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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Canada Day

From the Times of London, August 4th, 1948:



ST. JOHN’S, Aug. 3
Now that all the Labrador votes have been counted the final figures of the referendum taken to decide the future government of Newfoundland are as follows: For joining the Canadian Confederation, 78,408; for responsible government, 71,464; majority, 6,944.

Labrador polled 2,802 votes for confederation and 645 for responsible government.

The next bit of evidence

Once again, another little bit of insight that makes you realize that the real reason Danny Williams can't stand Stephen Harper isn't that they are so different, it's that they are so much alike.

Human shields

The Telegram online reports:

“We have set up the inquiry and will let the process play out. Premier Williams will not be commenting at this time,” his spokeswoman Andrea Nolan said by e-mail.
Andrea Nolan, whose job description has the words "Press" and "Secretary" in it, gets quoted by the press.

For exactly the second time, ever.

And by email.

Meanwhile, the Director of Communications is busy trying to change the channel.

Nice try.

Friendly tip: when you can hear, over the raddio, the veins on Temelini's head throbbing, you know you have a Very Big Problem on your hands.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fact-check is your friend

The press doesn't always let the facts get in the way of a good story. Witness the following AP wire story, which ran in papers around the world this past week. Canadian news outlets needed a geographical comparison, so...
Chunk of Antarctic ice shelf collapses; global warming blamed

Published Tuesday March 25th, 2008

WASHINGTON - A chunk of Antarctic ice about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday.

Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 414-square-kilometre chunk in western Antarctica, which started Feb. 28.
Only one little problem.

Newfoundland and Labrador, or even Newfoundland or Labrador, is, or are, much bigger than 414 km2 in size.

So some outlets end up sheepishly and silently changing the comparison, or dropping it altogether.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Accounting for geography, or not

Tom Hedderson writes a letter:

A per capita comparison of federal jobs at present, as was referenced in Mr. Wangersky's column, fails to account for the geography and rural nature of Newfoundland and Labrador. These realities may make higher rates of federal employment, versus other provinces, necessary in order to provide comparable levels of services. This is also a reason why we advocate for funding allocations in national programs that account for the cost of service delivery for rural and remote populations.
A question, then, for Minister Hedderson. Given that (at least) 70% of the provincial civil service seems to be concentrated in decidedly not-rural metro St. John's, what, if anything, is Williams Government doing about that problem?

Or is it a problem?

Or, perhaps, is "the geography and rural nature of Newfoundland and Labrador" a reality that "may make higher rates of federal employment... necessary in order to provide comparable levels of services", but only in respect of federal government services... not Williams Government ones?


Harris Centre for the Study and Promulgation of Newfoundland Nationalist Mythology?


Openness! Transparency! That other thing!

Oh yeah — Accountability!

From the Telegram's Rob Antle, today:
Government withholding school reports

The provincial Department of Education is withholding engineering reports on the state of two St. John's high schools, claiming the reports are still in draft form - even though the local school authority made decisions four months ago based in part on the reports' findings.
In a completely related non-development, with March about to pass away into April, the Dunbar Studios/Apropos Planning report on the future of Colonial Building, obtained last September by Barb Sweet of the Telegram, reported on by her in September and November, and in existence since at least some time in the summer of 2007, still has not been published to Williams Government's own series of tubes.

Why not?

Looks like someone could use an AccountabiliBuddy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The (yester)Daily

Somehow everyone — including Williams Government, who loves to crow about such things — missed this yesterday from Statscan:

In the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador's population grew for a second consecutive quarter after declining for several quarters. Its population rose 0.12%, the strongest increase in the region, to 508,100. The province had the second highest interprovincial migration rate in Canada. It was also the first time since 1988 that the province recorded net interprovincial migration gains in the fourth quarter.
This is one of three things:

- the usual might-as-well-go-home in-migration that has tended to accompany the onset of North American economic recessions for as long as Statscan has tracked interprovincial migration;

- the leading edge of let's-go-home baby-boom retirees; or

- real let's-go-home net-in-migration based on economic fundamentals.
Or, likelier still, a combination, especially of the first two.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

As early as

Again from Rob Antle's late-breaking Hebron update:
Last year, the province suggested construction could start as early as 2010.

A gentle linguistic reminder.

Virtual reality

Via telephone interview from the United States — which of the 50 states isn't specifiec — Danny Williams says, of his still-secret, never-to-be-released, Hebron "deal":
...I'm virtually assured that the Hebron project will happen.


Interesting choice of adverb.

Chosen for the same lawyerly and linguistic reasons that cosmetics companies say "lines virtually disappear", and "liver spots are virtually invisible"; or that dubious health supplements claim that bellies and flab disappear virtually overnight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whatever I Said, I Didn't Say It: WIlliams

Our Dear Premier interrupts His Dear Vacation to set the record straight:

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, today commented on recent media reports which suggested tightening credit markets may be slowing progress on energy mega-projects in the province.

"We continue to speak with the proponents of proposed energy projects in Newfoundland and Labrador on a regular basis. With the exception of the recent announcement by Newfoundland and Labrador Refining Corporation concerning its proposed refinery for Placentia Bay, we are not aware of any pending delays or slow downs as a result of tightening global credit market conditions. To the contrary, the proponents are telling us that they are excited about these projects and are continuing to progress their plans. Despite credit market conditions, I am confident that our projects have a bright future," said Premier Williams.

UPDIDDLEYDATE: Andrea Nolan, Press Secretary, named to the post on January 8th, finally gets to field one!

Tricky Dan

Greg Quinn reports for Bloomberg:

Newfoundland Leader `Flabbergasted' by Canada Tax Row

By Greg Quinn

March 25 (Bloomberg) — Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams said he's "flabbergasted" that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty decided to attack the economic policies of Ontario, the country's wealthiest province.


"I'm flabbergasted, for want of a better term, and astonished that a Canadian federal finance minister would make a statement that his home province is the last place that people should be doing business in Canada," Williams said. "That's pretty close to what he said -- that's a very irresponsible statement."

Williams, who spoke by telephone today while vacationing in the U.S., is battling with Flaherty and Harper's government over Newfoundland's share of offshore energy revenue.

As (depending on whose version of the story you chose to believe) either Dalton Camp said about the unfairly-maligned Richard Hatfield — or as Richard Hatfield said about himself — just because you're Premier of the province, doesn't mean you gotta live there.


Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland says, as reported by VOCM, echoing, right down to the use of the word "imperative", the Minister of Hey Ottawa Hurry Up And Build Us A Causeway Already So We Can Cry "Down With the Causeway!" (HOHUABUACASWCCDWTC):
HNL Wants Newfoundlander Appointed Head of Marine Atlantic Soon
March 25, 2008

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the Prime Minister to act quickly and appoint a person from this province as president and CEO of Marine Atlantic. President Bruce Sparkes says as Marine Atlantic continues to adjust to the demands of service, it is imperative that a qualified person from this province fill the vacant position to ensure a consistent and sensible transition. Former CEO Roger Flood resigned from the post this year. He had served in the position since 2003.
The Hon. Dianne Whalen, Minister of HOHUABUACASWCCDWTC, says:

"The Marine Atlantic service is, in effect, a continuation of the Trans Canada Highway for residents of our province. Not only does the service provide a critical link to the rest of Canada, it is also crucial in sustaining Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy," said Minister Whalen.

"It is imperative to have someone at the helm who understands the reliance this province has on the ferry service. This government maintains having a president and CEO from Newfoundland and Labrador can only better the service for residents and tourists alike."
Perhaps Minister Whalen, at least as far as her responsibilities extend to the Labrador ferry services, ought to consider devolving her duties to someone from Labrador.

You know.

Someone who understands that the Labrador marine services are an extension of the Trans-Labrador Highway; that they provide a critical link; that they are crucial in sustaining the Labrador economy; someone who can only better the service for residents and tourists alike.

Someone, in short, who would do something about this, and about this, and especially about this.

Situations, all of them, under Minister Whalen's purview.

Situations, all of them, which have never, not once, been publicly commented on, let alone criticized, despite having been drawn to their attention on numerous occasions, by Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By popular demand

The cleverly colour-coded Bay of Islands PRIP grant, with question marks even more cleverly marking dubious or missing annual data.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nothing closer to the truth

Danny Williams hated Eddie Joyce.

For reasons that are little-understood, but which would seem, from the outside, to go far beyond the mere fact that Eddie Joyce had the unmitigated gall to defeat Mike Monaghan in the 2003 election, Danny Williams hate-hate-hated Eddie Joyce.

Maybe it was because Eddie Joyce could, from time to time, really get under Danny's skin. The Premier's retorts to Joyce in the House of Assembly were, at best, juvenile; at worst — and more often than not that's where they were at — vicious, venemous, and vitriolic.

Who knows.

For some reason Danny Williams absolutely hated Eddie Joyce.

And what did he do about it?

Why, like any good Smallwood-Duplessis-style petty provincial despot, he took it out on the good residents of Eddie Joyce's district, that epicentre of Pavement Politics, Bay of Islands.

In 2004, the first full year during which Danny sat, Smallwood-like, on top of the public chest, Bay of Islands received a whopping $240,000 in Provincial Roads Improvement funding.

How do you like that, Eddie? Huh? Whattya gonna do about that, you Eddie-ot? Huh?

In 2005, either Bay of Islands got nothing under PRIP, or the amount was so embarassingly small that Open And Accountable Government™ never bothered to announce it publicly. Open and Accountable Government™ is more than welcome to correct the record on that point.

Open and Accountable Government did, however, see to it that criticism from the then-MHA, said, hated, Mr. Joyce, did not go uncondemned in its turn:

"If Mr. Joyce has an issue with road work in his district, then he should call myself or one of my senior staff directly," said the minister. "Our engineers will investigate any concern that one might have, whether it be a politician or someone in the general public. He doesn’t have to issue press releases to make his concerns known. That is simply a matter of professional courtesy."
In 2006, Open and Accountable Government™ once again failed to release an exact dollar amount for highways projects in Bay of Islands, instead lumping the district in with two other refusnik portions of the province which had also failed to vote correctly in 2003. The total amount for the three was $840,000, which works out to an average of $280,000 per district. Open and Accountable Government™, once again, is invited to correct the record on that point as well.

In any event, the share of that $840,000 which ended up under the wheels of Eddie Joyce's constituents could not have been more than $799,999. And why not? Because in 2007, the veil was lifted, and it was announced that Bay of Islands would get a generous $800,000 under PRIP, with the Minister responsible explaining:
"The need for funding in this district was apparent and we have responded with this significant investment," said Minister Hickey. "This is the largest allocation of funds in Bay of Islands for the Provincial Roads Improvement Program in the last six years."
"The last six years", of course, would include the four years, 2004 through 2007 inclusive, in which Open and Accountable Government™ was sitting on that famous public chest.

Which brings us to 2008.

Bay of Islands, formerly represented by Opposition Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce, was the subject of what really ought to have been a more infamous exchange during the last election.

On the campaign trail, accused of spending highways money in his own party's districts, the Premier protested, "no no no no no no no ... there's nothing further from the truth", and told the dissenter to "Mark your "X" for 'Eddiot'!"

Nothing further from the truth.

In 2008, having, as they say, "seen the light", and voted for Tory Terry Loder — Mr. Monaghan having been appointed to the provincial bench as compensation for his humiliation by Eddiot in 2003 — Bay of Islands is receiving $2,500,000 in PRIP funding. That amount would seem not just to exceed, but nearly double, its allocations during the entire previous four years of Williams Government™.

It was strange, though, to see Danny Williams protesting that dissenter's accusation.

After all, his former Minister of Porkbarrelling was quite blatant about the behaviour at the heart of the underlying criticism:
Minister Rideout says he offers no apologies for addressing transportation issues in government districts throughout the province. "When the previous administration was in power, opposition districts were highly neglected," said the minister. "This neglect now needs to be addressed, and that is exactly the action our department is taking.

"I had an analysis completed for the last five years that the previous administration was in office. Statistics from this analysis clearly indicate that the largest percentage of the allocated funding for roads went to government districts.

"I make no apologies now for addressing areas that were neglected when the previous administration was in power."
Open and Accountable Government™ might wish to release that 2005 analysis — ideally of its own volition, rather than, let's say, in response to an ATIP request.

It might also wish to update that analysis, using the same methodology, to include highways funding data up to at very least 2007. (Highways HappyMoney™ Announcement Season 2008 is far from over.)

Such an updated, and public, document could come in very useful. In that same 2005 press release, the Good Minister said:

"I have not received any recommendations from my senior officials to address the north shore road during this construction season. At no point has Route 440 been brought to my attention as requiring immediate upgrades by my senior officials or the MHA for the Bay of Islands District.
And the Premier himself pledged, in 2003 campaign-period press release which, totally unsurprisingly, is no longer on the PC Party web site:

Williams to address infrastructure needs under a new priority-based plan

Gander, October 2, 2003 - Progressive Conservative Party Leader and Humber West incumbent candidate Danny Williams says deteriorating or unfinished infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, will be brought up to an acceptable standard under a new priority-based plan that his government will implement if elected.


"... Our approach will be to identify what needs to be done, to prioritize projects based on their contribution to economic development - not political expediency and patronage as under the present government - and get on with their development as early as possible."

An updated analysis, on a district-by-district basis, up to and including 2007, and, when finalized, 2008 as well, would reveal just how much the recent Ministers of Highway HappyMoney™ have deferred to "recommendations from [their] senior officials", and just how successful Danny Williams has been at "addressing infrastructure needs", under a "priority-based plan", one that is not based on "political expediency and patronage".

So, how about it, Minister Openness? Minister Accountability?

Were the "priorities" in the "priority-based plan" partisan political priorities, and not economic and engineering ones?

Or was Eddiot's supporter right all along?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trippo de fieldo

Backuppable is dusting off his passport and going on yet another international junket fact-finding mission.

No, not to Norway.

Not Iceland.

Not Ireland.

This time, Chile!

Tom will, no doubt, learn that Chile is a country, and that makes all the difference.

Don't expect to hear too much about more complicated, subtle things, like labour costs.

Having it both ways

In replying to Kelvin Parsons clever, clever question holding Loyola Hearn to account in the provincial House of Assembly yesterday, Backuppable says:
Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to answer that question, but let me attempt an answer by saying this. The people who were adjacent to that resource - we had historic presence and usage in it then there had been an assignment to Newfoundland and Labrador. The people who were adjacent to that resource, the inhabitants of Nunavut, were not consulted. They had no knowledge that this was happening.
Nunavut: adjacent to the (turbot) resource in question. Very good. Nice to see someone in Newfoundland acknowledging that.

But "we had historic presence and usage"?


If Newfoundland can make that argument in respect of NAFO division 0B, which is at least 1000 miles, and up to 1300 miles, as the crow flies, not as the boat sails, from Burgeo... then what's to stop the other four Atlantic coastal provinces, American states as far south as the Carolinas, or even Bermuda or the Azores, all of which are just as close or closer to Newfoundland waters as Burgeo is to 0B, and all of which have some historical connection to Newfoundland waters, from making the exact same argument?

Either adjacency is sacrosanct, or historical attachment is, but not both.

Holding government to account

MHA wants answers.

MHA Seeks Answers From Feds - Mar 20, 2008

The MHA for Burgeo- La Poile is looking for answers from the federal government. Kelvin Parsons is challenging a decision to allow the sale of a turbot quota traditionally attached to the town of Burgeo. Parsons says when the plant changed hands in 1991 from National Sea to Bill Barry the federal government attached a number of terms and conditions which would have seen the allocation of subsequent redfish and turbot quotas processed at the Burgeo facility. Since that time, Parsons says the original deal has been manipulated to the detriment of the town; the redfish quota taken and processed in Canso, Nova Scotia and most recently the 1650 tonne turbot quota sold to John Risley for processing, again in Nova Scotia. In the House of Assembly yesterday, Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout reiterated the province was not consulted about the sale of the quota. Parsons is calling on area MP Bill Matthews and Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn to provide an explanation as to why this resource giveaway was allowed.

MR. PARSONS: Canada sucks!

MR. RIDEOUT: Canada really sucks, and we said it first!

There was a bit of hope someone might start holding Williams Government to account, notwithstanding the election results, once the House of Williams Government returned to sitting.

Past tense.


Mein Kriecher sagte mir, daß ich nie aufhöre, zu erstaunen (II)

From Wednesday's sitting of Williams Government:
MS POTTLE: Mr. Speaker, the Williams’ government has worked to advance a number of recommendations made at past conferences.
The Speaker must be still getting the hang of the "no names" rule. Of course, that rule doesn't apply when the House resolves into Committee of the Whole, and the Trained Seals Club knows it full well:
MR. KING: As well, I want to say thanks to Premier Williams and all of you who are here today with caucus for everything that you have done to assist me in getting elected... Certainly, I want to say that the message coming out of my district, I think, was loud and clear, at least from my perspective, loud and clear around constituent support for the vision of government, the leadership of Premier Williams, and the kind of team that we had in the last mandate and we have put together here today, and the vision we are trying to pursue and where we are trying to go in the Province. I do not think there is any question about that whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Private security

"We have a new distributed data storage technology that we will initially offer to small businesses that do not have in-house information technology capabilities," said Tom Chalker, President of dataSentinel. "We will offer businesses a small device, essentially a modified USB thumb drive with infinite capacity, and it will securely save files as thousands of small blocks of scrambled data across the many computers we manage all over the Internet. These files will then be accessible from any computer that has Internet access, anywhere in the world, but only by the person who possesses that USB stick."

Should be a ready market for that product. At the Eastern School District, the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, the Provincial Public Health Laboratory, and Memorial University.


Caller "Cliff" suggests to Linda Swain on Nightline, Tuesday night:
I think what government has to do is re-write Newfoundland history.

They're already on it, Cliff.

They're already on it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ugh (II)

First, on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth (Federal), Amyhouse cheerfully intones that "you're listening to CBC Radio in NewfoundlandLabrador."

Now, on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth (Provincial), Pat Murphy comes on the line to inform the listener, "Here's a word from the NewfoundlandLabrador government."




Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mein Kriecher sagte mir, daß ich nie aufhöre, zu erstaunen (I)

Around these parts, the presence of a roman-numeral serial number implies that a multiple-part posting is in prep, or already been saved, but not publicly posted, ready for multi-day rollout.

This is not the case this time. It's just oh so very predictable that the House of Assembly, for however long (or short) it sits this spring, will be almost never-ending source of similar Great Moments in Lickspittledom.

With that prescient preamble, here is a collection of the first week's GMiL's.

Sharp eyes will notice that the Hon. Members speaking are all backbenchers. Are positions already being staked out for an impending cabinet — sorry, Williams Team — shuffle?
MR. VERGE: Over the past four years, the Williams’ government has invested in the future growth and economic stability of Lewisporte district through initiatives including, but not limited to, the following: In the area of roads, in the past four years, this government has invested millions of dollars in the upkeep, resurfacing and repair of connecting highways throughout my district… In the area of government services, Mr. Chairman, on Thursday, January 17, 2008, the Minister of Transportation visited my district and officially opened the provincial headquarters for marine services. The location of this department in a rural district speaks of another significant investment that the Williams’ government has made in rural Newfoundland… Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Premier Williams for accepting me as a member of this team. I am very pleased to be a member of the Williams Government and I intend to work with him, his Cabinet and this caucus to advance the issues brought to my attention by the people in my district and throughout the Province… Our Premier, Mr. Williams, said the following, "Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not looking to their government for miracles. They are looking for strong leadership that listens, get all the right information, makes strong decisions and moves ahead progressively towards concrete goals. They are looking for a government that will work on their Province’s behalf, creatively, constructively and compassionately." Mr. Speaker, I believe our government under the leadership of the hon. Premier Williams has listened to the people. They have done the research and they have provided leadership, leadership that has brought this Province from a position of deficit to an era of surplus, from an air of gloom to an atmosphere of optimism and from an age of burden to a future of promise.

MR. KENT: By working together we really can be masters of our own destiny… Mr. Chair, during the first four years of Progressive Conservative Government under the leadership of Premier Williams, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians saw a change in leadership but they also witnessed a change in attitude. The philosophy of no more giveaways is a mantra now in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one that is hugely supported.

MR. KELLY: In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to address this House today. On reflection, it is quite clear to me that the Danny Williams led government has done an outstanding job in this Province… I am excited about the opportunity to participate in the management and growth of our beloved Province, Newfoundland and Labrador. I am confident that the direction of our leader, Premier Williams, and his team, will result in long-term sustainable benefits for the people of this great Province.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Chair, I want to take a few moments, just a little leeway here, to speak to the residents of Ferryland district and say a special thank you to them for re-electing me in October. I, myself, have just been sitting in this Assembly for one year, and that was last February when I was elected. Certainly, a strong mandate again in October for my candidacy but more importantly, I guess, or bigger was the support for this government for the initiatives they are pursuing and for the leadership of Premier Williams and the direction this Province is going in, the plan that this government has directed… All of these initiatives bring us to being what is often referred to, no doubt, as masters of our own destiny. We need to forge ahead. We have certainly done that under the leadership of Premier Williams in terms of this Cabinet, this caucus and the government as we move forward. No doubt we will continue to do that.

L'esprit de l'escalier

Oscar Wilde: I wish I'd said that!

James Whistler: You will, Oscar, you will.
Brian Jones tackles the Throne-like Speech-like thingie:
Such prose creates an image of Aldous Huxley with the pink, white and green draped over his shoulders as he taps away at a typewriter, reworking his classic novel into "Brave New Williams."

Then and now

2000: Libril govamint moves govamint jobs into Libril districts.

"Bad, bad, bad", opposition Tories say:


Byrne comments on decision to relocate selected government divisions

ST. JOHN'S, July 27, 2000 — Opposition Leader Ed Byrne says the government's decision today to relocate selected government divisions comprising 275 positions to other areas of the province will be popular, particularly outside St. John's.

Byrne said the move speaks volumes about the government's handling of the economy in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. "The government is obviously taking this step to obscure the fact that it has failed abysmally to stimulate the economy of rural Newfoundland, and Newfoundlanders should know this move does nothing to improve the overall economy of the province. It simply moves some economic value from one location to another, but there is no net gain to the economy as a whole."

"It is like shifting around chairs on the deck," said Byrne.

Byrne said it is imperative the government deal fairly with employees affected by its decision. "Government must go out of its way to deal fairly with employees who are being transferred, to ensure there is no hardship or cost inflicted on them as a consequence of the move," said Byrne. "Government should act to ensure employees required and willing to move don't incur losses in selling and acquiring properties or suffer other losses or hardships for reasons associated with the relocation."

"The government should pay particular attention to employees whose families cannot move because of a spouse's job or similar reasons. Such employees should be given equivalent positions with equivalent seniority and opportunity for advancement at their current location," he said. "Wherever possible, positions should be filled by attrition so new employees are brought into the relocated positions."

2008: Tory govamint moves govamint jobs into Tory districts.

"Good, good, good!", governing Tories say:

MR. VERGE: In the area of government services, Mr. Chairman, on Thursday, January 17, 2008, the Minister of Transportation visited my district and officially opened the provincial headquarters for marine services. The location of this department in a rural district speaks of another significant investment that the Williams’ government has made in rural Newfoundland.

Decentralization of government decision-making bodies out in the field is another example of the faith and the confidence this government has placed in the future growth and the long-term economic stability of rural Newfoundland. These government positions have added to our economic growth and to the sustainability of our region.
In both cases, emphasis added.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Not standing on our own and inaudible

Kevin O'Brien, Minister of Business (whatever that is), said Friday:
"Also, we are exploring the idea of providing this information to the public on a regular basis. We will consult with other jurisdictions on their practices as to the level of details they provide as well as seek input from the public and industry. We will continue to improve our database system so that we can explore the possibility of setting up an online information system in the future," said Minister O’Brien.
Someone didn't get the memo:
We are going to stand on our own and (inaudible).
Or maybe they are going to send a delegation to study the practices in Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and Malta?


From The Telegram's section-A announcement of its laudable new "Cuffer Prize":
The short-fiction competition is meant to be Newfoundland-centred; it's open to Newfoundland residents, and stories must be set in the province.
Sooooo... a story that's set in the Labrador part of the province, written by a resident of Deer Lake, is eligible for entry.

But a story set anywhere in the province, written by a resident of Mud Lake?


This isn't an editorial; it just plays one in the "news" pages of the Western Star:
In terms of the message, the province is investing another $1 million in its tourism marketing strategy this year, which doubles its investment to $12 million since 2003, and has won awards and numerous accolades for its advertising campaign. The province’s impressive television ads have been appearing on major networks across the country.

Rewarding Danny is its own reward

Williams Government told a heckler in the Corner Brook area, during the fixed election campaign, that there was "nothing further from the truth" than accusations that Williams Government favoured government districts, and penalized opposition ones, in the doling out of highways money.

And, even in the face of cleverly colour-coded charts based on research in Williams Government's own press releases, who are you, or I, or anyone, especially hecklers, to doubt the veracity of Williams Government's assurances, nay, protestations, that there is, and was, nothing further from the truth?

Herewith, in graphic format, the longitudinal history of PRIP allocations for two more districts that had the very good sense to vote for Williams Government in 2007 instead of wasting their vote on the "weak representation" that is not "at the table" that they had voted for in 2003. Surely, there is a perfectly rational explanation for why their PRIP funding were so small during the first term of Williams Government, when, purely coincidentally, they were represented by opposition members.

Nothing further from the truth! Nothing further from the truth! Nothing further from the truth!

A people highly favoured of Dan

The Highway HappyMoney™ rollouts continue.

Joan Burke must be doing something right. Perhaps it's all the up-sucking:

Likewise, Charlene Johnson is also able to deliver the goodies for Trinity-Bay de Verde — though one wonders who did what to annoya Ye Highway Gods last year. The data for 2004 is missing because, although four projects were announced under the Provincial Roads Improvement Program that year for the district, the dollar values, curiously, were omitted from the otherwise very open and accountable press release.

Money on the winning horse

More HappyFun™ from the recently-updated Chief Electoral Officer's belated-but-informative election financing stats.

First, the inflow of money from the Calgary oilpatch — loosely defined as corporate donors with a stated address of Calgary, and with a readily obvious connection to the oil and gas industry; cleverly colour-coded per the traditional party colours, and with the favoured donee on the base of the stack for any given year:

And here, according to the same colour scheme, the beneficiaries of the Support for Democracy™ shown over the past decade by INCO and VBNC combined:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Not misleading

Dianne Whelan is definitely not double- and triple-announcing money, because that would be misleading; she's just Informing The People.

Yay, Dianne!

Pherry photo

From the Ceeb website today:

The story is, in the main, about the provincial ferry fleet.

The photo is of a Marine Atlantic ferry.

A ferry which, as the story reports, does not lack in data recorders:
Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic, the Crown corporation that operates the Gulf ferry service from Newfoundland to Cape Breton, N.S., does have data recorders on the passenger vessels the Smallwood and the Caribou.

Tara Laing, spokeswoman for the corporation, said even though the recorders are not mandatory, the ferry service installed them for several reasons.

"One is to aid in an investigation should anything happen on one of our vessels," Laing told CBC News. "As well as an instructional tool."

That double standard revisited

Government — Williams Government, surely? — Government Provides $700,000 Facelift to Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre


But what’s this, now?
The Provincial Government has awarded a tender totalling $699,500 to Pittman’s Enterprises Ltd. of St. Paul’s to install new siding on the 52-year-old building.

"This project is funded through the Provincial Government’s Infrastructure Strategy, valued at more than $2 billion," Minister Whalen said.
No mention of the federal money involved.

Hold on a second – there isn’t any, is there?

Just as there wasn’t in the $6.5-million rec centre for the Northeast Avalon burbs.

Just as there wasn’t in the $14.9-million new arts and rec centre for Clarenville.

Or just as there wasn’t in the 2006 Lewisporte stadium project:
Lewisporte District MHA Tom Rideout announced Municipal Infrastructure Grants last week in the amount of $3.2 million for his district.

Mr. Rideout said that of the funding received, $2.2 million has been approved for upgrades to the Lewisporte Stadium. That funding will be on a cost-shared basis with government investing 80.5 per cent and the Town of Lewisporte funding the remaining 19.5 per cent. The cost to the Town will be $413,362.
And in St. Anthony, the Polar Centre project went ahead with only 10% of the funding from federal sources.

So why is it, again, that when there’s a cultural facility to be built in Labrador, that Integral Part of the Province, the Morally and Fiscally Autonomous Williams Government sought, and probably still seeks, “ways for the federal government to bear the majority of the costs of an auditorium project”?

The Trans-Labrador Lieway

Last June 18, then-transportation Minister John Hickey took the editor of The Aurora to task for being “dead wrong” in an editorial about what, to her eyes, were broken promises to Labrador by the provincial government.

Zeroing in on her comments conerning the Trans-Labrador Highway, Minister Hickey wrote:

This government will invest $100 million over the five-year life of this project, which will eventually see hard-surfacing of the entire Trans Labrador Highway from Labrador City-Wabush to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
A few days later, he reinforced the point in a press release:

The Provincial Government eventually plans to hard-surface the entire Trans Labrador Highway from Labrador City-Wabush to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and expects the federal government to cost-share the $100 million, five-year project.
(Clever use of the word “entire” to describe the TLH between Labrador City-Wabush and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, when the “entire” Trans-Labrador Highway contines on to L’anse au Clair, but anyway…)

The $100-million figure was reported as factual by, for instance, the Northern Pen of July 3:

The province says it plans to hard-surface the entire Trans Labrador Highway from Labrador City-Wabush to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and expects the federal government to cost-share the $100-million, five-year project.
So, well before the fixed election campaign of September and October, the nice, large, round, many-zeroed figure of One! HUNDRED! MILLION! DOLLARS! was well-established in the popular imagination.

So much so, that Williams Government began to believe it itself.

Flip ahead to the December announcement of the federal-provincial infrastructure deal.

On December 17th, the two governments announced, among other things:

The governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador today also jointly announced that improvements to the Trans Labrador Highway and upgrading of the Argentia Access Road will be among the first funding priorities under Building Canada. The Government of Canada will provide up to $51.5 million, representing a maximum of 50 per cent of total eligible costs of these initiatives, after the successful conclusion and signing of a base funding agreement.
Inside twenty-four hours, the list of projects covered under that envelope had already expanded:

Minister Whelan says that while she is pleased the Federal Government agreed yesterday to cost-share hard-surfacing of the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH), improve the Argentia Access Road and extend the Conception Bay South (C.B.S.) By-Pass, she is requesting the Federal Government be ready to move the projects forward in the spring.
On the federal end, Loyola Hearn, on the day of the Big Announcement, referred to “extra roads” that were wanted to be “done” with that pot of money. Here and now, in March, it’s still not certain whether the Argentia and CBS projects are the entirety of that list of “extra roads”, or whether there are yet other claimants for a part of the booty.

The amount of cost-shared money for which the TLH project is eligible is $100-million, and in fact a bit more: $51.5-million × 2 = $103-million.

However, it was clear, from the day of the announcement, that the TLH would be but one of the several, if not numerous, highways projects to be splitting that pot of money.

Simple logic and arithmetic — you don’t even need to be as smart as a Fifth Grader — tell you that the amount for the TLH is going to be less than $100-million.

But did logic or math stop anyone from claiming it would be?

Of course not.

So on December 18th, you have VOCM reporting, uncritically:

Two hundred kilometres of the TLH will be widened, while some forty kilometres will receive hardtop at a cost of $100-million, split fifty-fifty between the two levels of government.
You have David Cochrane of the CBC, in his legislative report, breathless and without question:

The big one for Labrador is the Trans-Labrador Highway, this is the stretch of road between Lab City, Churchill Falls, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, it’s $100-million to hard top that, put a hard surface on it, the province has said its money is there today, the feds came up with their money. So that’s 100-plus million dollars that’s gonna be done on that.
Not just $100-million, $100-PLUS million!

Following — what else? — a call-in appearance, VOCM reports on New Year’s Eve:

Transportation Minister Dianne Whalen says government is committed to completing the Trans Labrador Highway. Government recently signed a cost sharing agreement with the federal government to the tune of $100-million to widen and pave a portion of the road. Whalen says if that money is not sufficient to finish the project, government will consider its options.
On January 7th, The Aurora and The Labradorian quote Labrador City mayor Graham Letto:

"The first two projects that they announced would go ahead were $100 million shared 50-50 with the province for Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway to complete the hard-surfacing between Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and the second part included the upgrading of the Argentia access road," Mr. Letto explained.
Like Whalen, he states, plainly, that it’s $100-million for the TLH.

But just days later, and almost un-noticed — it’s hard to stop that “$100-million” juggernaut when you’re the one who set it in motion — the belated attempt begins, more to downplay expectations than grudgingly correct the record. Whalen announces, on January 10th:

Included in the $182 million overall total in provincial road funding this year are $17 million for construction of Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway, $5 million in carry-over from widening and hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway last summer and $3 million in carry over from the 2007-08 Provincial Roads Improvement Program.

The Provincial and Federal Government will also cost-share, on a 50-50 basis, the following projects:
$40 million for hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway;

Not $100-million.


The next day, in the daily papers, Steve Bartlett reports:

On Thursday, the minister of Transportation and Works announced government will spend more than $175 million to improve roads on the island and in Labrador.

The Trans Labrador Highway will get a decent chunk of the $175 million through different programs. The province will spend more than $17 million on various parts of that highway and cost-share $40 million with Ottawa for the hard-surfacing of Phase I.
Again: $40-million.

Not $100-million.


On Thursday, the province “upped” that figure to $45-million by triple-announcing $5-million worth of last year’s money:

The Provincial and Federal Governments are cost-sharing $45 million for hard-surfacing of Phase I of the TLH, while the Provincial Government is also investing $17 million for construction of Phase III.
$5-million of that $45-million is a carry-over; the fed/prov cost-shared portion is, again, $40-million.

Not $100-million.


Even $100-million, after deducting the costs of widening that are magically lumped into “hard-topping”, that “hard-topping” is going to have to be chip-seal for the dollar values and distances involved.

At $40-million — which is less than $100-million — you are not just talking the oft-derided “cheap seal”, you are talking about “cheap sealing” only a fraction of Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway – certainly not about completing Phase I, let alone the entire TLH from Labrador City to the Straits.

Simple logic and math, at the time of the December announcement, would have immediately cast cold water on the “$100-million Trans-Labrador Highway” hype, at least for anyone smart enough to think or read for themselves.

Certainly, after the quiet January 10th correction, there should have been no excuse for bandying about the imaginary $100-million cheque as if it were real.

But there, in the March 3 edition of The Aurora, and the March 2 edition of 53 North, you have Labrador West MHA Jim Baker claiming:

Our government along with the federal government on a 50/50 basis has committed to complete the widening and hard surfacing of the TLH at a cost of $100 million.
It is very clear from the nature of the December announcement that, even in the months leading up to it, there was never a deal for $100-million for the TLH on its own.

It became abundantly clear, even to the stone-cold stunned, the willing believers, or the proxies, back in January.

Those in the media who reported that $100-million figure in December, uncritically and without question, were, at best, very, very sloppy in their work.

And those provincial political figures who built up the “$100-million” hype in advance, and kept the myth alive for as long as they could, even after the responsible minister slunk away from it?

Well, they were, and are, liars, pure and simple.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Informing The People

The Word of Our Dan:
As these contracts are let, then we notify the people in the communities that they’re let, so there is a double process there. But it’s not about getting a second bang for the buck on these things, as a matter of fact, it’s about informing people early, and then once the contracts are awarded, it’s letting them know after. But to come in and, y’know, double- and triple-announce money that, that’s given the appearance of being new money, that’s just, that’s misleading.
Last June, Williams Government announced that it was “investing” $15-million in the “hard surfacing” of the Trans-Labrador Highway:
The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, confirmed today that the province will invest $15 million this year to proceed with the first phase of hard-surfacing of the Trans Labrador Highway.
Of course, never mind that the “first phase of hard-surfacing” didn’t actually include much in the way of, well, hard surfacing:
This initial phase of the project will focus on widening the road base on sections of the Trans Labrador Highway by approximately three metres. The Premier announced that three separate tenders have been issued – one for widening approximately 50 kilometres in Labrador West, another for widening approximately 50 kilometres in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and the third for widening and hard-surfacing approximately eight kilometres in Churchill Falls.
Williams Government says it’s hard-surfacing, that makes it so.

There you have it: $15-million. Hard surfacing. First Phase.

First announcement.

Fast-forward to January 10th and another announcement:
Included in the $182 million overall total in provincial road funding this year are $17 million for construction of Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway, $5 million in carry-over from widening and hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway last summer and $3 million in carry over from the 2007-08 Provincial Roads Improvement Program.

The Provincial and Federal Government will also cost-share, on a 50-50 basis… $40 million for hard-surfacing of Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway
Carry-over. Carry-over being announced. Second announcement for $5-million worth of the $15-million first announced in 2007. But that’s not about getting a second bang for a buck; that’s about Informing The People Early.

Now, that brings us to March 13th, and yet another announcement:
The Provincial and Federal Governments are cost-sharing $45 million for hard-surfacing of Phase I of the TLH, while the Provincial Government is also investing $17 million for construction of Phase III.
How do you get that $45-million figure?

Well, by adding the $5-million carry-over from last year to the $40-million in cost-shared funding announced in the January press release.

That’s how.

That’s the only way how.

That announcement would be, one presumes, the Letting The People Know After, at least insofar as the $5-million carryover is concerned.

Whatever it is, it’s certainly not coming in and, y’know, double- and triple-announcing money that, that’s given the appearance of being new money.

Because that’s just, that’s misleading.

Pop psychology

The Throne Speech is proving to be an almost limitless mine, a virtual El Dorado, of nuggets of ... well, not gold, not exactly. Take this exceptionally purple bit of prose, designed, it would appear, solely to leave the Lieutenant Governor literally breathless:
We must be prepared to try innovative approaches to ensure we remain relevant, on the leading edge of change, riding the global wave that will carry us forward from the subservience we have suffered for too long to the brand new future of self-reliance and sustainability that is beginning to dawn.
Ask yourself: do you feel subservient?

Confer the following, an example from the Premier's early days in active politics, back in June 2001:

The more that I see, the more nauseous and angry that I get. The way that our people and our region have been treated by one arrogant federal Liberal government after another is disgusting. The legacy that the late Prime Minister Trudeau and Jean Chrétien will leave in Atlantic Canada is one of dependence on Mother Ottawa,* which has been orchestrated for political motives for the sole purpose of maintaining power.

Our fellow Canadians must wonder why Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are always angry, always complaining about the inequity of the Upper Churchill, when we receive unemployment and TAGS benefits from Ottawa together with generous transfer payments.
Do you feel angry and nauseous at all, let alone "always" so?

Such statements are of little to no value as social science, as an assessment of the political culture of Newfoundland and Labrador (unless, perhaps, you're M.T.) They reveal virtually nothing about the societal values or social trends of the province's population.

But they are still of powerful probative value — as to the state of mind of the person who wrote them.

* Bonus points: "Mother Ottawa", another classic Agnesnoseworthism.

Due date

Barbara Dean-Simmons reported last month for the Transcontinental weeklies:
Kaylen Hill, an environmental scientist with SNC-Lavalin, and Chris Palmer, a partner in the Bauline-based company, Connections Research, were in Clarenville and Bonavista last week seeking public opinion on the critical issues and challenges facing the province's coastlines.


SNC-Lavalin and Connec-tions Research should have the public consultation process concluded by the end of this month.

Hill says their final report to the [provincial] fisheries department is due by the end of March.
As Williams Government said on March 3, reported by Rob Antle of The Telegram:
There are instances when that deadline simply cannot be met due to a variety of issues... But we do strive to meet that deadline, and I think an evaluation would show that we certainly release reports much more quickly than previous governments."
This would mean that Williams Government is due to release that report by the end of April.... right?

Confusion reigns


The Conservatives would also establish an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron (surveillance aircraft) in central Labrador, he told a cheering crowd of party loyalists on the weekend.
(But wait! That's gender-biased language!)


A commitment by the Federal Government to place a 650-manned rapid reaction army battalion and a new long-range unstaffed aerial vehicle squadron has not been carried out.
(But wait! The whole point of it was the staff!)

2008, again:
The Harper Government's promise to 5-Wing Goose Bay includes a rapid reaction army battalion and an aerial vehicle squadron with support personnel.

Mah knee meks da velt go roundt!

It only took until the calendar year after next, and for some reason Open And Accountable Williams Government didn't issue a press release to draw any attention to the fact, and, unlike the tabular format of previous years, it's in a harder-to-use-and-number-crunch PDF format, but, political financing data has finally been released... for the year 2006!

(Paul, just because the legislation gives you nine months, don't mean you gotta take nine months. Openness! Accountability!)

There's tons and tonnes of HappyFun to be had with the report, but for now, a quick measure of how passionately the then-sitting MHAs felt about their own causes. The table below shows how much each gave to their parties, and in how many separate donations.

As it was a transition year, you will notice both recent NDP MHAs for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi are represented, Jack Harris especially well so.

The very keenly-eyed will notice two names missing.

MHA                 Party    Total $   #
Harris, Jack NDP $5,600.00 2
O'Brien, Kevin PC $1,825.00 4
Ottenheimer, John PC $1,750.00 3
Reid, Gerry Lib $1,595.00 6
Jackman, Clyde PC $1,300.00 5
Byrne, Jack PC $1,218.40 5
Jones, Yvonne Lib $1,180.00 4
Marshall, Elizabeth PC $1,150.00 4
Hedderson, Tom PC $1,100.00 2
Thistle, Anna Lib $1,057.50 4
Johnson, Charlene PC $1,000.00 3
Hodder, Harvey PC $950.00 4
Butler, Roland Lib $870.00 4
Burke, Joan PC $850.00 3
Collins, Felix PC $850.00 3
Forsey, Clayton PC $850.00 3
French, Terry PC $850.00 3
Goudie, Katherine PC $850.00 3
Harding, Harry PC $850.00 3
Hickey, John PC $850.00 3
Hodder, James PC $850.00 3
Hunter, Ray PC $850.00 3
Osborne, Tom PC $850.00 3
Rideout, Thomas PC $850.00 3
Ridgely, Bob PC $850.00 3
Skinner, Shawn PC $850.00 3
Wiseman, Ross PC $850.00 3
Langdon, Oliver Lib $730.00 5
Denine, Dave PC $700.00 2
Dunderdale, Kathy PC $700.00 2
Osborne, Sheila PC $700.00 2
Whalen, Dianne PC $700.00 2
Joyce, Eddie Lib $620.00 5
Sullivan, Loyola PC $600.00 2
Williams, Daniel PC $550.00 2
Parsons, Kelvin Lib $525.00 4
Sweeney, George Lib $490.00 4

Michael, Lorraine NDP $470.00 2
Fitzgerald, Roger PC $400.00 2
Shelley, Paul PC $400.00 2
Taylor, Trevor PC $400.00 2
Young, Wallace PC $400.00 2
Foote, Judy Lib $375.00 4
Andersen, Wally Lib $280.00 1
Barrett, Percy Lib $200.00 1

Oram, Paul PC $150.00 1

Collins, Randy NDP $120.00 1

Who knows? Maybe one of these days, the Elections Office will even get around to publishing the financial reports from the six by-elections which have been held since the last-published, that being Exploits in 2005.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hi, Mike!

Hi, Mike! Single name, is it? Mongolian? Indonesian? Mohawk? Or just a pseud like Sting or Issa?



To answer your question, your premise is faulty. Try again.

As for your advice, thank you! Not sure what I need help with — other than carpal tunnel brought on by bad mousing posture. Could lose a couple pounds. Need a tooth fixed. There's that toenail issue. Otherwise, gee, thanks for your concern!

And I'm glad word is getting around. That's kinda the whole point. Tell both your friends!

Changing times

Radio-Canada reports:

En fin de semaine, les élus de Blanc-Sablon ont avancé leurs horloges d'une heure.

Habituellement, les résidents de la Basse-Côte-Nord ne changent jamais leur heure et se retrouvent sur le même fuseau horaire que le Québec au printemps et à l'été. En changeant d'heure, Blanc-Sablon souhaite faciliter ses relations d'affaires avec le Labrador, qui vit à l'heure avancée de l'Atlantique.
Free/libre translation:

Over the weekend, elected officials in Blanc Sablon put their clocks ahead by one hour.

Ordinarily, residents of the Lower North Shore do not change their time zone, and fall into the same time zone as Quebec during the spring and summer. By changing their time zone, Blanc Sablon hopes to encourage its business dealings with Labrador, which follows Atlantic Daylight Saving Time.
Trying to promote cross-border business.

Instead of being paranoid about it...
We are part of one Province. We want people there to feel a strong part of our Province. I think we have to do things that would bring us closer together, not facilitate the movement of goods and all services through Quebec into our Province.
...or trying to sabotage it.

Imagine that!

The message track

From Monday’s – Thing from the Throne:

For 59 years, Newfoundland and Labrador has contributed enormously to the success of Canada. We have contributed resources of immeasurable value and, of even greater significance, we have contributed countless people – talented, tough and tenacious – whose energy and ingenuity have been powerfully instrumental in building the economies of our sister provinces and territories across Canada.
“Economies”, plural?

“Sister provinces”

The usual screed about resources and people flowing out?

Now where, oh where, have we heard that kind of rhetoric, in those exact words, before?

Oh yeah – from Agnes Noseworthy:

AN N from Canada writes: Joe Gopher, the fact is Ottawa has been apprised by some vociferious Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that we have caught on to the formula of Ottawa and how economies have been created in Canada. We, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, know full well that OUR resources have been utilized to create economies in every other location of Canada, except for Newfoundland and Labrador. Ottawa is very well aware that we know and maybe that is the reason now that every other location in Canada real estate boom showed a decline last month while NL's housing market appears to have had an increase. The treatment of NL economically had to be noticed at some point by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the rest of Canadians. When the people of this province put together a few factors and saw what really was happening here economically, given all the resources that were being CHURNED out of this place, then we knew it was either we had to speak up or die as a province. We chose to speak up and we will not shut up until we have parity with the rest of Canada. Canada has been on the receiving end of Billions and Billions from NL's resources. You Joe do not want to credit our province of for all the high class resources that have gone out of this province for the betterment of the sister provinces. We sat by for far too long taking abuse from Canadians, all the while their economies were padded with resources that were exported from Newfoundland and Labrador. Before you speak check out what resources are shipped out of here to keep smelters and refineries going in the rest of Canada. Also while you are doing it check out how the fish quotas got deal out for international trade and external affairs. Please check out the fact that Ottawa saw to it that our coveted Hydroelectric energy went to Quebec for its economy since Mother Ottawa wouldn't come on side with us to secure a corridor across Quebec to ship the energy to markets.
Posted 18/12/07 at 10:09 AM EST
Even the inevitible reference to "59 years" is a well-known Agnesism:

Hypocrisy Abhorer from St. John's, Canada writes: David Stanley - The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has been propping up the Canadian economies with its rich resources for nearly 59 years now, resources such as Fish, Hydroelectric Energy, Minerals, and Oil. Add to that Newfoundland and Labrador's williness not to demand of Ottawa to put any of the Federal infrastructure here that it has placed in the other provinces, such as Military and Naval Bases and Federal Regional Offices, all of which have gone to the other provinces of Canada with Billions of dollars of taxpayers monies, including monies from the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador and which have greatly added to the economies of the other provinces coffers.

David Stanley - Please do not be so inept in your understanding, try to read a little before you comment. Obviously you are not aware of what the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has contributed to Canada, otherwise you would not have made such a dumb statement.
Posted 26/01/08 at 1:20 PM EDT
Or is Agnes using Williamsgovernmentisms?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He's lost control again

In Our Dear Throne Speech, Our First Minister says:
The principle of making our own way and taking control of our resources is the right one.

(This line comes right before "The principle of demanding accountability for federal commitments is the right one." It is unclear, from this context whether demanding accountability for provincial commitments is a "principle" at all, let alone the right one.)

It's very interesting, though, to hear that taking control of our resources is right.

So why haven't we heard boo about "Joint Management" out of Williams Government in the past three years?

Vote early, vote often

Interesting: How VOCM's webmaster dutifully heard the separatist dogwhistles in yesterday's Disjointed and Dyspeptic Tirade from the Throne.

Interestinger: How, quite often in the recent past, questions whose outcomes are of particular importance to Our Dear Premier experience massive and lopsided surges in "voter" participation.

Interestingest: As of right... now, response to the question, "Can Newfoundland and Labrador go it alone, without Canada?" has swung from a 48-45 No plurality, on about 1800 "votes", to an 81% separatist landslide, on a massive "turnout" of 5873 "votes".

But how?

The CBC reports:
The Iron Ore Company of Canada announced Tuesday it will undertake a $500-million expansion of its facility in Labrador West over the next three years.

The expansion will mean 250 new construction jobs over the three years, and 200 additional permanent jobs when it is complete.
There's nothing in there about the province's equity st—

Wait just a second here... Is this project going ahead without a provincial government equity stake?

How is that even possible?

The high-pitched squeal

Today's VOCM Question of the Day:
Can Newfoundland and Labrador go it alone, without Canada?

The good website director heard the dog-whistle loud and clear.

Carl Powell: Still wrong

The breathtaking ignorance of Carl Powell, self-appointed defender of the Labrador boundary, really, truly, honestly, knows no bounds.

Wednesday last, he had the following bizarre exchange with Linda Swain on VOCM Nightline:
Carl Powell: Would you go to a stock dealer, a stock market, an investment dealer or you go to anyone and say, "look, I’ve got this map here that says I own this land and we found gold on it". They say, "where’s your claim, where’s your deed?" They have a whole big section in the Confederation Building up there, and I used to have access to it in my job as senior mines inspector, called Deeds. So if you came and you told me, you know, that the Swain Investment Company owned this land somewhere out there and someone said that’s not quite right, I had the permission to go in and see if your land is legal. And I say yes it is because it borders Baker in the north and Smith in the east —

Linda Swain: Yeah, but those are claims —

Powell: — and all the dimensions. And you look in —

Swain: That’s not a legal border as set in the Terms of Union, Carl.

Powell: It is legal.

Swain: Set in the terms of union.

Powell: What’s the Terms of Union said about it? Nothing.
If Carl Powell would bother to read the Terms of Union, he would find, if he were to read all the way down to Term 2:
2. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador shall comprise the same territory as at the date of Union, that is to say, the island of Newfoundland and the islands adjacent thereto, the Coast of Labrador as delimited in the report delivered by the Judicial Committee of His Majesty’s Privy Council on the first day of March, 1927, and approved by His Majesty in His Privy Council on the twenty-second day of March, 1927, and the islands adjacent to the said Coast of Labrador.
More subtly, if he were to read the next Term, he would find:
3. The Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, shall apply to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador 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 and Labrador had been one of the provinces originally united except in so far as varied by these Terms and except such provisions as are in terms made or by reasonable intendment may be held to be specially applicable to or only to affect one or more and not all of the provinces originally united.
The Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, include the former British North America Act, 1871, which provides:

3. The Parliament of Canada may from time to time, with the consent of the Legislature of any Province of the said Dominion, increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of such Province, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon to by the said Legislature, and may, with the like consent, make provision respecting the effect and operation of any such increase or diminution or alteration of territory in relation to any Province affected thereby.
Furthermore, the Constitution Act, 1982, notwithstanding Brian Peckford’s hysterics at the time, also serves to further constitutionally entrench an already entrenched boundary definition:

43. An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to any provision that applies to one or more, but not all, provinces, including
(a) any alteration to boundaries between provinces[…]
may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada only where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies.
Has the provincial government of the province of which Labrador is a part passed such a resolution? If the answer is no, then all the maps in the world cannot change that clause in the Terms of Union, all the way down in Term 2, which entrenches the Labrador boundary definition of 1927 in the constitution of Canada.

Carl Powell, as usual, is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong.

A subtle change

How Irish We Are! 2006: She led her students in producing an album of Irish and Newfoundland and Labrador music in anticipation of a class appearance in Ireland... In collaboration with Rhode Island and other New England States, Ireland and other parts of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador will play a lead role in developing observing systems that support efforts to improve maritime defence and security, marine weather forecasting and warning, environmental conservation, and pollution control.

How Irish We Are! 2007: Our best writers and musicians are showcased in many venues, most recently at the March Hare Festival in Ireland, where they regaled audiences eager to invest in our potential and promise.

How Multi-Ancestral We Are! 2008: Our province’s unique culture has been shaped by our economy, our environment and people of many ancestries.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thunder stolen

In a comment below, Geoff Meeker beats lil' ol' me to the punch. Curse you!

Speaking of fiction dressing up as fact, I like this line:

"As a result of our collective efforts to wrestle down the deficit, to ratchet up growth and to reach an agreement that fulfilled the promise of the Atlantic Accord, we are – for the first time in our history – poised to come off equalization very soon."
It has a distinct whiff of bulls**t, since our current surplus is being driven almost entirely by resource revenues, from deals made by previous governments.
There's another whiff there, too, stemming (steaming?) from the implied attribution of Our Dear Fiscal Autonomy! to getting more money from the federal government, but anyway...

Meeker is right on the money. Literally as well as figuratively. If We have made any of Our collective efforts to wrestle down the deficit, they are news to anyone who actually watches the budget.

Here's what I was gonna write anyway:

This cleverly colour-coded graph shows provincial government program spending (coded per party in power at the time of the start of the fiscal year; the legend for "Program expenditures" should be red and blue) as well as debt-servicing charges, tacked onto the top of each column, in green. The most recent, preliminary, figures, at the right-hand side of the graph in muted colours, are from the December 2007 financial update; earlier years' data from the wonderful and under-appreciated Finance Canada Fiscal Reference Tables.

Other than a short-lived sky-is-falling Librils-ate-your-children panic during the first full year of Williams Government, what on earth have Danny Williams, Tom Marshall, or Tom Marshall's now-forgotten predecessor done — other than coast on pre-existing fiscal arrangements, high international commodity prices, and a massive one-off transfer from the federal government — to "wrestle down the deficit"?

Without the Voisey's Bay and increasing oil revenues, which would have increased whether Danny Williams, Danny Bonaduce, or Danny Dumaresque were Premier, the deficit would be winning that wrestling match. For the most part, spending in the Williams Years has continued on the same upward trendline that began with Tobin's second term.

Events of international neverhappeneditude

We will also be preparing to welcome visitors here for events of international significance in the next two years: in 2009, the 100th anniversary of the historic voyage to the North Pole of Captain Bob Bartlett of Brigus...
Pop quiz: on what date in 1909, exactly, did Bob Bartlett reach the North Pole?

Bob Bartlett.

North Pole.



Our people were asked if they want Newfoundland and Labrador to be the master of its own house and control its own destiny within the federation of Canada… They have proven they cannot be trusted; but their great betrayal will do nothing to prevent us from achieving our goals on our own steam… Strong within ourselves and strong within our country, we are standing tall and striving boldly to bring Newfoundland and Labrador into its own. As masters of our own destiny, with our eyes focused clearly on the opportunities ahead, we will become stronger and more secure than we have ever been before… Securing equity means having greater leverage to control our own destiny… The principle of making our own way and taking control of our resources is the right one… The time has come for us to chart our own course, to determine our own destiny, to think outside the box that others have tried to confine us within.

Male pattern boldness

The overarching goal of the term ahead is to move Newfoundland and Labrador boldly forward to self-reliance... This is a stunning achievement that will reinforce the bold new attitude of self-confidence that has taken hold among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians... Strong within ourselves and strong within our country, we are standing tall and striving boldly to bring Newfoundland and Labrador into its own... My Government rejected old, outdated ways of thinking in favour of a bold, progressive, new approach... Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy will also benefit from My Government’s steadfast commitment to continue investing in the kinds of infrastructure and services that embolden investors and stimulate growth... The bright new realities awaiting Newfoundland and Labrador demand the new way of thinking that My Government has boldly embraced.

Masters of Our Own Domain

2007: Masters of Our Own House!

2008: Masters of Our Destiny!

2009: Masters of the Universe?


Another note from last week's Labrador West road money announcement:
Smoother roads are on the way for residents in Labrador West, with today’s funding announcement of $2 million by the Honourable Dianne Whalen, Minister of Transportation and Works.


As part of this year’s Provincial Roads Improvement Program, a section between the Quebec border to Junction Route 503 will be upgraded and resurfaced. Additionally, in work carried over from last year, sections of Route 500 will be upgraded and resurfaced.
So.... does that $2-million figure include or exclude the carry-over?

If so, is this "informing the people" or "just misleading"?

What's Inuktitut for "autonomy"?

Government rescues the Pine Lodge from its impending closure.

The Nunatsiavut Government, that is. From the Ministry of Truth:

Pine Lodge to Stay Open
March 10, 2008

The Pine Lodge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will be able to stay open. It is one of the private nursing homes that had been facing closure for lack of a sprinkler system. Owner/Operator Diane Scales says some extra funding from the Nunatsiavut Government will be used to purchase and install a new sprinkler system. Scales says they're happy and grateful for the residents because they won't have to move. She says the final details about the funding will be worked out in the coming days. Scales says they're waiting now on the final quote for the system and hope to have it installed by early summer.

Throne Speech preview

Really, now — how can you top this? Call a National Convention? A referendum? Rip down the flags again?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Mother of All Nature Allegories

Russell Wangersky outdoes himself:

Watching legislatures is more like stirring up hagfish: the volume of slime produced is virtually incomprehensible. The hagfish, or slime eel (Myxine glutinosa — what a suitable name), when panicked, can convert five gallons of seawater into mucus with its secretions.
The rest of it? Well, there's a large quotient in the Saturday R-Wanger of Things You Are Not Allowed To Say.

(No, not that.)

But he goes ahead and says them.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Liberal, Tory, Different Story

Here in pleasing graphic format, the recent history of Provincial Road Improvement Program funding for the notoriously Liberal provincial district of Burgeo-La Poile, which, up until yesterday was definitely not being punished by Williams Government for the ThoughtCrime of voting Liberal:

And here are the PRIP grants for the notoriously Conservative provincial district of Ferryland, which, up to and including today, was definitely not being rewarded by Williams Government for not voting Liberal:

There must be a logical explanation, other than punishment and reward, for the amazing difference in the two graphs, because, as Our Dear Premier himself has said, "there's nothing further from the truth."

The Word of Our Dan.

No mercy

So far this month, up until yesterday, there had been three sycophantic "Williams Government" press releases, all three of them issued by Joan Burke.

She has already taken Sycophant of the Month for six consecutive months running, and the annual prize for 2007. With three unanswered W.G.s to her credit for March, the ref was almost set to invoke the Mercy Rule for the month, and give her the month before her cabinet colleagues embarrassed themselves.

But Dianne Whalen, Minister of Roads Money Announcements, puts one on the board.

Given her predecessor's penchant for W.G. sycophancy — maybe it comes with the departmental office? — you can expect to see a lot more of Minister Whalen in this column.

So, while the easily-offended Minister Burke still has a solid 3-1 lead for the month of March, there will be no mercy. At least not this time.

Lost in translation

From today's National Post:
Mr. Dubois was also quoted in the Le Journal de Montreal as saying, "We're the white negroes of America," making a reference to a book by Quebec revolutionary author Pierre Vallieres.
That's not quite the same title under which Vallières published Nègres blancs d'Amérique in its English edition.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sex! Sex! Sex!

And just to think... not that long ago, Geoff Meeker called a certain media personality's pregnancy the "worst-kept secret" in the province, thereby causing beverage-spurting damage to keyboards everywhere, or at least all across the province from St. John's to Mount Pearl.

Shame on Ed Hollett

Someone should do something about those awful Bond Papers. Ed Hollett scribbles today:

What was it Danny Williams said about that business of announcing old announcements so that it appears like more money than is actually there?

Oh yeah:

"But to come in and double- and triple-announce money, that's giving the appearance of being new money, that's misleading...".
We couldn't agree more.

It's misleading.
Ed Hollett is misleading. He is totally taking Williams Government’s words out of context. Williams Government’s full, original, unedited remarks were:

As these contracts are let, then we notify the people in the communities that they’re let. So there is a double process there, but it’s not about getting a second bang for the buck on these things, it’s a matter of fact it’s about informing people early, and then once the contracts are awarded, it’s letting them know after. But to come in and double- and triple-announce money, that's giving the appearance of being new money, that's just – that’s misleading...
Williams Government is not “misleading” by re-hashing the announcement of its autonomous use of federal funding to autonomously make some Williams Government buildings “greener” and more autonomous.

No, not misleading at all.

Williams Government is merely “notifying The People”, through its “double process” thereby “informing people early”.

Presumably, once the contracts are actually awarded, it will then become a “triple process” that will “let The People know after”. There might even be a “quadruple process” when the switch is ceremonially thrown on the new, autonomous, green energy systems.

It is not about “getting the second bang for the buck.”

Totally different.

Shame on you, Sir, for suggesting otherwise.

Shame on you.

File under "Kafkaesque"

The Telegram reports on-line, with dead-trees to follow tomorrow:

Policy in place but not implemented, justice minister says
The Telegram

Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy says a worker at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) inappropriately left the courts with the impression counselling services are available to remand inmates.

There is a policy in place, Kennedy said today, but it is not implemented because it is impractical given the constraints of the prison and lack of resources.


Kennedy said it was learned the policy was in place since 1987, was reaffirmed in 2001, but can’t be followed.

Kinda like the 30-day rule?