Da Legal Stuff...

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

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does Harper Know Canadians Better Than They Know Themselves?

Like his other election promises, Stephen Harper’s rhetoric about not acting like his Liberal predecessors has officially gone out the window.

Just like the former government, the Conservatives have announced a massive surplus, despite their previous projections. Not only that, they’ve gone one step further. After announcing a near record surplus of 13.2 billion dollars for last year ($5.2 billion more than projected) Harper plans to slash and burn funding to a wide range programs. All in an effort to siphon even more tax dollars into the federal coffers from locally valued initiatives.

According to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Treasury Board President John Baird, “We are trimming the fat and refocusing spending on the priorities of Canadians.” Sorry gents but you wouldn’t recognize the priorities of Canadian’s if they kicked you in the family jewels with a steel nosed boot. (The idea of which is quickly becoming a Canadian priority for this Canadian by the way.)

Don’t get me wrong, some of the cuts, like subsidies to Canada’s “virtual” aircraft maker Bombardier or trimming the fat in mismanaged federal programs like the gun registry are right on the money. Unfortunately sensible cuts like those are not the only thing on the chopping block and it’s some of the others that I’ve got a real issue with.

How will the great Canadian dictator and his band of bureaucratic stooges help refill Ottawa’s pig trough this time you ask? Like countless governments before it, they will, as previously stated, cut funding to activities that are not a priority of Canadians. These cuts include:

Adult literacy(Even thought Atlantic Canada has some of the worst literacy rates in the Country);

Youth employment and social development (Even though Atlantic Canada has the highest unemployment rates in the Country);

Medical Research(we’re all healthy enough in Canada you see.);

Status of Women Canada(Do I really need to identify the need for this service?);

The Canadian Volunteerism Initiative(Even thought volunteers are the only refuge for those who need services that have already been abandoned by government.);

The Crop Insurance Program for Salmon Growers (Apparently those who farm the land are important to Canada while those who farm the water are not.);

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Research (Commercial species are nearing extinction, rural communities are dying every day but finding out why is not a Canadian priority);

Funding for Special Needs Students (Enough said.);

Energy Audit Program (Used to promote home energy efficiency. I guess energy efficiency and the environment are just luxuries for Canadians);

In essence, the government of Canada is saying that employment, education, health research, women’s equality, volunteer organizations and assistance for the learning impaired are not a priority for Canadians. Oh, I almost forgot. Apparently the fishing industries that sustain so many Atlantic Canadians aren’t either.

Does this sound like the beliefs of anyone you know? If it does then you have two options. Either check that person into the nearest psychiatric hospital (if it hasn’t been shut down by funding cuts yet) or sign them up as a candidate for the next federal election. Either way they should fit right in.

I don’t know about you, but these programs are certainly a priority for this Canadian, regardless of how Ottawa feels about them.

Stephen Harper has disputed the Governor General’s sentiment that Quebeckers and other Canadians are feeling cut off and disenfranchised in Canada. Well Mr. Harper, my money is on Ms. Jean. Based on some of the cuts your government is making I for one don’t believe you have the first clue what the average person considers important. Either that or you just don’t care.

Listen, I’m just a simple working Joe. I’m not a highly educated, white, upper middle class male from a privileged background like most of our political leaders. In that light, I may not speak for the average Canadian the way they do. I do have to wonder though if it wouldn’t make more sense to end the wasteful practices in these programs but keep the funding in place. Wouldn’t that allow these programs to actually accomplish what they’re meant too do? I could be wrong. Who knows, maybe our MPs really are more in touch with what’s important to the average Canadian.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Equalization Payments or Colonial Rule?

Can things get much worse in this poor excuse for a Colonial system some people call the Country of Canada? You bet they can and if Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has its way they most assuredly will.

Media reports this week indicated that the Conservative’s are looking at a plan for revamping equalization transfers that completely ignores the written promises Stephen Harper made during his election campaign. During the campaign Harper promised both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador that all non-renewable resource revenue would be exempted from equalization calculations. The Tories also promised that no province would end up worse off as a result any changes. It appears that both promises are about to be brushed aside in an all out effort to win political support in seat rich Ontario and Quebec, the center of the Empire.

Under the plan, Ontario and Quebec, the two most politically valuable provinces for any government leading into an election, would be the big winners, receiving about one billion each in extra funding. A further billion would be divided among the remaining provinces however this would exclude Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s newest and poorest colony.

Under the new plan, the province of Saskatchewan would gain about 10% of what it expected had Stephen Harper kept his promises. Nearly all the other provinces will receive some extra funding including the so called “have” provinces like Ontario and Alberta. Newfoundland and Labrador on the other hand will have its meager payments cut by about $100 million dollars, making it the only part of Canada to actually lose money.

Once again we are presented with a clear example of the colonialist leadership of Canada determining the value of its outpost colonies on which ones have the greatest political potential rather than identifying the financial and social realities of the empire.

The intent of equalization is to distribute funding in such a way that all members of the dominion have an equal opportunity to provide services such as health care and education. Instead it is fast becoming a means for the Conservative government to buy votes in the larger provinces and ensure their longevity. How else can anyone describe a plan that provides more money to richer provinces (with more federal ridings) and cutting funding too the poorer provinces that need it most?

Since the day Newfoundland and Labrador forced Ottawa into signing a fair and just offshore revenue deal, some have said that we would eventually have to pay a price for speaking out. It looks like that prophecy is about to be fulfilled in spades. Thank-you Stephen Harper for confirming my belief that all political leaders in this Country are nothing more than opportunistic, two faced little cockroaches concerned with nothing but their own personal success. It’s good to see I haven’t been mistaken all these years.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dream's of Lower Churchill Power Fading Fast

I’ve spent much of my life fighting for Newfoundland and Labrador’s place in Confederation. I’ve fought to ensure that we have a say and I’ve fought to ensure that we received the benefits of the God given “goodies” we’ve brought into this Dominion. I had hoped against hope that something would happen to ensure that our land would one day gain the respect it deserved and that the people here would somehow find a place in the tapestry of the Canadian experience. Now, after decades of faith, I have to admit that I have about reached the end of my tether.

Back in the sixties the country of Canada royally screwed Newfoundland (now re-named Newfoundland and Labrador) out of its chances for an economic windfall by refusing to pressure Quebec into allowing the transmission of power from the Upper Churchill river across the provincial border. As a result Newfoundland was forced to sell the power to Quebec at idiotic rates and today we see Quebec enjoying a billion dollars a year in revenues while Newfoundland makes barely enough to keep the power plant in operation. Not to worry though, the contract will only last another 35 years.

Now, at a time when the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to put this slap in the face behind it and develop the Lower Churchill River, one of the last hydro mega projects left in North America, suddenly history is repeating itself. Apparently Quebec is planning once again to screw the little guy and nobody, not even Newfoundland and Labrador’s strongest advocate, renegade Premier Danny Williams, has stepped up to the plate to say, “hang on just a second”.

Bare with me a folks ‘cause it’s time for a history lesson.

In 1927, a full 22 years before Newfoundland was dragged kicking and screaming into Canada, the judicial committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council (sound’s pretty official doesn’t it, and it is) clearly identified the border between Quebec and the Labrador portion of the province. This ruling was officially accepted by Canada when Newfoundland joined the dominion in 1949. So, one might ask, what’s the problem? Apparently Quebec never officially recognized this ruling and now, in the year of our Lord 2006 they’ve decided to take a stand on the issue and the spoils of the battle are nothing less than hydro electric energy and the potential value of the Lower Churchill River.

For decades Quebec has had issues with the border between the two provinces. Their official provincial maps, as well as their tourist maps, show a large chunk of Labrador as a part of their province. Most politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador have brushed this off over the years and this continues even to today. The problem now is that Quebec’s leadership has convinced itself that their maps are valid and that they have the right to develop hydro power without concern to the impacts in Labrador. Why? The answer is simple. Since, in the opinion of the Quebec government, the land belongs to them, they have the right to exploit it.

For decades the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador have fumed over their treatment on the Upper Churchill hydro development. Over that time many have come to the realization that they have no choice but to live with the current agreement. While the scars run deep, many had hung their hopes on the development of the lower part of the river, knowing full well that current free trade agreements would make it difficult, if not impossible, for Quebec to stand in the way.

After months of analysis and planning to determine the best course of action on development, after working directly with Quebec to determine if the hydro grid could handle the increased power flow, the pins have been pulled out. Quebec has boldly announced in their energy plan that they intend to develop a hydro project in the area known as the 5 rivers. The problem here is that the 5 rivers span the border of the two provinces and their head waters are none other than the Churchill River. Add to this the fact that this development would take up any free capacity on the Quebec hydro grid decrease the demand for the potential Newfoundland and Labrador power. Can you say screwed again?

Forget for a minute that Quebec appears to be determined to prevent Newfoundland and Labrador from benefiting from its resources a second time, there is another question to be answered. If Quebec develops a hydro project on the five rivers, the resulting reservoir would flood areas of Labrador, would it not? Well, according to the Quebec government, the answer is no. Why I ask myself? Simply becauseQuebec sees areas of Labrador as its own so if flooding were to occur, by that logic, how could they possibly damage the land of another province?

I would have thought that in this day and age the atrocities of the past could never happen again, boy, was I wrong. With Quebec, lusting after hydro revenues and Ontario screaming for a power source, the two mighty powers of Canada that drown out all others have, intentionally or not, found yet one more way to make Newfoundland and Labrador the fall guy.

As heart breaking as this all is for a home town boy like myself, it doesn’t surprise me. Do you know what bothers me the most? It’s the lack of reaction from our own provincial government. Since this issue hit the news wires, I can only assume the politicians on the inside knew before I did, there has been zero reaction from the provincial government.

Where are you “fighting Danny”? Where is your legendary vim and vigor now? Like local columnist and political pundit, Ray Guy noted in a recent article for the North East Avalon Times:

“The lights are blinking out all around the coast, Darrel an Darleen are packing the U-Haul for Fort McMurray, Nan and Pop depend on Jesus and the out harbor ambulance. We’re stuck in the middle with fish in the past and oil in the future… a future poorly understood. In times like these the trappings of democracy are often ditched. Folks are too frightened for frills. They willingly fling themselves at the feet and mercy of the strong man.”

Well, where are you Danny? You stared down Paul Martin, you kicked out the evil giant known a ExxonMobile and you have begun to slay our monster debt. All you have to do now is stand up to Quebec and protect our borders. Don’t expect Stephen Harper or the Canadian government to fight them. They didn’t do it in the past and they won't do it now. For a man of your caliber it should be a walk in the park, so why are you so silent?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Web Talk Exclusive - Letter to Rebecca Aldsworth

What do you know, it seems that my article “Friends, Neighbors, Barbarians – Lend me Your Ear” has raised the hackles of none other than Rebecca Aldsworth of the animal rights group, HSUS.

The article, which ran in Canada Free Press this week, bothered her so much that she penned a letter to the editor in response. Oh dear God, how will I ever survive the pain!!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little sarcasm. Anyway, I thought that in the spirit of sharing and openness I’d post a copy of my response for you all to enjoy.

Dear Ms. Aldsworth,

Thank you for responding to my article in Canada Free Press. After receiving your letter regarding my commentary it is clear to me that I owe you an apology. I had no idea that you were so close to being functionally illiterate and that you have such trouble with your mathematical skills. I really am sorry.

In an effort to explain the contents of my article in a way you can understand I offer you the following comments:

You wondered why I said I disliked the word “barbarian” then used it 14 times. I’d like to commend you for attempting to count so high but unfortunately you missed it by one. I actually used the word 13 times, (unless of course you count the title of the piece but that’s not really fair is it?). Don’t feel bad though, you came close.

Seriously though, I wouldn’t have thought my use of a word that I was discussing was such an odd thing but I guess you know best, after all you’re the one who took the time to attempt a word count, not me.

On to more important topics Rebecca, I can call you Rebecca can’t I now that we’re actually email “buddies” and all? Anyway Rebecca, you also questioned my statement that 90% of the hunt was done using rifle, not club. Good point. You correctly pointed out that about a third of the hunt takes place in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with clubs while a further 10% are clubbed in the hunt off the Newfoundland shores. Good work.

In the piece I was discussing the fact that the word “barbarian” is most often used in reference to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, even though the hunt is conducted in other places as well. In fact, in the very paragraph containing the statistic you referenced, I noted this point once again. As such, the statistic I quoted referred to the portion of the hunt conducted on the offshore of the Province where, by your own admission, 10% of seals are clubbed. Once again, it takes a little bit of tricky math but if you consider that 10% of the seals being discussed are clubbed then it follows that 90% are not clubbed. Clear as mud Rebecca? Good.

You know, someone in your line of work really ought to strengthen their math skills. If I were even considering making a donation to HSUS, which I’m not, I’d really have to question your ability to manage my money. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised. You did decide to pay a local radio station, VOCM, to run anti-sealing ads every day for months on end before realizing that:

1. You were vainly spending money to try to convince Newfoundlanders that they are misguided and wrong in their very way of life;

2. That buying the ads meant HSUS was financially supporting people in a place where the seal hunt is strongly supported; and

3. Purchasing the ads resulted in HSUS supplying revenue to a radio station who’s on air personalities repeatedly voice their full support for the seal hunt on a daily basis, FOR FREE! Money well spent if you ask me Rebecca.

Sorry, I digress. Let’s get back to your letter. In it you pointed out, for about the hundredth time in your less than illustrious HSUS career, that you understand the realities of the situation here because you are originally from a fishing community. You wonder if this meant that, “…perhaps” I intended to include you among those who intentionally mislead the public.

I can tell you the truth can’t I Rebecca?

The truth is that I didn’t give you a second thought when I wrote the piece. I don’t mean to offend you, now that we’re pen pals and everything, but no matter how important you might think you are, you didn’t register on my mind at the time. Don’t let that bother you in the least though. There’s no need to wonder about where I think you should fit in. I’m sure you know quite well. I do need to question whether growing up in a fishing community actually means that you understand things however. Hell, I grew up in a logging community but I don’t know the difference between a spruce from a fir (by the way if you can clear that one up for me I’d appreciate it). See, we all have our weak points.

It’s clear that you have difficulty fully comprehending things so that’s enough for now. I’ll leave you to digest my responses and you can get back to me at your convenience.

Oh, before I go, I should mention that I initially intended to reply to your letter in another article for Canada Free Press but decided against it. The way I see it, a lot more people will read my original article than will ever see your letter to the editor and I wouldn’t want to help you get free publicity. Not until you improve your comprehension and math skills as you might help re-enforce that old stereotype about Newfoundlanders being stupid. Besides if you really want to get your message out to the masses you can always buy some more commercial radio time. Maybe VOCM still has a few slots available? It’s worth a try.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Friends, Neighbors and Barbarians, Lend Me Your Ear

The term “barbarian” is thrown our way by animal rights activists on a regular basis as they protest the east coast seal hunt each year. While the hunt is actually conducted by people from around Atlantic Canada and Quebec, most often the insults are directed toward the good folks of Newfoundland and Labrador. It used to bother me quite a bit but I’ve mellowed on the subject after some sober and thoughtful reflection.

It occurred to me that the well intentioned folks who use this term are, in reality, so far removed from the facts of life in rural Newfoundland and Labrador as to make it almost understandable that they might have the impression they do. Someone once said that racism is rooted in ignorance and once you get to know about any group of people those roots wither and die. This statement is very appropriate to the Newfoundland experience.

In parts of the world the seal hunt is seen as a scourge on our planet. It’s a cold, callous massacre where defenseless seals with big doe eyes are clubbed to death by savage, snarling savages. It’s a highly emotional visual indeed, reminiscent of a perspiration soaked nightmare played out on pristine white ice floes. It’s this visual that’s promoted to the hilt by large organizations intent on harvesting something other than seals, the donations this image can produce.

In response to these visions, essentially caring individuals around the world lash out against those who conduct or condone those acts of violence. A natural reaction when you consider what they must be feeling. In this context, it’s easy to understand why they verbally attack people they see as cruel and cold hearted enemies. Unfortunately, what these people aren’t exposed to is the reality of life in the Province or the people who live here.

Die hard activists will likely brush aside my words as nothing more than excuses and rationalizations. I realize as well that I run the risk of alienating other Newfoundlanders by appearing to sympathize with the very protesters who have attacked us for years. Either way I’ll be getting a lot of emails and comments from disgruntled readers over the coming days but what else is new.

All I want to say is that those who refer to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as barbarians fail to understand that seals are not an endangered species, nor are they cuddly little fuzz balls. They are efficient predators and their population is growing, even while the harvest goes on each year. They fail to realize that while protest organizations present images of burly men swinging huge clubs, in reality 90% of seals are hunted by rifle and that efforts are already underway to remove the use of clubs from the hunt all together.

What animal rights leaders fail to tell their supporters is that the same “barbarians” who they demonize at every opportunity are, in reality, caring and ecologically conscious people just like themselves. The big difference between the two is that the barbarians often have a much closer relationship to the land, the sea and natural environment in which they live than those who arrive to protest the hunt each spring.

The barbarians here have been fighting for years to protect truly threatened species like northern cod, a species that is being illegally fished into extinction by European fleets. The barbarians here are fighting to ban bottom dragging fishing gear that totally destroys fish habitat by scraping the ocean clean of every living thing in its path, including fish species that seals depend upon for food. The barbarians here have ensured the stability and growth of moose populations in the province in spite of the fact that every year people die on local highways in collisions with the large animals.

The barbarians of Newfoundland and Labrador have set aside vast wilderness areas, protected endangered species like the pine marten and continually struggle to preserve ever decreasing ocean dwelling species that are under attack by other nations. The fact that the seal hunt is not a pretty sight has overshadowed all of this and that’s perhaps the most unfortunate thing of all. It’s unfortunate because the misinformation being put forward means that species truly at risk are being ignored by the general public and they have only a bunch of supposedly uncaring barbarians to speak on their behalf.

The barbarians of Newfoundland and Labrador live closely with nature and like ranchers, farmers and others who must deal with death on a daily basis, they understand that the work they do is not pretty. They understand that people can be offended by what needs to be done to make a living and put food on the table. They also realize that destroying an entire animal population is like cutting off your own blood supply because when it’s gone so is your way of life. They understand all of this and that is why they try everyday to ensure that a balance is maintained. These realities are ignored by protest groups who prefer instead to present only the image that best suits their interests.

The term barbarian, when used in reference to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, used to make me angry. It doesn’t anymore. After reading some of the letters and comments sent to me by angry protesters who have said they wanted to see my children skinned alive in front of me, who wished that my province would be wiped out by a tsunami or who prayed that the entire population of this place could be exterminated, after that, a simple word like barbarian means very little.

I realize that these people are frustrated by what they see as barbaric acts. I also realize that the truth is altogether different than has been presented to them. By and large the people of this place are caring, loving and concerned individuals who are simply trying to survive in a world that refuses understand them. They are a people concerned about protecting the ecology they depend upon and they are a people who are willing to fight for their rural way of life. To the world they may be barbarians, but to me they are neighbors, friends and family, nothing more and nothing less.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Canada Turns a Blind Eye to Protecting Our Oceans

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently released a report entitled, “Impacts of Trawl Gears and Scallop Dredges on Benthic Habitats, Populations and Communities". This report clearly shows the horrific impact of bottom dragging on fish habitats.

In the report it is identified that, “…measures to reduce impacts of mobile bottom-contacting gears requires case specific analysis and planning. There are no universally appropriate fixes…”.

Sorry folks, but you are wrong again as usual. There is indeed a universally appropriate fix. Legislate a complete ban on all bottom dragging gear .

It really is that simple. Dragging destroys fish habitat completely and utterly. According to your own report, “…Recovery time from perturbation by mobile bottom-contacting gears can take from days to centuries, and for physical features and some specialized biogenic features recovery may not be possible”

For those who have doubts about how critical this issue is read on. Here are a few more extremely disturbing excerpts from the DFO report.

“…gears can damage or reduce habitat complexity.”

“…can decrease the abundance of long lived species.”

“…affect populations of structurally fragile species more often…”

“When areas are impacted repeatedly over several years, the increased presence of scavengers in the community can become a persistent feature…”

Hell, what more do you need to know. How long will it take for the government of Canada to do what needs to be done about bottom dragging? What will it take before they step up and start protecting our oceans as well as the livelihoods of those who depend it for a living?

Once the bottom has been destroyed and the habitat is no longer able to sustain life, what happens to those who work in the fisheries and worse yet, what happens to the ecological balance on this small planet we all live on? You only have to ask a Newfoundland fishermen how he has been impacted by low cod stocks to understand the former, the impact of the latter remains to be seen.

For anyone who has ever seen video of dragger gear moving across the ocean floor there is no question that this complete and utter destruction must be stopped at once. It is amazing to note that in areas like the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador, an area where cod fish have become an almost endangered species, bottom trawling is still allowed by the Canadian government and is done regularly and often illegally by foreign fishing vessels.

As a part of the report produced by DFO to address the issue there is an examination of potential ways to mediate impacts. This should not even be open for discussion as no mediation is required. The only action that will work is a complete ban on what amounts to an attack on all ocean life.

To put it in perspective, the process of bottom dragging on the ocean floor it is reminiscent of a back alley abortion using a wire coat hanger. The activity is totally indiscriminant and after the dragger moves through the area there is nothing left behind but debris and total destruction.
All of which is permitted by the Canadian government.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Averill Baker Article from the Charter newspaper

For anyone who hasn't read this article it speaks volumes on the true story of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. So much for the belief that NL is a drain on Canada I guess. Read on and you will see why many of us feel that an independent NL would be the best NL (not even considering non-financial reasons may want out).

And lo, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians led all the rest
Cross Examination by Averill Baker
The Charter

The last line in the poem Abou Ben Adam reads, “And Lo Ben Adam’s name led all the rest.” Amen.

Figures were released three weeks ago identifying the provinces that contribute the most to the Canadian economy in exports to foreign countries and lo Newfoundlanders and Labradorians led all the rest – again. But, this time, it’s in spades, as the gamblers say, with the one-eyed-jack-of-diamonds-and-the-devil-close-behind way.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians now contribute more to the Canadian economy per capita than any other Canadians to such a remarkable degree that it makes one feel sympathy toward Canadians from other provinces.

Other Canadians who look at these recent figures must feel embarrassed that Newfoundlanders are, in economic terms, contributing so much more than they are to the Canadian economy.
Canadians in Ontario and Alberta must feel like they’re on unemployment insurance with Newfoundlanders paying the bill.

Quebecers and Maritimers must feel they are on welfare with Newfoundlanders paying the bill.

In economic terms each Newfoundlander is now worth four Canadians from other provinces.
It’s becoming embarrassing.

And what is just as embarrassing is that historically, since 1949, this province, on average, on a per capita basis, has led all other Canadians in contributions to the Canadian economy. Of course, the billion dollars of power that we export indirectly to the United States shows up as Quebec’s power on the official figures. That’s one billion dollars of exports that must be taken from the Quebec column and counted as coming from this province.

Oh yeah, says the economist, we lead every other province on a per person basis with just over a half a million people - of course Newfoundlanders and Labradorians lead the rest of Canada. Also we have always exported practically everything we produce - wood, pulp and paper, minerals, fish, and now oil. That is why we have always contributed more to the Canadian economy than any other Canadians on a per capita basis.

And that is why some people sometimes suggest that we would have been better off had we not joined Canada or if we were today to separate from Canada. On the economic yardstick this province is in a far better position to separate and print its own money – just like we did prior to joining Canada.

The Export Development Corporation in releasing its figures last month claimed that this province is now exporting about $4 billion of crude oil to the United States. It points out that Statistics Canada figures, used by the provincial government, are incorrect. Those incorrect figures, used by provincial governments and Ottawa, show that most of our exports of crude oil are going to other Canadian provinces for refining. The Export Development Corporation claims in their end of July report that in fact most of our crude is being shipped to the United States for refining and not to Canadian refineries. I believe the Export Development Corporation.

Together with the power through Quebec, these adjustments are necessary to get to the truth about our exports to foreign nations.

Some of our offshore crude and all of Voisey’s Bay nickel are shipped within Canada for processing and cannot be counted in values of exports. Voisey’s Bay nickel and Duck Pond copper and zinc, and iron ore, will lead exports of minerals next year. Where is Duck Pond you might ask? It’s around Trout Pond, which is next to a smaller pond called Goose Pond.

The Newfoundland separatist makes a valid point in saying that if we were not a part of Canada all of our exports would be to foreign nations. Then look at the fantastic economic position we would be in.

Maybe Major Peter Cashin and Malcolm Hollett were right in 1948.

The only thing missing today is the quality of politician we had years ago - from the records of the National Convention and Hansard, quality politicians like Peter Cashin, Malcolm Hollett, Gordon Bradley, Joey Smallwood, James Chaulker, Dr. Jim McGrath, Dr. Fred Rowe, Bill Rowe, Charlie Ballam, C. Max Lane, Ed Roberts, John Crosbie, James McGrath, Clyde Wells, Nathaniel Noel, Bill Marshall, Dr. Noel Murphy, Ambrose Peddle, Jack Pickersgill, Dr. Frecker, Tom Hickey, John Lundrigan, Jim Morgan etc. etc.

Yes, today we do have some outstanding politicians, like Danny Williams, but they are like hen’s teeth – they’re hard to find.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Judge Blasts Feds and DFO

Congratulations and a big pat on the back to Justice Bruce Short of the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial court for having the courage and insight to take both the federal government and Department of Fisheries and Oceans to task on fisheries legislation and mismanagement.

In the trial of a local man charged with illegally fishing during last year’s fisheries protest, Judge Short noted that he had no choice under current legislation but to find the man guilty, however he opted to impose the lowest fine precedent would permit, $200. The judge also told the defendant that, had precedent allowed him to do it, he would have imposed an even lower amount.

In his remarks the judge went on to say, in essence, that the real problems in the fisheries were not being caused by individuals catching a few fish for the table but by government mismanagement and a total lack of understanding on fisheries matters by the powers that be. He identified foreign overfishing and bottom trawling as two main contributors to the decline of stocks and voiced his belief that either regulators did not value the resource or saw it as less valuable than something else and were willing to trade it away.

According to Judge Short, fisheries legislators and the legislation itself are an insult to the people in the Province and that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians often are the focus of laws that would be better targeted in other directions.

Thank-you Judge Short. If others in positions such as yours had half the courage and strength of character you have exhibited in this matter Newfoundland and Labrador would quickly become a much better place for all of us to live.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Stephen Harper Gives Newfoundland and Labrador the Kiss Off

Boy I tell you, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is getting more and more like George W Bush every day. First he negotiates an end to the softwood lumber dispute even after the U.S. lost the battle in the courts (5 times, if memory serves me correctly). He insists on taking a U.S. style stance on military missions rather than continuing with the historical Canadian role of peace maker. Now, over the past several months, he has been getting all warm and cuddly with George W’s big oil buddies to the detriment of parts of Canada.

Listen, we all know George W. and Dick Cheney were and are oil men down to their jockeys. The U.S. is already fighting a war that’s succeeding in doing nothing other than driving up the price per barrel and ensuring that companies like ExxonMobile reap record profits. Now he has Steve Harper on his team to the detriment of, guess who? Did you say Newfoundland and Labrador?

When Premier Danny Williams looked for Harper’s help a few months ago to help bring in fallow field legislation and force oil companies to develop fields or lose control of them (similar to legislation already in place in other jurisdictions like Alberta), he was shot down publicly in the media by the PM. Several weeks ago Williams tried again when he sent a letter to the PM requesting that he come on board in the discussion of the legislation and to perhaps offer investment tax credits to the companies involved in order to help move the Hebron development forward. To date Harper has not even shown Premier Williams the courtesy of responding to the letter.

At this point Premier Williams has said, in essence, screw him! (I paraphrased just a little there but you get the idea.) What he really said is that he’s giving up on the idea of help from the Prime Minister with the Hebron oil field.

CBC news has reported that the Premier also stated, "The fact that the prime minister is not supporting me on the whole fallow field exercise and legislation, the only explanation I can see is obviously he's a supporter of big oil and if he wants to be a big buddy to big oil, that's for him to decide."

According to Harper’s newest butt kissing representative to Newfoundland and Labrador, Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, the PM has been too busy dealing with the Middle East crisis and the war in Afghanistan and hasn’t had time to look at the issue.

Well excuse me Loyola. That BS may fly in Harper’s dream country of the U.S, but it doesn’t wash here. Domestic matters need to be addressed as well foreign ones and this is a big one for the people of the Province. It’s not good enough that the PM is only capable of concentrating on one thing at a time. It was bad enough when he listed his 5 priorities during the election. At least then it looked like he could focus on at least a few issues, now he’s down to one and one alone. I’d hate to see what would happen if he had to walk and chew gum at the same time.

According to news reports Williams response to this was simply, "He's busy? We're all busy. And I can tell you right now if you don't give the Premier of a province the courtesy of a response within two months, then that's already way too long.”

Very politically put Mr. Williams. I’d have gone further and said that if Stevie Boy doesn’t feel that the Canadian government has time to deal with Newfoundland and Labrador issues then the province has no further reason to remain a part of a Country like that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Members Only Web Site Launched

Hi all, Web Talk has just launched a new web site (see link on the right side of this page).

The site is intended to serve as a meeting place for those who are interested in formulating new ideas and planning a new direction for Newfoundland and Labrador's future.

The site is open to members only and will serve as a place to post and discuss ideas as well as to assist in organizing individuals who wish to help enrich the Newfoundland and Labrador experience, both inside and potentially outside, of the Canadian Dominion.

Check out our link to register.