Da Legal Stuff...

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Newfoundland's role at Beaumont Hamel to be Swept from History

I often hear comments from other parts of the Country to the effect that Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are nothing but a bunch of complainers and whiners. The opinion seems to be that we will never be happy with the great job Canada has done in supporting us and providing us with handouts.. A bunch of malcontents is what we are called for our rumblings of separation and unfair treatment. What these people fail to realize is that many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are unhappy with this Dominion for many reasons and the least of those are financial ones.

An example of this reality is the situation playing itself out in France as I write this very commentary. On Saturday July 1, remembrance ceremonies will be held to commemorate the battle of Beaumont Hamel, the fierce WWI battle which saw many Newfoundlanders give up their lives for King and Country. The thing of it is that the men from Newfoundland and Labrador who died in that battle were fighting for the Country of Newfoundland, not for Canada. During WWI confederation with Canada was still decades away.

During the ceremony this week the anthems of Canada, France and Newfoundland (The Ode to Newfoundland) will be played. As is the custom during such events the men and women of the armed forces will stand and salute during those anthems. The exception is that the Canadian forces has informed the men and women of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the very regiment who’s early members fought in that great battle, that they will be expected to salute the French and Canadian anthems but they will not be permitted to salute the Ode to Newfoundland.

Why in God’s name not? Apparently it is felt by Canadian military leaders that only the anthems of the nations involved should be saluted. I guess someone forgot to mention to this brain trust that hundreds of men from the Country of Newfoundland died during WWI and the military men and women from this Province should be given the opportunity to express their pride and remembrance for their ancestors.

These are the sorts of things that upset people from the Province beyond anything financial regardless of what others may think and they are the sorts of acts that people in other parts of Canada never see or hear about.

Lieutenant Governor Ed Roberts is attending the ceremony at Beaumont Hamel as an honorary member of the forces. He has said that while he would like to salute the Ode to Newfoundland, he must respect the uniform he is wearing and follow the rules laid out for him by the Canadian military. I disagree completely. As the Queens representative to the Province he has a bigger obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and he should take that obligation seriously.

My suggestion is that the Lieutenant Governor should disregard the orders given to him and salute for everything he is worth. As a temporary and honorary member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment what can the military do about it. If he feels so strongly about his anthem, as he should, but doesn’t want to disrespect the Canadian Forces, he could opt to appear at the ceremony without the uniform. This would free him up to do as he pleases.

Through seeing a man of Ed Roberts stature take this stand, it might even convince some members of the regular forces to follow his lead. Even if it doesn’t, at least it would send a strong message to Ottawa and his actions would help return at least one small part of the dignity that is being stolen from us all by this action.

It’s a sad day when a country fights and gives up the lives of its men on the battle field of a foreign land only to be told on the 90th anniversary of one of those battles that the descendants of those men will not be permitted to salute the anthem they fought and died for. Thank-you once again Canada for your understanding.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vive le Canada

There has been a lot of news coverage lately about the alleged abuse of expense accounts by some MHA’s in Newfoundland and Labrador. A terrible thing indeed, but on a positive note, at least the supposed fraud seems to have been limited to a just few members of the House, unlike the outright theft taking place in Ottawa these days.

Just before leaving for a months of fun in the sun, members of the House of Commons decided to pad their wallets once again at our expense. In 2001 the House eliminated the tax free expense accounts that had been used up to that point in time and decided instead to raise the base pay of MPs.

When the expense accounts were done away with, an MP’s base pay was approximately $65,000 per year. This amount was increased to $130,000 and has since risen to nearly $150,000. Now, after seeing their base pay rise by $85,000 in just 5 years, MPs have determined that they can’t survive on what they are making and have decided to re-introduce expense allowances on top of their new wealth.

So what is it costing you to have your MP show up for the occasional vote or speak in the House of Commons (if they bother to show up at all)?

The tab includes:
Base pay: $147,700 per year + additional pay for anyone who is a minister, member of a committee, etc. (basically if you do anything other than get yourself elected the amount begins to climb steadily.)

Ottawa Living Expenses: $24,000 per year

Meals and Incidentals: $75.40 per day

Mileage: .47 cents a kilometer

Travel: 64 free return-trip airline tickets a year (I'll bet you an MP's salary that they aren’t coach tickets either).

The overall cost of the constituency allowance scandal in Newfoundland and Labrador, at least as far as can be determined at this point, appears to be in the neighborhood of $1 million. Nothing to sneeze at by any means but when you consider that with over 300 MPs in Ottawa milking the system for the items outlined above, $1 million is just one drop in a very large bucket.

Either way you slice it somebody is getting the shaft and I can bet you know who that is. Remember this next April when tax time rolls around. Better yet, when the next election call is made, think about what marking your X really means to the average Canadian’s wallet.

Vive le Canada!!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Political Double Speak

Out-migration is a term to which we’ve become accustomed in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a simple benign sounding little word that refers to people leaving the province to live and work in other parts of Canada. It’s a sanitized and passionless political term used by governments and the media alike to identify a situation without the need to ever speak of the sickening realities of what it really means.

In reality the term out-migration is comparable to accidentally dropping a 500 pound bomb on a crowded marketplace, killing a hundred people, and referring to the result as “collateral damage”. It’s like accidentally shooting 20 members of your own military force and reporting the event as a “friendly fire” incident. Either way you slice it, it's a way of sanitizing a terrible and ugly truth that nobody wants to think about. Sanitize all you want, in the end the bodies still exist and the mourning goes on.

You may be wondering how I can equate something like out-migration to such horrific events, but there isn’t a great deal of difference. Of course what’s happening in Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t the kind of bloody horrific death we see in a war torn country, but it is death without doubt. In fact, in some ways it may even be worse because instead of individual deaths, out-migration represents the slow and lingering death of an entire culture and its people.

Make no mistake, what’s happening right now in Newfoundland and Labrador is far from passionless and to sanitize it in any way is sickening. There was a time when men (and to a lesser degree women) left the Province to find seasonal work. They would often return to their homes for the remainder of the year, perhaps to fish or hunt. Such is the life of an island community. Over the decades this trend continued, but each year more and more of our people settled in the larger centers and never came back.

It started as a slight trickle, but has gained in momentum until we have reached a time in our history when the process has begun spiraling out of control. The unfortunate thing is that we have all become so accustomed to it that nobody is standing up and taking notice of what’s really happening. These days there seem to be more people leaving than staying and what was once a trickle has become a tidal wave before our very eyes.

The people leaving are our young, educated and family oriented people. The same people who are needed to sustain our Province. They leave behind them grandparents who will not see their grandchildren grown up. They leave behind countless parents, siblings and extended family and friends who may or may never see them again. That’s the human impact here.

On the more practical side of things, statistics already show that the average age of Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is increasing rapidly. How quickly will those numbers begin to climb if the bleeding away or the youth isn’t quelled?

We are caught on a treadmill to nowhere. A vicious cycle or domino effect is taking place right here and right now. Simply put governments and provinces need revenue to survive. They need it for everything from infrastructure to job creation to health care to schools and on and on and on. Like it or not, a large part of that revenue comes as a direct result of you and me working, living and paying taxes in the Province. If we reach a point where so many of our youth leave that the majority of our people are retired, where will that revenue base come from?

What about federal transfers which are largely based on population density. Every time an individual leaves the province thousands of dollars in federal funding leaves right along with them. Every time 2 or 3 or 4 people leave, 2 or 3 or 4 times that amount disappears. As less and less money is available for infrastructure and services, less and less jobs are created. This in turn leads to more and more people leaving which once again leads to less and less funding and the cycle continues to grow by feeding upon itself at an ever increasing rate. I believe this is what we are seeing right now in Newfoundland and Labrador and unless something is done we, as a people, will cease to exist.

It’s a simple equation really. If you have more people leaving the province than entering it and more people entering their final years than being born, then a culture cannot survive and will die as surely as if a bomb was dropped directly into the heart of its territory. It may not be a violent death but it’s a death none the less.

“Friendly Fire”, “Collateral damage” or “Out-migration” are all handy terms that help soften the blow of something terrible and horrific. They are terms intended to comfort those directly touched by tragedy, sanitize the event by making it more palatable and distance those responsible for its happening. In all three situations the use of these terms also serve to leave the public in a state of mind where nobody gets angry enough to stand up and do something to stop the carnage and that in itself is a tragedy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lest We Forget

The following is a poem was sent into to the comments section of a previous article by one of our regular readers who goes by the name “No Longer Proud”. I’d like to thank him for contributing this little bit of our history with us and since I felt it deserved more attention than it would likely receive in that area I have decided to publish it on the front page.

Thanks NLP.

The following poem was written by a man named John Davidge (originally from Bay Du Nord, Fortune Bay, a community no longer in existence due to resettlement) about his grandfather's reaction to the news of NL's joining with Canada.

Mr. Davidge's grandfather was obviously no fool...

Grandfather and Confederation
(by John B. Davidge)

I was almost three months shy of my fifteenth birthday when Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province of Canada and I remember that day and the days leading up to it as if it were only yesterday.

To say that my parents and grandparents were anti-confederates would be very much of an understatement, but it was my grandfather’s strong opposition to it that I remember most. His words and actions are recorded here as I’m sure he would want them to be.

Lest we Forget.

April the first, nineteen forty-nine
Was a day that I’ll soon not forget.
The radio blared that the “terms” had been signed,
Filling Grandfather’s heart with regret.

I can still see his eyes filled with anger and hate
At this terrible thing they had done.
A true Newfoundlander he felt t’was too late,
And he mourned as if losing a son.

He first lit a candle then he pulled down the blinds,
And he placed some black crepe on the door.
He looked somber and sad in his black suit and hat,
And the black satin armbands he wore.

He was eighty years old but he climbed up the hill
To the church with it’s steeple and bell.
His eyes filled with tears as his hands gripped the rope,
And he softly tolled the death knell.

There wasn’t a coffin, a body or grave,
The dying was all in his mind.
This joining with Canada wasn’t for him,
A patriot true to his kind.

I was only a “gaffer” but I still recall
How his voice rang with passion and pride.
“You have sold out your birthright,
You’ve let down the flag
That your forefathers fought for and died.

That up-along bunch will be down here in droves,
They’ll force you to flee from your home,
There’ll be taxes on this, there’ll be taxes on that,
And you won’t have a thing of your own.

They’ll tear up the countryside, take all the land,
They’ll catch all the fish in the bay.
You won’t be allowed to have horses and cows
Unless you are willing to pay.

They have filled you with promises, all of them lies,
They say there is nothing you’ll lack,
They’ll give you the Bonus, the Pension and such,
And with taxes they’ll take it all back.

They got you to thinking the skies will be blue,
And the sun won’t again fail to shine,
But you’ll have second thoughts when this land of your birth
Is alive with corruption and crime.

You’ll have a new anthem,
you’ll have a new flag,
They’ll watch what you write, say and do.
T’will be everything Ottawa, nothing St. John’s.
Mark my words what I’m saying is true.

That Smallwood’s a traitor and you’ll see the day
When the people will stand up and shout
That he’s not worth the powder to blow him to hell,
And his friends will be kicking him out.”

But nobody heeded what Grandfather said
And nobody heeded his tears.
They called him a babbling, senile old man
Who was exaggerating his fears.

They all went their way with a smile in their hearts,
Hoping only good fortune would fall.
But I wondered in time would they look back and say:
“Wasn’t Grandfather right after all?”

Monday, June 19, 2006

Newfoundland and Labrador's Hugo Chavez

Regardless of how it may appear in recent news reports from many of Canada’s news agencies and even the illustrious New York Times, it appears that Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t the only place in the world where the government and people are starting to feel like they’re being robbed blind by big oil companies. Even a cursory glance at various news reports clearly point to an ever growing concern over oil company profits and the lack of value being seen by those who own the limited resource.

One example of this concern is the discussions currently underway in Alaska where the House and Senate are considering changes to the way oil companies are taxed. The options being discussed could see companies being taxed at a rate of anywhere from 22.5 to 23.5 percent on their profits and might also include an escalator clause that would come into play after oil reaches $50 a barrel.

A legislative consultant has estimated that Alaska, under the new regime, would stand to increase its current revenue base by about $2.9 billion a year at today's prices.

When you consider that the return on capital being experienced in the oil industry is far outpacing that of other industries it should come as no surprise to anyone that Provinces, States and Countries are beginning look for a bigger stake.

In the U.S. manufacturing sector for example the average return is about 7.1% according to the American Census Bureau. Compare this with the oil sector (as outlined below) and the numbers speak for themselves.

ExxonMobi l, 31.3%
Chevron, 21.9%
Shell, 25.6%
ConocoPhillips, 32.1%
AVERAGE: 26.2%

Oil executives often claim that such large profits are necessary in order to allow them to effectively undertake costly exploration efforts around the world, but is this a valid argument? Consider ExxonMobil for example which claimed in its 2005 annual report that:

“Since 2001, we have distributed over $71 billion to shareholders in dividend payments and share purchases to reduce shares outstanding. Of that, nearly half, or $33 billion, has been distributed to shareholders via dividends…"

"...The Corporation has paid a dividend each year for over a century, and has increased its annual dividend every year since 1983.”

Consider as well that while dividends to shareholders are on the top of the agenda for big oil companies like ExxonMobil it is abundantly clear that they could care less about spending some of their windfall profits to ensure the welfare of their employees.

A recent report in Business Week states that, "ExxonMobil has the largest pension shortfall on any corporation. Its pension fund assets are $11.2 billion short of projected obligations…. Of course, as has been widely reported, ExxonMobil has not been indifferent to the pension interests of all its former employees, rewarding its former chairman and CEO, Lee Raymond, with $144,573 for each day of the 13 years he led the oil company." (The math is scary.)

Even Hillary Clinton is getting in on the act. A recent Washington Times article states that Clinton has called for a two-year tax on oil company profits to help amass $50 billion for the creation of an energy research fund, saying dependence on foreign oil weakens national security.

"We need to reform our energy taxes so that large oil companies who reap huge benefits from unexpectedly high energy prices over the next two years will be required to pay a portion of their profits into the strategic energy fund," the New York Democrat said while outlining her energy plan at the National Press Club.

You know I find it very odd that while the U.S. government is investigating oil company profits, state legislators are calling for increased taxation and even U.S. senate members are calling for a limit to company windfalls, little old Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador can so easily be singled out and called a dictator for his stance on the development of the Hebron Ben Nevis oil field.

Everyone today knows the value of oil and gas. We all feel the pinch every time we pull up to the pumps and we all see the reports of record profits that the oil companies proudly announce to their shareholders quarter after quarter. We know that these resources are finite and once they are gone they are gone forever. Everyone knows these things yet as soon as the Premier of Canada’s poorest Province cries foul and stops negotiations, partly because some of the biggest oil companies in the world wanted tax breaks in the order of half a billion dollars, he’s branded a maverick, a dictator and worse.

According to oil executives Premier Williams is too hard to deal with and he is putting the future of his Province’s oil and gas industry in jeopardy. I ask you, who is the difficult one to deal with here? A Provincial leader who simply wants a reasonable return for his Province on a limited resource, or profit sodden oil companies who want tax breaks from the poor in order to develop a profitable oil field they’ve been sitting on for the past 25 years?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How Many Newfoundlanders Does it Take to Destroy a Cod Stock?

How many comments have I read in Canadian papers lately about the big mistake Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn made by allowing a limited fishery off the Newfoundland and Labrador coast this year? How many supposed experts have suddenly crawled out of the woodwork to warn us that the sky is falling once again? I can’t tell you the numbers, but I can tell you there are clearly a lot more people concerned with a few fish being caught in Newfoundland and Labrador than there has ever been about anything else the in the Province.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for conservation. I believe that if the stocks really are too low to support limited fishing then there shouldn’t be any. Perhaps there is reason for concern about the announced commercial fishery and the quotas issued there, I don’t know. Having said that, I don’t believe for a minute that this quota, or the fact that Uncle John and his Aunt Martha’s plan to throw a line over the side of the boat, is the root of the problem.

We all know that the problems plaguing the recovery of the Atlantic fish stocks are complex and involve commercial overfishing, habitat destruction by draggers, changing water temperatures and a myriad of other issues. All of those issues need to be addressed if there is ever going to be any hope of rebuilding those stocks. That said, I really don’t see how everyone can say with a straight face that because a few souls in poor old Newfoundland and Labrador want to catch a meal or two during the summer months that it will devastate the remaining stocks.

As I said, if the stocks are really that bad, go ahead and ban both the commercial and recreational fisheries, but before you do I would suggest that the real culprits be shut down as well. First stop the foreign fleets from fishing the spawning grounds on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, ban bottom dragging that’s destroying fish habitat and seriously examine the effects of warmer water temperatures due to global warming. Yes, it might be easy for the mouth pieces of some Canadian papers to simply blame Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans for killing off the stocks but what will shutting down this limited fishery really accomplish?

I for one love a good meal of cod and I can tell you with out a doubt that there is no shortage of it to be found anywhere. I can go into any Sobey’s, IGA or Dominion supermarket and buy all the cod I want. I can visit any restaurant and order fish and chips until I turn blue eating it. Where does it all come from? I’m sure it doesn’t just magically appear on store shelves, perhaps a gift from the fish fairy. In fact I have yet to see a shortage of the stuff regardless of the time of year.

I for one would love an accounting of exactly where all of this fish is coming from before anyone demands that DFO shut down Ma and Pa in their 12 foot aluminum boat. Is it supply coming from by-catch of other species? How much of the supply is the result of catches designed for supposed “scientific” purposes? How much is illegally caught and how much is being imported? All of these seem like valid questions to me because if the majority of this abundant supply is locally caught, and I believe it is since I know freshly caught fish when I taste it, there is a much bigger problem here than a small sanctioned fishery.

Perhaps what should be called for is not the cancellation of the limited fishery just announced but a thorough investigation of the existing retail cod supply. Regardless what the official story is, it appears, at least on the surface that the cod moratorium instituted in 1992 is little more than a smoke screen covering up an underground fishery that by its very existence would show a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude by both our federal and provincial fisheries officials.

On the plus side, I know if I catch 5 fish this summer that means I won’t have to buy my fish from retailers or restaurants for a while. I don’t see that as harming the fish stocks at all, in fact I see it as potentially disrupting an underground economy which may result in little or no difference in the overall numbers of fish since it will lower the demand at those retail outlets. Now where’s the salt pork and hard tack?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Equalization Reform or Quebec Vote Buying Scheme?

Boy oh boy, is Ralph Goodale ever going to just go away. Even after being kicked to the other side of the House he’s still managed to poke his ugly mug into government policy. In his latest debacle, a panel setup by the industrious little Grit has thrown the whole country into turmoil over equalization. Even after months in the wilderness he’s still managed to get the daggers out and start the cutting.

Usually I don’t mind reports like the one tabled by this Westminster blue-ribbon panel. Reports commissioned by a previous government usually hit the shredder faster than a corporate donation hits the bottom of a Liberal wallet, but this time it’s different. This time the echoing silence from the Tory camp is overwhelming. This time the Tory team, starving for Quebec voters, may indeed be looking at implementing the mess this panel has recommended.

According to the plan more money should go to the poorer provinces in an effort to help with the so called “fiscal imbalance”. The problem is that their answer to the issue is to strip revenues from some “have not” provinces and funnel an additional $1.6 billion into Quebec, which already receives over half of the money paid out under the current equalization program. I’m sure Quebec can find good uses for that money, but Geeze, I thought vote buying in Quebec was bad enough when the Liberals were in office but this is a new record.

For Newfoundland and Labrador, which many consider to be the biggest loser in this plan, it would mean that over $200 million dollars would be taken away from the already small sum they receive (since the equation is partly based on population). That’s right, $200 million would be taken from a province with the highest per capita debt in the nation and one that can barely mange to provide third world services to some of the more remote villages across its large geographical area.

In addition to this insult, (the next part is not intended to enflame Quebec, but…), Newfoundland and Labrador, which has long felt wronged by Quebec over that province’s huge revenue stream from Churchill Falls, would end up footing a big part of Quebec’s new windfall out of its offshore oil revenues.

The inclusion of 50% of non-renewable resource revenues in the equalization formula (resources Harper had promised, in a letter to premier Williams, to completely remove, but which he now says is “…merely his party's preference on the issue.”), isn’t the only insult for Newfoundland and Labrador. The plan would also see the province’s newly minted Atlantic Accord deal capped at the fiscal capacity of Ontario. Essentially the same deal premier Williams stormed out of meetings and lowered the flag over while negotiating the Accord in the first place with, guess who?

That’s right folks, none other than former finance minister Ralph Goodale. At the time a Liberal spokesperson said that, “Newfoundland and Labrador would ‘be made to pay’ for what they did”. I guess that wasn’t an idle threat after all.

In an interview yesterday premier Williams said he wasn’t concerned because Prime Minister Harper has pledged in the past that no province will see its allotment reduced by changes to the equalization program. Well the premier may not be concerned but everyone else sure as hell is and his lack of concern is ticking me off more and more by the minute.

The Ontario government is not pleased because they would prefer equalization to poorer provinces be decreased, not increased. The BC government is upset because the recommendations would see them lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The Saskatchewan government is angry because they would be adversely impacted and the Alberta government (well really Ralph Klein) is even more belligerent than usual and is threatening to pull out of equalization all together, yet Danny Williams “…is not concerned.” Come on Danny, let’s see some of the backbone you displayed during the Accord talks.

I don’t know about premier Williams but I can assure the Prime Minister that the rest of the province is not only concerned, they’re royally cheesed. If Stephen Harper thinks Paul Martin got a rough time during the Atlantic Accord negotiations he hasn’t seen anything yet. If there is one characteristic that nearly everyone from Newfoundland and Labrador has in common, its tenacity and fight. A common trait for everyone that is except the province’s Tory representatives, including the cabinet minister for the Atlantic region Loyola Hearn, who appears to have contracted a bad case of laryngitis, or perhaps it’s “John Efforditis”? Either way he’s not saying anything and that isn’t good for my mood or his career as a politician.

If Mr. Harper thinks the people of this province are just going to sit idly by and see oil revenues, that were fought for and won taken away, he has another thing coming. If he thinks Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and even Ontario are going to just roll over and let this happen he had better fire his advisors now, before it’s too late. Think about it Steve, you’re a man who knows numbers, is it really worth losing so many seats across the country just to pick up a few more in Quebec?

You think about it as well Loyola. You waited a long time to sit on the government side of the House. How will you feel if you can’t even win your seat in the next election? A result I can almost guarantee you will come to pass if you don’t find your voice real soon.

The math of this thing might work for the Liberal party but the people of Canada elected Stephen Harper to do what he said he would do and one of those promises was to remove 100% non-renewable resource revenue from the equalization formula. Now that he’s in office he has promises to keep and a job to do, so I would suggest he get to it or he might just find himself being swept away by a whole new “red” wave next election. The voters put you in office Mr. Harper and the voters can take you back out. You’d be well advised to remember that.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Government Powers Bring May Showers?

Surprise, surprise, John Risley, the biggest shareholder of Newfoundland and Labrador based Fishery Products International (FPI), says he doesn’t believe the province’s moves to limit control of the company by individuals from outside the province is a good one. Well, who would have thought he’d feel that way? Jeeze, I had no idea.

Last week the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature unanimously voted to amend the FPI Act in order to ensure that the majority of the company’s directors are residents of the province. The move was made after months of tension between government and the company that has seen plants close, towns destroyed and criminal charges laid against FPI for allegedly exporting unprocessed fish without the required permits.

As things currently stand FPI’s major shareholder, John Risley is often recognized as the man in charge and many feel he is not running the business in the best interest of provincial or company stakeholders. Why is this so? Probably because the value of FPI shares have plummeted since he arrived on the scene. Probably as well because Mr. Risley is not only the major shareholder of FPI, he also sits on the board that oversees the company’s operations and is the principal shareholder of Nova Scotia based Clearwater Fine Foods, a direct competitor of FPI. Mr. Risley has held this position since spearheading a shareholder revolt and essentially seizing control of the company in 2001. Since then things have gotten progressively worse at the company, in the local fishing industry and for shareholders.

The Province has not tried to hide their plans to modify the FPI act over the past few weeks, nor has it hidden its discomfort with Mr. Risley control of FPI. Yet for some strange reason Risley seems almost taken aback by the changes to the ACT. It’s almost as if he didn’t see them coming. Maybe he was too busy sneaking truck loads of fish across the gulf every evening to see the news reports, who knows. Whatever the reason, after the legislature unanimously voted to modify the Act, he had the audacity to say that he “believes he is one of the targets of the legislative changes.” Gee John, do you really thinks so? Sorry to disappoint you pal but wrong again. You were not “one of the targets”, you were “THE TARGET”, plain and simple.

I agree with John on one thing, the changes to the Act won’t make all of the problems in the fishing industry go away, but I’m sure Mr. Risley knows as well as I do that at the very least it will help limit his actions and that can’t be a bad thing for anyone, except Mr. Risley himself.

When FPI was setup as a corporation it was given a mandate to benefit the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry, not to act as a chop shop for Mr. Risley and his cronies so they could rape and pillage the company in pursuit of their own agenda. As a direct competitor, having Mr. Risley in control FPI is like putting Bill Gates in charge of Apple Computers (Whoops, bad analogy), but you get the point. With FPI under his control Mr. Risley has the power to ensure that his stake in Clearwater Fine Foods grows and prospers. He has access to rich quotas of species off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador that I suspect he would love to quietly ship elsewhere for processing and he has the ability to essentially cripple one of his biggest competitors. Not bad for a days work.

For John Risley to complain about the value of amendments to the FPI act, amendments that are intended to keep him in line is laughable at best and gut wrenching at worst. In reality the only way to truly ensure that John Risley does no further harm to FPI or the province is to get rid of him completely and that can’t happen unless enough shareholders align against him (or he slips on the soap in the shower). That unfortunately is very difficult to arrange, the shareholder thing I mean, not the shower. Especially since Mr. Risley and his friends control so much stock, difficult yes, but not impossible. Come to think of it, neither is the slip in the tub, so let’s all keep our chins up and our fingers crossed. Maybe there IS hope! How’s your personal hygiene these days John, feeling a little sweaty good buddy?