30 June 2014

Paying everyone but ourselves #nlpoli

Nalcor boss Ed Martin told everyone in the province last week that his pet project has increased in price by almost another billion dollars.  It’s now more than $8.0 billion, when the 2010 price was $5.0 billion.

That wasn’t news.  Martin and the provincial government knew that last December, as SRBP pointed out last December.  We’ve known it since last year.  Martin and the provincial government just refused to tell the people paying for the project about it when the people building it knew the costs.

Martin insists it is still cheapest.  We know that isn’t true because Nalcor plans to buy cheaper electricity from elsewhere and import it here over the Maritime Link while charging local consumers for electricity that is far more expensive but that they aren’t getting. 

Martin also said something to the effect that we are just paying ourselves for this project and the electricity anyway.  That’s not true either.

We are paying everyone but ourselves.

27 June 2014

Muskrat Falls costs break $8.0 billion #nlpoli

$6.99 billion is the new cost estimate for the Muskrat Falls dam and the link to the island.

With that much money and with such a record of inaccurate forecasts,  giving a cost estimate to two decimal places could only be a terribly cynical attempt at humour by the highly paid people running Nalcor. 


Did Ed Martin, Gil Bennett and Dawn Dalley really think that people wouldn’t recognise the oldest and most transparent bit of retail psychology on the planet and think this project wouldn’t cost $7.0 billion?


It’s almost $7.0 billion.


26 June 2014

The ATIPPA Review Round-Up #nlpoli

Tuesday’s video is available at parcnl.ca.

Your humble e-scribbler is Number 2 on June 25. 

At the front end of the Number 1 video is Vaughn Hammond of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.  he made some really solid comments about a problem some of his members have been running into since Bill 29.  They used to rely on access to information in order to get information to bid on tenders.  In a competitive industry, such as some of the suppliers Hammond represents,  disclosing information helps get a better price for taxpayers.

25 June 2014

parcnl.ca #nlpoli

If you want your SRBP fix this Wednesday morning check out the Privacy and Access Review Committee hearings at 11:00 AM.

They are streaming it live at parcnl.ca.


24 June 2014

Summer Political Reading List #nlpoli

If you are looking for some political reading over the summer, here are a few books worth checking out.

Tragedy in the Commons by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan. Here’s the whole Random House blurb: 

In Tragedy in the Commons, Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, founders of the non-partisan think tank Samara, draw on an astonishing eighty exit interviews with former Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to unearth surprising observations about the practice of politics in Canada.

Though Canada is at the top of international rankings of democracies, Canadians themselves increasingly don’t see politics as a way to solve society’s problems. Small wonder. In the news, they see grandstanding in the House of Commons and MPs pursuing agendas that don’t always make sense to the people who elected them.

23 June 2014

Grassroots #nlpoli

You’ll likely hear a lot of talk from Conservatives over the next few weeks about their “grassroots.” 

Trevor Taylor, for one mentioned them twice last week when talking about the aftermath of the Coleman fiasco.  The Conservatives need a contest that will “mobilize” the grassroots,  according to Taylor.  They need a leader who can “connect with the grassroots.”

The only problem for Trevor is that the party doesn’t have any grassroots.

21 June 2014

Welcome Back, Cochrane #nlpoli

If you are needing a political fix this weekend you can get two of the better variety online.

David Cochrane is back from an extended absence and to celebrate, he’s clacked out a synopsis of recent going’s on in the Conservative leadership fiasco.  He’s got all the details of stuff that’s been flying around town, right down to the story about how the victims of the Friday Night Massacre found their security passes to the building cut off while they were trying to move out that fateful Friday.

20 June 2014

Nothing was further from the truth #nlpoli

A decade ago,  the offshore regulatory board reduced its estimate of the recoverable reserves in the Terra Nova field from 405 million barrels  to 354 million barrels.

Danny Williams was trying to squeeze additional transfer payments out of the federal government in the guise of getting provincial oil royalties that the federal government supposedly took back.

The whole thing was a fraud of the first magnitude but hundreds of thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador fell for it.

19 June 2014

Taking nothing out #nlpoli

Sometimes a comment is so profoundly revealing you just can’t let it slide by.

This one came from Milly Brown, the Premier’s communications director, in an exchange with Simon Lono on Twitter on Wednesday.  And just so everyone knows up front, this is not from Milly’s personal account, if she has one.  It’s a comment from Milly in her official capacity.

18 June 2014

Wednesday Quickies #nlpoli

As your humble e-scribbler spent time on Tuesday finishing off a presentation to the ATIPPA inquiry next week  (11 AM, 25 June),  here are a couple of quickies you might find interesting:

  1. In light of the chatter about polls in the Ontario election, here’s yet another commentary on the general uselessness of horse-race polls, despite the fact news media love them.Yet another argument against horse-race polls.  Via  Monkey Cage.
  2. How oil helps dictatorships survive” is another exploration of the connection between oil wealth and a decrease in competitive politics.


17 June 2014

Premier Mulligan #nlpoli

The news on Monday was not Frank Coleman’s announcement.

The news was in the reaction of provincial Conservatives to word that Coleman wouldn’t be Premier after all.

They skipped past the obligatory expressions of concern over Coleman’s unspecified family problem and quickly went on to talk up the chances the party now had to hold a “proper” leadership contest.
Conservatives were relieved that Frank was gone.  You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief.

16 June 2014

Understanding election polls #nlpoli

If you want to get a decent discussion of the Ontario election results and the way polling research tracked the campaign, take a look at a piece from The Star on Sunday.

The piece talks about different ways of conducting a poll – Internet panel,  live calls or automated calls – and compares the results of each technique with the election outcome and with different polls conducted during the last week of the campaign.


13 June 2014

Criticism #nlpoli

Take a gander at this letter to the editor of Overcast by someone using the name Samuel Wilkes.

It’s about a problem in the arts community with criticism.
We’re shit at giving it, we’re shit at getting it, respecting it, promoting it. Criticism in Newfoundland is bad.

12 June 2014

Sometimes a cigar … #nlpoli

“Fundamentally, the [Conservative Party leadership] process works,” former Conservative cabinet minister Shawn Skinner said on CBC’s  On Point last weekend.  “It’s been proven in the past.  The party would have been better served if there’d been more candidates, but it is what it is.”

It’s a variation on what Skinner said on the same program after he confirmed he wouldn’t run.

In itself, the statement is literally true: the process delivered a leader for the party. 

But that’s about all it seemed to do. 

11 June 2014

Pollyanna Peek-a-Boo and the Economic Unboom #nlpoli

Premier Peek-a-Boo took time out of his long, slow wander to the Premier’s Office this week to do an interview with the Grand Falls-Windsor Advertiser.

Check it out.

Frank Coleman thinks everything is fantastic in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

10 June 2014

“Out-sourcing” social programs and policy #nlpoli

The incredible story from Ireland about the remains of 800 babies and children found in a discarded septic tank caused your humble e-scribbler to think a bit about local history.

Then this post at the Monkey Cage put it in a bigger perspective.

09 June 2014

Air Canada to London: back again #nlpoli

How times change.

Last week, industry minister Susan Sullivan attended an announcement by Air Canada that they would be bringing back year-round direct flights between St. John’s and London.  Starting in the fall,  Air Canada will offer three direct flights a week to London.  Next summer, they’ll offer daily service. 

It’s great news for anyone who wants to travel to Europe for business or on holiday.  For that matter, if you want to get anywhere to the East,  having a flight to London is a bonus. It’s like having that daily shuttle to Newark if you want to go anywhere in the United States and further south.

At times like this, it seems like a million years ago that the same people who are running the province these days were engaged in a complete insane jihad against Air Canada for making a simple business decision. 

06 June 2014

A farewell to Tom Marshall #nlpoli

Tom Marshall spent his last few hours ever as a member of the House of Assembly on Thursday,  as the spring session drew to a close.  Tom’s already handed in his notice and will be out of the Premier’s Office and politics around this time next month.

Marshall is decent fellow who brought sincerity, integrity, and dignity to the House and to the cabinet responsibilities he bore. He took a lot of praise from colleagues on both sides of the House on Thursday and Tom deserved every word. Tom’s short tenure as Premier began with some of the smartest moves the Conservatives have ever made.

It’s unfortunate that the end of his tenure has been marred by a series of unfortunate events. But in another sense, those events are typical of the history of the current administration.

05 June 2014

There’s good news and there’s bad news #nlpoli

Corporate Research Associates and the provincial Conservatives played up the change in government satisfaction in the release of CRA’s quarterly advertising poll on Wednesday.

But CRA’s satisfaction numbers don’t mean anything, as regular readers of this corner recall from last month. CRA doesn’t explore “satisfaction”  to see what it means and, as you can see from the party choice numbers, voters don’t think it means much either.  The Conservatives get high government satisfaction numbers but they still indicate they’d vote for another party by a wide margin if there was an election tomorrow. 

Essentially the Conservatives today are in the same spot the Liberals were in before the 2003 election.  That is, the same spot, with one difference:  the Liberals were polling higher.  That should send a shiver up the spine of a few Conservatives.  Either that it would spur them to all sorts of imaginary crap like pretending that the Liberal vote is soft or that people are just waiting with bated breath for the real Coleman to emerge and unleash his “vision” on them.

Rather than fantasy,  let’s see what the CRA numbers might tell us if we try to keep both feet on the ground.

04 June 2014

And then things went horribly wronger… #nlpoli

John Crosbie, the elder statesmen of Conservatives in the province took a shot at Danny Williams for his continued interference in the internal affairs of the provincial Conservatives.

Danny blew a gasket and willingly gave interviews to every media outlet in town, thereby guaranteeing that the story that can only do even more damage to the provincial Conservatives would keep going for a day longer than the Conservatives needed.

Not to be outdone,  Tweet minister Steve Kent called a couple of the local media outlets and claimed that his unique status in the Conservative leadership-race-that-never-was entitled him to refute Crosbie. Thus the story will drag on for yet another news cycle longer than the Conservatives really needed.

03 June 2014

John, Danny, and voter apathy #nlpoli

Every now and again,  someone will talk about voter apathy. 

Last week,  Steve Kent was circulating the link to an article that claimed that youth engagement – getting young people more involved in the community and in politics – was a way of getting more people to vote at election time.

That’s what voter apathy is about, by the way:  low voter turn-out at the polls.  It’s a big issue in most of Europe and in North America.  we’ll get back to it in a minute.

Kent was so keen on this article because he is working hard to become the youth engagement guru of Newfoundland and Labrador.  He is especially proud of his first bill in the legislature – Bill 6 – that included a couple of clauses that say a town council can name people under the age of 18 years to positions called “youth representatives.” 

02 June 2014

No sense of irony at all #nlpoli

The smart guy they could have had – but frigged over twice -  told Canadian Press:

“The understanding of the [provincial political] climate isn’t as sophisticated as it should be for those who are working with Mr. Coleman on the strategic side.”

Without knowing what the smart guy said, one of the guys supporting Mr. Coleman said: 

“I don’t think anybody ever dreamed in a million years that Frank would take the heat that he has taken over the past few months since he decided to run…”.