For anyone interested, CPAC, the Canadian Public Affairs Channel, takes a look at some of the most influential premiers of Canada beginning Sunday night with Newfoundland and Labrador's Joey Smallwood.
According to the creator, "If you want to understand the politics of a province you need to look back to its past, specifically to its most transformative leader."
The Premiers, a 10-part documentary series beginning Sunday on CPAC, looks at the lives and politics of some of the most prominent provincial leaders in Canadian history.
Over the two-year course of making The Premiers, the creator said "the project morphed into something different -- something beyond political biographies. The documentary evolved into a "reflection of political culture."
". . . What the documentary series tries to do is hold a mirror up to each province and show people there, and people in the rest of the country, why they think and act the way they do politically in those regions," said Doan.
"If you wonder why Danny Williams of Newfoundland seems inflexible on his position of protecting his province's resources just go back and see what happened with Smallwood. If you wonder why Alberta always seems dissatisfied with what's coming to them from the centre, just see what happened to them during the Depression and what happened to (William) Aberhart and you'll start to understand why more Albertans think the way they do."
"The Premiers veers off into territory viewers may not expect. Rather than the usual talking heads of historians and political scientists, it is the family, friends, colleges and those who witnessed history, who share their stories about the famous -- and sometimes infamous -- politicians. Friend or foe, those who knew the leaders well provide unique insight that goes beyond common, documented facts."
"Each of the 10 leaders featured in The Premiers made a historical contribution in shaping this country. Having created such an everlasting impact, how do these past leaders compare with the leaders of today?
"Maybe they were still pioneering in those days, but they were really strong . . . and there's not one among them whose strengths compares with the leaders of today," said Doan, pausing briefly to consider the roster of current provincial leaders, "Except maybe Danny Williams."
The first episode about Joey Smallwood, if not all the episodes, might make for some interesting viewing. If for nothing else than to provide some insight into the creator's perspective about this place we all love, Newfoundland and Labrbrador.
Da Legal Stuff...
Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.
Friday, February 27, 2009
For anyone interested, CPAC, the Canadian Public Affairs Channel, takes a look at some of the most influential premiers of Canada beginning Sunday night with Newfoundland and Labrador's Joey Smallwood.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The theory speculates that perhaps someone onboard may have intentionally scuttled (sank) the Spanish Trawler, Monte Galineiro, which went down near the Flemish Cap off Newfoundland earlier this week.
According to media reports the vessel was being closely tracked by a Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessel, with the intention of conducting a fisheries inspection once the weather cleared, when she suddenly issued a distress call. The vessel sank minutes later.
All hands onboard were plucked from the frigid North Atlantic but questions have since arisen about the incident and whether the sinking might have been intentional.
The theory itself is deeply flawed but there are never the less a lot of valid questions that should, and likely never will be, answered.
For a fairly large vessel to sink as quickly as this one did it would need to take on a lot of water very rapidly.
The most likely reason for such a sinking would be a large hole in the hull. The other likely possibility is that the “sea cocks”, which allow water to be taken in for ballast, were opened, either intentionally or not, thus the conspiracy theory.
Since the ship did not impact with a foreign object like an ice berg, the concern over why a four year old vessel took on water and sank so rapidly is a real one.
Another question is what she was doing on the very edge of Canada’s 200 mile limit when she sank? Some estimates put her at about 214 nautical miles from shore.
It would be of value to know what direction she was traveling in when observed by the Canadian Coast Guard. Was she heading toward Canadian waters? Was she heading away from them? Did the vessel appear to be attempting to evade or outrun the patrol vessel?
The captain of the Monte Galineiro claimed he heard an explosion in the engine room and reported a fire onboard. Why wasn’t there smoke visible before the Monte Galineiro went down and why did some crew members claim to be wakened from their sleep by an emergency alarm, not an explosion as claimed by the ship’s Captain?
These are valid questions. Unfortunately the Canadian government, under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has said it will not be conducting any investigation into the incident. Preferring instead to leave that to the ship’s Country of origin, Spain.
Personally I doubt very much that anyone would intentionally sink their own vessel during February in the North Atlantic while sailing in 10 foot waves.
If they did, the majority of the 22 member crew, some of whom were rescued in their underwear, could not have been informed. To do so before putting them in such a frightening life and death situation would almost ensure that they would want to get their revenge on the perpetrator by telling authorities.
Indeed the crew knew a Coast Guard vessel was in the area but in reality, would anyone, other than a total psychopath, throw himself and more than 20 others into a situation where mere minutes mean the difference between life and death?
What could the motive be?
Would someone take that gamble simply to avoid the slap on the wrist that would be waiting for them even if they were found to have tons of illegal cod onboard?
I doubt it.
Perhaps the most sensible statement regarding the conspiracy theory came from St. John’s Maritime Lawyer, Owen Myers, in a “Sou’Wester” article, when he said the Monte Galineiro wouldn't face serious fines under "toothless" North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) rules, even if it was convicted of illegal fishing. "It seems very unlikely to scuttle a $20-million vessel in order to escape a Canadian fisheries inspection," Myers said. "It's kind of like getting a traffic ticket. You're not going to blow up your Ferrari sports car because you've been given a parking ticket. I think it's really well-known that that is the problem with the NAFO convention - there are just no penalties in it."
There’s a lot of truth in those words.
It seems that nobody really knows what happened out there on the high seas but isn’t that the problem?
Shouldn’t somebody be trying to find out?
Putting aside the conspiracy theory itself for a moment, since it only clouds the issue, the question of exactly why this ship sank and what she was doing in the area prior to the sinking should not be cavalierly brushed aside, as is being done by Canadian authorities.
Late last week Newfoundland and Labrador premier, Danny Williams, issued a press release saying his government would not sign onto, or support, the latest trade discussions between Ottawa and the EU because of a number of ongoing issues, including NAFO’s lack of control over illegal fishing, the EU’s continued flouting of fisheries law and Canada’s lack of concern for protecting Newfoundland and Labrador’s interests.
The federal government’s lack of interest in finding answers to the questions being asked only serve to prove Mr. Williams point.
With trade talks taking place between Ottawa and the EU, with the premier’s position publicly known and with the lingering questions about this particular vessel left unanswered there is ample reason for the Newfoundland and Labrador premier and the people of the province to have concerns.
Was the vessel so loaded down with illegal fish that she ripped her engines apart, causing a fire, by pushing the ship to her limits in an effort to avoid inspection?
Were her fishing trawls in the water or onboard when the incident happened? Knowing this, or even if they were in neither place (had been cut) would add valuable information to the situation.
Was the crew of the Monte Galineiro doing nothing illegal at all? If so, an independent investigation would help clear the crew’s reputations, and that of their home nation.
Was there a design flaw in the ship, perhaps allowing the sea cocks to accidentally open or water to enter around the propeller shaft? If so, knowing the answer might save lives in future.
There are a lot of important questions left unanswered, not the least of which is why the government of Canada is doing nothing to find those answers.
Monday, February 23, 2009
A press release was issued by Newfoundland and Labrador premier, Danny Williams, on Friday outlines his province’s concerns with plans for a new Canadian / EU Trade Agreement and withdraws his province’s support for upcoming negotiations by Ottawa.
The release states that, “While Newfoundland and Labrador fully supports improved trade with the European Union, any actions taken in that regard must address priority areas of concern for the province. In particular, the province is extremely hesitant to allow the Federal Government to head these negotiations, given past actions that question their commitment to issues of importance to the province.”
It goes on to say that "At this point, we are not willing to sign on to support the negotiation of a new and comprehensive economic agreement with the European Union.”
“This decision should not be confused with a lack of support for an improved trade relationship between Canada and Europe. Indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador values and respects its trade relations with Europe which have existed with the province for over 5 centuries…However, other concerns prevent the province from giving unqualified support for the Canadian Government’s process as it moves forward
"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is unable to support this at this time on the basis of very genuine concerns that our province’s issues may not be safeguarded or dealt with in an appropriate way by the Federal Government.”
“In particular, long standing issues such as custodial management of our fishery, a proposed ban on seal products into the EU and prohibitive tariffs on seafood products entering the EU represent significant issues of concern that have been left unaddressed by the Federal Government for far too long.
Newfoundland and Labrador has not received any assurances that a Canada-EU agreement would include protection for measures such as the Atlantic Accords and Fish Inspection Act. Additionally, a track record of a lack of substantive and inclusive consultation on federal-provincial issues gives Newfoundland and Labrador great cause for concern, particularly in light of the far reaching implications of a possible Canada-EU trade agreement."
The official press release comes at a time when Newfoundland and Labrador is being challenged under NAFTA for the expropriation of provincial timber and hydro leases once held by U.S. registered paper maker Abitibi-Bowater.
It’s difficult to determine whether the province’s position on Canada / EU trade carries any real weight in Ottawa or not since it is the federal government that is ultimately responsible for international trade agreements. However the position taken by the Province serves to highlight a number of important issues for the province on both the national and international stage.
While the federal government does not officially need provincial support to enter into international trade agreements, actually making them work without the support of all the provinces is a problem.
Any agreement signed by Ottawa cannot infringe on provincial jurisdiction or legislative abilities.
A clear example of this can be seen in the case of the Abitibi-Bowater expropriation itself.
Newfoundland and Labrador has the legal right to expropriate the resources in question. It is up to Ottawa to defend the action under the NAFTA agreement and, should Canada lose that challenge, it will ultimately be the federal government, not the province, which is required to pay any penalties imposed.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
A spokesperson with the Coast Guard Search and Rescue in Halifax says all of the 22 crew members of a Spanish fishing trawler are alive after their vessel sank 400 km east of St. John's earlier today...She says the crew of the 30-metre Monte Galineiro jumped into life-rafts or into the ocean after the vessel caught fire this morning. The coast guard vessel Leonard J. Cowley happened to be only 10 minutes away when it received the trawler's distress signal and were on scene almost immediately.
Here we go again.
It seems like every time the people, the government or, God forbid, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador does anything that rubs Ottawa or big business the wrong way the mainstream national media swiftly calls a team of verbal mercenaries into action to attack not only the action itself but the motives, agenda and personalities of anyone involved.
It’s the sort of yellow journalism that would have been all too recognizable to the late newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, who built his empire by manipulating public opinion for his personal and political advantage.
Up to this point the attacks have been somewhat immature and asinine in nature, ranging from questioning the intelligence of every day Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to comparing premier Danny Williams to a South American dictator.
The latest assault, by the Globe and Mail, is far more sinister.
Not only does it question the actions of the Newfoundland and Labrador government but uses unsupported comments, supposition and presumptions in an all out character assassination against the Province’s premier.
Clearly as far as the Globe is concerned unbiased journalism is dead.
The editorial board of the Globe has now sunk to substituting unsolicited letters from individuals as hard facts worthy of spreading a conspiracy theory.
It makes me wonder if their lawyers have ever hear of the word “slander” because they may well learn what it means.
The latest attack has to do with the Province’s expropriation of Abitibi’s hydro and timber leases undertaken when the company decided to close its last paper mill in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In a February 19th Globe editorial the paper intentionally left the Canadian public with the impression that the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador had secret plans to drive Abitibi out of the Province, at the cost of nearly a thousand direct and indirect jobs, so he could sieze control of their power supply to feed a planned smelter that would employ 450 people in another part of the Province.
I'm no genious but to me it makes no sense for anyone to sacrifice a large number of jobs to create a small number. This simple reality appears to have escaped the brain trust at the Globe, but then again, when has reality ever been a factor when it comes to propaganda?
The basis of the editorial was a letter from a single individual living near the soon to be closed Abitibi mill. The letter was sent to premier Danny Williams and copied to the media. The letter, written by someone who was clearly upset about the closure, used rhetoric that the Globe and Mail was more than happy to seize upon to serve its purposes. Reality be damned.
According to the Globe article, “Mr. Williams knew (the mill wouldn’t survive)…it now appears, (he) had other plans."
It goes on to “suppose” that the Williams government only made a token gesture to keep the mill open because it wanted the power to supply a new Vale Inco smelter in the town of Long Harbour and says, “This begs a question: Did Mr. Williams sacrifice the 800 Abitibi mill and woodlands workers in Grand Falls to provide 450 permanent jobs in Long Harbour and another 5,700 person-years of employment during the construction of the hydromet facility?”
“Few people in Newfoundland, where Mr. Williams is challenged at one's peril, would dare ask”, says the Globe.
It’s a conspiracy theory worthy of Oliver Stone himself.
The original author of the letter has since stated that the Globe took parts of his letter out of context. He admits not having any connection with the mill, the government or any political party, meaning he would not have been privy to what transpired between the mill operators, government officials or the unions in the months of negotiation leading up to the decision to close the mill.
Is this what passes substance in the Globe these days?
It apparently is, leading to one of two possible explanations. Either everyone at the Globe, from the editors on down, have no journalistic training and experience or they have no problem ignoring the facts in favour of self serving propaganda.
In reality, the contract that requires the building of a smelter in Long Harbour was signed by a previous Liberal administration under then premier Roger Grimes more than seven years ago. It was in place long before the current Williams administration took office.
Does anyone really believe that the mining company involved, Vale Inco, would have agreed to build a smelter, invested more than a billion dollars building a test plant in the Province and went ahead with plans to invest billions more in a seven year old agreement without ever knowing whether or not they would have any power to run the facility?
Surely nobody could have foreseen, when the original contract was signed back in 2002, that Abitibi would conveniently fall into financial difficulties and close its mill at the exact time the new smelter construction was about to go ahead. The speculation is ridiculous.
The Globe also states that, “Few people in Newfoundland, where Mr. Williams is challenged at one's peril, would dare ask”
Would the Globe have people believe that Newfoundland and Labrador’s “dictatorial” premier is travelling the width and breadth of the land beheading the serfs or feeding their still wriggling carcasses to his wolf hounds?
Give me a break.
I’ve heard this fairy tale from the national media and partisan political types before but I’ve yet to find anyone who has suffered in any way, let alone lost their head, because they disagreed with the premier?
Sure, some comments may illicit a terse response and some cabinet ministers or caucus members have been disciplined in the past for not toeing the party line, a process I personally find disgusting, but that happens in all politcal parties. Neither response may not be something we all approve of but they're certainly nothing new under the sun.
I've yet to see anyone in the Province quaking in fear.
I’ve publicly questioned Mr. Williams’ tactics and his actions a number of times including his direction on the Lower Churchill hydro project, a project that appears to be something he's hoping will be his legacy.
I still have my head, my job, my home, my family, all of my appendages. I have yet to hear any hounds baying outside my windows and I don’t expect to hear them any time soon.
It seems that after crying foul over the abitibi expropriation, screaming that the little Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is about to single handedly destroy NAFTA and using every means possible to question the legality of the Province’s actions, the Globe has reached a point of desperation that has led them to skirt the edges of libel and slander in an effort to meet their objectives.
As one proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian recently put it, “They’d have you believe the sheep is going to eat the wolf.”
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Premier Danny Williams announced today that plans to celebrate the Province’s “Have” status, on March 31st of this year, have been cancelled.
Publicly the Premier stated that the decision to cancel the celebration was made because the Province did not want to be seen as throwing a party at a time when the economy is in such bad shape and while all parts of Canada are suffering.
I don’t disagree with the move but I’d argue that the reasons behind the decision were not as simple as was presented.
Personally I’m quite pleased that the Provincial government has had second thoughts about this. From the start the timing was troublesome.
No doubt the festivities were planned to coincide with the beginning of the new Provincial fiscal year but the date chosen would also have placed that party on the calendar at the same time as the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador’s entry into confederation. Not a date everyone in this Province would choose to mark as a joyous occasion.
The fact that the “Have” status celebration would have happened on that particular anniversary, whether coincidental or not, would no doubt have been portrayed in the National media as either Newfoundland and Labrador “mocking” the troubles in the rest of Canada or as the people of Newfoundland and Labrador happily celebrating how much the love being a part of Canada.
Neither of which would necessarily be factual, but then again when has the national media let the facts stand in the way of a story?
Thankfully a wise decision was made to cancel an event that would have accomplished nothing except to provided fodder for renewed attacks on this Province or, worse still, given the impression that we were celebrating 60 years of lost freedom.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
When seals are hunted the media is all over it.
Every attempt is made to portray Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as barbarians.
When a pod of porpoise are trapped in Seal Cove, as they currently are, and the people of the province are screaming for DFO, the Coast Guard or anyone else to help, the national and international media is missing in action.
Does anyone besides myself find this more than passingly odd?
Newfounlanders and Labradorians are portrayed in the international media as crass killing machines who love to kill "baby" seals ( a lie but never the less).
Why is it that when the truth of our people as a caring lot comes to the fore nobody is willing to report on it?
Posted by Patriot at 9:26 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I’ve often criticized the Province's federal MPs for not having the courage to stand up and make our case to Ottawa, but I’ve come to a realization that it really isn’t them alone at fault.
I’ve begun to realize that the entire Newfoundland and Labrador population is "as gutless as a caplin", including myself I'm sad to say.
I never thought I’d write something like that but I have.
As sad as it makes me feel to put that in print, I’m glad I did.
Perhaps the fighting spirit has been bred out of us over the past few generations.
Perhaps we've become complacent under the “guidance” of our federal political leaders.
Perhaps the real fighting Newfoundlander (& Labradorian) was killed in battle.
Who knows, but whatever the cause it’s no less disheartening to realize that you are a part of the problem.
Where else but in Newfoundland and Labrador would an entire population sit idly by as their livelihoods, their future and their very way of life is under direct attack?
Where else but in Newfoundland and Labrador would people nonchalantly go about their daily routines, largely carefree, while the government of their Country robs them of their future?
No where, that’s where.
No where but in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sure there are rumblings among some about the injustices we face in Canada.
There are those who can recite a long list of the damages done.
Still others, like yours truly, speak out to anyone who will listen.
Some are quick to contact their MP or the Premier when issues arise.
Others lash out through letters to the editors of their local papers or on call in radio programs.
There are even those who talk of learning political lessons from Quebec, by creating a “bloc NL” to gain some form of influence within Canada.
These actions may make those who undertake them feel a little better in the short term but the one thing they have in common is the fact that they are all just talk and, as the old saying goes, "talk is cheap".
Our fishery has been stolen and destroyed taking our rural way of life with it.
Our oil and gas resources are controlled by Ottawa where someone else has the power to decide (through one means or another) exactly how much money we will or will not see from its exploitation.
Our Upper Churchill hydro resources benefit Quebec instead of us and will continue to do so long after many of us have moved to the other side of the sod.
Our plans for future hydro development in Labrador are hindered and may even be stopped altogether by forces from within Quebec and Ottawa.
Our mineral resources are used to supply mills, smelters and factories in other provinces while we are left to do the hard manual labor of extracting the ore from the earth and shipping it out.
Ottawa continues to pick away at what few federal dollars this place sees in transfer payments and in doing so helps add to the massive provincial debt, extreme unemployment, faltering health care system and crumbling infrastructure we see around us every day.
Perhaps there are indeed lessons to be learned from Quebec and not just political ones.
When Canada planned to support a re-enactment of a major historical battle, which was incidentally lost by the French forces of Quebec, they were told to cancel the event and walk away.
Not because the re-enactment was inaccurate or didn’t reflect a true history of Canada but because some Quebecers did not want to be reminded of that particular aspect of their past.
Threats were made, including mobilizing into the streets and at the event with paint guns, protesters and the like.
Organizers were warned about what would happen to them, on a personal level, if they proceeded.
I have no doubt that had the organizers gone ahead with that event it would not have been a peaceful one and clearly the federal sponsors understood that as well.
They knew Quebecers were willing to do far more than write letters of complaint.
This is a case where the people of Quebec undertook a misguided attempt to bury an aspect of their history.
It's not an act to be proud of for sure, yet Ottawa was quick to respond by cancelling the “offending” event, proving that the federal government knows full well what the people of Quebec are capable of.
Here in Newfoundland and Labrador we are not trying to bury our past, in fact we often celebrate it. What we want to do is ensure that we have a stable and secure future.
If we had any real guts we’d be doing a lot more about protecting our way of life and future than simply complaining.
I'm not here to advocate illegal acts, even though I sometimes wonder if it might be the only solution. What I'm saying is that if we had any guts at all we’d be in the streets in massive numbers here, in Ottawa and all across Canada and we wouldn’t let up until our future looked a hell of a lot brighter than it does right now.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Much has been discussed in Newfoundland and Labrador in the past day or two about a potentially flammable situation developing between Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador and the federal government over claims by Quebec that a large portion of Labrador rests inside its provincial border.
There appears to be a lot of misinformation of the facts being put before the public by some media outlets, either innocently or intentionally, so in an effort to summarize the reality of the situation, here are the facts as they currently stand:
More than a week ago reporter, Rob Antle, with the newspaper “The Telegram” wrote a story about an impending border dispute between Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec. He was not informed by any official source in government but uncovered the situation himself.
Earlier this week the Globe and Mail ran a front page story highlighting the same situation.
Here it is in a nutshell.
Quebec Hydro, an arm of the Quebec provincial government, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Environment, is in the midst of an environmental assessment before breaking ground on a major hydro development on Romaine River which, along with four other rivers, spans the border between the two provinces.
All “official” maps of the area that were supplied by Quebec, and accepted by the joint committee wrongly depict a large portion of Labrador, containing the head waters of all of those rivers, including the Romaine, as being fully within the boundaries and jurisdiction of the Province of Quebec.
The article in the Globe & Mail pointed out that by accepting those maps for the environmental assessment the federal government was implicitly accepting Quebec’s claims that it controls a section of Labrador as well as the head waters of the rivers they plan to exploit for a massive power generation project.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador was not invited to participate in the review process and only found out about the situation months later.
Upon learning of the situation back in November, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador submitted a six page document, plus maps, that did little more than point out the problem at hand and express displeasure with the process underway.
No demands to cease the process were made.
As far as anyone can tell no further actions have been taken or are planned.
Officials at the Ministry of the Environment told the Globe & Mail that any territorial dispute is a matter for the provinces to resolve.
This is not correct.
The border in question was clearly identified and ruled upon in 1927 by the Kings Privy Council in England, long before Newfoundland and Labrador ever became a Canadian province.
It was a ruling that both Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador (a separate Dominion) accepted, both being Nations constitutionally ruled by the British North America Act at the time.
That 1927 border ruling was also clearly reiterated and agreed upon in the first two paragraphs of the Terms of Union by which Newfoundland and Labrador entered Canada. It is now tied to the Canadian Constitution making it a Constitutional issue.
Quebec never signed onto the Canadian Constitution and it has never accepted the 1927 Privy Council border decision.
For years Quebec’s maps, be they tourist, topographical, mineral exploration, election riding or any other form, have depicted its unsubstantiated claims to Southern Labrador.
Reports are now surfacing from long time political figures that at least twice in the past several decades the Quebec government has tried to quietly coerce or maneuver a Newfoundland and Labrador Premier into handing over the region to them.
With this in mind the actions of Quebec and acceptance of them by Federal Officials, who are proceeding with the environmental process in spite of the facts, have led to a great deal of concern among the general population in Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet Premier Williams and his government, as well as Federal MPs are oddly silent on the issue.
Since the dispute became public knowledge, neither the Premier nor anyone else in his government have issued any kind of official statement addressing the concerns of the people or outlining what they intend to do to protect the province’s territorial boundary.
In such a tension filled situation rumors and speculation often fill the void when facts are not available. Premier Williams is not known as the sort of man who sits quietly by when major issues arise so his silence on this file has led to widespread speculation that perhaps something unsavory is happening behind closed doors while the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador are being kept in the dark.
They worry that the environmental process is due to be completed in just two weeks and if something is not done to address the issue quickly it may be too late.
If one nation attempted to unilaterally take control of territory that was part of another it would be considered an act of war. Taken in that context, Quebec cannot be allowed to proceed with what amounts to an overt act of aggression against Newfoundland and Labrador
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The following article appeared in today’s Globe and Mail. It should be of great interest and concern to everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The entire article speaks volumes about the attitude of Quebec and Ottawa toward Newfoundland and Labrador.
Take special note of the following passages within the article. They speak volumes:
“The federal government has sided with Quebec ...”
“…the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.”
“Ottawa says that any territorial dispute is a matter for the provinces to resolve.”
Web Talk Note: I guess it doesn’t matter to Ottawa that the border was, with NLs entry into the federation, written into the terms of union making it a constitutional issue. The constitution didn’t matter when during the Upper Churchill development so why would anyone be surprised that it's being ignored again at the expense of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“…the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.”
“The boundary has never been successfully surveyed. The last attempt was abandoned in the 1980s after the two provinces concluded the issue was too politically sensitive to tackle.”
Web Talk Note: This likely means that the Premier at the time was Conservative Brian Peckford, since both Rideout and Wells spent very little time in office during that decade. Why did no Premier, either Liberal or Conservative, do anythin about this? Once again we have a Conservative Premier in office who in 2006 said the border situation was not a concern for him. What’s up with that?
"Mr. Charest expressed confidence recently that the project will begin as planned..."
I bet he did. Anyway, enough of the analysis and comments. Here's the article:
Power play pits Quebec against Newfoundland
Where do headwaters of rugged Romaine River lie? Both provinces claim land where boundary has never been successfully surveyed
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
February 11, 2009
QUEBEC — The federal government has sided with Quebec by agreeing to hear the province's argument that a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric project is on Quebec territory, land also claimed by Newfoundland and Labrador.
The natural-resources fight pits Danny Williams's province against Quebec's plans to build the Romaine River hydroelectric project. Newfoundland has told Ottawa that Quebec's claims to the land are "invalid" and any such development by Hydro-Québec is "contemptuous of the Constitution of Canada."
Hydro-Québec is proposing to begin developing the 1,550-megawatt project as early as next summer, at a cost of $6.5-billion. It is waiting for the joint panel's environmental assessment report that will be submitted to the Quebec and federal environment ministers on Feb. 27. Both governments will then have up to 60 days to release the report before making their recommendations regarding the project.
Simply by participating in the joint Quebec-Ottawa environmental assessment panel, the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.
At issue is a substantial portion of a 3,500-kilometre-long boundary of rugged territory dividing Quebec and Labrador. The boundary has never been successfully surveyed. The last attempt was abandoned in the 1980s after the two provinces concluded the issue was too politically sensitive to tackle.
"Politically this was a real hot potato and it still is," said Eric Jerret, who at the time was president of the Association of Land Surveyors of Newfoundland and Labrador. "But now pressure is coming to bear on the governments to settle this. It's the only border in Canada that hasn't been surveyed. It can't be left unresolved much longer."
At some point it will have to be decided where the mining rights, property rights and especially the headwaters of five major Quebec Lower North Shore rivers reside. That could impact future hydroelectric and other economic developments. More importantly, it could revive tensions between the two provinces at a time when closer co-operation will be needed to develop power and transportation links.
For instance, Newfoundland resident Burford Ploughman has been working on developing a permanent transportation link between the two provinces across the Strait of Belle Isle. He was a member of the 1979 federal Commission of Inquiry into Newfoundland Transportation and fears a confrontation between the two provinces could harm potential progress on key issues.
"The federal government's position isn't helping matters. Are they going to use the Quebec border instead of the Newfoundland and Labrador one? How can they do an [environmental] assessment? If they do, does it mean they are recognizing Quebec's border rather than ours? That's the central question and in two weeks' time they're going to make a decision," Mr. Ploughman said.
A 1927 ruling by the Privy Council, confirmed in the Terms of Union with Canada, concluded the headwaters of the Romaine and four other rivers are in Labrador. Quebec has always considered them as being part of its provincial territory.
"The headwaters and entire watersheds of the Romaine and the four other major Quebec North Shore rivers appear, incorrectly to be within Quebec," the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador stated in its Nov. 27, 2008, brief to the joint review panel.
"It is unacceptable that the federal government would accept a document as sufficient with such a glaring error of fact and law, especially one which is inconsistent with the Constitution of Canada."
The statement implies a constitutional battle may be in the making if Ottawa doesn't act soon to support Newfoundland and Labrador's claim to the land.
A spokesperson for Mr. Williams said yesterday the Premier refuses to say whether he will act to stop Premier Jean Charest from proceeding with the Romaine River hydroelectric project.
At the federal Ministry of the Environment, officials didn't appear to be aware of the potential confrontation. Ottawa says that any territorial dispute is a matter for the provinces to resolve.
"It will be up to the provinces to respond.
The environmental assessment commission will make recommendations to help alleviate possible adverse effects of the project on the environment ... But it isn't in the commission's mandate to take a position on territorial issues such as this," federal Environment Ministry spokeswoman Lucille Jamault said.
Mr. Charest expressed confidence recently that the project will begin as planned, insisting it has become a centrepiece of his government's strategy to create jobs at a time of recession.
UPDATE - 10:09 PM
The following letter was sent to Premier Williams a few minutes ago. If you would like to voice your concerns as well, the Premier's email address is: Premier@gov.nl.ca
To Premier Williams
cc.The Telegram (for publication)
I have copied this letter to the Telegram and to VOCM because I'm sure, like myself, most of the people in this province are very concerned about the constitutional challenge Quebec, with the implicit approval of Ottawa, is making with regard to the annexation of southern Labrador.
I also believe that they would like you to clearly state for the record what your government is doing to ensure that the environmental process now underway, and scheduled to be completed in just two weeks, does not proceed until the border is clarified for all of those involved.
The border between NL and Quebec is clearly defined in the Terms of Union with Canada however, knowing our past history when it comes to dealing with Quebec, it is not good enough to depend on Ottawa to respect the Constitution. The happenings around the Upper Churchill are proof enough of that.
If one nation attempted to unilaterally take control of territory inside another it would be considered an act of war. Taken in that context, we cannot allow Quebec to proceed with what amounts to an overt act of aggression against Newfoundland and Labrador
I look forward to your timely response.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Chicken and Egg.
Cart before the horse.
However you want to describe it, it’s becoming clearer all the time that most Canadians simply don’t understand Newfoundland and Labrador and never will.
When you listen to most of the national media pundits, federal politicians and even the man on the street in places like Ontario or Alberta, one thing becomes abundantly clear, they all believe that Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, Danny Williams, is power mad and dictatorial.
They believe, as former media darling and newly minted Conservative senator, Mike Duffy, recently insinuated, that Danny Williams is a greedy hot head with a swollen ego and that the people of the Province have under his spell.
I’m paraphrasing of course.
The logic behind the argument runs like this.
Danny Williams is combative, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are a friendly and happy people, so therefore Williams must be running amok and stirring up trouble.
The argument doesn’t hold water for anyone who knows the first thing about the issues that matter to Newfoundland and Labrador or has any insight into the collective history of the people in the Province.
In fact the misconception is a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse.
Simply put, Danny Williams doesn’t have an 80% popularity rating because he has the ill informed yet contented masses suddenly riled up.
He was not re-elected with a larger mandate during his second election campaign because the people are afraid of his dictatorial vengeance.
In truth, Danny Williams enjoys his impressive level popularity because he is doing the bidding of his constituents rather than ignoring them.
When it comes to addressing their concerns over economic development, the oil industry and, perhaps most of all, dealing with the inequities that the Province faces in the Canadian federation Williams is the first political leader the Province has had in years who is willing to speak up.
His approach is like a breath of fresh air inside the Province but this reality is something that has been totally missed in the rest of Canada.
This is not to say Premier Williams is perfect, far from it. There have been, and continue to be, issues inside the Province that have put him at odds with much of the population but this doesn’t take away the deep respect many have for his willingness to take a stand when it matters most.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been disheartened for decades by successive provincial leaders who have either failed to stand up when needed or have consciously chosen to ignore the public will and for their personal benefit.
From the backroom deals that led to a loss of independence, to Ottawa’s refusal to enforce the Constitution and force Quebec into permitting the transport of Upper Churchill power across its borders, from federal mismanagement of a 500 year old Atlantic cod fishery to the recent unilateral gutting of an agreement intended to ensure that the Province would be the primary beneficiary of its offshore oil industry, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a lot of painful memories pressing concerns to screaming to be addressed.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a long history both inside and outside of Canada. Over that time the people, who have a far longer political memory than most, have been used, abused and misused for as long as anyone can recall.
No, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have not fallen under some kind of spell perpetrated by a ruthless leader.
Yes, they are indeed a friendly people, but nobody should ever take their sunny disposition for granted.
After decades of suffering most of the people have learned that in order to survive when the odds are stacked against you the best approach is often to simply smile and crack a few jokes, but in reality the anger run very, very deep.
As much as many Canadians might prefer to believe it, Danny Williams isn’t stirring up an otherwise happy go lucky people. He’s simply giving voice to their collective anger.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
It’s a question I’ve been pondering more and more in recent years.
Examples of structural problems in today’s media are as easy to find these days as snowflakes on a January morning in Winnipeg.
Before Christmas television news outlets were all too willing to spoon feed the public snippets of Conservative MPs referring to a potential Liberal-NDP coalition as a “Coup” or calling the actions of the opposition “illegal” or “immoral”. They were far less willing to clarify those partisan words by informing the public that the position espoused was untrue, non-factual and an out and out lie.
The Canadian Parliamentary system is designed to permit exactly the sort of coalition that was being contemplated but unless the viewer had already informed him or herself of this fact the media was not about to take on that job.
Another example now being splashed across the front pages across Canada is the ongoing battle between Ottawa and Newfoundland & Labrador over the Atlantic Accord.
On the surface it might seem that a great deal of attention is being paid to this particular dust up but in realty very few of the facts have ever seen the light of day.
The act of ignoring the underlying facts of any news story in Canada today has become more than simply an annoying weakness of the media. It’s seemingly become a pre-requisite for every news agency and one that threatens the ability of the electorate to make informed decisions about the direction their Country takes on any issue.
With the introduction of the Harper “fiscal stimulus” package the gloves have once again come off between the Province and Ottawa. The attack dogs have been loosed on the Province’s population by Parliament Hill and predictably the Canadian media, in its never ending quest for an attention grabbing quote, even at the expense of the facts, has missed the point of the story entirely.
Every day another headline screams, “Danny Chavez is at it again”, referring of course to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, Danny Williams. It’s a term that the media has happily adopted to compare the Premier to Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez.
The fact that Mr. Williams is not a dictator at all but is in fact a duly elected leader in Canada who enjoys an 80% approval rating doesn’t seem to matter. The fact that his continued approval by the electorate means he is doing what his constituents expect him to do matter not. Instead of being depicted as a responsive leader, regardless of his approach to specific issues, he is tarred as a dictator.
The easy surface comparison sells papers. The truth doesn’t.
The television networks incessantly play clips of Mike Duffy, formerly one of their own who was recently awarded a Senate seat for his less than unbiased coverage during the last federal election, attacking two Premiers, NL’s Williams and PEI’s Ghiz for saying that the federal budget will have a damaging impact on the Province.
No attempt is made to find out if the claim is true or not. The attacks sell advertising time. The truth does not.
Pundits and editorialists are all too happy to perpetuate the biases and talking points of federal politicians as they rally to defend “all Canadians” from the greedy and demanding people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
One can only assume from their position that Canada’s 30 million souls are in extreme danger from the 500 thousand people in Newfoundland and Labrador, a place that it seems must not be a part of the Country if Canadians need to be defended from its actions.
The news media finds easy to preface every sentence related to the $1.6 Billion dollars involved in the dispute with the tag line, “according to Mr. Williams the federal budget will…”. It would be far harder and require much more effort to actually investigate whether the Province is truly being targeted by the Conservative government or not.
This approach to informing, or more accurately, misinforming the public tells us far more about the mainstream media itself than it does about any story they might be covering on a given day.
It tells us, or ought to tell us, that most reporters, editors and news managers are not in the business of reporting the facts but of producing a steady diet of ready to eat, easy to digest, fluff for the sole purpose of attracting a larger audience and, as a direct result, securing more of those lucrative advertising dollars that pay their salaries.
I challenge anyone who has followed the ongoing battle between Ottawa and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador over the past 3 governments (one Liberal and two Conservative) to think of a single mainstream news outlet, be it the Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC or CTV that has actually taken on the task of investigating the situation thoroughly and reporting the facts behind the headlines.
It isn’t easy is it?
Personally I can’t think of a single one that has been willing to move past the political rhetoric on both sides of the argument, go directly to the bean counting bureaucrats who manage the day to day operations of both the federal and provincial finance departments and actually investigate the story as most Canadians assume reporters are supposed to do.
Instead these so called “news” agencies now serve as little more than a venue for the regurgitation of whatever they are told by politicians with a vested interest in the situation and, in the case of national media outlets, more often than not that means providing the public with a daily diet of spin provided by partisan staffers and Federal MPs.
Recently Newfoundland and Labrador MP, Judy Foote, who was the first “uncooperative” MP to be dubbed “the Newfoundland Six” by the media for their refusal to support the budget vote, sent me an email in which she summed up the struggle taking place inside the Liberal caucus and on Parliament hill generally over the Accord issue.
According to Ms. Foote, “One of the problems in Ottawa is getting people to understand the seriousness of the situation. I can talk until I am blue in the face…”
Her words belie her frustration.
When she sent that email, which was before Michael Ignatieff gave his Newfoundland and Labrador caucus a so called “free pass”, Ms. Foote was frustrated at a situation where she had been unable to make her fellow MPs understand that the legislation they were about to pass would have dire consequences for her Province and her people and set a bad precedent across the Country.
Ms Foote’s words also convey a general lack of knowledge within federal political circles, not only over the impact of the budget in the region, but of the Newfoundland and Labrador’s place in Canada.
With the media blindly relaying the uninformed position of federal political figures, is it any wonder Danny Williams could only find one Canadian Premier, from PEI, who was willing to stand up and support his Province’s position, a move that led to the political hatchet job delivered by Senator Duffy in is maiden address to the Red Chamber.
Perhaps American comedian and SNL Alumnus, Al Franken, said it the best when he said, “The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They're about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover.”
Those words do not just convey a problem within the media itself but foreshadow a situation that has the potential to affect the direction of the entire Nation.
Is it surprising that the general public across Canada has so easily adopted the misguided belief that the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is acting as a dictator, that the people are simply greedy and that the Province wants to have their cake and eat it too?
That’s a story far easier to deliver and for the public to digest than one that identifies the inequities, political games, partisanship, lies, propaganda and systemic unfairness that is an everyday reality of the Canadian federation today.
The stories making the headlines may be easy to accept and they may sell papers but do they really serve the best interests of the public who must ultimately make the decision on the direction their Country should take?
Thursday, February 05, 2009
UPDATE: 10:41 PM - A vote on the budget implementation bill was held in the House of Commons this evening. All 6 Newfoundland and Labrador MPs, Judy Foote, Todd Russell, Gerry Byrne, Sibon Coady, Scott Andrews and Scott Simms, voted in favor of the bill in a complete reversal of the publicity stunt they pulled on the Province during Tuesday's vote.
It's a done deal.
We've done it again folks. We've elected a pack of wolves in sheeps clothing. Once again we have been sold out.
As a friend of mine is fond of saying: The true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
End UPDATEI guess now that the six gutless wonders this Province sent to Ottawa are planning to vote for the budget implementation bill, and side with Ottawa instead of their people, all of us "good little newfies" are just expected to get back in line and shut up as well.
After all, big brother is watching so I guess we should be worried eh?
If you don't think so here's all the proof anyone should need.
The following entry is in the statistics log for this blog site.
Date: 25th February 2009
Length of stay: 1 hour 34 mins 39 secs
Returning Visits: 255
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Entry Point: parl153.parl.gc.ca (188.8.131.52) Parliamentary Server
You know it really makes me sick that the only time Ottawa ever notices anyone or anything in this Province is when we speak out about their constant abuse.
This federation my friends is nothing but a sorry joke.
Posted by Patriot at 8:48 PM
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Well folks, it looks like Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, has decided to whip his MPs back into toeing the party line and selling out their Province. I guess Ignatieff, and likely the NL MPs, figure that since the publicity has died down a little since the budget vote on tuesday nobody will notice that they are planning to turn their backs on their Province this Friday.
Get ready folks, it looks like this Friday they'll all fall in line and sell us out again.
The following is from the Canadian Press:
OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff allowed his Newfoundland MPs to register a symbolic protest against the federal budget but he's insisting they now support legislation that will actually implement the measures they find so offensive.
The newly minted Liberal leader gave his six MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador special dispensation to break ranks and vote against a motion Tuesday night which conferred approval in principle on the budget.
Having cast their protest vote Tuesday, a spokesperson confirmed that Ignatieff now expects the Newfoundland MPs to support the budget on all subsequent votes, including the budget implementation bill.
Moreover, he's told the MPs they can't attempt to amend the bill, which is to be introduced this week.
During a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday, sources said Ignatieff chided the Newfoundland MPs for speaking out publicly against the budget before consulting with him.
Four of the six had already announced their intention to vote against the budget by the time Ignatieff gave them dispensation to do so.
Moreover, sources said Ignatieff warned caucus he doesn't intend to relax discipline again in future.
"He said it was a one-time thing, alone, period, full stop, and for us not to get our hopes up too high because it would not happen again," said one caucus member.
...Scott Andrews said he has no problem dropping the issue after getting the chance to stand up for his province in Tuesday's vote - the only budget vote that matters, as far as he's concerned.
"To me, this is over now," Andrews said in an interview.
"As far as people back home are concerned, we've made our stand on the budget and I'm moving on . . . We could keep reliving things and reliving things but I don't think that's very productive for anybody."
Here we go again folks, it's up to all of us in this Province "help" NL's MPs understand what that this is not just a "protest".
Here's how they can be reached:
NL MP Andrews - Andrews.S@parl.gc.ca
NL MP Byrne - Byrne.G@parl.gc.ca
NL MP Coady - Coady.S@parl.gc.ca
NL MP Foote - Foote.J@parl.gc.ca
NL MP Russell - Russell.T@parl.gc.ca
NL MP Simms - Simms.S@parl.gc.caI don't doubt for a minute that history will repeat itself with these MPs selling out their Province like others before them did (read Hearn, Manning, Efford, et al) but there's always a chance.
There is one thing that I know for sure.
You'd better think again Scott. All of you better think again.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
UPDATE 5:15 PM - Although he is turning his back on Newfoundland and Labrador, Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, announced today that is willing to make a token gesture by giving a one time only "free pass" to the NL MPs so they can vote with their constituents.
In a clearly opportunistic move, Todd Russell immediately announced that he is now willing to vote against the federal budget along with the other party MPs who made their decisions before being given the nod and wink of their federalist leader.
It seems Todd Russell believes he can have his cake and eat it to by happily toeing the party line until his federal handlers approved of him voting in support of his constituents.
One can only hope the people of Labrador will not fall for his self serving actions and take him to task when the next federal election rolls around.
In offering this meaningless gesture to Newfoundland and Labrador Mr. Ignatieff said he is doing so because of the "radical unprecedented" cut to transfer payments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He noted that the move "weakens the federation" which can only mean he supporting it for political and personal gain rather than in the best interest of Canada.
The federal budget, which was intentionally designed to single out Newfoundland and Labrador in retaliation for not electing any Conservatives in the last election, will be passed in the Commons this evening with the support of the Liberal Party.
In a move that can only be seen as an attack by Stephen Harper, new measures will be introduced to remove $1.6 Billion in offshore oil transfers to Newfoundland and Labrador. This has been estimated as an amount equivalent to the Province of Ontario suddenly being stripped of $22 Billion dollars a year.
The move comes at a time when the economy is staggering, unemployment in Newfoundland and Labrador is over 13% and is part of a so called “fiscal stimulus” budget.
When challenged over the issue Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty said in the House of Commons recently that, “…one of the principles involved in equalization is that all provinces should be treated equally."
He used that arguement as the reason he does not intend to change the legislation for Newfoundland and Labrador.
What he didn’t say was that this has nothing to do with equalization and is not directly impacted by the new cap being introduced.
Newfoundland and Labrador no longer receives equalization payments, however the formula used to calculate equalization itself is also a determining factor in calculating offshore oil revenue transfers which are intended to ensure that the province is the primary beneficiary of its offshore oil production rather than Ottawa.
Mr. Flaherty’s position that “…all provinces should be treated equally” has since been shown to have no merit.
On Tuesday Finance officials confirmed that Newfoundland and Labrador will be the only Province in the federation to lose revenue because of the specific changes that will be put in place.
It was also confirmed that two other provinces, specifically Nova Scotia and Manitoba, would also have been affected by the change however the Harper government have decided to provide those Provinces with one time payments to shelter them from the economic impact.
No such arrangement was put in place, or even offered, to Newfoundland and Labrador leaving it the only jurisdiction in Canada to be impacted.
This “poison pill” for Newfoundland and Labrador may have been an intentional act of the Conservative government but it is being abetted and supported in its implementation by the Liberal Party.
In his post budget address to the media Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, said that one of the “tests” he will be conducting in order to permit the Conservatives to remain in power is ensuring that the budget “addresses the needs of all regions of Canada”.
Since the financial attack on Newfoundland and Labrador was identified Mr. Ignatieff has lobbied the Prime Minister over the issue but is not willing to take away his support of the budget regardless of the damage it will cause.
The fact that the Liberal party intends to pass the budget and allow the Conservatives to remain in power even after failing on a Liberal imposed test calls into question the ethics of the Liberal leader himself and whether he is truly acting in the best interests of “…all regions of Canada” or simply serving his own political ambitions.
The singling out of Newfoundland and Labrador for punitive actions by the Harper government, with the support of the Liberal caucus, has resulted in an internal challenge to Mr. Ignatieff’s leadership abilities.
Confidence votes, such as this budget vote is, are generally considered a “Party” rather than a “free” vote in the Commons. This means the entire party is expected to vote in unison at the direction of their leader. In this case however 5 of the 6 Liberal MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador have decided they will defy their leader, refuse to toe the party line, and instead support their constituents by voting against the budget.
The only hold out is Liberal MP Todd Russell, from the Labrador riding, who, in spite of the serious impact to his province, has been quoted as saying he will “…vote for the budget to promote party unity”.
It’s a move that may ingratiate him to his Mr. Ignatieff but will almost surely make it impossible for him to gain re-election in the future.
A similar situation occurred a few years ago when Newfoundland and Labrador Conservative MP Fabian Manning supported his party over his constituents.
Manning was defeated by Liberal Scott Andrews in the most recent election however he was given a special thank-you gift for his actions by Stephen Harper this past Christmas. In return for supporting the Conservative party Mr. Manning was gifted with a Senate seat.
Its likely Mr. Russell, a career politician, arrived at his decision with the Manning experience in mind and that he is also expecting a senate pay off should the Liberals form government during the next election.