labradore

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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

From St. John's to Port aux Basques

Something for radio hosts like No Names Please to bear in mind before flying off the handle the next time some charitable Canada-crossing event begins (or ends) in Halifax:
Running the Rock
May 31, 2008

Run the Rock is heading for Deer Lake today. The team of 15 sailors from HMCS St. John's are running across the province in support of the Children's Wish Foundation. The run got underway in Port Aux Basques on Thursday. This is the thirteenth year for Run the Rock and to date the teams have raised over $216 thousand for the foundation. The sailors left Corner Brook this morning and are expected to arrive in Deer Lake this evening. Tomorrow thy [sic] will head for Springdale. Run the Rock finishes in St. John's on June 7th.

He's not even one of the Newfoundland Wangerskies

Russell Wayne-Gretzky once again commits heresy.

Bad Russell Wayne-Gretzky. Bad, bad, Russell Wayne-Gretzky.

Sycophant of the Month: May 2008

Stunning upset!!!!

Total number of ProvGov press releases issued in May 2008: 207 (+23 from April)

Total number with the phrase "Williams Government": 21 (-6)

Sycophancy index: 10.1% (-4.6%)

Charlene Johnson and Paul Oram, almost unbelievably, score their first major-league goals (one each) as lead ministers in a Williams Government press release, even though they have done yeoman's sycophancy work on the open line shows.

Jerome Kennedy and John Hickey also put one on the board apiece.

Premier Danny Williams-Government puts in two of his own, and, in an almost painful-to-watch slump, so does Joan Burke. Don't feel too badly for the outgoing champ, though; she's been duly rewarded.

Ross Wiseman almost doubles his career point total with three in May 2008 alone.

But they are all outshot, in spectacular fashion, by the May champion. Ten of the 21 goals scored for the month, nearly half the monthly total, were put in by May's Sycophant of the Month, the one, the only, the woman with her fingers wrapped tightly around the highways purse-strings, at least most of the time, Dianne Whalen!

Congratulations, Dianne!

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Jerome Kennedy, Great Geographer™ (II)

"We feel isolated and, being in the middle of the ocean, there is perhaps a certain isolation that exists anyway."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jerome Kennedy, Great Lawyer™ (III)

I AM ABUFF ZEE LAH!
Newfoundland and Labrador's justice minister says a Labrador Métis Nation victory at the Supreme Court of Canada will have no bearing on how government deals with the group.

...

The Labrador Métis Nation, which does not have a land claims agreement or protection under aboriginal rights legislation, has described the decision — which said the provincial government ought to have consulted with the Métis on construction of a stretch of the Trans-Labrador Highway — as a landmark case with broad implications.
(Hey, CBC: what's "aboriginal rights legislation"? Statutory cite, please?)
Kennedy, though, said nothing has changed.

"With all due respect to the Métis, this decision doesn't say a whole lot," said Kennedy.
Hey, legal genius: denials of leave to appeal never do have a whole lot to say — which is why, at lah skool, they teach you to read the court of appeal decision, which does have a lot to say.

Jerome Kennedy, Great Geographer™ (I)

He tells the Senate Legal Affairs Committee:
Atlantic Canada is an interesting concept because there is Newfoundland and Labrador; we are a province unto ourselves. ... The unfortunate reality is that we feel in our province that we are on our own, politically.
This, of course, is as opposed to all those other provinces which are not provinces unto themselves, and which are, politically, part of other provinces.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another bunch of judges get up on the wrong side of bed

Strike one: Williams Government loses at first instance.

Strike two: Williams Government gets creamed on appeal.

Strike three: the Supremes deny leave to appeal, so the appellate decision stands.

Once upon a time, there was an opposition leader named Danny Williams who ridiculed the government of the day for losing in court so often.

Then he became Premier, and decided that the Labrador Metis didn't have silly little things like rights.

People's Desire, Heart's Desire?

Hilarity! And oh-so-familiar:

"Oppose those relying on external elements, acting as stooges, holding negative views"

Pavement part percentages

From the Ministry of Truth:
Paving Problems - May 29, 2008

The Department of Transportation and Works says it's not seeing the types of problems with asphalt on provincial roads like what some municipalities are experiencing. The Town of Grand Falls - Windsor is considering deferring paving this year because of premature pavement failure. The Department of Transportation and Works says a review of its asphalt pavement specifications was done two years ago and recommendations were made to produce more durable pavement. One of the changes implemented was limiting the amount of natural sand within the pavement mixture to a maximum of 15 per cent.
Two years ago?

That would be around the time of the still-sooper-sekrit Trans-Labrador Highway chipseal study, innit?

Jerome Kennedy: not looking for nothing

Jerome Kennedy tells the Senate Legal Affairs Committee on Wednesday:
We do not look to the federal government for assistance. That has been since the issue with Prime Minister Harper and Premier Williams on the Atlantic Accord.
That’s right, Jerome! You tell’em!

We ain’t not wants no nothin’!

Except for a penitentiary.

But that’s it! A penitentiary. Just one measly penitentiary.

And a base.

A penitentiary. And a base. And that’s it.

And money for highways.

But that’s it. Totally reasonable. Just a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways.

And for Colonial Building.

And that’s not so wrong, is it? Just a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building.

And the federal government’s shares in Hibernia.

We do not look to the federal government for assistance. Just for a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia.

And federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill.

Not asking for nothing. Nothing much. Just for a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia, and federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill.

And more federal civil servants.

But really, that’s it. All we’re asking for, besides no assistance, is a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia, and federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill, and more federal civil servants.

And compensation for all that federal ice.

Which isn’t assistance. Because We don’t want assistance. We can Go It Alone. Masters of Our Own Domain. All We want is a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia, and federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill, and more federal civil servants, and compensation for all that federal ice.

And more money for health care.

But honestly, that’s it. We don’t need or want no stinkin’ federal assistance. Just a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia, and federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill, and more federal civil servants, and compensation for all that federal ice, and more money for health care.

And funding for Cupids 2008.

Not assistance. Funding. All We want is a penitentiary, and a base, and money for highways, and federal money to fix up a provincial government building, and the federal government’s shares in Hibernia, and federal funding so We can Go It Alone on the Lower Churchill, and more federal civil servants, and compensation for all that federal ice, and more money for health care, and funding for Cupids 2008.

Honestly, does Jerome Kennedy even believe the stuff he spouts on His Master’s behalf?

How could he?

Jerome Kennedy, Great Lawyer™ (II)

The Justice Minister's appearance before the Senate Legal Affairs Committee yesterday could generate months worth of blog twittering... and probably will.

An appetizer:
I read Senator Joyal's comments about judges being the most respected individuals by the Canadian public, but all officials have to have a degree of accountability. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have gone through the MHA spending scandal, and the concepts of openness, transparency accountability are predominant in everything we do. I looked this up, and I will give you some statistics. It is startling to me. I found some numbers on the judicial council, because once they are appointed, once the appointment has taken place, then the process of judicial independence, the principle, means we cannot interfere. As the Minister of Justice, I cannot tell judges what to do. I learned the hard way recently. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there was quite a backlash when the premier and I made comments — well, I supported the premier's comments — about an inquiry. That was seen as interfering with the function of the inquiry, and I have to say there was quite a public backlash.
As the Good Minister notes, he "was a criminal defence lawyer for 20 years prior to becoming Minister of Justice, so excuse me if that line between law and politics is still somewhat blurred."

And yet, he only "learned", and "recently", the "startling" concept of judicial independence?

Wow.

And lookie — NTV has quantified that "backlash".

Put your hand inside the puppethead

MS DUNDERDALE: In terms of transparency and accountability, the Auditor General is in there. We will have consolidated annual reports. We will have consolidated annual, audited statements. We will have a public annual general meeting.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of our consideration, given what the Premier just said, we are building in every safeguard we can, just in going to the ends of our imagination and even considering the fact that John Efford could be Premier and Danny Dumaresque could be CEO, we are making sure that this company is in good shape and (inaudible).

Personal attacks

It's a good thing Our Dear Premier is so philosopically opposed to, and so offended by, personal attacks.

When they are made on him, anyway:
PREMIER WILLIAMS: I cannot predict what could happen if John Efford was the subsequent Leader of the Liberal Party and eventually took over a government after he ousted the Leader of the Opposition, and I cannot predict what might happen if he appoints Danny Dumaresque as Chair of Hydro at the end of the day. I cannot predict any of that...

Pride goes before a privatization

The Word of Our Dan, yesterday:
We have also gone to - looked at Manitoba Hydro. We have gone to Denmark, we have gone to Norway. We are even looking at corporations like Petrobras and Statoil, of course, in Norway. So what we have done is, we have looked at all of these regimes and we want to make sure that we put the best regime in place here that safeguards the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador but allows us to build one of the best corporations in the world. That is really what our goal is here, to make sure that the new energy company, which has yet to have a new name or a new brand, is the very best that it can be so that it brings the very best possible returns to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and becomes an asset ...that we, as people of Newfoundland and Labrador, can be truly proud of.
And then sell.

What-if

This is Newfoundland.

With the Smallwood and Ossakmanuan Reservoirs, plus assorted smaller artificial water-bodies created by the so-called Upper Churchill, plunked down into the middle of it.

The rubber-stamp factory

Average number of days between stages of debate (First Reading, Second Reading, Committee, Third Reading) of bills*, Tobin and Grimes administrations, 2000 to 2003 inclusive: 10.3.

Average number of days between First and Third Reading of bills*, Tobin and Grimes administrations, 2000 to 2003 inclusive: 30.8.

Average number of days between stages of debate (First Reading, Second Reading, Committee, Third Reading) of bills*, Williams administration, 2004 to 2008 inclusive: 3.6.

Average number of days between First and Third Reading of bills*, Williams administration, 2004 to 2008 inclusive: 10.9.


---

* Excluding bills which did not receive Third Reading.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Something missing

Tonight on CBC, in her report on the – shhh! – energy corporation, Deanne Fleet paraphrased the opposition demands to “remember the move to privatize Newfoundland Hydro more than a decade ago.”

What is, or was, “Newfoundland Hydro”?

Hey Zach Goudie

There are three words in the name of the province.


One of them is "and".


See if you can figure out where it goes.

Orwellian

On documents, historical

Christine Read writes to the Western Star from Australia:
I have a collection of letters written to our great grandfather George Wyatt Read from his brother Francis Augustus Read who was married to Sussanah Collier, Francis was a stipendary magistrate in the La Poile area. Also letters written by Francis’ son Alexander Read who was married to Elizabeth Parsons, Alexander was a Telegraph operator in Bay of Islands.

The letters are written during the 1880s and 1890s up until the time of the death of our great grandfather George Wyatt Read. They give a wonderful insight into life in Newfoundland at the time.

...

I thought it would be nice to pass a copy of some of the letters on to any descendants of our family.
A generous offer. But for the love of decency, don't pass them on to the provincial archives.

On information, sharing thereof

Reported by VOCM yesterday:
Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale says the Energy Corp.needs to operate in a commercial world where the sharing of information is a sensitive issue.
In a political world, too.

On manoeuvring, political

"We stand really at a crossroads in terms of our relationship with Canada," Mr. Kennedy said in an interview. "I would hope that Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet, when they look at this appointment, will not allow it to generate into political manoeuvring."

— The Screamapillar, as quoted by Kirk Makin in today's — spit Globe and Mail.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Managing all our resources

Hooray for Gary Murrin. If the provincial archives, the people who are charged with preserving historic documents, are willing to dispose of them, at very least sell them off. Auction off the museum contents while you're at it. Hold a giant garage sale up at Fort Townsend. Get an eBay account and go nuts.

But don't shred the stuff.

And consider this posting a standing offer to buy any Labrador materials.

For anyone else concerned about PANL's over-eagerness to run historic resources through the shredder, the responsible minister is Clyde Jackman: clydejackman@gov.nl.ca, phone 729-0657, fax 729-0662.

The provincial archivist is Greg Walsh: gwalsh@gov.nl.ca, phone 757-8032, fax 757-8031.

Jerome Kennedy, Great Lawyer™

The Ceeb reports:
Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy said that the Innu, formerly a nomadic people, had hunted and lived on the land surrounding Churchill Falls and the Churchill River for centuries before the contract was drafted in 1969.

"One of the legal issues would be, are the aboriginal rights extinguished by the passage of time," Kennedy said.
Which cereal box do the Q.C.s come in?

St. John's, Labrador

Andrew Waugh reported for Transcontinental after a “public” “consultation” on the so-called Lower Churchill project on November 14, 2005:
Premier Danny Williams guaranteed Labradorians a reserve of power from the proposed Lower Churchill hydro development at a public consultation in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Monday night.

During the meeting Williams also committed to holding consultations with the Labrador Metis Nation (LMN). The LMN recently linked their support of the project to a longstanding bid for formal recognition and have demanded the government sign a nine-point Memorandum of Understanding before any Lower Churchill talks commence.



Once inside, Williams was greeted with a warm round of applause and began by telling Labradorians their concerns were being heard by St. John's.

"Firstly, to all of the people who think this is a done deal: nothing could be further from the truth," Williams said. "We are close to a year away from the final decision and if anyone thinks this is the final consultation ... that is not going to be the practice of this government.

"The reason we are here in Labrador is because this is your resource. We want to hear what your concerns are, what you don't want government to do with this resource.
Boy, that has been one long year.

It's nice to know, though that Labrador concerns are being heard by St. John's. Because it would also appear to be the case that the best way for the Labrador Metis Nation, or anyone else in Labrador, to get themselves "consulted", is to be in St. John's. VOCM reports:
Hydro is holding an open house in St.John's tonight on the proposed Lower Churchill Project. It's an opportunity to learn more about the plans, request information, and to identify issues and concerns. The event takes place from 6 to 9 this evening at MUN's Inco Innovation Centre

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Parliamentary Flu

Danny Williams.

Too sick to attend the House of Assembly and watch Kathy Blunderdale and Jerome Kennedy expose yet more incompetence.

Not too sick to issue press releases blaming Canada for stuff.

And meanwhile...

Over on the Quebec-Labrador, the big city of Aguanish — population, including l’Île-Michon, 303, down 40 from 2001 — Saint-Laurent Énergies has been given the municipal green light for its proposed wind farm. Radio-Canada reports:

Le promoteur prévoit ériger 40 éoliennes de 2 mégawatts chacune, à l'ouest d'Aguanish, un petit village de 350 personnes. Le chantier de 200 millions de dollars procurera de l'emploi à une centaine de personnes.

L'exploitation et l'entretien du parc entraîneront la création de huit postes permanents.

(The promoter proposes to build 40 wind turbines of 2 MW each, west of Aguanish, a small village of 350 [sic]. The 200-million project will provide employment to 200 people during construction. The operations and maintenance of the wind farm will involve the creation of eight permanent jobs.)

In Labrador-Labrador, Ed Martin owns the wind.

How's that working out, anyway?

Open Challenge

From the May 20th sitting of the Bow-Wow Parliament:
MS JONES: The Premier mentioned on several occasions that the federal government is ready to assist this project through the supply of a loan guarantee. Going back a couple of years, there was some tremendous debate over whether that commitment was actually made by the Prime Minister or if it was not.

I guess my question today would be: Is there any further evidence that indicates that the federal government is prepared to invest or at least provide the loan guarantees that may be required if this project was to proceed?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: [not addressing his comments to the chair — ed.] Are you kidding?

The federal government has not fulfilled the promise for the $10 billion that they promised us, in writing. They have not fulfilled their promise on custodial management. This would be of particular interest to you, in Labrador they have not fulfilled their promise in 5 Wing Goose Bay which they promised very clearly, and they have made us a promise on the guarantee. So you be the judge of that one.
The Premier is hereby challenged, again: where, when, and in what words did the federal government make "us a promise on the guarantee"?

And, for that matter, why do you keep dropping the word "loan" from the phrase "loan guarantee", leaving the naked word "guarantee" on its own?

Kathy Blunderdale

In which she earns what really should be her famous epithet.

UPDATED TO ADD: It's one thing when you have to contradict your cabinet colleague... quite another when you have to contradict yourself.

Pavement politics

“Forty kilometres of road still without an inch of pavement on it!” exclaims talk radio host No Names Please, in connection with the much-needed roadwork in the long-neglected district of Baie Verte-Springdale.

Forty kilometers!

Unpaved!!

Imagine that!!!

That’s, that’s, that’s... almost four times the length of paved kilometers in Labrador, which has all its highway transportation needs fully taken care of and has never, ever, been neglected.

A perennial favourite

Among the imponderables is the impact we may expect the development of Labrador upon our economy.

The pertinent question is, in just whose interest is that potential to be developed, the people of Labrador or the people of Newfoundland? It seems to me that until now the people of Labrador have fared none to well at our hand. We haven’t gone out of our way to provide them with even minimum public and social services. I understand that luxury roads of the type of the Topsail Road are few and far between down that way. Indeed I understand that roads of any type are as few and far between down that way as streetlights and railways and other public amenities.

Come to think of it, in the days when we did have responsible government, we never thought it worth our while to extend to the people of Labrador the privilege of ballot. Indeed, we didn’t get around to giving a second thought to Labrador until it seemed as if we might get something out of it.

It would be interesting to know the thoughts of Labradorians when they hear some of our political pundits raising the roof over the raw deal Newfoundland’s gotten from somebody or another. It must sometimes occur to them that Newfoundland doesn’t do so badly itself when it comes to dishing out raw deals.

I have a hearty dislike of that mentality that is concerned with Labrador only to the extent that it may be exploited for Newfoundland’s advantage. The most that we have any right to expect of the development of Labrador is the provision of sufficient revenue to support the public and social services the Labrador people have every right to expect. These we are in any case obligated to provide even if Labrador should go undeveloped.

If we make no effort to provide them then I think that Labrador people would be quite justified in seeking to terminate their dependency upon us.

If we’re going to insist upon self-determination let’s not draw the line at the Strait of Belle Isle. The people of Labrador to are surely entitled to a voice in the disposition of their own destiny…What’s sauce for the land of the Gander is sauce for the land of the Goose.

Bill Keough
Debates of the National Convention
October 17, 1947

Record-breaking

May 2008 is shaping up to be the Williamsgovernmentiest month ever for Williams Government.

It would be hard for it not to.

The week of April 28th to May 2nd was the Williamsgovernmentiest week of all time, with 33% of all Williams Government press releases containing the phrase "Williams Government".

The following week the rate hit 18%, the first time there were back-to-back weeks with a Williamsgovernment ratio of more than 15%.

And last week was the seventeenth consecutive week in which one or more Williams Government press releases used the phrase "Williams Government" — one of them was Danny Williams-Government referring to his own government that way — completely obliterating the remarkable fifteen-week streak that began on April 16, 2007.

Committment

A bit of humour today from Kathy Blunderdale:
In keeping with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s commitment to transparency and accountability, the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources, and Ed Martin, President and CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the province’s energy corporation, today released the Lower Churchill Project expenditures.
In other words: we're releasing it now to pre-empt the embarassing Access to Information requests that have already been filed.

Meanwhile, where did Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s commitment to transparency and accountability suddenly come from? And has anyone told Dianne "That report will be released when it is due to be released" Whalen?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our Dear Hypocrite

"Our position here tonight ... is that there should be no deal on the Lower Churchill until there's redress on the Upper Churchill."
- PC then-opposition leader Danny Williams, at his December 3, 2002, anti-Lower Churchill rally, as reported by Will Hilliard of the Telegram.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Beds and benches

Madame Justice Cameron, as requested by Williams Government's shy and retiring leagle beagle Jackie Brazil, has ruled on the procedural question concerning cross-examination.

Not-very-long-story even shorter: Williams Government lost.

Perhaps Madame Justice got up on the wrong side of bed? That is apparently an occupational hazard for judges in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And, oh yeah — thanks to far-sighted amendments by the same genius legislative drafting crew, utterly oblivious to the Law of Unintended Consequences, who brought you unnecessary by-elections and MHA pension legislation that, for some reason, doesn't act prospectively, her ruling is not subject to appeal.

Memo to the opposition

When the Premier starts twitching like the hyper-caffeinated Tweak from South Park — you've got him.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Municipal Capital Works: The other slush fund?

Regular readers, and David Cochrane of the CBC, will by now of course be bored silly with this corner's repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly noting the curiously partisan pattern in district-by-district allocations under the Provincial Roads Improvement Program; a pattern which certainly existed during the Grimes years, but which has been taken to new heights (depths?) under the Danny Smallwood — uhm, Williams Government.

Of course, as Our Dear Premier has patiently explained, with increasing frustration, He has taken the politics out of the process by centralizing the politics of the process in his office:
We have allotted, through the department, about $73 million for roadwork. The total roadwork allotment for the entire Province is $183 million, if I remember correctly. Our job then is to distribute that $73 million among forty-eight districts and, as we all know, some of the districts are in St. John’s, some in Corner Brook, require certainly less money. So it is our job to try and equitably distribute that money around the Province in a fair and proper formula. Now, I actually get involved in that process and I look at it - and Stephen Dinn in my office actually also gets involved in the process, together with the minister and her officials to make sure it has been properly allocated. As you know, one thing that was brought to my attention this year, there had not been an allocation for your own district, and $1.5 million was allocated to your district and over $1 million to the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, and over $1 million to the Member for Port de Grave. I understand Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi does not require any roadwork. So we are trying to be very, very fair in our allocation.
Which is all very interesting. What is "fair and proper"? Are there written guidelines anywhere which would give guidance on these terms? And how do you square these rather subjective "fair and proper" adjectives with ODP's pre-election promise which referred to the somewhat more quantifiable "needs" and "priority"?

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

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

...

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

Another promise bites the dust. Which makes the "side issue", as Danny called it, of Rideout's full-court press for more municipal funding in his district, all the more interestinger.

As Dave Bartlett reported in Friday's Telegram:
Denine said he had a heated discussion with Rideout over multi-year capital works projects in Springdale.

"Yes, we did have a discussion. It wasn't a very pleasant discussion I might add," said Denine who said Rideout felt Springdale wasn't getting enough.

After that conversation Denine gave the town an extra $875,000.
And as Minister Denine explained in the House on Thursday:
When the money is dealt with in multi-year capital works, it is not done to a district. It is done to a municipality. In terms of the municipality, there could be one or two in each municipality and it is done to the municipality.

So, after the discussion - a very heated discussion we had, a very aggressive discussion - there was $875,000 given over three years. So, it is roughly around $250,000 per year.
But you see, the thing is: the Provincial Roads Improvement Program is a lot like the municipal multi-year capital works program.

It isn't "done to" districts. It is done to roads.

Roads which, of necessity, are in districts; roads which, if you suspend disbelief, just happen to tend to be in government-held districts more than opposition ones.

Right.

From the few details which have been teased out so far on the "side issue" involving Denine, it is very clear that municipal capital funding has been subject to the same kind of political and partisan pressures as roads funding. So, if Open and Accountable Government of Williams were to make available a full list of that funding for the past five fiscal years, what would a body find in perusing it?

As per Minister Denine, a body would not expect to find the same kind of district-by-district breakdowns that are old hat for PRIP, because the MCWP "is not done to a district".

Even though those district breakdowns don't exist, every municipality in the province falls into just one provincial electoral district, with the exception of a few larger urban and suburban cities and towns. If a body were to retroactively reconstruct a district breakdown, by manually sorting each MCWP grant by municipality and the district it happens to be in, that analysis would reveal no obvious partisan tendencies...

Correct?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Letting them know after

According to Tom Rideout on the Ministry of Truth this morning, the reason Dianne Whalen was so eager to get the Baie Verte-Springdale PRIP announecment out of the way was so that she could release the summary press release.

Like Smallwood.

Announce what you are going to announce.

Announce what you are announcing.

Announce what you have announced.

And this being Dannystan, it's not misleading at all.

Paul Oral

Paul Oram this morning, on the Ministry of Truth, as part of the farm-out of cabinet ministers who are, per some genius' plan, keeping the Rideout story alive by going all Trotsky on him:
It says a lot about a person's character that "if I don't get what I want, I'm not going to play ball."
Indeed it does, Oram.

Indeed it does.

Handy Andy

So why is the Chair of a quasi-judicial, impartial regulatory agency out shilling for municipal candidates on the Ministry of Truth?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pavement?

According to Linda Swain and her VOCM Nighline caller, talking about the roads on the Baie Verte peninsula, "some of the pavement dates back to the 1960s."

What's 'pavement'?

On things that are abhorrent

"I grew up in a time when roads were being paved to get votes . . . that was something that as a kid I found really abhorrent," Williams said hours after Rideout tendered his resignation.

"The one thing this government is not going to be doing is trying to use road money to get votes."

- Our Dear Hypocrite, as quoted by Tara Brautigam of CP

The CBC quotes Our Dear Premier:
Rideout "used his position as a deputy premier to get more funds. That's not acceptable," said Williams.
Danny's sense of what is acceptable is so very heartwarming — and novel.

It didn't apply in 2004 when, despite independent advice, Tom Rideout ferrymandered the Labrador marine services out of Cartwright, in the district of opposition MHA Yvonne Jones, and into the district held by the PC MHA for Lewisporte... Tom Rideout.

And it didn't apply in the years when Lewisporte — Tom Rideout, MHA and Minister of Highway Happiness — consistently ranked among the most-favoured of all PC districts under the main Highways Happiness vehicle, PRIP.

(Curiously, Williams Government never did issue a press release for Highway Happiness in 2006, the year that Backuppable ceded the Highways Happiness portfolio to Trevor Taylor.)

St. John's' National Newspaper

Talk radio host No Names Please notes, "there's a great picture in the Globe and Mail today."

It's remarkable how many time No Names Please, who professes not to care what the Globe and Mail has to say about anything, makes reference to the content that he has gleaned through reading the newspaper that he doesn't care about.

Gravel

Tom Rideout is resigning, frustrated that in his district, the one he represented in government during the 1970s and 1980s, there are still forty kilometres of gravel roads.

In a related note, John Hickey this morning is still a member of the Williams Government cabinet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stop your more-for-me-please rants

Our Dear Premier has lined up a third blamee, in the form of the Innu Nation (along with Quebec and Kianada), for the impending collapse of his Potemkin-village so-called Lower Churchill so-called project:
Williams said Penashue's demand could scuttle a deal to proceed with the Lower Churchill.

"If, in fact, a deal on Lower Churchill development is contingent upon redress, then that may be a condition that we just cannot fulfil. Therefore it will be off the table," he said.

"We've got a lot of projects on the go, a lot of important things to do, but we need to know whether the Innu are serious."

...

"Peter Penashue and his group should treat us with respect as we treat them with respect," he said.

"If there's going to be conditions ... laid out publicly on a radio show, well then that's just not the way I operate."
So much to chose from.

So little time.

But for now: it's interesting to note Our Dear Premier's new-found distaste for negotiating in public.

Or, more to the point, his new-found distaste for other people's wholesale borrowing of his well-established and much-favoured technique of negotiating in public.

The hypocrite.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Texas always seemed so big

"We got a province as big as Texas," claims Carl Powell on the air with Randy Simms this morning during his curious screed.

No, Carl, we don't got.
NL: ~ 405,000 km2
TX: ~ 695,000 km2

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Coin(age) of the realm

"Premier-positive"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another peek over the border

The local nationalists often like, when it is convenient, to compare their project of Glorious National Liberation Through Jingoism, Statism, And Autarky to Quebec.

Hello, Quebec. From the Montreal Gazoo:
Hydro asks for more wind power

KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The Gazette
Published: Wednesday, May 14

Hydro-Québec is asking municipalities and First Nations communities to submit bids to provide the utility with an additional 500 megawatts of wind energy.

Natural Resources Minister Claude Béchard announced yesterday the utility will allot 250 megawatts each to Quebec municipalities and aboriginal communities for a number of projects, and will buy the electricity for between 9.5 and 11.3 cents a kilowatt-hour.

...

The minister said the higher price means the government wants to maximize the impact of the wind projects on the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities participating.
In Dannystan, Ed Martin owns the wind.

Not doing anything with it.

Letting it — what's the phrase, again? — lie fallow.

So, how's that statism working out, anyway?

Know when to walk away

Williams Government's problem-gambling strategy is already paying dividends.

On public inquiries, the independence thereof

November 21, 2006:
MR. T. MARSHALL: Public inquiries are semi-independent. While the government dictates the mandate and the purpose of the inquiry, as well as its makeup and budget, the inquiry then, and the commissioners who make up the inquiry, are free to manage their own day-to-day activities and to form its own conclusions and recommendations within the mandate that the government has given to it.

Public inquiries are also very open. They are in a public nature and the public is not only allowed but the public is, indeed, encouraged to provide evidence or testimony before the inquiry. The reports, of course, of the public inquiry are generally made available to the public and, indeed, in this legislation that we are bringing forward, it is mandatory for any public inquiry, for any commission of inquiry, for any inquiry to make its report public.

...

It might be helpful for people watching, it might even be helpful for some members of this House, that different inquiries have different names. We notice that some are called Royal Commissions, others are called commissions of inquiry, others are simply called task forces. This gives you the impression that they are all different, they are different sources of inquiries. This, Mr. Speaker, is not the case. The only real difference is that a Royal Commission bears the Royal seal while the others do not. Whether a public inquiry bears the royal seal or whether it does not has no bearing on the power of a commission. A Royal Commission can be either a policy review or a factual inquiry. The same is true for a commission of inquiry and for task forces. All three are invested with exactly the same powers. So, in the end, the title that an inquiry is given is not important. What is important depends solely on the predilections of the government that has created it and the powers that they give to it.

Is this what Jerome signed up for? (II)

Another moment of unintentional hilarity, from the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on Tuesday (with some superfluosity removed):
MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Assembly the Premier referenced the Rules of Procedure and Practice in discussing the Cameron inquiry, and I would like to reference one of those rules. In fact, rule 16, which I am sure the Premier would know, or ought to know, and it states: The conduct of and the procedure to follow in this inquiry are within the control and discretion of the Commissioner.

So knowing this and agreeing to this, I ask the Premier: Why would you even interfere with Justice Cameron’s judgement on this?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: There is also a rule, which is rule 18, and also rule 29, which is the basis upon which we have grounded our application. That application is to make sure that the Commission’s counsel conducts itself in a proper manner. This is not the first time this has been raised. It was not raised simply by myself and by the Attorney General. In the brief that has actually been filed with the Commissioner today for her consideration, there are examples of other counsels specifically stating that in fact they felt that Commission counsel, Mr. Coffey, was in fact breaching the rules of cross-examination. So, that is there. It is attached to the brief, that brief will be a public document. You are more than welcome to have a look at it and get a legal opinion on it.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have a copy of the rules and procedure. I just ask the Premier: Does it not say that on the consent of the Commissioner that counsel can cross-examine witnesses?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Will you take that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In relation to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, let me quote from - I am not allowed to quote, sorry. Let me paraphrase from a previous report where we talked about the principles that govern the conduct of a public inquiry. They are thoroughness, expedition, openness to the public and fairness. Those are the guiding principles that must apply, and you must never forget that the purpose of an inquiry is to determine what went wrong to determine in this case what happened, how to prevent it from happening in the future and to educate the public. Those are the guiding principles.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1984

Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.
- George Orwell, 1984

At eight o’clock this morning, VOCM’s website carried two very interesting stories, complete with the streamable audio files that the webmasters have, to their credit, been making increased use of lately:
Premier Says Inquiry Will Have The Money And Time Needed
May 14, 2008

Premier Danny Williams says the Cameron Inquiry will be given the time and money needed to complete their work…


Williams Comments On Gomrey Remarks
May 14, 2008

Premier Danny Williams isn't giving much attention to statements from retired Justice John Gomery who has suggested Williams has gone too far in…
The former had file name 28680, the latter, 28681. Even though VOCM news stories don’t always last on their website from the morning news cycle through to the afternoon, usually the texts are still available, if you know where and how to look — Google quite often turns them up — for a few days after posting.

Then, for a while just before noon, the station’s entire site went kablooie. When it came back online, the former file 28680 had been replaced in its entirety with:

The salmon angling season is only two and a half weeks away. It opens June 1st for all rivers in insular Newfoundland and June 15th in Labrador. A fall fishery will take place on the Gander River, Exploits River and Humber River from September 8th to October 7th. And DFO notes they will close rivers in instances of extreme environmental conditions.
and 28681 with:

RNC Street Drug Unit Makes Arrest
May 14, 2008

The RNC Street Drug Unit have arrested and charged a 23-year old Metro woman with drug offences. Police picked up the accused in St. John's west yesterday and charged her with trafficking in a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Constable Paul Davis says they seized what's believed to be prescription medication including oxycontin, percocet, ritalin and a quantiy of cocaine. The accused was released to appear in court in July.
The two former stories, quoting the Premier with text and audio, do not appear to have been re-assigned new file numbers, and can no longer be located in any form on the VOCM site.

Point of Order, Mr. Speaker

How very heartwarming to see the Speaker quoting on Monday from both the Old Testament (Beauchesne) and the New Testament (Marleau and Montpetit) of Parliamentary procedure:
On May 8, the hon. the Government House Leader raised a point of order relating to a line of questioning by the Leader of the Opposition. The Government House Leader suggested that it is not in order to question ministers about matters not within the purview of their departments.

The Government House Leader is absolutely correct. Questions directed to ministers must concern matters for which they are responsible. Marleau and Montpetit, page 426, Beauchesne’s 6th Edition, §409 and Erskine May 26th Edition, page 298. It is also the case that a question must not seek to elicit an opinion, legal or otherwise, page 427 of Marleau and Montpetit. Nor should a question seek information which relates to any other presumed functions of a minister, such as regional responsibilities - from Beauchesne’s 5th Edition, §351.

I ask all hon. members if they would bear these points in mind when formulating their questions.
Here are some other great passages from those important books:
Any Member participating in debate must address the Chair, not the House, a particular Minister or Member, the galleries, or the television audience. Since one of the basic principles of procedure in the House is that the proceedings be conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse, Members are less apt to engage in direct heated exchanges when their comments are directed to the Chair rather than to another Member. If a Member directs remarks towards another Member and not the Speaker, he or she will be called to order, and may be asked to rephrase the remarks. In a Committee of the Whole, Members must direct their comments to the Chairman. (M&M, page 513)

During debate, Members do not refer to one another by their names, but rather by title, position, or constituency name in order to guard against all tendency to personalize debate. A Minister is referred to by the portfolio he or she holds…. The Speaker will not allow a Member to refer to another Member by name even if the Member is quoting from a document such as a newspaper article. As the Chair noted, a Member “cannot do indirectly what cannot be done directly.” (M&M, page 521-22)

§484. (1) It is the custom in the House that no Member should refer to another by name. Members should be referred to in the third person as “the Honourable Member for _____”. A Minister is normally designated by the portfolio held: “the Honourable Minister of _____”. Other office holders are similarly identified by their offices. The two main party leaders are generally referred to as “the Prime Minister” and “the Leader of the Opposition”, and other party leaders are identified with their parties. Parliamentary Secretaries are normally identified by the posts the hold. The House Leaders and Party Whips may also be referred to by their offices. (Beauchesne, 6th)
And for good measure:
It is a rule of Parliament that a member addressing the house should not mention another member by name. (Bourinot, 1916, p. 356)

Apology

From today's Telegram, Dr. Joseph Tumilty apologizes to Our Dear Premier:
NLMA president misspeaks

In the article, "Williams faces heat over inquiry comments," which appeared in the May 13 edition of The Telegram, I was quoted as saying that the subject of the Commission of Inquiry into Hormone Receptor Testing was not discussed during the formal part of a meeting between the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and the premier to address issues related to the recruitment and retention of pathologists and oncologists. In fact, there was discussion about the commission which I unfortunately did not recall. I wish to apologize to the premier for any upset or damage to his reputation that my inaccurate statement may have caused.

Dr. Joseph Tumilty, president
Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association
Heartfelt, and so very lawyerly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On centralization

St. John’s municipal by-election candidate Bernard Davis isn’t going to let the facts get in the way of his usual Townie Walternoel-esque anti-federal rants.

His campaign, at least as conducted on VOCM No Names Please each week, seems solely based around “developing” the city through more federal government jobs, claiming, “St. John’s in particular was hit hard by the shrinking of the jobs federally…”, that “we’ve reduced by 25% less, and the federal government nationally has only reduced by 5%”, and that the federal government is “centralizing everything in Ottawa”.

As for the first claim? St. John’s experienced less of a reduction in federal civil service presence during the program restraint period than Canada as a whole did. From its peak year to its nadir, the number of federal civil servants in St. John’s declined by 17%. Nationally, the comparable figure is 20%.

What’s more, the cutbacks started earlier, and continued later, in Canada as a whole, than in St. John’s. Peak federal government employment levels were in 1991 nationally, in 1993 in St. John’s. Federal employment bottomed out in St. John’s in 1998, and has been on a mostly upward trend ever since. Nationally, the bottom wasn’t reached until 1999.

Indexed to 1990, cutbacks in the country as a whole came sooner, cut deeper, and lasted longer, than they did in St. John’s.

The second claim is that “we” had our federal civil service presence reduced by 25%. That is not true of St. John’s, whose fedgov workforce, at worst, declined by 17%, and which has increased in the past decade or so (2006’s are the most recent figures available) by 9%. In 2006, at least, federal employment levels in St. John’s were down 2% from 1990 levels; nationally, they were down 3%.

The province as a whole, however, has seen a significant decrease in direct federal government employment, down 33% from peak to bottom, down 26% from 1990 levels. Given that St. John’s has seen its federal workforce hold fairly steady, even during the restraint period, this means that the federal government job losses have been outside St. John’s, not in the city and its suburbs. Extracting St. John’s, the rest of the province lost over half its federal workforce between 1991 and 2002. And the decline started earlier, and lasted later, than in St. John’s.

The net effect of all these changes is that St. John’s, which in 1990 had less than half the federal workforce in the province, now has over 60% and rising.

And so, Bernard Davis wants to justify increasing federal civil service jobs in St. John’s, by citing job losses that have occurred everywhere else in the province but St. John’s?

Who’s the real centralizer, Bernard?

Here are the raw federal employment figures for the St. John’s Census Metropolitan Area, the rural rest-of-province, the province as a whole, and Canada as a whole. Source: Statscan tables 183-0002 and 183-0003, using September data.

       SJ  Rural    NL     Can
1990 4,648 5,104  9,752  403,388
1991 4,894 5,293 10,187 408,747
1992 4,938 5,277 10,215 407,526
1993 4,993 5,107 10,100 398,070
1994 4,879 5,025 9,904 388,442
1995 4,598 4,638 9,236 361,556
1996 4,631 4,209 8,840 346,961
1997 4,232 3,445 7,677 334,074
1998 4,156 2,833 6,989 327,791
1999 4,208 2,602 6,810 327,363
2000 4,352 2,475 6,827 335,809
2001 4,347 2,603 6,950 349,212
2002 4,490 2,456 6,946 359,943
2003 4,408 2,438 6,846 365,545
2004 4,270 2,671 6,941 364,634
2005 4,519 2,805 7,324 380,708
2006 4,544 2,691 7,235 390,416

Oh, the irony

"Just because someone asks questions for five days, doesn’t mean they’re being effective."

That was Jerome Kennedy, yesterday.

After you enjoy the stylings of Craig Westcott, cf. Jerome Kennedy, just a few short years ago, in this .ram file.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Deferred answer

There’s a reason they call it Question Period, not Answer Period.

Interestingly, though, Terry French on VOCM Nightline with Linda Swain tonight spouted lines like, “you’ve got 43 graduating across the country, and the province of ontario is looking for 50”, made reference to today’s letter in the Telegram by Colin Newman, made repeated references to the number of witnesses in the past five weeks, and expressed his sincerely well-scripted concern for the health care system.

Just like The Boss and Mini-We did in Question Period the House a few hours earlier:
PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we have to look no further than the top corner of The Telegram today - and I will not read from The Telegram, but I will paraphrase what was said in that top corner. It came from a second year medical student. He basically said: "Watching fantastic physicians having their good names and reputations called into question is not a ringing endorsement of our province as a place to start a career."

Mr. Speaker, as we stand here today, there will be forty graduates - forty-three, I think, if I remember correctly - oncology and pathology graduates that will graduate in all of Canada this year. Ontario needs fifty - that is one Province.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: First of all, let me state for the record that there is absolutely no intention whatsoever to undermine the integrity of the Cameron inquiry. The reason I make these statements is out of a genuine concern for the patients, for the citizens of this Province, and for the health care system in this Province.

MR. KENNEDY: On Thursday past I received a letter seeking an extension of time for the Cameron inquiry. The inquiry was originally meant to file its report by July 30 of this year. Now, we know there were some delays. Then in this letter I see reference to the fact that nineteen witnesses have testified over twenty-nine days. When I break that down a little bit further we get eleven witnesses in the first four days and then eight witnesses in the last five weeks, the last twenty-five days.
So when Yvonne Jones asked:
I ask the Premier if he is saying that no one in his government, him, his staff or his officials, give key messages to open line callers to call in to influence public opinion in this Province?
And:
Whether it is one person or ten different people, I ask the Premier again, have you, your staff or anyone inside your government given notes of key points to be addressed on open line shows to callers in order to influence public opinion?
Danny dodged.

He didn’t answer.

He didn’t need to.

Terry French, spouting the same lines, almost word for word, just answered the question for him.

Three strikes

MS JONES: I ask the Premier if he is saying that no one in his government, him, his staff or his officials, give key messages to open line callers to call in to influence public opinion in this Province?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: I can assure you that while we are in government there is no one within our staff in the Premier’s office who has phoned up under two or three different names and pretended they were someone else and made representation as the hon. government opposite did when they were in power.
STRIIIIKE ONE!
MS JONES: Whether it is one person or ten different people, I ask the Premier again, have you, your staff or anyone inside your government given notes of key points to be addressed on open line shows to callers in order to influence public opinion?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Every time I get on Open Line I get a note.
STRIIIIKE TWO!
MS JONES: Just a final question for the Premier, and that is: Can the Premier tell us how much government has spent to date on Open Line transcripts related to the ER-PR issue? Can he confirm today whether there is a standing order agreement to receive those transcripts and if you would be willing to table that information?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: There is no standing order agreement and I cannot tell you how much has been spent on transcripts.
STRIIIIKE THREE!

...

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify something from Question Period. I was asked the question whether there is a Standing Order for information or transcripts through the Department of Health. I was just informed outside that either through Robert Thompson or through the Department of Health there is, in fact, a Standing Order, but I was not aware of it. I just do not want to leave a misimpression in the Chamber on that particular question.

Really, Mr. Speaker

Do your job:
PREMIER WILLIAMS: There is pure, raw politics at its very best, what you are playing over there now. I would expect a lot better from you; I really would. You disappoint me so much when you go there.

MR. T. MARSHALL: We have these programs and we introduced many programs. Probably no government has ever introduced as many programs to help low income people as our government, as the Williams government.

There is

Our Dear Premier, in the Bow-Wow Parliament this afternoon:
First of all, let me state for the record that there is absolutely no intention whatsoever to undermine the integrity of the Cameron inquiry.
That would be a lot more convincing if it wasn’t in the present and impersonal, a.k.a., the obscure English verb form known as the Bill Clinton mood:
There is no relationship.

He am the very model of accountabilibullity

"No government is perfectly transparent. It's impossible to achieve utopia when it comes to those goals," Williams said. "However . . . we've gone certainly further than any government has gone in Newfoundland and Labrador before, and I would say we're an example in Canada."



Today? The CBC reports:
On Monday, Cameron stopped Brazil soon after she began her argument. Cameron demanded to know who sent her to the inquiry, and asked whether it was Robert Thompson, a senior civil servant with a responsibility for setting up the inquiry, or someone else.

Brazil said that Cameron "should not assume" that she took her instructions directly from Thompson, who, Cameron pointed out, had testified that the government's involvement in the inquiry came under his direction.

"I'm just trying to understand the basis upon which you wish to pursue this line," Cameron said.

"If you're not receiving your instructions from Mr. Thompson, then can you tell me whether or not your instructions come from the attorney general, for example," Cameron told Brazil.

After a lengthy pause, Brazil said only that she represented the government.
You can always tell a CSIS "spook", too.

They will only tell you that they "work for Solicitor General Canada".

And they all have moustaches.

How not to not care about VOCM

So, Our Dear Premier, Glorious Leader (May His Preternaturally Thick Hair Always Be Perfectly Parted) doth protest that he doesn’t care what does or doesn’t get said on VOCM.

But someone does.

In the past three years, the average number of daily responses to VOCM’s Question of the Day – whose “poll” figures are aired every weekday – has been just over 2500.

Every so often, though, there are spikes, almost invariably coinciding with questions in which someone – obviously not the Premier, because He says he doesn’t care about VOCM, and He (MHPTHABPP) always tells the truth and never lies – but someone takes a particularly keen interest.

Here are the VOCM Questions of the day, for the past six months, which have topped 5,000 “votes”, giving the date, number of “votes”, and the winning result.


11/22/2007: Should the NDP be given official party status in the House of Assembly? 5354 votes; 79% No

11/29/2007: Do you agree with Premier Danny Williams that it is not the place of former premiers to comment on how the current government operates? 8527 votes; 78% Yes

12/3/2007: Do you think government should offer more incentives to secure the future of the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor? 7511 votes; 50% Yes

12/4/2007: Are you satisfied with the outcome of that meeting between the prime minister and Premier Danny Williams? votes; 5769 votes; 62% Yes

1/11/2008: Do you think the premier should shelve the feud with Ottawa and focus on social issues during this week's First Ministers meeting? 25655 votes; 64% No

1/15/2008: Are you satisfied with Tom Rideout's action on his controversial expense claims? votes; 28258 votes; 64% Yes

1/29/2008: Do you think the provincial government is doing enough to protect your personal information? votes; 7445 votes; 56% No

1/30/2008: Do you think it's a good idea for government to have a debt clock present at the pre-budget consultations? 5137 votes; 49% No

2/5/2008: Should the premier ask Andy Wells to step down as mayor to focus on his new job as chair and CEO of the PUB? 15645 votes; 45% Yes

3/12/2008: Can Newfoundland and Labrador go it alone, without Canada? 6577 votes; 74% Yes

4/17/2008: Do you think the Nurses' Union is looking for too much in contract negotiations with government? 6043 votes; 51% No

5/2/2008: Do you think the provincial government should index the pensions of public service pensioners? 5258 votes; 79% No

5/12/2008: Do you agree with the premier that the Cameron inquiry appears to be more of a `prosecution' than an inquiry? 10730 votes; 74% Yes

Anti-utopian

As reported by Tara Brautigam of CP, The Word of Our Dan:
"No government is perfectly transparent. It's impossible to achieve utopia when it comes to those goals," Williams said.

"However ... we've gone certainly further than any government has gone in Newfoundland and Labrador before, and I would say we're an example in Canada."
An example, indeed.

When's that chipseal report going to be released, anyway?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

He doth protest too much

From another of Tara Brautigam's reports for CP, one of the few outlets that is yet exposing, if only incidentally, the increasing madness of King George:

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams says a former public servant made "offensive and stupid" remarks when he told a public inquiry that radio call-in shows influenced the government's handling of an emerging scandal involving flawed breast-cancer testing.

...

"I can tell you categorically, unequivocally, that John Abbott is completely wrong if he's implying that government decisions are made on the basis of open-line shows," Williams said in an interview.

"I find that offensive and stupid, quite frankly."
How can you tell Danny was lying in this case?

First, his lips were moving.

Second, he ended a statement with "quite frankly".

Third, and surely someone will dredge up the tragicomic transcript, Premier Danny Williams once rushed out of a meeting of his cabinet in order to get on the air before the end of one of the VOCM call-in shows and rebut something some negative person had just said about him.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ruination

From the CBC:
Newfoundland and Labrador's breast cancer inquiry could destroy the province's health care system if it runs too long, the justice minister has warned.

In an unusual move, Jerome Kennedy phoned an open line program on VOCM radio on Friday afternoon to complain about the Cameron inquiry's costs, just a day after Premier Danny Williams used the phrase "witch hunt" to describe what he saw as "inquisitorial methods" at the inquiry.
In a functioning Parliamentary democracy, with respect for the rule of the law and the independence of the judiciary, such remarks would cost Jerome Kennedy, who is supposedly not only a lawyer, but supposedly a good one as well, his job.

Immediately.

Without mercy.

But it's very clear that Jerome is only following orders, so in Danny Williams' Dannystan, don't expect things to follow the normal course of events.

Parliamentary democracy? Rule of law? Independent judiciary?

Smothered in their sleep by the modern-day Duplessiste regime that is, in its own way, emulating the absolute worst of Quebec nationalist thought.

Unbelievable?

Nope. In Dannystan, after five years, all too believable.

Friday, May 09, 2008

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

From the debates of the Bow-Wow Parliament on Thursday, in which a half-hearted attempt to impost parliamentary decorum is met by an even halfer-hearted attempt to keep it. (It goes almost without saying that Charlene Johnson's breach of the same rule went un-noticed by the Speaker.)

MR. HICKEY: Mr. Speaker, the 2008 Budget without question is one of the best budgets. I think, when we look at the issues that have come back and the comments, I suppose, that have come back, it is very clear that the people in this Province are pleased with the way in which we have shown great leadership under Premier Williams and our government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is hesitant to interrupt, but for the second time the hon. member has reverted back to something that the Chair has raised here several times in referring to members by their names. I ask the hon. member for his cooperation, I know it was a slip of the tongue, but if he would be kind enough to abide by the parliamentary procedure here it would be appreciated.

MR. HICKEY: I apologize, Mr. Speaker, and I will try to certainly live up to those expectations.

Mr. Speaker, one of the documents that I am very pleased to have been involved with right from the start is the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador. You know, when you look back over the years, certainly in my municipal life as a former mayor and a former town councillor I dealt with many governments. I dealt with governments under then Brian Tobin, I dealt with governments under then Roger Grimes, and certainly I can tell you in my municipal life it was very frustrating. It was very frustrating for the people of Labrador from the perspective that we could not get any commitments, any investment from the provincial government of the day. I will say to you, that under this Administration under the leadership of Premier Williams that we have made great investments in Labrador.



All Labradorians have ever wanted is our fair share. All we have ever wanted is our fair share, to be a part of this Province, and I can tell you, under the leadership of Premier Williams and this government we are making great headways when it comes to those issues, Mr. Speaker.

Memoranda

From a Chris Morris report for the Canadian Press:

The possibility of plugging all of Atlantic Canada into the massive hydro riches of the Lower Churchill Falls will be discussed as the region's premiers gather in Fredericton on Friday.
Memo to Chris: There's no such place or thing as "Lower Churchill Falls". Honestly.

There's a Churchill Falls. There's a so-called Lower Churchill project on the perennial drawing board. But there's no "Lower Churchill Falls." It's imaginary. Youse guyse at CP are the only ones who believe this place exists.

Perhaps it does.

In Narnia.
"The premier of Newfoundland is looking to advance the Churchill Falls project and we're the only province in Atlantic Canada certified to produce nuclear power," Graham said in an interview, referring to New Brunswick's request for proposals from the private sector to build a second reactor.
Memo to Shawn: Since Newfoundland is not a province of its own, Newfoundland does not have a premier of its own. And the Churchill Falls project — see above — was completed 35 years ago; there is nothing left to advance.

Get him a dictionary

From a CP report by Tara Brautigam in the Western Star:
“It was acknowledged by ourselves and by the doctors in the room that the inquisitorial methods that are being used — it appears to be more of a prosecution than an inquiry,” Williams said at the legislature late Thursday.
1) "Acknowledged"? Okay, fine. I acknowledge that Danny Williams is either a bumbling semi-literate doofus, or, more likely, an Orwellian master at twisting words and phrases — "autonomy", "integral", "give back", "acknowledge" — out of their ordinary meanings and into contorted ones that suit his purposes. It's acknowledged, and that makes it true.

2) An inquiry using inquisitorial methods? Not a shock either to truly Great Lawyers, or to anyone who knows the etymology of both words. Hint: the principal parts of the original Latin verb are inquiro, inquirere, inquisivi, inquisitus. Inquiries are supposed to use "inquisitorial methods".

3) Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do your job, Mr. Speaker

The following statement was issued by the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Crown Lands Investment Improves Service to the Public

It is important that we continue to ensure the long-term protection of Crown lands, as they provide environmental, social and economic value to the province. As such, $75,000 has also been provided in Budget 2008 to commence the development of a comprehensive Land Use Management Strategy. This strategy will focus upon developing land-use policies and plans, land registration, management framework, as well as the overall administration of provincial land. This was a Bluebook commitment made by the Williams Government in 2007, and I am delighted that we are working toward delivering on that commitment.

The difference

Happy about highways money? Thank Williams Government!

MCP card expired on you? Blame Provincial Government!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Interview He Never Gave

It was, even by his standards, a particularly unctuous and hand-talky Danny Williams who sat down with Debbie Cooper of the CBC last week for a shallow and narrow-ranging interview, which aired Tuesday night, that could and would have been a lot more interesting if she had asked Our Dear Premier a few very logical questions.

Here, then, the transcript of It was, even by his standards, a particularly unctuous and hand-talky Danny Williams who sat down with Debbie Cooper of the CBC last week for a shallow and narrow-ranging interview, which aired Tuesday night, that could and would have been a lot more interesting if she had asked Our Dear Premier a few very logical questions.

Here, then, the transcript of The Interview He Never Gave.

WILLIAMS: Seventy per cent of all the money that we spend this year will be spent on health or education or social issues.

COOPER: And can you tell us, how does that compare to previous years?

WILLIAMS: I think we’ve got significant oil and gas potential for a long time.

COOPER: What’s the royalty rate on oil and gas potential? What are our expected revenues from oil and gas potential for this fiscal year?

WILLIAMS: In Labrador we have the best wind regime in North America

COOPER: What do you mean, ‘regime’? What is the royalty regime for wind power in Labrador? Has your state-ownership-or-else policy, as stated in Our Dear Energy Plan, attracted or discouraged wind energy investment in Labrador? If the Labrador regime is so good, why are there several wind projects under way in Newfoundland, and even more in places like Quebec, P.E.I., Ontario, or Alberta, but not one in Labrador?

WILLIAMS: We’ve also had a policy of no more giveaways.

COOPER: So, what are the resources that aren’t leaving the province now, that were leaving when you came into office?

WILLIAMS: People are feeling very, very good about themselves, there’s a great feeling, not only within the province, but outside the province, by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are living and working in other areas of the country and all around the world, I get emails all the time, they feel good about themselves, they can stand up at the water cooler and say, ‘I’m proud to be a Newfoundlander and Labradorian.’ That’s a wonderful thing.

COOPER: But I don’t ever remember being ashamed to be one. Did you? Is it possible that you’re projecting?

WILLIAMS: We want to be a contributer, a net contributer to Canada. But we also want to be masters of our own domain.

COOPER: Is that part of your population strategy, then? No more of… you know… that? Like on Seinfeld? Every sperm is sacred?

WILLIAMS: I don’t want to be dependent, or have our people dependent on the whims and fancies of a federal government in the future.

COOPER: Then what was that kerfuffle with Paul Martin, then, a few years back, about not having any reductions in equalization, no matter how high our own-source oil revenues go? What’s with the current kerfuffle about equalization with Stephen Harper, if not about maximizing the dependence of the provincial finances on federal transfers? Or what about the constant beating a warpath to Ottawa, of always wanting more federal funding for provincial infrastructure, whether that’s the Colonial Building or the Labrador Highway, or whatever else? Or what about wanting more and more and more and more federal government jobs? Isn’t that kind of difficult to square with what you just said, that stuff about reducing dependence on the federal government, and being masters of our own domain?

WILLIAMS: Well, y’know…

COOPER: Or, when you say you don’t want to be dependent on the federal governent, is that just another cryptic way of saying you do want separation from Canada and the federal government altogether?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Autonomy! One cost-shared program at a time!

As reported by David Newell in Monday's Grand Falls-Windsor Advertiser:
"A lot of the roads announcements were out a lot earlier," [MHA Susan Sullivan] said. "People in my district were a little upset I think, saying they had not heard anything about our roads. But the reason for that is, behind the scenes I was saying (we need to obtain federal funding as well if it is available)."

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gimme!

Perhaps NDP can explain when "the province" owned Hibernia, and who the actor of the passive verb is supposed to be. From the ever-accurate and always critical Ministry of Truth:
NDP: Give Hibernia Back - May 4, 2008

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton says Hibernia should be given back to the province. Leyton spoke yesterday at the provincial NDP convention at the Battery in St. John's. Layton blasted Prime Minister Harper for not doing enough to help the little man, while large corporations with larger profits are getting tax breaks.

Layton also encouraged people to run for the NDP in the next federal election..he is also trying to woo former provincial leader Jack Harris.

Income (I)

The latest census release, on income, is most interesting.


As entirely expected, Rest of Labrador still has the highest median income, for full-time earners, in the province. The 2006 census asked about income in the previous calendar year. Full-time earners in Rest of Labrador had a median income of $50,429, well above the provincial average of $37,429.


Rising to second place overall among the province's eleven census divisions is Division 11, Nunatsiavut. The median income for full-time earners in the Inuit communities of Labrador was $39,808 in 2005, up 18.2% from 2000 — the highest rate of increase anywhere in the province. This dramatic increase catapulted Nunatsiavut from the bottom half of the pack, sixth in 2000, to near the top.


Third place belongs to Division 1, the Avalon Peninsula, at $38,465. The St. John's Census Metropolitan Area, taken in exclusion, had a median income for full-time earners of $39,592.


The St. John's CMA, and the two Labrador divisions, had median incomes, for full-time earners, higher than the provincial average. The rest of the Avalon, like the rest of Newfoundland, fell below the provincial average, including CD 6, central Newfoundland, which had been above the all-province average in 2000.


Interestingly, St. John's, the rural Avalon, and Labrador had increases in full-time earner income between 2000 and 2005. In Nunatsiavut, the increase as note above was over 18%, in the rest of Labrador, 12%, in St. John's 3.9%, and in the rest of Avalon 2.1%. However, playing agains what might be preconceived notions, the south coast and the southwest corner of Newfoundland, including the Stephenville area, also showed increases, of 6.7% and 9.1% respectively. In the case of the Stephenville-Bay St. George area, the census data are for 2005, when the full impact of the mill closure was not yet being felt.


Insight into what might explain these two regions' bucking the rural Newfoundland trend is most welcome.

Change in median income, full-time earners, by Census Division and St. John's CMA, 2000-2000. Shades of green indicate increases (<10%,>15%); pale red indicates a decrease. Based on inflation-adjusted constant 2005 dollars:

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Right on cue...

...the guy who used to say that Newfoundland should leave Canada because of equalization says Newfoundland should leave Canada because it doesn't get equalization any more. Exhibit 3,244 in the Newfoundland Separatwits: Heads, They Win, Tails, Federalism Loses.

Go ahead. Raise your PWG in Newfoundland (not Labrador) Ryan.

And while you're at it, answer these:

What is the federal government's "take" of the offshore? And how does it "take" it?

How much more could the oil be "ours" as an independent country, than it already is?

How would independence impact the so-called "upper Churchill" contract? In particular, how would it change geography? And why do you assume that Labrador would join your Pinkwhiteandgreenian Revolution?

What's stopping you — other than the rules of supply and demand, and the dictates of geography, neither of which would be suspended by separation — from instituting your so-called "Lower Churchill" plan now? (And see above re your Labrador assumption.)

And quoting yourself to back up your argument? Really — you and the rest of the separatist crew (both of you) are going to have to do better than intellectual (in the loose sense of the term) onanism (in the almost-literal sense.)

Numbers junkie still twitchy

As noted previously, the final poll-by-poll results of last spring's Quebec election, in which over four million ballots were cast, were available for download 85 days later. That's an average of 47,185 ballots finalized per day.

In the last federal election, 14,817,159 votes were cast. Final official results were released 49 days later, for an average of 302,391 votes made official per day.

The official, detailed, results of the 2007 Ontario election, in which 4,423,898, ballots were cast, are available for download at Elections Ontario.

The Ontario election was held one day after the last Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election, in which, unofficially, 278,328 ballots were cast.

Today marks 205 days since the last ballot was dropped in a box, for an average pace for the preparation of the Chief Electoral Officer's final report of 1358 ballots per day... a figure which gets slower with every passing day.

Again, just because the legislation, for some reason, gives the CEO nine months to prepare the official count, doesn't mean he's got to take nine months. Even in democracy-challenged Zimbabwe, it only took 34 days.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Province and Cape Breton Island

The Province has Provincial Visitor Information Centres (VICs) all across the Province and even Cape Breton Island. And they're opening for the season.

Yip.

All across the Province.

From St. John's to Port aux Basques.

Lots of "provincial presence".

All across the Province.

The whole Province.

And part of another province, too.

Times-a-wastin'

Danny doesn't like to "waste time" in the House of Assembly.

The one he was elected to.

And it shows. The sum total of his provincial presence on Thursday was this over-lawyerly, under-Parliamentary point of order:

PREMIER WILLIAMS: I rise on a point of order for clarification.

In recent decisions by the Chair, there has been an indication that we can’t refer to certain documents. I think this works for both sides at Question Period, from a question perspective and an answer perspective. For example, yesterday I referred to the Budget document and it was indicated that we were not to refer to documents.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in parliamentary procedure by any means but it is my understanding of previous rulings that casual references to telegrams, newspaper articles, or commentaries, I guess, for want of a better term, commentaries or hearsay type of documents were not allowed to be referred to.

I am just wondering, for purposes of convenience to both sides and with the approval of the Chair, if we can refer to documents or reports that are within the House or tabled within the House, would that be satisfactory, or is it the intent just to make Question Period expeditious and to prevent long preambles and long statements? However, I think we are both kind of hampered in some respects - both sides are hampered in some respects by not being able to refer to tabled documentation that is official, House documentation. Otherwise, we are actually deemed to have knowledge of everything that is in them without even being able to refer to them.

Just a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker, and I just raise it for that purpose.
Mr. Speaker explained, in small words that hopefully even Great Lawyer can understand:

MR. SPEAKER: The ruling that has been put forward by the Chair does not make reference to members not being able to reference documents; it is strictly the reading of documents. The Chair said in other rulings here that members can refer to documents, they can paraphrase, and they can use documents as references but not to read from. That is strictly for Oral Questions and it does not include debate. Members can read from documents, read from letters and telegrams in taking part in debate. That is certainly allowed.

When the Chair ruled on referring to the reading of letters and telegrams it also extends to the reading of Hansard, even though it is a document produced right here in this House. That is not only in this Parliament but in all other Parliaments. Precedence has been set that the reading from documents in Oral Question Period is unparliamentarily.
And then he added, for good measure:

If not, before the Chair moves to Oral Questions, the Chair would also like to ask members again for their co-operation in referring to members by their names. When members refer to other members by their name it personalizes things and that is certainly unparliamentarily. I ask all members, once again, to refer to members either by the district they represent or by the executive position that they hold. I ask for your co-operation.
A good lesson, which had already been lost on Mr. Hickey:

As the members opposite are well aware, on Tuesday this government delivered an historic Budget that will see Newfoundland and Labrador soon cast off our have-not status. Mr. Speaker, the Williams government has delivered a fiscal plan for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that is meeting today’s challenges, with a view for long-term prosperity.
And which continued to be lost on Mr. Parsons:
Well, the Minister of Finance says, that is Danny Williams. I beg to differ. I think there are few other issues involved there other than Danny Williams.

Centralization

T'were most humorous to hear St. John's city council candidate Bernard Davis on Thursday, on the air with No Names Please, expounding on his economic development platform.

Yes, yet another variant on Fiscal Autonomy Through Greater Dependence On Ottawa:
We’ve got to lobby the federal government… to bring more offices and stop centralizing everything.

Hilarity!

What, coming from a municipal candidate in the city whose concentrated share of the provincial civil service is 70% of the provincial total — the same 70% which, at the federal level, you would have to combine the 20 largest population centres, including Ottawa-Gatineau, to arrive at.

And what, coming from a municipal candidate in the city which has the fourth- (or fifth- or sixth-*) largest per-capita federal civil service presence among the 25 or 30 major Canadian metropolitan areas.

And what, coming from a municipal candidate in the city whose federal civil service presence, as a share of the province's total federal civil service presence, continues to grow.

"Stop centralizing everything", Bernard?

Be careful what you wish for.


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* Two smaller urban areas, Kingston and Moncton, have recently been elevated to CMA status; either or both of which, having large federal civil service workforces, may demote the larger St. John's CMA in the overall ranking.