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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why, that's almost a promise!

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament on Monday:

MS JONES: The Premier also indicated in the House of Assembly there had been two audits completed on the Muskrat Falls Project.

I ask if you are prepared to table those audits and make them available to the people of the Province.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, Nalcor has had two external audits done on the methodology. They have used a gaited [sic] process around decision making with regard to the development of the Lower Churchill, Mr. Speaker. I will check with Nalcor to see if those audits can be made available to you. I certainly do not see any reason, personally, at this point in time, why they might not.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in terms of another piece of work that Nalcor has undertaken, they have now gone to a external consultants to do an evaluation on whether or not Muskrat Falls is the least-cost option for electricity generation here in the Province. Mr. Speaker, an RFP has been called and we hope to have that report and make it available to the people of this Province by the end of July or early August.

Labels: ,

Oh frabjous day!

Kalloo! Kallay!

VOCM reports:

Speaker Could Be Retiring

The news of another retirement from active politics may have been announced on Monday. With the October provincial election just around the corner, friendly wagers are likely being made on which MHAs are not planning to seek re-election. For the Speaker of the House, Roger Fitzgerald, the answer may have accidentally been leaked. While paying a compliment to the Speaker for his involvement with the publishing of Newfoundland's 1932-33 legislative debates, Lt. Governor John Crosbie made a joke about retiring from politics. Fitzgerald joked himself, thanking Crosbie for announcing his retirement and saying that he would tell his wife she might hear the same on the news.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Misrepresentation of population

P&P claims:

Despite the significant population shift to the Avalon in the past two decades, the electoral boundaries have not been dramatically adjusted. In fact, I believe that if the current arrangement could be successfully challenged in the Supreme Court because rural political power greatly exceeds it's population and entitlement to seats under in a system where every vote should be equal.
When are Townies ever going to get over their very bad case of demographic biggerexia?

The Electoral Boundaries Commission last reported, per statute, in 2006, based on the 2001 census of population.

In 2001, the Avalon Peninsula (Census Division 1) had a population of 242,875, or 47.4% of the provincial total. That's up from 44.5% in 1991, but it also masks two demographic currents which flow past one another. The St. John's metro area has been (generally) increasing in both absolute population* and relative population share, while the rural Avalon has been losing both**. In fact, the Avalon Peninsula taken as a whole, both urban and rural alike, has lost in absolute population in every census since 1991.

Going on the 2001 census figures, and assuming a 48-seat legislature, the Avalon Peninsula as a whole "should" have had 23 provincial electoral districts, of which 16 would have been in the city of St. John's and the suburban municipalities which make up the rest of the metro area, and 6.5 districts in the rural rest of the Avalon.

Instead, there are 14 seats in the St. John's metro area — a whopping difference of two from strict rep-by-pop — and six in the rural Avalon, not counting Bellevue, which takes in the isthmus. There, more or less, is the fractional district.

However, as per s. 13 of the Electoral Boundaries Act, it's not a region's share the population of the province which counts for the purpose of redrawing the district map... Instead, for districts on the island of Newfoundland, the relevant figure is the share of Newfoundland's population.

In the 2001 census, the St. John's metro area had 35.6% of Newfoundland's population, which would have merited about 15.5 of Newfoundland's 44 House of Assembly seats... a staggering difference of 1.5 seats. The rural rest of the Avalon had 14.4% of the population, which would yield 6.3 electoral districts — which is more or less exactly what the Electoral Boundaries Commission ended up giving it, again with the Avalon portion of Bellevue counting as the fractional seat.

Now, it is true that the demographic trendlines have continued since the 2001 census. However, even using the 2006 census as a baseline, metro St. John's would had 37.8% of Newfoundland's population, which "should" have yielded 16.5 districts instead of 14; the rural Avalon had 14% of the population, which "should" have yielded 6.2 districts instead of, um, the 6.2 or so that it actually has; and the rest of Newfoundland off the Avalon had 48.1% of the population, which would yield 22 seats under strict rep-by-pop instead of 24.

Is St. John's "under-represented" compared to what a strict application of rep-by-pop would yield? Are rural areas, by the same measure, "over-represented"? Yes to both counts, but not to nearly as great a degree as P&P (among others) would suggest.

And is the "the Avalon" under-represented"? Nope. Not unless your definition of "Avalon" is conflated with that of "St. John's and its suburbs"; in fact, the rural Avalon has almost as perfect a rep-by-pop as the last redistribution achieved anywhere.

* Except between 1996 and 2001, when greater St. John's lost over 1000 of its population. However, the rest of the province lost population at a greater rate, so the metro area still gained population share, from 31.5% in 1996 to 33.7% in 2001.

** Between 1991 and 2006, the non-metro Avalon lost 17.3% of its population, a greater rate of loss than Newfoundland as a whole (11%) or the province as a whole (11.1%)


Will there also be a cake raffle?

Now this is... odd. From a well-trafficked Labrador discussion board:


Nalcor Energy-Lower Churchill Project will be holding a General Information Session/Public Open House:

Cartwright Hotel
Wednesday, June 1st

Information will be available and Project team members will be present to answer questions.

$100.00 Door Prize!!!


Put an asterisk on that

Karen Kleiss of the Edmonton Journal reports:

The Alberta Liberals have become the first political party in Canada to open leadership and nomination contests to voters who are not card-carrying members of the party.
Erm, not quite:

“If they are people who would normally qualify to vote in a general election in Newfoundland, and they say that they’re supporters of this guy and of the party, these are the only requirements that I’m aware of,” Rideout said Tuesday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shut up and go away

The Word of Our Dan:
Premier Danny Williams suggests that former premiers should “shut up and go away” once they leave office, and not criticize incumbent governments.

“I find it sad when former premiers comment on current administrations,” Williams said.

“I pray to God that I never do that when I finish politics.

“I certainly hope that I can make a commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that I won’t provide gratuitous comments or opinions on someone who succeeds you — different times, different circumstances.”


“I’m disappointed,” Williams said of Peckford’s commentary. “I think there’s a point in time when politicians should move on.”

He said he tries not to comment on the actions of previous administrations, and won’t critique his successor whenever he leaves office.

“Hopefully, I can live up to what I’ve said, and when I get out of politics, then I’ll shut up and go away,” Williams said.
Blessèd be.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mr Speaker, do your job (XXV)

On May 17th, a bit of wordplay landed the leader of the opposition in hot water with Roger Fitzgerald, the worst Speaker of any Westminster Parliament in any industrialized liberal democracy:
MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are into all the ‘Dundernomics’ again today and all of the confusing statements, Mr. Speaker, and all of the non-answers.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

The Chair is always reluctant to interrupt during Question Period since we allot a specific time. There has been language used in the last two days in Question Period by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition which is clearly unparliamentary when she references a certain type of economics and references a member’s name describing that process.

I ask the hon. member, that in the future if she would be kind enough not to be using unparliamentary language and reference her questions in a different way.

MS JONES: What word did I use?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. the Leader of the Opposition cares to speak with me in a private setting to explain what I have just brought forward then I would certainly be glad to meet with her.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Just with respect to that way, in using persons names inappropriately and so on considered unparliamentary, it is certainly insensitive in doing so. I would just point out that both members of the House have done that. The Member for Lake Melville constantly mispronounces the name of Mr. Danny Dumaresque. All I am saying is, what happens to one should happen to both.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

On both sides of the House, members should be sensitive to the language they use. Our parliamentary language has been clearly stated here that members who sit in the House of Assembly should not be referenced by their given names. It should be either by the executive position that they hold or by the district that they represent.
Other members may have used that in the past. While we sometimes reference people who are not here, by their names, the Speaker has problems with that as well. Is it fair to go and talk about people who sat in this House before, or others who are not here to defend themselves? It is clearly unparliamentary to reference people who presently sit in this Assembly while we are carrying on debate in this Assembly.
Yesterday afternoon, Susan Sullivan, Minister of Something, gave a Ministerial Statement in the House which read, in part, as follows:
The fact that the hon. Kathy Dunderdale is Newfoundland and Labrador’s first female Premier, and that is she joined by very strong women in the House of Assembly, represents some of the progress that is being made by women in Newfoundland and Labrador.

To borrow a line from Premier Dunderdale, "women are no longer content with knocking on the door for entry into the business community and leadership positions but are knocking the door down. Women are showing degrees of innovation and creativity that were unheard of years ago."
Not for the first time, a Minister was allowed to do something forbidden — refer to the Premier by name, not by title — by the incompetent, bungling excuse of a Speaker.

No proper admonition. No consequences. Nothing.

Minister's Statements are not off-the-cuff utterances in which the presiding officer might offer some slight degree of latitude to Members who lapse and improperly refer to another Member by name instead of by reference to position or district.

They are scripted in advance, and delivered by rote. The Ministers are handed their scripts, and expected to read them — including the pre-scripted unparliamentary bits. And the hopeless, hapless, sad-sack Speaker keeps letting them get away with it.

Do your job, Mr. Speaker.

Do your job.

And if you aren't prepared to do your job, fully, fairly, consistently, and without partiality, resign and let someone else do it.

Do your job, Mr. Speaker.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh, come on

Some politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador are determined to find a "dispute" over the Labrador boundary, even where there is none.

From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament, Conservative vs. Liberal, December 14, 1999:
MR. OTTENHEIMER: I know [the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs] is on top of his job, so therefore he must be aware of a new glossy brochure called The Territory and a new map of Quebec, produced by the Government of Quebec, which includes a large part of southern Labrador in the Province of Quebec.

Has the government protested this claim on our territory directly to Quebec and to the Government of Canada? I would ask the minister to table those letters protesting this act, along with the responses from both Quebec and Ottawa.

MR. NOEL: Come up to the office and I will discuss it with you any time.

As the member well knows, the border between Quebec and Newfoundland is recognized by both provinces. We are content with the level of recognition that exits. Obviously from time to time some questions are raised by particular individuals. I am not specifically aware of the one that the member raises today. I will look into it and have a further answer for him in the near future.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Following Question Period, I will be pleased to show both a map and brochure, one dated 1998, one dated 1999, both official government documents which make quite clearly the point that I raised earlier. It is a serious matter, I say, Mr. Minister. Quebec is building a legal case by openly claiming ownership of our territory. Every time our government fails to reject and protest Quebec’s claims, we build credibility for their case. Some court, somewhere, some time, may be influenced by the history of Quebec’s persistence in claiming our land and our failure to do anything about it.

I ask the minister: Why are you so silent, as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? Why are you and why is this government afraid to stand up to the Province of Quebec?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, our Province has not been silent on this issue when it has been necessary to be vocal, but we do not feel that it is necessary to be very vocal at this particular time because we think that the border is recognized by all Canadians, by the Government of Quebec. I think the Premier of Quebec, just a few days ago, indicated that the border between his province and our Province is not in question.

There is no serious disagreement about that border. From time to time the question is raised by various interests. From time to time we see certain publications that we would prefer would be printed other than they are; but, if we at any time feel that there is a serious issue that has to be dealt with, it will be dealt with. At the present moment we are quite content with the recognition of the boundary that exists in the country.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the minister, he should really treat this issue much more seriously. Both of these official documents clearly speak for themselves. How can this government keep on doing business with a province that claims our territory, does not recognize our laws, has captured almost all of the benefits from our resources in Labrador, and uses its overwhelming influence in Ottawa to deny federal support for our rights and interests as a Province? How do you continue to do business in this manner, Mr. Minister?

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I think that recent events will indicate that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is doing excellent business with the Province of Quebec. We do not feel that there is any credible question raised about the border. I will look into the couple of specific instances that the member has cited -

AN HON. MEMBER: Just to satisfy his mind.

MR. NOEL: - to satisfy his mind and to make sure that he has a peaceful and happy Christmas.
From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament, Liberal vs. Conservative, May 24, 2011:
MS JONES: The other thing, Mr. Speaker, that the government has not been very proactive on is with regard to the boundary issue between Quebec and Labrador. This is very important, and maybe many members here do not think it is all that important, because like I said on the mining stuff in Western Labrador, when you are out of sight you are out of mind. Mr. Speaker, it is an important issue, the boundary issue, and Quebec continues to take in regions of the southern regions of Labrador on all of their mapping and all of the publications and all of the work that they do, without even a word from the government opposite. To me it is disrespectful that they continue to do it.

Now, either the Premier or the government has absolutely no clout and no respect at all inside of the Quebec government or they are not pushing the issue. I do not know which it is, but I think we need to clarify those boundaries and we need to ensure that they stop using them, because the headlands for a lot of those rivers, Mr. Speaker, in Quebec is actually in Labrador. It is actually in the areas that they are taking in. So is a lot of the mineral resource that we are developing now, and one of these days there is going to be an issue.

I think the issue needs to be on the record today by the government dismissing, Mr. Speaker, that boundary, dismissing it and talking to the Quebec government about it. Not like the government is doing, not like the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is doing, ignoring it, thinking it is insignificant and it does not mean anything. One of these days, Mr. Speaker, we could have some real problems on our hands and we will have all of these cases where Quebec has used this boundary with no disclaimer from the Newfoundland and Labrador government because you guys do not think it is an important issue and that the mapping needs to be detailed. That is exactly what you are saying: it is a non-issue. Mr. Speaker, they do not even take it seriously.
Cf.: In which Dave Denine (of all people) nails it


Nothing Could Be Further From The Truth (II)

Yvonne Jones informed the House on Tuesday:

One time, Mr. Speaker, their former Premier went up the Northern Peninsula. He drove down the Northern Peninsula, he looked across and he saw the lights in the Labrador Straits. He said my God, that is the Labrador Straits over there, that is Labrador over there.
In actual fact, the former Premier, while still opposition leader, drove down the Northern Peninsula, he looked across and he saw the lights, and asked, "What's that over there? Nova Scotia?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nothing Could Be Further From The Truth (I)

Kathy Dunderdale misinforms the House on Tuesday:
Mr. Speaker, Menihek is an isolated system that was owned in Quebec. It produces about eighteen megawatts of power and when they wanted to get out of the power business they came to Nalcor and said will you buy this plant? We will sell it to you for a $1. Not only that, we will cover all of your capital costs. We will cover all your operational costs. We just want you to operate it for us. Nalcor said yes because it does not cost us a cent. We have made $2 million a year off that since we have done it.
Ummm... Menihek is an isolated system that was owned — and is still owned — in Labrador.

It was neither owned in Quebec, nor, giving KD possible credit for mis-speaking, by Quebec. Its previous owner was the Iron Ore Company of Canada.

Perhaps at a future date — most likely after the provincial election, at the rate things are going — the opposition will ask the more important question: why was the Menihek deal kept secret for so long, if it is such a super-de-duper one?

Monday, May 23, 2011


Corner Brook resident Michael Parsons wonders why a sign bearing the name of the late Diane Whalen is still up:
Michael Parsons says it is disrespectful for provincial government project signs, with the late Diane Whalen’s name on it, to be left up months after the work has been completed.

Taking a walk or drive along Midland Row in Pasadena, it is hard to miss the capital works announcement on the large board for a sidewalk project.

The Pasadena resident says the sign should not be left up after a project is over regardless, but takes real issue with the deceased minister’s name erected on the sign without just cause.

“The lady died,” Parsons said. “I mean, show some respect here.

“Somebody should have had the sense to take the thing down.”
A much, much better thing to wonder would be why does provgov insist on plastering Ministers' names around like this at all?

In a related question: have four separate government departments (Environment, Natural Resources, Transportation, TCR) started the quadrennial radio ad campaigns, which usually, and purely by coincidence, go into heavy rotation in the two months before the writ drops, in which the Minister personally reminds you not to run into meese on the highways?

Friday, May 20, 2011

In which Dave Denine (of all people) nails it

Meanwhile, in a stunning development, Minister of Something Dave Denine actually gets it right on the imaginary Labrador boundary dispute:
Denine added the Labrador boundary established in 1927 was incorporated into the terms of union when this province entered Confederation in 1949.

“We go by that. There’s no change in our boundary,” he said. “Even Quebec’s own Dorion Commission in 1971 confirmed that.”
On the other hand, it's a rather depressing commentary on the state of the local media that the tin-foil hattery imaginary boundary dispute, and not the linking of Labrador and Newfoundland to the rest of Canada via two new or significantly improved surface transportation routes, which has huge economic implications, is their takeaway story out of Quebec's Plan nord.

A logo? Really?


Getting what she wished for

On April 7th, Premier Kathy Dunderdale-2011 wrote what has become the election-time traditional letter to Uncle Ottawa (conspicuously non-textual PDF link), in which she raised, among other things:
The federal Budget released on March 22, 2011, proposed cuts to the budgets of federal entities like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Department of National Defence, Marine Atlantic Inc., and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which deliver important programs and services to the people of the province. [And, more importantly to the provincial government, generate nicely-income-taxable payrolls and production-taxable spending - ed.] As we move into a period of program restraint on the part of the federal government, it is important that Newfoundland and Labrador is not disproportionatly affected again.

What would a Conservative government propose to do to ensure that federal jobs are maintained in the province and to increase the number of federal government decision-making positions located in the province?

What would your government do to ensure that any fiscal restraint measures would not disproportionately affect any programs and services delivered in the province?
So, Premier Dunderdale-2011 was concerned about cuts in the late Conservative federal budget.
The same budget which the Harper Conservatives promised, throughout the late election campaign, to re-introduce if re-elected. This part of their agenda was cleverly hidden deep on page 2 of the Conservative party's platform.

The same Harper Conservatives that Blunderdale and most of her spineless caucus underlings campaigned for, even if half-heartedly or for show in some cases.

And now, to the surprise of pretty well no one who can read one or more of Canada's official languages, Tony Clement announces that he's ready to start the promised cutting... with a little bit more cutting on top of that for good measure. Bill Curry reports for the Globe and Mail:
Tony Clement says he’s prepared to shut down programs and shrink the public service in order to deliver as the man in charge of wrestling Canada’s deficit to the ground.


“I’m of the view that this has to be done,” he said in an interview Thursday. “This was a clear, rock-solid commitment that we had during the campaign and failure is not an option.”

Mr. Clement noted that his spending review will come up with $4-billion in annual savings that must come from the $80-billion Ottawa spends on direct federal program spending, and not transfers to the provinces.

“So we have to look at our direct program spending and that includes wages and salaries and professional services and grants and contributions and other operating costs,” he said.

“Yeah, there are going to be reductions,” he said. “I don’t want to sugarcoat that. There are going to be reductions and we’re going to try and make it as connected as possible to Canadians’ actual expectations of what they want government to do.”
So when the Harper Conservatives gore a sacred cow or two in Newfoundland and Labrador — and they will — and the Dunderdale 2011 Party squawks about it — and they will — someone, please, remind Kathy Dunderdale-2011 that she voted for 'em.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The enduring shame of Mr. Speaker

In the wierd little self-contained world that is the Bow-Wow Parliament, this is an unparliamentary word:
To wit, from the half-wit excuse of a Speaker, after Tuesday's Question Period:
The Chair is always reluctant to interrupt during Question Period since we allot a specific time. There has been language used in the last two days in Question Period by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition which is clearly unparliamentary when she references a certain type of economics and references a member’s name describing that process.

I ask the hon. member, that in the future if she would be kind enough not to be using unparliamentary language and reference her questions in a different way.
On the other hand, according to the same half-witted Speaker's years of turning a deaf ear to it, these phrases would appear to be entirely Parliamentary:
Williams government

Premier Williams

Premier Williams
Indeed, not minutes before Yvonne Jones dropped her "dundernomics" bomb, the equally sad-sack Minister of Something Dave Denine said, in a Minister's Statement:
I rise today to acknowledge the recipients of the 2011 URock Volunteer Awards. This past Saturday night we had an amazing awards gala where we were delighted to have our Premier, the hon. Kathy Dunderdale, present the eight deserving recipients with their awards.

Or, as Minister of Something Else Clyde Jackman said on May 9th:
Now, under the leadership of Premier Dunderdale, you will see that we will take this Province in a direction which will be very positive and which will impact very positively on our children and our grandchildren. That is where we have to be thinking longer out.

It would appear that any string of utterances that includes the syllables "dunder" is unparliamentary.

Except when it isn't.

Mr. Speaker: do your job.

Do your job, Mr. Speaker.

Not selectively.

Not in a biased manner.

Do your job, and if you aren't prepared to do your job, let someone else take over.

Do your job, Mr. Speaker.

Do. Your. Job.

And get your left ear to an audiologist.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Hammer attack

VOCM reported Sunday:

Maclean's magazine hammered the newly elected St. John's South Mount Pearl MP in a recent article. The article looks at some questionable comments made by Ryan Cleary when he was involved in journalism. It points out that Cleary stated the NDP were a bunch of "losers," and "a small pocket of aging granolas and artsy-fartsies" that "Wouldn't win an election if they were given a 100-seat head start." The Maclean's article also attacks the separatist comments made by Cleary in the past, but Cleary says that he no longer feels that way. Cleary maintains that his personal mission in Ottawa is to seek a national energy policy that would liberalize electricity transmission, and to demand a judicial inquiry into the cod fishery. The Article cites a St. John's blogger who says Cleary may be an accident waiting to happen.
For the record, Macleans' Richard Foot's "attack" "hammering" Ryan Cleary is posted here.

Three guesses who the un-named (in the VOCM piece) "St. John's blogger" is. First two don't count.

UP-DE-DATE: The wording of the VOCM report was changed later in the day, removing the word "attacks":

Maclean's magazine hammered the newly elected St. John's South Mount Pearl MP in a recent article. The article looks at some questionable comments made by Ryan Cleary when he was a working journalist. It points out that Cleary stated the NDP were a bunch of "losers," and "a small pocket of aging granolas and artsy-fartsies" that "wouldn't win an election if they were given a 100-seat head start." The Maclean's article also brings up the separatist comments made by Cleary in the past.

Cleary says that he no longer feels that way. Cleary maintains that his personal mission in Ottawa is to seek out a national energy policy that would liberalize electricity transmission, and to demand a judicial inquiry into the cod fishery.

The Maclean's article cites a St. John's blogger who says Cleary may be an accident waiting to happen.

Cleary said to Maclean' that: "I don't think I have a big mouth. I just have something to say and I'm going to say it."


Saturday, May 07, 2011

Burying the lede

From the Globe and Mail's fly-in team:

Long plagued by sky-high unemployment, Newfoundland has seen its job market buoyed by its offshore energy resources, but the wealth has filtered through to other industries. Natural resources – which include not only oil but the more traditional industries of fishing and forestry – added about 2,000 workers, Statistics Canada said. Construction, manufacturing and trade grew even more, and public administration also saw a huge jump.