When someone else does it, that would be wrong.
But when Kathy does it, she thinks it is sheer genius.
David Cochrane called it right the other day in the scrum with Kathy Dunderdale. He asked if she was laying the groundwork for a failure at the trade talks, a failure of her personal position.
Dunderdale denied it in the scrum, but her latest claim – full of the same vague and largely unsubstantiated claims as on Monday – sounds like someone who is trying to blame someone else before the talks finish and the end result doesn’t match what she’s been personally staking out as a position.
Russell Wangersky is a fine writer with a keen and insightful mind.
He is also an editor at the province’s largest circulation daily.
That’s the same place where former fisheries minister Trevor Taylor has been scribbling a column every week.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale (via NTV):
We’re looking for a ‘carve-out’ on the minimum processing regulations … so they’ll be exempted, and we want access to the European market on a number of our fish lines…
Hideous jargon for “not going to trade away” minimum processing regulations.
Fisheries minister Derrick Dalley (via the Telegram):
Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley was at a media event in St. John’s Tuesday, where he assured reporters that the provincial government is not going to give away minimum processing requirements unless it’s a good deal.
Not going to trade away minimum processing requirements.
So after a teaser column in the Telegram last week that was more creative fiction than serious history or memoir, John Crosbie explained why he loves the Muskrat Falls project in this Saturday’s instalment of Geriatric Townie Pass-times.
It’s really simple.
The project will be splendiferous.
Amazingly, marvellously, Keebler-elves-kinda-magical.
If you are still mulling over the British Columbia election result and the polls, take a look at this post by Eric Grenier at threehundredeight.com. It includes a link to his piece in the Globe on Wednesday on the same topic.
Pollsters tend to weight their samples to match the population as a whole. Problem: that isn’t the same as the demographic profile of voters.voters.
Grenier shows how Ipsos, for example, weighted a poll equally across three age groupings. In the 2013 election, those age groupings didn’t turn out equally. The over-55s made up half the total voter turn-out, not one third.
All this talk of Senator Beth Marshall and her hefty annual stipend for chairing a committee that has met once in two years brings to mind the good senator’s role in the House of Assembly patronage scam, a.k.a. the spending scandal.
Marshall is credited with first sniffing something was amiss when she went hunting for Paul Dick’s expenses in 2001-ish. She was barred from the House by the legislature’s internal economy commission. The members were Liberals and Tories and, as accounts have it, they unanimously wanted to keep Beth’s nose out of their files.
But if you go back and look, you’ll have a hard time finding any indication Beth thought something else was on the go. While we didn’t know it at the time, subsequent information confirmed that members had been handing out public cash pretty generously by that point. Yet Marshall has never, ever indicated she felt something more than a few wine and art purchases might have been amiss.
That’s important because of Marshall’s record once she got into the House herself as a member in 2003.
As it turns out, Harris-Decima used household income not individual income for weighting the poll they did for NAPE. Keith Dunne, NAPE’s communications co-ordinator tweeted the correct information on Thursday morning.
Your humble e-scribbler thought it was individual income and therefore concluded – wrongly – that there was a skew in the poll toward higher income urbanites. That didn’t invalidate the survey results but it might have explained the strength of the rejection of the provincial government’s budget. The Tories might have had a chance to bounce back politically, especially among the lower income types out there.
Turns out that hope was pretty much dashed.
Two thirds of tax filers in Newfoundland and Labrador report incomes of less than $35,000 per year.
The Harris-Decima poll released by the Newfoundland and labrador Association of Public Employees on Wednesday has only 27% of the sample with an income less than $40,000 per year.
Still, the results show that the provincial government either didn’t have a communications strategy or whatever strategy they had failed miserably.
In fact, it was a stunning, utter, complete, abject failure of their entire communications effort.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale said on Tuesday that the province will have problems now that it doesn’t have a federal cabinet minister from this province.
As CBC quoted her from a scrum outside the House of Assembly, Kathy said:
“It always makes it more difficult when you don't have somebody inside the tent,…”
This is not just a difficult position, it is a stupid position, but it is exactly the stupid policy that Kathy Dunderdale advocated.
While an official with Corner Brook’s municipal government understandably has to say wonderful things about the economy in the west coast city, a look at some numbers shows the city is feeling the effects of a larger problem in the province.
SRBP took a look at newsprint production levels and the value of newsprint exports from 2003 to 2012. The numbers are all from the annual editions of the budget document called The Economy.
The picture is not pretty.
You can add another five changes to the record of senior executive appointments cabinet has made since the beginning of the year, according to orders-in-council posted to the provincial government’s website.
That brings the total for Calendar Year 2013 to 20.
Six the 20 are acting appointments, meaning that cabinet will either have to confirm the appointment or put someone new in the job.
Cabinet remains on track to make 60 such appointments in 2013, setting an all-time record for changes in the 121 deputy minister and assistant deputy minister positions in the provincial government.
In the wake of the tragic death last week of Joseph Riche, it shouldn’t be surprising that some people, including some politicians, are blaming the tragedy on the Department of National Defence.
That’s what politicians do in this province. Blame Ottawa is a time-honoured political strategy even if it is usually a political lie.
As with the Burton Winters tragedy, these provincial politicians are aiming public concern in the wrong direction.
Trevor Taylor left politics in 2009 in an unseemly hurry.
One minute he was there.
Next minute? Gone from cabinet and the House of Assembly.
Then right on his heels went Paul Oram, who muttered something about unsound financial management by the Conservatives as he ran from the Confederation Building.
A very big clue to what was going on at the time turned up on Tuesday in Trevor Taylor’s column in the Telegram.
Tom Marshall used to be the finance minister.
He’s the guy who consistently, year after year, spent more than the people of the province could afford. Tom didn’t do it by himself: he had the support of all his colleagues in cabinet.
And since 2009, Tom and his colleagues have admitted that they mismanaged the provincial government accounts by overspending.
Along the way, Tom has claimed some things that aren’t true. Like saying that he and his colleagues lowered the provincial debt when they didn’t.
So now that he is natural resources minister, Tom Marshall is still telling people things that aren’t true. This time it is about the glories of the 2008 expropriation.
What Tom says.
Two different things.
Last week SRBP noted that the provincial cabinet seems to be having some difficulty getting legislation into the House for debate.
Normally, we’d see upwards of 30 bills handled in the spring session. In 2011 they had almost all the bills introduced by the early part of May. In 2012, the provincial government had more than twice as many bills on the go as they do this year.
Well on Monday, finance minister Jerome Kennedy gave notice he has one more bill to add: an amendment to the Revenue Administration Act. He called it amendment number three.
Except it isn’t.
New Democratic Party leader Lorraine Michael asked natural resources minister Tom Marshall in the House of Assembly on Monday about Husky’s plans for natural gas development offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
The story appeared in upstreamonline.com on May 3 and SRBP told you about it the same day.
Here’s what Marshall said about the article:
I have not had the opportunity to read the particular article that which she is referring to, but I would also be happy to have a discussion with the company.
Check out the 2012 Hydro-Quebec annual report and you will find a lovely chart showing trends in energy prices in northeastern North America.
“After reaching a historic peak in 2008, natural gas and electricity prices in northeastern North America dropped sharply in 2009, then rose slightly in 2010 only to fall again, such that prices in 2012 were at their lowest in 10 years.” (page 11)
From an historic peak to the lowest prices in a decade a mere four years later.
Last week, the federal Auditor General pointed out many serious problems with the state of offshore search and rescue.
Last week, the usual gang grabbed any microphone they could find to call - yet again - for everything from a provincial public inquiry into the state of search and rescue in the province to a new agency to regulate safety in the offshore oil industry.
The idea that we had to split safety from other aspects came up during the offshore helicopter inquiry. The idea is popular. Helicopter safety inquiry commissioner Robert Wells included it as one of his recommendations in volume one.
But here’s the thing: what is a so-called separate safety agency supposed to do that we aren’t doing now or couldn’t accomplish any other way?
Husky Energy is sizing up the potential of developing natural gas offshore Newfoundland and Labrador within the next decade, according to the leading petroleum industry news source upstreamonline.com.
First exports could begin in 2025, if enough resources can be certified, according to upstream. The likely export destination would be western Europe, a market very close to Newfoundland and Labrador and where prices are considerably stronger than they are in North America.
upstream’s story notes that the provincial government “quashed” any idea of using local natural gas in place of Muskrat falls, but reports that since then the “the idea of LNG exports appears to now have more traction, suggested one source…”. upstream reported that “Husky is said to be taking a fresh look at known and potential gas resources to see if their scale would justify, technically and commercially, building a liquefaction plant.”
upstream reports that Husky commissioned a report from IntecSea to explore potential development of the 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas offshore Labrador.
Industry sources suggested a potential timeline towards first LNG exports could see pre-front-end engineering and design studies taking place in 2016-2017.
Front-end engineering and design would take place through to 2019 in advance of a firm decision, according to upstream.
As of May 2, there are a mere six pieces of legislation on the list of bills currently set for debate in the House of Assembly. It seems to be up to date because on Thursday they added links to a couple of the bills that are ready to start debate.
But they didn’t add any to the six listed there.
Former premier Tom Rideout has an accent typical of the northeast coast of Newfoundland. in his days as a cabinet minister after 2003, Rideout often used the word “northern”. It came out in his pronunciation as “no-durn” or “know-durn”.
Tom’s legacy leaves on, even inadvertently. Four years or so after Rideout got fed up and left provincial politics, Labrador affairs minister Nick McGrath confirmed recently that the Northern Strategic Plan the provincial Conservatives talk about so much doesn’t exist.
There’s no durn plan.
Natural resources minister Tom Marshall announced in the House of Assembly on Tuesday that the provincial government had settled with the last of a string of private companies victimised by a 2008 asset grab of hydro-electric generating facilities by the provincial government.
Taxpayers will cover a $54 million debt owed by Fortis, one of the partners in the Exploits Partnership, as well as pay the company an additional $18 million. Taxpayers have already paid more than $4 million according to media reports, bringing the total to about $76 million for the Fortis asset swipe alone.
In 2011, the provincial government took responsibility for a $40 million loan owed on Star Lake, another part of the 2008 hydro asset expropriation. The government also paid $32.8 million to Enel one of the partners in the project.
The provincial government seized the hydro assets in an extraordinary expropriation bill that government original touted as being aimed at Abitibi in punishment for closing a paper mill in the central Newfoundland town of Grand Falls-Windsor.
Information subsequently came to light that confirmed the government’s real target in the expropriation were the lucrative hydro-electric generating assets owned by Abitibi, Enel, and Fortis in two separate partnerships. The provincial government turned over the assets free of charge to the Crown-owned Nalcor Energy.
Nalcor will now use the generating stations to help meet its commitments to provide Emera with free electricity for 35 years under the Muskrat Falls deal.
For now, though, taxpayers are being forced to pay for the seizure and for the electricity Nalcor makes at the seized plants. Under a cabinet order dated April 4, 2013, Nalcor sells electricity from the Exploits plant to its subsidiary Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro for the fixed price of four cents per kilowatt hour. Hydro sells the power to consumers at much higher rates, thereby pocketing a sizeable profit entirely at public expense.
In its original plan, government intended to skim off any valuable assets and leave Abitibi with any environmental liabilities. As it turned out, the expropriation seized one of the most polluted properties Abitibi held. The expropriation freed Abitibi of any liabilities since they went with the ownership.
There is no independent estimate available of the costs of the environmental clean-up of the seized facilities.