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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Is bleu money not as green?

ODP, during Question Period in the Bow-Wow Parliament today:
First of all, Mr. Speaker, I cannot understand why the Opposition is so cozy with Quebec . I cannot understand why they are so concerned about Quebec interests. I cannot understand why they want us to do business with Quebec , the way that Quebec shafted them.

So We have gone back to deciding that it's bad to do business with Quebec?

That's a twist.

Well, a double-twist, actually.

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Gabby Kathy


A hilarious little blast from the recent past. As the CBC reported in May 2008:
A Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister sparked a brief uproar Monday, saying the province was considering a lawsuit aimed at Ottawa and Quebec over the controversial Upper Churchill hydroelectric deal.

However, Natural Resources Kathy Dunderdale retracted her statement within hours, saying that she had misspoken about any government plans to launch litigation over a 65-year hydroelectric contract that for decades has been a sore point between the neighbouring provinces.
Cf. G.K.'s still curiously under-reported comments to private radio from back in September.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Save the males?

This chart shows the changing sex ratio of the population as a whole, of all age cohorts, at the provincial and national level.

[Data source: Statistics Canada table 051-0001]

The vertical scale shows the proportion of males to females, with 1 being parity. For example, in 1971, at the far left of the chart, there were just over 1.04 males for every female in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian population as a whole was also "male-shifted", but by a much smaller amount.

Over the ensuing decades, the population has become female-shifted, with the demographic sex balance crossing the parity line nationally in 1976 and provincially about twenty years later. However, the female-shifting of the population of Canada reversed in the mid-1990s, and the sex ratio is headed back towards parity, at least for now, at the national level.

Provincially, the female-shift continues almost unabated. The 2009 estimate shows that there are about 96 men and boys for every 100 women and girls, almost the mirror image of the demographic picture from 40 years ago.

The question of declining male birth rates – a contributing factor to the changing sex ratio of the overall population – has received some scholarly attention.

But the uneven changes in the sex ratios for the population as a whole, and by geography, doesn’t seem to have gotten as much attention.

Perhaps it should. Think of the noticeable trend in local governments, service clubs, and other social institutions where women seem increasingly to be the core of the organization, the volunteer base, the local council. Societal expectations are changing, but so is the very makeup of the population.

There was once a slogan used as a rallying cry to get more women involved in politics. “The 52 percent solution” referred to the global demographic sex ratio. Historically, the number of live births has tended to be about 52 boys to 48 girls. By adulthood, the ratio has reversed itself, partly due to hereditary factors, partly due to the tendency of boys and young men to die in remarkably stupid ways.

But what happens – to a labour force, a political culture, an economy – as the 52 percent solution becomes 53, 54, 55? What’s driving the continuing shift at the provincial level – is it biological, differential rates of in- and out-migration, or some combination? What trades and professions will have to work harder to attract women – or, for that matter, attract men? What traditional gender barriers are going to come down, and which will come down of their own accord, or which will have to be demolished deliberately? What businesses will have to change their marketing and retail strategies in response to changing demographics, changing economics, and the interplay of the two?

Lots of big and interesting questions, from just two lines on a graph.

Memo to file

The next time Himself whines — say, in His impending year-end interviews — about the long days and the many files to juggle, and tries to guilt-trip you with the canard about how He doesn't get paid, remember this. From the Ministry of Truth (Provincial) this morning:
House of Assembly Resumes Tomorrow

Members head back to the House of Assembly tomorrow, but
the Premier says there will be a light legislative agenda. It's a late start to the fall session, following a pair of by elections in the province and a visit from the British Royals. Danny Williams has already changed a few faces around the cabinet table, including moving Clyde Jackman to the fisheries portfolio. Williams says the fishery and a number of rural issues will be the focus of his government over the coming months, but he says this sitting will be rather routine.

It has become rather routine for the legislature's sittings, the legislature's ever-rarer sittings, to be about nothing.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Virtuous circle

In the wake of the Terra Nova by-election, Danny has regained confidence in the electorate again — it was restored, so at some point, for some unfortunate reason, He must have once lost it.

The outcome also indicates that the electorate have confidence in The Danny. This we know because The Danny tells us so, and since He has confidence in the Electorate again, and they in He, who is anyone to doubt it?

This state of political bliss can be described visually so:

Cf. "self-respect".

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Not exactly as pictured

The Danny Party of Dannystan isn't run like a personality cult — it is a personality cult — but this MHA-elect for Terra Nova, this Collins chap, is taking it to extremes.

Does he have to go so far out of his way to try and impersonate the Dear Leader? As pictured today on the Ministry of Truth's website:

A decade is a short time

A curious claim today, right in the led, by Jeffrey Simpson, columnist for some country or another's national newspaper:

For the first time in almost four decades, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador has actually grown. That's good news, however temporary, for a province that since 1992 has lost 12 per cent of its population.
For the record, this chart shows the year-over-year (April to April, to allow for the inclusion of 2009) population change in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1953 inclusive. Green columns show years with annual population growth, red show decline.

[Data source: Statistics Canada table 051-0005]

The "first time in almost four decades" claim is true... if you start counting your four decades in 1993.

It's almost as if you can tell a columnist from some country's national newspaper anything about what's going on in the easternmost province, and they'll fall for it.

Vote of confidence

The Word of Our Dan:

Williams, coming off a byelection loss to the Liberals last month on the province's Northern Peninsula, said the win erases the disappointment of that defeat.

"The people of Terra Nova have just restored my confidence in the electorate."


Tea leaves (II)

As noted last night, the vote swing in the Terra Nova by-election on Thursday was 21% towards the Happy for the Liberals, and 19% towards the Sad for The Party

That’s a net change of 40% in the margin between the two main parties, which would reduce Danny’s The Party to a bare majority of the vote (51%) to the nefarious Librils’ 43% - not a very pleasant place for a chap who much prefers annihilating and humiliating his opponents to merely defeating them.

That swing would be enough, projected across the province as a whole, to defeat Tory incumbents outright in Isles of Notre Dame, Humber Valley, Bay of Islands, Torngat Mountains, Bellevue, Lake Melville, St. Barbe, Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, Labrador West, and Bonavista North; keep Straits and White Bay North in the Liberal column after the recent by-election; and make election night uncomfortably close for other incumbent Tories in Exploits, Grand Falls-Windsor/Green Bay South, St. George’s-Stephenville East, Carbonear-Harbour Grace, Gander, and Trinity-Bay de Verde and Burin-Placentia West.

PS: Dear next Electoral Boundaries Commission... "and" spelled out, OR ampersands, OR dashes, but pick one, stick with it, and absolutely no slashes, OK?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Popularity in theory and practice

The theory: According to CRA, Danny’s The Party’s popularity stand at 77% in November, the same as it was in August. That’s seven points higher than The Party got in the 2007 general election.

Meanwhile, the provincial Librils stand at 16% in November, statistically unchanged from 15% in August, and down six (or seven) points from the 2007 Gritterdammerung of 22%.

The practice: In the September by-election in the Straits and White Bay North, which occurred between CRA polling periods, the Liberal vote share was up 15% over the 2007 general election result, while The Party’s vote share was down by 19%.

In the November by-election in Terra Nova, just days after CRA finished its fieldwork, The Party’s vote share is down 19%, while the nefarious Libril vote is up 21% — all but identical, for statistical purposes, with the September by-election variation.


All eyes on Terra Nova

Ok, maybe not all eyes. But for those eyes that are, this is where they should go for by-election numbers:

Results should start coming in in about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A substantial number of MHAs argued that the nature of political life in Newfoundland and Labrador is such that it is necessary that such expenditures be condoned. In fact, some said that their lives as elected members would be intolerable if those expenditures were not permitted. They talked in terms of the tremendous pressure placed on politicians to make donations and give financial support within the community. They said it was expected of the politician and that if he or she did not “play the game” there would be consequences at the polls. They also argued that such expenditures, judiciously applied, made an important contribution to the community. How could an MHA, it was said, turn down a request for food or medicine for an impoverished constituent? They pointed out that government social programs were often inadequate and citizens sometimes “fell through the cracks.” The MHA was in the best position to know who the deserving ones were and to take steps to fill the void. The point was also made by some opposition Members that the ability of an opposition MHA to provide “social service” types of donations was especially important because there was a perception that government Members, especially if they were also Ministers, had an easier time accessing government programs for their constituents. The ability of opposition Members to make discretionary donations was one way in which this perceived imbalance could be righted.

Notwithstanding these arguments, I believe these practices belong to another age. It is an age we should leave.
That was the Hon. J. Derek Green, in his May 2007 report. Two and a half years ago. Seems like a lifetime.

Of course, he was speaking to the issue of mere mortal MHAs making donations… not the Government itself Himself making “donations”. As the Telegram online reported today:

A campaign to raise money for a Ronald McDonald House for this province got off to a good start today with a $500,000 donation from the province.

Premier Danny Williams announced the donation at the Fluvarium in St. John’s this morning.Ronald McDonald House will provide a place for children who have to come to St. John’s from rural parts of the province for serious medical attention, to stay with their parents and families.

The total cost of the project is $4.5 million.

And as the Ministry of Truth (Provincial) put it:

The Capital Campaign to raise money for the province's first Ronald McDonald House is underway. The first major donors are the provincial government and Memorial University with $500,000 from government and Memorial University donating the land.
Unfortunately, while The Most Open And Accountable Government In The Universe put out an announcement announcing that Himself would speak, TMOAAGITU didn’t bother to follow up with Himself’s actual words — making it impossible for a body who didn’t have the good fortune to be in His presence today to know whether He used the D-word Himself, or whether it’s an interpolation by the media on their intertubes.

Object lesson for MHAs who thought that the Green report actually meant anything: if you’re bent on making donations qua donations; if, in Mr. Justice Green’s quoted words, you want to “play the game”... then get yourself into government and stay that way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another money quote

Via Sir Robert Bond Papers, the long-overdue AV file of Kathy Dunderdale's September 4th on-air appearance with VOCM's Randy Simms.

Among the other highlights, at 7:12 into the presentation: "We don't need Ottawa."

The Word of Our Dan's Deputy.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Change of plans


Media Advisory: Premier to Announce Site Selection for New Long-Term Care Homes in St. John’s

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, will be joined by the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Transportation and Works (Acting), and Vickie Kaminski, President and Chief Executive Officer for Eastern Health, to officially announce the site selection for two new long-term care homes in St. John’s.
New Long-Term Care Homes to Be Built in Pleasantville

Two new long-term care homes will be constructed on the site of the former Janeway Properties in Pleasantville, replacing the Hoyles-Escasoni complex in St. John’s. The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, and the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Transportation and Works (Acting), made the announcement today. They were joined by Vickie Kaminski, President and Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Health.

Cf., September 28, 2009:

Media Advisory: Premier to Announce Location for New Western Memorial Regional Hospital

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and MHA for Humber West, will be joined by the Honourable Paul Oram, Minister of Health and Community Services, and the Honourable Tom Marshall, MHA for Humber East, to officially announce the location for the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital.

And, um, later on September 28, 2009:
Site Announced for New Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Construction of a new state-of-the-art health care facility is one step closer to reality today as the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and MHA for Humber West, announced the site for the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook. The Premier was joined by the Honourable Paul Oram, Minister of Health and Community Services; the Honourable Tom Marshall, MHA for Humber East; and other regional MHAs and town representatives.



The Ceeb joins the Club of the Differently Numerate:
Low turnout for advance poll in N.L. byelection
Last Updated: Sunday, November 22, 2009 11:21 AM NT

Only 219 voters cast ballots in the advance poll for a provincial byelection in eastern Newfoundland Saturday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

High, low, jackpot

A strange little story today on the Ministry of Truth (Provincial):

Low turnout at Advance Polls

A little over 200 voters turned out to cast their ballots in the Advance Polls for the up-coming Terra Nova by-election. That is a mere fraction of the over 8-thousand eligible voters in the district.

[And, edited to add, the Quebec Daily Newspaper:]

Small turnout in advance polls
The Telegram

A total of 219 people voted in advance polls Saturday for the Terra Nova byelection, according to the province’s office of the chief electoral officer.

It is indeed a "mere fraction" or a "small" number.

But guess what? It's always a "mere fraction" of eligible voters who show up for advance polls in any electoral event. The small-ness and low-ness (or big-ness and high-ness) of the turnout at advance polls is not measured by the fraction who show up; it's measured by how high that fraction is compared to other electoral districts, or other electoral events in the same district.

According to the Chief Electoral Officer, 219 of 8,282 eligible voters cast advance ballots in the Terra Nova by-election. That's 2.6%.

In the last provincial general election, only 1.9% of the overall vote in the district was cast in the advance polls. By that measure, the advance vote in the by-election is high.

In the last provincial general election, overall 2.1% of the vote was case in advance polls. Again, against that yardstick, the advance vote this time is high.

And, of the four by-elections held so far in the life of this legislature, the advance poll turnout has been 2.5% in The Straits and White Bay North (up from 1.4% in 2007), 2.1% in Baie Verte–Springdale (up from 1.6%), and 1.2% in Cape St. Francis (down from 2%, the only by-election decline). In other words, as compared to other by-elections, the advance vote is high.

So, only if by "low" or "small" they meant "high", the Ministry of Truth and the Quebec Daily Newspaper are absolutely correct in saying that turnout in the Terra Nova advance polls is low or small.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Labrador Metis Nation President Chris Montague took the Atlantic Premiers' meeting in Churchill Falls to remind one of the four Premiers in particular of the environmental and legal concerns that the LMN has about Our Dear ImaginaryLower Churchill Project.

As reported by Dave Bartlett in today's Telegram, that brought the following retort from Himself:
But Williams said Montague is simply taking an opportune moment to get some publicity.

"That's typical of Mr. Montague," said Williams.

"He always tries to ... get involved at a time when there's a critical time in the negotiations, to do what he can to hamper those negotiations."

He adds, for good measure:
Williams recently told a Telegram editorial board that if the New Dawn Agreement with the Labrador Innu isn't ratified, the Lower Churchill deal would die.

On Friday, he said that's not the case with the Metis, and the project wouldn't be shelved if an agreement can't be reached with the LMN.

Friday, November 20, 2009


An amusing tidbit from VOCM earlier today:

Guns-N-Hoses Blood Donor Challenge Today

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the St. John's Firefighters Association are asking residents in St. John's and surrounding areas to support them in the first annual Guns-N-Hoses Blood Donor Challenge.

What would they have called this event if the RNC were still unarmed?

For Pig

Y’know, the Premier has gone to Quebec, and gone to Premier Charest, and, y’know, we’ve had NALCO(R) visit y’know Hydro-Quebec, I’ve been meeting with Ministers and so on. And we say to them, okay, y’know, we’ll set the Upper Churchill to one side, but, y’know, let’s sit down and have a talk about this Lower Churchill piece. Y’know, we know that we have to have a win-win situation here. Because we, as I’ve said earlier this week, we know that if you don’t have win-win you have win and poison pill. Because that’s what we’ve got with the Upper Churchill. So we can have a win-win situation. 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.
- Kathy Dunderdale on VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms, September 4, 2009


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your daily physics lesson

This is what an anti-sphere (as opposed to a pro-sphere) looks like:


Back on September 3rd, the Ministry of Truth (Provincial) reported:
Gros Morne Off the Table

It means a longer, more expensive route, but Premier Danny Williams has nixed the idea of building transmission lines through Gros Morne National Park.
Hooray, Premier Danny Williams, for taking off the table the very thing you put on it in the first place, even if certain naysayers point out that the math is all wrong. But in case there was any lingering doubt left, you no longer need to take this corner’s word for it.

NALCO(R)’s former environmental filing for Our Dear Infeed – the route that Our Dear Premier revealed over two months ago he was just “kidding” about – described the island portion of the route in the following, mysteriously copy-protected terms (p. 31 of the file, p. 24 of the document):
The HVdc transmission line will leave the landing site on the Island side of the Strait of Belle Isle, and travel south along the western portion of the Northern Peninsula and then southeast across the Island. It will then cross the Isthmus of Avalon and extend to Soldiers Pond on the northeast Avalon Peninsula for a distance of up to approximately 760 km (depending upon the specific corridor options eventually selected and implemented).*
The new, non-kidding, but equally copy-protected description (p. 32 of the file, p. 24 of the document) reads:
The HVdc transmission line will leave the landing site on the Island side of the Strait of Belle Isle, and travel south along the western portion of the Northern Peninsula and then southeast across the Island. It will then cross the Isthmus of Avalon and extend to Soldiers Pond on the northeast Avalon Peninsula, for a distance of approximately 688 km.*
760 - 688 = 72


So, depending on where the alternative route rejoins the brown main route, the Gros Morne option for getting from the west coast of Newfoundland to central Newfoundland is somewhere between 68 and 74 km longer than the alternative route that ODP says is shorter. And really, who are any of us to doubt Him?

* References to figures omitted.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Attendance will be kept

While certain members of the Naysaying Anti Posse* point out how Himself wastes less and less time in the House of Assembly, even when He does show up, across the water in New Brunswick, Shawn Graham points out Himself's less-than-stellar attendance record in another forum, in which He has membership:
Graham originally doubted that he would be able to attend because of the demands of the legislature - news that Williams described as "disappointing" since the meeting is specifically to discuss energy.

But now Graham says he will travel to Churchill Falls on Thursday evening.

"For the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to be complaining that I wouldn't be attending the meeting, I felt that was unfortunate," Graham said.

"I've seen Danny Williams skip out on a number of meetings. He didn't attend the Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting in Nova Scotia last year because, at that time, he was feuding with (former Nova Scotia premier) Rodney MacDonald over the offshore accords [...] He chose to miss out and I didn't criticize him because I recognized the politics involved."

*There Is No Naysaying Anti Posse.


For Huh?

The Western Star editorializes about the Amazing Disappearing Legislature:

This government has never been much for facing daily questioning of its actions and nothing has changed this year ... except an opportune excuse popped up.

Which prompts a healthy dose of skepticism from Huh?:

I would expect some facts to back up this accusation, such as the number of days the current government sits compared to previous gov'ts.

Here you go, Huh? This cleverly colour-coded chart shows the number of sitting days of the House of Assembly, by year, and by part that was in power for most of that year. Pale colours indicate election years, when the House normally sits less anyway. The current year is left uncoloured, since it isn't over yet.

During the Wells years, the House sat, on average, 79 days each year.

In the Tobin-Grimes years, that fell to 50.

In the Williams years, it has fallen further still, to 46.

And of those declining number of days, Himself is taking part in them less and less as the Williams years drag on.

Glad to be of service, Huh?.

Staggering coincidence

There's a Churchill Falls in Newfoundland, too?

Media Advisory: Council of Atlantic Premiers Meets in Churchill Falls, Newfoundland on November 20


Jerome! Kennedy, who is Minister of Something, and a truly Great Lawyer, can’t be bothered with pesky things like professional medical opinion:
Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister Jerome Kennedy says he is considering making senior citizens the next candidates for getting the province's swine flu vaccine, even if it means overruling the advice of medical experts.

"I will not blindly follow the medical advice," Kennedy said.
In the highly unlikely event that this brilliant decision should result in a lawsuit, Jerome! will no doubt ignore the professional legal opinion, too.

Actually, make that: again.


Likey speechey? (II)

From a government and a leader who, unlike some people, really know how to do openness and accountability, all the speeches you can shake a stick at.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's November 12th speech to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation strikes more than a few familiar themes for regular visitors to this corner of the intertubes...

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The AIMS report (II)

It's remarkable, how precious little interest there appears to be in demographic issues, at least in public, on the part of the Bureau of Economics and the Political Scienticians at MUN.

Evidence to the contrary is welcome.


The AIMS report (I)

The demographic report released on Monday by the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies will leave the Eighth Floor wondering (yet again) whether AIMS, once the enabler in the Great Patriotic War Over Equalization, is a friend, and enemy, or a frienemy.

The AIMS research team of Denton, Feaver and Spencer ran six different demographic projections, under a variety of input assumptions, to forecast population triends in all four Atlantic provinces between now and 2046.

Projection A assumed no major change in recent demographic triends. Projection B was the most dismal population projection for Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the experimental window in 2046. It assumed the continuation of interprovincial migration trends seen between 2003 and 2008. (The authors offer the caveat that they do not actually expect the assumption in Projection B to hold true for the entire period.) On the other hand, Projection D was the most optimistic come 2046, owing to a change in the input which assumed a turnaround in fertility rates. The three options are shown on the following chart, along with the thick blue line, which shows the actual population as recorded in the census up to 2006 inclusive. The provincial government, through the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, has also been in the population-projection business, though it will only project outwards to 2026. It has made projections for the provincial population under three different assumptions, which it calls "High", "Medium", and "Low". Only the optimistic "High" projection shows any population growth over the planning window, and even that is very modest. The three projections are graphed here, again with the recent census population.

And here are both sets of demographic experimentation (Statistics Agency figures are the shorter, thicker lines; AIMS' projections are the longer, thinner ones.) Yet again, the observed census population, going back to the pre-Confederation censuses as early as 1884, are also shown.

Even in the shorter window set by the 2026 cut-off, the middle-of-the-road AIMS projection is at least as pessimistic than the most pessimistic of the official government demographer's assumptions. The most optimistic AIMS scenario falls well short of the "High" assumptions proffered by the NLSA.

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Despatches from Dannystan (II)

Another curious passage from Roy MacGregor's article in Monday's edition of Canada's sub-National Newspaper:
Williams has been trying to gain access to Quebec power transmission lines for years without success.

(1) For how many years has this trying been happening, exactly?

(2) So when Danny (and not his notional minister of natural resources, whoever that is) announced this thing back in April... was he just kidding? Was it a success, and simultaneously not a success?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Despatches from Dannystan (I)

Roy MacGregor makes another of Canada's sub-National Newspaper's cursory and shallow flying visits to Dannystan, and reports:
Newfoundland and Labrador sources say Williams will need federal help in his new battle against the expansion plans of Hydro-Québec. The energy giant has recently struck an agreement that could result in a $10-billion deal to gain significant control over New Brunswick Power, and there has been talk of a similar arrangement with Prince Edward Island.

It's hard to tell who is deluding themselves more here: the "sources" who imagine that there is any way that the federal government could, let alone would, intervene in the NB-Quebec deal, or Mr. MacGregor, for giving such nonsense any credence at all.


Y'all can put away the "Danny Chavez" joke now

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, dismissing golf as a "bourgeois" luxury, looks to seize the country's courses and turn the land over to the government.

In Dannystan, the local strongman is not just a golf enthusiast, but a golf architect and golf subsidizer.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

DanSpeak: "final"

Late last month, as reported by Rob Antle on October 31st, Premier Williams told the Telegram editorial board:
The province and Innu leaders have finished fine-tuning a land-claims agreement that could clear a key hurdle to the development of the Lower Churchill - or throw a big wall up in front of it.

"There was an agreement in principle, and then there was fine-tuning that had to be done," Premier Danny Williams told the editorial board of The Telegram Wednesday.
"Over the course of the last three months, they've worked away at that. They've finally got that done. So that's now done, and all the detail has been finalized."


The final agreement is now complete, Williams said. When it is put into print, it will go to a vote by the Innu for ratification.

"So that's very, very close to being finalized," the premier said.
Hold on, there, pip. Sue Bailey of CP gets the other side of the story today:
A multimillion-dollar deal to win aboriginal support critical to the development of Labrador's Lower Churchill hydro megaproject is beset by delays, an Innu Nation leader says.

Days after Premier Danny Williams said the agreement was near completion, deputy grand chief Peter Penashue said legal wrangling has slowed ratification of the Tsash Petapen or New Dawn Agreement.


A ratification vote for the Innu community of about 2,500 people was initially slated for early in 2009. That ambitious goal was missed, and the vote has been repeatedly put off.

...Penashue said it could be three or four years before the agreement winds its way through federal channels and is ultimately approved and voted on by his people.

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Mr. Accountability (VIII): Nothing but a sham

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on March 14, 2002:
[MR. WILLIAMS]: I think we saw that story that was in The Telegram, I think, a couple of years ago, where there was a big exposé about the inability to access information. That was one of the same articles in which it appeared that it was $10,000 to access information.

MR. E. BYRNE: They charged us, yes.

MR. WILLIAMS: Absolutely. We were charged $10,000 to try and find information on water samples.

There is all kinds of discretion in all the ministers; they can decide what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. They can stretch the time limits out for a full year. They can charge you fees that are prohibitive so that if you do not have enough money to pay the piper to get that information, then you do not get it. Then they throw out the Citizens’ Representative as being the be-all and end-all. You can appeal to the Ombudsman, to the Citizens’ Representative, and that person has no power to recommend. This piece of legislation is nothing but a sham.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Williams Effect, 2009 (II)

According to the latest Statistics Canada figures, employment in Newfoundland and Labrador in October 2009 stood at 213,000 persons – a decline of 4.9% since the recent highs of 224,000 record in early 2008.

The only other provinces which come close in terms of relative decline in the numbers of persons employed during the current recession are Alberta (-3.3% off its recent high), Ontario (-3.2%), and British Columbia (-2.8%). Employment in PEI and NB has been fairly stable, while Saskatchewan has actually seen an absolute increase in employment even in the teeth of the recession.

Again in keeping with the theory of the Williams Effect, the poor employment performance of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy — perhaps the New York audience will be subjected to the story about the “boom” — must be attributed to Danny Williams-Government.



Mr. Accountability (VII): A right to know what is going on

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament of December 3, 2001:
[MR. WILLIAMS]: The other interesting sections here, as well, are confidences or deliberations by educational bodies and health care bodies and municipalities in the absence of the public. Of course, that was the subject of a question last week: in fact whether what I termed secret meetings, if someone took exception to that, let’s call them private meetings, called the meetings in the absence of the public, the public is excluded, that is the bottom line on it. Those are accepted. As well under this section, plans that relate to the management or the administration of a public body that have not yet been implemented or made public, those as well cannot be disclosed. Those should be disclosed. Then comes the important one as well, one that is equally important: information about negotiations carried on by or for a public body for the government of this Province. That is the Voisey’s Bay clause. That is the Lower Churchill clause. That is the one that this government can use to prevent disclosure of negotiations. Their answer to that is: Well, you cannot disclose the negotiations. If negotiations are going on in private, it is not right to get out and disclose those negotiations. You cannot do that.

Well I submit, Mr. Speaker, we should do that. The people of this Province have a right to know what is going on. It should not be done behind closed doors. It should not be a fait accompli. It should not be signed, sealed and delivered and then rammed down their throats after it is all over. That is too late.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: That is wrong. It is these kinds of clauses that are dangerous to the public. Access to information is extremely important, but denial of the right to know what is going on in those negotiations affects our future and affects the future of the children of this Province. If those resources are given away, forever and a day, when hon. members opposite are long gone, who pays the price? It will not be any of us in this House. It will be our children and it will be our grandchildren. They are the ones who are going to pay the price when it is all over.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Williams Effect, 2009 (I)

In conformity with the theory of the Williams Effect, which states that macro-economic trends in the provincial economy are attributed to the very existence of Danny Williams-Government, the dismal prediction on the part of the Conference Board of Canada must also be Danny Williams-Government’s responsibility.

Sharp declines in forestry, mining and manufacturing will send Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy tumbling by 3.6 per cent in 2009. In 2010, declining offshore oil production and weaker construction activity will lead to a further decline of 0.5 per cent in real GDP.


Mr. Accountability (VI): We stand for quick access to information

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament of December 3, 2001:
[MR. WILLIAMS]: If the minister of that department decides, after fifteen days - we are now up to 264 days - that they are going to reject it, then what is my option? My option then is to go to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. First of all, I have to pay for the expense of all this, because this is obviously costing somebody money. I don’t know what my fees are going to be, but I have to pay the expense. Then I have to go to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. How long is that going to take? I have to hire a lawyer, I have to retain a lawyer, I have to get an application done, I have to get it before the court and I have to get a decision. A long time.

It is not inconceivable that it could be over a year before you finally realize that you are either going to get the information or you do not get the information. That is the new and improved act. What is the good of that? We stand for quick access to information. This act does not provide it.

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Autonomoney! (III)

The Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs (Acting), has some ideas on how to help municipalities:

The Department of Municipal Affairs also highlighted for delegates a number of initiatives in support of municipalities which include:

  • A commitment to continue to pursue federal funding that may become available. In 2009, the Department of Municipal Affairs accessed almost $110 million for municipal infrastructure through Building Canada, Base Funds, stimulus money, and federal top-up funds.

Excellent. The Department of Municipal Affairs of The Most Autonomous Province Ever will, maybe, continue to expend letterhead and metered envelopes, writing to Uncle Louis St. Laurent Uncle Steve, asking for still more federal money to be autonomous with.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ex cathedra

Via Marty Klinkenberg of the Saint John Telegraph-Journal:
Talking about issues as wide-ranging as power rates and arguments over sovereignty, he stole the show at the panel discussion, which also included Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's minister of Economic Development and Trade.

"The Government of Ontario may have to hire an actor to do as good a job as the premier did for New Brunswick today," said Pupatello, who kidded Graham at one point, telling him that until Tuesday all she knew about the NB Power deal was what Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams had said about it.

Afterward, Pupatello said she was convinced it was a smart decision for New Brunswick, and said Graham offers "energetic leadership."

"I am totally impressed by what I heard today," Pupatello said.

Mr. Accountability (V): Completely subjective

From the proceedings in the Bow-Wow Parliament of December 3, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, to move on to the second part of this particular bill. Under Section 6.(1), "A person who makes a request under section 7 has a right of access to a record..." A very, very important section. Subsection (3), "The right of access to a record is subject to the payment of a fee required under section 67." In the proposed Bill 49, that fee scope is, in fact, enlarged. Now, I acknowledge there is a discretion to waive a fee, but that is a discretion. It does not have to be done, but that is enlarged. It now includes search, preparation, copying and delivery services, and that is an issue. It is a very important issue. When I go through the timetable here you will realize just how important an issue it is, because last year, if I remember correctly, there was an incident where a member of the Opposition made an application for some information under Freedom of Information and a bill of $10,000 was proposed. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. A $10,000 bill was put forward to try and block the information. A lot of money. This, in fact, enlarges that scope.

Now, let’s deal with time periods because I think it is important to track what the ordinary individual is going to have to go through in order to get information from this government or public body or any of the people under the definitions. The former act said it took thirty days. In thirty days the information had to be provided. The new act says, reasonable efforts within thirty days. Now, Mr. Speaker, my submission is: Who decides what reasonable efforts are? So, if you can’t do it in thirty days with a reasonable effort, what is a reasonable effort: 365 days, 720 days, 31 days? Who defines that? Completely subjective. So a reasonable effort can be whatever it wants to be.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Over at nottawa, a field report from the Department of No One Would Believe You If You Made This Stuff Up.

Added bonus: awesome visual gag.

Mr. Accountability (IV): Sound, reasonable principles

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on December 3, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: That is what my platform is all about; no hidden documents, no hidden agenda. That is why our position is so clear on Voisey’s Bay. No secret negotiations, no secret documents. If the people know the country will be safe, and they have a right to know. They need to know the details on major negotiations of a $50 billion resource. They have a right to know. Why should it be kept secret? That is why I said it.

Let’s go to our policy on Freedom of Information, which is contained in our Blue Book in the 1999 election. "A PC Government will establish a new Freedom of Information Act to reduce the cost of accessing information...". First point, reduce the cost of accessing information. Secondly, " reduce the wait for information, and to ensure that Ministers actually provide the information requested where that information belongs in the public domain...". Three pretty sound, reasonable principles.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Mr. Accountability (III): Denial of information

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on November 28, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: The Premier continues to refuse to answer questions. It is ironic that the very committee that he speaks of, a request for information was asked on the deliberations of that committee and the government refused to provide that information.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier agree that the extended time periods, prohibited fees, and the lack of authority by the Citizens’ Representative, in fact constitute a denial of information, rather than access to information?

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Mr. Accountability (II): Procedural roadblocks

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on November 28, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has claimed to have an open, accessible and transparent government, yet the new Freedom of Information Act, the proposed Bill 49, in fact makes it more difficult for the public to secure information due to procedural roadblocks.

Could the Premier explain to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador why the former act had a thirty-day response period, yet the new act, the proposed bill, requires reasonable efforts only in a thirty-day period, provides for an extension of a further thirty-day period under certain circumstances and, in fact, provides for circumstances where it can be in excess of ninety days? Could the Premier please explain why the differences?

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

The legislative agenda

This scheduling grid shows compares the schedules of the House of Commons, Senate, and the provincial and territorial legislatures so far this fall (click to enlarge).

The background grey and white zones distinguish the business days of the four months, September through October, left to right. Weekends and holidays are in green. Sitting days are in dark blue, while projected sitting days (where the legislature has provided a calendar of future business) are in light blue.

The British Columbia legislature actually reconvened in August, while those of Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories have already adjourned.

The Bow-Wow Parliament, shown here as the bottom row, in the absence of hard information, has "projected" sitting days are based on the planned November 30th opening of the House of Assembly — and on the fact that it has not, in recent years, sat more than three weeks, or any later than the third week of December.

It often rises for Christmas even earlier than that.

In announcing that the House would finally open on November 30th, Government House Leader Joan Burke said that "Government is eager to resume its legislative agenda".

Whatever that agenda is.

Perhaps the brilliant legislative drafters in Confederation Building have finally tackled the long-promised, yet still undelivered Whistleblower protection bill — the one which Our Dear Premier wanted to take the time "to do right".

Or, perhaps, the eager legislative beavers will finally start gnawing out the Act Respecting Sir Wilfred Grenfell University. That's a piece of legislation — a legislative "piece", if you will — that Joan Burke, wearing her Ministur of Edjukayshn hat, said that she had not had time to finish.

Or, perhaps, they will be handed a new set of marching orders: don't just stand there, expropriate something! And quick!

Who knows?


Timetable change (II)

While Hydro will take the required time to complete due diligence on the feasibility of this project, a planning schedule has been developed that will see a project sanctioning decision by 2009 and potentially first power by 2015.
2009 (From another in Rob Antle's editorial board series for the Telegram, not online) :

The province had hoped to sanction the project this year.

But Williams acknowledged last week that won't happen.

"This matter here is not going to resolve in the short term," the premier said. "Not by a long shot. We're not looking at a Lower Churchill deal in the near term. I'd love to get the project sanctioned in the next couple of years, and then get it moving after that."


Mr. Accountability (I): What are you trying to hide?

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament of November 26, 2001:

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Premier, I would ask you: Given this year’s increasing deficit, why does section 23(1)(c) of this act give the government the absolute right to deny to the public vital information which would enable them to determine the impact on public services and programs in this Province? That is section 23(1)(c), Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, it does not do that. This government has no plan to do that. Mr. Speaker, I know they find that hard to understand, but the whole notion on the modus operandi for this government is that, when there are issues that are of importance to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, they are fully disclosed and fully debated.

I know the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, does not understand that, because when the people that they used to support were in government - because I am not allowed to say when they were in government, because there are none of them there. There is not a soul over there, Mr. Speaker. They have one who is a former premier that they have relegated to the far end of the bench, Mr. Speaker, the very far end of the bench, because they do not want to be tied to things that they used to do and used to support. So, in fact, we will be judged proudly and gladly any day by our record which will be full, open disclosure and accountability, the likes of which has not been seen by any government in this Province before, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WILLIAMS: My final question for the Premier is: Why are he and his government using this very, very important piece of legislation to deny vital information to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? What are you trying to hide?

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Eager beavers

It's hard to tell any more whether the big syrupy doses of irony in ITAR-DAN announcements like this are accidental or subversively deliberate:
"Government is eager to resume its legislative agenda," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Government House Leader. "We look forward to some productive input and debate, which will contribute to the betterment of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Government is so eager to resume its legislative agenda (whatever the blue blazes that is; where's the whistleblower bill, folks?) and so looking forward to productive input and debate (like this)... yet the Amazing Disappearing Legislature continues to disappear, amazingly.


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Pease in a pod (VI)

Danny Williams-Government:

The provincial Department of Education is withholding engineering reports on the state of two St. John's high schools, claiming the reports are still in draft form - even though the local school authority made decisions four months ago based in part on the reports' findings.
And again:

Someone’s got a bit of explaining to do. After the province’s minister of health, Ross Wiseman, slipped up on Wednesday and revealed the existence of inspection reports on hospitals in the St. John’s area, he had to know that the questions would come fast and furious.

Questions like: given this written commitment from the Williams campaign in the 2003 election campaign that “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,” why is it these reports have spent three years or so hidden from view?

And "Steve", via Kady O'Malley:

Question: So how long have you had it?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: --- to last year when it was 2.4 percent. So what the information -

Question: How long have you had it?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: --- what this report demonstrates is exactly what we have been saying.

Question: How long have you had the Commissioner of Firearms report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: If I could finish -

Question: No, sir, you haven't answered the question that I asked you. You're answering a completely different question.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: What the report demonstrates is what we have been saying all along -

Question: How long have you had the Firearms Commissioner's report, sir?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: --- that the registry - the long-gun registry is not used by police to prevent crime. It's thoroughly ineffective and that when we eliminate the long-gun registry, 97 percent - over 97 percent of the occasions -

Question: This isn't a news conference, these are questions. How long have you had the Firearms report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: --- over 97 percent of the occasions that -


Thursday, November 05, 2009


Geoff Meeker weighs in on the wisdom of employing the personal touch you only get with hired goons.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

By the numbers: Members' Compensation Review Committee

Total number of public sessions held by the Members’ Compensation Review Committee: 6

Total number of such sessions held in the afternoon between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.: 6

Total number of public individual presenters who appeared befor the Committee: 12

Average number per session: 2

Total number of those presenters who appeared at a session outside Capital City: 4

Average number per session outside Capital City: 1

Total number of Groups/Organizations who appeared before the Committee: 4

Average number per session: 0.6667

Average number per session outside Capital City: 0

Total number who appeared before the Committee outside Capital City: 0

Total number of groups, organizations, or private individuals who went before the Committee in public sessions: 16

Total number of MHAs who went before the Committee in closed-door sessions: 17


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Timetable change

While Hydro will take the required time to complete due diligence on the feasibility of this project, a planning schedule has been developed that will see a project sanctioning decision by 2009 and potentially first power by 2015.
He still hopes to make the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project a reality before leaving office.

"I'm definitely going to hang around to see if I can get it done," said the premier.

But Williams said he's not going to stick around forever "to beat a dead horse" if a deal cannot be sealed, nor will he sign a bad deal for the sake of getting one done while in office.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Pease in a pod (V) (bis)

Blue Sweater Sweater-vest edition:


Residency requirements

Tony “The Tory” Ducey, from Frenchman’s Cove – which is not in Labrador – has a letter in this week’s Labradorian. It’s not on-line, but it’s identical to his epistle which ran in the Quebec Daily Newspaper on Friday.

Invoking the Andrew Waugh Rule, Tony the Tory can expect to see a missive from Minister John Hickey in response, along the lines of last week’s effort in the Labradorian and the Aurora – in the latter, running under the deliciously ambiguous headline, “Hickey offended by opinion”.

The good Minister will no doubt sneeringly refer to Ducey’s “Frenchman’s Cove home”, sarcastically concede that “Mr. Ducey is entitled to his opinions on any and all Labrador matters, even as he writes from the comfort of his Frenchman’s Cove home”, and pose the burning rhetorical question, “would readers be better served if the Labradorian and the Aurora awarded coveted editorial space to a letter-writer who is a resident of Labrador?”


The man in the mirror

From Dave Bartlett’s debrief of ODP’s appearance before the Editorial Board of the Quebec Daily Newspaper:

However, he revealed this week he was close to walking away from political life before he even ran for office.

"I just looked in the mirror one morning and said, 'Look, if I don't do this, will I look back in 10 years time and say I could've made a difference?' And I think we've made a difference," Williams said.
Dave Bartlett must be a CTV/NTV viewer:

CBC The National, December 8, 2003:

I just didn't want to look in the mirror in ten years' time and say you walked away from it.
Cf. Rex Murphy’s puff-piece from The National of October 9, 2007. (Formerly at
before the stand-up comics SuperGeniuses at CBC re-launched, made their shows unwatchable, and their website unuseable):
You know, I was 50 when the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party here indicated he was stepping down. I had no interest in going into politics on the front line. I'd always been involved in organization, poll captains, done all of that, but I sat back and went away by myself because people were asking me then if I was interested in the leadership. And I finally got up one morning and looked in the mirror, and I said: "If I don't do this, in ten years' time, I might look back and say, you know, I might have made a difference." And that's what drives me. That's what motivates me. It's also the wrongs of the past that motivate me. I don't think we've gotten a fair shake in the eyes of the nation. I think we've got a lot to offer.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sycophant of the Month: October 2009

Total number of ProvGov press releases issued in October: 175 (+3 from September).

Total number with the phrase "Williams Government": 9 (+2 from September).

Sycophancy index: 5.1% (+1.0% from September).

Susan Sullivan opened the game on October 5th, and never really looked back.

Sure, Jerome! and Danny Williams-Government scored a couple of flukes later the same day, followed by Tom Hedderson the next morning. But the first two wouldn’t be heard from again all month.

Sullivan then knocked in a pair on the 16th, including a rare joint DWG. Hedderson was back on the board on the 28th, but Sullivan answered quite nicely with one on the 29th and – good heavens – another joint on the 30th.

And that was all she wrote. Jerome! and DWG, one each; Hedderson two; Sullivan five. Not even close.

Taking the reins from Trevor Taylor, the new monthly winner, for the first time, Susan Sullivan. Congratulations!

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Flash back, flash forward

In an early example of what autonomy would come to mean for Our Dear Premier (note that it is “Ottawa” that should do the completing here), Danny Williams told the Labrador West Transportation Symposium in February 2001:
Ottawa should now complete the interprovincial highway system by joining the Trans Canada Highway, the Trans Labrador Highway and the Trans Newfoundland Highway into a continuous drive from coast to coast. We have waited long enough to finish the drive!

I tell you now, that any government I lead will have this as a top priority. We will seek the participation of the federal government and the Quebec government in a joint investigation of the feasibility of constructing a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle, and connecting a completed Trans Labrador Highway to the national highways system.
Eight years later, next door in Quebec, La Conférence régionale des élus — approximately equivalent to the Combined Councils of Labrador — is again turning up the heat on the highways front, pushing for expedited work on the 389, which links Baie-Comeau and Labrador City, and on the long-dreamt-of extension of the 138 the rest of the way along the Lower North Shore, which would provide a second public surface route to Labrador and Newfoundland.

(coverage by Le Nord-Est and Radio-Canada Côte-Nord, en français.)

The CRÉ is even taking things one step further, proposing that the 389 not only be upgraded along its existing course, but that it also be extended north to Schefferville and Kuujuaq. The group was taking advantage of consultations on the Quebec government’s Plan nord to promote the idea

Meanwhile in Dannystan, the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador — in a province where Ministers admit to playing it by ear — consists of a re-packaging of Stuff The Government Was Going To Do Anyway. Even the website for the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador (as opposed to the Northern Strategic Plan for the Burin Peninsula?) has been bit-bucketted.

Danny Williams-Government won’t entertain the idea, cheap as the idea itself is, of building a highway into northern Labrador, until sometime well into the 2020s or after.

And Danny Williams-Government himself, who once said he’d have a grand ol’ chat with Jean Charest about Route 138, a necessary prerequisite for the Danny Williams Memorial Tunnel, has now taken to spitting the words “Jean Charest” and “Quebec” as epithets.

So much for seeking the participation of Quebec in improving transportation in the northeastern corner of Canada.

And so much for top priorities.