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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toronto's National Newspaper (II)

From the Globe and Mail's main page:

What part of Canada do you live in, gentle reader? British Columbia (green), Toronto (red), Prairies (yellow), Ontario (blue), Quebec (purple), or More (grey)?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Toronto's National Newspaper (I)

Just twenty days ago, the Globe and Mail's Campbell Clark and Daniel Leblanc speculated Senatorially:
Numerous names have been rolling around the Senate gossip circuit in Newfoundland. But two Loyolas top the list.


Whoever gets the seat will be expected to help smooth relations between the Harper Conservatives in Ottawa and Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams.


Defector alert

Beth Marshall is the lucky winner of the 2010 Senate lottery.

Brings to mind the old saying: "I can’t control traitors. People who betray their province, I have no control over that."

The dichotomy

There are Newfoundlanders who are rightfully famous for their humanity and courage in a crisis, such as during the Pollux and Truxton disaster of 1942.

There are Newfoundlanders famous for their hospitality in the face of horror, when planes diverted to Newfoundland airports after the September 11 terror attacks.

There are Newfoundlanders known for their philanthropy and charitable giving at home, and humanitarian work overseas.

On the other hand, there are the wastes of perfectly good DNA who responded to this Telegram on-line story.

Birth of an X-file

If you are the government, and you really, really want to ensure that every conspiracy theorist and kook will soon be talking about the "Harbour Mille Incident" in the same way they still talk about Roswell, here's how you do it.

First, you insist that it was nothing, but without bothering to reveal the something that it was:
"We confirmed that it was something," Sgt. Wayne Edgecombe told CBC News Wednesday. But Edgecombe said he couldn't reveal what the police investigation uncovered.

"It's nothing criminal," he said, in relation to the unidentified object.

Edgecombe said he contacted the Department of National Defence and "they gave me some info," but he said that it is up to that department to release the information publicly.
Then, you make sure as many officials as possible give as many reporters as possible as much of a runaround as possible. Like this:

Defence Department officials said they were aware of the reports, but were waiting on a final report before commenting and that the RCMP were in charge of the investigation. However, the RCMP released a statement Wednesday referring all media inquiries on the subject to Public Safety Canada.

That department referred inquiries back to the RCMP.
And this:
He pointed out that Sgt. Edgecombe in Newfoundland had said the Mounties had already put the case to rest. He pointed out that Edgecombe had passed the buck to DND much earlier in the day, that his initial queries had gone to DND and that they, and Foreign Affairs, had passed the matter back to Public Safety, even though it didn't seem at all clear how Public Safety could even be involved. Unless that was, of course, it had something to do with the RCMP, which, of course, has its own media relations department and is quite capable of answering its own queries, as Sgt Edgecombe did earlier in the day.
For bonus points, become conspicuously silent:
And just like him, [the wire service had] been referred to Public Safety, who, according to one of the stories, "did not immediately return phone calls."

Let the highest level of government get itself mired in the PR fiasco:
The Prime Minister Office says there is no evidence of anyone firing a rocket near Newfoundland's southern coast, despite reports of a flaming unidentified object shooting through the sky in Harbour Mille on Monday.

"There is no indication that there was ever a rocket launch," Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said Thursday in an email.

And finally, come up with the flimsiest, most laughable, least plausible plausible-deniability cover story since "it was just a weather balloon!":
The Prime Minister's office has waded into the rocket launch mystery over the Burin Peninsula earlier this week. The Press Secretary for the Prime Minister's Office says there is no indication that there was ever a rocket launch. The PMO goes on to explain that the area is fequented by model rocket hobbyists, and the photo circulating may be a model rocket launch.

And hey, guys — when you find the wreckage containing lifeless aliens in the woods above Terrenceville, be sure to take lots of grainy footage, but "lose" the corpses and all samples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The circumlocutory portion of the province

Or, the island that dare not speak its name. From the chapter of today's Auditor-General's report concerning ferry services:
Thirteen of these vessels service the Island portion of the Province while the remaining 5 vessels service Labrador.


Figure 1 shows the 15 passenger ferry routes for the Island portion of the Province and for Labrador.


Thirteen of these vessels service the Island portion of the Province while the remaining 5 vessels service Labrador.


In 2005, the Department hired a consultant to evaluate ferry services on the Island portion of the Province…to conduct an analysis of various aspects of a vessel replacement strategy for the ferry services around the Island of Newfoundland.


As Figure 5 indicates, 4 of the 8 Government-owned vessels servicing the island portion of the Province are well over 30 years old.


As Figure 5 also indicates, all contractor-owned vessels servicing the island portion of the Province are over 30 years of age with 4 of the 5 vessels being 40 years old or older. These vessels are expected to have similar age-related problems to those of the Government-owned fleet.


Although, these contracts have gone to tender, there is no comprehensive plan in place addressing the replacement of contractor-owned vessels servicing the Island portion of the Province.


To facilitate vessel replacement planning, we would expect the Department to conduct a long-range traffic forecast for all marine services on both the Island portion of the Province and Labrador to help determine the size of replacement vessels needed.


It can be seen from the Figure 5 that the majority of the vessels providing Provincial ferry services for the island portion of Newfoundland are old.
Ummmm... is there some portion of Newfoundland that isn't island?



From page 157 of today's provincial Auditor-General's report. Notice the title on this map:

The LabraMap — separate, and at a separate scale — follows on the next page of the report.



Number of clicks it takes to get from the press release announcing the release of the latest Auditor-General's report, to the latest Auditor-General's report: four.

Mitigating factor: the file isn't locked down.


State of the whatnow?

Over at, you can load up on State of the Union Address goodness until your glands burst: text, video, audio, photio. Somewhere in there, there’s probably a gift shop.

It would thus appear that, contrary to popular belief, President Barack Obama does not, in fact, take any cues from Our Dear Premier.

After all, the last time Mr. Openness and Accountability deigned to publish the text of His State of the Province Address — a concept He seems to have imported into His Westminster Parliamentary jurisdiction — was 2004.


Future tense

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Whatever It Is Joan Burke Is Minister Of This Year, responds to the Auditor-General's report:

Minister Responds to Auditor General Report; Budget 2010 Will Focus on Children

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, today welcomed the Auditor General’s review of three areas now under the mandate of the new department: Child Care Services; Protective Intervention Program for Children at Risk; and Living Arrangements for Children and Youth.


"Children and youth is a key area for our government in its budget considerations for this year," said Minister Burke. "We must make sure that we build on previous investments and that any new resources and investments are aligned and utilized to their greatest potential. We have the opportunity now to review all our existing programs and services and to focus on addressing the gaps and shortcomings."

There you have it. So if you were planning on attending the pre-budget consultations, which are to be held, in the future, in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Springdale, St. John’s, and Carbonear, you may as well stay home and save your breath, gas, or bus fare.

The constitutional argument

Dave Bartlett reports in today's Telegram on the controverted Paradise election case:
[Curtis] Coombs' lawyer, Eli Baker, filed a motion in Supreme Court arguing a draw is no way to decide a democratic election, and was unconstitutional.

"The (recycling) bucket doesn't get a vote," Baker told The Telegram at the time. "And even more ridiculous, the bucket doesn't have a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote."

But Baker also argued that if a draw is deemed constitutional, there should have been a second one after the judicial recount, instead of letting the original one stand.
The bucket doesn't have the right to vote, true enough. Then again, neither do you, at least not in municipal elections: the constitutional guarantee in s. 3 of the Charter only applies to elections for the House of Commons and provincial and territorial legislatures. Constitutionally, you and the bucket are equals; the municipal franchise is entirely statutory.

But never mind that, whether merely statutory, or constitutionally entrenched, why on earth should the bucket get two votes, when the rest of us only get one?

Creating employment (V)

This chart shows total employment in the private sector, stacked with total self-employment, for Newfoundland and Labrador from 2000 until May 2009. The data for each month is actually the trailing average of the previous twelve months, to smooth out seasonal effects. The graph is measured in thousands of persons.

Notice anything?

On the left-hand (earlier) side of the graph, there is a steady growth in the private-sector workforce, whether they be self-employed, or someone else's private-sector employees. Curiously — at least to the gullible classes and fly-in journalists who believe in something called the "Danny Williams Effect" — this run-up started almost three years before the man became Premier.

Even more curiously for True Believers, the growth curve began to level out within his first year in office, and hit a plateau in the summer of 2007.

That would be the Summer of Love, the pre-election summer, in which He went forth and preached His message of positivity, happiness, and other assorted trash: months into a stagnating private-sector labour market, and on the cusp of no minor meltdown.

Self-employment in particular has been wacked. As previously noted, the self-employed labour force declined by roughly 25% between 2006 and 2009, a phenomenon which is not easy to square with the imaginary boom. It's also clear that the disappeared self-employed couldn't have been absorbed into a booming private-sector employment force; the latter has also declined over the same period, though the decline started a little later, and has been less steep.

This graph shows the change, again in thousands of persons, in the monthly trailing average in the private sector workforce (self-employed plus private-sector employees). Again note that the good times of the 2000s, inconveniently for Williams Effect believers, began before He could have had any Effect to Williams. In fact, at no point in the Williams Era to date has the monthly change in this measure topped the recent-record high of just under 900 in the early summer of 2003:

Taking a longer view of history, the month-over-month change in the (annualized) size of the private-sector workforce, at least up to May 2009, was handily tracking to be on par with the losses seen in the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s:

Hands up, everyone who still thinks that the Williams Effect — or for that matter, the Great Pumpkin — has not only led to growth, but protected the province from the swirling recession.


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

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Look to the skies

Bondpapers refers to the Harbour Mille... thingie... as the latest installment of the quinquennial skywatch panic, referring back to the 2005 incident in which Danny Williams single-handedly shot down an American rocket before it could enter Our Sacred Airspace.

Or something like that; the particulars, like the facts of why we were at war with Canada, or how we intended to improve the Access to Information Act, are lost in mythological time (and will be the subject of a spectacularly-cinematographed tourism ad in the 23rd century.)

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. On the "quinquennial" thing, that is.

In 2008 there was the Boxing Day Bear episode, which reverberated into 2009.

And in 2007, it was overblown reports of Boris doing flybys.

Help wanted

Our Dear Premier today confirmed the second- or third-worst-kept secret in official circles this week, announcing that Our Dear Ambassador to Canada has left his post and will be taking on a new role in “research and protocol”.

(The latter duty, perhaps, will include excising cringe-inducing “jokes” about toilet paper from speeches given in the presence of royalty.)

Today, then, marks Day One of the Ambassadorial interregnum. For the record, the last one, from the announcement of Citizen Rowe’s departure, to the announcement of Citizen FitzGerald’s arrival, lasted 447 days.

That is, more than twice as long as Citizen Rowe was on the job in the first place.

Meanwhile, just like Danny, Stephen Harper is still in the hunt for a trustworthy person to fill a well-paying, appointed government job, complete with downtown Ottawa office and support staff, to represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creating employment — Recapitulation and refresher

Dear Reader:

Hope you had a good prorogation, and are now sufficiently recalibrated. Please review the following material.

August 7, 2009: Natural resources industries

August 8, 2009: Tourism

September 24, 2009: Self-employment and small business


Monday, January 25, 2010

Catch-and-release reporting

The Provincial Government (TPG) today released a report outlining how the blah blah blah.

Curiously, the release doesn't link directly to the study, but rather to a link that links to the study. After you do track down the report — a bloated PDF file, of course — wonder of wonders, you can clip and paste the text.

Including this, from the footer:

Western NL Oil and Gas Final Report 2009

This year, of course, is 2010, which means one of two things:

(A) TPG received the report some time in 2009 between Christmas and New Year's, and has been very diligent in releasing it consistently with the imaginary 30-day rule; or

(B) TPG received the report some time in 2009 before Christmas, and did not consider itself bound by the imaginary 30-day rule at all.


Hydro reaches deal with Innu

Just not that Hydro, and not those Innu. Via Radio-Canada:
L'entente de plus de 100 millions de dollars prévoit un dédommagement pour les lignes existantes et satisfait les anciennes demandes de compensation pour les lignes de transport de la centrale Sainte-Marguerite-3, au nord de Sept-Îles.

Elle garantit en outre des contrats pour le déboisement de l'emprise des nouvelles lignes de transport du mégaprojet de la Romaine, en Minganie, dont le futur tracé devra être soumis au processus d'évaluation environnementale.


Sunday, January 24, 2010


While the crazy concept of public outrage over the non-sittification of a body of elected representatives is still fresh in your minds, look at this:

This graph shows the decline in relevance of the provincial legislatures, as measured by the average number of days the ten provincial legislatures have sat in each calendar year since 1987.
(The territories are excluded because the creation of Nunavut in 1999 would have exaggerated the downward trend of the past decade and not made for a fair apples:apples comparison.)

Of course, most provincial legislatures, like the House of Commons, sit less in election years. Even though that effect tends to be smoothed out by averaging all ten legislatures at once, the election-year effect is further smoothed out in this graphic by the addition of a four-year trailing average (the blue line.) The one mitigating factor in this sad picture is that the slide seems to have halted, at least for now.

In the immediate case of Dannystan, the House of Assembly, outside election years, ranked between second- and fourth-highest number of provincial sitting days from 1990 to 1995. Since 2000 (inclusive) it has only once cracked the top ten, in 2004. Since then, it has never ranked higher than eighth out of ten provinces.

In four of the past ten calendar year, the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island has sat more than the House of Assembly. Two of those years have been in the Dannystan era.

In the twelve calendar years since 1998 inclusive, at least one of the territorial legislatures has had more sitting days than the House of Assembly in all but two years. In the Dannystan era, the House of Assembly has never out-sat all three territories. In 2009, two of the three territories out-sat the Bow-Wows; in 2007 — an election year, to be sure — all three of them did.

The (unelected) Senate has had more sitting days than the (elected) House of Assembly in every calendar year from 1996 to the present day.

And in three of the the past seven calendar years, St. John's City Council has had more meetings than the House of Assembly has had sittings. In 2009, the two deliberative chambers were tied.

[Data sources: City of St. John's website, Library of Parliament.]


Saturday, January 23, 2010


Scrummed outside his State of the Province address – you would think such an important speech would be published on-line, but you’d be wrong – Our Dear Premier says:
Thierry Vandal, the president of Hydro-Quebec, says that they’re going to have unlimited, guaranteed access to transmission in New Brunswick. That’s a significant statement for the head of Hydro-Quebec to make.

About as significant, one imagines, as when Premiers of provinces which are neither New Brunswick nor Quebec asks for, um, guaranteed access to transmission in New Brunswick:

That is why we are asking the New Brunswick government to:

1) finalize an agreement, by February 2010, prior to signing of the definitive agreements between New Brunswick and Hydro Quebec, subject to normal environmental assessment and permitting, to construct a new interprovincial transmission line through New Brunswick to the Maine/NB border, separate from the existing NB grid […]


Friday, January 22, 2010

Dear CBC and CTV

No, it's not "6:00, 6:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador".

It's 6:30 Newfoundland Time.

Yes, there's a difference.

Duelling Dannies

From the headlines this week:

Satisfied Danny:

New NB Power deal satisfies N.S., N.L. (CBC, January 21)

Williams likes new deal (New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, January 20)

Good news for Lower Churchill, premier says (St. John’s Telegram, January 20)

Upset Danny:

'We will never surrender' (St. John’s Telegram, January 22)

Nfld. Premier still upset over NB Power deal (Globe and Mail, January 22)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Answer period

Pig has a question:

Why does the [Strait of Belle Isle] ferry go to Quebec anyway? I know it's only a difference of hundreds of metres but I've wondered why not have the boat to go to Labrador.
Well, Pig, the ferry actually goes to St. Barbe. (Ha!)

But, seriously, folks:

Back in the day, the Northern Peninsula and Labrador, like other areas, were served by a coastal boat service. As roads were built throughout Newfoundland, and in the Labrador Straits, during the 1950s and 1960s, the CN Marine services were removed from newly-connected communities.

In 1966 or 1967, after a gravel road was extended up the west coast of the Northern Peninsula, the government of Newfoundland (as it then was) installed a ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle, the first regular ferry (as opposed to coastal boat) to serve the run. True to cheap Newfoundland government form, the “ferry” was a rotting hulk, built in the 1800s, imported from Norway, and, as there was no suitable provincial government wharf in any community along the Labrador Straits, the mainland terminus of the service was instead made Blanc Sablon, where a useable federal government wharf was already in place.

After running the service for a year or two, faced with (justifiable) demands for a modern ship, and the apparent surprise that it costs money to operate public services, the Smallwood government started fishing around for a way to pawn responsibility off on the federal government. And, as the following letter from Smallwood shows, they found it.

Transport Canada soon after assumed responsibility for maintaining the Straits ferry service, and provided it through contract operators until 1997. That is when the Straits ferry, along with the Labrador coastal service, the Goose Bay-Cartwright-Lewisporte ferry, and a number of wharves and terminals, were transferred to the provincial government under the Labrador Transportation Initiative.

This is from a file in Library and Archives Canada. Click to enlarge the page images:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A little perspective

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The latter country occupies the eastern 2/3 of the island, shown here in a dark shade of grey. With a little allowance for projection distortion, here's what Haiti and the island of Hispaniola would look like located off the coast of Labrador.

Haiti's population in 2009 was estimated at just over ten million people.

The United Nations estimates that, before the earthquake, there were 380,000 orphaned children among that population. That is equivalent to the population of all three territories and large swaths of the northern part of western Canada, shown here in orange.

The number of dead in the earthquake is estimated to be as high as 200,000. That is equivalent to the population of Labrador and all of western and central Newfoundland, shown here in green. The darker shade of green, around Corner Brook, the Humber Valley, and the Exploits River region, represents the roughly 70,000 victims whose bodies are estimated to have been recovered and buried as of this morning — most of which unidentified, and in mass graves, as the urgency of the situation dictates.

The number of injured survivors is estimated at a quarter of a million. That is equivalent to the population of northern mainland Nova Scotia, plus Kings and Hants counties in the eastern Annapolis Valley, shown here in light purple.

The earthquake has levelled large portions of the most densely built-up portion of southern Haiti, leaving approximately 1.5-million people homeless. That is the equivalent of the remote, rural, and small-town population of eastern, northern, and western Quebec, represented here by the area shaded in red.

Looking for a way to help?


Coming soon to a future near you?

Quebec Introduces Legislation Regarding Upper Churchill Contract

Québec, DATE — Premier Jean Charest, P.C., M.N.A., today made the following statement in the National Assembly. (Check against delivery.)

Mr. Speaker:

I stand today to inform my honourable colleagues and the people of Québec of a very important piece of legislation our government will introduce today in this Assembly.

Earlier today, Nalcor, the Newfoundland and Labrador crown energy corporation, commenced an action in the Superior Court, with a view towards nullifying or varying the 1969 contract between Hydro-Québec and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation for the purchase of power from the Churchill Falls hydro-electric station.

I therefore give notice that we will table, for first reading, a government bill, consisting of exactly one section, as follows:
1. The action between Nalcor Inc. and Hydro-Québec, Superior Court reference 2010 ABC 123, is discontinued without costs.
This legislation is modeled after similar legislation passed thirteen months ago by the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador, which was passed with minimal debate.

To the naysayers, let there be no doubt: We have full authority to do what we've done. We have full legislative authority.

The National Assembly is paramount in Quebec, and we stand by that. If Nalcor wants to launch any legal challenges, then that is up to them. We have no control over that. I'm sure they will get legal opinions that indicate our National Assembly has full authority to do what it's done.

That corporation has the right to do whatever it has to do to keep their company profitable, but from my perspective as Premier, and on behalf of people of Québec, we're willing to tell them to go on and do their business in other parts of the country and other parts of the world.

We wish you well.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Oh. OK. So insults have gone back to being a bad thing, have they, ODP?

From the Ministry of Truth:
Dannies Go Head-to-Head

A former Member of the Board of Directors at Newfoundland Hydro calls the latest attempt to take Hydro Quebec to court a "newfie joke". On VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms Danny Dumaresque says we have little or no chance of winning a case to reopen the Upper Churchill contract. He accuses the Premier of abdicating his responsibility by passing the issue over to Ed Martin of Nalcor. He says there's no way a Quebec judge will throw a multi-billion dollar contract out the window based on a 1994 piece of legislation.

Premier Danny Williams calls the comments insulting.

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Taxpayer II, then and now

Here’s Taxpayer II on January 7, commenting on a Telegram editorial decrying the frivolous use of words such as “quisling”, “traitor”, “genocide”, “dictator”, etc., in domestic political discourse:

Taxpayer ll from NL writes: I could not agree more. The more desparate people are, the more they resort to hyperbole. […]The posters who get on here and berate the premier with their school yard name calling are childish and pedantic [sic], and only serve to further distance the liberals from the mainstream.
Posted 07/01/2010 at 9:06 AM
And here’s Taxpayer II now, sounding newly militaristic... even desperate? Emphasis added.
Taxpayer ll from NL writes: Just read these first three posts. The sour defeatism that has plagued us for decades oozes out of each word. They say lie down fellow Newfoundlanders, let the jack booted Quebecers stomp you into the ground as they collect their billions. Don't do anything, don't say anything, just lie there and take it, because that's all your any good for. I for one reject the stance of the aforementioned posters. I for one hope and pray that the men and women that we elected will do everthing in their power to thwart what HQ has done, and will do to this Province. Please don't do what these posters want you to do. Don't lie down, don't capitulate, fight this wrongdoing for every proud Newfoundlander.
Posted 19/01/2010 at 10:08 AM

[Edited to correct headline.]

That mug again

An unusual photo-editorial choice this morning over at the Ministry of Truth (Provincial) on-line division:

The press release which engendered this story is linked to in the coda where it says "click here."

Go ahead. Click. Just come back when you're done.

OK, you're back. Notice anything?

Well, besides the hysterical "farce" noted up by Bond Papers yesterday.

That's right: Danny Williams-Government didn't make that announcement. Danny Williams-Government wasn't even "quoted" in the release.

Some other minister, possibly hiding under a cloak of anonymity, made it. Susan Boyle or Loyola Sullivan or someone. Ah, what odds, it doesn't matter.

Really, now: how hard must it suck to be a member of the Danny Williams "Team"?


Monday, January 18, 2010

But (XVII)

Some more anonymous dissent from people who Support the Great Patriotic Revolution With All Their Hearts but don't like how far they have to walk each morning to the People's Well aren't too impressed with Our Latest Tirade. The Telegram:

SWGC Member from NL writes: It's too bad that these comments sections almost always degenerate into name-calling and bickering among those who see fit to leave input. I am a Williams supporter, and an employee at SWGC, but I cannot support Mr. Williams in this issue.

And the Western Star:
Newfoundlander from NL writes: I am a staunch Williams supporter but not on this issue.


A 25-cent word for "lie"

Ever since Angus-Reid issued its poll on provincial Premiers’ popularity last month, the Talking Pointers have been gloating, on air and on-line, that not only does the Father of the Motherland enjoy massive polling support in Dannystan, but, so the talking point goes, across Canada as well.
Taxpayer II, who certainly doesn’t spout pre-digested talking points (NCBFFTT), is typical, claiming then:

Taxpayer ll from NL writes: It's nice to see the rest of the country understands and apprciates our premier as much as we do, or at least 80% of us do.
Posted 17/12/2009 at 2:00 PM
and now:

Taxpayer ll from NL writes: I think that with 75% of the population of Canada, and 80% of the population of NL behind the premier, he hardly needs help in this dept. Now if we take a quick look at the local opposition, Ms Jones, she could use a little help in this area. Ms. Jones and the four horsemen of the apocolypse could use all the help they can get, be it Dale Carnigie, or any one else.
Posted 18/01/2010 at 12:08 PM
Great talking point, Taxpayer II!

If only it were true.

Slight problem: while Angus-Reid polled (on-line) across Canada (other than PEI and the territories), respondents in each province were asked their opinion of the Premier of their own province

Danny Williams is the top-ranked head of government in nine Canadian provinces, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 78 per cent of respondents in Newfoundland and Labrador approve of their premier’s performance.

[Emphasis added]

That is to say: Angus-Reid didn't give a rat what people in Ontario think of whoever the Premier of Manitoba is this month, and didn't ask.

But hey, Talking Pointers… don’t let the facts get in the way of your turd-polishing. You never have before; why start now?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apparently, We have need of competent web developers

What you might see on the official Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics website:

What you get if you click on the "We're hiring" ad:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia

Oh, look! The Premier admits that and undersea cable is a more expensive means of transmitting imaginary Lower Churchill Power.

No, not that Premier — the other one. The Chronically-Horrid reports today:

Premier Darrell Dexter said he’s not surprised Newfoundland and Labrador is looking for a cheaper option than an underwater cable connection to Nova Scotia for moving energy from Lower Churchill to market.

"The sheer economics of it are undeniable in terms of a transportation corridor for that energy," the premier said after a cabinet meeting Thursday.


While Newfoundland and Labrador’s new energy company, Nalcor Energy, is looking for a cheaper transportation route for the electricity through Quebec, it is not ruling out an undersea cable to Nova Scotia.

"We are still having significant discussions — it’s no secret — with Emera (Inc.)," said Ed Martin, Nalcor president, in a telephone interview Thursday.


An SNC-Lavalin transmission system study for the Nova Scotia government estimates the cost of connecting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia at $800 million to $1.2 billion. The estimate of connecting Nova Scotia to New England is $2 billion to $3 billion.

Now, isn't that strange... Not so very long ago, Our Dear Premier was planning to route Our Dear Infeed from Our Dear Lower Churchill through Gros Morne National Park, which he somehow imagined was a shorter, cheaper route than going around Gros Morne National Park.

And somehow, for taking the shorter route around a national park, in ODP's strange little universe, this meant that the federal government should be on the hook for some of those transmission line costs.

Not only is Our Dear Lower Churchill cost-sensitive such that a Labrador routing closer to the new Trans-Labrador Highway was ruled out — the mitigated costs of accessing the corridor were outweighed by the additional cost of materiel for the consequently longer line — they were so cost-sensitive that the federal government would be called upon to help Us go it alone by compensating Us for saving money.

Cost, obviously, is a factor.

A huge factor.

That is where the latest rounds of Holy Warfare stem from. We, that is, He, want to shift the cost-burden of transmitting Lower Churchill power to (a) Ottawa, and (b) Quebec. Without shifting those costs, on top of the cost-shift that We expect in the form of loan guarantees and whatnot for building the power plants themselves, the business case for the Lower Churchill evaporates, assuming it exist even with them.

And yet, in this incredibly cost-sensitive environment, there are still many gullible people, in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, who believe that the submarine route through that province is viable, or at least more viable than the terrestrial alternative.

Are they kidding?

After all, one of the 95 Theses that We have posted on the door of Hydro-Quebec's Montreal siège social is that Quebec is throwing obstacles in the way of Our Dear Lower Churchill.

Crazy obstacles, like... like... like... not paying to build Our transmission line across Quebec.

So just imagine the war that will ensue when We get wind of Premier Dexter's further remarks:
In talking about the connection to Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Dexter said Nova Scotia Power could be one of the private interests that would look at it, but it wouldn’t be provincial taxpayers.

"We’re not going to build it," he said.

Looks like Nova Scotia is not going to help Us go it alone, either. The traitors.


Now that we've burned our boats...

... let's burn our fish?

What colour the files?

Anyone else see a pattern starting to develop?

Ross Klein, Enemy of The People:

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.
Holly Pike, Enemy of The People:
Later Williams described the tone of the letter sent to him as “snotty.” When asked if his comments were directed at acting principal Holly Pike specifically, Williams said he does not question her competence or qualifications, but does take exception if she does not support government’s approach to moving Grenfell forward.

“(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.”
One has to wonder: are letters like these, ready to be brandished against their authors and senders, kept neatly stored in Purple Files*... or are these particular files some other colour altogether?


* Of course, there is no such thing as a Purple File.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mr. Cranky

New year, new enemies:
Premier Slams Leadership at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College

Premier Danny Williams has slammed the leadership at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook. During his first address of the year at the Pepsi Centre on Thursday, the Premier said he received a very "begrudging" letter from the administration at Grenfell the day before. He says this after government recently increased their operating budget by 38%. Premier Williams says he's never had words with Grenfell's acting Principal Dr. Holly Pike until now and if she can't do the job, it's time for her to leave. Premier Williams says Grenfell needs to work on recruiting more students before full autonomy will work. Meanwhile, Dr. Holly Pike says she's puzzled by the premier's comments.

Hey, you!

You there! You with the credit card!

Go here, right now.

Then tell your friends on email and Facebox.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the tee vee (II)

OK, Sooper Marketing Geniuses... are you sure this time?

Here, thrice and hopefully for all, is the ad:

Have you really, really heard...

... about Our Dear Equity Investment? The Comms Shop continues its due diligence in securing the votes of everyone associated with Republic of Dile unrelentingly reminding the entire universe of Our Patronage of the Arts:
Budget 2009: Building on Our Strong Foundation provided $1.5 million in film equity funding to Republic of Doyle. The size of the production will also enable producers to avail of up to $3 million through the Newfoundland and Labrador Film and Video Tax Credit. The value of economic spin-off resulting from the production is estimated at about $11 million.
Mkay... $4.5 million in direct and indirect provincial public support, to generate "about $11 million" in economic activity?

How much provincial public revenue is that "about $11 million" generating, a body might wonder? Is it greater or lesser than $4.5-million?

And what's this now:
In the past six years, from 2004 to 2009, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has invested more than $24 million to film production activity which, in turn, has enabled approximately $67 million to be leveraged from other public and private sources.
That is to say... more than a quarter of the money going into the industry is from the provincial public treasury. And, of the 74% that is not provincial public money, a curiously vague amount ("leveraged from other public... sources") is also from the public purse of other, unspecified, jurisdictions.

Oh, look! A pie chart!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pease in a pod (XIII)

Danny Williams, quoted in Maclean's, 2004:
A 25-year career in business and law as absolute ruler of his own fiefdoms qualified [Danny] Williams for politics, but it didn't prepare him. He still bristles at the "wasted time" in the House, and the daily distractions that take him away from the real work of governing.
Stephen Harper, on BNN, January 11, 2010:
The games begin when Parliament returns. The government can take our time now to do the important work to prepare the economic agenda ahead.


On the tee vee

It only took, what, since TV was invented and the provincial tourism department started advertising on it, but there is finally a Newfoundland and Labrador tourism ad that features Labrador. Check it out. It's right pretty.

(Embedded video to follow whenever the Sooper Marketing Geniuses figure that one out.)

Blog and it shall be given you:

And then it shall be taken right back.

And then it'll come right back again, just as quickly:

Really, now, make up your jeezly minds.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From St. John's to Vancouver (II)

Further to this post, these indirectly quoted words from spokeswoman set a body to thinking:
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has indicated he will attend the Games, along with the province's tourism minister and officials. A spokeswoman for Williams's office said it has purchased 176 tickets to events at a cost of $54,380.
The Premier, that's one, and the Minister, that's two. Plus an un-named number of officials. Between them, they have 176 tickets which cost, on average, $308.98 each.

How many officials? It doesn't say. But we can make some educated speculation, assuming that everyone in the delegation will be using a ticket to at least one event. With just one official attending, that would be three tickets, with each delegate, the Premier who once railed against the Vancouver Olympics and his Minister included, attending nearly sixty events each.

At the other extreme, if everyone in the delegation uses just one of the $308.98 tickets, then there must be 176 of them — Premier, Minister, and 174 "officials".

Oh look! A pretty chart!


Friday, January 08, 2010

From St. John's to Vancouver (I)

Oh, look who's going to that Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011:
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has indicated he will attend the Games, along with the province's tourism minister and officials. A spokeswoman for Williams's office said it has purchased 176 tickets to events at a cost of $54,380.

This would be the same sporting event that He once fustigated against in such terms it inspired the immortal phrase, sadly not preserved in its original format for posterity, "nutty-nutty-nutbar".

And the last shall be first

The last Williamsgovernmenting minister of 2009 is the first Williamsgovernmenting minister of 2010.

Bookies take note.

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With timing like this, you'd think he was appointing Senators or something.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Mysterious Island

From the ITAR-DAN newswire today.

Does this island — sorry, Island — have a name by any chance?

Pilot Launched for Year-Round Ferry Service Between Island and Labrador

The Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Transportation and Works, today announced a pilot project with the goal of providing a year-round ferry service between the Island and Labrador across the Strait of Belle Isle. The project will involve an additional Provincial Government investment of approximately $1.5 million.

"Right on the heels of the opening of the Trans Labrador Highway, Phase III, we are pleased to be announcing another historic transportation initiative that will benefit Newfoundlanders and Labradorians travelling or shipping goods between the Big Land and the Island," said Minister Hedderson.

"This is great news for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," said the Honourable John Hickey, Minster of Labrador Affairs. "A year-round connection between Labrador and the Island will allow more opportunities for travel, recreation and business for all residents of the province. […]


All relative, innit?

Rather a strange semi-editorial throwaway comment in a CBC news report today:
A winter ferry will connect Corner Brook to southern Labrador for the first time as part of a pilot project.

According to a government news release, the province will spend $1.5 million to fund a twice-weekly ferry service between Corner Brook — on Newfoundland's west coast — to Blanc-Sablon, a tiny Quebec port that borders southern Labrador.

Population of Blanc-Sablon: 1263

Population of St. Barbe, the regular Newfoundland port for the Strait of Belle Isle ferry service: 84

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Canadian connection

The alleged attempt by Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab to bring down Northwest/Delta flight 253 on Christmas Day, using explosive underpants, continues to draw international headlines, including here in Canada.

What has hitherto gone strangely unreported, however, is the fact that, had the alleged bomb plot been successful, it would have happened not in the United States, but in Canadian airspace and on Canadian soil. As do so many trans-Atlantic flights, and so many flights on approach to the border city of Detroit, flight 253 passed over Canada. has helpfully provided a ground track of the Schipol to Detroit flight that was the target of the alleged plot, from which the following Google Earth screen caps are taken. This shows the last few minutes of the flight — during which time the accused was being subdued aboard the aircraft — as it passed over southwestern Ontario and across Lake St. Clair into Michigan:

Looking out further, and back in time, the plane and its 289 passengers and crew members crossed Labrador, north-central Quebec, and parts of Ontario, just like dozens of other commercial jetliners do every day:

Flight 253 made its landfall on the north Labrador coast. Despite the sparsely settled geography of Labrador, where communities are compact and separated by miles of wilderness, the plane passed directly over two permanently populated places; Hopedale and Labrador City:

Have you heard...

...about our equity investment in Republic of Doyle?

No worries: here's the Premier — he'll attend premieres but not Premiers' meetings — to remind you abour our equity investment in Republic of Doyle.

Note how the guy who long yearned to be Minister of Culture plays second fiddle in what would otherwise have been his own comms-shop's release.


Tempus fugit

According to its website, the mandate of the Newfoundland & Labrador Statistics Agency is, among other things:
To develop of [sic] reliable and timely data required for evidence-based policy analysis;
Oh, also according to its website, the Newfoundland & Labrador Statistics Agency’s data tables on business enterprises in the province are now, as of the New Year, three years out of date.

The obligatory list posting

The best indie songs of the 2000s titled Wake Up:

1. Wake Up, The Walkmen (Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, 2002)

2. Wake Up, Arcade Fire (Funeral, 2004)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Open memo

Dear Every Reporter and Editor in Canada:

The noun is prorogation.

Thank you.

Goose Bay, the Island

An ad currently in circulation on a local media intertubes site (phone number redacted).


Sycophant of the Year, 2009

The sycophancy story of 2009, without a doubt, is the spectacular rise, and equally spectacular fall, of Trevor Taylor.

For the first time in his Danny Williams-Government career, Triv took the monthly award in April, and held it for six consecutive months – a streak that only ended when his political career did. His achievement is second only to Joan Burke’s eight-month run in 2007-08. He even managed to clinch the monthly award for September, despite pulling the plug on himself with a week left to go in a short month.

Otherwise, 2009 was the year of the first-time champeen. Paul Oram’s first, and last, monthly title came in February, albeit on a technicality, and yes, the Labradore statistical department was as surprised as anyone to find that Oram hadn’t ever won before. The following month it was Ross Wiseman’s turn on the podium, another personal first – though he’s still around to try for another run for the brown rose.

Susan Sullivan got her name on the wall of fame in October, only the second Class of ’07 cabinet minister (after Jerome!) to do so. And in December, it was finally Tom Hedderson’s turn in the spotlight.

Not only did Trevor Taylor hold the title for half the year, he blew the competition out of the water in terms of total points. Overall sycophancy was up numerically, with 125 press releases giving praise to the Williams Government, compared to 108 in 2008. Much of that increase is owed to the Transportation and Works comms shop, who delivered 39 points for Triv before his abrupt departure. They also helped shepherd six and four onto the board for the two Toms, Hedderson and Marshall respectively, helping them land third and fourth place in the annual tally.

Action off the playing field made for an interesting year, from a sycophancy perspective, as well. That included Kevin O’Brien’s bizarre dream of a perpetual Weekend at Danny’s; Paul Oram’s slightly cute, and partly sad, but mostly creepy, description of the Dear Leader as his “father figure”; and the utter inutility of the Speaker in the face the over-eagerness, in violation of Parliamentary procedure, on the part of so many backbench (and frontbench) government MHAs, to praise Him by Name.

Still, with over 30% of the annual score standing in his name as lead minister, 2009 clearly belonged to Trevor Taylor. The turmoil in the monthly games since his departure, with three new title-holders in as many months, only confirm his stature on the playing field. Who knows what star will emerge, or re-emerge, as 2010 rolls out on a go-forward basis?

Your 2009 Sycophant of the Year: Trevor Taylor. Congratulations, Triv! And best wishes!

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Sycophant of the Month: December 2009

Total number of ProvGov press releases issued in December: 109 (-100 from November).

Total number with the phrase "Williams Government": 14 (+4 from November).

Sycophancy index: 12.8% (+8.0% from November).

What a month! The numerator spiked, the denominator plummeted, and as a result the sycophancy index soared as Danta Claus came to town.

October monthly winner Susan Sullivan made it clear early in the month that she was looking to reclaim the title she lost to Tom Marshall in November. And Tom Marshall did get on the board in the first week of October to answer her – but not before Tom Hedderson did.

Sullivan took a lead later that same day with her second of the month, followed two days later by John Hickey’s only point in the game. And Hedderson made sure everyone knew he was still in the game on the 10th.

When Sullivan answered him on the 14th, it looked like she might be destined for renewed glory, but with Hedderson now drinking from Transportation and Works’ magic Blue-Ade jug, she wouldn’t know what hit her: Hedderson banged in four in eight days; on the 14th, 16th, 18th, and again on the 21st, as Danta made sure His name was associated with as much highways happiness and public housing as possible.

The other Tom also knocked one in on Sunturn, trying his best to keep the monthly plaque, and tie His name to still more Yuletide happy money, followed the next day by Sullivan again, filling stockings on Danta's behalf. Marshall made it a three-way game with the final one of the monthly matchup on the 23rd.

The final tally was three for Marshall, four for a feisty Sullivan, and six for Tom Hedderson. For the third consecutive month, the monthly title-holder fails to defend his or her crown.

Hedderson, who shared the only monthly three-way tie on record with Jerome Kennedy and Joan Burke back in January of 2009, finally claims his first solo monthly title as sycophant of the month. Congratulations, Tom!

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Sunday, January 03, 2010


The nefarious Ontario city newspaper's John Doyle — or is that Dile? — notes:
Hereabouts, Hawco is seen as a kind of Laurence Olivier of the St. John's arts scene, a Renaissance man who is co-artistic director of his own theatre troupe, The Company Theatre, as well as doing movie and TV work. He was, they say here, relentless on getting financial support from the Newfoundland government and getting Republic of Doyle made in St. John's.

The Newfoundland government [sic], in return, has been equally relentless, even before the first episode airs, in making sure that the Laurence Oliver of Newfoundland, and everyone else, don't forget about their equity investment.


By request (II)



Saturday, January 02, 2010

By request (I)

Some more scenes from a day trip (!) along Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. The stuff on the trees isn't snow but rime or hoarfrost:


Friday, January 01, 2010

Place value

A decade is ten years.

The first decade of the common reckoning consisted of years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The first year of the second decade was 11, not 10.

The last decade of the first century consisted of years 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, and 100. The first year of the second century was 101, not 100.

The last decade of the first millennium consisted of years 991, 992, 993, 994, 995, 996, 997, 998, 999, and 1000. The first year of the second millennium was 1001, not 1000.

The last year of the twentieth century was 2000, which is why the year starts with "20--", and ends, like "10", in "-0".

Conseqently, 2010 is the last year of the first decade of the century, not the first year of the second decade.

Happy New Year!