30 October 2015

Party Finance, 2010 to 2014 #nlpoli

Elections Newfoundland and Labrador released the 2014 party financial reports recently.  That let’s us take a look at trends over the past five years.

party revenue

The Conservatives have consistently been able to raise more money than both of their competitors.

That changed in 2013.

In 2014, the year of the Great Tory Leadership  Disaster Part One and Part Two,  cash deserted the Conservatives.  They aren’t destitute, but their annual cash haul dropped by half in 2014 what it had been in 2013.  And if you look at 2013, you can see it as lower than it had been for the previous three years..

Money is the fuel all political parties need. When the Tories talk bravely about a 21 seat strategy they know they are blowing smoke up a reporter’s ass when they know they have the sort of annual cash haul the Liberals had in 2011.


29 October 2015

The United Newfoundland and Labrador Party #nlpoli

In preparation for the coming general election battle, the provincial Conservatives are digging in their headquarters within sight of the head waters of Shit Creek.

They are frustrated, as David Cochrane reports.  They cannot lay a glove on Dwight Ball and the Liberals. As a result, “[w]e are going to be very aggressive,”  a big Tory told Cochrane.

Like the Conservatives have been push-overs and pansies until now.  Since 2001,  the provincial Conservatives have been the most harshly partisan bunch of politicians Newfoundland and Labrador has seen since Confederation.  Go back to the Bill 29 racket or the Muskrat Falls fight. 

Heck, go back to the way they treated Tom Osborne.  Ostracised within caucus and then when he left them,  brutally abused by Steve Kent, Joan Burke,  Kathy Dunderdale and the rest of the Conservative goon squad.

28 October 2015

Real change #nlpoli

“A positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream,”  Justin Trudeau told Canadians after he won a truly historic victory in the October 19th federal general election.  That victory, said Trudeau,  “is what positive politic can do.”

“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.”

Premier Paul Davis spoke to the St. John’s Board of Trade on Tuesday.  Earlier in the day he released another letter he’d written to Trudeau listing off Davis’ demands,  things he wanted Trudeau to give the province as soon as possible.

The provincial government had problems dealing with the federal government, wrote Davis, as if he and his colleagues had absolutely nothing to do with creating those problems.

Davis complained about not having a federal cabinet minister from the province, as if Davis and his colleagues had absolutely nothing to do with creating that situation either.

“But with your election,  we now have change,”  wrote Davis.

And just to prove how Davis himself had nothing to do with change, he then proceeded to rattle off a list of demands.

27 October 2015

Blackmail and the Conservative dysfunction #nlpoli

Paul Davis and his cabinet were all smiles and chuckles last week at the election of a new administration in Ottawa.

Optimistic for the future.

Looking forward to a new relationship and all that.

Then came the issue if the tariff on ships of a certain size built outside Canada.  The Conservatives are holding it out as a test of Justin Trudeau and his fellow Liberals.  Forgiving the tariff would be a sign that things had changed in Ottawa.

26 October 2015

The Conservative NDP Merger we need #nlpoli

The province’s largest public sector union met last week in St. John’s for its annual convention.  They started out their first day with a speech from recently-elected boss Jerry Earle. The militant guy promised the union would militantly oppose any plan to turn public sector services over to the private sector.

The province’s NDP leader – Earle McCurdy - spoke to delegates on Thursday.  McCurdy said for umpteen thousandth time this year, that he and his friends in the union party would also steadfastly resist any effort to privatize public services. 

Friday was the day the union let the other two provincial party leaders say a few words.  What happened next was amazing..

22 October 2015

Polls, St. John’s East, and the coming provincial election #nlpoli

SRBP told you on Tuesday morning that the federal election did not bode well for the New Democrats and Conservatives in the province.

The Liberals are just better organized than the other parties.  They can identify their voters,  keep in touch with them, and get them to the polls far better than the New Democrats or the Conservatives.  That’s how you win elections.  And when you are that much better at it than all the others, the odds go up exponentially that you will get more and more seats than people might expect. 

There’s way more to it than just the idea that the Liberals have a computer program that does today what we used to do on index cards.  Campaigns converted to Excel and other spreadsheet programs back when personal computers first appeared.

Organization is also about how the parties collect information and what they do with it. The Liberals are light years ahead of the competition, as Monday’s results showed.

21 October 2015

Scary words #nlpoli

From Newfoundland Power’s rate application to the Public Utilities Board.


The interconnection to the North American grid is a transformative event for the electrical system that currently serves the island of Newfoundland. It also creates significant uncertainties for Newfoundland Power and the customers it serves.

How the costs of the Muskrat Falls development and the transmission systems necessary to create the interconnection will be recovered from Newfoundland Power’s customers is part of that uncertainty. The reliability of wholesale supply for the Company and, indirectly, Newfoundland Power’s customers after interconnection, is another part of that uncertainty. These matters will likely be considered by the Board over the next 2 to 4 years. It is already clear, however, that the interconnection as currently proposed will have significant potential consequences for the future cost and reliability of electrical service for Newfoundland Power’s customers. (pp. 1-6 to 1-7)

20 October 2015

The lessons from Monday night #nlpoli

Nick Whalen killed a giant.

That’s the story of the 2015 federal election in Newfoundland and Labrador, bar none. 

People told Whalen he was crazy to run against the popular NDP incumbent.  No one gave him a chance.  But Whalen wound up defeating the NDP heavyweight.

19 October 2015

An opportunity to feel like we’re part of the country again #nlpoli #cdnpoli

This is Craig Westcott’s editorial from The Pearl newspaper, reproduced with permission.. 

This is a tough column to write. Taking an editorial position in favour of one candidate over another when both have worked so hard in this election isn’t as easy as some partisans on either side might think.

My opinion is tempered by the experience of having run myself, back in 2008, when I didn’t stand a snot of a chance as the Conservative candidate in the federal election against the NDP’s Jack Harris, who had the full weight and force of Danny Williams’ popularity and provincial PC machine behind him.

As I said at the time, I ran not so much for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives as against Danny Williams’ ABC campaign and his bid to isolate Newfoundland even farther from the political mainstream of this country.

Dead Meat #nlpoli

Two polls taken during the recent campaign showed Scott Andrews was losing in his old seat in Avalon.

Decided and leanings


MQO/NTV (October)


43 (37)



19 (16)



14 (13)



19 (13)


Number in brackets is decided only.  UND = 17

The “undecided “in the Mainstreet poll was 17%. When Mainstreet probed them to find which way they were leaning, the numbers you got above came out the other end. The decideds only, without the leaning figures) is in brackets. NTV didn’t release the raw data.

The numbers in those polls shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Liberals turfed Andrews from the caucus over allegations of sexual impropriety.  Andrews has talked around the issue but still hasn’t told anyone what happened. 

As it appears, people aren’t interested in the issue.  They aren’t interested because they have already made up their mind about Andrews.  He is dead meat just as he has been dead since the Liberals turfed him from caucus. The campaign didn't change anything for him.

The rest of the field never mattered.  You can see in these polls the fact the NDP has absolutely zero impact outside metro St. John’s. The Conservatives are pulling nine points in the most recent poll. 


17 October 2015

DHDM 2: St. John’s East #nlpoli #cdnpoli

If the numbers from the Liberal campaign in St. John’s East are right,  then New Democratic Party incumbent Jack Harris is in serious trouble.

Asked if which candidate they would vote for,  the 1,000 respondents to the IVR survey conducted over 48 hours late last week picked Harris by one point over his Liberal rival Nick Whalen.

This would be remarkable on a number of levels, not the least of which is that Whalen is a relative unknown in politics.  Harris, by contrast,  first got elected in 1987.  Whalen was 15 at the time.

Harris is a likeable fellow and his appeal cuts across party lines.  That broad appeal is why he has won the two federal elections he’s been in by sizeable margins:  74% of votes cast in 2008 and 71% in 2011.  That second huge victory shows that the internal feud within the Conservatives had nothing to do with his victory in 2008.

16 October 2015

Dead heat = dead meat #nlpoli

As the federal election winds down to the last day,  the result is likely going to be nothing any of the pundits expected.

Okay, the election isn;t winding down for the parties.  For them, it is winding up tighter than tighter, but for everyone else we are coming down to the end of things.

Anyway,  even for the folks who will be working this weekend without much sleep,  things now do not look anything like they looked at the start. more than two months ago.

15 October 2015


There are times you read stuff and you just have to wonder what brought that on.

There’s Telegram editor Russell Wangersky explaining how newspapers are still relevant in the world today. He starts bitching the old bitch about how radio stations in town used to read Telegram stories on the air word-for-word without crediting the folks at the Telly who did the work.

Then he starts in on bloggers for some reason.  Russell tells us the “dirty little secret”, namely that “they depend on us more than anyone else. They couldn’t do without us. They are building their sometimes-flimsy logical constructions on the rock-solid work of front-line reporters. The bloggers aren’t working the phones or holding the digital recorders — as much as private radio used to, and still does, rip and read, online commenters grab and gab.”

Yes, b’y Russell and we all live in our parents’ basement, never get out of our pajamas, and rock and roll music is the spawn of Satan.

14 October 2015

Consumer to pay 19.8 cents for electricity in 2020: Nalcor #nlpoli

Muskrat Falls will ensure consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador pay much higher electricity rates than they otherwise needed to pay.

The latest Nalcor estimate is that consumers in the province will see a 53% jump in rates between now and 2020, with rates hitting 19.8 as the project enters commercial production.

The information came in the reply by Nalcor officials to a question by Tom Baird.  Here’s a screen cap of the portion he tweeted on Tuesday:

baird nalcor cost

Double whammy there for Nalcor:

Bad enough. the 2020 date confirms recent projections from two different independent sources - via Uncle Gnarley - that Nalcor’s megaproject in Labrador is now two years behind schedule.  There’s a very good likelihood the real date will be later..

Far worse, you now know you will be getting a massive  - and entirely unnecessary - jump in electricity rates due to Muskrat Falls.  The cost over-runs are just adding to the amount of the increased cost. 

Nalcor’s official figures put the jump at 53% above your current charge  For folks using 1500 kilowatt hours a month of electricity, you’d be looking at about another $100 a month. 

Compare that to the “seven dollars” more figure Ed Martin was tossing around a couple of weeks ago when word of the last cost over-run and project delay hit the news. VOCM even used it in a headline on September 30: 

Nalcor Expects Average Power Bill to Go Up About $7


The truth was that the seven dollar hike Martin was talking about was on top of several other Nalcor increased estimates that still didn’t account for the gap between where we are currently and where Nalcor’s estimates started.  More on that below.  Key thing here is that official Nalcor figures now put the rate increase at 53%.

Only problem is we can’t be sure Nalcor has its own figures right. Here’s why.

13 October 2015

The Manipulation Manipulation #nlpoli #cdnpoli

/What a difference 36 years makes.

There’s  New Democrat strategist Robin Sears in a National Post piece complaining about the way the Liberal are running their guy named Trudeau in lots of situations that give him good visuals.

“He isn’t running to be a boxer or a canoeist, he’s running to be Prime Minister, which is a different set of credentials,” said Robin Sears, who spent several campaigns in the war room for former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

Now jump back to 1979, courtesy of the National Film Board’s documentary about the federal election in which another guy named Trudeau figured prominently.

12 October 2015

The ABCs of ABC #nlpoli


In 2004, Danny Williams fought for three months against a federal government decision that had been settled – at least for the federal government – earlier in the year as part of the usual budget cycle.

Williams got the money the federal government had allocated but won the domestic war for public opinion.

In 2007,  Williams and his provincial Conservatives launched a second political holy war against the federal government’s budget decisions.  Williams waged a much longer war,  lost it, but was widely credited at home with a victory.

There were other similarities

08 October 2015

The uncivil Civil War #nlpoli

At the heart of the ongoing civil war between Danny Williams’ provincial Conservatives and Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives is the claim by Williams that Harper broke his 2006 election promise on Equalization.

Williams wrote to each of the federal party leaders and asked the leaders to state their party’s position on Equalization.

07 October 2015

Alternatives to the Falls #nlpoli

Since people are wondering if Muskrat Falls really is still the cheapest way to make electricity for local use,  let’s take a look at it.

The tale is actually very simple.

Nalcor argued that Muskrat Falls was cheaper than one alternative:  an island system dependent on thermal generation using some sort of petroleum fuel like the heavy stuff burned at Holyrood.

Now that wasn’t true even in December 2010, as this SRBP post noted at the time. Even if you accept the contrived studies used in 2012 to justify Muskrat Falls,  the massive cost increases for the project have made the Falls more expensive than the alternatives. 

The only advantage Muskrat had over thermal (oil) was fuel and those prices have gone in one direction:  down.  Since you can build a new thermal plant near to the demand source, you wouldn’t need the expensive connections to the mainland.  That all works for oil-fired generation and against Muskrat Falls.

Oil prices have plummeted in recent months and are forecast to stay low,  Muskrat Falls’ only advantage is definitely gone.


06 October 2015

The smallest details tell the biggest story #nlpoli

Last week, provincial fisheries minister Vaughn Granter held a news conference at a local restaurant known for its seafood dishes to announce that from now on, that restaurant and even ordinary consumers could buy fish.directly from a fisherman without facing any legal problems.

That may sound a bit odd to some people but truth be told the provincial government has for decades banned direct sales to consumers.  Ostensibly it was based on concerns over public health but in truth it was just another way the government tried to control the hell out of the fish business.

Wonderful news.

But the really fascinating detail was buried away in Granter’s speaking notes.

05 October 2015

Consumer electricity costs to jump by 51% (revised) #nlpoli


The average consumer in Newfoundland and Labrador should expect to pay 51% more for electricity compared to their current  rates once Muskrat Falls comes online,  according to SRBP’s estimate.  Nalcor figures available at the time of writing.the original version of this post suggested a rate increase of 51%.

A household that current pays $156 $179.25 a month for electricity (not including HST, basic charge or provincial rebate) will see their monthly charge increase by $94 $282 a month with Muskrat Falls included in 2020.  Those calculations use Nalcor figures and current domestic electricity rates. 

Former Premier Danny Williams, the man behind the project, dismissed the cost increases for the project as “mouse droppings” and nothing more than the “cost of doing business.” 

Nalcor boss Ed Martin said last week that consumer prices would go up by an additional seven dollars a month due to the most recent increase.  Martin didn’t explain that those calculations were merely the added costs from the latest increase added to Nalcor’s earlier forecast based on cost over-runs.  What Martin also didn’t say was that Nalcor’s calculations started from an assumed price that was significantly higher than actual consumer rates at the moment.

02 October 2015

Hyping the stock, yet again #nlpoli

Any oil company seriously interested in bidding on an exploration license offshore Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t likely to need the hyped presentation by the provincial government Thursday.

Exploring offshore is expensive.

Always has been.

Always will be.

Exploring beyond the 200 mile exclusive economic zone, in upwards of two kilometres of water, just makes the oil and gas all that much more costly. to find and more costly to produce.

01 October 2015

Muskrat Falls commercial power by Q2 2019 ? #nlpoli

The latest progress report shows that Nalcor had a productive summer, but an extrapolation by the researcher and writer  JM of information in the latest progress reports points to first power from Muskrat Falls in September 2018 and full commercial power by the middle of 2019.

In at post at Uncle Gnarley, JM described the challenge facing Nalcor in 2015:

As correctly noted in the March 2015 oversight report the productivity improvements in Q2 2015 are essential to meeting the final milestone schedule.  For the Muskrat Falls team, the summer of 2015 is really “make or break” for the project.  They need to get the project back on track before the construction schedule is hampered yet again by another Labrador winter. Winter begins earlier in Labrador than it does on the Island. The project team knows this.  The questions is this:  is the productivity improving at a pace where the schedule can be recovered? [sic]  If Nalcor have any hope for schedule recovery they must first start meeting their originally planned productivity targets.  In the July 2014 schedule, they planned to complete about 6.7% of the project in Q1-2015.  With all their mitigation measures, Nalcor should be looking for about 33% complete by the end of June.