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

Sunday, May 19, 2013

HouseKu, May 2013

From the pages of the House of Assembly Hansard, 17-syllable found hankus for the month of May. HouseKu will resume whenever the House of Assembly does.

One of the things goes
        back to the health care too, these
knee-jerk reactions.
- Andrew Parsons, May 1, 2013

For growth in our small
        and medium businesses,
that is essential.
- Eli Cross, May 1, 2013

We have more people
        employed than ever before.
All of that is true.
- Glen Littlejohn, May 2, 2013

Lower oil prices
        certainly had an impact
on what happened here.
- Glen Littlejohn, May 2, 2013

It was a daily
        litany of whoa, from all
parts of the Province.
- Premier Dunderdale, May 2, 2013

Besides bragging, can
        we see some concrete action
from the minister?
- Eddie Joyce, May 6, 2013

We want to make sure
        the work is done correct right
from the beginning.
- Nic McGrath, May 6, 2013

The minister says
        he raised all the concerns, but
did not raise this one.
- Dwight Ball, May 7, 2013

We are a growing
        industry and we do need
the protections there.
- George Murphy, May 7, 2013

They believed they could
        face reprisals for bringing
these issues to light.
- Dale Kirby, May 7, 2013

I would like to know
        when she is going to be
making that public.
- George Murphy, May 8, 2013

The proactive role
        is to do education
about this issue.
- Gerri Rogers, May 8, 2013

He told the federal
        minister that, and Hansard
could probably prove that.
- Randy Edmunds, May 8, 2013

The real question is:
        Have we seen any changes
in search and rescue?
- Dwight Ball, May 8, 2013

So, I did not get
        all the answers I wanted
on that committee.
- Dale Kirby, May 13, 2013

One I want to touch
        on is Tourism, Culture
and Recreation.
- Keith Russell, May 13, 2013

That is quite a bit
        more than what I had assumed
the intention was.
- Dale Kirby, May 14, 2013

That is the Combined
        Forces Special Enforcement
Units if needed.
- Tony Cornect, May 15, 2013

Restraining orders
        do not mean much to someone
who will be restrained.
- Jim Bennett, May 15, 2013

Now, people who smoke,
        there are very few places
left for them to go.
- Jerome Kennedy, May 16, 2013

Having said that, there
        is also some good news here
we can talk about.
- Susan Sullivan, May 16, 2013


Saturday, May 18, 2013

No plan

On May 16th, the House of Assembly rose for its summer recess. Barring some legislative emergency which would require a rare recall, MHAs will not be back at their seasonal jobs until well after Remembrance Day.

(Nice work, if you can get it: The average MHA earns, in salary, per diems, and other compensation, over $100,000 a year.)

Only twice since 1988 has the House risen on an earlier date, in 2000 and 2003. This chart shows the duration of the spring sitting, with its end date marked by the right-hand end of the bar:

The summer recess comes after just 22 sitting days in the House of Assembly this spring. This is the shortest spring session, again, since 1988. (The "rump" spring sitting day which closes out the previous session of the legislature is not included in these figures.) The only other years which come anywhere close were election year 2003, which precipitated a change in government, and spring election year 1989, which resulted in one. This chart shows the number of spring sitting days:

#FormerPremier Danny Williams was well known for the disdain and contempt with which he regarded the legislature that he volunteered to be elected to. It would be hard to out-Danny Danny Williams on this front. But congratulations are due to the Dunderdale2011 Party: they have accomplished it.
Then again, why bother keeping the House open, when there is nothing for the overpaid seasonal workers who inhabit it to do? The Dunderdale2011s have introduced just five bills at First Reading this spring, by far and away the thinnest legislative agenda on recent record. This chart compares the number of government bills at first reading in each spring session since 2000:
Following the 2011 election, Kathy Dunderdale took flak for not re-opening the legislature sooner. (See Thanksgeaster)
She defended her decision, telling the Telegram in October 2011: 
"You just don't pull up legislation and go into the House of Assembly with it," Dunderdale said.
"You're enacting laws that are going to have a direct impact on people's lives. So you need to do a whole due diligence process around that to make sure that you're doing the right thing, and you've got to bring them through all these cabinet processes and so on."
Dunderdale said opposition parties always complain about not getting legislation early enough to scrutinize it properly, but now they want the government to rush things through to further their political agenda.
"What is it do you want?" she asked. "Do you want legislation well-prepared or do you want us to think seriously about the impacts that this is gong to have? (Like), is there is a sentence here that could be written one way and we think it means one thing but it could be interpreted another way and have a detrimental affect on people?"
Dunderdale repeated a statement ruling parties often make – governments open the House, oppositions close it. She noted no opposition has tried to keep the House open in the last eight years.
"You've got all kinds of mechanisms to keep the House open and they are negotiating with us to keep it closed. It's a matter of saying one thing, but doing something else altogether. The House is not for you to advance your political agenda or give you a platform. That's part of what happens there, but that's not the main reason that we go into the House of Assembly. It's the legislature. We bring in legislation."   

The Dunderdale2011 Government is a party out of ideas, out of leadership, out of talent, out of steam, out of gas, out of agenda, and, as becomes more apparent with every passing day, out of time.

Not even halfway through a third majority term, they are done. They are finished. The only race left to watch is the one to determine which which combination of party and leader will position itself to administer the merciful final electoral blow.

Five bills, twenty-two days, and a summer recess that started before the snow is even off the ground.

The Bull Sheets of 2003, 2007, and 2011 are heavily populated with unfulfilled committments and broken promises. Various "strategic plans" sit gathering dust on shelves, or are retroactively re-interpreted to support whatever omissions or commissions the government is now called upon to defend. When provoked, the Dunderdale2011 Minister of Justice – whichever fool occupies that job this month – will complain that he hasn't had time yet to "study" and implement his party's and former leader's solemn 2007 pledge to bring in provincial whistleblower protection legislation without delay.

And yet the Dunderdale2011 caucus is populated with sycophantic, overpaid, undertalented bumpkins who spend their time goading opposition members and sympathizers with the combination heckle and hash-tag, "No Plan".

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

They don't govern by polls

We are showing 80 per cent in the polls, the highest approval rating that any government has seen and any Premier has seen since 1949. Certainly that reflects on the leadership and it certainly reflects on the great programs that this particular government has brought in. So, we have everything to cheerlead.

Vulnerability - when you speak about being vulnerable, I remind members of this House and the member opposite particularly, that if I were the leader of a party who was only at 10 per cent in the polls, I, myself, might feel extremely vulnerable. What amazes me, Mr. Speaker, what truly amazes me - because I believe that the Leader of the Opposition is doing a half decent job. She has held herself well in this House and she has spoken eloquently in public on many occasions, and what is really surprising me is that her numbers in polls, since 2007, have not yet been able to surpass the former defeated Leader of the Opposition. Her predecessor, Mr. Reid, had reached some 12 per cent at one point in the polls and she has never been able to reach that level. That surprises me, I say, Mr. Speaker. I am truly surprised because I would have thought that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador would recognize that the current Leader of the Opposition is probably doing a much better job than the former Leader of the Opposition, but clearly, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador disagree with me because they do not think that she is doing such a great job.

Since we formed government in 2003, Mr. Chair, just look at what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been saying. They have said it in an election in 2003; they have said it in an election in 2007; they have said it in by-elections since that time, and they say it in public opinion polls. When asked: Who do you want to be the leader of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador? Who do they say? Our current Premier. When you ask them: What party do you want representing you in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador? What is it they say? They say the Progressive Conservative Party.

Mr. Chair, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the members of this House just should not take my word for that, just look at what elections have said, just look at what opinion polls have said. They have clearly endorsed the policy decisions of this government. They have clearly endorsed the sound leadership being provided by our Premier. They clearly endorsed the fiscal platform of this government, because I say, Mr. Chair, it is sound, prudent fiscal management.

A Premier, rather than seeing a difficulty in every opportunity, we have a leader who sees an opportunity in every difficulty. In his address to the Province in January 2004, this is what he said, "Though the obstacles are great, I know that the opportunities are even greater." Now you wonder why we are so strong in the polls; there is the answer.

We have weathered the storm well and we have one of the strongest economies in North America as a result of decisions that this government has made, and I have no doubt that the growth will continue, Mr. Speaker. So it is no surprise that recent polls show significant support and satisfaction with this government. Why wouldn't people be confident and pleased?

Mr. Speaker, the strong results of this by-election speak volumes to the great job this government is doing in leading and governing Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the confidence that residents have in the leadership of Premier Williams.
This confidence has also been evident in in-depth research polls, such as those conducted by Corporate Research Associates, and we heard these during the campaign. Their latest poll suggested that 93 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are satisfied with the job this government is doing today.

I would say that if anyone knows about nonsense it should be that person over there, and there is no excuse for the way she gets on. We can see why she is at 6 per cent in the polls. I can only hope that she is around for the next election, so good luck to the Liberals when you elect your leader.

Certainly, next year will show as well that we will have leadership, regardless – and, regardless of an election year, we will invest wisely. That is exactly what we do: we invest wisely, we get a bang for our dollar, we get maximum value for our dollar, and that is what it is all about, before we spend. That is what this government is known for. That is why we run in the polls in regard to what we see, in regard to the popularity of the Premier, the popularity of this party as the governing party of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is exactly what we do.

We do not govern by polls, but it is always nice when you hear that people are endorsing the work that is being done by the government on their behalf.

Consultation, Mr. Speaker; we talked about consultation. I have to raise this because it is so funny. The member says there has been no consultation on Muskrat Falls relative to how people feel about this project. By the way, I understand through all the polls that more than 70 per cent of the people in the Province support the project.

I am hoping her positivity is going to spread like the flu over on that side because I think we need more people on board with this. We look at the polls and I hear almost a gasp of air come out of the Opposition's lungs when we see polls come out that say Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are overwhelmingly in support of this project, when we see the studies come out one after another saying this is the least-cost option, when we see studies coming out saying this is the most environmentally sound option we can do.

What do the people of this Province think? Mr. Speaker, if we just examine the latest polls we can feel confident that the people of this Province are behind us in moving this project forward. On a daily basis, they keep telling us: Do it, it needs to be done, move it forward. You have done all your homework, you have done a great job on it, we are convinced, let's make it work. Mr. Speaker, we do not govern by polls. We want to know what the people really think.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On by-elections

Since 1983, the three federal by-elections with the highest turnout, expressed as a percentage of the turnout in the same riding in the preceeding general election, have been Labrador 2005 (119%), Labrador 2013 (113% unofficially), and Labrador 1996 (88%).

Monday, May 13, 2013


Jerome Kennedy explains the role of Dundergov comms staff during Question Period on Monday:
I do not think I need to remind the member opposite that communications personnel in government are not political staff; they are members of the public service. They are not involved in political events such as fundraisers, and they are not involved in political speeches.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is a function within government that deals with a division that is important, and it was simply a review to see if we could better deliver services.
Public servants, for the record, are neutral and non-partisan.

So, if the comms staff are non-partisan, apolitical public servants, why, this corner must ask again, are they involved in producing and disseminating partisan-politically charged press releases such as this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, or this?

And those are just from this calendar year.

UPDATED TO ADD: They just can't help themselves, can they?

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Peas in a pod (XXV)

From a Gary Kean report in the Western Star, February 19, 2005:

Corner Brook - Premier Danny Williams says he takes full responsibility for retaining an advertising firm to stoke the province's pride in the Atlantic Accord deal without publicly tendering the contract for the work.
"This is not a self promotion advertising campaign. You will see from the ads put out, there's no pictures of the minister or the premier. This is an ad campaign to try and reaffirm and entrench and solidify pride."
From a Bruce Cheadle CP report that moved today:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is justifying the more than $100 million his government has spent on economic advertising by pointing to Canadians' confidence in the economy.
Harper responded that "Canadians understand and are very proud of the fact that Canada's economy has performed so much better than other developed countries during these challenging times."


Well-gasted flabber

On Thursday in the Bow-Wow Parliament, Dr. Darin King expressed is shock, shock, at the antics of the opposition, which he felt offended the notion of judicial independence:
MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I would say that the minister knows full well that the chief judge gets his budget from the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice.
In 2006, this government committed to a comprehensive review of public prosecution in our Province. At the time, the minister said that this independent review will be done immediately and that retired Justice William Marshall was named to conduct the review. Seven years later it is not done.  
I ask the minister: Why haven't you completed this long promised review? Since it was never done, what compelling evidence did you have to justify the cuts in Budget 2013?  
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the decision on circuit courts – I am absolutely flabbergasted that a member would stand in this House and challenge the independence of the chief judge of this Province. I cannot believe that a member believes on the floor of this House that this House and this government ought to be telling judges in this Province what to do.  
I say to the member opposite, it is absolutely shameful as a trained lawyer to stand in here and to suggest that any minister or any member of this government would interfere with the decisions of the chief judge of this Province. Shame on them, I say.
For the record, Dr. King was a Member of the House of Assembly, and of the sad-sack cabinet, when his predecessor in office, and his former Dear Party Leader and Premier, impugned the motives of Mr. Justice Clément Gascon of the Quebec Superior Court. He also came within a few dozen votes of being in Former Premier's caucus at the time when Former Premier instructed the provincial courts to haul down their Canadian flags, breaching their independence, and when he suggested that a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Judge must have "got up on the wrong side of the bed" for having had the temerity to decide a case wrongly.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

A quick lesson in petroleum geology

By special request:

Mr Speaker: Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker.

Herself's epic 8500-word speech in the House of Assembly today, extolling the wonders of Her government... wordled, to the 100 most-uttered words.

The most prominent words will be a surprise to no one.

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