The talk on the streets leading up to the latest federal election circus seems to be more about who people don’t want to vote for rather than who they like. Not surprising after 17 months of exposure to political corruption, wife swapping (read Belinda Stronach), broken promises, smear campaigns, inaction and infighting.
Current polls put Liberal support at around 35% followed by the Conservatives at 30% and the NDP at about 15%. In essence the results show that the past year and a half was much like the season from Dallas when Bobby Ewing died. It was all a dream. Nothing has changed in all this time other than the public getting even more fed up with the whole situation.
The right, or as some would say, the privilege to vote in a democracy is something that should be a major event in one’s life. It is intended to mark our ability to select the leaders of our own choice. To select leaders who will represent our views on major issues such as the law, morality and justice. To select leaders who represent our communities on matters of development, financing and growth. Good luck with that.
Instead we are faced with one party that is morally bankrupt, another one boasting members so ultra-conservative as to make a southern tele-evangelist shake in his hush puppies, a third that will jump into bed with anyone or anything that has a few dollars to leave on the nightstand and another that is a one province anti-federal federal party. What a choice.
As a result of this grab bag of choices the average voter seems to be looking at which is the lesser of the available evils rather than who they would like to see in office. I recently heard one gentleman comment, “You have a white cat and a black cat. Why would a mouse vote for a cat?”
Simple words but maybe he was on to something. Maybe what needs to happen is for the 60% of the population who actually still vote these days to join the other 40% of the population and simply not vote for anyone. If one person does it it’s a wasted vote, If a million people do it it’s considered apathy by the voting population, but if everyone does it I’m sure Ottawa will get the message. There may be nobody there to do anything about it when it happens, but they’ll get the message.
I used to think that low voter turnout was a symptom of a public that took its freedom and rights for granted. Now I’m not so sure that the non-voting segment of the population isn’t on to something.
It may sound crazy, but in reality it isn’t. In fact it may be the only sane option we have at this point. As Canadian humorist Rick Mercer recently put it, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, now that’s the definition of insanity.”
Da Legal Stuff...
Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The talk on the streets leading up to the latest federal election circus seems to be more about who people don’t want to vote for rather than who they like. Not surprising after 17 months of exposure to political corruption, wife swapping (read Belinda Stronach), broken promises, smear campaigns, inaction and infighting.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Today I'd like to depart from the norm just a little. I don't normally make a habit of it, but since we have several regular visitors to this site, I thought it might be interesting to profile one of them and get to know him a little better. I hope you enjoy.
On September 11, 2001 48 year old Stephen Imholt of Ohio, was just eleven days into a new job as a Business Analyst with a major U.S. group travel agency in Connecticut. Until that day Stephen, who prefers Steve, admits that, “…beyond being able to locate Newfoundland on a map, I knew next to nothing about it.”
September 11 changed that in a heart beat.
After the twin towers fell in New York, Steve recalls sitting in a company conference room deeply engaged in disaster management meeting, “Everyone was trying to come to grips with the magnitude and scope of the disaster, when suddenly we were told that all travel in and out of the US was being halted, effective immediately.”
It was then that he and his co-workers tried to determine where they might have customers who would be impacted. They quickly came to the realization that the answer was everywhere and that all of these people would be in serious trouble.
There was no sleep for Steve that night, in fact he doesn’t remember if he finally managed to get some sleep on the night of the 12th or the 13th. Steve recalls, “…things were not only hectic they were that mixture of sadness, confusion, frustration and anger that hits everyone when a disaster strikes.”
It was during this time that Newfoundland and Labrador entered Steve Imholt’s consciousness in a way he never expected and would never forget. He recalls being informed that the province had begun taking in planes and people, including his firm’s clients, without any understanding or expectation of what was going to happen next. “There were no questions and no demands, no thoughts at all from the people of the province except to do what needed to be done.”
During the days following the attacks Steve admits that this knowledge was the one thing that made him feel better about what was happening. He remembers that when he finally managed to find a quiet moment to himself, the events taking place in far away Newfoundland and Labrador brought tears to his eyes.
The horrendous events of that fateful day and the reaction of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are what first sparked Steve Imholt’s interest in the province. Since that day he has made a concerted effort to learn everything possible about the people, industry, economy, politics, culture and social issues that make the Newfoundland and Labrador unique. For Steve it’s more than just a passing interest, it’s a passion that has continued to grow during the intervening years.
Perhaps Steve’s own words say it best.
“It was the events following 9/11 that first interested me, but it wasn’t simply as a vacationer. It was the interest of someone who wanted to know more about a place and a people who would do such a thing.”
“What I found was more than I had any reason to expect.”
“I've found kindness in reading about the people and I've discovered the full scale of human interaction and motivation, including the stubbornness to keep going, the willingness to try to make a rock into a home, and a deep and abiding love of a homeland.”
“In the writings of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans I’ve also seen a prevalence of common understanding of their own humanity. Time and again I see humanity without stereotypes and it is this humanity that has made me most appreciative of a people and a place I new nothing about just a few years ago.”
Perhaps this is why Steve continues to be so interested in the province.
At 52, Steve is now working on contract to the City of New York as an Information Systems Project Specialist on their 9-1-1 system. He still lives in Connecticut with Toni, his wife of 31 years and says now that his children, one son and three daughters, have begun their own lives, the youngest having just started university, he has a little more time to research and discuss his new found passion.
More time for reading every thing he can lay his hands on and for visiting web logs and internet discussion sites devoted to the issues and concerns of those in the province. His passion for the place has even led him to become more than just a little familiar with such official (and often extremely dry) documents as the Terms of Union and the Atlantic Accord, among others.
It was on my own web site, Web Talk – Newfoundland and Labrador that I first came to appreciate Steve Imholt’s insightful comments. I immediately recognized a clear understanding and genuine concern for the people of the province. In fact I admit to being a little intrigued that someone using the online nickname ‘Crazy American’ could possibly know so much about the concerns and affairs of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. This sentiment has been expressed by others as well.
Many people have commented over the past few months that if it were not for that nickname, they would never have believed this person hadn’t been born and raised with the issues of the province swirling around him his entire life. When asked about his online persona Steve simply says, “... I've found that if you start out telling people you are a little crazy it makes them more open to actually interacting with you as a real person…”
Whether he considers himself crazy or not, a glimpse into his clarity of understanding can be seen in Steve’s perceptions of people in the province.
“What I see as the single biggest difference between the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and people in many other parts of the world is their feeling of community. Although I haven’t been there myself, I’m willing to bet that many people, especially in the outports, don't even lock their doors.”
“Perhaps that alone is enough to make me want to know more, and to continue to see how I can return the favor shown our people during 9/11. The only problem is that it’s a really big favor to repay and I keep getting more insight into the province’s humanity, diversity and essential goodness all the time. As a result of this new knowledge, the size of the favor just keeps growing for me. But that’s a good problem to have I think.”
Steve regularly does his best to open up dialogue on issues in the province through applying his new found knowledge and professional analytical skills to discussions on a myriad of provincial issues. There is no topic he won’t tackle, from the Atlantic Accord to Churchill Falls, from out migration to the seal hunt, from transfer payments to rural development and even the sometimes stormy relationship between Labrador and the island. No subject escapes his notice. His views on these topics and others speak loudly, not only of his deep understanding of their complexities, but of the deeply held feelings for the people themselves.
Here are just a couple snippets from his comments:
On the topic of energy security as identified in a recent provincial discussion paper:
“….without an effective transmission and distribution system neither hydroelectric generation or oil drilling and recovery provides any energy security at all.”
On the topic of the seal hunt and the approach of some animal rights activists:
“…ignoring the reality of the people who live and die on the basis of the very marine ecosystem activists are supposedly trying to protect strikes me as an exercise designed to cause animosity and enmity, not solutions. “
”…you cannot remove a people's livelihood then suggest paying them to take scraps from your table and expect them to like it…”
As insightful, and sometimes even humorous, as his comments may be, Steve is often his own worst critic when it comes to their validity and value. Anyone who has read them usually finds them nothing less than educational, inspiring or at the very least interesting.
In spite of the fact that he is less than convinced of their value, in a continuing effort to, as he puts it, “…return the favor” and at the prodding of many who have come to know him, Steve continues to make his comments available on various web sites and has even begun emailing them to Canadian officials at both the provincial and federal levels.
It’s often said in this province that “people from the outside think they know better than us how things should be done here.” Perhaps being aware of that saying is one of the reasons Steve Imholt is often hesitant to put his views forward. Perhaps he feels that coming from an “outsider” they’ll be disregarded, ridiculed or resented. They aren’t, and with good reason. No matter what your feeling on an issue, when you read a comment from the “Crazy American”, it’s obvious your are reading the words of someone who truly cares.
We may never fully realize the impact 9/11 has had and continues to have on this province. The simple yet honest acts of kindness displayed at that time have had an immeasurable impact on people here and around the globe. It’s changed how our province is perceived throughout the world and in some ways even how we perceive ourselves.
Perhaps the deep impact 9/11 has had on Steve Imholt is one of those little understood outcomes. It’s clear to anyone who has spoken with him that even though he wasn’t born here, never lived here and has never even visited here, Steve Imholt has somehow managed to become a true Newfoundlander or Labradorean at heart.
Steve has told me that although his work commitments are quite hectic, he and Toni hope to make their first trip to the province within the next couple of years. Who knows, maybe he’ll even take part in that old provincial custom, the “screech in” and become an official Newfoundlander and Labradorean.
Posted by Patriot at 2:43 PM
Friday, November 25, 2005
A study conducted by Memorial University which was released this week identifies the fact that the government of Canada has reduced its presence in Newfoundland and Labrador significantly since the early 1990s. In fact, the study shows that while federal activity in other provinces is currently on the rise, in Newfoundland and Labrador has been all but eroded.
The study looked at the federal presence in the province from 1981 through 2004 and included statistics on employment, salaries and goods & services expenditures. The results paint a picture of an absentee government in the province. The study have led some in the province to comment that the federal government views the province as nothing more than a colony to be exploited for its resources.
The study shows that although Federal expenditures on salaries have increased since 1981, the average earnings for employees in Newfoundland and Labrador remains thousands of dollars below the national average. The same story is true for goods and services spending. While having increased since 1981, the rate of increase in spending continues to lag behind the national average.
The study also shows that since 1981 federal employment in the province has dropped by 25% overall while the decline in the rest of Canada was less than 5%. The period with the heaviest rate of decline took place between 1993 and 2004, a period when the province was also being hit hard by a federally instituted cod moratorium and was suffering an unemployment rate of 20%. During that period alone the number of federal positions plummeted by 32%.
While federal positions in the rest of Canada have once again begun to grow, in the period from 2000 to 2004 that rate of growth across Canada was about 12% while Newfoundland and Labrador saw only 1% growth over the same period.
The province also has the lowest number of executive staff positions in the nation. In fact, the share of federal executives was less than half of the number that would be expected based on the province’s share of the overall Canadian population. This is considered an important issue since executive level positions often bring with them important influences on policy decisions, the less executives there are in a province means less influence on policy.
Another subset of employment that many are finding very upsetting is the lack of military personnel. At 8%, Newfoundland and Labrador accounts for a disproportionately high percentage of Canadian military personnel in comparison to other provinces, based on its population. The province’s location as the most easterly coast in the Country and its 17,500 kilometers of open coastline in conjunction with its size (three times larger than the other Atlantic provinces combined), would appear to make it an excellent location for military presence.
The study shows that of the 61,828 full time military personnel in Canada, only about 500 are stationed in the province and many of those are simply on teaching contract with the Marine Institute.
During the course of gathering information for the study several specific instances of job losses were identified by the research team. Some of these instances are worthy of special note.
Although the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has been the backbone of the province’s economy for centuries and is currently suffering from low stocks, current plans are to move 5-9 DFO scientific positions, studying toxic chemicals, from their current location in St. John’s to other provinces.
Since 1995 federal personnel working with Canadian Forest Services in the province have declined by 65% even though forestry and the production of forest products is one of the province’s key employment sectors.
In spite of the fact that Newfoundland is perched in the middle of the North Atlantic where weather is considered difficult to predict at the best of time and has been known to change without notice, in March of 2003 the federal government closed the weather office in Gander and moved 11 positions to Halifax leaving the province dependent on information gathered hundreds of miles away.
Although the report has not been widely circulated within the province at this point, some who have seen it are saying it will be a factor in their decision making process during the upcoming federal election.
Posted by Patriot at 9:29 AM
Thursday, November 24, 2005
During the last federal election campaign Premier Danny Williams recognized the value of extracting a public promise from the leaders of the three primary parties. Although negotiations after the election took months and sometimes turned ugly, it was this promise that eventually ensured Newfoundland and Labrador access to additional royalties from offshore oil and gas production.
It will soon be election time again and once again the polls are showing that the two leading contenders will be embroiled in a close battle. Thus far there has been no hint from Premier Williams on whether or not he plans to use the tried and true technique to gain something else this province deserves.
Yesterday in the House of Assembly Labrador West MHA Randy Collins made it known that he wanted the Premier to press the leaders for a commitment to pave the Trans Labrador Highway now that it has been name a part of the national highway system. This was brushed aside by Provincial Transportation Minister Trevor Taylor who said the Province is waiting for the release of the National Transportation Strategy before moving on any paving projects.
My opinion is that there should indeed be one or even two promises forced on the federal leaders during this campaign. I’m sure the Premier would not want to push for too many causes as it might make him look greedy in the eyes of the rest of Canada, but one or two might be considered reasonable. After all, there are a lot of issues that really ought to be addressed and it’s not like he would be pushing for something the province doesn’t deserve.
The obvious list of potential promises seems clear.
- Paving of the Trans Labrador Highway
- Making 5 Wing Goose a key base within the Canadian Military (with troops)
- Joint management of the Atlantic Cod stocks and perhaps even enacting custodial management
- The opening up of a nation wide power grid that would allow NL to wheel power through Quebec without being robbed blind in the process
- A major grant of (1 billion +??) to assist in development of the Lower Churchill or perhaps development of the Churchill isn’t the issue. Perhaps they should provide a grant to enable the development of necessary infrastructure to allow Labrador and the island to utilize the power once it’s available. Due to the nature of the project perhaps money set aside for Kyoto initiatives could be used.
These are just a few that immediately come to mind. I don't believe I'm off base when I say that all of them are very important to this Province. I’d appreciate your comments on these or any others issues you feel are even more worthy of our Province backing the federal leaders into a corner once again. I’d also like you all to let me know what you feel are the top 2 that you would like Williams to force the issue on during this campaign. Lets see how creative we can be.
Posted by Patriot at 10:00 AM
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Nov. 23, 2005) - Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), along with his provincial counterparts from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec today released a federal-provincial strategy for the rebuilding of Atlantic cod stocks.
"I am pleased that federal and provincial governments have been able to work so co-operatively together on a co-ordinated, multilateral approach to the rebuilding of shared cod stocks," said Minister Regan.
In 2003, three federal-provincial Cod Action Teams were established for Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and the Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI).The primary objective of these teams was to develop a stock rebuilding strategy for Atlantic cod stocks. Each Cod Action Team undertook consultations with a variety of stakeholders, including industry, Aboriginal communities, academics, environmental groups and local interests to develop these long-term strategies.
"Stakeholders played an important role in the development of these rebuilding strategies by providing direction on issues related to their respective stocks," said David Alward, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture. "Their continued contribution will be key in the implementation phase of the strategy. In order to move forward, concerted efforts will be required by all partners.
"These cod stocks remain at various stages of rebuilding. While some continue to be at very low levels compared to historic highs, others have shown some signs of rebuilding over the past number of years."The co-operation between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada on the cod recovery strategy lays the foundation for greater federal-provincial collaboration in the management of adjacent fish stocks," said Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Tom Rideout. "Our government looks forward to moving ahead with the federal government on this extremely important initiative for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery."
In delivering on their mandates, the individual cod rebuilding strategies share many common elements, including cod stock status information, examination of some of the key factors affecting rebuilding and the importance of shared stewardship, among others.
Currently, 12 aquatic species, including four Atlantic cod populations, are being considered for listing under SARA by the Government of Canada. Regardless of whether or not these stocks are listed under SARA, these federal-provincial cod rebuilding strategies will inform and assist in the development of management plans and/or recovery strategies as required.
"Cod stocks have been and are currently being affected by a number of major factors, including shifts in environmental conditions, even when fishing efforts have been minimal," said Chris d'Entremont, Nova Scotia Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. "Stock levels are low, but there is potential for recovery over time. I think these reports provide an excellent reference for us to facilitate recovery in a practical and realistic way."
The federal-provincial Cod Action Teams rebuilding strategies provide the federal and provincial governments with recommended objectives, principles and measures for ongoing collaboration. They allow governments to take a comprehensive, targeted and focused approach toward cod stock rebuilding.
"I look forward to working closely with my federal and provincial counterparts and the industry in the rebuilding of this vital resource," said Prince Edward Island Fisheries Minister Kevin MacAdam. "The success of the Prince Edward Island fishery depends on continued access to a diversified resource, the maximization of its value, and thus contributes to the goal of a sustainable cod fishery."
"Due to the importance of the cod fishery in many maritime regions of Quebec, we believe that the governments' concerted approach will help the rebuilding of stocks," said Laurent Lessard, Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. "I wish however to emphasize that the plan for rebuilding cod stocks must be conceived as a group of global actions to put in place jointly while taking into account regional differences."
These rebuilding strategies provide the necessary groundwork for efficient and effective rebuilding efforts, to ensure the conservation and sustainability of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada for current and future generations.
"The level of teamwork and dedication shown in building this strategy underlines the economic, historical and social importance of cod stocks to Atlantic Canada and Quebec," said Minister Regan.
The following documents related to this announcement can be found on DFO's website at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/infocus/2005/20051123_e.htm (or you can access them through this site's Fishing snd Sealing Links section.)
- The multilateral overview document: "A Federal-Provincial Strategy for the Rebuilding of Atlantic Cod Stocks"
- The Cod Action Teams Reports: - Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador - Canada-Quebec - Canada-Maritimes
- Backgrounders on each of the Cod Action Teams Reports: - Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador - Canada-Quebec - Canada-Maritimes
Posted by Patriot at 9:34 AM
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I recently read this article and thought it might be of interest to readers of Web Talk. The author was kind enough to grant permission to re-publish it here. I think it clearly shows that even though you can get no further apart goegraphically than BC and Newfoundland & Labrador, some issues are universal in nature.
Contributed by: Robert Billyard
Canada is on the eve of another federal election and the political parties are in a self-indulgent jousting match as to the exact timing with each trying to milk the advantage.
With modern-day elections the question arises: Where does ownership lie with the politicians or the people? Ideally an election is supposed to be a dialogue between the electorate and the candidates but more than ever this dialogue is a one-sided bombardment of sound bites, photo ops, well placed platitudes and sloganeering; all managed by clever campaign managers and pundits strategizing in back rooms.
As former Prime Minister Kim Campbell noted, an election campaign is no time for the discussion of serious issues, but of course it should and must be as it is the crucible where we find out a party’s position on critical issues.
The problem is compounded by the fact that elections are poll driven. Polls taken during the campaign become an issue in themselves and the parties are in turn directed and driven by their standing. Polls are a blight on the modern electoral process as political parties pander to pollsters instead of addressing issues of substance. In a more perfect world polls would be banned from the time the writ is dropped. Politicians would have to deal with matters of substance rather than ephemeral percentages.
Increasingly, elections are becoming exercises in political deception rather than elucidation. Bamboozling the electorate is the name of the game.
We the electorate are complicit in the degradation of our electoral process as we are much too passive. We deserve the government we get. We have the means at hand to take back the agenda and insist that issues be addressed in a substantive manner. We can dispense with trash talk and hold politicos feet to the fire. We can with some modest effort steal the agenda from the spin doctors, the backroom strategists, and the pollsters; especially if the media is willing to assume its rightful role-now largely forfeited.
We must never forget that political parties, though they are supposed to represent our collective will are still self-serving entities. They are quite capable of serving their own interest ahead of the larger public interest. They all too often go off topic and the public needs to jog them back to relevance, accountability, and yes, reality!
A voter’s shopping list might include the following issues:
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has a big package of tax breaks to win votes as the centre piece of Liberal campaign window dressing. But if this means starving our education and Medicare systems do we really want to participate in this ruse? Bribing voters with their own money has always been a dubious concept and Goodale should know better.
The cost of higher education in this country is formidable and an issue that must be addressed.
One reason this election has come about at this time is that NDP leader Jack Layton and the prime minister could not agree on protections for the Medicare system. The PM failed to allay Layton’s concerns about the privatization of our universal health care--one of the best and most cost-effective systems in the world yet we seem intent on destroying it!
What protections are necessary should be a matter of public debate--and what better time? It has been suggested that there should be an annual report on Medicare--just as the auditor general reports to Parliament.
Right now there is a bill before Parliament that will allow police and security agencies to snoop into our personal lives without any legal protections. This is a gross incursion of our civil rights and our right to privacy.
Anne McClellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, claims such bills are necessary to be compatible with changes being made in other countries and to effectively deal with the threat of terrorism. The real agenda though is that the Canadian government is under great pressure to bring our law enforcement practices into line with the shameful US Patriot Act, a huge omnibus bill, just passed into permanent statute and a naked hijacking of American civil liberties-in the aftermath of 9/11 never have so many enforcement agencies been so amply rewarded for their incompetence- and never have so many nitwitted politicians been hoodwinked into such heavy-handed and superfluous legislation.
Similarly, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler is willing to oversee the Americanization of our justice system. He is willing to buy into the discredited and utterly futile US war on drugs. Numerous US enforcement agencies, the CIA, FBI, USDEA and Texas Rangers are operating freely on Canadian soil. It would seem that our justice ministry cannot distinguish between “cooperation” and “capitulation.”
This Liberal government has a hard time mouthing “Canadian sovereignty” as it lapses into the deceitful and insidious expedience of deep integration.
When the Chinese oil giant CNOOC attempted to buy the American owned oil giant, Unocal, the US Congress was swift and decisive in blocking the sale-claiming(and rightfully so) it was not in the US national interest to see ownership of one of its major oil companies pass into foreign hands.
When Canadian owned Terasan Gas was sold to a US conglomerate there is not so much as a murmur of discontent from this felonious Liberal government. Even though oil is a rapidly diminishing resource and global demand is skyrocketing Canada does not have a stated energy policy. Our government’s only response is to sell off our resources as quickly as possible--an odd posture for a Northern and highly resource dependant country to take.
Political parties prefer to slide through elections without accumulating any political IOU’s. Assuming office with a blank slate is an ideal world. Making promises, all too often discarded, are something of a nuisance. They deal in vapid cliché’s and platitudinous doggerel only because we let them get away with it.
Prime Minister Martin has stated that he sees the economy as the central issue in the election. From his standpoint, this is a rather succulent red herring as it avoids the real and pressing issues and is utterly contemptuous of the electorate. The economy is doing just fine for the most part, but addressing the real issues requires real commitment and intellectual and political vigour. Instead of a retreat from governance a stated platform is required--maybe even a mission statement! Under present circumstances this surplus cash becomes the measure of abdication.
Having the economy as the central issue in this election serves not only the governing Liberals but also the aspiring Conservative Party of Canada. While the Liberals would like us to forget they have been playing fast and loose with the public purse, Stephen Harper would like us to forget that his greenhorn party, born out betrayal and political expedience, has not exactly gelled into a daunting political juggernaut. His tenure as leader of the opposition has, to be kind, been lack luster and marked with his personal petulance. The big tent party that was supposed to be a home for all conservatives has purged its Red Tories. The CPC, like the former Alliance, is haven for a ragtag group of closeted disgruntled wannabe Republicans of the neoconservative persuasion lacking the political courage to out themselves.
Whenever this election comes our political landscape is cratered with undesirable choices. Canadian political culture needs rehabilitation and this responsibility falls to the electorate. How this is addressed is a daunting conundrum but a good starting point is to let our politicos know that we expect a nationalist vigor, higher standards, and greater candor and accountability.
Posted by Patriot at 11:57 AM
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
It’s amazing how quickly the political machine in Ottawa can move when a politician’s butt is on the line.
Yesterday the House of Commons passed four separate bills which are now before the senate for approval. One of these bills approves a much talked about home heating rebate for low income Canadians. During the session debate was simply a formality and all parties nearly tripped over one another in their attempts to jump to their feet and show approval.
In addition to this lightning fast action, word on the Hill is that the senate will put in many late hours, streamline processes and even have cabinet ministers sit in on their review of those bills this week. All in an effort to ensure that they move swiftly through the Senate and are put before the Governor General for royal assent on Monday.
I’m used to commenting on government inaction, but I have to admit it’s pretty rare to be actually reporting on government in action.
It’s just too bad elected officials can’t move this quickly during the normal course of their duties, you know that quiet period of federal hibernation between elections that usually lasts about four years. A bustle of activity like this hasn’t been seen on the Hill since, well, I don’t know if there has ever been a bustle of activity like this on the Hill.
A word of advice folks, don’t let the spin doctors for the various parties fool you on this one. The rhetoric coming out will of course take the direction of, “Well we all wanted to ensure this money got into the hands of those who need it and didn’t get held up by the pending election.”
Nothing could be further from the truth so don’t believe it for one minute.
The reality of the situation is that the Liberals want to get the money out the door so they can score election points by claiming they have once again acted in the best interest of the public and worked diligently while in office for all Canadians. On the other side of the coin, as much as the opposition parties would love to take this plum away from the Liberals, none of them can afford to be nailed to a cross during this election campaign for having stopped those bills from passing. It’d be political suicide for them.
No matter how they try to spin it, all of this fervour is nothing more than a simple case of the good old boys (and girls) covering their behinds and safeguarding their political future, plain and simple. It’s a case of survival instinct taking over in a political jungle, a situation where only the fleet-of-foot can outrun defeat at the polls.
I have to give them all credit on this one though. It used to be that the Liberals were the undisputed masters of buying votes with the public’s own money. Now even the opposition parties have found a way to buy a few with it as well. Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like a dollar buys a lot more in Ottawa these days than it does around my neck of the woods.
Posted by Patriot at 12:33 PM
Monday, November 21, 2005
With open discussion just beginning across Newfoundland and Labrador on the potential development of the Lower Churchill river in Labrador, now seems to be as good a time as any to re-open the debate on the status of the Upper Churchill generating plant.
The Combined Councils of Labrador recently released an updated position paper on the proposal for this new development. Along with many valid points relating directly to the Lower Churchill, they also make note of a request to Provincial authorities to examine the value of section 92A of the Canadian Constitution in enabling the Province to capture increased benefit from Upper Churchill power generation.
As every Newfoundlander and Labradorean knows, the current contract between the Province and Hydro Quebec, which was signed in the late 1960's, is slated to remain in place until the year 2041. This contract sees the Province supply Hydro Quebec with electricity at 1960's rates, which they in turn sell into the marketplace at current prices. The result is a situation that sees NL barely cover the cost of production while Hydro Quebec pulls in hundreds of millions each year.
In addition to the one sided financial arrangement, people in many parts of Labrador must rely on diesel generated power and there is little electricity available for industrial growth in many areas. A recently released Provincial discussion paper also identified the fact that the island portion of the Province itself will exceed its baseline requirements for electricity within the next 5 years.
Over the years a number of attempts have been made to have the current Upper Churchill contract disposed with and a more equitable arrangement put in place. None have been successful however. Now the Combined Councils of Labrador seem to feel that the Canadian Constitution iteself may hold the answer.
Here is what the specific section of the Constitution says, in part, with regard to the separation of powers between the Federal Government and the Provincial Legislatures. I have highlighted some of the key wording in bold for our reader’s benefit:
92A. NON-RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES,FORESTRY RESOURCES AND ELECTRICAL ENERGY
(1) In each province, the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to
(a) exploration for non-renewable natural resources in the province;
(b) development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province, including laws in relation to the rate of primary production there from; and
(c) development, conservation and management of sites and facilities in the province for the generation and production of electrical energy.
(2) In each province, the legislature may make laws in relation to the export from the province to another part of Canada of the primary production from non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province and the production from facilities in the province for the generation of electrical energy, but such laws may not authorize or provide for discrimination in prices or in supplies exported to another part of Canada.
Very interesting stuff, but how can this be interpreted to mean that Newfoundland and Labrador might be able to claim better benefits within the Upper Churchill contract?
The three most interesting parts of this section of the Constitution for me are the statements that the Provinces have the right to make laws in relation to, “management of sites and facilities in the province for the generation and production of electrical energy”, that they can “…make laws in relation to the export from the province to another part of Canada…” and that “…such laws may not authorize or provide for discrimination in prices or in supplies exported to another part of Canada”
Consider for a moment the definition of the word “discrimination”. Webster’s defines it as:
1 a : the act of discriminating b : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently
2 : the quality or power of finely distinguishing
3 a : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b :
prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment
Nowhere in this definition do we find reference to the commonly perceived meaning whereby the person or entity being discriminated upon is treated in some way that may be detrimental to them. In other words, the definition does not state that the “discriminatory” treatment must hurt the recipient, only that the treatment be different in some way.
Perhaps this is where the opportunity lies. Section 92A clearly states that a Provincial Legislature may make laws as long as such laws may not authorize or provide for discrimination in prices or supplies exported to another part of Canada. This, according to the definition of “discrimination” is exactly what is happening on the Upper Churchill.
Hydro Quebec has been and continues to be the target of discrimination by the Province in the sense that they are being treated differently with respect to purchasing and utilizing power than the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are.
The contract currently in place sees power exported and sold to Hydro Quebec for 0.25 cents per kilowatt hour and this will decline to 0.2 cents in 2016. Within the Province itself, consumer rates and perhaps more applicably, industrial rates are much higher.
In addition, there could be a case made for discrimination in the area of supply in light of the huge power supply going to Hydro Quebec while parts of Labrador don’t even have a stable supply to utilize themselves.
Both of these situations would appear to be in direct contravention to article 92A. The current contract could be interpreted as the Province having entered into a situation where they:
“…provide for discrimination in prices or in supplies exported to another part of Canada.”
Naturally Quebec Hydro will never do anything about these particular cases of discrimination but perhaps the Province should. After all, if the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is truly acting in direct disobedience of the Canadian Constitution, they really ought to act quickly to correct the situation.
Posted by Patriot at 4:16 PM
Well folks the buzz these days seems to all be about the pending non-confidence vote in the House of Commons on November 28 and by extension the general election to follow early in the New Year. The big question is what will the political landscape look like after the polls close?
Will Stephen Harper be backing the U-Haul up to the door of 24 Sussex Drive? Will Paul Martin dither his way through yet another term, perhaps with a majority this time? Will Jack Layton have to hang up his peacock costume and stop strutting around Ottawa like he owns the place, or will he continue to carry the big stick of a government killer? These questions and many more are running through the minds of political groupies across the Country.
Most people I’ve spoken with are of the opinion that in spite of their record of corruption, cronyism and patronage, the Liberals will hang on and win this election. Its sad that we as Canadians don’t have the sense to punish a government like this one, but like it or not, the conservative powerbase continues to primarily live in the West. Atlantic Canada is still reeling from Harper’s less than friendly comments a few years ago. Ontario is not going to change its stripes and if you wear conservative blue you have about as much chance of winning a seat in Quebec as a skunk does of making it all the way across the 401 at rush hour.
The real question we should be asking is whether the Liberals can gain a majority or will continue as a minority government. If the former happens then we have 4 more years of the same old tired story to look forward to. Conversely, if a minority government is the order of the day then we will have lived through endless months of dysfunctional politics, name calling and even a winter election, only to start the whole process over again at square one.
Not exactly a win / win situation is it, but regardless of the overall outcome, there will be some changes following the election. One of those changes may see an increase in seats for the NDP party. With the general public being sick and tired of the red and the blue snapping at each other everyday since the last election, some people may decide its time to give the little guy a boost. It’s doubtful this will translate into anything other than an extra handful of seats, but hey Jack’s not proud right?
Another change, more directly related to Atlantic Canada and specifically to Newfoundland and Labrador is the impending decision by John Effordless not to run in this election. John is not saying anything just yet (I guess Paul Martin has to proof read his statement and untangle his marionette strings first) but the word on the street is that he has decided, for health reasons, to retire.
Apparently his decision has nothing to do with all the heat he has been taking for pulling down a $213,000.00 salary while soaking up the sun in Florida, or for his long list of shortcomings in dealing with issues in his home province, like the Atlantic Accord and the listing of cod on the endangered species list. No, according to insiders his retirement is due to his health, not the fact that although he was once considered unbeatable, these days he couldn’t get elected as a dog catcher.
There will be new faces in the new and improved House of Commons and some old ones will no longer be around. Either way, the machine will continue to grind and the machinations of politics in Canada will continue to provide grist for the news mills on a daily basis. It’s just a matter of what the next scandal or the next issue will be, of that there is no doubt.
It might be nice as well if, somewhere along the way, our elected officials actually manage to get something accomplished this time around. Now that would make for good headlines.
Posted by Patriot at 1:10 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Like the rest of you, I am all for open and spirited debate. Unfortunately some visitors to this site lately have been less than respectable to others and have been using language and comments in an effort to attack others.
Due to this I have decided to moderate all comments for the time being. As always, you are free to comment on any subject however before they are posted they will be reviewd for content. I can assure you that this is not an attempt to censor anyone and all comments that do not contain off colour language or racist slurs will continue to be posted regardless of the writer's stance on the issue.
This process may involve delays in the comment being posted on occasion and for this I apologize however I feel it is ultimately in the best interest of open discussion that we do not become the target of hate based comments.
Web Talk - Newfoundland and Labrador
Posted by Patriot at 1:28 PM
Friday, November 18, 2005
News reports from across the nation are all touting INCO's success on moving its first shipments of nickel out of Labrador ahead of schedule. One very happy group, and rightfully so, are the folks in Sudbury where the nickel concentrate is about to land and be processed.
The following are a few excerpts from an article on the Northern Life website out of Sudbury, Ontario. You can just feel the joy.
“Inco's first shipment of nickel concentrate left Voisey's Bay, Labrador Wednesday making its way to Sudbury for processing.”
“More than six months ahead of schedule the first shipment will be transported to Quebec City before coming to the Copper Cliff smelter by rail…”
“Production at Voisey's Bay is expected to ramp up in the coming months which is good economic news for this area, since all nickel concentrate will be refined here for the next couple years until a refinery is constructed at Voisey's Bay.”
“The first phase of the Voisey's Bay project is expected to generate about 110 million pounds of nickel concentrate annually.”
Well, its really great news to hear that everything is going so well up there in Sudbury. I just hope INCO is equally as diligent in ensuring that the refinery at Voisey’s Bay and the Hydromet production smelter at Argentia are also put into production 6 months ahead of schedule.
These resources are being stripped out of the land in Labrador, which must contend with the enviromental impacts, and shipped to Ontario to provide jobs for the fine folks up there. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the average working Joe in any Province. I also understand that the plan which was agreed upon by the company and the Province is being followed moving forward. Never the less I still believe that the people who must endure the impacts and who provide the resources should recieve the primary benefits as well.
I mean after all, six months early on a 110 million pound per year operation equals an extra 55 million pounds going out of province doesn’t it? Add to that the fact that ore will continue to ship to the Copper Cliff smelter for the next “couple of years” and the numbers don’t take long to add up.
What will the final tally of raw exported product be I wonder, 200 million pounds, 500 million pounds, dare I say more?
It makes me long for the day when the word on every politicians lips in Newfoundland and Labrador was, “not one teaspoon full will leave this province”.
I know, that term was brushed aside when the agreement to build the Hydromet facility in Argentia was inked and a large donation was made to Memorial University, but that didn't do much for Labrador and it certainly doesn’t mean we need to stop being vigilant on the issue.
The company swears that any ore shipped out of Labrador at the start of the operation will be bought back to the Province for processing, from other sources, at the end. My worry is, once the ore is gone from Labrador, what does the Province have as leverage to ensure that INCO stands by that agreement?
Does anyone remember back when negotiations were underway for this project? Back then INCO said it could not build a smelter in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador because it needed the ore to supply its operations in Ontario. They needed a new supply and like any reasonable business, they didn't want to see an existing smelter shut down with people thrown out of work if they didn't have to. Nothing wrong with that but that wasn't going to help the unemployed in this province so a deal was finally brokered that would see the Province "eventually" undertake processing. As a result, an experimental hydromet facility was built in Argentia with the promise of a production facility in a few years (bye the way, I still think if it was a all feasible, the facility should have been built in Labrador, but that's another issue)
Remembering these facts are important because when you consider that INCO is already scouring the earth looking for enough ore to keep its current smelters operating at full capacity one has to wonder where exactly they plan to find a supply for Argentia that will make up for the hundreds of millions of pounds that are being shipped out as I write this.
One also has to wonder what will evenually happen when the need arises to ship ore from other parts of the world to supply Canadian smelters. If it comes down to a choice of keeping Newfoundland and Labrador supplied or to continue to supply Ontario, who will win that fight? My guess is that with the political clout and influence the voters of Ontario wield, Newfoundland and Labrador might as well simply walk away and forget about it because, "not one teaspoon full will come into the Province".
Posted by Patriot at 4:00 PM
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I don’t believe I’m telling anyone something they don’t already know when I say that there has been nothing but problems with the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador since the province joined confederation.
After joining Canada, the Province handed over control of the industry to the federal government who swiftly placed DFO in charge of its mismanagement. Under their mismanagement and with the constant meddling of federal politicians from one end of the Country to the other, stocks have collapsed, plants have closed and entire communities have disappeared over the past few decades.
As we sit today, there are calls to place some species on the endangered list, an act that would serve to prevent Canadian fishers from utilizing stocks but have no impact on foreign fleets plying Atlantic waters. Fish plants continue to close and nobody seems to know exactly how many fish are out there. Basically the industry itself is racing to become exactly its management has been for years, non-existent. Where will it all end?
There have been calls from the Province begging the federal government to forget its agreements with NAFO and enact unilateral custodial management outside the 200 mile economic zone. So far those cries have fallen on deaf ears. Not surprising really when you consider that for years Ottawa has traded fishing rights to foreign fleets like a 10 years old trades hockey cards. Besides, in reality, what good would custodial management really do when there are not enough ships and aircraft available to enforce it?
Some have come forward with the idea of doing away with DFO and introducing joint management of the industry by both the federal and Provincial governments. A novel idea and one that might just catch some ears on Ottawa, after all, if nothing else, allowing the Province to have an equal say in management would at least ensure that all the problems could no longer be blamed solely on the feds. That might just sell up on the Hill.
I mean something has to be done right? It’s clear to anyone with half an eye and as deaf as a post that the status quo isn’t working. At least with both levels of government involved there may be some tempering of the approach to the science and management side of the equation and the political ambitions of each level may be tempered by the other.
These were some of the thoughts running through my mind the other day when, purely by chance, I decided to pick up a copy of the Province’s recently release discussion paper on “Developing an Energy Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador”. As I started to read through the pages (an interesting and worthwhile read by the way), I was struck nearly dumb by the content of page 22 and more specifically by the section on Offshore Regulation.
With my mind still twisting around fisheries issues, as soon as I started reading about the management structure for the Province’s offshore oil industry, I couldn’t help but see an opportunity and perhaps even a model for the fishing industry.
Here is an excerpt from that section:
“The Accord, (referring to the Atlantic Accord) recognizes “the equality of both governments in the management of the resource”, and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) was established to mange offshore petroleum related activities on their behalf. Appointed jointly by both governments, the C-NLOPB was to serve as the single agency responsible for regulating offshore oil and gas exploration and development. The C-NLOPB issues and administers petroleum exploration and development rights, regulates offshore exploration, development and production, approves benefits and development plans, and administers the registry of petroleum interests in the offshore.”
The section continues with some further detail on certain specifics of the board’s function and division of responsibilities, etc, but doesn’t it sound just great?
What a novel concept, allowing the people who are most closely connected, who some might say “own” the resource, to actually have some control over how it is managed.
I especially like the quote, “the equality of both governments in management of the resource”, what a statement. I can only imagine how many federal politicians must have had their family jewels placed in a vice for them to agree to that statement, but our current Provincial Fisheries Minister might want to think about taking those vices out of the toolbox and heading back up to Ottawa.
Just imagine a C-NLOFB or Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Fisheries Board. A board that recognizes the equality of both governments in management of the resources, a board that manages stocks, sets quotas, issues licenses and enforces regulation.
A single agency responsible for regulation of the fishing industry. A single agency that gives the Province has an equal say with Ottawa. A single agency that would keep federal politicians from dealing away quotas in order to help textile or aircraft industries in their own Provinces. A single agency that would ensure some control by the very people who rely on those resources.
The C-NLOFB, I like the sound of it.
Posted by Patriot at 10:08 AM
Monday, November 14, 2005
Last week Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne and Premier Danny Williams presented a discussion paper and announced that the process of public consultation was beginning on the developing a comprehensive energy plan for the Province.
The Provincial government is soliciting input from concerned stakeholders, including members of the general public, with the objective of developing a long term plan that will determine the direction for development and use of energy resources in the province over the coming decades.
The discussion paper is available online through a link on the Province’s official web site: http://www.gov.nl.ca/ and a feedback area has been setup giving the public the ability to provide comments and suggestions.
In addition to the ability to provide input online, public consultations will be held across the province in the coming months. Government’s intention is to develop a plan that will set a course for development and management of its electricity and oil/gas resources up to and including the year 2041 when the controversial Upper Churchill purchase agreement with Hydro Quebec, which has been in place since the late 1960’s, is set to expire.
Why is an energy plan so important to the province?
Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil developments currently account for 80% of Atlantic Canada’s petroleum resources and the Province will soon be producing approximately 50% of the Country’s light conventional crude. The potential for further finds are high and the Province has yet to seriously develop its offshore natural gas industry which has estimated reserves expected to surpass 60 trillion cubic feet.
The province is also a major hydro electricity producer in Canada. Several hydro generating plants exist in the province including the massive Upper Churchill plant, from which most of the power is exported out of the province. In addition to the Upper Churchill and several smaller operations, plans also under review for development of the Lower Churchill Hydro project, commonly referred to as the last hydro electric mega-project in North America.
The province is a major bulk exporter of both hydro carbons and hydro electricity. In 2004 Newfoundland and Labrador exported over 110 million barrels of oil and during the same year, the province’s 247,000 retail customers utilized less than 27% of the 41,400 Gigawatt hours of electricity generated in the Province. The remaining electricity was exported to Quebec at 1960’s prices and sold into the North American grid by Hydro Quebec.
Due in large part to its booming energy sector and speeded along by record oil prices, Newfoundland and Labrador has become a leader in Canadian GDP growth during the past few years yet there has never been a comprehensive management plan put in place for those resources. To date, each project has been developed on a standalone basis, without a common long term goal in mind. The new energy plan is intended to address this uncontrolled and undirected development.
What are some of the major issues?
Currently the Province exports most of the energy it produces. While producing billions of dollars worth of raw petroleum, it has almost no secondary processing capacity of its own. There has been little done with developing energy infrastructure in the province that would allow it to take advantage of its own resources. There is no infrastructure in place for the storage and distribution of natural gas and there is practically no refining capacity in the Province.
Another odd circumstance exists within the Province’s hydro industry. The ability exists in Newfoundland and Labrador to recall a limited amount of power from the existing purchase agreement with Quebec. This power could be used internally in either Labrador or the island part of the Province. While this clause exists in the current agreement parts of the Province, especially communities in Labrador, continue to utilize diesel generators for power because the distribution lines have never been built that would allow the recall clause to provide true value.
These types of conflicts are nothing new to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador which has been a lesson in contradictions ever since joining Canada in March of 1949. The vote to enter into Confederation with Canada gave the Province the dubious distinction of being the only independent nation to willingly give up its sovereignty, yet many still regard themselves as a distinct culture.
Contradictions abound. The Province has a huge land area yet an extremely small population. Approximately 60% of the population lives in and around metropolitan areas yet the Province’s economy is largely driven by those living in rural areas and working in the resource sector.
While the province is leading the Country in economic growth, it also continues to have the Nation’s highest unemployment rates and as mentioned, it exports bulk energy while segments of its population must generate their own power to heat and light their homes.
How can these issues be resolved?
The existence of these contradictions speaks volumes about the need for a comprehensive energy plan. One of the primary reasons for the current situation in the Province is the lack of internal development and value added use of the abundant resources available. A well developed plan with the overriding intention of providing primary benefit to the people of the Province will go a long way toward improving the current situation.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a very small and localized manufacturing sector. Ensuring the availability of dependable, economical and abundant energy across the entire Province will go a long way toward growing smaller centers and attracting labor intensive business and industry. This in turn will provide much needed jobs, leading to a reduction in unemployment rates and less of a dependence on the unstable and undependable resource based employment currently driving the rural economy of the Province.
The reality is that although the Province’s hydro capacity may continue for centuries, the oil and gas resources won’t. This is why it is so critical for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide as much input as possible into the development of a homegrown “Newfoundland and Labrador first” energy plan. A plan that will provide for the future growth and sustainability of the Province and ensure that full advantage is taken of the opportunities that currently exist, as well as those that will present themselves in the coming months, years and decades.
Posted by Patriot at 10:57 AM
Friday, November 11, 2005
Well now I’ve heard it all. Pseudo-Natural Resources Minister John Efford is ticked at the media over comments related to his absence from cabinet due to his illness. Give me a break.
John Efford hasn’t made an appearance in the House of Commons since well before the end of the last session yet he continues to reap his annual salary of $213,000 a year plus expenses while vacationing in the south.
In the mean time, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador that he is supposed to represent has no voice in cabinet and is left to flounder on its own. Premier Danny Williams has commented on the absence of representation as have opposition members and with good reason. There is none.
I know that some out there will be upset with my take on the situation. After all, John Efford does have diabetes and is taking several needles a day to keep in under control. I understand that. As a matter of fact my own mother has suffered from the disease for over 20 years and takes 5 shots a day in order to stay alive. The difference is that when her health dictated that she couldn’t do her job she resigned and allowed someone to step in who could.
According to Mr. Efford the travel he was forced to endure as a cabinet minister has taken a toll on his health. Well boo-hoo. It’s hard to pity a man who makes such a statement while pulling down such a huge salary, especially when he makes if from his vacation resort in Florida. Apparently traveling is not that tough on his consititution.
My Mother uses a walker due to the ravages of this disease. Her hearing is at about 30%. Here energy levels are at that of a 90 year old even though she only in her mid-sixties. Even with the physical limitations mentioned and the effects of almost a total loss of feeling in her extremities her mind is sharp. She, along with the rest of the public in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, are sharp enough to realize when they are being snowed.
In reality John you are sick, sick in the head if you think your consitituents are falling for this crap.
One request John. Either do your job or move on. In other words, S&*% or get off the pot.
Posted by Patriot at 4:07 PM
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Well folks, it looks like the secret is out. At the second annual Premiers dinner in St. John’s this week Danny Williams finally unveiled the master plan of the Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador. After 60 years of planning and decades of untold sacrifice by thousands of our people, the time is finally at hand.
In just a few short months we invade Canada, take control of the government and form the Country of Newfoundcanada.
Williams, who appeared quite at ease, was very open and honest with the 600 or so guests at the gathering, explaining how the Province’s out-migration over the past decades had been nothing more than the strategic placement of over 50,000 covert operatives in key areas of the Country. He even went so far as to name names.
Williams identified media expert Rex Murphy as being in position to take control of the national media and noted that we are finally ready, now that Newfoundland and Labrador’s own, General Rick Hillier has taken control of Canada’s 60,000 regular forces and over 30,000 reserves.
Williams commented on how our 30,000 plus fisherpersons would lead with a naval attack Cape Breton. According to Williams, since people in Cape Breton have much the same accent, cultural influences and unemployment problems as Newfoundland and Labrador, the rest of Canada won’t even notice this first wave.
Of course once Cape Breton has been breeched, it’s a short march across the Canso Causway and into the rest of the Atlantic Canada. This area is expected to fall within days as many citizens are considered largely sympathetic and basically pissed with the rest of Canada anyway.
Although he didn’t mention it, the truth of the matter is that most of Canada probably won’t notice anything out of the ordinary until our troops pass out of the Atlantic Provinces and into other parts of Canada. This is where the genius of the plan really takes flight.
The key will be to attack Ontario and Quebec immediately after the first major snowfall this winter. It’s a well known fact that any snowfall of more than six inches will automatically bring these provinces to their knees and force them to call in the military.
General Rick Hillier’s military.
As the snow flies and our soldiers move into position in the city centers an operative at the Churchill Falls generating plant in Labrador will be given a signal directly from HQ high atop Signal Hill to flip the switch and plunge much of the eastern seaboard of North America into total darkness.
This of course is where our boy Rex Murphy, who will have taken control of the national broadcasting service, comes in. His job will be to go on the air and reassure the general public that the power problems they are experiencing are simply a result of the storm and that there is nothing to worry about. He will advise them to remain in their homes and to stay off the streets. Of course while all of this is happening the governments of Canada’s two largest provinces will simply welcome our armed forces in and give them free reign on the streets of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
When Ottawa falls, so to does the Nation.
It’s a great plan of course, but Premier Williams can’t take all the credit. Once again it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time in history. The reality is that this plan was developed nearly three years before Confederation. It was during a weekend of heavy partying at a local watering hole in downtown Gambo that Joey Smallwood and two of his cronies cooked up the plan on the back of a purity biscuit box.
From those humble beginnings grew a complex tapestry of lies and deceptions of cunning exploits and acts of heroism that could not be spoken of outside the Province until now. It was this plan that started us on the road to Confederation, a road taken to facilitate our covert operations inside Canada.
Much of the credit must also go to every Newfoundlander and Labradorean who sacrificed inside the Dominion, waiting for this moment to arrive.
After years of seeing our best young men and women leave the Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador in order to infiltrate areas of strategic importance throughout Canada, the wait is over. The vast oil and gas industrial complexes of Alberta have been infiltrated. The chemical and aerospace plants in Ontario and Quebec have been infiltrated. Media, military, universities and factories from one end of Canada to the other have been infiltrated. In fact, there is not one part of the great nation of Canada, including its government that has not been infiltrated by one of our operatives.
The plan will succeed. Of that there is no doubt. It has been too well planned and executed not to.
I know many of you may be wondering why Danny Williams tipped his hand just a few months before the invasion and why I have expanded on the details. I’ll tell you why.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter. Most people in the rest of Canada never listen to anything said down east and the few who might listen won’t pay any attention to it. It’s just a big joke like everything else east of Quebec.
I bet they won’t even realize the takeover is complete until the see the Green White and Pink raised over the Parliament building the day after the big storm.
Posted by Patriot at 3:53 PM
Boy, nothing stirs the ire of animal rights activists like mentioning their fund raising activities. In recent articles I’ve examined the finances of the Sea Shepherd Society in detail and have more than once alluded to the possible financial motives behind some of these groups. Each time, without fail, those articles have elicited an immediate and vehement response from supporters. I wonder why?
In March and April of this year I wrote a couple of articles in support of the Atlantic Seal hunt. The response was minimal. I have mentioned “the hunt” several times in articles. The response was minimal. It was only when the topic of financing was touched upon that the fur really started to fly, (no pun intended).
I have to admit that all the harsh comments directed at me by the alfalfa contingent finally made me stop and think that I might just be wrong. Maybe groups like the Sea Shepherd Society aren't really that interested in the money after all.
In an effort to ensure that I was not barking up the wrong tree I decided to pay a visit to the Sea Shepherd web site today and have a quick look around. You know, just to see how important and advanced their donation campaign might be. To see how much effort they put into that side of the business. Simply to determine if seeking donations was an overriding concern or simply a necessary evil required to help further the cause.
A visit to the site immediately made a link to their “Join and Donate” page available. Here is where my adventure began.
On clicking the link I was immediately shown no less than thirteen ways for visitors to part with their hard earned dollars. These included several novel and very hi-tech approaches, well beyond the old method of providing a mailing address for checks and money orders.
What follows are some of the methods one can use if they want to “rob Peter to pay Paul Watson”.
Online Credit Card;
Call in / Fax Credit Card;
Mail in Donation;
Other Donations Section:
Stock Donations (I guess this is where the Society’s Harley Davidson and Exon Mobile stock came from);
Frequent Flyer Miles (yes they take those too);
Planned Giving and Wills (Even after you’re dead you can keep on giving, what a humanitarian the Shepherd is);
Wish List (This is a fun one. I’ll be looking more closely at it shortly so stick around);
Other U.S. Donations Section:
Workplace Giving (If it comes off your paycheck you won’t even miss it folks!!!);
eScrip Shopping Program (another fun one. Stick around for details);
Sea Shepherd Credit Card (I’m not kidding, you can have your very own Sea Shepherd Visa. I just hope it doesn’t have a picture of a dead seal on it. Now that would really be in poor taste.);
Vehicle and Vessel Donation (anyone got a ship they’ve been trying to unload, here’s your chance).
Boy, I have to say, these guys have really gone all out. I especially like the Wish List and eScrip Shopping Program options.
The Wish List is exactly what it claims to be. The Society lists a number of items they need to further their goal of ensuring equal rights for every living thing on the planet, except the people of Newfoundland and Labrador of course.
The Wish List allows visitors to donate everything from marine paint to valve fittings. I have to admit that most of the items on the list seem pretty benign, but I do have to question the dire need for assistance in decorating an onboard theater for their boat the Farley Mowat. Never the less if you want to help in that important cause, they are in dire need of:
“A big Flat Screen T.V.”;
“VHS Player”; and
In their defense at least they didn’t specify any particular brand names so I can only assume they are open to various configurations. They also don’t mention any specific brand names when requesting donations of “Flat Screen Monitors” for their offices. I guess the old standard monitors that 90% of the public uses just don’t depict doe eyed seals well enough for their liking.
Of course as interesting as the Wish List is, it’s nothing compared to the eScrip Shopping Program. Here you can register your credit card and ATM numbers and by doing so take advantage of their special partner program.
That’s right folks, every time you shop with one of their eScrip partners a percentage of the sale goes directly to helping support the Society.
Pretty neat stuff but it made me wonder what kind of companies might be involved. You know, a frugal consumer like me is always in the market for a bargain, so I decided to check it out.
According to the site there are many companies involved. Of course a large number of them are cruise lines that cater mainly to the more affluent and therefore more likely contributors, but there are retail businesses as well.
One of the more well known is AVON. A company known around the world for its personal products, makeup, perfumes, etc. I don’t know but I wonder if AVON has ever benefited from the testing of cosmetic products on animals. Maybe not, but it would be interesting to find out.
Other retail outlets include the Sierra Trading Post and a company called Orvis. Both of these high end stores sell everything from clothing to luggage. In fact Sierra is quite proud of its line of leather shoes while Orvis is equally proud of its line of Bullhide products including carry bags and brief cases. I’m not so sure how proud the cattle used in making them might be however.
Another couple of neat companies that can help you donate to the “Save Everything” cause are Terminix and ChemLawn, both subsidiaries of ServiceMaster. Since the sole purpose of both companies is to utilize highly toxic chemicals to kill all insect life in the immediate area, the more zealot animal rights activists may want to give this method of donation a second thought.
As anyone can see, the Sea Shepherd Society has gone pretty broad based with its fund raising activities and I haven’t even touched on its Online Store, Online Art Gallery and the page that lists upcoming Events and Appearances so you can pay a fee to hear Watson in person.
It’s amazing that the Society and Paul Watson in particular, have the time to do all their wonderful work protecting the world from itself. I mean just keeping track of all these fund raising activities must really tick Watson off when he’d much rather be running around the globe looking for his next photo op.
You know, I’m starting to think Paul Watson must be super human or something. Naw, that can't be, after all there are no super humans. All living beings are equal, from the tallest man to the smallest bug, right Paul?
Anyway folks I have to run. The local Terminix exterminator is at the door looking for my donation.
Posted by Patriot at 11:21 AM
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The Blue Puttees – Circa 1914
With Remembrance Day once again upon us, it seems appropriate today to reflect on the exploits of the so called “Fighting Newfoundlander” and remember those from the Province who fought or died in conflicts half way around the world.
When many think of the Province's military history they immediately think of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Although Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have fought with the forces of other nations and continue to distinguish themselves today in the Canadian Armed Forces, it is with a special kind of pride that we remember the exploits of that Regiment.
Originally formed in 1914, The Newfoundland Regiment, as it was known at the time, consisted of what many refer to as the “first 500” or “The Blue Puttees” in reference to the blue leggings worn by the men.
An entirely volunteer regiment, the men of the “first 500”, along with those who joined them later, distinguished themselves in battle after battle during World War I. So valiant were their efforts that they were later bestowed by the King of England with the title of “Royal”, becoming the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the name we know them by to this day.
After only six weeks of training at home, The Newfoundland Regiment containing the “first 500” set sail out of St. John’s harbour on October 4, 1914. This first group contained some of the best examples of the type of young men the Province had produced. Many were athletes, some had been involved in various boy’s brigades and all were determined to show their pride in the Country of Newfoundland.
According to some historical documents, the men of the Regiment had two primary goals in mind when they arrived in Europe. The first was that they were Newfoundlanders, and intended to be known as such; the other was that they had gone over to fight, not to do garrison duty in England.
At one point during their orientation on the Salisbury Plain the idea was floated that the Newfoundland contingent should join with a nearby Nova Scotia Regiment. Both groups were only the size of half a battalion and to the brass from England this seemed like a logical step. According to articles from the time the Newfoundlanders would have no part of it. They felt that if the two groups merged the contingent would lose its name, its identity and its individuality.
During the coming months the Regiment grew as new members arrived. In time, the proud men of the Newfoundland Regiment were given the opportunity they had wanted, a chance to fight for their Country.
On the battle field these proud soldiers solidified their place in history. The Regiment earned no less than 280 separate decorations, 77 of which were awarded to original members of the “first 500” of which 170 were killed in action. In fact, one in every seven men among the original force received some sort of military honour.
Many people have heard the name of Tommy Ricketts who was given the highest honour possible, the Victoria Cross and so they should, however many may not remember some of the other brave men who fought for their homeland under the most dire conditions.
The Province has produced many great heroes, many who are not as well known, but no less deserving of recognition.
Take for example the story of Cyril Gardner, originally from British Harbour.
Lieutenant Gardner has the distinction of being the only known allied serviceman to receive the German Iron Cross during WWI.The Iron Cross which was handed out only to the bravest German military personnel was given to Gardner on the battlefield.
As the story goes, Gardner’s unit was engaged in battle with a German patrol of 70 men. During the night, as hostilities wound down Gardner, who spoke German, took it upon himself to grab his machine gun and head out to the enemy encampment.Sneaking into the enemy camp, the Lieutenant turned his gun on the officers, capturing them unharmed. With their “head” cut off so to speak, the remainder of the troop immediately surrendered. Lieutenant Cyril Gardner had single handedly captured an entire German Patrol.
Upon marching his prisoners back to his own encampment he was met by a British Officer who intended to shoot the unarmed prisoners. As the German soldiers looked on in horror Lieutenant Gardner once again demonstrated his sense of bravery by stepping into the line of fire to protect his prisoners and telling his superior officer that if one German were shot the officer would be the next one to die.
After a moment of hesitation the officer walked away and it was then that the commander of the German patrol, who had many medals on his uniform, stepped up to Gardner and removing the iron cross from his chest, pinned it on Gardner’s, to the applause and cheers of the German soldiers.
For Centuries, even before the formation of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have answered the call whenever it arrived. Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have been involved in major conflicts around the world since the mid 1600's, including:
The Anglo-Dutch Wars – 1652
The War of the Austrian Succession – 1743
The Seven Year War - 1756
The American Revolution - 1775
The Napoleonic Wars – 1796
The War of 1812
World War I – 1914
World War II – 1939
Add to this the number of young men and women who have proven themselves in places like Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia and countless other areas of conflict or peacekeeping around the world, and we can clearly see that the Province has a lot to be proud of.
During this Remembrance Day and throughout the remainder of the Year of the Veteran perhaps we should all take some time to visit a legion hall or local war memorial, to stop and chat with an aging veteran and to offer a little show of thanks for the sacrifice these fine men and women have made to protecting our nation.
Statistics show that every day in this country an average of 80 veterans die. That’s more than at the height of conflict in World War II. It only takes a moment to shake a veteran’s hand or buy one a cold beer in a local bar. It might seem like a small gesture and it is, but even taking a moment to express a little gratitude may just brighten the day of some of our bravest and most deserving citizens.
Posted by Patriot at 2:53 PM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Well folks, this should be an interesting week in the city of St. John’s. Canada’s easternmost city will be playing host this week to a conference on the future of the Atlantic seal hunt. Meetings are scheduled to take place between members of the federal government, harvesters, fisheries union representatives and conservation groups. Oddly enough, one of the most obviously absent groups is the Anti-Sealing / Animal Rights activists who make so much money from the hunt year after year and who continue to plague sealers on the ice during their fund raising drives each March.
Groups such as the Sea Shepherd Society and the Humane Society of the U.S. who have been so vocal in convincing U.S. restaurants to boycott Canadian sea food in protest over the hunt are themselves boycotting this week’s meetings claiming they are a waste of time, staged for public consumption and of no real value.
The reality of the situation is more likely that any improvements in hunting policy and practices that might come out of these meetings would not be in the best interest of either group when it comes to their fund raising activities and public profile.
Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan has been quoted as saying, “It's unfortunate” and noted that, “This is a multimillion-dollar business for these organizations".
The reality is that if improvements come from these meetings then it will make it more difficult for extremist groups to sell their stories of atrocities to the public in exchange for fat donation cheques. Instead, these groups would rather avoid the discussions and instead continue the practice of flocking to the ice floes in droves during the hunt for one more photo op intended to add fuel to another fantastic fund raising drive.
By way of comparison, more mainstream groups, with a realistic vision of the world, have decided to attend and take part in the discussions. Groups like The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) do not oppose the hunt but rather involve themselves in helping ensure sustainability and humane practices.
According to the WWF, the seal hunt has never been a conservation issue since seals are not an endangered species. Currently there are an estimated 5.9 million harp seals on the East Coast, an increase of nearly half a million over the previous count in 2000.
The more extreme protest groups do not like the truth. They do not want to take part in an exercise that will help ensure improvements in the industry. Most of these groups would likely prefer a return to the heydays of the 1970’s and 80’s when protests by celebrities like Bridgette Bardot and clashes with “white coat” clubbing sealers swelled the coffers of groups like Green Peace.
Back in the day, protests nearly killed the sealing industry. Boycotts by the U.S. and many European countries decimated the livelihoods of hundreds of fishermen.
Through serious planning and through meetings like those taking place in the Province this week, new policies and procedures were enacted to improve the situation and save the industry. Today “white coats” are no longer hunted. Sealers have a prescribed set of processes to follow that help ensure as little suffering as possible for the animals. These improvements have resulted in a rebound in the industry and pelts that were selling for about $5 dollars a couple of decades ago are now garnering $70 or more.
Groups like the Sea Shepherd Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare receive donations every year from people who have been convinced by them that Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are nothing more than barbarians and butchers. Many are convinced that the Province is populated with cold blooded killers who have no feelings and who get some sort of perverse thrill from killing poor defenseless animals and skinning them alive.
The unfortunate thing is that some of these people have been so brainwashed by the propaganda as to become unhinged and perhaps dangerous. This doesn’t matter to the organized groups however as long as the dollars keep rolling in and their egos continue to be stroked. I mean come on, let’s face the facts, if Paul Watson wasn’t a high profile protester / eco-terrorist what would his chances be of elbowing with the rich and famous?
It’s a dangerous game these people play. Consider that Watson had no issue with publishing the name, address and phone number of a Newfoundland sealer last year resulting in his family receiving threatening phone calls.
During a recent debate on the topic of sealing at my personal web site: Web Talk – Newfoundland and Labrador, one zealot berated the people of the province for days without once acknowledging the fact that she was a representative of Sea Shepherd.
Another comment was recieved from someone who simply signed their comment as anonymous and who may or may not be directly affiliated with any particular group. This character stated:
“You people are sick. I hope somebody skins your children alive and eats them in front of you, then laughs…”, “Do You Like The Taste of Children?"
Somehow this person had gained such a twisted perspective on the world as to be extremely upset over the idea of a seal being killed yet not the least bit bothered about wishing such an atrocity on an innocent child.
When you’re dealing with this kind of mentality anything goes and the rules of reality become suspended. That’s pretty much what’s happening in the Province as we speak. Rather than discuss the issues and work toward a compromise that everyone can live with, these groups simply refuse to take part. They would rather wait until the hunt resumes, show up in droves and begin creating their own form of reality by “reporting from the front” with their twisted version of the truth.
Come on all you extremists out there, let’s get real. If you truly wanted to stop the hunt, or at even improve it, you’d be front and center at these meetings, not brushing them off.
If you really want to make an impact and improve a situation that you claim to have so much of an issue with then step up to the plate. You may feel that these meetings are nothing but lip service and you may indeed be right. Perhaps nobody at these sessions will listen to anything you have to say, but if you plan to continue making money from this hunt and accusing the hunters of barbarism then the least you can do is show up for discussions on improving the situation.
If you really wanted to address the issues you would sit in and do exactly that, or perhaps you would rather take the Paul Watson approach of simply perpetrating hate crimes against the people of the province. Tactics like calling Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans everything from child rapers to a blight on the nation.
If you showed up at these meetings and made your points at least nobody would be able to claim you didn’t even try. Bye the way, in an effort to assist your efforts let me just say, if your having trouble finding money for the airfare and hotel accomodations just toss a picture of a doe eyed seal in front of the nearest passing limo. I'm sure you'll get enough money to cover your expenses.
Posted by Patriot at 4:20 PM
Monday, November 07, 2005
Today, November 7, 2005, is the day the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial government kicks off its pre-budget consultations with a meeting in Labrador City. Between now and the end of the year Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan intends to hold hearings in ten communities across the Province in an effort to gather suggestions from the public for the 2006 Provincial budget.
No doubt there will be the usual pleas for the old standards of health care, schools, roads and infrastructure, important items for sure and quite likely candidates to receive a piece of the pie. So to, there will be calls for wage increases in the public sector, an important matter for those involved, but less likely to make the final draft with public sentiment being what it is on the topic of government employees.
Along with the standard calls there will also be special interest groups expecting the royal treatment now that the “$2 billion is in the bank”. Every group from “Dog Groomers for a Better Society” to “Save the Snails” will likely show up with both hands out and a sad story to tell. Add to this the opposition parties who will scream that the purse strings need to be opened up now that the deficit for this year is no longer a factor.
Of course, the usual political games will need to be played, that’s just the way things work in Canadian politics. Some groups will be need to be given token sums of money to appease them and as a result somewhere in a musty old meeting hall a group of geriatric limbo dancers will get the money they need for a new state of the art limbo stick and a six pack of hip replacements. That’s just the way things work unfortunately. We can only hope that this sort of pandering is as limited as possible.
To date, Minister Sullivan and Premier Williams have sung the same song in perfect harmony. Yes, the deficit is gone, but that was due to an anomaly in oil prices and besides, there is still the $12 billion dollar debt. That dragon is still outside the door and nowhere near being slain. Chapter and verse, they have sung this over and over.
They are not wrong. As much as everyone wants a piece of the financial pie, it remains a fact that the Provincial debt has to be addressed as quickly and decisively as possible without causing undue suffering in the Province.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a small and aging population that will continue to require ever increasing health care and other services as they grow older. Our infrastructure is aging and our working age tax base is shrinking. The oil won’t last forever and as much as some opposition members and members of the public want to see extra money spent now, that approach will only mean a continuing debt load and extremely high payments going forward.
What some people fail to realize, or simply don’t care about, is the fact that if the debt is erased, or at least put under control, there will be more money for the types of programs we all care about.
We need to consider one simple question. Would we rather spend the money now and continue to spend it until it’s gone, or would we rather put ourselves in a financial position where the debt factor is removed and we have money available on a continued basis going forward?
Simple really, if you have to pay the mortgage you have less expendable income. Once the house is paid off, you can do the little things you would like to do but could never really afford to before.
Up to this point the current Provincial government has been talking the talk on this subject. Now is the time to walk the walk. Yes, some people will kick and scream. Yes, some causes, service improvements and special needs spending will have to be put on hold for the time being. This is where each one of us has a part to play in ensuring the right things get done.
This is where we hold the government’s feet to the fire and ensure that good prudent judgment is used. This is where we can help ensure that only the truly necessary items are addressed. This is where we pat our leaders on the back for fiscal prudence and good judgment should they display it and where we slap them across the face when they don’t.
Money for cancer clinics GOOD, money for gold plated spittoons at the Rooms BAD.
Over the past few years we have had a small glimpse into the possibility of a prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador somewhere in the distance, let’s not let that vision disappear once again for the sake of another “quick fix”.
Posted by Patriot at 10:08 AM
Friday, November 04, 2005
Recently Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan made a statement to the effect that the Province should be treated more like a Territory in respect to federal transfer payments from Ottawa. This comment apparently landed him in a little hot water with Newfoundland and Labrador’s only federal cabinet minister, Mr. John No-Effort, who immediately scoffed at the idea and all but laughed at the comment rather than listening and perhaps taking some time to understand it.
Thanks once again John. It’s reassuring to see you haven’t changed your standard approach of fighting for Canada and against your own Province.
Of course most of Canada feels that the Province already receives more than its fair share of federal funds and will, like John Efford, immediately point to the $2 billion dollar cheque “given” to the Province recently as a prime example of this.
Never mind that the $2 billion accounts for only 47% of revenues from the Province’s offshore and that getting it only reflects the fact that the Oil produced exists in Newfoundland’s territory. The fact is, if it was on land and not under the water revenues would have been coming to the province from day one as they do in Alberta, which bye the way received special treatment at the hands of Ottawa in the 50’s when its oil industry was starting.
Speaking of Alberta, a recent study has provided a clear example of the kind of situation that may have led Minister Sullivan to make his statement about transfer reforms. A recently released report identifies Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s poorest Province, as being second only to Alberta, Canada’s richest, in health care spending. Yet the Province continues to have some of the Country’s longest wait times. Why is this?
It’s quite simple really. Perhaps even simple enough for John Efford to understand should he take a minute to look at it. The reason is because we have a vast geographical region with a very small population. This requires the Province to maintain many more hospitals and clinics than it would like and along with that comes the operation of more equipment, doctors, nurses and the list goes on and on.
Think about it folks, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a land area of just over 400,000 thousand square kilometers and a population of about 500,000 people. To put this in perspective, this means that if every man, woman and child wanted to live nearly a Kilometer apart, they wouldn’t have a problem.
This folks (take some notes John) is why I believe Newfoundland and Labrador has always had an issue with the way transfer payments are calculated. Since payments are determined based on population this leaves the Province at a clear disadvantage. After all, when the population base is only the size of a small city and the territory is several times larger than the rest of the Atlantic region, it isn’t easy.
I believe this may be one of the reasons for Minister Sullivan’s recent statement and I also believe that once again these arguments will be ignored by Ottawa, thanks in no small part to Ottawa’s representatives in Newfoundland and Labrador (especially John No-Effort).
If elected officials from the Province won’t even entertain the concept of transfer payment reform, in fact don’t even want to hear it mentioned, what chance does the Province have in convincing the rest of the Country?
Posted by Patriot at 9:59 AM