Monday, 19 June 2017

NL POLITICS: THE STATE OF PLAY

The latest poll from CRA does little more than reaffirm prior perceptions held by the public about the Premier and the Ball Administration.

The polling group found that 34% of decided voters supported the Liberals, 40% backed the PCs, while 24% stood behind the NDP.

Two other statistics offer confirmation that the Liberals are in deep trouble: satisfaction with the government stands at only 28%, while in leader preference Dwight Ball receives 23% support against 36% for PC leader Paul Davis and 16% for Earle McCurdy of the NDP.

The results essentially mirror those reported when Ball’s popularity dropped off a cliff last year.


In March 2016, the Liberals held 66% support. But by June — following a disastrous Budget — it dropped to 27%. Satisfaction with the Government dropped hard, too, declining from 64% to 21%. The Premier’s personal popularity went from 53% to 18%.

In short, the recent Poll suggests that the government has barely made a dent in its efforts to recover from the 2016 Budget fiasco. The 34% represents, at best, the “core” Liberal vote. It won’t get the government re-elected in an essentially two-party system.




Still, because the CRA Poll numbers are expressed as a percentage of the decided vote, the Tories seem stronger than they might be. This quarter, the undecided vote is 32%, up from 24%. Though well ahead of the Premier, a dead man walking, Davis might not want to cheer too hastily.

And, as evidenced by the mere 23% popular support the Premier holds onto, he has been bucked from the horse he rode in on. The public is well aware that Ball can’t walk and whistle at the same time; hence the horse needs a new rider.

Had the Liberals been skilful, two ‘anni horribiles’ and the heavy lifting of reducing public spending would have been behind them. The general public might have felt wounded but the public service would be sleeker; the health care and education systems would be too. The power generation side of the Muskrat Falls project would have been put on ice and a battle begun to send Emera packing. Instead, the Nalcor CEO will soon confirm the cost increases and schedule slippage already noted by the so-called oversight committee.

Rural NL, too, would have been given a new instruction booklet about what overly dependent communities can expect in a province driven to penury.

If not actual support, the Liberals might at least be enjoying respect for having displayed leadership at a difficult time. Respect is a worthy and enduring platform on which to build. A deservedly pilloried Tory Party would, by now, have been driven out of town.

Instead, the PCs are atop the polls, even if all of that could change when the Liberal caucus finally shows Ball the door.

The public must be pinching themselves — wondering why the Liberal caucus would have picked up where the Tories left off, and why they so often end up with dysfunctional government. 


Had Ball a few strong Ministers, the vigil on galloping incompetence might be less painful. 


In the 1970s Frank Moores was found AWOL for long stretches of the year, allowing his passion for salmon fishing to interfere with his public duties. The Liberal Opposition — and the media (back in the days when public littering and potholes didn’t lead the news) — pilloried him. But he had a Cabinet consisting of Peckford, Crosbie, Marshall, and others who made the operation of government at least seem seamless.


Which of the current Ministers have the capacity to cover for this feckless Premier?  


Cathy Bennett, having delivered an essentially “fake” budget following last year’s fiasco, wasting precious months on a “zero-based” PR exercise and saving pennies, when the budget needed an axe? Her inconsistency about our spending problem and her willingness to accept the propaganda wall erected by the PR staff of Executive Council — diminishing Finance staff in the process — warrants derision and the cynicism of what, otherwise, might have been a patient public. 

Siobhan Coady? The still neophyte Minister who can’t offer a coherent cover story for why the Government won’t investigate deceit and possible malfeasance on a grand scale of a Tory administration!

Gerry Byrne? Perry Trimper?

How can so many be so mismatched for a career they sought and in whom the public put their faith? 

Even Justice Minister Andrew Parsons, the one with the safest perch in Cabinet, can’t find terms of endearment with a public desperately seeking leadership. As much as he may think otherwise, innovation and courage are not demonstrated by donning a guard’s uniform to work a shift at HMP, as he did recently. A week spent in solitary would have been a better choice to reflect on why he has failed to follow through on the Humber Valley Paving Inquiry and to think about finding a way to keep his party from the brink of Armageddon.  

A failed government has allowed vastly undeserved attention to be given to an unrepentant, ill-suited, uninspired Paul Davis. When the last remnant of failed leadership is the most popular elected leader, is it not time to ask: why has our politics gone so terribly wrong?
The Tories have so far attracted only Ches Crosbie who has been handed several kites, including the falsification issue. But Ches, so far, refuses to fly, giving attention to timing rather than the core issue, integrity, doubts about which threaten his Party and the whole province.

The NDP - if they ever plan to get into the game — hope that someday voters will strike their heads on the way to the Polling Station and suddenly decide to vote for them.  



If the Province was well run — on remote — who would care? But it is in a dastardly state and it needs real leadership, now. 



Ball likely knows he is finished. But someone so dithering and ill-suited to his office won’t make a single selfless decision. He will have to be shown the door.

 

As oil prices continue their decline — and the gloss on Cathy Bennett’s Budget loses its shine — a few in the Liberal caucus should be planning a fall offensive, starting from within.


Of course, that is wishful thinking.
The Liberal caucus simply does not possess the gravitas or unity of purpose to countenance real change. As both they and recent Tory administrations have underscored, ours is not a question of ideology. Our problem is that we have a system of governance which is completely vulnerable to influence and abuse. 
Nor have we figured out how to create a braking mechanism in our politics to guard against electing fools. And, as we know, fools attract scoundrels. Both groups abhor oversight — so we have none.

For those, and other reasons too, the CRA Poll, giving a big lead to Paul Davis, describes a voting population lacking hope.
And this absence of hope is what best describes the state of play of our politics.



31 comments:

  1. The Guardian had a piece following the Grenfell fire, saying `The no nonsense English tradition that George Orwell inhabited combines a clarity of thought and articulation with an understanding that if things are being obscured, it is because something shameful is going on......and also mentions the game-playing of a buffoonish ruling class....
    And so, with respect to Minister Coady, Ball and others, with things being obscured with Muskrat, something shameful is going on, and probably also illegal,the details and reasons for this financial mess kept buried.....leading to hopelessness for this province.
    Des sums up the situation nicely.
    WA

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  2. Time to DEMAND answers to the disastrous Muskrat Falls and finally let the citizens of NL the truth about what is actually happening! Seeing how we are footing the bill, we should know!

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  3. In the UG post from last Thursday, a final comment by GP says the advantages of mounting the compressor section of a minisplit heatpump is very logical, but the internet advised against it, and wonders why.
    Recall, our growing electric baseboard heat load was the rationale for Muskrat, so reducing these loads by 65-80 percent is a HUGE deal, or should have been. Our residential electric heat load, alone, in winter is about 650 Megawatt, with baseboard heaters.
    90 percent or more of all mini-splits worldwide are used primarily for air conditioning, that is cooling,(in moderate or warm climates) but they also work great for heating, better models referred to as Cold Climate Models. Nova Soctia lists on the internet these good models, Nfld Power refuses to provide customers even this basic information.
    For air conditioning, outdoor mounting is better tha attic mounting, as the warmer attic impair efficiency.
    For heating,in northern climates, attic mounting is much better, if installed right.It can impede efficiency for air conditioning, but not a significant issue if for a few days, a few weeks or a month for AC, and works ok for AC mode , even thought the attic is warm.
    Yes, you need to drain the condensation, and freeze proof the condensation line to the point of the drain pipe. You need a drain pan under the unit. You need adequate ventilation, you must discharge the air from a typical unit fan to a 22 inch by 12 inch wooden discharge through the roof,... what I call a wooden chimney. Air intake to the unit is from the eave soffit areas. Better to have the air intake from the south and west side only ( so little air entering from the colder and damp east and north side)
    As to the amount of condensation, it is about 90 percent reduced from happens outdoors, as the relative humidity in the attic is much reduced. Life of these unit is typical 15-18 years. Attic mounting may extend this to 25 -30 years........thermal stress on the coils from temperature changes from frequent defrost outdoors, is 90 percent reduced in the attic, our monitoring shows.
    The internet has not caught up with this yet, as I am not aware attic mounted monitoring in this fashion has been tested anywhere else. Nfld Power is aware of the exceptional performance from such installation, but refused my request to them to inform contractors or HP installers to adopt this a best practice........wonder why!
    Winston Adams

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    1. Thanks Winston. I'm not following you on the wooden chimney hook-up. Do you have a rectangular wooden chimney 22 X 12 through the roof. If so, what do you have over the top of it to prevent rain from pouring in and how high above the roof does it go. Also is the fan connected to the chimney via a hose or ducting of some sort or is it just nearby. GP

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    2. Mine is actually 22 X 24 with a center partition to allow for 2 units to exhaust through one wooden chimney. If a single unit, then 22 by 12 is ok for airflow, for a unit nominal 20,000 BTU heating.
      My chimney is near the peak of the roof line , so the top is just flush with the roof peak, so is just maybe 4 or 5 inches above shingles on the upper side. So, not even visible from the road side.
      My nephew wanted to attic mount for a A frame cottage.........he built a covered structure on the roof, about 2 ft square, with 4 side vents.....looks good......something like many houses have in northeast USA, where they mount weather vane on top.
      Mine is open. Whenever heat is needed and the unit running , air always discharges up, so no snow goes down. Also natural updraft with wind gives up flow of air.
      The unit fan discharge mounts directly against the wood chimney in the attic (a plenum you could call it, so one side is open at that position, sized same as fan size.). Use a 1 in by 1/4 sponge rubber gasket, between the unit and the opening of the plywood box.so all the fan air goes in,,,,, no attachment of the unit, just its weight keeps it tight in place against the gasket.
      A base pan runs under both the unit and the bottom of the chimney, and this needs a drain connection. If heavy rain and some goes down , it drips into the pan. This seldom happens. At the bottom of the chimney, use sheet soffit aluminum to make a smooth curve to aid air flow for low resistance. I used pressure treated plywood, now 6 years old, stands up good for the chimeny, and above the roof line used alum flashing over plywood.
      If not clear, leave your email address, and I will get you photos
      Easier to do this for new houses when under construction.
      Big attics are ideal, small ones have tight space, but could manage with 4 ft attic or more.
      Winston Adams

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    3. My attic is about 4 feet or a little more to the bottom of the peak rafter. I was thinking about 12,000 BTUs but perhaps it could handle 18,000. I don't want to oversize and have it cycle with low efficiency. The main area is about 800 sq ft but it is not all that open however doorways are open and it goes around a central petition with a propane fireplace. The bedroom area which is another 600 sq ft plus a half upstairs with another 600 sq ft is generally closed off at a lower temperature during most of the day and also lower temp at night.
      I'm also thinking about getting an evaporator that is mounted about 2 feet off the floor. I think it should be better for heat but not sure if it will distribute heat around the circle as well as one that is mounted high. Also my wife doesn't like the aesthetics of the high unit.

      Pictures would be helpful Thanks

      GP email is georgep@nl.rogers.com

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    4. I can see several problems with attic mounting. I have a Daikin multisplit but have it on the deck mounted on a stand.

      The air flow through an attic is limited by the soffit vents and small roof vents. On a windy day you will feel some drafts, but not much. If you install a compressor unit in the attic you will likely hear the vibrations though your ceiling rafters unless you can hang it somehow like they do to HVAC ventilator. You will also blow very cold air into the attic with a large fan that will chill the entire attic. Much of this air will be recirculated since there isn't much coming through the soffit vents. This cold air will increase heat loss through the ceiling as well as reduce the COP of the heat pump. If the attic air is chilled below the outdoor temperature, then you would be better off outside.

      If anyone has tried this, I'd like to know what the attic air temperature is at night in winter compared to the outdoor air temperature.

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    5. You are wrong on your assumptions, mostly because you misinterpret how the unit must be installed in the attic which avoids the problems you assume. I will respond on later pieces of UG, Attic unit works perfectly for 6 years now.Only one more attic mounted unit I am aware of in Nfld. My set up near Spaniards Bay if you want to inspect it sometime.
      Winston

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  4. Your politics have gone so horribly wrong Des because you resist the frame that makes it all come into sharp focus. NL politics have descended into a full blown feudal oligarchy, veiled only by meaningless choices at the pols occasionally.

    When as you point out the unworthy fools are surrounded by scoundrels transparency vanishes, checks and balances characteristic of a democracy vanish and a class war with the oligarchs looting the treasury resulting in pain and hardship for the poor and middle class.

    The democratic "deficit" in NL is the underlying issue that leads to despair and disengagement from the political process. Until the underlying issues of transparency and accountability are addressed the confusion will continue.

    There are no good political choices or honourable persons putting forward their names for political office. It is time to address the underlying issues.

    Expose the oligarchs and their friends and "refresh" your democracy.

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    1. We have "descended into a full blown feudal oligarchy, veiled only by meaningless choices at the pols occasionally." - great quote Bruno.

      The disgust Americans have for congress allowed them to elect someone like Trump, then surely the disgust Newfoundlanders have for the status quo could result in the election of a new party. Fighting the oligarchy is difficult though - they control newspapers, television and radio and will demonize anyone who dares to change the status quo.

      It might be worthwhile to create an org chart of this oligarchy. I am sure a few regulars on this site could piece it together quite quickly. Another interesting analysis would be to see where the last few billion in contracts ended up -- perhaps in the form of a pie chart with the names of corporate owners scaled by public expenditures. Info-graphics like that might help the public understand who this oligarchy is. You could also create a network graph by analyzing all the e-mail meta-data. That metadata would certainly be an interesting ATIPP request. MIT has done this so please have a look at clinton.media.mit.edu/podesta . I believe this would would expose much of the oligarchy.

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  5. And Andy Wells is dismissed with pay.........his outbursts about the running of city hall, and on PUB letterhead............
    And what happened to the inquiry of labrador power reliability that was supposed to start months ago..........did they intend to run out the clock, and we find out about reliability only after a major outage when Labrador power fails?
    Does anyone know why nothing is happening on that file.........there were hundreds of questions going on......a never rending process it seemed , so was it a dead issue, was the job too much for Andy to handle? has he earned his pension and now wants to return as Mayor?

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  6. Now that we have two deaths associated with a tower collapse I assume PEGNL is investigating on behalf of the profession and public interest. A heartbreaking day for all involved but particularly troubling given the collapse of a similar tower last week.

    John D Pippy, B.Eng.

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    1. That of course is dark sarcasm. PEGNL will do nothing.

      PEGNL is the regulatory body for engineering in Newfoundland.

      The chair elect of PEGNL is the Vice President, Engineering, Nalcor Energy May 2017 – Present (2 months)according to his linked in profile.

      So will the VP of Nalcor Energy, via his position as chair of PEGNL, investigate his self?

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    2. Is it publicly known who is the Engineer of Record on the design of the transmission lines on the island?

      Maybe the design standards are out dated, or fail to reflect the known hazards and risks.

      Should this not be fully investigated from an international and global standards perspective?

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    3. Professional Engineers in Canada, through respective provincial association, have a public duty and legal responsibility to require that a licensed and qualified Engineer does in fact certify the design and construction of his and his corporate/governmental agency (s), Work. Was the transmission tower(s) in question covered by such certification, and by whom? We owe it to the unfortunate families of the deceased workers to stand down the ongoing project until full disclosure is made public, and appropriate action taken. The Government Ministries involved must act!

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    4. The investigation will be performed by Service NL, Occupational Health and Safety officers. I also heard on the radio this morning that one of the unions representing line workers wants to investigate which makes sense in that they are protecting their members. I would like to see the site specific safety plan for tower erection -- perhaps they can be had via ATIPP. Hopefully the accident report will be made public. As a P.Eng. I have little faith that PEGNL will do anything to protect the public interest. If PEGNL really was to protect the public interest they would be looking into many aspects of the Muskrat Falls fiasco, especially since there are professional engineers all through this project ranging from field engineers to senior management at Nalcor. We have suffered tower collapses, had workers almost killed in a concrete form collapse, the ongoing North Spur menace which could fail anytime, lack of engineering design oversight and malfeasance of all kinds.

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    5. Could you not, as a dues paying member, simply call the PEGNL and check the Register, as to what Professional is licensed to certify all of the Work?

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    6. PEGNL does not keep data bases of what engineers or companies sign off on what projects or designs. Lists of registered PEGNL members and companies licenced to practice engineering in the province are publically available on their website.

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    7. So who is the Professional Engineer of record with NALCOR who certified the award of contract to Forbes, and who certified "Work completed in accordance with Drawings and Specifications"? Are you "Anonymous who works for NALCOR"? Why all the secrecy over what is now an act of criminal negligence?

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    8. Is not the engineers , like doctors and lawyers, mostly self serving organizations, who want no publicity for issues of liability, poor ethics, etc..........
      Perhaps if the North Spur collapses, they may be forced to say something, but otherwise.........don't rock the boat.Are they assessing the cause of the flood at Mud Lake? Did they assess the cause of the concrete form collapse at Muskrat..........after a report of many things done wrong.
      It's about collecting membership fees and self serving, not protecting the public or exposing engineering failures etc.

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  7. That is certainly NOT dark sarcasm. Workplace deaths are needless tragedies that go beyond words. PEGNL has a duty of care to make sure that the engineering that goes into the design, construction, installation, and maintenace of all tower structures adheres to the highest possible standard of workplace and public safety. I am sure that many investigations are underway into this incident and I sincerely hope that one of them is by PEGNL.

    Jp

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  8. What is the length of our heating season.......
    A so called expert from MUN, an associate professor in engineering, tells me have only a 6 month heating season, Nov to April.
    Yet we had many night in May at or below the freezing point, and many in June near the freezing point.
    As I now monitor precisely the heating load for a house, we are approaching zero heat needed, but:
    Yesterday saw only 6 hours with zero heat,and most heat is from midnight to 6am. Yesterday the heat for 24 hours was about 4 kwh. The cost, being about 40 cents with a heatpump (about $1.60 if baseboard was used). This is for 1000 sq ft.
    Lat night the kwh was about 1.4, and very low at present. Perhaps by July heat load will go to zero some days if the weather stays warm.
    Question: What does it say about the expertise of the MUN prof......
    The supplement load is one fridge and on one deep freeze, which adds some heat to the house. Without these the heat load would be a bit higher.
    I suspect we will see no more than 30 days all summer when there will be no heat load.
    Meanwhile our grid ramps up from 575 to 800MW typical now, from 5 to 8am. Most likely due to domestic hot water use, and some morning heat.We hit about 1700MW on a cold winter day, almost 3 times more than summer time. We have about 1100mw of island hydro generation(so a island hydro surplus right now)
    Anyone thing that leveling the load curve would be beneficial .......
    Anyone question why this is not a priority, as in other jurisdictions.......
    Winston Adams

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  9. For Uncle Gnarley's information, I have publicly supported a forensic audit of Muskrat. Because no official PC leadership contest has yet commenced, I am not an official candidate, and as a mere private citizen I don't get much attention.
    I like the quip about Andrew Parsons being better advised to spend his time in reflection in solitary - bleak assessments like this blog post need some light relief.

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    1. What does " publicly supported a forensic audit" mean Ches? It is rather conditional is it not? As the PC leader will you call for a forensic audit or not? If so when will you do that?

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    2. I had responded to Ches's website about 6 months ago and asked whether he supported that MF be put on ice pending a review of the wisdom of continuing.....or if to accept the sunk costs. This was the view of UG , and Dave Vardy, myself and others..........but no response from Ches on that.
      If Ches came to head up the party and government , he would be saddled with this 12-15 billion boondoggle debt with a declining island demand for power, and little revenue from Nova Scotia.
      I considered it important that he state his opinion whether the project should be put on ice or continue on as the Ball government is doing.
      He preferred to say silent on that question......which makes me question his leadership qualities. Maybe he has publicly stated an opinion and I missed it?
      Winston Adams

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    3. Ches, I prefer the quip about kites, integrity and your failure to fly.

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  10. As to Parsons , our Justice Minister, and the quip that he should have tried a week in solitary confinement.........
    In Canada solitary confinement up to 100 days happens. They intend to change this to limit it to 21 days..........yet the UN rules state that more than 15 days is torture ( if I got the data right from the CBC report.). Prisoners in solitary commit suicide too often.
    What does this say about our justice system....that we commit and will continue to commit torture. Sounds like ISIS stuff.
    That Parson's try solitary would be a good first step, and see how long before he agrees what time frame is torture. Or Ches try it, after a body search as Beatrice hunter endured. Walk a mile in their shoes........why should it be just a quip to suggest such a thing.
    Ches and Parsons , being officers of the court.......maybe they would adopt and promote policies for better conditions for prisoners......some who are innocent victims. We accept 19th century jails and mental health facilities........with no hope of improvements. Not a joking matter.
    Maybe the details will come out later in Ches's platform......where will he get the money.........from Nalcor profits?
    WA

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  11. The Telegram today carries the story of the rail line to Churchill Manitoba being washed out recently from flooding, with 24 known breaks and 28 potentially compromised bridges.
    Churchill, a town of 900 must now have people and good brought in by air, as it may take a year for repairs. Perhaps this is an historic year for flooding across Canada........including Mud Lake.
    Readers here may recall my story of the building of Port Nelson a century ago. A project poorly assessed and proceeded for political purposes........to get around Quebec and ship grain to Europe via Hudson Bay. After 4 years and wasting millions the project had to be abandoned. River ice and mud banks was the problem at Port nelson.........at Muskrat we have quick clay ....and ice problems.
    My father, Capt Esau Adams worked at Port Nelson and wrote about it. Port Nelson terminal was relocated to Churchill and the 300 km rail line there now mostly washed out.

    100 years ago, 1917, this summer, my father walked that line and canoed 200 miles down the Nelson River. Many Nflders worked at Port Nelson.
    Port Nelson was a boondoggle, and it seems the line to Churchill also could never make a profit. It is now owned by a USA company, used by tourists going to see polar bears. It is now proposed that the government buy the rail line as is ............for one dollar!
    The moral.........like the Nalcor engineer who knew from the start that Muskrat costs were false, my father's journals say the chief engineer at Port Nelson knew from the start, in 1913, that the task was an impossible one.
    This timing ... 100 years ........history may not repeat exactly, but many similarities. The project shut down in 1918. My father salvaged the abandoned RCMP schooner THE VILLAGE BELLE......sailed her out of Hudson Bay, without an engine, to St John's, then on to war torn Europe with a load of fish. He was 29 years old. He made two overland trips across Canada, through Manitoba with three Nfld fishermen/sailors, in 1917 and 1918 to reach the abandoned Village Belle.
    Another anti-Muskrateer, Maurice E Adams, of the Vision 2041 blog, carries his father's name ....Esau. Maurice's technical skills in finding abnormalities, apparently hidden by Nalcor on the North Spur stability issue, perhaps suggests an inherited trait for analysis, applicable to present day boondoggles.
    Esau Adams later encountered the aboriginal peoples of Labrador in the 1930s.....saying they had been robbed and cheated for generations by our ancestors. Little has changed to improve the lives of the Labrador people.
    And so the wheel turns.
    Winston Adams

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  12. Support for Muskrat has dropped to 40 percent, down from 54 percent a year ago, according to a poll reported by VOCM. Nalcor says support may drop further..........who would think......with shock rates on the horizon, and 8.5 percent hike kicking in July 1........expect MF support to be down to 15 percent in the future.
    Meanwhile, Ball, at the oil industry conference here, gives no details on Nfld carbon tax, as reported in the business section of the Telegram. He says only that he `makes clear there will be a made in Nfld policy for the carbon tax issue`.
    Made in Nfld......hummmm.......sounds like what happened with the Muskrat scheme.
    This piece in the Telegram is found under the Business section.....so not of general interest I suppose. The Board of Trade will no doubt be on board with the Made in Nfld policy.
    From my sources, I hear the Ball government is to back a giant pensil making industry , the plant to be set up in st John`s. Lead pensils is essentially pure carbon. Our oil platforms willbr permitted to spew out CO2 as usual, including flaring gas. But onshore, giant vacuums will suck in air, remove the CO2, take out the carbon, and make carbon pensils.
    The plant will be world class, bigger than the Tesla gigafactory for batteries, and marketing will ensure capturing most of the world market from our plant. ACOA grants are already in the works. To make sure the plant is green, energy needs is sufficient to jump start the Gull Island development. Made in Nfld solution will be handled by Nalcor, as their world class engineers finish up on Muskrat.
    Ball says a forensic audit for this world class factory will be done before sanction, for better transparency and openness. Details on man years of work will be released prior to the next general election. Profits from this factory will be rolled into mitigation measures to help reduce power shock rates from Muskrat.
    This explains the government flyer which said power rates and bills will decline by 2021.
    Made in Nfld solution.......a genius idea to deal with carbon issues and be environmental friendly. Who said Ball was a dummy.......
    WA

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  13. Look at them, luh... a couple of naive little children who don't even know the world is round... http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/2017/6/23/snc-lavalin-report-revealed-muskrat-falls-risks--premier.html

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