28 July 2014

Horse farts #nlpoli

If you do nothing else in the next few days,  take the time to read the decision issued Friday (via CBC) by a Quebec superior court judge in a case brought by the provincial government against Hydro-Quebec.

Judge Joel Silcoff does one thing supremely well:  he summarises about 40 years of dealings between Hydro-Quebec and the Government of Newfoundland – via first Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and lately Nalcor – to change, alter, adjust and otherwise frig around with the 1969 power contract originally signed by HQ with Brinco.

Silcoff actually adds a new details to the public knowledge of what has taken place between Hydro-Quebec and the Newfoundland government over the years.  Before now,  the best summary was one produced for Vic Young’s Blame Canada commission over a decade ago.

And when you are done reading the judge’s decision, you can count yourself among one of the few people in the province who have actually read it.  Never mind all the people talking about it or pontificating about what it means.  They likely have not read it, any more than they have read the decisions of the Regie d’energie or Moby Dick.

25 July 2014

2019 should be interesting #nlpoli

The cheque’s been cash. 

There’s no more cash flowing.

But the deal is not quite done, yet.

24 July 2014

Crime Severity Indices, St. John’s #nlpoli

This week, Statistics Canada released their latest compilation of crime statistics based on reports by police.

The figures in the release were year to year but if you hunt around a bit,  you can find the original tables of data.  from there, you can pluck out specific information.  In this post, we’ve pulled out the data for St. John’s from 2003 to 2013.

23 July 2014

Slates #nlpoli

In any delegated political convention, you need to elect delegates in each of the districts who will vote for your candidate at the leadership convention.

CBC’s On Point featured three individuals last weekend who were touted as being key players in each of the camps.  David Brazil was from the Kent Krew.  Paul Oram was there as a Paul Davis supporter.  Shawn Skinner was John Ottenheimer’s man.

22 July 2014

Uncommon Stupidity #nlpoli

There are times when a politician’s comments are so stunned they just take your breath away.

The first few days of the Damn-fool Fishery this weekend were marred by a tragic and entirely preventable death off Bell Island.  A man drowned after being tossed from the boat in which he was riding.  None of the people in the boat were wearing life jackets.

The major of the largest community on Bell Island turned up on CBC Monday evening.  Gary Gosine explained that while some people might think the man would be alive today had been wearing a life jacket,  the real culprit in this tragedy was the federal government.  The feds restricted the “food fishery” to a few weeks of the year.  people have to go out in all kinds of weather while in other provinces they can fish a lot more often.

Where does one begin to explain the utter stupidity of Gosine’s comments? 

21 July 2014

Traitors Everywhere #nlpoli

Tony Collins loves Muskrat Falls.

He loves it so much that every now and again he takes the valuable space from his column in the weekend Telegram and lets loose with a verbal assault on the people who don’t love the project as much as he does.

The last time Tony got in a lather about Muskrat Falls was 2012.  Back then,  he was “tired” of discussing Muskrat Falls.  Time to “get on with it”,  he said, just like all the other blue-bleeding Conservatives. 

18 July 2014

The Blackbird Song

It’s summer.

We don't need to talk politics all the time.

Here’s a song from the past that some people will remember.  It only did well in this part of North America likely because we are the only ones who didn’t think these people had an accent.


17 July 2014

La Romaine: on or off? #nlpoli

On Monday,  Quebec premier Philippe Couillard left the impression that the third and fourth dams on the La Romaine river were in doubt. 

Couillard told reporters as he headed to the meeting of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers that Hydro-Quebec would finish the first two dams, currently under construction, and then make a decision:

“We will evaluate them and we will see exactly what is needed. [translation of “On va les évaluer et on va voir justement quel est le besoin.”

According to La Presse, Couillard said that HQ would assess electricity needs for industrial use within Quebec as well as for export before determining whether to build the last two dams of a four dam project.

A report commissioned for the short-lived Parti Quebecois administration last year concluded that continued development of La Romaine would not be profitable,  given the large surplus of electricity currently available to Hydro-Quebec.

The entire cost of the the La Romaine development is pegged at $6.5 billion for approximately 1500 megawatts of electricity.  If HQ proceeds with the remaining dams, the current schedule will see the third on line by 2017 and the fourth producing electricity by 2020.

A statement issued by Couillard’s office on Tuesday changed the story.  The statement said that planning was already underway for the third and fourth dams.  It also repeated Couillard’s comment from Monday that the surplus generating capacity would be an asset for Hydro-Quebec in the marketplace.


16 July 2014

Shapes and sizes #nlpoli

The Duke of Connaught,  Governor General of Canada and uncle of King George, visited St. John’s in the middle of July, 1914.  During his visit,  he officially opened a new park in St. John’s and inspected the paramilitary groups that formed the basis of Newfoundland’s defence plan in the event of war,  of just the sort that was on the horizon in July 1914.

As part of imperial defence preparations in the decade and a half before,  the Newfoundland government had participated like all the parts of the British empire. At the 1909 Imperial Conference,  Sir Edward Morris had committed officially to organize soldiers for local defence and potentially service in addition to the Royal Naval Reserve division created around the time of the Boer War at the turn of the century and maintained by the Newfoundland government at a cost of 3,000 pounds sterling annually ever since.

The Newfoundland force would draw its men from the paramilitary brigades like the Legion of Frontiersmen,  the Armed Lads’ Brigade in Twillingate, King Edward brigade in Harbour Grace, and the religious groups like the Church Lads’ Brigade, the Catholic Cadet Corps,  the Methodist Guards, and the Newfoundland Highlanders, representing the Presbyterian Church.

In the event, the British government signalled the imperial governments to adopted the precautionary stage of the country’s defence plan on July 29, 1914.  Newfoundland did so.  The Admiralty mobilized the Royal Navy the same day and on July 30,  the governor in St. John’s formally forwarded a telegram to the commanding officer of the naval reserve division in St. John’s to “hold in readiness” for a call-out.  That word came at 4:00 AM local time on August 2, in a message sent through official channels in the name of the secretary of state fro colonies (Harcourt) to the governors of colonies with naval reservists. 

15 July 2014

The Conservative race picks up speed #nlpoli

One of the great things about political campaigns is that the players have a chance to surprise observers. We saw that in the Liberal leadership as Cathy Bennett went from being a complete political novice to coming in third against two experienced competitors.

In the Conservative leadership race, we have three experienced politicians so there is none of the newbie growth potential. 

That doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen some shifts in perception in the first couple of weeks.

14 July 2014

Gone, baby, gone #nlpoli

In September 2008,  four cabinet ministers went to Harbour Grace to announce that the provincial government was giving the company $8.0 million in public money,  interest free.

092503pic1The provincial government communications people circulated a picture of the four at the time - from left, Jerome Kennedy,  Danny Williams, Paul Oram, and Trevor Taylor – as they tried on some of the boots made at the plant.  Every one is smiling.  The $8.0  million in taxpayers’ cash was supposed to help the company add another 50 full-time jobs on top of the 170 at the plant.

It’s an interesting picture because within 12 months of the announcement,  the two on the right – Taylor and Oram – would be gone from politics.  Williams left in 2010,  the year the provincial government started a “review” of the loan after the company cut the work force to 100.  They never did add any jobs. Kennedy hung on the longest of the lot,  but five years after his trip to the boot factory, Jerome was gone from politics as well.

11 July 2014

Issues and Answers – on line #nlpoli

After a couple of false starts over the past year,  it looks like NTV has started posting episodes of Issues and Answers online. 

That’s good news for political junkies.  The half hour public affairs show airs Sundays at noon with a couple of rebroadcasts.  Unfortunately, if you missed it or forgot to program the PVR  - or before that the VCR – you were basically SOL. 

If NTV keeps posting them online, more people will get a chance to see them.


10 July 2014

The Desolation of Smog #nlpoli

The Telegram’s Peter Jackson used the most recent JM paper on consumer electricity prices and Muskrat Falls as part of his Wednesday column.

Peter made some worthwhile observations, so head over and read the column if you haven’t already.  That includes pointing out that current forecasts have electricity prices in Ontario and British Columbia rising by 42% and 45% by 2018.

“All these numbers are maddening,”  writes Jackson,  “both in terms of scale and in terms of variability between Nalcor and critics.”

Absolutely true.

09 July 2014

Convergence #nlpoli

A couple of years ago,  Liberal leader Dwight Ball said the Liberals would use earnings from Muskrat Falls to lower electricity prices for consumers in this province.

The Conservatives dismissed the idea at the time.

Then a couple of weeks ago, with news the cost of Muskrat Falls continues to climb, Premier Tom Marshall told the province that he and his colleagues had adopted the idea of using revenues from Muskrat Falls to lower consumer prices as their own policy.

That’s not all of it.  To understand the importance of Marshall’s comments fully you have to start at the beginning.