18 March 2019

Banning plastic bags and public policy in Newfoundland and Labrador #nlpoli

Effective public policy must be based on a clear understanding of the problem and its relation to other issues, as well as public needs and behaviour.
"...almost 50% of all wind borne litter escaping from landfills in Newfoundland and Labrador is plastic, much of it single-use plastic bags....

There's the problem, defined neatly.

The quote is from Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador's campaign against plastic shopping bags.

Put the quote in a search engine on the Internet and you will turn up all sorts of places, including news stories, that use that phrase or a slight variation on it in coverage of the popular campaign to ban plastic bags from the province.  Here's an example from The Telegram in 2017 and another a couple of days later that went province-wide.

One small question:  what's the source for the statistic?

04 March 2019

Unformation #nlpoli


"Deep Dive" is the name that Saltwire gives to its new series that is supposed to give readers supposed to give readers more information on specific topics that are of concern across the Atlantic Canada.  

The series gives Saltwire a way to produce unique content using all its resources in Atlantic Canada, thereby lowering the burden on any one newsroom.  Saltwire hopes the Deep Dives will generate new income for the chain. In future, Deep Dives will be accessible only to subscribers.  The rest of us will be blocked by a paywall.  

It's a business model that has worked successfully at major newspapers, which have either halted declining revenue from subscriptions using paywalls or seen revenue growth to offset the losses from the old cash-cow advertising.

It might work.  The real question is whether Saltwire will produce the content that will make readers dig into their pockets.

So that makes you wonder how deep is the deep dive?

18 February 2019

Seven Days of Books in One #nlpoli

The seven books from my part of the book challenge, with each described by the respective publisher's blurb:

1.  The myth of the strong leader by Archie Brown.


Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that 'strong leaders', dominant individual wielders of power, are the most successful and admirable.

Within authoritarian regimes, a collective leadership is a lesser evil compared with a personal dictatorship. Within democracies, although ‘strong leaders’ are seldom as strong or independent as they purport to be, the idea that just one person is entitled to take the big decisions is harmful and should be resisted.

Examining Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair amongst many others, this landmark study pinpoints different types and qualities of leadership. Overturning the popular notion of the strong leader, it makes us rethink preconceptions about what it means to lead."

11 February 2019

The Politics of Beige #nlpoli

The trend is impossible to miss.

Utterly undeniable.

Since early 2016,  through poll after poll,  voters in Newfoundland and Labrador have chosen "None of the Above"  when asked what party they would vote for in an upcoming election.

Support for the New Democrats has been shrinking steadily like an orange left in the sun.

And the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, the only parties actually capable of presenting an alternative government to voters in an election have been ranging consistently between 20 and 30 percent.

There's no sign of that trend changing. 

07 February 2019

Napalm sticks... #nlpoli

The latest poll from MQO is being reported as a statistical tie by NTV , while CBC says it shows a "neck and neck" race between the PCs and Liberals.

That's not really the story of the polls, though and what they might mean.

Here's the pretty chart showing every party choice poll result since 2015 (except for Mainstreet*).

Now here's what it shows.

04 February 2019

The Turmoil and Topsy Turvy #nlpoli

With so much changing in any office,  what has "always" been done really only goes back to the time of the last person who came in the door.
In Newfoundland and Labrador,  the provincial government has been censoring laws since 2012.

That's sounds absolutely insane to anyone in the province and outside, but that is undeniably the case.

Orders-in-Council are a type of law.  They are the decisions of the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council under powers granted by specific laws or from something called the Royal prerogative.  They are public documents and in every Westminster-style government they are published regularly, without any form of redaction or censoring.

Except in Newfoundland Labrador.

Even in Newfoundland and Labrador, the idea of secret laws in a democracy would be downright sinister if it wasn't for the comical way the whole nonsense started and the reason it carries on.

28 January 2019

Turmoil, unusual #nlpoli

A petro-state with political instability is a pretty weird idea 
but then again we *are* talking Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Government in Newfoundland and Labrador brings in money revenue per person living in the province than any other government in Canada except Alberta.  It's been like that since 2009.

In fact, for a couple of years before 2009, the provincial government posted record cash surpluses based solely on the world price for oil.

At the same time,  though, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have seen an unprecedented period of change in the most senior positions in their provincial government.  Political and public service jobs have changed hands at an unprecedented rate.

19 January 2019

The Spring Election - when and why #nlpoli

There's likely going to be an election before Victoria Day.

If - by some miracle - the Liberals manage to win the Topsail-Paradise by-election next week you could be at the polls before the beer turns green for a day.

If you haven't heard that,  don't say now that you haven't been warned.

03 January 2019

Mitigating Muskrat Falls: Ron, Harry, and Hermione are still baffled #nlpoli


Mitigating the impacts Muskrat Falls will have on taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador remains the single biggest unanswered question in the province nine years after the project started and the politicians first started talking about how they might do it.

To mark the 14th anniversary of The Sir Robert Bond Papers,  here's the tale from 2010 to now.

Most people in Newfoundland and Labrador finally noticed the impact Muskrat Falls would have on electricity prices when Nalcor chief executive Stan Marshall confirmed that Muskrat Falls would double electricity prices in the province once it was finished in 2021. 

That was the middle of 2017.

The word “mitigates” - to make less severe or painful - became popular overnight.  Since Marshall’s comments, just about all that anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador has fretted about is how the government will make electricity prices not double because of Muskrat Falls.

But here’s the thing:  Muskrat Falls was always supposed to double your electricity prices. Right from the start – November 2010 – the provincial government talked about electricity prices of between 14 and 16 cents wholesale, which would have made the retail cost in this province about double what it was at the time.  No worries, people like Kathy Dunderdale said.  Oil prices will be so high and electricity prices will be so high by 2017, anyway, that you will never notice Muskrat Falls except that it will stop prices from climbing higher.