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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More bloggers to set Him a-frothing


Fear of what, you ask?

Town E. Bastard:
a stupid play and typical of the Williams government's mania to try and control everything it surveys.

Bang! Bang!

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.

Funding to the Battle Harbour Historic Trust includes $36,525 in operational support and $3,000 to research local legends and lore that will be developed into an evening interpretative walk to further bring the site alive for visitors.


Battle Harbour Historic Trust – $3,000 to research local legends and lore that will be developed into an evening interpretive walk to further bring the site alive for visitors.

Where in the world

is Premier Danny Williams?

Has no one told him there's a flood on?

Executive Council
Municipal Affairs

August 1, 2007

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, will view some areas of the province which have suffered severe flooding as a result of heavy rains overnight and this morning. The Premier will be joined by the Honourable Jack Byrne, Minister of Municipal Affairs.

They will begin at the east end of Country Road in Bay Roberts at 12:00 noon and will then proceed to Cupids.

Based on the legislation

In her remarkable scrum on Tuesday (RealMedia link), Minister of Education Joan Burke says:

The official process will be as the selection committee finishes their work, they will submit their work to the Board of Regents, who will then submit their recommendation to government, and then it will be a cabinet appointment, so that the end process will be a cabinet appointment

It’s legislation that this will be a cabinet appointment, and it will be

So it is a position that has to be approved by government, and it will…

The whole process has never put the selection process squarely with the selection committee. The selection committee, as I said, brings the names foreward. Now as Minister of Education, I guess, I did not have to be involved in the process. It could have been brought forward. We could have reviewed the names at that point, and probably would have got similar feedback. I guess my interest is, that when we finally bring this to a cabinet level, that we go in with a sufficient list of names and qualified candidates that we’re able to make a selection

This has always been an appointment of cabinet…

We are expected by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to play the leadership role that is ours, based on the legislation…

I will be one voice at the cabinet table. But as the Minister of Education, when those names, and that selection process hits the cabinet table, I want to ensure that we have the best possible selection, the best leadership that we can possibly find internationally…

When I goes to cabinet to present, I want to make sure that I give a list of names and qualifications of people that we can do an adequate selection….

What is most important here is that we don’t settle for anyone, that we have the best leadership possible, and if that entails an international search, then that’s exactly what it’s gonna be…

This is a process that I s’pose I didn’t have to get involved in, I could have said to the selection committee, let it come on through, and then we could have sent in all back because I wasn’t prepared to go to cabinet with the selection of names

The selection committee feeds into the Board of Regents, and the Board of Regents then submits to government for a cabinet appointment.

And when asked by a reporter, “What do you say to MUN professors who say that they would feel uncomfortable working in a university where the government is so heavily involved in selecting who runs the place?”, Minister Burke replies:
Well, certainly they knew the legislation, if they weren’t familiar with it, they can have a read through it, and they can see that it is a cabinet appointment…
Ah, yes.

The legislation.

The Memorial University Act.

Have a read through it.

But, you see, here’s the crazy thing.

The Act, as quoted by the anti-Danny Williams all da time no matter the issue, Liberal blogosphere, states:

Appointment of president

51. There shall be a president of the university who shall be appointed by the board in consultation with the senate and with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Or, converting from the passive mood to the active, the board — of regents, that is — appoints the president of the university.

That’s what the legislation states, in case you, or, let’s say, the Minister of Education, weren’t familiar with it.

Nothing about the cabinet (or “Lieutenant-Governor in Council” as the convenient legal fiction has it) receiving a list of names plural.

Certainly nothing about the cabinet doing the appointing. Section 51 of the Act makes it clear: it’s the Board of Regents that does the appointing, the appointing of the President.

Which it does in consultation with the Senate (of the University) — a step which is not accounted for at all in Joan Burke’s workflow.

And with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Cabinet.

Cabinet can approve the appointment. Singular. The appointment made by the Board of Regents. The appointment by the Board of a President. Singular.

No lists.

No cabinet doing the appointing.

If the drafters of the Act had wanted cabinet, and not the Board of Regents, to do the appointing, then they would have said so — just as they did, in fact, so say when it comes to the largely ceremonial post of Chancellor:

48. (1) There shall be a chancellor of the university who shall be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
That is what a cabinet appointment looks like in law.

But nope: Joan Burke says that the President a cabinet appointment, and anyone who disagrees, like, say, pesky stupid professors with their stupid professor degrees and their stupid professor books sitting in their stupid professor offices eating their stupid professor sandwiches while they type stupid professor stuff on their stupid professor computers, well they can read the act for themselves.

It’s a cabinet appointment, and if cabinet has to scour the four corners of the international world to find a president (Gro Harlem Brundtland? Vigdís Finnbogadóttir? Bertie Ahern?) who will generate that all-important “buzz”, then so be it.

And hey, if the black letter of a twenty-nine word section of the Memorial University Act disagrees with Joan Burke’s profound understanding of the law, then the implication is obvious.

Ed Hollett is wrong.

The Memorial University Act is wrong.

They must be.


Well, because the only other alternative explanations — that Joan Burke is a brazen liar, or Joan Burke is unbelievably stupid — cannot, surely, cannot possibly be true.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big news

President of the MUN chapter of the Tiny Tories —

Oh wait.

You mean... He's not?



MUNSU Executive Director of External Affairs, Cameron Campbell, tells CBC Radio today, in rebuttal to those nasty, nasty allegations that Our Dear Premier or Williams Government have interfered in the the MUN presidential selection:
“If we can find another thing that they’ve interfered with, then that’s gonna be
big news.”

Anyone wanna help a MUN student out, and uncover Big News in the process? Post your research tips for Mr. Cameron in the comments.

Plugging the loophole

The Voisey's Bay deal, the Premier said when in opposition, had "loopholes you can drive a Mac truck through."

He promised to reveal those loopholes once in office. Surprise, surprise: he hasn't.

And while on the topic of Voisey's Bay and holes, one of the criticisms from Labrador corners with respect to the Voisey's Bay project is that while Newfoundland would get the smelter and its attendant jobs, and the revenue from the mine would flow south to St. John's, at the end of the mining life, all Labrador would be left with is a hole in the ground.

But never fear. An enterprising Newfoundland has come up with a solution to that criticism.

Fill the Labrador hole back in.

Headline humour

This morning, VOCM had a story on its splash page:
No Apologies from PC's on MUN Pres.
July 30, 2008

Opposition Education Critic Roland Butler says government's interference in Memorial University is threatening its autonomy. However, Education Minister Joan Burke makes no apologies for getting involved in the selection process to choose a new president for Memorial. Burke says despite reports to the contrary, she vetoed a short list of candidates for the job, not Premier Danny Williams.
The story has since been buried, though you might be forgiven for thinking, briefly, that it's still up... under a new headline:
Tories Pick Candidate


CAUT weighs in

Of course, since the C stands for Canadian...

University Autonomy threatened at Memorial

(July 30, 2008) The government of Newfoundland and Labrador must respect the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s autonomy and steer clear of interfering in the selection of a new president, says the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

The province’s education minister, Joan Burke, has admitted she interviewed and then rejected two of the candidates recommended by the search committee set up to find a new university president.

“This is an unprecedented and serious violation of university autonomy,” says CAUT president Penni Stewart. “Universities must be free from political interference or any outside influence.”

While the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has long had the final say in approving or rejecting the appointment of MUN’s president, until now it’s been a formality.

Ross Klein, president-elect of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association says the minister’s move sends a chilling message to academics.

“Does this mean that if the government doesn’t like a faculty member’s research or politics, they would intervene?” asked Klein.



Apropos of recent events, here is where the informal truce between politics and the university originated:
Smallwood’s next move was to find a new president. His methods this time were even less conventional. He first offered the post to [John Kenneth] Galbraith and to Lady Barbara Ward Jackson (who for a time considered it seriously). Then, mortal offence to the faculty, he advertised in Canadian, U.S. and British newspapers... At last, on June 8, 1966, he announced he had found his man. The new president would be Lord Stephen Taylor of Harlow... Taylor had never heard of Memorial until Smallwood called him out of a House of Lords debate, included a $30,000 salary, a new house, a pledge of freedom from political interference and the promise of support to develop a major university.
— Richard Gwyn, Smallwood, the Unlikely Revolutionary (1972 ed.), pp. 309-10

It's not all binary

Over on the Ceeb, comment-poster "keepingitreal" ponders the question:
I don't know what is worse - Danny getting his cabinet to take the flack for him or them being so spineless and taking the flack for him.
Does it have to be an either-or proposition?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In which Joan Burke totally misses or mis-states the point

Joan Burke buys, cracks open, and downs a whole crate of Stupid™ and goes before the mic. From her scrum (why not the Premier's? - ed.) this afternoon:
These anonymous sources, who won’t identify themselves to the media, are out speaking on behalf of this government, and they certainly don’t know what they’re talking about. The search process is continuing, and I expect it will continue until we find the appropriate leadership that we need for Memorial University.
1. Those nefarious anonymous sources would appear to identify themselves to the media; even if the media then, in turn, wouldn't identify them to their respective audiences. Now, Joan, ask yourself: why would any such source insist on anonymity, in Open and Accountable Newfoundland Labrador where Danny Williams insists that there is no climate of fear or atmosphere of intimidation?

2. No, Joan, they are not speaking on behalf of the government, nor pretending to. Yes, it may be hard to comprehend this, but — follow closely here — every now and then someone will speak against the government. Shocking, yes, to some, but true.


Jerome goes quiet

As VOCM reported last month:
More Debate Over Cameron Inquiry
June 19, 2008

Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy says government is just doing its duty bringing the cost of the Cameron Inquiry to the public's attention. Jerome Kennedy says the legal fees appear to be exorbitant. Kennedy says during the month of March, Sandra Chaytor's law firm billed $93-thousand dollars, Bernard Coffey's firm billed $67-thousand dollars for a total of $160-thousand dollars for one month. He says by any stretch of the imagination that is certainly extensive if not exorbitant. Kennedy says the questions about the inquiry costs are valid. He says on May 8th. Justice Cameron requested the extension. He says at that point there were 80 witnesses left to call and at this point there are still 65 left. Kennedy says then the other parties have the right to call witnesses. He says all they are trying to do is determine the cost of the inquiry and that is legitimate. Kennedy says in a letter to the Commissioner Tuesday he indicated the deputy minister of justice and finance officials could meet with Inquiry officials as early as today to discuss the budget.

A St John's lawyer is calling the lawyer's fees associated with the Cameron Inquiry outrageous. Steve Marshall is a private lawyer who has practiced for 25 years. Marshall says he wants to know, as a taxpayer, what the total tally will be. He says the key issue is what's in the best interest of the patients affected by the botched breast cancer hormone receptor tests.
That was last month. This month, by way of follow-up on the issue, Dave Bartlett reports for the Telegram today:
The public inquiry into how three men from this province were wrongly convicted cost the provincial government more than $5.5 million in legal fees.

The provincial Department of Justice released the legal costs of the Lamer inquiry to The Telegram on Monday.


The former firm of Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy was fifth on the list. Simmonds Kennedy represented two of the three wrongfully convicted men and billed just less than $370,000. Kennedy represented Parsons. His law partner, Bob Simmonds, represented Ronald Dalton.
Which might explain, in part, why:
A spokesman for Kennedy told The Telegram the minister had nothing new to say at this time on the Cameron inquiry.
But how does taxpayer Steve Marshall feel?


On stamps, rubber

VOCM reports:

Government Comments on Search for MUN President - Jul 29, 2008

The province's Education Minister says the government has no intention of rubber stamping a decision as important as choosing the next President of Memorial University.
Oh. Kay.

So now Williams Government is against rubberstampery?


In Which Joan Burke Gets to Do Stuff

Wowies. A media advisory. And one sent out with more than forty minutes notice.

Given that Himself announced the Chancellor Hillier thingie last month, the odds are not good that Joan Burke gets to announce the Presidency thingie this month. (Nor is it terribly likely her availability will involve the phrase "Williams Government".)

July 29, 2008

Media Advisory: Minister Available to Media

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, will be available to the media to discuss the search for Memorial University’s new president, at 2:45 p.m. today (Tuesday, July 29) in front of the House of Assembly, East Block, Confederation Building.

- 30 -

Media contact:
Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624

2008 07 29 9:25 a.m.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Who's "they"?

"Sometimes I think it’s some kind of social engineering. Drive us all out of the bays, that’s what they want."

— Randy Simms, Backtalk, this afternoon.

The past in the present

Exciting news from the world o' Labrablogs — Them Days magazine has added one to its website:

Think of it as a virtual version of the "These Days at Them Days" editor's column!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

NOT(X)=X : University Edition

When the ODP's Spokesthingie in Chief tells the Globe and Mail (what? a Canadian newspaper?):
She also denied suggestions that the Premier has interfered in the process. “He can't have interfered because no names have been brought forward yet,” she said.
Ms. Matthews denied any suggestion that Mr. Williams is keeping the job open to provide someone with a patronage appointment, but said the Premier does want someone who can generate buzz.
You can pretty well take it to the bank that He can have interfered because He is keeping the job open to provide someone with a patronage appointment.

Friday, July 25, 2008

That thirty-day guarantee, again

A Progressive Conservative government will... 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.

Ah, simpler times.

Today, July 25th, 2008, Fire and Emergency Services – Newfoundland and Labrador (Fire and Emergency Services – Newfoundland Labrador, surely? - ed.) released something called the Northern Avalon Peninsula Radio Assessment Report.

The date on the report? March 31, 2008.

That's 116 days later, almost four times as long as the thirty-day guarantee.

Speaking of which, again back in March, on the fourth, to be precise, Rob Antle reported for the Telegram:

The Williams administration says its promised policy of making all government-commissioned reports public within 30 days of their completion remains in effect, despite some recent exceptions.

Officials in the premier's office said the government is now reviewing its files to see what other unreleased reports may be gathering dust.

"There are instances when that deadline simply cannot be met due to a variety of issues," Elizabeth Matthews, a spokeswoman for Premier Danny Williams, said Monday.

A month and a day later, Antle followed up with this April 5th report:

A search for government-commissioned reports that should have been made public under the Williams administration's promised 30-day rule has now exceeded 30 days, with no indication of whether any such reports exist, or when they will be released.

Officials in the premier's office did not provide information on the results of the search before deadline, following Telegram inquiries on the issue Thursday and Friday.

It is now 143 days after March 4th.

Elizabeth Matthews' coordinates are:

Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960, 709-693-7291

The change we must change to the change we hold dear

First, ODP "changed" the name of the entire province to the conjunctionless "Newfoundland Labrador".

Then, the comms shops "changed" the term "district" to "region" or "area". Can't have anyone thinking funding announcements are being made with any ulterior motives, now, can we?

And now, for the latest change, Tracy Perry, who was elected as MHA for the district — sorry, the area, or the region — of Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, is now MHA for something else altogether:
"I am very pleased that these important projects are being funded," said Tracey Perry, MHA, Gaultois. "This part of rural Newfoundland and Labrador is growing and investments such as these will ensure that residents and industry have access to infrastructure that will improve our quality of life and our ability to continue to grow."
But what about Pool's Cove?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The narrow point of view

A great little report from Jenny McCarthy from this past Monday's Labradorian (sadly, not on-line):
Transportation minister pays first visit to Trans-Labrador Highway

Early Thursday morning Transportation Minister Diane Whelan braved the mosquitoes and dust to take a look at Phase I of the Trans-Labrador highway. It was the first visit for the minister who's been in office for only seven months but she says she is impressed with the progress.

Minister Whelan held a press conference on the highway to answer any questions people might have about the construction of the highway.
A press conference... to answer questions! Novel!
In the meantime crews were at work widening and double layering the chip seal (protective coating that makes driving a little smoother) on the roads, which they expect to have finished by 2010. Chip seal has a life expectancy of 5-8 years whereas asphalt can last about 20 years.
Chip seal? Gee, would that be the substance that a certain MHA (whose name escapes) used to deride as "cheap seal", once upon a time? Or a different substance?
Deon Tee, the regional director for the Department of Transportation and Works, says a total of 100 kilometers remains to be completed from HV-GB to Cartwright and it is scheduled to be completed by 2009.

As to why the road from Cartwright to HV-GB isn't being widened as the crew continues, to avoid the work of widening it later, Mr. Tee says the team goes on what is recommended to them and they are building the model recommended by the engineers hired for the project.
The Minister, at a press conference to answer questions, defers to the regional director... who defers to the engineers... which will make it all the easier to play yet another round of Blame Canada: Trans-Labrador Highway Edition when, or if, the government of the province of which Labrador is supposedly a part commits to "surfacing" the entire Trans-Labrador Highway... not just the vote-richest part of it.

The price of democracy

Stephen Penney writes, disappointedley, in a letter to today’s Telegram:

Shame on The Telegram and Heffernan for putting a price tag on democracy. We don't have direct democracy so the next best thing is for people to be well represented.

I have to laugh at the irony of The Telegram's editor, Russell Wangersky, who otherwise constantly attacks the autocratic behaviour of Premier Danny Williams
Autocratic? Agreed!

Something we seem to be good at in this province is cost-cutting when it comes to such things as culture, education and democracy… We've seen it in practice with the Commission of Government, the reduction of the seats in the legislature.. Democracy is not something that should be put on the chopping block or downsized.

To which litany Messr. Penney could well have added:
  • the abandonment of important, centuries-old Parliamentary practices such as the Government actually deigning to answer written questions on the Order Paper (let alone Oral Questions);
  • the Amazing Atrophying Sitting Calendar of the House of Assembly under the leadership, such as it is, who considers the institution a waste of time, as discussed here, here, here, and here;
  • the compete transfiguration of the legislature into a rubber-stamp machine;
  • the appointment of recovering partisans to the traditionally non-partisan offices of Electoral Boundary Commisioners and, especially, of Chief Electoral Officer;
  • the utter abandonment of any pretence of Parliamentary decorum, as discussed here, here, and here;
  • the contemptuous attitude of the government towards court decisions, delegated authorities, judges, and commissions of enquiry, and their role in our system of government;
  • and, especially, the innovative development, almost certainly unique in the Westminster Parliamentary universe, of the electionless ballot, as discussed here, here, and here.
Democracy shouldn’t have a price tag. It shouldn’t be put on the chopping block.

But Penney’s criticism is not a little late, and an awful lot misplaced: none of those things are Wangerky's or Heffernan's fault.

By the twitching of our thumbs

The flow of elective provgov press releases slows down to a trickle; even within those, the WilliamsGovernment ratio has plummetted; Danny Williams-Government himself is all but incommunicado; the cabinet ministers, backbench fluffers, and pitcher-planted callers aren't calling into the diminished-schedule open-line radio shows; and no one in the comms shop has bothered to update the "Featured News" feature in almost a week.

Whatever could it all mean on this, the very eve of a CRA polling month?

Whatever could it all mean as the Cameron Inquiry works steadily through its witness list?

Whatever, oh, whatever, could it all mean?

Completists and numbers junkies, rejoice!

Here, in ever so slightly modified format from the born-digital paper copy of the report, which has yet to, and may never, be posted to the intertubes, are the poll-by-poll results of the June 23, 2005 provincial by-election in the district of Exploits.

The PC candidate was C. Forsey, the Liberal G. Saunders, and the NDP, J.L. Whelan.

Poll No. and Name                                Eligible Voters       Ballots Counted
=============== =====================

(A) (B) PC Lib NDP RB Total

1 Leading Tickles 371 7 105 112 6 2 225
2 Glovers Harbour 81 5 33 25 7 0 65
3 Point Leamington 319 10 105 43 4 0 152
4 Point Leamington 275 3 84 33 9 0 126
5 Pleasantview 47 3 19 17 3 0 39
6 Fortune Harbour 63 10 28 10 1 0 39
7 Cottrell’s Cove, Moores Cove & South West Arm 162 13 52 37 5 0 94
8 Point of Bay, Charles Brook & Ritter’s Arm 116 7 40 19 1 0 60
9 Phillips Head 119 7 18 35 1 0 54
10 Northern Arm 307 23 113 67 9 0 189
11 Botwood 286 12 77 62 1 0 140
12 Botwood 278 19 97 49 8 0 154
13 Botwood 255 6 74 44 10 0 128
14 Botwood 291 21 100 57 5 0 162
15 Botwood 328 15 88 51 4 0 143
16 Botwood 348 20 105 61 15 0 181
17 Botwood 344 14 77 64 5 0 146
18 Botwood 360 14 114 46 14 1 175
19 Botwood 79 1 8 9 0 0 17
20 Peterview 313 13 37 78 0 1 116
21 Peterview 326 11 57 72 4 0 133
22 Bishop’s Falls 364 35 118 84 4 1 207
23 Bishop’s Falls 336 33 85 61 4 0 150
24 Bishop’s Falls 335 18 96 82 3 0 181
25 Bishop’s Falls 325 16 78 83 1 0 162
26 Bishop’s Falls 335 9 76 81 5 1 163
27 Bishop’s Falls 279 21 73 78 7 0 158
28 Bishop’s Falls 302 6 109 67 3 0 179
29 Bishop’s Falls 288 13 68 54 5 0 127
30 Bishop’s Falls 278 25 98 70 2 0 170
31 Bishop’s Falls 321 10 90 89 5 0 184
32 Advance - Botwood 17 99 88 5 1 193
33 Advance - Bishop’s Falls 28 139 104 3 0 246
34 Special (Mail In) Ballots 0 45 26 0 3 74

TOTAL 8231 465 2605 1958 159 10 4732

(A) Revised 2003 List

(B) Swear-In At Polls

RB = Rejected Ballots

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The obituaries have been written.

A moment, please.

Mkay. Moment’s over. Amanda McCarthy asks, rhetorically:
Why should you come down on a paper that Do delve into situations and stories to try and get to the bottom rather then print what it is told to print by some right wing organization.
Delving into situations…

Getting to the bottom…


Stephanie Porter reports in the final issue:

Jonesing for ...
Liberal leader used constituency allowance for travel, research, Labrador arts and crafts, golf balls and snowmobile repairs

The Independent gained access to Jones’ constituency allowance files from 1996-2004 under the province’s Access to Information Act, as part of the paper’s ongoing investigation into the spending of MHAs. Jones’ files were thousands of pages high — in spite of the fact many of the records were impossible to read or incomplete, particularly after 2000.
And Ivan Morgan in the penultimate one:

The flying Fisheries ministers
Rideout, Reid, Jones and Efford defend travel expenses

Four provincial Fisheries ministers spent just over $1 million of ministerial money in a 12-year period between 1996 and 2008, The Independent has learned.

Expenses include $11,000 on trips to Spain and Scotland for ministers and spouses, helicopter charters costing $6,000 or more, and thousands for booze and other expenses.

According to documents obtained under the province’s Freedom of Information legislation, former Liberal Fisheries ministers John Efford, Gerry Reid, Yvonne Jones and Tory MHA Tom Rideout spent the million on travel, entertainment, office supplies, liquor and wine, and other miscellaneous items such as phones, faxes and couriers — for themselves and staff.


The Independent did not request the expenses for PC MHA Trevor Taylor due to budgetary constraints.

The Independent – or The Impecunious – had no budgetary constraints in obtaining “thousands of pages” of the opposition leader’s expenses.

And The Impecunious had no such constraints in going after those of former FishMins, including those from the previous government, and the persona non grata Tom — huckthoo — Rideout.

But The Impecunious had no budget to dig into the once-and-present FishMin Trevor Taylor?

The paranoid tin-foil-hat set who mutter darkly about a media outlet’s being “controlled by directing minds”, about printing “what it is told to print”, and about those who “hold the purse strings”, might equally mutter about The Impecunious’ curious omission in its last two issues… even though, of course, that omission had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Williams Government was, at the time of The Impecunious’ fatal illness, and at various points throughout its earlier history, the paper’s anchor advertising tenant.

“We have no intention of backing off”, Ryan Cleary wrote, “because advertising dollars — government or private — may be in jeopardy.”

This corner is enjoying no particular schadenfreude in seeing The Independent fold. Honestly. Flawed as it was — and boy, was it flawed — it was an outlet. More outlets, even bad ones, are always to be preferred over fewer ones when you’re a media junkie.

(Hands up, everyone who, as a kid, couldn’t wait for the next issue of Decks Awash. Huh. That’s what I thought.)

But hard-hitting investigative journalism — delving, getting to the bottom — is not what The Independent will be missed for around here.

Media scan

And here, without any regard for academic integrity or the value of copyright, are the full texts of every news and opinion piece, [other than Watton's — ed.] which have been published in the past year in the daily and weekly press, and in the broadcast media, on the ridiculous and legally dubious provisions of the Newfoundland and Labrador Elections Act, which allow you to obtain and mark a special ballot in an election or by-election, not only before there are nominated candidates, but before the election has even been called:

This public service has been brought to you by the letter X.

Regionalization (II)

Clyde Jackman "does" money to the "region" which just happens to share a name and location with the electoral district of Trinity-Bay de Verde.

Demo/graphics (I)(e)

Briefly detouring back to the natural population change for a sec, this chart shows the long-term trend in Newfoundland and Labrador, since Confederation in 1949.

In the decade following Confederation, in the middle of the baby boom, the surplus of births over deaths — that is, natural population increase — itself increased, dramatically. At its peak, the natural population increase was nearly 3500 more babies than deaths per quarter.

Since the early 1960s, the rate of natural population increase declined. It was still high — until 1980, the province had the highest rate of natural increase of any of the provinces — but the trend was established. And even though the slope lessened somewhat in the late 1990s, the accelerating number of deaths, and declining number of births, pushed the province overall into its first quarterly natural population loss in 2003Q1. (Individual sub-regions had already become harbingers of the coming demographic crunch.)

Data is available now up to 2008Q1. In ten of the past 21 quarters, going back to 2003Q1, the province has shown a surfeit of deaths over births.

In the first quarter of 2008, the estimated natural population decline — births minus deaths — was -253. That is the same as wiping a community the size of Sandringham, St. Lewis, River of Ponds, or Tilting off the map.

And this was the sixth consecutive quarter of natural population loss. From the 2006Q4 until 2008Q1 inclusive, the natural population decline was -610, equivalent to losing an entire community the size of Englee, Port au Port East, Trout River, Ramea, or Birchy Bay.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


One J.A. McGrath writes to the Telegram today to “correct” the record:
I had the honour of bestowing the highest rank of the Order of Canada on Mr. Smallwood at Government House in St. John's during my tenure as lieutenant-governor in 1987.
Of course, said J.A. McGrath was probably too busy, six years earlier, to have read Barbara Yaffe’s report in the February 9th edition of the — huckthoo — Toronto Globe and Mail:
So lambasted in some quarters has Mr. Smallwood been that the 80-year-o ld politician apparently has felt a need to redeem himself. To that end he has written, among others, two books (both published in 1979): The Time Has Come to Tell and No Apology From Me.


([The Time Has Come to Tell], by the way, contains some great gossip, revealing Mr. Smallwood's intense dislike of John Crosbie; his belief that Mr. Peckford is a true Grit in Tory togs; his belief that Pierre Trudeau has retreated from Liberal principles; and his repeated refusal to accept both a Senate seat and an Order of Canada commendation.) In No Apology From Me, Mr. Smallwood thumbs his nose at those anti-Confederates still a'cursing over affiliation with the mainland foreigners.
But hey, if nothing else, today’s letter by J.A. McGrath confirms the identity of a previous, equally fact-challenged epistlist also named J.A. McGrath, who wrote to complain that
We have never had a judge on the highest court in the land in the 60 years that we have been a constituent part of the federation.
Yes, that J.A. McGrath who was a PC government MP in 1985 when Gérard La Forest, a — huckthooNew Brunswicker, was named to the Supreme Court of Canada in the place of the long-serving notionally “Atlantic” justice, Ritchie of — huckthooNova Scotia — also appointed while said J.A. McGrath was a PC government MP.

Between them, Ritchie and La Forest JJ. occupied 37 of those 60 years on the Supreme Court of Canada.


The Burin-Placentia West "region" is the latest "region" to have HappyMoney™ "done" to it.

Sixty years ago today

Sixty years ago today, residents of Labrador cast a ballot for only the third time in history, in the second and deciding round of the 1948 referendum.

The previous two had been the June referendum, in which continuing Commission of Government was eliminated as an option, and the 1946 National Convention election, in which Labrador sent Confederation supporter Rev. Lester Burry as its representative.

During more than a century of responsible government in Newfoundland, the elected government of Newfoundland never saw fit to extend the democratic franchise to Labrador.

By some quirk of administrative history, the poll-by-poll results for the referendum in Labrador have survived. For the interests of posterity, they are reproduced below in modified form from the table published in Them Days 10(2), 1984.

                  Confederation     Responsible
with Canada Government

L'anse au Clair 74 0
Forteau 91 6
L'anse Amour 17 6
L'anse au Loup 60 14
Capstan Island 32 1
West St Modeste 55 10
Pinware 46 9
Red Bay 76 3
Barge Bay 29 0
Henley Harbour 61 6
Cape Charles 51 7
Battle Harbour 35 32
Indian Cove 36 0
Trap Cove 63 1
St. Mary's River 20 1
Fox Harbour 64 1
Port Hope Simpson 49 10
William's Harbour 24 6
George's Cove 49 16
Square Islands 17 11
Frenchman's Island 28 14
Batteau 35 10
Black Tickle 21 43
Spotted Islands 57 5
Indian Tickle 21 17
Grady 14 14
Cape North 12 6
Pack's Harbour 21 5
Cartwright 67 0
Independent 63 5
Old Man's Cove 19 2
Fox Point 15 0
Separation Point 30 1
West Bay 15 0
Rigolet 61 1
North West River 155 1
Mud Lake 13 0
Goose Airport (Can.) 55 12
Goose Airport (US) 63 114
Hamilton River 91 13
Cape Harrison 23 0
Aillik 38 5
Three Rapids 17 0
Davis Inlet 23 1
Voisey's Bay 19 0
Nain 64 1
Queen's Lakes 59 3
Hebron 86 7
Nutak 58 7
Saglek 30 2
Not only did Labrador vote overwhelmingly for Confederation — it had the highest Confederation with Canada vote in the June round; the fifth-highest in the second — all but three polling divisions voted for the Confederation option.

One poll was tied.

Not only that, but there were only nine polls where the Responsible Government side got more than 25% of the vote.

Not only that, but in 28 of the 50 polls, Responsible Government got less than 10%.

And not only that, but in fully a fifth of the polls, the RGL got blanked.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a boom looks like (I)

Given the propensity in some quarters to view residential construction statistics as one of the sure-firest ways of telling whether an economy is booming or not, it might be worth doing a little head-check.

The following graphs show the value ($millions) of construction permits in three classes (residential, commercial, and industrial construction), in several provinces, going back to the 1970s, with data to May 2008. The graphs show the twelve-month trailing average of the monthly figures; the averaging smooths out the seasonality that is inherent to this type of indicator. Note that the verticale scale is not common.

This is Alberta:



British Columbia:
Nova Scotia:
For now, the object lesson is this: protracted periods of economic growth, as revealed in residential housing statistics, tend to coincide show growth in the value of all three classes of construction.

Similarly, economic downturns tend to reveal themselves across all three classes.

The match isn't always exact. Saskatchewan's latest boom is showing up only loosely in the industrial construction trend, and the housing stats show no meaningful trend in the early 1980s recession in Ontario. B.C.'s booming housing construction market of the early to mid 1990s was not sustained by the province's economic fundamentals, which shows in the later decline (and the epidemic of leaky condos built on the cheap.)

Overall, however, there is a good case to be made that sustained economic growth shows can be measured throughout an economy — when it's actually happening.


The other slush fund? (II)

A follow-up to a posting from May, which quoted the following statement in the House of Assembly by Municipal Affairs Minister Dave Denine:
When the money is dealt with in multi-year capital works, it is not done to a district. It is done to a municipality. In terms of the municipality, there could be one or two in each municipality and it is done to the municipality.
It's a good thing that Multi-Year Capital Works funding isn't "done" to a district.

Increasingly, though, every other provincial spending program seems to be. Take, for instance, this most curious report by Kent Burton in the July 10th edition of the Grand Falls-Windsor Advertiser:
Grand Falls-Windsor's parks and recreation department recently applied for three grants to help fund a number of projects it has in store over the next few months.

First off, the town has applied for two recreation capital grants - one from both of the town's MHAs, Susan Sullivan and Ray Hunter.

Parks and recreation director Dave Nichols explained each MHA has so much allocated for their district and may grant a project up to $3,000.


Any funding granted from Sullivan's Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans district would be used to purchase portable spectator barriers and some portable staging and skirting to help with trade shows.


In Hunter's Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay South district, the town plans on using any money allotted towards the department's rainy day program at Windsor Stadium.


The third grant is the community capital grant, which allots up to $15,000 for a project.

The selection process works differently for the latter grant. While the recreation capital grants are decided by each MHA individually, the community grant is rated by an administrator in St. John's and is generally reserved for bigger projects.
Hmmm. See, Pasadena?

(Curiously, there doesn't seem to be any mention of a program called Recreation Capital Grants anywhere on the website of The Most Open And Accountable Government In The Galaxy. Odd.)
Anywho... back over at Denine's shop, while the announcements keep rolling out for the Multi-Year Capital Works projects — which are "done" to municipalities — the same stream of press releases yields a different policy for the Municipal Capital Works program... a program which is very clearly "done" to electoral districts:
Terra Nova Communities Receive Funding for Infrastructure Improvements

Communities in The Straits-White Bay District Receive Funding for Infrastructure Improvements
And no, Dave, you're not fooling anyone by swapping out the word "district" and plugging in "area", as in "Terra Nova area" or "The Straits-White Bay area"... Especially not when the local MHAs are hitching their wagons to the gravy train.

Similarly, over at Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Clyde Jackman and Heather May are deceiving no one but themselves when the thumb a little further down in Roget's Thesaurus and start "doing" money not to recipients, but rather to the "Terra Nova region" or the "Trinity North region".

Up-diddley-date: Money is done to the Bonavista North region and the St. Barbe area; a region and an area which just happen to share names with electoral districts; whose MHAs just happen to be in on the announcements. And the latter gets bonus points for Williamsgovernmentiness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On timing, appropriate

Following the — insert overdramatic voice-echo effect here — Council of the Federation! meetings in Quebec City this past week, Danny Williams used a meeting of provincial and territorial premier to, yet again, fed-bash. As the nefarious Quebec-based newspapers report:
The premier also raised the issue of increasing ferry rates for Marine Atlantic, and again called on the federal government to take action.

He said the high cost of crossing the Cabot Strait is damaging the province's economic competitiveness.
Never mind, of course, that nautical mile for nautical mile, the Marine Atlantic ferries are among the cheapest in Canada. Given that even Our Dear Energy Plan assumes that the cost of oil will remain high, and grow higher, for decades to come, the cost of crossing the Cabot Strait is not likely to fall back any time soon.

But you know what is a cheap way, at least in absolute terms, of getting to and from Newfoundland?

Crossing the Strait of Belle Isle. That's what.

However, opening up the Straits route as an alternative to the Cabot Strait would mean that Danny would have to do a couple of things that, so far, he seems to be allergic to doing.

It would mean spending real, meaningful, and unconditional provincial dollars on improving highway transportation in Labrador.

And it would mean working with Quebec to extend and improve the highway system linking that province and Labrador.

So here's the thing. Back in 2005, when Williams Government finally, and in total defiance of its then still-fresh promise to release government reports within 30 days, released the pre-feasability study into a Strait of Belle Isle fixed link, Williams Government himself said:
"Nothing happens here [regarding a fixed link] unless the Quebec north shore [highway] gets done... In order to make this economically feasible and viable from any perspective, [highway] 138 has to be completed."
Right on. Indeed, even making the Strait of Belle Isle a viable alternative to the Cabot Strait by sea, let alone a fantabulous fixed link, would require the completion of Route 138. Which made his next remark all the more interesting:
He said he will speak to Quebec Premier Jean Charest "at the appropriate time."
What could possibly have been a more "appropriate time" than a meeting, of provincial premiers, hosted by Jean Charest, in Quebec, in Quebec City, a city that would benefit from the development of the North Shore route to Newfoundland and Labrador?

But, hey, fed-bashing is easy. Marine Atlantic-bashing, easier still. Any idiot can fed-bash. Any Idiot usually does.

Real leadership? That's pretty hard. More than three years after those tepid remarks, nearly five years after assuming power, the Premier has yet to show any real leadership on this front.

Instead, any real move to improve the economic competitiveness of "the province" — since when is Labrador dependent on the Gulf ferry? — is once again brushed aside. There are few things that could more improve the competitive position of the province — all of it — than opening up another surface route to both Labrador and Newfoundland.

We Know What He's Fighting For.

All these years later, though, you have to ask: what is he working for?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For Danny and Joan

Joan Forsey, in what may well be her last NewfNat revisionist rant in the pages of the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist, says:
With regard to the fishery, the federal government’s record has been equally — if not more — detrimental to the province. It made major decisions without even consulting the province (e.g., when closing fisheries). And it has ignored the province’s two perennial requests: for a stronger federal stand against overfishing outside the 200-mile limit; and for joint management of the fishery.

As Roger Grimes said when he was premier in 2003: “Some form of joint management has been sought by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and advocated by various independent bodies since the late 1970s. All have been met with rejection, dismissal, inaction, or silence by the federal government, a trend that continues today.”
Perhaps it has been forgotten in the Great Selective Memory Hole that is the Newfoundland Nationalist mindset, but in the 2003 provincial election, Danny Williams' platform promised:
A Progressive Conservative government will pursue a Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries.
During the 2005-06 federal election campaign, the Harper Conservatives promised:
A Conservative Government will adopt, with any interested coastal province or territory, a system of increased provincial management over fisheries through a system of joint management and joint fisheries councils modelled on the system proposed by unanimous resolution of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in May 2003 and as detailed in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador's white paper on the subject as released in 2003.
Then, all of a sudden, nothing happened. Harper was elected in January 2006, and, other than repeating his 2003 promise, word for word, in his 2007 platform, Danny Williams the man who would be Taoiseach, has not uttered the phrase "joint management" since.

How come, Joan?

How come, Danny?

Isn't this one of those "perennial requests"?

Or is Danny just not a Premier of an "interested coastal province"?


Since the Elections Act, 1991, and the Interpretation Act are both silent on the definition of "publish"....

Publish. To make public, to circulate, to make known to people in general. To issue, to put into circulation… An advising of the public or making known of something to the public for a purpose. See also Publication.

Publication. To make public, to make known to people in general; to bring before public; to exhibit, display, disclose or reveal. The act of publishing anything; offering it to publc notice, or rendering it accessible to public scrutiny. An advising of the public; a making known of something to them for a purpose.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th (abridged)

How's that, Paul?

Vote early, vote often?

And speaking of by-elections and the Elections Office... in what kind of banana republic does the elections office start publicising a by-election — in this case, Cape St. Francis — before it has even been called?

Oh yeah — that would be the same kind of banana republic where you can vote in a by-election before it's even been called.

Was that so hard?

The Chief Electoral Officer finally, and long, long past the statutory deadline for publishing them — publish, folks, same etymology as public — posts the statutorily-required poll-by-poll results of the 2007 general election and the by-elections held in 2007 and 2006.

The date on the report?

July 7th. Nine months less two days after the general election. For mysterious reasons known best by the Chief Electoral Officer, who is the former president of the governing PC Party, the document, which was obviously "born digital", was not posted to the intertubes for almost another two weeks.

Why does it take nine months to produce an election report in the second-least populous province of Canada?

Why should the CEO even have the luxury of nine months? The Premier made a great show of reducing the time-limit for the holding of by-elections; he and his rubber-stamp parliament can do the same with regards to making the results of those by-elections, and general elections, public.

If the elections office isn't going to do its job in a timely, efficient, and public — there's that good old Latin root again — manner, they should have the choice of being lax, inefficient, and secretive taken away from them. Immediately.

And what happened to the 2005 by-election report from Exploits? We're still waiting on those, Paul.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hollowing out (III)

"But oh!", they will protest, "things have gotten so much better under the leadership of Our Dear Premier! Avant lui, le déluge!"

But not so fast.

In twelve of the twenty Economic Zones, the three-year percentage decline in the number of business enterprises, from 2003 to 2006, was larger than the five-year decline from 1998 to 2003.

The following map is colour-coded, with shades of blue representing the Zones in which the business decline was worse in the Williams Era — remember the "Williams Effect"? — than in the last five years of the previous government. Conversely, those in shades of red represent districts in which the decline was worse under the previous five years of Liberal governments.

In the legend key, the columns are, left to right, the Economic Zone number, the five-year change under the Tobin-Grimes administrations, and the three-year change under the Williams Government:

(The St. John's area shows growth during both periods, but smaller growth during Tobin-Grimes than under Williams.)

Remember, this analysis actually contains a built-in bias that favours the economic record of the current government: five years of generally declining business enterprise numbers vs. three years (the latest three available) for the current one. Taking out this skew by using the average of the five last Liberal years and the average of the first three Williams Government years, and one more zone (Central Labrador) tilts to the worse-off-now-than-then column.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hollowing out (II)

As noted in the first posting in this series, Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency data show a steady decline in the number of business enterprises in most parts of the province over the past decade.

St. John's, and to a lesser degree, the smaller urban centres along the Trans-Canada Highway, have bucked the overall trend. Broken down regionally, St. John's shows growths and plateaux; the "Trans-Canada Corridor" (roughly Corner Brook through Clarenville) show decline with recent levelling-off or modest growth; and Labrador and rural Newfoundland show continued and steady decline. This graph shows the numerical change:

Numerical change in number of business enterprises, 1998-2006

Here is the same data, this time as an index chart where 1998 is the baseline, showing the percentage change in each four subsets of the province as compared to that baseline. By "indexing" the data in this manner, the relative change trends are brought into sharper relief.

Again, St. John's shows patterns of growth and plateaux. (Of late, another plateau has been reached.) The TCH corridor has pulled out of the steep dive. But in Labrador and rural Newfoundland, at least to 2006, there was no obvious sign of touching bottom. (Indeed, in Labrador, the trendline took a turn for the worse.)

Relative change in number of business enterprises since 1998


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hollowing out (I)

Using stats available at the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, a cleverly colour-coded map showing the percentage change in the number of business enterprises, by Economic Zone, between 1998 and 2006. (The latter year is the most recent for which stats by Economic Zone are made available.)

Only the St. John's area (not quite, but almost exactly like, the St. John's CMA) has shown an increase over that span of time.

Note, in particular, that the four zones hardest hit by this "hollowing out" are the two southern Labrador zones which enjoyed new access via a new highway, and the economic activity associated with its construction; the Gulf coast of the Northern Peninsula, home to one of the province's major tourism draws (Gros Morne); and the southwestern lobe of the Avalon Peninsula, where half of the Voisey's Bay megaproject is slated to take shape.

Those where the relative decline has been less, approximate the distribution of the mid-sized centres, where single large primary industries are coupled with regional service hub functions, along the Trans-Canada Highway.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Demo/graphics (II)(e)

And here's the third in the series of longitudinal look-sees at interprovincial migration trends for each of the province's census divisions and the St. John's CMA, on a go-backwards basis. This chart shows the net interprovincial migration estimates for the Avalon (minus the St. John's CMA), the rest of the Avalon, and the two other census divisions in eastern Newfoundland:
Note that the only region to have shown net in-migration at any time in this period has been the Bonavista area. The result might be accounted for by the ramp-up of Hibernia construction at Bull Arm, which benefitted the Clarenville area in particular... except that the trend in CD 7 begins before construction really got going.

Note as well that the impact of the moratorium was felt numerically, if not proportionately, hardest in the St. John's area, and again an across-the board increase in out-migration to other provinces throughout eastern Newfoundland, except for in the St. John's CMA in the last year shown.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 14, 2008

The C-word

Ross Wiseman is miffed:

Doctors Careless with Word
July 14, 2008

The minister of health is accusing the association which represents doctors of being opportunistic and creating a false impression of a crisis. Ross Wiseman wants the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association to quit using the word "crisis" when focusing on a particular community, region or medical field. On VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms this morning, Wiseman said the association is laying the groundwork for the next round of bargaining in nine months' time.

The medical association declined immediate comment on the minister's accusations.
(Another account via a letter to Nefarious Quebec-Based Anti-Us Propaganda Rag.)

For the interest and information of the medical association, when it does break its radio silence on the Minister's latest fit of sookiness:

A fresh approach to health policy

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for Health Policy and Planning, issued the following statement at a news conference today in St. John's.
We believe the consultative process is important to finding a solution to the health crisis, but the situation demands open, transparent debate in a free forum where constructive proposals are welcome. Exclusive clubs will not give the government the information it needs to make the critical decisions the situation demands.

[Press release, October 2, 2001]

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for Health Policy and Planning, says, “What this province urgently needs to hear from the Grimes government before it brings down another budget is a clear, unambiguous statement about its intentions for the health system and the implications for service delivery.”

“This lurching from health crisis to health crisis has gone on long enough,” said Wiseman, who notes that the festering deficit and debt problems of the health boards are jeopardizing patient care.

[Press release, February 15, 2002]

With four of the eight medical oncology positions in the province currently vacant and one of six radiation oncology positions vacant, Opposition Health Policy and Planning critic Ross Wiseman is asking the Minister of Health and Community Services how she plans to address the crisis in cancer diagnosis and treatment that has pushed oncologists to the breaking point and left patients to worry whether they are getting the timely care they need.

[Press release, March 25, 2002]

My question today to the minister is: What is she going to do today about the crisis we are going to be facing in the treatment of cancer patients for this Province?

Oncology crisis just “the tip of the iceberg”: Wiseman

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for Health Policy and Planning, says it is not only oncologists in this province who have been pushed to the breaking point. Other physicians are equally stressed and ready to take action, either collectively or as individuals, he said.

“We've seen just the tip of the iceberg of the crisis that has gripped physicians in the Newfoundland and Labrador health system,” he said.

[Press release, April 11, 2002]

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition's health critic, says it is not only oncologists in the province who have been pushed to the breaking point.

Other physicians are equally stressed and ready to take action, either collectively or as individuals, he said.

“We've seen just the tip of the iceberg of the crisis that has gripped physicians in the Newfoundland and Labrador health system,' said Wiseman.

“I gave the government ample warning of the brewing crisis among oncologists, but they ignored it.

“Will they also ignore my warning that the crisis among doctors in other fields is growing more serious, as well?” he asked.

[St. John's Telegram, April 12, 2002]

“When I questioned former Health Minister Julie Bettney about this in the House of Assembly in March, she said the government had recruited two cancer specialists – one who would start on the first of July, and the other who would start in October. Unfortunately, although we are getting an additional oncologist in July and another in October, the October arrival will occur at the very time one of our current oncologists goes on a six-month maternity leave. So we will only be one oncologist ahead of where we are now, and the crisis will continue,” [Wiseman] said.
[Press release, June 21, 2002]

Wiseman asks Health Minister why all the reports remain hidden

“The government has been operating for years without a strategic health plan, spending billions upon billions of public dollars without a strategy to ensure the money is being spent effectively. It is not surprising, then, that the health system is in a perpetual state of crisis and health professionals are deeply frustrated,” he said.

[Press release, June 28, 2002]

Ross Wiseman, Opposition critic for health policy and planning, however, believes government is waiting too long to release information on the “long-awaited” plan.


“Each month lost is another month lurching from crisis to crisis, fraught with the kind of uncertainty that leaves many patients feeling nervous and many health professionals wishing they were elsewhere. It is a ridiculous way to operate a health system,” said Wiseman.

[Deana Stokes Sullivan, St. John's Telegram, June 29, 2002]

Government's handling of emergency physician shortage could create crisis in rural areas

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for Health Policy and Planning, says the provincial government's handling of the emergency physician shortage at the Health Sciences Centre could create a crisis in rural areas of the province.

The Health Sciences Centre is short ten emergency room physicians, and the government's recruitment efforts have had little success in attracting the new physicians needed to avert a crisis in the delivery of emergency care. “Long waits for emergency room services threaten to compromise patient care,” he said.

“Unfortunately for rural areas of our province, the government's recruitment efforts have been catching the attention of physicians in our own rural communities. And, while luring physicians from rural communities to the Health Sciences emergency department might be a quick fix to the emergency room crisis, it would create a deeper and broader crisis throughout rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Wiseman.

“Shuffling doctors from one area of our province to another does not address the fundamental problem of physician shortages – and in some instances, it may even make the crisis worse and undermine the efforts we have been making to attract doctors to our rural areas,” he said.
Wiseman said, “The failure of the government's physician recruitment efforts is just another predictable consequence of the government's failure to develop and implement a long-term health strategy. The government has instead been lurching from crisis to crisis – and, as we saw with the fallout from last year's Hay report, their bandaid approach is actually doing more harm than good.”

[Press release, July 5, 2002]

“The government is compromising the health care of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by delaying an announcement out of fear of the immediate political consequences,” said Wiseman. “The government is more interested in pretending it's doing a good job than in acknowledging the crisis that has gripped our health system and is threatening the health care of our people.”

[Press release, July 16, 2002]

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for Health Policy and Planning, said the same kind of midyear fiscal crisis that gripped the province's health boards in 2001 has begun to grip boards again this year.


“By leaving the crisis to fester until September – midway through the fiscal year – the Minister forced the boards to cut even deeper than they would have had to if the deficit problem had been identified earlier in the year and the cuts could have been spread out over a longer period.”

“This year, we have a new Minister but the same kind of crisis is brewing. It's déjà vu all over again as another Minister watches the problem fester without publicly acknowledging its magnitude,” he said. “The government has apparently learned nothing from its mistakes.”

[Press release, July 17, 2002]

With interns and residents poised to suspend locum services at noon today and one health care corporation importing high-priced substitutes, Opposition Health Policy and Planning critic Ross Wiseman is holding the Grimes government to account for provoking the physician crisis by neglecting its responsibility to focus on long-term planning.


He said, “We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg of a huge physician crisis that is threatening the province's health care system. In March, the province's oncologists, who were at the end of their rope, announced they were reducing their workload. Now it is interns and residents. The government is currently in talks with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, and we understand that those talks are not going well. I predict that by early fall, all physicians in the province will be on the verge of some form of job action.”

“The responsibility for provoking this crisis rests solely on the shoulders of the Grimes government. For years, they have neglected their obligation to develop a long-term human resource management strategy for our health system. The people of the province are now suffering the consequences of the government's outrageous neglect. By allowing this crisis to fester unaddressed either because they don't know how to address it or because they don't care, the government has pushed physicians in the province to the edge of what they can tolerate,” he said. “With this government's attitude and its reliance on short-term, knee-jerk reactions to crises without any long-term strategic planning, we expect that, by early fall, all physicians in the province will be contemplating similar action.”

[Press release, July 26, 2002]

Opposition health critic Ross Wiseman wants the provincial government to allocate additional money to offset a lengthy waiting list for government-subsidized home support services.

“The province's home-support services are in crisis and that crisis is not going to disappear by simply ignoring it,” said Wiseman. “The situation warrants an immediate infusion of cash so the boards can meet patients' needs, and it calls for a long-term strategy to ensure the province puts its home-support services on a sound footing for the future.”

[Deanna Stokes Sullivan, St. John's Telegram, August 10, 2002]

The first-quarter budget figures from the province's health and community services boards indicate the boards are not able to make ends meet on the funding they have been given.

Ross Wiseman, the Opposition critic for health policy and planning, said the same kind of mid-year fiscal crisis that gripped the province's health boards in 2001 has begun to grip boards again this year.

“She told the boards they would have to impose restraint measures in order to come in on target,” he said. “By leaving the crisis to fester until September - midway through the fiscal year - the minister forced the boards to cut even deeper than they would have had to if the deficit problem had been identified earlier in the year and the cuts could have been spread out over a longer period.”

[The Western Star, July 27, 2002]

Opposition Health Policy and Planning critic Ross Wiseman said, in light of the crisis the Health Minister allowed health boards to fall into late last year, it is incumbent on the Minister to release the first-quarter financial results for all the province's institutional and health and community services boards now.

“Given the fact that the boards had slipped deeply into deficit positions by the time fall rolled around last year and the Minister had only half the year remaining to address the ensuing crisis, the current Minister should have been monitoring and reporting on the boards' financial circumstances this year on a far-more-frequent basis to ensure nothing like that happened again,” he said.

[Press release, August 29, 2002]

Health Minister Gerald Smith doesn't have any idea how many doctors are needed to run the province's health-care system, says Tory health critic Ross Wiseman.

“I believe we do have a crisis. The crisis is not only that we have a large number of vacancies we can't fill,” Wiseman said Thursday.

[Barb Sweet, St. John's Telegram, August 30, 2002]

With one health care corporation now reporting an operating deficit for the first quarter of about $1 million and the Health Minister's so-called ‘strategic health plan' promising no new funding to help boards cope with the crunch, Opposition Health Policy and Planning critic Ross Wiseman is again urging the Health Minister to immediately release all health boards' first-quarter fiscal reports and announce how he plans to address the looming crisis.

“Two months ago, on July 17, I raised concerns that the province's health boards were starting to experience the same kind of financial crisis that had gripped them in 2001 – but the Minister ignored the alarm bells. On August 29, after hearing that the western board was in trouble, I urged the Minister to release all health boards' updates for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which ended June 30 – but again, the Minister didn't see fit to acknowledge my concern or issue a response. A week ago, the chair of the Western Health Care Corporation announced a first-quarter operating deficit of about $1 million, confirming our fears,” said Wiseman.

“So here we are, with two weeks remaining in the second quarter, yet the Minister still hasn't seen fit to release the health boards' first-quarter fiscal results even though we know that at least one region is experiencing the deep financial problems that the previous Minister left to fester until midway through 2001, with tragic results. Another year, another Minister, yet we see the same failure to be open, honest and effective in addressing a crisis threatening our health system,” he said. “Is this what the Premier means by openness, transparency and effectiveness?”

[Press release, September 18, 2002]

Despite frequent warnings for more than a decade, the Liberal government has done nothing to prepare itself for the increasing number of seniors requiring nursing-home beds, says Opposition health critic Ross Wiseman.

“This is something predictable. ... We know we had the bulk of baby boomers coming through the system,” Wiseman said. “It really is irresponsible not to have been better prepared for this event today. ... it is criminal that we have people like these eight today who find themselves in a crisis.”

[St. John's Telegram, November 1, 2002]

Opposition Health critic Ross Wiseman is amazed that the Grimes government has waited to hold its first contract talks with the province's private ambulance operators until just five days before their existing contract is due to expire. “How could the government refuse to come to the bargaining table to negotiate a new deal with ambulance operators and avert a crisis until the eleventh hour when things are down to the wire?”

“This government that talks of long-term planning has certainly had ample time to plan a strategy to address the concerns of private ambulance operators, but it has instead squandered that time and brought the province to the brink of yet another avoidable crisis in our health system. The government's negligence and indifference is inexplicable and irresponsible. Do they even care?

[Press release, March 25, 2003]

Opposition Health critic Ross Wiseman said, “A PC Government would be handling the ambulance situation differently from the way the Grimes government has been handling it over the past two years.”

He said, “Not only was the current crisis foreseeable and preventable; in fact, the ambulance operators themselves – and I, as Health critic – were urging the government months ago to take proactive measures to avert the crisis before it even began. crisis management is no substitute for long-range planning and is no way to run a health system, yet it is the approach of choice for the Grimes government.”
[Press release, July 4, 2003]

“What's happening is this plan is another example of where we have short-term Band-aid solutions to what is a major crisis we are facing in long -term care,” Wiseman said.

“Transition beds ... are a stop-gap measure ... we find ourselves, as a province, witnessing one more time the consequence of a government that has demonstrated clearly that it reacts to crisis situations and has not over the past 10 years given adequate consideration to long-term planning.”

[Barb Sweet, St. John's Telegram, August 2, 2003]

Opposition Health critic Ross Wiseman says the ambulance situation is a crisis of the government's own making.

“Resolving this crisis will require more than changing a few items in a contract.”
[Press release, August 15, 2003]

In which L. Ian MacDonald makes stuff up

From the Montreal Gazette:
Newfoundland is actively seeking to develop the Lower Churchill, but its own needs, even including an aluminum smelter at Voisey's Bay, are far short of the undeveloped capacity.
Aluminum smelter?

At Voisey's Bay???!!???!

Demo/graphics (II)(d)

Here's the twenty-year longitudinal net outmigration estimates for central and southern Newfoundland, by census division. Again, remember this is net interprovincial outmigration from each division, factoring back in the number of people who have moved into, or back to, a census division in Newfoundland from somewhere else in Canada.

Not surprisingly, the Northeast coast took the brunt of the demographic impact of the cod moratorium in 1992. Note also that, after slowing down almost to the point of net in-migration by 2002, outmigration picked up speed across the board in almost every year since.

The only census division of these four to have had at least one year of net interprovincial in-migration since the mid-1980s was Central's very modest positive showing in 1990. It remains to be seen whether the recent provincial-scale net-inmigration has benefitted any of these regions in particular.

Labels: ,