28 August 2010

Danny Williams and the National Post: Fact Check

No surprise Danny’s miffed at the National Post. 

Nor is it any surprise that the most thin-skinned person on the planet  - short of someone actually without an epidermis at all - claims that it isn’t about him.

And it’s really absolutely not the least bit of a shock that between the two of them -Danny Williams and the National Post -  readers will wind up being about as in  touch with reality in Newfoundland and Labrador as people who get everything they know about the universe from Glenn Beck.

Rather than go through the errors and nose-pullers in detail let’s just take the biggest whopper for each of them:

For the Old Man, it would be the contention that “Abitibi operated in our province for 100 years”.

Sure 65% of the province’s population may have trouble with numbers, math, logic and reasoning but few likely would have listed the province’s best-known Rhodes scholar among the innumerate.

Those that did can go to the head of the line.

The Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company opened the Grand Falls paper mill in 1909.  Abitibi started operations in 1912 but not in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This is 2010.

Right off the bat, anyone with that information would know that it is absolutely utterly and totally impossible for a company that is 98 years old to have been in operation more than two years before it existed.

I am my own grandpa indeed.

But then you have to consider that Abitibi didn’t arrive in Newfoundland and Labrador until 1969, a fact noted in some of the AbitibiBowater bankruptcy proceedings and a point that has curiously escaped every single reporter in this province for the 18 months or so the Premier has been saying this complete bit of nonsense.

Even a Rhodes scholar ought to know that 100 is not 41.

As a result of his repeated numerical blunder, one must wonder if Danny actually reads anything laid in front of him, whether his high-priced help are really that incompetent, whether he cares about facts at all, or if what we see here is some combination of all three.

Now for the Post stuff:

Well, the name of the province is Newfoundland and Labrador but that’s really the smallest part of the problem with the Post editorial.

The rest of it is a litany of things that never happened, as Williams easily pointed out.  Most of his comments in reply were just the usual self-serving blather but there’s no denying that the  magnitude of the factual errors in the editorial would stun a herd of the hardest-headed mountain goats in British Columbia.

The easiest thing to do is take the biggest error:  “… time and again, Ottawa graciously bails Mr. Williams out from his blundering anyway.”

The idea that Canadians have paid for all Williams’ blunders is just foolish.

Sure he managed to score a couple of billion extra from the feds in 2005 but for the most part, the major blunders of his administration haven’t cost all taxpayers in the country a penny.

Only provincial taxpayers will bear the load – way more than $130 million – from the expropriation fiasco.  They’ll also be taking their proportionate chunk of the NAFTA settlement as well.

Only the taxpayers in Newfoundland and Labrador will be coping with the huge cash deficits Williams’ administration is racking up.  They’ll be the only ones dealing with the fall-out from a record of wild public spending even his own cabinet ministers agree is unsustainable.

His huge gift to Big Oil  - section 5.1 of the Hebron financial agreement - won’t affect Ottawa a tiny bit even if it makes the provincial government nothing more than a vassal of the oil companies on some issues.

In the end, though, the Post is still the Post.

But word is Danny is looking for a post-politics gig.

Maybe Kory should give him a call.

If the guy can handle a piece of chalk, there’s the makings of a new star in the Reform-based Conservative Party news heavens.

- srbp -