29 November 2016

Down due to illness - updated

Update (30 Nov 2016):  A trip to the doctor on Tuesday proved to be the best thing to do.  The cold is on the run and regular screeding will resume Monday morning.

Wait Times:  Trip to the doctor prompted a review of the file only to discover Eastern Health had not responded to a  rheumatology referral sent by the old scribbler's GP in May 2010 when the scribbler's arthritis reawakened after 30 years in remission.

6.5 years.

Nil response from Eastern Health.

Another close family member is well into the second year if not the third with no response on a rheumatology referral to Eastern Health.

Original Post (29 Nov 16):  A cold has sidelined your e-scribbler for a couple of days.  Regular screeds will resume shortly.

-srbp-

Waiting for Fidel #nlpoli #cdnpoli

From the National Film Board:

"This feature-length documentary from 1974 takes viewers inside Fidel Castro's Cuba. A movie-making threesome hope that Fidel himself will star in their film. The unusual crew consists of former Newfoundland premier Joseph Smallwood, radio and TV owner Geoff Stirling and NFB film director Michael Rubbo. What happens while the crew awaits its star shows a good deal of the new Cuba, and also of the three Canadians who chose to film the island."


28 November 2016

The graveyard of ambition #nlpoli

Think of it as an inside joke.

James McLeod interviewed Premier Dwight Ball about the horror show that has been Ball's first year in office.  "Ball also came under heavy fire,"  McLeod wrote, "for his handling of Nalcor Energy and perceived dishonesty about what he knew about outgoing CEO Ed Martin’s exorbitant severance package." McLeod quotes Ball:  "'I understand why people would suggest that, well, this guy, I can’t trust him, simply because of the HST or because of this or that.'"

This or that, of course, would be Ball's claim that he knew nothing of the plan to pay Ed Martin any form of severance although he'd quit as the head of Nalcor. That's the sort-of joke part. I can see, said Ball understatedly, how people might think I have some trouble telling them the straight story.  Subsequent evidence made it pretty clear Ball knew about severance payment Martin got, even if it was only to the extent he believed Martin was entitled to a severance payment under his employment contract and didn't know about the elaborate fraud perpetrated by the Tory-appointed Nalcor board.

25 November 2016

Fractured Fairy Tales: Jerry Earle edition #nlpoli

Via VOCM,  the reaction of NAPE boss Jerry Earle to a study that showed the provincial government is overloaded with provincial public servants compared to the situation in other provinces:
Earle says while that might be true, there are good reasons, given the province's geography and demographics. 
He says even comparing Newfoundland and Labrador to the rest of Atlantic Canada is not comparing "apples to apples."
 Okay.

Jerry is actually right.  And wrong.

24 November 2016

The future will be something #nlpoli

The association representing the province's offshore supply and service businesses paid a consultant from London to look at the potential for development of the oil located in very deep water offshore Newfoundland.

As CBC's Terry Roberts tells us,  the goal of the exercise was to help NOIA members get ready for a possible increase in deep water exploration.  Land sales offshore the past couple of years have been extremely good.  Companies bid huge amounts of money for the chance to explore offshore.

The offshore regulatory board offered 13 parcels this year.  They accepted proposals with a little over $500 million for exploration on about 1.5 million hectares.  In 2015,  the offshore board accepts proposals totalling $1.2 billion on 2.5 million hectares.

That looks really good.  The consultants said so.  Could be a massive boom in exploration, they said.

23 November 2016

Population density and just dense #nlpoli

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is in financial trouble.

It will spend this year about $3.0 billion more than it will take in.  In fact,  this year, as last year,  banks and other sources of borrowing will be the largest single source of income for the provincial government.

Newfoundland and Labrador is not a poor place, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination.  In absolute terms, the government will bring in more than twice as much than it did 25 years ago.  Inflation has not doubled in that same period.

Leave out the borrowing for a second. On a per person basis, the provincial government will bring in more revenue this than any other province in the country, bar none.

The problem we have is that government will spend so much more than it brings in.  That's what a deficit is:  spend more than you make.    Simple idea.

And yet so many people just keep trying to blame our problems on the federal government for not giving us handouts.

Unopen Government #nlpoli

The idea of open data has been around for a while.

In government, it means that government would make information like census data,  statistics,  licensing information easily and freely available for anyone to use, free of charge and any restrictions. It's a way of sparking creativity, crowd-sourcing new information, and basically spending less time and scarce resources in government trying to hide useful information the public should have anyway.

Officially, the provincial government here adopted the idea as official policy in 2014 but they have been typically very slow to put anything into action.

Case on point:  an access to information request for data collected from caribou monitoring collars.  The maps in the download are all stamped with a restriction that they are for the use of the original recipient only.  No one bothered to black them out, which would be the easiest thing to do... if the restriction didn't still apply.

More importantly, though,  the request was just for spot data shown on maps, as opposed to the actual latitude and longitude tracking information.  A government genuinely committed to open data would have just dumped this stuff into the public domain in the first place, in bulk. That would have saved the expense of converting it into maps into the first place for this request, no matter how small the dollar cost actually was.

There is soooo much that begs to be fixed in the provincial government's access to information world.

-srbp-

22 November 2016

un autre pet de cerveau de Jones #nlpoli

Labrador member of parliament Yvonne Jones got so effercited at the prospect of more hydro-electric development with Hydro-Quebec that she wanted to offer arctic and sub-arctic regions outside Labrador as potential customers for surplus Muskrat Falls power.

Seriously.

There are people in Labrador slaved to diesel generators.  Some of them can see the wires from Muskrat Falls headed off to the island.  No Muskrat juice for them, said Nalcor, because it wasn't cost effective.  And Jones knows this because the dweebs at Nalcor told her this when she was the member of the House of Assembly representing them.

Plus...

School Board Elections #nlpoli

Some folks were a bit agitated over the weekend about how hard it is going to be  - supposedly - to vote in the school board election.


Voter turn-out may be down, according to Amanda Bittner, a  political science professor at Memorial University.  According to the Telegram, Bittner "said a lack of accessibility to voter information has made it hard even to figure out where to mark a ballot. After visiting the officialwebsite and scrolling through a 364-page PDF of polling stations, she was not convinced it did the process any favours."

Bittner said that “at first it took a while for me to figure out, well, how do I actually figure out who’s going to run? How do I figure out how it works if I could nominate somebody? Every single step along the way has been a bit confusing, and that’s definitely something we don’t want if we care about turnout...".

Problems with a website will keep voters from turning out?  

Well, no.

21 November 2016

Poor Russell's Almanack #nlpoli

​Pity Russell Wangersky.​

Somebody is telling Russell he is part of the elite and Russell doesn't like it.

Not me, writes Russell, in one of his columns last week.  

No elite here.  And to prove the point, he rattles off the mundane list of things that make up his typical day.

All wonderful stuff and all necessarily irrelevant since Russell is precisely what he denies being.

18 November 2016

Canadian war grave destroyed by illegal salvagers #nlpoli

A recent survey of the waters around Indonesia by researchers using three-dimensional sonar imaging has confirmed that illegal salvagers have decimated the graves of thousands of Allied sailors who died during the Second World War when their ships were sunk by enemy attacks.

One of the British ships was HMS Exeter,  a British cruiser sunk by the Japanese during the second Battle of the Java Sea.  Among the dead on March 1, 1942 was 19-year-old Able Seaman Michael Fleming, the son of Richard and Christine Fleming of St. John's.

Fleming,  right,  was a member of the eighth contingent of Royal Navy volunteers to leave Newfoundland during World War 2.

According to The Guardian, the British ministry of defence has expressed serious concern about the illegal salvage and asked the Indonesian government o investigate and "take appropriate action" to prevent further disturbance of British shipwrecks that are also the graves of British servicemen and women.

17 November 2016

Canadian soldier dies on Jordanian training mission

Major Scott Foote, a logistics officer with 1 Canadian Division in Kingston, Ontario, died on Thursday while on a training mission in Jordan.  Foote was found unconscious in a gymnasium and was pronounced dead when efforts to revive him failed. His death is not combat-related.

Foote was working in Jordan as a liaison officer within the Canadian Defence Attaché’s office. He was part of the Canadian Training Assessment Team supporting Operation IMPACT,  part of Canadian efforts to assist Jordan to strengthen security and stability in the region.

Originally from New Harbour,  Foote was a graduate of Memorial University and the Marine Institute. His career of more than 25 years  in the Canadian Army included a posting a staff officer in the headquarters of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.  

He leaves a wife and son, living in Kingston, Ontario. 

-srbp-

Political campaigns matter #nlpoli


bialik-turnout-nov15-1New information calls for a change in perspective.

Turns out that the drop in turnout identified by the initial vote results wasn't as big a drop from 2012 as initially reported.  The folks at fivethirtyeight.com have figured it out.

 About 58.1 % of eligible voters turned out,  down  from 58.6% in 2012. The turn-out in 2000 was about 54%. Contrary to the impression some folks have,  turnout in American elections is actually up lately. The recent election may wind up having a bigger turnout than any election between 1972 and 2000.

Ego and folly #nlpoli

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.” 
Winston Churchill,  Hansard, 02 May 1935
______________________

"If there's a deal to be had that will benefit Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,"  Premier Dwight Ball in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, "the responsible thing to do is not ... [to] let our past inhibit and restrict where we could be in the future."

That's actually a clean version of the quote.  In the heat of the moment in the House, Ball injected another phrase - "we learned from our history" - in the bit taken up by the ellipsis (three dots).

Ball's performance in the House on Wednesday,  indeed the way he has approached rumours of talks that have been abundant since last spring, make plain that Ball is very much inhibited, bound, and restricted by the history of the Lower Churchill.  He is extremely sensitive about the politics and the history.  That is the only reason he would really be quite so ridiculous as to claim there are no discussions and then at the same time talk as though there are talks underway.

16 November 2016

Ball, Coady confirm secret talks with Quebec on Labrador hydro #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Premier Dwight Ball confirmed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that officials from this province are talking to officials in Quebec about significant development of hydro-electric assets on the Churchill River.

We know that something very serious is going on  - in secret  - because of the way that Ball and natural resources minister Siobhan Coady answered questions in the House from opposition leader Paul Davis about recent media reports about comments from Quebec and Ball's reply to the story.  Ball was very obviously playing with words at every turn in the House. Every answer to an opposition question had a too-cute-by-half quality to it,  giving the unmistakable feeling that Ball wasn't telling anything close to the truth.

Ball has done this before, most recently when ambushed by reporters on his return from a golf and hockey vacation in the middle of the Muskrat Falls protests.  With his public support in the low double-digits,  and with a severely damaged reputation from his performance in the the Ed Martin fiasco in the spring,  Ball's passive-aggressive performance in the House on Wednesday betrays a rather curious strategy.  Ball's performance just reinforces the negative impressions people have of him  - he has trouble telling the truth - without winning him any new supporters.

The Sunshine List Case hits the court #nlpoli

The public sector unions' attack on freedom of information is finally in front of a judge.  The unions want to  block disclosure of the names of public servants in response to a request from the Telegram's James McLeod for a list of public service positions in which the person holding the job makes more than $100,000 a year.

McLeod is compiling the list because both the former administration and the current one have committed to publishing one but haven't done so yet.  Several other provinces publish similar lists of public employees who make more than $100,000 a year.

The union's says it's okay to disclose the position title and income but McLeod shouldn't  have the name of the person holding the job.  It's a insane argument since there is no practical way to withhold either of the three elements of the request - name, position, salary - such that a person couldn't make up the list after a couple of requests. It's an insane argument from because the unions don't oppose disclosure of the name and position separately from the salary.  Well, at least they haven't objected so far.

But the position taken by the unions doesn't make sense for a bunch of other reasons.

15 November 2016

General Ignorance: Economic Version #nlpoli

Of all the people in Canada who know something about the Equalization system,. none of them sit in the House of Assembly.

Item:  Kevin Hutchings, a former cabinet minister, asked the finance minister why the provincial government had not gone to war with Ottawa to get some Equalization. Hutchings had a letter in the Telegram on Monday confirming for its subscribers that he hasn't got a clue.

The Tories tweeted this:
MHA Hutchings "why have liberals not worked to secure modernized equalization formula tied to fiscal capacity?"
Okay.

Equalization is a program introduced in 1957 to make sure that all provincial governments have at least the same basic fiscal capacity to deliver provincial services.

Since 1957.

Based on provincial fiscal capacity.

The federal government figures out an average for provincial governments. Fall above the line you get squat. Fall below the line you get cash. The work out the fiscal capacity as being so many thousand dollars per person in the province.

Item:  In reply to the question,  finance minister Cathy Bennett says the provincial government has been talking to Ottawa about bigger hand-outs and, oh yeah,  the current Equalization formula is the one Hutchings and his crowd negotiated.

On that second point,  errr,  no.

The federal government puts the thing in place.

There are no negotiations.

Item:  For the record,  the provincial government doesn't get Equalization because it makes too much money.  We are a "have" province.

As the governments own visiony documenty thing stated just last week:  "Even in 2016-17, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest per capita revenue ... among provinces."

That is supposed to be a good thing.

And it is.

Our government brought in more money per person than Alberta.

The problem is that bit where the three dots were in the original quote.  We also spent the most per son of every government in the country.

On what basis does a politician from this province think for one second that we have a right to be like Danny-Williams-rich and then go looking for welfare because we couldn't make ends meet AND get pissed off when they don't give it to us?

Seriously.

Item:   "Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says cutting back at this time is not the right approach. She says the public service is the main driver of the local economy." [VOCM]

The provincial government is in financial trouble *because* "the public service is the main driver of the local economy."

But Mary wants to keep going down a road that ends in catastrophe for everyone, including all the people in Mary's unions.

If you want to understand why the government is a mess, you now have a really good idea.

-srbp-

The Trump Election #nlpoli

All you will ever need in order to understand the recent American presidential election is contained in this little chart.  It appeared within about 24 hours of the polls closing on Tuesday, November 8. 

Lots of people will look at it and imagine it shows the need for electoral reform in the United States. Others will see the weakness of one or another or both of the candidates.  Still others will see in the American election some indictment of the news media coverage.  All sorts of people will see all sorts of things.

But very few will see the decline in voter turnout for what it is:  the result of strategic decisions taken by both parties, but especially by the Republicans, in order to win the election.

14 November 2016

Leaders and salaries #nlpoli

Donald Trump says he won't even take one dollar in salary as president.

Sounds familiar.

In Newfoundland and Labrador,  Proto-Trump said the same thing.  His fan club insist the Greatest One never took a penny of salary.

That was, at best, a fib.

His best shot #nlpoli

The most important measurement you need to take of Dwight Ball's great vision for the provincial government is that this is his one, best shot.

That shot consists of a hackneyed, worn-out, tired list of all sorts of things that government departments are already doing,  things that won't materially affect the problem or government's deficit or the economy, or that are just irrelevant to the problem that continues to loom over all our heads.

Take as a good example, the commitment to improve breastfeeding initiation rates from their current 72% to something like the national rate of 90%.  It sounds like a great idea since breast-feeding is a good way to improve babies' health. Healthy babies mean healthy adults and healthy adults cost less to care for than the crowd currently filling our hospitals. What's more, it sounds like there is a measurable target, going from 72 to 90 and all that.  Lots of evidence in there for the evidence based fetished among you.

But it isn't.

10 November 2016

Citizenship and Newfoundland's decision to join Canada - Raymond Blake #nlpoli

From Ray Blake's recent post on the Acadiensis blog:
Approaching the constitutional politics of Newfoundland in the 1940s from the perspective of the rhetoric surrounding citizenship provides a multi-dimensional framework that allows us to see how a majority of voters who had not traditionally imagined themselves as citizens demanded in the political debates of the 1940s certain protections, to secure certain benefits, and to be guaranteed particular capacities. It was on the basis of the discursive framework of citizenship that voters made claims on their political community. In this, voters in Newfoundland were no different than those throughout Canada, Britain or Australia, for instance, who wanted better quality education, better health care and better public services. After the Second World War, Newfoundland, like societies elsewhere, insisted that citizenship in liberal democracies had to bring real material benefits and provide a measure of security to all citizens and that may have been the main determining factor in Newfoundland’s decision to choose Canada.
-srbp- 

Why national history matters - Jerry Bannister #nlpoli

"Nations matter. National cultures matter. And national histories matter,"  historian Jerry Bannister writes in his commentary on the American presidential election just finished.  "As we try to understand what has happened in the United States, we should keep those three things in mind."

Bannister notes that historians are increasingly drawn to interpretations that cross national and international boundaries, drawing attention to ever larger patterns and force that shape events.   "Well," Bannister interjects, "if we ever needed a reminder of the importance of national history, we got it last night."

"Despite all the ink spilled on connections across borders and links across the Atlantic world, American history diverges in critical ways from Canadian history.  For all of our similarities as continental neighbours, our political cultures appear to be going in opposite directions. Those differences may seem minor to some, but this morning they feel more important than ever."

This matters,  as Bannister concludes,  because as "we search for answers and understanding, we need to reconsider the importance of national history, national institutions, and the road not travelled."

Read the whole post at the Acadiensis blog.

-srbp-

09 November 2016

The real news in one sentence #nlpoli

According to its supporters, we need to have a special office for search and rescue in St. John's because Newfoundlanders spoke English so poorly that no one could understand us.

Lives would be in jeopardy because Merv Wiseman lost his job. Wiseman was one of the loudest critics of the federal government's 2013 decision to close the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre.

That's the full extent of the argument advanced by Wiseman,  then-member of parliament Jack Harris, and a raft of others.  There were all sorts of hysterical claims about the decision, including the old chestnut that the evil Stephen Harper Conservatives were punishing the people of the province for something or other.

Well, the federal Liberals have promised to put the office back.  It will take them another two eyars, meaning that we will have a total of five years without it.

08 November 2016

Apparitions #nlpoli

You can go back to September 2006 and find one of the earliest references at SRBP to the impact the aging, shifting population would have on Newfoundland and Labrador.  The argument in the speech came from projections dating back to the early 1990s.

There was nothing radical or new in any of it.  In the decade after that post, the provincial government ignored the projections,  ignored the obvious implications of an aging population, and did all sorts of things to make matters worse.  Along the way,  SRBP and labradore have written about the problem and the fact that the politicians were making it worse.

Now that the problem has actually been in our faces for five or six years,  you are seeing more and more references to the changes in some parts of the province.  Like say the Great Northern Peninsula, where one town has lost 10% of its population every year since 2011.   That town likely won't be there within the next five years.  Other towns are in worse shape already.  Still others will be in the same position before too much longer.

There used to be some nice illustrations of how the population is changing.  SRBP included a link in a 2013 post that also included a commentary by Matthew Kerby, then a political scientist at Memorial University. The illustrations are gone. The facts are still there.

The Premier is supposed to release his vision plan for the provincial economy in the decade ahead.  Pay close attention to what he releases.  So far,  the Premier has ignored the bigger picture just like his predecessors did.  If Dwight Ball's plan doesn't take into account the impacts of demographics, then it will be less a vision and more another government nightmare.

-srbp-

07 November 2016

Politics and Theatre

Adam Schiff is a United States congressman representing the 29th district in California.  He's a Democrat.

His fictional namesake was the Manhattan district attorney in the original series Law & Order.

Adam Schiff's successor as district attorney was Arthur Branch,  played by actor Fred Thompson.

Thompson served from 1994 to 2003 as a United States senator from Tennessee. He was a Republican.

-srbp-

Appearance #nlpoli

What you know of the world outside your immediate physical sensation - what you can touch, taste, feel and so on - is a mental construction.

It is a fiction.

That doesn't mean it is all false. All fiction has some element of the concrete amid its vapour. Nor does it mean that appearance is reality, as many mistakenly assume.

We share a lot of that fiction with everyone else. The thing is, we all run slightly different versions of the same story in our heads. From time to time, our fiction runs up against a different version of events.

That's when things get interesting.

04 November 2016

North Spur sideshow #nlpoli

Jim Gordon, an engineer previously critical about the design of the Muskrat Falls dam has revised his opinion.  Gordon had earlier believed that the landmass known as the North Spur was potentially unstable and could collapse under certain conditions.  He's now revised his view based on new evidence.

For all the concern lots of people have had about this issue,  it was never really a show-stopper for the Muskrat Falls project.  As it is, Nalcor has taken measures to reduce the amount of water in the clay, thereby limiting the potential for landslides.  In the worst case, Nalcor would have just extended a conventional concrete dam across the same span.  That would have driven up the cost of the project, but since the government is already committed to finishing the project at any cost that was nothing to worry about.

Natural resources minister Siobhan Coady has been in the witness protection program for months. The most folks have heard from her is the odd statement issued by her office.  A staunch and unquestioning supporter of the Muskrat mess from the beginning, Coady issued a statement about Gordon's change of opinion Thursday evening.

Coady's comments come across like a "told-ya-so" from one of the last die-hard boosters of the boondoggle. There's basically Danny Williams, Ed Martin,  the rest of the Tory party... and Siobhan Coady.  That's probably why her statement sounded like the sort of politically tone-deaf statement made famous by her predecessor Kathy Dunderdale, another unflinching charter member of the Muskrateer's Club.

Coady should save her energy for 2019 when she has to face voters' wrath for the insanely and needlessly high electricity bills Coady's project will bring.

-srbp-

Feds offer more help with Muskrat #nlpoli

The federal government delivered a $2.9 billion additional loan guarantee Thursday in time for the Liberal Party convention this weekend in Gander.

The added guarantee is less than the provincial government wanted - they went looking for $5.0 billion, apparently - but it will help to defray the escalating cost of the project.

The federal government can justify the money in a number of ways.  The most significant justification for helping with the debt is that the provincial government is in desperate financial shape. The federal government had the choice of helping or of almost certainly taking over the provincial government as a bankrupt in short order. As it is, the federal government may well have to take the government in hand in a few years' time anyway.

The $2.9 billion in the new loan guarantee brings the total backed by the federal government to $7.9 billion. At the rate things are going, the project may well cost another $7.0 billion beyond that before things are done.

The federal government will charge one half of one percent as a charge for the loan guarantee.
-srbp-


03 November 2016

Muskrat Math #nlpoli

Stan Marshall told the province Tuesday that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can never get their money back on this pig of a project called Muskrat Falls.

On Wednesday, people were bending their brains trying to figure out how this happened.  Must be a recent thing.  Blame it on fall in prices.

Well, no.

"Never get our money back" was the entire premise of Muskrat Falls from the day Danny Williams announced it in November 2010.  Amazing how folks missed these details.

The polls remain discouraging for Liberals #nlpoli

Heading into their convention this weekend,  the provincial Liberals have another poll that confirms what all the other polls have said for the past six months or so.

For those misled by reports about the MQO poll like CBC's initial one, see the bit down below.

Here's what you get when you take all the polls over the past six months together,  and make allowances for variations like the margin of error.

Three points:
  • Only about 16% of respondents think Dwight Ball is the best choice for leader.
  • If an election were held tomorrow,  somewhere between 20% and 25% of voters would pick the Liberal.  
  •  About 60% of people think the government is headed in the wrong direction.
Not good.

All the reboots and changes and visions have done precisely nothing to change public attitudes about the Liberals and their leader.

02 November 2016

How much do we owe? #nlpoli

CBC Radio Noon had board of trade president Des Whalen in the studio on Monday.  

Board of Trade thinks the debt is about $13 billion today.  Don't talk about Muskrat Falls.  That's in the past.  Yeah, well, when your humble e-scribbler challenged Des on the numbers the best he could come up with was "it's a really big number."

Kid you not.  That was all he had.

For the record, here's a table that shows the provincial government's total liabilities, taken from the annual Auditor General's reports.


If you cannot make out the picture as it is, you can click on it or read on for the high points.

The total of everything you owe, right now,  is about $29 billion. The St. John's Board of Trade says it is only $13 billion.  Yes,  well it hasn't really been that number low 2004.  The Board of Trade's favourite project - Muskrat Falls  - adds another $15 billion onto that $13 billion right there. Whelan got hung up on the idea the other crowd actually reduced debt.  The numbers make it plain that they didn't.  There's $28 billion without batting an eyelid.

Things get worse from here.

The Muskrat Circus rolls back into town #nlpoli

Stan Marshall appeared out of the shadows on Tuesday to do a round of interviews with every media outlet in town.

He told NTV what he told everyone else:  the cost of the protests and the environmental work coming from the agreement that ended the protests will slow the project and cost money.  Stan also said something that is true but that upset a lot of people.  We don't know for sure that the clearing  called for under the agreement will actually reduce the methylmercury output from the project.

In the CBC version of his interview, Marshall acknowledged that the folks at Nalcor hadn't always done a good job of explaining what was going on with the project.  Marshall pointed out something that is both undeniable and true:  lots of people involved in the protests really had no idea what methylmercury was. They were legitimately afraid but they were afraid of the unknown.

01 November 2016

Building higher walls #nlpoli

A new government security policy does everything short of banning people from Confederation Building altogether.  Visitors to the main government building in St. John's now have to enter through a single entrance in the basement of the building at the back.  There's no parking available and the whole thing is so congested that on busy days people will have to line up out through the door into the parking lot to get into the building.

The real reason for the change is budgetary.  The politicians can save a few bucks by cutting off public access to the Confederation Building through one or two doors. Tight behind that as a reason for the new policy was a poop-in-the-shorts over-reaction to the recent protests.

So out-to-lunch are the folks behind this scheme that they forced toddlers from the staff daycare to make the trek outdoors to the entrance on the other side of the building when they tried to go on a parade through the building to show off their Hallowe'en costumes on Monday.

Just to show you how crazy the Poopy-Pants Brigade are about this security stuff,  take a look at the hastily scribbled sketch at the right. Confederation Building day care is located behind the East Block in a space that used to be occupied by the roads testing crowd from motor vehicle licencing.

To get in the main building,  the kids have been traipsing for years along the short route to where the X is.  This year the urchins had to take the other red line around to the only way visitors are now allowed in the building.

Mind you, the official reason for the policy is - as James McLeod reported in the Telegram on Saturday - concern about the safety of our politicians.  "Multiple sources also indicated that government MHAs have recently been receiving death threats,"  McLeod wrote.
"The number of threats that are coming in to MHAs is really, really ramping up. There is a significant risk threat,” one source said.
And, at that point,  you should smell a rat.