27 March 2017

The Andrew Potter Affair #nlpoli #cdnpoli

For those interested in the controversy caused by an opinion piece in Macleans,  here are some useful links.

1.  "How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise"  Sub-head:  "The issues that led to the shutdown of a Montreal highway that left drivers stranded go beyond mere political dysfunction"  Andrew Potter's original piece,  with some alterations and editorial notes that have been added since it first appeared.

2.  "This is not how a liberal society responds to criticism"  -  Andrew Coyne's typically cogent and eloquent criticism of the response to Potter's column article.  From the Montreal Gazette.

3.  "It was shoddy journalism that cost Andrew Potter his job"   - Chantal Hebert's typically cogent and eloquent examination of the response to Potter's column.  From the Toronto Star.

4.  From Joseph Heath, an academic's perspective on what he calls "l'affaire Potter".

5.  Many people have incorrectly stated that the vitriolic reaction to Potter's opinion piece is unique to Quebec.  Those people either are not aware of or have forgotten about the string of attacks perpetrated in Newfoundland and Labrador between 2003 and 2014 against individuals who were accused of pretty much everything folks have said Andrew Potter did or failed to do.

Here are a few stories and relevant SRBP posts:

2005:  "A vast and scenic welfare ghetto"  - Margaret Wente's original column in the Globe and Mail sparked some loud and widespread condemnation.  To find some of the reaction, you have to search the Internet Archive.  Other reaction will cost you a subscription to the NewfNat's newspaper of record, the Toronto Globe and Mail.

2005:  For others,  you need look no farther than Rex Murphy in the Globe whose entire argument is based on the premise that while others presume to be victims,  Newfoundlanders really are.   Rex becomes the Fifth Yorkshireman.

Various:  Quislings and traitors

2013:  "On bigotry and prejudice"

2016:  Margaret Wente, again,  only this time knowing how to provide the stimulus to get he neo-nationalist knees in Newfoundland jerking wildly. SRBP:  "Through others' eyes".

2016:  "Poor Russell's Almanack"

-srbp-


20 March 2017

Queen's Counsel and other things that sound alike #nlpoli

"The Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced this year's appointments to Queen's Counsel by the Lieutenant Governor in Council."

That's the lede from a news release issued in January about appointments for lawyers.  On Friday, there was a little ceremony at Supreme Court in St. John's where the lawyers appointed as counsel to Her Majesty received their new robes.  They are made of silk instead of ordinary material, hence the phrase "take silk"  when one gets a QC appointment.

Anyway,  the sticklers may have already noticed the problem with the government news release.

One is appointed *to* a council, which is a group of individuals, but one is appointed *as* counsel, meaning that one is an advisor.  So yes, one can be counsel to a council, which is what the Attorney General is, for example.  He or she is the government's chief legal advisor and so is the law counsel to the Executive Council.  The correct sentence would have been "announcement of lawyers appointed as Queen's Counsel" or something to that effect.  If there was a simple explanation of qualifications for getting this disctinction - like say, long service, it might have gone there as well.

The error in the government news release the sort of detail that is like nails on chalkboard to folks whose business it is to be accurate about such matters. Feel free to come up with a more modern simile for irritation.

-srbp-

When did it start?  Update:

The always annoying labradore produced a list via email this morning comparing every QC email issued since 1996. That's the year the government website went live.

The provincial government issued seven news releases between 1996 and 2003 announcing QC appointments. They described the appointment of individuals as Queen's Counsel.

Started in 2004,  someone decided to call them appointments *to* Queen's Counsel, which is wrong. 

There have been 11 such releases since 2004.










03 March 2017

A change is as good as a rest #nlpoli

After 12 years and two months, we are going to make some serious changes at Bond Papers.

For one thing, we'll be going from daily posts to weekly ones, most likely on Monday mornings. 

For another thing, there'll be a change of content.  There are some book reviews that have been in the works for a while. Those will appear over the next few weeks.  General political science and history posts will appear as will notifications of events. I may need to make some observations about public relations now and then. SRBP has always been a very personal thing for me and, as such, the truly personal stuff will stay.

Fans of the policy analysis and commentary will find it at aims.ca.  Long-time readers will know that the original idea for SRBP was for longer, detailed policy analyses. It turned into a blog, went through a number of changes of style and form, and has still been evolving up to and including these changes. In that respect, this next evolution - of doing policy research and analysis for an independent think-tank - makes perfect sense.

AIMS does some other regular public commentaries through conventional media and I will be producing those for Newfoundland and Labrador. Don't be surprised if you see some other efforts to make more people in Newfoundland and Labrador more aware of AIMS and the work we do.

Many of you have sent good wishes via Twitter, Facebook, and linkedin.  It has been truly gratifying to know that all this work has had an impact.  There are thousands of people I have gotten to know online. You have all made an impact on me, in return, in more ways than you realise.  Thank you for that and thank you for the good wishes.

Many of you have told me you want SRBP to continue. The simple truth is that it cannot keep going as it is, under the circumstances. Hopefully you will continue to follow the policy work I will be doing through AIMS and will check in at SRBP for your fix of Newfoundland and Labrador history that will turn up as time allows. If you feel so moved, you can always reach me by email at ed_hollett at hotmail dot com, the address I have been using since hotmail started.  I will try and answer as much as I can. Of course, if you see me anywhere around town,  you can always come up, introduce yourself, and say hello.  Contrary to rumours, I don't bite. You know what I look like.

After all that, look at it this way:  it is not like I am disappearing.  And, if other plans work out, you will have a book or two to read in the near future that have come out of SRBP.

Take care and keep an eye out for me.

Ed

 

01 March 2017

Barry Inquiry Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Commission of Inquiry respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy will take place on March 9.

It is a one-day symposium to discuss issues about public disclosure of information during a major investigation, use of force by poe, and investigation of serious incidents involving police officers.

There will also be a session on the use of social media and the potential for an infringement of civil liberties by police and government. Your humble e-scribbler will be participating in that portion of the discussion as part of the Ad Hoc Coalition of Civil Liberties.

-srbp-

28 February 2017

AIMS hires dedicated policy analyst for Newfoundland and Labrador #nlpoli

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ed Hollett as a senior research fellow with a focus on policy analysis, public affairs commentary and general outreach for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“At this pivotal time, we believe that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should set their course for the future informed by entrepreneurial values like creativity, frankness and adaptability,” said Leo Power, AIMS vice-chair for Newfoundland and Labrador. “We want to present fresh ideas and stimulate discussion and debate in a way that embodies the values that we believe in.”

Power said that the new position serves two purposes. It establishes an AIMS presence on the ground in Newfoundland and Labrador to better serve the needs of the province. At the same time, it gives AIMS the opportunity to bring the unique perspective of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to a wider audience across Atlantic Canada and throughout the country.

Marco Navarro-Génie, AIMS’s President and CEO, said that since its founding in 1994, AIMS has provided a distinct perspective on public policy issues facing Atlantic Canadians. The Institute publishes peer-reviewed policy studies, intended to inform policy makers and citizens. It also supports public discussion by publishing fact-based commentaries, having AIMS fellows appear on television and radio to discuss policy issues and hosting public events to disseminate its research.

"Mr Hollett’s communications experience, his policy expertise, and his love of his home province are tremendous assets for AIMS,” said Dr. Navarro-Génie. “We are very excited about this new initiative and the perspective he will bring. In the weeks and months ahead, you will be hearing and seeing more of what AIMS is about throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”

-srbp-

Escape Hatch #nlpoli

Escape HatchHistorian Gerhard bassler's new book from Flanker  examines efforts by the Government of Newfoundland to develop local industry by recruiting immigrants from Germany, Latvia,  and Austria between 1950 and 1970.

Based in large part on interviews Bassler conducted for other research on Germans in Newfoundland,  this is a personal account of the men and women who came to Newfoundland and who, in many instances, stayed despite their initial impressions of the place and its people.

Bassler documents each of the industries created and, as such, this is a welcome companion to Bassler's biography of the architect of the program - Alfred Valdmanis - as well as Doug Letto's Chocolate bars and rubber boots.

Escape Hatch is available in book stores or online from Flanker.

-srbp-

27 February 2017

Davis' paranoia #nlpoli

Perhaps one of the most disconcerting aspects of former Premier Paul Davis' testimony at the Barry Inquiry last week is the clear evidence that he still lacks a level-headed, rational perspective on the events of April 2015 and afterward.

In response to questions,  Davis said that "very quickly [after the shooting] there were rumours that I had ordered an assassination and that was a concern."   As CBC noted in its story on Davis' testimony,  Constable Joe Smyth earlier had testified he was concerned about the conspiracy theories bandied around on social media.

One can only wonder why such lunatic ideas - obviously, insane notions unsupported by any evidence - would even cause Davis a second thought.  Most people would dismiss them immediately for the idiotic drivel they are.

But, by his own account, Davis gave them credibility and continues to do so.

One can only wonder why.

25 February 2017

A week and a verdict later #nlpoli


Last Saturday, this headline (left) in the Telegram prompted a storm of outrage from people who thought that it placed the blame for a sexual assault on the victim.

The words were essentially what the victim had said during her testimony in the trial.  They were also a more blunt version of what both the Telegram story and CBC's story said.

If the victim had been too drunk to recall details of what had happened the night of the assault, then logically she was too drunk to consent.

The jury of five women and six men delivered their verdict Friday.  They found accused attacker - a police officer, on duty at the time of the assault - to be not guilty of the assault.  A group gathered on the steps of the courthouse on Friday night protesting the verdict.

One of them carried a sign that was astonishing in light of the screams of outrage the week before at the Telegram headline.  The sign read "Too drunk to consent."

The headline and the subsequent controversy didn't have an impact on the verdict but the headline and the sign make an interesting contradiction.


-srbp-

24 February 2017

Asserting our Knowledge #nlpoli

Opinions are great things.

Everyone is entitled to them.

Not every opinion, though, is equal in value or validity or, as former CBC boss Tony Manera showed recently, in veracity.  Manera wrote an opinion column for the Ottawa Citizen that appeared on Thursday. He offered three changes to the constitution that he said would fittingly boost Canada's sovereignty in this the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

23 February 2017

More cuts. Some questions. #nlpoli

Flatter, Leaner Management Structure.

Put it all in caps like that and you have a handy acronym that bureaucrats can type over and over again without getting tired.

It's like the Government Renewal Initiative.  Internal government documents quickly started referring to the GRI.  And almost as quickly, the wags among the province's public servants started calling the regular meetings  GRIM in their schedules.

So Flatter, Leaner, Management Structure is FLMS.  Most likely folks would pronounce that with an "I" in there to make it a word:  FLIMS.

Then the wags will add a "Y" on the end.

There's your joke for the morning.

Now let's look at Wednesday's announcements.

22 February 2017

Canadian nationalism: left- or right-wing? #nlpoli

Economist Stephen Gordon argues that "in Canada, the nationalism is as likely to form on the left as on the right." (National Post, 2017).  What's more interesting, though, is that this might not make any difference when it comes to the political or policy consequences.
Nationalism is deeply-rooted on the Canadian left, and it’s not hard to imagine scenarios where the nationalist challenge comes from there. Some elements in the nationalist left — Maude Barlow, for one — find themselves both agreeing with the nationalism of Donald Trump and trying to avoid being associated with him. This stance may be harder to sustain if the flow of immigrants — and especially unskilled immigrants — increased sharply. If suppressed national wages and increased national inequality is enough for you to reject trade, then it’s not clear why you’d accept an immigration policy that has the same effect.
A dozen years ago,  philosopher Joseph Heath argued that nationalism in Canada and the United States formed on opposite ends of the political spectrum (US = right.  Canada =  left).
 "The central barrier to increased political integration between Canada and the United States is that there is almost no policy overlap between nationalist groups in the two countries, and thus fewer projects that can motivate these groups to set aside national partiality in order to participate in a joint undertaking."
-srbp-

21 February 2017

Paddon's report on Martin contract just bizarre #nlpoli

After a lengthy review,  Auditor General Terry Paddon said Monday that the provincial government hounded former Nalcor boss Ed Martin out of his job.  He had no choice but leave and since he never quit and no one fired him,  Martin was entitled to the multi-million separation payments he got

"The events which [sic] occurred in the months leading up to Mr. Martin’s cessation of employment and which culminated in the wording in the Budget speech on April 14, 2016 and subsequent comments to the media by Government officials were tantamount to constructive dismissal."

 What's truly bizarre, though, is the behaviour Paddon considered to be harassment.

20 February 2017

The Tory Race #nlpoli

Ches Crosbie announced last week he is going to take another shot at entering the family business. The son of former Mulroney cabinet minister John Crosbie will spend some time travelling the province, getting to know provincial Conservatives and building a campaign for the party leadership in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ches, whose grandfather was a delegate to the national convention, tried for a federal nomination for the 2015 election.  The federal party rejected him, apparently because of some donations he'd made to the Liberal party federally.

That's really no nevermind as Ches has as good a shot at anyone of taking the party leadership.  If he did so,  Ches also has a shot at succeeding his father and his great grandfather.  They were both named John, both were cabinet ministers in St. John's and elder of the two Johns served briefly as Prime Minister of Newfoundland in 1918.  The younger John wanted the job but never got it.

Ches' launch last week was not accompanied by great hoopla but his media interviews were as polished as one might expect of a professional political family.  Crosbie undoubtedly had some help in getting ready from veteran political consultant John Laschinger.  He's an old family friend, having run John's campaign for the Tory leadership in the 1970s and later helped provincial Progressive Conservatives win general election after general election.

CBC confused by repetition of decade-old hospital promise #nlpoli

Maybe the poor folks at CBC were just confused.

Heaven knows it can be confusing with all the announcements of the hospital in Corner Brook since 2007.

"Price tag missing,"  the headline screamed, "as Corner Brook hospital finally gets green light."

The price tag should be missing because... wait for it... the government didn't give the hospital the green light.

Read the very first sentence of the official news release.

17 February 2017

The Mythical Golden Age of Newfoundland News #nlpoli

Ray Guy, on the endless search for truth in local newsrooms (circa 1974):
Sometimes you get the feeling that the newsrooms of the city are as divorced from reality as the earth is distant from the sun. Their almost exclusive stock-in-trade has become the reports of speeches, seminars, election campaigns, council meetings, legislative shenanigans, endless press releases…  All that is planned news, programmed news, bloodless mimeographed news, which touches not at all on the endless swirl of the sometimes-grubby, sometimes-heartening day-to-day life in the streets outside.
-srbp- 

16 February 2017

Alternative Facts: Prairie Dipper edition #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Erin Weir is the New Democrat member of parliament for Regina - Lewvan.

In the House of Commons on Monday,  Weir used alternative facts - i.e. stuff that is utterly false - in a speech on the European free trade implementation bill:
There was the AbitibiBowater case where that company shut down its last pulp and paper mill in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The provincial government reclaimed water rights that it had given to AbitibiBowater to operate the mills, but then the company challenged Canada under NAFTA for the loss of its water rights, which it was no longer even using for the purpose they were intended. Well, the previous Conservative government paid AbitibiBowater $130 million to withdraw that NAFTA chapter 11 claim.
Not true.