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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Question time

Government (what, not Williams Government?) has questions and criticisms:

The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs, and the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, responded today to the Canada Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future report released by the Federal Government this week. The ministers described the strategy as little more than a compilation of previously announced commitments and policy directions.
So there you have it. Compling previously announced stuff into a grand "strategy" is bad, mkay?

Well, at least it is when someone else does it.



The Nunatsiavut Government is interested in taking the first, tentative, and relatively inexpensive steps towards a possible future road link to the North Coast of Labrador, and are even willing to put up 80,000 of their own beans towards the preliminary feasibility study, a study which they have been promoting for the past three years. The $80,000 is said to represent 40% of the costs of such a study.

For some reason, the province of which Labrador is supposedly a part doesn't want to play along.
In an interview on Wednesday with Paul Pigott of CBC's Labrador Morning [audio podcast link], Nunatsiavut First Minister Tony Andersen offers his explanation for the provincial government's reticence:
The thing that sort of was disappointing for us is some of [Minister Hickey's] statements seems to be that this could take probably thirteen, fourteen years before the [Trans-Labrador Highway] is completed. And we had asked the province to do a feasibility study in extending the Trans-Labrador into Nunatsiavut, and we saw this in phases as well. The first phase of which would connect the communities of Rigolet, Makkovik and Postville into the Trans-Labrador. Responses again that we have had, from three different transportation ministers, "we will not entertain at all a feasibility study until the current work on the Trans-Labrador is done." Now, if that is thirteen, fourteen years away, that means, according to the letters that I have, that we're gonna have to wait thirteen, fourteen years for a feasibility study.
Back in 2004, curiously enough, there was no such hesitancy on the provincial side, and certainly no requirement that the Trans-Labrador Highway be "done", before launching holus-bolus into the $350,000, promptly shelved, "pre-feasibility study" into the Danny Williams Memorial Tunnel.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

What comes around goes around

Danny Williams-Government inserts itself into the Romaine environmental assessment.

Hydro-Quebec inserts itself into the Lower Churchill one. And then some.

Let the fustigation and confounding commence!

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Peeve du jour

Vale — as in Vale Inco? It's two syllables. Really.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Idea migration

Geoff Meeker reviews the political media goings-on in New Brunswick, what with the grovelling apologies to a First Minister, and the provincial government’s open hostility to bloggers and all, and concludes:
It’s scandalous! I only hope our current government doesn’t get any ideas from it.
Heck, it’s probably too late, on both the anti-blogger and pro-grovelling newspaper apology fronts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Overactive imagination

Regular epistolarian J.A. McGrath of St. John’s has one of his or her regular epistles in the Saturday Telegram (not online), in which he or she makes some curious and ahistorical claims:
In 1967, the federal government, with the acquiescence of the Smallwood government, denied us our rights - set out in section 92 of the Canadian Constitution - to wheel Upper Churchill hydro power through Quebec to the markets of Ontario and the northeastern United States.
J.A. is welcome to point to which paragraph of s. 92 of the “Canadian Constitution” furnishes this imagined right. Be specific now.

Perhaps J.A. is getting s. 92 confused with its infill neighbor, s. 92A, and particularly subsection (2):
(2) In each province, the legislature may make laws in relation to the export from the province to another part of Canada of the primary production from non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province and the production from facilities in the province for the generation of electrical energy, but such laws may not authorize or provide for discrimination in prices or in supplies exported to another part of Canada.
A section which still doesn’t provide for the imaginary “right” to wheel Upper Churchill power out of the country, a right which J.A. says was denied. Section 92A also has the factual inconvenience of not having been part of the constitution in 1967 – whatever significance that year is supposed to have had. Section 92A, in fact, is part of the constitutional reforms enacted in the early 1980s under the leadership of a Prime Minister whose name escapes (but it wasn’t Mulroney.) Quite remarkable, really, that this imaginary right could not only be denied, but it could be denied fifteen years before the right was imagined into imaginary existence in the first place.

J.A. continues:
Curiously, the question of compensation for surrendering our rights under section 92 has never been taken into account. Still, the Harper government continues to deny us our rights under the Atlantic Accord, thereby depriving us of billions of dollars in oil revenues while Quebec coffers continue to swell with the revenues from the Upper Churchill in a deal that has this province locked in until 2041.
Again, J.A. might want to elaborate a little on those points. Which “rights” under s. 92? And which “rights” under the Atlantic Accord?

Really, now, J.A.: be specific.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Division of Powers (II)

Danny Williams-Government cost-shifts His way out of another bit of infrastructure in Labrador, that ever-so integral part of the province, at least on tax day.

And no, this time it's not Louis St-Laurent who's on the hook. The Aurora has news coverage, and a possibly treasonous, PNC-laden editorial.

First He channels Joey Smallwood, now Brian Tobin. Cf. the Labrador Health Centre funding arrangement from thirteen years ago.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Division of powers

Building the People's Fibre-Optic Cable to the Island of The Province? A provincial responsibility, and a point of Our Dear Pride.

But telecommunications in Labrador? Why, according to Trevor Taylor, that magically becomes a joint federal responsibility:

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is mulling over a plan to provide a fibre optic connection to Labrador.


"We believe that building infrastructure from the Northern Peninsula through Labrador and into Labrador West is absolutely essential."


The system could cost as much as $80 million. The government may seek financial assistance from Ottawa to help pay for a fibre optic link to Labrador.
And now, the opposition makes this constitutional curiousity all but unanimous:

The leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador wants both the federal and provincial governments to help with providing cellphone service for southern Labrador.
Such strange, strange behaviour in a province where, we are told, there is such a strong "desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater ... financial ... autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa", so irrestible, like the waters of certain rivers, that Danny Williams-Government wants to "harness" it.

Yip. In all things, financial autonomy. Unless they are expensive, or are located in Labrador, and above all, if they are both.

Instant-update: That "plan to provide a fibre optic connection to Labrador" that Danny Williams-Government was "mulling over" in 2006 — that's three years and an election ago — something that Trevor Taylor described as "absolutely essential"... what became of that plan, anyway?


Friday, July 24, 2009

Cat spits out tongue

After a protracted and conspicuous silence, and possibly after having been sent for re-education, Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland finds its voice again on the NALCO-Gros Morne-Danny Williams Memorial Power Line issue.

Western Star coverage here, HNN statement here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


That Danny Williams-Government sure is a funny guy.

"My Government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater ... financial ... autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa," he says.

How does he cultivate greater financial autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa?

By, erm, asking for more money from Ottawa, especially for anything to do with Labrador. The latest exhibit:

Provincial Government Committed to Southern Labrador Regional Airport

The Honourable Trevor Taylor, Minister of Transportation and Works, today set the record straight regarding the Provincial Government’s commitment to a regional airport for Port Hope Simpson, Labrador.


"A detailed letter with a five-year plan was sent on September 5, 2007, by John Hickey our provincial transportation minister at the time, to the federal transport minister clearly stating our intention to move forward with this project with the help of our federal counterparts," said Minister Taylor.


"We continue to press the Federal Government on this issue but thus far they have not stepped up to the plate," said Minister Taylor. "The Williams Government’s investment in Labrador is unparalleled in this province’s history and make no mistake this government is committed to creating a regional airport for Southern Labrador in Port Hope Simpson."

Once those dastardly federal counterparts "help", that is, by paying 100% of the costs.

Cultivating financial autonomy from Ottawa? You can't cultivate anything by salting the ground.

Meanwhile, other than writing lots of letters asking Louis St-Laurent for money, how, exactly, has Financially Autonomous Danny Williams-Government "stepped up to the plate"?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

East-West Power Grid

An isolated coastal aboriginal community, currently dependent on a standalone diesel plant, is about to get connected to the power grid.

Radio-Canada has the story from La Romaine, on Quebec's Lower North Shore.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

And now, the news!

Slow weekend?

Four days after Charlene Johnson announced that the Provincial Government — of Quebec — will conduct a caribou census in 2010, the weekend shift at the Ceeb are on the story she wanted you to hear:
Wildlife officials for Newfoundland and Labrador will conduct a count of the George River caribou herd in Labrador next year.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Memo to Pine Cove

Dear Pine Cove:

Don't do this:

Thursday, July 16, 2009


OK, let's quickly recap. In 2003, Danny Williams-Government pledged:

"A Progressive Conservative government will ... release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet..."
The talented Ms. Elizabeth Matthews has assured everyone that the "30 days" policy is still in effect — even though that implies, falsely, that it was ever in effect to begin with.

Which brings us to today's announcement that Corrosion Study of Drinking Water Shows Good Results. Hooray! Such positive news!

The following graphic is a screen cap of the transmission slip on the PDF version of that study. The "Re-issue" (?) of the Final Report is dated June 3rd, 2009. The Final Report itself is dated May 28th.

Today is July 16th. That's 43 days after June 3rd.

Someone ought to do a study into the ethically corrosive effects of secrecy in Danny Williams-Government.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Not to Be Autonomous (III)

In 2007, Our Dear Premier laid down the nationalist gauntlet in Our Dear, Promptly Forgotten, Throne Speech:
My Government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa.
In all fairness, OD,PF,TS said nothing about "cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-à-vis" Quebec City:

Provincial Wildlife Officials Plan George River Caribou Herd Census in 2010

The Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation, announced today that the province will be participating with other organizations in efforts to determine the current status and health of the George River caribou herd. This work will include a review of current management approaches and methods and will be informed primarily by a planned census of the George River caribou herd scheduled to be completed in 2010.


In collaboration with the Newfoundland and Labrador Departments of Environment and Conservation, and Natural Resources, the Nunatsiavut Government and the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research, the survey will be lead [sic] by biologists from the Government of Quebec in co-operation with the University of Laval.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


“We are very grateful for the generous contribution of the provincial government,” said Kathie Hicks.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to showcase my products in a larger venue and to a wider market," said Mr. Coates.

“I am very grateful for the funding and the opportunity to really grow my business,” said Marcheta Holden.

"The residents and I are grateful to the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department, and the Provincial Government through Minister Byrne, for making this equipment a reality and providing this extremely important service to our residents," said Mayor Kevin Parsons.

"Our entire membership is grateful for the Provincial Government’s support, and we look forward to advancing all of our programs and collective initiatives in the coming months," says Richard Murphy.

"The Resource Centre for the Arts is a grateful benefactor [sic] of this program," says Bert Riggs.

“We are very grateful to the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development for offering this program to not-for-profit organizations such as ourselves to enable such projects to proceed,” said Jim Miller.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to avail of funding for this endeavour," said Rodney Blanchard.

"We are grateful to the Department of Environment and Conservation for funding this project," said Captain Jan Negrijn.

"I am grateful to Minister Wiseman for the opportunity to move forward with this project, which we affectionately called ‘Operation Tooth’," said Dr. Geoff Smith.

"We are grateful for the support of the three levels of government for $4.5 million," said Craig Rowe.

"We are very grateful to the Provincial Government for their continued support of the Boys and Girls Clubs in this province," says Jackie McIsaac.

"On behalf of the Northern Peninsula Regional Service Board, I would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to MMSB for their continuous support in assisting us with implementing the Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy on the Northern Peninsula," said Doug Mills.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The understudy

The Tellytorialist has a question:
Cheers: to humour. One Internet commenter had an interesting question after Paul Oram was named the new provincial minister of health Thursday: who's going to be appointed to replace Oram in regularly phoning VOCM's "Open Line" to stridently defend the premier and government policies?
Who? Shawn Skinner.



Geoff Meeker ponders the negative:

[...] if there’s conflict, it’s going to make news.

Criticizing the media for covering a “negative” story is like accusing fire fighters of putting out fires. Both are necessary facts of life.
Indeed. And who knows that better (or should) than an opposition in a Westminster Parliament? Government proposes, opposition disposes. A necessary fact of life.

Take, for example, the late provincial opposition in Dannystan, then led by the current Premier. Reproduced below are the headlines of every press release that the PC caucus issued in the two months ending July 11, 2002.

There are 74 headlines. This corner counts 17 which are relatively neutral or purely informational, offering up mere facts on itinerary, speaking engagements, and nomination meetings; or occasional messages such as the Beaumont-Hamel anniversary or the federal by-election results. (This being part of that halcyon period from 2001 to 2006 when the current provincial PC leader took a great interest in promoting the electoral success of the federal PC and Conservative parties.)

That leaves 57. Of those, fully 52, again by this corner's count, are "negative" — critical of federal or provincial government policies and actions, or critical of federal or provincial political figures.

Positivity? Well, Wally Young was positive about Big Droke, Williams about Lloyd Wicks, and Taylor about Their Norwegian Majesties.

The only positive policy propositions in this sample are Osborne's holiday plan and the bit about physical education.

This list doesn't even include the frequent use that their comms shop made of links to third-party content such as CBC or Telegram stories. Needless to say, the Little Shop of Tories wasn't linking to the upbeat and cheery.

Why would the opposition party be so ruthlessly and unrelentingly negative?

Because, as part of a media strategy, it only makes sense: the press wants conflict, not buttercups. The Williams Tories, in opposition, were only too pleased to oblige. (And, in government, they still are: more on this in Part III.)

And, as part of an overall political strategy, it's one of those pesky but necessary facts of life. Government proposes, opposition disposes. When the Premier complains about opposition negativity, what he's really complaining about is that they are doing their job.

(The necessary corollary, of course, is that when he commends the opposition, it means they aren't.)

The list:

Ottenheimer supports review of planned increases in electricity rates for Labrador West
Fishermen face bitter irony on Northern Peninsula: Taylor
Government's handling of emergency physician shortage could create crisis in rural areas
Voisey's Bay project's environmental assessment could significantly alter plans for Argentia
Osborne demands inquiry into disposal of transformer casings at New Harbour Dump
Remembering Beaumont Hamel, July 1, 1916
Wiseman asks Health Minister why all the health reports remain hidden
Manley should make health a priority when allocating surplus
Another fisheries panel for Reid to ignore
Danny Williams' itinerary for Grand Falls-Windsor
PC Party has a candidate in place in Twillingate & Fogo District
Wiseman raises concerns with oncology staff shortages, calls for new recruitment strategy
Danny Williams' itinerary for the coming week
PC Party calls for nominations in Twillingate & Fogo District
PC Party has candidate in place in Conception Bay South
Premier not giving people the facts on Voisey's Bay
Williams says government broke promises, failed to secure guarantees on Voisey's Bay
Come By Chance mayor Joan Cleary to carry Tory banner in Bellevue District
Thibault wrong to reject parliamentary committee recommendation to leave the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
Grimes government squanders medical equipment money
Government fails to properly pilot curriculum
PC Party calls for nominations in Bellevue District
Williams asks for public input before vote on Voisey's Bay
MHA Wallace Young lends support to Big Droke Foundation proposal
Goulds residents forced to sign unprecedented waiver form in order to get water delivery
Wiseman calls for release of health boards' action plans and Hay report response
Osborne less than thrilled with progress under the National Child Benefit
Will summer hospital bed closures be permanent?
Inadequate screening and treatment delays leave people in this province at greater risk of dying of cancer
Grimes Liberals poised to break another 1999 promise by 'casualizing' nurses
Could European Union fisheries measures leave Nose and Tail more vulnerable?
MHA Wallace Young raises concern over lack of long-term planning for St. Barbe wharf
John Ottenheimer to speak on Voisey's Bay
Grimes government ignoring Northern Peninsula: Taylor
Time for a by-election in Bonavista North, says Williams
Talks on restructuring electrical industry should be opened up - all the way
Wiseman warns St. Clare's emergency department could be next on chopping block
PC Party has candidate in place in Trinity North
Shelley said road-work announcement just not acceptable
Confirmed: PCB waste from a government-managed 'cleanup' ended up at New Harbour dump: Osborne calling for inquiry
If government can't manage a tire recycling contract, how can it be trusted to manage a multi-billion-dollar Voisey's Bay deal?
PCB waste from a government-managed 'cleanup' ends up at New Harbour dump
We must not open our ports to countries that overfish
Grimes government rejects accountability for lobbyists
PC Party calls for nominations in Trinity North
PC Party has candidate in place in Lewisporte
Opposition wants clause that subjects approval of Voisey's Bay deal to ratification by legislature
Voisey's Bay agreement needs clause subjecting it to ratification in the House
PC Party has candidate in place in Port de Grave
Crab and shrimp industry: lack of leadership and action jeopardizing fishery again this year
Tire recycling contract in jeopardy
Chapel's Cove residents still worried about effects of arsenic in water
Grimes refuses debate on Voisey's Bay before deal is signed
Debate Voisey's Bay deal before it is binding on the province
Two more PC caucus members to give speeches on pending Voisey's Bay deal
Sullivan says hiring list indicates patronage determines who gets publicly-funded job
Some get their Alzheimer's medication - but some must pay in two-tier system
PC Party calls for nominations in Lewisporte District
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) a poor measure of the province's economy
Fragmented responsibility jeopardizes public health
Oil recycling program needed to cut risk of environmental damage
Osborne wants to give retail workers Sundays off on Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Victoria Day weekend, Labour Day weekend
PC Party calls for nominations in Port de Grave District
Congratulations to federal PC candidate Rex Barnes, elected Monday in Gander-Grand Falls.
Even Liberal backbenchers in the dark about Voisey's Bay plans
Government blocks petitions calling for debate before Voisey's Bay deal is signed
Osborne to hold town hall meeting on Voisey's Bay on Tues May 14
Williams congratulates retired Judge Lloyd Wicks on appointment as Child and Youth Advocate
Stand-alone Janeway emergency department in jeopardy despite promise
Bank of Montréal says Grimes government misreporting deficit
Bell Island ferry accident aftermath a wake-up call: Government has no long-term plan to update diagnostic equipment
Taylor compliments King and Queen of Norway for visit, regrets not meeting them
Investing in physical education in schools is the key to tackling obesity
Manning wants Fisheries Minister to ensure St. Bride's keeps its fish processing licence

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mmmm... carrots

A July 17, 2002 CBC news report filed by David Zelcer:
Premier Roger Grimes has promised Beaton Tulk a cabinet post if he wins the by-election in Bonavista North next week. The Tories call that a desperate move by a government about to lose another Liberal seat. David Zelcer reports.

Roger Grimes confirms that he recently announced to a crowd of Liberal supporters at the fire hall in Lumsden that he has a seat at the cabinet table waiting for Beaton Tulk.

Roger Grimes: "Being in the cabinet is an absolute guarantee. I'd love to have Beaton Tulk back working as hard as he was working for us before."

Tory candidate Harry Harding says the Liberals are obviously worried.

Harry Harding: "Oh, definitely. Yes. Why would he do it at this point in time? At least wait until they have the election over to see if he's elected and then, then make that statement. But to do it during a campaign, it's nothing only pure politics."

But Beaton Tulk says there's nothing wrong with the Premier giving him credit for all the cabinet posts he's held in the past.

Beaton Tulk: "I think the Premier of this province has looked at them and said we need this fellow to work for us and I think the people of Bonavista North have a right to know about it."

Tory leader Danny Williams believes the Liberals are running scared. He says they probably have the same poll results the Tories have seen - results that Williams claims show Harding is now the front-runner.
Cf. October, 2007.


Saturday, July 11, 2009


The much-maligned (though not by this corner) website redesign over at the Ministry of Truth (Provincial) comes with an interesting and useful new feature: a top-ten list.

Here, as of late on Friday, are the top ten most popular stories on VOCM. (It is not specified whether the top ten are sorted in any kind of objective order, so don’t conclude anything from the sequence.)

Boy Dies After Pool Accident
Mount Pearl Resident Dies in Accident
Bicyclist Dies
Investigation Continues in Carbonear Shooting
Central Man Killed In Moose Accident
Amelia Engram Passes Away
Woman Unable to Get Medical Attention
Atlantic Vision Hits a Snag
Pilot Survives Plane Crash Near Wabush
Minimum Wage Set to Rise
The first six on the list unfortunately all involve deaths. The seventh involves an “unable”. The eighth is a “snag”.

Similarly, over at the Ministry of Truth (Federal), the most viewed stories are (in no obviously particular order):

Toddler drowns in pool in Conception Bay South
Only N.L. gained jobs in June
Dad accused of shaking baby opts for jury trial
St. John's bans outdoor water use
N.L. health minister faces conflict of interest concerns
Controversial minister loses health portfolio in N.L. cabinet shuffle
St. John's bike plan gets $1.6M boost from province
Drunk driver's licence yanked for 99 years
Gros Morne transmission line draws more criticism
Another tragic death story, crime, a ban, a loss, and more criticism.

The three most-recommend at CBC (with number of recommendations) are:

Toddler drowns in pool in Conception Bay South 85
149-kg halibut caught in western N.L. 42
Dad accused of shaking baby opts for jury trial 18
Grand Falls-Windsor gets $4M from province 2
Landscaper feels unfairly targeted by water ban 1
Tragic death, crime, unfairness.

And the most-commented (with number of comments) are:

Williams willing to risk Gros Morne's UNESCO status 115
Controversial minister loses health portfolio in N.L. cabinet shuffle 77
St. John's bans outdoor water use 76
149-kg halibut caught in western N.L. 66
Toddler drowns in pool in Conception Bay South 57
N.L. moose awareness campaign works, says environment minister 51
St. John's brewer heads campaign vs. foreign brands 49
St. John's lockup guard found guilty of assault 39
Gros Morne transmission line draws more criticism 28
St. John's bike plan gets $1.6M boost from province 25
A risk, a loss, a ban, a tragic death, crime, and criticism.

Going back to the VOCM list, only two stories are positive, and the plane crash is a good-news-out-of bad-news story. The CBC most-viewed list has one happy government announcement story, and one very misleading, but positive, headline. (NL is not, in fact, the only province to have posted job gains; someone needs to re-read The Daily.)

Of the CBC most-recommended stories, there’s one upbeat happy government announcement, and a story about a giant fish. More than 70% of the recommendations are for downbeat – dare we say, “negative” – news stories. Much the same picture obtains with regards to commentary, where two thirds of the comments on the most-commented local news stories are on stories whose headlines have some negative aspect.

As Meeker on Media has noted, the press thrives on “negative” news, and for good reason:

Every story must contain conflict. And that conflict was broken down into three sub-groups: man against man, man against nature, and man against himself. I knew this to be true in fiction, but it was a revelation to realize it applied equally to the real world; to news.

Pick up any newspaper, or tune into any news broadcast. Think about the stories. Most often, it’s man against man – one person or group against another person or group. From civilized debate to all-out war.
Now, thanks to the intertubes and the press’s new-found love of “social media” gimmicks, we can gauge not just the press’s interests, but also the public’s taste, at least somewhat quantitatively. The public loves bad news. Well, not the events themselves – generally speaking, the public doesn’t like it when other people die in tragic (or any other kind) of circumstances – but the public has a very strong appetite for the sad, the controversial, the negative, the conflict.

The happy and upbeat? Not so much.

More on that in Part II.

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Friday, July 10, 2009


An interesting report from Cheryl Gullage over at the Ministry of Truth about Thursday's double-shuffle:
The province has turned over a new leaf in health care as Premier Danny Williams switches a pair of cabinet postings. The cabinet shuffle comes the regional health authorities prepare to release final numbers on ER/PR testing....
The ellipsis is VOCM's. In the accompanying voiceover, Gullage elaborated on the elided point:
Today's ceremony trumped a planned release of updated ER/PR numbers from Eastern Health, but Premier Danny Williams says that wasn't planned.
Of course it wasn't.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as might say the guy who usually brags about how much effort he puts into planning stuff.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cat got tongue?

On February 23rd, Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland put out a press release (with a terrible headline) in which it categorically and unambiguously took sides in the Gros Morne powerline debate:

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador supports Parks Canada position on no transmission lines through Gros Morne National Park

St. John’s, February 23, 2009 – The tourism industry association, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL), is weighing in on the development plans for the Lower Churchill project. HNL supports Parks Canada in opposing the proposed route through Gros Morne National Park.

“As the tourism industry association of Newfoundland and Labrador, we fully support Parks Canada in opposing the proposal that will see towers and lines run through Gros Morne National Park,” said HNL Chair Bruce Sparkes.
The next day, HNN was quoted to the same effect in a CBC report:

"Running towers in front of dynamic and dramatic landscape is going to take away from the natural beauty of it," Sparkes said.

"From a photographic, awe-inspiring point of view, it's going to take away that. And who wouldn't say, 'Gee, too bad they put that pole line there?'"
And the day after that, the same spokesman for the same organization told the two daily newspapers:

"It's the crown jewel in our park system," says Sparkes.

"To run a major power line down through this crown jewel ... there must be a better way."
The End.

That was the last time Mr. Sparkes or HNN have commented on the issue in the media, and have, as of late, taken to declining comment altogether.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


According to the Ceeb, Danny Williams is suddenly concerned about the costs of Our Dear Infeed:
Williams says he would prefer not to do have the line go through the park, but going around it could add more than $100 million to the cost of the project.

"We can't just start carving out those kinds of dollars … without even have a proper costing. It's wrong to oversimplify it, but if it meant putting it into health care as opposed to putting it into UNESCO, I would put it into health care, he said.
Funny. You might think the dichotomy would be putting some of that "it" into health care vs. putting "it" into a transmission line, especially considering that Danny Williams-Government doesn't actually put any "it" into UNESCO. But that's a digression.

No, the bigger question is: if $100-million is too much to add to the cost of Our Dear Infeed... then what about the costs of Our Dear Infeed in the first place, as opposed to the alternatives — either for transmitting Labrador power to a market, or supplying Newfoundland with electricity?

If we need all that "it" for health care, why would we spend hundreds of millions, if not billions, of "it" building a transmission line out of pure spite?

Did we mention the new L'anse au Loup school?

But to come in and, y'know, double- and triple-announce money that, that's given the appearance of being new money, that's just, that's misleading.

May 9, 2001: This new allocation will provide for new schools at L’Anse au Loup, Lawn, Mud Lake and Postville and redevelopment of schools at Burnt Islands, St. Brides and Winterton.

August 13, 2001: Planning has begun for the construction of new schools in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mud Lake, Postville, Lance-au-Loup, Burgeo and Lawn.

August 21, 2001: ...funding has been approved for a new K-6 facility at Lanse au Loup. Construction of that school is expected to start next spring

December 21, 2001: Education Minister Judy Foote today confirmed the Department of Education's commitment to construct a new state-of the-art K-6 school in L'Anse au Loup.

(Five years and an election cycle happen.)

September 15, 2006: Education Minister Joan Burke joined Wally Young, MHA for the District of St. Barbe, and Don Brown, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Western School Board, in Port Saunders today to announce the construction of two new K-12 schools in the Western School District, one for Port Saunders on the Northern Peninsula, and the other for L’Anse au Loup in southern Labrador.

April 4, 2007: Over $80 million allocated for new school construction, repairs and maintenance since Budget 2004. This includes new schools for Torbay, Mobile, Baie Verte, Port Saunders, L’Anse au Loup and Placentia

April 20, 2007: In September 2006, the Provincial Government announced a new school for L’anse au Loup. Department officials are currently working with a consultant to develop estimates.

April 26, 2007: Ongoing projects which require capital investments this year include redevelopment of the former Herdman Collegiate in Corner Brook; new schools in Mobile, Port Saunders, L’Anse au Loup...

June 19, 2007: "Projects are happening all over the province – in Port Saunders and L’Anse au Loup...," said Minister Burke.

July 25, 2007: Projects in the Early Development Stage: L'Anse au Loup - new K-12 school ($800,000)

(Oh — 2007 was an election year.)

November 21, 2007: Projects in the Planning Stage: L'Anse au Loup - new K-12 school

April 29, 2008: Minister Burke noted that Budget 2008 allocates funding for nine new schools currently under development in L’Anse au Loup [...]

September 4, 2008: The budget this year for new schools and repair and maintenance is $88.8 million, an increase of $39.5 million over last year. This will help move forward nine new schools that have been announced for the communities of L’Anse au Loup [...]

March 18, 2009: In addition to the Torbay and Paradise schools, the Provincial Government has committed funding for new schools in Port Saunders, Placentia, Baie Verte, L’Anse au Loup [...]

March 26, 2009: Labrador investments in the stimulus package include: $19 million for a new francophone school in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and new K-12 schools in Port Hope Simpson and L’Anse au Loup [...]

April 29,2009: ... a new K-12 school in L’Anse au Loup, where tenders have closed and bids are being assessed

May 21, 2009: Tenders have been awarded for the construction of schools in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, L’anse au Loup [...]

June 3, 2009: Site development or the main construction phase will occur this year on new schools in L’Anse au Loup [...]

June 11, 2009: L'anse au Loup school...

June 24, 2009: In addition, work is moving forward at a rapid pace on the construction of several new schools, including two K-6 facilities in Paradise, as well as new buildings in L’Anse au Loup [...]

June 26, 2009: In addition, new schools are being built in Paradise, L’Anse au Loup [...]

July 2, 2009: Construction Underway on New School for L’Anse au Loup

Apparently, they're building it out of press releases.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Two independent thought alarms in one week?

And both from central Newfoundland. The centralists must be over-stimulated.

First, John Meaney at the Gander Beacon asks some impertinent questions:

It makes me wonder what Mr. Williams knew six or seven months ago about the Hibernia South deal, and how close the consortium was to signing the tentative package? When did Mr. Williams actually know a deal was going to be struck?


Mr. Williams is a lawyer, and I'm sure he's asked this question to clients and witnesses before. If you're not telling me everything about this matter, what are you not telling me about other items of public interest?
Meaney makes the following observation:

If Mr. Williams wants a free ride, perhaps private business is where he needs to return, he can find it there. Otherwise, you're the top dog, and there's no vacation in that position. It is the opposition and the right of the people to continue to ask its government what it is doing. If Mr. Williams expects less then I'm afraid he's forgotten what a democracy is.
And that's not even the most explosive thing he says.

Meanwhile, a short Winnebago ride away in Grand Falls-Windsor, known Tory Roger Pike also asks treasonous, anti-Newfoundland questions:
The time has come to get those elected officials (you know who they are) on the public record. The question to be asked is simple. What have you done to solicit the province to grant central Newfoundland the value of the hydro assets once used to make paper?

We need to know what our MHAs have been saying to this government to give us the value of those hydro assets. What is their position on this issue?
And he makes a dire prediction:
The Williams government needs to know this issue will not go away. Those seeking elected office in the upcoming municipal election need to know they will be pressed to have a game plan. Those MHAs who cannot explain their silence should also know they will be held accountable for their inaction. Their silence is not acceptable. Never was and never will be.
Wonder if these good denizens of such a hot-bed of questions, and conspicuous lack of fealty, can expect phone calls?

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The (almost) last word on NS highways

In keeping with this corner's fascination with rank-size graphs, here is yet another way of graphically representing the Nova Scotia highways-project data first exposed to sunlight by Parker Contrarian-Donham.

First, the rank-size representation of the list of work put forward by the Rodney government, following the traditional party colour scheme according to the party which won the seat in 2006. Multiple projects (or parts of projects) in a given district are represented by proportionately-sized stacked blocks of various shades of the party colour:

And here are the overall total values of roadwork as signed off by the federal government, by provincial (not federal) electoral district:


These guys are patronage pikers compared to the Tories next door...


Saturday, July 04, 2009

But (XV)

OK, so technically this one is a "while". Close enough, from a conjunction perspective:

Brian from Nl writes: While I'm still a mild supporter of Premier Williams, all his government's misteps of the past year is making it harder and harder for me to give him the benefit of doubt. If he insists on a transmission line through Gros Morne or don't soon make a public statement against it, I think Mr. Willimas will have met his match and the days of the teflon premier will be numbered.
Posted 04/07/2009 at 11:28 AM


Friday, July 03, 2009


From The Telegram by way of the Gander Beacon:

Jones told The Beacon the province can only produce a limited amount of wind energy because it can cause water to spill from hydro dams if excessive amounts are produced. This roadblock will be eliminated with the introduction of a transmission link in 2016 for the Lower Churchill hydro project.

That's an awfully definitive statement, both in verb choice and timeline. More definitive than the language used by the proponents these days: remember, "project sanction" is supposed to happen in 2009.

That's this year, the one half-over, if you weren't keeping track.


The good folks of Grand Falls-Windsor want recognition of the “adjacency principle” when it comes to the benefit of the Grand Falls power plant:

"When we look at adjacency, none of the oil comes to Newfoundland and Labrador, yet we deserved a portion of it. We deserved to generate some income to the province because of our adjacency to that oil in our offshore," [Sean Cooper] said. "The premier gets $2 billion because of adjacency. Now we are here in the Exploits region next to a power generation that drove the economy of central Newfoundland for 100 years."
The Danny Provincial Williams Government won’t hear it:

"Some people in the region have been calling for the creation of a community trust fund, but government will not and cannot approach economic development in the province in this fashion," said Minister Skinner. "While we continue to work with the Community Development Committee – a dedicated 15-person team consisting of local community, business, and union leaders – to revitalize the central region, we are equally committed to the economic and social development of all areas and regions of the province. Our policies must balance regional requirements."
Adjacency is the shibboleth that divides the hero from traitor when it comes to mining, fisheries, fisheries (again), NALCO, and fish processing. Indeed, as Our Dear Premier (May His Preternaturally Thick Hair Always Be Perfectly Parted) has said:
We should be concerned about the fact that most of our processing in the fishery is done outside our Province. We need to be concerned about adjacency.
The Word of Our Dan.

So why the hard line against adjacency when it comes to hydro benefits?

Go ahead. Take a wild guess.


Thursday, July 02, 2009


Contrarian is, well, contrary. Good for him! Quoth he:
Unfortunately, there are methodological problems with this analysis. Prior to the last election, most rural ridings were in Tory hands, and that’s where provincial highways are located. MacLean [sic] acknowledges this, but then miscounts the rural ridings by accepting a Wikipedia definition that excludes such urban ridings as Cape Breton North (Tory), South (Liberal), and Nova (NDP), as well as Glace Bay (Liberal). There are few provincial highways*, and only one paving project, in any of these ridings.
Alrighty then. In addition to striking out the Wikipedia Halifax inset, let’s also strike the industrial Cape Breton one, which eliminates five more seats from consideration. The total for our “rural” seats held by the three parties, after the 2006 election, is now 21 Tories, 8 Dippers, and 6 Grits.

In doing this, we are also striking the (ultimately rejected) Keltic Drive proposal from consideration, which was in a Liberal-held district. Tory districts still end up being disproportionately favoured in the proposal put forward by the late Rodney government, viz.:
   A  B  C

PC 60% 74% 74%
Lib 17% 11% 11%
NDP 23% 14% 14%
Where (A) is the percentage of rural seats held by each party, (B) is the percentage share of the number of projects put forward by the Rodney government, and (C) is the percentage share of the total dollar value of those projects.

But there’s another way of looking at these numbers that should eliminate any worries about defining what’s “rural” or “urban” on the electoral map. Again, let’s just consider the seats outside industrial Cape Breton, and where Metrobuses don’t run, or at least don’t run frequently. And let’s do it with a cleverly colour-coded map:

The colours follow the traditional partisan colour scheme, with the darker, saturated tone indicating districts in which Rodney put forward highways projects, and pale tones, districts where he did not.

Turning this map back into numbers, the Rodney government proposed work in two** out of six rural Liberal districts (33%); three** out of eight rural NDP districts (38%)… and 13 out of 21 rural PC districts.

That’s 62% of them.

What you have here is the Galilean telescope of pork-barrel pavement, in which the list of “priorities” is focused through not one, but two electoral lenses; the federal one was the subject of Contrarian’s original, also cartographic, posting. In short, this all looks like a reduced-scale model of the Peckford-Crosbie Roads for Rails plan, twenty years later and one province over.

QED. Again.

* College Road in Truro, parallel to and one block south of Rte 4… is that a provincial highway?

** Or three and four, counting line-straddling projects which are mostly located in what were neighbouring PC districts.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sycophant of the Month: June 2009

Total number of ProvGov press releases issued in June: 174 (-6 from May)

Total number with the phrase "Williams Government": 14 (no change from May)

Sycophancy index: 8.0% (+0.2 % from May)

June looked a lot like a re-match of May, and not just in terms of the final score.

It got off to a great start, with defending champ Trevor Taylor first out of the gate. Darin King and Susan Sullivan answered him later the same day, but before the day was even half over, Trevor, assisted by John Hickey, responded with another.

It would be a week before he'd take a slight lead, ending a seven-day drought on the 8th, assisted, for the second time, by Hickey. And no, this wasn't a case of re-announcing the same money over and over again, because that would be, that's just misleading. Tom Hedderson got on the board on the 11th, but Trevor, again with the help of Hickey and also Jerome Kennedy, answered that one nicely. Yet again, this was just letting The People know after; wouldn't want to mislead The People or anything.

But Tom Hedderson is made of stronger stuff than he's often given credit for. He was celebrating on the 16th, and willing on the 17th; his third for the month, putting him back in the game just one back of Trevor.

Doc King added to his single on the 18th, and Patty Pottle went on the big board on the 19th, making it an exciting four consecutive days. But some of the oxygen may have been sucked out of the room, as there was again a week-long gap in the scoring. Trevor roared back ito the game to end the lull on the 26th, followed in short order by Shawn Skinner with his first of the month, which was entirely substantial and not at all puffery. Upstart Hedderson ended the month on a high note, and like Skinner was full of substance; pages and pages of substance.

Hedderson came within one point of tying Trevor Taylor, but when the buzzer came down on the scoring, at a quarter to five (please do not shoot anyone), it was all academic: your June Sycophant of the Month, now a three-peater, is Trevor Taylor. Congratulations Trevor, and to all on an exciting month!

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Supplemental, Mr. Speaker

Geoff Meeker has done a superb public service with his two-part (so far) posting on Premier Thick-Skin's very thin skin. Part one dealt with some of his thin-skinned run-ins with members of the media. Part two, more disturbingly, described a run-in with an ordinary resident from Stephenville.

Bernard Rumbolt's story is interesting for a bunch of reasons... but this passage is especially eye-catching:

“You can’t talk to him when he gets upset,” Rumbolt said. “He’s very childish. I called Bill Rowe over the matter too. Other people called to say I was only trying to (fabricate) something, that the premier would never, ever call me. But he did. He does that.”

Other people?

If anyone out there in the intertubes has the capsules of the follow-up calls, identifying the callers (at least insofar as they were identified on-air by VOCM) who essentially called Rumbolt a liar... well, you know what to do.