02 July 2015

The Great War and Newfoundland Political Memory #nlpoli

“It is sobering to think,”  historian Sean Cadigan wrote in the Telegram on Tuesday, “that the memory of the casualties of war has been used partially for later political purposes for almost a century.”

Cadigan was recounting the history of the ceremony on July 1 that started in 1917 to mark the anniversary of the battle in which hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians died in a few short minutes.

It is possible that, in the process of "remembering," we may be in danger of forgetting the real aspirations of the men of 1916 when we gather on Memorial Day tomorrow.

Of course, Cadigan had no trouble using the corpses at Beaumont Hamel for his own purpose and that is where we begin.

30 June 2015

Forget that Orange Wave Thing #nlpoli

Two-thirds of respondents to the most recent Abacus-VOCM News poll said they believed the Liberal Party will win the next provincial general election.

That’s an important question because recent American research suggests it is a good indication of the actual vote result than the traditional “which party will you vote for?” question.

There’s another reason why this question is important.  Look at the contrast between NDP and Conservative supporters.  More than half of New Democratic supporters think the Liberals will win. 

Only  28% of Dippers think their own party will win the next election.   A majority of provincial Conservatives think the Tories will win. But get this:  37% of Tories think the Grits will come out on top.

People who think there is some kind of NDP wave about sweep the universe can think again.

29 June 2015

Rex, re-districting, and getting it right #nlpoli

Rex Hillier:  the first political victim of the bill that redrew the political map in Newfoundland.

Simple story.

Easy peasey.

And complete crap.

27 June 2015

The not-so-rare leap: @abacusdata June 2015 #nlpoli

Two different polls from two different pollsters using two different polling methods have shown basically the same thing:  the New Democrats and Conservatives are duking it out for second place, both of whom remain well behind the Liberals who hold a massive lead in provincial politics.

Corporate Research Associates (May) showed the Conservatives still slightly ahead of the New Democrats.  Abacus Data’s most recent poll for VOCM shows the New Democrats slightly ahead.

Abacus’  David Coletto described the NDP  jump as “rare”, but that’s not really the case.

26 June 2015

Porter makes history #nlpoli

Steve Porter made history on Thursday night.

He defeated an incumbent in the House of Assembly  - Rex Hillier  - in a party nomination fight.  This doesn’t happen very often, mostly because political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador have seldom held nomination contests at the district level involving incumbents.

That isn’t a function of the lack of interest among prospective politicians. It’s just been the practice to grant incumbents a lock on the district once they win the nomination the first time. That’s one of the reasons why local politics can’t really be considered to be highly competitive.  The parties restrict the opportunities for challengers to enter the fray.

Porter tried for the nomination before and lost to Hillier in a squeaker.  He didn’t put together a strong get-out-the-vote operation the last time and wanted to give it another go. This time around Porter had some help from experienced campaigners.  It made a difference.

Aside from the specifics of this particular situation, contested nominations are an important way of refreshing a political party.  The competition keeps everyone on their toes.


25 June 2015

She's a class act all the way #nlpoli

The House of Assembly closed on Tuesday, likely for the last time before the next election.

Sure,  Premier Paul Davis said he may call the House back in the fall for a quick amendment to a law, but for most members, Tuesday was the last day of the session.

And for some members, like George Murphy, it was their last day in the House of Assembly, period, full stop, end of story.

They all got a few minutes to say a few words and get emotional.

And after all the formal proceedings were done,  the three party leaders got to speak.  It’s fascinating to see what they said about their colleagues, as recorded by Hansard

24 June 2015

Purity Factories' advertising no treat at all #nlpoli

Venerable local food manufacturer Purity Factories has a new advertising campaign featuring its delicious cream crackers.

On a billboard in the east end of St. John’s,  the line in big letters opposite a shot of the product says “not gluten free.”

The tag below it right next to the company logo is “Treat yourself.”

If all you know about gluten is the current bullshit diet fad based on junk science, then you might think this is a clever ad.

But for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with celiac disease,   there’s no treat in eating food with gluten.

23 June 2015

George Murphy quits politics #nlpoli

Whenever anyone runs down politicians as a group,  remember George Murphy.

And then kick the boor who ran down politicians a lash in the arse.  That’s basically that sort of person is good for:  a target for your boot.

We need more people like George Murphy in public life,  not fewer. He is a fundamentally decent, generous, and thoughtful person. While there are plenty of people like George in public life, thankfully, and in life in general, we can never have enough.

22 June 2015

Tree Politics #nlpoli

From your humble e-scribbler's yard,  the province's political parties as revealed by trees.

First, we have the Conservative Party.

Knows it's a tree

Lots of branches down below.   Up at the top, a few little shoots who some times look like they are on top.

The truth:  no matter what it looks like, there remains only  One True Leader.

Second, we have the Liberal Party.

Knows it's a tree.

Lots of branches down below.

But a bit of a mess up on top with a  bunch of different branches trying to be the leader.

Third, and last, is the New Democratic Party.

The same tree as the rest,  just a lot smaller, and a bit heavy on one side.

Thinks it's a rose bush.


No equity? No surprise. #nlpoli

It didn’t take long for Paul Davis to get the comparison he was looking for last week.

The Telegram - not surprisingly – offered it up in the editorial on June 17:

“Premier Paul Davis pulled a Danny Williams Tuesday,”  the editorialist wrote.

Davis told the annual NOIA oil and gas industry conference that a deal to develop Bay du Nord was mere weeks away.  Never mind the complexity of the project:  500 kilometres offshore,  in very deep water,  very deep under ground.  Never mind the complexities of international law not fully resolved yet.  Never mind the project economics – whether it can be developed profitably -  are still unknown.

Never mind anything.

The goal was the comparison.

20 June 2015

What district is Earle in, again? #nlpoli

Since the bill to change provincial districts cleared the House last week,  the provincial New Democrats have been tweeting sanctimoniously about the harm done to rural districts by the bill.

All those rural seats lost,  they wail.

All very undemocratic,  they cry.

And all very much a load of shit, at least as far as the Dipper claim goes.

19 June 2015

The politics of information #nlpoli

A couple of recent post are reminders of how important it is to take a look at issues in the province from another perspective.

On June 10,  you will find a post about crab fishermen from New Brunswick who want to sell their catch to a company near Corner Brook.  The problem is that federal regulations limit where the fishermen can sell their catch. The policy is rooted in the sort of local protectionism that lay behind opposition in some quarters to European free trade.

Thursday’s post (June 17) was about remarks by Quebec’s energy minister about offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Pierre Arcand argued that Quebec had better sort out an agreement with the federal government over jurisdiction for the offshore resources.

Old Harry was sitting there waiting for development and Newfoundland and Labrador,  Arcand said,  was ahead of Quebec.  The result could be that Newfoundland and Labrador would  wind up reaping huge benefits from the Old Harry field.  Quebec, meanwhile, would be left behind. 

18 June 2015

Newfoundland forcing Quebec's hand on Old Harry #nlpoli

The Bay du Nord field is far offshore and far from development, Paul Davis’ optimism notwithstanding.

It’s way the hell offshore (about 500 kilometres),  way the hell under water (more than two kilometres) and then way the heck under the sea bed  (about another two kilometres).  It’s not going to be easy and it sure as heck isn't going to happen in less than five years.

Premier Paul Davis likely talked up the prospect of an agreement  to develop Bay du Nord because he needed something to say at the annual offshore development conference this week.

What’s curious, though, is that he never mentioned a far more interesting project that is far easier to develop.

17 June 2015

A troublesome and costly pattern #nlpoli

There are so many problems raised by Premier Paul Davis’ zeal to sign an agreement with Statoil for the Bay du Nord that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Perhaps the best place to start is with the deal announced the day before Davis’ oil news.  The provincial government gave $6.5 million in public money to an insurance company to establish a major corporate office in St. John’s. 

Newfoundland and Labrador got the company to move here by engaging in a bidding war with other provinces that were anxious for the business.  Newfoundland and Labrador essentially gave away the most.

That’s what happens when you bargain in a weak position.