31 July 2012

A Big Tell on Muskrat Falls Exports #nlpoli

A meeting of the Eastern Canadian premiers and all the New England Governors and the provincial government here sends Keith Hutchings.


A finalized term sheet? #nlpoli

Nalcor and Emera signed a finalised term sheet to develop Muskrat Falls in November 2010.

The next step was supposed to be negotiation of a final agreement between Nalcor and Emera.

Oddly enough, Canadian Press reported on Monday evening that “[s]ources say a deal to finalize a term sheet to develop the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador has been reached.” 

CBC’s David Cochrane tweeted:

CBC has confirmed CP report that NS and NL will sign Muskrat Falls term sheet tomorrow. Multiple sources. Its [sic] final legal text.

“A deal to finalize a term sheet” and “will sign Muskrat Falls term sheet” when they already finalized the term sheet in 2010?

That’s a very odd way of putting it.  Now this could just be media inaccuracy.  If they had a “final legal text”, as Cochrane’s tweet said, then they’d do what they did in 2010 only even bigger because a final deal is…well… even bigger.  

Instead, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter is in Vermont at a regular meeting of government leaders from eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.  Kathy Dunderdale is MIA.

Instead, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador issued a media advisory on Monday that natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy will hold a news conference on an “energy-related” subject at 9:45 AM Tuesday after a technical briefing for news media. The event will take place at the provincial government media centre.

The Nova Scotia government is reportedly planning a similar briefing in Halifax. There was no word on whether or not the companies that are supposed to be working out the deal would participate in either event.

The government media centre is not the venue for signing a major deal. Compare that to what happened in 2010.  It was a huge show for much less than the “final legal text” and  - incidentally - what they announced in 2010 was the final legal text of the term sheet. 

Just so that you know what a big deal they had a couple of years ago, here’s an official photo of the event:

The local Conservatives don’t screw around when it comes to major announcements.

In August 2008, the provincial government held a major show when they reached a final deal to develop Hebron. It was bigger than the announcement the previous August of a memorandum of understanding to develop Hebron.

And in August 2005, the provincial government announced a major decision on the Lower Churchill. Big show.

Funny how all these really big announcements come in August, isn’t it?

And funny how a supposedly bigger deal is being announced with a small show.


30 July 2012

The Art of Budget Forecasting #nlpoli

The provincial government set its budget this year based on an oil price forecast of US$124 a barrel in 2012.

As we move up on the midway point in the fiscal year (it starts on April 1), oil is well below that.  The result is that the provincial government could wind up with a deficit of nearly three quarters of a billion dollars, according to the Premier.

Some people are amazed by this.

They shouldn’t be.

This fits a pattern.

Those friggers from [insert name of province] #nlpoli

Anyone steeped in the whole Quebec-Newfoundland fight over hydro-electricity exports will look at the whole Alberta-British Columbia fight over oil exports and see the connections.

Sure, they are there.

The most obvious:  one province wants to get somewhere to export its energy product and there’s another province standing in the way.

What else could there be?

Well, lots actually.

27 July 2012

The Magic Number #nlpoli

“Nalcor’s position”, wrote the joint federal-provincial review panel on the Lower Churchill project, “was that up to 800 MW of energy from the Project would be required to meet provincial demand,…”.

And there are Nalcor’s forecasts that support the claim that out of the 3,000 megawatts potentially available from the Lower Churchill project, the province will need 800 megawatts.

There’s something about that number, 800.


Demand Forecasts #nlpoli

Yesterday’s offhand reference to Nalcor’s electricity demand forecasts brought home a couple of points to your humble e-scribbler. 

The biggest one is that a great many people still do not know a lot of the basic information on this project despite the fact the provincial government announced it the better part of two years ago.

Well, never let it be said that this wasn’t a space where information was hard to find.

26 July 2012

NL wheeling power through Quebec #nlpoli #cdnpoli

From April 2009, here’s Kathy Dunderdale – then the province’s natural resources minister – quoted in a news release on an historic agreement that saw Nalcor wheeling electricity from Churchill Falls through Quebec to the United States:

“This is a significant development for us to share our excess green renewable energy with the rest of North America through our transmission access through Quebec and our subsequent arrangement directly with Emera Energy,” said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources. “These markets are seeking clean, reliable energy, which we have in abundance. The recall block availability and this arrangement allows us to build our reputation and experience as a reliable supplier of clean energy now and into the future.”

Anything else you’ve been hearing is simply not true.

In the same news release, Danny Williams said the agreement was “free of the geographic stranglehold of Quebec”.

False information is pretty persistent, though.


There’s no greater yada than a yada yada #nlpoli

The Nunatukavut are a group of aboriginal people living in Labrador.  They used to be known as the Labrador Metis.

In October 2003, Danny Williams told them – in writing – that his Conservative administration “will involve the Labrador Metis Nation, as we will representatives of all residents of Labrador, in the process of negotiating a Lower Churchill Development Agreement.”

Almost a decade later, the provincial Conservatives under Williams’ successor Kathy Dunderdale have decided to take a different view:

“They don’t have established land claims in our province,” she said. “We have land claims with the Innu people and we have an agreement in principle with the Innu.”

Dunderdale said she would consult with the group, but as for any new negotiations: “We’re not getting into those kinds of discussions at this point.”


Managing Electricity Demand #nlpoli

Nalcor’s forecast for electricity demand on the island of Newfoundland doesn’t really show a massive increase over the next couple of decades.

Earlier this year, Memorial University economist Jim Feehan suggested that one alternative to Muskrat Falls was demand management.  That is, he suggested that Nalcor try some ways of getting people to use less electricity.

Wade Locke, Feehan’s colleague, and staunch supporter of Muskrat Falls, laced into Feehan. He dismissed Feehan at the time and, by extension, the role conservation might have as part of a comprehensive energy policy in the province.  Locke did change his mind.

Equally dismissive of demand management, Nalcor boss Ed Martin tried on some pretty vicious rhetoric about old people and freezing in response to Feehan.

Gander at the goosing #nlpoli

Apparently, your humble e-scribbler got on Steve Kent’s nerves.

The Conservative politician and his friends have been bombarding Twitter and Open Line shows since the middle of July will all sorts of their old poll-goosing tactics.  So yours truly has been re-tweeting some of the little comments with an added remark like “Gee, you’d swear a poll was coming.”

Small stuff.

But apparently enough to go right up Kent’s nose in a bad way.

25 July 2012

Some help for the St. John’s Board of Trade #nlpoli

…who have suddenly discovered that the provincial economy is in serious need of diversification: a 2010 series called the Fragile Economy.

If they really want to get a handle on economic diversification, BOT chair Steve Power and his colleagues could start by reading the 1992 Strategic Economic Plan.  What the Board of Trade has been slavishly been supporting since 2003 is diametrically opposite to the 1992 SEP and its call for diversification based on  – gasp! – entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and innovation.

Frankly, it’s been pretty bizarre since 2003 to have a bunch of business owners who endorsed excessive public sector spending and clammed up about entrepreneurship, competitiveness and other subversive ideas.  In November 2010, here’s what the chair at the time said:

Chairman of the Board of Trade, Derek Sullivan said government contracts give a competitive advantage for local businesses and “can be a very powerful and reliable revenue stream.”


Repsol may sell New Brunswick LNG port #nlpoli

Spanish oil and gas company Repsol may be  looking to sell its  interest in the Saint John New Brunswick liquefied natural gas facility.  The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal reported the news on July 21:

On Thursday, the Spanish oil and gas giant told shareholders it was considering the idea of getting rid of some of its liquefied natural gas business to help shore up its finances.

This includes the potential sale of the Canaport terminal in east Saint John, in which it has a 75 per cent stake. Irving Oil, Limited, owns the other 25 per cent.

The move comes on the heels of the expropriation of Repsol’s majority interest in Argentinian oil and gas company YPF by the Argentinian government.  The government did not pay Repsol compensation for the seized assets.

Repsol is reportedly taking legal action and is looking at options to raise cash in the meantime.  One of those options includes divesting of North American natural gas assets.


The tone at the top - federal version #nlpoli

Marni Soupcoff has got it right about the campaign finance scandal currently swirling around federal intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue (pronounced Pen-ah-shoe-ay).  People should be concerned about the money Peter Penashue used to get elected:

The part that stands out is the involvement of a federal member of parliament who seems to have, in the absence of an ability to balance his own campaign books, used money that was meant for the Innu community to get himself elected. Not only has he has not been taken to task for this by his Conservative government. He remains a cabinet minister. Now that the media has discovered the loan and Mr. Penashue’s questionable campaign spending, he is finally being asked the sort of questions for which Innu residents surely would like some answers.

As Chief Justice Derek Green reminded us in his report on the the House of Assembly patronage scandal, the way officials and politicians respond to issues such as accountability is set by the tone at the top.

Soupcoff said:

If the Conservatives truly believed in maintaining a government of principle, they would be demanding answers from Mr. Penashue about why money that was meant for a deprived First Nations community ended up in his campaign coffers.

Let’s see what happens.


24 July 2012

There’s reality and … #nlpoli

Premier Kathy Dunderdale decided to talk about reality on Monday.

A reality check she called it:

“Everybody sees what’s happening with the price of oil, and I see every day what that’s doing to our budget,” the premier said.  [CBC online story]

Dunderdale warned that the provincial government’s deficit this year might reach $700 million. her forecast in the spring was $250 million.  Next year it could be a billion, she ventured.

Now that is on an accrual basis, of course.  On a cash basis, the current provincial government will face a deficit of more than $1.06 billion if oil actually manages to average US$124 a barrel.

Reality Check: drops and buckets version #nlpoli

Via labradore, a chart that plots Conservative unsustainable public spending since 2003 with recently announced controls on discretionary spending.


Magical Thinking and the Muskrat Falls Tax #nlpoli

Muskrat Falls seems to be intimately connected to magic, at least in some people’s minds.

For a while there, the gang at Nalcor sounded like they had found a way to make electricity and then ship it back upstream to Churchill Falls where it would be converted back to water. Sort of a water to wine to water miracle.

Not surprisingly, it turned out to be crap.

23 July 2012

More Muskrat Falls Sunk Cost #nlpoli

That $350 million in sunk costs from Monday morning’s post wasn’t the whole story, of course. 

You’ll find more detail – and lots more cash – documented in the public utilities board’s final report on Muskrat Falls.

Rae backs Muskrat…sort of #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Big screaming CBC headline:

Federal Liberals support Muskrat Falls project:  Rae

Then you read the story.

Sunk Cost – Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

The chart below is taken from a Nalcor information hand-out describing the project’s capital expenditures to the end of March 2011.

What that covers are the various costs for engineering, staff, advertising and communications and anything else that the Labrador project office has spent getting ready to build the project.

The pre-2003 figures include $57 million spent between 1998 and the end of September 2004, the details of which the provincial government released in 2004.

sunk costs


21 July 2012

Ya wanna know what stupid is? #nlpoli #cdnpoli

According to information supplied to the news media – and widely reported already – the helicopter from 444 Squadron used for a training flight than ended with a bit of fishing for the crew six weeks ago was available for search and rescue missions.

And if that re-tasking wouldn’t have been enough, the squadron had another aircraft on stand-by anyway to meet any call for civilian search and rescue service, which, by the way, is not the squadron’s primary job.

None of that stopped CBC from turning a photo of the trip into a scandal.  But to complain about that though would be to complain about dogs barking:  that’s the shit they do especially when it comes to a potential ratings driver like a controversy spun entirely out of the imaginations of people in a newsroom. 

Dazed and Confused: Swinimer version #nlpoli

You know things are bad when even the people who back Muskrat Falls without question start challenging stuff that has long ago been proven correct.

The heir to the Moon Man’s crown got some things right.  If you consider that the cost for Emera of building the Nova Scotia line is a trade for electricity, then they will get it for about 3.5 cents a kilowatt hour.

And then everything went horribly wrong for Jack.

Emera will get the power for 35 years, not 20 like Jack claimed.  They will never see a price increase for it ever. That’s because they are getting the electricity for free, in effect.

Meanwhile, the people who own the river making the electricity will see their electricity go up regularly for those 35 years.

Around the 2:00 mark, Jack claims the line for the electricity will be more expensive than the dam itself.  Nalcor’s figures put the cost for the dam at around $2.9 billion and the line to Soldier’s Pond at around $2.1 billion.  Those figures are not correct but let’s go with them for now.

He claims it will only cost two or three cents a kilowatt hour to make the electricity.  As Nalcor explained to the public utilities board, Muskrat falls electricity would cost about seven times that if you used the conventional way of pricing it.  By spreading the cost over more than fifty years, Nalcor can get the price to consumers down to a mere two and a half times Jack’s number.

As things keep going, Jack just gets worse.  By the time he’s done he claims that electricity for export will cost less than the electricity for people in St. John’s.  He gets on with some malarkey about water otherwise spilling over the dam.  The only reason Nalcor can give power to Nova Scotia for free under the proposed deal and think about selling it anywhere outside this province for less than it costs to make it is because the people of this province are going to pay for everything at Muskrat Falls, in full, plus profit.  They will only use about 40% of the juice but they will pay for 100% of the project’s output.

Jack finishes with a flourish.  Something about Internet bloggers or other.  Seems he doesn’t like those people.

Then he adds that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

That is true.

Unfortunately for Jack, that is just another one of his “own goal” efforts.  You see, Jack is sadly misinformed but thinks everyone else is wrong.  What’s worse he fights with people like randy who try and correct him. You can’t get any more blind than that, Jack.

His best one to date, though, was at the public utilities board hearings.  Swinimer finished off his presentation by admonishing the board to ignore ex-politicians, bloggers and…you guessed it …the people who call open lines shows.

Come to think of it, that last bit turns out to be good advice.


20 July 2012

New Page: The Ghost in the Turbines #nlpoli

Look up and you’ll see a new page:  The Ghost in the Turbines.

You’ll eventually find there all the major SRBP posts on Labrador hydroelectric development from the earliest days to the latest ones. 

We’ve started out with the recent series that – for want of a better title – is just going down in history as the July 2012 series. The rest will be grouped by series title (if appropriate) or by topic such as “Financial”. 

There are a lot of posts on this topic, especially since November 2010, so it will take a while to get the links in place.  Keep checking back, though because it will be done before too long. 


The Stuff We Don’t Know #nlpoli

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns: there are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns: the ones we don't know we don't know.

And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld will likely be best remembered for the 30 seconds or so that it took those words to come out of his mouth during a media briefing on the lack of evidence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction.

As tortured as the words seem to be, Rumsfeld actually describes the fundamental problem that bedevils all of us who are trying to do anything. 

It is called uncertainty.

19 July 2012

Community Values, Part Deux #nlpoli

Political science grad student John Samms’ has lengthy post on the antics of local politicians on Twitter.

To complain about the asinine behaviour of local politicians these days is like complaining that monkeys in the zoo sit around their cage masturbating and flinging their poo at each other.

It’s what they do.

Don’t criticise them because they can’t do anything more than jerk off and toss crap. If you want more, look somewhere else.

And if you really want a change, then vote for someone else when you get the chance.

It’s that simple.


Felix Collins: laughingstock #nlpoli

labradore takes issue with a letter to the editor by justice minister Felix Collins.

He systematically demonstrates that Collins’ claim about the “frivolous and vexatious” provisions in Bill 29 are wrong.

labradore calls it a convenient omission on Collins’ part.

To be fair to Collins, you cannot omit what you likely did not know in the first place.


Going down by the front end #nlpoli

In the late 1980s, the Progressive Conservative administration in Newfoundland and Labrador committed more than $11 million  - ultimately $22 million -  to a plan to grow cucumbers and tomatoes using hydroponic technology developed by Philip Sprung.

Sprung predicted his technology would grow almost seven million pounds of cucumbers and tomatoes in its first year of operation and upwards of nine million by the end of five years.  Sprung had little evidence to back the claim from his test facility in Alberta.

An assessment by provincial officials concluded that the Sprung’s projections were impossible to attain.  Aside from any technological miracles, the Sprung predictions would need the average daily sunlight of Cairo to stand a chance of coming true.  Mount Pearl  - the site chosen for the greenhouses – didn’t even come close to those light levels in the very best years.

Still, the government persisted.

18 July 2012

Executive Politics and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

In this series, we are not concerned with whether or not the Muskrat Falls project is good or bad. That is a separate issue.

Nor are we presenting information you shouldn’t already have.  Very little of what you will read should come as a surprise, especially if you  read SRBP regularly.

Rather this series is an effort to develop some explanations about why the provincial government’s energy company has been working on the Lower Churchill Project continuously for 15 years and yet has produced nothing.

17 July 2012

High Politics and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

“[M]ega-projects”, writes political scientist Will Jennings,” exhibit a ‘performance paradox’ …being prevalent and popular among planners despite suffering from extremely poor track records in terms of completion times, cost escalations and shortfalls in projected revenues and economic benefits.”

Jennings looked at several projects to see why the projects tended to take a long time to finish or experienced huge cost over-runs or generally didn’t live up to expectations.

This week SRBP is looking at Muskrat Falls using Jennings’ four categories of factors that affect project performance.  The first of these is “high politics”.

16 July 2012

Cost Over-Runs and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

When announced in November 2010, the Muskrat Falls dam, the line to the island the connection to Nova Scotia were supposed to cost $6.2 billion.

The dam and the line to the island were priced at $5.0 billion.  The Nova Scotia line was supposed to cost $1.2 billion.

As it turned out, those numbers were wrong. 

Here’s what we have learned since then.

The Inevitable Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

One reporter tweeted his impression of the attitude toward Muskrat Falls that seems to come from the provincial governments in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. While the content was one thing,  he felt people should note the tone:
The attitude towards Muskrat is increasingly one of both NL and NS being locked in. A course change would be prohibitively expensive.
A similar comment turned up in his story for the Friday edition of the Telegram, illustrated by a quote from Premier Kathy Dunderdale at her scrum after meeting with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter:
“What’s the alternative? To either ration energy or sit up in the dark. We have to pay for energy.  Where’s the least-cost alternative?” Dunderdale said.
Dunderdale’s comments are preposterous, of course.  There are plenty of alternatives, some of them considerably less costly than the one she has fixated on.  That fixation is cause for concern about the way the provincial government is barreling ahead with this project.

SRBP talked about this in May - here, here, and here  - in posts on making bad decisions. What’s more interesting these days is looking at Dunderdale and Muskrat Falls in light of a recent analysis of megaprojects and decision-making.

14 July 2012

Hebron Dispute: No more give-aways, indeed #nlpoli

When it comes to the Hebron project, Premier Kathy Dunderdale should know exactly what went wrong with the development deal between the province and the companies.

She should know every give-away in it.  After all, she was natural resources minister at the time.

Share it maybe


13 July 2012

Provincial government working Hebron dispute outside terms of benefits agreement #nlpoli

Lots of words came from Premier Kathy Dunderdale and natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy in their dispute over construction of a major module for the Hebron project.

What became pretty clear – if you listen -  is that the provincial government is trying to squeeze some resolution to the dispute outside the provisions of the Hebron Benefits Agreement.

Muskrat Falls Money Quote 3 #nlpoli

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, Muskrat Falls lover, from a scrum on Thursday:

Dunderdale said due diligence is more important than artificial timelines but that the two sides are "considerably closer" to an agreement. A deal will be done before her government debates Muskrat Falls this fall, she said, "sometime before November, I hope."

November, hopefully.

For the debate or the deal.


That would be a deal that was supposedly so close last winter that they didn’t need to set a new deadline after they blew through the first two.


Innu Controversy Widens #nlpoli

The controversy at the Innu Development Limited Partnership developed some political overtones on Thursday.

CBC reported that federal intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue borrowed $25,000 from the partnership to finance his campaign in 2011. 

Muskrat Falls Money Quote 2 #nlpoli

Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia Premier:

"We've already looked at that and we've done studies that look at the delivery of power to Nova Scotians," he said in Halifax."And the most effective way of doing that is through a project like the Lower Churchill."

Like the Lower Churchill.

So if it turned out that a hydroelectric project in Quebec could meet the need, Darrell could go with that option and still be correct.


Muskrat Falls Money Quote 1 #nlpoli

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, in a scrum after meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale about cost over-runs on Muskrat Falls:

"Here is this project that we have that can provide stability because we're going to know what the input costs are upfront. And that will provide stability for many, many years."

For 35 years, Nova Scotians will get free electricity from Muskrat Falls.

Any cost over-runs on the project are solely the burden of taxpayers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is stability any Nova Scotia premier would love.


Phake Photos Make Come Back #nlpoli

The Mighty Ceeb ran a story on Thursday about a block of three houses in downtown St. John’s.  Tourists and some residents are upset by a set of wires that one of the local phone companies has installed in front of the houses.

They quoted Les Cuff, who lives in one of the houses.

"Instead of having the three houses nicely unbroken, now you have three houses with a big bundle of wires in the middle, he said. "It just looks unsightly."

The guy lives there and he never noticed this stuff before?

12 July 2012

Muskrat Falls carts, horses, chickens and eggs #nlpoli

All the Twitter commentary on Thursday about Muskrat Falls and mining prompted your humble e-scribbler to go back and do some checking about who said what when.

Sure enough, the initial announcement did mention that any electricity from Muskrat Falls that wasn’t used in the province would go off to any place that Nalcor might sell it.  Still, it would be available to call back for “industrial development” in Labrador.

But that wasn’t really the focus of the discussion about Muskrat Falls.

The Ground Game Counts #nlpoli

Two posts, quite a distance apart touch on the same basic political (science) issue:  the role of the local, get-out-the-vote effort in any political campaign.

The latest bit of drama #nlpoli

For the record, your humble e-scribbler will refrain from making any comment on the substance of the statements of claim filed by Danny Williams and Alderon against the Sierra Club and Bruno Marcocchio on the one hand and Brad Cabana on the other.

CBC has posted pdf versions of both, linked below:

In general, your humble e-scribbler would humbly suggest that SRBP readers keep the following observations in mind.

11 July 2012

What’s missing? #nlpoli

While the case before the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday was about the federal Elections Act, two provincial chief elections officers have intervener status in the case.

Neither of them have court cases currently underway that challenge the results of an election.

What other province might you think would have sought intervener status on a case about a potentially controverted election?

What other province could that be?


Autonomy and Legitimate Aspirations #nlpoli

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter is ringing the bells, trying to alarm Canadians to the fact the federal government is trying to withdraw funding from areas that are generally provincial responsibility under the Constitution.

You can see a lengthy interview Dexter gave to Evan Solomon of CBC’s Power and Politics on the Mother Corp’s website.  “They are pursuing what some people call a disentangled federalism,” Dexter warned.  Dexter described the country in a curious way, where the federal government pays for things and the provincial governments do them.

It’s curious because that isn’t what the people who wrote the constitution had in mind.

10 July 2012

What Falls was that, again? #nlpoli

Tim Powers is a local boy who has done good for himself as a lobbyist in Ottawa. Powers is a sharp guy who is very well-connected in Tory circles.

The provincial energy corporation employed Powers to lobby the federal Conservatives on behalf of their Lower Churchill project.  While he has passed that contract off to a couple of other colleagues at Summa Strategies, Powers remains an ardent supporter of the Muskrat Falls project.

Powers delivered a keynote at the recent Expo Labrador mining conference. The title was Mining and Lower Churchill Falls.

Weird, huh?

Brand Failure #nlpoli

In another great service to Newfoundland and Labrador, the country’s leading shit-disturber has translated poll results by Abacus Data into a nice table.

It shows the results for each province across a range of topics.

Maybe it’s just you, Kathy #nlpoli

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Alberta Premier Alison Redford when the Pm dropped in for the Calgary Stampede.

As the Globe reported:

Carl Vallée, a PMO spokesman who was travelling with Mr. Harper during his Stampede stopover, wouldn’t talk about what was discussed during the Prime Minister’s meeting with Ms. Redford.

“He meets with premiers across the country when he travels out East, out West, everywhere,” Mr. Vallée said. “And he does do that, but we don’t comment on the content of the meeting.”

09 July 2012

When Johnny Cab breaks #nlpoli

Last week’s Environics poll caused more than a few people in the province to have a few sleepless nights trying to find a way to prove it was a crock or nothing to sweat.

Those were the Tories.

The NDP wasted no time getting a fund-raising e-mail on the go.

Oddly enough, and as an aside, a couple of prominent Dippers – Jack Harris and Lana Payne – both joined the Tories in trying to dismiss the poll as a one-off.  Maybe their love of Muskrat Falls is clouding their judgment.

Anyway, and meanwhile…

The Liberals were wondering if the poll was good (they were up overall) or bad (they were still polling frig-all of any consequence in the province’s vote-rich capital region.

For the rest of you, here are some further ruminations to help you sort it all out.

Everything old is not new again #nlpoli

Trying to blow off the implications of last week’s Environics poll, former natural resources minister Shawn Skinner trotted out another line in this week’s edition of On Point with David Cochrane: it’s still early days. People don’t know Kathy Dunderdale yet. Give her another year and a half or two years for people to know her, or words to that effect.

Nice try Shawn, but Kathy has been Premier since December 2010. She’s been deputy premier since around 2008 and she’s been in cabinet since 2003.

Kathy Dunderdale is not new. In fact, Kathy has been around so long she was ready to quit politics back in December 2010. She’d done her thing.

If Kathy Dunderdale is having trouble making herself known to voters after a high-profile decade in politics, including winning an election as Premier after being in the job for the better part of a year, then imagine how much worse things will be 18 months from now.

Maybe the real answer, Shawn, is that people know Kathy too well already.


Selective Perception and Strange Bedfellows #nlpoli

strange bedfellowsLabour federation president Lana Payne tweeted last week about the latest labour force figures in the province.

And that’s true.  According to Statistics Canada, the province recorded the highest ever participation rate in June: 62%.

Two Conservative supporters retweeted Payne’s comments, apparently because they fit the Conservative mantra that everything is wonderful under the Tories.  Conservative policies produce results, which is why the Tories enjoy such huge support in the province.

Anyway, Tories and Dippers cheering the same thing isn’t really as odd a situation as it might seem.

08 July 2012

Frankenstein – Final

A bit more work on Sunday morning and Frankenstein’s monster is done.


The colouring is unconventional.  The instructions call for black or dark brown for the jacket and pants.  A pre-painted figure, approved by Universal, in a slightly smaller scaled, appeared a few years ago with a colour scheme similar to this one.  It works.

The figure is stock, from the box with one exception.  The one hand that is turned incorrectly is fixed to imitate the original pose.  Here’s a publicity still from the 1931 movie just to give you an idea of where the pose came from.

Karloff Frankenstein Doorway


Work in progress: Moebius’ Frankenstein #nlpoli

Here’s a close-up of Moebius’ Frankenstein, the project currently on the old modeller’s workbench.  The detail is a little fuzzy because the picture is via a cellphone not a real camera.

Moebius based the model on the scene in the 1931 Universal movie when you first see the monster. It’s stock from the box.


The base, door and back wall are finished, as is the body (jacket and pants). The latest work has been trying to get the face and hands right.  The choice for the face is very light grey for the deathly pallor, with some splashes of pink and red. 

Check online and you can find as many choices for the face and hands as there are people who have built this kit.  In the movie, Karloff wore a pale green make-up because it gave the right colouring for the black and white movie. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right to make the monster a part Vulcan.

Incidentally, for those who might be curious, the jacket is Model Master Dark Green (FS34079) and the pants are Testors’ Dark Brown (in the small bottle).

Here’s the same shot adjusted to make it black and white.



07 July 2012

The Happiness Index #nlpoli

Leave it to labradore to come up with a new way to look at poll results.

He took the results of “satisfaction” questions in polls going back about a decade.  he netted them out, meaning he subtracted the dis-satisfieds from the satisfieds.

What he got is very interesting.

06 July 2012

Minister to attend play #nlpoli

Telling the world that tourism Derrick Dalley will attend a play – no matter what play it is – would not be considered news and it sure as hell would not be worthy of a full-on media advisory by any organization on the planet, including a benighted, backward-ass dictatorship in a movie starring Richard Dreyfus.

And yet on a Friday afternoon that is exactly what the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador spit out.

More Hole Spotting #nlpoli

After the shock that evidently settled into the local Tories, the next most obvious thing about Thursday was the complete absence of any official provincial Tory anywhere saying anything about anything.  The usual clan of Tory Twitter Spam Spitters – Sandy Collins, Steve Kent, Vaughan Granter, and Paul lane  - were nowhere to be seen.

Normally these guys are everywhere spewing whatever bullshit talking point they have to spew.



or was it knobby knees knocking?

05 July 2012

Hole-spotting: the Environics Poll Results #nlpoli

By now you have likely heard it all.

remaincalm-01In one corner are the raft of people trying to dismiss the Environics poll as an outlier, an aberration, the logical result of a tough political month. 

Nothing to sweat.

Real Chip Diller kinda stuff.

In the other corner, there are the New Democrats who are so effercited they are like the dog who caught the car.

Well, here’s another take for you.

A latent political bomb #nlpoli

A few employers have noticed changes to the province’s Labour Relations Act that slipped quietly through the House at the end of the last session.

A story in the Telegram on Wednesday focuses on the construction business but some others are quietly pissed off and trying to figure out what they can do about the bill.

04 July 2012

Environics latest national poll #nlpoli

As the country comes out of the long-weekend stupor, a few people noticed a poll released on June 29 by Environics.  Nationally, it shows a very small lead for the New Democrats over the Conservatives. That’s a modest change from May when the Tories were slightly in front of the New Democrats.

What caught some local Twitter attention was the post by threehundredeight.com and the headline “Majority support for federal NDP in Newfoundland & Labrador?”

The question mark is there for a reason, as you will see in a moment.

Beaumont Hamel and the Newfoundland nation #nlpoli

Mark Humphries is an historian at Memorial University.  He spoke with CBC’s Chris O’Neill-Yates on July 1 about the impact of Beaumont Hamel on Newfoundland and Labrador.

Humphries does an interesting job of putting the 700 dead and wounded on that day into a larger context.  He likened it to 161,000 Canadian males between 19 and 45 years of age dying in 20 minutes today.

Then in response to a question from Chris, Humphries turned it into a unifying event for the country.

03 July 2012

What the cod moratorium wrought #nlpoli

The cod might be gone these 20 years but there are no shortage of people making a fine dollar telling us what it all means.

Surely the one making the most cash is Ryan Cleary, pulling down a pay cheque as a member of parliament partly on the pledge to have an inquiry into why there are no cod.  Hint:  a whole bunch of people, including Cleary’s friend Gus Etchegary, killed just about all of them.

If he had been around a century and a half ago, Cleary would have been campaigning to find out where all the Great Auks went.  Hint:  we killed them all.