Thursday, March 29, 2007

Weighing the cost of lost opportunities

Craig Westcott, owner and editor of The Business Post, loves to raise a little hell. A former reporter with The Sunday Express, The Telegram and CBC Radio news, and a former managing editor of The Newfoundland Herald, Westcott is one of the province's best known - and most controversial - media personalities. His weekly commentaries on the CBC Radio Morning Show (every Monday) always stimulate discussion and feedback from callers. But Craig is not provocative for its own sake; his opinions, contentious though they may be, are always carefully considered and difficult to dismiss. He is one of the few journalists in the province to openly challenge the confrontational style of Premier Danny Williams. Westcott was the keynote speaker at a NOIA luncheon today, at the Delta. He has kindly agreed to make the complete text of his speech available here.

Weighing the Cost of Lost Opportunities
Luncheon Address by Craig Westcott
To the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Ocean
March 29, St. John's

Thank you to the NOIA committee for inviting me here today.

When Harry Pride and the other NOIA committee members asked for a title to today's speech, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: Weighing the cost of lost opportunities.

I could have subtitled it: 'Stuck in the middle with you.'

As Jeff noted in his introduction, I publish a business newspaper called The Business Post.

I started this venture last June. On the very day in fact, when Premier Danny Williams said he was feeling "annoy-yed" by NOIA.

You'll remember he uttered those remarkable words right in the middle of the annual offshore petroleum conference.

During that same conference, the premier chose to go on province wide television to announce he was firing his minister of Natural Resources, Ed Byrne.

He actually scheduled his press conference so that it would be carried live on the supper hour news.

Given the circumstances of Byrne's constituency allowances, we all know now that he had to step aside.

But you've got to wonder about the timing.

During that same convention last year, it seemed to me, in covering it, that Williams did his best to avoid attending any of the functions.

I think he actually showed up at one.

Here was the world's oil industry in town to talk about our oil and gas prospects, the very resources that are driving the economy and giving our government the kind of revenues and balanced budgets we haven't seen in years, and the premier stayed home.

Well actually it was worse than that.

He didn't just snub the industry.

He insulted the people in it, particularly the members of NOIA.

Just before that, at the OTC, Williams had done the same thing.

This was just after the breakdown in talks over Hebron.

If there was ever a time when we needed our top guy at the world's biggest oil show working the rooms and making our case, that was it.

But Williams stayed home.

Even during some of the lowest years for the oil industry in Newfoundland, the premier of the day usually went to Houston for the OTC. Because that's where relationships are made and business gets done.

We're getting ready now for NOIA's 2007 offshore conference here in St. John's.

And we already know that this coming one is going to be missing a major element.

Earlier this week, DMG Media announced it was pulling the plug on the annual international trade show that accompanies the offshore conference.

For the first time in nearly two decades, there will be no trade show during the conference.

I'm told that many companies, from the operators down to many of the local suppliers, didn't think it was worth their while to allocate money and staff to a booth.

The work just isn't here to justify it.

How's that for illustrating the title of today's talk. Weighing the cost of lost opportunities.

Like many of you in this room, I too am dependent on the local oil industry for my living.

I've published 14 issues so far of The Business Post.

One of the very best ones, revenue wise, was number eight, which was distributed to every business in this region just before Christmas.

It was our first Top 50 issue.

A look at the Top 50 players in our oil patch.

People who have invested their money, and their time and their energy, their precious life energy, into building a new industry for Newfoundland.

An industry that pays better than average salaries.

An industry that provides government with better than average revenues to pave roads, and fix schools and buy equipment for hospitals.

An industry that means a bright future for thousands of young Newfoundlanders who want the choice of staying at home for work instead of having to leave their parents and friends to move away.

And not just young Newfoundlanders. But people my age and older too, who find themselves commuting to Alberta, or moving North for work in increasing numbers, now that Danny Williams has all but killed the near and medium term prospects of this industry.

Where did it all go wrong?

Before I try to answer that, let me make one thing clear.

I am not aligned with any particular party.

Over the years, I've voted for all of them at one time or another.

I even published a short-lived, official PC Party newspaper when Loyola Sullivan was leader.

So what I'm about to say is not partisan and it's not meant to be personal or negative towards Danny Williams.

But it's impossible to avoid being negative about a leader who is so negative himself, especially about his critics and some of the people who try to do business in this province.

Getting back to where things went wrong, I would argue that it all started nearly four years ago with the election of a new government.

Those of us who live here will remember that four years ago, the consortium of oil companies that have the development rights to Hebron were just getting ready to tee-up Newfoundland's fourth big oil project.

This was two years after 9-11 in the 'States.

The Americans were at war.

Oil prices were inflating as a result of all the growing risk in the world.

The United States government itself was looking for more secure energy supplies.

The time was never better to start a new oil project offshore Newfoundland.

Then Danny Williams came to office.

He was full of dreams to make Newfoundland prosperous and to, as he put it, "end the giveaways."

Laudable goals.

Then last spring, after months of negotiation, Williams called reporters together to say there would be no deal on Hebron.

Only one side was negotiating in good faith, said the premier.

And that was the government.

For their part, the consortium maintained that never before had a group of oil companies offered as valuable a package of revenues and benefits to Newfoundland for the privilege of developing one of its oil fields.

Clearly, there was a communication breakdown between the two parties.

They couldn't even agree on what they had disagreed about.

Stuck in the middle were the rest of us. Many of whom had spent thousands and in some cases millions of dollars and precious time getting ready to bid for work on Hebron.

To this day, neither the premier, nor the oil companies, have revealed exactly what happened during those talks.

But what happened afterwards is plain to see.

The premier has made a campaign of attacking what he calls, "Big Oil."

Big Oil is out to get us, if you believe Danny Williams. To take advantage of us, to put one over on us like Hydro Quebec did at Churchill Falls.

If you believe Danny Williams, Big Oil is the Bogeyman hiding under our beds, waiting for us to fall asleep, so that it can sneak out on the Grand Banks and rob all the oil.

Now I'm no expert on high stakes negotiations.

But it seems to me, a common principle of business, whether you're selling hot dogs out of a cart on George Street or trying to get a major oil company to develop your resources, is that you treat your prospective partners and customers with respect.

It's not uncommon for negotiations to fail.

Negotiations often fail.

A good deal, as we all know, should be a win-win situation for everybody.

Sometimes that's not always possible.

But when you don't reach a deal, how wise it is to publicly vilify the people you were negotiating with?

It would be like me going into Hickman Motors or Penny Mazda and after looking at all the cars and haggling over the prices, deciding not to buy. For the moment.

I say for the moment, because at some point, I'm going to have to get a new car.

So how sensible would it be for Bert Hickman or Dan Penney to call a news conference and say, 'We couldn't reach a deal with that guy Westcott. He was negotiating in bad faith. He didn't want to pay a fair price for our car. But we decided there would be no more giveaways."

What are the chances of me returning to either one of those car lots if something like that happened? Is that the way to do business?

We all know what's happened since then.

Chevron, the lead operator on Hebron, has all but pulled out of Newfoundland.

ExxonMobil, one of the other partners, has shuffled its checklist of projects, tucking Hebron/Ben Nevis back to 2010 or 2011 before it gets another look.

Hibernia South is on hold.

Even worse, grassroots exploration is at a near standstill.

We need millions of dollars worth of seismic work and exploration drilling every year to find the next big oil field, but we're getting diddly.

It looks like Big Oil has given up on Newfoundland, at least for the time
being.

It appears the oil companies, which have projects all around the world they can chase and advance, are content to wait Williams out.

And if you look at our recent past history, that may seem like it makes sense.

Most premiers don't last all that long.

Brian Tobin lasted four years. Roger Grimes two. Even Clyde Wells, the man of iron will who stared down the country over Meech Lake lasted just over six years.

Most premiers don't last very long. The job burns you out.

But Danny Williams isn't like most premiers.

I've covered politics in this province for 20 years.

I was in the boardroom on the eighth floor of Confederation Building when an exhausted and frazzled Brian Peckford was on the verge of getting out.

I covered Clyde Wells during the hydro debate and the fight over Meech Lake.

I had the pleasure of watching Brian Tobin run to a waiting car to get away from me so that he couldn't face any more questions.

All those guys liked power, but power wore them out.

Danny Williams is a different kettle of fish.

Danny Williams loves power.

He lives for it. He revels in it. He likes to show everyone he's the boss.

All those other premiers I mentioned had their brown nosers and their sycophants.

It was comical after Clyde Wells came to power, how many of his cabinet members waltzed around using the word unconscionable, which was Clyde's favourite phase.

When Tobin was in office, his people were always busy "ramping up" for great things that were going to happen "at the end of the day."

The brown nosers have a way of taking on their leader's mannerisms and pet phrases.

And so it is with this crowd.

Everybody in the PC Party today is "drilling down."

I don't know where they are drilling towards exactly, but I think a lot of the time it's towards the latest phone to call VOCM Open Line.

The Minister of Business, Kevin O'Brien, and the Member for Terra Nova, Paul Oram, seem to have been assigned to monitor the open line shows religiously and to call up whenever anyone utters a bad word about the premier.

Maybe that's what drilling down means.

But you know, most good leaders are sensible enough to know that along with the flatterers and opportunists who inevitably jump onto their coat-tails, they need other leaders with them to share the load.

People who are not afraid to argue a point, or tell them things they don't want to hear.

Frank Moores had John Crosbie.

Brian Peckford had Bill Marshall.

Clyde Wells went and recruited Ed Roberts back from private life and drafted him into his cabinet as an un-elected minister, because he knew the value of wise counsel.

What has Danny Williams done?

He's done just the opposite.

Anyone who is as strong or as smart as he is has been isolated, or forced out.

He expelled Elizabeth Marshall from his cabinet three years ago because she had the audacity to object when he interfered in her department without telling her.

The woman had been Auditor General of this province for 10 years.

She was a deputy minister before that. And a chartered accountant. Nobody in his caucus is more respected, or knows government better.

But none of that matters, because she stood up to Danny Williams and now he won't have anything to do with her.

It's been three years since their spat and she is still on the backbenches.

Most of us know that Loyola Sullivan was a pretty bright fellow.

If you believe the inside accounts of what happened during the Atlantic Accord negotiations, it's clear it was Sullivan who presented the key arguments and had all his facts and numbers in line.

Yet, when Sullivan resigned as finance minister at the end of last year he got absolutely no credit for it from Danny Williams.

'Loyola was a good minister,' Williams told reporters. 'When I was negotiating the Atlantic Accord, he always did what I told him.'

Folks, Danny Williams loves power.

He feeds on it.

He's addicted to it.

And like most people who love power that much, he'll do anything to keep it.

And do you know what the really scary thing is?

He has a lot of people fooled.

He loves their adulation, whether it's deserved or not.

The fishery is dying.

The forestry industry is struggling.

Rural Newfoundland is shrinking by the day.

And he's all but killed the economy's real breadwinner, the oil industry.

And what is Danny Williams doing this week?

He's campaigning against the Prime Minister in a federal election that hasn't even been called yet.

And why?

Because he's got people fooled into thinking that he is fighting for them.

He lives to hear himself praised.

I suspect he listens to the open line as much as Kevin O'Brien does.

I know he follows what people are saying about him on the blogs. He has even threatened to sue some of them!

He's making time for that apparently, during his busy day.

Danny Williams is another Joey Smallwood.

Whenever things were going terrible for Joey on the home front, when the factories he imported weren't working, or some minister was involved in a scandal, Joey would look for an enemy from the outside.

Like island populations everywhere, Newfoundlanders rally when they perceive a threat from the outside.

For Joey it was John Diefenbaker or H. Landon Ladd of the I-W-A.

For Danny it's Big Oil and Abitibi and Stephen Harper and whoever else happens to stand up to him.

Nothing is being done at home to develop this economy, because Danny has all guns now trained on Ottawa.

I'm too young to have been in business when Joey Smallwood was premier.

But I am told by people who know and whom I respect, that Joey was a vindictive man.

That you had to be a friend of Joey to get a contract with government, or even to get a job in the civil service.

You had to be Joey approved.

Well, it's been 36 years since Joey left office.

We've had reforms such as the Public Tendering Act, implemented, directly as an effort to rectify those kind of abuses.

But if you ask me, Joey is back in power.

I happen to coach two minor hockey teams.

So I spend a lot of time in hockey rinks throughout this region.

I spoke with a man one day, a consultant, I won't say who, because I don't want the wrath of the premier coming down on him.

But he said to me that that people in his business are growing increasingly nervous about bidding on government work.

There is a real fear that things might reach the point where you could spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours preparing a bid on a government job that might all be in vain if you are deemed unfriendly to Danny.

People are afraid that the quality of their work, or the price they submit may not count when they look for business with government.

Some people are genuinely afraid that the real deciding factor might soon be whether they are seen to be a friend or foe of Danny.

You see, with politicians like Danny Williams, you're one of two things: You are a friend, or you are an enemy.

He doesn't allow you the luxury of being independent or unaligned.

I know this from personal experience.

As I've said, I've been covering politics in Newfoundland for 20 years.

I've covered seven premiers.

I've written things about Roger Grimes, for instance, that were truly hurtful.

No doubt I made him angry.

No doubt, like other pundits, I wounded his pride.

But he was always professional.

Danny Williams isn't.

Danny Williams can't take criticism.

A week after I wrote a column about his handling of the F-P-I debate in the provincial legislature, his press secretary informed me that I was being cut off from all future interviews with the premier.

She said I was unfairly critical. That I should have checked with the premier before running my column.

She has since phoned a number of the publications I write for to tell them the premier's office has nothing to do with me.

Telling them, in other words, you shouldn't do business with this guy, if you want to continue to have access to the premier.

Likewise, the business I started last June.

The Business Post is mailed to every business on the Northeast Avalon.

Every issue, I pay Canada Post to mail a copy of the paper to every business in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, Paradise, Torbay, Portugal Cove-St. Philips and the Goulds.

The paper is distributed at most major business events in the city as well as at trade shows in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and this coming May in Houston.

In other words, The Business Post is hitting the target audience of anyone who wants to reach a business clientele.

And yet, the paper has not received one ad, not one ad, from the provincial Department of Business, or the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

And it's not from lack of asking.

These two departments advertise their business funding and assistance programs all the time in other publications.

But they won't advertise with me.

Why?

Because I have dared to criticize the Great Leader.

Under the regime of Danny Williams, you pay a price for being independent.

And it doesn't matter if you're as big as ExxonMobil or Bell Aliant, or as
small as the local media outlet.

You've got to watch your Ps and Qs, stroke his ego, be careful that you don't go afoul of the premier.

Folks, that's not democracy. That's dictatorship.

Why would anyone, whether it's an oil company or anyone else want to invest in this province if the ground rules are everything has to please Danny Williams?

That you've got to do everything his way.

Where anyone who holds a different view is deemed to be unpatriotic or out to get Newfoundland?

How can you do business fairly and safely in a place like that?

And so I ask you, what is the cost of all this fighting with Ottawa and big business?

What is the cost to Newfoundland?

To the people who need a prosperous economy to pay for their roads, and schools and hospitals?

Who need productive companies and employers, so that their children can find work at home?

What is the cost to you, the business leaders of this province, who watch as the oil companies close their offices and pull out of town leaving you behind with all your investments and hard work going down the drain?

What is that cost?

It is the cost of lost opportunity.

It is the cost of a resource-rich province that will forever be dependent upon hand-outs from Ottawa, because the man who leads us is unable to negotiate, or take sensible advice.

It is the cost of lost hope, cast in the eyes of every father who kisses his little boy goodbye at St. John's Airport as he boards the plane for Alberta.

That is the cost.

What we have to ask ourselves is, is that a cost worth paying?

I say it is not.

And if it is not, what do we do about it?

Well, the first thing we have to do is try putting this guy in his place.

Because Danny Williams is not going away.

Trying to wait him out is not an option.

Not when he is at 74 per cent in the polls and is addicted to power.

Even when the public does wake up years from now and realizes what he has done to them, he still won't go easily.

He pretends now and then that he's fed up and ready to leave.

But that's just to get people's pity.

No, like Joey Smallwood, Danny Williams is going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming from office.

He'll be digging his fingernails into the desk trying to hold on.

For a man like that, power is everything.

So it falls to us to somehow circumscribe that power.

To limit it, to blunt it, to lessen the damage of his reign.

I'm not telling you to vote or campaign against him, or to fund other political parties.

But I think you shouldn't be afraid of telling Williams how you feel about the job he is doing so far.

Neither should you hold back from letting the clique of yes men around him know how you feel.

Most of all though, you have to educate your friends and neighbours. The people who think Danny can do no wrong.

Let them know what he is doing to your business and your industry.

Tell him how their future is threatened, because of this guy's inability to put his province ahead of his own ego.

And let me add one thing.

You also have a duty to talk to Big Oil.

To let the leaders of the oil companies know that you care about this industry.

And that they should care about it too.

That Newfoundland is a good place to do business.

That their future prosperity depends in part on developing high class fields like Hibernia and Terra Nova and White Rose, in what is perhaps the safest place in the world.

Unfortunately, Big Oil often makes it really hard for people to like them.

Because when they put projects like Hibernia South on hold, and do things like challenging the Supreme Court ruling on how much they should spend here on R & D, they're not punishing Danny Williams.

They're punishing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

And it's the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who give Danny Williams his power.

So what Big Oil should be doing is making its case directly to them.

Telling its side of things.

Showing Newfoundlanders that they value our resources.

And if Big Oil does that. And if you do your part to educate your fellow Newfoundlanders, maybe we can get things back on track.

Maybe Newfoundlanders will look twice at Danny Williams.

And nothing is scarier to a man who is obsessed with power than an electorate that thinks for itself.

And that, my friends, is an opportunity that is too good to pass up.

Thank you.

50 comments:

towniebastard said...

Jesus, Mary and Joseph....

Westcott wouldn't take shit if it were coming from the devil himself. Williams will lose his mind when he reads this.

Liam O'Brien said...

Craig's speech has a lot of truth in it. Perhaps what I like about it most is that it confirms the very strong and overbearing feeling and vibe I was getting at all sorts of political and semi-political events in St. John's before I moved to Corner Brook. The political climate in St. John's is extremely suffocating these days. Craig dared challenge the alarming degree of homogenous reporting and commentary that's clogging up most publications and newsmedia outlets.

Despite having been an activist in various roles in the PC Party of NL since 1993, and knocking on doors for the Tories in Buchans when I was still in school while Danny sat down to dinner with as many federal Liberals as anyone else, I have never been accused of being a Liberal or a traitor or something else by supporters of Mr. Williams as much as I have been in the last few days . . . more of the binary "enemy or friend" business Craig pointed out.

I could tell you many things about the more suffocating brand of provincial politics I'm witnessing as of late, things I never witnessed in the provincial tory party led by Rideout, Simms, Verge, or Sullivan.

Rick Brown said...

Guess what,Big oil is the boogeyman...in the US now they owe over 80 Billion in unpaid royalties due to buying out politicians...I applaude DAnny for standing up...We need a stake here its time the give aways end The oil people are sucking the tit of the oil companies of course they will whine......

Edward G. Hollett said...

Liam:

On the first point, as I have said elsewhere, enjoy the irony - or is it insanity - that we are both considered traitors to the province by the same people.

On the second point, do tell some of the examples, if you can.

Simon said...

For all those who have lately been called traitors. . .

Join the club - we have t-shirts!

Mark said...

Thanks so much for posting this. It's exactly the kind of message that has been suppressed for far too long. No democratic society can function without dissent and honest discussion, something which has been sadly lacking since Williams was elected. Williams alone is not to blame. Opposition members, municipal leaders, business leaders, journalists, and others, should all seriously reflect on the unfettered acceptance of Williams' "gospel" that we've all allowed for far too long. We all need to disagree. We all need to have and lose arguments.

Damn this is a timely and good speech.

WJM said...

I want a t-shirt!

And re:

Everybody in the PC Party today is "drilling down."

Westcott, you forgot "due diligence"!

towniebastard said...

I haven't been called a traitor yet, goddamn it! Clearly, I'm going to have to try harder. I want a t-shirt.

It's no great tragedy to be disdained by people you don't respect. And anyone who would call people who disagree with the premier a "traitor" have clearly drank a bit too much of the Kool-Aid.

MacArthur said...

Cue WJM!

All the other traditional Danny slaggers have already chimed in.

Actually, I was a little surprised to see Liam at the top.

Personally, I think that if Craig had ceased to break his arm while patting himself on the back, while at the same time whining about lack of ads, his soliloquy would have had more traction.

--
Live strong and have a nice day, - "Nil carborundum illegitimi"!

Mac
Over 1600 Links at Http://MacArthur.Funknstyle.Com
Pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/macarthur

WJM said...

All the other traditional Danny slaggers have already chimed in.

Think of us as the "early adopters".

You, too, will end up a "Danny slagger". Probably sooner than you'd ever have expected.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Ah, Mac, that's like the people who dismissed Cochrane for sucking up to big business.

of course what he did was say that local business people were chickenshit and wusses, but hey, you can read into things anything you want in order to avoid what was actually there.

Jason Bo Green said...

Danny Williams is far too focused on creating conflict so that he can look 'heroic' while fighting "back". He's the opposite of "problem-solving".

I don't live in Newfoundland, but with Williams as Premier, I'm damned glad of it. NL will suffer under him.

Anonymous said...

The oil and gas industry is a very contagious enviroment, just like the gold rush mentality. I have been saying this for the past 2 years, lately mostly to myself, that NL had momentum and goodwill when the Accord was signed. The players were lining up and Danny, as well as most NL'ers told them too bugger off. I can't help but shake my head in disbelief. Instead of embracing the oil and gas culture that could turn their lot around they brazenly give it the finger.

Look at most of the polls around, todays VOCM comes to mind, and you have results of upwards of 90% agreeing on one side of a complicated and delicate issue. This isn't good in so many ways.

It has been insinuated by others that I am not a true NL'er because I don't see their version of what NL should be. Whenever someone has tried to pull something over on me I use to say I'm from Newfoundland not fantasyland. That might have to be reversed on a go forward basis. Where can I get one of those t-shirts.

E. Glenn Allen

Mark said...

macarthur:

just a question - if we should be weary of what Westcott says on the basis that he isn't getting govt ads for his newspapers, as per yor sugestion, shouldn't we question what others say/print on the basis that they do?

Wayne P said...

If you look at a resources map of Alberta and Saskatchewan, you would think that there are no oilsands in Saskatchewan. If Saskatchewan had been business friendly over the past 40 years, they would have had the same development and economy as That of Alberta. That is what spitting in the eye of 'big oil' or business of any sort will do for you.

Jason Bo Green said...

I know I'm tired of politicking from Harper, zero question - but far moreso from Welfare Williams.

He seriously sucks. Stop defending his childish actions - he is counter-productive, and he is not helping Newfoundland.

Keith Benoit said...

Macarthur (Mac) couldn't be more wrong.

I did the design at The Express (and several other RB papers) during what I will generously call the Dimmock/Bickford era, when Rob Antle and Deb Nobes were reporters. And Don Power. I was there for four years, and I can safely say that there weren't as many unvarnished, anti-gov words published at the entire chain in one year as Westcott crammed into his speech. What he said took guts. And really lousy business sense. :)

He wasn't patting himself on the back, Mac. What you didn't see was the stiletto. Westcott stabbed himself in the back.

Why? Because you can't run a newspaper (or at least not a newspaper startup) in NL without the gov dollar. It cannot be done. I won't hazard a guess at percentages, but the number is deep into profit, and probably, in Westcott's case, approaching marrow. If you had to survive on 1/4 page ads from dress shops and "fast casual" restaurants, you'd soon be drawing up your will and a warm bath. It's those back-page and (drool...) centrefold "Ministry" pages that pay the bills. In an election year, the 6-8 weeks before the big day was the media outlet equivalent of the crab fishery: you made a killing in a short span of time and then prayed that you could make it until "things turned around," constantly nagging The Carpet Factory guys for an discounted inside back page that would enable you to put food on the table and maintain the lease on your '98 Protegé. "OK, I'll give you spot colour for $600."

Ah, those were the days.

That's why Westcott has gone after gov ads, and that's why he mentioned it. It may even be that, in addition to all the scribbling he does, he may also be reading some writing on the wall. I hope not.

If Danny really is withholding gov advertising from Westcott's BPost, it isn't a badge of honour, generalissimo Mac. It's slow strangulation, pure and simple. And it is exactly like Joey: treating the public purse as if it were tethered to your pocket by a chain.

But hey, what do I know about the shortcomings of the NL economy? I'm just a noof who left the province seven years ago to live in the USA. Yeah, it hurt like a hell to go (I'm OK now, so save your Kleenex), but given that I left because of, in part, $400+ oil bills, I can't say I have any regrets. Especially not today.

Kudos to Craig. And good luck.

Kevin said...

Good to see that censorship still exists.My post from last night has mysteriously disappeared.I guess if you're not a Danny basher or a Westcott ass kisser,your opinion isn't worthy. Meeker,I thought you were better than that.

Geoff Meeker said...

Kevin: I only "censor" anonymous posts, and have removed posts that are both supportive and critical of Westcott. I removed yours because you didn't sign your name. If you believe in what you say, stand behind your opinion. Westcott did.

Liam O'Brien said...

To Rick Brown:

Nobody in NL is opposed to Danny Williams or any other NL leader takeing a strong stand or making the policy decisions needed to maximize fair benefit for our people from our natural resources.

Look to Norway, UK, Texas and Alaska just to name a few and you'll see jurisdictions that do pretty well on this front. They do it by standing their ground on certain benefits matters, but they also do it by maintaining a knowable long-term regulatory, tax, and general investment regime . . . companies generally know where th government stands when they enter negotiations; there aren't very meany erratic turnabouts in negotiations or "shelvings" or the like. They don't do that because there is no benefit to the people if there is no investment or development and they don't do it because they don't need to! The position is well thought out in advance.

I voted for the PCs and Danny Williams in 2003. It's no secret where my activism has taken me in the last few years, but I maintained from 2001 onwards that if there was a change of govt (as did happen in fall 2003) that any upgrades or changes to the govt's approach should be set out within a set time (ie 100 days or something) and then adhered-to. Nothing about that consistency would cost the people of NL anything. Still, we did not see that consistency. We saw some very erratic decisions. Danny's not the first, and probably won't be the last, more's the pity.

Also, I find the very use of the term "Big oil" rather silly. The oil and gas industry in NL is made up of real people with real families who live and work right here and who are involved in all sorts of ventures and businesses of all sorts, shapes and sizes. The "big oil" talk implies there's a single corporate culture affecting decisions. . . the reality is a little more complicated than that and a lot less sensational.

Ed - I might share some over a beer some time. Sadly I still respect the privacy of some of the individuals involved enough and hope they'll cease to play along with some of this that it wouldn't be right to get into too much of it here . . .

Mark raises a good point too -- Opposition members, municipal leaders, business leaders, journalists, and others have to consider their role in all of this.

Kevin: I resent being referred-to as a "Danny Basher" or a "Westcott ass-kisser." Both activities sound messy and nasty. ;-) Actually, your comment rather nicely underlines one of Craig's points about Mr. Williams' folks unfortunately often assuming that one must be labeled and boxed-in as either a friend or an enemy.

I attended the 2006 Gander PC convention. I've attended many of them over the years and been fairly involved. When I agree with him, I let the world know just as I do when I disagree with him. And while this is nothing personal against Mr. Williams, who is a smart and talented guy, I long for the day when politics is about consistent policy and not about personalities anyway. . . it's up to him whether or not he wants to be the premier to make that happen.

WJM said...

And while this is nothing personal against Mr. Williams, who is a smart and talented guy, I long for the day when politics is about consistent policy and not about personalities anyway. . . it's up to him whether or not he wants to be the premier to make that happen.

I think he has made it clear that he doesn't.

The brazen personallissimo politics of Danny Smallwood would make Joey Williams blush.

Mark said...

A truly excellent speech. Thanks for posting it.

William Kavanagh said...

Good of you to post this. In all fairness, can we now see the text of Dean McDonald's speech to the Rotary, I believe it was. It will give some people a perspective of where we (Danny) are coming from.

Brian said...

I always thought Clyde Wells favorite saying was “it behooves”. Maybe his sycophants did not know its meaning and at the end of the day went with unconscionable.

Mr. Westcott is correct about Mr. Williams hunger for power, but if I was Mr. Westcott I would not hold my breath too long waiting for too many people in Industry and the media to take up his challenge of speaking frankly to Mr. Williams.

WJM said...

Good of you to post this. In all fairness, can we now see the text of Dean McDonald's speech to the Rotary, I believe it was. It will give some people a perspective of where we (Danny) are coming from.

You must always capitalize "We".

And as for Deano's speech, yes, it would shed light on the crazy, delusional, alternative universe that "We" are coming from.

Geoff Meeker said...

To William Kavanagh: The focus of my blog is on media, which is why I have posted speeches from Craig Westcott and David Cochrane. However, I would like to read Mr. MacDonald's speech so if it does get posted on someone else's site (any takers out there?) please let me know.

Wallace Ryan said...

I'm so very proud of Danny Williams for standing up to the federal government over the budget. Newfoundland and Labrador will no longer accept what is given to us and thank Canada with heads bowed for screwing us to the wall again.

For years, Canada has reaped the largess of Newfoundland and Labradors natural resources with little to no real re-investment in the province or it’s people. It's bad enough the Canadian Government destroyed our fishery but now they intend to cripple us economically and keep us forever imprisoned in the poor house. I think it's outrageous to hear people suggest we've gained anything of consequence from our confederation with Canada save a few crumbs and dollars that pale in comparison to our contribution to the Canadian economy. Ottawa traded away our fishery for economic considerations for the rest of Canada and then abandoned us when the fishery collapsed.

Gone forever are the days when Ottawa simply told Newfoundland and Labrador what it will and will not receive. Mr. Williams signals a cultural shift in the political and social landscape of our province from been a compliant junior partner in Canada to a nation that now demands it’s fair share. We entered Canada supposedly as an equal partner in the federation and it has become simply evident that this equality only applies to the richer provinces. With a pathetic seven seats in Parliament and no elected Senate, Newfoundland and Labrador face cultural annihilation as the population of Canada grows and we end up with neighbourhoods in Toronto with more seats than our province. It’s apparent to me that it is sheer insanity for Newfoundland and Labrador to remain a part of Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador has been the battered child in the Canadian family long enough. Just because we want to stop the abuse, the rest of Canada sees fit to rain lies and humiliation on top of the damage the Canadian government has already inflicted on Newfoundland and Labrador. It is only through reclaiming our nationhood that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will see any future of prosperity. We owe it to the children of our emerging country to stand up to Ottawa and not wring our hands as their futures are stolen for the betterment of others while we starve.

They will never understand why we stayed in this abusive political arrangement and they will never forgive us if we do nothing to protect and save Newfoundland and Labrador. God guard thee, Danny Williams. God guard thee Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wallace Ryan
New York City

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the volume of this topic and its discussion. Terrific stuff.
If I were Danny Williams?
"Illegitimi non carborundum!"

Liam O'Brien said...

To Wallace Ryan:

Given that what Danny Williams is doing here is acting outraged because, while he did get just about every revenue and equalization promise clearly kept, he didn't get more than what was actually specifically promised.


non renewables revenue can be 100% excluded. What has apparently raised Danny's ire is the federal government's expectation that there still be some means of gauging this province's fiscal capacity . . . though given the premier's tendency to change position on this, I'm not certain I know for sure.

Here's what I do know for sure: I can't find a promise from Stephen Harper to ban caps and gauges of fiscal capacity from Equalization, as Danny seems to think was promised . . .

Maybe you can find it for me, Wallace. . . .

Here is the 2004 Federal Conservative Election platform. Equalization promise on page 27.

Here is the Speech given by Stephen Harper in the House of Commons on November 4, 2004 and which was quoted recently in Danny's news release.

Here is the Fiscal/equalization section of the Federal Conservative Policy Document passed in Montreal in March 2005.

Here is the page dealing with equalization of Danny Williams letter to the federal party leaders from November 28, 2005.

Here is Stephen Harper's reply , dated January 4, 2006.

Here is the federal Conservative Party's 2006 federal election platform.

I'd like to know where we can find:

A - (looking at Danny's letter) - a clear indication of NL's interest in any end to any caps or even focus on the non-renewables part of the policy.

B - (much more important) - any mention of Stephen Harper or the CPC on matters of gauages of fiscal capacity, caps, or anything else of the sort.


I'm a proud Newfoundland and Labrador Nationalist myself. And I will support any leader who truly stands up for our province on real issues facing our province. Heck, I maintain to this day that NL shouldn't have joined Canada in 1949 and I can list for you intergovernmental issues that do indeed need attention, action, and possibly a good old fashioned fight.

This isn't one of them. Also, I certainly don't think this should be a discussion about whether or not Confederation was good for NL -- on that front, I suspect, I'm more in agreement with you than many folks here.

Several times you mention the fishery. I'm glad you do. It's a prime example of an issue where the ball is now squarely in our province's court to take Harper and the federal Tories up on a policy promise to negotiate Joint Management of Fisheries (something provincial Tory and Liberal govts have long sought) with any interested province or territory modelled after the govt of NL's proposal and white paper of 2003. Instead, months and indeed years have been spent picking other, often besides-the-point fights.

Like you, I believe that NL is a nation within Canada. Like you, I believe that we deserve our fair share. Where I have trouble with the present ad campaign and the like is that it doesn't even stand on as strong a factual ground as the 2004/2005 one. . . in fact, it would be a big mistake to compare the two. Whatever else we might demand or expect from the federal government in this relationship, expecting them to be amazing kreskins and sift through changing positons shouldn't be on that list . . . not for Ottawa's sake, but for the sake of our own pride and dignity.

Also, I disagree with your characterization of NL as a "battered child" -- as a political and even geopolitical entity, it has a long and tough history. NLers are proud people with a very proud history. . . and we should remember our forefathers and think of how they would cringe if they could see the sort of things we try to make into issues -- while issues like fisheries and public debt (the same sort of debt that once cost us our sovereignty before) are still being neglected.

you said:
" God guard thee Newfoundland and Labrador."

Here here! And lets pick our battles. Me? I prefer battles based on hard facts, not fiction.

WJM said...

For years, Canada has reaped the largess of Newfoundland and Labradors natural resources with little to no real re-investment in the province or it’s people.

What a crock.

(A) The federal government collects no natural resource revenues in NL.

(B) NL is, and always has been, in the top of the pack in terms of federal spending, and in the bottom, in terms of federal revenues.

(C) One of these days, other provinces are going to wake up to the absolutely massive federal share of highways funding that's gone into NL over the years.

WJM said...

Did you read this posting into the VOCM mike?

Ottawa traded away our fishery for economic considerations for the rest of Canada and then abandoned us when the fishery collapsed.

When did Ottawa trade what fishery away, to whom, and for what economic considerations for what parts of the rest of Canada?



With a pathetic seven seats in Parliament and no elected Senate, Newfoundland and Labrador face cultural annihilation as the population of Canada grows and we end up with neighbourhoods in Toronto with more seats than our province.

On VOCM, you said your American friends were puzzled by this, and agreed with you.

Question: Should Wyoming then separate from the US? Manhattan, where you called from, has more seats in Congress than Wyoming, either Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Nebraska, or Delaware.

It’s apparent to me that it is sheer insanity for Newfoundland and Labrador to remain a part of Canada.

How so?

Newfoundland and Labrador has been the battered child in the Canadian family long enough.

That is an incredibly offensive analogy.

We owe it to the children of our emerging country to stand up to Ottawa and not wring our hands as their futures are stolen for the betterment of others while we starve.

We also owe it to them to be intellectually honest and rational.

Erik Sorenson said...

After reading all the comments, I note that no one has disputed the facts, observations and conclusions contained within the quoted speech. Interesting. Just rear-view mirror comments on how Canada has browbeaten this, stolen that, ripped off another thing and, by the way, keep the money coming, eh?

From an Ontario perspective, it's quite apparent that Mr. Williams is a lunatic, a populist, and doesn't hesitate for one moment to ruin and mismanage his province's economy so that he can feel the power of being "the boss". That so many citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador fall for this tripe is distressing, but that's their right.

As it is the right of the rest of Canada to firstly, ignore this clown and his lies and, secondly, to instruct our MPs to make sure not one more cent of our money goes to Williams' province. It's not about respect, or lack of respect, or wanting to harm his citizens.

It's just that when no one there appreciates the rest of Canada, or wants to be part of it, then Williams and company should not be surprised if the rest of Canada doesn't want to put up with a lying, obnoxious premier and his province of whiners.

Quite frankly, if you think Confederation is a bad deal for you, feel free to leave Canada. We can use that two billion a year in better ways than on a bunch of perpetual whiners, not to mention it will be a lot quieter here. If you think it was a bad deal, think of what we must believe: $50 billion (plus) for a rock and constant whining? We must have been out of our minds.

Just to close out, I want to say that I have a new-found respect for Lorne Calvert of Saskatchewan. Lorne was thick as thieves with your Danny Boy before the budget but, since Williams' tactless, lying and juvenile whining and newspaper ads, has been wise to disassociate himself from your dipstick premier. Lorne goes up in my books a whole lot, for a classy move like that.

Edward G. Hollett said...

What a marvelous work of fiction Wallace.

When will it become a movie?

towniebastard said...

It won't be a movie, Ed. If it's Wallace, a graphic novel is more likely.

Oooohhh, Danny Williams in spandex. That's not a mental image I needed today.

Wallace Ryan said...

Quite frankly, confederation is a disastrously terrible deal for Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada is a pathologically diseased democracy and until senate reform is a reality, Ottawa is no different than Moscow in its treatment of its constituent republics. A lot of the comments posted above reflect the ill-informed and childish nature of those who hate and want Newfoundland and Labrador to behave like the peasants they believe us to be. I won’t even bother responding to most of the above posts as they reflect an ignorance and lack of understanding as to the situation that Newfoundland and Labrador finds itself in this winter.

With a ratio of over $30 of resources that leave Newfoundland and Labrador to a measly $1 that Ottawa gives to us in return, the claims that we just suck money out of Canada are the true fiction in this story. This movie is now playing in front of your shuttered eyes right now and all you have to do to see it, is open your eyes.

The attacks on Danny Williams from people not fit to wipe his shoes, are insulting, degrading and full of bigotry. For years Canada has enjoyed stepping all over the weaker provinces and when one finally says enough is enough, then they’re labeled “whiners’. Nothing could be more ridiculous and silly. We are simply standing up for what is rightfully ours and the fact that Lorne Calvert is too pussy whipped to take on the federal government is a sad comment on the nature of the Canadian democracy. We are not afraid of the foolish name calling that the Canadians heap on us every time we assert our position as an allegedly equal part in the Canadian confederacy. Can’t these posters come up with something more concrete or intelligent to say?

Danny Williams is without doubt or reservation, the most honest politician in Canada and to hear people from Ontario calling him a liar is stupidity at its zenith. What other premier donates his salary to charity, runs his own charity and is not beholding to big business or worse yet, big oil? To even attempt to compare Danny to mainland politicians is like comparing Winston Churchill to Robert Mugabe.

Any one calling themselves a proud Newfoundlander and then attacking Danny for his defense of the realm, are just plain lying or astoundingly deluded as to their allegiance to our nation. Plain and simple, Harper has lied to Newfoundland and Labrador and we will not stand for this monumental dishonesty. If Harper had never intended to keep his promise, then he made a fatal mistake in making one to Premier Williams. Unlike most of Canada, when a promise is made in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is honoured. Mr. Williams is an honest, hard working man and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will flock to his defense to honour all he has done for us. To think otherwise is treasonous to most of those who live in our beautiful land.

As to feeling free to leave Canada, that is exactly my feeling and fervent hope for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. To stay in Canada with its abusive and ineffective Parliamentary system, is the height of stupidity and insanity. I dream of the day when Newfoundland and Labrador seizes it’s destiny and steers confidently into the future. With our bountiful natural resources and incredibly gifted people, we cannot fail. We will be the richest nation per capita in North America. And what could be wrong with that?

FREE NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR,
Wallace Ryan

WJM said...

With a ratio of over $30 of resources that leave Newfoundland and Labrador to a measly $1 that Ottawa gives to us in return

"in return" - are these resources sold to Ottawa?

Which resources?

What are the comparable figures for every other province?

Who has quantified this figure? Where and when? What is the source for this rather precise "statistic"?

The attacks on Danny Williams from people not fit to wipe his shoes, are insulting, degrading and full of bigotry.

You are starting to sound like an Eighth Floor talking point!

We are simply standing up for what is rightfully ours

What is this "rightfully ours"? that "we" are standing up for?

And who's "we"?

Danny Williams is without doubt or reservation, the most honest politician in Canada

Danny Williams is a big fat liar.

and to hear people from Ontario calling him a liar is stupidity at its zenith. What other premier donates his salary to charity,

1) Liars can't donate to charity?

2) Does Danny actually donate his salary to charity?

runs his own charity and is not beholding to big business or worse yet, big oil?

Yip. Eighth-floor talking point.

Plain and simple, Harper has lied to Newfoundland and Labrador

Danny lied to Labrador.

Why are some liars and some lies forgiveable in your eyes?

Unlike most of Canada, when a promise is made in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is honoured.

Oh?

Danny Williams, who is a big fat liar, promised that his goverment would "Release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it."

Danny Williams, who is a big fat liar, sat on the fixed link report, which was commissioned by government, for nearly four months, because it didn't give him the answer he wanted.

Danny Williams, who, it must be stressed again, is a big fat liar, also refused to release the Transportation and Works report on "cheap seal" durability on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Danny Williams, who, once again, I must remind you, is a big fat liar, also said in his 2003 platform, " Over the next five years, approximately 25% of the public service will be eligible for retirement. A Progressive Conservative government will use this five-year period to reduce the size of the public sector through attrition."

The provincial public sector is larger now, in relative and absolute terms, than it was then.

Mr. Williams is an honest, hard working man

Danny Williams is a liar, and he presides over a government whose legislature is the most underworked of the 10 provinces, and all but one of the territories.

and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will flock to his defense to honour all he has done for us.

Shall we also erect larger-than-life statues?

Perhaps St. John's will be renamed Dannyville, to go with Dannyland?

Just how far is this cult of personality supposed to go? Sheesh, it's already reached Manhattan!

As to feeling free to leave Canada, that is exactly my feeling and fervent hope for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. To stay in Canada with its abusive and ineffective Parliamentary system

What's ineffective about it?

And perhaps, given that Labrador has the same mathematical situation within the province as NL has within Canada — being a small proportion of the overall population and legislative representation — should Labrador separate from Newfoundland?

Why or why not?

With our bountiful natural resources

What's so bountiful about them?

How do they compare to the bounty of the other provinces?

What is the connection between natural resources and the prosperity of any given jurisdiction?

and incredibly gifted people

That's a rather chauvinistic statement, isn't it? Any more gifted than any other people? How so, and how do you know?

I'm still waiting for my previous questions to be answer, Mr. Ryan.

To wit:

When did Ottawa trade what fishery away, to whom, and for what economic considerations for what parts of the rest of Canada? Should Wyoming then separate from the US?

WJM said...

And to quote myself:

Danny Williams is a liar, and he presides over a government whose legislature is the most underworked of the 10 provinces, and all but one of the territories.

Yes, I have quantified that.

Wallace Ryan said...

I stand by everything I say. I don’t have the time or the inclination to answer questions for people who are obviously monstrously ignorant and rude. I chose to ignore these apologists and weak willed whiners who’d sooner knuckle under the whims of Ottawa then defend the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Also, I’ve e-mailed this debate out to hundreds of my friends just to prove the ignorance, prejudice and small-minded attitudes of people with no imagination or vision from Canada. This debate reflects the true nature of the bigotry many Canadians have towards Newfoundland and Labrador. The more you attack us though, the madder we get and the higher Danny’s poll numbers will go. So please…blather on. We have an election coming up and this type of nonsense only strengthens Danny’s massive popularity.

The winds of change are blowing and the old ways of thinking that have landed Newfoundland and Labrador in the perilous situation it finds itself, are gone forever. The subservient Newfoundlander and Labradorian is dead. We’ll stand up and demand what we want despite the hollow words and dim-witted attacks of those with no stomach for political battle. No more will we take “no” for an answer. It’s time to take matters into our own hands and restore sanity to the governing of our wonderful land. The abysmal mismanagement that characterizes our time in confederation is soon to come to an end.

Danny Williams RULES! Do any of you loud mouth losers have his bankroll? He obviously appears to any sane person to know something about business. When any of you reach even close to his level of success, then maybe you might have some credibility. Until then, get a life, small fry! As for calling him a liar, why don’t you repeat that in public and to his face? Gutlessness is why. And the fact that it’s an idiotic statement in the first place as all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can plainly see.

As for the chauvinism, get used to it! We’re a great people and we know it! So, go to hell!

See ya later kiddies!
Wallace Ryan

Sheena said...

Refusing interviews with a local paper because they critcised you is ridiculous, and quite frankly, not how you play the game. I believe a similar thing happened with Williams and the Independent earlier this year.

Not to mention asking that the premier be able to approve an article before you print it. That just makes me shudder.

Candace said...

wallace, as an Albertan, I'm curious as to why the running joke here is that Fort McMurray is Newfoundland's second largest city? If Danny is so brilliant, and Newfoundland so on-the-ball when it comes to the economy, why is everyone moving here?

Furthermore, why in hell is Alberta sending you guys money?

Pull up your socks, man!

Liam O'Brien said...

Wallace . . . help prove and substantiate all the additional claims you just made -- answer my request . . . specifically cite for me the evidence of any promise to NL that was broken. Use facts and specific citations. It's not that hard.

I don't supiste your assessment of Mr. Williams' talent etc. . . I just think you've come up short everywhere else.

While you were in New York, I was knocking on doors for Danny. So please, enlighten me as to what I've missed on this equalization matter. you seem to think you know best. Please prove it, sans dramatics.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Craig:

I can easily imagine some politicians in spandex. It takes more than that to squick me.

Maybe Wallace could do an anime feature length film, sort of like a cartoonish Triumph des willen meets Codco. He certainly has the romantic nonsense, fake heroic thing down to a science.

Erik Sorenson said...

Wallace says: "He obviously appears to any sane person to know something about business."

No, actually, he doesn't. Businessmen know that a brand is a valuable asset, and not to be squandered. Businessmen know how to negotiate, not to rant, scream and windmill the arms. And businessmen know how to get things done through and with others, the first time, effectively.

Williams has displayed none of these primary business attributes. In fact, there's evidence that he loves to go out of his way to destroy business relationships, negotiating positions, trust and the brand (NL&L is a place you can safely invest in). And please don't quote his "cable business prowess", eh? We all know how that started for him. Tooth fairies can be very profitable and even Dumbo the Elephant could have made megabuks off that.

It's very evident that Williams can't build something into greatness, work with others, and serve the interests of citizens. He is good at BS, at running a province into the ground, scaring businessmen and investments off, and deluding citizens. That's the definition of a schmuck, not a businessman.

audrey Manning said...

Hey Craig,

You spoke your mind and no one has come in the middle of the night and spirited you away. That's good!

However, it is not always possible to get a good handle on the rights and wrongs of an issue. We each come from our own experience and perspective.

From my perch in rural Newfoundland, it appears that Premier Williams has forgotten that there is a rural part of the province.

On the one hand, the Premier castigates "big Oil" and resolutely pronounces, "no more giveaways" and, on the other, he allows FPI to be given away.

You may be sick of hearing it but a sustainable fishery is the future of the province. Without it there is no future... period!

So, the question is, knowing that oil is finite should we accept what the oil companies have offered?

I don't know the answer but I would be more inclined to support the Premier if he paid as much attention to rural Newfoundland as he does to 'fighting' the oil companies.

As for the sycophants, they will be with us always.

So, no matter what, we have to thank people who have the courage to speak their minds even if we do not always agree with them.

If we lose the ability to speak, we lose everything!

towniebastard said...

Thanks for reminding us, Sheena, in the midst of all this is that there is more than one question going on here. It's not just is he or isn't he a good premier, but is he being a professional in his treatment and dealings with the media. I think few of us will disagree with the assessment that, no, he really isn't.

Not when he's cutting off media outlets from interviews when he doesn't like what they say, or cut off advertising to outlets he doesn't like...essentially hoping a business will go bankrupt and stop bothering him...well, that's unprofessional and unfortunate behaviour in a premier.

Edward G. Hollett said...

All governments go through an evolution and public reaction, including media coverage evolves, i.e. it changes.

Three years ago, it would have been virtually impossible to see this level of discussion that is critical of the Premier's methods and approaches.

Those of us who did attempt it were treated either as cranks or were met with the kind of quizzical look of someone trying to understand a bizarre an incomprehensible language.

If you flip to Geoff's post on Wade Locke you will see another element in this whole equation that I think is important, namely the absence of any sort of calculation, analysis or planning in government's approach to major issues.

There is much government talk about plans and strategies but a few seconds of observation reveals little evidence of action based on plans.

Instead, one finds a real hodge-podge and mass of contradictions.

We will build the Lower Churchill on a go-it-alone option. That go-it-alone option involves outside investors and a federal loan guarantee. Alone but together.

Now, apparently, the Lower Churchill can be developed without federal government financial aid. A far less costly but supposedly very lucrative fibreoptic deal requires financial input from government even though the major players are all have very deep pockets.

That fibreoptic deal was pegged as having an economic value of $400 million over time, if memory serves. The province injected $15 million in one go and if you look at the entire project a considerable amount of government funding has gone into it.

Meanwhile, Peter Kiewit in Marystown is seeking $50 million to help it land a federal contract worth $3.5 billion. The Premier approved the $15 million without much question, apparently.

Meanwhile he is pondering the Marystown request because, as he put it in the House, the company is pretty big and has plenty of cash. The "ask" is a bit large in this instance.

$15 million to yield $400 million is okay versus $50 million to land $3.5 billion is too big.

On the fishery, the government has interfered extensively in FPI's situation - mostly to the company's detriment (not to mention the workers' situation).

It has added significant new restrictions - red tape - on fish processing yet at the same time has a department running about supposedly reducing red tape.

Even in the Equalization racket there is nothing but contradiction. The premier turns up his nose and proclaims that the province will proceed without the federal government. At the same time he continues to look to Ottawa for all sorts of federal funding for this project and that program. Health care spending increases in the past three years have been fueled substantively by increased federal transfers.

In 2004 the debt was a huge problem needing to be tackled. Now three years later we still have no debt reduction plan and no sign one is forthcoming.

To draw it right down to a specific example, consider how the Premier's Office treats local media.

Westcott's paper cannot get any advertising, yet the Premier quotes it in the House last week for comments on how good the economy is doing in some sectors.

The Indy first enjoys great access and advertising, then gets cut off in a fit of pique, then gets access once again including a picture of the Premier dressed as a leprechaun for its front page.

Go figure.

WJM said...

In fact, there's evidence that he loves to go out of his way to destroy business relationships, negotiating positions, trust and the brand (NL&L is a place you can safely invest in).

What, you mean that "pitcher plant" thingamajig hasn't drawn in capital from Bay Street, Wall Street, St-Jacques and The City?

Erik Sorenson said...

Wasn't there a hydroponic watermelon plant boondoggle, or something like that, a couple of years ago? Reminded me of the Racan "photocopier" many, many years ago. Anyone remember that one fondly?

Anyway, why not try the hydroponic thingy again, but with bananas this time. Then the transition to Danny's Banana Republic will be complete.

Folks, I know it's in your hearts and minds, and that it's not one bit easy, but you really, really, have to grab back your government from this BSer.

I guess the Cochranes and Westcotts are doing just that, and very cogently. But they need a lot of your active help. Not "atta boy" stuff.

WJM said...

I stand by everything I say. I don’t have the time or the inclination to answer questions for people who are obviously monstrously ignorant and rude.

So it's now not just unpatriotic to ask questions, it's rude, too.

Wow.

I chose to ignore these apologists and weak willed whiners who’d sooner knuckle under the whims of Ottawa then defend the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In other words, you don't have answers because you don't actually know what you are talking about.

Also, I’ve e-mailed this debate out to hundreds of my friends just to prove the ignorance, prejudice and small-minded attitudes of people with no imagination or vision from Canada.

You may well prove ignorance, prejudice, and small-mindedness.

It may not, however, be on the part of the people to whom you attribute them.

Danny Williams RULES!

So did Smallwood, once.

Do any of you loud mouth losers have his bankroll? He obviously appears to any sane person to know something about business. When any of you reach even close to his level of success, then maybe you might have some credibility.

Do you have Danny's "level of success"?

If not, why should anyone else take YOU seriously?

As for calling him a liar, why don’t you repeat that in public and to his face?

This is a public forum, so the first part is done.

I haven't seen the man to talk to since 2004, so mark the second part as "pending".

And the fact that it’s an idiotic statement in the first place as all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can plainly see.

How's it idiotic?

Danny lied. One who lies is a liar. Ergo, Danny Williams is a liar.

As for the chauvinism, get used to it! We’re a great people and we know it!

Yikes.

"On n'est pas un petit peuple, on est peut-ĂȘtre quelque chose comme un grand peuple."

Audrey Manning said...

Question for Ed:

Do you know who decides which papers get government advertising?

I published a successful(in terms of public support) paper for 5 years and, like Craig, I could not break into the government advertising game.