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Monday, January 15, 2007

Payments, Paintings and Purging

If you’re anything like me you've probably heard just about enough of the so called "spending scandal" at the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature. Until now I've avoided speaking on the subject because the mainstream media have reported it to death anyway. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think every penny that was overspent or double billed should be returned (with interest) but the media outlets in the province seem to have developed a serious case of tunnel vision on this story to the exclusion of all else. We all need to remember that while the evening news, radio and the papers are crunching out statistics on top of statistics about who spent what, when, where and how much, life goes on and the very serious issues facing the province haven’t gone away.

The situation reminds me of watching CNN ever since 911. Thank goodness there are other news services being produced in the U.S. because anyone who receives all of their information from that network would think there is nothing happening outside of Iraq. It’s the same in Newfoundland and Labrador these days when it comes to the potential “sticky” fingers of our political elite. Major issues like how the Lower Churchill will be developed, what's going on in fisheries management and the critical issue of outmigration, to name a few, have simply slipped to the bottom of the pile.

The only reason I've decided to discuss the issue at all is because from my own perspective what’s happened here may have a silver lining that nobody (at least in the media) has mentioned. I don’t know if anyone from either party has done anything illegal or not, but regardless of that, good things may come from this fiasco.

Already we are seeing a tightening of controls when it comes to doling out taxpayer funds to politicians. There is a review of policies underway and eventually more changes will take effect within the system in future. In addition to this we have also seen a spate of resignations from office (including two MHAs who were not connected in any way with the actual scandals). Consider as well that while the Auditor General has identified overspending by 5 members and double billing of expenses by a handful of others, he has yet to release his final report. This report will detail exactly how MHAs have been using their constituency allowances over the years and what they’ve been buying with them. I suspect that it is this report that will be the most enlightening of them all and may lead to even more changes.

There will likely be those who have spent your hard earned tax dollars on everything from wine, to art work, to lavish trips, to personal promotional materials designed to help them stay in office a little longer. Perhaps even a gross or two of ivory back scratchers will be thrown in for good measure. It doesn’t matter precisely what was paid for from the public purse, what matters is that it’s likely that even more political figures will be embarrassed into either resigning, not running for another term or (for those who decide to tough it out) will be defeated at the polls. Finally, all the mud raking is also likely to dissuade many long time political party members from putting their name forward to fill the shoes of those that have been deposed before them.

While I personally hate to see the pain this is bringing to those in public office, much of the blame, at least in the cases of overspending and future cases of “questionable” purchases, rests (either legally or at least morally) with those who are being exposed. While these individuals and their families may suffer some personal strife as a result and politicians in general may lose even more respect, the big winner in all of this could well be the people of the province.

With the mass exodus, or house cleaning, underway these days the door is now wide open for a great deal of new blood and new ideas to permeate the hallowed halls of the Confederation building. I’m of the opinion that nobody should get too comfortable in their job. I remember reading a study once that said, on average, a person’s skills, productivity and abilities steadily improve for the first 7 years in any job. After 7 years they tend to level off for about the next 7 however after that, they suffer a continual decline until the day of retirement.

If you equate that to the political figures in our province, anyone who has served 2 terms has already completed their growth cycle and anyone in office for 4 terms or more is a liability.

Consider that in most cases (perhaps Danny Williams as a newcomer may be a bit of an exception) but in most cases the average politician has worked diligently within his or her party for years and slowly risen through the ranks over time. They have done this by building up enough support and internal alliances (by holding their noses in some cases) to seek a nomination and eventually to run for office. This means that by the time they finally get elected they have likely been involved inside party politics for at least a decade or two and are already well past their “best before date”.

Although it’s sometimes hard to believe in Newfoundland and Labrador, the world is changing faster than it ever has before. New technologies, new directions and new ideas are coming along faster than most people can keep up with them. This province will never find a way to take advantage of the new opportunities that come with this rapid change by leaving career politicians in office for decades or electing individuals who have been pushing the same tired old agenda since the 70’s or 80’s.

With any form of government, be it democratic, totalitarian, dictatorship or whatever, eventually there comes a time when a purging of sorts has to take place in order to move the agenda forward. Our time is now and while I wish the media could find a few minutes in its day to address other issues, in addition to this one, I for one am happy to be here to see it all happen. Now it’s up to the voters of the province to ensure that we allow some new faces to get into the game and gracefully wave goodbye to the old ones.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

The thing that is so different about this scandal is that it has crossed all party lines, it gives no ammunition for one side of the house to 'tsk tsk tsk' the other side of the house.

To the government and in fact all those elected by the people....

Let the AG do his job.

Put in place a set of controls to ensure that all monies are accounted for.

Ensure that all those entrusted with our money are fully aware that THEY are accountable and that they MUST ensure that they do not exceed their allowance.

These people were simply either not paying close enough attention to their allowances and/or their billings, or they were steeling!

One other thing, I can't see Ms Goudie possibly being re-elected following her rationalization/ response. This person was elected by her constituents to represent them, yet she can't keep something as simple as her expense allowance in order, even worse she gets on the public airwaves a cries like a little girl, I expect hoping to garner sympathy for a problem of her own doing.

Regards,
Artfull Dodger

Anonymous said...

"So-called spending scandal"???

Oh, it's a scandal all right. It's a scandal that this country allows you govern yourselves. You obviously can't handle it.

Anonymous said...

Its awful indeed, but it is a practice that has been copied from the rest of Canada. There have been thousands of spending scandals in Canada over its 140 years history. I can name twenty or more myself, and I only know of a fraction of the spending scandals that have gone on in Canada. Before you open your big mouth, please do a bit of investigating, if you had, you would not have made that crazy statement which you made in your thread of January 16, 2007 6:28 PM.

Anonymous said...

Typical. Someone tells the truth about NL and you have to point fingers elsewhere.
"Well, they did it too!!!"

Anonymous said...

In response to the anon Jan 17 8:19am, you are correct! saying others did it also is not viable defense for misdeeds or sloppy book keeping previous. However the government of N&L has given the AG the license to delve into the issue and we can only hope that from here on in, appropriate checks and ballances will be put in place to prevent further problems of this nature.

I must say however, that I detect a certain smugness in your remarks which is rather unfortunate.

Cheers!

Regards,
Artfull Dodger

Anonymous said...

To Anon of January 17, 3007 8:19 AM

If you can point fingers, why can't I? That is our problem in Newfoundland and Labrador; we never stood up against the Canadian Wolf. We will point out inequities and inaccuracies from now on. You want to shut us up and let us take the status quo, how naive of you?

Anonymous said...

LOL!! The Canadian Wolf!!! I love it!! And poor innocent little Newfoundland is the sheep being led to slaughter right???

Too funny. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it plain to see how Canada works? Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Premier Danny Williams that this province would not be adversely affected by any move that he would make to equalization with regard to the inclusion of non-renewable resources. It appears we are being hard done AGAIN by another Prime Minister in favour of pleasing Quebec. Please tell me Anon of January 17, 2007 1:14 PM why we wouldn't think that we are the poor innocent sheep being led to the slaughter, given everything that has happend to us. Explain the move that Prime Minister Harper is about to make by going back on his words to Premier Williams. Can't you see that is the type of move that keeps a province poor?

WJM said...

Explain the move that Prime Minister Harper is about to make by going back on his words to Premier Williams.

Let's see... Danny Williams broke his promise to recognize the Labrador Metis. He broke his promise to include Labradorians in planning the so-called "Lower Churchill". He broke his promise to complete the TLH. He broke his promise to follow independent advice on the Labrador ferry service. He broke his promise not to treat Labrador like a "treasure trove."

And that's not counting the broken promises that weren't Labrador-specific, like Access to Information.

And now he has the nerve to complain about someone else's broken promises? Come on.

NL-ExPatriate said...

How is it the first referendum NL held on joining Canada was resoundly denounced with somewhere in the range of 80% saying no but the second one where the British commission of government was in charge and refused to allow union with the US to be on the ballot barely passed with 51% saying yes. Even that is suspect with ballot boxes going missing.

Don't get me wrong I think NL would be better of as a province within a united federation if only the federation would grow up and stop treating NL as apart of a region and more like a province as well as give all of the members of the federation equality in the federation through a triple E senate and one Bilingual Supreme court judge from every province and territory so as that all of the provinces get their moral, ethics, values and standards represented instead of what we have now where 66% of our morals and ethics are derived from Toronto and Montreal.

Anonymous said...

But Ottawa is the Mother Government which is supposed to be looking after all provinces equally so that the provinces can look after all parts of its territory. If Newfoundland and Labrador was equally treated in Canada by Ottawa, then there would be more monies so that all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador could be serviced properly. Equality means a provinces fair share of Federal jobs, a fair share of the Military bases, a fair share of the monies dispensed by Ottawa for Musuems, Expositions, Olympic Games, and the many other things Ottawa puts money into and, of course, being the beneficiary of our resources.

WJM said...

How is it the first referendum NL held on joining Canada was resoundly denounced with somewhere in the range of 80% saying no

80% saying "no" to what?

In the first referndum, 44.6% voted for Responsible Government, 44.1% for Confederation, and 14.3% for Commission.

The only thing that people said "no" to by "80%" was continued Commission of Government.

but the second one where the British commission of government was in charge

If they were "in charge" for the second referendum in July, who was "in charge" in June for the first one?

and refused to allow union with the US to be on the ballot

Who asked for that to be on the ballot?

barely passed with 51% saying yes. Even that is suspect with ballot boxes going missing.

Where did the ballot boxes go missing?

Don't get me wrong I think NL would be better of as a province within a united federation if only the federation would grow up and stop treating NL as apart

Please learn how to use the word "apart". "Apart" is the wrong word to use here. It doesn't make you seem well-informed.

WJM said...

Equality means a provinces fair share of Federal jobs,

what is a "fair share of Federal jobs"? Please define this. thank you.

a fair share of the monies dispensed by Ottawa for Musuems, Expositions, Olympic Games

Why should money for Olympics be dispensed "fairly"? What does that mean? If the Olympics were to be in St. John's, why should any money be spent on the Olympics in Yellowknife?

and the many other things Ottawa puts money into and, of course, being the beneficiary of our resources.

How is Ottawa the "beneficiary of our resources"? Please explain how this works.

Bill M. said...

WJM, can you do anything other than ask silly questions and give grammar advice for every subject posted. As a casual reader I find your condescending tone very disturbing. I guess thats the joy of the internet, but if you don't agree with a topic or points given , why not give more counter points and less sarcasm.

Fire away.

Anonymous said...

Once again I see that people who don't have the ability to answer WJM's questions, choose to attack him (or her)instead.

But then again, that's what newfoundlanders do best. Avoid questions and attack what they don't understand.

WJM said...

WJM, can you do anything other than ask silly questions

Which of my questions are "silly"? (Sorry -- is that a silly question, too? Oops -- what about that one?)

As a casual reader I find your condescending tone very disturbing.

That's your problem, not mine.

I guess thats the joy of the internet, but if you don't agree with a topic or points given , why not give more counter points and less sarcasm.

I gave a counter point: I'd like to know what the previous poster considers a "fair" quota of federal jobs.

"Fair".... anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Anonymous said...

Patriot your WONDERFUL informative blog site has been seriously infected with some sort of computer virus. I am not sure whether there is an anti-virus program available that you can sanitize your site with or not. I know for most viruses there is an antidote, but I seriously doubt after reading most of the threads to your blog that you will find one to cure the virus that you are infected with. Good Luck! Because seriously I will miss your great contribution, especially if you have to abandon your blog because of the sickness your site is suffering from.

Anonymous said...

and we're also going to sodomize you.

Anonymous said...

You have already done that.

Anonymous said...

RE COMMENTS 1/18/07 8:57 PM AND 1/ 18/ 07 9:38 PM------ PATRIOT, IF YOUR BLOG SITE IS INFECTED BY ANYTHING, IT WOULD CERTAINLY BE CAUSED BY NOTHING OTHER THAN THE VERY SICK MINDS OF THESE TWO POSTERS. MAY GOD HELP THEM( BECAUSE SOMEBODY NEEDS TO ) THESE PEOPLE ( IF THAY MAY BE CALLED THAT) ARE EXTREMELY DISTURBING. WHAT IN GODS NAME DO THE LIKES OF YOU HAVE TO OFFER AS AN EXAMPLE TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING POSITIVE FOR SURE. SEEK THE HELP YOU SO DESPERATELY NEED. YOU ARE DESPICABLE.

Anonymous said...

Bah gawd! Cena has overcome the odds once again!

Anonymous said...

TO ANON ABOVE: ANONYMOUS ( 1:18 10:36PM ) REALLY GOT TO YOU EH?? PRETTY SLOPPY ATTEMPT AT A COMEBACK THERE! OH WELL, I GUESS YOUR PARENTS DID THEIR BEST, AND THEY CAN'T ALWAYS BE BLAMED FOR OBVIOUSLY TAINTED SPECIMEN SUCH AS YOU. YOU ARE SICKENING.

Anonymous said...

To the Anon of January 18, 2007 11:10 PM and January 18, 2007 10:36 PM - I wouldn't want to bet my bottom dollar that both of these threads are composed by the same person. I will repeat your words and say to you "it is a pretty sloppy attempt at a comeback. You are trying to fool your audience.

It certainly was not the Anon of January 18, 2007 10:19 PM. I am pretty sure that can be confirmed by Patriot.

Patriot said...

I usually don't step into a debate with WJM because all he usually does is respond with questions, questions and more questions, no matter what you say. That said, I was just re-reading this thread and noticed that Wally actually took a side on an issue for once and I figured if he's willing to make that giant leap then the least I should do is respond.

WJM Said:

"Danny Williams broke his promise to recognize the Labrador Metis. He broke his promise to include Labradorians in planning the so-called "Lower Churchill". He broke his promise to complete the TLH. He broke his promise to follow independent advice on the Labrador ferry service. He broke his promise not to treat Labrador like a "treasure trove."

And that's not counting the broken promises that weren't Labrador-specific, like Access to Information.

And now he has the nerve to complain about someone else's broken promises? Come on."

Myles says:

Wally, it seems you've adopted an attitude that says two wrongs make a right.

Just supposing that Williams did break a bunch of promises. Perhaps he even kicked your dog in the head and stole your girlfriend while telling your mother to go get bent. Supposing he even ate the head off a live rat for good measure, does that make it any less wrong for Harper to break his promise?

A broken promise is a broken promise and even if Williams breaks a million of them it doesn't mean that Harper is A-OK because he is only doing the same thing. Here is a question for you:

Do you agree that if Harper includes non-renewable resource revenues in the equalization calculation that he will be breaking a promise to the people of this province?

Like I said, I'm not used to you actually supplying commentary other than questioning that of other contributors and I had expected that when you did finally contribute something you'd come up with a more sensible arguement than
that.

Very disappointing Wally. Also, you posted it in the wrong thread by the way. You were clearly responding to someone who posted in the previous thread, not this one. You must have had a long day of endless questioning on the 17th.

Anonymous said...

can you guys pick a nic or use "anon 1,""anon2," or some funny little nic? it's hard a times for simple little fellows like myself to follow the program. (you may pick up on the somple comment but PLEASE!!!!! do as i requested.

Anonymous said...

Very observant Myles.

WJM said...

Just supposing that Williams did break a bunch of promises.

Why "suppose"? It's a fact. Are you in denial that Glorious Leader is a big fat promise-breaking liar?

does that make it any less wrong for Harper to break his promise?

No, but it makes it very wrong for Danny The Liar Williams to try to exhort his sheep to rage about someone else's broken promises, when Danny The Liar Williams won't keep his own.

A broken promise is a broken promise and even if Williams breaks a million of them it doesn't mean that Harper is A-OK

Never said it made Harper "A-OK", only that it makes Danny The Liar Williams a hypocrite who is no longer worthy of support, and now on two counts: One, for the lie; and two, for the hypocrisy.

Do you agree that if Harper includes non-renewable resource revenues in the equalization calculation that he will be breaking a promise to the people of this province?

No, he'll be breaking one that he made to all provinces, actually.

But I don't see why Danny The Liar Williams should care: Danny The Liar Williams has, at various times, asked for those revenues to be included, and for them to be excluded.

Danny The Liar Williams does not seem to know what he wants, and has not provided an a priori definition of what constitutes a "win" on this issue... just as he does with every other issue. Then he can do the demagagogue act until he pronounces "we gawt it!", and the sheep fall in line, fawning over their idol.

At least for now.

Anonymous said...

Patriot, there seems to be a bait and switch poster on the blog. Your point with reference to the fiscal imbalance/atlantic accord issue will fall on deaf ears to people such as this poster. I seems quite evident this poster is a professional contrarian who also seems to have a rather deep disdain for the island portion of the province, unfortunate but thats the way of some people I guess.

I agree that the focus of this discussion is on Harper. Dragging Williams's record on keeping promises is merely a bait and switch to attempt to redirect the focus from the Federal Government. I wouldn't care if Gerry Reid was Premier, we still have an issue with the Current Federal Government on the Atlantic Accord issue it seems.


Regards,
Artfull Dodger

WJM said...

Dragging Williams's record on keeping promises is merely a bait and switch to attempt to redirect the focus from the Federal Government.

Not at all.

It's just extremely hypocritical, pathetic even, to hear Danny Williams and his cronies, worshippers, and hangers-on, complaining about someone else who hasn't kept a political promise, when Chairman Dan himself is one of the biggest liars, flip-floppers, and PromiseBreakers who has ever gone into Labrador with his fingers crossed.

I'd have a lot more sympathy for Danny if he wasn't such a liar and a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Danny Williams will destroy this province.

WJM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WJM said...

Anonymous, why the future tense?

It's already happening.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Danny Williams IS destroying this province.