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Friday, October 31, 2008

Harper Gets a "Two'fer"

There is no way to sugar coat it, no chance of doing anything but calling it like it is. Stephen Harper has decided to send a clear message to the voters of Newfoundland and Labrador that he is not pleased with the province and he's done it by putting his most prominent rival, Peter MacKay, on the hot spot.

We all know there’s no love lost between Danny Williams and Stephen “Steve” Harper, that’s a given.

Clearly if the PM wanted to bury the hatchet he could have named his newest PEI MP to the job of dealing with the Newfoundland and Labrador file, in addition her new fisheries portfolio. It seems however that a fresh new beginning is not on the agenda, but what the hell, who can blame him.

I personally voted anti-Conservative in the last election but I'm willing to live with the outcome. Bring it on.

Personal perspectives aside, when it comes to Stephen Harper, love him or hate him nobody has ever accused the man of being stupid.

Remember that the Conservative party was formed from the merger of the old Alliance and PC parties, thanks to then PC leader Peter MacKay.

Fast forward a few years and Stephen Harper may be the PM, he may also be the party leader, but he knows damn well that half of his caucus are former MacKay supporters and one mistake can end his career in a flash.

This isn’t news. It’s the reason why the PM named MacKay to the out-post of Foreign Affairs last time around and followed that up with the lead role on Defense, two positions that would assuredly keep his top contender out of the Country as much as humanly possible, the latter position guaranteed as well that MacKay would be on the firing line for anyone opposed to the war in Afghanistan.

Kudo's to Mr. Harper for keeping his enemies away from the fortress but this time around he's really out done himself.

This time around Harper managed to get himself a “twofer”.

Not only did he slap Danny Williams in the face by putting the Newfoundland and Labrador file in the hands of the very man who called the premier a “Mad Hatter” the day after the election, but by assigning MacKay to the Defense role once again, he knows full well that the job will put MacKay in the crosshairs of the provincial government and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador

During the 2006 (that's right, 2006) election campaign, while trolling for votes in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Harper spelled out in his campaign literature (and in a letter to the Premier of the province) that the future of the armed forces base at 5 Wing Goose Bay would be guaranteed. He told anyone who would listen that a rapid response battalion would be posted at the base if he were elected. Considering that the Conservatives have yet to live up to that promise after having led the government for more than two years and after winning another election, I suspect that naming Peter MacKay to the Newfoundland and Labrador file as well as to the role of Defense Minster is no accident on the part of the PM.

Likely the Goose Bay situation will make MacKay’s life a living hell right up until the moment the next writ is dropped.

A point will come when the Minister will have to answer the hard questions on theis issue that he and his boss have tried so hard to dodge up to this point.

I have to say, I’m not a big fan of Stephen Harper but I'll give the guy credit on this one. Two birds with one stone.

Well played.

Well played indeed.

Unfortunately with the PM is working so hard to take his anger out on the province and make Peter MacKay's political life as tough as possible it doesn't bode well for the people of Goose Bay or the possiblity that Mr. Harper will keep his election promise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Heaven or Democratic Hell?

Not so far into the future the day finally arrives when Stephen Harper shuffles off this mortal coil and, as we all must, arrives at the pearly gates to learn his fate for all of eternity.

'Welcome to forever,' says kindly old St. Peter as he greets the one time Prime Minister in a Fatherly sort of way.

“Thank-you St. Peter” the former Mr. Harper responds. “I’m glad to see I made it to Heaven. Then again I knew I would after so many years of public service to my fellow man.”

“Not so fast,” replies St. Peter. “I have orders from the Big Guy Himself in how I should dispense with your special case.”

“Since you have spent your lifetime working in a democratic environment, where people are free to choose their future as they see fit, I’ve been ordered to give you a choice rarely offered. You have a choice between spending an eternity in Heaven or in Hell,” St. Peter says. “It’s your call.”

“Well, that’s an easy choice,” replies Harper, “I choose Heaven of course”.

“Unfortunately it’s not that easy,” continues St. Peter, “you see all you think you know about the afterlife comes from what you’ve read or heard from others while on earth. In order to make sure you have a full understanding of the choice placed before you God has ordered that you spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Only after you have done this will you be able to make an informed decision on your future.”

'But I've made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,' Harper replies.'

I'm sorry. But we have our rules,' Peter interjects. And, with that he escorts Harper to an elevator where he goes down, down, down...all the way to Hell.

When the doors open Harper finds himself standing at the edge of a lush golfcourse. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The temperature is a perfect 23 degrees. In the distance is the most stately and beautiful club house he has ever seen.

Standing near him are dozens of people he has known and worked closely with in the past. All of whom have pre-deceased him of course.

Brian Mulroney smiles knowingly and waves him over for a chat.

Ryan Sparrow is lining up an easy 2 foot putt while past cabinet ministers and caucus members look on dressed in the most expensive clothing, sipping cool drinks and simply enjoying the perfection of a marvelous day.

As Harper approaches, one by one they begin to turn toward him with welcoming smiles and warm handshakes the likes of which he never experienced in all of his years on earth.

Eagerly they surround him and begin to reminisce about the good times and how they helped shape the future of an entire Country. Eventually they invite him to join them in a round of golf where he discovers that he simply cannot miss a shot no matter how difficult it might seem. He finishes with a score that would be the envy of even the best PGA pro.

Near the day’s end they all retire to the club house where they dine luxuriously on the juiciest Nova Scotia lobster and Alberta beef ever to grace a dining plate, all washed down the most expensive French wine which flows throughout the meal like tap water.

Finally the Devil himself arrives for an after dinner cognac and personally offers his guest a snifter to finish off the evening.

“Really I can’t, says Harper. I’ve imposed enough.

“Don’t be so foolish my friend”, says the Devil. “This is hell. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary we are all friends here. We look out for one another. You can eat and drink to your hearts delight. You’ve led a long and eventful life and you deserve a break. It’s your turn to reap the benefits of all your hard work. Believe me it just gets better from here.”

Harper takes the cognac and sips it slowly as he listens to a joke or two as told by the Devil himself, realizing that, in spite of his reputation, the prince of the underworld is really not such a bad fellow after all.

Before he knows it, it's time to go. Everyone gives the former Prime Minister a big hug and waves as he hesitantly steps onto the elevator and heads upward toward Heaven.When the doors open, he is once again greeted by St. Peter who informs him that it’s now time to visit Heaven.

Once inside the pearly gates Harper is left to hang out with large groups of honest, good natured and well meaning people for a full 24 hours. During that time the residents of Heaven sit around in flowing robes and simply enjoy each other's company while talking about beauty, philosophy and the daily activities of the mere mortals below them.

There is not a stiff drink to be had, no lush golf course to play on and no fancy clothes to wear. Yes, the food is good but it’s by no means lobster or prime steak and the worst part of all is the fact that most of the residents appear to be from a poorer class than he would prefer to associate himself with.

He doesn't see anybody he knows and isn't even treated like someone special!

With the day done, St. Peter returns and says, 'Well Stephen, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now must choose where you want to live for all of eternity. Please pick your future."

With the 'Deal or No Deal' theme music playing softly in the background, the former Mr. Harper reflects on his fortunes for a minute or so. Then answers:

“Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all --but I really think I belong in Hell with all of my friends.”

“I thought you might feel that way”, replies St. Peter who gently escorts him to the elevator where once again he descends down, down,down, all the way to Hell.

When the doors open this time he finds himself not on a lush golf course but instead in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste. A place every bit as desolate as the hottest Arab desert, but worse, far, far worse.

The former Harper is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in filthy rags and chained together, picking up roadside rubbish and dead animals before placing the vile refuse in black plastic bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, their faces and hands blackened with putrid grease and grime. As he stands there speechless the Devil comes over and puts an arm around his shoulder.

“I don't understand,” stammers a shocked Harper, “Yesterday when I was here there was a golf course and a club-house and we ate lobster and drank cognac. We lazed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland and nothing is as it seemed back then”

The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly and purrs, “Didn’t St. Peter tell you that God wanted you to exercise your democratic right based on freedom of choice?”

“Well, yes, but things seemed so different yesterday, this is not what I wanted”, Harper whines.

“Oh, yes but you see yesterday we were Campaigning for your support. Now that you’ve made your decision it’s back to business as usual. Thanks for your vote by the way.”

Labrador Mayor Fighting for Town's Future

The Mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Leo Abbass, has made his case for 5 Wing Goose Bay at the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress during their annual meeting held in Fredericton.

Mr. Abbass won unanimous support from the Congress for his decision to pressure the federal government on living up to its commitment for the air base in the community. Mr. Abbass would like the federal government to do what they said they would two elections ago and make the base an operational military requirement going forward.

During the 2006 federal election (that’s right, 2006, not 2008) Stephen Harper promised in writing that his government would station a rapid response battalion as well as other resources at the strategically located base. Since that time both the Prime Minister and his successive Ministers of Defense, the most recent being Peter MacKay, have ducked any questions on their true intentions for the future of 5 Wing and continue to repeat when asked, that the future of the base will be addressed “at a later time”.

During the 2006 campaign while trolling for votes in Newfoundland and Labrador Mr. Harper spelled out in his election literature and in a letter to the Premier of the province, among several other promises that have not been delivered on or broken outright, that the future of 5 Wing would be guaranteed and that the battalion would be posted there if he were elected.

Considering that the Conservatives led the government for more than two years after making that promise and since then another election has been fought, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Mayor Abbass is more than a little frustrated with a situation that so deeply impacts the future of the base and his community, a situation around which all discussion is being avoided like the plague by members of the Conservative government.

It’s doubtful that the limited power inherent in the combined weight of the Atlantic Mayors will do much to shift the federal agenda but at least they are backing Mr. Abbass who is willing to stand up and be heard. That’s really all anyone can ask of him or the Congress.

It remains to be seen if even a single Conservative MP elected in Atlantic Canada will have the backbone to listen to the constituent’s wishes and to do the same inside their caucus.

If history is any example, finding an MP with a backbone inside the Conservative party will about as easy as finding a visible minority at a Ku Klux Klan meeting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Newfoundland & Labrador First Party Selects New Leader

The Newfoundland and Labrador First Party(NL-First) recently announced the selection of a new party leader following a respectable federal election debut that saw the upstart party capture 1.7% of the popular vote.

The new party leader, Wayne Bennett, who ran as a candidate for Humber-St. Barbe Baie-Verte replaces outgoing leader, Tom Hickey, who led the party since its inception in 2005 and is stepping down due to health concerns.

During the federal campaign Bennett garnered 3.7% voter support in the Liberal stronghold held by incumbent Gerry Byrne, who captured nearly 68% of the vote. Bennett's showing was considered a respectable debut in a riding where even the more widely recognized Conservative and NDP brands were limited to minimal support.

Mr. Bennett, who retired from the Canadian Forces after 32 years is currently 51 and is seen by party insiders as a leader who brings with him a lot of fresh new ideas and who can help the party move forward by building on the momentum of their most recent efforts.

Former leader, Tom Hickey, who was a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly for 30 years and is recognized as the last surviving member of the “Three Wisemen”, the only three MHAs sitting in opposition to Premier Joey Smallwood during one of his more popular terms as Premier, has said he will continue to work with the party going forward and sees a bright future for the NL-First team.

Mr. Hickey hopes to take on an active role in developing the party’s riding associations and in growing the party’s financial and volunteer machinery in preparation for the next federal campaign.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top 10 Post Election Harper Comments

Top ten comments made by Stephen Harper to his staff in the week since the federal election.

10 "Get me the details behind the Dion 5 point plan I crapped all over during the election. That thing sounds pretty good."

9 "Hey, a new report says Ontario has the best transit system in Canada and Newfoundland has the worst. Make sure we get more federal funding into the Ontario transit system as soon as possible folks."

8 "Now that we’ve been elected again, can we spend another eighteen months calling ourselves “Canada’s new government” like we did last time?"

7 "I don’t care what I said about deficits. The election is over isn’t it?"

6 "So, any good ideas on how we can buy some votes in Quebec this time around?"

5 "I just got a letter of congratulations from Danny Williams. Can someone please file it under F&*K YOU for me?"

4 "Find out who the next Liberal leader will be and start putting together the attack ads now so we can start the character assassination at least a year before the next election."

3 "Someone start working on the weakest links inside the other parties. I want a dozen potential floor crossers in my office by Monday morning."

2 "Someone get Ryan Sparrow on the line and tell that little spin jockey to get back to work. The coast is clear."

1 "Oh man, I can’t believe they fell for it a second time."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Newfoundland and Labrador Makes its Election Choice

Ever since the election results rolled in last week the local media in Newfoundland and Labrador has been buzzing with the incessant pleas and moans of anguish from a handful of grumblers, all aiming to resolve the provinces lack of representation in a yet to be announced Harper cabinet.

Give me a break and climb down off (or maybe out of) the pot will ya!

The local call in radio shows are a twitter, editorial after editorial has been written and even the Mayor of St. John’s has weighed in with his two cents on the issue. The incessant buzzing is starting to sound like someone kicked a hornet's nest and, to say it as politely as I can, it's driving me freakin nuts!

It's as though everyone with ready access to a phone or a keyboard, yours truly definatly not included, suddenly woke up last Wednesday morning quaking in their boots and crapping their tidy whities because they heard rumors that Peter MacKay might be named as the province’s representative in cabinet.

“We deserve better”, they say.

“Harper can appoint a senator and name that person to represent us, anything less will show his contempt” others bawl.

“The sky is falling the sky is falling”, cries Chicken Little, or was that St. John's Mayor Dennis O’Keefe?

Personally I say, "Whooppee Ding. Who the hell cares?"

I realize the hue and cry is not coming from the majority of stable minded people in the province, but from the vocal minority. Unfortunately it isn't coming across that way in the media and instead is making it look like everyone in the province is suddenly living in fear after sending such a strong message to Ottawa.

It's as though voters suddenly woke up from a hypnotic trance and realizing what they've done want are all cry baby about it. The next thing you know they'll be calling for an investigation of where Danny Williams' gold pocket watch was on the evening of October 13th.

Yes, thanks to a few weak kneed loud mouths the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are once again being portrayed as a pack of whiners.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Mr. Harper is capable of naming someone from Newfoundland and Labrador to cabinet just as he did when he appointed a resident of Quebec to the Senate and made him a Cabinet Minister.

I also believe that if Mr. Harper decides to name Peter MacKay to the post it will be for the sole purpose of sending a strong message of retaliation back to Newfoundland and Labrador voters.

Doing so would ensure that the message, “Don’t F$%K with me again”, comes through loud and clear to all in ear shot.

Putting all that aside, I’m personally willing to live with whatever the Prime Minister’s decision might be on this and I believe the silent majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are as well.

It's not because we've all suddenly decided to bury the hatchet, as Premier Williams appears willing to do, but because it's the adult action to take.

It’s the vocal minority that ticks me off, the rest of us are fine thank-you very much.

Long before electin day voters heard Conservative candidates warn them almost daily that they would have no representation in caucus if they didn’t elect a member to the government side.

Public discussion of the pros and cons took place almost daily in the media and were easily seen (or heard) by anyone with access to a radio, T.V., newspaper or the internet.

It changed nothing.

On October 14th Newfoundland and Labrador voters made a conscious decision to expel any remnants of the Conservative party from the province, regardless of the repercussions.

That decision was made, we made it together, so lets stop the whining already!!!

I mean come on folks, to tell the truth we all know for a fact that Newfoundland and Labrador had no representation in the last parliament. Isn’t that why we turfed the Conservatives out of here in the first place?

In reality, with a population of just over 500,000 and only 7 seats in Ottawa, we haven’t had any real level of representation in the federal government since entering Canada in 1949 and we never will under the existing system.

When it comes to a pissing contest in this federation the larger numbers of seats in provinces like Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and even Nova Scotia trump our pitiful seat count every time and as a result Newfoundland and Labrador invariably ends up down wind of the winner and a hot stream of... well you get the picture.

If Stephen Harper wants to make a pathetic attempt to placate voters in Newfoundland and Labrador, perhaps with an eye to gaining support in the province the next time around, he may decide to appoint someone from this province to the post.

He may instead try to meet on some middle ground by appointing a less distasteful representative than Mr. MacKay. Perhaps he may call on his newest MP from PEI believing, in some odd way, that it makes sense for an islander to represent other islanders, (no offense to the folks in Labrador, but you know how the minds of politicians work).

If, on the other hand, Mr. Harper is still in a fighting mood he might just go ahead and appoint Peter MacKay, or someone even worse, to take on the Newfoundland and Labrador file.

Either way, WHO THE HELL CARES?!!

I don’t believe any of us should care one whit if the Prime Minister appoints someone to represent the province at all. I also don’t believe we have the right or the moral grounds to ask for that representation, let alone demand it as some people are now doing.

The voters of Newfoundland and Labrador clearly decided to reject the Conservative party and to intentionally exclude the province from any voice within the current government, which includes the cabinet. Why then should anyone be yelling for representation now?

The election is over. The arguements were made long ago on this. The message was sent to Ottawa. What will be will be.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Federal Election Counter Spin - ABC easy as 123

On Wednesday Canada woke up to the equivalent of the “Ground Hog Day” movie. A situation where, like in the movie, the same circumstances are repeated ad-nauseam.

After the taxpayers funded a $300 million dollar election campaign, called for no reason and in spite of legislation intended to prevent it, the Harper Conservatives are still leading a minority government, Stephane Dion is still under attack for his leadership ability and other than shuffling of a few deck chairs around it’s almost as if the federal election never really happened.


One thing has changed as a result of this process and that's the provincial / federal dynamic, especially in Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador. Two jurisdictions that have soundly rejected the current federal government.

After weeks of party slogans, attack ads, cross Country tours, millions in marketing and tons of jet fuel carbon emissions, in the end the final outcome (minority vs. majority) came about, in spite of all the spin, because of the actions of people in those two provinces and two of their political leaders.

Going into this election Stephen Harper, no matter how much he denies it, was confident of winning a majority mandate. This and his desire to side step an economic situation that was beginning to sputter are the only reasons the election even happened in the first place.

This election wasn’t about some burning National issue. It was about the Conservatives wanting to gain a stranglehold on power.

At the end of the day however Mr. Harper was denied his much sought after majority and no doubt he is now laboring under the misguided belief that he has Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec, along with Gilles Duceppe and Danny Williams, to blame for that.

Mr. Harper’s perspective on this, like the ideology he is foisting on Canada, is wrong.

Yes, Gilles Duceppe fought hard to fend off any kind of growth for the Conservatives in Quebec.

Yes, Danny Williams’ ABC (Anyone But Conservative) campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador may have had some influence in ensuring that the Conservatives were completely shut out in the province.

Both of those facts are true but they don’t tell the entire story.

Saying Mr. Harper lost out on an opportunity for a majority government thanks to those two provinces is not the same thing as saying that any blame for that loss should rest with anyone there.

The reality is that both Mr. Duceppe and Premier Williams are merely conduits for the feelings of many people in their respective jurisdictions. It is Mr. Harper himself who was the chief architect of his undoing. He accomplished this by virtue of a litany of broken promises and his adherence to right wing ideologies.

It isn’t the electorate in these two jurisdictions or their political bent that is to blame for shattering Mr. Harper’s aspirations. It is the actions of the man himself. Of that there is no doubt.

The Harper slide in Quebec came in the middle of the campaign after the PM callously brushed aside concerns over cuts to arts programs and his push for adult style sentencing of young offenders, two positions that got under the skin of Quebec voters and produced an irritating itch that only Mr. Duceppe was able to scratch.

For the sake of a paltry $40 million dollars Mr. Harper's hopes in Quebec during this $300 million dollar campaign were dashed.

In Newfoundland and Labrador problems with the Harper campaign started long before the writ was dropped.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are a different people in many respects from most Canadians. Like the people of Quebec their culture is also unique within Canada.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a very, very long memory.

While most Canadians went to the polls on Tuesday and marked their X based on the campaign itself most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were not as highly impacted by the hype and spin produced in the past month or so. Instead they quietly considered the happenings of the past two and half years knowing full well that a government cannot be judged solely on what it does during an election but what it does while actually in office.

By calling on their cultural, or perhaps even genetic, predisposition for recalling the past and learning from it, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador found their decision to oust all Conservative representatives from the Province an easy one.

Ask anyone in the Province about past political events that directly affected them. Ask them about the Upper Churchill contract or Confederation with Canada in 1949 and they'll tell you all about it as it has been handed down from parent to child.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians simply don’t forget.

While many political analysts and pundits have tried to determine the full effect of the ABC campaign the fact that it even existed was far less important to the outcome of this election than the collective memory in the people.

Multiple broken promises and the underhanded breaking of the Atlantic Accord contract were at the root of the shutout in Newfoundland and Labrador and the people didn't need an ABC campaign to remind them of those trangressions.

The Atlantic Accord debacle was more than the side stepping of a contract, it was a slap in the face to everyone in the province. This was a contract that had been so hard fought for, not only by the provincial government, but by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador themselves and the promises broken were not small ones. They were promises that could have finally pulled the Province out of debt and put it on a solid foundation for generations. The cost of those events to the province is an estimated $11 billion dollars, a far greater injustice than the $40 million dollar debacle that limited Mr. Harper's hopes in Quebec.

When it comes to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, in addition to having a long memory, it's fair to say that it take a lot to make them angry, but when they are you better watch out.

Political junkies, pundits, strategists and students will no doubt study the outcome of this election for some time to come. There will be those who wonder what would have happened if...but at the end of the day Mr. Harper has nobody to blame for this rejection by two of Canada's Eatern Provinces but himself and when the rest of Canada wakes up to what kind of government they have put in power nobody, and I mean nobody, will be able to pin any of the blame on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Board of Trade Puts Custodial Mangagement on National Agenda

From the Evening Telegram:

St. John’s Board of Trade gets custodial management on national action agenda

The Telegram

The St. John’s Board of Trade won the support of national chambers of commerce and boards of trade on custodial management at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce meeting over the weekend.

With the support of over 350 chambers and almost 70 business associations representing 170,000 businesses Canada-wide, the board’s resolution calls on the federal government to act on foreign overfishing.

“The Board of Trade is proud to have national support for an imperative policy that can positively impact Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” said Donna Stone, president of the St. John’s Board of Trade.

“The number of chambers and boards across Canada who support this issue is a testament to the national importance of custodial management, and we are sending that message to the federal government. We look forward to this policy becoming action for the betterment of our people and our economy.”

The nationally-adopted resolution recommends: That the federal government take decisive action to deal with foreign overfishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap by undertaking custodial management in the waters above Canada’s continental shelf, whereby Canada would assume responsibility for the conduct of science, the implementation of compliance and other regulatory mechanisms to ensure ongoing effective management and the rebuilding of fish stocks within this marine ecosystem...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Duceppe Debate Rhetoric Crosses Line

During Wednesday’s French language debate much was said by each of the candidates and while I have my own opinion about who actually won or lost the event that’s not the most pressing issue on my mind today.

We all know about the rampant rhetoric of election campaigns but there are times when that rhetoric, when put into proper context, simply goes too far. One comment during Wednesday evening’s French language debate fit this bill and the lack of reaction to it spoke volumes about the place of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Canadian federation.

Most viewers likely missed the comment as it went by rather quickly but I’m referring to Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe’s response to a viewer's question about nationalizing the oil industry as a means to lower gas prices.

Mr. Duceppe, like the other leaders, said he was against the move. Unlike the other leaders his reason was because if the oil industry was nationalized then the next thing Ottawa would do is take control of Quebec’s hydro resources.

Hold the apple cart a minute Mr. Duceppe!!! Can we rewind and listen to that again?

"Quebec's hydro resources."

Perhaps someone needs to remind the Bloc leader that the lion’s share of hydro resources and hydro dollars flowing into Quebec for the past several decades actually belong to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not Quebec. Mr. Duceppe may want the world to believe otherwise but no amount of spin doctoring is going to change that fact.

Most people in Quebec and across Canada conveniently forget that more than 5,000 megawatts of power is still being sold to Quebec Hydro at 1960’s prices. This will continue unabated for another 33 years thanks to a one sided contract signed under duress by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador due to collusion between the Canadian and Quebec governments in the 1970’s.

It really boils my blood when I hear comments like Mr. Duceppe’s and when I see absolutely no response from Canada's federal leadership.

Not only has Quebec Hydro stolen billions on top of billions over the past few decades from Newfoundland and Labrador but even now they are throwing up roadblocks to the development of the Lower Churchill hydro development (another 2000 megawatts of clean energy) because they once again hope to reap the benefits of the smaller province’s power capability.

The federal government is standing idly by and refuses to intervene.

Harper promised a national power grid but has anyone heard anything about it since Quebec said they were against it? The reason why is clear.

Add to this insult the standard practice in Quebec of ensuring that every official provincial map depicts large swaths of Labrador as belonging to Quebec and the picture gets far worse.

All you have to do is pick up a tourist map, topographical map, survey map or official oil or mineral exploration map in Quebec and you’ll see the border redrawn to claim a large swath of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nobody seems to even care on the federal scene.

The entire situation is disgusting and the continued refusal of any federal government or opposition party to stand up and see to it that Quebec does not run rough shod over any other province in the federation is a national crime.

The underlying concept behind Canada is that all provinces are equals. I defy anyone to tell me that there is even a grain of truth in that.

Find me a federal politician, even one elected by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, who is willing to stand up to his party bosses and tackle Quebec over these issues and I’ll show you a politician about to be kicked out of his caucus and relegated to the farthest reaches of the independent ranks.