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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A deal is a deal!

Everybody has sympathy for the public service pensioners, but, again, they’re a very small group of the 500,000 people that are in this province, and they got the pension that they signed up for, that they bargained for.
- Our Dear Premier, today
Everybody has sympathy for [Newfoundland and Labrador], but, again, they’re a very small group of the [thirty-one million] people that are in this [country], and they got the [Atlantic Accord/Upper Churchill contract/Terms of Union] that they signed up for, that they bargained for.
- some nefarious mainlander, some time

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chrétien lessons

Another blow for the Accountability Government. From the Bow-Wow Parliament on Monday:

MR. PARSONS: A major issue for Labrador is the state of the Trans-Labrador Highway. My question is for the Minister of Transportation and Works.

It was reported in The Labradorian on May 29, 2007, that the Town Council in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was told that a government report on various grades of chip seal on the Trans-Labrador Highway would be released to them on April 1 – that is April 1, 2006 - three transportation ministers ago.

My question for the minister is: Why has this report not been published or placed on the government Web site, and when might we expect this to be tabled in this House?

MS WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

We are indeed working with Labrador, in investments we have made in Labrador. We are doing, this year alone, a $45 million cost-shared investment in Labrador, surfacing and widening of our Phase 1 during the construction season. We are indeed using chip seal in a part of that road in Labrador, the Trans-Labrador Highway.

MR. PARSONS: Again, for clarification, can the minister confirm that the report will be released, and when?

MS WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, all reports that we do are released in due time. That report will be released when it is due to be released.
A release is a release, and when you have a good release it's because it's due to be released.

For the record, though, in case anyone is fuzzy on the math, there are many more than 30 days in two years.

Tom Marshall, historian

Also next year, with an additional investment of $225,000 over two years as we announced just recently, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the voyage to the North Pole of Captain Bob Bartlett of Brigus.
What was the exact date that Bob Bartlett reached the North Pole?


From Our Dear Budget Speech:
Newfoundland and Labrador is not the province it was five years ago. Before our government entered office in 2003, this province was spiraling downward into an abyss, fiscally, economically and socially. Infrastructure was crumbling, social programs were unraveling, raw resources were being shipped away...
Perhaps Our Dear Finance Minister — whoever that is — could identify a "raw resource" that was, in Our Dear Passive Mood, "being shipped away" in 2003, that is no longer being shipped away.

From Jean Lesage to Jerry Seinfeld

2007: “Masters of Our Own House

2008: “Masters of Our Destiny

2008bis: “Masters of Our Own Domain

Williams Government!

Williams Government!

And poor old Tom — what's the Finance Minister's name again? — with Danny raining on what should have been his parade.

Memo ×2

MR. T. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I think, as I said in response to a question from the Opposition House Leader some time ago, the Williams government certainly recognizes the problems that high energy costs have for the people of this Province.
Memo to Tom Marshall: Really. You're already in cabinet.

Memo to the Speaker: Really. No names. It's a rule. Look it up.

Your Freudian slip is showing

Budget speech as written:
Now we need people with that same enterprising attitude to help us build an economic miracle here at home. We are issuing a clarion call to local residents young and old, to our expatriates and to immigrants from far and wide to join with us as we prepare to step up to a new plateau of economic activity.
Budget speech as delivered by Finance Minister Mr. Malaprop:
Now we need people with that same enterprising attitude to help us build an economic miracle here at home. We are issuing a clarion call to local residents young and old, to our expatriates and to immigrants from far and wide to join with us as we prepare to step up to a new platitude of economic activity.
(And “clarion call”? Really?)

How can you tell when he's lying?

His lips move.

ODP opened his mouth in the House on Monday, just barely, just long enough, to have the following QP exchange. His response constitutes every word Mr. Accountability uttered in QP, or at any other time during the course of the day:
MR. PARSONS: My final question is for the Premier.

Premier, contrary to what the minister just said, your government is on record as releasing reports within thirty days. We are three years, almost, into this one that I am talking about here. Saying you are going to release it when you are ready is not keeping the commitment to release it in thirty days.

Premier, you, yourself, said back on March 3 that you would scour the government coffers and departments and see what reports are hanging around and they would be released. They are still not released and we are here some sixty days later.

I am just wondering, has anybody given anyone instructions to do that, and can we look forward to seeing these reports actually being made public sooner rather than later?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: No instructions have been given; and, yes, we can.
So, on March 3, when he told Rob Antle of the Telegram:
Williams, meanwhile, said Friday the province will "absolutely" review its files for other unreleased reports.
He was lying.

"In this province"

The Ministry of Truth reports:
Legions Pressing PM on Free Ferry Travel
April 29, 2008

The Royal Canadian Legion is pressing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend a free travel offer for military service personnel and veterans to the Marine Atlantic ferries. Currently the program only applies to VIA Rail. The Legion's Newfoundland and Labrador Command says the expression of appreciation should include all. There is no rail service in this province.
In fairness, VOCM is cribbing off of the Legion's own press release on this issue:
Although the Province of Newfoundland Labrador does not have an existing railway, we do, and do require the services of a ferry between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland Labrador to maintain connection with mainland Canada.
Having sycophantically adopted Danny's Brainfart — also known as "the Brand Signature" — as if it is the name of the province, which it isn't, the Legion's "Newfoundland Labrador" command is also woefully Newfoundland-centric.

The province does have an "existing" railway — several of them, in fact — even if Newfoundland does not. Think about that for a minute.

And Labrador, last time anyone checked, is, part of "mainland Canada", and does not require Marine Atlantic or any other ferry service to "maintain connection", though a proper highway might be nice.

It's too bad, really, because otherwise the Legion has a pretty good point.

Is that backuppable?

Our Dear Deputy Premier made an interesting comment Monday:

For years, our fishery has been traded away to foreign interests, and now is the time to say enough is enough.
Enough is enough! Absolutely! Down wit' da causeway!

But — enough what is enough what?

What are we enough-is-enoughing for?

The Minister of Overseas Fisheries Junkets and Fisheries Junket Accessories states that "our fishery has been traded away to foreign interests".

A bare, bland, statement, with the customary passive verb.

It's good enough for Agnes. It's good enough for Gus. It's good enough for a lot of people, and it should be good enough for the impertinent.

Someone said something on VOCM or the Fisheries Broadcats once, and so, by golly, it must be true!

But the impertinent will ask anyway:

Traded away to WHICH foreign interests?

Traded WHICH fishery?

WHAT was the other half of the trade; in other words, WHAT did Canada get out of it?

WHEN did this happen?

WHO is the actor of that passive verb? "Traded away" by WHOM?

Surely, having definitively made the statement, "our fishery has been traded away to foreign interests", the good Minister can upback his assertion?

Anyone interested in more details of Minister Rideout's startling, and very definitive, assertion, is encouraged to contact:

Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403

Monday, April 28, 2008

What Ministers are for

Williams Government gets to announce the Big News:
His Minister — at 5:00 on a Friday evening — gets to announce the fine print:
"We have been working with the insurance industry to clarify any administrative and processing issues, and steps are being taken to ensure those eligible for tax refunds will get them as soon as possible. Our government understands, however, that the industry cannot provide refunds overnight, since time is needed to alter computer systems and process refunds," said Minister Marshall. "I appreciate the industry has willingly taken on this temporary administrative burden which will stretch their resources for a time. It is in the best interests of all stakeholders - consumers, the insurance industry and government, to expedite refunds as soon as possible. We are hopeful that most refunds can be processed within 90 days."

Williams Government: Now 35% Open and Accountable

Documents tabled in the House of Assembly are now available on the internet for computers. The tabled-documents clearinghouse helpfully informs you:
Tabled documents shall be arranged in chronological order; those which are available online will be hyperlinked.
Of course, you'd be forgiven for naively thinking that they would all be available online:

"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,"
Some of them — 79 of 223 since October — are now posted up . The rest, presumably, are still set up with the wax-and-strip method, or maybe molten lead-alloy type, and hence are not available online, nice promises notwithstanding.

You'd think those could at least be scanned and posted as .pdf or some such. Depending on your bent, the 2007-08 Activity Plan Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner for Legislative Standards would either be a fascinating read, or a non-chemical solution to insomnia.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"across the province"

Across the province, all across the province from Victoria to Halifax — er , from St. John's to St. Anthony to... St. John's:

Minister Celebrates Volunteer Week

Minister Hedderson is planning appearances in communities across the province and is currently scheduled to be at events on the following dates:

Sunday April 27 - Volunteer Week Opening Ceremony, Fairmont Hotel, St. John’s, 7:00 p.m.

Monday April 28 - Volunteer Week Recognition Dinner presented by the Labrador-Grenfell Health Board, Grenfell Hospital, St. Anthony, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday April 30 - Reception to honour youth volunteers, Main Lobby, East Block, Confederation Building, 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday April 30 - Irish Loop Volunteer Awards, Witless Bay and Area Kinsmen Centre, Witless Bay, 7:00 p.m.

Thursday May 1 - CBS Volunteer Appreciation Reception, Worsley Park, Chamberlains, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday May 4 – Reception to celebrate Volunteer Week, Hotel Gander, Gander, 7:00 p.m.

And he'd know... how?

Special Visitor at Gonzaga
April 25, 2008

You have to give respect to get respect. That was the message from the Premier as he helped Gonzaga close out Care Week in St. John's.

Re-re-re-branding exercises

The Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, then of Newfoundland Labrador, then Williams Government, has, very abruptly, been re-re-re-branded.

All of a sudden, almost as if orders come down from on high, or the Eighth Floor, whichever is higher, the Provincial Government has taken to calling itself — get this — the Provincial Government.
A West Coast company has become one of the many to benefit from the Provincial Government’s efforts to support the development of the fishing and aquaculture industries through unprecedented funding and programming.

The Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, will hold a news conference today (Friday, April 25) to outline the actions being taken by the Provincial Government upon review of the workers’ compensation system in the province.

To support strategic municipal infrastructure investments throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Government will increase its capital budget commitment by $34.4 million annually, for a total provincial commitment of $84.3 million per year.

The Provincial Government, along with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC), is undertaking a series of actions to address the needs of the province’s workplace insurance and compensation system.

The Provincial Government is moving forward with initiatives for the forest sector to diversify their industry with funding of $14 million in Budget 2008.
All around the world, it would appear, personality cults are falling from favour.

Either that, or this is a wee bit of restraint in advance of the annual budget-week "Williams Government!" exercise.

Over to you, Joan Burke!


And "Provincial Government" is not only suddenly de rigeur, it's de rigeur in the lede.

The Provincial Government is committed to helping young women achieve success in science and engineering.

May be? May be not

April 29th, not May, is when Finance Minister Williams Government will deliver His budget.

Given that it's only four days from now, you'd think Williams Government would have known that when Williams Government mused publicly about an as-late-as-May date.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


"As these contracts are let, then we notify people in the communities that they are let. So there is a double process there, but it's not about getting a second bang for a buck on these things... As a matter of fact, it's about informing people early and then once the contracts are awarded is letting them know after. But to come in and double- and triple-announce money, that's giving the appearance of being new money, that's misleading."

Informing people early.

Letting them know after.

But absolutely, definitely not double- and triple announcing money, nothing could be further from the truth.

Because that would be misleading.


MR. T. MARSHALL: When I went around in pre-Budget consultations, I think this year what I heard more from people than anything else was, eliminate that tax on insurance premiums, eliminate the 15 per cent on insurance premiums - and the Williams’ government listened.

MR. MARSHALL: When we became the government, the rebate, the HST rebate, was $100, the same as it is in New Brunswick today. It was $100 and it went to about 11,000 people. Today, we are giving that rebate, under the Williams’ government, to 75,000 people, and the rebate amount is not $100 dollars like it was then and like it is in New Brunswick today.

MR. KELLY: As the minister said, we need taxes. We need taxes for programs, we need taxes to support health care. The health care budget in this Province, as we all know, is somewhere in the area of $2 billion. We need revenue to support education. The education budget in this Province is approaching $1 billion. These are two of the most significant expenses that this government has, and to do that it needs revenue.

A famous philosopher, John Shed, said that a ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. In this Province, I am so very proud of the captain of our ship, the Premier, and his crew, and the job that they are doing at this time in our history —

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELLY: — the most significant job, I think, that I have seen in my lifetime, in terms of programs and making changes for the benefit of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian; no doubt about it. We have a lot to be proud of. This ship, under this captain, is doing an admirable job. This ship is not stuck in the harbour. This ship is on course. This ship recognizes that there is a future ahead of us and there are things to be done.

MR. KELLY: I am grateful as an MHA, and I am so proud to be a part of the Danny Williams team. There has never been a better captain of a ship in this Province, as I said earlier.


He's not under a gag order, he's just not allowed to speak to anyone.

That super-de-dooper fine-hair splitting skills should lay to rest any doubts that any nattering nabobs have ever harboured about Our Dear Premier's status as a Great Lawyer.
PREMIER WILLIAMS: There are no gag orders in place on anybody. We do not put gag orders in place. The fire commissioner is not under a gag order. The minister is responsible for the fire commissioner and the minister will speak for the fire commissioner. When matters relate to education, that minister will speak for the fire commissioner. The fire commissioner is not out speaking publicly. He has a right to do technical briefings and everything else, but he acts under the minister. He has a responsibility to that minister and the minister will speak, and that is the way it is going to be. It is as simple as that.
Such eloquence! Such persuasion! A successful post-political career is in the offing for ODP.

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

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess I should say, as a Finance Minister for a little over a year and as a Finance Minister in the government of Premier Danny Williams, that government has done more to lower taxes for the people of this Province than any other government in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I am very pleased to be able to have an opportunity to speak to this, because there is no Finance Minister in history who lowered taxes as much as I have in one year, in the one Budget I have done.

Yesterday we announced that we are going to continue on that trend, when we announced that we are going to eliminate the mandatory and unfair and hated 15 per cent tax on insurance premiums.

Shouldn't "we" be capitalized?

And isn't Danny Williams a Member of the House of Assembly, and therefore not to be mentioned by name during debate, as per long-standing Parliamentary - oh, who cares anymore.

Certainly not the Speaker.

An enemy of the people

Philip Earle of Carbonear writes some run-on sentences* to the Telegram:
With reference to Russell Wangersky's April 22 column "Looking into the future," suffice it to say he comes across as a self-referenced journalistic messiah who in truth is a half dim-wit, and the dim applies not to the half wit he is without, but to the half wit that he is in possession of!
But wait! There's more!
I suspect the editors of The Telegram are non-Newfoundlanders whose knowledge of our history, if placed in a thimble, would bounce around like a split pea placed inside one of the empty box cars on the Newfie bullet!
Russell Wayne-Gretzky take comfort: at least they aren't calling you a non-person.


* Yeah, yeah, glass houses, glass houses.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Poll fudgits bring May budgets?

The provincial budget, never the most punctual even by Masters-Of-Our-Own-House standards, may be delayed until... May.

Or, at least those parts of it which don't provide HappyTalk chaff and flares for Our Dear Premier during bouts of bad news and negativity.

Rob Antle reports for the Telegram:
Traditionally, the budget is tabled in late March. Last year, it moved to late April, due to the relative lateness of the federal budget, which introduced a new equalization program.

This year, Williams said, the budget could come as late as May. The premier blamed volatile oil prices for the pushback.
"Volatile" usually indicates that there is an unpredictable fluctuation in a value.

In the case of oil prices, they have been, entirely unvolatile-ly, going up as of late.

Indeed, much of Our Dear... Everything — from the fantasyland Lower Churchill development, to Our Dear Equity Stake in offshore oil and gas projects, to Our Dear Holy War Of Autonomy Through Increased And Perpetual Equalization Payments — is predicated on the notion that oil prices will continue a smooth, inexorable, and thoroughly not volatile upward march.

So, with regards to the timing of the latest budget, the Billion-Dollar Blockbuster — "as late as May" — surely, certainly, nothing could be further from the truth than to suggest that, as in past years, like 2007 or 2006, May will be a month when CRA just happens to be in the field with its quarterly omnibus?


Apropos and Dunbar claim:
In the post-Confederation years, the House of Assembly addressed many critical issues around Labrador, Aboriginal people and land claims.
Labrador? Sure, I guess.

Aboriginal people? Maybe.

Land claims?

The provincial legislature moved to Confederation Building in 1959. The land claims issue did not arise politically until the early 1970s. You'd think historic resource consultants might pay attention to the chronology.

The report also claims, very sloppily and inaccurately:
Landmark decisions made by the government of Newfoundland include:
    • decision on Labrador boundaries
    • decisions on Aboriginal people
Labrador was placed under Newfoundland jurisdiction by the 1763 commission to Governor Graves, confirmed by the 1763 Royal Proclamation, returned to the jurisdiction of the old Province of Quebec by a statute of the British Parliament in 1774, then back to Newfoundland by another British statute in 1809, with the final legislative change in the boundary made by yet another British statute in 1825 — 25 years before the Colonial Building opened; seven years before Newfoundland even had its first legislature.

Other than the several attempts to erase the boundary altogether by selling Labrador to Canada, what "landmark decisions" on the Labrador boundary were ever made in the Colonial Building?

And other than banning them from removal from Labrador, and sale of alcohol to them, what "landmark decisions" were ever made in Colonial Building concerning Aboriginal peoples?

Shanawdithit died in 1829.

Report Released!!!

Talk radio host No Names Please broke into his regularly-scheduled programming on Tuesday to give a breathless, INVASION OF NORMANDY! account of Our Dear Premier's Ministerial Staetment concerning tax on insurance.

That kind of hyperbolic "journalism" really ought to be reserved for important, world-changing news.

As in:

Meanwhile, oh lookie! The Colonial Building report, quietly, without so much as a press release from the ordinarily press-release-happy Minister of Kayaks, is also out.

How English We Are, Cheerio, Pip-Pip!

Jolly good! Yet another cleverly colour-coded map, this time showing the percentage of people, by census division, who counted "English" as their ethnic origin (or one of their multiple ethnic origins.)

The province overall scored 43.2% on the Boy Are We Ever English scale.

CDs 10 (rest of Labrador), and the southern swath of Newfoundland from the Burin Peninsula to Port au Port, ranged in the high 30%s and low 40%s for English ethnic self-identification.

45% or more of census respondents considered themselves to be ethnically English or partly-English throughout the entire northern half of Newfoundland, and in that ever-so-English metropolis... St. John's.

Just a nudge under half (48.4%) of the population of Census Division 9, the Northern Peninsula, count English as their sole or one of their multiple ethnic origins.

Only in the Avalon Peninsula outside St. John's (34.8%) and Nunatsiavut (19.7%) was the English-as-ethnic-origin percentage less than 35%.

So, how about that trade mission to Devon, or the cultural exchange with Hampshire?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For next year's pre-budget "consultation"

... how about this suggestion for saving costs?

Eliminate the pre-budget "consultation".

Heck, eliminate the post of Finance Minister.

Pride parade

"… Up true Newfoundlander! Rise / And fight once more to win proud freedom’s prize!" His success – and the professionalism with which he conducts himself – has made us proud time and again. government is proud to formalize this relationship with Iceland Newfoundland and Labrador has a proud and strong tradition of military service

Hail, the Conquering Hero!

Step 1: Send out the plants and shills to fustigate, for months on end, against the tax on insurance.

Step 2: End the tax on insurance.

Step 3: Bask in the glory.

Yeah, we said a lot of crazy stuff

This little corner has had great merriment at the expense of one particular pledge in the 2003 Blue Sheet:

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.
However, that particular, well-broken, campaign promise actually comes sequentially after this one:

A Progressive Conservative government will:

  • Proclaim new Freedom of Information legislation which will include amendments that will clearly identify information that should be in the public domain, including cabinet documents, and will require full and prompt disclosure of the information to the public.

Item — St. John's Telegram, June 4, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: In early January - at the height of the Atlantic Accord dispute - the Williams administration commissioned a poll that, in part, asked Canadians whether the province should accept the deal then on the table, or continue to fight Ottawa... The Williams administration fought for nearly five months to block the information's release.

Item — St. John's Telegram, June 29, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: The Newfoundland government maintains that some opinion polls are secret cabinet documents not to be released to the public, despite the views of the province's information commissioner... "We disagree with the interpretation that's been put on this by the information and privacy commissioner," acting justice minister Tom Rideout said Tuesday... The province says releasing public-opinion polling commissioned over a 14-month period would reveal cabinet confidences.

Item — CBC Radio News, June 30, 2005: Cabinet minister Tom Rideout says releasing such information would violate the principle of cabinet secrecy. "We think we have a responsibility to preserve that tradition, preserve that underpinning of British parliamentary democracy, that cabinet discussions are secret," Rideout says.

Item — St. John's Telegram, July 2, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: Revealing the details of some public-opinion polls viewed by cabinet would be akin to allowing television cameras to film their meetings, Premier Danny Williams says... "If we're going to allow cabinet secrecy and cabinet documentation to be wide open, well, maybe we just roll the cameras into the cabinet room and have open cabinet meetings," Williams said. "That's not the way government runs. That's not the tradition in government. So we have to strike a balance."

Item — St. John's Telegram, July 13, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: The Williams administration formally confirmed Tuesday that it will ignore a recent ruling by the province's information commissioner. Commissioner Phil Wall had ruled that some government polling information should be released under new open-records laws. The province maintains the data is secret cabinet information... The two-page letter, written by clerk of the Executive Council Robert Thompson - the province's top civil servant - confirmed the government would not accept Wall's decision.

Item — CBC News, July 28, 2005: The Williams government is defying the information commissioner by refusing to release polling data to the public... "It's not the content of the polls it's the precedent," says Premier Danny Williams. "Once you do it, then that opens the door to precedent for that type of information coming from cabinet, which again is not in the best interest of cabinet." Tom Rideout, the acting justice minister, says releasing such information would violate the principle of cabinet secrecy. "We think we have a responsibility to preserve that tradition, preserve that underpinning of British parliamentary democracy, that cabinet discussions are secret," Rideout says.

Item — St. John's Telegram, October 20, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: The province may change new open-records laws if it loses a court challenge filed by its information commissioner, Premier Danny Williams says. "If it means that, as a result of a court decision, confidential cabinet information will be made available that shouldn't be, then I will change the legislation," Williams told the editorial board of The Telegram this week.

Item — Information and Privacy Commissioner, November 7, 2005: The Department withheld previously released information under the mandatory section 27 in several other areas within the responsive records... The information on page 35 was also withheld under section 20(1)(a). This information had all been released by way of a news release, annual report or mineral exploration document available on government’s website... In addition to information previously released by government, the Department withheld information previously revealed in newspaper articles.

Item — St. John's Telegram, December 4, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: Among the partial sentences deemed secret cabinet advice by the government for the past nine months: "This hospital is 40 years old."

Item — St. John's Telegram, TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, 2005, Rob Antle reporting: After a year of fighting against a Telegram open-records request for government polling data, the Williams administration has avoided an impending court battle by releasing the information, three days before Christmas. The province had maintained the disclosure of the polls would reveal the secret deliberations of cabinet. A spokeswoman for Premier Danny Williams said Thursday he was never personally against the release of the polls, and never considered them cabinet documents.

Item — CBC News, today: The Newfoundland and Labrador government is not releasing documents that outline why it decided to collapse health boards into four large authorities, including Eastern Health. CBC News applied under access to information legislation to see documents relating to the 2004 decision to amalgamate hospital, nursing home and community health boards into four large boards. Little information was released, and 106 pages of the internal decision-making process are considered largely a cabinet secret, CBC was told.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Place names

Perhaps Charlene Johnson can ask the geonames board — or her cabinet colleague in Newfoundland and Newfoundland tourism — where she can find this place called "Newfoundland Labrador", in the present, in order to visit it.

There is an answer to that question in the past. Perhaps some history-minded person close to Williams Government can explain it all to them.

What's in a name?

Williams Government wants the name Newfoundland back on the map, or at least in the database of the Geographical Names Board of Canada, which takes its cue from the Newfoundland and Labrador Geographical Names Board, if it still exists.

Fair enough.

Perhaps, while Williams Government is giving the issue "appropriate consideration", someone at one, or both, of the geographical names boards can remind Williams Government that, its anti-conjunction fetish notwithstanding, there's an "and" in the geographical-board-name- and constitutionally-sanctioned three-word name of the province.

The budgetary process

Finance Minister Tom Marshall is waiting for his budget to arrive:
Budget To Arrive Soon
April 21, 2008

There is still no date set for this year's provincial budget. However, Finance Minister Tom Marshall, says it's not too far from completion, and they still plan to unveil the document before month's end. He says there are still some details to be finalized and when that is done the date will be announced.
(The FinMin waits for the budget to arrive? The date of the budget — passive mood alert — will be announced? What, exactly does Tom Marshall's job description as Finance Minister entail?)

There surely can't be too many of those details to finalize, other than, say, the number of mammography units:
PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can inform the hon. member opposite that two months ago, back in February, we had already approved in the upcoming Budget – I don’t want to scoop the minister, but it is important information - some considerable time ago we have already approved mammography units. The number I cannot tell you exactly but it has already been approved.
Back in February, We approved.

What else did We approve back in February?

And what, then, was the point of all these "consultations", besides, of course, trotting out the Debt Clock?

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Greg Locke notes:
Our fellow islands in the North Atlantic are a logical choice — on the surface. There is a lot in common: colonial pasts, economies based on fish, agriculture and natural resources, and a history of poverty.
Operative words, of course: "on the surface."

Scratch a little more deeply, and differences start to emerge.... starting with the fact than "we" don't have "fellow islands", by not being an island in the first place.

That high-pitched squeal

Newfoundland is not a sovereign nation.


Yes, there are benefits to Confederation and things the province can control, given intelligent decisions, but it cannot make the decisions of a nation.
Another dog hears the dog-whistle.

Region and qualification

Minister wants:

Minister wants NL on Bench
April 20, 2008

The Minister of Justice says there are many from this province he'd like to see on the Supreme Court of Canada. With the anticipated retirement of Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache, Jerome Kennedy is calling on the Federal Government to appoint the first ever representative on the bench from Newfoundland and Larbador. Kennedy says we have many qualified individuals.
(Minister wants all of NL on Bench? Big bench!)

In a tangentially-connected point, St. John's has many qualified individuals, too. Minister appoints:

The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, today announced four new appointments and three re-appointments to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC).

Minister Jackman said the selection of NLAC board members is designed to include representation from various artistic disciplines, as well as from various regions throughout the province.

Newly-appointed NLAC board members are: Lloyd Pretty of Stephenville, visual art; Derek Norman of St. John’s, film; Barry Nichols of St. John’s, theatre; and, Calla Lachance of St. John’s, dance. Re-appointed to the board are: Carmelita McGrath of St. John’s, literary arts; Kim Wiseman of Gander, music; and, Mary Walsh of St. John’s, theatre. Continuing members are: Randall Maggs of Corner Brook, literary arts; Tom Gordon of St. John’s, music; Barbara Wood of Labrador, visual arts; and, Eleanor Dawson and Brent Meade (Provincial Government representatives).
St. John's: 6.
"Various regions throughout the province": 4.

For the record, St. John's, contrary to the popular belief that would give it half the provincial population (or more), had, at last census, 100,646 residents.

Just under 20% of the provincial total of 508,153.

Greater St. John's has just under 35% of the provincial population.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Yet another cabinet minister who doesn't realize he's already in the cabinet:

MR. KENNEDY: Finally, Mr. Speaker, openness, transparency and accountability versus stonewall. It is very unfortunate when we see terms like stonewall being used. It implies, at a minimum, if not expressly states, that as a government we are hiding things, we are deliberately obstructing, we do not want the truth to come out. Well, as Premier Williams said today much more eloquently and forcefully than I can ever say it, there is nothing further from the truth.
Oddly enough, there is no distinctly local sense for the otherwise ordinary English word "eloquent" in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, or in the first supp.

Maybe it will make it into the next revision.

Last comic standing

Yip, that Terry Loder is going to be a nearly-unending font of unintentional humour:
Mr. Chairman, this is a time for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to smile. We thank our Premier and entire Cabinet for giving us the opportunity to be masters of our own destiny. We thank you for the largest personal income tax cuts in the Province’s history; a poverty reduction strategy that national anti-poverty leaders acknowledge as a model for the country. We thank you for increased funding for new diagnostic and other medical equipment including a new MRI machine for our local hospital. We thank you for insulin pumps for our children; new prescription drugs for those who need them; record spending on education; the best post-secondary student-aid package in the country; the investing of a multi-billion dollar strategy to improve infrastructure throughout the Province, and many other programs.

Mr. Chairman, the most common question asked to me over the past six months is: How do you like your new job? I tell them: If you like helping people, as I do, this is the perfect job.

Mr. Chairman, like all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I stand here today proud, strong and determined.
Proud. Strong. Determined.

But y'know, Terry, if someone has to give you the opportunity to be master of your own destiny... then you aren't really master of your own destiny, now, are you?

Of Great Leaders and little boys

"God bless Mummy, Daddy, and Joey Smallwood." A housewife explained to Joey Smallwood on a radio programme on his last day in office after 22 years that her three-year-old son said this in his prayers every night.

To find a comparison to Smallwood one has to go to Nkrumah, Nasser, or to Castro perhaps, and try to imagine him as head of a province within a state. There has never been anything like him in Canada and it is impossible to conceive that there ever will be again. "Dictator", "saviour", "visionary", "demagogue" are some of the labels applied to him, and some are true.
- Richard Gwyn,
The Times of London,
February 24, 1972

This brings me up to another story, Mr. Chairman, that our Premier does have an influence on young and old alike. I would like to take this time to tell a little story about my grandson, Wesley, who, at the time of the visit to our campaign on October 8, was at the campaign headquarters when the Premier attended. I was looking at Wesley and saw him looking up at the Premier, who was standing on a chair and giving a talk, and since that time, of course, as a two-year-old, he was quite amazed and he never forgot that incident, to the point now, when he sees the news come on at six o’clock, he says: Come on Poppy Terry, the news is on; let’s go see Premier Danny Williams.

A couple of months ago I saw him with an imitation cell phone, talking to somebody on the telephone. I said: Who are you talking to? He said: I am talking to Premier Danny Williams.

So, Mr. Premier, if you get a call any day this year from a little fellow asking you to reduce the prices on tandies and tookies, you will know it is Wesley.

- Terry Loder, MHA,
in what passes for a legislature,
April 8, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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

From Thursday's sitting of the House of Williams, resolved into Committee of the Whole, where the oft-ignored rule against mentioning members by name doesn't apply at all, and they know it:

MR. PEACH: Mr. Speaker, I am energized about the opportunity to be able to contribute to the management and growth of the future opportunities for Newfoundland and Labrador. I believe that this proactive approach, under the direction of our great leader, the Premier, will result in long-term sustainable future for the people of this Province. He is an inspirational leader, our Premier, Danny Williams.
Really! You can't make this stuff up, not even if you try super-hard!

However, the anti-naming rule, Mr. Speaker, does apply in Question Period. No need to try so hard, Tom, ol' buddy; for some inexplicable reason, you're already in cabinet:

MR. T. MARSHALL: Oil prices certainly are high, and it is something, of course, that our government has no control over, but the Williams government certainly is aware and recognizes the adverse affect that high energy prices have on the people of this Province, especially our seniors and those on fixed incomes. That is something, I can assure you, that the Williams government takes very seriously.
And how'd this triply-sycophanic gem, from April 8th, escape attention?

MR. LODER: Mr. Chairman, as you can see, I am quite excited about the potential of the district, and I do see a bright future ahead. I feel our leader, and other members of the Williams’ government, gave the citizens of this great Province of Newfoundland Labrador a sense of pride and hope for the future, which began in 2003.

As Mr. Kevin Blanchard of McIver’s stated during the campaign, when he met with the hon. Premier: You are the only fighting Newfoundlander left - implying, Mr. Chairman, that our Premier is the only fighting Premier we ever had.
For the sake of the Premier's health, hopefully colonoscopy test results are more reliable than some of the other medical diagnostics we've all been hearing about lately.

It would be worrisome, and embarrassing, to have medical alarm bells raised about polyps that turn out, in the end, to just be firmly-impacted backbenchers.

Translucent Government

You might think that for news as big and important and as $300-million-dollary as Province opts to remain with existing equalization formula; bigger return, that The Most Open And Transparent And Accountable Government In The Galaxy just might consider putting out a news release on it.

You'd be wrong, of course.

But given that this is The Most Open And Transparent And Accountable Government In The Galaxy Which Never Keeps Secrets And Certainly Doesn't Sit On Government Reports For Over Four Hundred Days, you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Selective autonomy (III)

We'll build Our Own Dear Fisheries Research Vessel, but rely on Saskatchabush for nucular safety?
MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, last week I acknowledged that the Nunatsiavut Government’s decision to put a moratorium on uranium development in their land claim areas was entirely within their jurisdiction and a decision that we respected, and that is so.

In terms of our own regulation, we are very confident, and I am happy to provide a copy of the regulations to the Leader of the NDP. She is more than welcome to them. We base our regulations on standards that were developed in Saskatchewan who has a long history of uranium development and one of the safest records in the world. So, we are very confident. We recognize, as I said, Nunatsiavut’s right to do what it did but we also have a right to make decisions on our lands and we have done so, and we stand by that, Mr. Speaker.
Surely, if we have Our Own Dear Population Ecology and Our Own Dear Marine Biology, we must also have Our Own Dear Nuclear Physics and Our Own Dear Environmental Science, too, no?

But hey, at least We aren't just doing whatever Dalton McGuinty does in >huckthoo!< Ontario
MS DUNDERDALE: As I said, our standards are not based on what is done in Ontario. They are based on the standards that are practiced in Saskatchewan, which has one of the best safety records for uranium mining in the world, Mr. Speaker.

Question time

A classic example of why they call it Question Period, not Answer Period. Mr. Parsons thought he asked Mr. Openness Transparency-Accountability a simple question:
MR. PARSONS: My final question is for the Premier.

Premier, I have just asked five different ministers of your government about reports that are sitting in their offices, ranging up as much as fifteen months, and have not been released.

You yourself, Premier, said on March 3 that you would have government ministers search and find out whatever was sitting around in terms of reports; because there was a commitment made, first of all back in 2003, in terms of openness and accountability, that reports would be released within thirty days. It did not say that they would be called drafts. It did not say that they would have to be actioned, or action plans done on them, but that the reports would be released within thirty days. Right here today we see six examples of reports that have not been released; and, again, it has been forty-five days since you made that statement that they would be released.

Can you tell us what you are going to do? You make a commitment that you were going to do it in 2003, you made a commitment on March 3, and yet we have six examples in front of us where your ministers have not followed through.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: That is just simply not correct, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member opposite never ceases to amaze me. The Minister of Finance got up today and did a Ministerial Statement basically indicating that we had been accredited as a Chartered Accountant training office. In that statement the minister said, "…this certification represents a positive step…."

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the Premier if he would not read from statements during Question Period, if he would refer to them, paraphrase them.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance basically said it was a positive step forward for the Province’s overall human resource requirements by expanding opportunities available to train professionals and basically employ students.

You stood up and said that this was absolute nonsense, that it does not matter, that we should not get graduates to come to the government to work. We should not train people. We should not cease out-migration. We should not encourage people to come to work for the government. You had better get your priorities straight.

Selective autonomy (II)

From the Bow-Wow Parliament on Wednesday:

MR. PARSONS: My next question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

On November 22, 2007, the media broke a story about certain reports done by that department concerning the future use of the Colonial Building. The report itself, apparently, cost $200,000 and it has still not been released by government.

I ask the minister: When can we expect to see that report released?

MR. JACKMAN: Indeed, the report is in its final stage. Second to that, and very much a part of, is federal funding. We are awaiting confirmation from the federal government as to whether they are going to support that project, and I anticipate that will be announced rather shortly - I mean, the overall report.

"Final stage"?

Does that mean that they are somehow altering the report that their consultants wrote for $200,000? I fos, why bother hiring consultants in the first place? If not... why has it taken since at least last August to release this report?

The report on the Colonial Building.

A provincial property, according to the the Terms of Union that are supposedly sacrosanct and should never, be breached, at least not by the federal government,

Physical symbol of Newfoundland's independence.

We Know What We're Fighting For.

That would be, The Federal Cash To Be Autonomous With.

Don't you feel proud?

Selective autonomy

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

- Danny Williams, applauding Danny Williams for Danny Williams’ autonomy in not bothering to open the House of Assembly that he’d just been re-elected to, October 30, 2007

“I also understand from a quick read of it, that some of these mastectomies are performed through outpatients, which amazes me, quite frankly, but if that is the procedure which is being done across the country I* will have to find out whether that is the norm. Of course, we* will obviously leave that to the Minister of Health.”

- Danny Williams, non-autonomously citing other provinces’ norms, when citing-what-the-other- provinces-do suddenly became more convenient, April 15, 2008

* Note as well the number switch in that most recent statement (“I will have to find out... we will obviously leave that to the Minister of Health.”)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An almost-missed cue

Days, count'em, days after Mr. Justice Bastarache signals his intent to leave the Supremes, Williams Government comes — well, charging isn't exactly the right word, is it? — out of the gate:

"Newfoundland and Labrador has many judges who would provide exemplary service as a member of this prestigious court," said Minister Kennedy. "It is now time for the Government of Canada to include our province on the highest decision making court in the land."
As opposed, one presumes, to all of those other courts that sit around all day playing Tetris and whatnot.

And Ken? "Everyday" is an adjective, not the adverbial phrase you probably were thinking of.

Good ol' whasisname

“Paul Okalik – or is it Ah-kalik, I’m not sure of the pronunciation – Oh-kalik, I think… This man, Okapik…”

— talk radio host No Names Please, yesterday, trying to pronounce Premier Hakapik’s name, or whatever.

How Irish We Are, or Aren't, As the Case May Be!

Again with the ethnicity. According to the 2006 census, the percentage of people, by Census Division and St. John's CMA, who considered themselves to be, in whole or in part, Irish, was as follows:
St. John's      31.7%
CD 1 25.1%
CD 2 18.4%
CD 4 16.7%
CD 6 16.4%
CD 5 16.2%

CD 10 14.4%
CD 7 10.7%
CD 9 10.1%

CD 8 9.4%
CD 3 5.9%

CD 11 2.1%

"Irish" ranks as the third-highest sole- or one-of-multiple-origins in the province overall, and in the St. John's metro area and CDs 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. It ranks third behind "Canadian" or "English" in every division; fourth behind "North American Indian" in division 3 and behind Métis in Labrador outside Nunatsiavut (with Inuit nipping at its heels); fifth, with the addition of French, in division 4; and eighth behind Inuit, English, Canadian, Norwegian, Scottish, French and Métis in Nunatsiavut.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How Ethnic We Are!

Statscan's Data, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agencies' modified map. This shows the highest-ranking response for the ethnic origin question on the 2006 census, single- and multiple-responses combined. That is, when asked what do you consider your ethnic origin to be, this shows the largest response, by census division, among people who considered their sole ethnic origin, or one of their ethnic origins, to be X.

Data for the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has been extracted from Census Division 1 of which it is a part.

The data in this map (and subsequent ones) for Census Division 1 represents the rest of CD 1 excluding metro St. John's; that is to say, the Avalon Peninsula outside Capital City and its suburbs.

"Canadian" (red on this map) was the highest-ranking ethnic origin in every division except greater St. John's, the St. George's-Port au Port area, and Labrador outside Nunatsiavut, where the largest single- or multiple-origin was... English (orange).

You don't hear that often, do you, boasts about how very English the City of St. John's is?

The other exception, of course, is CD 11, Nunatsiavut, in purple, where the dominant ethnic origin is Inuit.

How to pronounce "-"

As in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

A hint, Mr. Speaker: it's not an "&".

Cynicism is so cynical

“We have to try to resist falling into their hands… When they get arrested, and they get video of people being arrested and put into handcuff and everything, they love that.”

— talk radio host No Names Please, after just 24 hours, cynically adopts the editorial stance of the Globe and Mail.

Just a brand

1992 c48 s12; 1999 c22 s12; 2006 c40 s21


2. In this Act
(a) "corporation" means the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation continued by this Act;

The title of the Act, and s. 2, have not been amended.

And “The name of the Province remains Newfoundland and Labrador,” right, David D.?

“The Province is not referred to as Newfoundland Labrador,” right, Vanessa?

So, other than either sycophancy on Len Simms' part, or his following orders, what's this garbage, then?

(And why isn't Simms in on this wonderful news?)

The following is being distributed at the request of Newfoundland Labrador Housing and the Office of the Citizens’ Representative:

Housing Announces Tenants’ Bill of Rights

Newfoundland Labrador Housing (Housing) tenants throughout the province now have it in writing that they are entitled to discuss or bring to Housing’s attention any issues concerning their tenancy. Housing and the Office of the Citizens’ Representative have jointly developed and issued a Tenants’ Bill of Rights, for Newfoundland Labrador Housing tenants. The announcement was made today by the Hounourable Shawn Skinner, Minister Responsible for Housing and Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and Barry Fleming, Citizens’ Representative.

Shocked and appalled

Danny Williams won't be muzzled. Picking up pen and paper, he fired off a missive to Quebec's daily Newfoundland newspaper, saying:
I will accept responsibility when mistakes have been made, but I will not turn a blind eye to erroneous statements which destroy my reputation or the reputation of others.
It would be a lot more believable, that bit about how he "will accept responsibility", if the second part of that phrase didn't lapse into the impersonal passive voice, "when mistakes have been made".

From the masthead

Today's Telegram editorial says, in part:

Watson will milk this latest arrest for whatever it's worth in the court of public opinion. The problem with such arrests is that we run the risk of giving anti-sealing campaigners exactly what they've been looking for all along.
Which is pretty much the same thing that the >spit< Globe and Mail masthead said yesterday:

Rather than marginalizing Mr. Watson, however, the government has played directly into his hands. Thanks to Mr. Hearn's political machinations, Mr. Watson just got more free publicity than he likely ever dreamed of.
And yesterday, radio host, No Names Please, as is his wont, dumped all over the Glop and Pail for being "cynical" and "mainland" and "Toronto" and "Canadian", and all those other nasty things.

We Must Confute Our Traducers.

So it'll be interesting to hear No Names Please's take on the today's local masthead.

Or, as per the official nationalist talking points, is the Telegram still to be officially condemned as a "Kay Beck" company?

Monday, April 14, 2008

A blackfly in your chardonnay

“We’re doing a wonderful job of journalism, look at all the controversy we’re stirring up!”
– a certain talk radio host, no names please, sarcasticly attributing motives not at all unlike his own to Toronto’s National Newspaper, this afternoon.
“I’ve listened to a lot of gigantic leaps of logic in my life.”
– a certain talk radio host, no names please, pointing out a caller’s non-sequitur argument, this afternoon.
Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Due process

Our Dear Premier, April 7th:
The other thing is my preference would be, quite frankly, not to discuss this matter at all because it is before the inquiry, but because of the importance to the patients, their families, and the issues, then I am certainly quite prepared to discuss them, as far as I can go.
Our Dear Premier, April 8th:
This is about letting this inquiry go its full process. We cannot usurp the authority of that commissioner down there and we cannot start to try and make decisions here in this House of Assembly as a result of this kind of questioning as to what people in the civil service have received subpoenas.
Our Dear Premier, April 9th:
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for those ministers in how they performed their job and what information they had at the time and why they made the decisions they made. They are the only people who can answer those questions. So you have to walk a very, very fine line here in me putting my interpretation or expressing opinions and expressing conclusions on other testimony that occurs before the inquiry.
Walk a very fine line.

Do not usurp the authority of the commissioner.

Don’t discuss the matter, it’s before the inquiry.

Let the inquiry go its full process.

That’s Danny’s line.

And that’s the line of the plants, on the interwebs and on the radio shows, who keep saying – one of them, you could actually hear her rustling the sheet of paper she was reading from – that we must not pre-judge what might be judicially determined in the cancer testing scandal; that, in fact, no one should even talk about it.

Of course we mustn’t. And shouldn’t.

Prejudgment is Our Dear Premier’s prerogative.


“How cynical can you get, really?”

Dunno, Bill.

But certainly not much more cynical than a radio host praising up the RCMP as “one of the best police forces in the world”, today, anyway, having spent the past number of months denouncing the Royal Canadian – the second word is always said with a sarcastic, anti-Confederate, sneer – Royal Canadian Mounted Police, whenever the force gets some convenient-for-fed-bashing-purposes bad publicity.

That’s about as cynical as you can get.

And as for the Globe masthead’s assertion that the arrest of the Farley Mowat is “an easy way for a federal government to impress Newfoundlanders and improve its popularity in Atlantic Canada following its battles with Premier Danny Williams” – that sounds a lot like an argument that Danny Williams himself, or his surrogates, or his talking pointers, would make themselves.

Maybe the surrogates and talking points are just sore that the Globe and Mail made that line of argument publicly first, thereby depriving them of it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fact over fiction

A great deal of predictable, predictably mis-informed, and predictably venemous commentary emerged on the VOCM Question of the Day when it asked, “Do you support the Nunatsiavut government's moratorium on uranium mining and production on Inuit land for the next three years? Why or why not?”

A sampling:
Comments: its sad to see these people living off the fed and prov govt for years getting all kinds of free hand outs basically welfare bums now the govt gives them power and they want to take all over. Sick of listening to them wail all the time cant they find real work instead of being too lazy and wanting everything passed to them

Comments: Why are they taking a position that would limit employment for their people other than knowing that they can and they will receive Gov't assistance regardless of what happens.

Name:Jimmy Mac
Comments: All these aboriginal groups do nothing but hinder the progress of the provincial economy. They shouldn;t have any say in what happens when it deaks with the overall well being of the province.

Comments: No, anyone who have been near them knows that they are afraid they will get a job, why wouldnt they with the Govt handing out all this money. They shouldnt be no different than anybody else suck it up you lazy bums and go to work and pay taxes.

Comments: The Native people want everything their way and they DO NOT cotribute to the economy. They DO NOT pay any Income Tax, they DO NOT pay any sales tax and they DO want us to give them free Medical, free housing, free access to hunting and fishing. If they want to have control of anything, let them start paying their way. They lost the war same as the Quebecois did centuries ago and both still have a chip on their shoulder. Time for the Federal Government to curtail their freedoms, not give them more as they did by giving the non-native "Native" Indians here Native Status.

Comments: It's just fine to say no if someone else is paying the bills.

Name:Inuit in Nunatsiavut cannot have it both ways
Comments: NO. The Inuit in Nunatsiavut need to comprehend that they are part of the global economy and need to start making a contribution for their own well-being by using their own natural resources to help support themselves, instead of being 100% subsidized by the canadian federal and provincial governments. If they want so much independence, then perhaps its hig-time to cut them completely loose with no more welfare money or other support from on the backs of the taxpayers, and let them see whsat its like to try to financially suport themselves. Inuit in Nunatsiavut cannot any longer have it both ways. Selfish holding back their natural resources but expecting to use what belongs to us. As it is they don't pay taxes. An act needs to be passed letting them know once and for all time that they need to be tax-payers like every other canadian and provincial citizen, as well as enforcing the laws against hunting and fishing endangered species when they break the law. Justice needs to be equal for all not unequally giving a free pass to one group and not the other.

Comments: Sure let them do it if they want. We all know that they are not famous for their work ethics. Don't most of them live off our tax dollars anyways. The government has given them so much through the years and still they have nothing. Perhaps giving up the alcahol and their spunging ways might be a better thing than giving up a source of income. But why do that, that could mean they would have to work insted of living off us tax payers. I get sick of give me this and" give me that because I am a native". Time to realize that this is the 21st century and just do your part to live like everyone else. When are they going to stop living off the land and all that foolishness and go get a real job and how come my daughter has to pay back her college loan while they all get college and university for nothing. Fair is fair and thats not fair. Just because she is not a native. Makes me sick stuff like that, many kids are kept poor paying back school loans while those natives just drink their money away. Not just my child but many many have the same problem. Way past time for the government to stop that stuff, but then again I suppose we would have an uprising if that happened. Makes me sick.

Comments: Well why work in a mine when our tax dollars will keep you for nothing, if you call the kind of life they live living. Gee whiz.

Name:Uptown Girl
Comments: There is no real incentive here for the Nunatsiavut government to proceed with any development. They are doing just fine living off the rest of us who pay taxes. If they had to work like we do then maybe they would look at things differetly. They want the best of both worlds - why can't I have it too??? I'm just jealous - I had to put my kids through university on my own dime - pretty expensive stuff.

Name:Brandon P is WRONG
Comments: NO. Stop your whining and get a job instead of government welfare and handouts. Time for you people to learn a little cooperation is the least you can do for what our tax dollars give away to you people with nothing to show for it in return but your whining and complaining.
Of course, there were a few brave souls who jumped in to try and douse the misinformation, and thinly-veiled racism, with inconvenient little facts:
Comments: I am so sick and tired of hearing about aborginals not paying income tax, too lazy to work, on welfare etc. etc. Well I have worked for 35 years now paid income every year, worked two full time jobs to support my daughters and myself when needed. I do not agree with the Nunatsiavut government on this issue but it is and always has been not about the beneficiaries it has been about the power hungry few at the top. Also on the matter of aborginals not paying income tax until last year the Innu paid income tax as well as the Inuit, Metis and anyone else in Labrador! If you are going to make general comments get your facts before shooting off your mouth and making yourself look STUPID!

Name:Brandon P
Comments: I can't believe some of the comments on here, it makes me realise what we're up against in Labrador. I have to clarify some things for the uneducated: 1) Inuit pay taxes. 2) Inuit own the land, and govern it as they please 3) Voisey Bay was approved by Inuit, on Inuit lands. Voisey Bay contributes more to this "province" than any other town or industry, save for oil, at a tune of over $700 000 000, THREE QUARTERS OF A BILLION DOLLARS to the coffers thus far. 4) and have little to show for it in employment. 5) Uranium tailings last forever. Heck, garnet mining was turned down in Corner brook watershed and there's lots of EI down there. 6) Inuit own the land, always have. Not NF. Inuit contribute more to the "provincial" economy more than any of your towns do, without getting much in return. so please, tell me, why should NF'ers come to mine uranium, pollute for the next 50 generations, kill the fish and wildlife, with little or unknown benefits to Inuit? Let Nunatsiavut decide what's best for them and mind your own ignorant business

Comments: It saddens me to think that there are that many ignorant people in Newfoundland. INUIT ARE TAX PAYING CITIZENS! Just like any other Canadian. Remember Inuit have rights on how they want to govern their territory. Stop being paternalistic, we are tired of you thinking you know what is best for us.

Comments: Way to go Brandon P. I am in Nunatsiavut, have had a full time job for the past 18.5 years and I certainly pay my share of taxes! No hand outs for me.
“Welfare bums”?

“Find real work”?


“Govt assistance”?

“Don’t pay taxes”?

Bzzzt. Wrong.

According to the wonderful data available at Community Accounts, in 1990 (the earliest year for which data is available), the Inukshuk Zone on the North Coast of Labrador, which coincides with Nunatsiavut plus the Innu reserve at Natuashish, had an Economic Self-Reliance Ratio of 69.2%.

That is to say, of every dollar earned by the notional average northern Labrador resident, 69.2 cents came from their employment, private pension, or other sources of income, while 30.8 cents came in the form of payments to persons under social programs, such as EI, social assistance, and so on.

This was well below the provincial figure, of 77.4%, but, among the twenty economic regions of the province, it was middle-of-the-pack: Inukshuk Zone ranked ninth, ahead of the other two coastal Labrador regions, ahead of Nordic and Red Ochre, ahead of Emerald, Coast of Bays, Discovery, Mariner Resource, Avalon Gateway, and Irish Loop, and tied with Long Range.

From 1990 to 1993, in the middle of a recession and then the early years of the cod moratorium, the self-sufficiency ratio in the province overall, and in every region, decreased, bottoming out at 71.9% in 1993. From the mid-90s on, and into the early 2005s, while the self-sufficiency ratio in the province as a whole increased, reaching 78.4% in 2005, the self-sufficiency ration in northern Labrador increased at a faster pace than the province as a whole.

In fact, after flirting with provincial parity in 1997, northern Labrador surpassed the provincial self-sufficiency score in 2003. At 79.1% in 2005 (the most recent data year), the residents of northern Labrador are, on the average, drawing less of their income from provincial and federal income-support programs – “handouts”, if you prefer – than the average resident of the province as a whole. Among the twenty economic zones, northern Labrador now ranks fourth, behind only western and central Labrador, and the St. John’s area, for lack of reliance on social programs.

Figure 1: Self-sufficiency ratio, province-as-a-whole and Inukshuk Zone, 1990-2005

As for finding “real work”, the 2006 census shows that the employment rate (the percentage of people over the age of 15 who were employed during the week before Census Day) in Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador or the Inukshuk zone, as above, with the exclusion of Natuashish), was 38.5%.

While lower than the pan-provincial figure of 47.9%, the employment number for Nunatsiavut was higher than for Census Division 3 (South and southwest coast of Newfoundland), CD 4 (Port au Port-St. George’s), CD 8 (Baie Verte peninsula to Fogo Island and Hamilton Sound), or CD 9 (Northern Peninsula).

The unemployment rate (the percentage of people who are actually in the labour force, but without work) was lower in Nunatsiavut than on the south coast of Newfoundland or the Northern Peninsula.

And the participation rate (the percentage of people over the age of 15 who are either working or available to work) was higher in Nunatsiavut than in CDs 3, 4, and 8, described above, and also higher than in CD 2 (Burin Peninsula) and CD 7 (Bonavista Bay and Peninsula).

Finally, on the question of taxes, not only do most North Coast residents pay provincial taxes, the taxes they pay have been increasing, both in absolute terms and in relative ones, for a decade and a half.

Northern Labrador has had about 0.5% of the overall provincial population during the period in question. Again, according to Community Accounts, in 1990 northern Labrador residents collectively paid $805,000 in personal income taxes to the provincial government, less than 0.2% of the provincial total of $417-million.

By 2005, the total provincial personal income tax bill, for all residents of the province, reached $803-million, an increase by a factor of 1.9. In northern Labrador? In 2005, residents of Nunatsiavut and Natuashish collectively paid $2.9-million in provincial personal income taxes, for an increase by a factor of 3.6 — far and away the largest increased in the province. (The St. John’s area, the Burin Peninsula, central Labrador, and the two other coastal Labrador zones, were the only areas whose total personal income tax contributions more than doubled in the same period.)

Figure 2: Increase in provincial personal income tax payments (1990=100%), province-as-a-whole and Northern Labrador, 1990-2005

Or, expressed another way, the overall personal income tax contribution from northern Labrador, with 0.5% of the provincial population, has grown from an anemic 0.19% of the provincial total in 1990, to 0.36% of the total in 2005. The trend-line may mean that northern Labrador by the end of the decade, if it isn’t already, will contribute its fair per-capita share, or more, to the provincial personal income tax kitty — especially given that the production phase of Voisey’s Bay, and job creation associated with the Nunatsiavut government, would not be reflected in the 2005 data.

Figure 3: Total provincial personal income tax paid in Northern Labrador, as a share of the provincial total.

All in all, not a bad economic record, and contribution, for people who, if you believe the ignorant morons on the VOCM QoD, are “welfare bums”, living off “handouts”, who need to get “real work” and “don’t pay taxes”.

Friday, April 11, 2008


There have been 19 weeks in the Williams Government era so far in which Williams Government have included the phrase "Williams Government" or its close synonym "Williams Administration" in ten per cent or more of the Williams Releases that Williams Government issued over the course of that Williams Week.

There had been just two previous instances in which this percentage — the Sycophancy Index — topped 10% for two weeks consecutively. Those were in May and July of 2007.

Until now. This week, the Sycophancy Index hit 10% (rounded to the nearest whole point) for the fourth consecutive week.

Williams Government!


We're ever so Icelandic:

Executive Council
April 11, 2008

Media Advisory: Newfoundland and Labrador to Sign MOU with Iceland

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and His Excellency Geir H. Haarde, Prime Minister of Iceland, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

The ceremony will take place on Monday, April 14, at 10:30 a.m. on the third floor of The Rooms in St. John’s.


And hey — maybe he'll even release this MOU for a change.

The Truth

From Earl McCurdy's sadly-still-not-online-as-audio interview with the CBC Fishcast, on March 7th, on the issue of the infamous, and apocryphal, "Union Boat", when asked where the "Union Boat" story originated:
I think where it comes from is the kind of "open line mentality" that rules the roost in Newfoundland and Labrador these days that, as a substitute for information, we're bombarded with open line shows where people, essentially, get on and say whatever they like without any real check as to whether it's fact or fabrication. And you get people with an axe to grind for some particular reason, or you get an ex-politician who misses the limelight, or whatever the hell it is, and people go on and kind of make stuff up, and it just keeps getting repeated and repeated like, like, what was the guy, the German guy, Goebels, the Big Lie, you just keep saying something often enough and people assume it must be true.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where's Eugene when you need him?

Once there was this wonderful man named Eugene Forsey, who, as a native Newfoundlander and a scholar, would fire off a devastatingly simple and effective rebuttal whenever he saw something in a newspaper about Newfoundland and Labrador that was blatantly false.

Stuff like this:
On top of all this, tens of millions of dollars in royalties pour in each year to the federal treasury thanks to Newfoundland and Labrador’s nickel, iron ore and oil and gas resources. The federal government gets about 90 per cent of the royalties from Voisey’s Bay.
Wrong, Joan.

Wrong, Ryan.

As usual.

But, hey, don't let the facts get in the way of your separatist fantasies.

When the going gets tough...

... the tough get out of Town, and thereby out of the Legislature.

And you know, it's not too late to ram through a bill putting St. George's Day back on the list of holidays, thereby justifying a 2.5-week St. George's Day House of Assembly break. We're ever so English!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


The footnote to the Olympic torch story, as reported last night by Lloyd Robertson of CTV News:

And we have some numbers to show you on how Canadians may feel about a boycott. And please note, this is not a scientific survey of the kind we would conduct for an election, but the figures in this straw poll are so lopsided we thought they were worth putting up. For an on-line survey on, 80 percent of respondents said Canada should not consider a boycott of the opening ceremonies. About 20 percent said we should. More than 37,000 people sent in their responses, and that's more than twice the number for these kinds of surveys.
CTV broadcasts all across Canada. Its website has at least twenty times the daily traffic of, according to metrics.

Yet, CTV's daily online straw-poll averages fewer than 18,500 (half of "more than 37,000") votes.

VOCM's Question of the Day, since 2005, has averaged about 2500.

There have been two VOCM Questions of the Day during that period with more than 37,000 votes: “If a provincial election was held today what party would you vote for?”, on June 8, 2006, with 46,363, and, when the dollar figure became briefly and mildly scandalous, “Do you think the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the province to host Canada's premiers last summer, was money well spent?” on November 27 of the same year, which garnered 41,994.

58% answered PC to the first question.

64% agreed with the second.

There have been another twelve questions of the day with a response as large or larger than the usual number seen by the CTV website and its pan-Canadian audience and "voter" base:
“Do you think the fisheries summit should be open to the public and broadcast around the province?” (May 24, 2006, 34,270 responses, 77% yes)

“Do you think there should be an independant inquiry into the Fibre Optic Deal approved by government?” (November 23, 2006, 32,046 responses, 48% yes)

“Should the official opposition drop the fibre optic issue?” (November 29, 2006, 31,742 responses, 63% yes)

“Are you satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims? “ (January 15, 2008, 28,258 responses, 64% yes)

“Do you think the premier should call an early election because of the ongoing spending scandal in the House of Assembly?” (January 9, 2007, 28,081 responses, 83% yes)

“Do you support plans for a massive rally on Confederation Hill to support the premier in the equalization fight?” (April 23, 2007, 26,100 responses. 80% yes)

“Do you think the premier should shelve the feud with Ottawa and focus on social issues during this week's First Ministers meeting?” (January 11, 2008, 25,655 responses, 64% no)

“Do you support Danny Williams' cabinet changes?” (July 7, 2006, 23,874 responses, 69% yes)

“Do you think the provincial government should improve its offer to the Nurses' Union? “ (July 11, 2006, 23,185 responses, 51% no)

“Do you support the Labrador Metis Nation's ad campaign aimed at Premier Danny Williams? “ (April 13, 2007, 21,530 responses, 53% no)

“Do you like the Harper government's Speech From the Throne?” (October 18, 2007, 19,508 responses, 51% no)

“Do you support Loyola Hearn's statement that the annual rate hike for Marine Atlantic will result in improved quality service?” (February 9, 2007, 19,479 responses, 86% no)
The common deniminator? They were all on provincial government issues, or on federal issues with particular interest in the outcome on the part of The Eighth, especially in the context of The Great War of Liberation currently being waged.

Today’s Question of the Day is, “Do you think it’s okay for the House of Assembly to discuss issues surrounding the faulty hormone receptor tests while the Cameron Inquiry is ongoing?”

As of a few minutes ago, there were 3356 votes, running 3 to 1 in favour of the Eighth Floor’s position: No.

This is the largest response since the March 12th blockbuster, “Can Newfoundland and Labrador go it alone, without Canada?”, which pulled in 6577.

The margin of victory then, too, was a lopsided 3 to 1.

And again, the lopsidedly-winning response just happened to be the Eighth Floor’s not-so-subtly telegraphed preference.

Danny Williams: Better than life

There used to be stories about how, back in the day, grateful little old ladies, and possibly a few little old gentlement, would leave strict instructions with their loved ones to be buried with a photograph of Joey Smallwood in the casket.

Ha ha, right? Very funny?

Maybe not so much.

This here, this, is the depth to which the Cult of Personality has descended in the modern-day Smallwood age. From Open Line with Randy Simms this morning, wherein Randy challenges an obviously pro-Danny caller on her very open and obvious bias:
SIMMS: Yeah, but you love the guy.

PLANTED TORY CALLER: More than life. More than life

I don’t just love him for the sake of loving him, I love him for the person...

God gave him a lot of things…

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. Oh yes. He makes life exciting…

The heart is big, the caring is big.


From time to time, the exasperate Speaker of the Bow-Wow Parliament has had to try and cajole the Bows and the Wows into respecting the convention — for some reason it has never graduated to the status of a Standing Order — that Question Period questions, and their answers, be kept brief:

The Chair notes that - I will not take any time from Question Period - these last exchanges have been averaging about one minute and twenty seconds, one minute and thirty seconds, on both sides the House. I ask members if they could keep their questions shorter and also keep their answers shorter.
On Monday, the Premier sought to throw that already dishonoured convention out the window:

PREMIER WILLIAMS: First of all, Mr. Speaker, if I might ask yourself, and Opposition, if there are going to be several questions here, if we can have some extended time for answers and extended time for questions, if necessary, because of the importance of this matter, I would ask if that is okay?

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, the Premier has asked for extra time to answer questions, and I guess the same can be said for asking the questions. The Speaker, as a servant of the House, will take guidance from the House. If that is agreeable to all members present, then we can allow for the questions to be asked and ample time given without trying to stay within the forty-five second time limit. I seek guidance.
Quid. Pro. Quo. The Opposition tried...

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we certainly have no question with anyone on the other side taking an extended period to give an answer. In view of such importance, as well, we have extensive questions. So maybe the government would consider extending Question Period if we need to ask our questions.
... and failed:

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, in terms of an extension to Question Period, that is another issue which we can deal with at the appropriate time. For now, I think there is an understanding that if questions are a bit longer than normal and if answers are a bit longer than normal, then there is an agreement that Your Honour will take under advisement, I guess, the fact that both sides of the House have concurred in that happening.
So, despite the Premier’s protestations, even on Monday:

The other thing is my preference would be, quite frankly, not to discuss this matter at all because it is before the inquiry, but because of the importance to the patients, their families, and the issues, then I am certainly quite prepared to discuss them, as far as I can go.
it turned out to be, with over 4,500 words attributed to him by the Hansard editors, the ninth-most prolix day he’s ever spent in the House of Assembly, and the fourth-most verbose he’s had as Premier; and all of it on the one topic.

Yes, that one.

Then, as if to conclusively prove how much he really didn’t want to talk about a matter before a judicial inquiry, and then having bent the rule-like things of the House of Assembly in order to be able to talk, lots, about a matter before a judicial inquiry, he even scrummed (scram? scrim? scrome?) outside the House in order to talk, even more, and without benefit of privelege, about the thing that he doesn’t think anyone outside the inquiry room should be talking about:

Outside the House, Williams stressed to reporters that officials believed the testing issue was "under control" during the 18-month period in question.
Fast-forward a day. Suddenly, the Great Lawyer™ But Lousy Parliamentarian™ rediscovers that legislatures, like courts, have these weird things called rules:

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that we will now seriously consider, as a government, whether we will continue to answer questions on that inquiry. We are going to go to the inquiry now and we are going to seek direction. I ask the Minister of Justice to go to the inquiry and seek direction as to how far we can go in this House with regard to the details of the inquiry and subpoenas and what is proper procedure and what is right and what is wrong because, as I said yesterday, there is a process that is going on here. So I qualify my answer to you on tabling subpoenas. We will take direction from the inquiry on this.

This is about letting this inquiry go its full process. We cannot usurp the authority of that commissioner down there and we cannot start to try and make decisions here in this House of Assembly as a result of this kind of questioning as to what people in the civil service have received subpoenas. I will get a directory out tonight and I will phone everybody in the civil service and I will ask them if they haven’t, and if I am allowed to give you the information, then I will.

Tip #1: he should remember to use a hands-free device.

Tip #2: the phrase he’s looking for is sub judice. As in the sub judice convention.

Look it up in Beauchesne or Marleau and Montpetit.

Monday, he bent the rules and conventions of Parliament in order to talk about It.

Tuesday, he summoned the rules and conventions of Parliament in order not to talk about It.

Forget a week – what a difference 24 hours can make.

And there are two more sitting days to go this week alone; many more between now and the May long weekend.

Is it too late to call a 2.5-week St. George’s Day break?