Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

How Much do You Enjoy the Taste of Seal Meat?

Never one to shy away from controversy and in the blood soaked spirit of Halloween (that was for the benefit of the Animal Rights folks in the crowd), I've decided to take the advice of one of our anonymous contributors and poll our readers on how much they like the taste of seal meat.

I'm pretty sure this poll, like a previous one on seals will be skewed by the AR activists out there, but in the spirit of fun I decided to do it anyway.

Happy Halloween everyone and be careful out there tonight kids, especially if you are dressed like a baby seal. You just know I'm gonna be out there with my club like every other self respecting barbarian in the province.

Something Evil This Way Comes

Tendrils of bone chilling fog creep through the streets in the City of Legends. The grey menace quietly tightens its vice like grip among the shadows and gingerly explores the doorways of one and all.

In bays and coves along the windswept coast waves crash against blackened rocks and dry leaves rustle over roadways as darkness descends, reaching out to touch all like a velvet veil.

The fear is palpable as people from all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador in fact across the nation itself, bolt their doors, check their windows and lower their shades. Nobody feels safe on this night, not this night.

On this night people huddle in their homes and wait for the inevitable. They know it will come, but knowing is one thing, seeing is another.

It is the eve of horrors untold. The eve of evils done and lies whispered on the wind. It is the eve of a time that will forever change the psyche of every man, woman and child. It has been a long time coming, yet come it does.

It is the eve of Gomery!!

In the days to follow we will all be the grim witnesses to nasty little news snippets, painful and seemingly endless in-depth analysis and slashing commentaries. The guts of the Gomery report will be splayed across our television screens and drip from newspaper headlines across the country. No one is safe, except perhaps for the evil doers in Ottawa who have left no stone unturned in distancing themselves from the scandal.

Scary questions will be asked, evil statements will be made and through it all the horrendous corruption will continue unabated. The headless Liberal Party will continue in its quest to defile the nation and our biggest fears will be realized. The complacency of a brainwashed public will continue to support the self-imposed corrupt monarchy that is Canada.

Those who know can truly see what it all means can smell and perhaps even taste their own fear. The fear of a future tied to the whims of heartless politicians who are not only a part of one of the most corrupt governments in the country’s history, but who are smart enough to get away with it.

Tomorrow is another day, so before you sleep tonight, hold your children just a little tighter and pray for their deliverance. Pray that their future will be better than their present. Pray that the Canada we have known in the past can be saved after all, but most of all pray that our nation will exist for them at all when they grow up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What has Newfoundland and Labrador Offered to Abitibi-Consolidated?

Today Abitibi-Consolidated announced through the VOCM open line program that it will “idle” its Stephenville, NL mill operation rather than closing it out entirely, which had been expected to happen at the end of this month. A spokesperson for the company said that there was a potential break on the operation’s high energy costs and they would continue to look for concessions from the union representing workers in an effort to re-start the operation rather than shut it down completely.

On the surface this announcement sounds somewhat encouraging, but does anyone besides me have a very bad feeling about this?

Like the old saying goes: If it looks like crap, feels like crap and smells like crap, it probably is crap.

So far the entire provincial / Abitibi negotiation process and the concession demands on union members, smells like something I wouldn’t want to step in on my way to work.

During the past summer, Abitibi informed government of plans to shut down the mill in Stephenville along with one of two paper machines in Grand Falls-Windsor. The shutdowns would result in hundreds of people losing their jobs and the virtual devastation of a dozen or more communities that depend on the mill for employment.

According to Abitibi, the only thing the government had to do to avoid such a catastrophe was to build power generating plants on the Exploits River at an estimated tax payer expense of $300+ million and give those plants to the company. Not sell them power mind you, but give them the generating capacity outright, thus putting Abitibi in a position to compete directly with NL Hydro.

In addition to generating capacity, Abitibi wanted government to give the company (free of charge of course) first logging rights to every single stick of wood in both Labrador and the island of Newfoundland.

What a bargain.It’s hard to understand why government wouldn’t jump at the offer. After all, it would only cost our financially strapped province $300 million, give Abitibi control of the second largest power source on the island and in essence mean that Abitibi would have control of every birch, spruce, fir, pine, apple and cherry tree in the province, evenif they shut down both mills in the future and put every single worker on the street.

Since this information reached the public in late July, on-again, off-again negotiations between the provincial government and Abitibi-Consolidated have been conducted behind closed doors. Nobody, other than key officials from both sides, know exactly what is being discussed or what is being offered. In that light, when I hear a company spokesperson use phrases like, “a potential break on the operation’s high energy costs”, it really rattles me.

Add to this the fact that while negotiations have been ongoing between government and abitibi, the company took it upon itself to begin negotiating a side deal on union concessions. Apparently this began without government knowledge and as the spokesperson stated today, work on those concessions continues.

These concessions are being pushed on the union separately from any deal that government may be offering and they are by no means minor. Abitibi-consolidated has said it wants wage freezes (Ok, this speaks to operating costs) and the union has agreed to a 5% rollback in response.

What about some of the other concessions?

On top of money saving wage freezes or rollbacks the company has said it wants the right to bring in outside contractors when ever it chooses and it wants the union to disband its ability to file a grievance, for any reason what so ever, over the next year.

In other words it is trying to bust the union and it wants the membership to agree to it. Not only that, it expects them to agree without even knowing what government may already have on the table.

This whole scenario stinks in so many ways it’s hard to even breathe in this province anymore. It just stinks all over the place.

Obviously the Union at the mill in Stephenville will stand up for what it believes is right. After all the members are the ones who will be directly affected, but what about the negotiations with government? What about, “a potential break on the operation’s high energy costs”? Just what does that mean exactly?

Has the government really managed to work out some sort of deal that is livable for everyone or have they, as so many NL governments have done in the past, “given away the shop once again”, so to speak?

Unfortunately nobody knows because nobody who is in the know is saying anything about what they know, you know. (Sorry I couldn’t resist it, but now you have a taste of just how confusing this whole thing is.)

I just hope that before any deal is signed between government and Abitibi, John Q Taxpayer gets a chance to read the fine print and have a say in the final offer. After all, he’s the one who’s going to foot the bill right?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fear of “Things that are different”

Recently I heard of a situation where some parents in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador were upset that a group of Gideon’s had visited schools and handed out copies of the New Testament to the children there.

Perhaps the adults involved were Hindu or Muslim or Jewish or atheist or for that matter they may have been "Born Again Toenail Worshipers". I don’t know the reason for their ire and I honestly would rathe not know because it might scare me too much. I have to say that this incident bothers me like very few have, and anyone who has read my articles knows that I bother quite easily.

You might wonder why this upsets me so. Doesn’t everyone have the right to freedom of religion and why should another one be forced upon them you might say? You would be right of course, but is that what was happening here? Was another religion being forced down someone’s throat or was it simply a case of, as Canadian songwriter Burton Cummings once put it, “Passing out Bibles”?

With crime levels in North America rising faster than the price of oil and the moral standards of most developed nations going into the toilet, what is the harm in simply making religious literature available to our youth.

Religion has been taken out of the schools, but these institutions are still supposed to be a place of education. I can understand the line of thought that might not want specific religious ideology promoted in the classroom, but why not give our future leaders at least a chance to understand various religious concepts by accepting mainstream literature if they choose to do so?

Why not let the students who want to accept one of these testaments "take one away"? (sorry Burton)

What harm could it possibly do?

Many of the problems the world is facing today can be traced back to a basic lack of understanding of anyone or anything that is considered different in some way. So what’s the issue with kids who are of a specific religion being given an opportunity to learn more about it, or allowing those of other faiths (or no faith) the opportunity to learn about the religions of others?

Fear of “things that are different” is what leads to mistrust, hatred, terrorism and war. It is what keeps the world from actually doing what is right for everyone rather than simply their own "group", whatever that may be. It is what ensures that those who look, sound, act and speak the way we do are all treated the same way while those who are different from us are treated differently.

We see it all the time in many aspects of our daily lives, not just religion.

People always find ways to separate “us” from “them”. We refer to blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, Rich and Poor, upper/middle and lower class, women and men and in our own Province, even as Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. People always want to label everyone else so they fit neatly into nice little compartments that supposedly identify who they are.

It doesn’t work people!

The reality of the matter is that there is only one category not many. That category is simply “People”. No matter how much some may try to hide the fact, it remains just that, a fact.

I may be overly idealistic, but I can’t help but feel that the more we know about our fellow beings on this plant, the more likely we are to treat each other fairly. The more likely we are to help each other out and the more likely we are to accomplish great things. Since religion has played such a pivotal role in the development of world cultures, reading the religious text of other ideologies may just be a step in the right direction.

By sectioning each other off into neat little boxes with tidy little labels we only become more and more alienated from each other, retard our progress and ensure that hatred and fear survive.

As the old saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall”.

Is passing out a few religious books in Newfoundland and Labrador schools really that bad? I don’t think so, in fact, I would suggest that someone also hand out copies of other mainstream religious texts, the teachings of Chairman Mao, the writings of Confucius and any other documents that have touched the psyche of large populations over the centuries, either for good or for bad.

People just need to open their minds a little wider. I promise it won’t hurt too much.

Education is a wonderful thing and it might just help all of us to understand each other just a little bit better.

What’s wrong with that?

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

I recently heard a local talk show host use the term “last refuge of a scoundrel” and it got me to thinking. What exactly is the last refuge of a scoundrel? Where do they turn when facts elude them and the truth they don’t want to hear is closing in from all sides?

Recently I ran an article on the Atlantic Seal hunt and another on the financial activities of the animal rights group, Sea Shepherd Society. Both pieces generated more response from outside Atlantic Canada, in fact from outside the Country, than any other article I have ever written. They also highlighted the use of various “refuges” that some try to employ.

The initial online debate of the issues began as most do, with a simple give and take of concepts and facts (some loosely called). A thrust and parry, point/counter point kind of process ensued. Eventually however some of the less educated, or perhaps less forthright, folks on the animal rights side of the equation simply gave up debating the issues and resorted to attacking the intelligence of their opponents.

In fairness, some on the animal rights side of the argument did stick to their guns by quoting quasi-facts, but others (one of whom was later proven to be connected directly with Sea Shepherd, though she had hidden this fact) simply began a campaign of name calling and generally attempting to portray those who supported the seal hunt as everything from barbaric imbeciles to uneducated in-breeders.

When facts fail you, discredit your opponent in the eyes of the gullible. This to me would perhaps qualify at the very least as a “safe haven” if not the “last refuge of a scoundrel”.

By and large refusing to take the bait offered or to be drawn into a virtual shouting match, to their credit, the pro hunting contingent simply laughed off this vicious assault and continued to debate the facts.

“OK thinks the scoundrel, if the facts are against me and I can’t discredit my opponent, then maybe I should bring out some bigger guns.”

Suddenly anyone who questioned the animal rights ideology was immoral, against God and against all that is good in the world. The scoundrels in the bunch claimed that anyone who would dare harm a seal was no better than a bigamist or a child molester or even, get this one, a Scientologist.

Perhaps not the “last refuge of a scoundrel” but at the very least weighing in as “haven” number two, none other than morality.

When all else fails, appeal to the public’s sense of morality. The approach has two key functions that work well for the scoundrel. Everyone wants to be seen as morally strong and who can argue something that is purely subjective?

Arguments are hard to make when none exist. After all moral standards vary widely from person to person, religion to religion, culture to culture, place to place and time to time. Morality provides a nice warm place for a tired scoundrel to curl up in, but is it the last refuge? No.

According to some the “last refuge of a scoundrel” is nothing more than a few yards of coloured cloth. That’s right, the flag itself.

“Wrapping yourself in the flag” as some would say, is much like morality in the sense that it tugs at the heart strings and is all but impossible to argue. An interesting approach that we’ve all seen over and over again but perhaps never paid much attention.

George Bush like all Presidents before him has done it and continues to do it.

No, there are no WMD in Iraq, but it’s the patriotic thing to do to roust out the regime “over there”.

Don’t forget that you shouldn’t change leaders in times of war. That wouldn’t be patriotic, now let’s all rally round the flag and salute proudly as we send our boys into an oil rich hell.

Our own leaders are not immune either. Remember the flag flap? Premier Williams pulled down the Canadian flag in protest of the fact that Paul Martin had promised a fair deal on offshore oil revenues, only to twist himself in knots in an effort to weasel out of it. Williams protest became fodder for Martin and a scoundrel’s refuge.

Martin couldn’t deny that he had made the promise, nor could he deny that he was fudging on it, but he could call Williams and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador unpatriotic in an effort to take some of the heat off himself.

Of course anyone who remembers Paul Martin’s historic address to the nation during Gomery cannot help but recall his “best interest of the Country” statement either. Oh, a scoundrel and his flag. Is there any cozier relationship?

Of course invoking the flag is an especially interesting approach for a scoundrel like Paul Martin who has flown every flag of convenience possible on his company’s ships for decades. Flying the Canadian flag might be patriotic, it just costs to darn much.

Telling lies to discredit the opposition, playing the morality card and calling for patriotism are indeed the “havens” of scoundrels and politicians alike. They can and have been called on to save the day when all else has failed, to hell with the truth.

We are seeing it more and more in our politics over the past couple of years. It effects every facet of our lives from politics to business and even to some special interest protest groups. It's a fact of life that isn’t going to change, but at least an informed public is an armed public. Besides, it’s nice to clear the air on the issue, ensure that people recognize the tactic when it’s used and to take a deep breath before contending with it once again.

Well, with that off my chest I leave you and return to my overflowing email files in an effort to see if the fine animal rights folks writing in, who have already utilized “havens” one and two, have actually found a creative way to invoke the flag itself as “The last refuge of a scoundrel”.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Paul Martin, King of Canada, Strikes Again

How can we all tell a federal election is in the offing?

Some might say it’s because there are a couple of non-confidence votes coming up in the house next month.

They’d be wrong.

Others might refer to the fact that Paul Martin promised an election within 30 days of the release of the Gomery report.

They’d be wrong.

Yes, both are true, but the most accurate way to tell is to look around you and notice exactly how Liberal MPs are responding to Canadian issues and using tax dollars.

Three weeks ago nobody, including the Deputy Prime Minister Ann McClellan, would even entertain the idea of doing anything for the Portnoy family in Newfoundland who want a review of a federal deportation order.

Today, she has agreed to review the case.

Just prior to the last election the Liberal government promised to put the future of the Labrador air base at 5 Wing Goose on the top of their agenda. Since then nothing of any significance has been done. No commitments have been made and nobody was talking.

Suddenly, the Deputy Prime Minister has plans to visit the base and examine the possibilities for saving it.

Just a few weeks ago John Efford said he would not be running in the next election for health reasons. (Even though most people know it’s because he has screwed the people of the province so many times that his chances of winning are slimmer than supermodel Kate Moss.) Then he said he might. Then he said he wouldn’t. Then he said he might. After that I don’t know what he said because I felt like I was watching a tennis ball going back and forth and my neck got really stiff.

Now I can only assume he is planning to run or at the very least hopes to save the district for the Liberals. Not because of anything he said (you can’t believe him anyway), but because today he announced $1 million dollars for job creation projects in his riding.

Add to all of this the fact that just yesterday Ralph Goodale announced some relaxation in employment insurance qualification rules and Paul Martin is talking tough with the U.S. over softwood lumber and you have the definite, undeniable evidence you need that an election is very close. Hell, Martin is posturing so much with our friends down south that if I didn’t know him I’d think he was actually a leader.

I remember the massive spending spree the Liberals went on just prior to a big non-confidence vote in the last session of the House. If you don’t recall, all you have to do is refer to the article “Liberal Election Give Away Watch”, in our May archive. I shudder to think how many votes these guys will buy with our own tax dollars this time around.

Keep your eyes and ears open folks. It looks like the pre-election piggy bank is starting to crack open and only King Martin himself knows just how big that crack will get.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

4 Fishermen Die While Canadian Officials Party On

Just over one month ago, on September 12 to be exact, the fishing vessel Melina and Keith II capsized off the coast of Newfoundland. The eight crew members were tossed into the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean. After hours in the water, four of those poor men succumbed to the cold waters and perished.

On that fateful evening, 1 hour and 55 minutes after the vessel was located, a National Defence helicopter took off from Gander. It took over 3 hours to arrive on scene. The rescue helicopter was later followed by the Coast Guard ship Leonard J. Cowley nearly 10 hours after the initial incident took place.

According to recent reports, one survivor has said that at least one or possibly even two of those men could have been saved, if only response time had been faster.

After the vessel capsized the men climbed aboard the bottom of the overturned fishing boat until it sank, a full two hours later. With no help in sight, the crew then courageously held onto a small aluminum boat that bobbed to the surface. Unfortunately for four of those men, they could not hold on long enough in the frigid North Atlantic waters for help to arrive.

According to a recent article published in the newspaper The Independent, “Phillip McDonald, a survivor of the sinking, says he’s haunted by the certainty a faster response — even by 20 minutes — would have saved at least one of the four men who died. McDonald — the fisheries observer aboard the boat — points blame at federal maritime search and rescue policy.

According to that policy, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., National Defence’s maritime search and rescue helicopter must be airborne within 30 minutes of receiving orders. After 4 p.m., the crew is on a two-hour standby.”

Unfortunately, this sad incident took place after 4pm.

It’s a sad statement, but it's things like the recent revelations that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has racked up a whopping $42 million dollars in travel and entertainment expenses that are a big part of the reason these men died so needlessly.

While a useless government agency like DFO, which has been the target of multiple requests for disbandment or at the very least a major overhaul, has been living it up at tax payer expense, Military and Coast Guard budgets have been cut to the bone. One has to ask why Coast Guard vessels are tied up to ports because they can’t afford fuel or why a policy is in place that has rescue crews on 2 hours standby after 4pm.

Two minutes is a long time to wait in the harsh North Atlantic let alone 2, 3, 4 or even 10 hours. In fact, in the case of the Melina and Keith II nobody would have survived at all if it hadn’t been for another commercial vessel in the area.

Canadians are by nature a quiet, friendly people and none more so than Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans, but there is a limit to what anyone should have to put up with.

We have witnessed DFO mismanage both salt water and fresh water fisheries to near extinction levels from one end of this Country to the other. We have witnessed federal leaders break promise after promise after promise and in recent months we have witnessed corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars as has never before been seen in this Country. Now, after all of this, we see a government that truly has the blood of innocent Canadian citizens on its hands.

Millions exist in government to be given to political cronies. Millions exist to be squandered on first class flights and extravagant, illegitimate expenses. Millions exist for political leaders to vote themselves fat raises and provide golden parachutes to disgraced officials, yet fishermen are allowed to suffer unimaginably before drowning off our coast. All because no money exists to provide 24 hour, immediate response rescue services.

How many more innocent people need to die so we can continue to support this self imposed, self serving monarchy?

I hope Paul Martin, Geoff Regan and every other decision maker in Ottawa sleeps well tonight knowing full well that the deaths of these poor men and the bleak future of their families can be directly attributed to their callous and uncaring actions.

You can wash your hands all you like. The blood doesn't go away.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Anti-Sealing Activists Help Support Web Talk NL

Well folks, I have to say it’s been an interesting weekend here at Web Talk. It looks like we have been the focus of a concerted effort by anti-sealing interests attempting to ensure that our most recent poll reflects their view of the world.

If you look at the poll results on the right you will notice that it shows 92% in favor of stopping the hunt. This is in direct opposition to the way the results looked prior to the weekend when the result stood at 98% against closing it.

Before our regular readers start shaking their heads in wonder at this result we need to break down how it was arrived at. When you consider our recent visitor stats for the site it becomes quite clear that we have another case where people outside Newfoundland and Labrador, in fact outside Canada itself, think they know better than we how things should be done.

The latest stats from the site show an increase in traffic over the weekend of about 400%.

Normally our visitors are split at about 50% new and 50% returning visitors. The current stats show new visitors at 94%.

92% of our visitors in the past few days are from outside NL. That number is usually at 69%. In fact, the stats show that it isn’t primarily other Canadians visiting either. Normally only 34% of our traffic is from outside the country. Our current numbers are running at 86% non-Canadian.

Of course anyone is more than welcome to visit us anytime and make their points known. I just find it odd that people so far removed from the seal hunt would think they know so much about it.

All I have to say to these people is

1) visit us anytime you like, if even 1 or 2% of you read an article on the site you may learn something about us other than the propaganda you usually hear; and
2) Thanks for increasing my traffic numbers so quickly. Every hit puts a few pennies in the bank and helps ensure the site remains in operation going forward. We appreciate your financial support in helping get the word out.

Friday, October 14, 2005

PM Paul Martin Opens Mouth and Inserts Foot

In an interview with Montreal's La Presse, Prime Minister Paul Martin says he is exasperated at the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the federal government and the provinces.

Martin says he is not prepared to have the Premiers come to Ottawa, whine for a day and demand more money.

Well boo-hoo Mr. Martin. Isn’t your life just one big pain in the ass.

What do you expect from Provincial leaders when the majority of Canadian provinces are struggling under massive debt, running deficits, living with crumbling infrastructure and robbing Peter to pay Paul for health care and educational expenses? What do you expect from Provincial leaders when most provinces are financially struggling from year to year while constantly being reminded of overflowing federal coffers?

Do you expect the Premiers to show up for the annual conference and shake your hand? Do you expect them to thank you for throwing a few scraps their way and to heartily endorse you for re-election? Maybe you would like it better if they just threw you a party and offered to give back some of the pittance Ottawa doles out to the Provinces each year.

No, I doubt you expect any of that to happen. In reality, the asinine statement you made is more likely a plea to take it easy on you because you are staring at a federal election in the coming months. At this point you obviously don’t want more bad press but you can’t expect Provincial leaders to help smooth the way back to Sussex Drive for you. You wanted the top job, you got the top job and if you want to keep the top job you are going to have to work for it.

Remember, the money that you don’t want the Premiers to come to Ottawa and whine about, is not your personal war chest. It’s not a Liberal slush fund and it didn’t just fall from the heavens. This money was gathered from tax payers across the Country and more specifically in each and every one of the Provinces that these leaders represent. This money doesn’t belong to resigning government officials to be used as severance pay. This money doesn’t belong to corrupt advertising agencies and it certainly doesn’t belong to the Liberal party to misappropriate as they please.

This money belongs to the people of the Provinces of Canada who earned it by the sweat of their brow and who want to see it used to better their lives.

Before making any more idiotic statements like the one you made to the reporter for La Presse you might want to take a moment to stop and think. The Premiers know an election is coming and they know that the best chance they have to push their agendas with Ottawa is to do it now. If you don’t realize this fundamental truth, or are not willing to face it, then you don’t even deserve to run for the job of local dog catcher let alone Prime Minister.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How Can Government Resolve Problems when Government is the Problem?

What is the primary function of the federal government?

Simply put, the job of government is to manage the day to day operations of the Country and resolve any national problems that might arise.

Next question, how can a government resolve a nation’s problems when that government is the problem?

Every day we go about the daily business of working, raising families, paying bills, buying groceries and so on. Every day we see our dollar buying less, our children’s schools deteriorating and our take home pay shrinking. Gas prices are up, food prices are up, taxes are up, and because of it all, most of us are fed up.

Do we ever stop to think about the root cause of it all? Do we ever really think about the role government plays in our daily life? Probably not, most of the general public sees the government as a far off entity collecting taxes or delivering services. An entity with members who knock at the front door once every four years begging for a job.

The reality of the situation is that government is much more than that. Government impacts every aspect of our lives every day, 365 days a year and since most of our lives are not all that great to begin with, government deserves much of the credit for the situation in which we find ourselves.

Taxes are a great example of the impact government has. How many people truly realize just how much they pay in taxes every year? Sure we all see the little box on our T4 slip when we fill out those forms from Revenue Canada, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Not only are we are saddled with income tax, CPP or QPP and EI contributions, but also with HST (or GST & Provincial Taxes), ultra-massive Sin taxes on tobacco / alcohol and lets not forget the dreaded gasoline taxes. These are just the ones that immediately spring to mind. What about hidden taxes? I’m referring to things like the various fees we pay for things like the federal gun registry, passport and visa applications or anything else requiring a government employee to pick up a number 2 pencil.

I can’t even begin to comprehend just how much money is being stripped from our pockets every day by the problem makers on Ottawa. We have a government that spends like a drunken sailor, misappropriates funds (read adscam) and is running its operations more inefficiently than at any time in our history, yet they are nearing a full decade of what they refer to as “surplus budgets”. My God, how much money are they sucking out of us anyway?

How in the name of all that’s powerful can a government have a surplus budget? In reality there should never be such a thing. If more money is coming in than is needed then one of two things should happen. Either taxes need to be lowered or government services need to be improved. There are no other options and that includes the latest Liberal entry into the bull patty hall of fame, rebating 33% of all surpluses over $3 billion. What a vote buying joke that is.

While the brain trust in Ottawa struts around boasting of their great fiscal management, a hospital wait takes longer than a Paul Martin decision. Our nation’s highways require the use of all terrain vehicles and generous doses of Gravol. Our schools are decaying in both structure and educational value. Our military capacity is a world wide joke and our Coast Guard can’t even staff up to a rescue effort after 4pm.

No, there is no such thing as a surplus.

The price of everything we use has gone up, up and away. Sure, some of this is a natural increase due to supply and demand, but a lot of it is simply because of taxation itself.

When fuel costs rise (and a large part of fuel cost is tax) it drives up the cost of transporting goods from the delivery of raw materials through manufacture and on to delivery in your local store.

When income taxes, CPP / EI premiums and all other taxes are high there is less for the average Joe to live on. As a result Joe Sixpack and Sally Lunchpail eventually need a raise. This in turn drives up the cost of labor and ultimately the cost of goods sold. Of course since a raise also means even more federal taxes, CPP and EI premiums the cycle continues unabated.

There are some nations in the world with higher taxation than ours, or so they claim. I’m not so sure. Even though income tax may be as high as 70% in some countries, the services provided for by those taxes help ensure that everyone is happy. Everything from free daycare to free prescriptions to fully paid spa trips for arthritis suffers. Not so in Canada. Besides, I haven’t done the math, but I am almost willing to bet that when you add all of the taxes we pay into the equation, including the hidden ones if you can figure them out, our true taxation level would put 70% to shame.

What do we have to show for the privilege of filling Ottawa’s coffers? Let me answer that question with a question.

How proud are you to work all day for a smaller and smaller pay check, a higher and higher cost of living and fewer and fewer government services while our elected officials waste our hard earned money, pad their expense accounts and vote themselves raise after raise after raise?

Well, if you’re like me, you’re about as happy as a twenty-five pound turkey on Thanksgiving.

Come on into the House Paul and Ralph, its dinner time!! Do you want white meat or dark meat?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Immigration Minister Refuses to Halt Deportation of Newfoundland Family

As you calmly drive your daily commute from work to home you notice a police checkpoint in the distance and begin to slow. Rolling to a stop you lower the driver’s window, nod to the officer approaching your vehicle, and reach for your license. Nothing to worry about, after all it's just a routine stop and these are the good guys right?

Suddenly you are told to step out of your vehicle and place your hands on the roof. You are quickly handcuffed and hustled into the back of a patrol car by uniformed officers. Speeding through the streets, these men whisk you away to a local police station where your nightmare truly begins.

Seated in a stark interrogation room, a confession for car theft is pushed before your face. You are told not to read it, but to sign it. You are also told by the authorities that they have your wife and children and if you don’t sign it, your family will suffer the consequences.

You sign the papers they put before you. What choice do you have?

Can this nightmare really be happening?

According to Alexi Portnoy that’s exactly what did happen. What’s more, he served 8 months in an Israeli prison on the charge. Now years later he, his wife and their four children who live in Marystown Newfoundland are being uprooted from their adopted home and deported from Canada because of it.

Now, because he signed that confession, it looks like Alexi Portnoy's wife and children are being made to suffer the consequences by authorities in this Country.

According to the Department of Immigration, Mr. Portnoy’s criminal record precludes him from obtaining Canadian citizenship even though he has been a model citizen since moving to Canada years ago.

On the surface, denying people with a criminal record a place in Canada would seem like the sensible thing to do, but like any policy, one size doesn’t fit all. Sometimes other factors need to be considered and this is where our current immigration system completely breaks down.

After being allowed to enter the country, Mr. Portnoy and his wife have settled down and had two children, for a total of four. They have become a part of the local community they now call home. Now, after years of waiting for the painfully slow wheels of government to review their case, the answer is not what they wanted to hear. Simply put, they do not want to leave and nobody who knows them want them to leave either.

When denied citizenship and on being confronted with his arrest record Mr. Portnoy outlined the nightmare scenario above. Is this really the way things happened? Perhaps it was, or perhaps it wasn’t. Even if you doubt Mr. Portnoy’s explanation of the circumstances surrounding his arrest, even if he did indeed steal a car in his younger days, does this single act give the Canadian government the right to make him, and more importantly his wife and children, pay the consequences?

According to the people of Marystown Newfoundland the answer is a resounding NO.

The people of the town have rallied around the Portnoy family and even the mayor of the community is doing everything possible to pressure government for an extension to the deportation order. The hope is that the family can gain a fair hearing in the case.

The family has now been given asylum in the basement of a local Catholic church and members of the community are helping them in any way they can.

Why is the town being so supportive? Why is this case tugging at the heartstrings of the local community?

According to all reports, the Portnoys have been law abiding and contributing members of local society for years. Alexi Portnoy has been a model citizen who has never broken the law in Canada and was gainfully employed until being forced to seek refuge from authorities. Two of their four children were born in Canada. These children are Canadian citizens, yet if the family is deported, they to will be forced to go to Israel.

What will happen to them if the family is deported? One of the children suffers from cystic fibrosis, what will happen to her? What kind of medical care will she receive?

Add to all of this the fact that the mayor of Marystown has now received a fax from Israel containing the results of a police background check on Alexi Portnoy. According to this document, Mr. Portnoy is now listed as having no criminal record in that country.

Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal MHA Bill Matthews has spoken with the Minister of Immigration and with the Deputy Prime Minister. According to Mr. Matthews, the Minister refuses to entertain the idea of invoking his Ministerial Discretion in the case. Doing so might allow this family the time they need to appeal the deportation ruling and perhaps find a way to remain in the Country. Ottawa is turning a deaf ear.

Ministerial Discretion is a mainstay of the Canadian democratic system. This power allows Ministers to overrule departmental decisions when they feel the decision is a mistake or if they feel a decision is unjust. This power is meant to ensure that government control remains in the hands of elected officials rather than unelected bureaucrats.

According to reports, the Minister is refusing to delay the deportation order even in light of the new evidence on Mr. Portnoy’s background.

Many have commented on what seems to be a rather uneven and contradictory approach in this case in light of the fact that at the same time government is refusing to make an exception for the Portnoys, they did exactly that for television diva Martha Stewart.

Stewart, who because of her criminal record had been denied access to attend a festival in Nova Scotia, had her ruling overturned last week as soon as it came to government attention. The decision was made and Ms. Stewart was informed that she would be allowed in the Country all in a matter of hours. Although she ultimately did not make the festival due to bad weather conditions in Maine, Ms. Stewart was granted the right to do so without even having to argue her case.

Is this a matter of one rule for the rich and one for the poor? If Alexi Portnoy and his family were media superstars would they be hiding in a church basement praying for asylum? Would they be wondering what their future held? Would they be wondering about the future of their sick child and what impact the current stress may be having on her illness, or would they be sipping champagne in an airport lounge on their way to some media event?

Would the Minister of Immigration or the Prime Minister himself be so quick to dismiss this case if it was happening to a high profile family in Ottawa or Toronto rather than a working class one in small town Newfoundland? Many are pondering these questions and wondering what the country has come to when our leaders can take the international stage and speak of our nation's great record of human rights, compassion for the down trodden and care for the underprivileged while allowing a poor hard working family to be kicked out of the country they love.

The Portnoys, the town of Marystown and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not asking the government of Canada to immediately grant citizenship in this case. They are simply asking for more time. Time that would allow this family to plead its case and for the due process of law to take its course, due process that to date has been denied the Portnoy family.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Canadian Government Refuses to Protect Atlantic Fish Stocks

For years the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through provincial leaders of every political stripe, have lobbied Ottawa to enact custodial management of ground fish stocks. Doing so would enable Canada to deny foreign fishing fleets access to stocks on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap off the coast of the province.

Nobody listened.

During the last election campaign Prime Minister Dithers promised he would see that these stocks were protected, but like so many of Mr. Martin’s promises, this one was left unfulfilled.

Recently a report released world wide by a major animal welfare organization stated what Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have known and been screaming for longer than anyone cares to remember. The report showed that, although there are a number of factors involved, overfishing is the primary reason ground fish stocks in Atlantic Canada have not been able to rebound and that no bigger threat exists than foreign fleets just outside Canada’s 200 mile limit.

Nobody listened.

Now a new voice has been added to the chant. The Canadian National Chamber of Commerce, which represents the chambers of every province in the country, has unanimously voted to lobby Ottawa for custodial management in Atlantic waters.

As business people they have come to understand the impact that foreign overfishing is having, and will continue to have, on this once thriving industry. An industry that at one time was the backbone of Atlantic Canada. An industry that is now perhaps only a few years away from being nothing more than a footnote in Canadian history books.

Nobody is listening.

Ottawa still has not invoked custodial management of these crucial spawning grounds, which we have every right to do under UN law. Instead they are attempting to have cod added to the threatened species list. This would have the effect of severely limiting any possible use of the growing inshore stocks by Canadian fishers and might even impact the harvest of other species inside our waters. It will do nothing to stop foreign draggers from raping one of the world’s largest offshore fish nurseries or helping rebuild the offshore stocks.

What will it take before officials in Ottawa understand the importance of protecting these waters? Will the cod have to become as rare as a mosquito in January, or perhaps as rare as finding a politician with a conscience?

It’s high time the federal government stopped covering its ASSets in the international community and did what was right for its own people.

During the last election campaign Mr. Martin made two important promises to Newfoundland and Labrador. One was that the province would be given a fair share of its offshore oil revenues. The other was to take control of the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

After months of negotiation, debate, infighting, outfighting, hair pulling, eye gouging and even a slight incidence of revolution on the part of Premier Danny Williams, Martin finally buckled and signed an agreement on oil revenues. The question everyone in the province is asking is what happened to that other election promise?

Everyone expects Paul Martin to shirk his responsibility and shy away from that promise, it’s his standard operating practice, but why hasn’t Premier Williams shown as much backbone on this issue as he did on oil revenues? It has become very clear to everyone in Canada that the Prime Minister will only honor his promises when he is pushed into a corner he can’t maneuver out of. The surprise is the fact that Premier Williams hasn't found a nice dark corner and begun pushing.

Why is this issue not being addressed? The Atlantic Premiers Conference will be taking place in PEI this month. Even though the future of the ground fish industry, the livelihood of everyone who depends on it and the very survival of rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada are hanging in the balance, the issue of custodial management is not on the agenda.

Still, nobody is listening.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Spread the Word Campaign Results

A few weeks ago I put out a request to all of our readers and contributors to help spread the word. I asked anyone visiting this site, and who found something of interest, to tell at least two friends. It was and is my intention to help spread the word on the Newfoundland and Labrador experience and perhaps, in some small way, help make life just a little better for us all.

I’m happy to say that since that time there has been a marked increase in traffic to the site and some of the articles / commentaries have been either used or referenced on other sites.

I would like to thank each and every one of you who took the time to “spread the word” and I ask you to keep it up.

When I started the campaign I promised that I would give you an update on its progress, so here is a quick breakdown of the latest stats on the site. Although it is still in its infancy, we have only been online for about 6 months, the direction we are heading in looks bright.

- Just prior to the “Spread the Word Campaign” we were averaging 725 unique visitors per month. As of today, our average is 1412 unique visitors per month.

- Prior to the campaign 61% of our visitors each day were first time visits and our visitor retention (repeat visitors) was only 39%. As of today our visitors are split at exactly 50% new and 50% repeat visitors.

- Prior to the Campaign 78% of our visitors were from Newfoundland and Labrador. Our current readership breaks out as follows:

31% Newfoundland and Labrador
35% Elsewhere in Canada
29% United States
5% Other Nations (including: Qatar, Finland, UK, Germany, France, Barbados)

- I have been approached by CBC Radio and CBC Television as well as Mcleans Magazine for interviews so we know these fine folks are aware of us. In addition to this, our site statistics show that we have had visitors from the U.S. military, various federal government agencies, NL Provincial Government, and perhaps most interestingly, our site has been accessed over 20 times by someone routed through the Canadian Parliamentary server.

As a side note, some of those Parliamentary visits have lasted for several hours.

- Last but by no means least, some of the articles / commentaries on this site have either been carried or at least referenced by over 15 other sites. These sites include:

Canada Free Press (regularly publishes articles in Atlantic Canada Section and the recent Sea Shepherd Expose was the cover story for October 7, 2005)

The Canadian Democratic Movement


Fur Commission USA – (Who I would like to thank for their tireless assistance on the Sea Shepherd article)

The Aquaculture Communications Group

Off The Rock.com

Man In Nature

Free Republic.com

Vive le Canada

Circumpolar Musings – Yukon College

- In addition to these sites, articles have turned up on at least a half a dozen other blog sites, some of which are not directly related to Newfoundland and Labrador.

So, as you can see, thanks to your efforts the word is getting out there but we should never get complacent. Let’s keep the pressure on. Keep spreading the word and let’s keep this site, YOUR site, growing. (You know, you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on)

As the current quote on the right side of this page says:

"Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Society: A Financial Expose

It appears that one of my recent articles on seal hunt protest groups sparked a strongly worded response / rebuttal from Mr. Paul Watson, President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

In his comments Mr. Watson took it upon himself to question my research and belittle both my intelligence and character. In fairness to Mr. Watson, I must admit that referencing the SPCA in that article was indeed a mistake on my part. I had intended to refer to the Human Society of the U.S., but rather than HSUS I referenced the SPCA. For that, I sincerely apologize.

With regard to Mr. Watson’s other comments, I stand by the piece.

Since I have written several articles on sealing in the past, without comment from Watson, I can only assume that broaching the subject of finances is what spurred his venomous and childlike response.

Watson stated that the Society’s financial dealings are a matter of public record and available for anyone who wants to view them. As we all know financial records are what you make of them and can sometimes create more questions than they answer.

With this in mind, the following information has been gathered by myself and other interested parties including members of a U.S. based lobby group. All information, as Watson has stated, is a matter of public record. Various sources have been used including IRS returns.

This list is by no means all inclusive.

The Public Record:

1 - In 2000 Sea Shepherd reported income of $129,749 from consulting fees however there was no indication what sort of consulting this was, or for whom it was performed. Coincidentally, in the tax year immediately following, Paul Watson, who has long prided himself in not taking any salary from the society, began doing just that.

2 - In 2002 the Sea Shepherd Society passed out $35,000 in grants. Despite IRS requirements to do so, the Society did not divulge the recipients of those grants.

3 - In 2003 Sea Shepherd made a grant of $8,000 to OrcaForce International, a group supposedly started by Watson’s ex-wife . Even though the Sea Shepherd Society’s tax return shows this $8,000 amount as a contribution, at the time, the OrcaForce address was listed on the society’s web site as a Sea Shepherd International address.

Over the years several instances have been identified where assets have been moved between Sea Shepherd and OrcaForce and although OrcaForce appears to have a Canadian address, investigation did not uncover any registration or structural information on this group in either the U.S. or Canada.

4 - The liabilities of the Sea Shepherd Society jumped from $2,122, which was about normal for this group, to $222,889 in 1999. Most of this amount was related to a Mortgage at Washington Federal Savings and Loan however as far as could be determined, no details of what this loan is related to are available.

5 – Although the Sea Shepherd Society does not have a large number of donors those who contribute do so in a very big way and many of these gifts are one time donations. This would appear to be a little out of the ordinary for an organization of this type since most non-profits rely on large numbers of smaller gifts to operate.

Often, rather than hard cash, gifts to Sea Shepherd take the form of stock in major corporations. Contributions to the society have been made in everything from Harley Davidson stock ($122,000 from guitarist Mike Galesi) to Exxon-Mobile stock valued at nearly 100,000 gifted by a Ms. Whilhelmina Angel of Florida.

The donation of Exxon-Mobile stock may have been purely legitimate, however it appears to be an odd gift for Mr. Watson to accept when one considers his comments at a speaking engagement just last month.

"I won't give one penny for Katrina relief. Ill give for the animals but not for relief efforts until the oil companies pony up millions for the destruction caused by global warming."

Although many of the Society’s contributors are from the U.S, there have been some Canadian donors as well, including one who made her donation by way of Wappel Law in Toronto. This law firm works with non-profit organizations and boasts Tom Wappel the Liberal Party member for Scarborough Southwest, who recently voted in Parliment on a bill related to non-profit organizations, as a Senior Partner.

6 – The following is a rather lengthy and complex set of circumstances. Most of the items listed below might not appear interesting on their own, however when viewed together they are rather disconcerting.

- One of Sea Shepherd’s biggest financial supporters is Ms. Ann Johnston, wife of Florida land developer Mr. Pritam Singh (not his original name). Mr. Singh, (original name Paul LaBombard) was banned from banking for life in 1995 and ordered to pay $1.2 million dollars by federal bank regulators for his financing activities on a Key West business. According to the Key News Journal, Singh has also been investigated by the FBI for his questionable business practices and a Key West attorney has filed a lawsuit against him, alleging almost 20 years of criminal activity -- including racketeering and fraud.

- Both Singh and his wife are very closely connected with both the Sea Shepherd Society and the Watson family.

- The relationship between Johnston, Singh and Watson goes back a number of years. In September of 2003 Ms. Johnston’s signature appears, along with Watson’s and his wife’s, on a loan for property listed at the same address in Washington State as the Society’s headquarters. A Deed of Trust was filed in September of that year stating that a property in “Friday Harbor” Washington was used to secure this loan valued at about $221,000.

According to a recent St. John’s Telegram article, the same day this transaction took place, in fact just 5 hours after afterward, Ms. Johnston gave a 66% interest in the land to the Watson’s for $10 dollars. This gift was not to the Society itself, but rather to the Watson’s directly. Also at that time, Johnston granted the Watsons another option on propterty. The Watson’s secured additional mortgages of $50,000 and $30,000 on April 15, 2004. Within two months all debts were paid off in full.

IRS returns for the Society in that year reported that Sea Shepherd had sold a property listed as “Friday Harbor land and buildings” for $165,938, reporting a loss on the transaction of $184,862. Is this the same property that was used just a couple of months before to secure a $221,000 loan?

Although a search of San Juan County records did not reveal the "Friday Harbor" transaction having taken place, they do show a flurry of transactions involving both Paul Watson and Ann Johnston.

- In addition to her involvement in a property loan, Ms. Johnston cemented herself as a premier contributor by making a donation to the Society claimed to have been valued at nearly 2.7 million dollars. This gift consisted of a company called “Northern Development Associates”, a for-profit business with holdings in Alaska.

- Both Johnston and her husband Singh have not only shown great financial generosity to the Sea Shepherd Society, Mr. Singh has also been listed as a member of the financial and management advisory board for the Society, despite his less than spotless financial history.

- When Paul Watson was elected as director of the Sierra club in 2003 he listed his home as “Misty Fjords Lodge”, even though he has admitted that he never actually lived there. This lodge, which was a part of the 2.7 million dollar “Northern Development Associates” gift, has been identified by Watson as a research facility however the lodge is registered with the US forestry service as having a permit as a fishing lodge. It appears to qualify as the only licensed fishing lodge inside Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska.

- A corporate search shows two relevant entities named “Northern Development Associates”. One of these is in Alaska (where the lodge is located), the other is in Florida (where Ann Johnston and her husband, developer Pritam Singh, live). Records show major overlap between both the names and addresses of many board members of the Sea Shepherd society, “Northern Development Associates” and various companies owned by Singh / Johnston.

For example, records show that in 1999 Watson’s ex-wife Lisa Distefano, who has been connected with the mysterious OrcaForce organization, was a board member of “Northern Development Associates”. At the time her address of record was listed as that of Mr. Singh’s golf course development in Key West. In addition to Ms. Distefano, several other members of the Sea Shepherd Society board have shown multiple addresses and many of these can be traced directly back to Singh properties.

- IRS documents also show that the non-profit, donation run, Sea Shepherd society made a series of loans to its wholly-owned affiliate, the for-profit “Northern Development Associates”, between 1998 and 2003.

- Tax returns for “Northern Development Associates” show losses of $222,611 in 2000, $201,180 in 2001 and $127,633 in 2002. All the while, “Northern Development Associates” was receiving loans from the tax exempt Sea Shepherd Society to the tune of nearly $900,000.

- In 2002, for the first time in history, Sea Shepherd's tax return showed the Society had incorporated the losses of “Northern Developments Associates” into its own bottom line even though it was gifted to the Society years before.

- On November 8, 2004, the Misty Fjords Lodge (the primary asset of "Northern Development Associates"), was sold to a newly-formed company, Misty Fjords, LLC, located at 6805 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida. Online records at the Florida Department of State’s Corporations Division name the President/Director of Misty Fjords, LLC as none other than Pritam Singh, the husband of the original donor Ms. Johnston.

At the time of sale the property was identified by the realtor as being listed for $1 million dollars under the appraised value.

- In April of 1999 the Sea Shepherd Society received a donation of a “Key West Home and Land” in Florida which the Society claimed was valued at $329,500. They re-sold this property less than 2 months later for $850,000 yet claimed an overall loss on the transaction of more than $265,000 due to related costs.

According to sources, a search of Monroe County, Florida (Marathon, Key West) records show that Sea Shepherd sold a “Single Family Home” at 5 Crane Blvd., Sugarloaf Key, FL for $850,000 on June 2, 1999. A mapquest and 1999 satellite photo search find no structures at this location.

Sea Shepherd reported $64,070 in expenses for maintenance at the Key West property as “Program Service Expenses,” indicating the money was spent to further the organization’s tax-exempt purpose.

It is not known if Singh or Johnston were involved in this transaction since the name of the donor was not found in available documents however this information may be contained in Statement 1 of Sea Shepherd’s Form 990 tax return for fiscal 1998 submitted to the IRS.

What does it all mean?

Consider that this organization enjoys tax exempt status but appears to be involved very closely with questionable business interests. The Society and its leader have been involved in everything from intentionally sinking ships to booby trapping trees which loggers must try to harvest (the practice of which is suspected of seriously injuring at least one mill worker) and they've been involved in generally disrupting legal business enterprises.

Sea Shepherd claims to have multiple vessels in ports around the world yet there is some question as to exactly how many vessels they really own and operate at any given time.

Consider as well that this organization is run by a man who, even while the world grieved over 9/11, stated, "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win." In fact, just recently with regard to people who do not accept his view of nature conservation, Watson said, “If [you] shot and killed a bank robber, you would be given a medal”

Again, what does all of this mean?

Perhaps it means nothing or perhaps it means everything.

It is difficult to understand how a group which employs terrorist tactics can be given tax free status by the U.S. government. Having said this, since Sea Shepherd is indeed considered a non-profit organization, it should not bother Watson to respond to what has the appearance of questionable financial activities and business relationships.

An explanation might prove worthwhile if for nothing else than to ease the minds of anyone who may have donated money to his organization.

Do these facts show illegal or even immoral activities? That question would be best answered by U.S. federal officials / authorities, but these items don’t reflect well on the organization and it would perhaps be in Mr. Watson’s best interest to clear them up for the public record.

According to sources, much of this information and more has already been presented to the IRS but due to a lack of resources and the percieved low priority of the case, a throrough investigation has yet to take place. After all, Mr. Watson does not practice is brand of what some refer to as “eco-terrorism” in that country as often as he does in others.

Some citizens of the U.S. and Canada have contributed to this group. These people, along with the governments of both nations and in particular the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has long been the target of the Society’s activities, should be more than interested in getting answers and in requesting that the IRS investigate these matters fully.

I'm sure the public would love to hear Mr. Watson’s explanation, however if he chooses not to respond that’s his decision. In reality his explanations should be given to IRS investigators.

Unlike Watson, I don’t underestimate anyone’s intelligence. I’m confident that our readers are more than smart enough to draw their own conclusions if he chooses not to officially clear these items up once and for all.

Footnote: An advance draft copy of this article was sent to several NL members of parliament, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Geoff Regan and Prime Minister Paul Martin. A copy was also sent to the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and members of the opposition parties at both levels of government.

Each was invited to read the draft and respond on whether or not they intend to lobby the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for a full investigation.

As of press time there has been no response from any of the recipients.