Monday, 20 May 2019

MINORITY GOVERNMENT LIKELY SHORT-LIVED

Last Thursday night’s result constitutes the worst possible election outcome.

In other jurisdictions, minority governments are notable by their brevity as much as for their instability and lack of progress on normally intractable problems. We have some of those. Locally, the 1971 election is our singular post-Confederation encounter with minority government. It was marked chiefly by chicanery — inducements to Members to switch Parties — and it was short-lived. We would never have to worry about something like that ever happening again, would we?

Many will see the election outcome as a judgement on Dwight Ball's leadership: his indecision and his lack of forthrightness. Indeed, his poor approval ratings were earned early and got worse. Why he was the centrepiece of the Liberal Campaign ads, I’ll never understand.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

TIME TO TAKE REALISM TO THE POLLS

“An election is no time to discuss serious issues,” suggested Prime Minister Kim Campbell in the 1993 federal election — a comment for which she was mercilessly pilloried. In the current NL election, the Liberals, Tories and NDP have ignored the 'elephant in the room' - our impossibly large debt. One need only look at the thin veil that separates “Direct” from the “Total” debt to wonder why something as basic as fiscal solvency can completely escape mention.

Every accountant in the province knows that, as soon as the Government attempts to “mitigate” the power rates caused by the Muskrat debacle, the bondholders - followed by the Government - will be forced to move most of the so-called "self-financing utility Debt" into the “Direct Debt" column. That's the kind whose repayment depends on taxes and like revenues 

Unless, of course, people are prepared to pay 23 cents per kWh for their power or, failing that, the arrival of the tooth fairy. 

Sunday, 12 May 2019

WHAT TO MAKE OF THOSE CONFOUNDING POLLS

"Polls are for dogs" is an adage ascribed to Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th Prime Minister. It is a view that voters ought to embrace, too, especially during election campaigns. Diefenbaker likely wasn't leading in the Polls when he made that quip, but there is still merit in the remark. 


Every hack loves Polls, as does the public. Who doesn't want to peer into the future? My advice: don't take them too seriously. There are many reasons why they will have no relationship with the outcome of the May 16th General Election. 

Context is found in the latest Poll from Abacus Data, giving the PCs five percentage points over the Liberals. A week earlier, an MQO Poll gave the Liberals a 12-point lead (among decided voters, 48% to 36%) with a 39% undecided factor.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

ELECTION - JUST ANOTHER PUMP AND DUMP?

CONTACTS COUNT
       (A shoo-in)

As President and CFO
In penny-stock promotion:
Of pump and dump, and shady guys -
Mr. Dicks can’t recall a portion.

If, he's Government elect,
With experience and contacts' dance
He's a defect select perfect
For Minister of Finance.

John Tuach
Pynns Brook
May 7, 2019

Monday, 6 May 2019

PEGNL AND WHAT ONE ENGINEER'S SANCTION REVEALS

A collapsed formworks incident on the Muskrat Falls project in 2017 exposed the public to problems unrelated to either cost or schedule overruns. When one worker was hospitalized and another seven received medical assistance it became clear, as much as Nalcor did its best to hide the fact, that Nalcor’s management problems resided not just in the St. John’s Office, but also extended to ‘boots on the ground’.

Not only the eight workers, some buried up to their necks in cement, can count themselves lucky. Nalcor management, too, were spared what the Courts might have deemed criminal negligence.

Why is the issue relevant again? Last week the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL) issued a public notice, having sanctioned one of their own. The notice read that structural engineer Yi Ping (Peter) Liu had allowed “his seal to be applied to the structural calculations and design documents of the Draft Tube Elbow Wood Formworks for the Lower Churchill Project at Muskrat Falls….which contained material errors in design criteria and design calculations and ultimately contributed to failure of the structure.”

Friday, 3 May 2019

PARTY LEADERS ASKED TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT REVIEW NORTH SPUR SAFETY

Editor's Note: The Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Coalition distributed to the media, yesterday, correspondence between Dr. Lennart Elfgren and Dr. Stig Bernander with the Honorable Siobhan Coady, Minister of Natural Resources, together with a letter from Jim Gordon to the Minister. The same correspondence was sent to the leaders of the four political parties together with the request that, if elected, they will commit, prior to reservoir impoundment, to installing an independent geotechnical panel to review the safety of the North Spur. 

Monday, 29 April 2019

P3s - GOVERNMENT STILL IGNORING HIGH RISK

When candidates from either political party engage the public in this General Election, they might hear exasperation over the financial state of the province. Now that the Government has discovered a (relatively) new financing tool, Public Private Partnerships (P3s), with which to fund capital projects like hospitals and long-term care centres, everyone needs reminding that this new credit card has to be paid, too.

In 2017, Mary Shortall, Federation of Labour and CUPE local President, vigorously opposed the idea and issued her position following Ball’s announcement that the Corner Brook hospital would be built via P3. Unfortunately, her concerns sounded far too self-serving and the subject went quiet.

In the two years since, the Ball Government has taken a deep dive into the locally-untried P3 arena. Employed on occasion by most provinces, it is a scheme in which private contractors design, construct, maintain and finance facilities, often for a 30-year term. Typically, the government takes ownership of the facility when the contract ends.