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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Numbers junkie needs a fix

The last provincial election in Manitoba was held on May 22, 2007. 420,540 ballots were cast. Later in that same calendar year, the poll-by-poll results of that election were published by the provincial electoral office.

The latest provincial election in Saskatchewan was held on November 7, 2007. 453,009 ballots were cast. The poll-by-poll results of that election are already available.

The latest provincial election in Quebec was held on March 26, 2007. 4,010,696 electors cast ballots. Poll-by-poll results, in Excel format no less, were made available on the internets on June 19, 85 days later.

The most recent federal election, the largest electoral event in the country, was held on January 23, 2006. 14,817,159 ballots were marked at 65,477 polling stations. Poll-by-poll results, also in Excel format, were published just 49 days later, on March 13.

The previous provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador was on October 21, 2003. There were 278,328 ballots cast. Poll-by-polls were transmitted to the Legislature on July 9, 2004, 262 days later, and published sometime after that, in hard-to-use .pdf format.

The latest provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador was on Octobe 9, 2007. 113 days later, there are still no poll-by-polls, not even for fewer ballots, not even after a longer elapse of time, than general elections in other Canadian jurisdictions.

Why does it take so long?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008









Sinn fein

Danny Williams, of course, is "going it alone!" on the Lower Churchill.

Now hurry up, Ottawa, and gissa big pot of money to go it alone with.

From the recently-rehabilitated Globe and Mail:
Mr. Williams said his province can use its abundant hydroelectric resources to provide other regions with a clean source of electricity. But he said it will cost billions of dollars to develop hydroelectric projects on the Lower Churchill River in his province and then build the transmission lines to export some of the power to other provinces. He said it is imperative that the federal government get involved in helping to finance such an initiative.

Monday, January 28, 2008


If I'm listening to CBC Radio in NewfoundlandLabrador, doesn't that make you AmyHouse?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


From Radio-Canada:
Les détails de l'entente de partenariat signé en décembre dernier entre Hydro-Québec et la MRC de la Minganie pour la construction d'un complexe hydroélectrique sur la rivière la Romaine ont été dévoilés jeudi.
Newfoundland nationalists: start your conspiracy theories!


Construction of provincial buildings on schedule, says minister.

Erm - most of them, anyway, says same minister.

All other countries run by little girls

Come grasp the mighty phenis of our Leader. From the internets:

peter whittle from st. johns, Canada writes: I am not a supporter of the PC Party in Newfoundland and Labrador but I have a great deal of respect for Premier Danny Williams.

He is a great student of history who is trying to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador gets to take maximum advantage of the wealth that we will have for a short period of time from our non-renewable resources. He is trying to accomplish what it took Alberta decades to do.

The Harper Conservatives made commitments to him and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that would allow us to benefit to greater extend from our new found wealth. To catch-up and build for the future. Standing on our own two feet only to fall back again is not the goal.

Sure he is stubborn. You have to be when your the runt of the Canadian litter. He is not going to be walked over and we respect him for that

Posted 25/01/08 at 9:30 PM EST Alert an Editor Link to Comment

Friday, January 25, 2008

Timing is everything

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation (the Department) invited public comment on the draft guidelines for the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project on December 19th, 2007.

The week before Christmas.

With a deadline of this coming Monday.

Today, the Honourable Charlene Johnson for some reason felt it necessary to personally re-issue the CEAA release which effectively concedes that maybe the timing of the inital comment period wasn't so good after all.

Of course, the announcement of the new deadline — now pushed back to February 27th — was also made at five minutes to four on a stormy Friday afternoon.

You gotta love the openness and transparency of The Most Accountable Government In The Galaxy.

And lookie! The Public Accounts — no, Westcott, Public Accounts, Public — are out, too!

Out of the Tory Blue

John Gray writes in the Globe and Mail's Report on Business — not that anyone in Newfoundland reads it anymore, being a heretical publication:
Williams hadn't been born when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. But during an interview in his office overlooking St. John's, the Premier announces out of the blue that he would not have been a Confederate if he had been old enough to vote in the 1948 referendums. His ballot would have been for an independent Newfoundland, a country not tied to a government in distant Ottawa.
Surprise, surprise.

Danny wouldn't have been a Confederate, then... just as he isn't one, now.

And "out of the blue"?

No, John Gray — not out of the blue at all. Not from Mr How-Irish-We-Are. Not from Mr How-Icelandic-We-Are. Not from Mr How-Norwegian-We-Are.

Not from the guy who, from the Flag Flap to the incessant fed-bashing to the plagiarizing of André Laurendeau and Jean Lesage and René Lévesque to the interminable research trips to I*eland to the vague warnings of "dire consequences" to the repetition like the mantra of some deranged cult of the phrase "go it alone"; no, John Gray, from a Premier who has spent the past four years using every opportunity that his office and the trappings of state offer him to try and stir up separatist sentiment, no, John Gray, that was not out of the blue.

You bin played.



"I think I represent, in my heart and soul, the hearts and souls of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians..." — Danny Williams, 2007

"...if things get hot and heavy with the feds again, this [the cellphone incident] could come back as a bit of ad hominem against the premier (and thus the province)." — one of Danny Williams' many young fans, 2008

What's sadder, really?

That Danny Williams casts himself in the role of Father of the Motherland?

Or that his fan club does?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The L-word

Butler pushes.

Butler presses.

Butler pressures.

Butler urges.

But Butler, not being a lobbyist, does not "lobby".


V for Vendetta

My but it's interesting how many members of the Spontaneous Outrage Organizational Committee, in their emails and phone calls defending the honour of Our Dear Premier and his phone usage habits, seem compelled to shoot the messenger — that Nape worker — with the word "vendetta".

Not at all unlike how, not so long ago, Spontaneous Outrage Organizational Committee invariably said that everyone and anyone who disagreed with Our Dear Premier about anything, was "negative" and engaged in "non-constructive criticism", "innuendo", and "personal attacks".

Of course, there really is no Spontaneous Outrage Organizational Committee, is there?


Say it with a sneer now

For someone who professes to not care what "Canada's National Newspaper" has to say about anything to do with "Newfoundland Labrador" or Our Dear Premier, Bill Rowe sure likes to quote from it.

Besides which, he can hardly quote from his own outlet's news coverage of Cellphone Crisis 2008, now, can he?

We'll have what they're having

From the Fred City Daily Gleaner:

NB needs a weather office

There was a time when each province had its own Environment Canada weather office which was responsible for producing the provincial weather forecasts.

In Atlantic Canada, there was one in Gander, Dartmouth and Fredericton. In the early 2000s under the Liberal federal government, several of the smaller weather offices across the country were amalgamated into the larger centres. This meant that the Gander and the Fredericton offices were moved to Dartmouth.

In the wake of this, Newfoundlanders were outraged with their weather forecasts being produced in Nova Scotia instead of Newfoundland.

I think Newfoundland and Labrador's discontentment was partly due to a perceived reduction in forecast quality -- as in, How can a Nova Scotia office have as much expertise on Newfoundland and Labrador weather as an office in Newfoundland and Labrador? -- and partly due to the uprooting of well-paid federal jobs from a province that has had its share of things taken away from it.

Over the ensuing months and years, a petition to reinstate the Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador weather office was circulated and gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

Since there was an impending federal election, the petition garnered the signatures of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper and both promised to reinstate the Newfoundland and Labrador weather office if elected.

So, when the Conservatives were elected, Harper kept his word and reinstated the Newfoundland and Labrador weather office in Gander in 2006.

This scenario begs a follow-up question: Why don't New Brunswickers want the New Brunswick weather office reinstated? Cleary a precedent has been set and if New Brunswickers were passionate enough on this issue, change would happen.

Carl Arsenault
Moncton, N.B.

Spiked? (II)

CBC: Williams confesses.

CP: Williams fesses up.

VOCM: Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

TP & L

"Because I've been involved with provincial organizations, I get to see athletes across the province and in Labrador." — Mike Alexander, master course conductor for Badminton Newfoundland and Labrador, as quoted in this week's edition of The Labradorian.

"A lot of parts of the province, and in Labrador, the economy is heating up and has heated up." — a Williams Government caucus member, also as quoted in this week's edition of The Labradorian.

Worn out?

Geoff Meeker observes that Our Dear Sense of Autonomist Outrage is starting to, in his words, "wear thin".

The evidence would seem to be mounting: Wangersky. The Telegram masthead. The Western Star one. Sue Hickey. The Aurora. ("Bay City Rollers"? Ouch.)

And the clincher? Tom Hedderson's pinch-hitting anti-Confederate rant from a week ago.

"Federal Presence Still Not Enough", he bleated. "Our position continues to be that this province does not have its fair share of Federal Government decision makers and employees based in this province."

Sadly, Hedderson never got a chance to explain to a curious reporter what federal presence would constitute "Enough" or "its fair share". No one cared.

Well, almost no one: Everyone from VOCM to, well, VOCM ran with the "story", but no one else — not the CBC, not the Telegram, not the Star, not the nefarious Quebec-owned weeklies — touched it. Hedderson's carefully-orchestrated outrage was for nought.

Wearing thin? Usually with such trends, like the rise or fall of 'tween-age fads, or impending economic recessions, by the time anyone really notices the evidence, the thing that the evidence is evidence of has already happened.

Wearing thin? — no, worn out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This just in...

Province Makes Major Advancement in Distance Education

Not that earth-shattering, but, wait for it:

That's right.

Joan Burke somehow managed to issue a press release that doesn't contain the phrase "Williams Government".


Ok, not that shocking, but it's fun to use totally inappropriate, over-the-top, Invasion-of-Normandy typefaces once in a while.


The VOCM newsroom quite often uses call-in show calls or conversations as the kernel (or pretty much the entirety) of a news piece, such as:

Details of Baby Bonus Still Being Worked Out
January 17, 2008

The Department of Finance says right now they have no time frame for the promised thousand dollar baby bonuses. Some new moms are wondering when the money will be handed out and if it will be retroactive. One mother, Amanda, who gave birth in October, called VOCM Back Talk saying she'd been told that only those who have babies or become pregnant after March 31st will be eligible. She says some new moms on the Burin Peninsula are planning to take up a petition. A spokesperson for the department says they are still working out the details and they will be revealed in due course.

RCMP Defend Ski Patrols
January 11, 2008

RCMP are coming to defense of their "sleuths on slopes." Police offices are taking to the slopes of Marble Mountain, doing random checks while patrolling the trails. Police are hoping the patrols will act as a deterrent against theft, drug and alcohol use as well as other problems which could interfere with a safe family ski experience.

However, some callers to VOCM's talk shows are questioning the need for such crime-fighting activity given problems elsewhere. On VOCM Open Line, RCMP Sgt. Wayne Newell said it's a voluntary program.

Concerns About Employment Levels at Fish Plant
January 21, 2008

The fish plant in Marystown is set to open next week but there may not be as many working initially as hoped. Allan Moulton of the FFAW says the plant will open as scheduled on January 28th. Moulton says he is hoping that there will be two shifts, but that is uncertain at this point. Moulton told VOCM Night Line with Linda Swain the operating plan will be similar to that of 2005, before the plant was shut down for over a year.

It wasn't surprising, then, to hear certain allegations regarding the cell phone use and driving habits of a certain politician first "break" on VOCM Backtalk with Bill Rowe on Monday.

What is surprising, though, is that while across town, CBC has latched onto the story, including, very properly, getting the politician's side of it, the Ministry of Truth itself, where the story was first broken, has not reported it at all.

(And "some NAPE worker"?)

ADDENDUM: United Press. Canadian Press, which even attributes the breaking of the story to the VOCM call. But still radio silence from the MoT.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On teeth, the necessity thereof


Opposition says ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving must have teeth to work

ST. JOHN'S, March 31, 2003 — Opposition Government Services and Lands critic Terry French responded to the following Ministerial Statement by Government Services and Lands Minister George Sweeney in the House of Assembly today:

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, the people on this side of the House certainly had no problem in supporting Bill 15, banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If anybody has talked to a number of people around the Province lately, you certainly do not want to be on the phone while trying to navigate the holes and bumps that currently exist around this Province.

Mr. Speaker, one area of concern that we do have is with the enforcement of this bill. I say to the minister: Will this bill have any teeth? Currently we see the RNC - I believe they needed approximately eighty officers and they had some crumbs thrown at them in the recent Budget, Mr. Speaker. If this bill has no teeth, Mr. Speaker, it is obviously useless.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I now hope that the minister will take it upon himself to speak to the insurance industries and lobby them hard, so that we have a reduction on our rates as well as our accidents around this Province.

The Blue Pages (II)

Let's assume, for argument's sake, that the fact that 70% of the provincial government phone numbers are in St. John's telephone exchanges accurately reflects the distribution of provincial public servants. (This is a working assumption; anyone in the provincial government is more than welcome, indeed encouraged, to come forward with hard statistics.)

70%, just in metro St. John's alone.

At the federal level, you would have to combine the federal public service labour forces of the twenty largest urban areas in Canada — Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary, Edmonton, Québec, Hamilton, Winnipeg, London, Kitchener, St. Catharines-Niagara, Halifax, Oshawa, Victoria, Windsor, Saskatoon, Regina, St. John's, and Sherbrooke — before you would accumulate 70% of the federal government's employees.

Really: Harris Centre, you oughta do a big fat study on "provincial presence". That's a public policy question, innit?


Not that it was really needed, but yet more evidence of the farcicality of the pre-budget "consultation", via Everton McLean of the Telegram:

St. John's residents taking part in provincial pre-budget consultations Monday were sent a reality check by the government coming in the form of an interest meter tallying money spent on the provincial debt over the course of the meeting.

Finance Minister Tom Marshall, who will travel the province for followup public meetings, said the purpose of the meter was to show people asking for funds how much money is being wasted on servicing the debt. He said the cost of interest on the $11 billion the province owes comes to about $750 million a year.

By the end of the meeting, the meter was reading about $180,000.

"We use up almost everything we take in in personal income tax. It goes to pay the debt, and I just want people to understand how much it is," he said.
Once upon a time, government used to cling tightly to the quaint conceit that "public consultation" was an opportunity for the public to tell the government what they think.

Now, "public consultation" is seen more as an opportunity for government to tell the public what it thinks, or, perhaps more pointedly, to tell the public what to think.

And, yet again, a body can't help but wonder: just who is Marshall trying to convince, anyway?

The Blue Pages (I)

It would be funny, if it weren't so predictable and intellectually dishonest, to see Tom Hedderson out again the other day, trying (and almost entirely failing) to stir up media outrage about the "federal presence" issue.

According to (slightly outdated) statistics previously discussed here, the much-maligned Ontario, Quebec, and — shudder! — the National Capital Region, have, collectively, about 65% of the federal public service. That is to say, a smaller share of the PS than of the Canadian population; this, despite the obvious and massive concentration of federal government jobs in the federal capital: National Capital Region alone had about 40% of the federal PS.

"Aha!", screams Tom Hedderson and the Our Fair Share Choir! "See!"

But, not so fast there.

It's hard to get hard, raw data on the provincial public service in Newfoundland and Labrador, other than a global breakdown for its overall size. (Reader's Digest version: on a per-capita basis, it's big, big, big.)

Sub-provincial data, if it exists, is not easy to come by. Perhaps Open And Accountable Williams Administration would see fit to publish it. Perhaps the Harris Centre for the Study and Promulgation of Newfoundland Nationalist Mythology would see fit to compile it and study it at great length for two reports it could release just before and during the next provincial election.

It is, however, quite easy to get provincial government contact names and phone numbers.

Now, the data has some quality issues, often being out of date (Kathy Goudie is still an MHA; Vic Young is still Chair of the Blame Canada Commission), reduntant (MHAs who are cabinet ministers often have two or more entries; there are people with as many entries in the directory as titles they hold), and other nit-picky things of that ilk.

However, accepting the data on its face value, there are, as of this evening, 4,933 entries in the directory.

Now, let's make a couple of working assumptions, which I will gladly abandon if the provincial government compiles and publishes detailed geographical breakdowns of the kind we're approximating in this exercise.

First, assume that there is no geographical bias in the "undercounts"; that is, that provincial employees who don't have phone listings of their own, or unlisted ones, are equally likely to be found anywhere in the province that their listed colleagues are.

Second, assume that there is likewise no such bias in the duplicates, obsolete entries, and other data quality issues noted above.

Finally, assume that the location of the telephone exchange of their government phone number is a 1:1 match to the location of their provincial government office.

Assumptions made? Good.

Now, then: fully 67% the provincial government employees listed in the government directory have an office telephone number that begins with the Confederation Hill exchange-prefix 729 that is so familiar to anyone who's ever looked in the Blue Pages.

Sixty-seven percent. That's two-thirds.

And that's before you factor in another three percent who have office phone numbers in other St. John's telephone exchanges besides 729.

That's 70% of the provincial civil service in Capital City.

And that's before you even consider the larger provincial public sector, including the indirectly provincial jobs at the University and in the larger, provincial-scale hospitals.

By way of reference, the entire St. John's Census Metropolitan Area — city and burbs — constitutes 36% of the provincial population.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dog-whistles attract dogs

The curious "NNOFN" blogger, who is slowly assembling a hagiblography of Our Dear Premier, and who refers to him or herself in the first person plural, just like Danny Williams does — hey, maybe it's Danny him or herself! — thinks, like Ryan Cleary, that he or she knows what Danny's really on about, too.

A good question for Great Lawyer™

In a letter to the Telegram today, Burf Ploughman asks, "What happened to the legal challenge?":

I am referring to the sealing industry and to some of the major anti-sealing groups.Some of these groups raise in excess of $100 million annually to carry on their illegal activities and, if convicted under the Federal Competition Act, could be ordered to forfeit these funds to the court.

...Mr. Rideout had to say:“The idea is a novel one and he admits it hasn’t been explored up to this point by the government. The request for information was, by his own account, the first he had heard of it.”But he said the idea is worth having a look at and that’s exactly what he intends to have his officials do.
What happened to the legal challenge?

Almost certainly the same thing that happened to the Ed Byrne/Tom Rideout Charter challenge to the food fishery rules.

The same thing that happened to the Vic Young, Ed Hearn, et al. s. 92(a) challenge to the "Upper Churchill" contract.

The same thing that happened to Sam Synard's plan to test Term 32 in court over Marine Atlantic service.

(Shamelessly edited, hours later, to add) The same thing that happened to Danny's musings about joining the aborted Saskatchewan court challenge to the entire equalization formula.

And the same thing that happened to Roger Grimes' and Loyola Hearn's eagerness to "sue" DFO for negligence.

Bar-admitted adult supervision stepped in.

He knows what we're fighting for

Ryan Cleary understands what Danny's latest round of Blame Canada is really all about:
Is Canadian federalism working? My answer is no, not for us. The next question is whether the rest of Canada cares enough to make it work.

And if not federalism, then what?
Then of course, Ryan Cleary would.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Confuter traduced

On a cool, clear night, cool and clear like the night they bludgeoned Allegory to death and buried its twitching corps out on the Bauline Line, with Sirius blazing away over the southern horizon, and a hint to the east that moonrise is imminent, if you turn your ears to the north, and listen carefully, you can hear Agnes Noseworthy and Gus Etchegary proving Russel Wangersky's point in spectacular and convincing fashion.

Who's next up? Minnie? A cabinet minister? O.D.P. himself?

The traducer must be confuted. Wangersky isn't even a Newfoundand name, is it?

And when Gus Etchegary declares, before Linda finally gets to the first of her overdue breaks, "this is not the end of this!", there are no quarrels from this corner: we'll never hear the end of this.

Who knows, by the end of the week, the same people who believe that Bill Lankoff of the Toronto Sun, Charles Lynch of the Ottawa Citizen, and Ric Dolphin of the Calgary Herald wrote for the Globe and Mail — all those mainlanders look alike, anyway — will believe the same of Russell Wangersky.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Letter to Ottawa

Again from Michael Tutton's CP wire story in the G&M:
At the conclusion of their meeting, the premiers also presented a plan for various proposed transportation projects for the region, which will be sent to Ottawa.

Of course it will be! Where else would you send it; Fredericton, Halifax, Charlottetown, and St. John's?

Not Churchill Falls

The Premier of New Brunswick is doing something very interesting, namely, going back in time:

“Premier Williams and I have been working together on the development of the Churchill Falls project, which is the cleanest form of renewable energy,” Graham said during the news conference.
Premier Graham may also be working with other leaders on other projects which have already happened. Maybe he's working on the Panama Canal, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Mesabi Range.

So-called "Churchill Falls", of course, is already so-called "developed", and has been for over thirty years. To the extent that they are "working together" on anything, Graham and Williams are doing so with regards to the so-called Lower Churchill, which is not "Churchill Falls", any more than Fredericton is Saint John.

And, Michael Tutton, no matter how much the Canadian Press is convinced otherwise, really, seriously:

A study by the Economic Research and Analysis Division of the Newfoundland and Labrador government and published last year estimated that the cost of developing the Lower Churchill Falls sites could be between $6 and $9-billion, depending on the development option chosen.
there is no such place as "Lower Churchill Falls"!

There is a so-called Lower Churchill project under consideration. It would involve the so-called "development" of Gull Island Rapids, and possibly Muskrat Falls, on the lower so-called Churchill River.

Not "Lower Churchill River", as capitalization implies a proper name; there is no such place.

Ditto the non-existent "Lower Churchill Falls".

It doesn't exist. Stop pretending it does.

Facts and figures

Paul O'Neill is a very reputable historian, and any city would be better off to have a semi-official history as well-researched and written as his The Oldest City is for St. John's.

Which is why it's painful, but necessary, to correct him when he writes, in a strange aside to his letter in today's Telegram on the "oldest city" debate:

Perhaps they are thinking of Canada before 1949 when, the votes of 2,000 Newfoundlanders caused the map of Canada to be changed. From my studies conducted on two continents over a period of more than 50 years, I have no doubt whatever there were permanent livyers in what is now called St. John's by the end of the 1500s.
In actual fact, the result in the second 1948 referendum was 78,323 for Confederation to 71,334 for Responsible Government, a margin of 6,989. It would therefore have taken 3,495 votes to have changed column for the result to have changed to a 50%+1 "win" for Responsible Government.

Of course, O'Neill mentions only the votes of "Newfoundlanders". Considering Newfoundland alone, the margin of victory for Confederation was less, 5,074 votes. It would have taken just 2,537 votes to have swung the other way for the result to have changed, if Labrador, too, hadn't had the franchise for only the second time in history.

Labrador contributed 2,681 votes to the Confederate side in July 1948, and 1,915 net Confederation votes to the overall Confederation margin of victory. Labrador ballots contributed almost a full percentage point to the 4.6% margin between the Confederates and the Antis that led to Confederation in 1949.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Report card

Clyde Jackman's department is commissioning another report:, an independent consulting firm, has been awarded a contract to undertake a strategic and operational review of provincial Arts and Culture Centres in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said the review is intended to provide recommendations to the Provincial Government on the general operations of the province’s six regional Arts and Culture Centres, and how they can be more accessible and relevant to the communities they serve.
Perhaps this report will be released to the public more quickly than the Dunbar Studios-Apropos Planning report on the future of the Colonial Building.

That report, entitled "Making These Walls Talk", was obtained by the Telegram under the Access to Information Act last fall, and reported in that paper by Barb Sweet on November 22.

It's now January, and the report still hasn't been made public. And the Telegram should never have had to submit an Access request in the first place. After all, in his 2003 election platform, Mr. Accountability, Danny Williams, promised to:
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.
Danny Williams is a liar. Y'know, if you go into another election and he makes promises and if he puts it in writing, they’re absolutely meaningless.

L'état, c'est lui

From a CBC Radio Talkback caller this afternoon during On the Go:
Thank you to Premier Williams for the oil rebate money.


They thanked Joey, personally, for the Baby Bonus, too...

Video Hits (III)

One last gem from Danny's media availability on Wednesday:
But it’s also a very, very strong message to the people across this country, that, y’know, if you go into another election and he makes promises and if he puts it in writing, they’re absolutely meaningless.
It takes meaningless promises in writing to know meaningless promises in writing:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Video Hits (II)

Or, Duelling Danjos. Again, from the Telegram video:

So if there’s gonna be a value placed on the Hibernia, the 8.5 interest, and if there’s gonna be a value based on the NPI interest, and if there’s a value to the Lower Churchill guarantee, and if there’s a value to Lower Churchill infrastructure, well then that cumulative total then can be offset against the promise that he’s made and the promise that he’s failed to keep.
Mkay. A “guarantee” — assuming it’s the same thing as a “loan guarantee” — has a value.

Unless it doesn’t. Danny spoke those words at a press event in which he undid the black ribbons from around his growing bundle of hate mail directed at “Steve”. That bundle includes the December 3 letter, in which Duelling Danjo says:

We are aware that at the outset of the Hibernia project, the federal government committed to loan guarantees of $1.66 billion. However, loan guarantees should not be confused with expenditures. As you are aware, a loan guarantee becomes an expenditure only in the case of default, which in this case, will not occur.
Either Duelling Danjos can’t decide whether a loan guarantee has a cash value or not, or they do and do not depending on whether it suits the Blame Canada Message of the Day, or they plan to default on the Lower Churchill guarantee they think they are getting.

Video Hits (I)

Another kudo (kudum?) to The Telegram for their ever-useful and growing body of raw video, especially of Our Dear Premier. Where else are you going to find Classics of Hypocrisy™ such as:

Now we got a situation where, y’know, I was in a meeting, my officials were in a meeting on November 30th. A statement was made that very clearly left the impression that he could win the election without Newfoundland and Labrador. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister then comes out and says, “that’s just not true, that never happened.” Well, I was there, and I’m saying it happened. My officials are there, and they’re saying it happened. I actually left that meeting and shortly afterwards actually conveyed that message to my cabinet.
Again, let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that Harper actually said what Danny said Harper said.

How is that any less offensive than Danny Williams, on the day he was sworn in as Premier, saying of Labrador, which has nearly three-quarters of the provincial landmass, that:
If you’re going to cut the cabinet back then obviously certain portions of the province, minute portions of the province, can be left out.

Fair shares

"Our position continues to be that this province does not have its fair share of Federal Government decision makers and employees based in this province," said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Perhaps Minister Hedderson would deign to define "fair share". What is a "fair share" of "Federal Government decision makers and employees"?

In his answer, Minister Hedderson might note that while 1.2% of all Canadians are federal civil servants, 1.4% of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are. Or, flipping the axes around, with 1.6% of the Canadian population, Newfoundland and Labrador has 1.9% of the federal civil service.

What would be a "fair share"?

Tom? Danny? Bill Rowe? Anyone?

And, while we're at it: would the provincial government be so kind as to publish a geographical breakdown of "Provincial Government decision makers and employees"?

Are Gander or Wabush getting their "fair share", whatever that is?

Surely, Open and Accountable Williams Government would be amenable to publishing that information.


Not-quite-instant update:

Tom Hedderson also says:
During the 1980s and 1990s, there was a 25 per cent decrease in federal jobs in this province, compared to the approximate five per cent national decrease.
Bzzt. Wrong. During the 1980s, the federal civil service grew. Nationally, between January 1981, and May 1991, federal civil service employment in Canada increased by 24%. May 1991 is when the federal civil service size peaked both nationally (at 457,160), and in Newfoundland and Labrador (10,930).

During that same period, roughly "the 1980s", federal civil service employment in Newfoundland and Labrador grew by 34% — that is, by ten full percentage points more than the national average!

Federal civil service presence in Newfoundland and Labrador reached its recent (since 1981) historic low in January 2002. Since that time, the federal civil service presence has grown by 13%... which is a larger growth rate than that of the national civil service employment figure over the same period, 12%.

Hedderson also uses a classic example of How to Lie With Statistics:
The number of people employed by the federal government in this province has fallen substantially, from approximately 10,250 in 1993 to 6,970 in 2004.
He selects 1993, in which federal civil service presence in Newfoundland and Labrador reached its highest annual average, and compares it to 2004, the second-lowest. (2002 beats 2004 by 12 annualized average federal civil servants.)

2004. Four years ago. Which conveniently discounts the 370 federal positions which the province gained over the next two years (full figures for 2007 are not yet available), to say nothing of discounting the much larger-than-average civil service growth that the province enjoyed before Program Review in the 1990s.

Hedderson is entitled to his own opinions. He is not, however, entitled to his own facts.

Conjunction malfunction

Hey, Michael Temelini: there's a conjunction in the name of the province. Only Danny and his shills leave it out.

Guess which conjunction. For reference, conjunctions in English include "and", "or", and "but".

Clearer picture

Yesterday's Dantrum was a pre-emptive smokescreen. You are supposed to be outraged at Stephen Harper, instead of the incestuous patronage of Danny and Andy and this.

This type of exceptionally arrogant patronage is a usual hallmark of a Premier making ready his exit. If there was still a Legislative Council, there'd probably be a raft of appointments on Friday.

Of course, there's still time. Per Term 14 of the Terms of Union, the constitutional document that everyone whines about but no one reads:
14. (2) The Constitution of the Legislature of Newfoundland in so far as it relates to the Legislative Council shall not continue, but the Legislature of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador may at any time reestablish the Legislative Council or establish a new Legislative Council.

Pre-enjoyed sequels

What do Danny Williams and Stephen Colbert have in common?

Neither has much new material to entertain you with.

At least, some day, the TV strike will be over.

Danny? Meh.

His self-styled masterpiece, he'd have you believe, Lower Churchill XXXVIII: Going it Alone.

Not terribly original.

Then there's the spinoff series.

The Anglo-Saxon Route XIII: Seriously, We're Seriously Serious. Seriously.

The Anglo-Saxon Route XIV: New Finland to New Brunswick.

The Anglo-Saxon Route XV: From an Island to Rhode Island.

The Anglo-Saxon Route XVI: Hey Nova Scotia, No Hard Feelings on the Laurentian Boundary Thing, Okay?

Somehow you can economically build a submarine power cable under two straits, but not an overland one to the Straits.

Yeah, whatever.

Anyway, that predictable series got old years ago. Like, say, on July 3, 1964:

Labrador Power Sale Authorized

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) — Premier Smallwood this week announced the Newfoundland government has authorized the Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation to market a large portion of the potential electric energy from the proposed Hamilton Falls power development in Labrador.

Mr. Smallwood made the announcement shortly before boarding a transatlantic flight to London, England, where he is to meet with British steel interests and take a vacation.

The premier said the government had initiated a study by a London engineering consulting firm, Preece, Cardew and Ryder, in co-operation with Nalco, as to the economis feasibility of transporting power from Hamilton Falls through the Maritime provinces to the New England states.

Transmission would be to southern Labrador, along the west coast of Newfoundland, under the Cabot Strait to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and then to the United States border.

The premier said 2,000,000 horsepower would be “dropped off” for use in Newfoundland, and another 1,000,000 horsepower would be reserved for use in the Maritimes.

The transmission line would terminate at the United States border, he said, from where the power would be transmitted by a private grid to all the New England states.

Or, as Ralph Surette writes in the Globe and Mail of November 25, 1978:

Gull Island is nothing more than a potential hydroelectric power site on the lower Churchill River in faraway Labrador. But Nova Scotia Premier John Buchanan sees it as tantalizingly close and the answer to the province's long-term electricity problems.


In order to supply both Nova Scotia's long-term needs and be sold in surplus to the United States, Mr. Buchanan saw this Labrador power coming down via submarine cable from Newfoundland to Cape Breton.

But he made the slight oversight of not consulting Newfoundland. He was gently but quickly reminded by Newfoundland energy officials of the difficulties involved in moving Gull Island power anywhere, let alone to Nova Scotia.

For one thing, according to Vic Young, president of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the 77-mile cable across the Cabot Strait is an extremely poor prospect. Although a study two years ago stated it was technically possible, its capital and maintenance costs would be enormous. The electricity delivered would cost about twice what it would if brought down overland.


The problems with delivery have not been ironed out. If Gull Island electricity ever reaches Nova Scotia, chances are it will be neither cheap nor the answer to Nova Scotia's energy problems. But it has to get here first, and Mr. Buchanan may have long since come and gone as premier by then.

Or, as Robert Gibbens reported for the November 22 edition of the same paper:
Newfoundland said it wants to go ahead with development of about 3,000 megawatts at two Lower Churchill sites and the most economic route to markets outside its own territory is through Quebec. Newfoundland cannot use all 3,000 megawatts. It has claimed Quebec's terms are too onerous, and has had studies done of an undersea connection under the Belle Isle straight and another connection under the Cabot Strait to Cape Breton.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Those Progressive Conservatives

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has developed one of the most progressive energy policies in the country and their support for the development of wind power is exemplary," said Kerry Adler, CEO of SkyPower.

Yeah, that state-monopoly wind energy industry is going great guns in Labrador.

Can someone — hi, Ed Martin! Kathy Blunderdale! — explain to everyone, in small words we can all understand, why private-sector wind energy developments are alright for Fermeuse, Newfoundland, or St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, or Ramea, Newfoundland... but not for Labrador?

Why do We, in all Our Imperial Glory, own the wind in Labrador, but not in Newfoundland?

What's with the curiously colonialist-imperialist double-standard? How is that double-standard, now written into Our Dear Energy Plan, in any way, shape or form, "progressive"?




Why is one part of the province allowed to have a wind energy industry, but not the other part?


Amazing, isn' it.

Within 24 hours of the latest salvo and counter-salvo, Our Dear Premier's comms shop can scan, .pdf, and post a six-document exchange of correspondence.

Yet the Dunbar-Apropos study on the Colonial Building, which cost $200,000, and which was presented to government in November, still hasn't been released, despite Opposition Leader Danny Williams' promise to "Release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it."

What's up with that? Why the delay?

Once again, dear reader, Tourism, Culture and Recreation can be contacted at (709) 729-0862.

The Minister's office is 729-7032.

La politique du pire

It is a classic tactic of nascent separatist movements everywhere.

If you can't make things better, make them worse.

Williams Government! Williams Government!

Perhaps by way of making up for waiting until Hump Day to start fulfilling the weekly quota of Williams Government!, not only are there two such releases today, one from Jerome Kennedy, and one, so very predictably, from Joan Burke, both of them use Our Dear Stock Phrase twice. Joan:
The Williams Government is investing $11 million over a five-year period to bring eight new skilled trades courses and state-of-the-art industrial equipment to high schools.

Over the past two years, the Williams Government has allocated $43.6 million in the areas of apprenticeship, science and technology, programming, training and infrastructure.
In keeping with the Williams Government commitment to openness and accountability and in the interest of protecting the personal information of citizens, the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, announced that the privacy provisions of The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP) will be proclaimed today.

The Williams Government has demonstrated unprecedented levels of openness and accountability through numerous initiatives such as the establishment of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, drafting and passing the province’s first lobbyist legislation as well as the Transparency and Accountability Act and fixed-term election dates.
Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes.


From the CBC:
Woodrow French, the mayor of neighbouring Conception Bay South, has been lobbying other municipal leaders to help lobby for a traveller's bill of rights.

Woodrow French is going to lobby politicians to lobby?

Whoever introduced the verb "to lobby" into the local lexicon should have their crayons taken away. Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When is a "deal" not a "deal"?

Another day, another ill-chosen media spin on the non-Lower Churchill non-deal, this time from the Western Star, headlining a Moira Baird story:

Lower Churchil; Hydro reaches tentative deal for electricity
an assertion which is flatly contradicted by the lede:

ST. JOHN’S — It’s not a power sale, but Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has a tentative deal with two Nova Scotia companies interested in electricity from the Lower Churchill.
If the Western Star headline writer had actually read the story (as the Telegram headline writer did; in National Capital the headline was "Hydro explores maritime route; Will discuss options with Emera and N.S. Power in coming months") he or she should would have noted that the agreement is not a "deal", and definitely not for "electricity":
They will study the technical, economic, financial and regulatory issues of using a maritime route to export Lower Churchill power to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England.

Those discussions will take place in the coming months.

“It’s an agreement to explore jointly,” said Ed Martin, president and CEO of NL Hydro. “So we’re going to have sharing of data and some indepth technical and cost discussions, and we’ll know within a couple of months of having those discussions … if there’s a basis that makes sense for us.

Fer mont?

IOC is interested in cannibalizing Smokey Mountain for its iron ore content: Radio-Canada.

More dog-whistles

Janet, Jack D. Kennedy, and Robert Anstey, posting on the CBC website, heard Danny's real message yesterday loud and clear:

Looks like a great time for separation... how about it, Danny?

Posted January 15, 2008 08:40 AM

Jack D. Kennedy

The acrimonious rift between Danny Williams and Stephan Harper simply confirms that after nearly sixty years in Confederation, we made the wrong decision in 1949. Ches Crosbie was right! If we had chosen economic Union with the United States of America in 1949, today we would be a bona fide State of the United States.The United States is not an economic or political panacea, however, Statehood would have provided us with Constitutionally protected rights of private property, freedom of speech, the right to move to and work in any state in the Union and to access millions of employment and business opportunities. We seek to be economically independent, a status which we will never achieve as individuals in Canada. Under the current setup we can only aspire to economic success if we choose to leave Newfoundland and Labrador, move to mainland Canada and learn to speak French. Despite the anti-American drivel which has been drilled into us by the elitist monarchist Canadian culture, we made a major blunder in choosing, or should I say, being conned into joining Canada. The truth is, Great Britain never wanted Newfoundland and Canada never wanted Newfoundland. We only got Labrador because the British Privy Council did not want it to fall into the hands of Francophone Quebec. If we remain as part of Canada we will be doomed to economic dependence and continual lack of any real economic development. Stephan Dion may not be a great leader but, in his haste to appease Quebec, he did author the "Clarity Act" which is an opportunity for us to get out of this one-sided contract which we signed under duress in the first place. Let us call a referendum, ask the right question as required by the "Clarity Act", and obtain the required majority. Let us negotiate favorable terms of union with the United States, including paying off our debt and providing us with universal health care. Let us get on with becoming a truly have "State" once and for all.

Posted January 15, 2008 11:38 AM

Robert Anstey

" Republic Of Newfoundland & Labrador " . As I have said before , Newfoundland & Labrador has being denied equality of opportunity and was and still is deprived of our rightful place in Canada since confederation . A systematic effort is being made in the bowels of the federal government to stagnate Newfoundland & Labrador's place on the world stage and to prevent us from having complete equality and becoming an equal partner within Canada . We Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have made up our minds to have our fullest rights but we shall have them as rights not as gifts or concessions . If we cannot have respect and dignity within the confederation of Canada then we shall have it as a " SEPERATE AND SOVEREIGN NATION " . Again I say , Newfoundland & Labrador is irrevocably opposed to any " FEDERAL OBJECTIVE " that will not allow us to be master of own house , economic and industrial resources . Mr : Harper , " It's bad enough having you tell us what you're going to do whether we like it or not . " DON'T " add insult to injury by telling us that it's in our best interest to obey your orders " . The more you tell us what's good for us , the more we gag . Your neocolonial attitude towards Newfoundland & Labrador is one of resentment and a " FATALLY FLAWED ASSUMPTION " . Its time For Newfoundlanders & Labradorians to galvenize and prepare ourselves for the decisive struggle in which we are so capable of doing , " QUIT CANADA " .

Posted January 15, 2008 03:06 PM


At the time of this post, the total number of "votes" in the VOCM Question of the Day "poll", "Are you satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims?", is 25,061. They are still trickling in.

In the archives of Question of the Day, there are vote totals and percentages (comments are purged after a few days) for 724 such "polls" since 2005.

The average number of responses for those archived polls is 2545. The median is 1416. Yet, as this corner and others have pointed out in the recent past, there have been occasional "spikes" in the response rates, most notably on questions which relate closely to perceptions of the current provincial government, and its human incarnation on this earth, Danny Williams.

Monday was a case in point. Yesterday's "poll", with its huge response rate, ranks as the ninth-highest all-time participation.

Let's assume for fun, that any poll with more than double the average number of responses — let's make it 5,000 — has been "juiced" by one or more parties.

That means that there have been 62 "juicings" in recorded VOCM Question of the Day history.

The thirty lesser "juicings" — more than 5,000 "votes", but less than 10,000 — are as follows:

Date    Votes Question
5/3/2007 9782 Do you support the salary increases given to staff in the premier's office?
3/7/2006 9779 Who do you think won the debate between the McCartney's and Premier Danny Williams?
12/21/2006 9243 Should government allow the Auditor General access to cabinet documents concerning the fibre optic deal?
11/8/2006 9190 Do you think government should pump 15 million dollars into the private sector for another fibre optic communications line for the province?
11/29/2007 8527 Do you agree with Premier Danny Williams that it is not the place of former premiers to comment on how the current government operates?
11/8/2005 8455 Two years ago Sunday, Danny Williams was sworn in as this province's 9th premier. Has he met your expectations?
2/16/2007 8218 Do you think the issue of threatening suits against talk show callers has gone too far?
7/14/2007 7698 The provincial election is less than three months away. If it was held today, what party would you vote for?
8/9/2007 7526 Should this province get a new representative in the federal cabinet?
12/3/2007 7511 Do you think government should offer more incentives to secure the future of the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor?
4/4/2007 7404 Do you like the province's new license plates?
5/22/2006 7253 Do you think it's time the province returned to negotiations on the Hebron project?
3/10/2006 7027 Should the premier apologize to the IFAW?
5/14/2007 6585 Do you agree with the Opposition that government should start from scratch when it comes to the fibre optic deal? Why or why not?
5/10/2005 6270 Who should back down in the crab dispute? The union, or the government?
2/23/2006 6086 Do you support putting close to two billion dollars, most of it Atlantic Accord money, into the teachers' pension plan?
9/25/2006 6029 Do you think all dogs should be muzzled when they're out in public?
2/10/2006 5960 Do you think it likely that the provincial Liberals under new leader Jim Bennett can win the next election?
1/19/2007 5932 Do you agree with government's decision not to allow the development of South Hibernia to proceed at this time?
2/13/2006 5909 Do you support the idea of building a new oil refinery in the Placentia Bay area?
2/16/2006 5802 Should the provincial government introduce whistle blower legislation to protect public employees who speak out on job related issues?
12/4/2007 5769 Are you satisfied with the outcome of that meeting between the prime minister and Premier Danny Williams?
4/16/2007 5643 Do you think government's fisheries renewal program will save the industry?
4/18/2007 5429 Do you think Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor should be dismissed in the wake of the deaths of 8 soldiers last week in Afghanistan?
11/22/2007 5354 Should the NDP be given official party status in the House of Assembly?
8/1/2007 5254 Who do you side with in the dispute over giving Sir Wilfred Grenfell College full university status? John Crosbie or the Provincial Government?
1/26/2007 5136 Should the provincial government reduce the visibility of cigarette retail displays?
11/30/2006 5112 Do you think Parliament should revisit the same-sex marriage issue?
5/30/2006 5089 Do you think Loyola Hearn is doing a good job so far as Federal Fisheries Minister?
11/1/2007 5081 Do you like Danny Williams' new cabinet?
Curious, innit? VOCM Question of the Day ranges from federal politics, through provincial and St. John's municipal politics, to international affairs, to business and consumer matters, to items personal and health interest. Yet, all but five of the "juiced" polls in the list above have to do with provincial politics; mainly with the performance of the government of the day; and, and, and, especially with the performance of, or decisions by, Premier Williams. Seven of the thirty-one questions above ask specifically about Premier Williams by name or title.

That compares to twenty out of the 662 questions that elicited 5000 fewer responses since the VOCM archives began in 2005.

Those are the lesser juicings. But there are also thirty-two Questions of the Day which have received more than 10,000 "votes" in the course of a day or two. They are the Super-Juiced:

Date    Votes   Question
6/8/2006 46,363 If a provincial election was held today what party would you vote for?
11/27/2006 41,994 Do you think the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the province to host Canada's premiers last summer, was money well spent?
5/24/2006 34,270 Do you think the fisheries summit should be open to the public and broadcast around the province?
11/23/2006 32,046 Do you think there should be an independant inquiry into the Fibre Optic Deal approved by government?
11/29/2006 31,742 Should the official opposition drop the fibre optic issue?
1/9/2007 28,081 Do you think the premier should call an early election because of the ongoing spending scandal in the House of Assembly?
4/23/2007 26,100 Do you support plans for a massive rally on Confederation Hill to support the premier in the equalization fight?
1/11/2008 25,655 Do you think the premier should shelve the feud with Ottawa and focus on social issues during this week's First Ministers meeting?
1/15/2008 25,061 Are you satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims?
7/7/2006 23,874 Do you support Danny Williams' cabinet changes?
7/11/2006 23,185 Do you think the provincial government should improve its offer to the Nurses' Union?
4/13/2007 21,530 Do you support the Labrador Metis Nation's ad campaign aimed at Premier Danny Williams?
10/18/2007 19,508 Do you like the Harper government's Speech From the Throne?
2/9/2007 19,479 Do you support Loyola Hearn's statement that the annual rate hike for Marine Atlantic will result in improved quality service?
6/13/2006 17,860 Do you think the provincial Liberal Party will be able to successfully rebuild itself before the next election?
9/17/2007 16,324 The provincial election is less than one month away. If it was held today, what party would you vote for?
12/11/2006 15,992 Should Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale resign over the Bull Arm contract controversy?
4/26/2007 15,980 Do you like what you heard in the Speech from the Throne?
6/3/2005 15,663 Do you think the Liberals will be able to hold onto Exploits district in the June 23rd byelection?
10/12/2006 14,715 The provincial election is set for next October, but if it was held today what party would you vote for?
5/1/2006 13,601 Do you think Jim Bennett should step aside as leader of the Provincial Liberal Party?
9/27/2007 12,787 Who do you think won last night's leaders debate?
1/17/2007 12,595 Should the Premier call an early general election instead of having more by-elections?
10/25/2006 12,352 Should government eliminate the interest on student loans?
3/30/2007 12,269 Do you support the province's ad campaign aimed at Stephen Harper?
5/31/2006 12,136 Do you support Gerry Reid's decision to take over the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party?
12/13/2005 12,132 What party do you plan to vote for in the federal election?
5/10/2007 11,709 Do you support the Trust and Confidence Rally being held in St.John's on Friday?
1/10/2007 11,453 Do you think the premier should have reinstated Transportation Minister John Hickey now?
7/10/2006 10,505 Do you think the Inco merger will be a bad thing for this province?
8/5/2005 10,376 Do you think government is being upfront with the public on its' negotiations with Abitibi Consolidated?
5/9/2005 10,348 If a provincial election was held today would you be less likely to vote Tory because of the Fabian Manning situation?
Once again, provincial politics dominates as a theme. Only four questions were not connected, in whole or in part, directly with partisan provincial politics or issues of provincial government performance. Again, seven questions refer to the Premier by name or by title (or both.)

Of the 724 questions in the VOCM vault, just 5% ask about Premier Williams by title or name.

However, of the "juiced" questions, 23% ask directly about the decisions, judgment, or actions of the Premier. Four of the Top Ten of All Time have been about him.

Sorted along the other axis, 14 of the 34 questions about Our Dear Premier have been "juiced"; seven of them have been "super-juiced".

All a coincidence, surely.

But let's assume, solely for the sake of argument, that it isn't. And let's further assume that whoever is "juicing" VOCM's Question of the Day in favour of the Government of the Day, is the same person (or people) time after time.

Is it not a little strange, perhaps even disturbing, that among the questions to be skewed in this manner are:

Do you think there should be an independant inquiry into the Fibre Optic Deal approved by government? (32,046 votes, "yes" eked out a narrow 48-45 win)

Should the official opposition drop the fibre optic issue? (31,742, 63% "yes".)

Do you think the premier should call an early election because of the ongoing spending scandal in the House of Assembly? (28,081 votes, 83% "yes".)

Do you support plans for a massive rally on Confederation Hill to support the premier in the equalization fight? (26,100 votes, 80% in favour of showing Our Dear Love.)

Do you think the premier should shelve the feud with Ottawa and focus on social issues during this week's First Ministers meeting? (25,655, 64% "no".)

Today's infamous, Are you satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims? (25,061, 72% "yes".)

Do you support Danny Williams' cabinet changes? (23,874, 69% "yes".)

Do you think the provincial government should improve its offer to the Nurses' Union? (23,185, 51% "no".)

Do you support the Labrador Metis Nation's ad campaign aimed at Premier Danny Williams? (21,530, 53% "no".)

Should Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale resign over the Bull Arm contract controversy? (15,992, 77% "no".)

Do you like what you heard in the Speech from the Throne? (This was the "masters in our own house" speech; 15,980, 72% "yes".)

Should the Premier call an early general election instead of having more by-elections? (Yes, again; 12,595, 88% "yes".)

Do you support the province's ad campaign aimed at Stephen Harper? (12,269, 89% "yes"; cf. the Labrador Metis question above.)

Do you think the premier should have reinstated Transportation Minister John Hickey now? (11,453, 81% "yes".)

And those are just the Super-Juiced. Just missing the cut were:

Do you support the salary increases given to staff in the premier's office? (9,782, 57% "yes".)

Should government allow the Auditor General access to cabinet documents concerning the fibre optic deal? (9,243, 57% "no".)

Do you agree with Premier Danny Williams that it is not the place of former premiers to comment on how the current government operates? (8,527, 76% "yes".)

In fact, on provincial political questions that have attracted large numbers of votes, the government rarely "loses", let alone by the same lopsided margins that it tends to "win" by.

So, assuming again for the sake of argument, that whoever has "juiced" these various questions in favour of Danny Williams Government Newfoundland Labrador, is the same person or people over and over again, the questions should be: who? and why?

Is it for the Enver-Hoxha propaganda value of having the VOCM announcer proclaim that 88% of The People want Our Dear Premier to call an early election? That 89% agree that the province should take out attack ads against the federal government, but that 53% disapprove of the LMN using the same tactic on the provincial government?

Is it because someone is fearful of the true reflection of public opinion on certain subjects; if so who, and which subjects?

Is it done to please someone? If so, who?

Is it used to justify some actions?

Why, in a free and democratic society, would it be in whose interest to "juice" such a poll against civil actors such as the Nurse's Union or the LMN?

Whose purpose is served by "juicing" pointed questions about the performance of certain provincial cabinet Ministers?

Or by torquing a poll so that 64% of 25,655 "respondents" — that's almost equal to the entire population of Labrador — wind up saying, in effect, that no, the Premier shouldn't stop a political "feud" (the poll's word.)

Or one that says former Premiers should shut up?

Whose purposes are being served, and at whose behest, and how, by this continuing curious use of someone's very valuable time?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Danny unplugged

Enough slagging the Ceeb for one day; they deserve a cheer, too.

Quite often, news outlets leave viewers, listeners, or readers with little more than snippets from interview subjects or news events. “Sound bites”, they are called.

However, the CBC has been increasingly making raw, in-extenso, audio and video available on top of the edited coverage that is canned as hourly and daily newscasts.

Case in point: today’s press availability by the Premier, video of which is available as this .ram file.

Not only does it provide the opportunity to explore the soundbites in context, and give a bit of insight into how news programming is made… where else would you uncover unedited gems of statements by Our Dear Premier, replete with almost uncountable John-Turneresque throat-clearings and nervous “y’knows”, such as:
I also wrote [Harper] twice on the statements of Minister Hearn. Minister Hearn indicated that I had to be a good boy, and by [my?] interpretation Newfoundlanders and Labradorians had to be good boys and girls in order to get anything from the government of Canada. >>ahem<<
“By interpretation” (or was it “my interpretation”?)

Yes, everyone knows how Danny’s “interpretation” of someone else’s statements is always, and infallibly, so very, very close to the actual truth of what was uttered.

And with two curious verbal mis-steps in one sentence-like object, you gain a bit of insight into the mind-workings of the Great Man:
I mean, y’know, y’know, at the end of all of this, y’ know, I think the people of Newfoundland will — and Labrador — will clearly state to the Government of Canada — or the fed — I’m sorry, — to the Conservative Party of Canada — that they’re not going to elect any candidates…
Labrador is an integral part of the province of Newfoundland and Afterthought.

And it’s not about sending messages to the Canadian Conservatives, it’s about sending a message to Canada as a whole.

My people are proud nationalists a nation within a nation dire consequences trying to stamp out separatism blah blah blah.

Now hurry up and build that fixed link so that We can threaten to tear it down.

Places that don't matter

CBC puts a little bit of top-spin on O.D.P.’s recollection of his conversation with Stephen Harper last fall, headlining its story, PM thinks N.L. ridings don't matter, Williams says

That’s not quite what Williams said Harper said (let alone what Harper said, as opposed to what Williams said Harper said)… but, heck, for fun, let’s assume it was.

Let’s assume that Harper did say, bluntly, and in as many words, that Newfoundland and Labrador ridings don’t count.

How is that any different from saying about Labrador, and the geographical makeup of a provincial cabinet, as Danny Williams said on the day he was sworn in as the Premier of Newfoundlandand Labrador — that “obviously certain portions of the province, minute portions of the province, can be left out”?

Selling a bill of goods

Danny Williams and Ed Martin are not above over-stating the factual realities of the proposed so-called “Lower Churchill” project. Now, it appears, the Ministry of Truth (Federal) has caught the same affliction. The lede from a CBC story that moved this afternoon:
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro announced an agreement Monday to sell electricity from the Lower Churchill megaproject to consumers in the Maritimes and the northeastern U.S.
They did no such thing! This assertion is flat-out contradicted by the very next paragraph:
The Crown corporation said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nova Scotia Power and Emera Inc. “to explore the possibility of bringing energy” to the Maritimes and New England markets.
Exploring a possibility of bringing energy is not the same thing as actually selling it.

Not by a long shot.

That’s what Williams and Martin want you to believe. The Potemkin village must be propped up at all costs. And, at least for one Ceeb journo, they succeeded.

Cf. CP:
Newfoundland and Labrador's provincially owned electricity utility - stymied by what the province regards as an unfair deal with Quebec - is looking at the possibility of exporting electricity from the Lower Churchill project to the United States by way of the Maritimes.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Emera Inc. (TSX:EMA) announced Monday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding “to explore the possibility of bringing energy from the Lower Churchill project to the Maritimes and New England markets.”

Newfoundland Hydro, Emera and Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Inc. “will work collaboratively to study in detail the technical, economic, financial and regulatory aspects,” a joint statement said.

Possible routing options would include a Maritimes sub-sea cable if an acceptable deal cannot be reached with Hydro-Quebec.
And cf. the impressively hard-to-directly-link-to-for-such-an-accountable-government Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro press release. Note the conditional and tentative language throughout, from all parties involved in the study; conditionality and tentativeness which was, perhaps, a little subtle for the CBC newsroom:
January 14, 2008 – Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro), Emera Inc. and Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the possibility of bringing energy from the Lower Churchill Project to the Maritimes and New England markets.

“This MOU complements our initiatives currently underway in other jurisdictions and is another step in ensuring we have the right portfolio of markets for the Lower Churchill Project that will generate the best value for the province,” said Ed Martin, President and CEO, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the province’s energy corporation. “We are looking forward to working with both Emera and Nova Scotia Power in an effort to identify mutually beneficial opportunities for this renewable, predictably priced, clean energy.”

As a result of this agreement, Hydro, Emera and NSPI will work collaboratively to study in detail the technical, economic, financial and regulatory aspects related to exporting power from the Lower Churchill Project to these markets. At the conclusion of this preliminary assessment, the parties will decide if there is merit in advancing potential joint initiatives.

“This is a potential opportunity for Emera and for energy customers in both the Maritimes and New England,” said Chris Huskilson, President and CEO of Emera Inc. “We are hopeful that the outcome of these studies will result in sustainable energy flow to the Maritimes and New England markets.”

A portfolio of market destinations and market access options for power from the Lower Churchill Project remain under consideration. Potential routing options being explored by Hydro include the Maritimes submarine route and transmission through Hydro-Quebec’s transmission system. All options are still under investigation.

“Fully assessing this opportunity is another element of Nova Scotia Power's strategy to provide our customers more electricity from renewable sources, as well as an important example of co-operation among the Atlantic Provinces,” said Ralph Tedesco, President and CEO of Nova Scotia Power.

Decision desk projects...

At this hour, with 3950 "votes" cast, and rising rapidly, we project a Satisfied With Tom Rideout Majority Government, by a landslide. Fully 76% of on-line respondents to VOCM's Question of the Day are "satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims."

Or, more to the point, 100% of whoever on the Eighth Floor is responsible for juicing this "poll", have been instructed to be satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims.

Or, as the most recent comment says, "Come on Tom. Get your finger off the Yes button!!"

Or, as the next-most-recent one says, "tom must have called all his friends and have them vote yes to question of the's a funny thing to have 77% of the vote in his favor as of now. but in the comments section there seems to be no one voting yes.what's happening i wonder"

Jo-anne: "How can 77% be saying yes when all the comments are saying no."

An anonymous commenter: "seems like Danny and Tom have called in the pc's computer nerds,had them work all morning clearing their computer time and time so they could vote yes.What have we become in NL.Honesty went out the door when these guys got elected"


Puzzled: "I find it simply hard to believe that 76% of the people have no problem with Mr. Rideout's actions. Gets me thinking how many friends Mr. Rideout has called to get the popular vote."

Bartheman99: "not many PC comments on here today. 80% voting yes and almost no comments, interesting. Is there anything that this Govt can do that will make you think of voting against them. Shame on all of you."


Graham: "What puzzles me most of all right now is who are the 78% that say yes. Mark this day on the VOCM Calendar because for the first time on here I am speechless. Then again that may also make 78% of the respondents very happy as well."

What: I can't believe that 80 % would agree its o/k for polititons to steal from the public purse .

Sassy Goose: Why is there such a discrepancy between the actual poll and the comments?

DUH: Can this vote really be correct. 82% voted yes but the majority of comments suggest no.

DICK & JANE: Why is every single comment calling for Rideout to resign, yet over 83% voted "YES" without a word stating why they agree with his actions ?

Sarah: I looked at this earlier in the morning and it was 67% No. How is it possible that it is now 83% yes, but all the comments are against him? Something is not right with this picture.

JEH: Must be lot of true blue PCs out there to vote yes?

Really Disgusted Taxpayer: Have you ever noticed that the numbers on Question of the Day change after 9:00 am or so to put the government in a more favourable light. That's after the little elves in the Confederation building get to work and start voting. Does that mean that not only do they condone the ongoing corruption by our HONOURABLE Members, they also use paid work government workers to skew poll numbers in a way to mislead us?

surprised: no to your question but very surprise about 66% saying yes just one question for you yes voters do you work for tom or are you related?

Friday, January 11, 2008

We is the centre of the universe

Oh, the life of a cabinet minister in Williams Government.

Not only do you not count in the larger scheme of things (or the smaller scheme, for that matter), your job, these days, seems to consist entirely of fluffing Our Dear Premier, to wit:

Tom Rideout, trumpeting Provincial Government Says Much Progress Has Been Made on the Seal Hunt:

Early in 2007, Premier Danny Williams met with a number of journalists from the European Union to ensure they were getting all the facts of the industry from the perspective of the province. The journalists represented the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria and Poland.

In 2006, the Provincial Government was successful in having Costco return seal oil capsules to the shelves of the St. John’s location. That same year, Premier Williams made a very successful appearance on Larry King Live to address misinformation being put forward on the industry.
Dianne Whalen, boasting Provincial Government Announces Record Roads Funding:
"Premier Williams has made infrastructure improvement a top priority for this government. Our government is in the third year of a six-year infrastructure strategy, worth over $2 billion, and our unprecedented investment in our transportation network and early approval of the Provincial Roads Improvement Program is a key part of this plan. This significant funding will not only make our roads smoother and safer, it will impact our economy and tourism industry," concluded Minister Whalen.
Everything, or at least everything Sunshine and Happiness, revolves around, or comes from, Danny Williams. He is whatever you want Him to be.

And if you wanted, and he could, he'd be a taco that craps ice cream.

Who could ever dare question the Danny Cult of Personality? The other ones worked out so well, didn't they?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

On inequity

Bill Rowe, ever-eager to flog a dead myth, used his Tuesday call-in interview with John Gordon, President of PSAC, to continue to propagate the fib that Newfoundland and Labrador is short-changed in its share of federal civil service jobs:
Rowe: We don’t have one head office of one government department or agency in this province… Is that something that you would want to get involved in, and change that so that the federal institutions are spread more equitably across the board in this country?

Gordon: Well, most certainly. Although we represent 165,000 members across the country, 4,000 of those members are in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In other words, 2.4% of PSAC’s membership are in Newfoundland and Labrador… a province which has 1.5% of the Canadian population.

What’s that inequity again?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sycophant of the Year

In 2007, Williams Government issued nearly 130 press releases in which it referred to itself as "Williams Government".

In third place, with fourteen press releases honouring His Good Name, was Tom Marshall.

In a tie for first place, with 29 apiece...

(Insert trumroll here.)

Joan Burke and John Hickey!

That's a tie, which means there must be a tie-breaker. And the tie-breaker is... who is the first Minister to issue a Williams Government press release in 2008.

The winner, on the tie-breaker... Joan Burke! Congratulations, Joan!

And oh yeah — the Minister with sole ownership of second place, before the tie-breaker, with twenty bits of Williams Government puffery during 2007 is... Danny Williams!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sharing costs

From the Ministry of Truth:

High Dollar Worries Fishermen - Jan 5, 2008

FFAW President Earle McCurdy says ways should be found to offset the impact of the high Canadian dollar on the fishery. McCurdy says the price of crab, for example, could be 20 or 30 cents less this year as a result. McCurdy has written a letter to Premier Danny Williams hoping that the issue will be discussed at next week's First Minister's meeting in Ottawa. He says the federal government could help by investing in fisheries renewal since the province has already agreed to a cost-shared program.

And everybody knows how so very hard it is to get the provincial government to "agree" that the federal government should pay 30% (40%, 50%, 60%, 70%) of the cost of something.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Comparative scheduling

This nifty little bar-graph shows what has happened in the four Canadian jursidictions which had elections last fall.

From top to bottom, they are Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Left to right is read chronologically, with the start of September at left, and the end of December at right. The vertical scale lines running through the graph are one week apart. (Go ahead, click on it; it won't bite.)

The yellow bars are the provincial and territorial election campaigns, culminating in the dark yellow stripe representing election day. Two of the elections were under way at the same time as the NL one; Saskatchewan's started the day after.

The green bars represent the period during which the newly-elected legislatures sat, after their fall elections were over and done with. (They didn't sit every day, of course, but the bars show where the fall sittings started and ended for the holiday break.)

The N.W.T. has to reconvene fairly early in any case, as under the consensus style of government, where there are no parties, the legislature meets to elect a new Premier.

At the end of October, giving excuses justifications as to why he wouldn't recall the House of Assembly, Premier Williams told reporters that it would require a Throne Speech, and "to turn around this fall and prepare another throne speech when we really haven't concluded half of what we set out to do in the year, I just think would be inappropriate, it would be unproductive, it would be just a repeat, a complete re-spin of what we said before."

Yet that didn't stop Ontario, which has a much bigger population and government than the one Danny's in charge of.

And yes, we aren't going to do like those nefarious Canadians, we are going to stand on our own and inaudible, yeah, yeah, yeah.

"I don't guide myself, or our government doesn't guide ourselves, by what Premier McGuinty does, or Prime Minister Harper does, or anyone else in the country does," he frothed at reporters. "We're running our own show down here, and we do it as we see fit, and I think we're doing a great job."

Williams Government Doing Great Job, Williams Says.

Our Dear Premier also used the excuse justification that his cabinet ministers — whatever the good of having cabinet ministers in a Duplessiste regime — needed to be briefed and whatnot, and that that nasty little House of Assembly business, y'know, that thing they were just elected to, would be a distraction:
To have my ministers right now in the House for three or four or five or six weeks, I think the departments would suffer as a result of that. I think it would not be giving them enough time to basically get a handle on the departments. And those departments are the day-to-day government departments that serve the people, and that's really what this is all about.
And yet again, another problem which didn't seem to crop up in the N.W.T., Ontario (where McGuinty only lost one cabinet member in his re-election the day after Danny's), or in Saskatchewan where a gosh-and-golly fresh new government was elected altogether.

So why wasn't there a fall sitting again?

And which provinces or territories will beat the House of Assembly back into session this winter (spring, summer)?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Le resettlement

Aylmer Sound n'est plus.


It would have made a lovely little summer spot on the future Route 138 that the Quebec government swears is going to be built.

A tale of three facilities

From the Ministry of Truth:
New Stadium For Clarenville
January 3, 2008

The sports and theatre communities in the Clarenville area are getting a brand new facility to call home. The $15-million building will house a 1200 seat stadium and a 275 seat theatre and a walking track. Mayor Fred Best says the site is near schools and the recreation complex. Best says some initial work has already taken place and he hopes the building will be finished within a couple of years. Best says there are also plans to install a curling rink. He says the facility will benefit many communities. The provincial government will pay 80 per cent of the cost and the town will contribute the remaining 20 per cent.
This follows the 2006 announcement that the provincial government would pay for 80% of the Polar Centre in St. Anthony.

And yet the provincial government wants the federal government to pay "the majority of the costs" of the auditorium in Happy Valley-Goose Bay?

There would appear, then, to be two ways to get the provincial government to treat a Labrador auditorium project the same as the Carbonear and St. Anthony stadium ones.

Stop calling it an "auditorium" and start calling it an "arena".

Or move it to Newfoundland.

Why are Labrador projects of the provincial government always contingent of "matching" federal funding or a federal "fair share" or the federal government "coming to the table"?

Why aren't Newfoundland ones?

Labrador is an integral part of the province.

Keep repeating it.

Labrador is an integral part of the province.

At least on tax day.


A final note from Danny's attempts to pour cold water on his own overheated "Lower Churchill" boosterism:
"We have to enter into an agreement and strike a land claim agreement with our local Innu," Williams said.
"Our local Innu"?

It's not a slip. It's a verbal virus.

Confer Jerome Kennedy's recent use of the phrase "our Aboriginal groups".

The provincial Liberal platform contained a section entitled, "Working With and Respecting our Aboriginals", which pledged to "consult with our aboriginal peoples", respect "the rights of our Metis and Mi'kmaq people", "work with our Metis and Mi'kmaq people to ensure their issues receive appropriate attention by the province when decisions are being made", and "work with our Innu people to finalize land claims agreements"

Danny's first Throne Speech repeats the phrase "our Aboriginal..." three times, his speaking notes at a 2004 First Minister's Meeting repeats it, so does Tom Marshall, so did Roger Grimes, so does Tom Rideout, so does Joan Burke.

How many Aboriginal peoples do Newfoundland politicians think they own?

(There's at least one that they don't own — the phrase "our Metis" is nowhere to be found in any provincial press release or document.)

Imagine if some federal politician or Toronto journalist paternalistically referred to "our Newfoundlanders". What would the reaction be from the local literati and PWG-waving set?

The local political lexicon is in good need of disinfection. Hopefully there's a linguistic bleach out there than can not only eradicate hackneyed phrases like "due diligence", but take out this nasty, nasty habit of modifying the word "Aboriginal", or the names of specific Aboriginal peoples, with the first-person plural possessive.