bishop's falls to buchans

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Lac Megantic Derailment & Explosion

News reports indicate that unmanned/parked train went AWOL from station at/near Nantes, PQ.

Here is a profile of that stretch of track from Google Earth.

How did this happen? Malfeasance? Negligence? Mechanical failure.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bipolar Affective Disorder

Manic depression's a frustrating mess!! JH

I just watched a 2007 NFB production, Flight from Darkness. It;s about a man from northern Saskatchewan, Percy Paul, who is a brilliant theoretical physicist and a sufferer of Bipolar. It hit me very close to home and it helps to know that other people suffer too. It's helped me to accept my diagnosis and to be patient with my own trials and tribulations.

Now, as is my predilection, my own type of mania, I will do some more research on Mr. Paul and the film producers.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 01, 2009

you're my obsession

I went through another phase in august & september of indulging my aviation obession. Did ground school at the local flight academy but I failed my medical (this hidden blessing has saved me the $10k required to get Private Pilots Licence (PPL)). Made up for it by studying boeing & Airbus & DHC fleets and by general readings in air tranwsport and general aviation. Navigation was one of my foci.
Now I'm hooked on subways: started with TTC & has inevitably moved onto MTA. This has rekindled my interest in NYC and I've been doing some more reading (more like endless perusing of photos and maps). I have to get there at some point!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why setting goals can backfire - The Boston Globe

Why setting goals can backfire - The Boston Globe

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sad Times for Music Industry in Red Deer

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Maher Arar Smiles!

I'd smile too for 10.5 mil!

But seriously folks, If anyone deserves it he does. Maher is the poster child for George Orwell's 1984, Jack Bauer's 24 and George Dubya's February the 30th*.

I have many engineering friends who travel & live overseas including the middle east. I can't see them ever being accosted the way Mr. Arar was.

I'm the rare breed of Canadian who loves the US of A and the "American Dream" but this one stretches credulity, especially the reaction of their security agencies in not revoking Maher's blackball listing.

*This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates, these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th.
-- Dubya releases budget numbers for a fiscal year that apparently ended on a fictional date, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Et Tu Brutus

CALGARY (CP) - In what could only be seen as a crushing blow, Premier Ralph Klein received just 55 per cent support early Saturday in his bid to retain the leadership of Alberta's Conservative party.

"(Albertans) didn't choose this party to govern so they could watch us bicker," said Klein. "They chose us to be honest, open, bold stewards of the province's future . . . The lustre of the shining star can only be darkened if the stewards they chose don't show leadership and vision and unity."

Unfortunately this is exactly what had happened to the PC Party. They had been bickering, exemplified by Oberg's move (now seen as prescient if not bold) to speak out and face the wrath. A political martyr by Alberta standards. Now it's obvious he was the one of few willing to put a face to the seething (ok, mildly peeved) horde gurgling under the surface. Ralph had been anything but honest, open & bold. Pandering to the masses with natural gas rebates & Ralph Bucks alienated the right wing core of his supporters. An unforgiveable sin, it seems obvious now, in this most right wing of provinces. Afraid to go down the path less travelled on health care he commited many false starts and feared implementing even the most common sense of the reforms that had been proffered over the years by Mazankowski et al.

Based on the result and what Tom Olsen of the Herald described as a mad rush to the exits after Ralph's mea culpa and plea for mercy it could be that the only people who voted for Ralph to stay were his immediate family, his staffers and his cabinet!!!

The bottom line for Ralph is that he has to go now, sooner rather than later; I'd pick late September '06 for the convention. The very sad part is that it did not have to be this way! He achieved much and it would have been nice to see him leave on his own terms the same as Peter Lougheed did.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Newfoundland Snow Crab Quotas Cut!!


Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said the handling of immature and undersize crab is "seriously threatening" the resource. "Changes to management measures must be made or the crab simply won't be there to catch in future years," Hearn said.

Quelle surpreez! Same old, same old I'm afraid. The prosecution of this fishery was at an unsustainable level. To wit: In 1992, only 750 licences for crab had been issued in Newfoundland and Labrador. By 2004, that number had climbed to 3,411.

Hopefully this bitter medicine has been administered in time unlike JC's cod moratorium of '92 which was akin to shutting the barn doors after the horse has gone!

How the EI system continues to subsidize a dying industry and corrupt a workforce:
In St. Bride's on the south coast, fishermen like Kevin McGrath will see their quotas cut by 25 per cent. He figures the lower quota will cost him and crew about $30,000 and will make it harder to qualify for employment insurance. "Last year … you were just scraping a few stamps. You weren't making no big pile of money, and this year, it's looking harder for the stamps and that," he said.

King Ralph, King Lear, King Kong

Ralph Klein faces the music tonight and the daggers appear to be unsheathed. His plan for a long, sordid, drawn-out swan song might go down the drain. He is morphing into his arch enemy, Jean Chretien, with the plan to leave when he's damn good & ready. Paul martin can tell you how well that worked for the Liberals!

My prediction for tonight is 73% support which might be enough to save him for now but it won't quell the rumblings for the usurpers.

Alberta needs some vision and resolution. Let's hope King Ralph makes the right decision.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

...and have-not will be no more!

from the CP:

"I am pleased to report that for the first time in our history the province is budgeting a surplus on a fully consolidated basis," Newfoundland Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan said in his budget speech. "I think we have turned the corner," said Mr. Sullivan. "We have enormous potential."

Brian Peckford's vision has finally seen the light of day!

Not without a little acrimony from Ontarians and others complaining how they must contribute to Equalization. I remember when I first moved to Calgary in 1996. It was the first time I had experienced first hand the resentment held by "mainlanders" towards the poor cousins on da Rock. As a friend of mine, Grinder, would say in retort, " would you feel if you were told that there was no more oil, or that you couldn't farm anymore." Well that is what had happened to the fishery in Newfoundland; the economic lifeblood let go from a rotten and abused jugular through mismanagement & greed. Were Newfoundlanders innocent bystanders in the cod's demise? No, but for the most part they were victims of overfishing (foreign & domestic), DFO's mismanagement and misdirected government subsidy programs whihc supported a fleet, inshore & offshore, that was too large for the resource.

Why must Ontario always lead the way by default? If Newfoundland's oil industry continues to prosper and the rural areas swallow the bitter medicine of rationalization to improve their economic situation, in the nmor too distant future Newfoundland could surge to the front of the pack with Alberta & BC. At that point the equalization tables may be turned, given Ontario's withering auto sector, and the largesse may in fact flow uphill!!!!!

Kudos to Danny Williams Government. Keep your shoulder to the wheel b'ys!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Queen of the North sinking

This is the site of the sinking. The Queen of the North was on a southeasterly course coming from the narrow channel, upper left, about 1 km wide to the wider Wright Sound, about 5 km wide. This is about the same as the distance across Badger Bay (in Notre Dame Bay, NL) from Triton to Locke's Harbour. Hard to fathom (no pun intended) how the crew on the bridge could have drifted onto the rocks. Awe inspiring & chilling to know that the vessel ended up with over 200 fathoms of water above her deck. Sad to think that two people may be entombed on her.

paper industry bailed out again

I hope that the Minister, Ed Byrne, has some vision for the next step in 12 months because government bail outs only avoid the real problem and postpone the true economic fallout. To me it seems that the inherent competitive advantage that Newfounland held in the pulp & paper industry has vanished. An abundance of high quality wood, cheaply harvested is no more. The hydroelectric advantage has dissipated with very few recent developments of any scale on the island. Last but not least, the loonie's recent run has hurt when competing with the US and South America.

Until Abitibi & Kruger rationalize their industry and straighten out their financial houses it will be rough times for the Badger drive! Politicians do not help the issue by supporting an unviable economic model in an inefficient manner. I shudder to think what would happen to the wood harvesting industry without the hidden subsidy of EI. Talk about pain, right now they don't know pain!

Friday, March 24, 2006


Just read Barney's Version, an opus delecti by the Bard of St. Urbain. Struck by the phallic symbolism of the lone cigar on the cover. Or perhaps it represent's the protagonist, Panofsky, flipping the bird?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Favourite Movie

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yes my love, that's a cod!

from off the head of the wharf, no less

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

much ado about nudding

Only in Canada you say...? Pity!

Yes, only in the GWN would we be so wound up about our figurehead.

Madame Jean seems able, charismatic, ambitious and freedom loving. Is this not enough people?!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Latest Fair Deal Campaign is Wrongheaded

From CBC in NL:

The Conservatives were the first to offer the fair deal on the campaign trail in 2004. Premier Williams used it as leverage to get the same deal from Paul Martin. Stephen Harper has pledged to meet the commitment.

Mr. McCann, the author of the campaign, should know better. He says that the province should come before party. Au contarire, by voting for the Liberal budget Mssrs. Doyle & Hearn, the targeted MPs, would be putting shortsighted priovincial advantage before their duty to the nation!

Daimnation concurs:

Wednesday, May 11, 2005



Committees of the House
Public Accounts
The House resumed from May 9 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.
The Speaker: The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion of concurrence to the first report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in the name of the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert.
The question is on the amendment.
* * *
(The House divided on the amendment which was agreed to on the following division:)
(Division No. 82)
Members AbbottAblonczyAllisonAmbroseAndersAnderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)AndréAsselinBachandBattersBellavanceBenoitBergeronBezanBigrasBlaisBoireBonsant
BouchardBoulianneBourgeoisBreitkreuzBrown (Leeds—Grenville)BrunelleCardinCarrieCarrierCaseyCassonChattersChongClavetClearyCôtéCrêteCummins
FletcherForsethGagnon (Québec)Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)GallantGaudetGauthierGoldringGoodyearGoukGrewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)GuayGuergisGuimondHangerHarperHarrisHarrisonHearn
HiebertHillHintonJafferJeanJohnstonKamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)Kenney (Calgary Southeast)KomarnickiKotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)LaframboiseLalondeLapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)LauzonLavalléeLemayLessardLévesqueLoubierLukiwskiLunnLunneyMacKay (Central Nova)MacKenzieMarceauMarkMénard (Hochelaga)Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)MenziesMerrifieldMillerMillsMoore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)Moore (Fundy Royal)NicholsonO'ConnorObhraiOdaPallisterPaquettePensonPerronPicard (Drummond)PlamondonPoilievrePoirier-RivardPrenticePrestonRajotteReidReynoldsRichardsonRitzRoySauvageauScheer
SchellenbergerSchmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
SkeltonSmith (Kildonan—St. Paul)SolbergSorensonSt-HilaireStinsonStrahlStronachThibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)Thompson (Wild Rose)TilsonToewsTrostTweedVan LoanVellacottVincentWarawaWatsonWhiteWilliamsYelich
Total: -- 153
Members AdamsAlcockAnderson (Victoria)AngusAugustineBagnellBainsBakopanosBarnesBeaumierBélangerBellBennettBevilacqua
BlaikieBlondin-AndrewBoivinBoninBoshcoffBoudriaBradshawBrisonBroadbentBrown (Oakville)BulteByrneCannisCarrCarrollCatterallChamberlainChanChristophersonCoderreComartin
ComuzziCrowderCullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)Cullen (Etobicoke North)CuznerD'AmoursDaviesDesjarlaisDeVillersDhallaDionDosanjhDrouinDrydenEasterEmerson
Lapierre (Outremont)LastewkaLaytonLeBlancLeeLongfieldMacAulayMacklinMalhiMaloney
MarleauMartin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)Martin (Winnipeg Centre)Martin (LaSalle—Émard)Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)MasseMatthewsMcCallumMcDonoughMcGuintyMcGuireMcKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)McLellanMcTeagueMinnaMitchellMurphyMyersNevilleO'BrienOwenPacettiParadisParrish
PatryPetersonPettigrewPhinneyPickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)PowersProulxRatansiRedmanReganRobillardRodriguezRotaSaadaSavageSavoyScarpaleggia
ScottSgroSiksaySilvaSimard (Saint Boniface)SimmsSmith (Pontiac)St. Amand
St. DenisSteckleStofferSzaboTelegdiTemelkovskiThibault (West Nova)TonksTorsneyUrValeriValleyVolpeWappelWasylycia-LeisWilfertWrzesnewskyjZed
Total: -- 150
The Speaker: I declare the amendment carried.
The next question is on the main motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
Hon. Karen Redman: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could seek unanimous consent to apply this vote so that members present in the chamber having voted on the previous question be deemed as voting on this question, with all Liberals in the House voting no.
The Speaker: I sense there is no consent to apply the vote. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
* * *
¼ (1835)
The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division.
(Division No. 83)
Members AbbottAblonczyAllisonAmbroseAndersAnderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)AndréAsselinBachandBattersBellavanceBenoitBergeronBezanBigrasBlaisBoireBonsant
BouchardBoulianneBourgeoisBreitkreuzBrown (Leeds—Grenville)BrunelleCardinCarrieCarrierCaseyCassonChattersChongClavetClearyCôtéCrêteCumminsDay
ForsethGagnon (Québec)Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)GallantGaudetGauthierGoldringGoodyearGoukGrewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)GuayGuergisGuimondHangerHarperHarrisHarrisonHearnHiebertHillHinton
JafferJeanJohnstonKamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)Kenney (Calgary Southeast)KomarnickiKotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)LaframboiseLalondeLapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)LauzonLavalléeLemayLessardLévesqueLoubierLukiwskiLunnLunneyMacKay (Central Nova)MacKenzieMarceauMarkMénard (Hochelaga)Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)MenziesMerrifieldMillerMillsMoore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)Moore (Fundy Royal)NicholsonO'ConnorObhraiOdaPallisterPaquettePensonPerronPicard (Drummond)PlamondonPoilievrePoirier-RivardPrenticePrestonRajotteReidReynoldsRichardsonRitzRoySauvageauScheer
SchellenbergerSchmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)SkeltonSmith (Kildonan—St. Paul)SolbergSorensonSt-HilaireStinsonStrahlStronach
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)Thompson (Wild Rose)TilsonToewsTrostTweedVan LoanVellacottVincentWarawaWatsonWhiteWilliamsYelich
Total: -- 153
Members AdamsAlcockAnderson (Victoria)AngusAugustineBagnellBainsBakopanosBarnesBeaumierBélangerBellBennettBevilacqua
BlaikieBlondin-AndrewBoivinBoninBoshcoffBoudriaBradshawBrisonBroadbentBrown (Oakville)BulteByrneCannisCarrCarrollCatterallChamberlainChanChristophersonCoderreComartin
ComuzziCrowderCullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)Cullen (Etobicoke North)CuznerD'AmoursDaviesDesjarlaisDeVillersDhallaDionDosanjhDrouinDrydenEasterEmerson
Lapierre (Outremont)LastewkaLaytonLeBlancLeeLongfieldMacAulayMacklinMalhiMaloney
MarleauMartin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)Martin (Winnipeg Centre)Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)MasseMatthewsMcCallumMcDonoughMcGuintyMcGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)McLellanMcTeagueMinnaMitchellMurphyMyersNevilleO'BrienOwenPacettiParadisParrish
PatryPetersonPettigrewPhinneyPickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)PowersProulxRatansiRedmanReganRobillardRodriguezRotaSaadaSavageSavoyScarpaleggia
ScottSgroSiksaySilvaSimard (Saint Boniface)SimmsSmith (Pontiac)St. AmandSt. DenisSteckleStofferSzaboTelegdiTemelkovskiThibault (West Nova)TonksTorsneyUrValeriValleyVolpeWappelWasylycia-LeisWilfertWrzesnewskyjZed
Total: -- 150
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, we have just voted on a motion that was agreed to on a clear majority, a motion which calls upon the government to resign.
¼ (1840)
By all of the established conventions of our democratic system, when the government faces a clear vote on such a question, it is required to do at least one of three things: it is required to fulfill the terms of the motion and resign; to seek a dissolution; or at the earliest moment, to ensure that it indeed has the confidence of this chamber, which is the only democratic mandate this government has to spend our public money.
Since I understand that the Prime Minister, in his desire to cling to power at all costs, has refused to do--
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition is trying to raise a point of order. I know it is going slowly because there is a lot of noise, but perhaps he could come to the point of the point of order quickly because we need to know what the point of order is.
Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, since the government has refused to follow either of the first two courses of action, I would challenge the Prime Minister, if he believes he has the constitutional authority to govern, to rise in this place and call for a vote of confidence, if he believes he has it from this House.
The Speaker: A challenge to the Prime Minister does not a point of order make, but perhaps the government House leader is rising to respond to this point of order?
Hon. Tony Valeri: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond and ensure that any Canadian who is actually watching the proceeding clearly understands that the leader of the official opposition has no knowledge of what in fact the motion actually said that he put forward.
It is an instruction to a committee. That instruction to the committee and the issue of it not being confidence is supported by Marleau and Montpetit and many other experts in procedure and constitutional affairs.
I would suggest that the leader of the official opposition leave as he is and we will continue to govern on behalf of Canadians.
The Speaker: The leader of the Bloc Québécois now has a comment to make on the point of order.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out that—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Gilles Duceppe: If the people across the way could just stop yelling.
I would just like to point out that the vote by each member of the Bloc Québécois constitutes a vote of non-confidence in the Liberal government, which no longer has the necessary moral authority to govern and which is headed by a prime minister who is discredited more every day in this House, as well as by the revelations coming out of the Gomery inquiry.
The Speaker: Obviously there are no points of order in this. The leader of the Bloc Québécois has stated his opinion. We can therefore continue with other House business.

Mr. Paul Szabo: Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, you determined that the last vote was carried. It was on a motion that the matter be referred back to committee. You did not say that. Is it in fact the instruction of this House that this matter now be referred back to committee?
The Speaker: Yes, it is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

non-confidence: Public Accounts Committee

First, Hill's amendment passed 153-150 making the motion one of Non-Confidence. Then the motion was passed by the same count.

...The NDP and two Independents (presumably Kilgour & Parrish) voted with the Liberals against the motion.

Two cabinet ministers, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Natural Resources Minister John Efford, were not there for the vote.

CPC 99 + BQ 54 vs. Lib 129 + NDP 19 + Ind. 2.

On Harper's subsequent Point of Order, Valeri clings to tenuous arguments stating that it is merely a vote to refer the matter back to committee.

A sad day for Parliamentary democracy!

A few observations:
  • even if Libs had full caucus they still would have lost 153-152.
  • Labrador byelection on May 24 will go Liberal, no question!: 153-153.
  • Wild card is Cadman. He makes it 154-153 if he sides w CPC. Liberals fall!

crabs, blueballs, lice...

If there was ever a difficult industry to manage it is the fishery. History shows a greedy, immoral seascape of servitude, neglect and destruction.

Newfoundland battles the demons once again with the crab fishery. At first glance I fully supported the gov'ts. position in that it took on the FFAW union which has grown much too big for its britches.

However I now find myself in a dilemma; if I truly believe in free markets the fishermen should be able to sell their catch to the highest bidder. The companies that manage the fish processing plants should have to compete, making their efforts sensible i.e. no more make work projects, no more old, inefficient plants. They can't be used as instruments of social engineering by the goverment any longer. If a plant needs to close then the company should make that decision, not the gov't. (Similar issues arise on a daily basis in newfoundland with the forestry industries and others.)

Of course, the "free market" precept that the fishermen base their outrage on is flawed vis a vis the old quota program. The quotas, in essence, pick the winning and the losing boats.

It's a gordian knot which has no simple answers...

54-40 or fight...

Well, it's now official, history was made when Newfoundland and Nova Scotia made the deal with Paul Martin this past winter. It was the beginning of the end of Canada but I didn't see it coming. The asymmetric federalism has devolved into a cash grab of epic proportions. We will never see tax cuts or small government again and the ties that bind are becoming less and less relevant.

As GG II, Ralston Saul, says, (and, while admiring his intellectual rigour, there's much with which I disagree) nationalism is growing and in Canada that exemplifies itelf as provincialism.

The Feds should look after their constitutional responsibilities, the criminally neglected military being one classic example, and clear the "tax space" for the appropriate levels of government to fund their responsibilities. Anything more leads to excessive political manipulation, bloated, ineffective bureaucracies and faulty public policy.

Friday, May 06, 2005

To Live & Die in the Great White North

Watched Question Period online yesterday. (gotta love technology!) Pretty much farcical but it's still the most entertaining part of the HoC. Pretty low standards of discourse.

Even as a staunch, small c, conservative and a card carrying Conservative, I think it behooves the Torys to tone down the Paul Martin jabs a little; just a little mind you. The web of deceit will soon enough ensnarl the guilty. Let the testimony continue unabated; avoid childishness and peevish thrusts and parres a la Libranos, kkk, etc. and take the moral high ground; leave the muck to the bloggers and journalists. The nation deserves as much. Furthermore, lapdog Brison's retorts about Guite's credibility actually make sense.


Monday, January 31, 2005

My Letter to the Editor of the Telegram

Mr. Editor:

Danny Williams has rallied Newfoundlanders & Labradorians like no leader in the province's history. I'd dare to say that includes upping Joey in the fight for Confederation but one could argue that Mr. Smallwood's fight was much harder to begin with.

Recognizing the Prime Minister's weak bargaining position, the Premier went for the throat and refused to let go. Each move was coldly calculated but imbued with more than enough emotion to awaken the nation to the have-not plight, prod the feds into action and capture Newfoundlanders' fighting spirit and steely resolution.

It began with the solicitation and garnering of the commitment from the vulnerable PM, PM, on the hustings; the cause made more sympathetic by treatying with a valuable ally, joining with Nova Scotia; the battle truly joined with headlines of the halt to negotiations and the storming out of the First Minister's conference and finally the Machiavellian coup de grace of lowering the Maple Leaf, denigrating the Federal Finance Minister and bashing the provincial representative in Cabinet.

Pilloried in some mainland columns, most famously by Margaret Wente in the Globe & Mail, the Premier was given his due by other editorialists who recognized the herculean task the province is facing. Now the churlish behaviour can be forgotten, the insults laid to rest and the hatchet buried; in the latest chapter of Newfoundland & Canadian history outright victory can be proclaimed.

Now the truly hard work begins for a province, a nation, an island that prides itself on self reliance, perserverance and pride of place. Then the chasm will finally have been breached and verily, have-not will be no more!

Congratulations to Premier Willams and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Williams' Triumph

Monday, January 31, 2005

Deal Took Years to Reach

When the news came, there was no puff of white smoke in the vicinity of Langevin Block, only the frozen breath of passersby as they scurried through the -30 C ice box that is the nation’s capital in January.

Officials had been inside Langevin Block meeting for more than eight hours. Langevin, across the street from the Parliament buildings, is the nerve centre of the prime minister’s bureaucratic operations.

At a nearby restaurant, a group of reporters waited for word. At 7:22 p.m., one of their BlackBerries started to shake and dance on the table. Bzzt, bzzt. Handshakes and smiles, the message read.

Bzzt, bzzt. Another reporter, another BlackBerry message. This time from the other side of negotiations. It’s a deal, the message said.

Just over two hours later, at 9:30 p.m. Ottawa time, Prime Minister Paul Martin, Premier Danny Williams and Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm were in Parliament’s Centre Block making the announcement official.

“As you know, I’ve been concerned for some time now about the unique financial circumstances faced by both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia,” the prime minister said, his words carried live on national television.

“For this reason, I committed to ensuring that both provinces keep 100 per cent of their revenues from the offshore. And I am pleased to announce tonight that we have arrived at an agreement in which this has been achieved.”

The people of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia had waited years to hear those words.
Finally, a combination of skill, strategy, luck, circumstances and political will allowed two of Canada’s smallest provinces to team up and achieve something they may never have accomplished on their own.

The weather in Ottawa Friday felt like Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, the day of the Imperial invasion. Less snow on the ground, perhaps, and no storm troopers, but colder.
Those on the offensive this day were the underdogs — Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Premier Danny Williams and Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm left the Chateau Laurier hotel shortly after their 11 a.m. meeting was scheduled to begin. The two premiers were flanked by a throng of overcoat-clad officials as they made the short walk down Wellington Street to Langevin Block.

Williams, surrounded by reporters, telegraphed messages that a deal may be nigh. He even previewed lines he would use later in the evening, about Ottawa’s responsibility to protect the federal treasury.

More than 10 hours later, in the foyer of Parliament’s Centre Block, it was all handshakes and kind words.

Getting to that moment took years. Hamm recalled the day he kicked off Nova Scotia’s so-called Campaign For Fairness, the beginning of its effort to benefit more from its offshore oil resources.

“Let me say, that after four years and 11 days, I am very, very happy that it’s over,” Hamm said.

In perhaps the understatement of the whole Accord saga, the Nova Scotia premier acknowledged the contrasts in negotiating styles with his Newfoundland counterpart.
“While there have been differences in our approach … we have worked very effectively together as Atlantic Canadians, and I believe that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have been well served by the way in which we have worked together.”

Afterwards, Williams acknowledged how important it was to have a negotiating partner.
The provinces worked as a unique tag team — a good-cop, bad-cop tandem, with Oscar-quality casting.

“The bad cop comes naturally to me, that wasn’t orchestrated,” Williams said. “John Hamm happens to be a very nice guy, and a very pleasant person. So, it fell in place quite naturally.”
Together, the two provinces worked to advance a file, in Ottawa parlance, that had languished for years without action.

But following a June promise, a period of inaction, months of flag flaps, harsh rhetoric about “insulting” offers and “betrayal,” it all came down to one last-chance effort Friday.

“It was a tough negotiation,” Williams said.

“I didn’t want to use the term ‘negotiation’ throughout, as a negotiating tactic. … Today, it was truly a negotiation.

“We went back and forth. We went through a lot of issues. We covered a lot of ground. Everyone was creative, which was wonderful. There was a genuine attempt by everybody to try and find a solution. And, eventually, because of the complexity of some of the issues, it came down to quantifying a dollar amount, which is basically what we settled on at the end of the day.”

And if the casting was Oscar-quality, so were the speeches Friday night.
The leaders thanked everybody but Halle Berry’s lawyer.

The only one with an unhappy countenance was federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.
Goodale didn’t speak, and looked like someone had kicked him in the solar plexus.

Last month, Williams vowed never to talk with Goodale again about the Atlantic Accord file.
But Friday night, the premier saluted Goodale as the person “who is responsible for the public treasury, and guards it well, believe me.

“This has been a battle. I can assure the people of Canada … that you’re in good hands. There’s no easy dollars going to be squeezed out of this crowd.”

The newfound happiness Friday night was a stunning reversal from earlier form.

After months of savaging Natural Resources Minister John Efford, the province’s representative in the federal cabinet, Williams said he was “grateful” for Efford’s contributions in a key federal portfolio.

“He added a great deal to this file, and was instrumental in concluding this matter today,” Williams said.

For his part, Efford looked like a man who had just escaped the hangman’s noose.
“I want to begin by saying I’m going to go back home Monday,” Efford said.

“I’ve been a proud Newfoundlander, and I’ve been a proud Canadian since 1949. I’ve been in politics since 1985 and never have I felt the pride of being a Canadian and a Newfoundlander and Labradorian as I do this evening, and prime minister, it’s because of you and I sincerely want to say thank you …

“To Premier Williams, over the last several months we’ve had our disagreements, and (provincial Finance Minister Loyola) Sullivan, we’ve had some words that we said, but it’s all worth it. It is absolutely all worth it. This is the beginning of a new future for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

New future, yes.
An end to all of Newfoundland’s problems, no.

The premier began playing down expectations the night the deal was reached.

He said the agreement would go a long way to salve the lingering hurt of past resource deals gone wrong, but would not be an economic panacea.

After all, Williams is not the Messiah, and he won’t be turning bog water into a full-bodied Shiraz anytime soon.

He is a skilled businessman and negotiator. He has a reputation in local business circles of turning down what are viewed as sweetheart deals, then managing to get something better.
That view held over on the national stage.

The only question being raised in Ottawa circles prior to Friday’s talks was not whether Williams was crazy, but just how crazy he was for turning down previous offers.

He has considerable communication skills, no doubt honed by his time in the courtroom and the boardroom. He used all of those skills during the Accord debate.

He refused to budge from his original position until the last minute, instead allowing the feds to make concession after concession.

His more incendiary actions — storming out of first ministers’ meetings, lowering the Maple Leaf — were calculated risks he knew would draw national attention to the Accord issue.
But without national attention, the Accord renegotiation may have joined a long list of promises buried in a very full political graveyard.

While the jury is out on any long-term damage those actions may cause, Williams ended up getting his deal.

He was helped by circumstances.

The original promise was made on the spur of the moment, at a time in the June federal election campaign when the prime minister actually looked in danger of losing.

No danger, no promise? No one will ever know.

Martin ended up winning a minority government, the most precarious of situations. Suddenly, every seat in the country — even those in the hinterlands — became vitally important to remaining in power.

Martin faces a tough session of Parliament, starting today. There is the same-sex marriage issue, and the spectre of the sponsorship scandal inquiry still ongoing.

The Atlantic Accord is now one less thing to worry about.

Paul Wells — a political reporter and columnist with Maclean’s magazine, who wrote an article on the Accord dispute last week — perhaps summed up that view most succinctly.

“Boiled down from five pages, the argument of my article is that Williams has no interest in calming down as long as Paul Martin looks like he can be rolled,” Wells wrote in his weblog. “And Paul Martin will never stop looking like he can be rolled.”

On the other side, Martin has insisted all along he wanted to give the province 100-per-cent benefits from the offshore, and this deal allows him to do that without mucking around in the minefield of the equalization program.

“I do believe that while this is a great day for Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, it is a great day for Canada,” the prime minister said Friday night.

“The ability of individual provinces to use these offshore resources for the benefit of their people and the generations to follow is something that has been said by respective federal governments for a long time. And I am very glad that we have been able to deliver on that commitment.”

And Martin got to hear Williams, his tormentor of the past number of months, say this on national TV: “Today, I’m delighted — I’m very proud, I’m very pleased — that (the prime minister’s) promise, that commitment, has been delivered in full.”

Martin did it, when others said they would consider it.

While the province may not be broadcasting the fact, the deal appears essentially to be a modified version of the Dec. 22 Winnipeg offer, in terms of the first eight years.

The difference is that the province gets the money up front. It can invest its $2 billion advance payment and use the interest to offset the potentially restrictive terms it disliked about the Winnipeg offer. (That, of course, assumes the province decides against putting the money into the historic funnel of rubber boot factories and cucumber mega-projects.)

And the province will still receive benefits beyond $2 billion, should it qualify for them.

The figure, according to estimates agreed upon by the province and Ottawa, may come in at around $2.6 billion.

There are a number of other gains for the province.

The original Accord will be extended one year, to 2012 from 2011.

And the new deal could realistically now go through 2020 — or at least a couple of years beyond 2012.

It’s a big jump from the original October offer of $1.4 billion, tops, over eight years.

Instead, it’s $2 billion, minimum, over the same time frame, with the possibility of more, extending as far as 16 years down the road.
“I think it’s very important to live up to your commitments and to keep your word,” Martin said Friday.

The prime minister made his Atlantic Accord commitment in a phone call to Williams at 7:22 a.m. Newfoundland time, June 5, 2004.

He consummated it at 7:22 p.m. Ottawa time, Jan. 28, 2005.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Danny's Deal!

"...and "have not" will be no more..."

Globe's site on Friday night has interesting juxtaposition to the Newfoundland story considering that Danny's quest began with a promise made on the hustings by Paul Martin:

Fair Deal or No Deal

Kelly Toughill's article raises the spectre that a 100% deal for Newfoundland will fundamentally shift Canada's basis for the equalization scheme.

Fine! The province needs to follow the Irish example. Cut taxes, especially for small businesses and let the market decide who the winning entrepreneurs wil be; not equalization, not ACOA, and not the government, blinded by short term political exigencies (easy to say from the economic mecca on the prairies!)

I tend to agree with Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute on this one. For too long in Newfoundland and Labrador the government (provincial & federal) has been looked to as the saviour. It's not a sustainable condition.

This is where my Dad jumps in to correct my "skewed" perspective. He sees the need for self determination but his point, and it has some validity, is that the totality of government largesse in that "far greater bay" pales in comparison when compared to the payments made and/or concessions granted to the Ontario auto industry and the Quebec aeropsace/snowmobile industry. True, but two wrongs don't make a right.

Employment Insurance needs desperately to be reformed. Seasonal industries (logging, fishing, etc.) dictate certain impositions on the labour force but the 10/42 equation is unjust. It is a huge disincentive to the labour force (paying people to fester or driving their work underground, off the books) and it imposes false economies on small businesses looking for employees.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Townsite, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. My hometown. Posted by Hello

fish flakes & schooners Posted by Hello

Friday, November 12, 2004

Remembrance Day

I wanted to go to the local Remembrance Day ceremony in Red Deer but I foolishly assumed it would be downtown at the Cenotaph (from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos empty + taphos tomb). CBC Radio was broadcasting the melancholy National ceremony from Ottawa and the lonely coronet playing the Last Post opened up my heart as it usually does at this time every year and I pondered the whys, wherefores and what nots of war, nations, human enterprise.

I stopped shortly after 11 a.m., as did a few others, and briefly reviewed the monument in the middle of Ross St. Obviously, the local ceremony was not here. I could not think of where it would be. I've since learned that it was at the Arena, a few blocks away. Next year I'll make sure that I show up for the ceremony proper and I'll bring my little girl, maybe even my wife.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older and I've got a family now but I feel more of a need to take a few moments on this day to reflect on the sacrifices made by others that have allowed me to enjoy the carefree life that I have always enjoyed. It makes me more aware of responsibility and the necessity of contributing to a better world.

Lest Ye forget

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Home, Home on the Range... Posted by Hello

negotiating offshore oil & gas

I see that the Premiers of NS & NL visited the PM, PM today. Hopefully, they can present a unified front to the Feds.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

home sweet home (not really) Posted by Hello

online persona

My first post... ... ...'s not as easy as it looks... put fresh, original content on the web.

I always lament the lack of substance. Now I've got no one to blame but myself.

Stay tuned for rants on Canadian politics, especially with regards to Newfoundland.

Doing my part to keep the NL perspective alive. (Rex Murphy eat your heart out!)