Showing posts sorted by relevance for query CETA. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query CETA. Sort by date Show all posts

22 December 2014

All they need for Christmas is new talking points #nlpoli

Keith Hutchings - the provincial cabinet minister leading talks with the federal government on European trade  - issued a statement on December 9, 2014.that began with a simple statement.

“In June, 2013,” Hutchings began,

“our governments agreed that, in exchange for the [provincial government] agreeing to lift minimum processing requirements (MPRs) for the European Union (EU), the Federal Government and the provinc[ial government] would establish a fund that would provide for total expenditure of $400 million based on a 70/30 federal/provincial cost share.”

The money was for “industry development and renewal [in the fishing industry] as well as worker displacement”  according to Hutchings.

But when Hutchings spoke with the Telegram’s James McLeod six months later, things weren’t quite so cut and dried.

21 October 2013

Vale delays Long Harbour smelter… again #nlpoli

Earlier this year,  mining giant Vale was saying they’d start production at the new Long Harbour smelter in 2013, but after a meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale in Brazil,  the company won’t be ramping up until 2015.

That’s the news from VOCM on the weekend, although they didn’t report the actual news about the delay at Long Harbour.  VO just reported that Dunderdale met with Vale officials and that the start-up date was 2015, as if it had always been two years away.

The premier says she went down a few days early to meet specifically with Vale officials to get an update on the Long Harbour development and the Voisey's Bay mine site.

She says Vale officials indicated that Long Harbour will start to ramp up in 2015, while they're looking to go underground at Voisey's Bay.

According to VOCM, the company officials are concerned about power supplies “in the area”. But the story isn’t clear if the power supply problems are in Labrador or at Long Harbour.

21 January 2015

Abbott and Costello meet the Trade Deal #nlpoli

If you are confused by the provincial government’s struggle over free trade with the European trade, find comfort in the fact you are not alone.

Pretty well everyone is confused by what the government is up to. 

That includes, incidentally,  intergovernmental affairs minister Keith Hutchings and industry minister Darin King, who announced on Monday that the provincial government was pulling its support for every free trade negotiation Canada has going at the moment except for the European trade agreement.

15 December 2014

Province increased CETA demands after crucial agreement #nlpoli

Almost a year after reaching an understanding with the federal government on a joint federal-provincial fisheries fund related to the European trade talks, the provincial government tried to alter the deal radically.

Documents released by the provincial government in 2013 and 2014 show that the federal and provincial governments agreed in June 2013 to  fund a cost-shared (70% federal and 30% provincial) “transition program” of up to $400 million that would address “industry development and renewal as well as worker displacement.” 

But in May 2014,  provincial fisheries minister Keith Hutchings changed the provincial demands.

12 June 2013

Concerning Partisan Communications from Non-Partisan Government Officials #nlpoli

Keith Hutchings issued a news release on Tuesday to respond to”inaccuracies on CETA negotiations.” That’s what the headline on the release said it was about.

He did so in his capacity as a cabinet minister, a non-partisan provincial government official, not as a Conservative.  The media contact name listed is for the departmental communications director.  If this person didn’t write the release, then she approved it, as did the minister and at least one senior official in Cabinet Secretariat.

If you want to understand the communications problem facing the provincial government, then you have a tidy example in this release.

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.

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.

27 May 2015

Conservatives abandon ridiculous position on European trade… again #nlpoli

In January, trade minister Darin King wrote a letter to his federal counterpart about the European trade deal.
King said the provincial government would:
  1. withdraw from any trade talks OTHER than the one about the European trade deal, and,
  2. should “the federal government fail to honour the terms of the June 2013 agreement to establish a fisheries fund, you will appreciate that the Province will reconsider its support for CETA.”
On Tuesday, King announced the provincial government would:
  1. resume participation in all the ongoing trade talks, and,
  2. accept the European trade deal, but not the bit on minimum processing requirements.
That last one will leave Canada open to a challenge by Europeans if - and only if - the provincial government ever invokes minimum processing requirements in dealing with a European company. There’s not much danger of that since the provincial government has been granting more and more exemptions from the out-dated policy.

Besides, the federal government is already working on a mechanism to pass the cost of any damages from a trade dispute on to the province that caused them. They started work on that little gem after the current Conservative administration in this province violated the North American free trade deal and seized hydro-electric assets belonging to three companies under an entirely false pretense.

When Darin King said the government would “let the chips fall where they may” he knew full well that the provincial government would take it in the neck if it ever used the minimum processing requirements provisions of current legislation.

What you have here is a climb down. The provincial government position was always a transparent pile of nonsense. As CBC’s access to information research confirmed last week, the provincial government has been granting more and more exemptions from the minimum processing regulations. In practical terms, that means they have already abandoned MPRs and won’t use them to trigger any CETA problems.

What local media still haven’t reported is that the heart of this dispute has been a political fraud by the provincial government. It tried to radically alter the deal in 2014. The federal government rebuffed the provincial government’s effort to rejig the deal. Faced with no prospect of success in its scam, the provincial government abandoned its ludicrous position.

Both the Liberal and NDP criticised the government for submitting to federal perfidy. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but the truth never stopped a politician in this province from opening his mouth before. Tuesday was no exception.

Incidentally, the letter from King to his federal counterpart as well as the news release that King issued on Tuesday are both pretty vague about what the provincial government is actually doing. King explained the details to reporters.

This is the second time the provincial Conservatives have abandoned a stupid position on the European trade talks. The first was Danny Williams’ refusal to take part in the talks in the first place Williams claimed he needed to protect the seal hunt.


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.



25 September 2015

The N-word #nlpoli

New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair likely never imagined that an insult he threw at a couple of Parti Quebecois politicians in the Quebec National Assembly 20 years ago would come back to haunt him 2015.

Liberal candidate Nick Whalen likely never imagined that reminding Mulcair of the word he used – “Newfie” -  would rob Mulcair of whatever coverage he’d hoped to get out of his campaign stop in St. John’s.

But it did. 

Then the controversy over Mulcair’s remarks carried on for another two days as New Democrats whined and complained  about the whole issue.  That only served to keep it going.

And to make sure the story didn’t die,  two national pieces  - Colby Cosh (National Post) and Evan Dyer (CBC) – weighed in.  Cosh and Dyer picked up on the context of the original comment and that’s where things stared to get really interesting.

21 November 2014

The Apprenticeship of Constable Davis #nlpoli

People are looking back a century to the start of the First World War so,  on the political side, it’s interesting to take a trip back and see what things were like then.

The Prime Minister was a guy named Edward Patrick Morris.  He was a lawyer, popularly known as Ned.  By the time he got to the Prime Minister’s Office, in 1908, he’d been in the House the better part of 30 years and he served in cabinets under different premiers going back to the late 1880s.  Morris’ predecessor – Sir Robert – had pretty much the same sort of background.

Compare that to recent Premiers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

12 January 2015

Roger Grimes: savage political attack dog #nlpoli

Maybe it was the headline on John Ivison’s opinion piece in the National Post that threw them off.

Spat over $400M N.L. fund could make federal government look bad to European trade partners

Provincial Conservatives, their patronage clients, and their paid staffers were all over Twitter all weekend tweeting touting the support in Ivison’s piece for their fight with the federal Conservatives over a federal cheque for $280 million.

Pay up feds, says Ivison, and end this dispute because it looks bad.

The problem for the Conservatives is that if you read the whole Ivison column, this is not a great endorse of the provincial Conservatives’ desperate political ploy.  It offers sensible advice in that both sides need to get this dispute settled now,  but Ivison gets there based on all sorts of half-baked ideas.  That much of it shows the extent to which observers both at home and outside the province don’t really understand what’s going on here. 

And if you follow the piece through to the end, you see just exactly how bad a position Paul Davis and his crowd really are.

31 August 2015

Ferry Tales #nlpoli

There are times when you have to wonder if provincial cabinet ministers actually realise how moronic they sound to everyone else.

David Brazil is the transportation minister.  By his own admission,  a company in Romania could build ferries for the ferry system in Newfoundland and Labrador for a better price than anyone else.

That better price included – by his own claim – if the provincial government had to pay a multi-million penalty on the project under federal tariff law. 

15 February 2016

Stepping on rakes: #nlpoli version

Premier Dwight Ball has changed his position. 

That’s the first thing.

Here’s the way James McLeod described Ball’s position on cuts to the public service.  It’s from the Saturday Telegram:
“We’ve met with some of the labour organizations and leaders right now, so what we’ve committed to — and it hasn’t changed — is attrition still remains as the primary source for us to see changes in numbers around the public sector, and a fair negotiating process,” Ball said. 
“Once we get into that fair negotiation, we will see then what direction the discussion goes.” 
Ball said job cuts in the government will be tied together with contract negotiations.
“They’re all connected, because it’s all where you save money and expenses,” he said.

02 April 2020

Bollocks #nlpoli

Kill the wabbit?
Moody’s has changed its outlook on the provincial government’s debt from stable to negative while sustaining the A1 rating it gave the province in July 2019. That, by the way, was a downgrade.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Moody’s said the change in outlook reflects the company’s view that the provincial government’s “credit profile will weaken due to the sharp decline in oil prices and its reduced budgetary flexibility to adjust to this shock. Under Moody's base case, oil prices are expected to average $40-$45/bbl in 2020 before returning to $50-$55/bbl in 2021…”.

Moody’s expects the provincial deficit for 2020 could reach 25% of revenue in 2020 and about 11% in 2021. Previously, Moody’s had forecast deficits of 11%  and 4% respectively for those years.

Moody’s expects the provincial debt will reach 270% of revenue by 2023 with pressure that this will increase after 2023.  In other words, Moody’s doesn’t believe that the government will balance the budget in 2023.

22 April 2015

The little things that stand out #nlpoli

Throne Speech 2015 was the kind of document you’d expect from a group of politicians who are out of new ideas.

People are making a big deal out of the review of the provincial curriculum for K-12 schools.  That’s what the folks in the education department do for a living.  It’s nothing new.

The promise that the review will produce a 21st century curriculum is such a cliche that it is laughable, given that we are in the second decade of the new century.

Not very impressive, is it?

09 December 2013

The Conservatives and federal-provincial relations #nlpoli

Two news stories last week reminded us once again of the nature of federal-provincial relations for Newfoundland and Labrador over the past decade.

A story in the Chronicle Herald reported on recent comments by Danny Williams about a sharp personal exchange he supposed had with Stephen Harper before the later became prime minister.

The second story was the release late in the week by Premier Kathy Dunderdale of some documents about the provincial government’s position on the Canada- European Union trade agreement. The 80-odd pages of e-mails and letters include an effort by the provincial government to tie search and rescue, an offshore safety agency,  and the federal government’s Hibernia shares in a deal between the federal and provincial governments. 

28 January 2015

Acting Like a Leader #nlpoli

In his first major public appearance since cutting public representation in the House of Assembly last week,  Premier Paul Davis flatly rejected the objections of the province’s municipalities and a gaggle of academics.

The cuts to the House of Assembly will go ahead.

When another government asked a commission to go out, ask people and come back with alternatives, it didn’t work, according to Davis.  So this time we set clear rules.

Davis talked a lot about process with reporters during a scrum.  Everything was just the way it was supposed to be and people will get a say, even if the say is all but meaningless.

People can talk about the details of all this until they fall over dead.  This is not about cuts to the House, democratic renewal, saving money, or anything else of the sort.  This entire House cutting exercise is designed to show Paul Davis looking like a leader.

28 May 2015

Yesterday #nlpoli

The news should have been good.

Party leader Dwight Ball announced on Wednesday that the Liberals had rid themselves of the debt the party has carried around since the 2003 election. As Ball explained it, the party negotiated with the three banks involved and persuaded them to write off the interest and penalties. The party had then paid off the $500,000 that remained.

The Liberals’ opponents have used the debt as a rod to beat Grit backs. Can’t manage the province’s accounts if you can't handle your own, the Conservatives joked.

As it turns out, that joke was on us: the Conservatives couldn’t handle the public accounts themselves. They promised to pay down the debt and make everything right. Instead, and starting from Danny Williams, they racked up debt after debt. They spent every nickel the provincial coffers could suck in and borrowed more besides.

The party debt was a big cloud hanging over the Liberals’ heads. Getting rid of it was supposed to be great news.

And it would have been had Dwight not buggered up the announcement.

04 March 2015

The Abacus Insight #nlpoli

[Updated:  1715 hrs]

By lunch time today, you’ll have Corporate Research Associate’s latest quarterly omnibus poll.  Odds are the overall numbers on party choice for provincial politics will be in line with all the other polls we’ve seen over the last while.

What sets Abacus Data’s poll released on Tuesday is that Abacus asked a bunch of questions that give much greater insight into local public opinion than what you’ve seen from the other opinion research firms.

Before we get to that stuff, let’s look at the party choice numbers.