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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to negotiate properly (I)

In response to this Telegram article, one of the usual suspects retorts, in a comment on the newspaper's Facebox page:
Well, with the big mouths and loose lips of the Liberals, I wouldn't tell them anything to make sure they don't pooch the deal. When they can keep a secret and negotiate properly, we'll let them sit with the adults.
Which is high-stericly funny, because not so very long ago, the complaint from the usual suspect's personal hero was that certain mouths and lips weren't big and loose enough. Like on this occasion:
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, in his leadership campaign, policy statement number six, in January of this year, the Premier told the people of the Liberal Party who placed him in office as Premier, and I quote him: The new Freedom of Information -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WILLIAMS: - should not be used as a vehicle to frustrate or prevent the quick dissemination of public information. I would ask the Premier: If he is so interested in providing the public with information, why does section 23(1)(e) of the bill prevent disclosure of information about negotiations carried on by your government?


MR. WILLIAMS: The negotiations that are before the people of this Province are very, very important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier. Isn’t is a fact that Section 23(1)(c) of the act gives you and your government virtual veto power to deny the public information about any negotiations which your government carries on, including Voisey’s Bay and including the Lower Churchill?
Or this one:

MR. WILLIAMS: What I would like to do, first of all, is share with some of the hon. members opposite. Now I do not know if any of them were in the room at the time, but last December 5, when I announced my intention for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party - I am not sure if any hon. members opposite were there on that day when I announced it. In case you were not, I am going to tell you what I said. The reason it is important is because the Minister of Justice indicated that on December 12, 2000, a review committee was set up to look at the Freedom of Information Act. Well, a week before that I made a statement - and you must have reacted to it because I quoted Abraham Lincoln, he said: "Let the people know the truth and the country is safe. We will keep the people of this Province fully informed; there will be no secret documents, there will be no hidden agenda. If you and I know the facts then we will collectively decide the best course for our future.." of this Province. That is what I said at that time, and a week later the committee was struck to review the Freedom of Information Act. I am glad that you took that initiative.


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.

Now, the comment from the Minister of Justice. In the paper he talked about a change of attitude. If I may, I have to take off my glasses because I am nearsighted. That change will not come overnight, he said, there is a mindset that has to be changed. It is no good to have a progressive piece of legislation if we do not change the mindset and understand that it is the public’s right to access the information. I agree with the Minister of Justice. The mindset of members opposite should be changed, I agree.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Because the mindset was wrong for twelve years; hidden agendas, secrecy. Open it up, give them the information.

Or this one:
MR. WILLIAMS: Our legitimate concern is that if the ore leaves the Province and there is nothing to bring it back to, then it will not come back. That is the fundamental issue on Voisey’s Bay. This clause hides negotiations. It was not in the old Freedom of Information Act. We are trying to have a more open act, and now what we have, is a more secretive act. That is what we have accomplished, which is sad. The people have a right to know. They have a right to know what the government is negotiating on their behalf.

If we allow this clause to go through as is, without the amendment that is presented by the Opposition, then government can continue to have secret negotiations. So if the Minister of Mines and Energy wants to have secret negotiations about oil and gas, well, then he can do so. If he wants to have secret negotiations or negotiations in private about the Lower Churchill, our hydroelectric power, then he can do that as well. They can basically negotiate all the resources of this Province away, have the deals done and the people will never know what happened, what the reason were or why they did it. That is why this amendment is so very, very important to this legislation.
Or this one:
MR. WILLIAMS: I find it quite interesting that we received this update about - well, I guess it is an hour ago now - thirty minutes before we came into the House and have received nothing since August 1 when the original principles were announced. Now that the Premier has to provide some information to this House, he is providing it.

He originally said the deal would be done by the end of September, by the middle of September. We are now into November. Why now? Do you know why now? Because he lost a by-election in July. He has now gotten hammered in another by-election and these are the desperate actions of a desperate man and a desperate government.
Once again, we are in the dark. It has all been done in secret. Negotiations are completely in secret. We get a two-page update today on what is going on. That is all he has provided.

Voisey’s Bay all over again. Everything is done in secret. No information provided. I call on the Premier to make all the information available, to have a full debate, but let’s do it before that agreement is signed and let’s have a real shot at it this time around.
Or this one:
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, with each passing day we learn more and more about the terms of the secret deal on the Lower Churchill, which appears to be a very, very bad deal for Newfoundland and Labrador and a very, very good deal for Quebec. Now we all know why it is, in fact, a hidden deal and why the Premier will not answer any questions on the terms.
Or as the Telegram reported eight years ago this past Monday:
Opposition Leader Danny Williams wants to be in the know about the Lower Churchill deal being negotiated with Quebec.

Pledging that a Tory government would consult with its Opposition, Williams said Thursday he wants to help Liberal Premier Roger Grimes reach the best possible deal for Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Unfortunately, because (the deal) is being negotiated in secret, we know very little about this deal and therefore are not able to provide constructive thoughts and suggestions as to how it can be improved," he said.

"It is fundamentally different from the principles agreed to with Quebec in 1998. In fact, this entire arrangement sprang out of nowhere just days after talks between this province and Alcoa fell apart. There has not been a single update provided to the House of Assembly."

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At 12:29 AM, October 27, 2010 , Blogger Mark said...

Stop making sense, you traitor, you.


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