Da Legal Stuff...

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benedict Arnold is Alive and Well in Newfoundland and Labrador

Boy, oh boy. It’s too bad the days of dragging a traitor into the streets and ending their actions quickly and brutally have gone by the wayside. It’s too bad as well that Newfoundland and Labrador seems to breed these traitors like so much vermin.

They crawl out from under rock after rock as soon as someone in Ottawa waves a carrot under their noses. Maybe that’s how this place got its nickname. Only a rock could hide so many vile and disgusting specimens.

So who’s the latest traitor to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? Well, unlike the ones we can all name from memory from years gone by, this time the traitor is nameless, at least for now.

CBC is reporting two distinct possibilities but who really knows, except the whoremaster himself, Loyola Hearn.

According to Hearn:

"I have eyes, ears near Williams"

The CBC article goes on to say:

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has thrown more fuel into an ongoing feud with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, with a claim that he has eyes and ears inside Williams's own government.

"There are times I'm sure I know as much as what's going on in cabinet and caucus or on the eighth floor as the premier does," said Hearn, referring to Williams's office in Confederation Building in St. John's.

"I always do. That's why we can always be one step ahead of him," Hearn said in a year-end interview with CBC News. "I have friends throughout cabinet and caucus."

Hearn, the MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, has been locked in a verbal battle with Williams for more than two years, and has suffered more than a few barbs from Williams over the federal government's handling of equalization and other issues.

Nonetheless, Hearn said he enjoys strong personal relationships with key provincial Progressive Conservatives, and says some not only support the federal Conservatives, but are considering a jump to the federal party for elected office.

"They do what they have to do and I don't blame them," said Hearn. "But given the choice, they are still there to help, support and run for us perhaps…

The opening of at least one traditional Tory seat has sparked speculation about new candidates, including former provincial cabinet ministers Jack Byrne and Tom Osborne, both of whom were dropped from cabinet in October's shuffle.Neither has ruled out a federal candidacy, and Hearn said both are names he would like to see on a ballot.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Prosperous Future - Consequences to Come

N.L. braces for prosperous future - and consequences that come with it


The future of Canada's youngest province has never shone brighter. But the prosperity that awaits Newfoundland and Labrador threatens to bring a new set of problems it has never experienced before.

For generations, Newfoundland has struggled with mounting multibillion-dollar debt, staggering unemployment and make-work projects that failed to turn the province's economy around.
National columnists labelled Newfoundlanders "professional welfare cases" - words that still sting many residents here.

But the province's outlook has changed dramatically. Back-to-back record surpluses, growing tourism and a boom in mineral development and the offshore oil sector have combined to make Newfoundland the Celtic Tiger of Canada.

For the first time in its history, 60 years after it joined the country, the province is poised to become a have-province by March 2009 - a great source of pride for Premier Danny Williams.
"We hope to make a significant contribution to this country," Williams said in an interview, echoing the unfulfilled dream of his predecessors.

"We want to pay our way, we want to earn our own keep."

And the boom is expected to last for some time. Primarily powered by high oil prices and expansions in the offshore industry, economists are forecasting Newfoundland to remain a contributor to the federal equalization program for at least 15 to 20 years.

Citing approved and pending developments such as Hebron, the White Rose extension, Hibernia South and the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, Prof. Wade Locke says Newfoundland is entering a period of prolonged, unprecedented growth.

"If the price of oil falls below US$40, then we've got some issues on our hands here, but nobody's expecting that at this point in time," said Locke, an economics professor at Memorial University.

"All the fundamentals are lining up to provide a sustained increase in economic activity and standard of living and well-being here that up till now has not been realized."

Already, the benefits and drawbacks generated by the province's scorching economic growth of nearly eight per cent this year are beginning to show.

Boutique hotels and upscale restaurants are springing up in St. John's. Help wanted signs hang in the windows of downtown shops. Bidding wars have erupted for houses that would've languished on the market a decade ago.

Home sales in eastern Newfoundland jumped 68 per cent from October to November, the largest single market sales increase that month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported last week.

The other end of the province is also going through growing pains. Labrador City, fuelled by a soaring demand from China for its rich deposits of iron ore, is experiencing a labour shortage coupled with a housing crunch.

Small businesses have struggled to keep workers, with some having been forced to shut down.
"If you want a real world example of what might happen, have a look at what's happening in Labrador City right now," Locke warned.

Earlier this month, the province projected a historic surplus of $881.8 million, money it will use to pay down some of its whopping $10.8 billion debt and fund an ambitious infrastructure program.

"You'll see new hospitals, you'll see new schools, you'll see vastly improved roads which had deteriorated dramatically," Williams said.

"You're going to see a much more modern Newfoundland and Labrador."

But rising revenues have spawned rising expectations. Despite the new-found flow of riches, the rural-urban gap that divides Newfoundland is expected to grow unless the provincial government devises a plan to share the wealth and stir economic development.

"Anything we do, we want to see that it generates employment," said Steve Carey, mayor of Daniel's Harbour on Newfoundland's west coast.

"If it doesn't generate employment and all of this is just make-work, they can stick it up their ass because it's no good."

Like other small towns, Daniel's Harbour has seen its young leave in droves. Since 2001, its population has dwindled to 288 from 350 - a 17.7 per cent decline, according to Statistics Canada.

"It's just about all of the younger ones, the ones who would be having babies and building homes," Carey said.

"In 10 more years, most of the rural towns in Newfoundland, a good majority, won't exist."
The sudden spurt of affluence is also stoking fears of an anticipated spike in crime.

"Crime does follow prosperity," said Joe Browne, chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Officers with the force have sought the advice of other jurisdictions in Canada that have enjoyed similarly rapid economic growth on how to stem a rise in drug activity.

Investigators have already detected a steady increase in the sale of harder narcotics, such as cocaine, on the streets of St. John's.

"There seems to be more of it available," Browne said, singling out the drug trade as the police force's biggest challenge for the future.

Still, when compared with other regions of the country, the province remains a safe place to live, Browne said.

"We're still a friendly place and I hope that never changes, and we'll do everything on our part to ensure that it doesn't," he said.

"What's happening on the positive side of the province overshadows by a mile our concerns about the increase in crime activity."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Danny Williams, Newsmaker of the Year

Not to blow Danny Williams' horn, God knows he doesn't need my help, but it's interesting how quickly times change in politics. Just a few short months ago the newspapers "upalong" were calling for Danny to be tarred and feathered. He was called everything from a little Hitler to Danny Chavez. Oh, how times have changed. I present a couple of examples simply as a reminder that nothing ever stays the same and we should never forget that.

As the year draws to a close at least two of the naysayers have done a complete 180 on the Premier and are suddenly his biggest fans. Case in point is a recent article in the Globe and Mail that lists this years "Hits" and "Misses". Williams of course, now that he's proven the pundits wrong, has moved from a miss to a big hit.

Globe and Mail - December 21, 2007

Hit: Danny Williams

In April, 2006, Danny Williams, the cable TV multimillionaire-turned-populist Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, had the gall to say no to Exxon Mobil Corp. over the proposed multibillion-dollar development of the offshore Hebron oil field.

With oil then at $70 (U.S.) a barrel, Mr. Williams wanted a much better deal for his poor province than the ones previous administrations had managed to wrench from Big Oil. He wanted equity, he wanted super-royalties at high oil prices. Exxon, with its hard-rock fighting fists, took the tack it takes when it's unhappy, loudly stomping away from the bargaining table, never to return (in theory).

As potential piles of new dollars vanished, Danny Boy was ridiculed by the capitalist press, derisively dubbed “Danny Chavez,” as though there was any real similarity between Mr. Williams, a hard-bargaining capitalist, and Hugo Chavez, the Bolivar socialist in Venezuela.
How dare Mr. Williams, the armchair quarterbacks chimed, scrap with Exxon? A pipsqueak premier simply doesn't get the economics of international oil, and taking on the CEO of the biggest public company on Earth was just dumb. Newfoundland, the consensus suggested, would pay the price for years.

Well, well, a year later, look who comes slinking back (with oil nearing $100 a barrel). Exxon, after seeing its assets basically seized by the state in Venezuela, figured that the Rock ain't such a bad place to play, and generally agreed to all the terms that Mr. Williams demanded in 2006.
Now, instead of the predicted poverty, there's the “Danny Williams effect” as the local economy surges. “Oh Danny Boy,” Newfoundlanders sang as they bestowed a massive fresh majority on the man in the fall, “we love you so.”

Another very outspoken and misguided commentator, Jim Meek, a man I personally brought to task over his comments about the province (more so than Williams himself), now clearly sees how idiotic his earlier comments were. It looks good on him.

Danny Williams, newsmaker of the year
Thu. Dec 27 - 7:14 AM
Halifax Chronicle Herald

SORRY, but Danny Williams is the guy.

With apologies to the Pink Shirt boys and Bill Casey, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is Atlantic Canada’s newsmaker of the year.

On the Rock, he’s a rock star – a celebrity who, like Madonna or Sting or Pele, is known by a single name.

Sure, "Danny" is two parts bully, three parts bombast, and all parts brilliant. And he’s hard to figure out from day to day.

But he’s proved that he knows not only how to fight, but how to win.

That’s the big change.

Former premier Brian Peckford fought Ottawa for control of offshore resources – and lost in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Former premier Brian Tobin fought foreign fleets to protect fish stocks, but it just didn’t work out.

Former premier Joey Smallwood thought he was fighting for a fair share of revenues from the Churchill Falls power project. And 40 years later, Quebec is still making off with a lion’s share of the revenues.

Like these predecessors, Danny Williams took on formidable enemies – first Ottawa, and then powerful international oil companies.

His critics (including this one) said that he too was sure to lose.

And that he couldn’t have been serious when he stormed away from talks with Chevron Canada Resources over development of the Hebron oil field.

After all, Chevron could spend its billions elsewhere.

And the big multinational would never come back as long as Williams drew breath in the premier’s office in St. John’s.

As for the province taking an ownership position in the Hebron project, that would simply never happen.

Except it did.

In August, Chevron let the province buy a small equity position in the offshore oil project.
And the precedent was set.

Last week, the province again did the thing that couldn’t be done.

It purchased a share of another offshore oil project, taking a smallish equity position in the new phase of PetroCanada’s White Rose development.

Was this a surprise?

Two years ago, it would have been a shock. The oil industry – just like Margaret Thatcher – was "not for turning."

Then Danny stripped the oil execs of their camouflage gear.

Who says the ExxonMobils of the world won’t work with government partners?

Gee, they already do so in Libya and Saudi Arabia and quiet, staid, democratic Norway.

Danny figured this out, but that’s only half the point.

What’s remarkable about the Williams story is not the transformation – much less the conquest – of big oil.

Instead, it is the sea change in Newfoundland itself.

Pre-Danny, this was the place that could always whine but never win.

"Outside" interests – "fish lords" from England, power utilities from Quebec, mining companies from Ontario – always managed to strip the province of its resources and its dignity.

That’s the myth, anyway – the founding faith of the old fishing colony in the northwest Atlantic.
With the "win" over Hebron, and the earlier victory over Ottawa on the issue of offshore resource revenues, all that has changed.

So Danny’s the man.

I’d say he walks on water, but that’s a foolish notion to anyone born and raised in a seafaring – and sea-fearing – place.

But when real estate prices soared in St. John’s in the last quarter of this year, the Toronto newspapers did call it the "Danny Williams effect."

For most voters, Williams has entered a blessed "zone" – a sweet spot in which all that’s good attaches itself to him and all that’s bad gets blamed on someone else.

This gives him plenty of room to change things.

And he’s done so in telling ways.

For instance, Williams has lowered tuition fees in a drive to educate more people.

This is a better long-term strategy for building an economic and population base than putting up a donair advertisement in downtown Toronto. (Are you listening, Rodney?)

Williams has even made sense of the fishing industry, by allowing some assets to be sold to foreign or out-of-province companies.

This was done – by the way – in the face of four centuries of an entrenched fishing culture. In short, it’s not small stuff.

And I’m left to conclude that Danny – for all his blarney and spoiled-kid tantrums – is the rarest of God’s creatures, the right leader for his time and place.

With the new year upon us it pays to remember that no matter how we are perceived or how bad things may seem, things can turn on a dime.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Back Room Politics - A Study in Confusion

Boy would I love to be a fly on the wall inside Stephen Harper’s, or for that matter Danny Williams’, office these days. Then again in order to know what's really going on it's more likley I'd have to get inside the heads of these two men. Now that's a scary thought. I guess there'll be no sleep for me tonight.

Seriously, anyone watching recent events in Newfoundland and Labrador knows there has to be something going on behind the scenes, very subtly of course, but something is happening.

It's almost like the feeling you get when you're watching a thriller and you know something shocking is about to happen but you can't quite put your finger on it.

Premier Williams met with Stephen Harper a few weeks ago and came out of that meeting saying he had offered the PM a number of options that would help offset the $10 or $11 billion dollar shortfall left outstanding by the Federal government’s broken promises on resource revenues and unilateral changes to the Atlantic Accord.

The thing is, Williams refused to say publicly what those options were except to say the list was a long one. One that immediately comes to mind is the Lower Churchill. Could one of those items have something to do with the development of that hydro mega-project?

Of course for years the big thorn in everyone’s side in Newfoundland and Labrador has been the billions Quebec rakes in from Upper Churchill power while the province barely makes enough to keep the turbines spinning. The Lower Churchill is seen as a chance to actually make some money from the huge river’s resources but once again Quebec stands in the way.

It makes one wonder if, since the Harper/Williams meeting took place, some sort of agreement on the Lower Churchill is in the works and if so, what could it be? Why do I say this?

Well, a few days ago the chairman of the board for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Dean McDonald, resigned suddenly. His resignation took effect immediately and he did not make any public comments on the move.

When you consider that McDonald did the same thing once before, when a former provincial government was about to sign a deal with Quebec that fell far short of providing the province with the value it deserves from the resource, the reason for the chills running down my spine become clearer perhaps.

There’s certainly room for some speculation on what all of this means. But wait, there’s more.

Mere days after the Harper/Williams "summit" Federal Minister Loyola Hearn showed up in the province on another vote buying excursion, doling out money like a drunken sailor.

For a minute or two it almost seemed as if the ice had been broken between the two levels of government and Ottawa was trying to make some sort of amends for the dirty trick they pulled on equalization. But just as everyone started thinking a truce was in place Hearn went before the microphones to tell the media that Santa (Stephen Harper) is more likely to give a child (Danny Williams) what he wants for Christmas if the child is a “good boy” and not a “bad one”.

So much for the cease fire, or is it?

Of course Hearn’s comments touched off the ire of the Premier and many voters in the province but somehow the response to Hearn's condescension seems almost muted and certainly not up to the standard of anger we’ve come to expect from Danny boy.

Of course it could be that the Christmas spirit is flowing through Danny’s veins these days but I doubt it.

Coming out of their meeting Williams gave the PM until Christmas to respond to his demands but just this week things changed once again when Harper and Williams spoke on the phone and Williams stretched that deadline to January 11, when the First Ministers are slated to meet and discuss the economy. If nothing is done, Williams claims, the ABC (Anyone but Conservative) campaign will be back on in Newfoundland and Labrador.

So why did these two adversaries talk on the phone this week after meeting recently and after not speaking at all for over a year?

They spoke because Stephen Harper decided to name John Crosby, a former federal Cabinet Minister (under Brian Mulroney), as the new Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The question then becomes, why did John Crosby, who has been retired from politics for quite some time, warrant such a plum post?

Could it be because Skipper John, one of the architects of the Atlantic Accord and a past federal Finance Minister, who is no fan of Williams’ approach to the whole equalization affair, has never the less been very outspoken in his support of the Province’s position on the matter?

Crosby has said on several occasions that he believes the federal government is wrong in this and, knowing John’s outspoken personality, it’s likely he’s been talking the same talk inside the Conservative party, perhaps fostering descent and divisions among its members.

Along with the post of Lieutenant Governor comes the obligation to not comment on political matters or to take sides in any disputes. So perhaps this is Harper’s way of making John shut his big trap and anyone who knows anything about John Crosby knows the only hope you have of shutting him up is to put him in a position where he simply can’t talk. The Lieutenant Governor’s position works as well as any gag and it’s less likely to leave unsightly gag blemishes on the skin.

Then again there’s always the Schreiber affair and the fact that Crosby is on the list of potential witnesses who may be called to testify. Perhaps the PM’s offer of a plum position at the trough has nothing to do with the equalization debate and more to do with getting on John’s good side before he sits in front of the ethics committee to discuss exactly what he knows about Mr. Harper’s good friend and advisor Brian Mulroney.

Oh to be a fly on the wall…

In politics they say a week is a lifetime. With the way things are going now I wouldn't be surprised if before the new year is over we see:

1) A deal on the Lower Churchill that sees Quebec pickup another bundle of cash for decades to come at the expense of the owners of the resource.

2) Stephen Harper gaining a majority government (thanks in some small way to an end, or at least half hearted, ABC campaign in Atlantic Canada.

3) Danny Williams planning his exit strategy from provincial politics and positioned inside the Conservative party for a future run at federal politics

4) John Crosby blowing an artery in his brain after biting down too hard on his tongue for a few months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NL First Now an Official Federal Party

The following press release was issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party today. Congrats to all. It's nice to see the guys in the party standing up and giving voters a real alternative to a nationally controlled party.

News Release - NL First Party - 2007-12-19

New Newfoundland & Labrador Federal Party Formed

St. John's - Elections Canada has recently confirmed that the Newfoundlandand Labrador First Party, led by former PC Cabinet Minster Tom Hickey, is eligible to be registered as a Federal Party.

With the completion of some ongoing paperwork, and the nomination of one or more candidates for the impending federal election, the party will meet all the criteria for full registration.

The NL First Party (http://www.nlfirst.ca/) will be fielding a full slate for the next federal election.

The party is pleased to welcome applications from anyone who would like to represent Newfoundland and Labrador interests first in Canada's next Parliament.

Interested persons can contact the party by e-mail at info.nlf.ca or call Tom @ 709-726-5327.

Tom is more than willing to discuss with any perspective candidate or voter the party's commitment to presenting a united front to the Federal Government and the people of Canada on issues of extreme importance to Newfoundland and Labrador's future.

Only the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party can obtain a Fair Deal from Ottawa. We cannot count on any of the old line federal parties.

In the next federal election voters can now cast their vote for Newfoundlandand and Labrador First rather than "Anybody But Conservative".

- 30 -

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dean McDonald Left the Wind Farm - Danny, Danny Oh!

Today Dean McDonald resigned as Chairman of the Board for Newfoundland and Labador Hydro, effective immediately.

According to Premier Danny Williams, McDonald will be replaced by former MHA and cabinet minister John Ottenheimer. The question on everyone's mind after the announcement is why McDonald suddenly decided to vacate his post.

Premier Williams is saying the decision was made for personal reasons. Apparently since selling Persona Communications (after it received a $10 million dollar government contract without public tender), McDonald has been busy with his capital venture company and has not been able to give NL Hydro the attention it deserves at this critical time. A time when Lower Churchill development plans are being drawn up, when NL Hydro is entering the oil and gas market space and as new wind power developments are coming on stream.

There has been no comment publicly from McDonald today.

This is the second time McDonald has resigned from the same position. The first time was under the former Liberal provincial government of Roger Grimes. McDonald resigned at that time saying he could not in good concience allow the Grimes government to sign a deal to develop the Lower Churchill power project without going public. According to McDonald it was a deal that would export power through Quebec at what he believed were less than optimal returns for the province.

This begs the question, with McDonald's immediate resignation, with a new plan for Lower Churchill development on the drawing board and with with the current silence of Mr. McDonald, is the province once again about to sell out the people by selling off the Lower Churchill development Quebec?

Since the Lower Churchill project moved back to the front burner the Williams government has claimed to be seriously considering going the Atlantic route rather than wheeling power through Quebec. Today's events have raised speculation that a decision has already been made to export the power rather than use to to attract local industry and even on how that power will leave the province.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mulroney - Schreiber: With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemas

The headline might make some think of the mess Schreiber is bringing to light and whether or not he was a friend to Mulroney or a curse. Don`t jump to conclusions. From all the testimony so far in Ottawa and especially after today the story is just the opposite.

Personal Opinion Alert: Brian Mulroney is an ASSHOLE!!!

Yes, Schreiber may be a sleazy character who brokerd undercover deals in Ottawa.

Yes, Schreiber may have been the middle man for millions as they passed from multi-national companies to political figures.

Yes, Schreiber may be doing whatever he can to aviod extridition.

That said, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, after saying he only knew Schreiber in the most limited sense, after he denied taking money from Schreiber and taking 2.1 million from Canadian tax payers, after spending a lot of time with Mr. Schreiber as everyone now kows was a close friend, confidant and business aquaintance, Mulroney has shown his true character by saying in his testimony today that one of the worst things that ever happened to him was being introduced to Mr. Shreiber.

This coming from a man who had Mr. Schreiber to his home. From a man who was more than happy to accept Schreiber`s middle man support when it came to stabbing Joe Clark in the back and taking control of the PC party (with the help of Frank Moores`money laundering) and couldn`t wait to make a cash grab from Mr. Schreiber when he was leaving office.

It`s enough to make a poor little guy like me gag!!!

Schreiber may be a shady figure but Brian Mulroney is below contempt.

With friends like him who needs enemas