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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dannystan lives

Late on Tuesday night, the government — that is, the machinery of government — issued a hyperpartisan press release that one can only hope the PC Party reimbursed the people of the province for:
The Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services, is expressing her frustration and disappointment that the Opposition is delaying implementation of an important piece of legislation designed to benefit every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

“We are attempting to have a productive and informative debate in the House of Assembly on the bill titled An Act to Amend the Pharmaceutical Services Act and the Opposition is continuing to delay proceedings,” said Minister Sullivan. “Their tactics are delaying implementation of this significant legislation that will result in lower drug prices for our residents.”

The new generic drug pricing policy will provide savings to residents who pay for their medications out-of-pocket and to employers and employees who pay through private drug benefit plans. The policy will also provide savings through the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program.

“I am disappointed that the Opposition refuses to debate this bill on its merits and instead resort to fear mongering, especially among seniors of our province,” added Minister Sullivan. “The people of the province can rest assured that we want Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to receive quality generic drugs at reasonable prices. Right now we are paying more for our generic drugs than many other Canadians. Despite the Oppositions’ actions, our government will continue to explain the benefits of this legislation and focus on implementation of our policy for the betterment of all our residents.”

For the record:

At the start of the debate, one of the official opposition MHAs recused himself from debate, in order to avoid both a real and potential conflict of interest. He also happened to the Leader of the Opposition. (Pop quiz: when was the last time any MHA recused him- or herself from debate on ethical grounds?)

During the first day of debate on the bill, after it was called at second reading on Monday, other members of the official opposition spoke 11,303 words in debate, while NDP MHAs spoke 4,294 words. Government MHAs and Ministers spoke 10,351 words.

In Hansard for Tuesday, the governing Tories took the lead, speaking 13,306 audible words in debate, to 10,602 for the Liberals and 4,065 for the NDP. In other words, 48% of the talking-out on the bill came from the mouths of government members.

And that's only until 7:00 p.m., when the House recessed.

Moments later, at 7:05 p.m., Minister Sullivan's department used government resources to issue a snotty, sarcastic, and partisan press release.

Later that evening, the House continued in an evening sitting. That portion of the proceedings is still not incorporated into the day's Hansard, but, as recorded for posterity in the Twitter stream of the entire legislative gallery, the evening sitting featured the remarkable sights and sounds of a government effectively filibustering its own bill.

That would be the bill which the House is only seized of now, after a six-month Thanksgeaster break that the government gave itself after the last election.

There were no motions on the part of the opposition parties. No procedural trickery. No kazoos.

The only "delay" in passing the legislation was that the opposition, finally, exercised its right, and indeed its obligation, to actually legislate. To speak to a measure before the legislature. To do the job that they, and, for that matter, the government MHAs, volunteered for and were elected to do.

No, Minister Sullivan, like the rest of her government, suffering, as they do, from a now-obviously terminal case of Conservative Persecution Syndrome, were not upset that the opposition were "delaying" anything.

They are upset, and outraged, that any opposition, despite their best efforts, continues to exist at all.

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Math is hard

Boy, this is a doozy.

The Telegram's James McLeod reports today:

It's unclear how the $5 billion in [federal] budget cuts will affect the province exactly, but Dunderdale said she only expects a handful of job cuts.

"We've got about 600 federal jobs here in the province," she said.

"If the cuts are going to be about five or six per cent, then that'll translate into between 20 and 30 jobs for us."
As per Statscan's CANSIM Table 183-0002, there was an annualized average of about 7400 full-time-equivalent (FTE) federal government jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2011.

A five to six percent reduction in federal employment, if applied uniformly across the country, would result in the elimination of about 375 to 450 fedgov FTEs jobs in the province.

* Corrigendum, April 10th: An eagle-eyed economagician points out that the CANSIM table in question counts in actual jobs, not Full-Time Equivalents. Derp.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mr. Speaker, padding, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker.

The text — as delivered — of a ministerial statement Tuesday by gormless Minister of Whatever Darin King is Minister of This Week, Darin King.

It's almost as if they have forgotten that they are supposed to pad their QP answers, when they don't want to be speaking... not their own messaging.

* * *

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Speaker, marine sciences and coastal and oceans management are a vital part of the future of our province’s fishing and aquaculture industries.

Our fishing industry is changing rapidly Mr. Speaker, and our aquaculture industry is experiencing tremendous growth. Both industries play an important role in our province and we look to our youth to lead the way.

To that end Mr. Speaker, in 2011, the Provincial Government supported the Marine Institute’s Ocean Net Youth and Oceans Conference Series with an investment of $19,650. These sessions provided an opportunity to learn about the importance of ocean conservation and ocean careers. Similarly, we provided $19,300 to the Friends of Beaches Network allowing youth and communities to participate in beach clean-ups.

Mr. Speaker, we provided $47,000 since 2010 for students to participate in the Students on Ice Arctic expedition. Through this scholarship last year, students Michael Gardiner of Torbay and Regan Burden of Port Hope Simpson travelled through the Arctic to learn about the polar regions.

The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture also funds two scholarships annually. They are the annual $1,000 scholarship focused on the province’s fishing and aquaculture industries, and the Dr. Wilfred Templeman scholarship for students pursuing a degree related to groundfish research which provides $25,000 over a six-year period for a maximum of ten scholarship recipients.

We also allocate funding annually for the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, giving the opportunity for up to 20 graduate students to participate in projects under the centre’s research scientists. In addition, other graduate student research is funded under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada led by Dr. George Rose of the Marine Institute.

We provided $50,000 toward the Ocean Education Initiative for Schools through the Oceans Learning Partnership in collaboration with Coastal Connections. This initiative provides educational programs including the floating classroom, which offers at-sea learning experiences to students from K-12.

And finally Mr. Speaker, we are involved in World Oceans Day activities, including the World Oceans Family Event in St. John's.

Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Government is actively engaged in supporting our young people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Whether it is through the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy, or through funding to outside agencies like the Marine Institute, each initiative our government has developed and supported is having a significant impact in this province.

The Provincial Government is building for the fishing industry of the future Mr. Speaker, an industry that will attract our best and brightest. These investments are without a doubt strategically important in developing the institutional capital needed for the fishery of the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Some jerk spent his St. Paddy's Day night pointing out the paucity of the Hansard record from the Hon. Member for Terra Nova (read from the bottom up):

Last Thursday, the Hon. Member spoke again during — what else? — Members' Statements, adding another 213 words to his career total.

But on Monday, the Hon. Member not only read a notice of motion into the record — conveniently enough, to be brought forward on Wednesday — he also actually spoke to something called "legislation", delivering a whopping 4370 words for the day.

Monday's performance was followed, according to the 'Blues' of today's sitting, by another 2432 golden words, spoken to the same bill, soon to be preserved for posterity.

All in all, the Hon. Member for Terra Nova, lo these past 48 hours, made fully 46% of the House of Assembly intervention he has made so far in his young career, exclusive of clapping, desk-thumping, and the occasional unattributed heckle or "Oh, oh."


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Via Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 183-0002, an update on the size of the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial public sector to the end of 2011. (Axes do not cross at zero.)

Each column represents the 12-month rolling average of the total provincial public-sector employment for the year up to, and including, that month. So, for example, the rightmost column, December 2011, shows the average provincial public payroll for all of calendar year 2011.

"Provincial public sector" as used about these parts includes the direct provincial government civil service, employment in the public health-care system, school boards, public post-secondary educational system, and crown corporations; all areas where provincial government budgetary and policy decisions shape the size and role of that component of public-sector employment. It does not include federal civil service and crown corporation employment, or employment by local governments.

Note that by late 2011, the 12-month average of provincial public-sector employment was actually reaching new highs, topping out just a nudge under 55,000 for the calendar year. The raw figure for December was 56,689 — the highest on record since Statistics Canada started keeping track in 1981. This was the product of slightly contradictory trends: direct civil service employment was down about 2% in 2011 vs. 2010, but employment rose in every other provincial public sector category over the same period. School board employment was up 0.2%, post-secondary education up 1.1%, crown corporations up 0.9%, and health care up 1.4%.

Provincial public-sector employment now accounts for almost a quarter — 24.4% for the twelve months ending in December 2011 inclusive — of total employment in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks to a modest uptick in private-sector employment over the course of the year, that is down slightly from the high of 25.3% of employment in early 2010, but is still near record high levels for the province, and well above the comparable figure for any other province, ever.

This is what constitutes "restraint".

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

The pride of Mount Pearl (II)

Continued from here.


Friday, March 16, 2012

The pride of Mount Pearl

Without further comment or gloss, the latest Twitter offerings from the Hon. Member for — no, I am not going to sully the district's good name any further:

Friday, March 09, 2012

Human resources

Kathy Dunderdale is going to start firing people::

Premier Kathy Dunderdale says contract workers could be targeted in a planned review of government spending.

In an interview for this week’s episode of On Point with David Cochrane, Dunderdale reiterated that no permanent jobs will be eliminated.

But the government will also seek to reduce the number of people it employs through attrition. Departments will have to justify new hires, and the renewal of contract workers.

“Our primary function is not as an employment agency,” Dunderdale said. “Our primary function is to provide service to the people of the province.”
That is, once she's finished hiring people. Like this guy:

Down the rabbit hole

Just so we're clear here:
  • The government that fought for two years against releasing the prepared texts of speeches on "privacy" grounds, because the names, which is included in "personal information" of identifiable people were mentioned — including, among others, the name "John F. Kennedy" — releases an audio voice recording of a third party, including phone numbers.

  • One thin-skinned Minister in said government complains of being "intimidated" or "threatened" by the contents of said voice recording, while an equally thin-skinned cabinet colleague of his does this.
Dannystan lives.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Quick election financing roundup

Item — Elections Alberta weighs penalties over bad donations (Calgary Herald):

Alberta's chief electoral officer is now investigating more than 50 cases of alleged illegal donations to political parties - and actively weighing how best to penalize those responsible.

According to Elections Alberta, it has opened 61 files since the issue exploded last fall over accusations that "prohibited corporations" - public institutions such as municipalities and school boards that are barred from making partisan donations - had given money to the ruling Progressive Conservative party or its constituency associations.
Item — Parties may be cashing in (Edmonton Sun):

A sheaf of community council minutes details instances of municipal councils around the province voting to "send" mayors or councillors to golf tournament fundraisers for politicians and MLA dinners.

In some instances, the municipality cut the cheque. In others instances, the attendee would be reimbursed.

Most of the instances in that stack of minutes involved the majority PC party.

Item — Liberals grill PCs after Horizon Health's donation (CBC):

The Liberals are continuing to question how the Progressive Conservative Party accepted a $3,870 political donation from New Brunswick’s largest health authority.

The Tories announced on Monday that the party would return the health authority’s cash. The money paid for a table at a Saint John event billed as "an evening with Premier David Alward.”

The health authority said on Monday that officials didn't realize the money was going to Alward's political party.

Item — Horizon CEO says buying PC tickets 'dumb mistake' (CBC)

The CEO of the Horizon Health Network says he made what he calls a "dumb mistake" when he bought 10 tickets to a New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party fundraising dinner.


The PC Party has vowed to be clearer about future fundraisers for the party after the recent incident involving Horizon and returned the money to Horizon last week after CBC first reported on it.

The Tories have also returned another political donation paid by WorkSafeNB, which bought a $500 ticket to the event.