Da Legal Stuff...

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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

How Much is an Election Really Worth?

Last week Paul Martin stepped before the cameras and addressed the nation about the crisis the country was involved in. In actuality it is the crisis the Liberal party is involved in, but let’s not split hairs. That broadcast was the unofficial kick-off of the Liberal campaign for re-election. They know that they are on borrowed time. It might happen next week or it might happen six months from now, but either way, an election is on the way.

My question today relates to this last point, the one of timing. How much is an election worth? I know it doesn’t sound like timing and cost are directly connected, but bear with me for a minute or two.

I don’t mean cost from the perspective of normal election costs such as campaigning, T.V. time, etc., but from the perspective of buying our votes in an effort to retain power. You see the Liberals are used to the adage that anything has a price, just ask anyone involved in the ad-scam situation. So it is not outside their thinking to buy their place in office and it’s up to us, as good Canadians, to set a price.

NDP Leader Jack Layton sees this clearly. He is already attempting to align himself with the Liberals in an effort to delay an election. His price, removal of the corporate surtax cuts from the budget and more money for the environment. Good move Jack!! This is a chance for the NDP to further their agenda. You don’t get many chances to do that so it’s good to see you taking advantage of them when they come along. Keep it up!!

As for the rest of us, well we can stand to make some gains as well. The Liberals are so worried about losing seats in an election that hasn’t even been called yet, that they are already sending MPs around the country handing out money for projects and programs. Just this week John Efford was here in NL with a Cheque for 1.5 million for one thing or another. I'm sure he'll have more announcements within days. It's good news John. (We don't forget John, we don't forget). It’s not just happening here either, but right across the country. They are trying to buy their way back into office, which is nothing new, but this time they don’t even care who notices.

This opens up some opportunities for all of us. Now is the time to start pressing our own provincial agenda. Come on Danny boy, you got Paul Martin to agree to the offshore revenue deal under similar circumstances, now he’s really desperate. Get on him. Push him on a Canadian corridor for electricity, gas and the like. One that will end our issues over moving resources through Quebec. How about pushing him on more Federal offices and services in the province or about 5 Wing Goose.

Jack Layton will actually do us all a favor if he can manage to keep the Liberals in for a while longer. With these yahoos in place for six or seven months rather than being pushed out of office now, they have that much longer to think about the big black election cloud over their heads. Six or seven more months of hearing, “We can knock you off today Paul. Now we want X, Y or Z.”. I love it.

It also means we, as Canadians, can be the recipients of another six or seven more months of pre-election spending and pre-election promises. Federal spending is good if you can get your hands on it, and pre-election promises are even better. Just make sure you get them in writing.

Of course the best thing of all is that even after an election takes place and regardless of whether or not the color of government is Liberal red or Conservative blue, we will most likely have another minority government. We all know that this again shifts some power over to the opposition parties and means that the next government will have to satisfy the agendas of others or face yet another election. It’s a viscious cycle but it works for the general public. It is through minority governments that major changes to social policy take place. Medicare for example, would not exist today if we had not had a minority government at the time.

These are good times to be a province like NL which usually has no power at all. These are the sort of times when key issues can be addressed and accomplishments made. Lets not waste this opportunity. Instead, lets get out there and push for everything we can. Let’s not stop pushing until we get what we want and need from these guys because eventually the ride will end. Eventually a majority government will make it back into office and the opportunities will dry up, the giveaways will end and the status quo will smack us dead in the middle of our reality.

I know I may sound callous and cold and perhaps even money hungry on this topic, but lets face it, we all have to be. We don’t get much from Ottawa without a fight and then we are like a starving mouse fighting an elephant.

The difference here is that now the mouse has a gun and is pointing it directly at Dumbo’s head.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Osama Bin Vlasak

Well, well, well. In the latest move to work with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to increase tourism and protect our shores the feds have come up with a scheme to really put our province on the map. The Canadian government is now allowing extremists and potential terrorists to visit our beautiful province. How open minded of them to allow us to play host to these exciting guests.

During the recent seal hunt off our coast, we had the privilege of the annual onslaught of animal rights activists, seal protestors and the like. This is nothing unusual for spring in the province, it’s been going on for years, we have grown somewhat accustomed to it, but this time it was different. This time we were exposed to threats of violence and to intimidation techniques not very different than those practiced in some of the more troubled areas of the world, such as the Middle East.

This time we were confronted with one Dr. Jerry Vlasak, thanks to the support of Paul Watson’s Sea Shephard Society, of which Dr. Vlasak is a board member. Thanks also to the fine folks in The Department of Immigration, a government agency that is designed to prevent this sort of character from entering the country in the first place. Not only did this man come into our waters to protest the hunt, he even confronted one of our sealers, a confrontation which has resulted in violence, and is now before the courts.

Of course the good Dr. claims he was only trying to have a rational conversation with this sealer. I wonder though, based on his history, if Dr. Vlasak even knows what a rational conversation is. At an animal rights conference in 2003, when talking about scientists who dissect animals for research, he said, “I don't think you'd have to kill, assassinate, too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on”. According to news reports, when asked about this comment and whether or not he feels the same about sealers this man basically said there is no difference.

This man who the Immigration Department allowed into our country has been barred from entering the UK. In the US he is under investigation by the FBI as a possible extremist threat. Great security we have here folks. Add to this the fact that the great Paul Watson is backing this man to the hilt, even up to the point that another member of the Sea Shephard board is resigning over the issue. In my opinion this speaks to the organization itself being a threat to society. When a group harbors a potential terrorist threat, promotes him as a board member and backs him up in these kinds of statements, what else can they be considered?

I wonder how fast the department of Immigration would have acted if this man was wandering around Bay Street protesting banking institutions? What if he was protesting the oil industry or cattle ranching in Alberta? I’d be willing to bet that if he had made it into the country at all, he wouldn’t have been around long enough to nail a protest sign together or buy a pint of paint to write his venomous comments on it.

Once again, thanks for the support Ottawa. If mistakes were made in letting this character slip across our border that is one thing, but I wonder if you will let him or even his group back next year. If you decide that these yahoos can come back to our shores again who will you send over next? Perhaps you might like to invite Osama Bin Laden to stop by for a cup of tea since he’s not up to much at the moment. I wouldn’t wonder that the US is planning to have us show passports and bio Identification to get across the border into their country. You don’t know who could be roaming around in Canada these days.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Dead Man Walking

Hi folks. Well I guess we all saw the great Paul Martin clawing at the edge of the lifeboat and desperately trying to stay afloat last night. That display had to be one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen. Stand back folks, Dead Man Walking.

I can just imagine how this is going to play in media around the world. Can you say Banana Republic?

It’s little wonder we are in the state we are in, not just here in NL, but throughout the country. With the collapse of the PC party, after the Mulroney era, the Liberals have had free reign and have turned the country into their own private dictatorship. I mean really, where has the competition been?

With the PC’s out of the running, who could provide a challenge? Not the NDP, they don’t have enough support throughout the country, but most especially in the center of power, central Canada. The Bloc are a Quebec only party and thank the lord for that. No, the Liberals have had a free ride for quite a while and that my friends, is the crux of the problem.

The saying goes that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We are seeing the proof of that in the past few weeks. These guys have been in power so long, with no end in sight, that they have found all the loop holes, setup the scams and become a party of con men and thieves. Little wonder that nothing gets done for the people who need it.

Has it gotten to the point where we have to bribe our Federal officials when we want something done? Maybe we need to slip the Fisheries Minister 50K to get some support in protecting our fish from foreign vessels. Perhaps we should offer Paul Martin’s wife a trip to the Bahamas in exchange for him pulling the offshore accord deal out of the budget bill. Better yet, why don’t we take a 100 million out of the offshore deal money and feed it directly back to the Liberal party so they can see their way clear to helping us get a power corridor through Quebec. (that is, if it ever gets passed and if the Liberals can hang on to power a while longer) What the hell, the people of Quebec are never going to vote Liberal again any way.

I have always had a sore spot when it comes to politicians. I’ve never trusted them and never respected them, with a few exceptions, and this just proves the point. When the chips are down and the money is rolling in, anything and anyone is for sale. The only difference now is that we know the price.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

To Re-Settle or Not to Re-Settle, That is the Question

Many of us have heard the stories of how Joey Smallwood tried to re-settle rural Newfoundland and Labrador. How he tried to move everyone into the major centers of the day. There are still some around who remember it first hand. Today I’d like to open the discussion on this topic and whether you believe a similar process is under way again in our province.

Back in the day, Premier Smallwood openly tried to persuade and coerce entire villages to uproot their families, move their houses and leave the past behind in order to centralize the population. He did this in an effort to cut the cost of providing services in the province. It was his contention at the time that the province could not afford to provide roads, schools, medical hospitals and other government services to remote areas. He felt that we would forever have a two tier society. A society where those in larger areas like St. John’s would have access to a level of services, such as education, that would not be available to the rest of the province. The cost was just too high both financially and socially. Does this sound familiar?

Today we have the largest per capita debt in the country and arguably one of the most wide spread populations. We live in a geographically large province by any standard but we only have the population of a small city. The questions asked decades ago still exist. How can the province sustain infrastructure and services to such a large area? How can we ensure equality of services to all when there are villages of a dozen families living hours from the nearest larger town? How can we maintain our way of life in these small villages if we can’t afford to service them?

I have been hearing a lot of discussion lately on open line shows and in newspaper commentaries about a more subtle approach to re-settlement. Some feel that where Joey tried to openly force the issue, the current Premier is working in a quieter and perhaps more efficient way to accomplish the same result. There are those who feel that by closing schools and cutting hospital services in smaller towns or by moving them to larger centers along the TCH, the Premier is practicing a form of re-settlement where, over time, the population will shift toward those centers.

I don’t know if this is intentional on the part of the Government or not, but it would appear that this would end up being the ultimate result if cuts in the smaller towns continue to happen. What do you think? Can the province sustain the extremely high cost of maintaining services to outlying areas? Should they try or should they slowly move the population away from those areas? What will be the impact to our culture and lifestyle if this happens?

I’m on the fence on this one myself. Having lived in small town NL prior to moving to the Avalon later in my life, I can see both sides of the issue.

I understand that life in rural NL is like no other. That to have those areas die off would be a sad and painful thing to happen to our province. We would lose a big part of who we are and where we come from. Our songs, our love for nature and our innate ability to help others without a second thought, were all bred into us because of living in remote areas. Areas where we learned to live together and get along. We had to for survival.

I also see the reality of today’s world. We are living in a world where time and technology change things so rapidly, that if you are not on the crest of the wave, you’ll drown. A time when the priority for survival isn’t necessarily a helping had from a neighbour, but instead is based on efficiency and fiscal responsibility. Like the song says, “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changing”.

I wonder sometimes if we will ever truly become a “Have” province. Can we if we continue to pour money into maintaining dozens of hospitals and health centers, countless schools, government services of every description and roads into communities, some of which have populations of only a hand full of people. I often wonder this, but I also look at what makes us who we really are and I wonder if the cost of becoming financially stable is too high.

What do you think?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Surgeon Urgently Required

I’d like to put out a request to any surgeons out there. If you have experience in complicated proctology procedures, you may be urgently required on Parliament Hill. It won’t be an easy surgical procedure to remove Minister John Efford from Paul Marten’s rear end, but it’s worth a shot. Nothing else seems to work.

Since being elected to his Federal seat, I’ve lost track of the number of times Mr. Efford has sided with the Prime Minister in direct opposition to the desire, and even begging, of members of his riding and by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in general.

For example, he failed to support fishers when the topic of having Cod added to the endangered species list came up in the House. A move that would ensure the death of the fishing industry in the province. Once cod made that list, you can forget ever catching one again, not to mention fishing for other species in areas where the cod would be protected and might possibly be affected.

How about the Atlantic Accord and offshore royalty negotiations? I remember Mr. Efford telling the provincial government and the people of the province back in September of last year to accept the deal being offered because it was the best we were going to get. Thankfully the Premier didn’t listen and did get a better deal.

Then there were his statements about the move of the agriculture research station. According to John it was a done deal. It wasn’t and isn’t. The station will continue thanks to the fighting of provincial and municipal leaders.

Just this past week Mr. Efford was the only Newfoundland and Labrador MP to vote along the party line on the topic of same sex marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t have an opinion on the topic one way or the other. Never the less, it seems odd to me that all of the other NL members, including those in the Liberal Party voted with the Conservatives, while John voted the other way. When these other members were questioned on why they voted the way they did they stated that they had checked with their constituents and were voting for what their ridings wanted. I may not be an expert on politics, but I do know this province and I would be willing to bet that if the majority of people in these other ridings were against the Liberal direction, John Efford’s riding was as well. Did he even ask them or did he just ask Paul Martin which way he should vote?

These are just a few of the more well known examples of how Mr. Efford has abandoned his people in favor of his pal Paul. There are many others. I heard John Efford speaking after the cod issue came up in the house, and his only defense was, if he were to speak out against the party line he would lose his seat at the cabinet table and then he would be no good to the province. Well Mr. Efford, if you aren’t going to speak up for your province, then what good are you even if you are at the cabinet table.

Get a backbone Mr. Efford. Start doing what you were sent to Ottawa to do and if you need any help getting yourself out of the situation you are in, hopefully we can find a surgeon to remove you from it. It’s either that or the electors will, and with the current political landscape, I suspect that within the next couple of months they will.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


The following is an article recently published in the Express. I would like to thank the Author, Ms. Averill Baker for allowing us to re-print it here. Thank-you Averill.

They’re just jealous of Newfoundland

I think it’s just a case of jealousy, not politics.

In the past two weeks Ottawa approved: the movement to Quebec from St. John’s of federal scientists studying Newfoundland and Labrador East coast fish; tens of millions of dollars to pay legal fees for lumber producers although this province’s producers refused the assistance saying it was a subsidy and a waste of taxpayers dollars; and the largest income support program in Canadian history - for farmers and cattle workers mainly in Alberta and Ontario because, Ottawa claimed, after all Newfoundland fisheries workers got income support years ago.

Ottawa and the other provinces are just jealous of this province.

Ever wonder why homes in tornado and hurricane areas of the USA built with lumber from Newfoundland do not require the high insurance costs of homes built with lumber from central and western Canada?

Ever wonder why fish caught on the coast of our province are recognized as “cleaner” than fish from other provinces?

Add to that the new export figures from the federal finance department that show that this province per capita contributes three times as much to the Canadian economy than any other Canadians and you’ve got the makings of some serious jealousy.

The reason why US home builders prefer Newfoundland lumber is because “the nails stay in”. They claim that in hurricane and tornado areas Newfoundland lumber has twice the longevity of lumber from the other provinces.

The reason why our fish are “cleaner” than fish from other provinces is because they have fewer parasites – especially worms. Yes, the worms found in abundance in other provinces and the coastal US are removed by hand on the processing line. Perhaps Ottawa believes that our “cleaner fish” reputation will rub off on other provinces if our scientists are sent halfway up the polluted, parasite-infested St. Laurence River just outside Montreal.

In last week’s announcement of direct income support, cash-in-hand, to farm and cattle workers, Ottawa approved another $1 billion and said that the subsidy had cost $4.8 billion in 2004. In 2003 it ran at approximately $4 billion. That’s $1 billion every three months.

Compare this cash-in-hand income support for central and Western Canada with the so-called income support we received. Keep in mind that under the Constitution the fishery is a federal responsibility and farms and cattle ranching are provincial responsibilities.

Did we get cash income support to bring workers’ income up to their average income in an average year like the workers in central and western Canada got? Not on your life.

We got works programs to do up federal wharves, slipways, breakwaters, and federally-owned buildings, heaving around rocks in the winter with snow up to your armpits. We had to work for our so-called income support. If you dare suggest to the farm and cattle industry that they would have to work in the winter for their income support you’d probably get a smack up the side of the head.

The fishing industry in all of eastern Canada got a total of $800 million spread over three years; the farm and cattle industry in central and western Canada receive $1 BILLION every three months.

What an embarrassment it must be for Alberta and Ontario to be begging for support programs at the rate of $1 billion every three months. What an embarrassment it must be to be receiving tens of millions of dollars to pay legal fees after Newfoundland producers turned down the money and called it a subsidy and a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

Many have called the movement of federal employees from St. John’s to Mont Joli, Quebec, a matter of politics.

Well if they are right, and if we want to get the jobs back, we have some thinking to do before the next election.

You see Mont Joli voters vote overwhelmingly separatist in every election. It has a separatist provincial member, a separatist federal member, and in the town is found the headquarters of Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the separatist party, the Bloc Quebecois.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Calls for Proposals from You

I have been posting articles on this site for a little while now and I have to say that some of the comments they have generated have been wonderful, not to mention the emails that have been sent to me directly. I appreciate them all and look forward to hearing from you on anything published on the site.

Since there seems to be some interest in this site and since the folks who have contacted us so far seem to have some very good opinions, I would like to throw out a proposal to you all.

If there are any topics you would like to see included in our forum or if you would like to publish an article yourself on the topic of your choice, I would like you to contact me at the email link on the top of our page. (higginsmyles@yahoo.ca)

Maybe you have some insights into the offshore oil revenue issue, sealing, our lack of a power base in Parliament, our current government (Federal or Provincial), or maybe a topic that is far removed from these but which have a bearing on our place in Canada. What ever the topic, feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear you opinions and publish your thoughts.

Remember, this is your forum too.


Friday, April 08, 2005

US Launches Attack on Newfoundland and Labrador

The headlines read, Americans to Launch Rocket, Hibernia to be evacuated.

Thats right, the American Government were planning, and almost carried out, a rocket launch that would have seen an 11 ton rocket booster crash into the ocean a stones throw away from the Hibernia platform. So close in fact, that if the winds of fate were blowing the wrong way, 2 million barrels of oil could have been ignited and the ecology of the area effected for decades to come.

What would possess America to do something like this? As I see it, there are only two possibilities.

The first option is that the American Government doesn’t realize that we were here. They don’t realize that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Hibernia platform (which supplies oil to the US) and our fishermen are on the ocean in this part of the world.

NOT POSSIBLE. Until just a couple of decades ago the American forces had many military installations in the province, a surprising percentage of their oil is currently produced here and fish from our waters is marketed throughout the US. This scenario is not an option.

The second option is that the American Government is sending a message to the Canadian Government.

Just recently, Paul Martin and the Liberal government closed the door on the Americans when it came to missile defense. They were told that Canada wanted no part in a plan to blanket North America in a shield of radar installations and missile silos. Silos that would, according to the American Government, protect us from missiles falling from the skies. Hmmmm….. Missiles falling from the skies….. sound familiar? Missiles, Solid Rocket Boosters, hmmmm….

Maybe this is George Bush’s way of getting the point across that, other than begging and pleading, the Canadian Government has no way to protect it’s skies. Maybe, just maybe, this is the first step in a campaign to make the Canadian public sit up and take a second look at just how much sovereignty we really have in our skies and in our oceans. With the mentality of the Bush government it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

If this is the case, then I guess our geography here in Newfoundland has played a role in our place in history once again.

Where else could Bush make such a move? Off the coast of BC wouldn’t work, the debris would have to fall so far off shore that it wouldn’t bother anyone. This would need to be done to ensure that it couldn’t possibly be perceived as a threat to the American West coast, California or Alaska. A difficult task if you still want to send a message to Canada.

Central Canada is out of the running of course since the debris would have to fall on land. Even Bush is not pissed off enough, not yet anyway, to actually cause an impact on land in a possibly inhabited area.

The rest of Atlantic Canada is out since it is clustered so close together and not that far from the US eastern seaboard. Very problematic.

Newfoundland and Labrador wins the prize!!!

Of course, having a Premier who is interested in taking part in the missile defense program and who sees it as beneficial to our province, doesn’t hurt in this scenario.

The Bush brain trust must be crazier than we have thought all along. I can picture George and his cronies hatching the plot and thinking, “I bet Williams will start bawling and screaming, ‘incoming, incoming. Lets get the shield’, Huh, Huh, Huh. Yeah boys, I can just hear it. Pass me another beer will ya Dick”.

Have a good weekend folks, and God bless America.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Let's Spend a Dollar a Second for a Few Hundred Years

Have you ever wondered why the Federal Government has such a problem providing much needed funds to the provinces? Ontario is upset because they are running a deficit while sending millions to Ottawa, Health Care services are in critical condition throughout the country and Newfoundland and Labrador is about 10 minutes away from bankruptcy, yet there never seems to be enough Federal money to meet the needs. Well, perhaps the following will enlighten everyone to some of the facts.

In reality the Federal Government must deal with priority items first and even though individual provinces may have their own priorities, so to do the Feds. Here are some of the priority items they have been ear marking money for over the past few years and going forward.

1. $300,000 for Federal MP's (from all parties) to travel to beautiful Australia and to England to look at political reform. This while reams and reams of documents and studies currently exist on the issue and its impacts.

2. $200,000+ for Federal MP's to travel to certain countries to study legal whore houses and prostitution. This junket will end with the team spending some time in Las Vegas.

3. A Federal business subsidy (or business welfare) program that is costing about $4 Billion. Over the time this program has been in place, the government has recouped about 5% of the money supplied to corporations. Money lost: $3.8 Billion

4. Last year, the Governor General expenses ran to $41 Million dollars, including her use of government jets to fly to her summer retreat.

5. About $4 Billion dollars have been spent to date on selling Kyoto to Canadians, but the greenhouse gasses involved in the Kyoto protocols have continued to rise and are now much higher than they were at the start of the exercise.

6. Spending on the Canadian Gun Registry (to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens?). This program was initially expected to cost a few million; instead the costs are now soaring to the $2 Billion mark. The killer is that the system doesn’t even work since criminals don't tend to register their guns.

7. Over the past 3 years, the government has spent in excess of $200 Million managing the claims of aboriginal abuse victims which happened in government run agencies over the years. Much of this money, about 1 third or $65 to $70 Million has been paid to lawyers. Meanwhile the total payout to the victims of this abuse has only been about $38 Million.

8. $2.2 Billion dollars for the year ending March 2005 for losses due to mortgage loans forgiven. I may be mistaken, but people pay a percentage of the cost of their home to the CMHC for this insurance. If, in addition to this money, they need another $2 Billion a year, then obviously they are either not charging a high enough percentage or they are insuring high risk clients that they should not. (I read a recent article on mortgage fraud that is being hidden by the major banks because their losses are covered by CMHC anyway. Could this be a factor?)

These are just a few examples. I dug up by spending about 20 minutes on the internet scanning news articles and the like.

As you can see, the needs of the provinces are not necessarily at the top of the priority list in Ottawa. While the First ministers have fought for a few extra health care dollars and Newfoundland and Labrador / Nova Scotia battled for months to retain revenues that belong to us in the first place, this is the type of spending that Ottawa has been engaged in.

If you add up the numbers I have presented, and these a just a small fraction of the waste, the total is a staggering $12,000,000,000.00. That’s over $12 Billion in tax payer’s money for what? Certainly not the things most Canadians would choose to spend their money on.

I know it's hard to fathom numbers of this size, but let’s try to put them into perspective.

The cost of a kidney dialysis machine is approximately $120,000; this money could buy 100,000 of them.

The good folks in Grand Falls-Windsor have been lobbying for a new cancer treatment center at an estimated cost of 3.5 million. This money could pay for nearly 3,500 such clinics.

If each dollar of the $12 Billion was equated to spending $1 per second for 24 hours a day, it would take you 380 years to spend it.

Now that's something to think about.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My Motives are Clear

Over the past weeks, since I started this site, I have had several people question me on the topics I’ve chosen to publish. Others have questioned my motives for taking a certain perspective. Still others wonder why I have published articles about the seal hunt or the fixed link. “These aren’t directly related to our place in Canada” they say. I beg to differ.

Everything that impacts Newfoundland and Labrador and has some connection to the rest of Canada, no matter how tenuous, is related to our place in Canada.

The seal hunt is connected since it is sanctioned by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and supported by the government of Canada.

The fixed link is related since the Federal Government could make moves to either help or hinder its development. My personal jury is still out on its feasibility, but never the less, the topic exists.

Other issues I have discussed may have a more direct link, items such as the Atlantic Accord or development of the Lower Churchill. Regardless of how tenuous or clear the connections are, these topics never the less are related to our place in Canada.

To those of you who call my motives into question and for the record, my politics are simple:

I love my family, Newfoundland and Labrador and then Canada. In that order.

I love puppies and kids, but I also whole heartedly support a sustainable seal hunt.

I believe in rooting for the under dog and fighting against the bully.

I believe the pen is mightier than the sword but when the ink runs out the blade should be sharp.

I AM PATRIOT and I am a Newfoundlander.

(I hope Molson’s doesn’t sue me for that one.)

Listen up folks, this site is intended to provide a place for discussion and commentary on our very existence. I appreciate your comments and welcome any articles that anyone would like published. I will listen to other’s ideas and am always open to an intelligent debate, but to those of you who think that I have ulterior motives (and you know who you are), think again.

A wise man once said “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. I try to live this philosophy, please extend the same to me.

If you don’t agree with my perspective say so in our comments area at the bottom of each article. Better yet, why not send me your comments and I will publish them on the main page. This after all would be a much better way to further your view point than privately questioning my political motives or making personal attacks against my character in emails.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Thank-you for Letting Us Develop the Lower Churchill

Boy, I can’t wait for all of that lovely Quebec power to start flowing from Gull Island and Muskrat Falls. I bet when they get all that power moving there will be champagne wishes and caviar dreams for all. After all, it’s been a dream of Quebec Hydro to develop their two big river projects for some time. It’s just too bad mean old Newfoundland and Labrador has been keeping them from what they deserve.

It sounds odd doesn’t it, but if you have read any of the news articles around the proposed Lower Churchill development over the past 24 hours, this is the impression you would get.
I don’t know about you, but if I were Danny Williams reading those stories, I wouldn’t get a very warm and fuzzy feeling about the intentions of Ontario and Quebec.

I realize that news reports, especially early ones, need to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, since much of the content of these articles is coming directly from the good folks involved in pulling together the proposal, one also has to sit up and take notice.

The comments, from the interested parties, that I’ve read so far don’t exactly make me feel that they intend to treat Newfoundland and Labrador as the owner and supplier of something they would like to purchase. To the contrary, they have the sour flavor of showing the arrogance we often associate with big players when dealing with the little guy.

Shades of Upper Churchill come to mind.

One article states that according to the plan, Ontario would receive about one-third of the power from the projects, Hydro-Quebec would take the rest.

My math is a little rusty. Maybe someone out there can tell me how much power this leaves for the owners of the resource. Let’s see:

100% - (33.3% + 66.6%) = 0.1%

Well, that’s not bad. I may have a little rounding issue there, but hopefully that’s enough to run the station. At least then we won’t have to purchase some of that power from Hydro Quebec to keep the plant running for them. Oh yeah, that’s right, we wouldn’t be able to do that either because:

Thierry Vandal, president of Hydro-Quebec Production, said the Quebec utility would sell its two-thirds share of the Labrador power on wholesale markets in Quebec and beyond.

I guess we’ll just have to make sure we keep that 0.1% so we can ensure that Hydro Quebec’s customers don’t get upset. Maybe, while we're at it, we should also build a new bunker sea burning plant to provide power in the province for any future industrial development we hope will come along. After all we don’t have enough power now to supply them.

Other comments I’ve read on the proposed deal state:

The Ontario-Quebec bid includes two options:

Under the first, a joint venture company would lease the Gull Island and Muskrat Falls sites for 50 years.

Under the second, Ontario and Hydro-Qu├ębec would negotiate an agreement under which Ontario would purchase energy. Newfoundland and Labrador would finance construction.

Let’s examine these for a minute shall we.

The first option sounds very reminiscent of the original Churchill Falls deal. In this scenario we sign over the power for a 50 year period, however if we forget to include a comma at line 4,116 in paragraph 137, then we had better watch out.

My take on this one is, if this is the only option, get a team of lawyers and have them examine the contract for no less than 51 years.

But wait, that’s not the only option. There is an option that looks better. Newfoundland and Labrador can fund the construction and simply sell the power (that’s what we wanted isn’t it?).
This option sounds great until you look at the price tag.

According to Ontario, the projected price tag is between $3 and $6 Billion. This is probably conservative since Quebec Hydro pegs the total at up to $9 Billion.

These numbers are a lot of money by any standard. In this light, we have to believe that the proponents of this deal don’t really expect us to choose the second option. I mean how could anyone expect a poor province, that is $11 Billion in debt, to finance a project that would cost another $9 Billion?

You know, maybe it's just me, but I think those pesky little Quebec Hydro folks are at it again. Then again, maybe we really do have 2 options.

Take the first option or don’t develop the project.

It looks like Quebec Hydro has learned a valuable lesson from the first Churchill Falls agreement. The lesson is: “If we word it right, we can really screw over the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Let’s just hope our politicians here at home have learned some lessons as well.