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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mr. Williams, it's Mr. Williams on line 1

After expressing such pessimism — or is it negativity or crap? — about the Lower Churchill project on CBC's airwaves (audio link), North West River mayor Art Williams might just expect a phone call from his disappointed Premiertorial namesake.



Tom Hedderson issues a press release at quarter to five on Canada Eve.

Please, do not shoot anyone. No one should be shot over there.

The release drops the well-capitalized phrase “(the) Provincial Government” a stunning twenty times – absolutely smashing the old record of nine. And there’s a “Williams Government” for good measure, right there in paragraph two of the nearly 2100-word epic Counterspinning of Negativity.™

It’s almost as if… almost as if… almost as if this fishery thing is a sensitive point with them or something.

Ray Guy, seer

Ray Guy, writing sometime in the 1980s:

That same defensive reaction to any real or imagined criticism or slight or threat wafting down the Gulf of St. Lawrence has snowballed. The dimmest of our politicians — let alone Brian Peckford — can now latch on to it and be as secure of waxing fat as a maggot lodged in the carcass of a beached whale. Even a native son has got to think twice before he questions the desperate sort of patriotism that has given us the lightest air, the hardest rocks and the wettest water in the world.
- Ray Guy's Best, Breakwater, 1987, p. 98

Monday, June 29, 2009


This corner raises a question:
How does the map of road work requested by Premier Fiddler compare to the provincial electoral map as it stood prior to dissolution?
Contrarian issues a friendly challenge:
Mr. McLean is welcome to test this hypothesis by going through the list and calculating the number of projects proposed per rural Tory riding vs. the number proposed per rural opposition riding. I’ll publish the results.
Mkay. Here you go:

Of the 37 projects put forward by the late Macdonald government in NS, five were located in Liberal districts, and five in NDP districts, based on the 2006 election results. (The list was drawn up before the recent NDP government took power in N.S.)

Twenty-six were located in districts which the Tories held, or had won in 2006.

(One project eludes classification; Trunk 1 from Prospect Street to Lakeside Drive. It looks suspiciously like Kings South, and you’d think an Acadia grad might know for sure, but no such luck. Kings County motorists are welcome to clarify.)

So, 26-5-5, or, in other words, 72% of the projects put forward by ex-Premier Fiddler were in rural PC districts, subject to the caveats below about district-straddling work. And yes, pace Contrarian:
Provincial paving, by its nature, takes place mainly in rural ridings. That’s where provincial roads are. Before June 9, Tories held most of the province’s rural constituencies, so most of the proposed projects were undoubtedly in Tory ridings.
Now, it’s a bit of an open question what constitutes urban and rural, but take, as a rough approximation, the districts which appear on Halifax inset of the Wikipedia electoral map of Nova Scotia as “urban”. Notionally classify everything else – even urban Cape Breton and the Halifax exurban fringe – as “rural”, and you have 40 seats left outside the old pre-amalgamation cities of Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and part of Sackville. Of those 40 districts, the Tories in 2006 won 22, the NDP ten (of which half in the Halifax fringe and industrial Cape Breton) and the Liberals eight.

So, in other words, the Tories held 55% of the rural and rural-ish seats, yet collectively represented 72% of the proposed highways projects. The N.S. Dippers held a quarter of the non-Halifax seats, and had 14% of the proposed projects. And in the Liberal column, the figures are 20% of districts, and 14% of projects.

But wait! – with apologies to the late, annoying, Billy Mays – there’s more! The Tories also win, hands-down, in terms of the gross value of the proposed highways projects. PC districts accounted collectively for 71% of that value, compared to about 14% each for Liberal and NDP districts. If the mystery project above is in Kings South, then the PC total would be bumped up by another 1.5%.

And this, even after allowing for some projects which straddle the boundaries of districts won by two different parties in 2006. One paving project is roughly 25% in Liberal Kings West, with the balance in formerly-Tory Kings South. Another seems from its description to straddle the Antigonish-Pictou county line, and has been notionally valued at 33% NDP, 67% PC. (The other straddle projects straddle two 2006 PC districts, and so make no difference to the provincial partisan totals.)

Of the projects which were finally approved, 81% of the approved project value was in Tory districts, compared to 11% for the NDP, and 8% for the Liberals.

Contrarian lays down one final friendly statistical challenge:
To show bias, one would have to demonstrate that province’s proposed infrastructure projects disproportionately favored Tory ridings like the premier’s over rural Liberal ridings like Stephen McNeil’s.
The list of proposed projects contained just one in Liberal leader McNeil’s Annapolis district. And, apart from the partial straddle noted above, this was quite conspicuously the only project on the list from the large bloc of four contiguous, solidly Liberal districts in the western end of the Valley.

Equally conspicuously, but for the opposite reason, Tory-held Inverness was good for four project proposals out of 37 province-wide. Now, admittedly, Inverness is, by Nova Scotia standards, a large district. Yet its four projects accounted for a whopping $7.6-million, or 11.3%, of the aggregate project proposal value (almost 16% among PC districts!), and 10.9% of the project approval value. Inverness, of course, was the electoral chateau-fort of former Premier Rodney Macdonald.

By way of comparison, the former PC highways minister had two projects in his district (both approved), valued at an anemic $3.6-million.


The Dan is my Shepherd, I shall not want

Among the venom, vitriol, red herrings, ad-hominems and non-sequiturs of Jeff Rose-Martland's twin screeds last week in NL Press and the Telegram, was the following
Does [Randy Simms] think that the government can make cod and lobster and other fish suddenly return to our ocean? Danny Williams has been called many things, but this may be the first time he’s been called God.
Indeed. You wouldn't want to deify a mere mortal like Danny Williams. Which makes it that much odder, four paragraphs later, when the accomplished young writer chooses an ancient and familiar metaphor:
Premier Williams is bringing us to new pastures [...]
In his antepenultimate paragraph, the epistolist-cum-hagiographer claims:
Premier Williams looks forwards to a prosperous future where Newfoundland is a successful industrial society, free from the vagaries of nature, and is working to accomplish that.
Freedom from the vagaries of nature?

Good God, Jeff, who or what do you think Danny Williams is?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


A curious claim this morning by the Ministry of Truth (Provincial):

Royal Visit in the Fall
June 28, 2009

Premier Danny Williams has announced that members of the Royal Family will visit Newfoundland and Labrador this fall. Williams says Prince Charles of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, will include the province in their visit to Canada this fall. He says a detailed itinerary will be announced at a later date.
Premier Danny Williams has announced no such thing. As is protocol, the visit was announced today by the Governor General. Ever one to bask in reflected glory, Our Dear Premier, the Leader of The Province, didn't announce the visit... he merely "welcomed" the announcement.

Or, if you prefer, as per the original, Sunday-morning rush-job version of the headline, "Premier Welcomes Announces of Royal Visit".

An appalling display

Accomplished young writer Jeff Rose-Martland has a letter in Saturday's Telegram (not online) which begins:

I witnessed Randy Simms’ appalling display of spite on VOCM’s “Open Line” on Wednesday, June 17.
Rose-Martland continues in this vein for over 700 words... 700 words which, apart from a few cosmetic style changes and corrections silently made by the Telegram's letter editor, are identical to the over 700 words of his screed in NL Press last Monday. Both versions conclude with:

If Mr. Simms is not capable of embracing our future, perhaps he should quietly disappear into our past.

There was indeed an appalling display of spite on VOCM that morning.

There was indeed.

And there have been more than a few similarly childish displays since.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Subsidies are bad, mkay

Superdanny jets off again to counter-spin some negativity (or possibly pessimism or crap):
Premier and Union Disagree Over Government's Stance on Fishery
June 27, 2009

Premier Danny Williams doesn't buy the union's contention that government is doing little to help offset problems in the fishery. Several hundred plant workers and fishermen demonstrated at the plant in Anchor Point yesterday morning, accusing government of ignoring their plight. Many sectors of the fishery have been hit hard this year, and the FFAW is advising shrimp harvesters to tie up their boats. They have not been able to work out a satisfactory price with processors. While Williams says his government is ready to step up, one thing it will not do is offer subsidies. He says that approach would end up hurting the fishery.

FFAW President Earle McCurdy, who was in Anchor Point for the demonstration, doesn't accept the premier's response. He's concerned that rural Newfoundland and Labrador is being hung out to dry.

The Premier tells VOCM listeners, "but, y'know, there's certain things we just simply can't do, and subsidies is one of them."

There you go.

We don't believe in subsidies.

At least not any more. Or not for some industries.

So guys....

How was Norway?

Voting with their chequebooks

Recovering Traitor, and general unPerson Craig Westcott, makes an intriguing suggestion in a comment to this little corner of the internets:
The obstacle to all that, admittedly, is money. That is to say, the Liberals have none. However, there are many people in the business community in this province, and the rest of Canada who are (a) disgusted by DW's governance style and (b) feel angry because they think there is an unlevel playing field when it comes to bidding on government work, that you have to be a buddy of Dan in order to get a look in.
And that’s exactly why Recovering Traitor’s idea is going nowhere fast.

For the time-span covered by easily-accesible public data (since 1996), corporate and business donations have fuelled the operations, both general and electoral, of the two main provincial political parties. In government or in opposition, roughly 75% to 80% of both the Liberals’ and PCs’ contributions come from businesses large or small.

(The NDP has relied much more heavily on individual (51%) and union (44%) contributions, while the smaller parties and independent candidates depend almost entirely on individual donations. From 1996 to 2007* inclusive, non-Liberal/non-Tory parties and their candidates only received 0.6% of the overall corporate contributions to provincial democracy, and so are disregarded for the rest of the analysis in this piece.)

Over the period covered by the public reporting, the party of the Government of the Day — GoD for short — has benefitted from its position as GoD. Contributions from corporate and business donors to the governing Liberals, up to 2002, outstripped those to the opposition Tories by a ratio of $2.70 to $1.00.

Similarly, in the years since the change of government, 2004 onward, business contributions to the Tory GoD have outstripped those to the opposition Liberals, and by a larger margin $3.20 to $1.00.

Only in the impending election year of 2003 were the corporation contributions reasonably even-handed: $1.04-million to the outgoing Liberal GoD, $1.12-million to the incoming Tories. Most of the “balance” can be attributed to pre-election fundraising which favoured the still-governing Liberals ($537,000) over the still-opposition Tories ($266,000). Campaign-period corporate contributions in 2003 favoured the Tories, $853,000 to $501,000. In the 2007 election period, the difference was even more striking, with the Tory GoD favoured by business donors by nearly a 2.8 to 1 ratio.

More striking still, is how little use the business world has for the opposition outside election years. The 2004 annual party contribution returns show that the business world contributed $1.52 to the Tories for every $1.00 to the Liberals. In 2005, the gap was even starker: $442,000 for the Tories, $51,000 for the Liberals; a ratio of 8.6 to 1. In 2006, Tories took in $428,000 from businesses, the Liberals, $59,000. In 2007, excluding the more even-handed election and by-election contributions, the Tory GoD’s business bagmen took in a whopping 21 times as much as their Liberal competitors. In every set of election financial reports since the 2003 campaign — general, 2007 electoral, and by-election — the Tories have out-fundraised the Liberals among corporate donors by wide margins.

Nor is it just Water Street — both literal and allegorical — that is greasing the electoral machinery. While the Liberals out-bagmanned the Tories $1.38-million to $457,000 between 1996 and pre-election 2003 among out-of-province corporations, both parties heavily relied on those dirty furriners for their corporate lucre. Corporate donors giving addresses outside the province accounted for 28% of corporate donations to the Liberals by dollar value, and 27% to the Tories.

Since the 2003 election, out-of-province corporate donors have dropped off, with the Liberals having taken in $100,000 from corporate democrats, to the Tories’ $456,000. The share of corporate donations to the Tories from out of province has decreased since 2004, from 25% of all Tory corporation intake down to 10% in 2007. The Liberals’ share briefly surged in 2006 to 21%, before settling back down in 2007 to 13%.

Much of the Tory fundraising success since 2003, like that of the Liberals before 2003, can be attributed to GoD syndrome. However, the Tories’ advantage as government has been even higher than that of the Tobin and Grimes Liberals. Between 1996 and 2002 inclusive, the cumulative Liberal corporate fundraising advantage was 2.7:1 over the Tories. From 2004 to 2007 inclusive, the Tory advantage has been higher: 3.2:1. (Election year 2003 is excluded as a transition year.)

Another remarkable feature of the party financing landscape is the role of big resource companies. Since 2004 inclusive, over $100,000 of the $456,000 that the Williams Conservatives have received from out-of-province corporations has come from a handful of big resource firms; among them, Abitibi-Consolidated, Chevron, Husky and associated companies, Inco, Kruger, and Petro-Canada. Out-of-province resource companies have cumulatively out-donated to the Tories 3.3:1 over the Liberals during that period. In respect of election and by-election campaign contributions, they were collectively almost perfectly even-handed, giving just $600 more to the Tories than to the Liberals ($12,750 vs. $12,150). Outside the electoral cycle, out-of-province resource companies have contributed 4.7 times as much to the Tories since they formed government, for the ongoing operations of the party, as to the opposition Liberals.

The sole survivor among the paper companies, locally-domiciled Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, has also favoured the Tories since the change of government, having given $9200 to the party and its candidates since 2004, compared to $2500 to the Liberals. Of that, it has donated $6000 to the annual coffers of the Tories, compared to $1800 for the Liberals; $3200 has gone to the Tories during election and by-election campaigns, versus $700 for the Liberals.

So yes, pace unPerson Westcott, there are lot of people in the business world disgusted by the Premier’s governance style. There are even more who are disgusted by his policies, including expropriation and nationalisation, to say nothing of nationalism. The first two of those approaches are often envied, or even emulated, by NDP politicians and partisans from Ontario to Nova Scotia; the third is the stock in trade of the Parti québécois. Yet it would be impossible to imagine Bay Street or the oilpatch channelling money to any provincial NDP branch plant. (The federal NDP and Bloc Québécois, and the Parti Québécois, like other federal and Quebec provincial parties, are not permitted to accept corporate contributions.)

And at the same time, it is easy to see the oilpatch, Bay Street, and Water Street underwriting the Madness of King Dan. No imagination is required: the public reports of campaign and party contributions are there for all to consult, bloggers and the Eighth Floor alike. And therein may lie the rub.

There is a large and growing number of business elites grumbling about the Régime. Some of them, after a few drinks, with the hotel suite curtains pulled, the door closed and locked, a damp towel jammed into the crease for good measure, and the bathroom fan and air conditioner flicked on for white noise, will go so far as to commisserate with those who, under such secure conditions, will quietly dare to contemplate The Things That Need To Be Done to bring about regime change.

Then, next morning, like a cheating husband overcompensating for his guilt with jewellry and trips to France, they will cut a cheque to the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Such corporate donations aren’t political.

Like so much else about provincial politics these days, they are pathological.

Graph 1: Total corporate contributions (annual, election, and by-election campaign), Liberal and PC parties, 1996-2007. Election years indicated with asterisks.

Graph 2: Corporate contributions as a percentage of all annual and campaign contributions, Liberal and PC parties, 1996-2007. (Both-party/All-years average is 77%)

* Six months into 2009, the 2008 data are still unavailable.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Optimists Club

In Corner Brook, where the major industry is facing layoffs and compression, the local leaders are already staunch co-religionists of the First Newfoundland Church of Optimism:

Mel Woodman, president of the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, is an optimist by nature and refuses to accept the significant workforce reduction at the mill is going to ruin Corner Brook and surrounding region.


Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender also said this is bad news, but not a death knell for the city since there is still hope of a return to a three-machine operation. The blow on Corner Brook directly, he figured, will be softened somewhat by the fact there will be some early retirements amongst the 130 people laid off and the fact the 60 forestry workers affected are spread out among many communities from Codroy Valley to Glenwood.
And over in Gander, Claude Elliott has accepted Optimism into his life:
Gander Mayor Claude Elliott says he is devastated with word of the layoffs at Heli-One Composites. However, Elliot says given the current global economic crisis, the layoff notices aren't surprising. Despite the news Elliott says he remains optimistic. Elliott says council will be working closely with the company to try and work through the crisis to see what they can accomplish together. He says the town is hoping the aerospace industry will recover soon.



Babe in Boyland makes a comment:
i disagree with jackson on the right of the premier to engage his detractors by calling them personally. there is just too great a power imbalance - the premeir is, well, THE PREMIER, as well as a multimillionaire in his own right. that's intimidating.
Babe, Babe, Babe. Nothing could be further from the truth.

He isn't just the Premier.

As he referred to himself on Crosstalk last week, he's the Leader of the Province.

Population observation (III)

The reason Lorraine Michael alluded to provincial demographics in the dying moments of her Crosstalk appearance was to make her point that the supposed boom of recent times has not filtered out to many parts of the province:
The majority of people, a large majority, live on the Avalon Peninsula, and they are benefitting in a big way.
This may be true of St. John’s and area, which, to be sure, are part of the Avalon Peninsula. However, if demographics alone is any suggestion, the benefits to the Avalon Peninsula as a whole may be overstated.

Since the provinces’ peak population in 1986*, there has been a steady decline in most areas, with particularly steep population declines in small and rural communities. For a while in the mid-1990s, after the cod moratorium but before the start of offshore oil production, even St. John’s shared in the decline. The metropolitan population slipped by over 3500, or nearly two percent, according to intercensal estimates between 1993 and 1998. Since 1999, the metro area has added nearly 10,000 to its population.

Of rural areas, Labrador has had the “least bad” population decline, losing “only” eight percent of its 1986 population in the ensuing twenty years to 2007. The Northern Peninsula and the South Coast of Newfoundland had by then each lost nearly a third of the population they had in 1986.

The rural off-Avalon island as a whole has lost 23% of its 1986 population up to 2007 — a figure which is very comparable to the population loss in the Avalon Peninsula outside the St. John’s CMA during the same time period, 21%. Or, on other words, the rural Avalon has really done no worse, but no better, demographically speaking, than the rest of rural Newfoundland.

Population by Region, as % of 1986 value

* The largest census population recorded for the province as a whole was actually in 1991. However, given that the 1991 population was only 125 larger than the 1986 census, after decades of intercensal population growth measured in the thousands and tens of thousands, it is clear that the demographic picture had already turned by the late 1980s or early 1990s.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nothing but blue sky

From the recent-memory hole. An unattributed short article, and its headline, from the Telegram of November 12, 2008:
Williams' forecast for province: mostly sunny

Premier Danny Williams is cautiously upbeat about the province's economic future, even in the face of a looming recession.

Williams said that's because of a combination of strong natural resources revenues and his government's sound management of the economy.

"If we do, in fact, get into a deep and long recession, I think our province will be as good or better off than any of the other provinces," he said.

Nothing but bluebirds

More from the recent-memory hole. From a Terry Roberts report in the Telegram of November 22, 2008, quoting MUN economist Wade:

Locke stressed, however, that it's not all doom and gloom.

In historical terms, commodity prices are still strong, he explained, and there are positive signs everywhere.

He singled out the confidence shown by the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador West, where a major expansion is planned.

"That should tell you everything you need to know. That company believes the future is bright for them and they're increasing their capacity now to take advantage of an improving situation in the future," he said.

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Democracy Watch Watch (II)

What Democracy Watch cares about: moot points.

What Democracy Watch doesn't care about: democracy. At least not in Dannystan.

Population observation (II)

But, regardless of St. John’s or the St. John’s metro area’s relative share of the provincial population, it’s still one of the most demographically dominant cities, compared to its province, of any in Canada, right?


In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador is still among the provinces which are demographically the LEAST dominated by their largest city or largest metropolitan area.

Few Canadian cities are as dominant within their province as Winnipeg. The city itself has 55% of Manitoba’s population; the metropolitan area (which Winnipeg also constitutes nearly all of) is 60% of Manitoba.

The Vancouver metropolitan area is the only other which contains more than half of the provincial population, 51.5% in the last census. This is due to the sprawling Lower Mainland suburbs, as Vancouver itself, with little over a quarter of the metropolitan population, constitutes just 14% of British Columbia.

Number three in the dominance rankings is metropolitan Montreal, which has a nudge under half (48%) of Quebec’s population. Montreal itself is home to 21% of Quebecers.

On the other end of the scale, New Brunswick’s three-city urban structure makes for an interesting demographic pattern, which the political capital, Fredericton, doesn’t figure into. New Brunswick’s largest city, the industrial capital of Saint John, is home to less than one in ten New Brunswickers. However, unlike the largest cities in every other province, Saint John is not the core of New Brunswick’s largest urban area. That title falls instead to Moncton, the commercial capital, which together with its suburbs and exurbs, constitute 17% of New Brunswick.

Another province with divided urban functions is Saskatchewan. Metro Saskatoon, which is not the capital, has 24% of the provincial population (21% in the city itself), ranking ninth for provincial domination. Next door in Alberta, where the same pattern repeats: non-capital Calgary has only 33% of Alberta within its metropolitan boundaries, placing it eighth in the rankings. Calgary city itself, with 30% of Alberta’s population, ranks third among cities proper, again reflecting the tendency of Prairie urban agglomerations to be almost entirely contained within one municipality.)

Among province-dominant municipalities, St. John’s city, with approximately 20% of the provincial population, ranks eighth in the domination rankings. Including the suburban municipalities, St. John’s CMA rises one spot to seventh. Almost every other “largest city” or “largest metro” in Canada has a larger share of its provincial population than St. John’s. Or, expressed the other way, in only two or three other provinces is the population outside the centre of the universe numerically more important than in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Population observation (I)

The idea has lately gotten abroad that “most” or “the bulk” of the provincial population lives in St. John’s, or, in a slight variant, on the Avalon Peninsula.

Take, for instance, Lorraine Michael, during her opposition leaders’ show on CBC Crosstalk the other week, near the end of the show:

The majority of people, a large majority, live on the Avalon Peninsula.
With respect to Ms. Michael – and unlike some people, this corner certainly believes she is worthy of respect – this is wrong. A popular belief, but wrong.

Or take Dennis O’Keefe’s statement in a June 3, 2005, Telegram story concerning fundraising for the Janeway Hospital:

We're going to the prime beneficiaries of the Janeway Children's Hospital, and that would be St. John's and surrounding communities, which house probably half the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Again, BZZT. Wrong.

According to the 2006 census, the City of St. John’s itself (the dark blue blob on the map; click to embiggen) had a population of 100,646, out of the provincial total of 505,469. Half the population? Not even close: the City of St. John’s didn’t quite make up 20% of the province in 2006 (though it does by now, as the 2011 census will show.)

Of course, the City of St. John’s is really only one part of a larger conurbation, or Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). The CMA includes adjacent dormitory suburbs and industrial areas which form an integrated commuter-shed, and share other economic indicators which make the area an economic and demographic unit, political boundaries aside. (This is the middling blue blob on the map, plus St. John’s.) The St. John’s CMA – St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, CBS, and other neighbouring suburban and exurban communities – had a 2006 census population of 181,113. That’s just under 36% of the province as a whole.

Well, if not St. John’s City, and if not the St. John’s metro area, then surely the Avalon Peninsula – or, as some people put it, confusing the traffic viaduct in west end of St. John’s with the natural isthmus near Come by Chance, “inside the overpass” – has half the provincial population?

Nope. Well, not quite, at least not yet, officially. Census Division 1, shown here in light blue, including the St. John’s CMA above, corresponds pretty well exactly with the popular notion of “Avalon Peninsula”. In 2006, CD1 had a population of 248,418, or 49.1% of the provincial total: not even a bare majority, let alone a large one.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Permission to speak

Letter-writer Maurice E. Adams takes issue with Russell Wangersky taking issue with Danny Williams taking issue with what he thought he was told that big ol' meanie Randy Simms said about him on the radios:

But the problem with Mr. Wangersky's position, and with Randy Simms' approach, was and is that Randy was not (and repeatedly did not) ask the premier any questions on the issue itself. Randy didn't do what Mr. Wangersky says should be done - that is, ask questions on the issue.

The issue was the oil deal.
That's what the issue was? Says who, Maurice?

You see, the wierd thing about this whole "freedom of speech" nonsense is that not only do people have the right to choose what they say, they also have the right to choose what they say stuff about. (And what they ask stuff about: some of the questions that weren't asked last week got answered today anyway.)

Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — say that "the issue" is the Hibernia South deal.

The issue. Singular.

Simms, according to Maurice, "wanted to discuss any other issue but the oil deal itself". Somehow, even if true (which it patently isn't) this is a bad thing.

Never mind that The Issue — the Hibernia South deal — is itself part of a broader set of issues — the economy, provincial financial priorities, the rural-urban divide. Nope. Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — view the world, like computers, in binary. Something is The Issue. Or it is not The Issue. Anything else does not compute.

But set all that aside, Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — are annoiad that mean ol' Randy Simms didn't ask Himself about The Issue. Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — are upset that:
While the premier repeatedly tried to focus the discussion on the topic at hand, Randy would have none of it - over and over again... the premier should have been permitted to speak to the topic.
You see, Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — the thing is, Danny called Randy.

Or, more elaborately, Danny exercised his free will to place a call to the VOCM producer, and exercised his free speech to not talk about The Issue either, but rather to berate the good radio host, in essence, for being insufficiently toadyish and Pollyanaesque.

What's more, Maurice — and presumably the Eighth Floor — is that according to the transcript of the Dantrum posted by Geoff Meeker, after excluding some banal initial pleasantries (and in retrospect, listening to the audio again, you can already tell in the opening seconds from His tone that it's not going to remain banal or pleasant), and ignoring the untranscribable portions in which host gives as good as guest, and simultaneously, Randy Simms gets in 190 clear words.

The Premier? 567.

A short exchange, to be sure, in more than one sense of the word "short". But you see, Maurice, unless they were uttered in the voice-over parts of the exchange, the words "Hibernia" or "South" — The Issue — were not among those words at all.

If Danny Williams out-motormouthed Randy Simms, and yet still didn't get to speak to The Issue before the Big Giant Sook slammed the phone down, whose fault was it?

Suggested answer: not Randy Simms'.

More joy of giving

At the beginning of the game, Mr. [Derrick] Dalley [MHA for Isles of Notre Dame] on behalf of government and through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation presented a donation of $1000 to the Twillingate Recreation Committee (TRC) to assist in purchasing sports/recreation equipment. Grant White, chair of the TRC, accepted the donation on behalf of his committee and the community.

- Lewisporte Pilot, April 8, 2009, p. B2 (emphasis added)

Cf. this episode from 2007.

Difficult islands

Barbara, any time, y’know, we’re dealing with islands it’s difficult. I think we can take the big picture, y’know, the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re dealing with Marine Atlantic, y’know, we’ve got a lot of issues with Marine Atlantic with regards to rates [blah blah blah]

- Himself, responding to CBC Crosstalk caller Barbara, June 17th. Cf. November 30, 2007


Putting Peter Jackson on notice


Totally stealing that.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Too many Dannies

Premier Williams, in conversation with CBC Radio's David Cochrane on the Thursday edition of Crosstalk:
I'm the eternal optimist, that's why I do the job I do, that's why I'm in the job, because I believe we can make it here, and I really believe there's a great future for this province and its people. And I get negativity, y'know, which happens all the time, but on a day when there really should be none, when there's an opportunity to put, y'know, a lot of new money into the provincial coffers that we can do a whole pile of things, all the wonderful things in schools and hospitals and roads and everything that needs to be done, and I heard the negativity, well, I just had to react. That's me.
This Danny Williams really ought to talk to the Danny Williams who set himself on fire live on the air with Randy Simms two days earlier. The Danny Williams who appeared on CBC said that he had "heard the negativity", that horrible, horrible negativity, and, moreover, on a day when Danny Williams decreed that there should be none at all.

The VOCM Danny Williams, however, suggested very strongly that Danny Williams did not, in fact, hear the negativity himself, but that it was related to Danny Williams second-hand:
I'm calling 'cause I had several calls from people who heard your opening comments.
(Someone really oughta ask that Danny Williams: who were those "people"? But anyway...)

In fact, it would appear that there is a third Danny Williams at loose. The Danny Williams who was on Crosstalk with David Cochrane, who, unlike the VOCM Danny Williams, actually heard the nasty, nefarious, negativity, is a Danny Williams with hair-trigger reaction time to negativity: "I heard the negativity, well, I just had to react,", Danny (VOCM) Williams said. "That's me."

The reactive, bombastic, hair-trigger Danny Williams surely can't be the Danny Williams who, on the eve of entering provincial politics, resolved to grow a thicker skin.

But wait! There's more! Danny Williamses!

There's also the Danny Williams who said he wouldn't explode, because he had learned to deal with the stuff that comes with being messed up in politics. This Danny Williams might even be the same Danny Williams who has, in fact, grown that thick skin, and for whom criticism is "like water rolling right off my back".

A thought on bullies

Another interesting observation from CBC's seasoned political report David Cochrane, from the June 10th edition of Crosstalk. His guests were opposition leaders Yvonne Jones and Lorraine Michael:

Jones: We've seen a number of examples where, Tom Rideout, for example, was another one who took a public view on and issue and within weeks was gone from cabinet, caucus —

Cochrane: Well, if you listen to the other people in the cabinet and the caucus, he was also trying to bully a few people to get some extra money for his district, y'know, so I don't know if the Tom Rideout thing was so much disagreeing with the Premier as maaaybe not doing the right thing... the motive of that may be another topic for discussion.

So there you have it: one politician bullying another politician in an attempt to shake them down for more money to dole out to his constituents, is maaaybe not the right thing, with questionable motives behind it.

For future reference, that's good to know.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


The headline on a VOCM news story today:
Celebrating Our Aboriginals

Comparative politics

An observation from CBC's political reporter David Cochrane, in conversation with Yvonne Jones and Lorraine Michael during the June 10th edition of Crosstalk:
When I talk to women my age, in their 30s, and talk about politics, and I think the thing that turns them off more than anything is the tone of it sometimes, and, you know, it's not quite as bad here at the provincial level, but you look at the federal scene right now, it just has sort of nasty and vitriolic things are in the House of Commons [sic]

Some thoughts on skin (III)

Q: Even some locals have compared you to former Newfoundland premier Joseph Smallwood and his “my way or the highway” approach to governance. What’s your response to people who think that of you?

A: “It’s like water rolling right off my back. I can tell you right now these comments roll right off my back. Before I got into politics I had a really thin skin and I was reactive and I realized pretty quickly that the only way you can survive on this, is to have a thicker skin. So, when people make comments like that, I don’t pay any attention to them. I can’t be governed by fear, I can’t be governed by name-calling, I can’t be governed by personal attacks.”

- Danny Williams, in interview with Craig Jackson of The Telegram, July 14, 2006


Saturday, June 20, 2009

But (XIV)

From a letter by Keith Hannaford in the Saturday Telegram. Yeah, yeah, technically this is a "though", and a rare inverted double-"but" — yeah, yeah, an "even if" — as well:
Danny Williams' recent phone call to Randy Simms on VOCM is evidence that, while the economy may be prospering in this province, public discourse is most certainly not.

It is appalling that any public figure, let alone a premier, would throw that kind of tantrum on a call-in radio show.


Though I am concerned with some aspects of this province's affairs that I feel are being neglected or mishandled, overall I am pleased to have Danny Williams at the helm (even if I would rather he had a little more substantial opposition).


Proximate cause

Russell Wangersky — he's not even one of the Newfoundland Wangerskies — is disturbed:

And what disturbs me is that it certainly sounded like Williams was reacting not to what Simms had said, but to what he had been told Simms said.
Russell, Russell, Russell... nothing could be further from the truth.

What He said was:
I'm calling 'cause I had several calls from people who heard your opening comments.

The Word of Our Dan, who then went on to spew a distorted version, not even paraphrase, of Simms' comments, comments which he clearly had not actually heard, so that He was reacting not merely to what He had been told Simms said, but either to second-hand distortions of what Simms said, or first-hand imaginations of what he'd been told Simms said.

That is what set off the Dantrum. That makes it all the more disturbing — and it's not as if the Dantrum wouldn't have been disturbing, on its own, even if He had listened twice to a tape, and read the verbatim three times, before chewing Simms out for being insufficiently Premier-positive.

What is it about Him, that he not only needs constant sunshine, but cannot tolerate shade, let alone healthy rain?

(And if anyone asked Him, who are the "people" who placed those "several calls"... what would the answer be?)

Some thoughts on skin (II)

“People were concerned that I had a thin skin and that I was going to explode as a result of that. But that hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. You do learn to deal with that. Unfortunately, you do learn to accept it as part of politics.”

- Danny Williams, in interview with Dene Moore of the Canadian Press, September 29, 2003


Friday, June 19, 2009

Some thoughts on skin (I)

Stepping out of the shadows of private life and into the public eye, Tory leadership contender Danny Williams has a simple resolution for the new year.

“Maybe just to develop a nice thick skin,” said Williams, a lawyer and businessman.

- Danny Williams, as quoted by Tracy Barron, The Telegram, December 30, 2000


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The reviews are in

Myles Higgins:
Unfortunately I didn't hear Randy Simms opening monologue this morning so I don't know exactly what he said (only what Randy Simms recounted that he said afterward). Never the less, (and as much as Walter or whoever he is might believe I'm a Danny kool-aid drinker) I think the Premier's all out verbal vent on the Open Line host was disgusting and totally out of line.

I don't doubt for a second that anyone who heard it came away with one impression and it wasn't a good one. His actions served to push aside any doubts anyone might have had left that the Premier is a hot head who far too often reacts before he thinks and in doing so sometimes ends up with foot in mouth disease.

I, like you, believe Williams is doing a great job overall (not perfect however) and he has certainly improved our fiscal situation provincially but there is no excuse for making a point of calling somone with no purpose except to vent when that person is simply asking questions that should be asked.

Freedom of speech is something all of us have the right to expect and nobody, especially not a political leader, should ever go on the attack when someone uses that right in a respectful and open way without malice of their own.

It's inexcusable.

Greg Pike:
Normally I am a pretty blind follower of Danny Williams. I generally feel that when he says something or defends a governmental move I believe him. But I am capable of thinking for myself.

In an interview with Randy Simms on his Open Line show, Danny Williams is challenged about the effects of oil revenue for generations to come. He is asked about what is being done to keep Newfoundland and Labrador in the black for the future beyond this era of rich oil on the Grand Banks.

Rather than give a reasonable answer to a reasonable question, he deflects, calls Randy Simms a pessimist for questioning his work, and hangs up the phone.

Our Dear Political Scientician:
Williams's comments to VOCM generated fierce reaction on its shows, the blogosphere and from political observers who said they demonstrated a startling lack of statesmanship.

"It's embarrassing," said Michael Temelini, a Memorial University political scientist. "It was unbecoming of a premier. ... It sets a terrible example to people, especially young people."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A Radio Host, who is most emphatically not a separatist, interjects with his caller from New Brunswick who talks about the history of the fishery, which for centuries sustained fishermen from several European countries and:
Frank: … the country of Newfoundland.

Radio Host: Frank, that has such a lovely ring to it, when you say that: "The Country of Newfoundland."


The shootings will continue until morale improves

Danny has no regrets.

No apologies, either, remember.

It's almost as if... almost as if... almost as if we've seen this movie before.

Great moments in optimistic non-crap

Here is the labradore countdown of the Five Greatest Moments in Mr. Happiness McSunshine's never-ending battle against negative people, pessimism and crap:

5. “Maybe on that particular morning this guy got up on the wrong side of the bed.”

4. “The Joyce Hancocks of the world”

3. Mr. Williams repeatedly made mocking mention of his main opponent, Liberal Leader Gerry Reid, at one point calling him “poor old Jed Clampett Gerry Reid” [Oliver Moore, Globe and Mail, October 6, 2007]

2. “Mark your X for Eddyot”

1.5. PREMIER WILLIAMS: So it is a little two-faced, to say the least, to get on this way in questions.

1. PREMIER WILLIAMS: I actually withdraw that remark, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the Opposition is, in fact, no-faced.

Honourable Mention: “So, while Miss Guy can do her 'Dear Diary' notes...”


He's had several calls

From the Memory Hole, sequential edition. First, from the testimony of John Abbott before the eye-rolling Cameron Inquiry, May 2, 2008:
MR. ABBOTT: Now, again, when that open line, whether in fact it was that morning or it was over the weekend and what have you, I couldn’t say. But we were doing, you know, the central agency communications group were obviously doing monitoring and advising us through that. So I was getting all of those references pretty well right through the piece, not only, obviously, on breast cancer but anything affecting the, shall we say, the health portfolio.

THE COMMISSIONER: But does it make a difference, does this suggest in any way that determinations about what is to be done, either by the department of Eastern Health is somehow affected by who calls Open Line?

MR. ABBOTT: Dare I say and I’m going to say unfortunately, yes, it is, again if you’re talking about transformation in our governance, in our administration, the Open Line Shows are having a significant impact on what government departments, ministers’ offices are following and it’s a, I won’t say a recent trend, but fairly recent trend and exponential in the sense that if you see now, hear now in terms of their prevalence of open line shows in Newfoundland and you will see that MHAs, ministers, the premier are calling in and using those open lines as a forum to get out their messages, but they’re also using it as a form to find out what’s happening in the Public.
ODP's red-herring denial in the House of Assembly, May 12, 2008:

If the hon. member opposite or Mr. Abbott or anybody else says that this government forms policy by what they hear on open lines, then I will have a say about that.
ODP's opening comment to Randy Simms, June 16, 2009:
I’m calling, because I’ve had several calls from people who heard your opening comments...
Hey, ODP: Do these "people" have names (and titles)?

Offensive and stupid, quite frankly

From the Memory Hole, May 2008:
Former deputy health minister John Abbott told the inquiry that the government's communications staff monitored and manipulated the province's wildly popular radio call-in shows to deliver key messages to the public on various issues, including revelations there were persistent problems with breast-cancer testing in the province dating back to 1997.

According to Abbott, the government's strategy was a "fairly recent trend" that had a "significant impact on how government does business."

Williams angrily denied Abbott's testimony.

"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."

All these things that he has done

“It just hurt me that Randy done that,” Minnie, Danny Williams’ third- or fourth-biggest fan, tells Bryan Cleary.

Done what, Minnie?

Asked a question?

The temerity. The nerve!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not his concern, to be honest witcha

From the Memory Hole, October 2008:

COFFEY, Q.C.: April 1st-2nd of ’08, but what I wanted to ask you about is this, Mr. Williams, and again, without taking you through each of the stories, there are a number of stories in the media, and in fact, there was some—and it was talked about on open line shows, and I’ll just bring up one example of it, P-0667. Actually, P-0666, I apologize. This is a transcript of what was said October 25th, 2005 on VOCM Talkback involving Mr. Rowe and a lady identified as Patricia, and this talks about the ER/PR matter, and as you can see from it, just go down the page a little bit, see the reference to Tamoxifen, estrogen receptors are negative and so on. So at this date in the media, throughout—certainly throughout October 2005, I wanted to ask you, were you aware of that?

MR. WILLIAMS: Of these particular stories?

COFFEY, Q.C.: Not of these particular stories, but the fact that it was in the media?

MR. WILLIAMS: I would have to say I would have been aware of it. I’m very much aware of what goes on in the media now. What Randy Simms says on a daily basis is not my concern, I got to be honest with you, but you know, I do get moved and moved to action as well by people like Patricia or if on TV I see stories that--I can specifically remember dialysis stories about people travelling three times a week, three hours to and three hours from dialysis units, and that was a big part in us putting in dialysis machines in remote areas of this province. So I am conscious of them and I am much on top of this.

Special Sycophancy Statement (III)

People will say I’m calling in to curry favour with Danny Williams. People are going to say what they’re going to say, I’ve got no control over that.

- MHA Felix Collins, calling in to VOCM Nightline to curry favour with Danny Williams, making the inevitably self-fulfilling prophecy

Hey, Felix: bonus points for citing the latest CRA poll. Good work, grasshopper.


Danny loves me, this I know

“He’s for every one of us,” the nice lady tells Ryan Cleary in her very short call of praise. “He’s for Randy Simms. It could be my child, or your child down the road.”


At the end of the day

Danny's second- or third-biggest fan, is Marjorie. Danny Williams, working his long, hard days, gives her hope.

That's very thoughtful of him. What a nice man.

Marjorie rationalizes the Premier's on-air behaviour this morning, attributing it to how sometimes, "at the end of the long day" you get tired and cranky and such.

Like a toddler.

VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms airs every weekday from 9:00 to 11:30.

In the morning.


Radio with pictures (II)

VOCM gets in on the act, posting the audio that everyone else has been buzzing about since this morning:



As a public service, please post the audio of Danny Williams going kookoobananas and abruptly hanging up [is there a non-abrupt way of hanging up on someone? - ed.] on Randy Simms this morning.

Is all.


UP-DIDDLEY-DATE: The Telegram posts the audio.

UP-DIDDLEY-DATE II: w00t! thanks!


Electoral democracy in theory and practice

Iran's Supreme Leader has ordered an investigation into possible election irregularities.

Dannystan's Supreme Leader, meanwhile, says, "investigate? are you kidding?"


Monday, June 15, 2009

Mmmm... maps

The ever-useful Community Accounts website is bin gone done made itself even usefuller with the addition of its super new(ish) Map Centre.

The 2006 Census Travel Flow to Work atlas alone is worth the price of admission.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The rural-urban divide

The following graph shows the number of people who are working (in thousands) in the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) and the rest of the province (for ease of reference, "Rural").
These figures are actually the three-month rolling averages, so they aren't 100% comparable to the previous employment graphs. However, comparing apples to apples, the province as a whole had an employed workforce averaging 214.6 thousand for the three months ending May 2009. That's down 3.9% from the same period in 2008.

In the St. John's CMA, the same figure is 99.8 thousand this year, compared to 95.8 thousand in 2008. That's an increase of 4.2% year over year... but the St. John's figures also had their recent peak in the three months ending December 2008, when the employed labour force in Capital City topped out at 101.5 thousand, the highest on record for this metric. For the first half of 2009, St. John's has shown some signs of backsliding.

In the rest of the province? The employed labour force in the smaller urban centres and rural areas, including the rural Avalon, has slumped to 114.8 this spring, from 127.4 the same period in 2008.

That's a loss, year over year, of 12,700 jobs, or a staggering 9.9%, in a province where, the leader tells themselves, Economy Strong.

By way of comparison, in June 1991, in the grip of the last major recession, the rural economy had lost 3200 jobs, or 2.5%, compared to the year before.

In October 1992, as the impact of the July cod moratorium worked its way through the rural economy, the figures were 10,200 jobs lost, for a year-over-year decline of 8.0%.

Lifetime achievement in spin

According to the headline and body of a James McLeod report (not online, and buried on p. 4) of the Telegram today:

GDP down seven per cent, but stimulus working, province says

Since it awarded $800 million in infrastructure work, the province has doled out half of it, spreading economic stimulus across the province.

Nonetheless, on Thursday Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy said Newfoundland's GDP (gross domestic product) has been shrinking at a rate of seven per cent this year - far higher than previous predictions.


On the seven per cent GDP drop, Kennedy said that it really isn't a very good measurement in a small resource-based economy.

"The GDP will still perhaps remain in negative terms, but the economy appears to be faring quite well," he said. "GDP is one measurement - it's a measurement that will perhaps mean more when you're looking at a large economy like China or the U.S."
OK, don't worry, be happy. The GDP is just one measure.

Just like the employment numbers — down 5.3% in a year.

Or the size of the labour force — which has shrunk 1.6% in spring 2009 as compared to a year earlier.

Just one measurement. Two measurements. Three measurements. Like your age, it's only a number.

Nothing to worry about, say Danny Williams-Government. The people who, without any obvious sense of irony, can headline their puff release:

Economy Strong as Province to Tender Over a Billion Dollars This Fiscal Year

Such puffery is aimed at self-delusion, not public delusion. And it's working. Kudos to whoever — hi, David, Tansy! — came up with that header. Keep up the good work! It's just what you-know-who wants to hear and read.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ultra vires

Everyone knew, or should have known, that as the coastal Labrador highway was extended north from Red Bay to Cartwright, with feeder routes to St. Lewis, Charlottetown, and Pinsent’s Arm, that government would look at rationalizing the network of eight local airstrips in southeastern Labrador.

And sure enough, they did.

First, by way of backgrounder, the money to build the airstrips in the first place, as well as funding under the regular five-year funding arrangements for relatively routine maintenance and upgrading, came (comes) from the federal government. However, the airstrips are, in fact, property of the provincial government, and are operated by the provincial Department of Transportation and Works.

So it was that in 2000, the provincial government established the Coastal Labrador Transportation Committee. In 2001, that provincially-appointed committee released its report.
In 2002, the provincial government announced, among other things, that “Port Hope Simpson will become the site of a regional airport”.

In March 2006, the provincial government released a report which the provincial government had engaged EDM consultants to prepare on the pre-design of a Southern Labrador Regional Airport in Port Hope Simpson. (PDF link.) Despite the solemn 30-day pledge (hi, Liz!), the provincial government had had the report in its possession for fully a year by the time they released it.

All of which made it all the more surprising that in the 2007 Great Big Rebranding And Reannouncing Of Stuff That The Government Was Going To Do Anyway — also known as the (cue dramatic music) NORTHERN STRATEGIC PLAN!Danny Williams-Government promised:

The Provincial Government will continue to:
Finalize the decision on central airport for Southern Labrador

The statement reveals the Newfoundland Nation’s conception of time to be as alien to western civilization as that of the Najavo. The Provincial Government will continue to do – that is, progressively – an action which is usually thought of as instantaneous or of very short duration – “finalize” – and which has already taken place in what Euro-Canadians call “the past”. Remarkable!

Later in 2007, The Danny Williams-Government Party, a provincial political party, running for re-election provincially, took credit, as an accomplishment in its first term in provincial government, for:

airstrip rehabilitation and equipment for north and south coast communities;

And that, folks, was pretty much the last time that Danny Williams-Government publicly associated itself with the regional airport in Port Hope Simpson.

Oh, you could go looking for more recent information or statements in the remarkably vacuous and uninformative annual “reports” and “activity plans” of the Ministers’s Advisory Committee on Labrador Transportation. Some of them, laughably, didn’t even have their files renamed from the “Activity Plan Template” that was spoon-fed to everyone who had to fill one out. Really, though: you have to go out of your way to be that unreporty in your reports, and that unplanny in your plans.

Then, yesterday, Trevor Taylor told assembled and credulous reporters in Capital City:

I guess, as most people would know, going back about five years ago, I guess it was, a decision was made [passive voice] to pursue [not build?] an expanded airport at Port Hope Simpson and close down the remainder of the airports, the other couple of airports in the region. As you know, the airports in Labrador are federally funded, and we’ve made it known to the federal government that that’s where we wanna go, we’ve been a year now without an agreement on Labrador coastal airports, um, um, you know, it’s a priority for us, we’re prepared to go there, y’know, Port Hope Simpson and we’re also looking at what we may need to do in Nain as well. So, the only thing I can say I spose, and I don’t mean to dodge it, but, y’know, the ball is solidly in the federal government’s court.


“It” (is that the airport in Port Hope Simpson, or a new coastal Labrador agreement?) is a priority for “us”. “We” are prepared to go there. “We” are looking at what “we” may need to do in Nain.

But the ball — meaning the invoice — after all the provincial committees, provincial consultants, and provincial political credit, is a federal responsibility.

If it’s a federal responsibility, then isn’t the province overstepping its constitutional bounds by doing everything connected to the Labrador airstrips which it owns… except funding them?

But hey, the airport costs money, and, more importantly, it’s in Labrador.

So, unlike, say, Deer Lake Airport, Newfoundland, where the province of which Labrador is supposedly a part is putting up a third of the total cost of an expansion (and half the federal-provincial share); or unlike Stephenville Airport, Newfoundland; or unlike in Quebec, where they know a thing or two about airport-related autonomy and how to pay for it, Trevor Taylor’s government is quite happy to call the shots autonomously, commission the studies autonomously, take the credit autonomously, but when it comes time to pay the bills, the same government that seeks “financial autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa”, utterly predictably, expects Ottawa to provide 100% of the autonomoney to be autonomous with.

Trevor continues:

There was a number of letters written on this going back some years ago, I mean, I don’t know that we need to put in a proposal, I mean, a letter identifying what our priorities are, and there was a report that was commissioned [passive voice] back in 2003, I suppose… that’s just a cop-out on the part of the federal government. They know clearly what we want done [passive voice] in Port Hope Simpson and if the only thing holding them up from moving forward in Port Hope Simpson is a proposal from us, then I can guarantee you they’ll have it in short order. And expect the construction to start this year.
The constitutional law bar wonders, can the federal government get in on the same act, pawningoff expensive stuff onto provincial governments just by writing letters? Neat trick. Some less-credulous reporter should ask the province if they run around doling out money to municipalities or other applicants and supplicants on the basis of a letter identifying priorities. One would hope that the proposal, when it arrives in Ottawa, in short order no less, isn’t an “amateurish and not formal and not professional… Mickey Mouse powerpoint presentation.

One last note: it’s good to see Trevor Taylor and his shop so eager, as they say, to put their autonomous shovels in the ground on a Labrador airport, once the autonomoney flows. They haven’t been so keen of late:
In recent years, there have been delays in signing contribution agreements at the Provincial level, which has resulted in issuing tenders later in the construction season when fewer contractors are available to perform the work.


Push and pull

Another note on employment figures, complete with pretty graph:

This shows three measures of the economic situation in Newfoundland and Labrador: the labour force population in (people aged 15 and up); the labour force (people who are working or able to work); and the number of people employed. Data is since January 2000, and is shown as an index to the value for that month. Where the graph is higher than 100%, it means that the value is higher than it was in January 2000. The reverse is also true.

Since late summer 2007, the labour force population has edged upwards. At the same time, the labour force, which is a subset of the population, has been more or less stagnant in size. And employment was, for a while, increasing even as the labour force population held steady. The result, naturally, is a decreasing unemployment rate. (In fact, the unemployment rate can go down even if overall employment goes down, as long as the population declines even faster.)

Notice, however, the change in employment since about April of 2008, even as the labour force population has, slowly and slightly, increased.

There are some who love to play up the idea that recent net in-migration to the province from elsewhere in Canada is due to economic conditions. And that's true enough.

But they'd also like you to believe that those economic conditions that are driving the demographics, are good economic conditions within the province. Danny feels good about Himself, and when He feels good about Himself, people feel good about themselves. Or something like that.

Since no one is born fifteen years old, and fifteen is the lower cut-off for the labour force population, in-migration, reduced out-migration, or likelier a combination of both, must be responsible for the increase in labour force population size. The graph makes it easy enough to accept that hypothesis....

... But it also makes it harder to believe that the economic conditions are driving folks home from Alberta and Ontario to work.


The power of positive thinking

The perennial optimist is feeling economistic:
Economist Calls for Prosperity Plan
June 10, 2009

Memorial University economist, Dr. Wade Locke, says he'd like to see the province put a prosperity plan in place. Locke says the province has fared well during the economic recession and upcoming projects will bring the province to a new level of prosperity.
It would — scratch that, it will — be interesting to see which parts of the province have “fared well” during the economic recession. Economic recessions, after all, are known for being happy times.

As the treasonous BondPapers notes, year over year, the percentage change in the employment figure is staggering.

Adjusted for seasonality, the “employment force” — the overall number of people working, whether full-time or part-time — has contracted by over 5% in the past year. To put that into historical perspective, this graph shows the same data as in the BondPapers posting… only projected back in time for as long as StatsCan has comparable data on the subject, back to 1977:

The year-over-year decline of 5.3% observed in Newfoundland and Labrador from May to May is on par with the declines observed during the bruising North American and international recessions of 1981 and 1991, and with the more localized mid-1990s job losses that may be related to the end of major onshore Hibernia work and the end of the NCARP/TAGS program.

This second graph “zooms in” on more recent trends. It is the same data as in the above graph, only for this decade only. Periods in which the employment picture was better than the same month one year before are shown as green peaks. Periods in which it is worse are red valleys.

This corner, for one, would hate to see what these figures would look like, had the province not fared so well during the current recession.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

How not to stimulate your private sector

A curious and onanistic release today from Danny Williams-Government contained a couple of unusual examples of "economic stimulus".

Photo #3 - Pictured here is an artist's conception of the New Torbay Elementary School, valued at $16.9 million

Photo #4 (PDF) - Map of Trans Labrador Highway (Phase I, II and III)


An artist's conception. And a map. A map with a glaring typo in it.

There! Done! We have successfully stimulated the CAD and GIS industries.

But you see, the wierd thing about economic stimulus as government policy is that it doesn't actually count as economic stimulus if you're doing something economic and stimulating that you had already said you were going to do.

The Torbay school? On the books since at least 2006, well before the onset of the recession which precipitated the need for economic stimulus.

The TLH? Announced since forever.

(A much more exhaustive list over at the nefarious BondPapers.)

So, hey, good on the CAD and GIS industries for having received all the intellectually stimulating work. Who knows, maybe some day in addition to mouses on the pad, Danny Williams-Government will stimulate the private sector by putting shovels in the ground, other than those that it has been promising to put in the ground for half a decade now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Yet another anonymous coward slithers out from under something, making a comment on some other forum of the same type that more mainstream media websites have taken to deleting on sight:

Anonymous said...
At least the leader of the NDP has managed to figure out subject-verb agreement. That's more than anyone can say for Y-Vonne "Do dis minister tink" Jones. If the NDP can't do better than the current sorry pack of Liberal re-treads, they never will.

June 8, 2009 11:52 AM

Anonymous coward, no doubt, is of the same ilk who would scream with righteous indignation if anyone from Canada were to, let’s say, point out how the male leader of one of the three main provincial political parties employs a well-known local idiomatic change of vowel quantity, consistently saying “hee’s” instead of “his”.

But no matter where your opinion comes down in the incessant language-and-accent debate, there are some linguistic traits which are utterly lacking from Yvonne Jones’ earnest coastal Labrador lilt.

She doesn’t claim, in respect of a perfectly truthful statement, that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

She doesn’t prefix an unfrank comment with the multisyllabic particle “Igottabefrankwitcha.

And she doesn’t post-posit the equally multisyllabic “tobehonestwitcha” to a lie.

To answer your question

Dear Anonymous Coward:

Who cares? (Besides Meeker, Lono, and Hollett, that is?)

A steadily growing number of people on the business ends of machines. That's who.

Oh, hi, "Steve".

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

NS Decision Desk 2009

7:00:01 EST: One second after the polls have closed across Nova Scotia, the labradore decision desk projects an NDP majority government!

7:00:02: Just kidding!

7:00:03: But not really.

7:03: Who projected first, Steve Murphy? Huh? Hint: Not Steve Murphy!

7:08: Greetings, Babblers!

7:19: Swing! Swing ridings! Where aaarre youuuu?

7:21: Guysborough is up to five polls, NDP over 50%.

7:22: Cape Breton North now a tight race between the incumbent Tory Cecil Clarke and the NDP challenger.

7:23: Dear Jim Nunn: One poll does not a "considerable lead" make, no matter how "considerable" the lead is.

7:26: Notwithstanding the admonition to Jim Nunn, the fact that the NDP is ahead in any poll in Kings North is pretty telling.

7:27: The Liberals and Tories are splitting the non-NDP vote in Guysborough pretty evenly. Allegorical?

7:28: Hammonds Plains is heading towards being a PC>NDP conversion.

7:29: NDP holding their South Shore districts, look to be picking up L'burg, CB North back in their column.

7:30: CBC projects! Sorta.

7:32: Dipper pulling ahead in Kings North. You don't even need one poll to tell you what's happening in Kings South.

7:34: Again the one-poll caveat, but Eastern Shore, don't you realize you're a bellwether? You have a reputation to uphold!

7:36: Clarke back ahead in CB North.

7:37: Glace Bay tilting back to the Dipsters from NSLP.

7:40: Liberals incumbents holding on to both Metro seats.

7:41: Dippers leading in all South Shore seats that have reported.

7:42: Tale of the tape: Dipper Zann leading in Truro-Bible Hill.

7:42: Ernie Fage is delivering Cumberland North to the NDP.

7:43: Pictou Centre way too close to call with 14/44 counted.

7:44: Tory leading again by 8% in Victoria-The Lakes with half the polls in.

7:47: Chester-St. Margaret's is making it a Dipper sweep on the South Shore.

7:48: Liberal-Tory race in Hants West.

7:49: Eastern Shore suddenly remembered. NDP on top there now.

7:50: We all want to see more polls from Musquodobit Valley, ok?

7:51: Tories have a 75-vote lead in Antigonish over the Dippydoos.

7:52: CBC projects an NDP majority. You don't say!

7:53: NDP second — distantly, but second — in the Annapolis Valley Liberal chateau-fort.

7:54: The Bedford Basin shore is going Liberal — one pickup, but the incumbent is in a fight.

7:56: Tories leading and nearly elected in all of their Cape Breton seats.

7:58: Thank you, magical results elves! Musquodobit Valley numbers start coming in, the Tories start losing the seat.

7:59: Hants West back in the Tory-leading column.

8:01: Glace Bay sees, Glace Bay saws... Liberal incumbent back on top with seventeen polls to report.

8:04: Kings North results look surprisingly like Kings South results.

8:07: Liberal Younger doing very well in Dartmouth East; staving off and NDP sweep of D'mouth — just.

8:10: Dippers hanging on to a 90-vote lead in John Hamm's old seat.

8:17: Truro isn't even close. Wow.

8:37: Younger by 140 with one poll still out.

8:42: The NDP's Skabar almost took Cumberland North without any help from Ernie Fage.

8:44: Have the Edible Ballot Society mucked off with the last few boxes in Antigonish?

8:48: It's all over but the New Dexter Party's victory speech. Night all! (Both.)


Monday, June 08, 2009

Must-see TV

Once upon a time, this corner thought that Quebec had the most fascinating provincial electoral math and geography of any province. And heck, it probably still does, but for the past decade, another province has been giving it a serious run for its money. What was once a staid, traditional two-party system, where party affiliations, a political science survey questionnaire once famously gleaned, were imparted at conception, has broken open into a competitive three-party electorate. Every corner of the province, from its biggest city to the outlying rural regions, has seen its electoral patterns churn in a series of hotly-contested and exciting elections. And tomorrow night, that province goes to the polls again, for the fifth time in eleven years.

Here then is the official labradore viewer’s guide to watching the Nova Scotia 2009 election results. Polls close at 7:00 p.m. Atlantic Time.

BELLWETHERS: Eastern Shore. This district has reliably voted for the eventual winner of the seat count (or in 1998, the popular vote) in every Nova Scotia election since 1970. (2006: PC 46%, NDP 41%).

Bedford: The district with "Bedford" in its name has voted for the governing party every time since 1978. (2006: PC 42%, Lib 34%, NDP 21%)

Hants West: Has voted government since 1956, with the exception of 1993 and 1998. (2006: PC 35%, Lib 34%, NDP 29%)

Lunenburg Centre: Has voted government all but twice since 1970. (2006: PC 49%, NDP 34%)

Lunenburg West: Has voted government all but once since 1970. (2006: PC 43%, NDP 39%)

Guysborough-Sheet Harbour: The district with Guysborough County in it has voted with the government since the Buchanan landslide of 1984. (2006: PC 41%, NDP 38%, Lib 20%)

Kings South: Had an NDP hiccup in 1984, has voted with the government ever since. (2006: PC 42%, NDP 35%, Lib 20%)

These three districts have been recent bellwethers, having gone with the government in each election since the PC implosion of 1993, and the rise of three-party electoral politics later in the decade:

Antigonish — 2006: PC 48%, Lib 31%, NDP 19%

Colchester North — 2006: PC 51%, Lib 26%, NDP 20%

Inverness — Not likely to maintain bellwether status with a party leader and incumbent Premier running in it — unless, of course, he wins. 2006: PC 70%.

At the start of the campaign, Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, Hants West, and Kings South were on the strategic priority lists of all three parties, either as target-holds or target-pickups. At the end of the campaign, the NDP is said to be leading or strongly competitive in all three.

Compare this list to the CBC Nova Scotia Votes handy-dandy leader tracker.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR — NDP: The N.S. Dippers finished 2006 in second place, confounding the pundits who thought that they might eke out a minority government. As it turns out, it may have been a case of victory delayed, rather than denied. Coming out of 2006 with 20 seats to the PC’s 23, the NDP was well-positioned for further gains. It would only take two seats to flip from the Tories to the Dippers, even with no other seat changes, for the NDP to top the seat count.

The two lowest-hanging fruit for the NDP to pick up from the Tory column are Guysborough-Sheet Harbour and Lunenburg West. Eastern Shore, Hants West, Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville are the other districts where the Tories defeated the NDP by 6% or less of the popular vote in 2006. The early going in these districts will tell the story: substantial NDP gains in most or all of them, and it will be a very early night.

Further afield, the difference between a simple NDP majority government, and big honkin’ NDP landslide, will be found in districts like Truro-Bible Hill, Pictou Centre, Bedford, and the Kings triumvirate. Kings South, home of the genteel, granola-crunchin’ university town of Wolfville, has a bit of an NDP history, having once gone orange even in the face of the Buchanan Tory juggernaut of 1984. The swings shown in the recent polls would notionally put even more-traditionalist and staunchly Tory Kings North into play for the NDP. Can the NDP finally sweep Pictou County by taking Centre, John Hamm’s old seat? And can they make further inroads into their unheld seats in industrial Cape Breton (South, and West; Glace Bay) or metro Halifax (Preston and the Bedford Basin seats)? They also seem poised for at least one or two outlier wins in districts with “North” in their names: Cape Breton North, Kings North, Colchester North.

Those seats will make the difference between “NDP MAJORITY” and “NDP LANDSLIDE” on the front page of Wednesday morning’s Chronicle-Herald.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR — TORIES: Fiddler MacDonald is rumoured to have spent most of the weekend trying to save the furniture in his home district and other staunchly Tory beats. That’s never a good sign, especially since, as noted above, before Fiddler came along, Inverness had something of a bellwether tendency.

If the Tories were hoping to build on their 2006 minority, and parlay it into a majority, their path to majority would have run through the rural ridings of Pictou East, Queens and Shelburne, and the Halifax city, suburban, and exurban seats of Preston, Waverly-Fall River-Beaver Bank, and Halifax Citadel. Of these, only Preston would be a pickup from the Liberals: all the rest would have to be at the expense of the NDP. And the NDP are polling at bruising levels in metro Halifax; seem poised for gains, not losses, on the South Shore; and are even on the offensive in the industrial small-urban corridor that stretches from Pictou County to Stanfield-Truro International Airport. It is almost inevitable that the voters will take Rodney out behind the woodshed tomorrow. It’ll be the South Shore, rural Cape Breton, and the north-central mainland highway towns that decide whether the once-proud PC Party of Nova Scotia will be worth the ensuing leadership contest, or reduced to a 1993-sized rump (or worse.)

What “North” is for the NDP’s attack, “West” is for the Tories’ defence: the fate of incumbent ridings like Cape Breton West, Hants West, and Lunenburg West will be the fate of the party and its ten years of Tory rule in Lobsterland.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR — LIBERALS: At the start of the campaign, the Liberal team made a play for government, a goal that has eluded them since Russell MacLellan’s extremely pyrrhic, extremely minority, and decidedly unvictorious “victory” of 1998. That plea didn’t work. In the dying days and hours of the campaign, the message seems to have morphed into a play for displacing the Tories, especially in rural seats. That just might work.

Of the ten easiest seats for the NSLP to pick up from its 2006 results, seven were Tory held after 2006. To be sure, “easiest” is a very relative term: only four of them were lost by 10% or less. Only three of the ten “easiest” would be at the expense of the NDP, and none of the three — Shelburne, Pictou East, or Cape Breton Centre — seem terribly likely to tilt anything but orange this time around. In order to win even a slim majority government, the Liberals would have to overcome losses of up to 28% in eighteen districts, including such unlikely areas as Truro-Bible Hill and peninsular Halifax.

For the Liberals to displace the Tories in opposition, they have to make gains on one flank of the Tories, while the NDP chow down on the other. The likeliest targets for Liberal pickups would be in rural Cape Breton and the neighbouring eastern mainland (Victoria-The Lakes, Antigonish, Guysborough, and Cape Bretons West and North.) Unfortunately for them, the NDP is almost bound to block the way in Guyborough, and are increasingly competitive in the Antigonish and some of the Cape Breton Island seats.

In metro Halifax, the Liberal “musts” are holding Preston and Clayton Park, while eking out a win in traditional bellwether Bedford. Winning all three in the face of NDP domination of the Warden of the North is a tall order. At the same time, if the Liberals can hold most of their existing seats, especially its rural ones, and pick up a few flukes due to a rural Tory implosion (Yarmouth, Argyle, Kings North, something with the Cumberland or Colchester in its name), then the displacement will happen – and the Liberal caucus will be worth leading into 2013. On the other hand, if the Liberals lose any of their western Annapolis Valley bastion, it will be as part of an absolute province-wide epic blowout for the NDP.

Happy election night!


On opposition (II)

In the 2007 provincial election, The Party received 70% of the popular vote to the Liberals' 22%.

After two years of often showing their principled opposition to the Regime by supporting it — coughsputterexproprationbillcough — instead of opposing; two years of consistently failing to fire at the many broad sides of barns that the Regime's incompetence and ethical lapses keep presenting; and two years of, how you say, differently effective performance in Question Period and other daily rituals of the ever-shortening legislative calendar, the latest CRA figures show The Party at 72% and the Liberals at 19%.

While off the 80% highs that The Party and its appointed open-line and on-line mouthpieces still claim, The Party has still managed to increase its margin over the Other Guys by 5% relative 2007, if you take the CRA numbers at face value.

That would have been enough, in 2007, to have defeated one of the Other Guys' three survivors.

Surely they can do the math and figure out which one.

The bigger math puzzle is this: if agreeing with the Regime on measure after measure, and positioning themselves close to Williams in hope that some of his sprayed-on shine might rub off on them, if those things aren't working, half-way through the second terrible, no-good, very-bad term of the Williams era... then isn't it about time to start trying some different stuff?

If the Other Guys don't start tackling that little math problem, then the 2011 electoral math — or that of the inevitible intervening by-elections — isn't going to change in any significant way.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mmmmm.... pomes

This corner is a big fan of "found poetry", which means this corner is now a big fan of Pam Frampton.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Autonomoney! (II)

"Strategy to Advance Canada’s Most Vibrant Ocean Technology Sector Released" is the passive-voice headline on the press release which curiously omits to link to the Strategy that has been released.

Perhaps the resident computer guru can get on the case.

Anyway... According to the Strategy, which document you can find if you go looking for it, one of the "Guiding Principles" is:
Costs will be shared with other levels of government
The Provincial Government will pursue collaborative funding with other levels of government and nongovernmental agencies that have similar objectives.
That's funny. Not so very long ago, one of the "Guiding Principles" of the entire regime was laid down as:
My Government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa.
Just a tad inconsistent — unless, of course, The Provincial Government plans on shifting the costs of its Vibrating Oceans Strategy to community councils or something.