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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pease in a pod (V)

Blue Sweater edition:



Danny Williams-Government is so sold on this idea of being autonomous, that He are going one step further, and is being autonomous on New Brunswick's behalf.

Fresh from the Premier's not interfering in domestic New Brunswick politics, this month's nominal finance minister has also decided not to interfere:
If he was in a situation like New Brunswick, Tom Marshall says he would never sell provincial assets to Quebec.“I think it’s a major mistake personally,” the Finance minister said.

“I would never sell, and insist that we remain the owners our own resources. I would never give them away.”

Surely this month's nominal finance minister's decision to be autonomous on New Brunswick's behalf is, just like the 2008 ABC campaign, entirely spontaneous.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Pease in a pod (V)

Rob Antle, The Telegram, January 10, 2009:
[T]he Department of Transportation and Works would only provide the audit team with a printout of highway contract work, not a computer file. Government officials contended the information “does not exist in electronic form within this department” –even though the record released was a computer printout that included a “print date.” The law allows public access to paper and electronic files.
Canadian Press, today:
The Harper government has dumped three boxloads of information about its efforts to stimulate Canada’s sputtering economy on Parliament’s independent budget watchdog.

Kevin Page had asked for more information, complaining that the sketchy data provided up to now made it impossible to tell whether $12 billion in stimulus spending is having any impact on the economy.

But rather than provide an easy-to-analyse spreadsheet listing infrastructure projects and how much money has been spent on each of them to date, the government flooded Page Thursday with 4,476 pages of documents.

“The parliamentary budget officer has asked for a significant amount of information. We’ve given him a significant amount of information,” Baird said.


He's not even one of the Newfoundland Wangerskies (II)

A fascinating, and hilarious, exchange of views between a plant and the editorial page editor of the Quebec Daily Newspaper:
Colin L from NL writes: I am not surprised one bit by another slanted editorial from this particular paper. After all, the paper's editor lived in NB for quite some time before coming to NL. As a result, I suspect he fails to appreciate the long and painful history this province has had with Hydro Quebec and Quebec in general. Any one who is actually from NL is (or likely soon will be) quite worried about the implications of this deal.
Posted 30/10/2009 at 11:32 AM

Russell Wangersky from St. John's, NL writes: For Colin L: The editorial was about the question of facts versus emotion. And here's a fact for you: the editor of The Telegram is Kerry Hann, and he was born in Arnold's Cove. As far I know, he has never lived in New Brunswick. If you're referring to me, I lived in New Brunswick for three years, and I've lived here for 23 years — all of them working in the media, and all of them covering politics, including scores of stories on the implications of the Upper Churchill deal and Hydro Quebec. This is a very involved debate that takes facts - shouting slurs is more fun, but doesn't really get us anywhere. Russell Wangersky
Posted 30/10/2009 at 11:52 AM

Colin L from NL writes: Hmmm I wonder also if Telegram employees are afraid to criticize this deal because The Telegram's large parent company, Transcontinental Media, is a Quebec company?
Posted 30/10/2009 at 1:13 PM

Russell Wangersky from St. John's, NL writes: For Colin L: Hmmm. What a crock. Are you also suggesting maybe SNC -Lavalin dragged its feet on the work it is doing in Labrador on Lower Churchill because its head office is in Montreal? Or that maybe NB went with the deal because it's a bilingual province? Want monsters under the bed? You're a day early. Halloween's tomorrow. By the way, for your information, Transcontinental, The Telegram's parent company, is a publicly-traded company with shareholders right across the country - even in Newfoundland. So, just like your suggestions about the editor, only part of your information is even close to right. Russell Wangersky
Posted 30/10/2009 at 1:19 PM


The end of the beginning of the end

A very revealing letter to the Quebec Daily Newspaper today from Tony the Tory:

As a Progressive Conservative, I'm disappointed in the results in The Straits-White Bay North but I respect the decision of the people and want to congratulate Marshall Dean on a well-earned victory.

Still, before anyone says that this is the beginning of the end for the PC party in the province and that the tide is turning towards the Liberals, it is not. It's far from it: the PC party is still in the 70s in the polls and have over 40 of the seats in the House of Assembly.

When the plants – and Tony the Tory, of all people – start flooding the public discourse with the message that The Party’s not over? Then it’s so over.

The fat lady might not be singing just yet… but she’s backstage, putting on makeup and combing her wig.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

They’re all out to get him

Our Dear Premier kicks off the tissue boxes, puts on his nice shoes, goes before the microphone, and spouts, um, this:

It’s also interesting to note the media that is coming out of New Brunswick directly. It would be worthwhile looking at seeing who owns some of the print media and some of the broadcast media.
Yeah, who owns the print media and broadcast media in New Brunswick?


Now for something completely different!

Apropos of nothing in particular, J.D. Irving Ltd. of Saint John, New Brunswick, has donated $8,900 to the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2003 (inclusive).

This sum includes a $5,000 contribution in the 2008 filing year, figures which were just recently released by Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. That $5,000 is one of the largest single political contributions in the 2008 records, and the largest that J.D. Irving has given to the PC Party since records have been made available on the intertubes.

During that same time period, Irving has given exactly nothing to any other provincial party, or, in words that some might find easier to understand, goose egg. The last time they did was a decade ago, during the 1999 election campaign ($10,000 to the Liberals, $2000 to Liberal candidate Kelvin Parsons.)

Since ODP became leader of The Party in 2001, individual Irving operators have donated an additional $800 to the party’s coffers or the election campaigns of individual election or by-election candidates, including to John Babb and Dave Denine in the 2003 general election, and to the PC by-election candidate in 2001 in Humber West.


Another gem, Live from Crazy, from ODP's Monday scrum/screed against Hydro-Quebec, responding to a reporter's question:
Q: What's the end-game here in terms of Quebec, what's the agenda driving this process, do you think, in terms of their pursuit of New Brunswick's power assets as they relate to Lower Churchill?

WILLIAMS: The agenda is to have a complete monopoly over power —
Woah, dood. The former cable television tycoonsorry, Judith MacDonald Guy Mulder, mogul — magnate — monopolist — now thinks monopolies are bad?

That alone is teh funneh. But no, the ex-cable monopolist won't let it end there:
— and I mean, y'know, as we move forward in this century in a clean, renewable electrical world and whether it happens to be wind energy, and we have, y'know, significant wind resources in Labrador, probably the best in North America, they're trying to be the gatekeeper.
Ah, yes.

Labrador wind.

The electrical generation technology that, just three years ago, he dismissed — probably with a pfffff — as not "proven". The March of Progress! What a time to be alive! Now, presumably, the technology is finally proven. He probably proved it Himself, such are His talents, such is His magnanimity.

That was either just before, or just after, he showed the door to one of the few private-sector firms that has ever expressed any interest in that significant wind resource, probably the best in North America, as they say.

And that was either just before, or just after, the Big Cheese at NALCO told a Labrador audience, "We" — he meant his crown corporation — "We own the wind."

Say whatever you want about Quebec's public hydro utility and government, but neither of them have the hubris to think they own an atmospheric phenomenon.

Follow-up question, Mr. Premier: is monopolism and gate-keeping bad, in general, in principle — or just when it's someone other than Danny Williams who is allegedly engaged in it?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Video hit

Many thanks to the communications SuperGeniuses (you guys really are worth your weight in gold) on the Eighth Floor. Your periodic pushes to have Dear Leader do as many scrums as humanly possible are a never-ending source of fodder for the bloggerating classes.

And special thanks to CBC for their public service in posting up raw video of the whole avail, not just the soundbites that make it to Here and Now. Monday's episode (DW 20091026: Just not on) contained a wealth of material, including this geographical puzzler:
Not only are they [i.e., Hydro-Quebec] trying to prevent us from taking our power from the island and transporting it somewhere else, they're now going to tell us what to do with our river. And that's just not on.
Houston, we have a new catchphrase! Coming soon from a cabinet minister, spontaneously reading script onto the airwaves of VOCM.

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Hey, Shawn Graham!

Danny is disappointed in you, too! He tells VOCM:
We have been dealing with them [i.e., New Brunswick] in good faith over the last year or more with regard to an Atlantic partnership for bringing power into the Atlantic Canada, which means regional development and all the good things that come with it. They did not at once, at any time, indicate that they were doing a private negotiation with Quebec. That’s not good enough.

Tea leaves

It’s always dangerous to read too much into by-elections, especially on the day after a single by-election rather than a batch of them. The sample size is low, and the politics so local that it can be very reckless to make too-broad generalizations about the broader implica —

Oh, what the heck!

Last night, the voters in Straits and White Bay North shaved 19.3% off the Tory vote share from the 2007 general election, added 15.5% to the Liberals and 3.8% to the NDP.

That vote swing, applied across the province, would be enough for provincial Liberals to defeat sitting rural PC MHAs Terry Loder (Bay of Islands), Calvin Peach (Bellevue), Tracey Perry (Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune), Darryl Kelly (Humber Valley), Derrick Dalley (Isles of Notre Dame), Wallace Young (St. Barbe), and make things exceptionally tight for Harry Harding (Bonavista North), Clayton Forsey (Exploits), and Ray Hunter (Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay South).

The NDP would also be in a dogfight with Clyde Jackman in Burin-Placentia West.

Meanwhile, Danny Williams-Government would be driven out of Labrador like the snakes out of Ireland: on the same vote swing, the Dippers would notionally win back Labrador West, while both John Hickey and Patty Pottle would fall to the Liberals.

In short, the electoral map would look an awful lot like it did after 2003.

The Celebrated Acrostic - Governator style

It's almost as if Our Dear Premier and the Governator may have had a conversation about distant political history in Dannystan, if this memo is any indication.

Father forgive them

One of the usual, anonymous, suspects, explains last night’s result in predictable terms:

Anonymous said...

This was a squeaker of a win. The margin of victory was only 126 votes. It would only have taken 64 votes for the PCs to keep the seat. No game changer here. The Northern Pen has always been liberal, they do not know any better. The premier should close down the clinic in Flowers Cove and return the message to the senders.
October 27, 2009 10:38 PM


Meanwhile in New Brunswick

The Canadian Press reports on Tuesday:
The premier of New Brunswick [Shawn Graham] downplayed talk of an imminent deal with Quebec on the future of NB Power, saying Tuesday he hopes to negotiate a memorandum of understanding and will allow for sufficient debate before any deal is signed.
What a novel concept.

Anyone remember the debate before the Dannystan Regime signed the Hebron or Hibernia South deals, decided to put up a Government Oil Derrick or two, or made a long-term power sale agreement with Hydro-Quebec?


Letter-writing campaign

Oh, lookie: Premier Shawn Graham of New Brunswick can rite letters good too!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A chink in the armour

The provisional results of tonight's by-election in The Straits and White Bay North:

   Dean (Lib)       1925    47.6%
Pelley (PC) 1799 44.5%
Colbourne (NDP) 321 7.9%
A narrow win, to be sure — 3.1%, unofficiall — but a win. And even as the Eighth Floor is revving up the lines to highlight the narrow margin by which it lost, let's flash back to by-election night, 2001, when another incumbent's executive assistant went down to defeat:

   Taylor (PC)      2590    50.1%
Pilgrim (Lib) 2374 46.0%
Mitchelmore 160 3.1%
Patey (NDP) 41 0.8%
A staggering 4.2% margin. Next door in St. Barbe, the result was even closer that night.

And what did the political pundits have to say at that time? Well, one pundit in particular was very emphatic:
I think the people here have spoken very, very clearly and they're saying they want a change of government. Our theme was that the Northern Peninsula was being taken for granted and it was time that they voted for the future, and they voted for change.

Tonight, what might you say of the people of the Straits and White Bay North?

Perhaps that they were proud.

And strong.

And determined.

On to Terra Nova.

Cutting to the chase

Lorraine Michael nails it:
As for Williams' fighting words, she said Williams should realize - based on his getting nowhere with Prime Minister Stephen Harper - that his public antagonism isn't effective.

"Maybe it's a sign of desperation on his part," Michael said.

Watch out, Lorraine. Danny will be disappointed in you. Again.

Meet the Stans


ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Premier Danny Williams has such an iron-clad clutch on power in Newfoundland and Labrador that some political watchers have dubbed the province "Dannystan."

That may be changing.

Afghanistan's top election official must be removed before the country casts ballots in the Nov. 7 run-off vote, says presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah.

Azizullah Lodin, chairman of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, has "no credibility" and must be replaced immediately, Abdullah said on Monday.


Lodin has denied accusations he is biased in favour of incumbent President Hamid Karzai. The former foreign minister is Karzai's run-off contender in the presidential election.


Monday, October 26, 2009

New Brunswick fires back

Shawn Graham replies to Danny Williams:
"If Hydro-Québec wants a war with Newfoundland and Labrador, then Danny Williams is ready for it," he said.

A spokesperson for Williams could not be reached for further comment on Sunday.

Graham, when asked what he thought of Williams' cautionary words, avoided launching into a territorial row over energy.

"Danny Williams is elected premier to defend the interest of Newfoundlanders. I'm elected premier of New Brunswick to defend the interest of New Brunswickers," Graham said.
That's funny. A spokesperson for Williams was all thumbs on Friday.

She must be busy with the preparations for that war.

The best Danocracy money can buy

Enfin! The 2008 provincial political contribution report is out, with only a few weeks left to go before 2009 becomes 2010. (And that’s an improvement!)

Some of the more interesting tidbits, by party:

The Party: The Party took in $593,312.92 in 2008, of which 82% was corporate money and 17% personal. 21% of The Party’s revenue came from sources outside the province.

Hey, PC donor! Are you also a supporter of the federal Conservative Party? If so, congratulations! The PC Party of Dannystan funded the 2008 federal ABC Campaign to the tune of $81,389.62, meaning that in effect 13.7 cents of every dollar you sent to John Babb in 2008 paid for Harper-bashing billboards, newspaper ads, and TV spots.

Central Newfoundland lawyer Karl Inder gave $500 to The Party, as did his professional colleague, Mark Griffin – the traitor.

Careful arithmetists will note that 82 plus 17 does not equal 100. Another 1% came from other donors who are a little harder to classify, including:
  • The RNC (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) Assocation gave $2000 to The Party. This brings to $13,150 the total amount that the RNCA (and Coppers) have collectively contributed to the democratic process since 1999 inclusive. All but $700 of their support for democracy has gone to The Party or to The Party candidates. (Liberal candidate Paul Buckle in 1999, and the Liberal party itself in 2007, where the other recipients.)
  • The City of Corner Brook made another $750 contribution to The Party – the fourth year in a row it has done so, in the same amount.
  • The Corner Brook Port Corporation also gave $750 to The Party, and like the City, it’s the fourth year running that it has given the same amount. In 2007, it also cut $500 cheques to each of the Liberal and NDP candidates in the three metro Corner Brook districts.
  • The Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority also gave $750 to The Party, the fifth year running that it has contributed, and the third that the amount has been $750 on the nose.
Liberal Party: The provincial Liberal Party took in $40,955 in 2008, of which 87% was corporate money and 13% personal. 34% of its revenue came from sources outside the province.

Vale-Inco slightly favoured the opposition ($5000) over the incumbent government ($4500). On the other hand, Aurora Energy sent $1500 to the Librils, vs. $2500 to The Party, while Corner Brook Pulp and Paper disfavoured the Librils $1000 to the Tories’ $3500.

NDP: The Dippers took in $45,387.49 in 2008, of which 65% was in personal donations and 35% from union or labour organizations.

29% of its revenues, including most of the labour money, came from outside the province. $10,000 came in the form of a big cheque (big in amount, not necessarily Oversize Novelty) from Washington, D.C.

He’s making a list

An interesting anecdote out of the Love Feast in Gander over the weekend, via Dave Bartlett of the Quebec Daily Newspaper:

Williams arrived in the early evening to deliver the keynote address.

Before launching into a campaign-style speech, he took a solemn moment to ask party members to pray for Municipal Affairs Minister Dianne Whalen who is in hospital and is “very sick.”

He then launched into a long list of accomplishments the party has achieved since taking power in 2003.
A long list.

Of accomplishments.


It almost sounds like regular Telegram commenter “Bones (II)” — whose real name is a carefully guarded secret — who has spent much of this month obsessed with promoting Dear Leader’s big long list.

Bones spouting talking points? Say it isn’t so!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

We Don't Know What We're Fighting For

The Ministry of Truth reports today:

Premier Ready to Square off with Quebec Hydro

The Premier is gearing up for another fight on the national stage.
Aha. Translation: the "fight" on the local stage isn't going so well. Oh, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. go ahead:

Danny Williams says Hydro Quebec continues to try and block this province from developing the Lower Churchill, now refusing to sign onto a water management agreement for the Churchill River in Labrador. Speaking to a sold out crowd last evening at the PC Party's annual convention, Williams says the issue came to a head Friday and he's setting his sights on the mainland power utility as the issue moves to the Public Utility Board. In light of the profits pulled by the company on the Upper Churchill, The Premier describes the actions as 'the pure heights of greed.'
As opposed, of course, to the generosity of damming a river in Labrador, transmitting the resulting energy everywhere except Labrador, decrying as "irresponsible" the crazy idea that Labrador should benefit financially from the project, and warning the petulant locals not to get too ask-y. Oh, sorry, interrupted again:

The Quebec power company is also reported to be taking over New Brunswick Hydro, Williams says, to get a strangle-hold on route access. He says while there is nothing he can do about that possibility, he offers New Brunswick some words of caution. The short term gains could have long term consequences of giving up energy resources . He warns our experiences have not been good in dealings with the powerful Hydro Quebec.
Alrighty, then. Now, set aside that every premise in this story, just like every premise of the Dantrum which precipitated it, is demonstrably false, let's assume, arguendo, that "our experiences have not been good in dealings with the powerful Hydro Quebec".

Isn't this, then, about the point in the discourse where the reporters should jump in and ask the Premier, and his understudy: why on earth have they been begging and pleading with Hydro-Quebec, crown corporation of such a 'volatile' province, to take part in the imaginary Lower Churchill project?

As Kathy Blunderdale, ostensible Minister of something, told VOCM last month:
We know that if you come in here as an equity player that you have to have a good return on your investment. And we want you to have a good return on your investment. But it also has to be a good deal for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now we have been with that message back and forth [i.e. to Hydro-Quebec] for five years. No, sir. No, sir. There is no takeup on that proposal.
For five years.

Back and forth.

To Hydro-Quebec.

The same Hydro-Quebec, one presumes, that Our Dear Dealings have not been good with.

The same Hydro-Quebec, one presumes, that Autonomy Williams is now warning New Brunswick about, as he injects himself into the politics of another province.

The same Hydro-Quebec that Mr. Autonomy wants, desperately, to help underwrite his imaginary Lower Churchill project. As Minister Blunderdale told VOCM, Mr. Autonomy's government has been trying to rope Hydro-Quebec in since 2004: before, and while, professing Our Dear Go It Alone strategy.

Going It Alone — Together.

Yip. That Hydro-Quebec.

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Friday, October 23, 2009


BondPapers very annoyingly starts noticing some things about by-elections, prompting Jason Hickman to very annoyingly start asking questions:

The stat that you didn't include, which I'd be interested in seeing (for both the current 6-year period, and the previous one), is: whether the seat-leavers who caused the by-election were from the government side, or the opposition, and whether there was a switch in parties after the by-election.
Annoying, because this corner has been collating exactly such statistics for postification purposes.

When the curiously delayed by-election in Terra Nova is finally called, it will be the ninth by-election call precipitated during the Williams era by the resignation of a sitting member of the Government caucus.

This excludes departures of non-Government MHAs, vacancies caused by death, and vacancies which were late enough that a by-election wasn’t required. (It includes the Paul Shelley case.)

By way of comparison — and stark contrast — Wells, Tobin, and Grimes between them lost nine caucus members to resignations, and early enough in the political calendar that a by-election was required.

Furthermore, there were also nine similar departures during the Smallwood, Moores, and Peckford premierships combined — with the caveat that in the Smallwood years vacancies often went unfilled until the next general election. This was particularly the case leading up to the 1956 election.

A change is as good as a rest

Last night Danny Williams went to bed as Premier of NewfoundlandLabrador, and woke up as Opposition Leader in NewBrunswick, trusty and loyal staff member in tow:
Reports that have been circulating in New Brunswick about the possible sale of that province's energy utility have the attention of the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In a statement Thursday, Danny Williams's communications director, Elizabeth Matthews, said the premier "can't imagine the people of New Brunswick would allow their government to sell their energy asset and put that power into someone else's hands."

The name of the game is blame

A little over a month and a half ago, Paul Oram (DON'T SUE!) was taking responsibility for the Flowers Cove fiasco:

My decision's final. I've said that from the beginning.
Now — despite the limited tactical advantage of having a convenient fall guy named Paul, and a fall guy (Paul guy?) who, equally conveniently, is now out of politics — the official narrative is that the entire cabinet was responsible. Oram's replacement, Jerome!, telling the CBC Here and Now audience Thursday night:

... Minister Oram was only the messenger here. The decision was made by cabinet. So it's the full cabinet that was responsible. As for being hung out to dry, our intention is to do what's best for the people of this province, and all I can say, is that when I became health minister, we re-examined the situation, we looked at it, and we determined that the right thing to do was to restore these services.
Of course, on Thursday Happy Day, Danny was only the messenger here, right?

To recap:

First, Paul Oram took responsibility for Flowers Cove.

Then, the health board had the blame assigned to them.

By October, Paul Oram was getting the blame back — even from outside the political fence.

And now the entire cabinet is donning their finest hair shirts, and flagellating themselves down a stand-in Via Dolorosa on Tea House Hill. They all did it.

All of the cabinet, including rural MHAs, were in on the decision to cut rural health care. Et vos, Patty Pottle (Torngat Mountains), Joan Burke (St. George's—Stephenville East), Darin King (Grand Bank), Charlene Johnson (Trinity—Bay de Verde), Tom Hedderson (Harbour Main), Kevin O’Brien (Gander), Jerome! Kennedy (Carbonear—Harbour Grace), Susan Sullivan (Grand Falls-Windsor—Buchans), John Hickey (Lake Melville), and Clyde Jackman (Burin—Placentia West)?

About the only thing left now is for the Premier to announce that he was just "kidding" about the whole clinic announcement in August.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rays of hope

While it hasn't yet been confirmed by ITAR-DAN, Jerome! Kennedy, via the Ministry of Truth, is pleased to bring the following tidings to the good burghers of the district that St. Anthony is in:
Lab and X-Ray Services in Flower's Cove Staying: Kennedy
Win or lose in the Straits-White Bay North next week, the Tory government says Flower's Cove will be keeping their lab and r-ray services. Health Minister Jerome Kennedy made the announcement on VOCM Open Line this morning with Randy Simms. Former health minister Paul Oram not only stripped the clinic of the service a couple of months ago, but also knocked the hours back from 24 to 12. He later reinstated the clinic to a 24-hour operation, but declined to restore lab and x-ray services. However, Kennedy says government made a mistake. Meanwhile, Kennedy says he will be in Lewisporte tomorrow. At last count, the clinic there was also going to be stripped of its lab and x-ray services much to consternation of area residents. Kennedy did not say if government would also be cancelling the cuts at that clinic.
There you have it: win or lose. People of the district that St. Anthony is in, you have Danny's permission to vote against him.

However, even cutting VOCM a little slack for the typo — the headline says X-rays, but the body promises r-rays — be sure to read the fine print and kick the tires.

Do not settle for r-rays, n-rays, or Q-rays.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


On October 2, Trevor Taylor resigned as MHA for the district of Straits-White Bay North.

Three calendar days later, the Chief Electoral Officer's boss called the by-election.

On October 7, Paul Oram resigned as MHA for the district of Terra Nova.

For those keeping track, that was two weeks ago.

Access to Information

NewfoundlandLabrador wants access to AbitibiBowater's files. CP reports:
MONTREAL — The Newfoundland and Labrador government has asked a Quebec court to force AbitibiBowater to provide it access to the insolvent company's data room to keep tabs on its financial health as a creditor.

The province said it is being "unfairly discriminated" by AbitibiBowater's refusal to afford it access to information that allows stakeholders and creditors to assess the ongoing condition of Abitibi's business.


Newfoundland said it has a public duty to keep tabs on Abitibi's present and future potential ability to compensate the province for costs incurred. That can only be done if it can make its own assessment about Abitibi's financial status in the same way as the company's other creditors and stakeholders, it told the court in a motion.
Memo to AbitibiBowater: just dismiss their request as "frivolous", "ridiculous", and "ludicrous", and complain about how much it would tie up your staff's precious time.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Juiced (II)

Back in the spring, VOCM brought in tech.changes to its often-abused and occasionally ridiculed Question of the Day feature, making it harder to "juice" the numbers.

Harder, mind you. Not unpossible.

The last of the old-style QotD's in the handy labradore virtual archive is from April 23rd. On that day, the question was, "Should the Chief Electoral Officer investigate the 2001 St. Barbe by-election?" 31,476 "votes" were logged - the eleventh highest daily total on (labradore) record.

Unsurprisingly for such an obvious juice, 63% said no.

However, it's interesting to see which questions do still generate an inordinate number of "votes" — and which way the votes end up going.

For the sake of argument, let's define a "juiced" VOCM QotD as one in which the total number of votes is twice the daily average. Before VOCM put in controls, as noted above, the votes could easily and quickly skyrocket into the tens of thousands.

(Interestingly, the new controls haven't greatly depressed the QotD participation on a typical day. The average daily vote count under the old system was about 2900. Since the new system, with verification, was brought in, it has averaged 2600. Disregarding "juice" days, participation is 2260 votes on a typical day now, vs. 2470 during a comparable span of time in the old system.)

Under the new regime, the cutoff for "juicing" is thus 2×2608, or 5216. By that definition, there have been four "juiced" polls under the new system. In addition, there are another five which had a 50% or more boost in participation compared to the average. On this column graph, showing the total number of votes by date, these nine are highlighted in blue. (No partisan implications with the colour scheme; these are Excel's default settings.)

The four juiced polls in question were, giving date, total number of votes and result:

September 16th: Do you think Wade Verge should resign? (5880, 79% no)

September 22nd, Is it time for the provincial government to reconsider the issue of indexing pensions for its public sector pensioners? (6696, 73% no)

October 3rd: Would you like to see another election for mayor in Paradise? (7439, 90% yes)

October 8th: Do you like the new cabinet? (7718, 67% yes)
It's striking that three of them bear directly on the performance of the Provincial Government. The fourth is a hot-button question emanating from the recent municipal election.

A similar pattern obtains in the next tier of lesser-juice polls:

June 29th: Do you think the economy is bringing more people home to this province? (4118, 62% yes)

July 23rd: Do you think marijuana should be legalized and taxed like tobacco and alcohol? (4188, 65% yes)

July 27th: Do you think water meters should be installed in every home? (3934, 59% no)

August 10th: Do you agree with government's decision to appeal the court ruling over the highway depots? (4756, 71% yes)

September 28th: Should we roll out the welcome mat for Moammar Gadhafi? (3923, 77% no)

The economic question has a close relationship to the political narrative that Danny Williams-Government has attempted to weave for itself. And really, are there that many people with such a firmly pro-government opinion on the issue of highway depots and the associated legal proceeding?

That leaves social hot-button marijuana (which could have easily been the target of a national or international juicing effort), a political hot button in the aborted Gadhafi visit, and another municipal hot-button issue from VOCM's main listening area in greater Danabad.

Of course, it would be ludicrous to suggest that there was any political or government effort to juice questions so that it would appear, when the announcer read the results of the "poll", that 73% of ordinary people were opposed to indexing civil service pensions, that 79% were clamouring for the hapless Wade Verge (hey bud, how's it going?) to stay in office no matter what, and that two thirds were positively rapturous in their praise for the latest iteration of the Danny Williams-Government Cabinet.

It would be almost as ludicrous to read anything into the fact that the next-biggest poll was on the question of highway depots and the government's appeal in the related labour case. And it would be beyond the realm of plausibility to make any inference from the marked upward trend in the outlying high-participation polls.

There was, and has never been, any organized effort to manipulate the Question of the Day for partisan propaganda purposes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Monday, October 19, 2009

All opposed say Wow

Some more from the corpus of "cracky". Here it is getting smacked down by the Speaker:

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible) explain it.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, let me say to my little saucy crackie from Eagle River -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

I remind the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains, that remark is unparliamentary and I ask him to withdraw it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Medium-sized crackie.

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw those remarks, but he does resemble one.

[May 21, 1991]

Some more crackie-related wit:
MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, could you silence the Minister of Municipal Affairs. He is sounding just like a little crackie there: yap, yap, yap.

AN HON. MEMBER: A big crackie.

Still more canine humour:
MR. J. BYRNE: I believe the hon. Government House Leader made some remarks across the House once or twice with respect to the Bay Verte crackie, which was what he called the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay. Well, that leads me to think that the Premier reminds me of a Labrador retriever who is following a bone or a duck in the bay. He is going out swimming after it but the tide is bringing it further and further and he is finally that far out that he swims under.

[May 10, 1994]

And more inevitible references to yapping:

MR. FRENCH: If the fellow next to him would like to keep on yapping, he can yap until the cows come home for all this member here cares. I really do not care about him or the fellow sitting next to him. I have to say in all honesty, I have stood here tonight - I have gotten up and talked - and he is still not sitting in his own seat. He is still yapping like a crackie - still yapping, the crackie from Windsor - Buchans, is it? He is still over there, he is still yapping, and he can yap until the cows come home for all I care.

[December 12, 1996]

And here, the target of the c-word rises on an unrelated point of order (that isn't actually a point of order):

MR. REID: The minister can yap like a crackie over there all he wants. He is good at that, but when he is asked to do something, like he was asked in this House this week, to interfere and do something for the people of Harbour Breton, what did he do? He is a crackie all right, he ran off with his tail between his legs. That is what he did. He is a crackie all right, he ran off with his tail between his legs and became a spokesman for FPI. In fact, I was astounded yesterday afternoon to listen to the spokesman for FPI.

MR. TAYLOR: I have sat here for the last ten or fifteen minutes, however long the member has been talking, and listened to him impute motives on me about trying to hoodwink people. I don’t sense that is parliamentary language, first of all, and secondly, Madam Speaker, just for the record, when we were asked to do something in Arnold’s Cove we got a solution for the people of Arnold’s Cove.

[November 23, 2004]


In front of a flying bullet

On September 4th, Paul Oram defended his decision — not the health board's; note the possessive — regarding medical services in Flowers Cove and other localities:

My decision's final. I've said that from the beginning
On September 25th, the outgoing Hon. Member for Flowers Cove said, in his farewell scrum:

Anybody who's gonna speculate that this has anything to with Flowers Cove, it absolutely does not. I support the government's decision on the changes to medical services in Flowers Cove.
On September 30th, defending his government's policies in rural areas on CBC Crosstalk with Ramona Dearing, rural development minister Shawn Skinner (whose downtown St. John's district is, literally, as urban as it gets) told the host and radio listenrs:
Well, I agree with the Provincial Government's decision on the clinic in Flower's Cove. And it's about balance, and it's about understanding that as a province we have a lot of needs, and we have a lot of people who are requiring certain levels of service. We're making a significant investment in Flower's Cove in a facility. We are cognizant of the the fact that there's some people that don't agree with that decision. I would assume the Minister of Health at some point will be communicating in a more detailed way with the people out there.

Again, notice the support for the Flowers Cove decision. From Oram (who apparently made it), from Taylor, and from Skinner.

And notice the possessive: the decision is the Provincial Government's.

So much for the "look at what the health boards made us do!" narrative.

And really: how hard must it suck to be a Minister or MHA in Danny Williams-Government these days?

You jump between the Boss and the flying bullets — which came out of the barrel and his own gun — and then he stops shooting.

Hi, Wade Verge! How's it goin' bud?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The temperature of feet

Not that long ago, the people of Flowers Cove and area were, quite effectively, holding Danny Williams-Government's feet to the fire.

And you might think that, with an impending by-election, they would be dangling those feet ever closer to the coals.

Nope. Instead, it's Flowers Cove that is now getting cold feet:
Flowers Cove Rallies on Hold
October 18, 2009

The Mayor of Flowers Cove says they have put their rallies for health care services on hold until the byelection takes place for the Straits-White Bay North. Keith Billard says they are encouraged by recent meetings with the Premier and the Minister of Health on how to retain lab and x-ray services at their clinic. He says they look forward to sitting down again and crafting a plan on how to keep services in place. Billard says he feels more confident now that officials have the facts in front of them. Billard hopes by next month the committee will meet with Labrador- Grenfell Health and the Department of Health to work on the cost savings. He maintains if services aren't kept then they will rally again for residents.
The rapidly changing temperature couldn't have anything to do with the Carrot-and-(implied)-stick approach, could it?
Premier Danny Williams says he is almost one hundred per cent sure the people of Flowers Cove will get to keep their lab and X-ray services.

The premier made the commitment while campaigning on the Northern Peninsula for the upcoming byelection for the Straits-White Bay North riding left vacant by Trevor Taylor.

An earlier government decision to cut back lab and X-ray services in the communities of Flowers Cove and Lewisporte has been a hot election issue.

Williams says he has spoken with the provincial minister of Health and is “99 per cent sure” the services are going to stay.
So will anyone ask the obvious question: does Danny the Bookie feel that those 99:1 odds are in any way dependent on the outcome of the October 27 by-election?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hands off

BondPapers asks:
Odd that Paul Oram backbencher had no trouble with his wife’s picture and name being in a Labrador newspaper when she and her husband travelled to Labrador west talking about opening a new personal care home in the area. Anyone got a picture of that to share for posterity?
And labradore obliges:

This is a saved-down version of a photo by Peter Genge which originally appeared on page 4 of the October 15, 2006 issue of the late Labrador West news weekly, 53 North.

Remember that date.

It portrays, left to right, fellow care home owner Gerry Kirby, Karen Oram, and Paul Oram, late Minister of Health until the glare of scrutiny by the nefarious media got to him.

The accompanying article, by Peter and Ngaire Genge, was entitled, "One Step Closer to Lab West Seniors' Complex".

The article opens:
Completing yet another step towards a modern seniors' complex for Labrador West, developers Karen and Paul Oram were in the region this week to meet with prospective clients and crunch final numbers. "The magic number is fifty," says paul. "We can plan for expansion later, but, to invest the $2.5 million to begin the project, we need fifty residents."

Karen and Paul Oram curently own and operate two other personal care homes, in Glovertown and Gambo, with 52 and 53 beds respectively.
It continues:
The Orams' [sic] came to Labrador West with a vision and a draft for a facility, but that's already in revision.


Says Paul [Oram], "Luckily for us, my father is in the construction busines. He's worked on our other project and could lead the construction work here. That would help with cost effectiveness, but there are certainly differences in the costs of material and the availability of construction personnel here compared to other locatoins, all of which has to be taken into account."


Says Paul [Oram], "Government will provide the same subsidies here as they will in Clarke's Beach or Gambo. [...]"


Says Paul [Oram], "Certainly, the final disposition of a site for the hospital will have some real influence on our choices."


Says Paul [Oram], "We have to weigh a lot of factors before where we decide we'd want to locate the facility."
When the Bad Bad Media Man first reported on then-Minister Oram's business CV in July, Oram said:
"I have been hands off for a number of years now — in fact since 2003 — and ... I have sought legal council to decide the [what] best step is to take," Oram said. "But I can assure you at the end of the day that I will comply and I will ensure there is no conflict."
The year 2006, the year in which the photo and article above were published, is generally believed to have come after 2003 — assuming, of course, that both dates are according to the same era of reckoning.

Less than two weeks later, the Bad Bad Media Man reported that, with the Commissioner of Members' Interests and former President of the PC Party finally back from holidays, he had received, and would be complying with, the Commissioner's recommendations.

And the next day, two more Bad Bad Media Men — though not quite as bad as the Really Bad Bad one — reported for a Quebec daily newspaper:
Paul Oram continued to act as an owner and director of private companies after being appointed to cabinet in the fall of 2007, according to corporate records filed in provincial registries.
Three months later, Paul Oram could no longer be accused of any public conflict of interest, having settled the issue decisively by resigning his public posts as MHA and Minister of the Crown. In his departing shriek he flayed the media:
Let me give you an example, David [Cochrane]. You know, first when I became a minister, it was my business interests … plastering my wife’s name all over the television, and my father’s name all over the television. Is that appropriate? Well I guess the media thinks it is. I’m fair game, but I don’t think my family are. That played a huge role in terms of where they’re coming from, and it’s been a rough time for them, in terms of issue after issue after issue. Quite frankly, I’m not going to expose my family to that anymore, and I’m going to move on. It’s been a good go, but the time has come to move on.
This would be, presumably, the same wife whose name and face his appeared next to his, and the same father whose name he dropped a reference to, in the Labrador West papers three scant years before.


Friday, October 16, 2009


Once up on a time, Danny Williams-Government touted its Provincial Wellness Strategy.

Now we know just how strategic Danny Williams-Government’s thinking really is. The CBC quotes the guy who is health minister this week:
I'm hopeful that we will reach a resolution and then at that point the X-ray review may not be necessary. So, we are going to play it by ear right now and really see where we go with Lewisporte and Flower's Cove.
Strategy through improvisation.

Planning through playing it by ear.

Welcome to the parallel universe that is Dannystan.


Why they make the big bucks

It's to write headlines like this:

Foster Families Week Celebrates the Work of Foster Families

At the movies

CanWest's Katherine Monk reviews Where the Wild Things Are:
Like most little boys who get to dream up their own reality, Max is quickly made king of this new land, but the responsibility of wearing the crown is far weightier than he could have imagined, and before long, Max realizes good government isn't just about pleasing yourself and your friends, it's about fairness and maintaining an open mind — even with your supposed enemies.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Jigger Jim Morgan calls into No Names Please on the airwaves of the Ministry of Truth.

He offers up criticism of Danny Williams-Government and several of its ministers and backbenchers, and this, even in the usual muted terms. “I support Danny Williams and the PC government,”, he says, “but…”

NNP goes to commercial break, and comes back afterwards to Shawn, a caller from the Harbour Main area.

Shawn, who is absolutely not a member of the Spontaneous Outrage Organizational Committee (SOOC), is in a fine lather.

“I been a PC all my life. My family supported him. But now he has gone over the line… Tell Jim Morgan to go to sleep. Take a nap. To not go on with this bull he’s going on with.”

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“N.L. minister may halt health services review”

So reads the CBC headline today.

And sure, there are the cynics out there who suggest that Fireman Jerome, running around pouring his wet stuff on the red stuff, is just doing so because of the impending by-elections.

Advanced cynics think it may be due to internal polling – internal to Danny Williams-Government, internal to The Party – which shows trouble a-brewing.

The conspiracy theorists even speculate that it may have had something to do with Paul Oram’s spectacular self-immolation.

But if you want the real reason why Jerome is now pulling double-shifts trying to put out fires, look no further than another CBC report.

Lewisporte, Flower's Cove protest health cuts.

In particular, the last five words of the third paragraph:
In Lewisporte on Thursday, a boisterous crowd of over 300 held signs and chanted SOS — "Save Our Services" — and booed Premier Danny Williams.
It’s not hard to tell now which of the multiple Danny Williamses read that particular report.

Even without polls, even without one by-election already under way and another in the queue — hey, Wade Verge, do you really want to save services in Lewisporte? — Jerome Kennedy would still be running around desperately stomping out fires.

Is DW-G serious about getting spending under control?

If so, expect a lot more fires, and a lot more firemen.

If not, expect a lot more fire trucks, and whatever else it takes to keep the love flowing and the boos away.

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What he knows

St. Lawrence Mayor Wayde Rowsell is moving a motion at the forthcoming Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador AGM, asking other member municipalities to support his appeal to the provincial government to abolish the municipal elections tie-breaker rule that has gained notoreity thanks to certain events in Paradise.

His Worship tells VOCM Nightline's Randy Simms on Wednesday night, speaking of the tie-breaker provision:
I know there was exhaustive discussion when this was put in place many, many years ago.

"Exhaustive discussion"?

"Many, many years ago"?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On skin, thin

Conception Bay South MHA Terry French joins the Thin-Skinned Club.

Apparently, the sound of provincial Liberals daring to call VOCM call-in shows en masse – a tactic which is apparently the registered intellectual property of the Tories – and, above all else the voice of Roger Grimes, Enemy of the People, was enough to prompt a rare appearance by the Hon. Gentleman.

And how does a body know that Terry French is tragically thin-skinned?

Why, because he confesses his medical condition to Randy Simms on the open air: “This got under my skin enough that I gotta call Randy!”

Apparently the worst ThoughtCrime of the nefarious Librils who called in earlier in the day was to question Danny Williams-Government’s record in rural regions. By way of contrast, he highlights the example of the former Liberal government announcing dialysis for St. Anthony back in 2000more than once.

“Go back, check the press release [sic],” he suggests, front-forming a neologistic plural, “press release”. (The singular, presumably, is the soon-to-be-backformed “ press relea”; cf. the etymology of “pea”.)

“Maybe as a government we’re not selling [our spending] enough, maybe we’re not promoting it enough,” he elaborates.

So yes, let’s go back and check a press relea or two.

Isn’t it awful when the government announces stuff – especially in rural areas – over and over and over again, for years before actually spending the money?

Is Mr. French’s skin as thin when it’s his own crew engaging in Tobin- and Grimes-era Liberal behavior?

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All in favour say Bow

Last week the Tellytorialist used the following bit of clever alliterative doggerel to refer to the Minister of Everything:

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the moves was not the appointment of the Carbonear Crackie as Minister of Health.
Cue the Spontaneous Outrage Organizational Committee (SOOC):

Taxpayer from NL writes: ...Carbonear, this august publication has now stooped to name calling.

JohnL from NL writes: Carbonear Crackie: Stopped reading the article at this point. Total lack of professional behaviour.

Pat from Ontario writes: Carbonear Crackie? If The Telegram needs to resort to name calling, then I guess the government isn't doing so bad. Admit it, it was uncalled for. A newspaper is supposed to provide unbiased information, not attack sitting (or non-sitting...) members of government. It's a newspapers job to provide information in a clear and consice manner, not to make up our minds for us. If he deserves the nickname... then it will be said in the kitchens of the province. It should not be said in the publications.

Bones II from nl writes: Carbonear Crackie? Completely unprofessional presentation, designed to provoke hatred through the use of ridicule.

(This latter, Mr. Bones II, has proven to be an elusive fellow...)

Then, cue the First Shocked and Appalled Division:

The vitriol of Friday's editorial was too much.

Referring to an MHA as a crackie is disrespectful, both to the person and to the people who elected him or her.

Dr. Noel Cadigan
St. John's

It’s a good thing, then, that MHAs and media alike now have the Paul Oram (Huge Difference David) Rule to rely on:

COCHRANE: Doesn’t that cut both ways? Do you read what you and your cabinet colleagues and your caucus colleagues say about other politicians in Hansard? Some of the nastiest comments I’ve seen in my twelve years of politics have happened inside that chamber, where the media is not allowed to go. So you want to talk about a civil tone in politics and how the media is hurting peoples’ families, don’t politicians have to look at how they treat each other, and how they treat their families, too?

ORAM: Huge difference, David, in what happens inside that House and what happens on the airwaves when families can listen to it and watch it, you know, and —
For as far back as there is eHansard, you have examples of MHAs – huge difference, David – calling one another crackies. You have Tories doing it, and in a positive sense even:

MR. SIMMS: You heard the Member for Burin - Placentia West. Like a cracky he is on his feet all the time speaking out on behalf of his constituents.

[March 25, 1991]

And Liberals, in a derogatory one:

MR. MURPHY: Anyway, the Member for Burin - Placentia West can thank himself for what is going on here right now. All he had to do was let this hon. Member make his few comments about the bill and that was the end of it. No no, he has to be cracky over there, "Deputy Dawg," yes, cracky.

[December 10, 1991]

And Tories being derogatory:

MR. [GLENN] TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, can the Member for St. John's South restrain himself. He is like a crackie on a chain.

[November 9, 1992]

And Ed Roberts. (Note how, when Mr. Windsor rises to defend his honour, it is over being told to “shut up”, not over being called a “cracky”; and how Mr. Shelley defends the honour of the cracky):

MR. ROBERTS: Would the cracky from Baie Verte - White Bay - it is kind of late. Mr. Speaker, would the hon. gentleman, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay
just shut up for a moment?

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. the Minister of Justice is around here and is such a great parliamentarian and has such great knowledge of rules, he must know that it is certainly not proper to tell a member of the House of Assembly to shut up. He should withdraw immediately and apologize.

MR. SHELLEY: It is sickening to hear the likes of that from a House Leader, to call a man a cracky and a fisherman, or whatever. What's wrong with a cracky and a fisherman?

[March 8, 1994]

Here you have all three parties represented on the same day:

MR. HARRIS: I'm offering a bit of reason here to see whether or not the members opposite are even listening to the debate or whether they are doing what they are told - keeping their heads down and mumbling and acting like crackys every now and then - or whether they are actually paying attention and might be able to actually make a decision on this.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well I say to the Member for Terra Nova that bulldogs do have some good qualities as well; or they are crackys and without going too far -


MR. ROBERTS: Now, hon. members opposite were not interrupted by me. I did not interrupt their leader, nor their House Leader. I would ask them to do me the courtesy, but if they prefer not to, I tell them: (a) I can shout as loud as anybody in this Chamber, if I have to; and (b) I have dealt with better than all of them put together, over the years.


MR. ROBERTS: That includes the cracky dogs in the back benches.

[May 16, 1994]

You have Premiers:

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have to say with great regret that I find the questions of the Leader of the Opposition - he is like a dog with a bone. He is like a little cracky that has his teeth around a wheel going rather fast. Mr. Speaker, he is like a little dog with a bone; he is gnawing and chewing and chewing and gnawing and he will not let go.

[May 22, 1998]

PC opposition backbenchers:

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Bellevue is like the little cracky over there, as usual, mouthing off, trying to say something. He doesn't have a clue what he is talking about, as per usual.

[December 7, 2000]

And again:

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you notice how different he is this sitting of the House, the Minister of Health? Can you remember when he was sitting on the other side over there, anytime we were up here saying anything controversial he was on his feet. Yap, yap, like the little crackie. He was like the little crackie following the car, but he is more reserved now. I do not know why. He is trying to make the impression that he is Premier or Premier material. What happens when the people of the Province finds out it is nothing but burlap?

[December 11, 2000]

Liberal Leaders of the Opposition:

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, can I have some protection from the cracky down there?

[April 3, 2006]

And PC Ministers of the Crown:

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) the Leader of the Opposition to stop yapping over there, and behave like a little cracky rather than a saucy, vicious dog over there.


[May 18, 2006]

And even uses that were subject to a Speaker's intervention:

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mount Pearl, the crackie from Mount Pearl always has his mouth going but he does not have guts to stand up and criticize these numbers.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: If you want to stand up and say these numbers are wrong -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: He always has his mouth flapping over there but he does not have guts to stand up and say what is right or wrong. Stand up and criticize these figures. Do it if you are going to, if not stay quiet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I ask the hon. member if he would be a little bit sensitive to some of the language that he is using here in the House to refer to hon. members. I will just ask him if he would be kind enough to refer to hon. members as hon. members and not use some of the adjectives that he is presently using.

MR. JOYCE: I withdraw the crackie remark. I will do that. If I made that remark -


MR. JOYCE: But, Mr. Speaker, I do ask for a bit of protection over there because once the truth does come out they have a habit of not liking the truth.

[May 14, 2007]

(Mr. Joyce, incidentally, was the target of this bit of vitriol, which went unremarked by SOOC.)


MR. SULLIVAN: We took money - when I say we, this Province, this government. They took hundreds of millions of dollars and spent it and wasted it on all kinds of things to get re-elected; everything to get re-elected. Will that crackie from Twillingate& Fogo, who is not in his seat, calm down a little there, Mr. Chair. He is trying to outshout somebody who is duly recognized here. That is what is wrong with that government, they cannot accept the truth-

MR. REID: Mr. Chair, you are talking about unparliamentary remarks. I ask the Minister of Finance to withdraw the last remark that he made about me, because it certainly was unparliamentary. It has been used in this House before and the speaker had to stand and withdraw the statement. I ask the hon. member to do the same thing.

CHAIR: The Chair did not hear what the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board said. The Chair was conversing with the Clerk of the House. If the minister said something that is unparliamentary, I ask him if he would withdraw that statement.

MR. SULLIVAN: I used the word a little crackie. If that is unparliamentary, I withdraw it. I meant to say a little Liberal. I withdraw it. If little crackie is unparliamentary, I withdraw it.

CHAIR: Order, please! I ask the member if he would withdraw the phrase little crackie.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, Mr. Chair, I withdraw the little crackie statement.

[May 3, 2005]

Huge difference, David.

Huge difference.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ha! Funny!

For the information of the Newfoundlanders who are hell-bent on finding a "Newfie joke" in the Paradise mayoral election:

Noviescotie joke, Canadian Press, August 18, 1999: Premier John Hamm added another seat to his new Tory government Tuesday in a judicial recount like no other. A tie was broken in Shelburne riding when the returning officer pulled the name of Tory candidate Cecil O'Donnell from a box.

New Brunsie joke, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, December 16, 2006: Percy Ral Therrien will take his seat at the Rivire-Verte village council table. Municipal returning officer Doris Blanchard drew his name after a recount confirmed the tie between Therien and Marcel Martin at 162 votes apiece in the byelection on Dec. 4. Elections New Brunswick spokesman Paul Harpelle said the last time the returning officer had to draw a name to break a tie in a New Brunswick municipal election was in Bas- Caraquet in 2004, and before that in Hillsborough in 2001. Harpelle said that a recount confirmed Stephen A. Campbell's two-vote win over Jack A. Smith, 159 to 157, for a seat on Sussex town council.

Quebeckie joke, Montreal Gazette, November 15, 1995: Rene Lafrance shook hands with Alain Comeau yesterday as he won a coin toss that settled a tie vote for the council seat in Chateauguay's ward 2. On the night of the Nov. 5 municipal election, Lafrance was awarded 657 votes to Comeau's 656, but a judicial recount Saturday gave both candidates 654. Quebec election law says tie votes are decided by a draw. Lafrance called heads and won.

Ontari-ee joke, Guelph Mercury, December 5, 2006: Uncertainty surrounding Kathleen Farrelly's future on Guelph's new city council didn't stop her from joining the inaugural ceremony last night at the River Run Centre. After winning the election against incumbent Laura Baily, tying Baily on a recount and then losing to her in a draw, Farrelly was sworn in as a councillor for Ward 1 on the centre's theatre stage. City clerk Lois Giles said Farrelly is the elected councillor according to the Municipal Elections Act. "She will stay in office until such time as any appeals or recounts have been finalized," Giles said. "It if takes until January, she will stay in office."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Demo/graphics (II)

The latest quarterly demographic figures released recently generated paroxysms of optimism from the guy who was the Finance Minister that week:

Newfoundland and Labrador’s population increased by almost 1,400 people from April 1 to July 1, 2009, as a result of continued in-migration. The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, said the province’s population has grown by 2,484 over the past year to 508,925.

“Continued population growth is a very important and positive measure of confidence in our province and its strong economic performance,” said Minister Kennedy. “After recording several years of strong economic growth, our province has recorded positive net in-migration in six of the last eight quarters. This success is due in part to major tax cuts and enhanced public services as a result of investments by our government, along with significant personal income gains and a continued positive economic outlook.”

. . .

“We expect to see continued migration to the province over the next number of years as projects such as the Voisey’s Bay processing facility, White Rose Expansion, Hibernia South and Hebron result in a significant increase in capital investment, resulting in additional employment opportunities for people to move to the province,” the minister said.
Read it carefully: other than a throw-away line to "additional employment opportunities", the guy who was Finance Minister that week was very careful not to attribute the phenomenon of net in-migration to employment fundamentals.

Similar paroxysms struck the then-FinMin in December:

"I am pleased that our province’s population has increased again this quarter as a result of significant net in-migration of 1,070 people which offset a natural decline," said Minister Kennedy. "Quarterly net-migration reached its highest level in 37 years and remained positive for the fifth consecutive quarter."
They also struck the once-and-future FinMin in October, who exhibited just the right amount of Optimistic Correctness, but again was careful not to tie the demographic trends to the underlying economy. Again, note the guarded language about "even more employment opportunities", in the future tense:

"This is exciting news for our province and is reflective of the renewed confidence that exists among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians here and abroad," said Minister Marshall. "New resource projects, such as the recently announced Hebron project, along with others on the horizon – the Lower Churchill, the VALE-Inco facility in Long Harbour, Hibernia South, White Rose expansion, expansion of the Iron Ore Company of Canada mining operations and the potential expansion of the Come-by-Chance oil refinery – will create even more employment opportunities in our province. Given the province’s strong economy and bright future, we are optimistic that we will see continued population growth in the years to come."
And lastly, in reverse chronological order, the once-and-future FinMin from last June.

“After 15 years of out-migration and population decline, it is refreshing to see another quarter of positive net in-migration and population growth,” said Minister Marshall. “With several projects on the horizon, including Hebron, the White Rose expansion, the Voisey’s Bay processing facility, expansion at IOCC and the potential of Hibernia South, the Lower Churchill and other projects, tremendous opportunity exists for continued in-migration to the province.”
With all the talk of opportunities, it's like the Finance Minister's post makes you, ex-officio, the third Pet Shop Boy or something:

Now, here's the thing: not only is there no evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between the economic situation in the province and the late spate of net interprovincial in-migration... there is, in fact, evidence of an inverse relationship.

This chart shows the net interprovincial migration figures (in persons) for each quarter since Q1 2000. Negative/red bars are quarters where more people moved out of the province to other parts of Canada than moved in; positive/green bars are quarters where more moved in than out.

[Source: Statscan Table 051-0017]

And this chart shows labour force statistics (in thousands of persons), as a trailing annual average. For example, the figure for December 2007 is the average of the twelve months leading up to, and including, that month. This smooths out the significant seasonal fluctuation, and brings long-term trends into sharper focus.

The employment figure is the sum of full- and part-time employment for all age cohorts. The unemployment and not-in-the-labour-force figure is the sum of

  • unemployment in all age cohorts; and
  • persons who are not participants in the labour force, less those in age cohorts 55 and up: most of the non-participation in these age brackets is due to retirement.

    [Source: Statscan Table 282-0001]

    Interpreted through labour-economic terms, interprovincial migration usually reflects a combination of "push" and "pull". Provinces lose population when their own economic weakness "pushes" people out, or when the lure of booms elsewhere "pull" them away.

    Notice here that the in-migration trend actually pre-dates the peak of employment (and valley of un-employment and under-employment) by a couple of quarters. Notice as well that the unemployment picture has actually been getting bleaker at the same time that in-migration has been trending up.

    In other words, the labour market data show no signs of an economic "pull" going on, which significantly reduces the number of explanataions available for the recent in-migration trend. It also increases the amount of salt which one should take along with the eboulliant quarterly press releases from the Ministry of Optimism. And finally, it would explain — especially if Ministers have received any written briefings on demographic and labour-market trends — why a succession of FinMins now have been so guarded in their language, so reluctant to attribute in-migration to anything real, and so eager to talk about possible jobs that may exist in the future, not actual ones which do exist in the now.

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    Majority rules

    Greg Locke makes an observation:

    Most of the world’s countries that believe in participatory democracy have provisions for run-off elections to break ties or when there is no definitive majority.

    [Emphasis added.]

    It is very true that a good chunk of the world's democracies do have electoral laws which provide for run-offs (or the related mechanism of preferential ballot) when a candidate fails to secure a majority of at least 50% plus one vote. Think, for example, of the preferential system used to elect the House of Representatives in Australia, or the run-off elections held in France and other European countries.

    Mr. Locke is, however, invited to post, as a comment, some of the many examples which make up his "most" countries — that would be a majority — those democratic countries which also use run-off elections not just to satisfy majoritarian urges, but also to break the rare electoral tie.

    Sunday, October 11, 2009


    This map shows the results of the 2003 provincial election — with a twist:

    The dark blue districts are those which voted for the same PC MHA in 2003 who is still sitting in the same district today — or the closest-matching in the handful of cases where redistribution had much of an effect. The red and orange colours indicate the same theme for the two opposition parties.

    The light blue districts are those which the Tories picked up either in by-elections in 2005, 2006, and 2007, or — again adjusted for redistribution — in the last general election.

    The grey portions show those districts whose PC MHA, elected in 2003 or earlier, is no longer around due to mid-term resignation (Trevor Taylor, Jim Hodder, Kathy Goudie, Tom Rideout, Paul Oram, Fabian Manning, Loyola Sullivan, Ed Byrne) or who chose not to run again (John Ottenheimer, Harvey Hodder, Paul Shelley, though it's a close call as to how to categorize him.)

    The late Jack Byrne's departure from politics having not been voluntary — or a little less voluntary than that of some others — Cape St. Francis is left blank.

    Nearly one third of the PC class of 2003 are now out of provincial politics, having been replaced by rising stars Ed Buckingham, John Dinn, Steve Kent, Keith Hutchings, Felix Collins, Darryl Kelly, Kevin Pollard, and Tony Cornect.

    "Rising star" could also be used to describe some of the new blood which arrived through pick-ups, such as Terry Loder, Jim Baker, Derrick Dalley, Clayton Forsey, Tracey Perry, and Calvin Peach, or the lateral move that resulted in Wade Verge.

    Yes, that term could be used.


    What the CBC is guilty of

    A Rob Lawrence from Paradise writes in to Geoff Meeker's blog to defend the honour of a dearly-departed cabinet minister, saying in part:
    The CBC has continued to investigate Mr Oram's business dealings even after they were pronounced not in conflict of interest. If there is an issue with the Commissioner who made that determination, then tackle THAT story.

    In other words, the CBC doesn't blindly accept the word of the Commissioner. Yes, that Commissioner.

    And that failure to be pliant and unquestioning, perhaps along with other contemporary accounts, is what set off the hypertensed but hypodermic Paul Oram — and his valiant defenders.

    Perhaps this will get Cochrane "cut off" again.

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Duelling headlines

    It's funny how a by-election takes the finality out of a final decision. The Ministry of Truth (Provincial) reports this morning:
    Government hears concerns of residents in Flower's Cove and Lewisporte: Williams

    Premier Danny Williams says he's pleased to see Flower's Cove and Lewisporte willing to work with government to find solutions to growing health care and infrastructure costs. Fresh from a trip to the Northern Peninsula with the province's new Health Minister Jerome Kennedy, Williams says government is hearing the concerns on the ground in the effected communities. Williams says the by-election in the Straits-White Bay North is giving him a chance to tackle the issue in partnerships with the people. Williams says the communities understand if any changes are to be made to the decisions to cut lab and x-ray services from either area, the saving will have to be found elsewhere.
    Meanwhile, the Ministry reported yesterday:
    Lab and X-Ray Workers in Lewisporte Laid Off: NAPE

    NAPE says Layoff notices have been issued to staff at the laboratory and x-ray clinic in Lewisporte. President Carol Furlong says layoffs were issued on Wednesday, the same time Health Minister Jerome Kennedy announced he would meet with concerned citizens next week regarding closure of the clinic. Furlong says workers have been told to choose between layoff or displacement and must give the employer their choice in writing by next Wednesday. NAPE says it's premature to be issuing notices when the new Minister has yet to make a final decision. Kennedy met with officials in Flower's Cove on Wednesday and delivered a message of consultation and dialogue.

    Meantime, Jerome Kennedy has told VOCM News that he had been given no notice that pink slips would be going out to lab and x-ray workers in Lewisporte. NAPE says notices were issued on Wednesday, giving workers the option of being laid off or displaced. The newly-appointed Health Minister says since learning of the notices he has been in contact with the town's mayor, Brian Peckford, and the head of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Rural Newfoundland and Labrador, Reverend Art Elliot. Kennedy says he told them he still plans to meet with them next week and discuss the clinic's future. Kennedy says his message remains the same
    Sadly, the script ends there, with no indication of what Kennedy's message, by now decidedly mixed, might be.

    Huge difference, David

    In his final scrum, Paul Oram’s screed against the nasty, nasty media — by which he means the CBC — does not go unchallenged. The consequences are hilarious:
    COCHRANE: Doesn’t that cut both ways? Do you read what you and your cabinet colleagues and your caucus colleagues say about other politicians in Hansard? Some of the nastiest comments I’ve seen in my twelve years of politics have happened inside that chamber, where the media is not allowed to go. So you want to talk about a civil tone in politics and how the media is hurting peoples’ families, don’t politicians have to look at how they treat each other, and how they treat their families, too?

    ORAM: Huge difference, David, in what happens inside that House and what happens on the airwaves when families can listen to it and watch it, you know, and —

    COCHRANE: It’s broadcast live on TV

    ORAM: — and the fact of the matter is that everyone knows what happens in the House of Assembly, and it’s a tradition, it’s always been, the heckling and things like that. We also know that at the end of the day politicians walk across the corridor and we shake hands and it’s just the reality of it. And to even suggest that that is even close to what we’ve seen in the media in the last little while, is absolutely silly, you know.

    COCHRANE: You have a double standard?

    ORAM: No it’s not a double standard.

    COCHRANE: How is it not a double standard?

    ORAM: It’s not a double standard, David.

    COCHRANE: I’ve even here had the Premier say things about Lorraine Michael that are far worse than anything a reporter has ever said about you.

    ORAM: Well, I can tell you right now, that from my family’s perspective, that what they have seen, and I can speak for my family, what they have seen said is what they see in the media. It’s not what they see in the House of Assembly. And they watch the House of Assembly as well. But what they see in the media is what really hurts them.
    For the benefit of the Oram family, here are some classic moments in recent House of Assembly history which they may have missed, and which constitute a “huge difference” from what the meanies in the media have said about various Orams:

    April 27, 2004:

    CHAIR: Order, please!

    MR. T. MARSHALL: I say the same thing to the hon. member there. Since we have been here that is all we hear from you guys over there, nothing but personal attacks. Come on! We are here to do the business of the Province. We are here to do the business of this place. Come on, raise the tone of debate.

    CHAIR: Order, please!

    MR. T. MARSHALL: Stop this yelling and screaming and nattering over there. You have been nattering since the day we got here. You are nothing but nattering naysayers of negativism.

    May 18, 2004:

    MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, we are all aware - and you are certainly aware - that whether or not the use of a particular word is or is not unparliamentary can vary from time to time, depending upon the circumstances, the tone that was used at the time that it was uttered. I think it is quite clear, Mr. Speaker, that the use of the words - I have checked in Beauchesne here, I do not see the specific words two-faced here, but there are certainly lots of incidents in Beauchesne where that type of wording, saying that someone’s actions and behaviour is two-faced, certainly causes a negative connotation and is unparliamentary. I think the Premier should withdraw that remark as being unparliamentary.

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

    April 20, 2005:

    PREMIER WILLIAMS: Now, having said that, there is a double standard. What happened in your Cabinet when things were discussed, when your brother was a negotiator for CUPE? What about when things were discussed concerning Abitibi and forestry, when your brother or brothers were working with that organization? What happened when the hon. gentleman from Twillingate & Fogo was Minister of Education and his good wife was a teacher, and he did allocations? What happened there?

    May 1, 2006:
    MR. TAYLOR: I say to the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans, if she did work for every year, seven years, what did she do? Send the crew in? What, did she send her brother in with a wheelbarrow and a shovel, Mr. Speaker? That must have been what she did, because over seven years you would think that she would have had most of the work done, if that is it. She didn’t spend it on the Trans-Canada in that district, because if she did, the number one priority -

    May 2, 2006:
    CHAIR: Order, please!

    MR. SULLIVAN: A point of order.

    SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

    MR. RIDEOUT: Oh, what an idiot!

    CHAIR: Order, please!

    May 9, 2006:
    MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition has developed an awful thin skin over recent days. You cannot say a thing to him. You cannot remind him that he is whistling past a graveyard, that the sky is not falling, as he hopes it is. When you remind him of that: Oh, you are attacking him personally, you are upsetting his feelings. I called him a sooky baby the other night, Mr. Speaker, he just about hit the ceiling. The hon. Leader of the Opposition from time to time acts like a sook, asks questions like a sook, and when he asks questions like a sook, he will be responded to like a sook.

    May 18, 2006:
    MR. WISEMAN: It is one thing to accuse us of not understanding, but to take the House out of order, no respect for the Chair, and be a sook in the process -

    SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

    MR. WISEMAN: - because she does not want to be quoted out of context.

    I won’t read the rest of the garbage that she said, but I want to conclude by reading the last point that she made -

    November 20, 2006:
    MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

    MR. T. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands is nattering over there. I think someone should tell him to go drive the fire truck down in Humber Arm himself.

    December 11, 2006:

    MR. HICKEY: (Inaudible).

    MR. JOYCE: I say to the Minister of Transportation and Works, you cannot tell me to shut up. I am in no meeting where you can tell me to shut up. You cannot do it. I am in this House of Assembly. I am going to speak in this House of Assembly and you cannot tell me to shut up.

    SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

    May 17, 2007:

    MR. RIDEOUT: I would not ask the hon. gentleman for fresh air, Madam Chair, let alone leave. If I do not have the ability to suck it in myself, I would not ask the hon. gentleman for it. He got sooky with me a couple of days ago because I accused him of interrupting during Question Period. Well, it was not him at all, I apologize. I finally have an opportunity to apologize. It was the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, but somehow or another I am sure that in the background that I heard this gruffly, melodious voice that I can only associate with the hon. gentleman from Bay of Islands. It was not a singsong, I can tell you, but it was enough to trigger, in my memory, that it was him.

    May 31, 2007:
    MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

    MR. T. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, would you get something from Beauchesne and throw it at the Member for the Bay of Islands?

    SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

    MR. T. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, we have a company in my district called 3 T’s. Here we have the 3 N’s: the nattering nabob of negativism.

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