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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taste Police 9-1-1

Yeah, I'd like to report an incident in progress.

In Vancouver.

Right now.

Yeah, I can see the guy on my TV.

Name is Bublé.


Michael Bublé.

Just turn it to channel 7.

Quick, before the girl-Mounties start pole-dancing.

Not It

A selection of headlines, albeit over the top of wire copy, from the past decade or so of the St. John's Telegram. These were presumably not off-track, contemptible, unfortunate, unnecessary, irrelevant or hurtful:

Ford, second wife, announce separation
N.Y. mayor files for divorce
William Shatner and girlfriend apply for marriage licence in Indiana
Irish wrestle with issue of PM's girlfriend
Cruise, Kidman split
Former prime minister admits affair with MP
Minnelli, Gest separate
Oscar-winner Halle Berry announces separation from husband
[Ontario Premier Mike] Harris 'disappointed' in attention to girlfriend's divorce
Bush brother's divorce produces startling disclosures
Lionel Ritchie's estranged wife wants $300,000 a month in support
Aniston, Pitt split
Sorenstam files for divorce
Denise Richards files for divorce
Prince's wife seeks divorce
Bruce Springsteen separated from wife of 15 years
Sara Evans, husband agree to split cash, work out visitation
Britney Spears files for divorce; cites irreconcilable differences
Doors drummer files for divorce
Bill Murray's divorce finalized
Italian PM demands apology from wife for divorce threat
Sanford latest in long line of politicians caught cheating
Dennis Hopper battling cancer, files for divorce


Saturday, February 27, 2010

In case you missed it

Friday was International Stand Up to Bullying Day.

It (III)

Wakeham recounts how he made an unfortunate, unnecessary, irrelevant and hurtful comment about It, thereby talking yet again about It.


It (II)

In a very unfortunate, unnecessary, irrelevant and hurtful parenthetical comment, Russell Wayne-Gretzky mentions It.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Dodged a mullet...

... but only by a hair. Ha! The final numbers are in from the Telegram's Thursday straw poll:

Shockingly, incumbent Parted down middle got smoked. But it would be an interesting exercise in voting methodology to see how the votes of the also-rans would have broken down if they could have been allocated according to second choice.

The Colour it and Curl it camps would probably have broken disproportionately for Grow a mullet, but there'd probably be upwards of 10 of the 14 percent who were Parted down middle loyalists who'd move over to Combed to side on a second ballot. It would probably still be tight, no more than a couple of percentage points, but plenty enough to spawn conspiracy theories and mockumentaries, 25, 30 years hence, about how the vote was rigged.

It's his heart, his choice...

... can't the Republicans leave the poor man alone?

Guess which recent prominent example of wealthy snowbird medical tourism got raised in Thursday's bi-partisan health care summit at the White House? (First two guesses don't count.)
That's why the Première [sic] of one of the Canadian provinces came here just last week to have his heart operated on. He said, it's my heart, it's my life, I wanna go where it's the best, and he came to the United States.

- United States Senator John Barrasso (R, Wyoming)


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off-track and contemptible (III)

From the St. John's Evening Telegram (as it then was) of March 14, 1985:


Off-track and contemptible (II)

From the St. John's Evening Telegram (as it then was) of November 2, 1983:



So, let's get this straight:

A guest on a CBC Radio program — a guest. Not the host. Not the producer. A guest. A guest on a CBC Radio program blurts out The Thing That You Are Not Allowed To Talk About. You know, It.

And accordingly, in retaliation for... what? Not having a twenty-second delay? Not shooting the guest dead on the spot? CBC, radio and TV alike, is — as Himself might put it — cut off.

Because a guest — A GUEST — blurted It out, The Thing That You Are Not Allowed To Talk About.


Alright then.

Dear Opposition Parties:

Go on the air on VOCM.

Blurt It out.

Go on the VOCM website, or the Telegram comments boards, or the Transcontinental weeklies.

Blurt It out, if you can blurt with a keyboard.

Blurt It on the Globe and Mail, blurt It on the CanWest dailies, blurt It on CTV News Channel.

Blurtez-le on Radio-Canada.

Blurt, blurt, blurt. Blurt It good.

Blurt till your blurter can blurt no more.

Blurt because, as per the solemnly promulgated Elizabeth Matthews Rule of 2010, if there are any "very unfortunate and unnecessary comments made about the premier" — passive voice, naturally — by a guest, on or in any medium, the Eighth Floor will, consistent with the rule, cut that medium off from any further availability with Himself.

Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy: you get Him off VOCM, you get Him out of the Telegram and all the other papers, and the daily news agenda will be yours and yours alone.

Let Him have NTV.

You can have the rest.

All you gotta do is blurt.


Right, bizarre parallel universe up in the sky on Confederation Hill?



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Off-track and contemptible (I)

From the St. John's Evening Telegram (as it then was) of August 15, 1978:


Meet a 'stan

First Dannystan, now Afghannystan:
Karzai's decree, published last week, gives him authority to appoint the five members of Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), according to reports from the BBC and U.K. newspapers the Guardian and Telegraph.


The commission, headed by Canadian Grant Kippen, helped expose massive fraud in last year's presidential race, forcing Karzai to call a second vote.

"A strong and independent ECC is vital for the future of a democratic Afghanistan, and any efforts to weaken this body are disturbing," Cannon said in a statement released after his interview with CBC.
Gee, if only there were some kind of organization in Canada that would, like, keep a watch on democracy or something.

And while we're in the neighbourhood, look! India has some wacky laws!
...a record 17 people died every weekday on the city’s suburban railway network in 2008.

The figures, which were obtained for The Times using India’s Right to Information Act, show that most deaths were people being run over while trespassing on the tracks.
[Emphasis and hotlink added.]

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's his hair, his business, leave the poor man alone

An interesting juxtaposition of headlines on the Quebec Daily Newspaper's website this evening:

Long-term benefit of Premier Williams’s type of heart surgery mainly cosmetic: expert 5 3:22 PM
Williams’s hair casualty of operation, premier sports new post-surgery hairstyle 9 3:19 PM


This will go on your permanent record

The Telegram's Dave Bartlett summarizes some of the office behaviour which, it is said, justified Darlene Neville's termination as Danny Williams-Government's hand-picked Child and Youth Advocate:

The report states that staff described Neville as "unpredictable, unprofessional, untrustworthy and a procrastinator with regard to both her own work as well as providing guidance to others."


Staff described Neville as a bully, who would get angry and shout and berate them.

They called her management style punitive and tyrannical with no respect for anyone but herself.

She would call the work of some staff members "crap" or "complete garbage."


The report also states she was vulgar at times…


But the report states Neville's attitude seemed to change after investigations into her office began.

Some called her change like "Jekyll and Hyde," while others said she became "eerily nice."

Monday, February 22, 2010

In other news

More news cardiological (and respiratory) from south of the border:

Chest pains send Cheney to hospital but it's his heart, his business, leave the poor man alone (CBC)

Former U.S. senator Dole in hospital but it's his lungs, his business, leave the poor man alone (CBC)



From the Ministry of Truth today.

It is unclear who — media or source — is hazy on the concept of taxonomic kingdoms, although it's clearly the media outlet which is hazy on the concept of "solved".
Mammal Mystery Solved

February 22, 2010

DFO officers have investigated the remains of a marine animal that washed up on a beach at Lower Cove on the west coast of the province. DFO says judging from the reported length of the carcass, the state and shape of the decomposed matter, it is likely that the remains are that of a small whale - such as a minke or a basking shark. A tissue sample of the carcass was taken and will be examined by DFO to try and fully identify the animal.

Talking point

Big Honkin' Passive Voice Alert edition. Here's Dippity Premier Kathy Dunderdale, on February 2nd:
"Having the surgery done in the province was never an option that was offered to him," Dunderdale said.

And here's the Owner of a Broken Heart Himself, as indirectly reported by the CBC, tonight:
"The mitral valve is a special surgery [...] It's not a typical open heart surgery where your arteries are replaced ... so, they recommended that I look at going outside the province ... what was ultimately done to me, the surgery that I eventually got ... was not offered to me in Canada."

Not offered (passive)?


But is it available?


Holy Heart of Dan

I think our popularity is based not so much on me, it's based on the fact that I think I represent in my own heart and soul the hearts and souls of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

This is my heart, it's my health and it's my choice.


Guess who (II)

From the Toronto Star, December 2, 1967, p. 4:



Transcontinental tech support works frantically to stabliize the company's web server:

[Image: Library and Archives Canada, R1196-14-7-E, Harry Rowed / National Film Board of Canada, MIKAN No. 3197025]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scratching the surface (II)

By popular demand, the full set of longer-term population trend charts for the four regions highlighted in the previous posting.

The "Rest of Newfoundland" chart in particular deserves highlighting: from 1996 to 2009, non-Avalonian Newfoundland has had a net population loss of roughly 50,000 people, with little sign of slowing down.

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Guess who (I)

Can you identify the person in this photograph, despite the poor quality of the image?

Bonus points: when was the photo taken, and what was the person doing at the time?

Stay tuned for the answer on Monday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Re Daffodil Place

Have you heard We're going to announce something about Daffodil Place?

Look at Us contributing to Daffodil Place!

Look at Us helping raise more money for Daffodil Place!

Did you hear about Our contribution to Daffodil Place?

Really, We can't say enough about Daffodil Place!

Oh, did We say contribution to Daffodil Place? We meant donation!

Really! It was a donation that We gave to Daffodil Place!

Scratching the surface

Back in September, Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Whatever He Was Then, touted the latest Statscan quarterly population estimates:

“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.”
Then in December, Tom Marshall, Minister of Whatever He Was Then, touted them again:

“It is wonderful to see more people coming back to our great province,” said the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Finance. “The population increased as a result of both positive net in-migration and a small natural increase. This is the fifth consecutive quarter we have seen positive net in-migration.”
Statscan’s quarterly figures take into account the various components of population change: births, deaths, in-migration, out-migration (yes, John Gushue, those are real words), and international immigration and emigration. However, they are geographically blunt instruments, aggregated only at the provincial and territorial level of detail.

Not so the annual population estimates, which the good folks at Tunney’s Pasture released earlier this month, to noticeably less provincial fanfare.

The detailed stats by Census Division (and the St. John’s CMA) have been helpfully abstracted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency.

With the caveat that the recent data is only preliminary, you could reach the same rosy conclusions that Messrs. Kennedy and Marshall made. Or you could scratch the surface.

The province overall had an uptick in population, per the estimates, in 2009, driven largely by net interprovincial in-migration, which is in turn driven largely by the downturn in the economy across Canada. A slight improvement in natural change (births vs. deaths) also seems to have contributed to the overall demographic picture.

However, there are several different regional trends which sum up to that provincial statistic. After several years of population stagnation, the population of the metropolitan St. John’s area is up by about 4,000 over the past two years. (In this and subsequent graphs, the scale is not uniform, and the axes do not cross at zero, in order to emphasise recent trends.)

The rural Avalon is also experiencing a boomlet – perhaps reflecting exurbanization of areas near St. John’s, particularly around Conception Bay, although that won’t be clear until the 2011 census tallies are published in 2012. The Avalon outside the St. John’s CMA has increased in population by about 1200 since 2007.

Interestingly, in both cases, the recent run-up in population comes after a mid-decade pause in a trend which actually began around 2000. And, in both cases, both metro St. John’s and the rural Avalon are only re-attaining the populations which they had in 1996; both had experienced declines:

In population demographics, as with many other things statistical, most of the Williams era so far has been a story of decline, or, at best, stagnation.

Labrador also saw an uptick in population in 2009 after some steady decline:

However, the rest of the province – namely, Newfoundland to the west of the isthmus of Avalon, has seen only a slight abatement in a very steady downward trend:

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Circuses, then and now

Another of Meeker’s young journalist pen-pals digs up an interesting blast from the past:
Smallwood came well before my time, and so I don't pretend to know anymore than this - did he stay in Canada for surgery? What kind of surgery did he undergo? More relevant to today's circus is how, and what, he told his constituents prior to departing and upon his return.
For the benefit of anonymous journalist (thanks for the historical research lead!), from a CP wire dispatch that ran on November 30, 1967 (the “last fall” referenced by Ray Guy):
Toronto – (CP) – Newfoundland Premier Joseph Smallwood entered St. Michael’s hospital Wednesday suffering from a suspected detached retina of the eye.

The premier, who had planned to leave Wednesday night for Scotland to receive an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh, announced his change of plans at the afternoon session of the Confederation of Tomorrow Conference.

He will be examined by eye specialist Dr. W.P. Callahan.


Mr. Smallwood, one of the most vocal premiers at the conference which began Monday, has been on the move almost constantly recently. He arrived here Sunday directly from a European trip that included a visit to Czechoslovakia.

It was learned that the 66-year-old premier – he will be 67 next month – spoke to Premier John Robarts of Ontario about his eye injury and that the Ontario government co-operated in arranging for the operation.

In his broadcast to Newfoundland, Mr. Smallwood said he “will not be completely out of touch” with his duties and that he will be permitted visitors and use of the telephone.

Education Minister F.W. Rowe will be acting premier while Mr. Smallwood is in hospital and Finance Minister Alex Hickman will head the Newfoundland delegation for today’s final conference session.

Mr. Smallwood remained at the conference after his announcement, saying he would “listen quietly a little while and then slip out to my destiny.”


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sancrosanctity selective says Sarasota

The Ministry of Truth (Federal) reports this evening:

A spokeswoman for Premier Danny Williams says his heart surgery took longer than expected because there was more damage to his heart than originally thought.

In an email, Elizabeth Matthews, the director of communications in the premier's office, confirmed that Williams had a "minimally invasive" heart surgery that was supposed to take 2½ hours but lasted six hours. Matthews also confirmed that the surgery took place somewhere in Florida and that Williams is now recovering at his condominium in Sarasota.

The Ceeb skipped over the part of the email where Ms. Matthews re-iterated that the Holy Heart of Dan is none of your business and Our Dear Medical Privacy is sancrosanct.

What was the tipping point?

Geoff Meeker gets email from a journalist who chooses to remain anonymous:

I wasn't around in Joey Smallwood's time, but for the first time, I'm beginning to understand the cult of personality that surrounded him. It's being repeated under Danny Williams. I have to say, it frightens me a bit. The media has been very respectful of the premier's privacy. Every reporter in every newsroom knows that, Kathy Dunderdale knows that, the premier knows that. For the likes of Tom Hedderson to suggest otherwise, to stoke the fires like he did on VOCM is pathetic and small. A better communications strategy at the outset would have largely avoided all this. Great blog Geoff. I think you've covered this in a fair and comprehensive way....
[Emphasis added]

If you were that oblivious, you’d probably want to remain anonymous, too.



From a Canadian Press dispatch covering the provincial election, June 18, 1979:

A “bayman” by birth, Peckford likes to thicken his outport accent when he says:

“I might not talk as fancy as somebody from upalong, but, brudder, dat don’t men I’m not as good as dem.”

Makes you wonder what old-stock Peckford Tories, especially from areas less cosmopolitan than St. John's, would make of the totally spontaneous, not-at-all co-ordinated efforts to make an issue out of a more contemporary party leader's accent.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Have Always Been At War With Canada

A curious throw-away line in Monday's "update"* — the latest buzzword, which in Dannese translates roughly as "turd-polishing" — on Our Dear Broadband Initiative:
Within the heavily federally-regulated communications sector, the Provincial Government has carefully identified opportunities where it could best leverage its resources and improve the province’s communications capacity.

* BondPapers effectively deconstructs the broadband "update"; a certain UnPerson does the same to the "update" on the Labrador Air Foodlift Subsidy.

Accountability: MUN edition

On Friday — of course, on a Friday — MUN released its Aboriginal Task Force Report.

Here's the release. And, in a nod to internet metrics from 1997, if you follow the links, it takes you two more steps before you finally hit the Aboriginal Task Force Report itself.

A document which, curiously, is not available in vanilla HTML, but only PDF, and, just to add another layer to the openness and accountability onion, is a non-textual, non-searchable, non-clip-and-pastable, graphic-only PDF, scanned from a photocopy of a printout of a born-digital word processor file... complete with spiral binding.

It's almost like the Autonomous University of Dannystan is taking accountability classes at Confederation Building or something.


Monday, February 15, 2010


The Mealy Mountains, and most of the features of the proposed future Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, were shaped by the last glaciation.

It's fitting, then, that some things seem to move at a glacial pace:
The Commission recognizes that the location, size and type of national park [in Labrador] is a matter requiring various kinds of expertise. It believes, however, that some of that expertise rests with the people who normally have no day-to-day concern with national parks, but whose particular expertise is centred on an intimate knowledge of the area. It is urged that full consultation, at all phases of parks planning in Labrador, be undertaken with the people who are likely to be affected.

There is one area of Labrador which appears to commend itself as a site for a national park; that is the Mealy Mountains area. It is difficult to recommend the type or size of reserve which would best suit the Mealy Mountains area... There are a number of reasons why all or part of this area should be preserved in such fashion.

1. The proximity of Happy Valley/Goose Bay, Lake Melville and Sandwich Bay communities makes both obviously recreational areas. The combination of boreal forest, mountain tundra, coastal sandy beach, Lake Melville, and large lakes and rivers, is also very desirable. The area lends itself to such recreational pursuits as camping, downhilll and cross-country skiing, fishing, back-packing, nature trails, canoeing, and pleasure cruising. The area also contains a number of archaeological sites and interesting geological features.


The Commission recommends that, in the interest of preserving the environment of Labrador... the Province should also urge the appropriate federal agency to develop plans for a national park, in consultation with the people of Labrador, who are likely to be affected by the decision.
Bragging rights to anyone who can identify the source (and date) of the foregoing passages.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Which way openness?

On Friday last, representatives of Danny Williams-Government and Canada's Not-So-New Government assembled in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to announce —

No, not a new national park for Labrador. And no, not even a new national park reserve for Labrador. They announced that they would continue to talk, between themselves, and with Aboriginal and other interested parties, about the possible future creation of a new national park reserve in the Mealy Mountains region, and, in a portion of land clawed back from the original proposal by DW-G, something called a "Waterway Provincial Park" in the Eagle River watershed.

Now, a curious and enterprising body might well wonder, hey, what are the boundaries of these proposed protected areas, especially given that the national park would be the largest in Canada contained wholly within a province (as opposed to a territory)? which lands are included and which are excluded? how do the proposed protected areas relate to the newly-opened highway or to lands subject to Aboriginal land rights?

Apparently, however, there aren't that many curious and enterprising bodies.

Which is a good thing, because good luck finding such information from either the official provincial or federal eBumpf.

However, if you are really keen to see the long-awaited map, it is available.

On the website of National Geographic, a private organization located in another country.

Almost-instant update: A week after the original announcement, Parks Canada finally saw fit to publish the map to its website.


Where is the Responsible Government League when you need them?

Over in New Brumsick, Abel Leblanc's one-finger salute took the spotlight off what should have been the NB political story of the week, the resignation of yet another of Shawn Graham's cabinet ministers. And no, not for the reason you might be thinking of. As the official release up-fesses:

Premier Shawn Graham has accepted the resignation from cabinet of Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe MLA Bernard LeBlanc as minister of justice and consumer affairs in accordance with the principle of ministerial responsibility.

Social Development Minister and Attorney General Kelly Lamrock has been appointed acting minister of justice and consumer affairs.

When LeBlanc was serving in his earlier capacity as minister of local government, an e-mail that contained personal information was sent in his name from his office.

While officials confirmed that LeBlanc was not aware of the e-mail, Graham said that he, LeBlanc, has chosen to resign because ministers are ultimately responsible for their offices under the principle of ministerial accountability.

"Bernard LeBlanc is a strong member of our team and is clearly a very honourable man," said Graham. "It is with great regret that I accept his resignation from cabinet, but he will continue to be a key member of our government."
And if you think you've seen this movie before, you're almost right.

First, there was The Invitation, back in the summer of 2008:

During the session with reporters, Williams also accused MUNFA president-elect Ross Klein, one of the most vocal critics of the government's involvement, of a double standard.

"Professor Klein actually wrote me last year a two-page letter concerned about the fact that he had not been given enough funding for a venture that he went on with the university," said Williams."

It was for my information, but by the same token, why would he bother to write me, as premier, if he doesn't want us to be interfering with academic autonomy? It doesn't add up."
And then, earlier this year, came the sequel, The Snotty Letter:
Premier Danny Williams tore a strip off the senior administration at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Thursday, one day after he received what he called a “snotty” letter from the college officials, expressing their concerns about not receiving full autonomy over the school’s operations.


“(When) I get the leadership of that college reluctantly agreeing to go along for the ride, I have a big problem with that,” said Williams. “That, to me, is not showing leadership and also is an indication from Holly Pike that perhaps she’s not prepared to sit or attend on that (senior executive) committee at Memorial University. If that’s the case and she’s not prepared to do that, she should get out of the way.”
Curiously, Premier Williams has not asked for, nor received, the resignation of the minister involved, even though, if you ask the Office of the Chief Information Commissioner, a person's name is sacrosanct, and, to conform to the law, even has to be expunged, at great expense and trouble, from documents requested under Access to Information legislation, even when the documents in question are already in the public domain.

Some day, who knows, maybe responsible government — and something that would actually be out of place in Kafka or Orwell — will come to Dannystan like it has to New Brumsick.

Some day, some day.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Today in talking points

“Leave Danny alone.” To wit:
Judy from St. John's, NL writes: OMG - Please leave Danny alone.

Vicki from Newfoundland writes: Leave the poor man alone.

HL from Paradise, NL writes: I think this is all media sensationalism and getting the people hyped up over nothing - yes it is something to have a heart operation - yes he has a personal life, which is nobody's business -- no it doesn't have to be broacasted as much as it is - leave the man alone.

Donna Bishop from St. John's, NL writes: Leave the man alone.

maureen from st johns, nl writes: I wish people would leave Danny alone.

Been There from nl writes: I can't believe people did a poll on Danny Williams health care. Leave the man alone. Why add to his stress.

Sarah from St. John's, NL writes: OMG people, leave the poor man alone!

Angelica from NL writes: Senseless poll, Leave him alone! Heart surgery immediately insinuates NO STRESS!
The eagle-eyed will also notice spontaneous concern about Our Dear Stress Levels. Again, for a lengthy précis of official talking points about The Thing That No One Should Be Talking About, last Wednesday's VOCM QotD is the place to be.

Put up or shut up 2010

A year ago today, this corner threw out a challenge both to certain delusional people in Quebec who believe that Quebec has some kind of claim to Labrador north of the 52nd parallel and south of the watershed line, and to certain delusional people in Newfoundland who believe the aforemendtioned deluded twits in Quebec:

Put up or shut up.

In the face of an affront to Quebec’s imagined territorial claim, exactly nothing happened – just as it always does.

However, an imaginary, utterly hypothetical hydro-electric transmission line is one thing.

An actual, honest-to-goodness physical incursion is quite another.

And guess what? We finally have one to bring the idiotic “border dispute” out of the realm of the hypothetical and into the practical.

In December, Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway was officially opened, although finishing touches remain to be done. This map shows the route followed by the TLH from Happy Valley-Goose Bay (upper left corner) to Paradise Junction, where it joins the coastal Labrador segment (upper right corner). The astronomical portions of the Labrador boundary are visible at bottom (the 52nd parallel and the Blanc Sablon meridian line) with land on the Quebec side of the border shown blank. Map scale is approximately four pixels to the kilometre.

For a variety of reasons, the very southernmost of the potential Phase III routings ended up being selected for construction — not least of which, the fact that this route is the one which touches least on the Eagle River watershed. However, in order to avoid the Eagle River basin, which is on the Labrador side of the drainage divide, the highway, of necessity, has to cross into a neighbouring watershed.

In this case, that means the St. Augustine, one of the five major rivers which rise in Labrador but flow south to the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Labrador portion of the St. Augustine and its tributaries are traced on this map in orange.

At least at this map scale, it would appear that the TLH also crosses, if only for a very short distance, the watershed of the Mecatina (blue) near its crest with the Eagle. It may also touch ever so lightly on the uppermost portion of the St. Paul drainage basin (yellow) near its triple point with the Paradise and Eagle Rivers which flow northeast into Sandwich Bay. (The other two major rivers and basins, the Natashquan and Romaine, lie well south and west of the Trans-Labrador Highway.)

In other words, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has built a highway — an honest-to-goodness physical, tangible thingamajig — on what is, according to the conspiracy theorists and nationalist wingnuts, land which Quebec either claims or already has rights to.

Watch now for Quebec do even more of what it always does: exactly nothing.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great moments in denial

1912: “Oh that? Just a growler, gonna glance off the hull. It’s the finest steel in the history of the empire. And have I told you about the compartments? Most modern naval architecture, I tell old chap.”

1939: “Naw, he’d never invade Poland.”

1970: “The Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby.”

2010:I don’t think it’s that organized. I just think it’s a group of people out there who see an opportunity to show their devotion to the premier, and they do that by, in this instance, attacking the media… In many instances, they weren’t listening to the program, they don’t know what the question was that I asked, they haven’t read my column. But they are responding (anyway)… and a lot of them will respond and cc it to other offices, let’s say that.”

The Big Lie

The Acting Premier mercifully spares us all a reference to the Dunderdale Government:

In 2005, the Williams Government improved upon the benefits in the original Atlantic Accord by negotiating a new deal that retained a greater share of offshore revenues for the province. The new revenue-sharing arrangement reached between Premier Danny Williams and then Prime Minister Paul Martin resulted in Newfoundland and Labrador receiving 100 per cent of its offshore revenues for the first time, free from any clawbacks while an equalization-receiving province. The 2005 Accord enabled Newfoundland and Labrador to truly be the “principal beneficiary” of the petroleum resources off its shores. For more information, please visit
Still with the Big Lie, eh? If Dear Acting Premier had bothered to follow the link She so helpfully provides, She would find the text of the 2005 Accord, clause 2 of which very clearly states:

2. This document reflects an understanding between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that:
  • Newfoundland and Labrador already receives and will continue to receive 100 per cent of offshore resource revenues as if these resources were on land;
It would also be nice if, just once, the Dunderdale-Williams Government would complete the phrase “free from any clawbacks”.

Free from any “clawbacks” of what?

Why, free from any “clawbacks” of equalization, of course.

Perhaps the Dunderdale-Williams Government could remind us whether the people are supposed to be happy or angry this week about not receiving equalization.

What else does the Dunderdale-Williams Government blatantly lie about?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just so we're clear

None of your business: Himself's ticker.

Your business: Himself's choice in neutraceuticals:
As for PETA’s vegan health tips, Matthews pointed out that Williams takes a daily dose of Omega 3 seal oil capsules, which she said has “substantial health benefits.”


In 2007, Dear Leader ever-so-modestly opined, in a puff-piece on The National that CBC has committed a crime against posterity by pulling from its web archive:

I think I represent, in my heart and soul, the hearts and souls of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Less than two and a half years later, one Dean Williams MacDonald, who according to malicious gossip is not even a member of The Party, totally unsycophantically posits:

“I think he’s looking after his health and his best interests,” said Dean MacDonald, a St. John’s venture capitalist and old friend of the premier. “And clearly his best interests are the province’s best interests.”
So we’re on the same page here:

What’s good for Danny’s heart is in the province’s best interest.

And what’s good for Danny’s heart is none of your interest:

It's none of your freakin business, people.

It is none of your business what his personal medical conditions are.

(In today’s installment of Talking Pointers Gone Wild... count the permutations of “none of your business”.)

Ergo, per Mr. MacDonald and other FoD’s, what’s the province’s best interest is none of your business.

Which, come to think of it — given the secrecy over the Hebron deal, the Menihek power plant, the renewed GWAC, and the clampdown on Access to Information — is pretty much the way that The Party has been operating for the past six years anyway.

(The "Dean Williams" Freudian slip — honest! — was funny enough to leave in.)


Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Transport Minister Tom Hedderson takes his spin-doctoring skills for a ride on CBC Labrador Morning.

Hilarity ensues.

Audio file here.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The best publicity money can buy

Steve Bartlett has an interesting piece in the Saturday Quebec Daily Newspaper about the Department of Tourism's subsidy to entice travel writers to travel and write.

That's in addition to the Department's indirect subsidy, via Golf Newfoundland and Labrador, to entice golf writers to golf and write.

Friday, February 05, 2010

... and what they said

From the Ghost of PC Party websites past. Three of these documents are press releases, while the rest were collected from various local news sources and published to The Party's publicly-accessibly intertubes.

Remember: the Premier deserves privacy, his medical condition is personal, and it is wrong to politicize it.

PC Leader in hospital for tests
CBC news story
Friday, May 16, 2003

ST. JOHN'S – Conservative Leader Danny Williams remains in hospital.

He was admitted on Wednesday in severe pain.

Initially, doctors thought he was suffering from kidney stones. Now they think he has an infection.

A spokesperson in his office says Williams is waiting for test results, and he hopes to get out of hospital over the weekend.

Williams set for back surgery
CBC news story
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

ST. JOHN'S – Opposition Leader Danny Williams will have surgery Wednesday in an attempt to relieve the severe pain that put him in hospital on May 14.

Williams was suffering from severe back and stomach pains. Doctors say he has inflamed tissue in his back.

Williams says he was able to leave hospital over the long weekend, but his mobility was impaired.

It's not known how long Williams will need to recover, but the surgery is not expected to have a long-term impact on his political career.

He says he won't be in his office, but he will continue to perform his duties as leader and MHA while recovering from his surgery.

Premier Roger Grimes said last week that Williams's health wouldn't influence the timing of an election.

But on Tuesday the premier's spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to consider an election call with Williams facing surgery.

Catherina Kennedy says the premier wishes Williams well on his surgery and recovery.

Williams provides update on medical condition

ST. JOHN'S, May 20, 2003 — Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition and MHA for Humber West, today provided an update on his medical condition. Williams was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, May 13, suffering from severe back pain. He was permitted to leave the hospital over the weekend while his physicians awaited the results of medical tests. However, his mobility was severely limited.

"The physicians and staff of St. Clare's have conducted tests to determine what is causing the pain. They believe it is the result of inflamed tissue in my back. Tomorrow, [May 21, 2003] they will perform back surgery to try and alleviate the pain," Williams said.

While recovery time will depend upon the extent and nature of the surgery, Williams' back problem is not expected to have a long-term impact on his political career. "I expect a full recovery and look forward to serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for many years to come. However, any type of surgery and subsequent recovery should be treated very seriously. I will follow the instructions of my doctor with regards to recovery time and physical activity and won't do anything to compromise my long-term health and well-being.

"I respectfully ask for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to be understanding of the fact that I will be temporarily out of the office while this back problem is being addressed. However, I am in regular contact with my staff and caucus and am still able to perform my duties as the MHA for Humber West, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"I want to thank the staff at St. Clare’s for their first-rate care and medical treatment. They have been extremely professional and I am very appreciative of their efforts. I would also like to thank all the people who have left messages of support. My family and I take great comfort in knowing that so many people are thinking of us."

Williams undergoes successful back surgery

ST. JOHN'S, May 21, 2003 — Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition and MHA for Humber West, today underwent successful surgery to alleviate severe back pain. Williams was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, May 14, and is expected to remain there for several days as part of his recovery.

During the complicated operation, which lasted more than two hours, doctors removed a mass of tissue from his back that was believed to be the source of his pain. As a standard precautionary procedure, this tissue will be analyzed over the next 48 hours. Williams is now fully conscious and resting in hospital with his family.

While Mr. Williams is expected to make a complete recovery, his physicians will work with him over the coming days to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation program. That rehabilitation program will determine when he is able to return to the office and resume his provincial tour schedule. In the interim, he continues to be in regular contact with his staff and caucus.

"I ask people to understand that while I may not be able to travel throughout the province in the short term, I will continue to fully discharge my duties as MHA for Humber West, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I will do everything possible to work with my doctors to expedite my rehabilitation program and I look forward to a complete and prompt recovery," Williams said.

The Williams family would like to sincerely thank the physicians and staff at St. Clare's for their professional care and treatment. They would also like to thank the countless people who have sent messages of support and encouragement. The family is truly touched by such a wonderful outpouring of emotion.

Williams receives excellent prognosis for recovery
ST. JOHN'S, May 26, 2003 — Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition and MHA for Humber West, today provided an update on his medical condition. Williams was admitted to St. Clare's Emergency Department Wednesday, May 14, and underwent surgery Wednesday, May 21, to alleviate severe pain that was being caused by a mass of tissue in his back.

"My physicians are very pleased with the surgery and expect me to make a full recovery. In fact, I am already able to take short walks in the hospital. All tests to date have been completed and the results were extremely favourable. Doctors say that I am making excellent and steady progress, but given the nature of the surgery, complete recovery could take upwards of six weeks. They have developed a rehabilitation program that involves rest, appropriate physical exercise and physiotherapy. I will strictly adhere to that program and will do everything possible to expedite my recovery," Williams said.

As a result of the surgery, Williams is experiencing normal post-operative pain. He is continuing to receive medical treatment in hospital and is being re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis to determine an appropriate discharge date.

"Given that physicians are advising me not to travel in the immediate future, I will be asking a number of our MHAs to represent me and the party at various functions throughout the province. With the exception of travel, I expect to be able to conduct all of my duties as Leader of the Opposition, MHA for Humber West and Leader of the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador while working from my office at home."

Williams once again thanked the physicians and staff of St. Clare's for their outstanding medical care. "I don't think a person can truly appreciate the remarkable efforts put forward by our health care workers until they are able to experience it first hand. These dedicated professionals work very hard to provide quality care to their patients. My family and I are very grateful for their efforts. We would also like to thank the thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have called or sent cards with their support. Such kind gestures will never be forgotten."
Danny Williams home from hospital
NTV news story by John Tompkins
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Danny Williams is not a man accustomed to hanging around the house.

Except when it's doctor's orders.

His physician has instructed him to stay at home for at least six weeks - to give his back a chance to heal.

Severe back pain sent him to the emergency at St. Clare’s Hospital.

A mass of tissue at his spine was determined to be the cause. And major surgery was required. The surgery was a success and he’s expected to make a full recovery.

Today he’s about 10 pounds thinner and one can sense some discomfort in his careful movements. But Danny Williams says the up close and personal view of health care was an education in itself.

While Premier Roger Grimes said Danny Williams' illness would play no part in his decision to call an election, his political opponent thinks it likely did.
Williams on the mend
VOCM news story by Audrey Whelan
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Opposition leader Danny Williams is on the road to recovery.

Williams was released from hospital yesterday after undergoing back surgery a week ago.

He was rushed to hospital a couple of weeks ago suffering from severe back pain.

Williams tells VOCM News there is still some pain, but he's feeling good.

Williams says he will concentrate now on getting healthy for a possible fall election.

He says a plan was in place had the premier decided to call an election while he was undergoing surgery.

What they're saying...

A sampling of opinion on the Premier's medical choices and the media firestorm surrounding them.

These can be safely summarized as: the Premier deserves privacy, his medical condition is personal, and it is wrong to politicize it.

PJ Stamp from NL writes: You miss the point Mr. Wangersky. Williams was fully aware that his decision to seek medical treatment outside NL would cause a 'firestorm'. He also understood that his personal health and choice of treatment would become a matter of public conjecture and debate irrespective what information was released or how it was released. In the end, he and his deputy felt that the basic facts that were released would more than satisfy the 85% of people in this province who support him. He knew that nothing he would say or could say would satisfy the 15% who do not, nor would it deter those like yourself who, sniffing blood in the air, would gleefully goad on the small but voracious pack of hounds who habitually nip at his heels in this paper. Your reference to the Globe and Mail as being 'hardly supportive of Williams ever' gave me a chuckle. The day that Canada's 'national newspaper' starts endorsing the policies and actions of our premier is the day that we should begin looking for a replacement. The Globe's attitude toward a determined, intelligent upstart leader from the Canadian fringe is not only colonialistic but downright Dickensonian. And that, of course, goes double for the Telegram which can be relied upon, as always, to reflect - not the sentiments of its readers - but rather those of its Quebec based ownership.

max power from nl writes: Since when does anyone’s private health concerns or health matters have to be public knowledge? Those of you who will argue that he is a public figure and he owes it to the people of this province one word simply describe my thoughts on that- hogwash. It is his personal health, not the public’s health. Why is it that the average Joe expects a right to privacy for personal matters but we do not afford these same rights to a public figure? The only thing that has changed is the fact that in this day and age we have grown some sense of entitlement that we, the public, need to know everything about every situation.

Skeptical Cynic from Bunghole Tickle, NL writes: The Chicken Littles and paprazzi of the news media are solely responsible for adding the fuel to this particular fire. The vast majority of the public rightly believes the Premier's health issues are private. So respect his right to privacy.

I am Disgusted from Nl writes: From the first moment I heard about this situation in the news I was completely and utterly disgusted that this should be making such the sensation that it is. In the name of all decency, leave this man alone!!! It's all bad enough having to deal with serious health issues without having to witness fellow citizens' need to sensationalize one's unfortunate situation for the sake of a bit of news.

Shannon Reardon from St. John's, NL writes: I think people who are politicizing this really need to think about that and why they are doing so. I think if we were all in the position, most if not all of us would do as Premier Williams is for his health. It's got nothing to do with how he governs, or the politics of the day. This has to do with the private man and his health. And people should give him and his family that dignity at this time.

Acting Premier Kathy Dunderdale: You forgo a lot of privacy when you put your hand up to do the Premier's job but there are certain areas of your life that are sacrosanct.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

On privacy

Our Dear (Deputy) Premier went before the microphones today and solemnly pronounced:
The Premier, as well as every one of the rest of us, has a right to privacy.

Well, every one of the rest of us besides Holly Pike and Ross Klein, anyway.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The public proposes...

... the Minister of Whatever Tom Marshall Is Minister Of This Year disposes. From the Ministry of Truth (Provincial):
Finance Minister Getting Great Proposals

Finance Minister Tom Marshall says he's hearing many great proposals during the pre-budget consultations but government can't do everything simply because the money isn't there. The minister has just wrapped up two days of consultations in central Newfoundland; the next takes place in St. John's Friday. Marshall says revenues are way down as a result of the recession.
That's odd. Weren't We weathering the recession better than anyone? What happened to the optimism? Why so negative, Tom? Why?

In any event, it is hard enough making decisions when the money isn't there.

Now try making them when The Danny isn't there.

Creating employment (VI)

Over the past number of months, the Premier has been proselytizing hard and furious, trying, almost desperately, to gain converts to the official state religion of Optimism.

Take, for instance, his remarks during a speech in Calgary in December. Don't bother looking for the speech on the official Premierolicious website, but never fear, the comms shop made sure the local media in Calgary obtained a copy, even if you didn't:

And in the past year, a global recession hit the world with a powerful and deep impact that left no one untouched.

Fortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the few jurisdictions in North America, and perhaps most of the world, that weathered the economic storm with a fairly healthy level of resilience.

When the global recession hit, unlike most we were ready for it. In fact, Global News said that Newfoundland and Labrador has weathered the recession better than any Canadian province or territory.
Similarly, in His year-ender with the Quebec Daily Newspaper, he claimed:

But overall, Williams said the province was able to weather the economic storm as well, or better, than other provinces.

"Even though our mining, and our newsprint, and our fishing and our oil production were all down, our economy still chugged along very, very well," he said.

The premier said Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest consumer optimism in the country and most local businesses are doing well.
Extraordinary claims, given what the official stats show. And extraordinary claims, as Carl Sagan said, demand extraordinary evidence.

What is the evidence?

Well, unless local business have been simultaneously doing well and shedding jobs, the evidence does not look good. Again, let's concentrate, for a reason, on self-employment and private-sector employment up to May 2009 (the most recent data available).

This chart takes the trailing twelve-month average (to smooth out seasonality) of the sum of private-sector employment and self-employment, and then indexes those values to the figure for January 2000. We thus get a picture of the relative change in the size of the private-sector labour force, provincially and nationally, over the past ten years. How does the provincial figure compare to the all-Canada one?

The 2000s started on a bit of a sour note, but then, more than two years before there was a Williams to effect a Williams Effect, the provincial private-sector employment picture began to improve. By mid-decade, the provincial growth rate had pulled even with the all-Canada rate, as compared to the January 2000 starting point.

Then, things went pear-shaped. The private-sector employment and self-employment labour force in Newfoundland and Labrador began to shrink in 2007 — at almost exactly the time that the Church of the Oly Hoptimism started its missionary work with such zeal.

And whatever Global News might think — or, for that matter, Danny Williams — the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, at least as measured by change in the number of people who are privately employed or self-employed, has performed near the bottom among all provinces. Again, this comparison, among all provinces this time (territorial data is not kept) shows the relative change since January 2000.

Once again, note the curve for Newfoundland and Labrador (the thickest, darkest green line): the slump in private-sector employment started earlier than any other province, was (at least until mid-2009) deeper than in any other province, and has been as steep, or steeper, than in any other province.

The only thing that keeps Newfoundland and Labrador from ranking dead last among all provinces in its private-sector employment performance during the 2000s is the fact that Saskatchewan started the decade massively shedding people, jobs, and economic activity across its seamless border with Alberta. (It has since made up lost ground, and then some, to the point where there are a whole bunch of indicators that would suggest Saskatchewan hasn't really had a recession at all.)

[Data source for both charts: Statistics Canada Table 282-0011, Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employment by class of worker]

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Almost exactly a year ago, this corner pointed to this Telegram story, and highlighted the following passage, under the headline "Sick sense of humour":
"If I wasn't committed to this job, I'd love to be in your business right now," he said.

"Instead of making money, I'm just turning grey and trying to stay away from getting sick because I'll have to face the doctors and the nurses if I end up going to hospital," he said, to a loud round of applause.

Nurses in this province will begin voting on whether or not to strike Feb. 9.
In hindsight, this statement shows not a sick sense of humour, but rather an almost supernatural prescience.

Labradore regrets the error.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sycophant of the Month: January 2010

Total number of ProvGov press releases issued in January: 102 (-7 from December).

Total number with the phrase "Williams Government": 10 (-4 from December).

Sycophancy index: 9.8% (-3.0% from December).

It was a slow start to a slow month, with Tom Marshall finally opening up scoring a week into January. It was another week before Shawn Skinner answered him, followed later the same day by Susan Sullivan.

Patty Pottle picked one up to start the second half of the month, followed three days later by Sullivan again, opening up the first lead of the game. Darin King got on the board on the 25th, followed on the 28th by Sullivan again – the first of three knocked in that day, as she was followed in short order by Tom Marshall – who deservces a game star simply for working so many WilliamsGovernment's into one net – and then Tom Hedderson. Hedderson was last month’s winner, and may have been nursing an injury to have been so late getting back in the game.

Hedderson tipped in another the next day, a rare joint fed-prove WilliamsGovernment, but neither he nor Marshall could get a third to challenge Sullivan atop the podium. So the final score stands at Sullivan three, the two Toms two apiece, and King, Pottle, and Skinner each with singles.

Sullivan not only keeps Hedderson from repeating as monthly champ, but she is the first player to have won a second monthly plaque in the post-Taylor era, if non-sequentially.

Congratulations, Minister Sullivan!

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Great Economist

It's bad enough when the local chambers of commerce, local industry associations, or fly-in/fly-out journalists get sucked into believing in the "Williams Effect".

It's quite anther when Great Economists do so. The headline:

Harper says province did well during recession
Yet another person who should know better rejects reality and substitutes their own.

Contrast the HappyTalk with a bit of, y'know, facts, from real economists. As the Royal Bank reported just weeks ago:

Since a more vigorous bounce-back in the economy was previously expected to be visible at this stage in Alberta, we have revised our real GDP forecast down for 2009 to -3.4% from -2.8% in the September Provincial Outlook. This would rank as the second sharpest contraction among provinces after Newfoundland & Labrador.

[Emphasis added]

The data tables appended to the RBC report are also instructive: the year-over-year change in employment (the number of persons employed, not the employment rate) in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009 was -2.5% — the worst score of any of the ten provinces.

The forecast growth in employment for 2010 is 0.6% — again, the most pessimistic forecast for any of the ten provinces.



Our Dear Economist spots yet another trend:
St. John's Running Low on Office Space: Economist

Economist Wade Locke says St. John's is running out of office space. Locke delivered an economic perspective on the province to the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association at their convention in St. John's last week. Locke says in terms of housing prices they will continue to climb and housing starts will also continue to go up, calling it an exciting time for the construction industry. However, when it comes to office space for business in the city, he says it should cause some concerns. Locke says he's no going to enter the debate on the purposed Fortis Property, but says something has to be done or it could cause problems for future business.
Perhaps the office-space shortage is being caused by all the front-end engineering and environmental work for that aluminum smelter...