31 July 2008

Purely coincidental

July 29.

1.  CBC:  "Too muggy to operate"

High humidity is creating a sticky situation in operating rooms in a western Newfoundland hospital, where a dozen procedures have been postponed.

July 31.

2.  Western Star: "Four days affected by humidity" (posted 1:33 AM)

Western Memorial Regional Hospital had to modify its surgical services for four days because of humidity.

3.  Globe and Mail (Canadian Press): "Surgery rescheduled due to high humidity" (posted early morning)

Dr. Minnie Wasmeier says the operating room schedule at Western Memorial Hospital was modified on July 11, 16, 17 and 25 because of an increased risk of infection during periods of high humidity and high temperatures.

4.  NLIS (government news service), "Progress being made on new Corner Brook hospital" (issued at 4:25 PM)

The Provincial Government is moving forward with plans to build a new hospital in Corner Brook with the announcement today that AMEC of St. John’s has been hired to undertake site investigation.

Backed by quotes from no less than four politicians:  public works minister Diane Whelan,  Premier Danny Williams (MHA for Humber West), finance minister Tom Marshall (MHA Humber East) and Terry Loder (MHA - Bay of Islands).

But... "Premier Danny Williams has not been available for interviews this week..." according to the Great Oracle of the Valley. 


The Old Approach

Turns out the scuttlebutt on the Hebron announcement was off.

No announcement this week.

The deal is apparently done, but the formal announcement has been moved.

Best guess:  August.

After the by-elections are underway and somewhere in the middle of the CRA polling time.

Perfect time for an announcement in the old fashioned political tradition.


Regents chair has splainin' to do; high jump in his future?

According to an education department spokesperson, board of regents chair Gil Dalton gave the short list of candidates to education minister Joan Burke.

If that's the case, then Dalton needs to quit immediately as chair of the board and chair of the selection committee. If Dalton is the leak - which apparently occurred last winter or this spring - then it goes along way to explaining Dalton's silence on the whole matter of the selection and Burke's interference.

If that isn't the case, then he needs to parse the details of the process and set the record straight.


And then the crisis deepens...

Like no one saw this coming.

1.  Former education minister Chris Decker:

"I can only see one possible way to redeem this, is for the minister to resign or for the premier to have her ... shuffled to another portfolio. I can't use words strongly enough."

Add to that Decker's cabinet colleague Dr. Phil Warren, who is quoted by VOCM as saying he was shocked by Burke's action.  Warren noted that in his time he did not interfere in the selection of Dr. Art May.

2.  Professor Paul Wilson, university senator and a prof at Grenfell (!!!):

“She can be as defiant as she wants — as she was in the scrum — but I’m sorry the legislation is absolutely clear and there is no room for interpretation of that simple sentence in English. There’s no legalese. There are no notwithstandings.”

3.  From the Great Oracle in the Valley, otherwise known as the voice of the cabinet minister comes some predictable stuff from the other perspective:

  • Finance minister and former attorney general Tom Marshall weighs in, backing his colleague in their complete misrepresentation of the law.  No quotes but those who heard it were surprised at Marshall's continued insistence that up was down.
  • The Premier was unavailable - as in out of the province, presumably - but an unidentified publicist from his office said the Premier did back the minister.

4.  And in the same online story  - headline:  "Burke gets support from colleagues" - we find that opposition education critic Roland Butler doesn't like Burke's actions at all.  That's not the only thing wrong with that online story but there's only so much space, even in a Bond Papers post.


Poll goosing, the UK version

Via Guido Fawkes, world-class politicians in a world-class country do what world-class knobs do:  they pay attention to a call-in poll.

Anglerfish, maybe?

Gary Kelly posted to a video of an unusual fish caught off Burgeo on the south coast of Newfoundland.

Maybe it's an anglerfish, a deep sea fish. 

Just a thought.

Update:  Identified.
Triplewart seadevil (Cryptopsaras couesii) - Pêcheur à trèfle, found frequently in the delta of the St. Lawrence Seaway, not far from Burgeo.
 h/t bigcitylib (see comment)

30 July 2008

Phoning it in

Education minister Joan Burke turned up this morning as the first caller on Open Line with Randy Simms.

She was calling from Stephenville, or "from the district" as Simms put it.

He made it sound like Burke was just back in her district for a visit.

After all, that's likely what you'd expect given that the department she runs is headquartered in St. John's. Being a minister is usually a busy life, even in the summer, what with the meetings related to cabinet and the meetings in the department and just being available to sign all those letters that have to be signed even in an age of computers and e-mail.

Thing is, Burke likely wasn't just stopping in for a visit.

And she likely isn't the only minister who tends to head back to the district during the times the House isn't in session.

Something keeps coming back to your humble e-scribbler about a comment Burke made having to do with ministerial expenses. There was a document establishing her primary residence, which, if memory serves, government officials expected would be in St. John's while she held Her Majesty's commission. The declaration was part of determining what set of expense rules from treasury board would apply.

Burke's comment stood out as she found that form a bit problematic, given her primary residence was in Stephenville. There was some mumbling criticism about the whole arrangement reflecting the "old boys club" of politics.

Now memories can be faulty, not the least of which being the one between the ears of your humble e-scribbler, so it's possible that wasn't exactly what was said.

The old boys club crack just stood out, though, because it was from straight out of left field. Why would it be surprising that an employer would expect you to live within easy commuting distance of the place where your job was located? There's something sexist in that?

Anyway, Tom Marshall is another minister not originally from the capital city who seems to spend a whack of time working from somewhere other than the Confederation Building.

Sit and think for a second and you could probably come up with a bunch of ministers who have offices and work responsibilities in the capital city but who seem to spend a huge amount of time not in the office.

Well, not in the main office. Marshall likely has a suite in the provincial government building in Corner Brook. Burke too, could likely scare up a bit of space in Stephenville.

John Hickey? Patty Pottle? Trevor Taylor? Tom Rideout when he was still a minister? Charlene Johnson? Kevin O'Brien?

These are just tossed out as possible examples because their districts are not within typical daily commuting distance of the metropolitan region.

Any of them keep two offices and work from home, home being somewhere other than within an easy commute of Sin Jawns?

This is not just a matter of some mouldy old rule after all. The cost of maintaining duplicate offices can be steep. Add to that the cost of having to grab a quickie flight at full fare from Stephenville - for argument sake - and then hopping back the same day just to do a media scrum.

Then there are the regular cabinet meetings and the committee meetings and all the rest.

Pretty soon, the cost of commuting like this would get to be a tidy sum.

Then there are the intangible costs. It would be much easier to meet and discuss some business face to face rather than do it by e-mail or over-the-phone. Ministers living in St. John's - where their main office is located - also have the chance to be more accessible to news media in a slow period during the summer. It gives all sorts of opportunities to increase the amount of information government provides to the public on its activities.

Well, that assumes government wants to give more information or that ministers are capable of doing more than parroting prepared lines, but let's just work on the assumption the current situation is an aberration in the great scheme of things.

Still it seemed a little odd that Burke was in St. John's for a 2:45 newser on Tuesday and then bright and early on Wednesday morning was safe on the west coast again.

Maybe it's just a misperception but then again, there have been too many references to some sort of dual office arrangement over the past couple of years to make it a case of being completely mistaken.

There's a subject for a little bit of investigative reporting.

In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to keep track of the number of cabinet ministers who are phoning in their media hits during times when the House is not in session.


Memorial University crisis to deepen

A member of the university senate apparently had a chat with the Western Star and told it as it is: the board of regents appoints the president, not the minister of education or cabinet.

Once the first one speaks, more are likely to follow.


Nothing says election like politicians and cash: the desperate leprechaun version

Oil prices may be plummeting and with them gasoline prices, but if you are an incumbent politician looking warily at the electoral weathervane, you'd be talking out loud to anyone who will listen about finding a way to gasoline and other fuel costs.

He might be running a deficit, but federal finance minister Jim Flaherty is talking about finding some way to interfere in the marketplace in a way that would likely bring more problems than it cures.

Next thing he'll be screaming for tight monetary policies and jacking up interest rates to frighten off the inflation demon.


Memorial University autonomy crisis: choice quotes

From The Telegram coverage:

1.  Education minister Joan Burke:

"When those names and that selection process hits the cabinet table I want to ensure that we have the best possible selection, the best leadership that we can possibly find," said Burke.


Define "best" and define it publicly and quickly.

If we all know what the cabinet thinks "best" means, then we might be able to figure out why it is that the board of regents Burke and her colleagues appointed and the people who run the university were suddenly struck incompetent.

Potential applicants would like to know what "best" means, especially since they now face a new and thus far secret process with secret selection criteria.

2.  Undergraduate student union external affairs director Cameron Campbell:

"I think the main problem here is the lack of accountability and the lack of transparency in the process, and I think that's really the issue we have to deal with," said Cameron Campbell, MUNSU executive director of external affairs.

While Campbell's comments earlier appeared to be somewhat equivocal, this line is an indictment of a government that supposedly embodies accountability and transparency.

3. The bizarre, from the cbc.ca/nl news story user comments by someone logged on as Anthony11:

I only hope that the next time the Premier is shopping at the South Carolina Home Depot that he stays there.


This is either completely off the wall or a clue to some sort of back story that sounds interesting.

Made only more weird if someone googled "charter flights from South Carolina to St. John's" and landed at the Bond Papers post about Miss Teen South Carolina and her concern for education.  Remember Caitlin?

There's education for you and a totally freaky connection.


CAUT: Prov Gov threatens MUN autonomy

Predictable but still, a voice worth heeding:

“This is an unprecedented and serious violation of university autonomy,” says CAUT president Penni Stewart. “Universities must be free from political interference or any outside influence.”


Memorial University crisis: the media coverage to date

Conversation at the Tuesday family supper table included a question from your humble e-scribbler's sister as to why the education minister held her scrum with reporters at 2:45.

Good question, since, as the Sister noted, media now had time to get reaction from critics of the government's policy.

There is no good answer, though, except that she was essentially correct. Since news runs on controversy, this story will have legs. The contradictions between the Premier and the minister will fuel further inquiry.

At some point, the Grenfell issue will come back since a key part of the earlier rumour held that at least one of the candidates Burke now admits rejecting may have been someone who wasn't a fan of the proposed second university. Burke denied the issue had any impact on the hiring selection but that sounded a bit like what labradore calls "Not(x) = x".

Media coverage on Tuesday only intensified the criticism since the rumours of cabinet interference in hiring the university president have now been confirmed.

Canadian Press filed a story about seven hours ago with about half the story consisting of comments from the university faculty association: N.L. university faculty say freedom jeopardized after minister's intervention. The reaction is strongly negative:

"What it suggests is that if she's going to be actively administering the university, would she come in and deal with an individual faculty member whose politics she didn't like? Or an individual administrator at a lower level that she didn't like?" [Ross Klein, president-elect of the faculty association.]

That builds on a story that ran earlier on Tuesday across the country.

The Telegram's quickie version from Tuesday afternoon is simple and focuses on the continuing search. That's pretty much been their coverage to date. vocm.com's little summary sticks to the simple.

CBC's online story is a bit more detailed. it includes critical comment.

The CBC Here and Now supper hour news piece was harder hitting. On the Go played the entire scrum. None are online as of Tuesday evening unfortunately. The scrum would be worth having in its entirety, especially the bit where the education minister dances around the fact the Premier's version of events and hers are somewhat at odds.

NTV's report was longer and included critical comment.

There's also been a bit of blog coverage, like a post at Macleans.ca by a MUN education professor who labeled the media coverage "sometimes bizarre".

Editorial opinion has also been strongly negative, like this column from last weekend's Telegram. That's been the case since the details of the story and the allegations of interference first surfaced on the front page of the Globe and Mail last Saturday.


Closed minds, reason and the Memorial University crisis

Education minister Joan Burke today confirmed the rumours that have been swirling around the province for months, namely that the cabinet had interfered in the process to hire a new president for Memorial University.

In her media scrum, today, Burke repeatedly spoke of following the provisions of the Memorial University Act. She then described a new process for selecting a president of the university in which a list of names would be presented to cabinet and from which cabinet would make select the person to be appointed.

That is not what was intended. The Memorial University Act is clear:

51. There shall be a president of the university who shall be appointed by the board in consultation with the senate and with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

The board of regents makes the appointment. The cabinet - the lieutenant governor-in-council - may reject an appointment but nowhere is it provided in law that the president of the province's university is appointed by cabinet.

Memorial University traces it roots to Memorial College, founded in 1923 as a non-denominational institution of higher learning. In a country where public affairs were more sectarian than politically partisan, this was a revolutionary move. The college became a university in 1949, but government's intention, as expressed, in the Memorial University Act was to create a publicly-funded university that operated autonomously from government.

The Act gives to the board of regents the power to run the university and central to that is the authority to select the university's chief executive officer, the president. The hiring system, as it was, has functioned exceedingly well, finding successive presidents of extraordinary calibre: Dr. M.O. Morgan, Dr. Leslie Harris, Dr. Arthur May, and Dr. Axel Meisen are examples.

Under their leadership, the university has grown. It has earned a well-deserved international reputation despite sometimes very difficult financial times. The vision of the university founders has been fulfilled. The wisdom of their approach and that of successive government administrations has been proven.

Those administrations contained men and women of no mean ability. They were no less visionary, no less intelligent, no less capable and no less virtuous than Burke and her colleagues.

There was no reason to change the method of finding a university president.

To be fair, Joan Burke did not attempt to provide reason, nor did the official news release.

She simply laid down the law, even if she violated the statute as she did so.

Before going any further, let us dismiss any suggestion that Burke acted alone here. Only someone overly concerned with insignificant distinctions, only the most partisan of partisan apologists would consider it important that Burke claims to have made the decisions rather than the Premier, as accounts such as the one in The Globe and Mail have alleged.

Only someone totally unaware of how the administration works might think that a minister who cannot travel outside the province without the prior approval of the Premier's chief of staff might have undertaken to inject herself into the selection process at Memorial without the full approval of, if not direction by, the Premier's Office.

Burke is merely the instrument of government policy and that policy is aimed squarely at dismantling Memorial University's autonomy, the basis of its success thus far. Cabinet has already shown it's willingness to ignore the board of regents with its decision to create a separate university at Corner Brook. Now it confirms the policy by usurping the legal authority of the board of regents in not merely watching, but in substituting itself for the board.

Government policy, as described by Burke, will make finding a genuinely superlative candidate all that much harder.

The potential applicant will face an entirely unknown set of criteria for selection. Merit - the basis on which selections have been made to now - has been replaced with secret considerations. If the goal is to continue the university with the sort of success it has achieved to date, we should be suspicious of anyone who submits to this selection process. It is hardly the sort of thing one would expect in an academic institution that is supposedly "competing with other institutions nationally and internationally for the right person to take on the job."

The potential applicant will also know that - as demonstrated both in the Grenfell decision and in the hiring of the president - he or she will have no say on the future direction of the university. Cabinet is the sole authority, and it must be obeyed. Burke said it plainly in her scrum.

In the end, Burke made it clear that cabinet is not interested in open discussion.

There can be no more eloquent a reason for cabinet to stay out of the future of Memorial University than closed minds and the absence of reason. For all the contradictions between Burke's words and government actions, the contradiction between the essence of a university and the essence of this cabinet could not be more stark.

The only question left for the public right now is what the board of regents - those with the legal authority to appoint a president - will do now that their authority has been usurped.

Memorial is, to use Burke's abysmal phrase, the people's university. The people should look to the board, and to the candidates for the elected alumni seats on it, to know if the university will continue to reach for the heights or if it will begin a slide into the deep.


29 July 2008

Academician, heal thyself

If there actually is concern among academics that there is political interference in the hiring of a new president at Memorial University, then doesn't having a cabinet minister speaking about the issue - instead of the chairman of the university board of regent's hiring committee - tend to confirm the interference?

Just an observation.

Update: Interference confirmed.


28 July 2008

Speaking of deer in the headlights


Fall election.

The Connies must be a runnin' skeerd.

Oddly enough, we're talking Canadian Connies frightened of an American Democrat named Obama.

Maybe it's the fear from their American cousins seeping across the border. Maybe it's the fear that if there's a fall federal election in Canada, then somehow the voodoo vibes from the Obama campaign will infect voters in Canada who will dutiful trudge off to the polls and voter for the Liberals.

Anyway, there is the smell of fear in the Connie camp.

But, c'mon, Kate.


A Rush Limbaugh youtube vid is evidence of something other than your need to get out more?

Count the number of posts attacking Obama.

Talk about a "tell".


BlogHer Nation

The New York Times carried a feature over the weekend on the fourth annual BlogHer conference.


Since 2005, women who write blogs have been coming together for a couple of days of seminars and networking.

A study conducted by BlogHer and Compass Partners last year found that 36 million women participate in the blogosphere each week, and 15 million of them have their own blogs. (BlogHer, which was founded by Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, has itself grown into a mini empire that includes a Web site that helps publicize women’s blogs, and an advertising network to help women generate revenue for the site.)

As with men bloggers, some women have found financial success through blogging. Belle de Jour, a London call girl, managed to parley her blog into a book deal and now a television series. Read it. You'll be surprised and then you'll see why Belle has been as successful as she has been.

One of the presenters at BlogHer was Kyran Pittman, whose blog Notes to self is a well written, visually appealing collection of posts on whatever strikes her. She's also met with some financial success.

As Geoff Meeker wrote a couple of weeks ago, Kyran pitched a couple of posts to Good Housekeeping. her real success came in the August edition, currently on newsstands:

“The pitch came from feeling frustrated with yet another women’s magazine article on Wardrobe "Essentials" that added up to thousands of dollars,” Kyran wrote on her flickr page. “I challenged Good Housekeeping to let a real mom find out just how essential "investment" clothes are in real life. They went for it in a wonderful way.”

The result was a four-day assignment in New York City, complete with photographer, art director, makeup artist and her own trailer (with bagels and coffee inside). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kyran has the looks of a model, but she’s self-effacing about this – and is a gifted writer, by any measure.

According to the Times, one of the workshop sessions at BlogHer this year was the continuing struggle of women who write political blogs to get their work noticed. Outside of Ariana Huffington, political blogging in the United States is dominated at the national level by men. That isn't quite the same in Canada. One of the leading Conservative blogs - small dead animals - is written by Catherine McMillan.

What's most striking about BlogHer, though, is what can be seen if you look past the chromosomal structure of the authors. There's an eclectic mix of writing by people from different backgrounds on topics as diverse as the authors themselves.

And the challenges of blogging discussed at the San Francisco conference by women bloggers? As with Kyran's posts, the topics are things we can all appreciate because we've been there.


Connecting sources with reporters: killing bad pitches

Over the past couple of months two new web sites have sprung up - one Canadian and the other American - aimed at connecting reporters with potential sources for stories.

haro_logo_bk-300x273HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. Consider it a sort of match-making service.

If you are a potential source of information, sign up at the HARO site and you'll receive an e-mail up to three times a day containing a short description of what reporters might be looking for.

If you are a journalist, there's another page consisting almost entirely of a form to enter your contact information and the background on what you are looking for.

HARO is the brainchild of Peter Shankman, a marketing public relations consultant in New York City. As Shankman describes it,

I built this list because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources. Rather than go through my contact lists each time, I figured I could push the requests out to people who actually have something to say.

These requests only come from reporters directly to me. I never take queries from that other service, I never SPAM, and I'm not going to do anything with your email other than send you these reporter requests when they arrive in my in-box.

Many of us in the business get the same sort of calls from time to time. Shankman just decided to do something with a broader reach.

Meanwhile, three Canadians have started a similar concept north of the border. Journalistsource.ca is newer and will likely take a while to get rolling. Your humble e-scribbler signed up a couple of days ago and so far there's been one e-mail looking for a connection. Two public relations professionals and a journalist are behind the site.

Occasionally a journalist will want to remain anonymous, so in this case, we ask that you email us your response to the request, and we’ll send it on to the journalist on your behalf.

What do we ask in return? That’s simple too - When you see a journalist’s request that you think you/your organization is capable of fulfilling, please be SURE your response fits the request before replying. Why? Because one of JournalistSource.ca’s main goals is to eliminate PR Spam.

That last hyperlink is in the original text. It will take you to one of several sites that have cropped up detailing some of the horrible pitches arriving in newsrooms from marketers and PR consultants looking to place stories with a news organization.

It's a legitimate part of the business but when it's done poorly, everyone suffers. Other sites try to combat the bad pitch.

HARO and Journalist.ca are two new efforts to get past the bad pitch and connect people with stories to tell to the people who are looking to tell a story.

Oh. If you think this will just make a handy list for you to spam from, be warned. It gets back quickly and thus far Shankman hasn't been shy in his circulars in outing the spam artists.

Death to bad pitches.


A buzz around the university

From the inadvertent humour category, provincial New Democratic Party leader Lorraine Michael told CBC this afternoon she'd like to see someone as president of Memorial University who could create a buzz.

For those of a certain age, the words "buzz" and "university" are synonymous, but likely not for the same reasons the NDP leader had in mind. Now if Ms. Michael wants to harken back to the salad days of many a young man and woman from the province, then we might be able to add a few new names to the list of possible presidents.

The only thing is we'll have to check and see if some are coming up for parole.


27 July 2008

First gold pour at Pine Cove

Three bars as part of the ramp up for full production of an estimated 16,000 ounces per year from Anaconda's Pine Cove operation, near Baie Verte.

The company issued a news release on 23 July.


Hebron announcement this week?

In June, we had the CBC orgy of speculation on a Hebron deal right before the NOIA annual conference.

Nothing happened.

In his otherwise generic opening remarks, the Premier did say he hoped that everyone's patience would be rewarded well before Regatta Day.

Well, Regatta Day is next Wednesday and true to form, there's scuttlebutt - not solid enough to qualify even as a rumour -  that the final Hebron deal will be unveiled this week, possibly  Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1 in St. John's.


Darren will lose his mind

Prototype Boba Fett figure, circa 1979, on original card mock-up.

Missile firing version, never mass produced.

eBay asking price: US$100,000.

Status: unsold

h/t Kris Abel at CTV.



The most ambitious single media project in history.

Turns out it had nothing to do with the Independent at all.

Here in the Happiest Far Eastern Province, the punters had been told for years that the six part balance sheet of Confederation put together by Ryan and his merry band had been the most ambitious single media project in history.

It's NBC's Olympics coverage.

Another illusion shattered, hopelessly.


26 July 2008

Globe runs MUN president story

The Globe is reporting what has been rumoured for months, namely that the Premier nixed the nominee to replace Axel Meisen as president of Memorial University.

There are denials - sort of - from the powers that be.

Elizabeth Matthews, who is Mr. Williams's director of communications, said provincial legislation allows the Premier to have the opportunity for input, and the government doesn't apologize for having an interest in who takes on the job. “It would definitely be fair to say that he would ultimately have an interest when the names are brought forward,” she told The Globe earlier this week.

She also denied suggestions that the Premier has interfered in the process. “He can't have interfered because no names have been brought forward yet,” she said.

One minor problem with that bit: it's not correct. The Memorial University Act gives certain power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council - that is the entire cabinet - not just to the Premier.

51. There shall be a president of the university who shall be appointed by the board in consultation with the senate and with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

As for the rest, it's a bit of verbal gymnastics that doesn't get to the point one way or the other. Any of a number of people on the senate could have, informally and unofficially, notified the Premier's Office of the name or names under consideration, there by giving plenty of opportunity for the Premier to have his say even though "no names have been brought forward yet" officially.

All deniable.

The Globe makes an increasingly common comparison, one that seems to be finding favour with the 8th:

The current situation harks back to former days in Newfoundland when politics did play a direct role in the leadership of Memorial, which gained university status in 1950 and has long been regarded as a key institution for the province. In 1966, Premier Joey Smallwood picked Lord Stephen Taylor to lead the university. Changes to the university's governance structure in the 1970s eliminated such direct appointments, but still require that the selection of the president be approved by the lieutenant-governor-in-council – essentially the premier and cabinet.

Those who have taken part in recent presidential searches say that approval has been a formality. “The recommendation was not questioned,” said Chris Sharpe, a geography professor who was a member of the committee that chose the last president.


25 July 2008

Accountants question government budget reporting

The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada said on Friday it is time for greater transparency around the budget process in Canada.

“The entire budget process needs to be more transparent. It’s become far too difficult for Canadians to make sense of the practice and to fully understand how their tax dollars are being spent,” said CGAAC president and chief executive officer Anthony Ariganello in a news release.

The CGA association questioned whether the surprise surpluses were actual surprises or part of a deliberate political strategy.

“You have to wonder whether these surpluses have allowed governments to be much less disciplined in their budgetary spending,” Ariganello noted. “The use of any federal surplus should be decided within the budgetary process, not as a consequence of poor planning.”

While Ariganello was referring specifically to the federal government, successive provincial budgets in Newfoundland and Labrador have followed the pattern to which the CGA president referred.

In the most recent budget news releases and comments by the finance minister referred to a projected surplus, but the budget documents tabled in the legislature forecast a $1.2 billion shortfall.  As well, the financial results for 2007 have been presented as yielding a surplus while the government actually borrowed $88 million to cover all financial transactions. 

That was the second straight year of provincial deficits, despite public claims of surpluses. Even Bond Papers was fooled (note the reference to record surpluses), until a thorough check of the documents revealed the real picture.

The chart shows total borrowing requirements from provincial government budgets between 2004 and 2008.

At the same time public sector spending has grown at a rate well beyond the annual rate of inflation.


Humber Valley Resorts - new business plan

Flip to Crazy about Newfoundland and you'll find some interesting information on Humber Valley Resorts, the high-end real estate development started by former Indy publisher Brian Dobbin.

A major reorganization and refinancing effort has been underway since late last year. This is the first hint of the new initiatives aimed at stemming losses reported in the last two fiscal years and becoming profitable.

The post comes - apparently - from an e-mail sent to owners of existing chalets by the new Newfound NV chief executive officer Jayne McGivern following her first visit to the property.
Key initial points
* Newfound wants to retain the operation of the resort within the company
* The primary focus will be to build high-end chalets
* Tennis courts will be added [Update: Dan from Crazy advises by e-mail he made an error on the swimming pool mentioned in the original. He's adjusted his own post accordingly]
* Focus on completion of the road system, cycle paths and verge landscaping
* Reduce the property sales activity - to create a more controlled build plan
There are some other interesting developments, though, including this:
As a postscript - Jayne McGiven [sic] also met Tom Marshall the provisional [sic] finance minister and local MHA representative [sic], and apparently made it clear that the company would not continue to fund the only tourism flights from Europe, and reinforced that if tourism is to succeed the provisional government [sic] needs to take a much more active role. I also hear that her suggested solution is the resumption of the London to St Johns route. (Not that great for Western Newfoundland in my opinion). [Emphasis added]
There were hints of this publicly already. The Telegram reported in early June on Newfound NV's annual report for 2007.

Since late 2007, the company has reorganized, reduced losses and introduced a new management team to further develop properties in Newfoundland and the Caribbean, estimated in the company annual report to have a value of US$227 million.

The annual report describes the efforts made at turning around the company's fortunes:
As mentioned in my statement last year, we have been addressing the construction issues and although some still remain we did achieve our aim of accelerating the construction program during 2007 and we are making healthy margins on new build.

During the year, we carried out significant construction work on over 60 chalets resulting in an increase in revenue in local currency from construction and furnishings of 66% to US$ 21.3 million. We have nearly completed the construction backlog inherited at the time of the Newfound acquisition in 2006 and, subject to suitable funding being in place, it is hoped that all of the remaining outstanding contracts will be started during 2008.

In 2007, the first full year of operation of the 18 hole golf course, we won four prestigious awards including Golf Magazine (golf.com) Best New International Course 2007 and ScoreGolf Magazine's Best Canadian New Golf Course 2007. The credit for this must go to our Golf manager and his team.

We have recently signed an agreement with Monarch Airlines to run a weekly Boeing 757 from Gatwick to Deer Lake to cover both the summer and winter seasons, thus supporting the expected increase in vacation traffic. Although the charter at present makes a financial loss until such time as vacation numbers increase, it is an important part of both the operations at Humber Valley Resort and its future development.
Notice that there is no reference in the annual report to finding financial subsidies for the charter flights. In fact, the last statement suggests the current losses will be rectified once vacation numbers increase.

The idea of government paying for or subsidizing flights was first hinted at publicly by Brian Dobbin in his farewell column in the last issue of the Indy.
Humber Valley Resort showed a lot of people how good our tourism product can be to international markets, but it is now controlled by a mostly non-Newfoundland group of shareholders who see it only as an asset amongst others. While a private company we invested over $15 million just in marketing our tourism product internationally and providing air service from Europe. I know of no other international developer in the world who paid for weekly overseas flights for four years. Although I remain a shareholder in the company, I don’t expect our board will accept that kind of capital expenditure in the future on something they rightfully see as the province’s job. [Emphasis added]
Commercial air service, including international service, is available to Newfoundland and Labrador from London via several carriers. Air Canada discontinued year-round service between St. John's (YYT) and Gatwick in 2006 due to reportedly low traffic volume. It announced at the time it planned to introduce summer-only service in 2007.

Following the Air Canada announcement, Newfound's charter carrier at the time - Astraeus - began competing with Air Canada on the summer service run in 2007.

Both carriers subsequently withdrew from the St. John's to Gatwick run, although the provincial government only attacked Air Canada. The provincial transportation minister John Hickey offered a convoluted - and often incorrect - version of events.

The idea of the province having some financial involvement in the flights is a new twist though. In comments made to CBC in December, Newfound Group president Jeremy White referred to a request for the provincial government to lobby Air Canada to restore the direct Gatwick-St. John's flight. He also said government had offered to help defray some of the marketing costs for Humber Valley.

No representative from Newfound NV is listed in the provincial lobbyist register, as of 25 July 2008.

Humber Valley general manager Paul Shelley is a former provincial tourism minister. [Update: Dan from Crazy reports by e-mail that Paul Shelley is "long gone" from Humber Valley. He's now in St. John's but still with Newfound NV.]

Brian Dobbin, still the major shareholder in Newfound NV according to the 2007 annual report, sits on the provincially-appointed Ireland business partnership board.

Between 2006 and 2008, the provincial government was the "anchor advertiser" at the Independent, Dobbin's weekly newspaper, according to comments by editor Ryan Cleary.

In summer 2007, the Indy featured a front page story on Astraeus and its weekly service. The piece attracted considerable criticism:
This week, Cleary himself has shown the folly behind this thinking; has demonstrated that independent ownership does not guarantee editorial independence. The main story on page one of this week’s Independent (July 20) is what journalists indelicately call a “suck piece”. It takes up more than a third of page one, then turns to a massive two page spread inside. And nowhere in the article does Cleary disclose to whom he is sucking up.
In other words, there is a blatant hidden agenda.
Cleary and photographer Paul Daly took a round trip to London, thanks to free tickets from Astraeus Airlines. In return, Cleary lectures us that the flight was less than one-third full, and that the airline does not have a “bottomless pit of money.” The headlines exhorts us to “Use it or lose it.”
Actually, Cleary didn’t need to accept the free tickets to write this piece. He could have secured the essential information from a face-to-face or phone interview. But no matter – I don’t begrudge a reporter a freebie here and there, as long as there is full disclosure.
Nowhere in the body of the article does Cleary bring himself to say the tickets were free. You have to read the photo caption to discover that “the airline provided the paper with two round trip tickets.”

Update: 'ullo, 'ullo. What's all this then? An eagle-eyed reader has noted that the provincial government's tourism statistics report for 2007 claims there's been an increase in commercial airline travel by the infamous "non-resident" visitor to the province and that air capacity has gone up likewise.
The number of non-resident air visitors reached an estimated 81,100 to
the end of April 2008, an increase of 5.0% over the same period last


Air capacity has increased significantly to Newfoundland and Labrador
for the summer of 2008 compared to the summer of 2007 with the
exception of international/overseas outbound direct. Not including the
Newfoundland to London, UK flights, there has been an overall increase
in air access of 6.9% flights (23 additional flights per week) and
14.3% or 3,353 seats per week

That "non-resident" visitor thing is such a joke. It's like you sleeping in another part of the house when the in-laws come to visit and then claiming that in addition to the endless string of visiors from out-of-province, your living room had a few "non-resident visitors.

Tourists are tourists. Visitors are visitors. The provincial government need to find another term for what they describe, and what is a legitimately business activity. But, they need to separate it from the real tourism statistics more clearly than they do. That way, the public can see - transparently - what kind of impact the tourism advertising budget is having on the market.


Hat tip to Gary Kelly for the link to the Crazy post. Humber Valley has potential. It will be interesting to see how it grows, hopefully without public subsidies.

24 July 2008

Sound advice, thus far ignored

Non-renewable resource revenue should be invested, at least in part, according to several economists and economic experts.

"You don't want extraction commodities to be the sole provider of prosperity," says Brett Gartner, an economist with the Canada West Foundation. "The risk is that when things are going well, the whole push to innovate and to diversify the economy gets forgotten, crowded out by all the money being made off resources."

The provincial government has thus far expressly refused to consider even a small investment fund of the type common in other places where non-renewable resources are a major or the major source of economic activity. 

In Norway and Alberta, a portion of government resource revenues is invested, thereby generating additional revenue for the future.



Create wealth fund: OECD

Investing non-renewable revenues

Exports up. Dollar, oil, down: EDC forecast

Export Development Canada forecast Thursday at Canadian exports will rise by 4.2% based on high energy prices.

EDC is also predicting the Canadian dollar will drop to between US$0.94 and US$0.97 cents in early 2009.

“While EDC recognizes that global supply and demand for crude is tight, we sees signs that a large price correction is on the horizon”, Mr. Hall continued.  “On the demand front, growth expectations are likely to moderate as the global slowdown spreads and oil price subsidies in emerging markets are scaled back.  On the supply front, the Energy Information Administration is already forecasting a doubling of OPEC surplus capacity, to 4 million barrels per day in 2009, and non-OPEC supply gains of 1 million barrels per day.”

The forecasted correction:  crude below US$100 per barrel before the end of 2008 and averaging US$84 per barrel in 2009.


End the gas price fraud

In the past week, crude oil prices have dropped roughly 15%, from US$147 per barrel to somewhere around US$125.

In St. John's today, gasoline prices dropped 6.5%.  That's after an increase last week.

Promoters of the scheme  - none of them economists evidently - will claim it has benefits.  It's hard to see how, considering that asa  result of government interfering in the marketplace, local consumers are being screwed.  "Regulation" is a sham the actually prevents the marketplace from working properly to deliver benefits to consumers. 

It's long overdue for government to end the fraud of "regulation".

Pay George Murphy to keep track of prices as useful information for consumers, if need be, but scrap the charade foisted on the province by people like Doc O'Keefe.


23 July 2008

So force feeding seals would be okay?

In response to a proposed European ban on seal products owing to the inhumane killing methods, Canadian sealers are considering penning the animals in cages and force feeding them boiled corn meal laced with fat, a practice to which EU legislators can turn a blind eye.

Relax.  They aren't. 

But they should given the Europeans' collective ability to wag their fingers at others while doing as they wish themselves.

Meanwhile, the French are leading a fight against fishing restrictions affecting EU countries.  Surprisingly, they'll be backed by the Spanish and Portugese.


The price of freedom: Vimy + porn = one euro

A 30 something French couple was fined $500 euros after being found guilty of exhibitionism in France. 

They were also given a four month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay one euro in compensation to the Canadian government.

The couple video recorded themselves having sex at the Vimy memorial to Canadian First World War dead and posted the video to an Internet site.

The memorial has become popular in France as a site for exhibitionism. Three cases were pending in January, 2008.

Samuel Cogez, a reporter with the local newspaper La Voix du Nord, told CBC that the memorial has been known "for years as a meeting place for all kinds of sexual encounters.

So the price of French freedom comes out to be about 15,000 Canadian lives in one war and a buck sixty Canadian 90 years later.

We'll have to keep that in mind the next time.


Authentic: And he does snowploughs, too?

I am my own electoral grandpa, the latest version

nottawa says he isn't making this up.

How could he. The truth is always stranger than fiction.

And who ever heard of voting in an election that hasn't been called, anyway?

Meanwhile, Paul Wells blogged it.

How long before the rest of the national media take notice of this embarrassment?


22 July 2008


No sweat to tell the difference between a public relations professional who knows how to use the tools to do the job compared with well, the opposite.

On the opposite side, we have this ham-fisted piece of nonsense from the company doing advertising for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Incidentally, the ham-fist is not the billboard on the Gardiner.

Then compare it to Joseph Thornley's personal pictures from a recent holiday in Prince Edward Island. Sure he used it as a means to talk about how easily he uploaded the great photos to his blog and to Flickr, but what he is telling is a simple story of someone who went to the Island, had a great time, took gorgeous pictures and then uploaded them to the Internet complete with geotags.

I uploaded about 100 pictures of the attractions and historic areas of Charlottetown, North Rustico Harbour (the epitome of a Canadian east coast village), the beaches and cliffs of Prince Edward Island Park (look for the picture of the fox that trotted right up to our car while holding a rabbit in its mouth) and, of course, Green Gables (if you’re the parent of a girl, you’ll know what that is.)

I uploaded photos from my flickr page directly to PlanetEye. It was simple. Took about 2 minutes for each batch of 20 to 25 pictures. And then the geotagging worked perfectly. I simply dragged and dropped my photos onto a map in the location where I’d taken them.

The difference between the two approaches is a simple word: authentic. Thornley's experience carries with it all the credibility of someone who has actually been there and done it. There's a story to be told here and the pictures are part of the whole thing.

Now theoretically, he could be working for the PEI tourism department or the software companies he mentions but nothing on the site would suggest he is. Ethically he'd be obliged to disclose such a connection and base don a number of factors, including the fact he doesn't comment on the issue, it's a reasonable assumption that he isn't. Note that one of Thornley's viewers chides him about the software developer.

Even after a suspicious mind has gone to that point and returned, you come back to the integrity and the sincerity of the post.

His last line, which will be seen by thousands in exactly the demographic Islanders are looking to hit, says it all:

If you’re interested in an unspoiled place for a summer vacation, take a look at Charlottetown on PlanetEye or at my Charlottetown photo set on Flickr .
A simple call to action - for you marketers out there - and the links are left in it so you can act, just as Thornley would have wanted.

Compare that to the other thing. There was a conventional media story in the billboard. The thing would have to be pitched and worked to get coverage.

A n Internet search turned up this story online, albeit in a media trade publication. There's another mention, again from a trade publication that focus es on the agency and not the client. The Telly had a picture on July 11. Notice this story appeared the very same day as the release, suggesting it was organized ahead of time.

There might be other stuff but it sure as heck isn't turning up online where the video and the story of the billboard had a chance to go truly viral.

If handled properly.

And that's the catch.

This was a potentially hot new media story, completely with daily blog posts about the development, complete with amateur video done by the creators as they were doing it. Three weeks worth of material is stuff most blogs would kill for, especially stuff as compelling as that. When you combine the story inherent in the billboard production with the authentic flavour of a local artist hired to complete the work you have a truly delightful tale that tells itself.

And seriously, except in a world where agency self-stroking is the goal, the trade pubs that showed up in the search are useless to accomplishing the client goal of boosting the number of people who don't usually come this way headed to the farthest eastern airports in the country.

It's not like the record on this over the past couple of years has been anything to write home about, although plenty has been written and spoken at home about it.

Throwing more cash into tourism advertising isn't necessarily the way to go in a highly competitive market at a time when it's tough to get people to travel.

Being genuinely creative in your approach - being authentic - sure can make a difference. As the great advertising persuader put it, authenticity helps break through the wall of cynicism about advertising generally.

It's easy to talk about authenticity, but sometimes it's pretty obvious that some people don't get what the word means.


That economics thing

Via John Gushue, a simple test of financial literacy from the freakonomics blog.


Crude futures go lower

Light, sweet for August delivery hit $127.24 today, down almost $4.00, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to ctv.ca.

That's down $20 from the record high set last week.

Refined gasoline for August delivery hit US$3.124 per gallon.

bloomberg.com offers more detail.


Adios Indy

The sides were too far apart, according to Geoff Meeker.

No new investor means the paper folds.

It will be interesting to see if anyone can find out what "too far apart" actually meant.


A provincial government strategic planning session...

Captured in graphic form.


This day in history

On this day 60 years ago, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians voted on the future of their country.

In a referendum held on June 3, 1948, they had rejected any continuation of commission government but, as there had been no clear majority for any of the three options, a run-off was set for July 22.

The winner was Confederation with Canada. The option carried a majority of votes - 52% to 48% - and a wide majority of the districts.

While there are those anti-Confederates who have tried consistently since 1946 to attack it, the national convention and the two referenda are something of which Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should be proud.

This was a truly democractic exercise in self-determination in which the fate of the country was placed, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of the many. The issues were debated and widely discussed. The choices were clear and there were few restrictions on the campaigns. As it turned out, the first referendum showed an over-whelming preference for self-government.

The second referendum decided the form. In the event, voters settled for self-government through Confederation. It has been self-government, that is, government in which the people are responsible for controlling their own affairs, ever since. There are some who find that truth a tad inconvenient, but it remains a fact.

Responsible government returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949 by popular vote. You don't need to argue about what happened after 1949 to celebrate what happened beforehand, culminating in the 1948 referenda.

Too bad Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don't know more about the events.

Even worse that Canadians elsewhere in the country know even less.


21 July 2008

We got cows?

Ronald Reagan used to blame them for global warming.


Moos and methane?


Okay, well, the point is made.

Not A perfect storm

Not even like the scene in Twister where one of the characters ends a cell phone call with the line: "I gotta go.  We got cows."

More like cow farts.

The consumer price index for June is expected to be up one half of one percent  to 2.9% with the core inflation rate being up about 0.1 per cent to sit at 1.6%.  That's well within expected targets by the Bank of Canada and certainly no cause for panic.

There is a need for vigilance and for prudent action, when necessary.  There are other countries where inflation is far worse

Mexico just boosted its bank rate to deal with its own inflation situation (5.25% for June year over year).  There's pressure for action in Britain (3.8% inflation) and in Venezuela, where inflation is running at around 31%, Hugo Chavez has decided it's time to stir up border troubles and spend billions on new submarines, tanks, aircraft and attack helicopters from Russia (15% inflation). 

To help understand the whole inflation issue, you need to have a grip on simple numbers and the words.

But a perfect storm?

Only if you start to believe what you see in McCain campaign ads.


High gas prices Obama's fault

Well, at least that's what John McCain is saying.

It's going to be a long, hot - and very stupid - presidential campaign south of the border if this is any indication.


Number 10 heads for number one

Via Neville Hobson, comes a link to Simon Dickson's post on the new look coming soon to the website of the Prime Minister's office in the United Kingdom.

newno10number10.gov.uk will go from look like many other sites out there to looking like this, right.  There are slightly better quality photos available from the Downing Street Flickr space.

Yes, the Prime Minister's Office uses Flickr.  They use Twitter and the whole gamut of social media.

As you can see from Simon's description the site looks like a blog because they are using WordPress as the platform.  There's a rationale Simon offers, but frankly, anyone using the site will find that the blog approach to layout simply works more efficiently than most other designs when it comes to making the information readily accessible.

The current Number 10 site is good but it has a tendency to be an assault on the eyeballs.  The new version goes for images - like the official stills at Flickr - and in Number 10 TV which is the new centrepiece.  Simon notes that the new video component will not be youtube, although, here again Number 10 has been using the groundbreaking video site for a little over a year. 

On the right of the new layout are two columns of information, mostly conveyed in images, which take you off to other places if you are so inclined.

Compare this, for argument's sake, with any provincial government website.  That's the main government site and from there you can get to all sorts of places. The thing is depressingly out of date in both layout and content and there seems to be no move afoot to change things.  Aside:  it would be nice to be proven wrong on these things, you know. 

Other provincial government sites across the country are not significantly better, although as time passes, the gov.nl site is looking increasingly tired.  Try to find information on the community recreation develop program for example. 

After a considerable trek through the maze of clicks,  you wind up at a page with a single paragraph on it:

Designed to offset the cost of providing recreation and sport/active living programs and leisure services with the Community Recreation Committees in communities of less than 6000 people can apply for financial support. Application forms are available through regional offices.

There's no indication of how long the program's been around, who has gotten it in the past or any of the other sorts of information you might expect to find here either to help demonstrate accountability or to give a clue as to what sorts of projects get the cash.

But here's a poser for you:  which regional office are they talking about?  You see having a pdf here would be marvelously simple.  Better still they could have a form available to submit online.  But they want me to go to a regional office.


The recreation division of the department of which recreation is a tiny bit doesn't have regional offices. Well, at least that's how it appears.  Maybe they meant the tourism regional offices.  Doesn't make much sense but maybe that's what they meant.

Try to find clear information on the website as to where those offices are.

Try the Sport Newfoundland and Labrador link on the department services and programs directory.  A logical choice but the link is dead.  It should be sportnl.ca, not sportnf.ca but nobody bothered to change the link.  (Another poser for you:  How long ago did the province's name change?) You'll find a form there for capital grants but there's no way of knowing  - from the website - if this is the same as the development grant where you started your search.

See the point?

The issue here is not one  of look.  It's really about providing information to people in a form and in a way which is most convenient for them.  Having election statistical reports available for view in the Legislative Library is nice but it the model of accountability left from an age when a quill pen was the height of modern technology. 

Accountability is not accomplished by having agencies issue plans which state that the officials responsible for sweeping the floors have established as their strategic goal to sweep floors and that they plan to do it by acquiring brooms and then applying them daily according to the standard broom employment manual recently issued for the amalgamated office of the chief sweeping officer. 

Transparency doesn't come from issuing a report in which the minister responsible for the CSO indicates his extreme pleasure at issuing a report on the strategic sweeping operations, which, incidentally, recounts in entirely  uninformative detail the fact that brooms were employed sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another in order to achieve the miracle of clean floors which have been brought to government buildings through the existence of the OCSO.

Openness is an attitude.

The attitude needs a behaviour to make it work.

The behaviour is simply providing information.

To see how dramatic and functional the changes can be, consider the rapid transformation of the  offshore board website.  To most people this site is not at the top of their bookmarks. But,  for the people interested in the offshore, they can now access relevant information in a much easier way than before.  They can do it when it suits their schedule.

The revamp of Number 10's website is a behaviour that tells you the attitude is there to be open and push information into the public domain.  We can argue another time whether what they release is useful or relevant.

It's one more people and more offices should emulate.


Giant squid!

From Australia, dissecting one of the rarest of rare creatures.

WHAT has three hearts, blue blood, and a doughnut-shaped brain?

The answer is not the entire federal Conservative caucus although you are close.

Update: A wit working early this morning guessed a gaggle of Liberal leadership candidates. Again, very close, but the article wasn't assuming the doughnut was a jam filled centre.


20 July 2008

Change and Challenge: Chapter Six - Enhancing our resource industries

c ccoverThe traditional primary resource industries do not offer significant potential for large-scale employment and growth at this time. Even to maintain our current position in export markets we must improve our competitiveness through increased training and the application of new technologies. Nevertheless, new economic benefits will grow from our present resource industries as we expand processing within the Province, thereby adding value to our products.


The fishing industry is a major contributor to the Newfoundland and Labrador economy. The industry accounted for 19% of the GDP in the goods-producing sector and 5.5% of total GDP in 1990. Total landings of 540,000 tonnes (all species) in 1990 provided products valued at approximately $650 million, though in 1991 landings dropped to 380,000 tonnes worth $570 million. The fishery provides about 10% of total provincial employment measured in person years.

Today, the Newfoundland fishery is experiencing a crisis arising from the collapse of the resource base which will have the effect of accelerating the process of structural adjustment. This is particularly true for groundfish operations in both the inshore and offshore sectors.

Policies and programs must be developed which will help guide the fishery through its current crisis and toward a more viable future. Key concerns are resource conservation and rebuilding, and federal/provincial policy co-ordination. A further challenge to government is to promote the development of an economically viable and competitive fishery while at the same time providing training and education, and encouraging the development of alternative economic opportunities for the people in the numerous communities which in the past have depended solely on the fishery.

Resource conservation and rebuilding of vitally important groundfish stocks will only be possible through effective control of harvesting by foreign vessels outside the 200-mile Canadian fisheries management zone. In 1991, for example, foreign fishing fleets took more than six times their allowable quotas, and overfished six critical groundfish stocks by about 90,000 tonnes. Such uncontrolled harvesting effort is directly contributing to a major decline in Canadian quotas and is largely responsible for both temporary and permanent closures of Newfoundland groundfish operations.

Canada/Newfoundland policy co-ordination, as envisaged by Newfoundland's joint management proposal, is critical to a well-planned fisheries revitalization and development strategy. Such an approach would provide for the co-ordination of fisheries responsibilities of both governments, facilitate provincial economic policy formation and implementation, create a fair and transparent fisheries management system, and prevent erosion of access to fisheries resources adjacent to the Province.

Strategy Statement. The Province will initiate a fisheries action program which will strengthen the fishery and the economy generally. A viable fishery is one which is stable and competitive in the absence of government subsidies, where a reduced fisheries workforce can earn an adequate income without excessive dependence on income support, and where the workforce can be professionalised to obtain high productivity levels.

This action program involves two broad elements: first, the revitalization of the fishery itself, and second, diversification within and outside the fishery. Fishery revitalization will include measures to rebuild and protect the resource base, to restore and preserve the environment as it relates to fishery resources, and to increase economic efficiency through improved operational flexibility, capacity control, technological innovation and better quality control. Education and training of industry participants will be an integral part of the entire fishery revitalization program. Diversification will focus on new opportunities in secondary processing, aquaculture, and the harvesting and processing of underutilized fishery resources.

Actions. The Province will

96. Aggressively pursue the implementation of a joint fisheries management board (modeled on the Canada/Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board) whereby a comprehensive development plan can be put into effect.

97. Increase efforts to develop a long-term strategy to deal with foreign overfishing through an international public awareness program.

98. Cost share, in conjunction with the Federal Government, a major research initiative on the life cycle and behaviour of the commercial fish stocks off our coasts in order to avoid resource crises such as the present one, and to provide the information needed to develop long-term policy and program decisions.

99. In cooperation with the Federal Government, implement a salmon river enhancement program to rebuild and protect the salmon stock and thus stimulate a major expansion of this economically important recreational fishery.

100. Accelerate education programs for people now engaged in the fishery. This will include two components: a community-based program aimed at people leaving the industry, which will include literacy training and basic education; and management and technical training for people staying in the fishery. For the latter, such training will be a prerequisite to receiving Government funding
under various development programs.

101. Assist the industry to achieve higher levels of technological innovation and improved management in both the harvesting and processing sectors.

102. Provide assistance to undertake more diversification of the fish processing industry, emphasising value-added processing and the utilization of by-products, and assist with cooperative marketing arrangements to enhance the success of smaller-scale value-added operations. Specific initiatives will include international promotion of joint venture opportunities, assistance for locally based manufacturing to produce items such as specialty containers to be used in
secondary processing, and consideration of an incubator facility to assist small, fledgling companies.

103. Establish a Seafood Promotion Council, consisting of private-sector and government representatives, to undertake a generic promotion campaign.

104. Escalate research, development and marketing efforts in support of a viable sealing industry. Emphasis will be placed on using the entire animal.

105. Increase efforts to develop and expand the aquaculture industry by

  • initiating a mussel production incentive to boost production by a
    million pounds a year by 1994;
  • accelerating the development of scallop hatchery technology with
    the objective of constructing such a hatchery;
  • seeking additional research and development funding to investigate and develop the potential of species such as arctic char, cod, halibut and ocean pout;
  • establishing a Ministerial Advisory Council on Aquaculture, composed of representatives of the industry, academic and research organizations, and government;
  • establishing environmental guidelines to expand the use of freshwater lakes for aquaculture;
  • streamlining the format for applications for new licenses within
    the aquaculture industry; and
  • taking action to stem the discharge of raw sewage into waters
    which have potential for aquaculture development.

106. Amend regulations in order to improve the quality of fish at dockside, and provide for the mandatory gutting of cod, containerized storage of crab on vessels and the banning of prongs for handling fish.

107. Streamline and change the policies and programs of the Fisheries Loan Board to

  • better co-ordinate efforts with federal activities;
  • entertain proposals from non-traditional areas, such as
    aquaculture; and
  • provide a special incentive program for vessel acquisition in

108. Where possible, lease marine services centres to private-sector companies or community-based organizations to improve cost effectiveness and generate local commercial activity.

109. Undertake a wide variety of exploratory fishing to identify prospects for diversification. Cod and turbot adjacent to northern Labrador will be investigated, and increased landings will be used to supply fish to new, but resource-short plants in Makkovik and Nain. Where possible, local residents will crew the vessels used in these projects so that they can benefit from training and technology transfer.


For centuries our forests have been a natural renewable resource from which people of this Province have derived income and other benefits. The rural economy is interwoven with the use of the forests for heating, home building, boat building, wharf construction, hunting, trapping and recreation. Three pulp and paper mills and hundreds of small sawmills have also provided a steady source of income for many people over the years. Currently, the forest industry involves both primary activities, including harvesting and forest management, and secondary processing of wood into such products as newsprint and lumber.

The industry accounted for about 10% of output in the goods-producing sector and 2.9% of total GDP in 1990. It also accounts for about one-third of the manufacturing in the Province. The forest industry provides 3,600 person years of employment annually, though much of this is seasonal or part-year. In recent years, however, there has been a trend toward fewer jobs but less seasonality. Employment in harvesting is declining because of mechanization, but is expanding in silviculture. In the newsprint mills, employment is expected to fall somewhat further until the industry has become more efficient, productive and competitive. The result, however, will be a stronger, more viable industry which will provide more stable incomes for the future.

The Province depends almost entirely on export markets for its newsprint, but all lumber production is consumed locally. Nevertheless, investments are now being made to produce lumber for European markets.

Over the past five years, two of the pulp and paper mills in the Province have been modernized to improve quality, increase efficiency and reduce pollution. Approximately $227 million has been invested in the Corner Brook mill and approximately $47 million in the Grand Falls mill. (The third mill, at Stephenville, was already a modern facility.) However, considerably more investment is needed at both locations to continue to improve upon the quality of product, mill efficiency and environmental compliance.

While the pulp and paper industry accounts for approximately 75% of the economic activity in forestry, sawmilling, commercial fuelwood, resource management and protection, and converted wood-products industries also occupy essential roles, particularly in maintaining the economic well-being of many rural communities. Many other elements, such as wildlife, watersheds, recreation and tourism, also depend on our forest lands.

The Department of Forestry and Agriculture is now in the second five years of its 20-year planning process. This Forestry Development Plan provides an assessment of the current state of the forests and sets forth a strategic action program. The following strategy and actions draw on this strategic action program.

Strategy Statement. The Province will manage its forests through integrated forest management and according to the principles of sustainable development, incorporating multiple use values such as protecting recreational areas, watersheds and wildlife habitat. Public consultation and participation will be sought for decisions on management of the forest ecosystem.

Actions. The Province will

110. Give priority to providing additional funding to implement an expanded long-term silviculture program, including programs financed through cost-shared agreements with the Federal Government and the forest industry.

111. Through the new Forestry Act, designate a suitable forest land base for timber production to maintain a viable forest industry in conjunction with other uses and benefits.

112. Enhance our capability to practise integrated forest management by forming stakeholder partnerships and committees, public consultation, staff training and collaboration with education and training institutions, such as the Centre for Forestry and Environmental Studies at the Fisher Campus of the Western Community College and the forestry program at Memorial University.

113. Maximize the use of the forest resource, and maintain and improve the competitive position of the forest products industry. More specifically the Province will ensure that

  • sawmills with integrated operations producing lumber, chips and/or pulpwood receive preference in wood allocation;
  • further arrangements will be made, wherever possible, with the pulp and paper industry to increase the supply of sawlogs to the sawmilling industry;
  • harvesting of wood for domestic use will be regulated to ensure that it does not interfere with the commercial use of the resource;
  • the sawmilling industry will be supported by providing training, technology transfer and continued financial support; and
  • the forest products industry will be supported to improve its efficiency and to identify opportunities for diversification into higher value products.

114. Provide adequate financial resources to protect the forest resource from damage by insects, fires and diseases.

115. Provide additional funding for forest access roads to achieve maximum use of all available forest resources.

116. Expand the private woodlot management program by involving individuals, groups and communities which have the money and skills to invest in managing the resource.

117. Work with the private sector to establish a forest-based industry in Labrador. This will require conducting forest inventories and investing in roads and other infrastructure in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright areas.


The mining industry continues to be one of the leading resource-based industries in the provincial economy and is expected to continue in that role into the foreseeable future. The industry accounted for approximately 11% of our GDP in the goods-producing sector and 3.2% of total GDP in 1990.

A diverse range of mineral commodities is produced by the mining industry, though iron ore production dominates, accounting for more than 90% of the total value of mineral shipments during 1991. The Province has two iron ore producers, both of which are located in Labrador. These two producers employed more than 2,400 people in the Province in 1991.

The output of the Newfoundland and Labrador mining industry is shipped primarily to markets located outside Canada. The industry continues to suffer from the current global economic recession, however, and this has resulted in decreased demand and lower prices for mineral commodities and metals. This general trend, with some exceptions, is expected to continue throughout 1992.

New opportunities exist in gold and base-metal mining, in developing dimension stone and slate industries, for limestone, dolomite and marble production and in peat development. Further processing of mineral resources in the Province is also dearly desirable. As the potential for the development of industrial minerals increases - dimension stone in particular - opportunities for further processing will emerge and will be diligently pursued.

Generally, the high cost of infrastructure for new mining projects, the relatively high total tax burden on the mining industry, and the inadequate levels of funding for mineral exploration are major constraints to mineral development. Government, however, is assisting mineral exploration through a continuing program of geoscientific surveys. The data collected to date have been a major factor in attracting mineral exploration investment to the province and have led to the discovery of several deposits.

Strategy Statement. The Province will establish a better investment climate to attract exploration and development. It will also continue geoscientific surveys to stimulate mineral exploration through the identification of prospective areas, and to provide the geological data required for economic development generally.

Actions. The Province will

118. Establish a mining infrastructure fund to assist industry with the funding of hydro lines, access roads, shipping facilities and other infrastructure for new mining developments.

119. Establish an exploration assistance program to provide for cost sharing of drilling and other advanced exploration projects by local prospectors and Newfoundland junior exploration companies in order to develop local mining entrepreneurs.

120. Amend The Mineral Act and regulations to facilitate and encourage mineral exploration. In particular, assessment expenditure requirements in Labrador will be reduced and annual rentals on mineral licences will be eliminated.

121. Prepare, in consultation with the mining industry, a new Mining Act
which will establish rights and obligations concerning such issues as environmental liabilities for abandoned mines, mine closure plans, rehabilitation of mine sites and ultimate long-term liability of mine operators.

122. Expand the Geological Survey Program of the Department of Mines and Energy to promote development of specific mineral commodities, areas and deposits. Particular attention will be given to the emerging dimension stone industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

123. Encourage and promote, where possible, further value-added processing of mineral resources and mineral-related manufacturing opportunities in the Province within existing operations, and in future mineral developments as they occur.

124. Expand cooperative initiatives with the Centre for Earth Resources Research (CERR) at Memorial University to make earth sciences expertise more available to the mineral industry.

125. Promote our mineral resources that are near to coastal shipping and therefore have an advantage when competing in international markets.


Agriculture in one form or another has had a long history in our Province. The raising of livestock can be traced back to the Vikings who lived at L'anse aux Meadows, and root crops were planted to supplement the diets of the first permanent European settlers. From these early beginnings, an industry has grown which contributed approximately $62 million to the economy in 1991 at the farm gate. Even though agriculture production accounts for less than 1% of our total GDP, The Report of the Task Force on Agrifoods estimates that the value of the industry may be as high as $300 million when food processing, transportation and retailing are included.

Livestock and poultry accounted for 80% of farm cash receipts in 1991 ($50 million) and this percentage has been fairly consistent over the years. The major livestock and poultry commodities, measured by farm cash receipts, are dairy products, broilers, eggs and hogs. Other commodities include beef, sheep and fur.

Vegetables, potatoes, fruit and floriculture/greenhouse products represent about 16% of farm cash receipts ($10 million). Floriculture/ greenhouse production was the largest contributor, followed by strawberries and potatoes. The most important vegetables include turnips, cabbage, carrots and beet, though production of broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce is increasing.

This industry generates approximately 1,600 person-years of employment annually. It is important as a source of employment in some rural areas of the Province and as a food source for all residents. Although much of the food consumed in the Province is imported, local production reduces the Province's dependence on imports and helps to ensure that fresh and healthful products are available in all parts of the Province.

The recommendations of the Task Force on Agrifoods are an integral part of the Department's plans for agricultural development. Its Report identified a number of opportunities for expansion. Some of these include production of poultry (both chicken and turkey), dairy products, sheep, fur (including non-traditional species), fruit and vegetables, and secondary processing in all areas. The Report also stressed the need to protect an adequate land base for viable agriculture.

The future of agriculture production in Newfoundland and Labrador will rest largely on the industry's efficiency and competitiveness. Potential changes in the international trading environment through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade may have implications for supply-managed commodities (dairy products, eggs, poultry) if import protection levels are eroded. Consequently it is prudent for governments and industry to focus on development initiatives which promote efficiency and competitiveness.

Strategy Statement. The Province will implement an action program designed to achieve greater self-sufficiency in locally produced products and to increase the industry's efficiency and competitiveness.

Actions. The Province will

126. Establish a provincial meat inspection program so that livestock can be processed at various local, privately owned plants throughout the Province and marketed through retail stores.

127. Ensure a competitively priced supply of feed to livestock, poultry and fur producers by

  • securing improvements to the Feed Freight Assistance Program (FFA);
  • expanding research and trials using local feed sources, such as seal meat and fish offal;
  • expanding assistance programs to increase local forage production and improve its quality;
  • providing assistance to farms to adopt new technology to improve feed efficiencies; and
  • rationalizing the number, improving the fertility and expanding the economic base of selected regional pastures.

128. Ensure an adequate land base for viable agriculture by

  • purchasing additional agricultural land in the St. John's Urban Region and expanding the program to other areas of the Province; and
  • extending agriculture zoning to areas of the Province besides the St. John's Urban Region and the Wooddale Region.

129. Expand funding of the Provincial School Milk Program.

130. Enhance agrifood management, marketing and promotional capabilities by

  • expanding farm business management training;
  • assisting the formation of organizations to promote cooperative marketing;
  • assisting interested individuals and groups to carry out market and feasibility studies, especially to explore non-traditional markets and opportunities in the area of value-added secondary processing; and
  • continuing to fund promotional efforts, such as the Food and
    Livestock Show and regional fairs.

131. Legislate an equitable and standard municipal tax structure for farms.

132. Increase the supply of capital to the agrifoods industry by raising farm loans ceilings and by instituting a loan guarantee program.

133. Expand production of root crops by assisting farmers with storage facilities, further land development and land improvement.

134. Re-deploy existing human and financial resources to support the above actions.


Chapter Seven - Implementation