31 August 2015

Ferry Tales #nlpoli

There are times when you have to wonder if provincial cabinet ministers actually realise how moronic they sound to everyone else.

David Brazil is the transportation minister.  By his own admission,  a company in Romania could build ferries for the ferry system in Newfoundland and Labrador for a better price than anyone else.

That better price included – by his own claim – if the provincial government had to pay a multi-million penalty on the project under federal tariff law. 

28 August 2015

Chainsaw Earle keeps austerity on the table #nlpoli

NDP leader Earle McCurdy called the province’s major open line show on Thursday and by the sounds of things he hasn’t backed off the position that the size of the government’s financial problems will mean more cuts.

Sure he said he was opposed to austerity,  but what Earle did say was that the government will have to cut jobs, lay people off and slash spending to cope with its financial problems. 

Potato, potato, Earle.

27 August 2015

NL NDP boss admits deeper “austerity” on the table as gov cash situation worsens #nlpoli

“All options are going to have to be considered I guess, from both the revenue and the expenditure side, to make the best of a challenging situation,” NDP leader Earle McCurdy told CBC on Wednesday.

“All options” includes more job cuts,  spending reductions, and public sector layoffs in addition to higher taxes.

That endorsement of “austerity” as a serious option is a radical change of direction for the provincial Dippers,.  Up to now, they’ve been adamantly opposed to any cuts to public spending no matter how bad things got.

26 August 2015

We should put up a statue or something #nlpoli

There’s something a bit surreal about the news this week.

Well, not really the news itself, so much as the way people are reacting to it.

The drop in oil prices and the forecast decline of jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador are not anything people haven;t heard before.

And yet people seem genuinely shocked.

Let’s understand, there is absolutely nothing – not a single thing – about any of this information that didn’t come with plenty of warning.

25 August 2015

The Uri Geller of MUN Economics Strikes Again #nlpoli

Does anyone really take Wade Locke seriously anymore?


Do they?


Go back to last October to see why.

The next time reporters have Wade on camera, give him a spoon to bend with his psychic ability.

Wade might just be able to do it.  God knows he sure can’t figure out energy pricing and sound economic policy.. 


24 August 2015

Honouring Newfoundland Writers #nlpoli

Most of you have probably never heard of a fellow named Alonzo John  Gallishaw. 

John Gallishaw is best remembered in his native land for his brief service in the Newfoundland regiment during the Great War.  Wounded at Gallipoli,  Gallishaw was invalided out of service and eventually went back to the United States.  Born in St. John’s in 1890, Gallishaw had been in the United States at the time war broke out.  He was studying English at Harvard University, of all places.

He took up a teaching appointment and after the Americans entered the war,  Gallishaw enlisted in the American Army in January 1918.  He  took a commission and went to France as part of the American expeditionary force   That was Gallishaw’s hat-trick since he had enlisted briefly in the Canadian army on the war to Newfoundland in 1915.

21 August 2015

Moral victory: saying yes to less #nlpoli

A couple of years after his war with one prime minister, Danny Williams was locked in another war with another federal first minister.

Williams was demanding compensation for yet another supposed injustice. 

“What I said before and I said going in, this is about principles,”  Williams told reporters in November 2007 “but it's also about money as well. At the end of the day, the promise and the principle converts to cash for the bottom line ….”

The pattern set in 2004 was repeating itself.   

20 August 2015

Mr. Williams Goes to Hell #nlpoli

The story of the 2004 war with Ottawa is the story of disconnects,  mismatches, incongruities, of things that just didn't add up.

October 2004 is a good example.  In the middle of the month,  Loyola Sullivan,   the provincial lead negotiator, went to Ottawa for a meeting with federal finance minister, Ralph Goodale.  he headed the negotiations for the federal government in the effort to find a draft agreement.

Sullivan told reporters the chances of a deal looked good.  The two governments were talking about something that would last eight years and bring the provincial government between $1.4 and $2.0 billion depending on the price of oil.

At exactly the same time, Premier Danny Williams was telling reporters the provincial position had not changed.  "There are no movements from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador,”  Williams told Rob Antle of the Telegram on October 16.  “There's no doubt about.that. We have no intention of moving.”

19 August 2015

From agreement to disagreement #nlpoli

On June 4, 2004, Danny Williams delivered a keynote speech to delegates at the oil and gas conference organized annual by the association that represented offshore service and supply companies.

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should not support any candidate or any party in the upcoming federal election” he said, “that does not clearly and unequivocally provide us with a commitment to keep 100 per cent of our provincial revenues under the Atlantic Accord.”

The day after Williams’ speech, Martin was in St. John’s as part of his election tour of Eastern Canada. Martin told the CBC that in an early morning conversation with Williams, “I have made it very clear that the proposal that he has put forth is a proposal that we accept."

18 August 2015

S’truth #nlpoli #cdnpoli

New Democratic party candidate Linda McQuaig caused a bit of a stir in the first week of the federal election campaign when she said that in order to meet the national carbon emission reduction targets, we’d likely have to leave most of the oil sands oil in the ground, undeveloped.

Writing in the Toronto Star on Tuesday, Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said the reaction to what he called McQuaig’s “innocuous and true statement” is just further evidence that “our politics do not allow for serious — and truly honest — discussion of the most pressing issues of our time.”

Klein then decries the fact that all sorts of politicians from all sorts of parties are not embracing all sorts of policies that Klein thinks are not just good ideas but absolutely correct ones.  Therefore, our politics is bad.

Well, it isn’t actually. 

17 August 2015

The 2004 war with Ottawa revisited #nlpoli

The 2004 “war” with Ottawa over a version of federal Equalization payments to Newfoundland and Labrador is an early episode in the provincial Conservative administration.

The confrontation helped propel Premier Danny Williams to unprecedented heights of popularity.  This, in turn, affected the rest of his tenure as Premier.  It was a critical element in his quest for political hegemony in the province during his first term.


In SRBP’s review of Ray Blake’s new book on federal provincial relations, there are some comments about Blake’s chapter on Danny Williams and the war with Ottawa in 2004. The review wasn’t the place to get into that.  The subject is too big. 

This post will explain the problems with Blake’s accounts and with other accounts of the period.

14 August 2015

Diversity #nlpoli

Labrador economy must diversify to survive, say opposition parties.

There is a CBC headline to conjure with.

Pure political magic for the two parties promising something different from what has gone on before.

Liberal leader Dwight Ball told CBC that we “must look at the other advantages that we would have available to us, things like power.” 

"This government talks a lot about the export of power. I want to talk about using that power as a competitive advantage for us."

Lorraine Michael, for the New Democratic Party,  said that "Government has to have long term plans that will deal with helping communities and workers when the issues arise."   Michael thinks that we have been too dependent on private sector corporations in Labrador.

No one has ever heard those ideas before

13 August 2015

Essence #nlpoli

The Telegram has been running a series this week on the number of communities in the province where people can’t drink the water supplied by their local municipality.

Regular readers will know the issue as it first came up here in 2009, in 2011, and in 2013. 

A couple of years ago, CBC was highlighting the problem.  Your humble e-scribbler reminded the universe that giving people water fit to drink was one of those fundamental commitments the Conservatives made to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003.

And it was one of those fundamental commitments that they failed utterly and completely to honour.

There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept, their leader used to say.

He was absolutely right.

12 August 2015

Sucks to be us #nlpoli

Not so very long ago,  provincial Conservatives were crowing about how they would be running all sorts of mining projects in Labrador using electricity from Muskrat Falls.

These days, the word from Labrador isn’t all that good.  One mine is closed and, on Tuesday, things looked bad both for the major mine operating in western Labrador and the KAMI project.

No one can take an glee in the bad news. What we should do is remember that the assumptions on which the Conservatives spent heavily over the past decade were completely inconsistent with about a century and a half of experience with resource extraction industries  years in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Rather than learn from our considerable, collective experience, the Conservatives arrogantly assumed they alone knew better than everyone else.

They didn’t.

We all get to pay the price.

Oh joy.