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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Canada day, II

From the back file of the Winnipeg Free Press, February 25, 1928:

Grenfell Disappointed at
Award in Labrador Case

Toronto, Feb. 24.—Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell, famous medical missionary of the Labrador Peninsula, on arrival in Toronto for a lecture engagement today, expressed some disappointment at the recent privy council ruling which gave Newfoundland the larger portion of the Labrador Peninsula. He declared the people of Labrador always wanted to belong to Canada, "and do yet. Other people may have different opinions, but that is mine. They would have united with the Dominion even thirty years ago."

Happy Canada Day, I

From 1925.

The melodramatic, black armband wearing, nationalist-romantics who are drowning their 58-year-old sorrows in a politically correct beverage this evening, must remember one thing: Don't ask Labradorians to mourn for a nationhood you never shared with them or their ancestors.

Vive le Canada!

Labrador Fishermen 100 P.C. Strong
For Confederation, Says Dr. Grenfell

(Canadian Press Despatch)

Vancouver, B.C., June 1.—Confederation with the Dominion of Canada, as a means of solving some of Labrador's chief problems, was advocated today by Dr. W.T. Grenfell, of Labrador fame, who arrived here from the Orient after a trip around the world, during which he studied conditions and problems of fisher folk.

"I have come to this conclusion," he said, "after talking and living with the fishermen of the Labrador coast. They are 100 per cent. strong for confederation, and it is my personal opinion that Labrador would be better off as part of the big country. At present, 3,000 fishermen on the coast are without a vote in any country."

198 years ago today...

Be it therefore enacted, That such Parts of the Coast of Labrador from the River Saint John to Hudson's Streights and the said Island of Anticosti, and all other smaller Islands so annexed to the Government of Newfoundland by the said Proclamation of the Seventh Day of October One thousand seven hundred and sixty-three, (except the said Islands of Madelaine) shall be separated from the said Government of Lower Canada, and be again re-annexed to the Government of Newfoundland; any thing in the said Act passed in the Thirty-first Year of His present Majesty's Reign, or any other Act, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Going it really alone

"We're pleased that [Jack Layton]'s joined sides with the Conservatives in terms of providing a guarantee for the development of the Lower Churchill."

That was Tom Rideout, speaking with CBC on January 17, 2007.

Of course, Rideout, on behalf of Glorious Leader, was playing the usual Danny game: putting words in other people's mouths. Harper himself never said any such thing. What he did say was:
We support this proposal in principle and believe that it is important for Newfoundland and Labrador to have greater control of its energy mix. A Conservative government would welcome discussions on this initiative and would hope that the potential exists for it to proceed in the spirit of past successes such as the Hibernia project.
Which is fine, because according to Dean MacDonald on the Ministry of Truth today, his and Danny's Sinn Fein approach to developing the Lower Churchill doesn't need no stinkin' filthy Canadian lucre anyway:
Lower Churchill Do-Able Without Feds; MacDonald
March 30, 2007

Chair of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Dean MacDonald, says the province shouldn't settle for anything less than what other Canadians are enjoying. MacDonald says he's angry that Prime Minister Stephen Harper reneged on his equalization promises. But he says the Lower Churchill project will proceed despite the controversy with the feds. He says a sub-sea route for the project would cost an extra 1 billion dollars but he says it's very do-able.
Dean and Danny may not have any other option than "Ourselves Alone" in any event. That would be so even without the unprecedented total demolotion of anything even vaguely resembling mature intergovernmental relations, thanks to Danny's hilariously ironic slap in the face to Quebec last fall, and his anti-Conservative-cum-anti-Confederate actions and words of late.

Steven Harper, Gary Lunn, Loyola Hearn, and Jim Flaherty now have three fantastic outs:

- Danny has never actually asked for a "loan guarantee".

- Harper never actually offered one, Danny's paraphrase notwithstanding.

- And now Dean MacDonald says they don't even need one.

But one thing is really strange.

How is it a multi-billion electrical transmission cable, a technically much more challenging engineering project, can be built without government assistance... but a $15-million communications cable can't?

Friday quickies

1) Somewhere, Scott Reid is laughing, and Liz's head is set to explode:
Williams playing 'dangerous game,' federal Tories say
Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2007 7:38 AM NT
CBC News

Governing Conservative MPs accused Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams of undermining his own province's economy during a testy debate Thursday.

"Premier Williams is playing a very dangerous game with the economy for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn told the House of Commons.
2) Soon, there won't be enough jails to hold all the ThoughtCriminals. First, Cochrane, now Westcott.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

No need to bristle

From Labour Day 2006, to last night, inclusive, the House of Commons has sat for a total of 84 days.

In the same period, the Senate, which one wag (hi, wag!) once called "a bunch of old puppets sitting up there in Ottawa", has sat for 54 days.

The Ontario Legislative Assembly has sat for 53 days. The Saskatchewan legislature, 39. New Brunswick, 38, and that's despite being dissolved for the September 2006 provincial election.

The Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly has sat for 34 days since the start of last September. Nova Scotia's House of Assembly, 32 days. The National Assembly in Quebec, 29 days, and that's despite the recent dissolution and election. Nunavut, which like the NWT, is a territory, 28 days. B.C., 24 days.

The Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly?

Sixteen days.

There are few comparable degrees of legislative sloth anywhere else in Canada. You could consider the Yukon legislative assembly, which has sat for 13 days in the same period.

Yukon is a territory.

PEI has had 18 sitting days, Manitoba 16, and Alberta 11.

Alberta's legislature resumes sitting on April 2nd; PEI's picks up again the next day; Manitoba's, the day after that.

The House of Assembly? After sitting for three days so far in 2007, it's on an Easter Break... until April 24th.

Government MHAs have better things to do with their time than, say, answer questions that might accidentally make them accountable:

"Above all else, a government must be accountable and responsive to the people. Elected officials are the people's representatives, the people's voice, and must at all times act in the best interests of the Province as a whole... My government will provide real financial management, real transparency, and real accountability." — Danny Williams
As Maclean's reported of Danny in 2004, "he still bristles at the 'wasted time' in the House, and the daily distractions that take him away from the real work of governing."

Real work.

Like the "real work" of all MHAs, the much more important stuff, back in their districts.

Handing out cheques.

Another Grimes policy pays off

In his last couple of years in office, Roger Grimes mused about a bit of self-help as a means to fixing the then un-named, supposed, problem called the "fiscal imbalance".

The "problem", of course, is that in the eyes of provincial governments, provinces never have enough money, and Ottawa always has too much.

Grimes proposed addressing part of the first half of that problem, with a simple, two-step program:

1) Legalize pot.

2) Tax the living snot out of it.

And now on some totally unrelated matters....

John Ottenheimer was, recently, ever so pleased with himself:

“Minister O’Connor reiterated to me his commitment, along with that of his government, to ensure the future viability of 5 Wing Goose Bay. We had an open discussion about the importance of this facility to the people of Labrador and to the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces. I emphasized his government’s written commitment to our province and I take him at his word, given to me once again Friday, that the future of 5 Wing is safe. I do plan to monitor this situation closely and ensure that the federal government lives up to its commitment to the people of Labrador.”
John Hickey is ever so pleased with Gordon O’Copter:

“Money has been all approved for 5 Wing Goose Bay and the commitment to put 700 troops there is still there by the Minister of National Defense and the Federal Government.”
Meanwhile, the 2007 Trans-Labrador Highway paving program, which is still contingent on the imaginary federal funding that the province banked last year (memo to Tom Marshall: if you count Monopoly money, you can balance the books every year, even if the oil industry dries up, even without federal transfer payments) has transmogrified into a wider-but-still-gravel-highway program:

The next step in construction, he says, is to spend $50 million widening the road by thee metres. Once that is complete, hard surfacing begin.
And, how’s this for real progress?
Mr. Hickey expects to hear back as early as Monday on the timelines for a meeting.
He expects to hear back.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.

There you have it: After 13 years of Liberals, and Ottawa, and Liberal Ottawa, doing absolutely nothing for the Trans-Labrador Highway, other than, well, you know, paying 90% of the costs of the construction of three quarters of it, finally, Danny Williams' ministers have achieved real progress on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

The provincial government is going to take a phone call.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.

John Hickey told the House of Assembly on November 28 last:
Mr. Speaker, as has been said here in this House, they do not like hearing the truth. They do not like seeing the successes of this government and this minister.

Let me say this, Mr. Speaker: We are working with our federal counterparts and I have every confidence - every confidence - that we are going to see hardtop on the road between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West, and we are going to see that in June of 2007, I say to you and the hon. member.
Such is the power of committment.

Such is the value of good federal-provincial co-operation.

Such is the measure of success.

A phone call.

About a timeline.

For a meeting.


And as Danny told The Aurora in an interview earlier this month:
“We already indicated last year that we are prepared to put $50 million into surfacing the road. The $50 million we allocated last year we couldn't use because we were waiting for the feds to step up.”

Even if the feds don't step up to the plate, the premier assures the province will go ahead with the hardtop anyway. The reason the province waited until this year, he explained, was to ensure the whole thing got done.
So... there's going to be a TLH “hard top” deal by June... assuming the phone call about the timeline for the meeting goes well... unless it’s a deal to widen the existing gravel road... unless there’s no deal at all, in which case the province will magnanimously “go ahead with the hardtop anyway”... unless it goes ahead with just widening the existing gravel road anyway?

All in all, it’s a good thing that Danny Williams was elected on a promise to “foster... a more congenial relationship with Ottawa...”

Because, you know, just imagine how unimagineably difficult it would become for Danny's government to get all the things on its federal wish-list if federal-provincial relations were to fall victim to a “hostile approach... waging war with MPs... and personal attacks.”

Yes, it’s a good thing everything's all different, and better now.

Those 700 troops (did Hickey negotate up from the promised 650, or down from the promised 750?) will be on the ground, any day now.

The hard-top will start flowing in June, probably on a widened highway, even, because Stephen Harper’s government will be so eager to please, and help ensure Danny Williams’ re-election.

Buying love and happiness worked so well for Jean Charest, after all.

Meanwhile, Roger Grimes’ unorthodox, but far-sighted revenue plan must be bringing in hundreds of millions to the provincial treasury.

Enough to build two Trans-Labrador Highways.

Because someone really must be smoking lots of something good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


This, apparently, is what it takes to get Danny Williams to fly the Canadian flag.


"The worst thing we can do is act as if (separatism) is dead," Scott Reid, the Canadian Alliance's new inter-governmental affairs critic, observed." Each time people think the sovereignty movement is dead," a Liberal member of the Quebec legislature cautioned, "it shows itself to be very much alive." A hundred news stories carried the same warning. This was no time for complacency. Triumphalism was misplaced. Sovereignty is not dead; it's just resting.
- National Post, January 15, 2001, p. A15

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Seize-and-release destiny

Ryan Cleary has a brilliant suggestion:

The Harper Conservatives seem to be all about helping provinces help themselves. Fair enough, Danny should go back to the negotiating table and demand Ottawa allow us the means to turn our economy around, to seize our own destiny — control of the fisheries

Here's an even better suggestion, Ryan. Be a real journalist.

During his 2003 election campaign, Danny promised this:
A Progressive Conservative government will pursue a Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries.

Glorious Leader himself said in the House of Assembly, back before he turned it into a rodeo clown college that sits about as often as the College of Cardinals:

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in joining with the comments and the statement by the Premier, and his initiative. I actually consider it a compliment to our party and to our policies over the years, because we have stood for this position for a long time. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in our Blue Book during the last election, under the leadership of the Opposition House Leader, we stated, "... A PC Government will aggressively pursue a Canada-Newfoundland Fisheries Agreement providing for a joint decision-making process to give the Province a meaningful say in decisions on fisheries management, which have a major impact on our economy and our social fabric."


In June of 2000 our Fisheries Critic, the Member for Bonavista South: Opposition Fisheries Critic, Roger Fitzgerald, says Atlantic Accord-like shared fisheries management is a timely solution to the problem underlying the latest fisheries allocation crisis. Fitzgerald’s proposal brings order and balance to fisheries management. The Newfoundland Government should insist on the establishment of a new management regime that is mandated and protected under federal and provincial law. This can be done through a fisheries management accord.

Mr. Speaker, our party is very, very clear on the record and have been for some considerable period of time, so, I certainly welcome the initiative. I also agree that it is time that something should be done, however, we have to consider the timing of this. This is something that could have been done for some considerable period of time... The one thing that we cannot let happen now is that we get diverted from the issue. This is a very, very important, a very fundamental issue...
In turn, in 2006, Harper's party promised:

A Conservative Government will adopt, with any interested coastal province or territory, a system of increased provincial management over fisheries through a system of joint management and joint fisheries councils modelled on the system proposed by unanimous resolution of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in May 2003 and as detailed in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador's white paper on the subject as released in 2003.
The even better suggestion?

How about doing some real journalism, and asking Danny why it is he no longer has any apparent interest in "joint management", or its synonym du jour, now that it has been offered?

What happened to "aggressively pursue", "meaningful say", being "very clear", "order and balance", "fundamental issue"?

It made a great political McGuffin, and a tool to bash Ottawa with for many years, which makes Danny's sudden silence on the issue all the more striking.

Is Danny now the dog who has finally caught the car?

Why won't someone — Ryan Cleary, The Navigator, The Fisheries Broadcast, the provincial opposition — ask Danny what happened to the fire that burned inside him for "joint management", the cause which he, apparently, stood for for such a long time?

The Tuesday morning "What If?" game

Some fun with the preliminary Quebec election numbers as reported by Radio-Canada:

  • 1608 votes, in five ridings, moved from the winner’s column to the runner-up ADQ candidate’s, and Mario Dumont would be Premier. 17,678 votes in 22 ridings, and he’d be Premier heading a majority ADQ government.
  • 10,760 votes, in 15 ridings, and Jean Charest would have been given the no-longer customary second majority mandate.
  • 10,238 votes in 10 ridings, and André Boisclair would have headed a minority PQ government. It would have taken 56,120 votes, strategically re-allocated in 27 ridings, to give him a majority.
  • And accepting, solely for fun’s sake, that the leftist-separatist Québec Solidaire vote would otherwise go, en bloc, to the PQ. If so, it cost the PQ five seats, three which went ADQ, and two which went PLQ.
  • One of them was Sherbrooke.

Addendum: A total of 3% changing hands uniformly across the board — 1.5% from each of the PLQ and ADQ — would have resulted in a PQ minority government. Those who give Quebec political separatist movements the last rites, have been proved wrong at every turn in the past. Why are they right now?

En direct

8:17: Les Iles re-elect Maxime Arsenault. Not a good sign for Charest; it was one of the PLQ's best pickup aspirations.

8:24: CBC, please stop reading so much into one reported poll.

8:28: ADQ leading in Prévost and a strong second in Argenteuil, both with multiple polls reporting. Mario is going to have a very good night.

8:35: ADQ in the lead in Bertrand and the belwether Saint-Jean. A very, very, good night.

8:36: ADQ leading in Laviolette, a must-hold for Charest.

8:38: A ray of sunshine for Charest: Mamelonet is holding on to a slight PLQ lead in Gaspé. Mitigating factor: Laval-des-Rapides is tilting PQ.

8:40: ADQ leading in Blainville.

8:46: Boulet clinging to life in Laviolette. Boisclair is toast. Total board 45-45.

8:51: No ADQ breakthrough in the mining-forestry belt from Ungava-Abitibi through to la Côte-Nord.

8:52: ADQ and PQ tied in the pop vote; ADQ and PLQ swapping the seat-count lead. Who will be the first party to adopt PR?

8:55: Orford is tight. So is Sherbrooke. Sherbrook is unhappily tight for Charest, albeit with 16 polls reporting.

8:58: ADQ is only behind by less than 4% in Fabre, West Island.... Laval. Narrowly ahead in Vimont. PLQ narrowly back in the lead in Laval-des-Rapides. PQ breathing down Charest's neck in Mille-Iles.

9:04: That's novel: Bernard Derome has called the flavour of the government (minoritaire), before its colour!

9:09: PLQ back in the lead in Laviolette; PQ back in the lead in Gaspé; ADQ takes the pole position in Fabre.

9:13: This is a realignment, Maggie. Re-a-lign-ment.

9:25: Laviolette stays PLQ. Verchères has the PQ ahead of the ADQ by less than a point. Verchères!!!!

9:29: All is forgiven in Mirabel.

9:32: ADQ at over 15% on the West Island; still a threat to the PLQ in Soulanges.

9:38: ADQ elected in Huntingdon and L'Assomption. That's gotta hurt (x2).

9:48: PQ vote in Duplessis is back below 50%. But metro Chicoutimi-Jonquière is a PQ sweep.

9:54: Bernard Drainville is elected on the South Shore. Why, oh why, couldn't the ADQ inroads have made it that far?

10:00: PQ third in Châteauguay. Ouch.

10:06: Si la tendance se maintien... Radio-Canada calls it.

10:09: The ADQ takes the lead away from the PLQ in Orford.

10:21: Winning the war, but losing the battle; Jean Charest pulls a Bourassa-esque faceplant in Sherbrooke.

10:26: labradore calls Matane for the PQ, since no one else will, with a 200+ PQ lead and just two polls left to report.

10:33: Parisella & cie. are talking about Charest in the past tense.

10:40: Mégantic-Compton is PLQ, all polls in; Crémazie has Lisette Lapointe with an insurmountable PQ lead; 50 votes' lead for the PQ in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue with 50 polls to go; ADQ holding a lead of less than 100 votes in Johnson with 7 polls to report; Fabre is almost declarable for the PLQ sweep of Laval; why are they so slow counting in Orford?; and will you please just call Matane?

10:45: Why does Gilles Duceppe think he's more relevant and electable than André Boisclair?

10:54: Fabre goes PLQ by less than 3%. Reid has something vaguely resembling a lead now in Orford.

10:56: Has there ever been a negative "federalist ballot-box bonus" before?

11:00: Just for HappyFun™, punching the popular vote figures as they are reported at this hour into the HKDP machine, and it predicts a Liberal minority government: 44 seats, ADQ 42, PQ 39.

11:18: For even more HappyFun™, punching the popular vote figures as they are reported at this hour into the HKDP machine, but awarding all of the Québec Solidaire votes to the PQ... and it predicts a PQ minority government: 54 seats; PLQ 41; ADQ 30.

11:27: Charest is back in the lead in Sherbrooke, a substantial one, with 25 polls to report.

11:42: Really, now: Mommy, what's "autonomisme"?

11:46: With a handful of exceptions, the map of PLQ ridings looks an awful lot like the map of PLC ridings. Even a lot of the other PLQ ridings (Bonaventure, Brome-Missisquoi) look an awful lot like those areas of Quebec federal ridings that voted in 2004 and 2006 for losing PLC candidates. This should please Harper how?

11:51: Trivia question. Someone please answer it as the cure to an impending case of insomnia: Who called Josée Légault a "sovereignist cow"? Yes, it was sexist.

11:54: Comment se traduit "hanging chad"?

11:57: The outcome was never in doubt!

The next big question

Mommy, what's "autonomisme"?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Me too!

What Mark said.

Who needs facts when you've got rants?

Bill Rowe this afternoon picked up on yet another favourite Newfoundland nationalist froth of late. A slight paraphrase:

"PEI got a bridge? How come we don't got a bridge? Canada sucks."

Bill Rowe, the Rhodes Scholar Bill Rowe, then said that the Confederation Bridge to PEI cost "untold billions of dollars".

Then he quantified the untold cost: "four billion dollars for 100,000 people."

About 17 seconds of research would tell Bill Rowe, and anyone else, that the PEI bridge cost about $1-billion in 1997 dollars, about $1.1-billion in 2004 dollars.

The cheapest of the Strait of Belle Isle fixed link options, by contrast is estimated at nearly $1.6-billion in 2004 dollars, and that's assuming no cost over-runs. The PEI flink went over cost by nearly 20%, a rate of over-run which would inflate the Stunnel's cost to nearly $2-billion in 2004 dollars.

The real difference, though, is not in costs, but in approach.

The PEI fixed link was built because the private sector pitched the federal and provincial governments on it.

If a Strait of Belle Isle tunnel makes such compelling business sense, why hasn't the private sector beat a path to the shores of the Strait of Belle Isle?

Decision desk

Some predictions for the fascinating Quebec election that will be over, but not decided, this time tomorrow night:

1) A large chunk of the "undecided" vote in the polls is very decided. It's closet ADQ support, which will negate most of the electoral value of the usual...

2a) Federalist ballot-box bonus. The PLQ/PLC/Non(Oui in Charlottetown) vote has always been under-estimated in the last week's pre-vote polls, and almost always by every pollster. In the modern era, say, since the birth of the BQ in 1990, the value has ranged from an all-pollster average of 1.7% PLQ vote they missed in the 1994 provincial election, to the, likely aberrant, 7.7% all-pollster underestimation of PLC vote in the 2004 federal. The overall average federalist bonus, in the referenda, and federal and provincial elections, since Charlottetown inclusive, is 3.5%.

2b) Federalist ballot-box bonus. It won't be as large this time. The electorate is just too fragmented; the PLQ is no longer the only party for closet federalists to use to avoid voting PQ.

2c) Separatist ballot-box bonus. Besides the closet ADQ-cum-"undecided" vote noted above, the Parti vert and Québec Solidaire vote intention has been inflated by pollsters who prompt. This will work mathematically, in real votes, to the PQ's advantage.

3) All of this means that the pollsters may be closer to the final numbers, this time, than they have been in a while. And these numbers keep spelling the same thing: PQ minority. Charest cannot win even a minority government, given the cannibalization of his non-Montreal-non-Outaouais vote by the ADQ, unless he's at least 5 or 6 points ahead of the PQ. A majority PLQ government would require at least a 10- to 12-point lead; not on.

In fact, the PLQ vote is so notoriously inefficient, that Charest could have, on slightly different numbers, win the popular vote, and finish third in the seats. The ADQ isn't quite high enough for that to happen now. The PQ, on the other hand, can form a minority government, in an extreme situation, even by finishing third in the popular vote.

4) At this hour, one of the likeliest scenarios for Charest to eke out a minority win, in fact, rests with the ADQ overperforming. Dumont has already cannibalized almost all the PLQ seats he can; a couple more percentage points in the popular vote, and he would pick off just enough PQ seats in some of the outlying areas of La Couronne around Montreal to knock the PQ's seat total back down below that of Charest's.

The prediction: The ADQ will overperform. Most observers put them at 20-25 seats; the labradore decision desk sees the range as more in the 25-30 bracket as the ADQ racks up some surprises in Mauricie, the Townships, and the Montreal exurbs.

The rest will be divided almost evenly, though not quite evenly enough, between Charest's West Island-Outaouais rump and the PQ's heartland.

A 2- to 4-seat PQ minority.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sea foam

Boy, has the Newfoundland nationalist froth ever been whipped up.

Exhibit A — Bob Wakeham:

We need a slate of independent candidates

The Telegram

There are innumerable exhortations I can recall from a variety of authority figures growing up designed to force me and my contemporaries to swallow every piece of adult garbage we were fed, and to accept it all without argument or protest.

“We know what’s best for you.”

“You’ll eventually thank us.”

“You’re just not mature enough to accept that responsibility.”

Although both genders were guilty of such dictates, it was generally called paternalism, and I detected its whiff last week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty — the Tory finance minister doing a poor man’s leprechaun, wearing a smug, artificial smile, and making unsuccessful attempts at charming sound bytes — mistreated Newfoundland not only with the shattering of a promise of an equalization formula unaffected by offshore revenues, but once again implying, as has just about every federal government since Confederation, that the crowd on the “Rock” (as derogatory a term, in my estimation, as “Newfie”) are incapable of handling their own affairs.

Danny Williams called it a “betrayal,” and, I’m sure, used saltier language in private to blast Harper and Flaherty for their little St. Patrick’s Day assault on Newfoundland’s latest attempt to finally gain some autonomy in this mostly one-sided, Confederation marriage, a 58-year relationship in which the newest Canadian bride has tolerated way too much abuse, and absorbed broken promise after broken promise.

And it wasn’t just another knock by the stronger spouse up the side of the head of the weaker spouse; there was, as well, that paternalistic hand being waved about, not unlike the psychological bullying that convinced Newfoundlanders to give up their freedom in 1932, and to be put to bed every night, or scolded when need be, by an infallible Commission of Government.

And here we are again, being told by a group of people that thinks it knows what’s best for this province, and making it sound — as only politicians can, with their rhetoric and semantics — that the province has actually been given choices designed to give Newfoundlanders the kind of economic freedom they long for.


But there is a bottom line here, and it’s simple: Harper made a commitment to Williams to exclude offshore revenue from the equalization formula, and he’s gone back on that word, he’s broken a promise, he’s taken a Newfoundland that’s gotten too many smacks over the years from its paternalistic bosses in Ottawa, and given it another kick in the arse.

And if ever there was a time that Danny Williams should flaunt his unprecedented popularity as premier, it is now.

Not only should he merely encourage the electorate to vote against Harper in the upcoming federal election, as he said he will, he should also campaign against them, get out on the hustings and let his venom flow.


Perhaps the most effective route is to line up seven independent candidates, beholden to no one, get them elected, and have them form their own Bloc Terra Neuve in the House of Commons, close up and personal with whatever prime minister or party is in power, and have, as their mandate, the betterment of Newfoundland.

And, as well, letting the country know Newfoundlanders are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

That they’re not to be treated like sixth-graders.

That they know all about responsibility.

And integrity.
Good points all, Bob. Except:

A) Danny Williams has a list of broken platform promises as long as his... ego. Just try this one on for size:

A Progressive Conservative government will pursue a Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries.
Now that he has this offer on the table from Harper:

A Conservative Government will adopt, with any interested coastal province or territory, a system of increased provincial management over fisheries through a system of joint management and joint fisheries councils modelled on the system proposed by unanimous resolution of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in May 2003 and as detailed in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador's white paper on the subject as released in 2003.
Harper, to his credit, has called Danny's bluff perfectly. Would that more people would call Danny's bluff and call him out on his laxitudes with the truth.

It made a great sabre-rattling line, but Danny Williams does not have, and never had, any real interest in "joint management". His promise was a lie. A jingoistic, Newfoundland nationalist lie.

(Many, many more examples of Danny's lies are to be found at:

So, Mr. Wakeham, what should Newfoundlanders and Labradorians do about that? Should they punish the liar, in this case Danny Williams, or reward him? Should Danny Williams be held to the same standard you demand of federal politicians? Why or why not?

B) Newfoundland doesn't have seven seats. It has six. You are going to have a devil of a time getting Labradorians to sign on your jingoistic PWG-waving projects at the best of times. Refusing to say the L-word doesn't help your cause.

C) In a October 8, 2003, election-period letter, Danny wrote:
A Progressive Conservative government will acknowledge that the decision in the Powley case applies to Metis in Newfoundland and Labrador, and will par ticipate with specific rights affirmed in the Powley decision and other rights protected under s. 35 of the Constitution.
If it is bad for Stephen Harper to break a written promise contained in a letter sent during an election campaign, is it not also bad for Danny Williams to do so? Why or why not? And what, in particular, should Labrador, and Labrador Metis electors, do about it?

You know, Bob, the more Labradorians hear this kind of jingoistic mau-mau nonsense from Danny, other politicians, and the PWG-waving media cheerleaders, the more of them are inclined to think, not about the Abuses of Imperialist Paper Tiger Canadian Oppressor, but rather about the hypocrisy of "a [244]-year relationship in which the newest... bride has tolerated way too much abuse, and absorbed broken promise after broken promise."

There's plenty of mau-mau jingoism to go around in Labrador, Bob.

It's just not of a variety you'd like.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The formative years

Danny Williams was born in 1949. His teenage and young adult years were spent exposed to the worst excesses, political, policy, and rhetorical, of Joey Smallwood.

And it shows.

From the archives:


By Bruce MacDonald
Star Staff Correspondent
Toronto Star
April 9, 1959

Ottawa, April 9—Premier Smallwood of Newfoundland was off on a mystery trip to the U.K. today after flaying about in all directions at the International Woodworkers of America, Prime Minister Diefenbaker and two of his ministers here yesterday, and opening the possibility of launching a third court battle against Ottawa for “violating” the 1948 terms of Union.

In a 30-minute speech to the Canadian Club, followed by a marathon two-hour and 15-minute press conference, the irrepressible head of the Newfoundland government revised some of his former allegations and contentions, but followed up with new denunciations which indicated he remained unrepentant.

Mr. Smallwood left Ottawa today for New York, where he is crossing to Britain for the first time by jet. He would say only that his week’s stay in the U.K. was on government business.

“I Won’t Be Bullied”

During the course of his busy day here yesterday, these points were brought out in statements by Mr. Smallwood:

Despite prodding by Mr. Diefenbaker, the Newfoundland legislation to create a fourth judgeship in the province would not be proclaimed until the Conservative leader named a new Chief Justice to fill the existing vacancy.

“I will not allow the Prime Minister of Canada to bully me into adopting his policy. When the Prime Minister starts sticking a club in my direction, I don’t duck; I stand up to it,” declared the Premier.

“I am not going to try and be Prime Minister of Canada and I am going to resist with all power in my command his attempt to be Premier of Newfoundland.”

During his stay in Ottawa, he did not call on the Prime Minister because he “had no business with him” and had “no powerful urge” to call on him “socially.”

Seeking Legal Advice

Newfoundland was seeking advice – he would not say from whom – to determine whether legal or other action could be taken against the federal government for its assertion that the terms of union with the province would be finally and irrevocably settled with the payment of a final special grant in 1962.

Mr. Smallwood acknowledged that Newfoundland had no legal grounds on which to sue Ottawa for breach of contract of the terms of union signed in 1948, but disclosed he was consulting with constitutional authorities to determine whether there was “some recourse to the courts.” Newfoundland is already suing Ottawa for breach of contracts involving the RCMP and the St. John’s Housing Authority.

Asked if one source of his advice was former Liberal Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, he declined to answer.

An alternative to court action would be an appeal to public opinion, he indicated.

Revise Labor Laws

The International Woodworkers of America he branded as a symbol of “gangsterism lawlessness” in Newfoundland, maintaining that the legislation was necessary for the survival of the province. But he indicated that in time the anti-labor legislation would be amended so that the province once again had the “most progressive labor legislation in Canada.”

Hon. William Browne, Newfoundland representative in the federal cabinet, was guilt of a “piece of arrogant impertinence” when he wrote last summer to the provincial minister of municipal affairs calling on him to knock two provincial appointees off the St. John’s Housing Authority in favor of his own Conservative supporters, or increase the directorships to provide for them. Mr. Smallwood ordered the minister not to bother replying.

The contention by Works Minister Green that the housing authority had not always granted accommodation in the low-rental projects on a basis of need was “a downright lie,” he reiterated.

Told To Quit House

Mr. Green, he disclosed, last summer wrote to him ordering him to vacate “Canada House,” the federally owned residence he occupies in St. John’s which was formerly occupied by the Canadian high commissioner. Mr. Smallwood said he asked permission to remain until his own residence, now under construction, was completed, which was granted on condition it did not take too long. The name of the new Smallwood residence: “Newfoundland House.”

“The general opinion in Newfoundland is that this was inspired by Williams Browne,” he added.

The people of Newfoundland were 99 per cent behind him on his moves to drive out the IWA. It was “only sheer sportsmanship” which stopped him from calling an early election, which would result in the Liberal party “taking every seat in Newfoundland.” The Conservative opposition now has four out of 36 seats.

During the press conference, Mr. Smallwood retreated somewhat from three stands he had taken previously.

On his arrival Tuesday night, the fire-eating premier charged during an impromptu station platform press conference that Mr. Browne “is the biggest landlord of slum housing in Newfoundland” and that “some of the worst slums in North America are in the heart of St. John’s and are owned by Mr. Browne.”

Qualifies Charge

Yesterday Mr. Smallwood indicated he wanted to qualify his earlier statement, which was made in anger over assertions in the Commons by Works Minister Green.

“I am not able to say what proportion of the (slum) land is owned by Mr. Browne,” he asserted. “Mr. Browne is a lawyer and for many years he has collected the rents from many – I won’t say most – of the worst slums in the worst slum areas of North America.”

“Did he collect for himself or a client?” the premier was asked.

“I can’t say.”

“Does he own the land?”

“I’m not sure. He collected the rents,” the premier replied, but later asserted: “He collected for himself and clients.”

Mr. Smallwood told reporters that Newfoundland intended to press its suit against the federal government for its decision to have Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. take over management of a new 192-unit low-rental project from the St. John’s Housing Authority.

While the province considered this a clear breach of the contract between the three levels of government, the premier indicated the federal government might have some merit in its claim to the right to be consulted on appointments to the directorship of the authority, since it picked up 75 per cent of the tab.


There is a popular Newfoundland nationalist myth — yes, another one — that you hear quite often on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth, as often as not from the hosts, who should know better, as from the callers, who, well, they should know better, too. It goes something like this:

"We have to kick and fight and scream for everything we got, not like Alberta and them other provinces who always had control over their resources and we don't control our resources and oh I loves Danny Williams."

Or something to that effect.

Wrong on both counts.

Newfoundland and Labrador has unfettered control over its resources, to the same degree as any other province... except where that control is actually superior. There will be more on this, later.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, for many years, did not.

And no, that's not what you have been told. But not everything you "know" is true.

This is Term 37 of the Terms of Union:
37. All lands, mines, minerals, and royalties belonging to Newfoundland at the date of Union, and all sums then due or payable for such lands, mines, minerals, or royalties, shall belong to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, subject to any trusts existing in respect thereof, and to any interest other than that of the Province in the same.
Pretty clear. But a more subtle, and often overlooked operation of the Terms of Union makes it even more so. This is the important Term 3:
3. The Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, shall apply to the Province of Newfoundland in the same way, and to the like extent as they apply to the provinces heretofore comprised in Canada, as if the Province of Newfoundland had been one of the provinces originally united except in so far as varied by these Terms...
Which makes s. 92 of the British North America Act applicable to the new province:
92. In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subject next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,—
5. The Management and Sale of the Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon.
So, the provincial government has full jurisdiction over mines, minerals, public lands, and forests, just the same as all the other provinces.

Things could have been different. The draft Terms of Union of 1869, for example, provided quite differently:
5. In consideration of the transfer to the General Government by Newfoundland of the now ungranted and unoccupied 1ands, mines, and minerals of the Colony, it is agreed that the sum of $150,000 shall each year be paid to Newfoundland by semi-annual payments...

6. It shall be optional, however, for Newfoundland, before entering the Union, to reserve to itself all the lands and rights conveyed -to the General Government by the last preceding clause, and in that case Canada shall be relieved of the payment of the aforesaid sum of $150,000 per annum.
Similarly, the 1895 proposal provided that:
7. The Dominion will pay $150,000 annually for the Crown lands of the Colony [of Newfoundland].
But we didn't get either of these very disadvantageous 19th-century terms. Term 3 harkens back to the roots of Confederation and the unfettered jurisdiction over provincial lands and resources guaranteed to the original four provinces on their original lands.

Compare this to the Manitoba Act, 1870:
30. All ungranted or waste lands in the Province shall be, from and after the date of the said transfer, vested in the Crown, and administered by the Government of Canada for the purposes of the Dominion, subject to, and except and so far as the same may be affected by, the conditions and stipulations contained in the agreement for the surrender of Rupert’s Land by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Her Majesty.
Similar provisions fettered Manitoba's control over northern territories added to the province in 1881 and 1912.

The Alberta and Saskatchewan Acts of 1905 contained identical language for each of the two new provinces:
21. All Crown lands, mines and minerals and royalties incident thereto, and the interest of the Crown in the waters within the province under The North-west Irrigation Act, 1898, shall continue to be vested in the Crown and administered by the Government of Canada for the purposes of Canada, subject to the provisions of any Act of the Parliament of Canada with respect to road allowances and roads or trails in force immediately before the coming into force of this Act, which shall apply to the said province with the substitution therein of the said province for the North-west Territories.
It was not until 1930 that the fetters started to come off the Prairie provinces' control over their own lands and natural resources; 25 years after Saskatchewan and Alberta were created as provinces of Canada, 60 years in the case of Manitoba. The resulting Natural Resource Agreements were still the subject of contention in the 1950s and 1960s.

One thing is true: Newfoundland and Labrador does not have the same arrangement regarding resources that Alberta and the other western provinces did when they came into Confederation.


From the moment Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949, the province has always had the full and unfettered jurisdiction over provincial resources that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba did not have for many decades after they became provinces of Canada. Until the 1930s, those three provinces could only ever have dreamed of having something so simple, clear, and powerful as Term 37.

The Prairies had to kick and fight and scream for everything they got in respect of terrestrial resource jurisdiction.

Newfoundland and Labrador never had to.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Funny Munny

From the 2006 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial budget:

The provincial government budgeted $7.5-million in federal funding last year for the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Slight problem: The federal government didn't.

Nor did the Money Bunny do so this year.

So, how, legally and constutionally, does the provincial government get off voting itself $7.5-million in money that is not only not theirs, but which doesn't even exist?


"Since December 26th 2004, 103,403 Letters have been delivered to Ottawa legislators: Prime Minister Paul Martin, Newfoundland and Labrador MPs, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and Members of the Finance Committee."
So claimed the late, great,

Very odd that this campaignhasn't been ramped back up, innit?

Yes... very, very, odd.

Canadian Reckless Fishery Association?

Tory Keneycke — or however you spell it — and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, whoever they are, have recently been running a high-rotation, very expensive, and not-so-subtly pro-Harper ad campaign of late.

(Conservative-friendly ad agencies? - ed.)

No, there will not be a link. Google it if you want it.

At the end of the moderately less-partisan one ("Bio Who?") is a clip of dorkus malorkus Albert with a genuine imitation "fisherman" who looks, and sounds, like the rest of the ad, to have been filmed somewhere in or around the K** *** Postal District.

Dorkus malorkus Albert assures the nameless faux-fisherman that yes, renewable fuels can be made out of fish.

For the sake of any fisherpersons out there who might have been intrigued by this economic possibility, Albert, Tory, and company should inform the rest of us:

What species of Canadian fish — or any other country's, for that matter — are (a) sufficiently abundant, (b) sufficiently energy-efficient, and (c) insufficiently tasty or nutritious, to be scooped out of the water and turned into "renewable fuels"?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Given that WJM has frequently on NL_politics defended Ottawa’s need to attach numerous strings to any funding transferred to provinces in order to make it “accountable” (as if the provinces had no such mechansms), he’s about as convincing adefender of provincial rights as Jack Kevorkian is a defender of life. I fully admite and always have admitted that certain matters can and should be federal. And while doing so I’ve called for provincial control of fisheries, full ownership of oil and gas to to go to the provinces, and less federal interference in health care and other areas. It’s call optimizing each level’s role.


It would seem the Martin and Chretien governments are pretty selective in when they want nitty gritty strings attached. The more federal grittys with their hands in the till, the less specific they want it I guess… but a province with some actual book keeping capacity and experience is held higher

— Conservative e-pundit Liam O'Brien, fairdealfornewfoundland, February 15, 2005

Strings attached to health money


Strict conditions attached to health dollars in Monday's federal budget are being described by Newfoundland and Labrador's health minister as "a heavy-handed intrusion into provincial jurisdiction."

Ross Wiseman said Wednesday that ultimatums issued to the provinces by the federal Conservatives are "precedent-setting" and could put "tremendous pressure" on this province's ability to provide a balanced health-care system.

— The St. John's Telegram, today

Down, boy!

"Oh Danny Boy, pipe down" — Margaret Wente, 2005

N.L. Tory MPs to Williams: Simmer down — CBC headline, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Late, Great, Fiscal Imbalance

The Fiscal Imbalance (requiescat in pacem) is dead. Jim Flaherty says so; it must be true:

Mr. Speaker, the long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over.

So now that it is dead, can someone, in the hushed and reverent tones reserved for the dead — de mortuis nihil nisi bonum — explain what, exactly, in blivverin' blue blazes The Fiscal Imbalance was in the first place?

It would be very useful for recognition purposes, in the highly unlikely, improbable, nay nearly impossible event, that someone — maybe a provincial Premier, maybe a separatist — at some point in the distant future, spots what they think is The Fiscal Imbalance once again walking the earth, commingling with us living mortals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The New(foundland) Math

Right on cue, the Newfoundland separatists are rattling their sabres. The logic goes something like this:

  • We don't get enough in federal transfer payments.
  • And we aren't going to get enough.
  • We don't even know what we mean by "enough".
  • But we're not getting enough.
  • Therefore, we should separate.

For the past 20 years, Newfoundland and Labrador, by virtue of being part of Canada, has received an average of nearly $1.5-billion — that's with a b — in federal transfers to the provincial government.

That's on top of a similar amount paid out annually in federal transfers to individuals in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And on top of another $300-million or so in federal government salaries.

That's an average of about $3.3-billion that comes into the province, every year, by virtue of being part of Canada. Add to it transfers to businesses, federal government procurement, and other federal spending in, or in respect of Newfoundland and Labrador, the total has averaged, over the past couple of decades, more than $4.3-billion.

Federal revenues out of Newfoundland and Labrador during the same period? About $1.5-billion annually.

The "balance", pace the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist?

A net benefit to the province of $2.8-billion per year.

So, a question for the separatists: What would Newfoundland and Labrador be entitled to, by way of federal transfers and other spending, as a glorious independent PWG-waving republic?

And what is the difference between that amount, and $2.8-billion?

Dictionary of Quotations

"The Prime Minister's Ontario cap effectively limits the maximum benefit of the offshore resource to $452 per person in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. After that, every dollar will be clawed back by Ottawa, no matter how many billions the offshore resource turns out to be worth." — Stephen Harper, November 4, 2004

"The premier says that the agreement he thought he had reached did not include a cap or a reference to a fiscal capacity. It did not include any linkage to the fiscal capacity of other provinces. It did not include a timeframe. In fact it specifically excluded it." — Loyola Hearn. Same day.

"The responses from Mr. Martin are clearly not as definitive as some of those from Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton. This is disappointing from the provincial government’s perspective..." — Danny Williams, January 17, 2006

"I'm a Conservative. I'm a Progressive Conservative. I think my politics (are) quite obvious. I certainly wouldn't stand up here and state that I'm supporting the Liberal Party of Canada to form the next government. But I don't think it helps for the premier to actually get down in the trenches in the nitty gritty of an election campaign. My member is (Conservative) Norm Doyle, and of course I support him fully." — Rob Antle, quoting Danny Williams, in the St. John's Telegram, November 29, 2005

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Toronto's National Newspaper

If, after almost 30 years, a major Canadian news outlet still hasn't learned the difference between Innu and Inuit, even after all the coverage that outlet has given to Innu and Inuit-related news — and usually the bad news, never the good — then perhaps it's time for that outlet to start re-thinking its claim to being "National".

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quebec 101

No, not Loi 101. The course.

Do you have no idea what Suroît is? Or Mont-Orford? Or the Viaduc Concorde? Do the ins and outs of Quebec public-sector labour relations bore you to tears? It bores 99% of Quebecers to tears. It bores 98% of Quebec public servants to tears.

Does the name SuperMario recall a retired NHL player or a video game, instead of a guy who went for a walk in the desert, so to speak? Did you even know that Quebec now has two separatist parties, one of which was founded on the ashes of the NDP? Or that both separatist parties have token anglo candidates of some infame?

You didn't follow the Joe-Clarkesque fall of Bernard Landry and the subsequent PQ leadership race? Do you still, naively, think of "snow" as a form of frozen precipitation that falls in Quebec for 19 months of the year?

Pas de problème. This course is for you.

A) First, you need to know that SuperMario is Mario Dumont, the head of the small-c conservative, ambiguously ambiguous, perennial (for the past 1.5 decades) third party, the ADQ, during most of which time he's been its only elected member. Dumont and his party have, at various times, enjoyed strong public support. He, and they, to the extent there is a "they", also have had the disconcerting habit, if you are them, of peaking too soon. And that's "too soon", as in, "before the election is even called".

B) Memorize these numbers: 46, 33 ,18. Those are the popular vote percentages realized by the Liberals (PLQ), PQ and ADQ in the 2003 election.

C) In 1998, the PLQ under Jean Charest took 43.6% of the vote to the PQ's 42.9%. The PQ formed a comfortable majority government of 76 seats. In 1994, the PLQ under Daniel Johnson took 44.4% of the vote to the PQ's 44.75%, a difference of little over one-third of one percent. The PQ took 77 seats. Discuss, with reference to B), above.

Here's a handy cheat-sheet. This graph shows the support for the three main parties, starting with the 2003 election results, according to various published opinion polls over the past four years:

And here, according to the same colour scheme, is what each of those popular-vote figures yields when plugged into each of three votes-into-seats forecasting models, again starting with the actual 2003 results:

There are 125 seats in the National Assembly, meaning it takes 63 of them to form even the slimmest of majorities.

There. Now you are caught up, and you can go back to ignoring Quebec politics for another four... well, it's not going to be years. Months? weeks? days?

For once, it looks like Quebec really is going to be "volatile", which is why political junkies are having so much fun these days. So if you're a political junkie who's not having fun... stay tuned these next nine days. It is going to be a wild ride, and the best part is, it's probably just beginning.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Going it alone, II

Item: Billion-dollar pension fix pleases N.L. unions
The Newfoundland and Labrador government is borrowing almost $1 billion to settle an unfunded liability that threatened to bankrupt a pension plan for thousands of civil servants.
Item: Quebec to go ahead with La Romaine hydro project
Le complexe La Romaine doit comprendre quatre centrales hydroélectriques totalisant 1500 mégawatts d'énergie électrique. Il nécessitera un investissement de 8,5 milliards de dollars, soit 7 milliards pour la construction et 1,5 milliard pour le raccordement au réseau d'Hydro-Québec.
Item: Federal eco-cash raises profile of east-west power grid
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday Ontario would use a part of its $586-million share of the $1.5-billion Canada ecoTrust fund "to begin work on an east-west electrical transmission interconnect with Manitoba, which will allow for the flow of new, clean hydroelectric power to the Ontario market.
So... the market for so-called Lower Churchill in Ontario is about to get smaller, thanks to Manitoba's ability to actually strike a deal with someone without hysterically condemning any deal as a "giveaway", and to the federal government's partial underwriting of the project.

The financial capacity of Williams Government to "go it alone", never large to begin with, just got smaller.

And, all the "go it alone" rhetoric notwithstanding, one of the primary targets of Williams Government's efforts to find the billions of dollars of Other People's Money necessary to "go it alone with" — that is, Hydro-Québec — is about to tie up lots of capital and expertise in a stand-alone project on its own soil... an eminently business-sensible course of action on their part.

Going it alone, I

Terry Roberts reports in The Telegram today (not online):
The province will also begin laying down a “hard top” on the Trans-Labrador Highway, with or without help from the federal government. Williams is hoping the federal government will announce its share of the project in Monday's budget.
And Williams Government told The Aurora this week:
“We already indicated last year that we are prepared to put $50 million into surfacing the road. The $50 million we allocated last year we couldn't use because we were waiting for the feds to step up.”

Even if the feds don't step up to the plate, the premier assures the province will go ahead with the hardtop anyway. The reason the province waited until this year, he explained, was to ensure the whole thing got done.


That's novel.

As Ken Oliver wrote in The Labradorian on January 22nd:
Of that amount, $17 million will go towards ongoing construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway and a further $15 million is earmarked for hard-surfacing in Phase I of the TLH. The latter though is subject to cost sharing with the federal government.
As Rob Antle reported in The Telegram on January 18th:
The province will commit $7.5 million to begin hard-surfacing Phase I of the Trans- Labrador Highway. But that work is conditional on Ottawa matching it with $7.5 million in federal cash.
And Craig Jackson reported for the same paper on November 29th last year:
Transportation Minister John Hickey is confident the federal and provincial governments will each contribute $10 million next year as part of the five-year, $100-million hard-topping contract for the Trans-Labrador Highway.

There's been a tremendous amount of movement between both levels of government on the Trans-Labrador Highway file, he said, noting federal cabinet ministers have indicated it's a done deal.
John Hickey stated on August 7th:
Surfacing of the TLH from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador City-Wabush is estimated to cost in the order of $100 million, to be shared equally by the federal and provincial government.
The Telegram reported on April 12th:
In Budget 2006, government announced plans to invest $26.7 million to further construct Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway and another $15 million - with help from federal government
Williams Government announced on March 13th:
Government will invest $26.7 million to further construct Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway - including 50 kilometres near Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright - and another $15 million, subject to 50-50 federal-provincial cost-sharing, to start application of a sealed surface on Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wabush.
A point which he, Williams Government, re-inforced on March 30th:
As recently announced, $25.5 million to further construct Phase III of the Trans- Labrador Highway, including 50 kilometres near Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright. Another $15 million – subject to 50-50 federal-provincial cost-sharing
And which Trevor Taylor re-re-inforced on April 11th:
Government will invest $26.7 million to further construct Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway - including 50 kilometres between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright - and another $15 million, subject to 50-50 federal-provincial cost-sharing, to start application of a sealed surface on Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wabush.
(As Smallwood would say: first you announce that you are going to announce something. Then you announce it. Then you announce that you have announced it. – ed.)

Trevor Taylor wrote in The Telegram’s op-ed page on February 4th, 2006:
Last year, the province successfully petitioned the federal government to have the Trans-Labrador Highway added to the national highway system. As a result, the province is seeking federal cost- shared funding for upgrading and maintenance of those roads, as the new designation allows.
(“…and maintenance”!?!? Does the province have any spending jurisdiction in Labrador? – ed.)

Is Williams Government really prepared – and here’s a fun phrase – to “go it alone” on the Trans-Labrador Highway?

If so, it would be a first.

And it would give Lawrence Cannon a very convenient out. Williams Government has, in effect, conceded that he doesn’t really need that federal money after all… he only wants it.

And it makes you wonder, what was the point in shifting blame to the federal government all these years, if Williams Government was prepared to spend its own money, no strings attached, all along?

Williams Government is either a bad negotiator for letting the federal government off the hook for its Trans-Labrador Highway promise.

Or Williams Government is a bad negotiator for “negotiating”, not in good faith, but solely for the purpose of setting up the federal government as the guy to blame.

Either way, Williams Government is a bad negotiator.

The fact remains, though, that the federal government has outspent the provincial government on the Trans-Labrador Highway 9 to 1 over the past thirty years, notwithstanding the efforts of Liberal and Tory provincial governments to re-write the highway’s funding history.

If Labrador really is – and here’s another fun phrase, an “integral part of the province” – then it really is time for the province to come to the table, with its own-source, unconditional money. Labrador doesn’t pay 50 cent, conditional provincial tax dollars; why should Labadorians settle for 50 cent, conditional spending dollars?

“With or without help from the federal government” would mark a major departure, not only from Williams Government’s own buck-passing and buck-begging to the federal government on the Trans-Labrador Highway issue (and anything else to do with Labrador), but the long-standing trend of provincial governments, Liberal and Tory, to match federal money with more federal money. Provincial-sourced funds are as scarce along the TLH as cell phone service or pavement.

If Williams Government really is prepared to go ahead on the TLH, “with or without” federal money as The Aurora and Terry Roberts report, it would be something.

But, barring a direct quote from Williams Government himself to that effect, it’s probably nothing.

A good question for The Telegram to ask as a follow-up comes from Williams Government’s pre-by-election Aurora interview:
“The total cost of doing all that alone by the province given what we are trying to do in other phases of Labrador is a big nut to crack.”
What are all those other things “we are trying to do in other phases of Labrador”? List them, with particular reference to all of those things which “we” are trying to do without federal money.

Si la tendence se maintien...

Yes, it's an insta-poll.

Yes, the sample size was eensie-weensie.

Yes, the election is two weeks away.

But what the heck. Throw caveats and caution to the wind, and play along:

You plug CROP's overnight post-debate poll figures (PLQ and PQ 27, ADQ 29) into everyone's favourite Quebec election forecastomatron.

And it spits out a PQ minority government.

With the PLQ as the third party.

And Jean Charest no longer its leader.

The ADQ sweeps the Chaudière-Appalaches; comes close to doing so in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Capitale, and Mauricie; makes major inroads into the Saguenay, Abitibi, the Townships, the Richelieu Valley, and even La Couronne.

The PLQ doesn't pick up a single seat. Not surprising. No one in the media seems to have noticed yet, that his recent suppose "bounce" in the polls notwithstanding, Jean Charest has not polled at or above what he got in the election in 2003 since... well, since 2003.

The PQ picks up a bunch from the PLQ, mainly in the off-island 'burbs, but only after losing a bunch more to the ADQ in rural areas.

Seat count: PQ 45, ADQ 41, PLQ 40.

And Sherbrooke is not in the PLQ's column.

"Margin of error", "two weeks is a lifetime", "three-way splits", "strong local candidate", yes, yes, yes, yes.

But still. It's fun. Too bad there's not a look-on-Bernard-Derome's face forecaster.

Census sensibilities II

As is entirely predictable, there's been a great deal of reaction to the latest census figures, most of which falls under the general headline of "Population Declines".

But there are interesting things happening below the surface, if you care to take a closer look.

For statistical purposes, Statistics Canada divides provinces into Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions (CSD). In Newfoundland and Labrador, each municipality is a separate CSD. However, smaller, unincorporated localities are aggregated together into unromantically numbered-and-lettered CSDs within each division.

Examined at the CSD level, some interesting trends appear which the coverage hasn't yet picked up. For example, CBC reports:

South of St. John's, communities like Bay Bulls are effectively becoming suburbs of the capital city.

Scott Penny moved to Bay Bulls four years ago, attracted by the land prices and lower taxes. He is now a councillor, promoting a town that still has a rural appeal with — via a 30-minute commute to downtown St. John's — proximity to the city's amenities.
True enough. But then:

Farther away from St. John's, however, a different demographic story is playing out.

From Cape Broyle to Trepassey, for instance, every community on the shoreline has lost population, and the fishing industry that attracted settlers in the first place has practically disappeared.
While it's true that every incorporated community south of metro St. John's, and in fact around the shore to the Avalon Peninsula's Placentia Bay coastline, has lost population in the past five years, the unincorporated areas in between have not.

For the visually-inclined here's a map. The baseline map and raw data are from Statistics Canada; they, however, bear no responsibility for any blogger's errors in transcribing the data to this map. (Click to enlarge.)

Population change by Census Subdivision, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2001-2006

At first, the growth trends in the unincorporated parts of the Avalon Peninsula could be dismissed as merely at continuation of creeping St. John's exurbanization.

But the phenomenon is fairly new: in the 2001 census, only 33 of 381 CSDs showed any population increase, of which only nine were unincorporated areas, and of those, only one was on the Avalon Peninsula. It was not, however, on the Irish Loop or Southern Shore. The latest census, however, shows 83 CSDs with population increases, 34 of which have increased by more than 10% since 2001. And of those 34, 24 are unincorporated areas.

Furthermore, the trend is geographically widespread, manifesting itself as far afield as the Codroy Valley, the Humber Valley, the Gros Morne area, portions of the Burin Peninsula, even the Labrador Straits, and across a wide swath of central Newfoundland from Red Indian Lake to the shores of Bonavista Bay. This has occurred even as the shire towns of many of these regions have themselves experienced population decline.

The other area of Newfoundland with marked population growth is "around the bay"; Conception Bay, that is. Communities, and again, especially, unincorporated areas as far as Bay Roberts and environs are showing increasing signs of becoming more and more, from an economic and demographic point of view, suburbs and exurbs of St. John's.

But it's the unincorporated areas that make for the most interesting puzzle. There are 91 of them. Four of them are recording as having a population of greater than zero in 2006, having registered no inhabitants at all in 2001. Discounting the six which are unpopulated, 42 of 85 showed population increases. While incorporated municipalities, and the province as a whole, showed a population decline of -1.5%, the unincorporated areas showed a decrease of only -0.8%, half the going rate.

More startling, the combined population of the municipalities which grew (disregarding those which fell) grew by 5.2%. For unincorporated areas, the comparable figure is an astonishing 15.8%. In the entire province, only four incorporated towns, plus the Natuashish reserve, had population growth over 15%.

Assuming, for argument's sake, that this observation is not the result of changing methods at Statistics Canada, what is to be made of it? Is there a back-to-the-land movement afoot? Are people retiring to ancestral home communities after careers spent in larger centres, or even out of province? Are people adopting unincorporated residences-of-convenience in order to eliminate their municipal tax burden? Is the growth in cellphone and wireless communication allowing for a rural lifestyle that was unimagineable even ten years ago?

If it is true that rural areas are "dying", then someone forgot to tell the most rural parts of Newfoundland, the hundreds of unincorporated villages and homesteads that are home to over 56,411 people.

If these numbers survive post-censal calibrations, then it would appear that one set of historical trends — the post-moratorium exodus — may be coming to a close. And while an exodus continues, this time stimulated not so much by hardship at home as by a superabundance of opportunity elsewhere, another trend may just be beginning.

"Population decline" is not only not the full story of the census, it's not even a very good headline. There are other, larger, factors at play. Someone needs to get a good handle on what they are. A detailed study of they whys and hows of the latest provincial demographic picture, internally, and with comparative reference to other parts of rural, small-m maritime Canada, would be worth its weight in fact-finding missions to Iceland and cultural exchanges to Ireland.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The entrails

From last night's Labrador West by-election:

1. Everyone looks at the voter turnout rate. No one looks at the voter turnout change. The rate was 54% of eligible voters casting their ballots. But that's still 81% of the turnout that cast ballots in the last general election. By comparison, the same figure for Humber Valley was 83%, for Port au Port 78%, Ferryland 61%, and Kilbride, 51%.

Not coincidentally, if you rank the districts according to how well they retained voter turnout, they line up in the inverse order of margin of victory for the winning candidate: Humber Valley, less than 1%, Labrador West 11%, Port au Port 27%, Ferryland 56%, Kilbride 64%.

Moral of the story: if more than one party mounts an exciting campaign, more people will come out to vote. Conversely, if people feel they can predict the outcome, fewer of them will vote. Hardly rocket science.

2. Despite the reduced turnout in each of the recent by-elections, and despite the fact that the Tory turnout has been the most depressed of the major parties in each of the other four held this year, Baker polled more votes, numerically even, than Letto did in 2003, marking an increase of 524.

3. The NDP vote went kablooie, running totally counter to the conventional wisdom, which managed to develop between the day of the IOC strike vote and the by-election vote, that a strike at IOC would help the NDP. The Dipper vote was down by a numerically whopping 1522 votes, and in percentage terms, by an absolutely fatal 25%.

4. At the gory political feast held on the carcass of Randy Collins' career as an MHA, The Tories picked up 19%, the Labrador Party 4%, and the Liberal campaign 2%.

5. So much for debates. Popular wisdom (see above) had Oldford winning the debate hands down.

Census sensibilities I

Today's census figures and maps (maps! maps!!!) provide a lot of food for thought. But a smorgasbord like that takes some prep work. So, for now, a foretaste:

Between 1996 and 2001, almost every census division in Atlantic Canada and rural Quebec east of the Beauce experienced population decline. It's strange that no one has yet come up with a collective term for this region; Québec maritime has a lot in common with Atlantic Canada. For now, let's call it the Atlantic-Laurentian region.

In many cases — most notably rural Newfoundland, but also Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore, the Acadian coast of New Brunswick, Gaspé, and the Quebec North Shore — the decline was drastic, often -10% to -20%.

The exceptions were southwestern New Brunswick, central PEI, and mainland Nova Scotia in Halifax and three of the four counties which border it (Guysborough not included).

The latest figures show an interesting decelleration of that rural population decline. It's still happening, and it's still happening at a rapid pace. But it's happening at perhaps half or less of the rate between 1996 and 2001. That's partially because the 1996-2001 period was so brutal for rural economies. And, according to popular wisdom, it's still pretty brutal out there.

Most of the Atlantic-Laurentian census divisions which experienced population decline in the previous five-year census interval continued to suffer population loss, whether through net outmigration, decreased natural increase (or even natural decline), or both.

But there are exceptions: western PEI, roughly corrsponding to the federal riding of Egmont, has reversed the trend. So has Kent county, in the heart of New Brunswick's Acadian region; King's county in the Annapolis Valley, and, in eastern Quebec, the Rivière-du-Loup, Rimouski, and La Mitis regions.

And, especially, these four: the Magdalen Islands, which depends, or at least depended on the fishery just as heavily as any part of rural Newfoundland, grew by 2.1% after a staggering 7.1% loss in the previous census period. NL Census Division 10 — everyone else calls it the Avalon Peninsula, why can't StatsCan? — shrank by 3.4% during the previous intercensal, but grew by 2.3% during this latest one. Division 5 — Corner Brook and the Humber Valley; how about calling it Humber? — plunged 8.7% in the previous census, and scored growth, modest, but growth, of 0.8% this time around. And Division 6 — the area of central Newfoundland for which the name Exploits would be perfect — turned a 7.4% loss into break-even. The census population in 2006, 36,208, is exactly what it was in 2001.

On the other hand, rural regions such as Antigonish county in NS, and much of southwestern New Brunswick and the Saint John Valley, turned 1996-2001 population growth into decline over the past five years.

There are many lessons that can be learned by inter-jurisdictional studies, exchanges, and, if they absolutely must be undertaken, junkets.

But if there's anything that the last two census have shown, or should have shown, people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it's this: the demographic trends and challenges that face the province are exactly the same as those facing other parts of Canada, particularly those parts of Canada that lie beyond the eastern limits of the Québec and Lévis transit systems.

The interesting questions to ask would be, what is it about small urban areas, even as small as Corner Brook, Rimouski, or Charlottetown, that have allowed them to buck or turn the demographic tides? How important is proximity to these small urban centres? What has caused the demographic turnaround in places like the Magdalen Islands, western PEI, Kent County, and the eastern Annapolis Valley? What are the similarities and differences with the Trans-Canada Highway axis in Newfoundland which is doing better than areas further afield? On the other hand, what has caused a reversal of fortune in areas like Antigonish and Charlotte counties?

And above all else, what is driving the slowing in the rate of rural decline, not just in some parts of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, but throughout that larger Atlantic-Laurentian region? If, as Doug May hypothesises, it's a case of trans-continental commuting, then what's with the vitriol and venom that Danny Williams and others spat at Air Canada or any other airline whose efforts to develop that market have made that phenomenon possible in the first place?

Examining these kinds of questions domestically, comparing Newfoundland and Labrador's demographic and economic picture to neighbouring regions, within our own country, which have many points of similarities along side the points of difference, would be a worthy, and productive, exercise for the local media, for the academic community, and for the three orders of government; certainly much more worthy than the endless string of "trade missions" and "cultural exchanges" and "fact-finding trips" to the more-exotic but less-pertinent Iceland or Ireland.

Forget Cork.

It's time to check out Cap-aux-Meules, Cloridorme, and Colchester county.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fare or unfare?

"The Williams Government," we learned yesterday, "has made a significant step in delivering on its Blueprint promise to reduce provincial ferry rates and bring them in line with the cost of highway travel."

Willliams Government gave the following example:

St. Barbe-Blanc Sablon, (vehicle-plus driver, return), reduced by $17.50 from $68.00 to $50.50
And Williams Government expressed a hope — hope really does spring eternal:

"We are hopeful that the Government of Canada will look at what our province is doing to make rates more equitable and reasonable for travelers, and apply it to the way in which they manage and apply rates to Marine Atlantic."
To which Stephen Harper should promptly reply to Williams Government: "done!"

The new Strait of Belle Isle tariff of $50.50 for a return trip by car and driver works out to $1.34 per nautical mile, or $0.72 per kilometre for a one-way trip.

Marine Atlantic's two remaining services, connecting Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, are both cheaper for the distance. For the same car and driver in the example above, the Port aux Basques run is, at current rates, $0.59 per kilometer, and the Argentia run, $0.46 per kilometre, again, one-way.

In fact, of all the major auto ferries in Canada, only the three Sir Robert Bond routes (Goose Bay-Lewisporte, Lewisporte-Cartwright, Cartwright-Goose Bay), and one off-peak Vancouver Island discount fare, are cheaper, for the distance, than the Marine Atlantic Argentia run. One other off-peak Vancouver Island discount fare, and off-peak fare for the Souris ferry to the Magdalen Islands, are the only other ones cheaper, for the distance, than the Port aux Basques run.

Marine Atlantic is, per nautical mile, cheaper than every other major Canadian. Cheaper than all of BC Ferries Vancouver Island and coastal services. Cheaper than all of the St. Lawrence River ferries, public and private. Cheaper than the Magdalen Islands runs, and the various services which connect Maine and the Maritimes.

And the Confederation Bridge? $1.57 per kilometre for half a return trip.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Averill Baker à deux vitesses

Averill Baker writes in her latest journalistic effort:
The letter will soon appear and each party leader — Harper, Dion, Layton and May — will have to respond to Premier Williams on specific issues relating to Newfoundland and Labrador.

And God help them if they tell a lie and become prime minister — the wrath of Danny Williams will descend upon them.
Whose wrath, then, will come down on Danny Wiliams, who has his own record of telling lies, and in writing, too boot?

Certainly not Averill's.

Let's go back through out-migration

As a Census Eve special, for the record, from the pages of Hansard of May 21, 2002, here's a classic rant from Danny Williams, tying the Voisey's Bay agreement, with interruptions and the Hansard editor's excess baggage shedded:

MR. WILLIAMS: What about us, Mr. Speaker? What about Newfoundland and Labrador? What about the jobs here, Mr. Speaker? That is what we need to concentrate on, not 300 jobs in Sudbury, not 1,000 jobs in Thompson.

Let’s go through out-migration, Mr. Speaker. Let’s talk about what has happened in our communities in the last five years when 40,000 people have left our Province. Let’s look at the percentages over the last five years. In Portugal Cove South, 21.4 per cent of the people have left. In St. Shotts, 31 per cent of the people have left. In Aquaforte, 22.7 per cent of the people have left. In Peter’s River, St. Vincent’s, St. Stephens, 24.3 per cent of the people have left our Province. In Gaskiers, 21.5 per cent.

I am going to continue on, Mr. Speaker. I know it is difficult for hon. members opposite, but we are going to go through some of this list. In Sunnyside, 23.2 per cent of the people have left. In Heart’s Desire, 25.3 per cent. In Cupids, 13 per cent. In Ricketts [sic, i.e. Brigus] ,13 per cent. In Lawn,18.6 per cent. In Lamaline, 21.4 per cent. In Fox Cove, Bay L’Argent, Grand Le Pierre: 14 per cent, 15 per cent and 10 per cent. In Rushoon, 18 per cent of the people have left our Province. In Gaultois, 24.1 per cent in the last five years have left Newfoundland and Labrador. In Milltown, 21.4 per cent. In Morrisville, 22 percent. In Ramea, 30 per cent of the people, one third of the people of Ramea, have had to leave our Province and this government is going to send jobs to Sudbury and Thompson, Manitoba. Shame on all of you!

In Cape St. George, 15.4 per cent. In Lourdes, 14.2 per cent. In Port au Port West, Aguathuna, 15.2 per cent. In Jackson’s Arm, 10.6 per cent. In Howley, 19.3 per cent. In Hampden, 16.4 per cent. In Norris Arm, 16.3 per cent. In Little Catalina, 16.2 per cent. In Elliston, Catalina and Bonavista, 21.9 per cent, 13 per cent and 11 per cent have left in those communities. In Traytown, 18.3 per cent have left. In Happy Adventure, 14 per cent. In St. Brendan’s, 21.8 per cent. In Melrose, 13.7 per cent. In Carmanville, 12.6 per cent. In Fogo, 18.2 per cent. In Change Islands, 21.7 per cent. If I may, Mr. Speaker, I will continue. In Summerford, Twillingate and Campbellton, 11.2 per cent, 11.6 per cent and 12 per cent have left these three communities.

In Little Burnt Bay, 24.3 per cent. In Point Leamington, 12.5 per cent. In Little Bay Islands, 27.9 per cent. In Beachside, 27.2 per cent. In Tilt Cove, 23.1 per cent. In La Scie, 15.2 per cent. In Seal Cove, White Bay, one out of four, 25.5 per cent have left their community in the last five years. In Coachman’s Cove, 30.8 per cent. In Westport, 24.5 per cent. In Englee, 16.1 per cent. In Conche, 23.8 per cent. In Daniel’s Harbour, Cow Head and Parson’s Pond, 18.6 per cent, 23.2 per cent and 19.4 per cent. In Bird Cove, Bide Arm and Main Brook, three of probably the most beautiful communities in the entire Province, 17.7 per cent, 23.4 per cent and 15.8 per cent of the people in those communities have had to leave their beautiful homes and their beautiful communities to go find jobs elsewhere.

We will do two more: Sally’s Cove, 30.2 per cent. Again, one out of three, Mr. Speaker, and Bellburns, nearly the same, 29.9 per cent.

I have probably named one-tenth of the communities, at maximum, on that list. People are leaving in droves, 40,000 people, equivalent to turning off the lights in Mount Pearl and the lights in Corner Brook and calling her quits in those two communities. That is how relative it is. That is how big it is. That is how significant it is, and that is the level of mismanagement of this government.

So, Mr. Speaker, when I talk about jobs, when our party talks about jobs, when the Opposition talks about the creation of jobs in this Province and the importance of Voisey’s Bay, that is why it is important. That is why it is so important. Three-hundred jobs in any of those communities, or near any of those communities, or sprinkled through those communities, would be a tremendous boost to their economies. That is why it is so important, and that is just this year in Sudbury alone.

Note, for the time being, the following:

1. While Danny talks of "outmigration", and how many people have "left", strictly speaking, he's wrong. The figures he quotes are for population change. There are four inputs into calculating that figure, of which outmigration is just one. In-migration is another, and just as there are many people who have left the province, many have either moved to it (or moved back.)

The other two factors, of course, are births and deaths. For interest's sake, here's a chronological graph of both Natural Change (births minus deaths) and Net Migration (in-migration minus outmigration) for Newfoundland and Labrador (click to enlarge):

Looking at the out-migration factor in isolation, without regard for in-migration and the sum of the two, net migration, is a fundamental error. From 1972 to 2005 inclusive, over 416,353 people move out of of NL to other parts of Canada, an alarming figure... but during the same period, 301,941 move in (or back.) And that's not even considering international immigration and emigration. The domestic net-migration figure is -114,412, which until recently, as compensated for by a large rate of births over deaths. (For a fuller discussion, see "According to the innumerate Premier's office" from January 2.)

Stephen Maher of the Chronicle-Herald, with the best of intentions, recently made the same error.

And looking at population change figures, and attributing them entirely to out-migration, is a bigger error still.

2. Even if the population declines listed above were due entirely to people moving out of those communities, not all of that population decline can be attributed to interprovincial out-migration. A person leaving Bird Cove for St. John's reduces the population of Bird Cove by one, and increases the population of St. John's by one, but leaves the provincial population unchanged.

It's true that interprovincial net outmigration has, over the past decade, averaged about 5,000 more people leaving than arriving. And it's also true that interprovincial outmigration has disproportionately affected rural areas, although, until recently, the discrepency between St. John's and the rest of the province was not all that noticeable. With about 35% of the population, as recently as 2001 St. John's provided about 25% of the net outmigration loss; by 2003, that had shrunk to 9%. In fact, St. John's was, in 2003 (the most recent year for stats) on the verge of having net domestic in-migration; factoring in international movements, with more people immigrating to St. John's than emigrating outside Canada, the metro area already had overall net in-migration.

But just as significantly — and this is a fact that has largely gone un-noticed — a large proportion of rural out-migration is within the province. In 2000, rural areas lost a net 3,300 people to other parts of Canada, but also a net 1,000 people to the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area.

By 2003, however, the net rural out-migration to St. John's (1415 net persons) was larger than the net rural out-migration out of province (1388 net persons). Rural areas' loss was, and is, in large part, the northeast Avalon's gain, and every one of those people gained by the St. John's area, while contributing to rural population decline, helped stave off provincial population decline.

3. Danny attributes the population declines in many dozens of communities between 1996 and 2001 to the "mismanagement" of the former provincial Liberal government. Quaere, will he take the credit, and accept the blame, for the five-year population change which the 2006 census of population are about to describe?

4. Note the early attestation of the Royal We.