labradore

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Williams doing great job: Williams

From a Rob Antle report in today's Telegram:
"I don't guide myself, or our government doesn't guide ourselves, by what Premier McGuinty does, or Prime Minister Harper does, or anyone else in the country does. We're running our own show down here, and we do it as we see fit, and I think we're doing a great job."

What they said

From another traipse into the memory hole:

Conservative resolution suggests smaller government
Tracy Barron

Some Tory delegates are looking to clean House, literally, if the party rises to power.

A resolution on the party's annual convention floor in St. John's this weekend calls for the number of MHAs to be cut by 18 and cabinet by seven.

The Exploits District Association submitted the resolution, which states that the size of government in relation to the population is far too large and is a financial burden.

The association calls on the party, if elected, to reduce that burden by cutting the number of MHAs to 30 and the cabinet to 12.

It's a drastic downsizing from the current 48-member House of Assembly and 19-member cabinet.

Danny Williams, who will be officially sworn-in [sic] as party leader this afternoon, hadn't seen the resolution Friday afternoon and wouldn't comment on whether he'd support it.

"I would have to say it would be one of my goals, but, at this point, I can't get out in front of it because I'm not far enough along in the plan for the province," Williams said. "We're basically going to look at a whole new plan for government."

- The Telegram, April 7, 2001


That's a pretty small backbench

Take away four, add five. No, we're not talking about that most confusing of things, the province's new elementary school math programming. This is about the new provincial cabinet.

...

On Monday, Premier Grimes dropped the other shoe, and appointed not four, but five new cabinet ministers — even though he mused recently that a smaller cabinet might be a good idea.

Cabinet now has 19 members; with 27 Liberals in the House of Assembly and four former cabinet ministers waiting for an election call so they can retire to their pensions, that means there are only four Liberals left in the entire caucus who aren't cabinet material.

It is pretty blatant pocket-stuffing, because cabinet ministers, along with everything else, pick up an additional $44,829 in annual salary. A 19-member cabinet costs taxpayers $868,755 in additional annual salaries for ministers, while a 12-member cabinet would cost just $554,952 -- a savings of $313,803.

But what you might not think about as often is that the costs involved with new cabinet members aren't just the obvious ones like salary. Each minister has office staff, office equipment and a host of other expenses that, based on past experience with the Grimes administration, will range anywhere from $200,000 to more than $500,0000.

And the expenses don't end there. There are also the significant costs of our province's ever-increasing pension payouts for former cabinet ministers and MHAs.

We are the electorate that just keeps on paying.

The sad thing is, this would have been an opportune time to reduce the size of the cabinet.

What an opportunity lost.

The fact remains that, quite simply, not every MHA deserves the job or can handle the responsibility of being a government minister. And we can't afford a cabinet with 19 chairs around the table — not that a province this size even needs such a beast.

The idea of the cabinet is to have a small group of senior and experienced politicians who handle the most serious policy decisions that a government is supposed to make. It's not simply another place for the entire caucus to meet under a new name, and with larger take-home salaries than most people earn in the province those cabinet members were elected to serve.

Premier Grimes said again Tuesday that he is committed to reducing the size of cabinet -- but he won't address it until after the next election.

That promise has the ring of a pledge made by a Grade 1 student to do his math homework ... tomorrow.

And every parent knows how much faith you can put in that little chestnut.

-From The Telegram editorial, February 18, 2003



William's choice of ministers meets with approval

A number of groups have expressed their pleasure with the new cabinet and minister appointments announced by Premier Danny Williams when he was sworn in as the province's ninth premier on Thursday.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) likes the idea of a leaner cabinet as well as the announcement of a business portfolio.

Bradley George, Newfoundland and Labrador's spokesperson for CFIB, believes the premier, by reducing the size of the cabinet, has done more than simply follow through on an election promise.

"The premier has taken the first step towards controlling government spending," George said. "By having a leaner cabinet, the premier has sent the message that he intends to manage a more cost-effective government."

- The Western Star, November 8, 2003


Thin edges and wedges

When you were a kid, were you ever a member of a secret club? Remember how, after a few weeks or so, just being a member wasn't enough, and you had to have some sort of title, like president or vice-president?

Thank goodness you grew up.

There is a small change in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador today, one so small thatyou probably hardly even noticed it. Bonavista North MHA Harry Harding has become the legislative adviser to Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne.

Now, for those who aren't familiar with the way the provincial government works, after an election, there are a whole bunch of MHAs in the MHA club. A select few — well, sometimes a few, and sometimesmany more than we can afford — get named to the provincial cabinet, where they get extra duties and extra perks, and where, along with their ministerial entourages, they cost the taxpayers as much as $500,000 per year, per minister.

Others get named as Parliamentary assistants; they don't get as much extra money as cabinet ministersdo, but their particular top-ups do cost taxpayers close to $24,000 a year in additional salary. Still others work for committees where they get interesting per diems.
...

When Danny Williams became premier, he vowed to cut the size of cabinet, and he did. Nineteen cabinet ministers in the last Liberal administration became just 14 under Williams.

Williams also appointed five of his backbenchers as Parliamentary assistants, a move that costs the taxpayers an additional $125,000 a year.

Now, only a few months in, and Williams hasappointed his first legislative assistant.

The last time the province had this particular type of assistance was in 1999, when the same title was bestowed on Jim Walsh by Brian Tobin.

...

No one's nose should be out of joint because they are just a backbencher, being an MHA is an honourable position — one you would think incumbents would be proud to hold. MHAs are the building-blocks of the House, and their votes on policy count just as much as anyone else's.

It is already an esteemed and privileged club, one that doesn't need more high potentates or official chief bottle-washers.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

And too many "special" positions are bound to leave a bad taste in voters' mouths.
- From The Telegram editorial, July 7, 2004
Oh, Tracy Barron, Bradley George... where are youse now?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prompt? Public? Access?

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled coal-raking of Our Dear Premier over his provincial cabinet flip-floppery to bring you this:

Bond Papers has a very good point:

Focus instead on the line in the Progressive Conservative campaign platform that promised to "implement the recommendations of the task force on the not-for-profit sector."

Actually, it said continue to implement.

Odd that there is no public record of such a task force anywhere.

For the record, and for the umpteenth time, the PC 2003 election platform promised that a PC government led by Our Dear Premier would:
release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet.
Why has the task force report, if it, or the task force ever existed to begin with, not been published on the provincial government intertubes? (And especially now that the province owns an equity stake in said tubes.)

Where's the report?

Now that a cabinet office has been created based on it, where's the report?

WHERE? IS? THE? REPORT?

What he said

[Williams] said Grimes broke his longstanding promise to reduce the size of his cabinet, which Williams sees as further evidence of continued strife within the Liberal party.

"This (party) has now lost nine senior ministers over the last two years: Brian Tobin, Beaton Tulk, Paul Dicks, Chuck Furey, John Efford, Lloyd Matthews, Sandra Kelly, Ernie McLean and Kevin Aylward. That's a significant amount of experience that has not been replaced in the Liberal caucus," Williams said.

"These nine resignations provided Roger with ample opportunity to reduce his cabinet but he has been unable to do so because of internal problems. Numerous members threatened to resign or not run again if they weren't appointed to cabinet. The premier had no choice but to hold cabinet positions as political plums for his entire caucus."

- Will Hilliard, reporting in the St. John's Telegram, February 18, 2003


Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech reduced the size of Cabinet to no more than one-third of the number of electoral districts, which would allow for sixteen Cabinet ministers including the Premier; yet, a brief glance at members opposite shows eighteen Cabinet ministers plus the Premier. In fact, almost every member opposite who plans to run again, currently has a Cabinet portfolio.

My question for the Premier is: If he is sincere about reducing the size of his Cabinet, why didn’t he take the opportunity to lead by example and implement that principle when he recently shuffled his Cabinet? Shouldn’t the Premier practice what he preaches?



Opposition Leader Danny Williams said Thursday Grimes should have led by example and reduced the cabinet in his recent shuffle.

Williams said he'd cut cabinet, too.

"We would certainly reduce cabinet. As to the exact number, that's not something I've really finalized," he said.

- From an unattributed news brief in the St. John's Telegram, March 21, 2003


Williams intends to introduce a "new, leaner" cabinet, but has not decided what its exact size will be.

- Barb Sweet, reporting in the St. John's Telegram, October 23, 2003

Representation Inflation for the ProudStrongDetermiNation

Our Dear Cabinet: a first, visual, impression:

[Data source: Executive Council press releases, 1996-present]

It has taken Danny Williams just four years to inflate his Government Member's Bill to just one ministerial post shy of the Grimes-era record. And it's already as big as the eighteen-member cabinet he once vilified and ridiculed on the floor of the House of Assembly (back in the days when he actually attended) and in the press.

More on that, anon.

And caveat lector: the number of Parliamentary Secretaries for January has arbitrarily set at five. Those posts may have been shuffled around then, and again in April. The Grand Falls-Winsor Advertiser reported on April 12th of this year that Clayton Forsey, in being appointed PC whip, "will take over this position from Conception Bay South MHA Terry French, who assumed the role of parliamentary secretary to the minister of human resources, labour and employment. "

Our Dear Premier, who runs The Most Open And Accountable Government In The Galaxy, never bothered to issue a statement on the PS postings at the times they, and their attendant stipends, were shuffled.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kudos to the MoT

This corner likes to poke fun at VOCM, and, sometimes — OK, often — poke a little bit more than just fun.

But the Ministry of Truth, in addition to having long had a live stream of its broadcast day, has now added on-demand audio of its newsroom pieces to many of its website news scripts. That's a welcome addition to the local media and news universes.

Good on VOCM and its web genies for making the leap.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Money, money, money

Item: province to post $500-million surplus.

Question: given that oil money is only as green as any other kind of money, what would the surplus be, but for the revenues that the province receives from the "giveaway" Voisey's Bay project?

Further question: where are the loopholes that, famously, you can drive a Mack truck through?

All the news that's fit to read

For a short time yesterday, the Ministry of Truth had the following story published to their web site:
Unexpected Visitor - Oct 24, 2007

Years ago, it was common for the Russians to test defense response by flying near North American air space. Now, people in Labrador are talking about a case this year. 5 Wing Goose Bay union representative Howard Bishop told VOCM Night Line with Linda Swain on August 17th a Russian plane was flying in Labrador airspace without permission. Bishop says by the time the F18s arrived on the scene, the Russian craft was over Goose Bay. Bishop says all this is just another reason government should implement the rapid action battalion at 5 Wing. Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Leo Abbass told VOCM Night Line with Linda Swain had also heard of an incident, but slightly different than that of the union official. Abbass does say the F18s remained in Goose Bay for several days after the incident. He says there are currently 6 of the fighter planes from Baggotville at the base.
By around lunch time, however, the story had been spiked. And why? The follow-up report to the "Baggotville" [sic] story offers a clue:
DND Says F-18s to Likely Leave Goose Bay Soon
October 25, 2007

The Department of National Defence says the F-18 jets that have been at CFB Goose Bay are only there because of repairs underway at their home base of CFB Bagotville, and they will likely soon be returning there. There had been suggestions they were positioned at Goose Bay to be scrambled as Russian aircraft tested North American air space. NORAD spokesperson Captain Steve Neta says the Goose Bay temporary relocation had nothing to do with defence concerns. Neta says the F-18s have not been conducting surveillance on Russian activity. The Canadians have merely been training, the same as they would be doing in Bagotville. Meantime, Transportation Minister John Hickey says the base is a strategic site and should have military assets on a permanent basis.

A military official is outright denying a report that a Russian surveillance aircraft, refusing to identify itself, flew into Canadian airspace on August 17th. 5 Wing Goose Bay union representative Howard Bishop told VOCM Night Line this week planes were scrambled from Bagotville to deal with that. NORAD spokesperson Captain Steve Neta denies the story. He says at no time did an aircraft without permission, violate Canadian air space. The Russian Air Force has stepped up activity since President Vladimir Putin's government boosted military funding and revived training exercises. But Neta says there has been no indication of increased bomber flights off Canada's east coast. Neta says the Russians have a right to conduct military exercises, and have done so in international air space, in a very professional way.
This episode might teach VOCM's newsroom a lesson about the very real hazards of relying on open-line show callers for purportedly fact-driven stories (as opposed to the more-legitimate, if still lazy journalism, of the "MHA-calls-for-review-of-ambulance-situation" or "Hilldale-resident-spots-albino-moose" stories that often stem from VOCM callers.)

Yes, it might.

But it probably won't.

Disposable democracy

According to the preliminary figures from Elections Newfoundland and Labrador (.pdf document), 1026 people spoiled their ballots in the late provincial election, and that with the election being deferred or cancelled in two of forty-eight districts.

That is the largest number of spoiled ballots since the 1034 recorded in 1982 — another landslide PC win on a wave of jingoist-nationalist rhetoric — and the fourth-highest ever.

Well, the fifth, really — there were 1027 spoiled ballots in 1956, but in 2007 there's still one district left for at least two people to spoil their ballots in.

In percentage terms, the spoiled ballots were nearly half a percent — 0.47% — of all ballots cast. That's the highest rate since the 0.48% recorded in 1972, and the highest in the post-Smallwood era.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Facts

The Independent, where real journalists are an endangered species, if not already extirpated, doesn't bother with pesky things like facts. (See below.)

The Telegram, where there still are a few quality ink-stained wretches kicking about, probably illegally smoking in their cubicles or some such, still cares, and cares that others care, about facts.

And in arguing the case for facts, today's editorialist makes a funny:
Sending in the clowns and announcing a conspiracy — especially against sitting judges who can't answer the insult — is the last refuge of scoundrels.
That it is, that it is. "Scoundrels", indeed.

Truthiness

Ryan Cleary, in full separatist flight this week, writes:
The truth is we don’t have much to show for 58 years of Confederation.
No, Ryan.

That is not "the truth."

Comparative government

The City of St. John’s has a population of 101,000. It collects approximately $135-million in taxes and several millions more in other, non-tax revenue. It receives $17-million in transfers and grants from the other orders of government. It spends about $165-million on programs, services, and capital expenses. It has approximately 1200 to 1400 direct employees, depending on the time of year.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a population of 506,000. It collects approximately $3.8-billion in provincial taxes and other direct provincial revenues. It receives $1.5-billion in federal transfer payments. It spends over $5.2-billion on programs, services, and capital expenses. It has approximately 10,000 direct provincial civil service employees, plus jurisdiction over another 16,000 employees in health and social service institutions, 6,500 in post-secondary education institutions, and over 9,000 teachers and other school board employees, for a total provincial public sector of nearly 42,000 people.

In three of the past seven calendar years, and for the past two years consecutively (this year included) St. John’s City Council has held more meetings than the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly has held sittings.

In 2005, the House of Assembly out-sat St. John’s City Council by one day, 45 to 44.

In 2006, St. John’s out-met the provincial legislature 45 to 40.

In 2007, that figure is 35 to 33 in favour of the City.

In the past seven years, St. John’s City Council has met a cumulative total of 305 times.

The House of Assembly, during the same period, has had 303 daily sittings.

City Council will meet all through the fall and early winter.

The House of Assembly will not.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A tale of two subsidies

Kathy Blunderdale is disappointed in Kruger:
“We met with Kruger officials last week and told them very clearly that this was unacceptable. We reminded the company of the support it has received from this government. In the last two years, we have provided over $30 million in assistance to the pulp and paper industry in this province…”
A year ago, almost exactly, Danny Williams was quoted by Jamie Baker, in the October 24th edition of The Telegram, with regards to the long-term power rates enjoyed by the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador West:
“The half-cent, from our perspective, it’s a renewal of a deal that’s very similar to the Upper Churchill contract,” Williams told The Telegram Monday, suggesting the company is “virtually getting their power for nothing.”



“This is a very, very good deal that they had, which is a contract that has been in place, basically, since the 1970s,” he said. “Major industries now are prepared to pay at least two cents from what I understand. A half cent is just not in the ballpark.

“There’s a lot more to this than just turning around, signing on the dotted line and rolling over for a big company.”
At least, thanks to Blunderdale, we now know the size of the “ballpark”.

It’s $30-million big.

At least, that’s how big it is for Corner Brook, and how far the Danny Williams government was willing to “roll over” for that area’s “big company”, Kruger.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Parliamentary System

Bob Wakeham, his bio says, "has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador".

Not much of those three decades has been spent learning about the niceties of the Westminster model and the Canadian constitution:

The Liberals then launched a decade-long reign of power (under Wells, his legacy dominated by a national issue, the scuttling of the Meech Lake Accord; then Brian Tobin, the mouth, and the most unabashedly ambitious politician this province has ever seen, Confederation Building a pad to launch himself upalong into politics and business; and then Roger Grimes, the winner of a nasty leadership race who'll always be remembered for manipulating the parliamentary system to stay in power much longer than he had a right to).
This corner is no great defender of Roger Grimes, but this is absolute hogwash on Wakeham's part.

Under "the parliamentary system", the Premier is the person who has the confidence of the House. In more manageable, real-world terms, that is the person who leads the majority, or at least largest, party caucus. After he won the leadership of his party, that person, the person with "the right" to be in power, was Roger Grimes. End of Chapter One.

Chapter Two: The Constitution Act, 1982, provides:

4. (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.

(2) In time of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, a House of Commons may be continued by Parliament and a legislative assembly may be continued by the legislature beyond five years if such continuation is not opposed by the votes of more than one-third of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be.
Roger Grimes had the "right", under the constitution, to stay in power until February 2004. Exceptionally for a "pallbearer" government, federal or provincial, of any stripe, he went to the polls earlier than he was constitutionally required to. Nothing in the parliamentary system was "manipulated".*

End of chapter. End of story.


----

* Well, not until the "fixed election date" bill came in, but that's another story altogether.

Leave taking

Bill Rowe takes leave from his column.

Pam Frampton takes leave from reality:

We elected paternalistic types like Joey Smallwood, Don Jamieson and Frank Moores — the kind of politician who would pat you on the head or chuck you under the chin and tell you everything would be all right.

We were waiting for the messiah, and there were many false sightings.

We trusted Brian Peckford to fight our battles with Ottawa. We hoped Clyde Wells would help us regain our financial footing, and our dignity. We put our faith in Brian Tobin when we needed someone to smooth the way forward.

Election campaigns were still old-school — fried chicken, brass bands and baby-kissing. Orchestrated drama and on-cue enthusiasm.

Thankfully, all that’s changing.

New attitude

Danny Williams’ wild popularity is due, in large part, to the fact that he appeals to our sense of pride and independence, and our determination to see prosperity. He preaches that the solution lies not with him, but with us.

Our parents’ politics just don’t cut it anymore.

"Our parents' politics", "old-school" election campaigns, "on-cue enthusiasm", "paternalism", and "false sightings" of the "messiah" were never as prominent in the past thirty-seven years as they have been in the last thirty-seven months.

Not even during the most hail-the-conquering-hero days of Brian Tobin.

Not even during the most nationalist-jingoist-where-I-stand nonsense that was Brian Peckford, before he discovered "our" taste for cucumbers.

Not even during the most triumphal by-the-short-hairs Meech episode under Clyde Wells.

And here, in November 2007, Danny Williams is easily poised to displace Joey Smallwood, if he hasn't already, as the most corrosive political cult of personality that the province has ever seen.

Exhibit A: Pam Frampton.

Literary news

Bill Rowe takes leave of his column — the soap-box from which he preached Newfoundland separation from Canada, Labrador separation from Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador union with Quebec, which would then separate from Canada, and the relocation of the provincial capital to somewhere more central, like Brasilia — in order to write a book:
Therefore, over the next number of months, I’m going to write about my interlude in that artificial capital, away from real life, during a period that corresponded with the dramatic buildup, climax and conclusion of the Atlantic Accord negotiations between Premier Danny Williams and Prime Minister Paul Martin and their assorted minions. I’ll be attempting, no punches pulled, to provide insights for the future into the kinds of persons, attitudes and actions that helped or hindered our little province in its dealings with a powerful and largely uncaring Ottawa.
Should be a real page-turner.

Both of them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

November

Wonder of wonders.

Today on On the Go, CBC’s Mike Rossiter challenged Tom Rideout – Our Dear Premier being, as usual, too busy with important other Premier stuff – about the delayed opening of that great time-waster, the House of Assembly. Rideout responded:
First of all, if we were going to convene the legislature right away after the election, we have to wait until members are certified as been [sic] elected; that can’t happen legally until the 25th of October. Then the House has to be sworn in, cabinet has to be sworn in, we can’t start the House after an election without a Throne Speech, so we’d have to have a Throne Speech prepared, so by the time you get all that done logistically, you’re well into November, perhaps getting up towards the end of November. So if you look at it from that perspective, it’s a difficult time with new ministers and new members and so on coming on.
“Well into November”, “towards the end of November”. Terrible, awful times to conduct the affairs of state. Right?

Well, on this point, Rideout may not be backuppable.

In 2004, the fall sitting of the Bow-Wow Parliament started on November 22nd.

In 2005, it began on November 21st.

In 2006, on November 20th.

Time, time!

David Cochrane, on CBC Here and Now’s political panel last night, excuses the much-delayed opening of the House of Assembly in these terms:

The same thing happened in 2003. There’s just not enough time to get your new cabinet, get ‘em all up to speed, have a Throne Speech and a legislative agenda ready.
“The same thing” happened in 2003, David, because, as you may recall, the incumbent government was defeated.

In the interim, the fixed-election date – sorry, fixed election-date – bill was introduced into the House of Assembly on November 29, 2004, receiving Royal Assent less than three weeks later. Everyone, Danny Williams and David Cochrane included, knew when the 2007 election would be held, and knew it for the past three years.

Not enough time?

Oh, come on.

It’s hard at this point to say what’s more pathetic:

The sorry state of democratic institutions in Dannystan.

The sorry excuses that Our Dear Premier – scratch that, as per usual, as a potentially controversial piece of news he got one of Our Dear Ministers to announce and defend it – used to justify the delayed opening.

Or that there are journalists who are willing to swallow The Party line, hook, line, and sinker, over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

irResponsible Government as it exists in 2007

Three years ago, Jonathon Gatehouse wrote for Macleans:

A 25-year career in business and law as absolute ruler of his own fiefdoms qualified [Danny] Williams for politics, but it didn't prepare him. He still bristles at the "wasted time" in the House, and the daily distractions that take him away from the real work of governing.

He "bristles" at time wasted in the House.

The institution he was elected to, three times now.

The institution that is constitutionally required to sit once a year.

The institution to which he and his government are, under the Westminster model, responsible — whence, Danny, the "Responsible", in the "Responsible Government as it existed prior to 1934" option that you not-so-secretly wish had won in 1948.

Yes, he bristles, alright.

But now that there are no more constituency-allowance cheques to hand out, what is that "real work of governing" that is keeping Our Dear Open and Accountable Government from being, y'know, open and accountable?

The latest from Mr. Accountability

When Len Simms was appointed chairperson and chief executive officer of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation in 2005, the announcement neglected to mention the fact that Mr. Simms’ term would expire just in time for him to rejoin the PC party campaign team.

And, curiously, even though “the premier's office said Simms's contract had expired,” neither said Premier’s office, nor NLHC itself, bothered to go on the record about it.

Said Premier’s office was more than happy to announce though, that by some happy coincidence, now that that pesky “election” is out of the way, Mr. Simms has been “appointed” to his old post. (Obviously not “re-appointed”, because, at the time of his “appointment”, he didn’t hold the office.)

The appointment, we are informed, is effective immediately.

The end-date of the appointment, once again, is not given.

However, we are given the following bit of information:

He [Simms] was appointed Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation in February, 2005. In accordance with Provincial Government policy, he resigned from that position on September 10 to participate in the recent provincial election campaign.

So here’s a good question for the open and accountable government’s PR flack (hi, Liz!) whose name is attached to today’s press release: when does Len Simms’ contract expire this time? And why did he resign from that position on September 10, when, according to the CBC report of September 12, “the premier's office said Simms's contract had expired”?

For reference, the next election, per the “fixed election” amendment of 2004, will be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2011.

Ms. Matthews’ co-ordinates are:

Media contact:
Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960, 351-1227
elizabethmatthews@gov.nl.ca

He's back!

Who's back?

Len's back!

Say what?

Better to give than to receive

From the Green report, at pp. 10-50-1:
As in the case of any citizen, Members should be able to make a donation privately from personal funds to whomever they consider needs it. One has to be careful, however, to ensure that more wealthy Members should not be able to obtain an advantage in promoting their own political position by making substantial personal donations, thereby placing financial pressure on less well off Members to do the same. In my view, the effects of this potential inequity can be reduced by requiring that when a Member makes a personal donation he or she should do so without reference to the fact that he or she is a Member of the House; in other words, it is to be made in a personal capacity only. It is true that many people might nevertheless recognize the name and make the connection with the Member’s public position. There is little that can be done about that if the connection is made from general knowledge in the community. However, the Member should not actively promote dissemination of information about the connection when making the donation.
So... where does this, and the new rules, leave the Williams Family Foundation?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blue skies

Left: Our Dear Party's Our Dear 2007 Election Platform. Right: As Our Dear, Childish, Premier would say, "Steve's" Speech from the Throne.

"Strong."


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our Dear Political Scientist

My, but Professor Michael Temelini sounds an awful lot like Our Dear Premier's, and Jack Layton's, talking points.

The N-word

"It's not political correctness. It's just not a term most Newfoundlanders find pleasant to hear.'' — Bill Rowe, on the N-word, in today's Ottawa Citizen.

"Newfoundland is one of the best kept secrets in the world. As a Newfie patriot I feel this province has a lot to offer. We're on the move." — Our Dear Premier, using the N-word, in the Financial Post, September 13, 1999

Democracy, Dictatorship... or Danocracy?

Harper's attempts to "control the news media"? Bad, says Myles at freenewfoundlandlabrador.

Political cults? Ditto.
One of the most important actions of any successful dictatorship is to control the masses.

The easiest and best way to accomplish that task is to control the news media.

...

Why did Saddam Hussein plaster giant pictures of himself around Iraq?

Why did Hitler
* hold mass public cult like rallies with hundreds of thousands in attendance?

...

Perhaps, for example, if you were leading the Canadian government you could simply refuse to talk to certain “unfriendly” reporters and, by using them as an example, force the rest to fall in line.

...

It doesn't always take a political upheaval to turn a democracy into a dictatorship, sometimes all that's required are a series of small baby steps.
Funny: does anyone recall Myles Higgin's outrage at Danny's efforts, and those of his minions, shills, and intermediaries, to create his own cult of personality?

Has Myles Higgins ever waxed — well, eloquent is not the word — has he ever just plain waxed about Danny Williams Administration NewfoundlandLabrador's use or withholding of government advertising to reward or punish media outlets, depending?

Where was Myles when Danny refused to speak to Ryan Cleary and the Independent, or certain, insufficiently pliable journalists at one of the provincial daily papers? Or after Craig Westcott revealed his disturbing account of events on the Telegram's website?

Where has Myles been as VOCM, and, to a lesser degree, even the CBC phone-in shows and viewer response lines, have been turned into well-orchestrated two-hour hates against whatever Danny hates, or into well-scripted — literally, scripted — pro-Danny love-ins?

It's bad enough that Danny the Projector condemns in others the type of behaviour he engages in himself.

It's even worse that the Dannyfans are now doing the same.


---

* And ooooh lookie! A Hitler reference! Isn't that bad when others, especially those nefarious Liberals, do it?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why "Dan" hates "Steve"

It's not that they are so different.

It's that they're so much the same.

Feschuk writes:
But hand Stephen Harper lemons and he'll order someone to make him lemonade — which he'll then shove aside, grunting, "I asked for iced tea, dammit." The Prime Minister managed to find a bright side to the supersized surplus — it was proof positive of how, by being exactly the same as the Liberals, he is completely different from the Liberals.

That may sound contradictory, but not in Harper's world. And really — wouldn't it be great to live in Stephen Harper's world? It is a world where yours is the only voice; a world defined by a strict ethical code that, happily, applies only to others; a world where hypocrisy is rank and detestable — except for your own hypocrisy, which is very pretty and smells like spearmint. Also in Stephen Harper's world: donuts have, like, three calories and Abba never broke up. Truly, it is a paradise.
And there, mutatis mutandis, you have Danny Williams as well.

The challenge of mathematical education

A funny letter from Sunday's Telegram:

I think getting Danny Williams back in is the best thing since Joey. I would love to see the province do a 360-degree turn. It would be nice to see us Newfoundlanders have to go back to fill the employment positions, and for those remaining to be employed.I have a lot of faith in that man and what he is about to do to our province. Honesty is what he is all about. All of us who had to move to the west to work, hopefully we can go back home to settle.

Good luck, Danny, and we all know out here in Alberta that you are what the province needs.

Sonia Hann
Edmonton, Alta.

Feeds Danny's messiah complex? Check.

Confirms that the collective search for a saviour is alive and well? Check.

Desperate hopes regarding outmigration? Check.

Inherently Virtuous Newfoundland Syndrome (of course it will be returning expatriate Chosen, and not The Unworthy Others, filling any future jobs...)? Check.

Reference back to Joey? Check.

But that's not why the letter is so funny.

No, the letter is funny because, in inadvertantly borrowing a metaphor from a certain provincial cabinet minister, its author is, geometrically speaking, hoping for the province to continue on exactly the same course as it is now.

"360 degrees." Think, Sonia! Think!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our Dear Strategy

Again, from the Rex Murphy interview:
Our strategy for rural Newfoundland and Labrador is good schools, good hospitals, good roads, good broadband, good communication links, so that if you or someone else wants to go in and establish a business or bring your family there that you've got all the basics you need to communicate and inter-react with the rest of the world and keep your family safe.
Our strategy? Sure.

Just as long as, at least in Labrador, someone else pays for those schools, roads, and broadband.

Autonomy! one federal cost-sharing agreement at a time.

Labrador is an integral part of the province.

Pick me, voters, I'm ever so modest!

From Rex Murphy's bizarro-universe interview/hagiography of Danny Williams, some more of the megalomaniac madness of King Dan:

It's not about me, it's about me

I think our popularity is based not so much on me, it's based on the fact that I think I represent in my own heart and soul the hearts and souls of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians...

Pick me, voters, I'm ever so Irish!

I'm buoyed up by Ireland.
It's someone else's fault
The wrongs of the past motivate me, I don't think we've gotten a fair shake in the eyes of the nation, I think we've got a lot to offer.
I don't care what you say about me, as long as it's nice
So far, y'know, I take criticism well, if it's good criticism.
Too late!
I've been around politics long enough to know that there's a point of diminishing returns, sometimes where you even start to believe your own nonsense, for want of a better term.
Because those people, like Labrador "Metis", don't exist...
I am not threatened by people that are brighter, or more competent, or more experienced.

Ask a social scientician!

A bizarre line — well, one of many — from Our Dear Political Scientician, from his April interview with the NWS:
“We’re no different than the Scottish, the Welsh, the Corsicans, and Quebecers. We were a complete and functioning society prior to joining Canada. You can’t say the same thing about British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario.”
Perhaps Professor Temelini, who has drunk remarkably deep from the cup of Really Wierd Newfoundland Nationalist Jingoist-Chauvinism, even by non-CFA standards, can explain what it is that constitutes a “complete and functioning society”, how Newfoundland was complete and functioning, and how everyone else, presumably, was incomplete and malfunctioning.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The sorry state of the Fourth Estate

Danny Williams' main failing, one from which most of the others derive, is that he casts aspersions onto others that they have bad intentions or character flaws which, whether they possess them or not, Williams himself possesses.

In simple terms: he projects.

Two of the most glaring recent examples are his accusation that Stephen Harper is intent on “punishing” the province for political reasons:
“I don’t think that’s the way a prime minister should operate. If he thinks he’s punishing us by giving funds to New Brunswick, I’m not going to play that game. The childishness doesn’t become a prime minister.”
And his constant, repetitive (great talking points, Liz!) accusation about how the opposition is
“negative”, “non-constructive”, “mudslinging”, engaged in “innuendo” and “personal attacks”.
As for the first aspersion, the Normore Affair blew that one out of the water, despite Danny’s protestations to the contrary:
“This is not the way we operate. There’s not a question of any district paying at all for not being a government seat,” Williams said, adding that he was “very annoyed.”

“It hasn’t been the pattern or the policy of this government to punish districts. I saw too much of that during the years when I wasn’t in politics and just standing back as an observer,” he offered.
It should, and could, have already been easily blown out of the water by a critical look at his government’s own spending record. As noted before, this is the Williams Administration’s very partisan pattern for one major program, the Provincial Roads Improvement Program, and the district-by-district breakdown for 2007:

2006:

2005:

And 2004:

Remember the Labradore dictum: NOT(X) = X.

When Danny says, “This is not the way we operate. There’s not a question of any district paying at all for not being a government seat... It hasn’t been the pattern or the policy of this government to punish districts,” it is almost worth taking to the bank that it IS the way “we” operate, it is the way districts “pay”, and it has been the pattern of the government to “punish”.

Both of these Danny double-standards — accusing the federal government of meting out political punishment, when his own government openly engages in the practice, and accusing others of mudslinging when he is the late undefeated champion slinger of mud, inside the House and out — were encapsulated nicely in an NTV report from the dying days of the campaign:



Danny encountered what the NTV reporter described as "one dissenter who accused the Premier of favouring Tory districts road reporters"
WILLIAMS: Are you kiddin'? We're after spending $66-million —

DISSENTER: Sure you have, where at though —

WILLIAMS: — $66-million —

DISSENTER: — in your own districts.

WILLIAMS: — no no no no no no no —

DISSENTER: Jesus, Joey Smallwood before he died, he —

WILLIAMS: You're obviously a big Liberal, because —

DISSENTER: No, I'm not a big Liberal, don't talk so foolish

WILLIAMS: — there's nothing further from the truth.

DISSENTER: You're so far back in the ****ing woods you can't even —

WILLIAMS: — $66-million —

DISSENTER: — see the tops of the tall trees.

WILLIAMS: Mark your "X" for "Eddiot"! Good luck to ya.

DISSENTER: Good luck to ya', you're a bigger bluff than Santy Claus.

WILLIAMS: And he wears red, too!

WILLIAMS SUPPORTERS: Right on, Danny! Right on, Danny!
Right then and there, in any real democracy, with any real journalists present; perhaps in response to any real war-room Crackberry messages from a real opposition campaign, but hopefully the real journalists would figure out things for themselves; questions would immediately be flagged by said real journalists:
Hmmm... I wonder, is there any truth to the man’s accusation that the Premier favours government districts in road funding? And “Eddiot”? Whatever became of the Premier’s deeply-held concerns about “negative, non-constructive, mudslinging, innuendo, personal attacks”.

In that one clip, Our Dear Premier blatantly lied — denying, with seven no’s, the easily factually-rebuttable accusation of partisan favouritism — and engaged in exactly the type of behaviour that he supposedly disparages when it is engaged in by others, towards himself.

It is disgraceful enough that Our Dear Premier engages in such lies and hypocrisy.

It is far more disgraceful that no faces for TV, no voices for radio, and no ink-stained wretches ever seem to call the lying hypocrite out on it. Not even in the middle, or at the tail end, of an election campaign.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Sub-National Post

The National Post, which seems to have no circulation or staff east of Montreal, tears several strips off Our Dear Premier today:
Re-electing a clown

And to think that in the early days of his government back in 2003, we fairly gushed over the prospects of Danny Williams transforming Newfoundland and Labrador into a "have" province. Back then, though, he was pledging to wean his province off dependence on federal welfare. Instead, Mr. Williams has chosen bombast and continued addiction to Ottawa's handouts. While his militant schtick has proven wildly popular in Newfoundland — he won re-election on Tuesday with nearly 70% of the total vote — it will prove toxic to his province in the long run.

Almost from the start, Mr. Williams showed himself to be a tub-thumping populist from the Huey Long school. He stormed out of a first minsters' meeting on equalization when then-prime minister Paul Martin dared suggest equalization to have-not provinces should begin to go down once they've reached "have" status. Later, Mr. Williams ordered all Canadian flags pulled down from above Newfoundland's provincial buildings. After Stephen Harper and his Conservatives took over in 2006, Mr. Williams ran national newspaper ads against the federal government, urging people to vote "ABC" -- Anybody but Conservatives.

The Premier also likes to talk tough with the oil companies looking to develop his province's Hibernia South and Hebron offshore oil fields. This, too, has proven itself popular with voters but has cost the provincial economy hundreds of millions -- if not billions --of dollars.

Thanks to Mr. Williams' demands for "superroyalties" from the oil companies, the Hibernia field has been shelved for the foreseeable future and the Hebron field will now go ahead only because Mr. Williams swallowed his pride and made major concessions.

Like all demagogues, Mr. Williams is fond of the pronoun "I" -- as in I won the deal with the oil companies through my personal "determination and strength of conviction." If " I've accomplished anything here, I just think it's that: Pride in Newfoundland and Labrador." Only I can back down Stephen Harper. His victory speech on Tuesday evening barely acknowledged that he had a caucus and party around him.

Meanwhile, while Mr. Williams was huffing and puffing his way to victory, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald was quietly negotiating a settlement in the Ottawa-Atlantic equalization skirmish. Under terms of his deal with the Harper government, Nova Scotia may accept the new equalization formula offered in last spring's budget, or it may opt for the old formula any time it feels the new one is shortchanging the province.

The same deal is open to Mr. Williams, but he has painted himself into such a rhetorical corner to win re-election, it's hard to see how he could agree -- even though it is a better deal for his province than the one it currently has.

Mr. Williams is a character. Of that there is no doubt. But his outsized ego and inflammatory stunts are hurting the people who voted him into office.
Quick notes:

1) The comments about Danny's toxicity and hurting the people who voted him into office? Right on the money, and, some years hence, will be read as some of the most prescient things ever written about Our Dear Premier. You may not see it yet — but you will.

2) If the National Post were to bother checking its own backfile, it would find that Danny's ad campaign did not overtly call for an "ABC" vote. That was the obvious subtext, yes, but that message appears nowhere in the literal text of the ad. (Thanks to Salty Sleveen for preserving that ad for posterity.)

3) And, if the National Post had so much as a stringer in Dannystan, or had bothered to fly, drive, or boat someone in for the election campaign, it would know that Our Dear Premier's favourite pronoun isn't "I", it's the Royal "We".

Otherwise, boy, it's gonna be fun to hear Our Dear Ex-Ambassador frothing at the mouth this afternoon.

UPDATE: Bill didn't bite!

4) You can only storm out of a meeting if you storm into it in the first place.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

By the map

Last night's provisional election results, beautifully mapped. Percentages are the winning candidate's share of the provisional popular vote.

Provincial government cartographers note: THIS is how you use an inset:


Least. Predictable. Headline. Ever.

Sun Rose In East This Morning

Waterfront New Year's Act Tacky

Accord Deal for N.S.; Williams Fuming

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The first day of the rest of the second term (2)

CBC quoted Our Dear Premier on September 19th:

"So what's going to happen is that industries are going to look more to Newfoundland than Labrador to set up because there's not going to be no grid or anything for industry to set up to get cheap power," resident William Burden said.

Government officials have said that some ideas proposed for Labrador — such as diverting power from a planned transmission line to the island to the Labrador coast as well — are too expensive.

But Williams tried to ease concerns.

"When it comes to this new power, I can tell you categorically that that industry is going to be here in Labrador," Williams said.
And Terry Roberts, writing in the September 24th Telegram:
Williams promised to continue an energy rebate program to those in isolated communities and hinted at further rebates for residential and commercial customers. As for transmission to the south and north coasts of Labrador, Williams said "the enormous associated costs" make it unfeasible.

"Committing to that would be tantamount to telling you that your electricity bills will go through the roof," he said.

Williams called Labrador one of his top priorities and said the region's day has come.

"I want to make sure I allay any of your concerns," Williams told the gathering before beginning his prepared remarks. "I'd never want the people of Labrador to ever second-guess what our motives are here."

He said if there are projects that need electricity in Labrador, they will get it. He referred to the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador and the recently released energy plan as "evolving documents" that will be adapted over time as the need arises.

Your insolence will not go unpunished (2)

From today's election coverage in the Telegram:
Hickey arrived at his campaign office to a raucous crowd eagerly awaiting the results from the last Labrador district to have its MHA declared - Torngat Mountains.

But moments into Hickey's victory speech, Patty Pottle was declared the winner.

Over in Labrador West, PC incumbent Jim Baker also retained his seat.

"I'm absolutely delighted," Hickey said. "Three voices for Labrador now, that's great, that's fantastic!"
Didn't there used to be four seats in Labrador?

Making up for not running Our Dear Letter to the Editor

Our Dear Ex-Ambassador must be one of those nationalist Newfoundlanders who hasn’t read the Globe and Mail since Charles Lynch had those nasty things to say during the Meech Lake debate.

Never mind, of course, that Charles Lynch wrote for the Ottawa Citizen and the Southams.

Anyway – another exchange on today’s running of the Two-Hour Daily Hate:
Our Dear Ex-Ambassador: Every now and then you fall victim to the propaganda put out by the national press, the National Post and the Globe and Mail

Caller Norm: You know what the Globe is like, they’re trash on Newfoundland.
For the record, the editorial in the Monday edition of Toronto’s National Newspaper:
Too often, Danny Williams has heeded the advice of a beloved provincial folk song - to rant and to roar like a true Newfoundlander - to the detriment of national unity. But the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador has also eliminated the province's almost-perennial deficit, cut taxes, made peace with the offshore oil industry and embraced a policy of education and innovation in a province that has relied on employment insurance.

It is a populist and practical approach to government, and it will likely ensure another majority for his Conservatives in tomorrow's provincial election. Mr. Williams is so popular that he has openly mused about the need for a constructive opposition. "There's no benefit to me winning every seat, to be quite honest with you," he declared last month. Other provincial premiers would kill for the chance to make such a selfless proclamation.

Mr. Williams has a solid record. The province's economic growth rate could be the highest in the nation this year. His government is in the black, with a forecast surplus of $261-million in 2007-08.

His most recent budget included the largest tax reduction in provincial history, as well as practical spending on infrastructure, resource development and skills training. The former entrepreneur has worked hard to broaden the province's business base, including its tourism industry. This summer, after months of very public squabbling, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the oil industry to develop the Hebron-Ben Nevis field.

Perhaps most important, he has subtly changed Newfoundlanders' traditional image of themselves. Although he fosters the trite notion that Newfoundland is a victim of federal machinations, he has called for self-reliance through knowledge and skills on the campaign trail.

His education platform includes improvements in the mathematics curriculum and more debt relief for postsecondary students.

In contrast, Liberal Party Leader Gerry Reid has an earnest platform that devotes more time to proposals to share the wealth than to ways of producing it. The former teacher has tried to exploit resentment in poorer Labrador and in rural areas, where the population is declining as young people leave in search of jobs. In today's Newfoundland, it is an oddly anachronistic appeal.

Mr. Williams has huge faults. Upset over changes to the federal formula for transfer payments, he is waging a single-minded war against his fellow Conservative, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

His election blueprint even denounced Mr. Harper as an opponent of Newfoundland's struggle for fairness within Confederation. That is ridiculous. After transfers, Newfoundland has the second-highest fiscal capacity in the nation this year. Its per-capita program expenditures were the highest in Canada in 2005-06. Mr. Williams's over-the-top rhetoric has strained the generosity and patience of hard-pressed taxpayers in other provinces, and unnecessarily damaged Newfoundland's relations with other provinces and Ottawa.

Still, he has been a savvy and conscientious premier, opening doors to a better life for his voters. He deserves a second term.

Factually-challenged

It’s not just David Cochrane who’s having trouble with factual reality today. From the mouth of Our Dear Ex-Ambassador Bill Rowe today:
“New Brunswick doesn’t have a resource to rub together…”
Value of mineral production in 2005: New Brunswick, $935-million. Newfoundland and Labrador, $1.56-billion.

Your insolence will not go unpunished

Cartwright-L'anse au Clair, 2003:
Jones (L)          1514 (60.0%)
Normore (PC) 804 (31.9%)

Cartwright-L'anse au Clair, 2007:
Jones (L)          1736 (72.9%)
Normore (PC) 646 (27.2%)



UPDATE: Hey David Cochrane! Not every margin shrank, but, hey, don't let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

Lambs

A comment on The Telegram website. Res ipsa loquitur, but just in case, the best bits are highlighted:
3. John Lake from St. Phillips, Newfoundland writes: For only the third time in my 35 years as a voter I voted Progressive Coservative.
It wasn't so much for the party because i know nothing about my local candidate.
It was a vote for Danny Williams.
It was a vote for Newfoundland.
Danny Williams is a Newfoundlander. He refers to Newfoundlanders as a race. He believes Newfoundland is a distinct and unique society. Heard that phrase before, have you?
Not since Cheslie Crosbie
has there been someone with the political will to protect Newfoundland interests above all others. Someone who is not overwhelmed by partisan politics and is willing to take on all adversaries regardless of their political stripe.
When was the last time a premier of this province was willing to challenge a Canadian Prime Minister of the same political party?
We have too long been lambs to the slaughter. About time we had a lion to protect the flock.

L'état, c'est le parti Progressiste-conservateur

From Rob Antle's account of Our Dear Victory Speech last night:
"Tonight's victory is not just a Progressive Conservative victory," Williams told a cheering crowd of supporters at the Fairmont Newfoundland hotel Tuesday night. "In fact, it isn't a Progressive Conservative victory. It's a victory for Newfoundland and Labrador."
Is there no one else who finds this concatenation of the interests of the Progressive Conservative party, and those of Newfoundland and Labrador, to be, frankly, well, frankly, just a little disturbing?

No one?

Not a one?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The first day of the rest of the second term

I look forward that after this election, sitting down with the Combined Councils of Labrador and all of the voices of Labrador, Bill, because there are many, many ways to look at this energy plan... This was a high level plan that was put out by the province. Bill, we've got, going to be, there's going to be two more elections, Bill. There's going to be two more opportunities for the people of Labrador to vote on what this government does on a go forward basis with the Lower Churchill. We ain't seeing no power coming out of there before 2015, at the earliest.

- Lake Melville MHA John Hickey, on Backtalk with Bill Rowe, October 4, 2007

Meeker: not meek

Meeker rocks, even if he should have blogged this weeks ago.

Brought to you by...

That Crime Stoppers PSA praising up the government's enforcement efforts sure is in heavy rotation today.

Voting day

Pledges and promises, from the mouth of Our Dear Premier:

“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. We have the deed to Labrador, but we don’t have the heart and soul of its residents — and that must change.” – Danny Williams, inaugural speech as PC Party leader, April 7, 2001

“I said I was embarrassed as a Newfoundlander in the manner in which we have treated Labradorians from time to time - is that we only paid lip service to the fact that Labrador is truly part of this Province. Not only do we have the deed, do we have the ownership as a Province to Labrador but, in fact, now they are a part of our name. We have to not only talk the talk but we have to walk the walk. We have to go out of our way to bring Labradorians into our Province. The very arguments I think that have been used by Newfoundlanders against the federal government is the fact that we have been treated as second class citizens, that we have been ignored, that we have been put aside. I think some of these same arguments you will here when you go through Labrador. They concern me. They concern me very greatly, and I think they have to be dealt with. Mr. Speaker, I think it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that we do include the people of Labrador in our Province in a more overt way.” – Danny Williams, maiden speech as MHA, House of Assembly, November 19, 2001

“I believe our province has been treating Labrador like second-class citizens… We will not develop the Lower Churchill unless the primary beneficiaries are Labradorians. You have my assurance on that.” – Danny Williams, at a campaign stop in Lake Melville,September 30, 2003

“For far too long, the people, resources and potential of Labrador have been ignored and excluded from decision-making processes of the Province. We can no longer tolerate this atmosphere of exclusion, and we must recognize that Labrador will play a pivotal role in the future success of this Province. Consistent with our energy policy objectives, a Progressive Conservative government will make use of the hydroelectric potential of the Lower Churchill and any electricity that can be recalled or reclaimed from the Upper Churchill to promote industrial development and meet domestic energy demand in Labrador and then on the Island of Newfoundland.” – PC Party platform, 2003

“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’ letter to the Labrador Métis Nation, October 8, 2003

“I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Labrador Party, a political movement born out of a sense of alienation and frustration that I believe is genuine. Our commitment is to address the root cause of that alienation and to involve Labradorians more than ever in decisions that impact the future of Labrador and our entire province.” – Danny Williams’ election night victory speech, October 1, 2003 “This province has given away your resources in Labrador (in the past). This government will not your give your resources away.” – Danny Williams, November 14, 2005
But he never said they would never take them away.

Vote.

Vote for him or else (3)

Tony the Tory says tonight of a Tory candidate:
When she’s sitting around the table she can do a lot for the district… she can meet the Minister one on one instead of writing letters.
So… opposition members are not allowed to meet Ministers?

Doesn’t Danny find that annoying?

All these Tory talking-point callers, calling in on much the same theme. You would almost think it was co-ordinated or something.

Hi, Liz!

Oh, and “voting with honesty”? Genius! Pure genius!

Mr. Positivity, again and again

“It’s good to have an opposition, but it’s important that that opposition be a constructive opposition, it not be a name-calling, mudslinging, personal- attacking type of opposition,” Mr. Postivity said at the start of the campaign.

“Go ahead and mark an ‘X’ for the idiot,” Mr. Positivity is said to have advised an Eddie Joyce supporter in the Bay of Islands on the last day of the campaign.

Vote for him or else (2)

It’s going to be a little harder to refuse that [fish processing] license if you’re on Mr. Williams’ side of the fence.

– VOCM caller and PC supporter from Burgeo “Alistair”, just now.

Vote for him or else

In a now-infamous interview with Terry Roberts of The Telegram, published on August 14th, Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair PC candidate Dennis Normore said:
"People realize that we have to be on the government side in the next four years. Otherwise, we're going to pay dearly for it... People are telling me. 'We've got to be on Danny's team.'...If we elect [Yvonne Jones], we're electing a person who will serve in opposition, and if we do that I guess we're going to be the sacrificial district..."
The next day... not so much. Again from a Terry Roberts report:
Tory candidates who try to browbeat voters by saying they will be punished if they don't elect a government MHA can expect a terse phone call from Premier Danny Williams.

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

...

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

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

"It hasn't been the pattern or the policy of this government to punish districts. I saw too much of that during the years when I wasn't in politics and just standing back as an observer," he offered.
And, the next day:
Dennis Normore apologized Thursday for stating that the district of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair would "pay dearly" if voters do not elect a Progressive Conservative in the Oct. 9 provincial election.

Acting on the advice of Premier Danny Williams, Normore said his comments in a Tuesday article in The Telegram were a mistake and are not reflective of the way the Tory party governs the province.

He attributed his comments to his inexperience as a politician*, his eagerness to defeat Liberal incumbent Yvonne Jones, and his strong commitment to the district.

"It was a mistake on my part to be so strong with my words. I probably, and I will, apologize," stated Normore.
Tonight on VOCM Nightline with Linda Swain, Normore supporter "Hedley", who has repeatedly hit the airwaves to make essentially the point that Normore did on August 14th, said, in response to a challenge from the host:
What Dennis said at that time is right.
Another Normore supporter, Francis Bolger, who has hit the airwaves and the internets with other iterations of what the Telegram headline writer called "Vote for me - or else", wrote on a Labrador internet discussion board earlier today:
If we put the wrong canidate [sic] in I will cry for the people who have to choose from food or medication because money is tight. cry for our elderly who live on a fix [sic] income and prices a high and they do without. people who need help with housing and are on long wating list.
Are Bolger and Hedley speaking for the Normore campaign? Are their statement condoned by the campaign central?

Is it OK for Danny's Minions to engage, openly, notoriously, publicly, and repeatedly, in the same kind of Smallwoodian politicking that Danny himself supposedly is "very annoyed" about?

Is it OK for Minions to do, openly, notoriously, publicly, and repeatedly, what candidates get their noses rubbed in?

Someone ought to ask the PC campaign:

Elizabeth Matthews
Leader's Tour
709.697.4064
Email: elizabethmatthews@thefutureisours.ca

Ken Morrissey
PC Party Campaign Headquarters
709.757.2148 or .2007
709.728.6549
Email: kenmorrissey@thefutureisours.ca



= = =

* Normore is a second-time provincial candidate.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Campaign comedy

For all the talk about a "quiet" election campaign, there have been a few very loud moments — at least in front of this keyboard, anyway. So here are the champion laugh-out-loud punch-lines of the campaign, as seen by the local political blogosphere:

Honourable Mention: Too much information about Tom Osborne (Bond Papers)

Second Runner-Up: "Danny Williams is such a nice guy..." (Serious Business)

Runner-Up: Best. Bumper sticker. Ever! (I.P. Freely)

And the winner is: Best. Anagram. EVER! (Serious Business, again)

A polling reality check

It's not often that you get to do a really good empirical check on a pollster's numbers outside of a general election. But last winter's series of by-elections provided just that.

So, in lieu of a more elaborate post right now — it's a long weekend — here's some recycling from February:
The Invisible Tories

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ad wars

From Our Dear Party's 2003 platform:
A Progressive Conservative government will propose amendments to the Elections Act and other relevant acts that will:
Set and publish content rules for government advertising that will stop the use of public funds for political advertising.
Where are those content rules?

Imagine

From Toronto's National Newspaper's coverage of the Dannystan election:
The lopsided contest has made Tuesday's vote here essentially a foregone conclusion. The most recent polling numbers available are from August, and they show Mr. Williams and his party enjoying support in the range of 75 per cent.

The poll was taken before Mr. Williams announced a memorandum of understanding with an oil consortium, noted Corporate Research Associates president Don Mills, whose company did the polling.

“We can only imagine what it'd be now,” he said.
Yes, we only can...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dannyality

There's reality.

There's Wikiality.

There's Dannyality.

As discussed before, Our Dear Premier has willingly donned a pair of blue-rose coloured glasses, mentioning at a campaign stop last month the

dozens and dozens of people who are saying that either they’re back, or their families are coming back, or their families are about to come back. There seems to be a change in attitude, and I think, you know, that Hebron made a difference. It was kind of a reversal of what, I guess, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians felt was a negative trend that they had to go outside the province to work. But now I think they are feeling very good about the province, they see hope, they see security.
You know: reality check. The sort of thing the media used to do in the good old days. Like in 2006.

According to the latest statistics, the working-age population of Newfoundland and Labrador declined by 3900 people between September 2006 and September 2007. The labour force declined by 2900. The number of people employed (full- or part-time) declined by 1400. The decrease in the September to September unemployment rate is due to the larger, and continuing, decrease in the labour force.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mr. Positivity strikes again

“It’s good to have an opposition, but it’s important that that opposition be a constructive opposition, it not be a name-calling, mudslinging, personal- attacking type of opposition,” Mr. Postivity said at the start of the campaign.

“Poor, poor Gerry. I can’t imagine what it must be like to get up on the wrong side of the bed every single morning,” Mr. Positivity said on Thursday, near the end of the campaign, to uproarious laughter, Alisha Morrissey reports in today’s Telegram. “Cheer up b’y ... smile a little bit. You might get a few votes.”

That Mr. Positivity. He’s so positive, and never, never, ever engages in name-calling, mudslinging or personal attacks.

The Sound of Silence?

While the e-lection continues, at least one of the local anonyslaggers thinks it's all over but the cabinet picks:

Back on the e-lection trail

Karen Oldford wades back into the YouTube wars with a video tour of what she has taken to calling the Trans-Labrador Trail:

Law and Order

In Our Dear Party's Law and Order campaign announcement, Our Dear Premier announced:

Increasing funding for Crime Stoppers, which offers rewards for information leading to arrests and convictions in cases of unsolved crimes;

"Increased funding" implies that Crime Stoppers already receives provincial government funding. And, sure enough, a provincial government department is listed as one of the organization's sponsors.

Leading up to, and even during, the current writ period, Crime Stoppers has been running radio ads or PSAs with the following script, which goes, in part:

The salmon and trout stocks in NewfoundlandLabrador are very important to the future of NewfoundlandLabrador and its people... That's why government has increased its number of enforcement officers. If you see suspicious activities on the province's rivers, brooks and streams that threaten the valuable salmon and trout stocks, call CrimeStoppers... Help the Government of NewfoundlandLabrador, as well as the enforcement officers, in protecting the province.

Crime Stoppers, for no readily apparent reason, has adopted Our Dear Leader's lately-rebranded conjunctionless "name" for Our Dear Province. And, even without the glowing references to what "government" is doing in "NewfoundlandLabrador", the tenor of the ad or PSA makes an interesting comparison not only with recent NLIS releases on the subject...

In an effort to reduce poaching of the province’s inland fish, the Department of Justice is adding five enforcement officers to the Inland Fisheries Enforcement Program (IFEP)...

The Provincial Government’s continued participation in this program is not to replace the federal government’s responsibility, but to add to the enforcement effort intended for protecting the stock."...

"We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to organized poaching in the province. We will also continue to lobby the federal government to provide additional resources for the protection of inland fisheries," said the minister.

"It is quite evident that the program is working very effectively and is making significant progress in targeting poaching and protecting the overall health of our salmon and trout populations... Through this program, this government continues to clearly demonstrate its concern for this valuable resource and we will continue efforts to see additional enforcement resources directed toward the protection of inland fish."
... but both texts also bear a comparison to Our Dear Party's platform, in which Our Dear Party pledges to:

maintain the provincial Inland Fisheries Enforcement Program that we successfully implemented - even though fishery protection is a federal responsibility - in order to protect our valuable salmon resources for future generations to enjoy, and continue to lobby for additional federal funding for the protection of inland fisheries

And for the love of decency: governments don't "lobby"!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Just askin'

For the record, in its long-since bit-bucketted 2003 Bull Sheet, Our Dear Premier's Our Dear Party pledged that a PC government would:
Release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet.
So... has anyone seen the report on the Trans-Labrador Highway chip-seal pilot project yet, in hard copy or on the internets?

Edison would be impressed

Another interesting point emerged from Our Dear Premier’s unannounced (why not?) campaign stop in Cartwright-L’anse au Clair on Monday night.

VOCM Nightline caller Francis recounted last night:
The Premier came in last night to L’anse au Clair to a rally and he spoke about the energy plan and he stated that if you turn on your lights and you got cheap power, it doesn’! t matter where it comes from and where the lines go, and he’s committed to this, that we will have cheap rates and that.. He said if you turn on your lights and you have cheap hydro, it doesn’t matter where it goes and so long as we get cheap rates it doesn’t matter, not to me anyway.
Another account of Danny’s argument attributed a slightly different example to Our Dear Premier – “your toaster don’t care where it gets the power from…”

Apparently lights and toasters operate on entirely different physical principles in Newfoundland than they do in Labrador, because fossil-fuel electrical generation, however it is underwritten, seems to matter, a great deal, to the light bulbs and kitchen appliances of the island.

Or at least this would seem to be the necessary implication of Our Dear Premier’s argument as to why coastal Labrador doesn’t really need no stinkin’ power line.

Perhaps it wasn’t. But none of the chase-plane reporters bothered to ask.

Postville positings

Some interesting remarks emerged today from Danny Williams during his campaign whistle-stop in Postville (CBC .ram file), in response to remarks from Mr. Dougie Jacque about the uranium exploration currently in full swing – again – in northern Labrador:
One thing that I’ve stood for since we’ve been in government, first of all, no more giveaways, we’re not going to allow major companies to come in here, and give it all to them, let them take all the money out, and leave nothing for the people. So hopefully if we get development done properly, there’ll be enough infrastructure, you know, buildings like this wonderful school that you got here, and other things, and roads will get done hopefully, you know your power situation will be even improved, so they leave a lot of good things behind them, and they’ll provide, hopefully, an opportunity for people to get employment, and the royalties that we get, we’ll be able to push back in.
Yip, interesting.

“We” aren’t “going to allow major companies” to “take all the money out”.

No, according to Our Dear Energy plan, that’s the exclusive right of the provincial government. Badump-chink!

But seriously, what difference does it make to the resource-producing region in question if the money-taker is a major company, or a major crown corporation, that takes everybody’s money and never give it back?

Interesting, because once again Our Dear Premier makes abundant use of the passive voice. “If we get development done properly… roads will get done… your power situation will be improved.”

Who will do the doing and improving, Danny? Who is the agent of those passive verbs?

And interesting, because O.D.P. says that “the royalties that we get, we’ll be able to push back in”.

It’s a little vague, but let’s assume – a journalist, if any were on the chase plane, should have asked – that he means the uranium royalties, and that they’d be “pushed back in” to northern Labrador.

This would mark a departure for Our Dear Government. In February 2005, Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones mooted doing much the same thing for all of Labrador with respect to hydro revenues:
Jones has written the Premier to impress upon him the importance of reinvesting resource revenues generated in Labrador to facilitate economic growth in this area of the province. “One example of the revenue which is generated from resources in Labrador is that gained from the Upper Churchill. On March 16, 2004, the Premier and Minister Ed Byrne announced an agreement on a new five-year contract for the resale of the 130 MW recall block of power that will realize $230 million to provincial revenues over its term. The approximately $45 million annually generated from this source would provide a good basis for the establishment of a Labrador Development Fund.”


“The benefits of the revenues from Churchill Falls and the mining industry have gone to other areas of the province and now, with the signing of the new revenue sharing agreement based on the Atlantic Accord, it is time to consider establishing a development fund which would see these revenues remain in Labrador to help develop the full potential of Labrador.”
The idea was immediately shot down by Our Then-Dear Natural Resources Minister, who told NTV on February 17:
Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne said the government would do no such thing. He said while the province is committed to improving infrastructure in Labrador, it will not set up special funds earmarked for any part of the province, whether it be Labrador, the Burin pensinsula or any other region.
Byrne was also quoted by the CBC, the previous day:
“I don’t want to get into a situation, and I don’t think government wants to get into a situation – and Ms. Jones, when she was a member of a provincial cabinet not so long ago, didn’t want to get herself into a situation – where they earmark funds for particular places in the province,” says Byrne.
Is Danny making things up as he goes along, again?

Cabinet-making

Those who are pushing the line that Danny Williams will put Patty Pottle in cabinet give some serious thought to whether he will put her in cabinet with very, very, very, very serious consideration, should give their heads a shake.

And the media really ought to consult their backfiles and do a little reality-check. You know: reality check. The sort of thing the media used to do in the good old days. Like in 2006.

Rob Antle, in the October 17, 2003 edition of the Telegram, was already engaging in a little Labrador cabinet speculation:

A Tory candidate in Labrador is a "redneck" with a racist history whose potential elevation to cabinet in a Danny Williams administration would turn back the clock on aboriginal relations in the province, Innu Nation President Peter Penashue charges.

But Penashue could not give a specific example in which John Hickey acted in a racist manner.

And Hickey, who is running for the Progressive Conservatives in Lake Melville, strongly denied the allegations, calling them unfortunate and made in the heat of an election campaign. "I see no need to wallow in the mud and give those comments more attention than they deserve," he said.

[For the record: Hickey in his rebuttal to Penashue was right.]

After Williams' swearing-in on November 6th, sans Hickey, the expectation that he would have made the cut was again pointed out, if retrospectively. Barb Sweet wrote in the November 7th edition of the Telegram:

Lake Melville MHA John Hickey — the only Tory MHA from Labrador — was expected to get the Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs post, but that portfolio was divided between Straits and White Bay North MHA Trevor Taylor (Labrador), who is also fisheries minister; and Lewisporte MHA Tom Rideout (aboriginal affairs), who is also minister of works, services and transportation.
And, again retrospectively, the cabinet expectation was cited as a factor in the Lake Melville district outcome. As VOCM reported on November 6th:

Williams Unveils New Cabinet; Outrage in Labrador
11/6/03 (Scott Chafe/Doug Learning)

Brandon Pardy ran for the Labrador Party in the provincial election and told VOCM Open Line many people decided to vote for Hickey because they expected him to be able to represent the region in cabinet.
In any event, whatever the expectations and voter motivations going into the vote, Danny Williams didn't see the need to have Labrador represented in his cabinet at all:
But the Conservatives were quickly criticized for leaving Labrador's sole Conservative representative, John Hickey, out of cabinet.

"It's insulting", said Brandon Pardy, who ran for the fledgling Labrador party. The party garnered a large portion of votes in two ridings but failed to capture a seat.

Williams defended the move and pointed out that Labrador Affairs Minister Trevor Taylor was born in Labrador.

...

"You can't have it both ways," he said. "If you're going to cut the cabinet back then obviously certain portions of the province, minute portions of the province, can be left out."

Scream and shout

Jim Baker, PC candidate in Labrador West, poses the question tonight:
Do we need someone who can scream and shout, or do we need someone who can work with the government?
He says that as if screaming and shouting are bad things.

If they are, why would he ever, in a million years, support that supreme screamer and shouter, Mr. Tantrum himself?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bon cop, bad cop

From across the Cabot Strait, the reckoning from yesterday's provincial by-election in Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. David Jackson of the Chronicle-Herald reports:

On Tuesday night, [PC candidate Mike] Eddy sounded a sour note after showing up to concede the contest and congratulate Ms. Kent at her victory party, saying the byelection result means no improvements for the constituency.

"All I can say is the community has elected the person they want to be their representative, and if the last nine years are any indication, we deserve what we’ll get in the years ahead," he said.

"It means we’ve got nothing for the community in infrastructure in the last nine years, so if that’s any indication, we won’t see much progress in the years ahead."

...

Premier Rodney MacDonald downplayed Mr. Eddy’s comments, though he repeated, as he had through the campaign, that he thought the constituency would be better off with someone in government.

"I can assure the people of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage that I as their premier, and our government, won’t forget about them," Mr. MacDonald said.

And the Paul Martin Award for Veryvery goes to..

From Rob Antle's coverage in today's Telegram of Danny Williams' Unpromise to put Patty Pottle in cabinet:
"I can tell you quite honestly, quite sincerely, she's cabinet material," Williams said. "I'd be very, very proud to have her in cabinet. I don't go around promising cabinet positions to any of my candidates, because I just can't do it. But I can tell you that if she makes it, she's going to have very, very, very, very serious consideration in the cabinet. I think that's very, very important."

Logs vs. Vegetables

Cartwright-L'anse au Clair got the stick.

Torngat Mountains gets the carrot:
"What you need is, you need Patty sitting at this cabinet table with me. That's what you need there. Exactly right," Williams said during a campaign stop in Rigolet.

"If you give her to me as a member, then I will give some serious thought to whether I can give her back to you as a cabinet minister, and we will take it from there," Williams told supporters.
Vote for Patty, and Danny will think, seriously, about maybe putting her in cabinet.

That's almost as solid a committment as the Metis got in the last election!

Does this mean he's written off Cartwright-L'anse au Clair, Labrador West and Lake Melville?