27 November 2019

A mouthful of burp #nlpoli

Not one mitigation scheme.

Not two mitigation schemes.

Three mitigation schemes.

Delivered by the end of January.

All wonderful grand and all believable if you have had the sense knocked out of you by the endless string of promises Dwight Ball has made about mitigating the impact of Muskrat Falls on electricity rates.

Promises made but not kept.

25 November 2019

The Rookies, the House, and the Orchestra Pit #nlpoli

What is reported is seldom what happened even though what happened is far more interesting than the stuff that falls into the orchestra pit.
Events in the House of Assembly are the result of decisions by members of all three parties.  Any analysis that ignores the simple realities of the House or robs the individual members and their parties of their agency is misleading.

The biggest story from the House of Assembly’s latest session was Ches Crosbie’s call last Thursday for his party to hold a vote on his leadership next spring.

There’s no surprise in this.  Political parties usually dump leaders after a failed election and this time will be no exception for both the federal and provincial Conservatives.

The immediate impact of this, aside from what it means for the Conservatives, is that the Liberals will now have an easy ride getting their budget through the House no matter how bad it is.  The Conservatives won’t want to trigger an election in the midst of a leadership change.

And there *will* be a change.  The Ball-led Liberals are weak, and the polling numbers reflect that. Any reasonably competent opposition could unseat them in a general election.  After all, Crosbie’s incompetent crowd came within a hair’s breadth of unseating the Liberals and the Liberals have not gotten better six months later.  So, expect a new Conservative leadership hopeful to emerge after Christmas to lead a reinvigorated blue bunch.

Meanwhile on the Liberal side, Dwight Ball will also face a leadership review vote in the middle of 2020 at the party’s postponed annual conference.  The party executive skipped out the one for 2019 because it was an election year, but it must have a convention in June 2020 according to the party constitution. That’s not to say that party president and Dwight Ball loyalist John Allen isn’t trying to find some way to push the convention off to 2021.  Apparently, there is anxiety over the prospect that Ball wouldn’t survive the mandatory leadership review vote that comes with the next party convention.

But as big as Crosbie’s Thursday announcement and Ball’s situation are for the future of the province – there is that little provincial government financial mess sitting out there unaddressed – that wasn’t what the news media and the local political commentariat were yammering about last week.


12 November 2019

The importance of what we care about #nlpoli

When we do not talk about the most vulnerable people in our society – sex workers and people in homeless shelters to name just two groups – we tell the world that our community does not care about them.  Last week’s spectacle in the House of Assembly showed the world that the 40 people who Newfoundlanders and Labradorians elected to represent them and run the province do not care about very much at all.

Alison Coffin and Ches Crosbie
talk to reporters on Friday about Gerry Byrne.
(Not exactly as illustrated)
A 23-year-old man lay on the pavement in downtown St. John’s last Tuesday night, the blood running out of him and mingling with the rain on the cold pavement.

He died outside a shelter for homeless people. The community learned very quickly that it was a shelter, that it was a rental property, and that police frequently visited the place to deal with disturbances among the people who came and went from the house with great frequency.

We learned that information because neighbours put it on social media, where the local conventional media – newspaper, television, and radio - picked it up and repeated it.  Before anyone knew who the young man was, or what had gone on, they had decided what the issues were in the story.

That morning, in the House of Assembly,  the opposition parties asked for the Premier’s opinion on the fact that provinces in Canada received transfer payments from the federal government because they  - unlike Newfoundland and Labrador – didn’t make enough money on their own to meet the national minimum government income standard.  There were questions about flooding in a district on the west coast, a couple of questions about specific constituents who needed government money, and about the deaths of a couple of million salmon in a fish farm a couple of months before.

There was only one question thread - about ferry service to northern Labrador - that stood out for its consistency and seriousness - and the only question about homelessness was about people with high paying jobs in western Labrador who had to couch surf.

The morning after the death,  the few questions related to the murder were generic:  “’What plan does the government have’  to deal with crime and homeless in St. John’s?” opposition leader Ches Crosbie led with.  His second question was about a growth in payments to temporary shelters run by landlords, not not-for-profits.  That story had been in the local media before and brought back because of the assumed connection in media reports between the for-profit shelters and the murder.

Attention then turned to a general discussion of health care.  By the time the official opposition was done, the New Democrat leader Alison Coffin’s question about homelessness was also generic: 
“APEC reports that despite growth in the oil industry, our province is struggling. Homelessness, addictions, cost of living, bankruptcies, gangs, unemployment, electricity rates, out-migration are all on the rise.

“I ask the Premier: Will Advance 2030 address these pressing issues, or will we continue to stumble forward?”

That was the lone NDP question before her colleague got back to the dead salmon.

04 November 2019

The New Welfare Bums #nlpoli #cdnpoli #ableg

Lunacy is always easier to spot in other people.

There is a Liberal conspiracy to rob Alberta of its precious fluids.
People in Newfoundland and Labrador got a taste of lunacy a few weeks ago when Albertans – including people originally from Newfoundland and Labrador – blasted them for returning six Liberal members of parliament in the general election.  Albertans took it personally since they believe there is a plot by the Liberals to rob the province of its precious fluids.

Albertans believe lots of crazy things.  Premier Jason Kenney shares the view of a raft of people in Alberta and other parts of Canada.  They think the rest of us across Canada are welfare bums. They claim that provinces that collect Equalization and other transfers from the federal government deliberately don’t develop their resources so they can sponge off Alberta and Ontario.  The money for Equalization, so this argument goes, comes from Alberta and Ontario.

Jason Kenney said it in a speech recently.  You can find examples of the same view from the Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. They use other words for it – perverse incentives, Equalization discourages development  - but basically the message is the same.  Slash the federal handouts and the welfare bums will be forced to develop resources like Alberta did.