30 June 2015

Forget that Orange Wave Thing #nlpoli

Two-thirds of respondents to the most recent Abacus-VOCM News poll said they believed the Liberal Party will win the next provincial general election.

That’s an important question because recent American research suggests it is a good indication of the actual vote result than the traditional “which party will you vote for?” question.

There’s another reason why this question is important.  Look at the contrast between NDP and Conservative supporters.  More than half of New Democratic supporters think the Liberals will win. 

Only  28% of Dippers think their own party will win the next election.   A majority of provincial Conservatives think the Tories will win. But get this:  37% of Tories think the Grits will come out on top.

People who think there is some kind of NDP wave about sweep the universe can think again.

29 June 2015

Rex, re-districting, and getting it right #nlpoli

Rex Hillier:  the first political victim of the bill that redrew the political map in Newfoundland.

Simple story.

Easy peasey.

And complete crap.

27 June 2015

The not-so-rare leap: @abacusdata June 2015 #nlpoli

Two different polls from two different pollsters using two different polling methods have shown basically the same thing:  the New Democrats and Conservatives are duking it out for second place, both of whom remain well behind the Liberals who hold a massive lead in provincial politics.

Corporate Research Associates (May) showed the Conservatives still slightly ahead of the New Democrats.  Abacus Data’s most recent poll for VOCM shows the New Democrats slightly ahead.

Abacus’  David Coletto described the NDP  jump as “rare”, but that’s not really the case.

26 June 2015

Porter makes history #nlpoli

Steve Porter made history on Thursday night.

He defeated an incumbent in the House of Assembly  - Rex Hillier  - in a party nomination fight.  This doesn’t happen very often, mostly because political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador have seldom held nomination contests at the district level involving incumbents.

That isn’t a function of the lack of interest among prospective politicians. It’s just been the practice to grant incumbents a lock on the district once they win the nomination the first time. That’s one of the reasons why local politics can’t really be considered to be highly competitive.  The parties restrict the opportunities for challengers to enter the fray.

Porter tried for the nomination before and lost to Hillier in a squeaker.  He didn’t put together a strong get-out-the-vote operation the last time and wanted to give it another go. This time around Porter had some help from experienced campaigners.  It made a difference.

Aside from the specifics of this particular situation, contested nominations are an important way of refreshing a political party.  The competition keeps everyone on their toes.


25 June 2015

She's a class act all the way #nlpoli

The House of Assembly closed on Tuesday, likely for the last time before the next election.

Sure,  Premier Paul Davis said he may call the House back in the fall for a quick amendment to a law, but for most members, Tuesday was the last day of the session.

And for some members, like George Murphy, it was their last day in the House of Assembly, period, full stop, end of story.

They all got a few minutes to say a few words and get emotional.

And after all the formal proceedings were done,  the three party leaders got to speak.  It’s fascinating to see what they said about their colleagues, as recorded by Hansard

24 June 2015

Purity Factories' advertising no treat at all #nlpoli

Venerable local food manufacturer Purity Factories has a new advertising campaign featuring its delicious cream crackers.

On a billboard in the east end of St. John’s,  the line in big letters opposite a shot of the product says “not gluten free.”

The tag below it right next to the company logo is “Treat yourself.”

If all you know about gluten is the current bullshit diet fad based on junk science, then you might think this is a clever ad.

But for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with celiac disease,   there’s no treat in eating food with gluten.

23 June 2015

George Murphy quits politics #nlpoli

Whenever anyone runs down politicians as a group,  remember George Murphy.

And then give the boor who ran down politicians a lash in the arse.

That’s basically all that sort of person is good for:  a target for your boot.

We need more people like George Murphy in public life,  not fewer. He is a fundamentally decent, generous, and thoughtful person. While there are plenty of people like George in public life, thankfully, and in life in general, we can never have enough.

22 June 2015

Tree Politics #nlpoli

From your humble e-scribbler's yard,  the province's political parties as revealed by trees.

First, we have the Conservative Party.

Knows it's a tree

Lots of branches down below.   Up at the top, a few little shoots who some times look like they are on top.

The truth:  no matter what it looks like, there remains only  One True Leader.

Second, we have the Liberal Party.

Knows it's a tree.

Lots of branches down below.

But a bit of a mess up on top with a  bunch of different branches trying to be the leader.

Third, and last, is the New Democratic Party.

The same tree as the rest,  just a lot smaller, and a bit heavy on one side.

Thinks it's a rose bush.


No equity? No surprise. #nlpoli

It didn’t take long for Paul Davis to get the comparison he was looking for last week.

The Telegram - not surprisingly – offered it up in the editorial on June 17:

“Premier Paul Davis pulled a Danny Williams Tuesday,”  the editorialist wrote.

Davis told the annual NOIA oil and gas industry conference that a deal to develop Bay du Nord was mere weeks away.  Never mind the complexity of the project:  500 kilometres offshore,  in very deep water,  very deep under ground.  Never mind the complexities of international law not fully resolved yet.  Never mind the project economics – whether it can be developed profitably -  are still unknown.

Never mind anything.

The goal was the comparison.

20 June 2015

What district is Earle in, again? #nlpoli

Since the bill to change provincial districts cleared the House last week,  the provincial New Democrats have been tweeting sanctimoniously about the harm done to rural districts by the bill.

All those rural seats lost,  they wail.

All very undemocratic,  they cry.

And all very much a load of shit, at least as far as the Dipper claim goes.

19 June 2015

The politics of information #nlpoli

A couple of recent post are reminders of how important it is to take a look at issues in the province from another perspective.

On June 10,  you will find a post about crab fishermen from New Brunswick who want to sell their catch to a company near Corner Brook.  The problem is that federal regulations limit where the fishermen can sell their catch. The policy is rooted in the sort of local protectionism that lay behind opposition in some quarters to European free trade.

Thursday’s post (June 17) was about remarks by Quebec’s energy minister about offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Pierre Arcand argued that Quebec had better sort out an agreement with the federal government over jurisdiction for the offshore resources.

Old Harry was sitting there waiting for development and Newfoundland and Labrador,  Arcand said,  was ahead of Quebec.  The result could be that Newfoundland and Labrador would  wind up reaping huge benefits from the Old Harry field.  Quebec, meanwhile, would be left behind. 

18 June 2015

Newfoundland forcing Quebec's hand on Old Harry #nlpoli

The Bay du Nord field is far offshore and far from development, Paul Davis’ optimism notwithstanding.

It’s way the hell offshore (about 500 kilometres),  way the hell under water (more than two kilometres) and then way the heck under the sea bed  (about another two kilometres).  It’s not going to be easy and it sure as heck isn't going to happen in less than five years.

Premier Paul Davis likely talked up the prospect of an agreement  to develop Bay du Nord because he needed something to say at the annual offshore development conference this week.

What’s curious, though, is that he never mentioned a far more interesting project that is far easier to develop.

17 June 2015

A troublesome and costly pattern #nlpoli

There are so many problems raised by Premier Paul Davis’ zeal to sign an agreement with Statoil for the Bay du Nord that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Perhaps the best place to start is with the deal announced the day before Davis’ oil news.  The provincial government gave $6.5 million in public money to an insurance company to establish a major corporate office in St. John’s. 

Newfoundland and Labrador got the company to move here by engaging in a bidding war with other provinces that were anxious for the business.  Newfoundland and Labrador essentially gave away the most.

That’s what happens when you bargain in a weak position.

16 June 2015

The Moveable Fixed Election Date #nlpoli

Arguably, the greatest fairy tale the Conservatives spread after 2003 was that Danny Williams didn’t take a salary from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The truth was he collected every penny of his salary from the day he entered the House of Assembly until the day he left.

The second biggest fib they told was that there were fixed election dates.

15 June 2015

Brad Wall's case for abolishing Premiers #cdnpoli #nlpoli

Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall thinks that making the senate an elected institution that better reflects Canadians is too hard.

Rather than reform the senate,  Wall wants to get rid of it altogether.

Wall thinks that the provincial Premiers should do the job currently done by the senate.

Here’s why no one should take senate abolition seriously.

Here’s why those proposing it don’t have the best interest of Canadians at heart.

12 June 2015

Small things and big differences #nlpoli

The Auditor General delivered his annual report on some of the provincial government’s programs and services on Wednesday.

We learned, among other things that provincial government consulting contracts have gone horrendously beyond the amount originally budgeted.  The worst case was a contract – presumably related to the Corner Brook hospital  - that wound up  being 780% beyond the original budget. 

One of the big culprits in the escalating costs were change orders.  Those are, as the name suggests, changes to the original contract required because of changes made by the government. That was the case both in capital works contracts that involved changes to construction but in service contracts as well.

11 June 2015

A tonic for NDP Amnesia #nlpoli

When he was a member of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador,  NDP member of parliament Jack Harris  double-billed the legislature for more than $2,000 in expenses and made $27,066 in "donations" from money originally intended to operate a constituency office and inform voters about his activities.


10 June 2015

The cost of out-dated ideas #nlpoli

The Barry Group plant near Corner Brook pays a better price for crab than a competitor in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick fishermen can't steam across the Gulf of St. Lawrence and sell their product in Corner Brook because of restrictions on their license.

They are same sort of restrictions that apply to local fishermen and which lay at the heart of regressive measures like minimum processing requirements.  The result is that fish processors in this province lose out on product for their plants and fish plant workers can't get enough work.

Don't believe it?

Check out a recent story in l'Acadie Nouvelle. [translation by google and SRBP]

"They are interested. They saw the quality of .my crab and they asked me how they could do to access other crab like that. I replied that the best way would be to open a factory in the Acadian Peninsula. Sure, between showing interest and actually doing it, there still has work to do, but at least they can learn," he said.

Deaths in Modern Conflict

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.


The Politics of Menses #nlpoli

Until now, we had no idea how our governments valued menstruation.

Some of you might be surprised to think this was a question but now we have an answer.

Both the federal and provincial governments decided last month to remove the harmonised sales tax from tampons, napkins, and other feminine sanitary products.  In Newfoundland and Labrador, that added 13% on every purchase.

The government in Newfoundland and Labrador refused to put a value on the tax, but your humble e-scribbler is willing to take a shot at it.

09 June 2015

A lot can change in three months #nlpoli

The Liberals and the Conservatives dropped in the most recent Corporate Research Associates poll and all that vote went to the New Democrats.

Let’s look at the party choice numbers without the skew of looking only at decideds.  Here’s a chart showing the CRA results since the last general election, including Monday’s numbers.

Red = Liberal

Orange = NDP

Blue  = Conservative

Thin blue/black = Undecided,  do not know,  won't answer.

08 June 2015

Small ball, election dates, and other minutae #nlpoli

Later today, Premier Paul Davis will introduce a bill in the House of Assembly that, among other things,  sets the next provincial general election for the last week of November. The most likely day for voting is November 24, with the official campaign starting 21 days before that.

There’s no surprise in this. The Conservatives have been talking about November as an option since January when they introduced the plan to cut public representation in the legislature. Reporters asked Liberal leader Dwight Ball at the time if he thought the election should be delayed to November to avoid a clash with the federal election set for October 19. Ball said he didn’t have a problem with the delay.

For the past couple of weeks, Ball has been insisting that the Conservatives need to have the election done by the end of September. That’s the anniversary of Paul Davis’ election as Conservative leader. It’s also the third different position, incidentally, that Ball has taken within the past six months on the timing of the next election. At the end of last year, Ball told the CBC he thought people should go to the polls in February in order to let a new government deal with the provincial government’s financial problems. A couple of weeks later, Ball had no problem with a November. Now, he wants it all done by the end of September.

07 June 2015

Q2 2015 Poll Speculation #nlpoli

Corporate Research Associates boss Don Mills has done a good job of teasing the results of his latest poll, due Monday.

"Significant" change in voter intentions, Mills tweeted on Friday and repeatedly over the weekend.

It's all fed a great deal of speculation.  Someone fed the self-styled Hydroqueen internal Liberal polling numbers and she has blogged them and tweeted about them repeatedly. Your humble e-scribbler jumped into another conversation based on the foggy early-morning memory and since that memory was so horribly wrong,  here's a review of the recent poll numbers based on more than memory.

So are those Hydroqueen numbers the sort of results CRA will release?

About how the predictions of further Liberal decline or of a Conservative rise?

Will CRA show any of that?

Probably not.

05 June 2015

Politicians and other damn fools #nlpoli

On Wednesday, politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador condemned the federal minister of fisheries for making a decision about the fishery in a province based on politics instead of economics or science.

The politicians were so upset with Gail Shea that they passed a resolution demanding that she allocate a quota of fish to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians based on political rather than economic or scientific reasons.

There was no sense in their resolution that what was sauce Prince Edward Island goose was also sauce  for the Newfoundland gander, if that’s what you are thinking.  Nor was there any sense of hypocrisy or irony or whatever self-awareness it would be that makes one criticise someone else for doing what you then do.

The fact that some of the politicians explained their support for the resolution using false memory only sweetened the humour in the whole affair.

04 June 2015

The Persistence of False Information: free electricity version #nlpoli

An exchange on Twitter reminded your humble e-scribbler on Wednesday evening of the power of false information to persist despite either being disproven or, in this case, being an obvious nonsense.

Not surprisingly, the discussion was about Nalcor, Emera,  the Maritime Link and a block of electricity that Nalcor gets under the Muskrat Falls deal.  There is a lot of false information about these subjects that just won’t die.  Let’s just deal with the free block of electricity.

03 June 2015

Duff in the Hole #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Dwight Ball’s announcement last week about Liberal Party funding was a good example of how relatively simple mistakes can turn a good-news announcement into a major public relations problem.

Another aspect to the story is a good example of how false information can make the story worse.

02 June 2015

Politics, CETA, and the fishery #nlpoli

The European trade deal came up in the House of Assembly on Monday.

Everyone kept to the same lines they've been kicking around for months.

Believe it if you want,  but if you want to find out what is really going on,  check out the interview your humble e-scribbler did with Jamie Baker of the Fisheries Broadcast last week.



01 June 2015

For want of a nail... #nlpoli

Dwight Ball demonstrated last week how very simple things can turn into problems very quickly. He handed his political opponents a stick they can use to beat him with. The fact they really don;t have much more than innuendo and speculation doesn’t matter. He’s given them a weapon.

Ball confirmed on Friday that the Liberal Party could have released relevant information on the party’s debt repayment on Wednesday.

Ball named the three banks involved in the debt forgiveness deal and indicated the total amount involved.  On Wednesday he had balked, noting there was a non-disclosure agreement in place.

What Ball also confirmed in the process is that he and his team simply weren’t ready on Wednesday for the announcement.  That’s not the first time Ball and his team have made this kind of a simple cock-up.  The simplest way to fix it would be to re-organize the senior end of his office.  Ball needs to bring in some new people, especially ones with significant political experience.  to augment his existing team.