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Thursday 31 October 2013


Professionals, policy analysts, social agencies and sex workers, especially those of immature age, caught in a web of financial dependency and exploitation must still be wondering why Minister Charlene Johnson and RNC Deputy Chief Bill Janes undertook to suppress a study on the sex trade and admonish CBC reporter, Adam Walsh, for releasing excerpts. 

At issue is a 2011 Report on sexual exploitation titled: "It's Nobody's Mandate and Everyone's Responsibility: Sexual Exploitation and the Sex Trade in Newfoundland and Labrador”.  Johnson and Janes wanted it neither released nor discussed, stating it was too harmful.

They were not prepared to disclose even as much information as contained in a CD freely distributed throughout the school system.  Their reasons may have been poor articulation or a more paternalistic notion, one implied but not announced” “we know what’s good for you”.  Either way, their stonewalling was baffling.

Monday 28 October 2013


Who but the most ardent partisan would not be ‘gob smacked’ by the recent implosion of the NDP? 
As charges, criticisms, apologies, denials and mistrust entangled after each newscast it was tempting to conduct a recount of the NDP Caucus.  Was it possible that the rancor was coming from just five people?

If one word had to describe public reaction to the dirty laundry, so publicly aired, it might simply be “disappointment”. 

I think it is the right word; it neither exaggerates nor diminishes the importance of what has occurred. It speaks to a loss of trust.  It conveys recognition that high hopes were, in fact, too high.

It is not just that the NDP claims a higher moral standard than the traditional parties or that its supporters unwittingly assert the potential to perform fiscally implausible feats. There are other considerations, too.

Thursday 24 October 2013


The latest "deal" called the "Maritime Link Compliance Filing" , between Nalcor and Emera, to satisfy The Nova Scotia Utility and Rates Board (UARB) did not get much coverage in the media.  Understandably, it is tough to compete with topics like the disintegration of the NDP.

Nor could we expect the Dunderdale Government or Nalcor might offer the public a “Coles Notes” version and their implications for this Province.  That would look too much like openness and transparency.  We could not possibly expect that, could we.

Next we need Cathy Bennett elected leader of the Liberal Party and our Bibles replaced with copies of Lewis’ Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. To paraphrase the Author: ‘You would have to be half mad to dream this stuff up’.

Monday 21 October 2013


If ever there was a time when the public should be regaled by the ‘bright lights’ of the two opposition parties, this is it.  If fresh new public policy ideas, enthusiasm and common sense ever had an opportunity to shine amidst the darkness of incompetent government, surely this must be that time.  But where are we to find such illumination?

To dispense with the NDP first, that Party should ask if they have received the message of the Nova Scotia Election.  They have to make their own imprint on voters and not rely on vicarious credibility from the federal party.   For sure the sentimentality and gushingly favorable political winds that wafted east upon the late Jack Layton’s ascendancy to the House of Commons has failed to translate to Tom Mulcair. 

There is every indication that the orange wave now has a more reddish hue amidst the long wavy hair and big teeth of Justin, spawn of Pierre.  Truly one should be careful of investing too much capital in either nostalgia or whimsy though funnily enough these may yet bolster Liberal fortunes even in this Province.  

Thursday 17 October 2013


“Reckless” is not normally a word ascribed to governments in Canada.  Increasingly, though, it is how people refer to the NL Government of Premier Kathy Dunderdale. 

Her rejection of pleas, from her former Finance Minister, for an “Oversight” Committee on the Muskrat Falls Project is bewildering; it is not how responsible governments act.  (See: DID JEROME KENNEDY BITE HIS TONGUE?)
Jerome Kennedy is a major figure in the oversight issue but only because he can still influence the outcome.  He may still be biting his tongue, but I believe the public would like him to do more. 

Monday 14 October 2013


If the departure of Jerome Kennedy, from the Cabinet, had been marked with the silence that normally follows any Minister’s return to private life, who would want to invoke his name now? 

Well, it seems Mr. Kennedy did not go silently; he seems to have ‘bitten his tongue’ as he left Confederation Building.  His name still resounds within the halls of high office.  As his vehicle left the parking lot, very senior people acknowledged, to each other, that he ought to have explained himself differently than he had.

That comment strikes at the heart of the question: why did Mr. Kennedy resign? 

Source: The Canadian Press
Whether certain disturbing issues weigh heavy on him, only he can answer.  If the information this scribe has received, is correct, which has been corroborated by three additional sources, Mr. Kennedy may wish to re-consider anything he may have omitted from his exchange with the media, justifying his departure.

What is the issue?

It seems that Mr. Kennedy’s resignation was occasioned, less by a desire to return to his law practice, than to deeply felt concerns over certain financial aspects of the Muskrat Falls Project, specifically involving Nalcor.  Just two years ago he sought election for a full term.

Thursday 10 October 2013


I was expecting a call from Uncle Gnarley.  The old man had not gotten me to Post anything, for him, in quite a while.

I was happy to finish "Peering Into A Political Pressure-Cooker”.   It was a depressingly tough slog for someone with an optimistic bent.  Politics is not conducted in isolation, it may be an activity often removed from the public, but it is always about public money.  So, not only politicians are affected when the fever of bad leadership threatens contagion, it is a problem for us all.

The Blog piece out of the way, I thought I might sketch some suggestions as to how Dunderdale might put the Government on “re-set”. She has lost much public confidence.  She says the problem is her tough decisions.

Still, it is hard to mistake public policies, like Bill 29 and terrible Budget practices, for tough love. 

I have to admit, the notion of a new script for a Premier, one down on her luck, caused me to think the exercise whimsical. Then, I thought, a little whimsy is hardly worse than sheer presumption.  I would be the last person in the world whom she would ask to “re-set” her Administration.

Monday 7 October 2013


Those who think about the machinations of politics, even momentarily, must wonder what changes occur in an Administration so challenged and unpopular, its very survival is threatened.   

The Premier’s popularity, at 20%, is the lowest of the Country’s ten First Ministers; newspaper editors and Blogs (including this one) have called for her resignation.  Now the Minister of Finance has quit amidst reports of squabbling and disagreement.  

Is the behaviour of the Premier, of her Ministers, their staff and even of senior public servants affected when the Government is virtually under siege?

The answer is, yes.  The behaviour of most everyone, at the senior level, changes. 

Thursday 3 October 2013


Jerome Kennedy tendered his resignation, from the House of Assembly and from Cabinet, yesterday.  We should thank him for his services and wish him well. 

But, in his case, we ought to first wag a bony finger in his general direction, and give him a good scolding.

That is unfortunate after six years of public service and four senior Cabinet positions.  Still, Mr. Kennedy has little to show for his hiatus from the practice of law.

That his departure ranked second, Wednesday, on the CBC 6 O’clock News to a bed bug infestation, was a most unkind cut; one Dunderdale’s new PR man could never have thought devising.

Perhaps, the CBC, too, barely thought the announcement news. Mr. Kennedy’s preference to leave politics was the talk of garden parties in his District, this past summer.  His early return, from the Premier’s China junket, spoke to a none-too-private disagreement with her.  An earlier dust-up in Caucus, following his irreverent comments on the sanctity (or otherwise) of the Tory Blue Book, did little to endear him to his colleagues.