Da Legal Stuff...

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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Taking Stephen Harper to School - or - David Meets Goliath

Over the past week there's been much said about the new federal budget and the near violent reaction of some Canadian Premier’s to it, most notably that of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams.

Stephen Harper and his cronies, yes men like Hearn, McKay and Flaherty, appear to be spending much of their time these days feigning shock and amazement at, what they seem to feel, are unprovoked attacks. Personally I'm not so sure what we're all seeing is really an act at all. What I mean is it’s possible, just possible mind you, that these guys truly are at a loss to understand all the fuss.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say they can’t understand why some Province's are so upset, the reason for that's as obvious as the Republican play book sticking out of the PM’s back pocket. No, what I’m saying is that the conservative brain trust may actually not comprehend why so many quiet and unassuming people have suddenly decided to lash out during Stephen Harper's watch. I mean it’s not like they’ve never been screwed over by the federal government before right, so why this uncharacteristic reaction?

The conservatives can’t seem to understand why so many Premiers have suddenly gone on the attack over the federal budget or something as dry and boring as the equalization formula. Worse yet, why would so many voters stand behind them. While one Premier is taking out nation wide ads calling Harper a liar, another is using words like betrayal and a third is planning to take the federal government to court over the whole affair. Why, Harper must be asking himself, have the people of these puny little hick provinces suddenly dared to attack their great and wonderful Overlord?

Far be it from me to get all preachy and biblical, believe me, but perhaps if Stephen Harper and his axis of evil doers have ever read any Christian literature they may want to think about those teachings at this moment in history. If they did they may realize that the reason for their sudden shift in reality is not that complex.

For decades the people of Canada’s forgotten provinces, especially those in Atlantic Canada and most of all in Newfoundland and Labrador, have been known as “easy to handle” and of “no real concern”. All a PM had to do was royally shaft them and then throw a few pieces of silver their way in the form of grants, EI or some other form of government largesse. Suddenly, BOOM, “Bob’s your uncle and where do I mark my X?”

I suspect the easy going ways exhibited by the fine folks of Atlantic Canada might have stemmed from many years of a solid religious education and an ingrained sense of duty. Likely it can be traced directly back to the biblical teaching that, “The meek shall inherit the earth”. How else can you explain decades of quiet acceptance while insults and deprivations are continuously heaped on such a quiet and friendly people?

For years “turn the other cheek” was the favored approach of the down trodden in Canada and it played like a charm on Parliament Hill. On the government side of the equation, as long as vote rich Ontario and Quebec were satisfied, and the rest of the nation suffered on in silence, life was good. Unfortunately the reality of life on the fringes of Confederation was, and is, not so good.

Times have changed however and unfortunately, for Stephen Harper anyway, these same people who were once willing to suffer the slings and arrows of the entire nation have finally decided to cast aside their old ways in favor of a new, albeit still Christian approach. Their new approach is one that allows them to forego the stoic and quiet suffering of the past while still keeping their spiritual values firmly anchored to the shores of their hearts. It consists of casting aside the idea that, “The meek shall inherit the earth”, in favor of a much more direct, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

It’s really quite simple when you think about it.

All I can say is may God himself (or herself) help all those poor lost souls who plan to run for the conservative party in Atlantic Canada when the next election rolls around because nobody else will.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Welcome to Stephen Harper's Canada

Many people have speculated on who the real Stephen Harper might be.

With the latest happenings in Ottawa and the new relationship between Canada and George Bush's America it looks like Harper has finally revealed his true inner self.

A parasitic blood sucking Republican who is more than happy to connive, slash and destroy anything or anyone who stands in the way of his agenda.

Welcome to the new and improved Conservative Canada!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Newfoundland and Labrador Declares War on Canadian Government

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, Danny Williams, launched an ad campaign today in newspapers across Canada. The campaign is intended to depict Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a fraud.

The full page and half page ads will appear in publications such as the Globe and Mail and depict a white maple leaf on a red background containing the words, “Is this what Canada stands for now?” The ads also identify the lies told by Harper along with the words, “There is no bigger fraud than a promise broken”. Words similar to those used by Harper over and over again during his campaign for Prime Minister.

The words, used so successfully by Harper to convince Canadians to elect him over Paul Martin in the last federal election, now provide ammunition for what will surely be a long and hard fought battle. A battle that is expected to ratchet up as speculation of a federal election continues to permeate the halls of Parliament Hill.

In brochures distributed to households during his campaign, Harper promised that a conservative government would keep all non-renewable resource revenues out of the equalization formula and that he would not implement a fiscal cap. Something the governments of several provinces see as a necessity to ensure survival and their ability to finally move toward becoming sustainable and self sufficient provinces.

As one observer recently put it, “Non-renewable resources should not be factored into equalization because they are not a product than can be manufactured or renewed to support an economy in the long term. They are not like a salary from a permanent job.”

“It’s the equivelent of someone losing their employment and resorting to selling the furniture in the house in order to survive until the next job comes along. If that money is taken away from them, denying them the ability to use it while working to find other employment, that's a real problem because once the furniture is gone it’s gone with nothing to keep them alive."

The ad campaign asks, "If we can't accept at face value the promise of our Prime Minister, then who can? A promise made should be a promise kept and as Mr. Harper pointed out, there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept."

Harper meanwhile continues to tell anyone who will listen that the recent budget meets his obligations to all Canadians. While Mr. Harper denies the claims of several premiers, including Williams, it’s clear from the public record that he has indeed not kept the promises he made. Promises delivered both verbally and in writing to the premiers and citizens of at least 3 provinces.

Harper’s contention is that the budget does not affect the Atlantic Accord contracts signed with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador by the former Liberal government, however his promise in reality was to remove all non-renewable resources from the equalization formula for all provinces and this was not done.

The battle is clearly heating up as Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador take a strong stand. While the latter two provinces are governed by conservative leaders they are clearly not toeing the party line on this issue and appear ready for an all out battle.

Many people in Newfoundland and Labrador have thrown their support fully behind Premier Williams, who prior to this event sat at about 75% in public opinion polls. Many have demanded the resignations of the province’s 3 conservative members of Parliament.

On Tuesday conservative MPs Norman Doyle, Fabian Manning and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn all voted in favour of their party’s budget and against the wishes of the people of their province. An act many may view as an act of treason during a time of virtual war.

Instead of standing with the people who elected them Doyle, Manning and Hearn have opted to back Stephen Harper and the conservative party of Canada. Manning and Hearn went so far as to say that any attacks by the province could make things difficult in dealing with Ottawa in the future. This veiled threat, real or imagined, doesn’t seem to be carrying much weight with most voters in the province however because many people in Newfoundland and Labrador seem to believe that the Parliament of Canada is so out of touch with the province that they are missing one key point entirely.

Perhaps the comments of a local political insider, who spoke with this writer earlier today put it best, "Nobody cares. The people here are sick and tired of decades of indifference. All the so called “good relations” we’ve had with Ottawa over the years haven't done one damn bit of good for us so if they want to play hard ball they can bring it on.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

Republish: Biting the Maestro of Divisive Politics

Originally published in the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Biting the Maestro of Divisive Politics

WE’RE SMALL, but we do bite.

Remember 1997, when Atlantic Canada rose in anger, amazed the country by electing a half-dozen New Democrats, knocked off its big political godfathers and crippled the Liberals?
The Liberals had romanced us with big promises in ’93, only to turn around and bald-facedly hack at everything in the first Martin budget.

It wasn’t so much the cutting that got to us. It was the lying.

It’s the lying again.

Here’s some advice for Premier Rodney MacDonald, thrown into a tizzy by the federal budget’s double-cross, as it dismissed signed agreements to the effect that the Atlantic accord on offshore petroleum resources wouldn’t be touched by changes in the equalization system: get mad, stay mad and, like Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, don’t let them forget the lying.

Be ready to snap back when they tell you that you’re just whining because your welfare got cut off.

Remember that? The right-wing think tanks, the pontificating Globe and Mail editorials, the Reform party – we were just irate, they said, because our unemployment insurance got cut.
The boy wonder of all this? One Stephen Harper, the "culture of defeat" guy. He’s still at it.
There is something different this time, though. Harper, with the Republican party’s dirty tricks manual in his back pocket, is a different breed from previous prime ministerial slickers.

He’s already divided Atlantic Canada, which puts us at a disadvantage.

The dirty cut comes to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, signatories of the Atlantic accord. New Brunswick and P.E.I. are pacified – apparently a calculated effect.

He’s an expert in the politics of division.

Having Alberta in hand, he’s after the middle class of Ontario and Quebec and a sprinkling of "winners" elsewhere; and if that delivers his majority, everybody else can go hang.

That means we’re not alone in our exasperation.

Danny Williams let go a remarkable mouthful: "This is the same prime minister who basically reneged on money for women, for literacy groups, for volunteers, students, minority rights, aboriginal people, and has not lived up to the Kyoto accord."

Williams is a Tory, don’t forget, and is admonishing Newfoundlanders to not vote Tory next time. Surely a first in Canada.

The fact that Harper’s non-progressive Conservatives can shut out their own kind, some of whom are rebelling after only a year of power, indicates the depth of his divisiveness.
I got another whiff of this while researching those fisheries columns I did recently.

Phil Eidnik, head of the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition, was a Conservative candidate in the last election. The Tories have "pushed almost an entire industry away from the Conservatives" with their misguided Fishery Act reform, he said. "And we had campaigned against the Liberals for a decade! I will be staying home on election day."

Here’s the question, then: Will Harper succeed in his plan for a majority?

The first post-budget poll indicates that it’s working – Ontario has taken the bait. Perhaps, but actually the scheme may already be unravelling elsewhere, specifically on the very field where other prime ministers have been undone – Quebec.

All that cash to Quebec was to buy another term for Jean Charest. Charest, however, has promised to put the new money into tax cuts instead of public services, making a joke of the "fiscal imbalance" argument.

Harper has compounded it by saying he won’t be talking to separatists if they win.

Charest will take a major drubbing Monday night, and Harper will too. It could be a donnybrook.
If you add the growing signs of incompetence (the minister of national defence apologizing for not knowing what’s going on in Afghanistan, the botched Fishery Act) and the fact that climate change is still shortchanged, it may all be in the process of blowing up, and soon.

And so, for the growing coalition of anti-Harperites, of which even Nova Scotia and Newfoundland’s Conservative governments are suddenly a part, the question is: Is the solution here to get rid of Harper?

If it’s Harper’s intent to make political hay by having the "winners" and "losers" at war with each other, the losers will have no choice but to pick up their spears and go at it.

If so, let’s bite again. Harper may be more vulnerable than he thinks.

NL Government Launches new Seal Harvest Web Site

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is stepping up its communications strategy to address the misinformation about the sealing industry that is put in the public domain by international animal rights organizations. Today, government is launching a sealing industry communications Web site, as part of this strategy.

The Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, today stated, "The sealing industry Web site is a key part of government’s plan to correct the misinformation on this all important industry.

It will provide easy access to factual information on the Newfoundland and Labrador sealing industry to Internet users all over the world. "It is critical the public has easy access to factual information on the sealing industry," said the minister. "There is a lot of misinformation in the public domain and the groups that are spreading the misinformation have a strong Web presence. In order to effectively counter this information, it is important that government has a strong presence as well."

The Web site includes information on the history of the sealing industry, its economic importance, utilization of the animal and humaneness of the harvest.

The Web site enables people who wish to be better informed on the sealing industry to have easy access to that information.

The Honourable Trevor Taylor, Minister of Innovation Trade and Rural Development, in cooperation with the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will be part of a delegation of individuals to Europe beginning Sunday, March 25. The delegation will meet with European Parliamentarians and media regarding the seal harvest. The delegation will be traveling to Brussels, London, Berlin and The Hague.

Budget 2006 included $100,000 for sealing industry communications. Minister Rideout said, "Communicating the facts on the sealing industry to key international audiences is an important part of government’s plan to see continued economic opportunities for rural areas in the province."

The Web page can be accessed at www.gov.nl.ca/fishaq/sealfactsheet/.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Loyola Hearn & John Efford - Two of a Kind.

"Take it or leave it." - Federal Liberal cabinet minister John Efford attempting to pressure the province of Newfoundland and Labrador into accepting an Atlantic Accord deal that would have included a cap tied to Ontario's fiscal capacity (the same sort of cap now introduced in the federal Conservatives budget).

John Efford conveniently retired from politics within months of that comment and did not run in the following election.

"The province is losing nothing now, We have until 2012 with the Atlantic Accord benefits uncapped..." - Loyola Hearn attempting to sell the new Harper budget (including a fiscal cap) to Newfoundland and Labrador on March 20 2007.

Already there are calls for Loyola Hearn's resignation in the wake of the federal budget and his clear support for it. During an interview Hearn also went on the offensive blaming the provinces for not agreeing to the plan his PM hoped to put in place and warned premier williams that any anti-election campaign he might have in mind "works both ways". That sort of threat might not have been a politically astute move in reference to a sitting premier who is supported by nearly 75% of the electorate. It might just backfire and help rally the troops against Mr. Hearn. Time will tell.

At least Conservative member Norm Doyle had the intelligence, just days before the federal budget was delivered, to announce that he wouldn't be running in the next election. Tell me Loyola, is your cushy cabinet position really worth the price of selling out your people? I hope so because I doubt you'll be sitting in that after the next election.

Simply put, Stephen Harper and his government members broke a written promise made to several premiers of Canada. Whether anyone agrees with the premise of removing non-renewable resource revenues from equalization calculations or not, it doesn't take away the fact that the Prime Minister lied to the premiers of the provinces in writing and he is being supported in his lies by MPs who were elected by the people of those provinces.

It's one thing to go door to door in an election campaign and smoothly lead people to believe you are concerned with their issues. All politicians do that. They all use words like, "I'll take that under advisement" or "I fully support that concept and once elected I'll see what I can do". They all do that but they don't all put a clear cut promise in writing, sign on the dotted line and have that written promised delivered to the premiers of 3 provinces, one of whom was the head of the federation of provinces at the time.

While the common approach taken by candidates is reprehensible, the approach taken by Stephen Harper and supported by his MPs is nothing less than treason.

Canada is a federation. It is based on the concept that all the proivinces are partners and that the leaders of each province (the first ministers) play a pivotal role in the federation. What do the recent actions of Stephen Harper, Loyola Hearn and the other members of the Conservative governement who support an out and out lie to the premiers of the provinces. What does it say that this government made written committment in order to get elected and then broke that committment in order to ensure that they would get re-elected?

Loyola Hearn isn't the only one who should resign. The entire Conservative government should be forced to resign in shame, much the same way U.S. president Richard Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal in the 1970's.

If they don't resign of their own accord serious consideration should be given to removing them all from office and perhaps even laying charges in connection with the elections act, or has the Country gone so far down hill that buying votes has become not only legal but acceptable?

If you would like to let Loyola Hearn know how you feel about his stand on the equalization issue you can email him at: Hearn.L@parl.gc.ca

Press Release: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Executive Council
March 20, 2007

Premier Williams says "A Promise Made is Not a Promise Kept "for Newfoundland and Labrador

The following are quotations from Prime Minister Stephen Harper (then-opposition leader) in the House of Commons during a debate on November 4, 2004 (over the Atlantic Accord):

"This is a commitment that was made by me in my capacity as leader of the Canadian Alliance when I first arrived here and has its origins in the intentions of the Atlantic accord signed by former Prime Minister Mulroney in the mid-1980s. These are longstanding commitments, our commitment to 100% of non-renewable resource royalties. It was our commitment during the election, before the election, and it remains our commitment today."

"The eight year time limit and the Ontario clause effectively gutted the commitment made to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador during the election campaign. Why should Newfoundland's possibility of achieving levels of prosperity comparable to the rest of Canada be limited to an artificial eight year period? Remember in particular that these are in any case non-renewable resources that will run out. Why is the government so eager to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador always remain below the economic level of Ontario?"

"The Ontario clause is unfair and insulting to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and its message to that province, to Nova Scotia and to all of Atlantic Canada is absolutely clear. They can only get what they were promised if they agree to remain have not provinces forever. That is absolutely unacceptable."

"What is at stake is the future of Atlantic Canada, an unprecedented and historic opportunity for those provinces to get out of the have not status that has bedevilled them for decades. What is at issue is very simple. It is the honour of the Prime Minister (Paul Martin), and all he has to do is keep his word."

The assertion by Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday that his election promise has been delivered to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is fundamentally wrong and misleading and the people of Canada should be wary of any promises made to them by the Harper Government.

The Honourable Danny Williams today reacted to a letter sent to him by Prime Minister Harper yesterday in which the Prime Minister claims to have lived up to his repeated commitment to remove non-renewable resource revenues from the equalization formula.

"The Prime Minister of this country came to our province on repeated occasions when he was the Leader of the Opposition and he made a promise," said Premier Williams. "The promise did not have caveats or qualifications. It was a principled-based promise that stated that natural resource revenues would be removed from the equalization formula. Stephen Harper came into our province and said essentially here is my promise to you; elect me and my party and we will give you more than what you have now, because it is the right thing to do. Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and essentially the people of Canada that his promises do not matter. His promises do not count, and they most certainly cannot be relied upon."

One example of the many written commitments can be seen in the Prime Minister’s letter to Premier Williams during the last federal election - http://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2006/exec/0116n03.htm.

"A promise made is not a promise kept. I find it offensive and unbelievable that we are now being criticized by the federal government and others for simply asking the Prime Minister to live up to his commitment. Not partially, or with trap doors and caveats, but to truly live up to his commitment. If he does not live up to this clear election promise, then every Canadian should think long and hard about any promise made to them."

Premier Williams said the options outlined in the federal budget yesterday whereby provinces can choose the manner in which equalization is applied to their province, is an intricate game of smoke and mirrors, including a fiscal capacity cap which nullifies the Prime Minister’s commitment to remove non-renewable resources.

"While the federal government gives the illusion of allowing provinces to opt for a 100 per cent exclusion of natural resource revenue-based formula, they shrewdly immediately apply a fiscal capacity cap on that formula," added Premier Williams. "This negates the benefits of using the 100 per cent removal formula. It is terribly misleading and disingenuous, and I am quite frankly appalled that the Prime Minister and his government would betray the voters in this way."
Premier Williams said back when his government was negotiating with the previous Liberal government for the new Atlantic Accord, Stephen Harper vehemently opposed such a fiscal capacity cap.

"The absolute about face of Stephen Harper is nothing short of betrayal. It also flies in the face of what he fought for before the people of this country elected him as their Prime Minister," said the Premier.

Premier Williams acknowledged that for this year, the province is not worse off and Atlantic Accord benefits are not being eroded. But status quo was not what the Prime Minister promised, and long-term that seriously erodes the Prime Minister’s promise.

"There has been a breach of trust here, whereby we see our province being seriously disadvantaged. Other provinces that were promised nothing are getting tremendous benefits from this federal budget and the new changes to equalization. And we applaud them and congratulate them on this. However, our province and others to whom promises were made are left high and dry, yet we look unreasonable because we are asking for a promise to be kept? It is a very sad day for this federation."

Media contact:Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960, 351-1227

Federal Conservatives Buy Votes at Expense of Smaller Provinces

Stephen Harper Lies to the People of Newfoundland and Labrador

Thanks to the stab in the back delivered by Stephen Harper’s American style Republicans Newfoundland and Labrador could potentially lose millions in equalization funding every year from here on in. The impact of this budget won’t truly be known for years as our province dies a slow death at the hands of Ottawa.

Harper’s tricky and too cute plan to provide Ontario and Quebec with billions while offering a series of lose/lose equalization options to Newfoundland and Labrador may guarantee his government’s survival but like the cold hearted and opportunistic weasel he is, his survival will be done on the back of Canada’s poorest province.

Premier Danny Williams said the budget is a betrayal of the province, and he wants voters to punish the Conservatives in the next federal election.

"What they've done today is basically and completely shafted us," Williams told reporters. "It's scandalous what they've done, when you think of it."

Personally I can’t wait to see how the three Conservative MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador, Norman Doyle, Fabian Manning and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn react to this betrayal. Will they vote in favor or against their own party’s budget plan? I guess the next few days will tell us if they plan to support their people or go the route of retired Liberal MP John Efford who shafted the province for the sake of party loyalties.

One analyst noted, “This budget clearly targets urban voters. The voters Stephen Harper needs if he hopes to win the next election.”

That’s a valid comment but its hardly news. Any party hoping to win a federal election will pander to the high volume of voters in urban areas, especially those in Ontario and Quebec. Nobody can expect them to do anything else and unfortunately the political system of Canada is designed to encourage that.

I don’t personally blame any one party. The problem lies with Canada’s parliamentary system itself and that system is exactly why Newfoundland and Labrador would be far better off calling the entire confederation experiment a failure and simply moving on.

The time has come to get out of Canada before there is nothing left.

Federal parties will always pour every ounce of energy into appeasing the voters of the major urban areas, but what does that say about the future of rural areas? What does it say about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador?

The latest budget out of Ottawa was not met by any smiles in Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, BC or New Brunswick. While a few modest improvements were included for Alberta and PEI songs of joy were spreading like syrup inside Ontario and Quebec. Enough said.

When a federal government brings forward a budget that denies it ever made a promise, no less than 6 times in writing, and adds insult to injury by actually including a fiscal cap on revenues, the same cap every Newfoundlander and Labradorian fought so hard against during the Atlantic Accord debate, our future is clear.

Our best opportunity to build our economy, pay off our debts and provide a future for our people has just been destroyed with the callous stroke of a federal pen.

There is no future for us in Canada.

Our population is in free fall.

Our resources are being raped for the benefit to other provinces.

Our revenues are clawed back at every turn.

Federal promises mean nothing, no matter the party stripe.

Ontario and Quebec control Canada and they will always guide government policy and budgets.

Our fisheries are being mismanaged into oblivion.

We may not have a say on most issues in the federation but the choice to stay or leave is ours and ours alone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Canadian Seafood Boycott a Dismal Failure

Today is federal budget day folks. A time of excitement and wonder for political junkies like me.

While I prepare for the onslaught of news, analysis and spin, that will begin around 5:00 pm NL time this evening, I'll leave you with one final article (for now anyway) on the entire seal harvest issue.

After the budget comes down and we know one way or another whether it should be considered a clear declaration of war on Newfoundland and Labrador, or at least if it's worth a 1000 words of commentary, I'll be back online and performing my own spin doctoring duties on the issue.

In the mean time enjoy the following article and oh, by the way, to the person who wrote in asking me why I post so many articles on the seal hunt and suggested that I find a new topic I'd like to say: Someone has to get the truth out, no I'm not a sealer and if you don't appreciate reading about the seal issue then the web is a big place and there are many other sites, maybe even a dozen of them, that you could check out. I heard once there were hundreds but I doubt that very much. Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if there was even one dedicated to your specific interests.


The Canadian seafood boycott being waged by animal rights (not animal welfare) groups like HSUS has proven to be a a dismal failure.

While anti-sealing groups would like the soft hearted and donation rich public to believe that a call for boycott of Canadian seafood products is actually having an effect on the fishing industry in Canada they are clearly out of touch with reality once again.

Over the past year or so the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has flatly denied any significant impact from the efforts of anti-sealing group's like HSUS to convince foriegn buyers to avoid Canadian sea products. Now local fishing industry numbers out of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the largest proponents of the seal harvest, confirm that the boycott is having no significant effect.

On March 8, the Newfoundland and Labrador government released its annual report on the condition of the provincial seafood industry and it clearly shows that the fishing industry has overcome significant global challenges in 2006 despite claims by the anti-sealing lobby. In addition, those challenges did not include the boycott which didn't even merit a dishonorable mention.

In a press release Provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Tom Rideout, noted that there is much reason to remain optimistic, despite the negative impacts of a high Canadian dollar, soft markets, stiff competition from low cost producers and high international tariffs.

I'd say that's an understatement, Tom. If the numbers presented show anything they show an industry that is growing in spite of the global challenges facing it.

Minister Rideout noted that 2006 was a tremendous year for the seal harvest in particular, with production values reaching $55 million, up from $40 million recorded in 2005, an increase in value of more than 35%. $30.2 million of this went directly to sealers and their families and thanks to a high world demand for the products the value of pelts rose to $105 each, up from $56 in 2005. It is expected that the price per pelt will rise even higher this season. Some estimates put the value at nearly $120 per pelt.

While the seal harvest continues to garner record revenues needed to help sustain local fishermen, it should be noted that thanks to intensive industry management and conservation efforts the population of the Atlantic seal herd has grown. While numbers dipped just slightly this year, the herd is now sitting near the highest population level seen in decades. Sealers take less than 2% of the population each year in an effort to safe guard the healthy sustainability of the herd and to ensure the livelihood it provides.

2006 also marked an increase in shellfish landings and seafood production value, while lower than in 2005 when it reached $940 million, stood at $900 million in 2006. Still near historically high levels.

"The aquaculture sector also reached a significant milestone in 2006," said Minister Rideout, "and it continues to emerge as a flagship industry for rural Newfoundland and Labrador. During 2006, production surpassed 10,000 tonnes with an associated $52.3 million in export value." The production numbers represent an increase of 28.6% over the previous year.

If a boycott of Canadian seafood by animal rights groups means that Newfoundland and Labrador can increase its production value on seals by over 35% while ensuring the seal population continues to thrive, then I'm all in favor of it.

If it also means that near record levels for other seafood products can be attained and that the aquaculture sector can grow by nearly 29% then bring it on.

Boycott to your hearts delight folks. It's clear that this boycott is ineffective at anything other than convincing a sadly misinformed public that their donations are being put to good use.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

An Environmentalist's Case for the Seal Hunt

Cuter than cod

By Terry Glavin
Originally Published: March 7, 2007
Re-published with the permission of the author.

I saw something the other day that made me sick to my stomach. It was in the February edition of The Grocer, a British retail-food magazine.

There was an article about a campaign that a group called Respect for Animals is waging to convince consumers to boycott Canadian seafood products. The magazine also carried two huge advertisements from the same outfit.

One of the ads consisted of a photograph of a masked man on an ice floe, and a seal lying prone at his feet. The man was brandishing a club with a spike on the end of it. The words You Can Stop This were superimposed upon the picture. The other advertisement proclaimed, "Boycott Canadian Seafood & Save the Seals," with a picture of a can of Canadian salmon.

The Canadian fishing industry exports more than $100 million worth of products into Britain every year. The point of the campaign is to squeeze those sales until the industry begs our government to end the seal hunt.

Here's what makes me sick.

The Newfoundland seal hunt is transparently and demonstrably sustainable and humane. There are roughly half a million people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and nearly six million harp seals, which is almost three times as many seals as when I was a kid.

Free range seals

Roughly 6,000 fishermen, mostly Newfoundlanders, but some are from Quebec and the Maritimes, take slightly more than 300,000 harp seals annually. The fishermen share more than $16 million from the hunt at a critical time of year when there's little in the way of fishing income to be had. The seals are harvested for their pelts and their fat, for a range of products, mostly for clothing and for Omega-3 vitamins.

The killing is as about as clean as anything you're likely to find in an abattoir. Seals don't spend their lives cooped up in paddocks or feedlots. They live free, and in all but the rarest cases, the ones that die at the hands of a swiler (a sealer) die instantly. The hakapik (a spiked club) is an effective instrument.

Even so, most seals are first shot with rifles. The killing of nursing whitecoats was banned 20 years ago.

Exploiting empathy

Here's one of those obligatory disclosures: over the years, several environmental organizations -- the Sierra Club, the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, etc. -- have subsidized my preoccupation with things that move in the water by having me do research projects for them and so on. With that out of the way, I can now say, if it isn't obvious already, that it's the seal hunt's opponents who turn my stomach.

It's not just that anti-hunt crusades like this are especially foul in the way they dishonestly misrepresent facts. It's also that they dishonestly manipulate one of the most redeeming traits the human species has inherited from hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection and cultural evolution -- our capacity to expand the embrace of our empathy to include other forms of life.

But far worse than all that, boycott campaigns like this muddy the important distinction between sustainability and sentiment, and between broadly co-ordinated acts of social responsibility and mere lifestyle choices. When we fail to make these distinctions we undermine everything worthwhile that environmentalism has accomplished since it emerged in the early 1970s.

As citizens and consumers in free societies, we are burdened with the duty to make important decisions at the ballot box, in the work we do, and also in the marketplace. Boycotting Canadian seafood to try and stop the seal hunt is the consumer-choice equivalent of deciding to buy a tie-died shirt, move into a Volkswagen van and subsist solely on lentils and tofu.

Serious stakes

Just as the excesses of postmodernist relativism have enfeebled the left over the past quarter-century or so, a corrosive strain of fact-distorting, science-hating, Gaia-bothering obscurantism has enfeebled environmentalism.

It was there from the beginning, and it persists most noticeably in animal-rights crusades. It is the environmentalist equivalent of anti-evolution, rapture-seeking Christian zealotry. It has to be attacked wherever it rears its head. There's too much at stake to pretend we can be innocent bystanders here. This is a fight we all have to join.

Here's why

The last time the planet was in the throes of an extinction spasm this cataclysmic was when the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. One in every four mammal species, one in eight bird species, one in nine plants, a third of all amphibians and half of all the surveyed fish species on earth are threatened with extinction.

When Greenpeace was born in Vancouver in 1971, the single greatest cause of species extinction was understood to be habitat loss. Now, the greatest threat to biological diversity is global warming. The last time the atmosphere was accumulating greenhouse gases this fast was 650,000 years ago. The prospects look exceedingly grim -- broad-scale ecological disruption, crop failure and famine, desertification and the mass dislocation of some of the most heavily-populated regions of the world.

A key reason environmentalists found themselves so ill-prepared to convince the world to take global warming seriously was that their movement had been corrupted by precisely the same trippy sentiment-mongering that has animated the holy war against the Newfoundland seal hunt, which now turns its sights on Canadian fisheries products.

Where was Greenpeace?

When the founders of Greenpeace were being born, back in the 1950s, the world's fishing fleets were taking roughly 40 million tonnes of marine biomass from the world's oceans every year. By the 1980s, it was 80 million tonnes. Then the seas just stopped giving.
Fully 90 per cent of all the big fish in the sea -- the tunas, the marlins, the sharks, the swordfish -- are now gone.

Of the many fisheries collapses that have occurred around the world in recent years, it is sadly ironic that the greatest single collapse occurred in the seas around Newfoundland, where the bulk of Canada's Atlantic seal hunt takes place. The Grand Banks cod fishery was the largest and oldest pelagic fishery in the history of the human experience.

The cod were mined from the sea by the same big-boat offshore fleets that had caused such devastation everywhere else. A way of life disappeared, and by the early 1990s, tens of thousands of workers were reduced to welfare. While all this was happening, what were environmentalists doing on the Newfoundland coast, in the country where Greenpeace was born, at a time when Greenpeace was at the height of its powers?

They were out cavorting with rich hippies and snuggling up to harp seal pups on the ice floes. They were meditating cross-legged in the snow and posing for the television cameras and demonizing the good people of Newfoundland, while the seas around them were being emptied of cod.

Rational agreements

When you go looking for the good that environmentalism has accomplished, you'll find it in such covenants as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances, and the Kyoto Accord. It's in the sustainability provisions of elaborately negotiated efforts such as the Brundtland Commission on the Environment and Development, and the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing.

The toughest global instrument to protect biodiversity is the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. Fuzzy eco-drivel has already severely damaged CITES by forcing non-threatened species, such as North Atlantic minke whale, onto the CITES appendices. Now, in Germany and Belgium, animal-rights activists and their friends in the European Parliament are attempting to override CITES, and the European Union's own rules, with an outright ban on products from Canada's perfectly abundant harp seal population.

Similarly, seal-hunt opponents are dangerously undermining the historic victory that flowed from the Brundtland Commission. The commission established a commitment to sustainability as the key universal value to guide natural-resource harvesting policies for all the peoples of the world, regardless of their distinct cultural practices and sensibilities.

The whole point of sustainability is to ensure that people can exercise the rights and accept the responsibilities that come with sustainably harvesting the natural resources of the ecosystems within which they live. The harp seal hunt is a living embodiment of that principle. That's why environmentalists should not just give the boycott a pass, or stay neutral, but should actively support and defend the seal hunt.

The one consolation we can take from the recent hullabaloo is that it's faltering. Last year, when animal-rightists in the United States boasted that they'd convinced more than 200 restaurants and seafood retailers to boycott Canadian products to protest the hunt, it turned out that only a small minority were doing so. Most of them didn't even know they'd been listed as boycott-compliant.

Also, the European Commission, citing the absence of evidence to support contentions that the hunt is inhumane, has refused, for now, to enforce the European Parliament's proposed ban on seal products.

Contested Council

But the consumer boycott campaign that's just begun in Britain is particularly insidious. Its aim is all Canadian fisheries products, and its targets are Tesco, Sainsbury's, Somerfield and other major retail chains that have already made a commitment to eventually carrying only those seafood products that have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The MSC standard remains hotly contested by responsible environmentalists, but its coveted "eco-label" holds out the hope of forcing improvements to fisheries-management policies around the world. In Canada, those improvements are increasingly driven by the fishermen themselves, because they want the MSC label on their product.

British Columbia's halibut fishery was turned down once, and has since re-applied, because groundfish management has significantly improved -- thanks in no small part to halibut fishermen. Other fishermen are now lobbying federal fisheries officials to improve stock-assessment research to give B.C.'s dogfish fishery a shot at the MSC label. British Columbia's sockeye salmon fisheries have just undergone an arduous certification examination, and a decision is imminent.

If the cuddliness of a particular species harvested in a particular country is allowed to become the factor that determines whether that country's products are considered environmentally acceptable, then everything we won at CITES and in the Brundtland Commission is lost. If those are the kinds of choices we present to everyone from major retailers down to ordinary seafood consumers, then we'll have wasted all our efforts to marshal consumer power to force the sustainable use of the oceans.

It's long past time for conservationists to make a clean, clear, open and unequivocal break with crystal-gazing animal-rights eccentrics and all their camp followers. For them, the conservation of wild resources was always just a flag of convenience. They're dead ballast, so over the side with them.

On the question of the Atlantic harp seal harvest, there's only one defensible and honest position for a conservation-minded citizen to take.

Support the swilers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Harper's Divide and Conquer Strategy on Equalization

According to the most recent Statistics Canada Census, Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is continuing its free fall, a situation that has existed since the collapse of the federally mismanaged cod fishery in the early 1990’s.

Newfoundland and Labrador, which last year had the distinction of being the only province in Canada to see the number of deaths match the number of births, for the first time in the Country’s history, has been reporting a net population loss ever since the economic turmoil created by the dismal failure of Ottawa to protect and preserve Atlantic fish stocks began to hit home.

Interestingly Statistics Canada noted that population losses were reported in only two Canadian provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. Is it a coincidence that these are the same two provinces fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Ottawa allows them to recieve the full benefits of local non-renewable resource revenues in an effort to grow their economies?

Most certainly not!

With the ability to increase revenues these provinces would have an opportunity to improve their economies, foster development, pay down debt and attract and retain citizens.

Unfortunately it’s beginning to look more and more like Prime Minister Stephen Harper is about to walk away from the promise he made to Canada on this issue prior to the last two federal elections and will soon kill any hope the two provinces have of ensuring their very survival.

Over the past few days Harper has announced $1.5 billion for Ontario’s transit system and $350 million will go to Quebec for environmental improvements. Clearly an attempt to buy support for his new budget, scheduled to come down on March 19th, and to ensure that the two provinces don’t fight too hard over his likely exclusion of 50% of non-renewable resource revenue in the equalization formula. Both would prefer to see 100% of the revenues included since their economies are not dependent on natural resources.

On the other side of the battle front Harper has announced hundreds of millions for Alberta, after which Alberta immediately backed away from their support of exclusion of non-renewable resources. A stand they had taken in support of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. This has left only these two provinces and BC to fight on. Of course with this divide and conquer approach happening one has to wonder how long it will be before Newfoundland and Labrador is left to twist in the wind on its own.

In addition to buying off Ontario and Quebec, Harper has also announced $200 million for BC, a fairly quiet ally of Premiers Williams and Calvert. He has also announceder $1 Billion in aid for farmers in Saskatchewan, obviously an effort to buy off voters there and weaken the position of Premier Lorne Calvert who wasn't even invited to attend the press conference held in his province. Perhaps BC and Alberta should have been more vocal on the issue early on. Looking at the numbers being thrown around lately it seems they might have gotten a bigger bribe if they had been more vocally opposed to Harper's flip flop on this issue.

With all of this to consider, the message should be very clear to Premier Danny Williams and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Sorry folks but once again you’re on you own. Say goodbye to the victory gained during the Atlantic Accord battle because if 50% of non-renewable resource revenues are included in the new formula and a cap is put in place to ensure that no equalization receiving province can have a greater fiscal capacity than Ontario (the sacred cow of politicians) then any gains made on that front will disappear into the darkness faster than a politician the day after winning an election campaign.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Newfoundland and Labrador Brings Provincial Ferry Rates in Line with Road Travel Costs

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced this week that it will be scrapping a scheduled 5% provincial ferry rate increase and that it was lowering its rates to bring them in line with the cost of road travel.

The reduction is intended to ensure that people living in isolated communities around the province have an equal access to goods and services as those in communities linked by the provincial highway system.

The new rates will go into effect on April 1 and are seen by many organizations and individuals as a major step in ensuring the future of rural Newfoundland and Labrador where one of the major impediments to the economy is the cost of travel and of importing consumer goods.

Premier Williams says he hopes the federal government, which operates the Marine Atlantic Ferry Service between the island of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, will follow suit in the federal budget to be tabled on March 19.
For years the people of the province, who depend on the federally managed ferry service for travel and the import of goods from mainland Canada, have been arguing that the ferry is essentially an integral part of the Trans Canada Highway. The service was also specifically identified in the Terms of Union document when the Province became a part of Canada and as such should be accessible at a comparable cost to road travel.

The federal service is the only major link the island of Newfoundland has with mainland Canada and any increase in rates has a direct effect on the overall economy of the province. It is essential for the tourist market and any increases in rates drive up the cost of consumer goods coming into the province.

The federal government recently announced that ferry rates would be going up and that a new fuel surcharge would be added on top of fairs that already provide a much higher rate of return to Ottawa than those on most other Transport Canada ferry services around the Country.

One of the arguments put forward by some, to the demand that Ottawa reduce ferry rates, has been that the Provincial government should look at the rates they charge on their internal ferry services before demanding that Ottawa do so. With this latest announcement by the Williams government this argument is no longer valid.
During the press conference Williams said, "I think it's timely to do it right now. It's a week in advance of the federal budget. Even though Marine Atlantic will be a separate exercise at least the federal government is in a position to be able to address it and deal with it.”
If you would like to contact federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty or NL cabinet representative Minister Loyola Hearn and let them know that you support a reduction in Marine Atlantic ferry rates you can do so at:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sealing is a Rightful Occupation.

online poll conducted by Angus Reid - 2007

Is the truth about the annual Atlantic seal harvest finally getting out?

Has the time finally come when those who are sick and tired of the misrepresentations and half truths presented by many anti-sealing activists have decided to stand up and make it their personal duty to get the truth out there?

I certainly hope so because the federal government certainly isn't doing a very good job of it.

In an effort to help ensure that the truth prevails, over the past few days and for the next week, I will be presenting a series of commentaries and articles from individuals who are tired of the lies and the free publicity given to animal rights protestors by the main stream media. A media that is far more interested in capturing an audience than checking facts.

Great job folks and keep up the fight. If the poll numbers displayed on the Angus Reid site this past Friday are any indication, people are starting to listen.

Cheers, Myles

Sealing is a Rightful Occupation By Jim Winter - March 1, 2007

Harp seal populations have doubled in size and harvesting is humane, argues Jim Winter*

It’s Now four decades since animal rights groups started the anti-sealing campaigns in Canada that have raised for them hundreds of millions of dollars. During this time Canadian sealers have taken their yearly quotas while more than doubling the population of the harp seal herd to over five million animals.

So is sealing a conservation issue? Obviously no.

Harp seals are not and never have been on any respected international list of either endangered or threatened species. During the same time the vast majority of studies - other than those sponsored by animal rights groups - have determined that both the hakapick and the rifle are humane killing tools. The killing - while not pretty - is simply an outdoor abattoir and it is as efficient and as humane as any abattoir in the western world.

So, is sealing a humane killing issue? No.

Also over the same period, many species of seals and other marine mammals have multiplied dramatically in countries where there is no hunting. Their increased numbers are now impacting seriously on both fishermen and beach-going families. Yet, when anyone proposes a cull or hunt - as UK and US fishermen have done, along with families on the US west coast - there is an outcry from the animal rights movement. This is followed by ill informed and outrageous stories in the mainstream press by journalists who accept the word of animal rights proponents rather than checking the facts.

The animal rights movement is an urban-based phenomenon whose ultimate goal is the ending of man's use of animals. They are seeking to do this by targeting rural people who need to kill to provide food and clothing for society and income to feed their families. Seals are merely a means toward achieving a larger goal.

It's seals today, but what about tomorrow? Will it be sheep, lambs, cows, calves, fish, pigs, crab and/or prawns?

The animal rights movement has hijacked or co-opted the phrases 'animal welfare' and 'animal conservation.' The same is true of the mainstream media, whose non-critical, non-analytical, knee-jerk coverage has turned them into little more than the movement's PR arm. This has enabled the movement to disguise its goals because they know that most reasonable people will accept these two concepts, while only about 4% of western society accepts the philosophy of animal rights.

This is the cultural imposition of the views of the few on the lives of the many. Canadian sealers are rural people earning a living from the sea. There is only one seal hunt in Canada and it is carried out by Inuit, Innu and Caucasian for the same reasons and in the same way.

Like all rural peoples - whether fishermen or farmers - they do not have salaries. They sustain themselves through a series of work activities. It is the sum total of this varied income that allows them to continue living in the villages and towns that have been their homes for generations. This is no different than rural people throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. It also applies to sealers from Greenland in the north to Namibia in the south; the USA in the west to Norway in the east.

Canadian sealers are strictly licensed.

The government monitors fishermen's actions daily to ensure humane killing practices and adherence to quotas, manages the hunt as well as sets quotas under rigorous scientific guidelines. It is, arguably, the world's best managed wildlife slaughter (another word co-opted to be a negative by the animal rights movement). Sealers use as much of the animal as possible to produce a range of products. They range from food and clothing to medicines, artisan art and souvenirs.

The animals sealers kill have the skin, fat, flippers (meat) and some carcasses prepared and stored on the boat. Remaining parts of the carcass are left on the ice, which melts to return the remains to the sea where it becomes food for fish and crustaceans. This avoids the land-based abattoir problem of disposing of offal produced by animal slaughter.

What could be more 'green'?

What could be more eco-friendly?

Sealing communities desire to see even greater use of the meat but, outside these communities, there is no cultural habit of eating seal. This is true even though seal is a high protein, lean and healthy meat. It also lends itself to 'meal' production - the same as fish meal. This has tremendous potential as a protein supplement in food aid programs.

Bambi syndrome prevails.

Given all of the above, it begs the question: Why attack sealing?

The sad reality is that we live in an urban world where Bambi syndrome has permeated city dwellers' consciousness. Urban people do not make the connection between the food they eat and the killing that produces that food. They are not used to seeing the killing that leads to the neatly packaged and plastic wrapped food they eat, or to the jackets, pants, hats, shoes, belts, purses and briefcases they wear or carry. Therefore they can, understandably, become upset when exposed to the production side of these products. Animal rights fanatics understand this and use Bambi syndrome as a tactic to further the goal of ending man's use of animals.

Sealing is the perfect vehicle for them because it is bloody, takes place in the open air in a beautiful environment - and the animals are wrongly seen to be cute and cuddly!

The same attack approach applies - currently to a lesser degree - to fur trappers, fur farmers, cattle ranchers, sheep and pig producers; those who raise lambs for food and clothing; also those who catch fish and crustaceans. Medical and pharmaceutical researchers are affected, too.

The animal rights movement raises its money from urban people, on the backs of fishermen and farmers, by selling the idea that killing animals for human use is "wrong." They manage that idea through their attacks on sealing: an easy sell because it looks ugly. But since when has ugly meant bad and pretty meant good?

The movement also recognises that it can flog this message in the mainstream press with relative ease, as most mainstream media is urban based and profit driven. Holding demonstrations against something, having celebrity spokespersons, bloody pictures, and presenting their message as conservation, welfare, green or eco-sensitive sells newspapers, magazines and TV shows.

By co-opting the words 'conservation, welfare and green, ' they are also able to appeal to urban-based politicians and, onwards, to parliaments. They are led to believe that their constituents genuinely accept the animal rights agenda. In reality very few constituents fall into the animal rights camp.

Confusing the Issue.

The vast majority of western people accept the need for animal conservation, humane killing principles, scientific resource management and a green approach to the sustainable use of natural resources - seals, cows, deer, pigs, birds, kangaroo, sheep, calves and so on - for human use. By confusing the issue, the animal rights movement can pursue its goal by drawing in both politicians and urban people under the guise of "doing good."

The animal rights movement also recognises that rural people are not a single group but, rather, are widely dispersed groups with diverse interests. The same is true of the manufacturers of food, clothing and medicinal products. They are then open to a 'divide and conquer' approach where they can be successfully pitted against each other.

Fishermen, farmers and manufacturers in the UK, Europe, parts of Canada and the US unconsciously accept attacks on their fellows in Canada, Greenland and Norway because they do not appear to harm them. For years the Inuit fell for the same tactic, but the experience of the EU bans on certain seal products led the Inuit Circumpolar Conference to write to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, rejecting the Bundestag's offer to exempt Inuit from impending German bans on more seal products because:

"It will hurt us."

Many in the international fur trade have also recognised the same point. They are extremely concerned and are articulating that concern.

Retail fish operations - and even general merchandisers throughout western society carrying seal products ranging from omega-3 seal oil to clothing - have been attacked by the animal rights movement though boycotts. Many, but not all, fail to understand that today this tactic is employed by the animal rights movement by focusing on seal-based products produced by fishermen but, tomorrow, it will lead to the same tactic being employed on those who sell any animal-based products.

Seals are simply the tactic… not the goal.

*Jim Winter is a journalist and an Association of Canadian Radio and Television Artists best documentary writer award winner. He is also the founding president of the Canadian Sealers' Association.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Seal Harvests and the Social Elite.

The following commentary was bought to my attention after being sent to the leadership team of the Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League (nldl.org), a citizen's coalition dedicated to protecting and encouraging economic, social and political growth in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The letter presented below clearly expresses how many people in the province feel about government's handling of annual seal protests. Sealing protests that take place each spring off our shores with the same regularity as the swallows returning to Capistrano.

I'd like to thank the author, Mike Kehoe, for sharing his insights and for granting me permission to publish his words to a much wider audience.

I hope you get well soon Mike.

Myles Higgins

Y A W N.............. Oops sorry. I always react with a yawn when I am forced to continuously watch a boring replay of a movie I have seen many times before.

So, here we go again. It's that time of year when animal rights militants make their annual pilgrimage to the cash box known as the Atlantic seal hunt. More structured footage, more taunting intimidation, more media events and more beautiful people on beautiful scenery splashed with the blood of so called "baby" seals.

More righteous indignation from the misinformed and the misled, spoon fed to them by those who see themselves and their cause of animal rights as the duty of the social elite. Greater gobs of verbal and written bile being directed at people whose only "crime" or "fault" is to pursue a legal activity.

Don't waste your time calling on Ottawa to ban anything from countries choosing to participate in this charade. It just will not happen. Ottawa will not ban the purchase of planes, wines, automobiles, meats or anything else in order to make the point it supports its people. Ottawa will say all is good and our engines are running smoothly in the voyage to deal with the damage caused by anti sealers. They have been saying this for 30 years.

Ottawa's game plan again this year will be to wait it out. To get past this season to the next as it has for the last 30 years or so. It will minimize damage to anything west of Port Aux Basque and tolerate anything east. Loyola Hearn will be no different. A sort of don't worry be happy approach. Ottawa will achieve this through controlling response to animal rights protestors by a relatively small group of sealing industry stakeholders. That group will be wined and dined, traveled and feted. There will be the token "non achievement" meetings with select groups but nothing will be designed to generate a long term solution. The meetings held are intended to provide deniability for Ottawa and Hearn when they are accused of doing nothing once again. Ottawa is ok with that.

To date no other industries have said they have had enough of the boycotts and are willing to fight back. However, some, tourism in PEI and some fisherman's groups in other Provinces are now becoming willing to throw in the towel as they feel abandoned by the sealing industry and the Federal Government. They want the issue out of their back yards. They see themselves receiving little more than the bile splatter from animal rights protest activities.

Using the Atlantic front for footage in order to fundraise while closing markets through legislation, appears to be working on some level. These tactics are not being offset in any meaningful way by a coordinated initiative to deal with misrepresentations, misunderstandings or outright lies against the seal hunt.

There is no "command central" to clearly identify the benefits of allowing sealing to continue. There has been no sign of the other Loyola here either, the newly minted Ambassador for Fisheries Conservation. How about it Loyola? You could do some good.

Until recently polls indicate that Canadians supported the rights of fishermen to pursue a legal, sustainable managed and humanely conducted harvest. After all, the slaughter houses of Alberta and canneries of B. C. will be next when these militants become unoccupied by seals. I fear this support may be slipping into lethargy though.

Has the battle been lost, should Canada continue (or as I would argue "begin") to fight?

Other stakeholders have been isolated from this fight by the Federal Government. Countries with similar problems such as Norway, Japan, Greenland, Iceland and other industries such as the meat, fur, oils, tourism etc and groups such as aboriginals have been successfully isolated and their effectiveness in the fight neutralized. They’ve all deliberately been kept away because their presence would cause Ottawa’s bureaucrats to lose control over the issue.

The solution, if there is to be one to be found, lies with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Province must take control of the promotion of the rights of people to engage in this legal harvest of animals and the full utilization of the products generated through a humanely conducted and sustainable harvest.

We must cause to be established an organization of all stakeholders to proactively bring forward the rights of humans to live off of meats, furs etc if they so choose. We must get a participatory buy-in from other stakeholders. Elevate the issue to the level it deserves and, on an interim basis, fund this initiative with a view to long term funding coming from resource utilization participants.

One last point, please don't depend on Ottawa to fund such a group.

Know what I mean????

By Mike Kehoe

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Seal Hunt Film Exposes Activists

Humane Society's Canadian wildlife issues director Rebecca Aldworth.
Photograph by: Canadian Press

Newspapers across Canada today are reporting that anti-sealing activists, particularly Rebecca Aldsworth of the HSUS, are desperately trying to block the airing of a sealing documentary on the CBC French language station. Apparently the footage does not reflect well on Ms. Aldsworth or her team and this upsets her greatly.

I guess you can only hide the truth for so long Rebecca.

Here are some excerpts from one such article published today.

OTTAWA - Animal-rights activists are considering legal action to block a controversial documentary on Canada's commercial seal hunt on RDI, the CBC's French-language news network.

Phoques, le film, (Seals, the movie), produced by Quebec filmmaker Raoul Jomphe, has ruffled feathers at the Humane Society of the United States, because of a scene showing members of the group watching a dying seal for more than an hour as they filmed a promotional video of the hunt on ice floes in Atlantic Canada...

Guylaine O'Farrell, a spokeswoman for CBC, said the public broadcaster could delay the documentary's air date if necessary, but explained this is part of a normal, in-house review process.

Meantime, Jomphe said he doesn't think anything needs to be changed in the movie, which was presented at a special screening for employees of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last week in Ottawa.

"The images speak for themselves," he said, pointing out that he included Aldworth's explanation about wanting to transport the seal to a hospital. "When they take images of hunters, they do editing, and that's what we see ... and suddenly she's all offended that she's being filmed in that way."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Power to the People of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ever since the idea of developing the lower Churchill project moved to the front burner I’ve been a strong advocate for a truly home grown project. The province should not only develop the lower Churchill itself but that it should do it in a way that allows the power is used at home and not simply sold across the border into Quebec, Ontario or the U.S.

If Newfoundland and Labrador is to have any hope of a future and of attracting major industrial investment it needs this energy to attract them. Selling the power outside the province just makes it easier for companies to setup shop elsewhere and continues the forced out-migration of our citizens. Aside from the need for industrial development here at home we also need this power to improve our environmental record and reduce greenhouse gasses for the benefit of all the world’s people.

Should the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador develop the lower Churchill for it’s own use?

How in the name of God, Allah or Mohammad can the government of Newfoundland and Labrador even consider doing anything else?

The province is in desperate need of power to fuel industrial growth. The entire province, especially the Labrador portion, is arguably one of the richest sources of raw materials on the continent, if not the planet itself. Currently much of the province's resources are exported for processing elsewhere. Why is this happening? The answer is simple. There is no available source of inexpensive and abundant power in the province that would enable smelters or other processing facilities to be built and efficiently run.

I say “no available source” because there is indeed abundant power and there always has been. Never the less, it's not available for use in Newfoundland and Labrador. Instead the power is being exported and used to fuel the economic engines of Quebec and beyond.

Can the province afford to make the same mistake with the Lower Churchill as it did with the Upper? Forget for a moment the bad financial deal that was signed in the past. The more critical issue is whether or not the province can afford to give up the potential industrial development and economic growth that would come from controlling and using a vast supply of power right here at home.

According to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the province currently has a generating capacity of 7,289 megawatts for local use and for export. While our current needs are largely being met (with the exception of certain locations in Labrador and on the island) there is very little power available for growth and expansion. Hydro predicts that we will hit the proverbial wall and have difficulty even supplying our existing needs in less than 5 years. Capacity and cost issues are plain to see all around us. Some paper mills have been struggling with a limited availability of low cost power in recent years and this led directly to the closure of the mill in Stephenville. In a limited power environment, such as exists today, how can ayone expect major industries to setup shop here?

The lower Churchill project has the ability to produce 2,824 megawatts or an additional 40% above and beyond the capacity currently in place in the province.

Even though development estimates on the project run as high as $9 billion dollars, this is a bargain at the price.

It's been estimated that the Upper Churchill system has generated over $24 billion in profits since coming on line in 1972 (approximately 96% of those profits have gone to Quebec Hydro, 4 % to NL). The value of clean power continues to rise and it's a revenue stream that will never stop flowing. Although the Lower Churchill is only half the size of the upper Churchill project, the numbers are still staggering and once the initial outlay has been recovered, revenues from hydro power are free to flow faster than the river itself.

Financing should not be an issue in the current political environment. The provincial government is in better financial shape than it was in the 1970s, when the upper Churchill deal was signed. For that matter, it's in a better position than at any time since joining confederation, thanks to high oil revenues. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect the federal government to cost share the project based on its green value. The situation simply requires the action of a provincial government that is willing to be aggressive in attracting industry partners who are looking to setup shop in a low cost energy market.

Canada has extremely large and difficult commitments to meet on the environment. The Lower Churchill project alone would allow the Country to meet nearly 10% of its initial Kyoto commitments (should Canada ever decide to move on that issue). This doesn’t even take into account the additional benefits to be gained by using most of the power in Labrador while directing less than 20% of it to the island. That 20% would allow the shut down the Holyrood oil fired generating facility, an environmental black eye for the entire province and the Country.

The Holyrood station burns an estimated 6,000 barrels of heavy crude per day in each of three units, for a total of 18,000 barrels per day. It also uses over 750,000 litres of sea water per minute for cooling and 900,000 litres of fresh water for make up purposes. In return for this environmental disaster the plant generates a paltry 490 megawatts of power. Shutting down this plant would not only help Ottawa meet its environmental challenges but imagine how much money could be saved if Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro didn’t have to buy 6.5 million barrels of oil a year at market prices in order to run the Holyrood plant?

Not only should the lower Churchill project be developed by the province and for the province, the power should be used to attract industry and improve environmental conditions right here at home. The only power that should ever be considered for external sale is any unusable over capacity that might exist and any over capacity should be viewed as a problem to be addressed and resolved as quickly as possible.

The timeline being considered for this project would see first power flow from the lower Churchill by 2014. This gives the province seven years to market the power potential and to attract energy hungry companies from around the globe. Companies that are likely to jump at the chance for access to clean, stable and reasonably priced power in an area with a readily available workforce.

The potential is staggering in proportion. No longer would raw ore need to be pulled from the earth only to be processed elsewhere. Smelters could be built in the province.

No longer would raw materials of any kind need to leave for processing. Factories and mills would be able to setup shop in the province.

Perhaps most importantly, no longer would our people need to migrate out of the province in order to find work. The work could come to us.

Retaining control of this power is not something that's nice to do. It's something that must be done for the province's very survival.

If the project is managed correctly, within a year or two of first power, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador could be in a position where it is experiencing impressive industrial growth.

Within a few years of first power, the province could find itself experiencing in-migration rather than out-migration.

Within a decade of first power the province could find itself with a booming oil industry that, although important, is only a small percentage of over all provincial revenues rather than its life’s blood. A life's blood that will one day run out.

Within three decades of first power the Upper Churchill contract will expire and the staggering revenues from that mega project, as well as the available power it contains, can begin to flow to it’s rightful owners.

In less than 50 years, less than the time the province has been a part of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador might just experience a population explosion. Power brings industry, industry brings jobs, jobs bring wealth and wealth brings people. The migration of 1 or 2 million people into a province with a land mass the size of Newfoundland and Labrador would not be a problem, in fact it might be a god send.

Finally, you add to all of the benefits outlined above the ultimate benefit to our province. Massive in-migration would eventually equate an increased population and a larger population translates into additional seats on Parliament Hill. With those additional seats would come an entirely new kind of power altogether. A power that has been lacking for too long in Eastern Canada.