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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You will be examined on this material (II)

"What's it called?", the well-read, historically-minded radio host asks.

"Documents on Relations Between Canada and Newfoundland, Volume 2", explains the caller, bringing the existence of Paul Bridle's magnum opus, at least one volume of it, to the attention of the well-read, historically-minded radio host, apparently for the first time.

A question for Brian Cleary

What is the "Newfoundland and Labrador Metis Nation"?

Thank you.

The national mood

Well, actually, the national voice — the passive:
Hans Rollmann Jr wrote:
Posted 2009/03/31at 6:45 PM ET

...our resources have been sold out to greedy national and transnational corporations (the modern-day merchants who robbed our people for generations) and many of those resources have been wiped out,
Do either of those verbs have actors?

If so, who are they?

The view from 1948

Excerpts from the speech by Rev. Lester Burry, the Labrador delegate to the National Convention, and a member of the Convention’s Ottawa delegation, January 13, 1948. Extracted from Hiller and Harrington’s Debates of the National Convention, McGill-Queen's, 1995.*

* * *

I believe with all my heart that we’ve seen the best days of government in this country under the Commission of Government, they’ve done some very, very fine things, but I”ve always thought that it is not the form of government that we should continue to have. While we were under the Commission and before the National Convention was thought of, I was thinking that when the time came to thinking of getting back to a more democratic form of government, that at least we should give this federal system an opportunity to be surveyed […] I have made the study, and as I say, as faithfully and as carefully as I can, and I have come to the conclusion that my thoughts along that line have many things to justify them. Our destiny, our future, if we are to have anything better than we have had in the past, is definitely tied up with a federal system of government.

I’m encouraged by the fact that some of my friends within the city and around this country, men and women who could not be said to be biased in any way, who are detached from politics and business life, whose minds have been trained to think things through objectively, many of them think the same as I do. My mind is made up. It has been made up for a few months now, since I have been able to study it with the Ottawa delegation. I will admit that it is not made up in such a way, closed in such a way that it is incapable of being changed. If anyone can show me why we should not to into federal union with Canada, and if anyone can show me that this country will be worse off, that our people will suffer more under confederation, I am perfectly willing to change my mind and to work just as hard for that form of government which will give our people the very best that they deserve. […]

I would say to my fellow delegates that we ought to see to it, whatever our opinions are, that the people get the opportunity to express themselves on this matter. And not only that, but we ought to see to it that they get the opportunity to express themselves on other forms of government as well. They are the final judges and they have a right to have the final say. […]

Now it’s been said that we didn’t get very good terms; we didn’t get the financial end of it very generous. But in my estimation, take it for what it’s worth, we got just as good terms as we could possibly get, recognising that the federal system is made up of different provinces that have their claims; they came into the union, and they were brought in on certain terms, and we had to come in on certain terms, and if we had been given more generous terms… It wouldn’t be fair for the federal government to go to far to give us special services, special concessions when they have to consider that there are other members of the family who have to live within the family. To go in at all, we must go in on equal terms, and we are going to need to go in with these terms. […]

But I don’t see that it can be an ideal state, or that we will have unlimited prosperity. I don’t see the road ahead of us as too straight, with too many roses. I feel that we have a hard uphill climb to make. We have got a hard country to live in. We haven’t got the natural resources that other countries have, don’t let us kid ourselves. We’re not too generously supplied with natural resources, and the means of making them a good living. It’s going to be a hard job for us to do it. But I am of the opinion that we can do it better within the federal system of Canada, than we can do it on our own… Our people will have the morale and the spirit, and respect for themselves, when they find that they’re getting somewhere. I feel that we’ll get somewhere under confederation, and our people’s respect for themselves will be forthcoming when they see that.


* Dear McGill-Queen's: re-issue those volumes. Thanks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1809

Speaking of anniversaries of important legal and political developments which happened in late March:

The Newfoundland Act, 1809
49 Geo. III Cap. 27 (Imp.)

An Act for establishing Courts of Judicature in the Island of Newfoundland and the Islands adjacent; and for re-annexing Part of the Coast of Labrador and the Islands lying on the said Coast to the Government of Newfoundland.

[30th March 1809.]

Re-annexing Part of the Coast of Labrador and the Islands lying on the said Coast to the Government of Newfoundland.

XIV. And whereas His Majesty by His Proclamation of the Seventh Day of October One thousand seven hundred and sixty three, was pleased to declare that he had put the Coast of Labrador from the River Saint John to Hudson's Streights, with the Islands of Anticosti and Madelaine, and all other smaller Islands lying on the said Coast, under the Care and Inspection of the Governor of Newfoundland:

And whereas by an Act passed in the Fourteenth Year of the Reign of His present Majesty, intituled, An Act for making more effectual Provision for the Government of the Province of Quebec in North America, all such Territories, Islands and Countries, as since the Tenth Day of February One thousand seven hundred and sixty-three had been made part of the Government of Newfoundland, were, during His Majesty's Pleasure, annexed to and made Part of the Province of Quebec, as created by the said Proclamation:

And whereas in pursuance of an Act passed in the Thirty-first Year of His present Majesty's Reign, intituled, An Act to repeal certain Parts of an Act, passed in the Fourteenth Year of His Majesty's Reign, intituled, "An Act for making more effectual Provision for the Government of Quebec in North America," and to make further Provision for the Government of the said Province, the said Province of Quebec was divided into Two Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, the latter including the Parts of the Coast of Labrador and the said Islands so formerly annexed to the Government of Newfoundland:

And whereas it is expedient that the said Coast of Labrador, and the adjacent Islands (except the Islands of Madelaine) should be re-annexed to the Government of Newfoundland;

Be it therefore enacted, That such Parts of the Coast of Labrador from the River Saint John to Hudson's Streights and the said Island of Anticosti, and all other smaller Islands so annexed to the Government of Newfoundland by the said Proclamation of the Seventh Day of October One thousand seven hundred and sixty-three, (except the said Islands of Madelaine) shall be separated from the said Government of Lower Canada, and be again re-annexed to the Government of Newfoundland; any thing in the said Act passed in the Thirty-first Year of His present Majesty's Reign, or any other Act, to the contrary notwithstanding.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Your lack of optimism will be noted on your Purple File

Federation of Bradley Georges President Bradley George had some insufficiently optimistic and Premier-Positive things to say about Our Dear Budget, as reported on Friday by Everton McLean of the Telegram:
Bradley George, the provincial representative for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the budget did little to spur small businesses, despite some programs aimed directly at them. "It's not a bad budget, but it's not really a small business budget either," he said.
Mr. George's lack of optimism was duly noted by the Finance Minister, who is quoted by VOCM today, in a story sadly not posted online, confuting the traducer, and suggesting that President George really, really, really ought to read the budget a second time, and think about what he's done.

Something to that effect.

Meanwhile, the crack Finance Minister is certainly not lacking for enthusiasm, telling McLean of the Telegram:
"Let's not forget that we have on the horizon three major projects. We have the Vale Inco project which is started now but will ramp up in 2010. We have the Hebron and we also have the Lower Churchill, where we're in the environmental assessment process. These are big projects other provinces don't have. We're quite comfortable where we are."
Funny how those megaprojects, even the imaginary ones, or the ones you used to be able to drive trucks through, tend to be in one province or another.

Even funnier, how the environmental assessment for the so-called Lower Churchill is now considered a milestone... Wasn't always that way.

Stockwell Day moments

MR. KENNEDY: As of September 30 last year, there were more physicians in practice in this Province than ever before –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: - a total of 1,029 medical doctors - but we know more are needed, so we are prepared to take additional steps to advance recruitment and retention.
We will invest $663,300 this year to hire dedicated physician recruitment staff and finance marketing and advertising efforts to bring new doctors here. Once improvements are achieved in this area, the recruitment personnel will then be utilized to recruit health care professionals in other disciplines. We will also invest another $2 million to advance professional development activities in the regional health authorities and enhance their capacity to address workforce recruitment and retention needs on a more timely and efficient basis.

We will provide a further $5.1 million to enable Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine to proceed with the second expansion of its undergraduate training program for physicians and address increased operating costs. The number of medical students Memorial trains each year will increase from sixty-four to eighty by 2011 as a result of the expansion. That represents a 25 per cent increase in the number of doctors we train right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I am going to do something right here that I am told is not normal, and it has not happened in the recent past, but I am going to go a little bit off script.

Mr. Speaker, government noted, after last year’s Budget Speech, that the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union stated, "What is most disappointing to me is that, while the word retention was put in there, in the Highlights document, there is not one initiative there around the retention of nurses."

It is felt, Mr. Speaker, by us as a government, that the very generous 21.5 per cent compounded salary offer over four years will help to address recruitment and retention issues for nurses. In addition, Mr. Speaker, government is further prepared to deal with recruitment and retention issues for nurses by the addition of a step at the top of the scale and the deletion of two steps at the bottom, and to increase shift differentials and standby rates.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: This is contingent, of course, on the union’s acceptance of a collective agreement, including government’s proposals on issues such as: term of contract, extended earnings loss, market adjustment letter, classification, MOU, et cetera.

Back to script, Mr. Speaker:
We will also provide $1.6 million to the regional health authorities over two years to supplement tuition and relief-staff costs so Licensed Practical Nurses can receive continuing education in medication administration and health assessment, both of which will be required for LPN licensure by 2012.

You will be examined on this material

The radio host talks about how much he reads of Newfoundland history, to the exclusion of virtually everything else, to the annoyance and frustration of his friends who suggest he broaden his range of reading material.

Caller Todd from the west coast calls in to spout myths and rants, including about the fishery. There’s already been an inquiry about the fishery, Todd reminds the well-read radio host, the McKirby Commision or some such.

“Remember that one?”, Todd asks.

“Vaguely,” replies the well-read, historically-minded radio host.

Newfoundland's National Newspaper

Observation: It's truly impressive how very often the people who frequently and vociferously profess not to care what the Globe and Mail prints about Newfoundland, read and quote extensively from the Globe and Mail.

Special Sycophancy Statement

This is a Special Sycophancy Statement issued by the labradore Sycophancy Observatory.

This past week was Budget Week, and with it, the customary barrage of Williams Government self… congratulation.

In 2004 there was a barrage of 28 Budget Bonanza press releases, but this was in the wake of Our Dear Dirge of a speech. It was also, importantly, before the adoption of the official ideology that He/We Are The Province. Danny Williams-Government was yet but a twinkle in a Comms Director's eye.

In 2005, there were a whopping 35 Budget Blowout press releases, but only eight which attributed budgetary goodness to Danny Williams-Government. Of those, seven were issued by John Ottenheimer (whatever happened to that nice fellow?) and one by Joan Burke.

Iin 2006, with either the many, many, many comms directors who have to write them, or the few reporters to have to read them, having cried uncle, the budget blowout shrank dramatically in size, down to 13; more or less where it has remained ever since. Incidentally, what is the ratio of (Directors of Communication + Communications Specialists + Press Secretaries) to (Reporters who cover legislative and provincial government affairs on evena part-time basis) anyway?

However, 2006 was also the year in which the Danny-Centered Budget was born. It had modest beginnings, to be sure, but both of the Danny Williams-Government budget releases that year were issued by The Man himself.

In election year 2007, there were twelve budget press releases, plus two attached backgrounders, of which twelve attributed sunshin to Danny Williams-Government. Fully four of these were issued by Mr. Williams-Government himself, three by Joan Burke, two by Tom Marshall, and one each by Dianne Whalen, Shawn Skinner, Ross Wiseman, and Trevor Taylor, with a supporting cast of seventeen ministerial co-announcers.

In 2008, there were eleven budget releases, ten of which were Danny Williams-Governmenty, but only three of which gave the top nod to DWG himself. Almost unbelievably, the one minister who issued a press release that was full of budgetary sweetness and light, but utterly devoid of DWGosity, was — if you can believe it — Joan Burke.

Which brings us to 2009, in which we are back up to thirteen budget-day morsels, twelve of which successfully attribute all of the good budgetary news, and none of the bad, to Williams-Government.

To write and issue these thirteen releases, it took a total of 36 Directors of Communication + Communications Specialists + Press Secretaries credits, yet there are only 26 Ministerial “quotes”. This, even after firing up Cliché-o-tron 2009 which robotically insert the words “strong” or “strengthen” into all but two of the thirteen. (Pride and Determination, the other two of Our Dear Cardinal Virtues, took a breather this year.) You would think with Cliché-o-tron 2009 doing so much of the heavy lifting, the humans could have put their time and talent to better use.

It took nine different comms shop people (worth their weight in gold, no doubt) from five different departments, to tell us that We are Standing Strong in the Fight Against Poverty, unlike that pro-poverty party.

Curiously, however, the release itself only “quotes” two Ministers: Himself and Susan Sullivan.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Matthews, Roger Scaplen, Jennifer Collingwood, Erin Molloy, Tansy Mundon, Ronalda Walsh, Ken Morrissey, David Salter, and Jenny Bowring, for shattering the previous record of a mere seven credits set in 2007 and 2008.

Finally, once again this year there was one release which noticeably failed to give Danny Williams-Government His due, which is Our due.

This time it wasn’t from Joan Burke.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Optimists Club

Pure and applied optimism: Orwellian Spin lays out the theory of "Optimistic Correctness." Polemic and Paradox provides an example of O.C. in practice.

Wordle (X)

Our Dear Budget 2009, wordled:


Wordle (IX)

Throne Speech 2009, wordled:


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Post scriptum

Head: Investing in Children, Youth and Families

Sub-head: New Government Department Being Created

Umm: Eventually.

To boldly go (I)

Some found poetry, courtesy of Our Dear Throne Speech on Wednesday. This is the speech with all the filler (and His Ex'lency's interpolations) removed, leaving behind just the bold-face headers and randomly bolded words and phrases:
Tragedy at Sea
Honouring Captain Bob Bartlett
Staying the Course
"have" status
a course for others to follow
Expecting Better from Ottawa
deep cut in funding
Captaining Our Own Ship
representing our best interests on the international stage
Weathering Every Storm
Grand Falls-Windsor
return these natural resources
long-term stability
Learning from Health Care Mistakes and Moving Forward
breast cancer doctors, nurses and other professionals
Child, Youth and Family Services
Preparing Our People for Self-reliance
Poverty Reduction
Youth Retention and Attraction
International Registry
Growing Our Economy for Self-reliance
innovation and diversification
Regional Collaboration
Celebrating a New Dawn in Labrador
Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador
Tshash Petapen Agreement
Northern Gateway
Standing Tall in Ocean Technology
ocean technology
fishing industry
Taking a Lead Role in Research and Development
research and development
Becoming the Energy Warehouse of the North American Northeast
Gender Equity and Diversity
Lower Churchill
Climate Change
Promoting Our Uncommon Potential


Terminological inexactitude

"Budget 2009 paves the way for Labrador" blares the Budget 2009 headline at The Telegram.

The body of the story, quoting Our Dear Finance Minister, says, "we will also move forward with work to place a hard driving surface on the Highway from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador City-Wabush..."

A "hard driving surface"?

Is that way being paved... or being chipsealed?

Or, as certain people used to call it, "cheap-sealed"?



Mr. Speaker, despite the current economic storm clouds, we see clearer skies ahead. In addition to our aggressive infrastructure program, we can look forward to significant investment from the private sector.

  • The Vale Inco hydromet project will begin in 2009 and will ramp up in 2010.
  • We look forward to the development of the White Rose Expansion, followed by the Hebron Project, in both of which our province is an equity partner.
  • And, we intend to develop the Lower Churchill.

Once again...

... in order to "continue" doing something, don't you have to be doing it in the first place? From today's budget speech:
We will continue to ensure Labrador receives its fair share.

How Norwegian He are

Even though [Norwegian] requests for equal privileges in diplomatic representation had been mooted in the Storting as early as 1831, efforts to settle this disagreement began in earnest in the 1880s and lasted for two decades. The successes and setbacks of twenty years of negotiations need not be detailed for the purposes of the argument. What is significant is that while the Norwegian delegation proposed various reforms of the foreign ministry, it consistently sought a solution within the union's [i.e., the union of Sweden and Norway] institutions. It was not until the perceived rejection of these efforts by the Swedish government in 1904 that the Norwegians became convinced that their needs would be best served by achieving independent statehood.
- Viva Ona Bartkus, The Dynamic of Secession: An Analytical Framework, pp.170-1. Cambridge University Press, 1999

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Carts and horses

Tom Careen of Placentia has another one of his brilllliant ideas:

Mr. Ploughman mentions a Quebec version of the boundary and suggests that, sooner rather than later, the border should be surveyed.

If this province were to unilaterally survey the border, would the document and physical data be acceptable in Quebec [City]? There certainly is a ‘Quebec version’ we have never tolerated. Would we accept a land survey done by Quebec? Do you think there can be any agreement as to where the longest boundary between any two Canadian provinces actually lies?

I fear Mr. Ploughman has put the cart before the horse. There is a boundary dispute between two provinces to be settled before the surveyors can set up their instruments.
Mr. Ploughman may, indeed, have mentioned a "Quebec version of the boundary". If so, what he failed to mention was that this "Quebec version" is entirely imaginary.

Maybe Mr. Careen doesn't accept the word of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Maybe he doesn't accept the word of the King in Council. Maybe he doesn't accept Term 2 of the Terms of Union. If those are the cases, then he is in the same boat as those in Quebec who also pretend that these laws don't exist, and that there is still a "boundary dispute between two provinces to be settled."

There isn't.

The letter-writer may as well ignore the Kepler's Laws or the Laws of Thermodynamics.

And while he's tossing out the legal Latin maxims, perhaps he should look up res judicata.

Fiers, forts, déterminés : l’avenir est à nous

Item: St-Pierre-Miquelon pushing France to make seabed claim
Nous savons pourquoi nous nous battons,
Nous savons ce en quoi nous croyons,
Pour toujours, toujours, nous vous aimons,
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon,
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon,
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time management

No time to be wasted”, editorializes the Western Star about the re-opening of the Bow-Wow Parliament.

Time well spent?” asks the Telitorialist in the other daily paper.

Wasted time,” ODP once “bristled”.


John Crosbie, ask Ed Roberts how you get that taste out of your mouth.

An email wag described today's Throne Speech as — well, this is a family blog, so that metaphor won't appear here. Instead, here, as another in a very irregular series, is Throne Speech 2009: Interlined.

By contrast, the fiscal situation now is entirely sustainable:
We as a province were called upon to face great challenges boldly and brilliantly in 2003 when an unsustainable fiscal situation held us in its ever-tightening grip.
Redundancy and Repetitiveness NL and Labrador, D. Williams, Minister:
We ought to hold Bob Bartlett up before our children as a reflection of their own innermost potential to face great challenges boldly and brilliantly… Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly: We as a province were called upon to face great challenges boldly and brilliantly in 2003 when an unsustainable fiscal situation held us in its ever-tightening grip.

My Government will allow nothing to prevent us from charting a clear course to the high latitudes of self-reliance… His achievements amaze us and his attitude inspires us to fix our sights boldly and courageously on the high latitudes of self-reliance to which we aspire.
From Seinfeld…
This unprecedented achievement is the culmination of everything My Government and our people have been doing since 2003 to master our own destiny.
... to Star Trek:
face great challenges boldly and brilliantly… as a province were called upon to face great challenges boldly and brilliantly.. us to fix our sights boldly and courageously
And the connection between Our Dear Equity Stake, and “have” status, is…?
My Government’s leadership has for the first time taken important equity stakes in new offshore projects. Last fall, we received news that proved the course My Government has taken is the right one. For the first time since Confederation, Newfoundland and Labrador has achieved "have" status
Dave Denine is already preparing Our application to join the UN:

To lower tariff barriers to our exports while safeguarding our fish stocks and securing markets for our seal products, we will speak up on our own behalf on the international stage and work to effect progressive agreements that take our best interests fully into account.
Passive voice alert...
In Grand Falls-Windsor and the central region, the historic pulp and paper mill and its associated operations have been shut down
...and since when is “prosper” a transitive verb?
after over a century of operation that has prospered the operators greatly.
Yes, our approach of driving paper mills out of business is indeed working:

our track record in Stephenville demonstrates that our approach works.
Except when we retreat to Ottawa to “advance proposals” for some more of the money to be self-reliant with:
My Government is leading the charge and reassuring Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by its actions that we will not retreat from our forward march to self-reliance.
Especially after she stopped tapping her pencil:
My Government greatly appreciates the efforts of Judge Margaret Cameron and her team to get to the bottom of the failures of hormone receptor testing for patients with breast cancer.
In order to continue something, it helps to be doing that something in the first place:
My Government looks forward to the recruitment of a new President for Memorial University, and My Government will continue to respect the autonomy of Memorial University.
From whom, the Ministry of Northern Gateways?
As the only Atlantic province with a northern region, Newfoundland and Labrador is ideally positioned to be Canada’s Northern Gateway, and we are working to earn this designation.
No, we’ll sell them out by racking up a few more billions in debt then hightailing it down south:
This province will not sell out its children by selling short their future.
Who knows, maybe some day the Energy Plan will do the same for Labrador. Who put all Our hydro on their rivers, anyway?
The new Energy Plan also demonstrates My Government’s commitment to ensuring women and underrepresented groups more fully participate in the energy sector and have full access to employment opportunities.
O beautiful for purple prose, and dropping names in vain:
His achievements amaze us and his attitude inspires us to fix our sights boldly and courageously on the high latitudes of self-reliance to which we aspire. No matter how audacious the goal or how great the obstacles, we have all we need to accomplish what we set out to achieve. Like Captain Bob, and in the words of America’s new President, with hope and virtue, let us endure what storms may come.


On unfounded accusations

Some words of wisdom from Tuesday's sitting of the House of Assembly — the last of the 5 Daniel I, 2008-09:
MS DUNDERDALE: … Getting up and assigning motives to the Premier, to me, and to my colleagues in this House, but he never decides to assign a motive to anybody who is associated with him or, with all due respect, to Mr. Letto either. I never heard any such foolishness before in my life, and if you can see some action somebody in this government has taken to promote their own interests against the best interests of Newfoundland and Labrador, then you lay it on the table. Otherwise, I suggest that you hold your tongue until you have some evidence – you have some evidence! - to support the accusations that you are making.


MS DUNDERDALE: You do not have the right - you do not have the right! – to stand up and accuse people in this House of Assembly without any evidence whatsoever to support your position.

With that, Mr. Chair, I will conclude my remarks.
Amen to that, sister, amen!

What he said

Nottawa publishes a rather eye-popping chart.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Point of procedure

From the Danny Williams-Government that brought you No, the federal government shouldn't be allowed to negotiate international treaties, comes yet another constitutional innovation:
The Provincial Government passed Bill 75, which revoked timber and water rights from AbitibiBowater and returned them to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, on December 16, 2008.
Odd. In the old days, the provincial legislature passed bills. Brave new world.

Oooh! Bonus epicyclical governmentese:
A Ministerial Task Force has been established to respond to the closure of the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor. As well, the recently formed Community Development Committee will work closely with the task force and Provincial Government officials to develop and implement strategies to advance short- and long-term sector and project opportunities.
A Task Force! A Community Development Committee! Officials! Way to go Danny and Blunderdale; don't be afraid to inflict well-ordered prosperity on the Exploits Valley. (Next up: a five-year plan, right?)

Oooh! Bonus TheProvincialGovernmentosity:
A Transition Team comprising officials within Nalcor Energy and the Provincial Government has also been mobilized to facilitate the smooth operation and transfer of hydro, timber and other assets to the province.

Our Newfoundland and Labrador Cultural Heritage

From the Bow-Wow Parliament on Monday:
MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I thank the minister for his non-answer again. It is a pretty straightforward question: Can we get it now or not? You have just indicated that there are lots of templates in the country you can use. It is not rocket science to take one of those and adapt it to our situation, I would suggest...

Mr. Speaker, there remains a culture of secrecy within the health care system. People are afraid to speak out because of punishments they may receive from administrators. We haven’t seen the promised whistleblower legislation which was promised some two years ago.

I ask the Premier: What is government going to do to protect the people who want to bring attention to issues in our health care system and other parts of government? When will we see the whistleblower legislation?

MR. T. MARSHALL: In our party’s blueprint in the last election we did indicate that in our second term we would develop whistleblower legislation, and we are in the process of doing that. Of course, we already have a form of whistleblower legislation. All members of this House joined in the passing of what I call the Green act which is the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act which provides for protection for those public servants who might disclose information about wrongful activity on the part of a member of this House, an officer of the House, or an employee of the House.

The next step is to move to extend that protection to those who disclose information, who see any wrongdoing about general civil servants.


MR. KENNEDY: What I would say, Mr. Chairman, despite the comments by the Opposition House Leader, there is no culture of secrecy. What we are doing is that we are out there talking to people, saying: How can we help you? What is it you would like to know about the way government operates? That is what these pre-Budget consultations allowed us to do, Mr. Chairman. More importantly, Mr. Chairman, or perhaps most importantly, what these pre-Budget consultations allowed was for a human face to be given to the needs and requests of various people.


MR. KELVIN PARSONS: The interest clock. The clock got a lot of interest, I will say that too. We never heard much about that this year, the interest clock. I do not know if they have it put in storage or what happened to the interest clock. With a new minister, I guess a new broom sweeps clean. Anyway, we did not see much of the interest clock; that was put away.

Another comment the minister did mention, and I would like to mention, he made reference to this member referring, in Question Period today, to a culture of secrecy. Folks, there is, whether you want to believe it or not, there is a culture of secrecy. Of course it is pretty common for the persons who are in power to always say there is no such thing. Anybody who wants to speak out in this Province has the right to speak out, the ability to speak out, and they ought to have no fear of retribution for speaking out, that no such thing would ever happen.

Well, I had a little experience today. We often - in Opposition of course you get the brown envelopes they call it. You often get brown envelopes from somebody who is disgruntled with government or disgruntled with some minister or some department, but we have been getting a lot of brown envelopes. We are going to have an interesting session in the spring of 2009 when we get to open up some of the brown envelopes.

You talk about the non-existent culture of fear. I had an experience today when a public service worker called us today, whispering in one of the washrooms in Confederation complex, about a certain issue and did it because he was afraid to do it any other way. Now, that is not a false statement. That is an absolutely true statement - passed on some information, passed on the concerns, and they will be followed up on in due course. So let’s not talk about the non-existent culture of fear. This person, a long-time member of the public service, is so fearful about what is going on, and the fear of retribution, that they had to call from a bathroom stall, whispering – but it will not be held in secret. That is why we ask for things like the whistleblower legislation, so we can protect some of these people. They do not have to fear that there will be some retribution.

So there is legitimacy and we will unfold some of that as time goes on, between now and when the House closes this spring sitting. We will see then if the words, no such thing as fear, exist. We already saw how the government reacts, and the Premier reacts, to somebody who dares disagree.

The Leader of the Opposition alluded to a certain individual in Central who had the gumption to speak out. Mr. Griffin had the gumption to speak out about what he thought about what was unfolding in Central Newfoundland. God forbid, he is a traitor. He is a traitor, he was told.

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Media Advisory: Get Lost

The Blackberry buzzes:
Dear Media:

Umm, like,
on second thought, scratch that.





An odd choice of wording Monday out of Kathy Dunderdale's and Charlene Johnson's shops. (What, you mean to say no Lab and Ab? — ed.)

Natural Resources
Environment and Conservation
March 23, 2009

Hunters Told Threatened Caribou Will Be Protected

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador warned today that it will not tolerate the killing of the threatened boreal woodland caribou in Labrador, and that provincial conservation officers will enforce the laws that protect the animals.

"While government does support hunting on non-protected, George River caribou in open zones, we do not support the hunting of a threatened species," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency. "The woodland caribou in the Joir River area number only around 100 animals and are protected under both the Provincial Endangered Species Act and the Federal Species at Risk Act."

Officials with the department were informed last week that there are indications members of the Quebec Innu will be making their way into Labrador again to conduct a hunt of resident woodland caribou in the Joir River area. Additional information suggests that illegal hunting of boreal woodland caribou may be occurring along other parts of the southern Labrador boundary, and attempts to ascertain the nature and extent of this activity may also be undertaken in the coming weeks.

"Members of the Quebec Innu"?

(And bonus points, ministers, for name-dropping "southern Labrador boundary".)

Green Day

An astute correspondent with an environmental bent recently observed, "isn't it strange how Charlene's department cranks out all the environmental assessment announcements on Friday afternoons?

While a cursory examination proved that this wasn't literally true — not all of the Department of Environment and Conservation's environmental assessment releases go out on Fridays — there was enough prima facie evidence of Taking Out the Trash that the crack labradore statistical bureau got on the case.

And the bureau found something quite interesting. After crunching the numbers on the weekday-of-release of nearly 700 Environmental Assessment Bulletins and releated announcements ("Minister releases trail from further assessment", etc.), some patterns seem to emerge.

Remember, that if there were no patterns at all to the timing of such announcements, then each weekday should have roughly 20% of the total. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. (Well, not literally, many things are further from the truth, but it's such a fun phrase.)

The government of Brian Tobin (including the caretaker administration that followed after his re-departure for re-Ottawa in 2000) made 219 assessment-related press releases. There was a marked preference for Wednesdays. The announcements, on the whole, were biased away from the early part of the week, but not entirely to late in the week. Just speculating here, but it may have had to do with the press deadlines for the Robinson-Blackmore (at the time) weekly papers, which tended (and still tend) to have Wednesday or Thursday cutoffs.

Provincial Environmental Assessment press releases,
by administration and week day of release
(% of releases per week day)

Starting with the Grimes government, there is something of a tendency to stack them up on Fridays, although, on a whole, the Grimes years' 181 environmental assessment announcements are the most evenly distributed throughout the week, and, despite the evident Friday bias, most resembled what a random distribution would have yielded.

Danny Williams-Government inherited the Grimes administration's pro-Friday bias, raised it, and at the same time skewed the distribution quite markedly towards the latter part of the week — too late, in many cases, for the announcements to make the following week's local community papers. Half or more of its nearly 300 releases (to the end of 2008) came out on Thursday, when there is just one each of the popular open-line radio shows left to go for the week, or on Friday, by the end of which day the phone lines go silent until Sunday evening.

The statistics bureau shirks from the job of doing a control sample of all press releases, to see whether the same trends show up across the board. But statistical duty calls. Stay tuned.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Unfortunate headlines

The headline code and the byline code seem to have become entangled:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wordle (VIII)

Throne Speech 2008 wordled. It won't be long, now:


Hydro-Quebec roundup

March 3: Hydro-Quebec, following Ontario and New Brunswick, raises the price per kwh it will pay to third-party developers of small-scale wind projects.

March 13: Hydro-Quebec acquires AbitibiBowater's interest in the McCormick station in Baie-Comeau, the old-fashioned way.

March 18: Hydro-Quebec seeks regulatory approval to replace isolated diesel generation in the coastal community of La Romaine* by connecting it to the grid via Natashquan.

March 21: The Innu of Ekuanitshit (Mingan) join three other bands in granting their approval to the La Romaine* project.


* Despite the apparent (and etymological) similarity of name, the community of La Romaine is not located near the La Romaine River. This map from Hydro-Quebec's environmental filings show the project location relative to the Innu communities on the North Shore.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Government announces funding for fixed link

Lost in the Quebec budget shuffle is the rather spectacular news that the province plans to spend several hundred million dollars to rebuild route 389, which links Baie-Comeau to the iron mining town of Fermont, and to Labrador beyond.

Official press release, pegging the amount for two highway projects, one of which is the 389, at nearly $700-million. Le Journal de Montréal reports that the 389 project alone will swallow over $400-million of that envelope. Radio-Canada chimes in.

The announcement, and press coverage, is suspiciously vague concerning the time-frame over which the work is to be carried out. It also makes no mention of any federal funding, and, as we all know by now, you cannot constitutionally or physically build or improve a highway without federal funding, especially when you are an autonomous province. It's unpossible.

What's French for "advance a proposal"?

The Google map below shows the location of route 389 between Fermont (B), just across the border from Labrador City and Wabush, and Baie-Comeau (A) at the junction with the 138 along the north shore.

Over to you, Jerome! and Dianne...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Wordle (VII)

Throne Speech 2007Maîtres chez nous edition — wordled:


Thursday, March 19, 2009

On timing

The Ministry of Truth (provincial) reports:
Premier Questions Standards - Mar 19, 2009

Premier Danny Williams is raising questions about the standards set for survival suits in the Newfoundland offshore. Williams says, while the suits are the latest on the market, the standards for those suits were set back in 1999. Premier Williams says while those suits may not have made a difference in the circumstances surrounding the Cougar Helicopter crash, the question of updating the standards needs to be addressed. Williams and Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale went before the microphones at 3:30. Williams says there are a lot of concerns that need to be raised and answered, but he did not want to do it while bodies were still being recovered.
Emphasis added.

And now the news!

The OKalaKatiget Society is now posting its radio news briefs in blog format on their own website.

Archival news is still available on their former Bravejournal blog.

The OKalaKatiget Society broadcasts in Labrador Inuttut and English, serving Labrador Inuit communities.

The perennial question

... on the VOCM Question of the Day:

Should government eliminate the interest on student loans? (October 25, 2006)

Do you think government should eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of student loans? (November 7, 2008)

Should government eliminate the interest on provincial student loans? (March 19, 2009)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A little good news

Actually, a fair chunk of good news: Michel Andrew, Giant, arrived in Natuashish earlier today.

More info at — where else? — Facebook.

Winner and new champion

(This was originally set to post on February 7th. Oopsie.)

We have a new winner!

The title of Most-Goosed VOCM Question of the Day now goes to the February 6, 2009 offering: "Do you think the nurses should have accepted government's invitation to go back to the bargaining table?"

With 59,365 "votes" cast, it crushes the previous mark of 53,664 set on May 13, 2008 by "Do you think radio call-in shows like VOCM Open Line influenced Government's handling of the breast cancer testing scandal?"

Wordle (VI)

The 2006 Speech from the Throne, wordled:


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wordle (V)

The 2005 Speech from the Throne, wordled:


La faute du provincial

A bunch of politicians are looking for $2-billion for highways and other infrastructure that would connect Labrador to the rest of the country.

Nope. Not those politicians. Not even from that province. Radio-Canada reports:

Les élus de la région réclament donc 2 milliards de dollars pour le développement du réseau routier:

  • 600 millions pour raccorder la 138 à la route translabradorienne;
  • 600 millions pour la mise aux normes de la 389, qui relie Baie-Comeau aux villes minières;
  • 800 millions pour la construction d'un pont sur le fjord du Saguenay, qui relie la Côte-Nord au reste du Québec.

(The region's elected officials are asking for $2-billion for the development of the highway system:

  • $600-million to link route 138 to the Trans-Labrador Highway;
  • $600-million for improvements to route 389, which links Baie-Comeau to the mining towns [of Fermont, Labrador City, and Wabush]
  • $800-million for the construction of a bridge across the Saguenay fjord, linking the North Shore to the rest of Quebec.)

And here's the really wacky part: they're not "advancing" their "proposal" to the federal government.


Wordle (IV)

As excitement builds towards Throne Speech 2009, and the pundits wonder, how on earth can Our Dear Premier ever out-jingo the 2007 edition, a look back at Danny Williams-Government's Throne Speeches past, through the eyes of Wordle. First, 2004:


Monday, March 16, 2009


Best new blog this month: Is that you Bas?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Business in great waters

The literary minded will be familiar with the phrases “those who go down to the sea in ships”, and “in great waters”, both of which have been widely used as allusions in titles and elsewhere in literature about Newfoundland and Labrador.

Grenfell or other “muscular Christians” of his era may have been responsible for the popularization of the phrases, which are from the King James version of Psalm 107:
They that go down to the sea in ships,
     that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord,
     and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind,
     which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven,
     they go down again to the depths:
     their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
     and are at their wit's end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble,
     and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm,
     so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet;
     so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness,
     and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Within 24 hours VOCM obnoxiously turns disaster into a political issue, and its public obliges:
Date: 3/13/2009
Name: pearl
Comments: we are an island surrounded by water. we should have search and rescue aircraft in every region of the province and in labrador. it''s too bad an accident like this has to remind the government officials of this.

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Where's Lisa Moore?

Russell Wangersky — he's not even one of the Newfoundland Wangerskies — makes a good case for a Lisa Moore sequel.


Friday, March 13, 2009


This corner takes back a little teeny tiny bit of its criticism of Danny Williams-Government's statism.

Sure, DWG has a Department of Business, whatever that is, and applies the lessons of twenty years of cable TV monopolism to, well, everything.

But at least DWG doesn't have a Ministry of Beer.

At least not yet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Six impossible things before breakfast (II)

Another one for the dissonance pile: the 2007 pre-election position stated by Kathy Dunderdale who then, as now, was Minister of Natural Resources:
"Transmission lines can cost hundreds of millions of dollars and we need to understand the size and timing of any additional demand so that we can plan, design and build any required facilities. This is sound energy planning for taxpayers and ratepayers... New Labrador transmission infrastructure will be constructed as needed to support energy intensive industrial development. Increasing power demand in Labrador will grow the economy and further power development, including the Lower Churchill Project."
Do the same principles apply to the outstarve proposed to link the imaginary Lower Churchill Project to Soldier's Pond, near the Holyrood thermal station, which will not shut down?

What is the size and timing of the "additional demand" and "energy intensive industrial development" that justifies the outstarve line?

Since "additional demand" and "energy intensive industrial development" are the very justifications for running transmission lines — at least in Labrador — those factors must also be present in Newfoundland.... right?


Six impossible things before breakfast (I)

Bondpapers lights up some serious dissonance, which makes a body wonder... did he imagine things, or was indeed not a time, not so very long ago, when the same PWG-waving crew who make up the kernel of the Our Dear Premier Fan Club, actually proposed, as the second in a one-two punch, separating from Canada and then applying for membership in the European Union?

Y'know, coz it worked so well for Iceland.

Traitor's Top-Ten Treasonosity

Winston Smith over at the new, and awesome, Orwellian Spin, proposes a list of the top ten under-reported stories in Danny Williams.

Or is that bottom ten?

Never mind. Just read, before Smith gets the memo about asking questions, and betrayal, and such.


Set a new course: zero degrees to starboard

The usually much-better informed Burf Ploughman makes a strange claim in his letter published in the Telegram on Tuesday:
Rob Antle's previous article on this project — which made public for the first time that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador had made a submission to the joint panel last November expressing concern that the panel was basing their assessment on the Quebec version of the boundary — possibly triggered the panel's decision to change course and base it on the 1927 privy council decision.
The panel decided no such thing, and the panel changed no such course. The panel in question – Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement — was assessing the La Romaine project, which is entirely within the boundaries of Quebec as laid down in 1927, all along.

Just so everyone’s on the same page — and goodness know some people were not on that page — the La Romaine project is entirely within Quebec. Full stop.

BAPE assessed the La Romaine project, a project which is — are you getting this, camera guy? — entirely within Quebec. This means, by necessary implication, that none of the La Romaine project is within Labrador. In fact, the location of the proposed transmission lines, and the choice of dam height and reservoir elevation for La Romaine 4, the uppermost of the four proposed stations, are yet more examples on a growing, eight-decade list of Quebec’s de facto acceptance of the Labrador boundary decision of 1927.

You can add the BAPE process itself to that list. A Quebec government regulatory body declines to consider the putative environmental impacts upstream and across the border in Labrador, even when one of the parties to the BAPE process asks the Bureau to effectively ignore the boundary and do just that.

And which party was that? No, not la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Not le Parti québécois or le Bloc québécois. Not Pierrette Venne.

Nope. That party would be the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador:
Newfoundland and Labrador cannot understand the justification for limiting the study area to Québec when there may well be adverse environmental effects in Newfoundland and Labrador, as discussed in greater detail below. Potential adverse environmental effects in Newfoundland and Labrador are just as relevant for consideration as any that may occur within Québec and must be thoroughly examined during the environmental assessment process. The limitation of the study area appears to be an arbitrary decision.
(As opposed, of course, to the entirely non-arbitrary positions taken on environmental matters related to the assessment of the so-called Lower Churchill project and the outstarve line, right?)

The limitation of the study area seems to have been based, in large part, on the footprint of the La Romaine project — which is, in case you’re just joining us, entirely within Quebec — along with that portion of the La Romaine watershed which is either south of 52 north latitude, or on the west bank of the main branch of the river. In other words, the study area is based on the 1927 boundaries of Quebec, and was based on them all along.

Rob Antle, bless his furry little heart and his yeoman’s service to the dark arts of journalism, had nothing to do with BAPE changing course, not for the least of reasons that they didn’t actually change course.

Par contre, what the Telegram (and other outlets) failed to do, utterly and completely, was to highlight the obvious implications of the province’s policy positions.

First, that the provincial government asked a Quebec and federal government panel to ignore the Labrador boundary and assess environmental impacts within Labrador. (Imagine, for a second, if you can stomach the thought, the reaction if the Quebec government demanded the same thing, in reverse, in respect of the environmental assessment of Our Dear Lower Churchill and Our Dear Transmission Line.)

And that they proposed geographical parameters for the putative environmental effects of the La Romaine project which far exceed the limits that they would ever concede for Our Dear Lower Churchill.

Not only that, but when the proponent Hydro-Québec, much to its chagrin, was compelled to issue a press release re-stating a fact which is obvious to anyone who can read a map, namely, that the La Romaine project — are you sitting down? — is entirely within the boundaries of Quebec, one of Antle’s colleagues blew a gasket.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Baby boomlet?

A most curious choice of statistical baselines on the part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information.

In a soon-to-be-much-touted press release from Tuesday afternoon — look, a PDF you can clip and copy! — the lede states, "The number of babies born in each year has been declining since the early 1990’s."

And Dr. Don MacDonald, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation says "Between 1999 and 2007, there was a 10 per cent decrease in the number of live births in Newfoundland and Labrador, accompanied by a gradual increase in the number of deaths."

(Dr. MacDonald also makes the curious editorial comment that, "This increase in the number of births is a positive step toward population growth for our province." But that's neither here nor there.)

Now both those statements are true. But they are not the whole truth — contrary to what the media outlets who swallowed the comparison whole might think.

The number of babies born in Newfoundland and Labrador each year has been declining since the early 1990s, just as it has been declining, year over year, almost every year since 1963. And yes, there was a decline in the number of births in 2007 as compared to 1999... just as there has been in every comparable eight-year year-pair span since 1965 compared to 1957.

[Data sources: Historical Statistics of Newfoundland and Labrador (up to 1948); CANSIM table 053-0001 from 1949 to 2007 inclusive; NLCHI press release for 2008. CANSIM data shown in light green are preliminary or otherwise incomplete figures.]


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A memo to the plants

Dear plants:

If you are going to dutifully talk up the Danny Williams Memorial Tunnel – yet again – you should at least get your facts “strait”.

At its narrowest point, the Strait of Belle Isle is between seventeen and eighteen kilometres wide.

Not twelve – that’s closer to its width in statute miles. And certainly not nine, which is closer to its width in nautical miles.

All the information you could ever want is to be found in the “Pre-feasability” study from 2005, which, though not released from the Premier’s desk anything close to within 30 days, was at least released in non-copy-protected PDF format:

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How to release a report (II)

A most unusual point was stressed today by Memorial University of Dannystan (MUD) Board of Regents Chair Bob Simmonds. As relayed by Cheryl Gullage of VOCM:

Simmonds says the report, available on the university website, is the same one submitted to government - no changes, no omissions.
Why, why, oh why might Mr. Simmonds have felt compelled to emphasize that?

And look! The report was issued as a non-copy-protected PDF. Imagine!:

Breaking news

MUN PoliSci prof understands the constitution and international trade law.

Premier, Queens Counsel, Rhodes Scholar, and Super-Awesomest Lawyer in the Common Law Universe, does not.

Cap in hand

The radio host fustigates against the approach Danny is taking on the so-called Lower Churchill.

Danny Dumaresque, that is.

Do we want to "go cap in hand to Quebec?" he asks, begging them, "don't screw us again, please give us a good deal."

Cue, as one nefarious federalist traitorous blogger puts it, the League of Professional Victims.

Guess the radio host, boffo journalist and all, has never heard of the Open Access Tariff.

Or, failing that, the provisions of the National Energy Board Act concerning interprovincial transmission lines, brought in in 1982; those provisions which one Premier of the day, Peckford, applauded, and another, Lévesque, with nearly the same finely-honed sense of victimhood as the radio host, sputtered against.

Or, that he has, but refuses to give up the badge of victimhood.

Maybe some day soon a boffo journalist will ask the Minister of State Energy Corporation and Deputy Vizier of the Wind how that Transénergie application is going, anyway...

Monday, March 09, 2009


It took this corner the better part of 24 hours to figure out what the radio hosts were talking about when they referred to Kadie Bathurst's Teatown.

How to release a public inquiry report

Newfoundland and Labrador, 2003. Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada. Released as a non-copy-protected PDF:

Nova Scotia, 2006. The Nunn Commission. Released as a non-copy-protected PDF:

Quebec, 2007. Rapport de la Commission d’enquête sur le viaduc de la Concorde. Released as a non-copy-protected PDF:

Ontario, 2002. Report of theWalkerton Inquiry. Released as a series of non-copy-protected PDFs:

Manitoba, 1999. Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry. Released as HTML:

Saskatchewan, 2008. Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard. Released as a series of non-copy-protected PDFs:

Alberta, 2003. Alberta Commission on Learning. Released as a non-copy-protected PDF:


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Every time

The extraordinarily-frequent radio guest sputters, “every time we apply for that information” — being that concerning fisheries activity outside 200 miles — the Access to Information co-ordinators find some way to deny it.

The radio host commiserates. He’s expressed the frustration before. Whenever he’s gone on a federal ATIP fishing expedition, those nasty Canadians cut his net.

They sputter and commiserate over one another’s words. “Every time,” they sputter. “Every time,” they commiserate, as if they are constantly filing ATIP requests and constantly being stonewalled. You know, on a go-forward basis.

But here’s the thing. The CAIRS database shows the most recent ATIP requests with the word “overfishing” or phrase “200 mile limit” in it were in April of 2006.

Due credit

At some point in the recent past, the little elves who work behind the scenes on the House of Assembly website, using the magic of computerology, converted the House of Assembly Hansards, going all the way back to March 1992, into HTML files, and then posted them on the intertubes. Previously, and up until relatively recently, eHansard was only available back to 1998.

This means that, until the National Library's digitization program kicks in with a vengeance, hopefully later this year, there is better coverage of full-text HTML Hansard for the House of Assembly than for the House of Commons, which (for now) only goes back to the start of the first Chrétien Parliament in 1994.

Magical little elves: you rock.

Rex gets it wrong

Rex Murphy gets his point right, but his facts wrong:
The point Mr. Baker is choosing not to see is that a real, and sometimes quite personal, quarrel between two political leaders, is emphatically not a quarrel about the merits of Confederation. Mr. Harper is not Canada. Mr. Williams is not Newfoundland. The other partners of Confederation are not denying Newfoundland's rights. The contest is not a failure of Confederation but a contest between two hard-tempered leaders, one given to outrage, the other to payback. We should not translate it into anything higher.
Rex is right: Danny Williams' megalomania notwithstanding, he is not the province, and the province is not he.

But Rex is also wrong. It's not that one is given to outrage, the other to payback.

They both are.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Not a heritage moment

Via the Clarenvile Packet, the good news of a conviction in a disturbing sexual-offence case, even if it is slightly tempered by a strange comment from the presiding judge:

Before the tour in question, Beamish accompanied the brothers into a washroom, where they all urinated at the same time into the same toilet. In their testimony, the boys remembered it as being "really weird."

In his decision, Kennedy noted that Beamish himself acknowledged "His actions were inappropriate and not normally part of Newfoundland and Labrador culture today."

Does that mean that they were normally part of the culture in the past?

If so… thank you, thank you, thank you Mrs. Baikie for skipping over those parts (among many others) of the mandatory curriculum in Cultural Heritage.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Can't do that, you're not allowed

First, the Queen’s Printer thought it was a brilliant idea to lock down the Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette. Indeed, according the security settings on the most recent issue, they still do.
Then, a Crown corp got out of sorts and worried about “the original integrity” of its environmental documentation for the Labrador-Island outstarve.

(Strangely enough, the same Crown corp had no worries about “the original integrity” of the pdf documents for the generation project itself. No digital locks. Funny that.)

Which brings us around to the latest exercise in openness and accountability, themes which ran through the whole sorry episode that Madame Justice Margaret Cameron was commissioned to enquire into.

Her final report? You guessed it: locked-down pdfs:

Content copying: Not Allowed.

Why not? “For restrictions to any change to the Commissioners Report” [sic], that’s why.

Heaven forfend anyone actually be able to quote, verbatim, from a public document, without the risk of transcription errors. In fact, concern about “original integrity” or “any change” in the documents should be factors in favour of allowing unfettered digital copying, not against it.

At best, every branch of the provincial government is now populated by official tech.idiots who fear the technology they are expected to use.

At worst, every branch of the provincial government has been infiltrated by the “freedom from information” worldview that continues, nice words notwithstanding, to make such inroads. Even, sad to say, within an organ that was created independent of the executive government, and which jealously, and properly, asserted that independence.

With every passing week, one provincial government in particular inadvertantly makes better and better arguments for the abolition of Crown copyright.



"Collaboration" is one of those wonderful words which has most of the same denotations and connotations in both English and French, without the nasty surprises of so many faux-amis pairs.

So when Quebec's environmental regulator suggests, in a PDF version of a public document which is, oddly enough, not encumbered by idiotic security features, the following:
Avis — La commission d’enquête estime pertinent que les ministères du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs et des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune travaillent à la création d’aires de protection pour le caribou forestier dans le secteur de la rivière Romaine, en collaboration avec le gouvernement de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, afin de faire coïncider ces aires sur la Côte-Nord et au Labrador. Ces aires devraient être créées avant la mise en eau des réservoirs.
it shouldn't take the Office of French Services for the import of the recommendation to filter up to the Eighth Floor and into the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Now, to see which political and administrative thought-stream in Confederation Building wins out: the one that wants to protect woodland caribou in Labrador, or the one that worries — oh, the layers upon layers of irony — about political volatility next door.


Feu vert

The La Romaine project crosses one more hurdle: Quebec's Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement issues its report.

And a report from Radio-Canada.

Let the frothing resume, more or less where it left off.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

We can has heroes

The caller calls in, and rhymes off the May 19, 1947 speech by Peter Cashin that callers of that inclination love to rhyme off.

“Peter Cashin is a personal hero of mine,” the nightly radio host says. “You should read him all the time.”

Indeed. Reading is good. This corner very strongly supports reading, and is against nonreading. So, in that spirit, a work, co-authored by the hero Cashin, though not as well known as the 1947 one, even if it should be.

It predates the speech, the one that those who have Cashin as their personal hero can recite nearly by heart, by nearly sixteen years, so it’s an oldie – but a goodie.

Bonus heroism: Coaker is another co-author.

* * *
St. John’s, October 7, 1931

It having been intimated to our Government that the Dominion of Canada, actuated by the spirit that animated the Fathers of Confederation, might be desirous of acquiring the Labrador Peninsula, so that Canada should extend its territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Executive Council of Newfoundland decided to delegate three of their Ministers to meet you unofficially and ascertain the views of your Government on this matter. Our delegation consisted of Rt. Hon. Sir A. A. Squires, Prime Minister of Newfoundland; Hon. P. J. Cashin, Minister of Finance and Hon. H. M. Mosdell, Chairman of the Newfoundland Board of Health. The Prime Minister of Newfoundland was, unfortunately, unable to be present at the interview with you at Ottawa, which took place on Sept. 25th, but was cognisant thereof and expressed his thorough approval of the action of his two ministerial associates in discussing with you the matter mentioned.

Your undertaking at this interview was to submit the question for consideration of your Cabinet and to acquaint us at the earliest possible date whether or not the Government of Canada was prepared to receive official communications in this connection and to enter into official negotiations designed to effect the transfer of the territory as aforesaid. On Sept. 28th, our delegates, then at Montreal, received from you an intimation to the effect that you were prepared to receive an official communication from the Government of Newfoundland on the subject under consideration.

The two delegates who had had the unofficial conversation with you at Ottawa immediately conveyed this intimation to the Prime Minister of Newfoundland, who was also at Montreal, and, further, cabled full information to their ministerial colleagues in Newfoundland.

The Executive Council of the Government of Newfoundland met in formal session to consider this report, and, under date of October 3, 1931, a formal Minute of Council, duly signed by His Excellency the Governor of Newfoundland, issued appointing as an official delegation the three Ministers aforementioned in this communication, together with Hon. A. Barnes, Secretary of State for Newfoundland, and Hon. Sir W. F. Coaker, to meet official representatives of the Government of Canada and to endeavour to negotiate terms and conditions of the proposed transfer to the Dominion of Canada of the Labrador territory of the Dominion of Newfoundland.
This official delegation, while regretting that the Prime Minister of Newfoundland has been unable to remain in Canada for the official conversations in this connection, have now the honour to present to you certified copy of the Order-in-Council authorising their mission and describing their powers, and they beg also to be permitted to submit to you their proposals, regarding the suggested disposition of the Labrador territory of Newfoundland.

The Government of Newfoundland hereby offers to transfer to the Dominion of Canada the whole of the Labrador territory of the Dominion of Newfoundland, such transfer subject to the undermentioned general conditions and considerations:

1. The rights and privileges of the fishermen of Newfoundland, and such other rights and privileges of this nature as are actually existing in virtue of treaties still binding on the British Crown to be recognized and preserved by the Government of Canada;

2. Hudson’s Bay Company Concessions, rights and privileges, if any, to be safeguarded by the said Government of Canada;

3. Claims arising under licenses issued by the Government of Newfoundland in respect to timber lands in this territory to be adjusted in accordance with the terms of Paragraph 5 hereof;

4. The Government of Canada to assume the obligation of paying the full indebtedness of Newfoundland, amounting to Eighty-seven Million Dollars, approximately, and at the completion of negotiations to remit to the Government of Newfoundland the sum of Thirteen Million Dollars, approximately, making thus a total payment to the Government of Newfoundland of One Hundred Million Dollars in this behalf;

5. The Government of Canada to deposit in trust with a chartered bank in Montreal an additional amount of Ten Million Dollars with instructions to said bank to deliver said amount on presentation and delivery of a certificate issued by the Government of Newfoundland to the effect that all claims arising out of the issuance of timber licenses have been completely settled and that the said Government of Newfoundland is in a position to deliver to the Government of Canada a free and clear title to the Labrador territory of Newfoundland;

6. The Government of Newfoundland undertakes to submit to the Legislature of Newfoundland a Bill to convey to the Dominion of Canada the full and clear ownership of the Labrador territory aforesaid.

We trust the foregoing will prove satisfactory to you and to your Government and that it will be regarded as a reasonable basis for the initiation of negotiations in the connection herein discussed.
Very respectfully yours,

A. Barnes
P. J. Cashin
W. F. Coaker
H. M. Mosdell

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First thoughts

The evening radio host takes note of the latest economic news, the bit concerning Vale Inco, and empathizes.

"My first thought was that the hydromet plant at Long Harbour would be impacted," says he. "They say it won’t be. I hope not."

Strange. You'd think that the first thought of a proud Newfoundlander would be, and Somethingoranother, would be about the 36 people, most of whom work at the mine site in Somethingoranother, who are losing actual jobs, not the jobs in Newfoundland that don't yet exist.


All you have to do

Radio host No Names Please had some unintentionally humorous, retroactive, and amnesiac advice for the last Premier on Monday afternoon.

NNP suggested that he would have been better off taking on his own federal confrères, party allegiances be hanged. Yip, the old fed-bashing gambit.

“Maybe if Mr. Grimes had been less of a gentleman,” NNP mused. “All you have to do is take on Ottawa.”

That, NNP suggested, could have resulted in a different recent political history.

So let’s take a look at recent political history.

Once upon a time, there was a Premier and a government that told a national panel, in no uncertain terms, More federal attention needed on transportation. It called upon federal government to jointly fund causeway. It reduced itself to the role of lobbyist who would continue to lobby the federal government for the necessary funding for stuff. It went to battle over equalization. It was disappointed in federal shrimp management decisions. It continued to pressure federal government to live up to constitutional obligations. It politicized disaster relief programs. It sought the elimination of fuel surcharges. It expressed disappointment in federal budgets. It called on Ottawa to scrap stuff.

Any of that sound familiar? No? Ok, then.

It asked the federal government to eliminate things. It sat around hoping for federal funding to fall out of the sky. It continued its battle over equalization, co-opting the support of, well, everyone it could round up. It called on Ottawa to decide stuff. It urged the federal government to help. It goed it alone on make-work projects. It was discouraged by federal cod management decisions. It expressed astonishment, which was almost genuine, that in a province of Canada, the federal government of Canada collects federal taxes.

Enough? Of course not!

It took one federal issue and beat it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

It looked for federal answers. It flipped through Roget's Thesaurus to vent its political emotions. It opposed stuff.

Things got so bad, so very, very bad, that it announced a Royal Commission On All The Very, Very Bad Stuff. It threatened to amend the Terms of Union and provoke a constitutional crisis or some such. It received a historic report from the Royal Commission On All The Very, Very Bad Stuff. And it announced the creation of the Congress of People’s Deputies, promptly forgot that it had announced it, and hoped – probably still does – that you had forgotten, too.

And what did this gentlemanly approach, which avoided taking on Ottawa, net that government and its Premier?

For starters, the ridicule of a neophyte opposition leader:

Mr. Speaker, the Premier went to Ottawa to meet with federal MPs, federal ministers, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, and he successfully, personally, offended each and every one of them prior to his visit. He even insulted the next Prime Minister by taking a cheap shot at all Liberal leadership delegates – candidates, I am sorry.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier acknowledge that he harmed his ability to negotiate with John Manley when he stated, in reference to Sheila Copps, John Manley and Paul Martin, that he is, quote, "...very suspect of those kind of things, people coming around looking for a vote and trying to make you believe that they understand and they care and they would do something different."

That is what you said, Premier. That is your quote. You should look in the mirror. Do you think that harmed your ability to negotiate with any of those people, personally offending and personally insulting them?

Then, the pledge of a campaigning opposition leader to do so much better:

The time has come for us to stand up and demand respect, attention and equality. Our voice in Ottawa must be strong and passionate, however it must also be rational and levelheaded. Only then will we be effective in achieving for this Province the rights and benefits we have earned and deserve. My government will work cooperatively and collaboratively with our federal counterparts. In so doing, we will develop a mutual respect with the federal government, which in my experience is the key to successful and productive relationships.

And finally, the sneering of a cocky neophyte Premier, taunting the defeated and diminished ranks of the former governing party:

Before I tell the hon. gentleman opposite what I have done, I will tell him what I have not done. I have not aggravated and annoyed and insulted the current Prime Minister, the former Prime Minister, possible leadership candidates, as he did, the federal minister and federal MPs of his own Party, as he did while he was in office. I have not done that, if we can set the record straight on that.

Three weeks later, the first shots were fired in Equalization War One.

And six months after that, the flags came down.