31 August 2012

Public hearing into secrecy request #nlpoli

It’s not just that the Muskrat Falls project is a bad idea;  the process by which the current provincial administration is forcing it through stinks as well.

If you want to see the problem take a look at the way the provincial government handled the public utilities board – it had no legal authority to conduct its own review of Muskrat Falls  - with what is happening in Nova Scotia on another matter involving that province’s utilities regulator.

30 August 2012

The Black Light Artist

From a decision in a lawsuit between a moving company and a customer who sued the company claiming that the movers failed to deliver some of her goods:

14. Third, there was no corroboration, whether in the forms of invoices, bills of lading, or photographs, of the claims of loss made by the Plaintiff. For example, the Plaintiff claims that the Defendant lost an original painting, which was painted by “one of the Group of Seven”. She was unable to say which member of the Group of Seven painted the painting, or where or under which circumstances she acquired it, other than to say that she had bought it at an auction for seven hundred dollars ($700.00). She did not have a certificate of authenticity for the painting. There was no confirmation of the provenance of the painting. Furthermore, while the Group of Seven were a group of Canadian landscape painters, famous for their portrayal of the Canadian Shield, the Plaintiff said that her Group of Seven painting, by an unknown artist, was of a tiger.

A painting of a tiger.

A tiger.

By a member of the Group of Seven.

Must have been by Bernie, a lesser known member of the Group of Seven, who specialised in tigers, dogs playing poker, kids with really big eyes or Elvis from his Vegas years, painted - of course - on velvet.

You can only wish you could make this stuff up.


A List of Interesting Things #nlpoli

Follow this one for a second.

In 2005, Kathy Dunderdale – minister responsible for the Rural Secretariat  - announced a raft of appointments to the groups that advise government about rural economic development. One of the appointees is a guy named Ted Lewis from Croque.

In November 2005, Lewis went on a provincial government trade mission to Greenland.  he represented a company called Holson Forest Products.

In July 2008, industry minister Trevor Taylor announced $25,000 in provincial money for a company called Quality North to help it expand its markets for manufactured wood panels into places like Greenland and Iceland.  Quality North was formed in 2006 by three people, one of whom was Ted Lewis of Holson Forest Products

On August 12, 2009, Tom Hedderson - the provincial fisheries minister  - announced that Ted Lewis would take over as chair of the board that approves fish processing licenses.

On August 21, 2009,  then-natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale announced that her department would be giving $10 million to Holson Forest Products  to set up a wood pellet plant in Roddickton.  The head of the company is a guy named Ted Lewis.

By 2011, a news story turned up in the Telegram saying that the company expected to start production in late March.  But, as events unfolded, the company has had trouble shipping pellets because of the cost of routing them through nearby ports. 

Liberal member of the House of Assembly Ed Joyce says he has been having trouble finding out what is happening with the provincial money. The Telegram even wrote an editorial about the problem, largely because one company official complained that the political inquiries were hurting the company.

But if you go to the official record of the House of Assembly, you will see that questions came up in the House on May 15.  On May 16, natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy added some details on the cash:

There was a $10 million investment which included a $7 million repayable loan, a $2 million non-repayable loan, and $1 million under the Green Fund.

Mr. Speaker, Holson has since come back looking for more money and we have indicated that there is only so far as a government that we can go. Beyond Roddickton, we also put $1 million in 2010 to assist harvesters in the Northern Peninsula, of which $830,000 has been spent as of March 31, 2012.

In response to another question in June, Kennedy added even more information.  What’s interesting is that Kennedy used the information to attack the local MHA who had asked a question about something else:

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, how this Third Party [the NDP] works. About three weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the Member for The Straits – White Bay North asking if I would meet with him and the owner of the Roddickton plant to discuss what was going on in Roddickton. I wrote him back, Mr. Speaker. I said if Mr. Lewis wishes to meet with me, he can contact me directly. I never heard back from Mr. Lewis.

So what the member opposite did, he tried to interject himself into the middle of the situation. He was obviously told to go away out of it, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest to him that if he is going to come forward with suggestions that he make sure that they are real and they are practical. What we are worried about is keeping this industry alive, keeping Kruger open and benefiting the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker.

And on August 13, 2012, Lewis wrote a letter to the Northern Pen explaining the current shutdown. Lewis said that the company needed to find a cheaper way to ship pellets overseas because the price for pellets dropped right after they got the cash commitment from the provincial government. Now that prices are recovering the lowered value of the Euro is causing problems.

The company is still working on the problem, apparently:

Any investment into either of these ports reduces the feasibility of pellet transportation. Roddickton harbour has the depth of water required and the required land base. With the right facility in Roddickton this and other industries can prosper. Thankfully there are plans moving forward to develop the infrastructure – no commitments yet.

Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett is only wondering whether or not the fisheries minister thinks that it’s alright to have the processing plant licensing board run by a guy whose company is on the hook to the province government for the better part of $10 million.

Here’s what Bennett told the Western Star:

"Is Lewis in a perceived conflict of interest in his job as chairperson of the Fish Processing Licensing Board, given that his company owes so much money to the government," Bennett questioned in a press release issued Monday.

Via telephone, Bennett said it was not an accusation, but that he would like the minister to review the appointment to determine whether or not there is a conflict.

Doesn’t that seem rather,  errmmm,  what is the best way to put it?

Oh yes.


That’s it, Bennett’s comments are lame-assed, weak, and laughable.


29 August 2012

James McLeod’s Three Questions #nlpoli

On his Telegram blog post on Monday, James McLeod posed three questions about the Muskrat Falls debate.

Let’s answer them.

The Great Liberal PIFO Roadshow #nlpoli

On the front page of Tuesday’s Telegram was a story on the provincial Liberal Party’s renewal process. it isn’t available online unless you have a subscription to the paper.

this renewal thing has been going on for a while.  Dean MacDonald, Siobhan Coady, and Kevin Aylward are travelling around the province meeting with people and talking about the future of the provincial Liberals.

28 August 2012

The Muskrat Falls Debate (on Twitter) #nlpoli

Over at the Telegram, you’ll find two blog posts that are well worth your time if you want to get more insights into the ongoing discussion about Muskrat Falls.

Political reporter James McLeod goes through the tone of the public discussion about the project.  Geoff Meeker has a post featuring some observations by former premier Roger Grimes.

The two posts wind up complimenting each other and both raise some worthwhile issues.

The Return of the Public Accounts Committee #nlpoli

Supporters of the current governing party like to talk about how theirs is the most open, accountable and transparent government of all time.

Problem for them is that they cannot prove it.

Those of us who don’t believe that claim have a distinct advantage:  we can offer solid evidence about the the current lack of openness, accountability and transparency.

27 August 2012

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

A profile of the first human to walk on the moon, from 60 Minutes:


25 August 2012

No deal likely on Hebron 3rd module #nlpoli

CBC’s got the story:

ExxonMobil will be able to move work related to the Hebron oil project out of Newfoundland within days, as the possibility fades for an agreement to use local fabrication facilities.

“We’re not making any real progress, and it doesn’t appear that mediation will solve the issue,” Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy told CBC News late this week.

Kennedy can rattle on all he wants about what a great case he believes the provincial government had.

Talk, as SRBP noted in June, is exceedingly cheap.  When the provincial government signed the Hebron agreement in 2008 they were not concerned about local benefits at all.  They took what the companies had on the table and nothing more.  Ed Martin’s view as head of Nalcor seems to be the same view of local industrial benefits he held when he worked for Big Oil.


24 August 2012

If they don’t stop it, we’ll go blind #nlpoli

You have to wonder sometimes how far Tory politicians will go to issue a good news comment of some kind during the time when the government pollster is in the field.

They are the only ones who do this, apparently, as part of the Tories’ organized effort to skew public opinion polls and then crow about the adulterated results.

Anyway, this is a two part example of the lengths to which the quarterly orgy of public onanism goes sometimes.

Williams prepared to wrap arms around Quebec #nlpoli

There’s something just too funny for words about former Premier Danny Williams sometimes.

It’s the kind of “too funny” where you don’t know whether he gets the joke and is just having a laugh at his own expense or is so completely blind to how asinine his own words make him look.

You see it is absolutely ridiculous for Danny Williams to deride his predecessor, Roger Grimes, for supposedly wanting to “wrap his arms” around Quebec in order to develop the Lower Churchill when Williams himself spent five years doing just that.

Of course it was only after Williams’ suck-job failed that he started in with the anti-Quebec crap.

Too friggin’ funny, Danny.

So funny in fact that SRBP even made a big map to help people make some kind of sense out of Williams’ foolishness.


Tense Problems #nlpoli

“As a lawyer,” natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy told reporters on Thursday,” you’d often hear the phrase that the best predictor of past behaviour is future behaviour.”

This is not just a slip of the tongue.  The minister is confused.   Obviously confused. 

You can see that confusion in Kennedy’s other comments. He called reporters together around 12:30 and gave them some of his thoughts on a letter by former premier Roger Grimes that appeared in the Thursday Telegram.  Kennedy was a bit tense, it seems, and so it isn’t surprising that in his remarks, Jerome confused his tenses.

Verb tenses.

And that, as they say, made all the difference in the world.

23 August 2012

Dunderdale: Hydro-Quebec equity in Lower Churchill and no ‘69 redress part of ‘win-win’ for HQ #nlpoli

For five years, the provincial Conservatives secretly tried to interest Quebec in part ownership of the Lower Churchill, according to Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Dunderdale: September 2009

In September 2009, she told Open Line host Randy Simms (audio at right) about the secret efforts made by then-Premier Danny Williams, Dunderdale and Nalcor boss Ed Martin to sell Hydro-Quebec an equity share.

Dunderdale said that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador was prepared to leave aside any question of redress on the Lower Churchill.  The Conservatives previously committed that a deal on the Lower Churchill with Quebec would have to include redress for the disastrous 1969 contract between Brinco and Hydro-Quebec.

Two views of Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

In Nova Scotia, energy minister Charlie Parker touted the benefits of the Muskrat falls deal for his province in a letter to the Chronicle Herald, published on Wednesday.

Parker flipped the bird to opposition politician Andrew Younger, taking issue with Younger’s claim that the deal would lead to increase electricity prices for Nova Scotians:

The cost of this electricity will be virtually the same in Year 35 as it is in Year 1 of the agreement. This is the principal benefit of the project and it’s why this government has worked so hard to ensure it goes ahead.

He’s absolutely right.

22 August 2012

The Politics of Oil and Budgets #nlpoli

When any country or province depends heavily on the money that comes from resource extraction, it affects politics there.

Political scientist Michael Ross is probably the most recent author on the subject. Terry Karl has also written extensively on the resource curse.  She wrote of the best known books on the subject:  The paradox of plenty:  oil booms and petro-states.  You can also find some of Karl’s further thoughts on the issue in an article she wrote in 2007  and revised in 2009.

These studies focus on the developing world, for the most part, but what academics observe about those countries can cause you to think again about politics in other places.

Like say, Newfoundland and Labrador.

21 August 2012

The Permanent Echo Chamber of Horrors #nlpoli

To borrow a phrase from Quebec Premier Jean Charest the other day, Twitter is a conversation between apparatchiks and journalists.  That’s pretty much it, although in Newfoundland and Labrador as elsewhere a few other people weigh into the exchanges.

The political Twitter world is a variation of the echo chamber.  That’s what Charest meant:  a small group of people discuss or argue among themselves, sometimes without much concern for the outside world. 

You can really see how that plays out in Newfoundland and Labrador again this week in the aftermath of the Tories’  orchestrated attack on the five lawyers who went public  - again – with their criticisms of Muskrat Falls.

Kremlinology 41: All politics is personal #nlpoli

On Friday, the Conservatives sent Mount Pearl North MHA Steve Kent out as the designated hitter in a deliberate, orchestrated personal attack on the five lawyers who oppose Muskrat Falls.

He turned up on CBC’s On Point and repeated much of the same innuendo on Twitter.

Kent got a lot of negative feedback on Twitter and likely elsewhere about his comments.  On Monday, Kent and his colleagues had dropped the personal crap.

Not exactly, there, Tom, b’y #nlpoli

As part of the orchestrated campaign to attack the people making the comments instead of the comments themselves , finance minister Tom Marshall trotted out in front of the news media on Friday to lace into a group of five lawyers.

Marshall said comments by five lawyers opposed to Muskrat Falls were “nothing new” and had been addressed before. All true.

At the same time, though, Marshall quickly read through an obviously prepared diatribe in which he said that the “use of such inflammatory language in my view is irresponsible and borders on fear mongering.”

People should pay attention to Marshall’s comments, but not because of Tom’s laughable hypocrisy.

20 August 2012

Fourth time a charm: Kennedy changes MF “key point” …again #nlpoli

How many times should anyone need to change the key point in any discussion?

Well, this past weekend, natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy signalled what is the latest shift in strategic messaging on the Lower Churchill project since October 2010.

Hydro-Quebec to get Muskrat Falls electricity #nlpoli

Under a complex arrangement, Nalcor will send electricity from Muskrat Falls to Quebec in place of electricity from Churchill Falls during some months of the year. 

Nalcor hasn’t disclosed any other details of the arrangement. It appears Nalcor’s Muskrat Falls company will swap the electricity  - possibly free of charge - with its affiliate Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation, which will send it to Quebec under the terms of the 1969 contract at 1969 prices.

And rather than getting electricity from Muskrat Falls, Nova Scotians could receive electricity from Churchill Falls or any of Nalcor’s other hydro-electric generating stations on the island

You can find aspects of the arrangement in a clip from NTV.

There’s more to it, though.

17 August 2012

They love going sleaze ball #nlpoli #connieplaybook

One enduring characteristic of Conservative political comments since 2003 is the resort to personal attacks.

It must be Rule Number One in the Connie political playbook:  Go sleaze ball. Don’t deal with the issue. 

This past week the public got a good example of that from a provincial Conservative politician.

Radio Free Nalcor #nlpoli

Talk about putting on the full court press to try and squeeze out every favourable bit of commentary for a project that remains mired in controversy and doubt.

Nalcor is running a couple of days of media trips – free of charge – to the falls itself where Nalcor has already started working on a project it claims they haven’t got approval to start work on yet.

And if that wasn’t enough, and surely purely by total coincidence Conservative strategist Tim Powers is a co-host on VOCM’s Back Talk.  The station is owned by Steele Communications, incidentally, whose boss sits  - by complete happenstance - on the board of directors of Nalcor’s oil and gas corporation.

The politics of gas price fixing #nlpoli

Gas prices used to be a hot political topic in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

A lot of people thought that the provincial government could do a lot about them and, in the process, protect consumers.  Others thought that the government should do something about prices and make it easier for people to get cheap gas.

Yeah, well it didn’t quite work out that way.

Navigator Online #nlpoli

Turn your browser to a new blog from The Navigator

For those who don’t know it, The Navigator is a monthly magazine about the fishery for people in the industry in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

The Skipper’s Blog is written by managing editor Jaime Baker, late of the Telegram and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers’ Union. The subject matter for blog posts will likely be some aspect of the fishery but as Jaime told SRBP on Thursday, it could include other issues.  One post this week was about the young boy who offered his soccer medal to the Canadian men’s relay team.

Jamie’s most recent post is about a story this week about a resurgence in cod stocks:

While many outside the fishery may not have moved on from cod after the moratorium, the fishermen and the industry certainly did.

Last year’s $1 billion fishery was built largely on crab and shrimp. Believe it or not, a resurgence in cod right now to historic levels would actually throw a bit of a monkey-wrench into that industry.

How? Two ways.

One, cod are voracious predators and they tend to eat things like shrimp and juvenile crab (and anything else that is around). Most fishermen will tell you, in places where the cod are scarce, the shellfish tend to do well; and in places where the cod are plenty, the shellfish tend to not do well at all. And we should note there was very little in the way of crab or shrimp in this part of the world when the cod fishery was rocking out like The Who on speedballs. In fact, some scientists will tell you the fact that we have had crab and shrimp in these numbers is an anomaly.

His second point is that the local industry has re-oriented away from cod to the point where they’d have a hard time handling any sizable landings.

Other than maybe on the fisheries broadcast, that likely isn’t the sort of stuff you’ve been hearing.  Check out Jaime’s blog:  the opinions are both frank and well-informed.


16 August 2012

Three of a kind #nlpoli

A series of posts at The Monkey Cage describe Martin Gilens research on the connection between public policy and personal income.

Part 1:

These findings suggest that political representation functions reasonably well for the affluent. But the middle-class and the poor are essentially unrepresented (unless they happen to share the preferences of the well-off). In a second post tomorrow, I’ll discuss my more hopeful findings that reveal the (less typical) conditions under which government responsiveness to public preferences is stronger and more equal.

Part 2:

In my previous post I discussed the lack of government responsiveness to the middle-class and the poor, when their policy preferences diverge from those of the affluent. This inequality is pervasive: I found no circumstances during the decades I examined in which the middle-class had as much influence as the well-off, or the poor as much influence as the middle-class. Although pervasive, representational inequality does fluctuate. When the balance of power between the two major parties is close and when presidential elections loom, policy corresponds more closely to the preferences of the public, and more equally to the preferences of the more- and less-advantaged.

Part 3:

Can anything be done to make policymakers more equally responsive to the preferences of all Americans? Campaign finance reforms that reduce the role of large donors are one avenue to pursue. The current climate does not seem auspicious, but Citizens United was a five-to-four decision and perhaps a future Court will be friendlier to campaign finance reform efforts. In addition, competition-enhancing reforms like non-partisan districting might produce more competitive elections and induce policymakers to attend more closely to the public’s preferences. Finally, advocates can focus on those policies that are supported by the affluent and poor alike. Majorities of affluent Americans support increases in the minimum wage, spending for education, job training programs, Social Security, and Medicare (albeit with somewhat less enthusiasm than the less well-off).

A distinction that makes a difference #nlpoli

As part of the commemoration events for the War of 1812, the part of the Department of National Defence responsible for ceremony has decided to give seven Canadian Army units including the Royal Newfoundland Regiment the right to carry the battle honour DETROIT.

A battle honour marks a significant event in the regiment’s history. Infantry regiments display their battle honours on the regimental colours.

The picture at right is of the regimental colours of the 1st battalion, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.  Its honours until now all dated from the First World War.

This is an important announcement and the members of the regiment should be very proud.

15 August 2012

Any similarity is purely coincidental #nlpoli

Two announcements.

The one in February consisted of three paragraphs, 10 lines, and 111 words.

The obligatory quote from the minister:

“Ms. Goulding and Ms. Mennie have a wealth of legal expertise which has made them well-suited to the duties of a Provincial Court judge,” said Minister Collins. “They join the bench with a great deal of legal experience and knowledge. I welcome and congratulate them on their new positions.”

The one from August consisted of three paragraphs, 10 lines and 107 words.

The obligatory quote from the minister:

Ms. Marshall and Mr. Walsh bring a great deal of legal expertise as they begin their new careers as Provincial Court judges,” said Minister Collins. “Their experience will serve them well in their new roles and I welcome and congratulate them on their new positions.”


Muskrat Falls: the revised cost for consumers #nlpoli

If, as Shawn Skinner suggests, the cost of Muskrat Falls is going to jump by a third or more by the time we find out what the Decision Gate 3 numbers are, then it follows logically that Nalcor is going to have to figure out how to pay for that.

What might that look like for the ordinary consumer in Newfoundland and Labrador?

14 August 2012

Suppressing Dissent #nlpoli

One of the hallmarks of the Conservative political method since 2003 has been the suppression of public dissent.

Anyone who wants to raise a problem for public discussion is attacked for being “negative.”  It is part of the aggressive campaign the Tories have waged to eliminate political opposition and stifle anything that was not approved by the Premier’s Office.

No surprise, then, that Bonavista mayor Betty Fitzgerald went to her local MHA to get a letter she could sign attacking one of her councillors who had violated the iron Conservative law against dissent.

Marshall’s release doesn’t match DBRS public statements #nlpoli

Simply put, Tom Marshall’s most recent news release about the report by Dominion Bond Rating Service doesn’t match what the bond rating agency said in a news release about the provincial government’s finances.

You can see that pretty clearly if you read the whole release from DBRS.

13 August 2012

Muskrat Falls Cost Estimates: the Skinner Numbers #nlpoli

Former natural resources minister Shawn Skinner said this past weekend that he expected the next cost estimate for Muskrat Falls will be around $8.0 to $8.5 billion. [video; Skinner comments are at about 14:00]

Assuming that is for the dam, line to St. John’s, and the line to Nova Scotia, Skinner’s estimate would mean that Nalcor’s cost estimate in 2010 was between 29% and 37% out.

Sadly for proponents of the Muskrat Falls megaproject, those cost increases won’t be the end of it.

10 August 2012

The politics of table salt #nlpoli

Tom Hedderson would probably like a do-over.  Responding to an opposition call for a ban on road-side pesticide use by Hedderson’s department, the minister compared the toxicity of the chemical defoliant his people use to table salt.

And table salt was worse!

In politics, that sort of comment can be demonstrably true but it can also be one of those moments where that truth doesn’t matter as much as other truths.

Thinking about Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

People in Nova Scotia are doing a lot of thinking about Muskrat Falls, so it seems.  Here’s part of an opinion piece by Brendan Halley that appeared in the Thursday, August 9 edition:

We should exercise caution in placing too much faith in supply/demand forecasts (Bill Black, Aug. 1). The only certainty is that these forecasts will be wrong. It will take at least until 2017 to build this project. The relevant question is really if the project will make sense in the context of the challenges Nova Scotia will be facing in 2017 or 2020. At that time, will Nova Scotia be pleased to have access to a renewable, flexible source of energy with more import/export capability? Will we want to use the hydro resource and trading capability to complement development of electric vehicles, wind, tidal and solar energy? Or perhaps energy efficiency, smart grid and alternative energy storage technologies will be more attractive?


That would be so cool… #nlpoli

All that stuff about peak oil, oil shortages and ever increasing oil prices?

You know, the sort of stuff that some people claim justifies Muskrat Falls.

Yeah, well maybe they spoke a wee bit too soon.

Bench Mark #nlpoli

The names of two lawyers who might appear in an upcoming news release:

  • James Walsh
  • Lori Marshall


09 August 2012

Take Tom with a grain of salt #nlpoli

Apparently, a herbicide used by the provincial government is about as toxic as table salt.

For those who missed it, here’s transportation minister Tom Hedderson explaining why the herbicide is safe as safe can be.

August Muskrat Round-up #nlpoli

First up, there are lots of ways to make bad decisions.

The Telegram’s Russell Wangersky did a fine job on Tuesday of pointing out that natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy is basically out to lunch when he claims that the Muskrat Falls project won’t likely experience any cost over-runs.

But that’s not the only way Kennedy’s interview On Point With Jonathan Crowe [video] was surreal.

08 August 2012

Williams sides with Quebec on energy #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Danny Williams always likes someone who stands up for his or her province.

Well, likes them as long as the someone doing the standing up standing in the way of something Danny wants. .

Anyone who wondered why Williams turned up in the Globe praising British Columbia Premier Christy Clark can now make sense of it all.

07 August 2012

The Multiple Muskrat Falsehoods #nlpoli

Zack: Check it out, all about planets this month.

Leonard: That’s an atom.

Zack: Agree to disagree. That’s what I love about science, there’s no one right answer.

Ya gotta love Tory MHA Keith Russell.

Well, not really, love him unless you enjoy a politician who just keeps putting his foot in his mouth all the way up to the hip.

Russell called VOCM’s Back Talk last week to correct supposedly false statements by others.  But in the process, Russell spouted not one, not true but a raft of completely false statements about Muskrat Falls.

06 August 2012

The Farce just goes on and on… #nlpoli

The farce that is the provincial government’s effort to sell the Muskrat Falls project continues to roll along.

There are no timelines, the Telegram tells us, or at least none that Nalcor and its political backers will tell the people who will pay the bills for all this mess.

But still, here’s what we can tell from the weekend Telegram:

03 August 2012

A change might be as good as a rest #nlpoli

A sign of the problems plaguing Kathy Dunderdale’s aging Conservative administration and their dramatic fall in the polls:  she’s punted her communications director and hired a new one.

Lynn Hammond has the key job in the administration and it will fall on her shoulders to right the communications mess the Dunderdale Tories have been mired in since last year.

Dunderdale’s old comms director – Glenda Powers – got a new job. It looks like a promotion to the top communications job in government.  Under the Tories, though, it has always played second fiddle to the Premier’s Office. 

The real strategic heavy lifting doesn’t get done by the person with the big title. That job -  the real head of government communications  - is now Lynn Hammond.

What’s more noticeable about Powers’ new title is that she has the job in an acting capacity. Odd they haven’t filled it permanently even though the head hunters have been trying to staff the job since well before Josephine Cheeseman left. Is there anyone in town they haven’t spoken to about it?


02 August 2012

The cut-throat world of economics #nlpoli

Anyone who attended Wade Locke’s presentation on Muskrat Falls got a tiny glimpse of the vicious world that is modern academics.  it came in the unusually large bit where Locke sliced into his colleague Jim Feehan.  Locke even made a strawman and set fire to it – figuratively of course – just to make sure he had a really persuasive argument. (<--- sarcasm)

Well, it turns out that the field of economics is just seething with this sort of stuff.  Statistics and political science prof Andrew Gelman writes:

Some attitudes surprise me. For example, on his blog, journal editor Steven Levitt wrote, “Is it surprising that scientists would try to keep work that disagrees with their findings out of journals? . . . Within the field of economics, academics work behind the scenes constantly trying to undermine each other.” See my discussion here.

Academics work behind the scenes to undermine each other.


Read the link.  The whole discussion is way more interesting than just that bit.


If Ontarians jumped off the wharf… #nlpoli

Ontarians subsidized electricity exports from their province to the tune of about $2.50 a kilowatt hour according to a recent report by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy and covered by thestar.com.

The total works out to about $1.2 billion annually.

About 80% of Ontario’s electricity generation comes from contracts with producers that exceed the current market price for electricity.  Ontario consumers pay a surcharge to make up the difference.  Customers outside Ontario don;t pay the charge even though the electric comes from generators inside Ontario.

01 August 2012

Kathy’s Experts #nlpoli

Would you take advice on a megaproject from a company whose own megaproject is 86% over budget and 26 months behind schedule – and counting?

ladies and gentleman:  Manitoba Hydro International