Friday, 30 August 2013

TOM OSBORNE: SURPRISE, RISK AND INTRIGUE

The decision by St. John’s South MHA, Tom Osborne’s to join the Liberal Party, contains elements of surprise, risk and intrigue.  We’ll get to those in a moment.

Tom Osborne feels emboldened.  He believes the high vote that his St. John’s South District awarded him, over the past seventeen years, is a personal achievement; that it is not connected with his Tory affiliation. He may be correct; but, only in part. The Party Leader, the Party, the prevailing issues, the opposing candidates, as well as timing, all play a role in any electoral outcome.

Any Opposition Party likes to steal an elected Member from the Government.  Though Osborne had already left the Tories, either Party he joined still had something to gain.  For the winner, it is a public display of strength and credibility. For maximum effect it is best to get the timing right.  Tom didn’t or couldn’t. Likely, he had received a higher calling and decided to make his move now.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A REEL LABRADOR TALE

An osprey vacated Park Lake, the distinct angle of flight confirming its’ signature.  A pair of bald eagles returned to take possession of their domain. A party of loons, moved a safe distance but proceeded to dive for prey displaying, as they always do, their characteristic grace and determination.  

The sky was slightly overcast; the Lake flowed inexorably where it joined the Eagle River before spilling into the Atlantic, touching Cartwright, at the finish. A series of rapids whose names marked their relationship to the Lake: Muskrat, The Honey Hole and Eagle, each confirmed a legacy of challenge understood and enlarged by successive, but not always successful, salmon fishermen; latterly fisherwomen, too.    

Slowly, the fishing guide headed the nearly flat bottomed Gander River Boat cautiously in a north easterly direction, ever mindful that the slowly flowing landscape also comprised an array of boulder reefs and shoals.  They presented a continuing challenge, if not a threat to the output of the engine’s 8 HP. The guide’s name was Ron. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

THE NDP CHASING RABBITS (PLUS A TOM OSBORNE POSTSCRIPT)

The saying “don’t go chasing rabbits” evokes a warning against one going off on a tangent, getting distracted or confused.  In politics, it is a caution, to politicians, that they may have missed the big issue in pursuit of one minor or of no consequence at all.

Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker was once quoted as saying something like: ‘when I hunt bears I don’t go looking for rabbit tracks’. 

That’s what the NDP did recently.  It needs reminding that it should be hunting bears; that its job is to stay focussed on “big picture” politics.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

FRACKING: TOM MARSHALL STEPS INTO A COW PLOP

The public should always be allowed to enjoy a level of contentment, that the public policies promoted by politicians, are based upon certain fundamental principles.  Among them: a)  that they are founded on science b) guided by a respect for social values including those relating to protection of the environment and c) reflect the interests of the people for whom the policies have been designed.

Those principles should be tautology; they should be imbedded in the fundamental laws of all policy making.
A recent copy of the Telegram (August 14th) read “Marshall surprised by fracking operations in Sask.”, together with a picture of Natural Resources Minister standing in a canola field; a pump-jack lifting oil from a hydraulic fractured well, provided backdrop. 
Seeing Tom Marshall on a farm, anywhere, how could one not think that, once again, he had stepped into a cow plop?

Monday, 19 August 2013

NALCOR: NO PLACE FOR TRAINING WHEELS

Nalcor senior management does not possess the necessary confidence to engage the public in its high risk megaproject.   That is unfortunate.

A confident organization would be proud to display its talents and demonstrate exactly why it has no need to engage private enterprise to share, at least, some of the financial risk of Muskrat Falls.  It would give confirmation to its self-assessed capability, as “world class experts”. 

At least, that is how the Premier frequently refers them. 
A truly skilled Nalcor leadership would insist that the public is awash with sound, up to date information; it would welcome the views of critics and go out of its way to allay their concerns.    

It would want its leadership role, in the Province, confirmed by a well-earned reputation. Instead senior Nalcor management, and its Board of Directors, are afraid that the public may learn too much.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

GIVE THAT MAN AN OSCAR

Nalcor’s precursor, Newfoundland Hydro , for many years, was a quiet Crown Corporation responsibly meeting the Province’s electricity needs. It never tried the movie business. Management, then, were serious folk, eschewing glamour for its own sake.

Then, along came Danny Williams. 
Reportedly, he had struck it rich in the ’regulated’ world of cable television.  The experience had left him marked with the magic of guaranteed returns.  On the public stage, he demanded a script suggesting that such profits could easily be replicated, by public servants, applying the leverage of taxpayers’ money.  That’s the problem with ‘showbiz’; it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

Monday, 12 August 2013

ROSS REID SHOULD KEEP HIS HAT ON

Ross Reid, the new Chief of Staff to Premier Kathy Dunderdale, has always eschewed steady work.  Whether as Chief to John Crosbie, as MP and Federal Minister of Fisheries, in his multiple NGO roles or, more recently, as head of a population growth strategy, Ross was always the perfect “temp”.

Ross knows when to leave; he is wise enough to keep his hat on.
Reid is capable of giving the Premier much needed help; but, she needs a lot of it. 

The Premier has stumbled badly. More than one person, a savvy, experienced team is necessary to form a Plan; one that includes policy and reflects current political realities.  If the challenge is ignored, the Government may not survive the next election.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

UNCLE GNARLEY IS GONE FISHIN'

For the next couple of days I will be fishing in Labrador, on the large, beautiful and bountiful Eagle River. 

I won’t stop in at Muskrat Falls, this time.  Usually, I hike down over the North Spur and sit on a large boulder, conveniently situated on the embankment. I like to witness and feel the majesty of the Falls.  Its wonderment is indescribable. 

What strikes the visitor is not just Muskrat's size or the constancy of its thunder; the vibrations which are conveyed through rock, sand and mud, are telegraphic, seemingly sending a titanic warning of the River’s unspeakable power. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

JUST DON’T TELL THE NEWFOUNDLANDERS

The decision of Nova Scotia's Utility and Rate Review Board (UARB),  on Muskrat Falls, was a good example to, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, of how a full independent review can play a key role in giving protection to the public.

The UARB’s job was to ferret out whether there was a justification for the Maritime Link (ML) proposal, and whether the project made sense in terms of the cost per KWh, to NS ratepayers.
In every sense, the UARB’s narrative is inextricably linked to the entire Muskrat Falls Project.   Nalcor and the Provincial Government have had a hard time, from the very beginning, justifying the investment.  The independent UARB analysis has cut a trail to certain fundamental reasons (untruths) which made their job so difficult.       

Whether one agrees with the conclusions of the UARB or not, it has provided a far more independent glimpse of how essential facts have been altered to obtain Newfoundland’s approval than is likely to emerge from any other source.