorten the time lines for the release of information so information that rightly belongs in the public domain is available to the people of the province on a timely basis. Access delayed is sometimes access denied.