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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

HouseKu, April 2013

First of an anticipated series.

From the pages of the House of Assembly Hansard, 17-syllable found hankus for the month of April:

This is the reason
       we are where we are today:
there was no vision.
- Dwight Ball, April 15

That is the promise,
       the commitment, which was made
by this government.
- Dwight Ball, April 15

This is why people
       were being confused about
the Budget process.
- Dwight Ball, April 15

We had reached a peak
       with three paper mills that were
fully functioning.
- Jim Bennett, April 17

They were exempted.
       It is still a 35
per cent reduction.
- Glen Littlejohn, April 17

We know of many
       people who have moved away
and they come back home.
- Dwight Ball, April 18

I just want to go
       back to it because I just
want to finish here.
- Dwight Ball, April 18

Why wouldn't they be
       afraid that they will lose their
job by speaking out?
- Andrew Parsons, April 18

Because you can be
       anything to anyone,
if you have the cash.
- Terry French, April 23

That is the question.
       I know there have been many
surgeries cancelled.
- George Murphy, April 23

He noted he has
       that general information
for all departments.
- Lorraine Michael, April 24

Ten years down the road,
       they are going to be out
millions and millions.
- Eddie Joyce, April 25

I will recognize
       that government has done good
work in that regard.
- Tom Osborne, April 25

There is an increase
       in the number of people
using soup kitchens.
- Tom Osborne, April 25

Who has been spending?
       Where is the extravagance
and poor management?
- Gerry Rogers, April 29

Start with the millions
       invested in the long-term
care facility.
- Vaughan Granter, April 29

He is a well-known
       individual in Hawke’s Bay,
a former mayor.
- Jim Bennett, April 30

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Thursday, April 25, 2013


And thus ends the brief tenure of Eli Cross, MHA for Bonavista North.

From today in the House of Assembly:
MR. CROSS: Some of my constituents looked at the Budget; they criticized us and said you have no plan. They looked at me and said, what is your plan? What is this plan? The projected deficit for 2013, $563 million, down from the $1.6 billion as projected, down because of a huge piece of work the Department of Finance, the Cabinet and our civil service did for us in the last few months.
This Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has enjoyed and sustained economic growth for the last nine years. When you go through nine years of prosperity it sort of spoils you. Who does it spoil? It spoiled the electorate because they have gotten used to good budgets. It spoils the public servants; it spoils the politicians.

Two fifty



25 April 1763.

GEORGE the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c.

To Our Trusty and well beloved Thomas Graves Esquire, Greeting:

Whereas Wee Did by Our Letters Patent under Out Great Seal of Great Britain bearing date at Westminster the twenty ninth day of May in the first year of Our Reign constitute in Chief in and over Our Island of Newfoundland in America Our Fort and Garrison at Placentia and all other Forts and Garrisons Erected and to be Erected in that Island for and during Our Will and Pleasure as by the said Letters Patent Relation being thereunto had may more fully and at large appear Now know You that Wee have revoked determined and made void and by these Presents Do revoke determine and made void the said Recited Letters Patent and every Clause Article and Thing therein contained And Wee reposing especial Trust and Confidence in the Prudence Courage and Loyalty of You the said Thomas Graves of Our especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion have thought fit to constitute and appoint and by these presents Do constitute and appoint you the said Thomas Graves to be Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over our said Island of Newfoundland and all the Coasts of Labrador from the Entrance of Hudsons Streights to the River Saint Johns which discharges itself into the Sea nearly opposite the West End of the Island of Anticosti including that Island with any other small Islands on the said Coast of Labrador and also the Islands of Madelaines in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as also of all Our Forts and Garrisons Erected and Established or that shall be Erected and Established in Our said Islands of Newfoundland Anticosti and Madelaine or on the Coast of Labrador within the Limmitts aforesaid And We Do hereby require and command you to do and Execute all Things in due manner that shall belong to your said Command and the Trust Wee have reposed in You according to the several Powers and Directions granted or appointed you by this resent Commission and the Instructions either herewith given to You or by such further Powers Instructions or Authorities as shall at any time hereafter be granted or appointed you under Our Signet or Sign manual or by our Order in our Privy Council And Wee Do further give and grant unto you the said Thomas Graves full Power and Authority from time to time and at all times hereafter by your self or by any other to be Authorized by you in that behalf to administer and give the Oaths mentioned in an Act passed in the first Year of the Reign of King George the first Intituled (An Act for the further Security of his Majesty's Person and Government and the Succession of the Crown in the Heirs of the late Princess Sophia being Protestants and for extinguishing the Hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and his open and secret Abettors) to all and Every such Person and Persons as you shall think fit who shall at any time Or times pass into our said Islands or shall be resident or abiding there or upon the Coast of Labrador within the Limitts aforesaid And Wee Do by these Presents give and grant unto you full Power and Authority to constitute and appoint Judges and in Cases requisite Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer for the hearing and determining of all criminal Causes Treason Excepted according to Law and for awarding Execution thereupon with all reasonable and necessary Powers Authorities Fees and Privileges belonging thereunto Justices of the Peace with other necessary Officers and Ministers for the better Administration of Justice and keeping the Peace and Quiet of the said Island and Coasts aforesaid which Justices of the Peace so Authorized may and shall hold and keep General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in such Places as you shall appoint according to the Custom of this part of Great Britain called England and to adjourn such Session from time to time and from place to place as shall be most convenient and necessary for the peace and welfare of Our Subjects Inhabiting there provided neither you nor they do any thing by virtue of this Commission or the Powers hereby granted contrary or oppugnant to the Act for encouraging the Trade to Newfoundland passes in the tenth and eleventh years of the Reign of King William the Third nor any way obstruct the powers thereby given and granted to the Admiral of Harbours or Captains of Our Ships of War or any other Matter or Thing either prescribed by the said Act or by such Instructions as you shall receive from Us as aforesaid And Wee Do hereby give and grant unto You full power and Authority where you shall see cause or shall judge any Offender or Offenders in Criminal Matters or for any Fines or Forfeitures due unto us fit Objects of Our Mercy to pardon all such Offenders and to remit all such Offences Fines and Forfeitures willfull Murder only Excepted in which case you shall likewise have power upon extraordinary Occasions to grant Reprieves to the Offenders until and to the Intent Our Royal Pleasure may be known therein and all such Justices of the Peace and their Inferior Officers and Ministers whom you or they shall appoint amongst the Planters or Inhabitants Resident and abiding there are strictly required and enjoyed in all Cases and times and when ever necessary to be aiding and assisting to the utmost of their Power to the Commodore or Commander of Our Ships of Warr and to the several Admirals in their respective Harbours in putting in Execution the several good Rules and Orders prescribed by the said Act for encouraging the Trade to Newfoundland And Provided also that no person or persons so by you appointed to be Justices of the Peace as aforesaid or other Officers of Ministers belonging or appertaining to them do presume or be suffered to Act in such Office or Place untill he or they have taken the aforesaid Oaths mentioned in the said Act for the further Security of his Majesty's Person and Government and the Succession of the Crown in the Heirs of the late Princess Sophia being Protestants and for Extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and his open and secret Abettors as also made and subscribed the Declaratio mentioned in an Act of Parliament made in the twenty fifth year of the Reign of King Charles the Second Intitled (An Act for preventing Danger which may happen from Popish Recusants) and also to take such Proper Oath or Oaths as are usually taken in this Kingdom by Person executing such Offices and Trusts which said Oasts and Declaration you shall administer or give or cause the same to be administered and given to all and every the Person and Persons who ought to take the same according to the Laws and Customs of this Kingdom And Wee Do hereby give and grant unto You and said Thomas Graves full power to Erect appoint and set apart one or more convenient Court House or Court Houses for the more orderly meeting or such Justices of the Peace in Order to hold such their Quarter or other Sessions with a convenient Prison adjoining thereto for the keeping of such Offenders as may be found necessary to be committed to safe Custody untill such Court or Sessions can conveniently be held for trying and delivering Offenders against Our Laws and the Peace of Our Subjects And Wee Do hereby require and command al Officers Civil and Military and all other Inhabitants of Our said Islands and the Coasts and Territories of Labrador and Islands adjacent thereto or dependant thereupon within the Limits aforesaid to be obedient aiding and assisting unto you in the Execution of this Our Commission and of the Powers and Authorities herein contained and in Case of your Death Our Will and Pleasure is that the Person upon whom the Command of Our Ships under your Command shall devolve do take upon him the Administration of the Government of Our said Islands and Territories as aforesaid and Execute Our said Governor and Commander in Chief might or ought to do for and during Our Will and Pleasure.

As Wee do hereby declare Ordain and appoint that you the said Thomas Graves shall and may hold Execute and Enjoy the Place of Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Our said Island of Newfoundland and all the Coast of Labrador form the Entrance of Hudsons Streights to the River Saint Johns which discharges itself into the Sea nearly opposite the West End of the Island of Antiscoti Including that Island with any other small Islands on the said Coasts of Labrador and also the Islands of Madelaines in the Gulph of Saint Lawrence as also of all Our Forts and Garrisons Erected and established or that shall be Erected and Established in Our said Islands of Newfoundland Anticosti and Madelaine or on the Coasts of Labrador within the Limits aforesaid with all and Singular the Powers and Authorities hereby granted unto you for and during Our Will and Pleasure In Witness &c Witness Our self at Westminster the twenty fifth day of April in the third Year of Our Reign.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some whine with that whine?

Huh. Trevor Taylor has a weekly column in The Telegram. Who knew?

Fresh from defending his party's on-line poll-goosing efforts the previous week, last week, Triv jotted down his thoughts about the current sorry state of political discourse in the province:
Granted, politics is a rough game, but really, do we need to resort to comments and tactics that we would not excuse elementary school kids for?
It seems that with the expansion of social media as an avenue for people to vent, we have foregone respectful debate and disagreement in favour of personal attacks and, in some cases, threats. 
Really? Is this the kind of debate that we want? 
In many respects, today's debate, if I could call it that, more resembles a shouting match between drunks on George Street than a serious discussion about policy and the state of the province's affairs.
For the record, here's one of Triv's earnest contributions to that serious discussion about policy and the state of the province's affairs, from when he still sat as a representative of the people in the dignified House of Assembly:
MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Leader of the Opposition is careless with the truth again today. I said last week, in this House of Assembly, that we did meet with - 
MR. REID: Stand up for the people you represent!   
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, would you mind gagging the Member for Twillingate & Fogo, so I can answer the question that the Leader of the Opposition asked?
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, will you please gag those people so I can answer the questions that are being asked of me?
And as for threats, where was Triv when the violent words were coming out of The Big Guy's mouth?

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MS ROGERS: ... We are talking close to 2,000 job cuts – the disappearance of close to 2,000 jobs. This is not just jobs but it is people's lives. In light of this Budget, in light of the Budget that cut so many social services, it is imperative that we have access to information about core mandate reviews on which these decisions were made, that we have access to – 
MR. KENNEDY: ... In terms of the earliest opportunity, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that the earliest opportunity has been met. Even beyond that, look at the seriousness of the matter. Look at the seriousness of the words. There is no acceptance of responsibility, in fact, I think it is rather sad, Mr. Speaker. What we are seeing here is a condonation of intimidation, bullying and threats by a former Status of Women minister, Mr. Speaker. I find that disconcerting.
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.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Still not fit

The ever-classy Jerome Kennedy strikes again. From Thursday's proceedings in the Bow-Wow Parliament, when a known Enemy of the People rose to present a petition:
MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS with the passage of Bill 29, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (Amendment) Act, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has weakened citizens’ access to information and has reduced government transparency; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has moved towards greater secrecy and less openness; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is breaking its own commitment for greater transparency, accountability, and freedom of information, which it said at one time was the hallmark of its government;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to repeal the passage of Bill 29.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand in the House once again to present this petition that many people across the Province have signed out of grave concern for the issue of transparency and accountability by the government, and by government departments. Now more than ever in our history this is so vital and crucial to an open, modern, and fair democracy. Particularly now in light of this austerity Budget which so adversely affects the lives of many, many people across our Province.

We are talking close to 2,000 job cuts – the disappearance of close to 2,000 jobs. This is not just jobs but it is people’s lives. In light of this Budget, in light of the Budget that cut so many social services, it is imperative that we have access to information about core mandate reviews on which these decisions were made, that we have access to –


MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the Minister of Finance if he would stand and apologize for his unparliamentary language.

MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the comment.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the minister to stand and apologize to the House.

MR. KENNEDY: I apologize.
No word yet whether Minister Kennedy's apology was accompanied by another of his infamous death-glares.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Contempt, alright

The official Hansard record of one of the most shameful episodes in recent history in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature, or anywhere in the Westminster Parliamentary world.

Ross Wiseman is not fit to hold his office.

Ross Wiseman, if he had any decency, would resign.

Since he will not, the electors of Trinity North will soon have to solve the Ross Wiseman problem on behalf of everyone else. Hopefully his 35 erstwhile caucus colleagues will then be escorted from the Assembly as well.
MR. SPEAKER: I have had an opportunity to review the statements presented by members with respect to the point of privilege raised by the hon. Government House Leader and I want to share with the House my ruling.

As members of this House, we are granted certain privileges and these include the right not to be molested or intimidated in carrying out our parliamentary duties. We also have the right to say things within this Chamber which may be subject to House discipline which may be, by virtue of our privilege, exempt from the normal civil and criminal remedies of the rest of society. With these privileges comes a great responsibility.

As the Speaker, I find myself once again in a position of having to remind members of the care which they must take when engaged with social media. Twitter and Facebook are wonderful, modern tools allowing us to maintain a connection with our constituents, our friends, and our colleagues as never before. With the use, comes this: a responsibility to use them wisely. That responsibility includes holding yourselves to a higher standard than would be accepted and acceptable for the general public.

I find the comments on Facebook referred to by the Government House Leader to be offensive and intimidating. They certainly require that we examine ourselves as to whether or not this is the kind of discourse that we wish to become involved with.

I have taken the time to examine the Facebook pages in question and have found that the Member for St. John's Centre appears on the list of members of this Facebook, and was invited to join that Facebook group on April 11, 2013. There is no way, however, of determining how this participation was initiated and accepted. There is no evidence that the member made actual comments on this site that would directly connect her to the offensive statements.

In this regard, as stated by Maingot, Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, page 227, "…the Member is entitled to receive the benefit of the doubt." I believe that the benefit of the doubt here extends to any findings of a breach of privilege of the House of Assembly or its members. It cannot be clearly and unequivocally stated that the Member for St. John's Centre was herself carrying out an implied or actual threat; therefore, there is no prima facie case of breach of privilege.

Despite this, such comments, though, diminish the work that we do in this House. An affiliation with this type of discourse by any member of this House is contemptuous of what we do, regardless of the role as a member of the Official Opposition or the Third Party or government.

As stated in O'Brien and Bosc on page 97, "Telecommunications, including… the Internet, should therefore not be used to transmit otherwise defamatory material." I want to broaden that to include the need to avoid the transmission of threatening material and participation in activities that might be seen to be threatening.

Consequently, I find that there has been a contempt against this House. I ask that the member apologize for any disrepute that she may have brought upon this House of Assembly by participating in a social media site which clearly targets a Member of the House of Assembly.

The hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I feel that I –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has asked the member to apologize. Apologies in this House are to be without qualification and simply put.

I call upon the Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will not apologize for something that I have not done. I am sorry; I cannot apologize to the House.

I would also like the opportunity to speak –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has made a ruling. The Speaker has asked the member to apologize. I ask for the second time, if the member would apologize to the House?

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, I wholly do not condone violence in any way, shape, or form. I cannot apologize for something –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is going to ask for the third and final time for the Member for St. John's Centre to apologize to the House.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Out of great respect for this House, I cannot apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Sergeant-at-Arms if he would escort the Member for St. John's Centre out of the Assembly.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kwe Klove Khe Kleader

From a Facebox likey-pagey thing which was opened up on Monday:


If you don't recognize some of the other names of likers and commenters on the page, it's often fun to run them through the Dunderdale Government employee directory.

Speaking of the Facebox...


Sunday, April 14, 2013

The year when everything changed

In a long and rambling exchange with VOCM's Paddy Daley on Friday, Kathy Dunderdale says:

This government doesn't need to be forced to make investments in Labrador. We had a history in this province of ignoring, taking from Labrador, without giving back. And there is no question about it, I mean, the facts speak for themselves. That changed in 2003. You can't sit here outraged as Newfoundlanders [about not being] treated well by the rest of Canada, and then be doing the same thing to Labrador. We made a very conscious decision, and we made committments to the people of Labrador that that practice ended in 2003. And we have invested billions and billions of dollars in Labrador as we ought to, as we absolutely ought to.
[Small audio dropout paraphrased]

Ah, yes. History begins in 2003.

In actual fact, the Premier glosses over the very important prequel to the "billions and billions" of investment in Labrador, including the millions in highways spending.*

In 1997, the Government of Canada made the single biggest ever infusion of cash for the Trans-Labrador Highway, the $340-million Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. (This was at a time when some of the Premier's fellow partisans were overtly hostile to the notion of a Trans-Labrador Highway that would link Labrador with Quebec.) Over the next decade, the money in that fund would be used to reconstruct and upgrade the 533km "Phase I" between Wabush and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, most of which, east of Churchill Falls, was still in "tote road" condition from the days of the Churchill Falls project; to build 336 km of "Phase II", the new highway between Red Bay and Cartwright; and to build 80 km of branch roads to Charlottetown, Pinsent's Arm, and St. Lewis.

The Premier should recall this, because her government was still spending money from the Fund for at least two years into their first mandate.

It's nothing to sneeze at, of course, but the "only" new segment of highway which was built after 2003, and was already planned at that date, is the 287 km "Phase III" which connects the previous two "Phases". And yes, there has also been some paving on Phase I, which somehow managed to get done even before The Best MP Evar came along.

But it is disrespectful, dishonest and disengenuous for the Premier to suggest that somehow Nothing ever happened before, and that Everything "changed" in 2003 (Old Style), the Year of Our Dan 1.

* Quaere, what has been the revenue from Labrador during the same period? And what "investment" is actually ordinary program spending that would be incurred in, or in respect of Labrador, no matter which party might have been in power?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Circling the drain

So, about that Angus Reid poll... (PDF link)

First of all, sad to say, Kathy Dunderdale is not tied with Christy Clark of BC at the bottom of the Premier rankings. While they are both at an anemic 25% approval rating, Dunderdale's disapproval rating (73%) is worse than Clark's (67%). Dunderdale's net disapproval rating stands at -48%, compared to Clark's -42%. Neither is a good place to be in.

To put Dunderdale's net disapproval rating into perspective, here are the other bottom-rankers in these Angus Reid numbers, since first publicly reported in 2009.

In November 2009, just a year after his PC party won a resounding majority re-election, Alberta's Ed Stelmach hit -47%. Faced with slumping polls, a lukewarm leadership review, and a restive caucus, he announced his resignation 13 months later.

In February 2010, New Brunswick's Shawn Graham bottomed out at a net disapproval of -47%. In September, he would lead his party to a loss of 19 seats, and a fall from power after only one term in office.

British Columbia's Gordon Campbell hit a net disapproval of -57% in the November 2010 polling. Not at all coincidentally, that was the same month in which he announced his resignation.

In February 2011, Quebec's Jean Charest scored a net disapproval of -54% (narrowly edging out BC's Christy Clark, at -53%). Charest would continue to be at the bottom of the Angus Reid Premier's pack for another four polls, up to and including that of March 2012. He actually improved – if that is the word – to net-disapproval ratings in the -30% to -40% range before losing the September 2012 election, and his own seat, to the Parti québécois minority government.

In December 2012, Ontario's Dalton McGuinty hit a net disapproval rating of -44%. This was both a year after an election that reduced his government to a minority, and after he had already announced his impending resignation.

Of all the Angus Reid's poll-trailing Premiers, only Darrell Dexter of Nova Scotia, who had net-disapprovals in the -40% range in two Angus Reid polls last year, is still available for kicking around. This would appear to be due largely to the fact that Nova Scotia hasn't had an election yet.

Since 2009, only three Premiers – Charest, Campbell, and Clark – have had net-disapprovals worse than Dunderdales's. Only Clark is still around, and for the same reason that Dexter is.

So, how bad are things for Kathy Dunderdale and the NL Tories?

Very bad. That's how bad.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


John Gushue of the CBC expounds at length on Newfoundland's new-found prosperity:
The number of employed people — another key indicator of prosperity — has been steadily climbing through the years, and as of Friday's estimate stands at just over 234,000. Employers, basically, are competing among a pool that is much smaller than it was before.

In announcing the layoffs in March, the government claimed that that very vibrancy in the private sector would be strong enough to mop up a lot the job losses it was announcing.

Unfortunately, in an otherwise interesting and informative piece, he fails to address perhaps the most important point about all the prosperity that everyone's soaking in.

It is driven by public-sector spending.

Yes, there's that offshore oil industry. But, since the end of major construction, and the move into production, employment in that industry is quite modest. The real economic impact has been in government revenues from oil (and Voisey's Bay), which the current, notionally conservative government have cashed out in the form of more hires in the civil service, other components of the public sector (health, schools, post-secondary education, crown corporations), and higher wages for those new and old hires alike.

Total public-sector employment in the province (including provincial, municipal, and federal employment) was about 60,000 in the last few years of the Tobin and Grimes governments. There was a slight decline in the early Williams years, down to just under 56,000, after which the provincial government went on a hiring spree that, to the end of the latest fiscal year, had not abated. In fact, in the past year, total public-sector employment has increased... again.

As a share of total employment (including self-employment), the public-sector workforce has always been highest in Newfoundland and Labrador, as among the ten provinces. The Williams government's brief flirtation with austerity, coupled with some growth in private-sector employment and self-employment, helped drive that share down from 29% in the late Grimes era to 26% in 2006. By the time the "conservative" Williams left office in late 2011, public-sector employment was back up over 30% of the employed workforce. Most of that was driven by components of the public sector which rise and fall with provincial government policy and budgetary decisions.

The public-sector employment growth rate has also outstripped that of private-sector and self-employment during most of the "conservative" era. Since January 2004, private-sector employment has grown by just under 10%, indexed to its January 2004 levels. Public-sector employment has grown by 16%, with even higher growth rates (note the slopes in the growth line) since the end of Williams' brief flirtation with austerity in 2006. Self-employment is way down, and despite recent growth, is still smaller now than it was a decade ago.

These figures are not consistent with a prosperity driven by industry, commerce, and a naturally growing economy. They are consistent with one thing only, the thing that some of us have been cassandra-ing about for years, only to be shouted down, or worse: the "prosperity" is an economic potemkin village, driven by massive public spending, spending that even Williams and his contemporaries, three, four, five years ago, were already calling unsustainable.

And that's what they called it, behind closed doors, for years, even as they made decisions to ramp that unsustainable spending up even more.

There is no distinction, not dichotomy, between the "prosperity" that everyone is soaking in, and the sudden, panicked decisions to slam on the brakes, bring spending under some semblance of control, and making hard decisions to start cutting.

There is no distinction, because the potemkin prosperity and the wave of cuts are two sides of the same economic coin.   [Charts adapt data from Statistics Canada table 282-0011, 12-month rolling averages]

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Комяаdе Кеит is heard from

A dissident makes a bold, if foolhardy public display of counterrevolutionary sentiment.

The State Broadcaster reaches Steve Kent of the Congress of People's Deputies for comment:
"Premier Dunderdale is a compassionate and principle-centered leader. I remain inspired by her vision and strength," Kent wrote.

"We have to ensure that our province stays on the right path toward a sustainable future. It's about providing responsible stewardship and being innovative in the delivery of services."

Kent added that Dunderdale enjoys the full support of the PC caucus.
Komrade Kent's comment comes just days after a senior member of The Party's Central Committee professed his undying admiration for the Iron Lady*.

* With Compassion.

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