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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Redial denial

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, scrumming on  February 20, 2013:
You know something, we don’t spend our whole day sat around pressing redial, redial, redial, redial.
Mount Pearl MHA Steve Kent on On Point Radio, February 22, 2013:
I’m a busy MHA. I’m sure that Ms. Rogers and Mr. Joyce are quite busy as well. I’m very active in my district, I’m active in my department and government. I don’t have time to sit at a computer and try and figure out how to manipulate a poll. Do I participate? Absolutely. Do I encourage my caucus colleagues to participate? Absolutely. Do I encourage party supporters to participate? Of course I do, just like other parties would. But there’s no manipulation to it... My one staffer, my constituency assistant, is as busy as I am, and I’ve not witnessed any of that activity [poll-rigging efforts by staff] that you’ve referenced.
Other Mount Pearl MHA Paul Lane on On Point, February 24, 2013:
One of the things that’s been put out there is that there is this major effort put out there; I can tell you that, look, as a matter of routine, when there are polls of interest, I will certainly put it out there to my colleagues and so on, to make sure that we participate. But, you know, we’re way too busy. I can tell you as an MHA, I have way too much to do to be concentrating on polls day in, day out. And some people have put this, you know, I’ll call it spin, out there, that somehow I’m sat in my office, my colleagues are sat in their office all day, voting multiple times. That’s absolutely untrue.
Former PC staffer Alex Marland and co-author, over two years ago:

Many respondents pointed out that VOCM questions concerning Premier Williams’ administration attract an exponential number of votes and that the results inevitably favour the governing party. Several bloggers have monitored the ‘juicing’ of results to support the Williams administration (Meeker, 2008; Whittle, 2008). Efforts are made to override server protections against repeat voting and bloggers provide instructions for doing so. One respondent provided us with tabular data of efforts to influence the outcome, which involved hundreds of automated repeat votes that were critical of Williams, and which almost instantly provoked an apparently automated response supporting the premier. This occurred only during the workday and not in the evening (one minister told us that party staff ‘go crazy’ clicking during the day).

Emphasis added.




Monday, February 25, 2013

Might as well go for soda

From the epic House of Assembly Hansard of December 18, 2012, during the Great Muskrat Falls Filibuster:
MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I attended a press release, Mr. Speaker; I think it was in November.
MR. KENNEDY: Did you get Grade 6?
MR. JOYCE: I am going to have a coke. I am going to have a glass of coke.
MR. KENNEDY: You didn't get Grade 6, did you?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. EDMUNDS: It was actually held at the Sheraton Hotel downtown here in St. John's.
MR. KENNEDY: You are a fool.
MR. JOYCE: Have a glass of coke; come on.
MR. EDMUNDS: I heard the President of the Nunatsiavut Government, Mr. Speaker –
MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, did you hear that?
MR. EDMUNDS: - along with the First Minister, talk about how the rights of Aboriginal people, specifically –
MR. JOYCE: Have a glass of coke; come on.
MR. KENNEDY: You are a fool.
MR. JOYCE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that the member withdraw singing out: You are a fool. I am sure that the Speaker heard it himself. If not, I ask that you check Hansard and I ask that he withdraw the remarks. I am sure the Speaker heard it, because the Speaker asked the member to stay quiet on several occasions.
I ask the Speaker to make a ruling because this is not the place to be getting on with that childish behaviour,Mr. Speaker, and I ask that the member withdraw the remarks.
MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to withdraw his remark, please.
MR. KENNEDY: In fact, what I said was: He doesn't have Grade 6, and he is a fool. I withdraw it.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.
MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, as you know, if someone withdraws remarks it has to be unequivocal.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that you uphold the rules and he unequivocally withdraws the remarks. He made them again,Mr. Speaker, in defiance of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw it, please.
MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remarks that he is a fool. I withdraw it. That is what I said, I withdraw it.
MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to unequivocally withdraw the remark, please.
MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remarks. You are still a fool.
MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, that is the third time. That is contempt of the House, contempt of the Speaker, and, as we know, on the third time the Speaker names the member.
Now,Mr. Speaker, I ask, as my privilege as a member, that you uphold the integrity of this House. On four occasions, and each time he did not do it. On the third time, Mr. Speaker, you have to name the member.
MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remark or I am going to have to name the member.
MR. JOYCE: Say I'm sorry. Say it. Say it.
MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remark.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We have a trend

The average (blue) and median (red) number of "votes" per day in VOCM's Question of the Day, by calendar year, since 2005.

Figures for 2005, 2007, and 2009 are based on largely, but not entirely complete data sets. The figure for 2013 is year-to-date as of the most recently completed QotD on February 19th.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Worlds colliding

Last year's Bill 29 filibuster had an interesting close encounter with the VOCM poll-goosing saga during debate on June 14th.

Susan Sullivan, Minister of Whatever Susan Sullivan Is Minister Of, cited a VOCM poll-related Access to Information request as being the sort of thing a body might find frivolous or vexatious:
MS SULLIVAN: Here is another one from a political party: I request under the Access to Information any correspondence, e-mails, directives, instructions, fax sheets, briefing notes, meeting minutes or other communications, either internal or external, regarding the VOCM Question of the Day. They did not give a date. I do not know which VOCM Question of the Day I am supposed to look up here, or VOCM’s Open Line show and or Back Talk and or any other talk shows, no date, just anyone of them. Again, is that frivolous, is that vexatious?
The issue of government resources being deployed to co-ordinate tinkering with VOCM's Question of the Day is long standing and well-established. (Intrepid blogger, Meeker, Bond Papers).
It is a valid matter of public concern, and good on whichever "political party" posed the ATI question.
And, given Sullivan's deliberately obfuscating rejoinder, to a simple and straightforward question, it is abundantly clear that it's a very, very, very touchy subject for the rapidly-foundering governing PC Party. 


Charity ends at home

In the 1990s, Statistics Canada started keeping figures on charitable giving, and noted that Newfoundland (as it then was) had the highest median charitable donations as reported at income tax time.

Newfoundlanders have never forgotten this fact.

Not even when it long ceased to be true.

Actually, technically it was never true to begin with: StatsCan has calculated the figures retroactively to 1997, and among all jurisdictions, Nunavut came out on top. Newfoundland (as it then was) was tops among the ten provinces.

However, since the late 1990s, the province has slid lower and lower in the rankings, a slide which has picked up pace since 2007. According to the latest StatsCan figures, released last week, Newfoundland and Labrador now ranks sixth among provinces for median charitable donations. Nunavut still leads the country, while Alberta leads among provinces.

The median donation figure in Newfoundland and Labrador has also been stagnant for the five most recent years of data, even declining slightly year over year (along with the other Atlantic provinces) in 2011.

And this, at a time of supposed unprecedented economic growth that is the envy of the entire country.

What’s up with that?

[Data source: CANSIM Table 111-0001]

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Friday, February 15, 2013

A peek behind the curtain

By way of a provincial access to information request, a demonstration that even in the brave new Bill 29 world, five bucks can still sometimes yield interesting results.

This is an internal summary of media — including a fascinating review of social media — in the hours that followed the November 30th Muskrat Falls loan guarantee announcement.

Hello, "Known Critics".

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Information underload

Item:  After trying to quietly kill the document altogether, it takes almost 300 days for the Dunderment to publish the 2012 Salary Details.

Item: The Auditor General tears a strip off the Dunderment for protracted delays in releasing the Public Accounts.

Item: Elections NL takes over a year to publish the 2011 campaign financials. (A disaggregated accounting for central party regular and campaign contributions for calendar/election-year 2011 is still missing in action.)

Item: Elections NL also leads an intrepid blogger down an Orwellian-Kafkaesque-Lewiscarroly months-long trail in search of a digital file that every other elections office in Canada releases or publishes as a matter of routine.

Item: The Dunderment (like Dannystan before it) has stopped publishing the dollar value of road work on a district-by-district basis.

Item: Per the Telegram’s intrepid Daniel MacEachern [not on-line], the 2011 provincial tourism statistics have still not been published.
It’s hard to make out just yet, but… it’s almost as if there’s a pattern developing or something.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The House of Assembly witnessed the following exchange during Question Period on April 25, 2012:
MR. BALL: Since 1971, government has published a Budget document called Salary Details. This document contained details of every part-time and full-time job within the department along with the salary range. This is a critical document used for tracking and comparing government payroll and cost.

My question is to the Premier: Why has the government refused not to release this information this year?

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, that particular document is not linked to any of the public accounts or the public statements of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. If the information is required, it will certainly be made available, but it was felt in view of the fact that it is not linked to the public statements, there was really no need to publish it. If the information is required, it will be made available.
MR. BALL:Typically, from what I understand, it has been like forty years now that this document has been available. I know in Estimates, people who use it found it to be quite useful.
If they do not want to print it – we were told yesterday that maybe the printing cost was an issue – could it be available to us on-line?

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition wants that information, we will be happy to provide it.
Minister Marshall went a little further outside the House, apparently telling assembled reporters that the mysteriously missing document would be available "soon".

By "soon", he meant 294 days and a calendar year later.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Private to Joan Shea

From the 2003 platform you were first elected under:
"A Progressive Conservative government will ... release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report's recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet"

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Private to Richard Todd Byrne

From a Facebook comment on a posting by Ryan Cleary:
Richard Todd Byrne Since Confederation was a fraud.The Terms Of Union with Canada should renegoiated,so that the people of Newfoundland,NL. have total control of it's resources the same as all the landlock province have
Question for Mr. Byrne: which resources does "Newfoundland,NL" not have control over, that the "landlock" provinces do?


Sunday, February 03, 2013

EEZ as pie

The map which Nalcor released the other day to illustrate the location of newly-discovered offshore Labrador basins, positively bubbling, maybe, with potential, showed a curious omission.

Canada's 200-mile limit.

So here it is, delineated in red.


Friday, February 01, 2013

Potential isn't oil

The reality, as reported by CBC:
"We have not discovered oil, we have not discovered gas," said Martin. "What we have done is discovered the most important piece to move into the next step, which is we've proven the existence of structures that have a reasonably high probability that they could hold those kinds of hydrocarbons. These are big basins, big potential."
by VOCM:
Labrador Waters may Contain Oil: Nalcor

Nalcor has identified three new basins off the coast of Labrador that CEO Ed Martin says have the potential to hold oil. VOCM's Danielle Barron reports.

The depth and extent of the deepwater basin now imaged Martin says has signifcantly changed the perception of what exists. He calls it a material find. The basins, named after nearby Labrador landmarks Chidley, Holton and Henley, are in addition to Saglek and Hopedale which were mapped in the 1980s. Martin says the new finds hold big potential and there's a reasonably high probability they could hold hydrocarbons. Exploration shows the basins are made of various clay types he says, and are very large when compared globally to other basins. Nalcor is already in discussion with a number of companies not yet active in Newfoundland and Labrador, all of whom have expressed a strong interest in the findings. Scientific analysis will continue over the next number of months to determine the hydrocarbon potential. Nalcor expects to provide an update sometime this summer.
and The Telegram:
Early exploration work conducted by Nalcor Energy has resulted in the identification of three new potentially oil-bearing basins offshore Labrador.
Martin said it will not be known what is contained in the now-named Henley Basin, the Chidley Basin and the Holton Basin until exploratory drilling is conducted by oil companies, but early exploration work and analysis suggests the basins could contain oil rather than large gas structures, as previously discovered off the Big Land.

And the usual irrational exhuberance, as expressed by commenters at The Telegram:
Pay for test drilling and then when we find a few billion barrels, build or lease a rig and drill it ourselves. Why let a private company take the profits. Let’s make the extra billions for us.
NALCOR should partner (50/50) with an oil company and share the profit. The revenue would pay for Muskrat Falls and help develop the Lower Churchill.
and at the CBC:
Great news!! More black gold!!
Keep the oil flowing.Get those pipelines built,its in the national interest.

Mitigating factor

As ugly as things are for the Tories in recent polls, it could be worse.

This is a map of the notional projection, across the province, of MQO's figures from August 2012. (Two seats, Ferryland and Harbour Main, were notionally too-close-to-call NDP/PC pairings.)

The colour scheme is the same as before.

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