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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Boo hoo

A few choice set-up quotes from the Big Sook:
Stepping out of the shadows of private life and into the public eye, Tory leadership contender Danny Williams has a simple resolution for the new year.

“Maybe just to develop a nice thick skin,” said Williams, a lawyer and businessman.

- Danny Williams, as quoted by Tracy Barron, The Telegram, December 30, 2000

“People were concerned that I had a thin skin and that I was going to explode as a result of that. But that hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. You do learn to deal with that. Unfortunately, you do learn to accept it as part of politics.”

- Danny Williams, in interview with Dene Moore of the Canadian Press, September 29, 2003

Q: Even some locals have compared you to former Newfoundland premier Joseph Smallwood and his “my way or the highway” approach to governance. What’s your response to people who think that of you?

A: “It’s like water rolling right off my back. I can tell you right now these comments roll right off my back. Before I got into politics I had a really thin skin and I was reactive and I realized pretty quickly that the only way you can survive on this, is to have a thicker skin. So, when people make comments like that, I don’t pay any attention to them. I can’t be governed by fear, I can’t be governed by name-calling, I can’t be governed by personal attacks.”

- Danny Williams, in interview with Craig Jackson of The Telegram, July 14, 2006

And, via CBC's On Point with David Cochrane:
Williams admits that his return to private life was partly triggered by growing sensitivity to criticism.

"It got to a point where, you know, I guess some of the PR side of it was just starting to annoy me," Williams, who was known for volatile reactions to numerous events, said in the On Point interview.

"I was getting a thin skin again* and I thought, 'Look, you know, it's — you've kinda done what you set out to do. It's time to move on."

A little bit of guttersniping from the peanut gallery, and off He stormed in a huff.

Coupled with Herself's obvious inheritance of a very thin skin, and it's enough to make a body wonder: how quickly would this farce of a government fall apart if they were faced with a real and determined opposition?

* "Again"?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hello, chickens, welcome to the roost

An amusing report from the Ceeb, just before Christmas came along and ruined everything:
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale is warning civil servants to temper their hopes for a hefty raise once their contracts expire.


"I think they have to expect a more modest increase," Dunderdale told CBC News in a year-end interview to be broadcast later this week on On Point with David Cochrane.

"Our spending at the rate that we've been doing over the last eight years — and it has been very necessary for a number of very good reasons to do that — is not sustainable in the long run," Dunderdale said.
Herewith, a chart showing the growth in the provincial public-sector payroll over the past decade and a bit. (Figures are monthly rolling twelve-month trailing totals, in order to smooth out seasonality.)

The increase, especially since 2006, is a product of both the public-sector pay raises in recent collective agreements, and the sheer increase in the provincial public sector during the NDP Progressive Conservative Williams Government years.

By late 2010, the provincial public sector accounted for fully 25% of all jobs in the province — a share unprecedented not only in Newfoundland and Labrador's recorded economic history, but in the history of any province.

It's nice to see that the "Conservatives", having spent billions buying public-sector labour peace, and quarterly popularity reports for Eternal Premier, have finally discovered fiscal sustainability.

And good luck to them as they sell their message of sustainabily to a public, a labour market, and an electorate, where, thanks to their own differently-sustainable policy choices, one in four people is directly, or nearly-directly, on the provincial government payroll.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flies (II)

Another exercise in opacity, futility, and stupidity from Dundergov, as reported today by the CBC:

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador says making food inspection records public isn't one of its priorities.


Now, three years after government first floated the idea of posting inspection records online, Service NL Minister Paul Davis said the province is still considering it.
Can these morons — really, there is no other word at this point — can these morons get anything done?


Monday, December 19, 2011

Royal Newfoundland Constabutory (III)

A strange, belated, and — for the amount of real estate it took up — rather thin analysis of recent provincial party financing figures appeared in the Telegram on Saturday under Steve Bartlett's byline.

Bondpapers summarizes many of the real stories that Bartlett missed.

Among other weaknesses in the article is the face value at which he redeems the Royal Newfoundland Constabulatory's excuses for contributing to any party — let alone the incredible favouritism shown towards the blue team:
Aiding the political process was a familiar refrain among donors questioned, including some of the other contributors that piqued our attention, like the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association. It gave $2,000 to the PCs.

"The RNC Association supports the political process," president Tim Buckle said.

"Fundraising by political parties is an aspect of politics, and we have supported both (the Tories and the Liberals)."

Buckle explained the association's most common type of donation is sponsoring a team in a party's golf tournament, but he noted the organization also backs the campaigns of current or former RNC officers, like Topsail MHA Paul Davis.
This paints a picture of an even-handed organization participant in the party financing progress.

A false picture.

Even assuming, for argument's sake, that it is proper for the RNC Association to be donating at all — and that may not be a safe assumption, in light of the regulations — the RNC have very clearly favoured the Tories since their first reportable contribution shows up on the books in 1999. The RNC has, up to 2010, made $16,450 in reportable contributions to the PC Party or PC candidates, and only $700 to the Liberals, in two contributions in 1999 and 2007.

Here is the abstract of all the RNC's high-minded political donations, taken directly from Elections Newfoundland and Labrador's own reports (which date back to 1996). The table is colour-coded by party affliation. Each donation is also classed according to whether it was an Annual (A) or Election-period (E) contribution.

Year   Type  Contributor Name                              Party or Candidate (District)        Amount
1999 (E) Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association Ottenheimer, John (St. John's East) $200
1999 (A) Coppers (RNCA Mess) PC Party 200
1999 (E) Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association Buckle, Paula (Waterford Valley) 200
2001 (A) RNC Association PC Party 1250
2002 (A) RNC Association PC Party 1250
2003 (E) Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Assoc. PC Party 1000
2003 (A) Royal Nfld Constabulary Association PC Party 1750
2004 (A) RNC Association PC Party 2000
2004 (A) RNC Association PC Party 1000
2005 (A) RNC Association PC Party 1000
2005 (A) RNC Association PC Party 800
2007 (E) Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Assoc. Liberal Party 500
2008 (A) RNC Association PC Party 2000
2009 (A) RNC Association PC Party 2000
2010 (A) Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association PC Party 2000

This list does not include any contributions from any by-election since that in Terra Nova in 2009.

More to the point, it does not include the Topsail by-election of March 16, 2010, in which RNC officer Paul Davis was the successful PC Party candidate. With only days to go in 2011, the contribution reports from this, and two other provincial by-elections, are still rather conspicuously missing from the electoral office's website.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


With three weeks to go until the calendar starts reading 2012, the most recent Elections Newfoundland and Labrador by-election financial disclosure is from the Terra Nova by-election of November 26, 2009.

There have been three by-elections since then: those in Topsail on March 16, 2010, Conception Bay East—Bell Island more than a year ago on December 2, 2010, and Humber West almost ten months ago on February 15, 2011.

By way of comparison:

In Nova Scotia, the full report, including financials, of the June 21 by-election in Cape Breton North, was published last month.

In Ontario, financial disclosures for three by-elections held in early 2010 in Ottawa West—Nepean, Leeds—Grenville and Toronto Centre were published within the same calendar year.

In Manitoba, the financial statements for candidates in the Concordia by-election on March 2, 2010 were published by summer.

In British Columbia, financial statements for electoral events as recent as the May by-election in Vancouver—Point Grey are already available.


Thursday, December 08, 2011


The provincial NDP have, if belatedly, come to their senses, and are challenging one bit of Danny Williams-Government legacy, the utterly idiotic special ballot provisions, in court.

This prompted a particularly snotty response from Minister of Whatever Jerome Kennedy Is Minister Of This Month, Jerome Kennedy, who points out (correctly) that the NDP were for Danny Williams' special ballot rules, before they were against them:
PC Party responds to comments of NDP Leader on special ballots
December 8, 2011

The Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador today responded to comments made by Lorraine Michael, Leader of the provincial NDP, who attempted to defend her complete reversal in position on special ballots. The NDP has taken court action to have the election results for the district of Burin-Placentia West declared void. The NDP and Julie Mitchell are presenting the argument that the use of special ballots violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In June 2007, in the House of Assembly, Ms. Michael spoke in favor of special ballots and in fact advocated for their wider use in the electoral process.

“Ms. Michael’s about-face is disturbing on a number of fronts – first of all, her flip-flop on this matter shows a lack of principles and secondly, rather than taking responsibility for her actions, she tried to blame her staff for not doing adequate research,” said Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Natural Resources, Government House Leader and MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace. “Our party welcomes the opinion of the court on the matter of special ballots. We take no issue whatsoever with any scrutiny of our electoral process. What is interesting though is the timing of the NDP. If they were so concerned with the process, why didn’t they take this action earlier? And why are they only concerned with one district where the NDP lost? It is obvious that the NDP are so desperate to become the Official Opposition that they have no problem tossing aside the will of the people who voted by special ballot. Ms. Michael is essentially saying to those voters, your votes do not count and I will not respect the choice you made on election day. For a party which has said democracy can only be served with the House of Assembly open, their willingness to disrespect the decision of voters when it is convenient for them is particularly hypocritical.”

Minister Kennedy added “It would be one thing if the NDP were saying they want to improve the electoral process for any future elections, but they want to overturn the will of the voters in the district of Burin-Placentia West after the fact. Democracy is a priority for Ms. Michael and the NDP only when convenient.”

Superjerome seems to have a principled problem with "flip-flops". Flip-flops are bad now. People who flip-flop lack principles.

Also bad: blaming the help. However, in Ms. Michael's defence it should be noted, as a mitigating factor, she never suggested anyone "should be shot over there."

Flying the democratic flag of convenience, that, too, is a sin in Jerome's books. Or, it is now, anyway.

But here's the kicker. This matter is the subject of a long-overdue challenge under s. 3 of the Charter, possibly the most woefully under-argued of all the Charter rights. It is now before the courts.

Jerome Kennedy 2011, meet Jerome Kennedy 2008:
I say to the Opposition House Leader, as a former Minister of Justice, there is a basic principle that we do not comment on matters before the court. Now, that is accepted. It is one that I understand is enshrined in practice if not in principle. Now, how can one distinguish between the inquiry? Now, I do not know, I say to Madam Chair, the answer to that, but I think it would be prudent to seek guidance from commission counsel as to what should be going on in this House, because the last thing any of us want to do is jeopardize this inquiry.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Money can't buy you sense

A quick reminder of what sound advice and decision-making you can get for $2.3-million: a $20-million make-work project in the governing party's prime target-hold district:

In May 2010, Nalcor announced that the first well of the Parsons Pond Drilling Program, Nalcor et al Seamus, which was started on February 16, 2010, reached the planned total drilling depth of 3,160 meters. Testing on this well was completed in January 2011.

In December 2010, Nalcor announced that the second well of its Parsons Pond Drilling Program, Nalcor et al Finnegan, which spud in early September, has reached total drilling depth of 3,130 meters. Natural gas was encountered during drilling. The well is currently suspended as the data is reviewed and next steps determined.

On February 17, 2011, Nalcor and its partners announced their intention not to pursue drilling of Nalcor et al Darcy well in the Parsons Pond onshore exploration program.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sound familiar?

Another blast from the past, this time the Globe and Mail of August 23, 1969:

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Friday, December 02, 2011


In the middle of the type of media storm that is only too familiar to Labrador and to many Aboriginal communities across Canada, âpihtawikosisân dishes out something all too often missing from the coverage.


Wow. Well worth the read.

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