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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Real change #nlpoli

“A positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream,”  Justin Trudeau told Canadians after he won a truly historic victory in the October 19th federal general election.  That victory, said Trudeau,  “is what positive politic can do.”

“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.”

Premier Paul Davis spoke to the St. John’s Board of Trade on Tuesday.  Earlier in the day he released another letter he’d written to Trudeau listing off Davis’ demands,  things he wanted Trudeau to give the province as soon as possible.

The provincial government had problems dealing with the federal government, wrote Davis, as if he and his colleagues had absolutely nothing to do with creating those problems.

Davis complained about not having a federal cabinet minister from the province, as if Davis and his . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Real change #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: More ways to lose than win #nlpoli

“What this province needs is not just someone with the brains to figure out what’s wrong with our economy,” future Premier Kathy Dunderdale wrote in 2002. 

“What this province needs is someone with the guts to start doing something about it for a change.”

Dunderdale’s letter to the editor of the Telegram appeared on April 1, 2002.  She was praising Danny Williams, not surprisingly.  The then-opposition leader had savagely attacked the government during debate in the House of Assembly on the annual throne speech.

No more give-aways, was their cry.

You can hear the words ringing in your ears all these years later.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Legacy #nlpoli

There is a lengthy list of political stories in contention to be the top political story of 2014.

Start the year with #darnknl, the failure of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Hydro generation to supply the capital city and surrounding communities with electricity last January.

It led to Kathy Dunderdale’s resignation as Conservative leader and Premier, which in turn led to the appointment of yet another interim Premier. That was followed by the Conservative leadership, the brief and ultimately ruined political career of Frank Coleman, and finally the second Conservative leadership contest that ended with the selection of Premier Paul Davis.

The year ended with a political crisis as Paul Davis, launched a political war with the federal government over a promise supposedly broken. And then there has been the string of by-election victories by the Liberals and losses by the Conservatives.

Or the financial mess,  triggered by the 40% drop in . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Legacy #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Spectators and the “Me” Generation #nlpoli

The official media advisory describes the event at Confederation Building this morning as an opportunity for Premier Tom Marshall to thank public servants “for the support provided by their work over his time as Minister and Premier.”

In reality, this is another one of the grandiose celebrations that have become the trademark of Conservative Premiers first elected in 2003.  Danny Williams gave himself an enormous going-away show when he decided to leave office suddenly and unexpectedly in 2010.  Kathy Dunderdale, Williams’ hand-picked successor, did much the same thing when she decided to leave office suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year.

And now the third member of the Williams dynasty,  his trusty and well-beloved right hand, is going to make a grand spectacle of his own in the main lobby of the Confederation Building on this the occasion of his imminent departure from office.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: All hail the Glorious Leader Trope #nlpoli

“Province to deliver on promise of whistleblower law”  read the headline for the CBC’s online story about the provincial government throne speech read Wednesday in the House of Assembly.

About half way down the story,  it says that “Premier Tom Marshall is fighting back  against the perception” that the government he’s been a part of since 2003 is secretive. 

You’ll see the same idea in the Telegram’s story:

In today’s throne speech, Premier Tom Marshall made his most significant signal so far that the government is doing everything possible to be more open and transparent.

Last week, everyone told us that public satisfaction with the Conservative administration went up because of Tom Marshall. Corporate Research Associates certainly credited Marshall with the boost in the news release that covered the release of their poll data. The panel on CBC’s On Point with David Cochrane [March 8]all agreed that Marshall might . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: All hail the Glorious Leader Trope #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Sound of Silence #nlpoli

With all the talk the past couple of days about the relationship between the provincial government and the provincial energy corporation, it might be a useful time to ask a fairly simple question:

What does Nalcor do?

Might seem like such an obvious question that it you are laughing, but hang on a second and let’s see what turns up if we go back and look at what the Conservatives said in the past about the energy corporation.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Other people’s agendas #nlpoli

If you have not read Kathy Dunderdale’s resignation speech, take a moment and do so now.

What is most striking about the speech is that there is absolutely nothing anywhere in it that Kathy Dunderdale can claim as her personal accomplishment as Premier. There’s nothing she actually did during her three years in the most powerful political office in the province.

What Dunderdale talked about in the list of accomplishments are things that the Conservatives have done – supposedly – since 2003.

But look at the speech again.  There is nothing that Kathy set out to do and can now leave office safe in the knowledge she accomplished it.

Instead,  you will find a sentence toward the end, as she was clewing up, that mentioned something she hoped:

As the first woman to serve as Premier, I hope I have stoked the fires of imagination in young girls in . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Other people’s agendas #nlpoli

Alberta Diary: Dunderdale’s departure relocates Redford deeper in premiers’ popularity sub-basement

Getting to know you… Getting to know all about you. Not necessarily a good thing with certain dancing partners! There’s just no way actual Canadian premiers, no matter whom they’re dancing with, ever look this good! Below: unpopular dance partners Alison Redford, premier of Alberta, Greg Selinger of Manitoba and all-but-departed Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland.

Well, she’s not quite hit Rock bottom.

But thanks to the departure announcement yesterday by the premier of the Rock, Alberta Premier Alison Redford is now in a dead heat to be Canada’s second least popular premier.

With a pallid 31-per-cent approval rating, Ms. Redford (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Second Longest Slow Good-bye #nlpoli

Provincial Conservatives will get together on Wednesday morning and eventually admit the worst kept secret in local political circles:  the local Tories will have a new leader before the next election.

Kathy always was an interim leader.  The original plan was to keep her for a few months to keep the lights on and some heat in the office so the pipes didn’t freeze.  Once the 2011 election came and went, the Conservatives were supposed to dump her, hold a leadership and carry on from there.

As it turned out, Kathy Dunderdale just lasted a lot longer than people originally intended. 

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Shifts and Changes #nlpoli

Kathy is going.

Tom Marshall gets to quit politics as interim Premier.

That’s if the reports on Tuesday night hold through Wednesday morning.

Here are some quick observations:

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Confidence Campaign #nlpoli #darknl

The provincial government started its campaign to gain control of the political agenda on Thursday with its announcement that it would appoint someone to do something sometime in the future.

The conventional media outlets didn’t report Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s announcement that way.  The Telegram, for example, called it an “independent” review but acknowledged in the second sentence of its brief story that Dunderdale “doesn’t know the shape or scope of the review”. 

CBC went farther in its online story, saying that the “independent review” would “look at the current electrical system in Newfoundland and Labrador; how it operates, how it is managed, and how it is regulated as the province moves from an isolated system to an interconnected system.”

But really, all of that is just an unsubstantiated claim, given that the news release includes these words in a quote attributed to the Premier:

…over the next six weeks . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Confidence Campaign #nlpoli #darknl

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Dunderstan #nlpoli

In January 2012, Ed Martin and his nasally drone ridiculed the idea of shifting demand for electricity from one part of the day to another so that his company wouldn’t have a problem meeting spikes in demand during the winter.

He dismissed the idea as “theoretical” even though it’s widely used across Canada in places where the electricity system is well managed.

Two years later, almost to the day, energy conservation and demand management are Martin’s best friend to help people get through what his Conservative friends are willing to concede was the current “inconvenience.” 

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Crises within crises #nlpoli

The action of the Soviet Union, Winston Churchill once said, “is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Some people in Newfoundland and Labrador likely felt that way after Day Three of Kathy Dunderdale’s one woman crusade to deny that the province is experiencing a crisis.

Most people just cock their heads to one side and mouth the three letters W, T, and F.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: A tale of two crises #nlpoli

Kathy Dunderdale did two major interviews on the first working day since the start of the Nalcor generation crisis.

One was with registered Nalcor lobbyist Tim Powers (# 777504-14002) who is currently holding down a guest spot hosting on VOCM.  The whole interview is actually online at  The second was with CBC’s John Furlong on Radio Noon.  As of Monday night, it wasn’t online.  She also had a media availability later in the day with Earl Ludlow from Newfoundland Power.

If you heard both great interviews.  If not,  listen to the VOCM one. Powers repeated the interview on Monday night when he co-hosted the night-time talk show with Jonathan Richler.  You’ll hear a whole lot that confirms the observations we made here on Monday.  Let’s walk through the day.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Great Blizzard/Blackout 2014 #nlpoli

Some observations:

1.  Yep.  It’s a crisis.

When you have a major utility cutting electricity to people in a blizzard at random, for random periods of time because it cannot supply enough electricity to meet demand, you have a crisis.

That’s what it feels like to the people in it.  That’s what it is.

People never knew when their lights would be on or off, nor would they know for how long.  The Newfoundland Power and the NL Hydro operations people who briefed the public were straightforward and factual.  They did their jobs well.

The thing is that the public emergency system, including the politicians, didn’t clue in that randomly shutting off power to thousands of voters at a time over the course of several days might be a bit of a problem for the voters.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Moments #nlpoli

There’s something perverse about the way politicians these days use a memorial to the dead of two world wars in the last century as a backdrop for their own political spectacles.

That’s what Kathy Dunderdale did – yet again – on Tuesday night to tell Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about something she regards as truly wonderful.

“This is one of those occasions we should tell our children about,” said Premier Kathy Dunderdale on province-wide television Tuesday night, “and help them understand how important this moment is for them and their future.”

She’s right.

It will be important to mark this moment in time.  We’ll have to help generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians not yet even born understand the magnitude of what Dunderdale and her associates have done.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Grits gain from Cons and Dippers #nlpoli

Premier Kathy Dunderdale doesn’t govern by polls.

That’s what she told reporters – yet again – as they asked her about yet another poll that showed the provincial Conservatives aren’t doing so well with eligible voters.

Then Kathy explained to reporters that the polls told her that she and her colleagues must do a better job of communicating with the people of the province.  Oh yes, and she’d happily “take” the improvement in the satisfaction with her administration.

Dunderdale wasn’t the only one having some problems with the results of the Corporate Research Associates November poll numbers.  New Democratic Party leader Lorraine Michael blamed her party’s dramatic drop on the two guys who left her caucus.  Never mind that the Dipper problems showed up in the polls well before this past quarter.

Let’s dig into this latest set of polling numbers though and see if we can help Kathy and . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Grits gain from Cons and Dippers #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The 2013 Harbour Grace Affray #nlpoli

Kathy Dunderdale told reporters on Tuesday, while the polls were still open mind you, that the by-election results would be no big thing.

Life would go on. 

The world would turn.

And the Conservatives had two years left in their mandate.

That’s when everyone in the province understood that the provincial Conservatives had already conceded defeat in the Carbonear-Harbour Grace by-election.

Unfortunately for Dunderdale, though, the election result means something.  Here’s what.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Old Fraudsters #nlpoli

There’s no greater fraud,  former Premier Danny Williams once said, than a promise not kept.

In the House of Assembly on Monday,  his successor claimed that Conservatives “do as we say.”  Premier Kathy Dunderdale was making a dig at opposition leader Dwight Ball over his leadership campaign expenses.

That’s a rather dubious claim of moral superiority in light of commitments the Conservatives made in 2003 about campaign expenses.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Softball #nlpoli

No wonder the Conservatives are smiling a lot these days.

Not only have the New Democrats imploded as an effective political force but their leader has decided her job is to serve as a cheerleader for the government.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Firm and Unfirm #nlpoli

With the House of Assembly open again, the major topic of Question Period was Muskrat Falls and the second version of the deal to ship power to Nova Scotia.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale explained it on Monday in terms of firm and “non-firm”.  Firm power is what you know that the hydro plants will be able to produce reliably.  The unfirm power is the stuff that you can get when there is plenty of water.

What’s interesting is how much of this unfirm power the Premier says is around.  It is:

“half a terawatt to four or five terawatts a year. Based on fifty years of hydrogeology, the amount of snow or rain in this Province, we have been able to commit to Emera 1.2 extra terawatts of power on average; …, some years that might be 0.5 terawatt, another year that might be three.”

On the face of it, that . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Firm and Unfirm #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Talking down to people #nlpoli

A very smart guy scolded someone in a Twitter exchange recently with the observation that people don’t like it when others  – especially politicians – talk down to them.

Well, here’s a good illustration of the point:  the provincial Conservatives. They love to talk down to people. 

Charlene Johnson and the sexual exploitation report the provincial government paid for and then refused to release at all. They even cooked up an laughably stupid story that even acknowledging the report existed threatened people’s lives.

As it turns out, they used quotes from people in the sex trade that are in the report as part of a video distributed to young people in the province’s high schools.

That’s sort of a double whammy of talking down to people and hypocrisy.

Then there is Kathy Dunderdale.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Governing by polls: fracking version #nlpoli

There’s something wonderfully cute about the blind, unquestioning boosterism you get from some of the more aggressive groups of young political party supporters.

All parties have them:  the L’il Liberals, the Dinky Dippers, and the Tiny Tories. 

With the provincial Conservatives so low in the polls, the ones among Kathy’s Kittens that desperately want jobs on the Hill as political staffers have taken to tweeting more aggressively than Paul Lane updating the universe on where he ate his latest free meal.

No comment is too Tony-Ducey inane for them to make or – as it turns out – more honest than the Big Connies would like.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Delusional Hat Trick: Lorraine, Trevor, and Ryan #nlpoli

No sooner had Lorraine Michael pronounced the New Democratic caucus back together again than two of its members announced that they would leave and sit in the House of Assembly as independent New Democrat members of the legislature.

Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore made the announcement in separate media statements on Tuesday morning.

This latest twist didn’t actually end anything, of course.  It’s merely another step in a drama that will play out for another year or more. Let’s take a look at 10 observations about the whole ferkakta tale

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Vale delays Long Harbour smelter… again #nlpoli

Earlier this year,  mining giant Vale was saying they’d start production at the new Long Harbour smelter in 2013, but after a meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale in Brazil,  the company won’t be ramping up until 2015.

That’s the news from VOCM on the weekend, although they didn’t report the actual news about the delay at Long Harbour.  VO just reported that Dunderdale met with Vale officials and that the start-up date was 2015, as if it had always been two years away.

The premier says she went down a few days early to meet specifically with Vale officials to get an update on the Long Harbour development and the Voisey’s Bay mine site.

She says Vale officials indicated that Long Harbour will start to ramp up in 2015, while they’re looking to go underground at Voisey’s Bay.

According to VOCM, the company officials are concerned about power supplies “in . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Vale delays Long Harbour smelter… again #nlpoli