Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Lookout from The Rock

Saving for a rainy day is always wise, and there may be more days like that with an international economic downturn. The province is already feeling the ripple effect of decreased market demand. What a difference a few months makes. It seemed like the price of oil was going to make 2009 into another $billion surplus year, but on the contrary, it could very well be a major deficit year, not a good time for hefty salary demands from government. There could also be more in-migration, but due to more laid-off workers from out west. It's never a bad time to, you know, ___ away some resources for the future.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gas Prices Across the Map

This tidy interactive map shows gas prices (regular unleaded) in Canadian cities. As of Dec. 23, 2008, there was a range of .28 cents per litre of gas - that is only what's showing. Click it below to view the CBC page, and then click on each city - this years gas prices appear for that place.Ottawa has the cheapest pump at .65 cents per litre, while Yellowknife put up with .93 cents per litre, and though not on the map, Labrador City tolerates 93.5/litre gas.

See price detail for many other Canadian towns on M.J. Ervin & Associates gas price site.
Related: NL Gas prices from 1987-2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Economy - Hope you Liked Your Stimulating

It is especially at this time of year that we must think about the less fortunate CEOs of financial companies like AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; auto companies Chrysler, Ford and GM. May they be blessed with 100's of billions in stimulus packages without terms. And may CEO bonuses be just as big so as to feed a poor starving nation somewhere in Africa.

The good people of the western world have just went beyond normal need to feed the economic beast by way of Christmas 'n' everything. May our system of economics continue to offer hope to believers and non-believers alike that the system is fair, decent, and oh so rewarding.

May justice be bestowed on investment guru Bernard Madoff who is charged with defrauding the public of $50 billion, and may the selfish starving people of Congo and Somalia stop their begging for food and help out mega-rich industries of the world, somehow.

Yes, may the world unite as one to support the one true way that works, and let us bail out together, the industries that are the symbols of success and virtue in the world, so that once again the world will be as it should. Blessings to both the needy, the greedy, the conniving, and the 'just surviving' of the world.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Hard Day's Night in Yiddish - oy vey

Found this on yerself tube - enjoy.

Blackberry Ringing in the Dead of Night

play midi        
Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these friggin rings and learn to hide
All your life
You were only hating for this moment to arise.

Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these reddened eyes and learn to flee
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackberry free Blackberry free
Into the dark of the bright blue light.

Blackberry free Blackberry free
Into the dark of the bright blue light.

Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these freakin rings and learn to hide
All your life
You were only dreading for this moment to arise
You were only wanting some sleep for your eyes
You were only needing a break from the noise.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Predictions for 2009

  • CBC announces a new game show, "Who Wants to be Bailed Out"

  • In Parliament, MPs will be allowed to call the House Speaker, "dude"

  • The successful marketing phrase "New and Improved" will be replaced by "The Same, but Still Not Too Bad Though"

  • The Mid East cuts olive oil production

  • Conrad Black will take over the Liberal leadership, bring down the Harper government and become Canada's first Black Prime Minister

  • Sardines and broccoli replace pizza as the favorite school snack

  • Microsoft gets into omega-3 oil business and comes out with an Omega-3.1 capsule

  • PEI will begin a resettlement program, moving residents of 50 small communities to larger centres. The move is expected to take about an hour

  • The economy will get so bad that business will resort to such things as directing cigarette advertisements at kids, and offering high interest credit cards to naive university teens (wait. sorry, that's already happening)

  • Christmas shopping will drastically fall after it's discovered that the three wise men did not bring gifts to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but were trying to sell them life insurance

  • Danny Williams' image as a dictator will be promoted so much by media writers that reporters in Venezuela give the nickname, Hugo "Williams", to their president

  • Political protesters will use a more deadly weapon to attack U.S. Presidents, their socks

  • 1000s of products drop in price because the price of oil (transportation cost) is low

  • George W. Bush will write his memoirs called either "D'oh", or "Oops"
  • What Has the Shoe Thrower Been Doing Since?

    He has been in talks with the Toronto Blue Jays manager to start next season as pitcher. (His aim was amazing)

    He has been practising with sandals, sneakers, and skechers

    Booking interviews with Jay Leno, Letterman, Larry King, and Oprah

    Writing a book - possible titles: Bush Whacker; Hurling Insults; If the Shoe Fits, Throw It; Weapons of Reeking Destruction;

    Nike offered him 100 K to throw their footwear next time

    Appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Shoe Throwing Edition

    He's been developing a heat seeking shoe that hits the target even when they duck.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Danny's Repatriating the Trees Strikes a Cord with Canadians

    The Globe and Mail, or at least writer Konrad Yakabuski, is back to calling NL's premier, Danny Chavez, but judging from the comments, Canadian readers mainly supported Williams for Newfoundland & Labrador's move to repatriate timber rights from AbitibiBowater.

    From the Globe - "Just when you thought the Danny Chavez gibes were getting tired, the Rock's irrepressible strongman strikes - no, more like bludgeons - once again... At least Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's nationalization-happy President, has the decency to call himself a socialist. Mr. Williams just acts like one."

    Here's the story from The Telegram, Dec. 17th, 2008:
    In an unprecedented move, the provincial government announced Tuesday it will strip AbitibiBowater of all its rights and assets in this province, with the exception of the century-old newsprint mill in Grand Falls-Windsor.

    The legislation was passed within hours of it being introduced into the House of Assembly.

    In essence, the province will cancel all the company's timber, land and water rights, including the 1905 charter that allowed the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Co. to establish a mill in the town, without any compensation to AbitibiBowater.

    Control of an estimated 1.67 million hectares of timber rights on Crown land will revert back to the province.

    There were 200 comments on the piece, with the majority supporting Williams' taking back control over forest resources. A few samples:
    Andy Guenette from Asheville, NC, United States writes: I've never been a fan of Danny Williams, but in this case, I support his government's decision. Bilateral agreements need to be respected by both parties.

    Auroran Bear from Montreal, Canada writes: I applaud the move. Now get those assets working in the interest of the people of Newfoundland.

    And enough of the Danny Chavez stuff G&M. When the G&M allows open comment on every story that's free of moderation, maybe then you can wave your banner.


    Patrick Shaw from Markham, Canada writes: Some have wondered where the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility may head in a tough economy. Danny has answered loud and clear. The Premier has shown that Newfoundland won’t tolerate a wavering of the intent or the commitment. This is a great example of a company being held accountable to the public owners of the resource. Shareholders get their say everyday; now the real owners have spoken.

    Green Canada from edmonton, Canada writes: This story is at least raising a key point of contention that needs addressing. Whether governments sole role should be to facilitate business or whether it should work in the public's interest? some say the first and second are tied others don't think so. It seems to me that over the last few decades the governments of Canada have become "corporatist" in nature insofar as they view their governing role as facilitating the work of their clients, the corporations. This is worrying on many fronts, not the least of which is the privatization of profits while all debts are unloaded on society (see recent bail outs). Anyway...way to go Danny.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Bush Gets the Boot From Iraq - Literally

    Talk about an unceremonious visit. Poor old Bush Jr. Current times and recent past have not been kind to W. Will history be kinder? He would hope so, but the deadly, misguided missile guided mistake will forever be part of his legacy. The shoe throwing was a pretty symbolic feeling from the dissident, likely echoing the general feeling of not just Iraqis, but most world watchers towards the American presence in the tragically traumatized, cradle of civilization.

    Have a look, Bush was quick to react.. then again, that was a weakness of his administration concerning Iraq.

    Bush even laughs it off. Good public front poor Mr. Bush puts on, but it's a sad ending to a regrettable forgettable/unforgettable episode in world history.

    A line from the great song, "I'm a Loser" has a line,
    "Although I laugh and I act like a clown, inside this mask I am wearing a frown."

    It's one thing to live with the knowledge you were responsible for sacrificing troops to a war. But one that was not necessary in the first place, must be cause for a heavier conscience still, for all the Iraq war supporters in the Bush administration.

    Still, the future history, post-U.S. presence in Iraq, could be kinder to Bush, if, democracy remains, and protesters like the shoe thrower, are not shot for an act of demonstration like this.       (read CBS story)

    Stick to Your Guns Defence Minister McKay

    For the second week in a row three Canadian men have been killed in nightmarish Afghanistan, and U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates is hinting that Canada stay longer than it's planned 2011 withdrawl. Canada's Defence Minister Peter McKay has said that it is sticking to 2011 and does not plan on changing. Actually 2009 sounds much better. Since 2002 Canada has contributed immensely to democracy and re-building that place, sacrificing 103 healthy, valuable sons, brothers, and fathers. This does not include the men and women who have been wounded physically and mentally from the trauma of war. Don't be goaded into staying longer over there Mr. McKay, Canada has much to be proud of.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Water Surpluses, and the Outlook is Good

    November - December 11th (at least) would be the Christmas time of year if you were into the bulk water business here in St. John's/Avalon/many parts of Newfoundland. Sure it is relentlessly dismal, dreadful, gross and imprisoning, but hey, maybe all this rain might uncork the genie out of the lakes for the waterboys. There is no shortage of this resource around here. Take a look at the long range forecast below.   Related update
    This post was meant mainly as light-hearted look at our rainy weather, but really a headline like this from CNN is a reminder of how valuable our water resources are, and could raise the issue of bulk water exporting which was controversial about a decade ago when Gisbourne Lake was being considered to use.

    Here's a blurb from the CNN story:
    The value of water is starting to become apparent in America. Over the past three years a drought has affected large swaths of the country, and conflicts over water usage may become commonplace in the future, climatologists say.

    When the price of oil goes down businesses get their stimulus package

    Just filled up the car, and saved $25 compared to a July fill-up costing $62. Now if rent, milk, and many other products came down in price it would seem fair. The cost of rising fuel gets passed on to consumers. This year's rent increase was rationalized by higher oil prices, but it would be quite the surprise to see something like rent come down as oil prices fall. Makes one wonder how many companies/businesses already have gotten their stimulus packages because of price mark-ups which stayed the same despite lower transportation costs for example. The reports earlier this year that $100-a barrel oil is here to stay seemed pretty convincing at the time, and it was a nice justification for anyone to boost product prices (hello Newfoundland Power). If this consumer saved $25 on 46 litres of gas, then transport vehicles and other modes of transport that rely on the same cheaper fuel, must be saving proportionally a similar amount.

    Here is a summary of Newfoundland & Labrador gas prices for the last 20 years.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    NL has Surefire Plan to Boost Tourism

    What, you say, could bring more tourists to our province? There is one certain answer, set up a Tim Horton's franchise. The first trial of this new plan is being tested at Signal Hill, and there are plans to set up similar attractions at rural and isolated but beautiful places in the province. Advertising will be cost effective - it will mainly be by word of mouth and by aroma.Click to enlarge
    There are critics though, The Daily Telegraph has condemned the idea saying that some other restaurant should be put on historic sites like Signal Hill, like Mr. Submarine, where they sell less fattening food. The Telegraph makes a great point - a healthier restaurant would send a better message to tourists.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Huge Surplus Great News, but Includes Big Message - More Economic Diversity Needed

    As was expected for this current year there is a huge surplus, $1.27 billion. That's because for most of the year, the price of oil was grossly high. While it hurt individuals, it was great for the province. Next year could be very different. The price of oil is near $40/barrel - bad for province because oil prices can ride the roller coaster in any year, and even finance minister Kennedy said that we could be looking at up to a $600 million deficit. Consumers are getting a well deserved break, and surely do not wish to again pump their cash into pumps so that this province can be enjoying huge surpluses. The province should promote more economic diversification - that's a message that's old, but still true.

    Monday, December 08, 2008

    John Lennon & Yoko in their own Words & Music

    This is the last interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, on Dec. 8, 1980. In this audio clip he talks about their innovative peace vision and activism, from the late '60s and early '70s. He talks about envisioning a peaceful world in the same way that many years before flight, or landing on the moon, people imagined that happening - projecting into the future a better world.(By the way, this clip is part 10/13 - the other clips are very interesting as well)

    In other interviews Lennon said that in peace events like the John-Yoko honeymoon bed-in, they were aware that whatever they did after getting married, the press would be focusing on them, so they thought why not use their "opportunity" to make a new type of call for peace in the world. Prior to their PR stunts for peace, Lennon had talked with a media friend (who was alledgedly "in the know") who told him the government ultimately controls the messages the media broadcasts - in particular he referred to messages about the Vietnam war. According to Lennon, this inspired him to feed the media with anti-war messages.

    He knew his popular appeal could be used to promote and send a message that the world could be a better, safer place, and that as one of the greatest musicians ever, he had the potential to reach great numbers. Thus, he wrote songs that were not standard "Beatlish" songs, but were meant to make people think about another way of living in the world without fighting.

    John and Yoko's bed-in for peace was creative and outrageous, especially at the time, - two newlyweds lying around in bed for a week, with a room full of media, talking about peace. But that was the way John Lennon's mind worked - always wanting to explore new things, be it music arrangements, effects, melodies, lyrics, art, or political activism.

    In the video below you can hear Lennon at the 1969 Concert for Peace in Toronto. He, Eric Clapton on lead, Klaus Voorman, bass, Alan White on drums, and Yoko (Plastic Ono Band), played together for the first time and did a few numbers, including this sizzler - great vocals and lead guitar work here. Not bad for a band who never played before. By the way, this was Sept. 1969. Lennon had told friends that he was leaving the Beatles, though it was not publicly announced till April, 1970. On stage he looks similar to the famous Abbey Road shot, which was photographed the previous month. Enjoy.

    Just one more link to give a glimpse into John Lennon. On the Dick Cavett show in 1971, he discusses drugs, alcohol and why it might be that people rely on them - interesting and insightful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LftibKEA7U&NR=1

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    A Divided House Closes for the Seizin'

    So much for cooperation and national unity for the good of the country. This seven week hiatus should really help. The skies are filled with blame missiles going back and forth. There won't be any winners in the political games going on. The liberals, NDP and Bloc do not appear as saviors of Canada's well being. But they did put more doubt on Harper's government. Even the Governor General might have to take some blame for a delay in Parliament. After all she did not have to sanction the request from Stephen Harper to suspend the next sitting of Parliament till Jan. 26, but she chose to.

    The whole talk of a coalition between the Liberals and the NDP, backed by the separatist Bloc Quebecois, was from out of the blue it appears, to Canadians. The story has dominated Canadian media coverage since the idea was aired last week. One has to wonder if the opposition had not created such a buzz that it has, would there have existed a public outcry over Harper and Flaherty's lack of an economic stimulus package in the financial announcement a couple of weeks ago. It had been an option, and they had said that such a package could be released in 2009. So would have this been for the most part, a non-issue with most Canadians? That is, most Canadians would be willing to let the government run business as usual.

    In the meantime, the next seven weeks people can really take time to decide what is the best route. Will the economy really tank during that time, or will there be a trend to? If so, then that will help people decide to either stay the course with the Conservatives or change the course with a coalition.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    A Dejected Jack Layton Sharpens his Attack on the Prime Minister

    Layton loses it after Prime Minister Harper convinces the Governor General to suspend Parliament till Jan. 26, thereby suspending the Bloc-backed NDP, Liberal coalition.Layton was overheard saying he was going to spearhead a bludgeoning attack, but no one saw this coming. Shocked MP's, who first thought it was the regular mace-bearer, who has a striking resemblance to the NDP leader, eventually wrestled him to the floor.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    House Fire! Sparks Fly Between Dion and Harper

    The stunning news of a Separatist backed coalition has made for some hot tempered political theatre in the House of Commons Tuesday. Having not seen all episodes of the last few seasons of This Week in Parliament, I will still bet though, that yesterday's word fight between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Stephane Dion, has to be the best, i.e., most real and fang showing to date!

    The unprecedented nature of the debate was passionate and befitting the dramatic, surprising and historical political stunt schemed by the three opposition parties.Harper's Tories are on the verge of being ousted from power, but will not go down without at least at week's worth of battle against what they claim, and will continue to claim, are the Liberal and NDP's dangerous affiliation with a party that has no interest in improving Canada, only Quebec. He makes an interesting point for Canadians to consider - three opposition parties, opposed to each other, with one whose goal is to get out of Canada.
    Click to see exchange, then scroll slightly down the page to view

    He also makes the point, again, to be repeated, that Canadians voted convincingly not for Stephane Dion. As well, he said that Canadians did not vote to have a coalition formed which was backed by the Bloc.

    Dion, on the other hand, should have been this fiery and passionate leading up to the Oct. 14th perhaps. As he shot back that Harper has lost the confidence of the majority of the members, it was not detectable in the video, but he must have had to wipe the spit from his chin as his busting anger toward Harper was on the extreme high blood pressure level.

    Canadian politics is dramatic to watch at this moment. Harper is a fighter, Dion is showing his charging bull side, and they both make strong arguments. The parties will be making their case for the next week. So far Harper is saying that to be fair to Canadians, an election ought to be held to prove that they in fact approve of Stephane Dion becoming Prime Minister. But will the Governor General be convinced? This is getting interesting.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Papa's gotta have a brand new bag

    Starting June 1, 2009, Toronto shoppers will pay 5 cents for new plastic bags. That's a decision city council made last night in an effort to reduce the problem of plastics in the environment. The Star article did not say whether this applies to all retail stores or just grocery stores. "Retailers will be required to accept reusable bags or containers from shoppers starting next June."

    Councillors also voted to force take-out restaurants to develop food containers made of recyclable plastic, as well as to ban bottled water from being sold in city buildings. It's good to know, but in a way, a bit hard to believe the recycled plastic use has not been enforced before.

    Will the 5 cents per bag be enough disincentive for people to really make a switch to non-plastic bags? It does not seem like much to turn people away from continue using plastic bags. If plastic bags were viewed the same way that cigarettes are, and heftier surcharges are added, it would really turn people off. Then again, maybe people would be happy to pay 40 cents per bag, just to "give back to" grocery stores.

    In the case of plastic bags people do not have to pay any price for a cleaner environment. Toronto appears to have taken a forward step in preserving our world, environment and atmosphere for future generations. It's also time our province took more measures to cut down on waste. Product replacement. Now there's an opportunity for some entrepreneurial bag makers, or sewing hobbyists to be creative... Sew B's is taken though, but now, to learn to sew.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    How a Liberal NDP Coalition Could Come to Power

    I'll give the Opposition parties credit for at least injecting some innovative drama back into the often barren, pallid landscape of Canadian politics. Speaking of pallid, Stephane Dion, the defeated Liberal leader from the Oct. 14 election, could become Prime Minister very soon. The same man that almost immediately had Liberals planning a leadership race to replace him, and the same man charged with the Liberals' poor showing in the election. This would be a pretty neat curve ball at the Canadian electorate, who said through their votes, that they did not want Dion as Prime Minister.

    So would giving Harper's government a non-confidence vote this month, automatically mean that another election would be called? The answer is (from what this non-political expert found out) is no.

    According to Carleton University political scientist Jonathan Malloy, there is no constitutional text to describe how this specific government transition should be handled. A coalition at the federal level would be a Canadian first.

    [In 1979, Prime Minister Joe Clark who lead a minority government, could have formed a coalition government with the six Social Credit MP's, and achieved a majority government. He may have regretted not doing that, since his minority government lasted only nine months before Trudeau, who had suggested he was quitting, beat Clark in a 1980 election.]

    It could be an instance, according to Malloy, where the Governor General, Michelle Jean, could make a major political decision. If Harper's government falls, Harper could ask the Governor General to approve another federal election, but she has the discretion to not oblige, and instead, ask the Opposition to try forming a government. This scenario could conceivably be more palatable to most Canadians given that just some weeks ago, the election signs were only being picked up, taken down and stored away for future recycling.

    Interesting food for thought, but this Canuck has no appetite for what would be a wasteful election, requested by anyone, just after an unnecessary October election. Imagine the possible Liberal/NDP slogans, "You Didn't Like Dion then, But He's Great Now!", or "New Democratic and Improved"...
    see possible Liberal/NDP coalition names

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Possible New Party Names if Liberals and NDP Merge

    Today it's widely reported that Jean Chrétien and Ed Broadbent are in talks about the possibility of forming a coalition government, uniting Liberal and New Democrats. This would unite the left and center to form enough members to possibly defeat the Conservatives. Here are some names to consider using if the federal Liberals and the New Democratic Party do form a coalition party.

    The Demerols

    The Oppositiacrats/Oppositiacats

    Dem Liberals

    The New Demos

    New & Improved New Democratic Party

    The Equal Libriums

    CBC (Chrétien Broadbent Coalition)

    PCB (Parti de Chrétien & Broadbent)

    NLDP (New Liberal Democratic Party)

    The Librocrats

    The New New Democratic Party and Liberals

    The Chrétien Broad Band Connection

    What the Reform and PCs Did II Party

    Can't Beat Them Join Dem

    Suggestions welcome

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Pope John Paul, George & Ringo

    The Vatican praises the Beatles. About time boys. Sure they weren't saints but through their words and music, did preach love and peace, that's for sure, especially John. Though he spoke out against organized religion, he did in later years, actually in his last interview on the day he was shot for example, acknowledge that Jesus, tried to bring about peace. He also said that people are free to follow religion and Jesus, and that's the way society should be - free, free to express yourself as you wish.

    Jesus and John (Lennon) in some important ways had commonalities. We know much more about Lennon as practically everything he did or said was recorded, than we do about Jesus. Having said that, what we do know about Jesus is that he wanted people to live peacefully, and be caring and unselfish. John could not knock that.

    Lennon was often a man of contradictions, for example, he hated the Beatles and/or Paul McCartney after the split, but at other times, showed admiration for his former bandmate, and his creativity. More to come on John Lennon in the next week.

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    An Astounding Musical Savant's Keys to Life

    Thirteen year old Rex Lewis-Clack is a medical wonder who is doing what his parents were told he would never do. Born with a huge cyst on his brain, doctors said he would never walk, talk, or anything much. He had autistic symptoms growing up, hated being touched, his hands were constantly in fist formations, small noises would make him scream, and he still has great difficulty with basic tasks.

    On his second birthday, his father bought a piano for him. That's when things really changed. The instant he touched the piano, something was unlocked in Rex. He quickly used his now opened hands to stretch across the piano keys, and search for notes, learn songs, and play. He is fascinating to watch play piano. In a sense he's a young Mozart - he can automatically replay a tune just after hearing it once. This is just as incredible - he's been blind since birth!

    His strong affinity for music is a rare trait for autistic savants. Rex is astonishing to watch perform so effortlessly, yet, when away from the keys he has trouble putting a shoe on, or telling the difference between the shape of a circle and square. In the video you will see him play songs he hasn't heard before. He has a rare gift to imitate sound, but as you'll see, to also be creative, and mimic voice and language. A musician plays and sings Ave Maria for him, and he not only plays it back but sings it, in Latin.

    Piano keys seem to be the keys to unlocking his doorway to normal human behaviors. He amazes as times passes and it will be interesting to follow his emotional growth as his brain finds ways to interpret and react normally to his living environment.

    Here's the original 60 Minutes story. The video is also on this site, plus other videos of a younger Rex.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Paul White's Book "Fishing for Reality"

    The province's first self-help book by counselor and motivational speaker Paul White is on shelves now.

    White is the author of "Fishing for Reality". He is an education counselor and from his website, an "esteemator". Anyone who knows Paul will describe him as positive, full of energy, and determined to succeed. He is also determined to show people how to steer their "life" boats in the right direction to find personal and professional contentment. That's the focus of his book. White offers many valuable insights into personal growth and wants to tap into the locked up power within 'you'.

    Fishing for Reality is a very enjoyable, relaxing and informative read. Skipper Bruce was White's grandfather and mentor, and a key figure in the book. "They" share their wisdom, and helpful hints about succeeding in life. There are quintals of good advice in there, and Fishing for Reality will have a positive impact on peoples' lives.

    Paul will be signing copies of his book at Chapters, Kenmount Rd. on Nov. 23, from 2-4 pm.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Gas Prices 1987-2008: Highs & Not As Highs

    The tables below show NL gas prices over the last twenty years. For years gas price increases have been reported every other day, and you hear various reasons for it, from increased tension between some nations, threats of hurricanes, world demand, or more consumer demand in winter. The charts below are just for information purposes and anyone can look more closely to find trends. The information was found on the MJ Ervin & Associates (an Alberta based industry consulting company) web site, and pieced together to just compare NL gas flucuations. Note, you can also find prices on any given week for towns and cities in Canada.

    Since 1987, St. John's prices have always been recorded. Eventually Gander and Corner Brook, and in the last few years, Labrador City, from this particular site.

    One thing is for certain, NL prices are always above the Canadian average. And it might be safe to say, Labrador prices are always higher than Newfoundland prices. The trend of increasing fuel prices because of winter and cold months has not been a consistent one. For example, in 1988 and 1992 the price actually decreased from Jan. - June, and continued to drop in 1992. Other years also showed fairly steady prices.

    The 2000's seem to show definite price increases during the winter/spring months in NL. Right now, prices are down to 95.9 cents/litre again, the lowest in a couple of years. They could go up again in the spring if the past number of years are any indication. (Have a look at the price increase from Jan. - summer for 2008, 2007, 2006, & 2005.)

    The tables below are for regular self-serve gas. Click to view actual size.
    2000 - 2008


    1987 - 1989
    To find fuel prices for many other places in Newfoundland and Labrador, check out the Petroleum Pricing Office web site right here.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Freedom, a Daily Reminder   

    It's just so unfair that so many of those who helped preserve our freedoms lost theirs in fields - fields, similar to those we use for peaceful recreation.

    To all the soldiers, thanks for your action, sacrifice and bravery. You are all heros in our society.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Having a Have Celebration

    Whether your fiscal yearly wealth is largely from the auto sector or the oil sector, it is good to be a "Have" province. As for a provincial party, as in money being spent on foods, drinks, music, and whatever, I think that is a waste. There is no need. The money could be used to purchase another piece of equipment for one of the hospitals. In the meantime, there's nothing wrong with someone celebrating it through a video.

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Signal Hill Sunrise

    One of my first Nikon digital shots from Marconi's famous hill. For visitors not from Newfoundland & Labrador, this is the first sunrise in Canada. Signal Hill is located in St. John's, Newfoundland and is the farthest east city in North America. Hmmm, not a bad spot to build a house, wonder what they're asking for Signal Hill property these days.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    The Election that Made the World Smile

    (A shorter version of this was published in The Telegram on Nov. 22, 2008)

    From Australia, to Kenya, to Asia, people danced in the streets when it was projected that Barack Obama was President-Elect of the U.S. This election was like no other in U.S. history, and there may never be one where millions of people celebrate in American streets. After the news announcement, the change that took place was instant. The change was one of attitude, justice, and freedom.

    How many black Americans watching last night, never dreamed of a black man being elected President in their lifetimes? Many watching had lived through extreme racist violence against them decades ago. They were not allowed to use the same washrooms, attend the same schools, or sit on the same buses. They can remember open hatred toward them, and heard stories from their parents and grandparents of slavery and lynchings.

    Until only several generations ago, when you were born black it was inherent that you were not a full person, were different, and better get used to a life of frustration. It was not until the 1960s that all restrictions on the black right to vote were lifted. So being an American "untouchable" was as good as being a genetic trait for African-Americans.

    Despite being frustrated by a sick and inhumane culture of discrimination black America proved its ability on every front. However, the top job in the country was never that realistic, until 1984 and '88 when Jesse Jackson ran in Presidential elections. He won 6.9 million votes in the latter. Another African American candidate, Alan Keyes, made several attempts for the office in 1996, 2000 and this year. He was a conservative Republican and some of his views was seen as too radical when running against Clinton. Yet, there has existed the "great black hope".

    Four years ago, Senator Barack Obama delivered a keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. That speech introduced him to the world. His speech was delivered in a manner that made viewers take notice of him as a confident, passionate, insightful and promising leader. He spoke of unity in the country, the hope of the U.S. for success, and talked about peoples' similarities. His presentation caused waves in the media, and many foresaw him as a future leader, including this blogger. You could tell that he had special abilities.

    Growing up as a black person, though his parents were black and white, it appears he realized that to be an accepted leader for the majority of Americans, it would take patience, an ever so gingerly tactful set of speeches, a demonstration of knowledge, an empathy with the needs of whites, blacks and all backgrounds. His influence must heavily be Martin Luther King who also had to demonstrate patience, understanding and strength.

    One of Obama's great strengths is his elocution. In order to captivate his audience with carefully chosen words and appropriately accompanying gestures and expressions, he must have spent many many hours of rehearsing his campaign in his own mind. To give speeches that were acceptable to a mostly white America, took much historical perspective analysis on his part. He had to speak not with anger or an air of revenge, but with a message that directed people to view the future for what it could be, rather than remind Americans of past injustices.

    Not only did he have what it took to get elected, but the political climate was ready for a breath of fresh air. With the morbid war years and the despised international image of the U.S. particularly under Bush, the time was right for this "right" African American candidate. In a way George Bush could be thanked for helping him get elected. McCain was seen in public as being a Bush ally, and that was a turn-off for many.

    What Obama ignited with his 2004 speech flamed into a burning vision of a new America where there is pride in being racially equal, and non-discriminatory. It may have also lead to the sense of their nation being released from the burden of its own historical conscience. It is a new reason for America to be proud of itself, and it is the hope and underlined emancipation that made the world smile.

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Obama is America's First Black President

    Yes he did! What a miletone in history! The United States can give itself a pat on the back for electing an African American as President. Though the popular vote was close in many states, the outcome was not quite the surprise as the picture above would suggest. Obama was favoured in over 100 polls done nation-wide in the U.S. since September, said a CNN reporter earlier. This event marks a proud moment for black America and for the nation itself, as it can begin a new chapter in race perception!

    How Obama does as President remains to be seen but he has broken the color barrier, and given hope to all people who have incredible hurdles to overcome to succeed. This is huge for the African American population of the U.S., and minority groups everywhere in the world. This change is cause for celebration right now.

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    "Yes We Can" More Than Just a Campaign Slogan

    The frenzy and excitement of possibly having an African-American President will climax tomorrow evening. For weeks polls have shown Barack Obama with a significant lead over rival John McCain. CNN's latest has a 7 percentage point lead. Black America is on the brink of mass hysteria, a nation-wide street filled celebration of victory, freedom and hope.

    At this point John McCain will have to pray for a lightning bolt of brilliance to strike him in the next 24 hours, or pray for a major calamity in the Obama campaign. His downward spiral began after his September statement when Wall Street collapsed, that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong". Soon after he said that the fundamentals of the economy are "at risk".

    Obama's campaign was strong, it had to be to withstand the challenge of formerly presumptive winner Hillary Clinton, to overcome negative ties from Obama's past, to overcome racial differences and doubt about a black leader. Over time, Obama impressed voters with his words and eloquence. The idea of change has come to mean many things to different people.

    "Yes We Can" is positive message implying that there is hope, there is victory, there is success that is within reach. It encompasses all races, and backgrounds. For black America it also means, "yes, we can also work in a position where no black man has worked before, there are no limits on what we can do". The slogan sends a message from Barack Obama to fellow African-Americans that there is no longer anything that can really hold people back. It sends a message of intense pride of a race. The very electing of Obama in itself could have the effect of mass motivation, not just for blacks but for anyone, anyone who sees obstacles to overcome in life to succeed.

    In ways, his speeches have been idealistic in vision, but the first order of business will be to handle the top priority of the economy, and peoples' personal economic crises. With an Obama Presidency there will be the most dramatic change perhaps ever. Not necessarily so in direct policy changes in the immediate years, but certainly it will mark a national attitude change about race and image. It will create a pride that all Americans, and outsiders can appreciate.

    Related: The Election that made the World Smile

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    More Signs that Sarah Palin is Not Ready to be Vice-President

    1. She wants to make Halloween a national holiday to celebrate the death of Freddy Krueger.

    2. Palin intends to handle the problem of illegal aliens -
      on a Martian by Martian basis.

    3. One of her first priorities is to paint the White House fuchsia.

    4. On what to do about global warming, Palin wants everyone to simply triple their use of air conditioners to cool the atmosphere.

    5. When asked what should be done about Iran's and North Korea's nuclear development programs, she said the U.S. ought to double or triple the price of uranium when they sell it to them.

    6. Palin is adamant that Obama and Osama are twins.

    7. She said that as Vice President she is looking forward to traveling around the world to meet foreign leaders especially the President of Canada.

    8. Her solution to economic problems is to strengthen banks, by using more stainless steel girders and extra hard cement.

      © 2008 Charles Cheeseman

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Campbell Brown Rips Dishonest Dole as U.S. Election Gets Desperately Nasty

    Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina had a video attack ad put together about her opponent Democrat Kay Hagan. In it, the narrator says that Hagan is Godless. The video ends with Ms Hagan's face and a voice, supposedly her's, saying "there is no God." There is one big problem though, Kay Hagan is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and is a former Sunday school teacher.

    The video below is a clip of the ad and an editorial smacking by the sharp CNN political analyst, Campbell Brown.

    Brown: "Just say no to your own craven ambition. Just cut it out. Reclaim your dignity! And with only a few days to go, please please just tell us what you think you can do to get this country back on track."

    There seems to be a universal rule held by many politicos , when power talks, honesty walks.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Top 25 things to see in Canada

    The Toronto Star is asking for your top 5 places to see in Canada. You can submit your photos here, and view the peoples' list so far on Facebook. The Star will post the results in the next three weeks.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Surfing Beaches

    This pristine, fine sand beach is one of many around Newfoundland and Labrador's magnificent coastline. Driving along scenic coastal vistas, especially if the area is new to you, is a fantastic experience. You have to stop driving, get out, walk on a newly seen beach and appreciate the peaceful beauty that, well surrounds us.

    In Vancouver, it is so spectacular with the Coastal Mountains in the city background, that you may feel like you're living in a postcard, or you can't believe you're living there. In Newfoundland and Labrador one also feels pride about the natural beauty and variety of the landscapes. In fact, on this trip, the idea of having a home overlooking this, or other beaches sprang to mind. So many places to hike, explore, admire and relax.

    This has to be good for the health. After a day of beaching, you won't be complaining.

    Click here for other blog posts of Newfoundland and Labrador scenes.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Gas Tips

    The economy is in hard shape and let's not forget to help those oil and gas companies who are suffering. Today, gas prices dropped again. My God, how are they getting by! Give at your next fill up.

    All donations will be sent to the Gas & Oil Unit of Good Ethics, or GOUGE.

    Real gas saving tips

    Gas cost calculator

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    On the Streets, people are still addicted to Speed

    It's a drug that is always on the streets, causes harm, stress, and danger. It's been said before here, so why again? One reason is because accidents get reported all the time, especially when there are poor driving conditions like the mini hurricane currently spitting and heaving its heavy rain and wind on street and highways. Another reason lately is the issue of whether winter tires should be mandatory, to cut down on accidents.

    Accidents happen for any number of reasons. It could be slippery roads, poor visibility, blown tire, distractions, etc., or speeding. Every day in towns and cities, and on highways, some people seem to be in constant emergency mode. On the TCH Saturday, one driver in a sporty two door was seen passing three others, over a median, which is not allowed. It came close to demolishing the front car which seconds after, moved to the left turning lane and turned left. Here in the city, there seems to be an urgency to get somewhere all the time which makes driving a risky habit.

    On the winter tires issue, from personal experience, winter studded tires are better than all-season tires. Obviously you have better traction, and can have more success getting out of an icy spot. Still, all-season tires can be fine for traveling in winter, but, if they are well-worn all-seasons, these tires are not so dependable and will provide less grip. The newer the all-season tires, the better. In relation to accidents, winter studded tires will not stop people from running red lights, weaving, and reckless driving.

    Because it's winter, speed reduction is a given, and driving a realistic speed that allows for enough reaction time is key. Summer driving habits in winter will cause problems on the road, and unfortunately injuries, and insurance hits. Reducing speed to an appropriate velocity for the conditions is a preventative measure. Sort of like the old saying goes, old hermaphrodite winter is just around the intersection, and as the cop from Hill Street Blues used to say, let's be careful out there.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Falling Trees

    In central Newfoundland, a leafy mixture painted the hillside at Little Hr. on Gander Lake.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Season the Moment

    Fall is a tricky season. It is so because it precedes the long cold, dreaded winter, but, and this is debatable, it is the best season. It goes too fast, while winter, too slow. It's perfect for walking outside, not too hot or cold. It's spectacular to see. It's ironic, in that while leaves die, they bloom alive like a slow motion forest fire-works. It's great to be alive to witness it.

    On the beaten track in Central Newfoundland. It's hard not to stop to capture nature's brilliance.

    Fall in Gambo

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Placentia from Castle Hill

    Beautiful and historic Placentia. These pictures were taken just before sunset and do not do justice to the town. You can see the beach front, which has a boardwalk along the perimeter. (Click to enlarge)
    There's much to see and do here and you'll need a whole day at least to tour the picturesque place.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Web Media and Election Results Blackouts

    It's election night in Canada. The polls have just closed in Newfoundland and Labrador. The first results come in the CBC anchor desk on live tv, and someone is leading, then another. As you are watching, the phone rings. It's a relative from Alberta calling to chat about the election. They casually ask how it's looking in Newfoundland so far. You tell them what you see. As soon as you hang up you hear a new email alert on the laptop. It's a friend from Vancouver inquiring about how people are voting in Newfoundland and Labrador. You tell them the up to the minute results flashing on live tv.

    Thousands of Canadians keep in touch with each other every hour of every day from coast to coast. They talk about anything and everything. But wait a minute, was it unethical to have told your friend or relation what the NL results were at this early juncture? Should you have withheld this innocuous piece of information? There may be a few 'yeses' but I'm guessing No. It's a free country to exchange conversation and discuss current events.

    For those who are unaware of it, you might have broken the law by communicating election results to a friend in another Canadian time zone. While we in Newfoundland and Labrador are taking in the election results, people in other parts of Canada are blacked out by media. Media are forbidden to broadcast early eastern election results in places west of NL.

    Later, on election night, I was contacted by Janice Neil of Ryerson University who was preparing an article on blackouts and blogging. Ms Neil is Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at Ryerson and Ideas editor of J-Source. In her article yesterday, "Bloggers flout law", she states, "The Supreme Court of Canada upheld Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act last year, that imposes a blackout to try to prevent the posted results in the eastern time zones from influencing voters in the West."

    This is Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act:
    329. No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.

    In 2000, blogger Paul Bryan deliberately broke that law and was charged for posting election results before polls closed in parts of Canada. He went to court, defended his freedom of expression and was acquitted. But in 2006, the decision was overruled, and the ban was back in place.

    The question in today's ever growing sprawl of new technical gadgets and programs of communication is, is the election results blackout ban fair, antiquated, or irrelevant?

    Is it fair for someone who is on Facebook to tell their western friends how the early election results are going, but possibly face criminal charges? (they might have 700 friends, and state in their status, "Only 9 Conservatives elected in Atlantic Canada", for all to see). Or is it fair for someone who is relaying the same information by phone, or by email to be charged (you could have 100 people on your email group list)? Is it realistic for even most people to be aware of such a law, especially younger users to know the difference when there are no obvious notices anywhere of Section 329 of the Elections Act? There are no flashing pop-up messages on election night warning users of Section 329 (maybe that's a high tech idea).

    For many people election results nights are anticipated with the excitement of say a Stanley Cup hockey final. While you're watching it, a friend who is working late that night calls you up and asks you what the score is. You tell them "5 to 1 for the Maple Leafs" (use your imagination here). So it is easy to appreciate others' shared interest in an event.

    On election results night Tuesday, a similar experience occurred with this blogger. An email arrived from someone in central Canada, though I had no idea of where the person was from at the time. They asked if any results came in yet - shortly after polls closed in NL. I obliged with a few early leads in NF ridings. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, the same inquirer asks for an update, and again I gladly supply the numbers as they appeared on tv. This was getting interesting, doing a favor for someone, a good feeling.

    All the while my blog stats were rising as if there was something wrong with the counter. A closer look revealed that people from all over Canada were doing searches for NL election, or Atlantic Canada election results. In fact there were so many that it prompted the idea to do a quick new blog post on the very latest results.

    Then the floodgates really opened, a barrage of hits, and a bunch of comments asking things only political junkies might. Realizing what a brief window of opportunity this specific time frame of being the information source was, I gave two more updates in the next half hour, about 10 minutes apart.

    Any vague memory of hearing about Paul Bryan's case many years ago, was surely in my subconscious. His name would not have rang a bell at all. Even a subconscious memory of that probably did not dictate my actions possibly because it did not seem sensible, with all the forms of online communications - emails, Facebook, Twitter, chat programs, not to mention phones, text messaging, cell phones, etc., for posting a few Atlantic results to be worthy of a criminal act.

    One of my response to Professor Neil's inquiry the other night was this: If the SCOC and Elections Canada really mean business and want to totally and fairly blackout all transmission of election results information from east to west, then they will have to cut the modern high tech lines of communication. They will have to contact internet programmers to find ways to block eastern web sites, blogs, email, chatting between east and west on Facebook, and other social networking programs, at specific times along the time zones, and also cut phone communication from people getting early results to those further west.

    That's quite the challenge. Certainly anybody can call out east for results, then communicate it to their friends out west, if they really wanted to vote strategically. But maybe the phones could be blacked out, so they will resort to faxes until that becomes off limits.

    For the blackout to work it can't penalize one while others communicate election results through other means and escape prosecution. That just isn't fair. With so many ways to communicate today, it seems inherently absurd to single out bloggers to prosecute.

    It may be time for Elections Canada to seek other blackout approaches, like blacking out the entire country until all election results are in. Your thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Now What!

    Prime Minister Harper has a bigger and stronger minority government with 143 seats. Even previously Connie-free PEI now has a Conservative. The Liberals went down by 20 seats.

    There are more Conservatives than before, more in other Atlantic Canada provinces, 9 which despite NL's Conservative banishment, equals the previous number.

    So Newfoundland and Labrador has zero Conservatives, no possible cabinet representation from the province.

    Boy, that showed 'em!

    What were the benefits of trouncing all Conservatives again?

    Was this a win for NL, or was it a failure to kick the prime minister out? What exactly is there to celebrate? Getting revenge on Harper?

    Had Willams campaigned for fellow NL Conservatives and helped them get elected - there could possibly be 7 reps to choose from, rather than 0.

    Oh well, it should be interesting to watch the benefits of this "goose egg" unfold.

    Election Result

    Update @ 12:12 am, Oct. 15, NF time:
    Here is how Atlantic Canada is looking at this time (Leading or Elected):

    Liberals - 17;   Conservatives - 9;   NDP - 4;   Independent - 1 (Bill Casey);   Green Party - 0 (source: CBC)

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Vote Any Way You Want!

    Whether it's because you believe in the person, or the party, today is the time to exercise your democratic right. You alone will decide based on your knowledge, feeling or sense of trust about the candidates. There has been a great deal of anger in this province in the last year and a half towards mainly one man. With the exception of possibly the Metis of Labrador who claim that the Premier broke a promise to them too, many if not most people in the province were angry at Harper, especially when the issue of reneging on the promise to exempt non-renewables from the equalization formula, was fresh.

    At the time, the thought of the province being allowed to keep an extra $10 billion or so was fantastic and exciting. However, the promise was not realistic from the start, and Harper should not have signed his name to a letter supporting that idea. Had Harper said "no, this is not possible" then maybe the Premier would have accepted that too, and none of his follow-up campaign would be taking place. Again, many people in the province felt angry at Harper, but it really was an unrealistic promise. It was certainly a stupid mistake.

    The idea of Newfoundland and Labrador being offered a $10 billion windfall is not going to happen. If that was the determining factor in this current vote, you might count the Conservative votes on one hand. The outrage in the rest of Canada however, would not let it happen even if it were tabled.

    In this election vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, NL First, PC, or any way you choose. Yes Harper went back on his promise, he made a serious mistake, but he is not the first or only one to do that, and won't be the last. All politicians have made mistakes. They are human. The very unfortunate thing about this election is that it possibly blinds people to good candidates in their district because they might in fact be Conservative. That is too bad, and it seems unfair. There are candidates running who are fresh, bright, and with no political baggage, who haven't accepted free public money. Unless someone can inform me differently, then Craig Westcott is one example.

    If you feel you can trust whoever it is, do not let anyone, including our Premier, tell you who not to vote for. It's your choices, all of them. The anti-Harper campaign waged in this province will not sway this voter one bit, and hence, will vote for the person, not the party, as usual here.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Vic Noseworthy's Animated Rendering of the ABC Campaign

    Vic Noseworthy has produced an entertaining animated video which leaves no doubt about his stance on Danny Willams' ABC campaign. Vic did a professional job on this, with well timed audio and animation effects.
    Great job putting the animation together Vic!
    To comment or send it to others, copy or click this address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqpArL5Aqas

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Public Image and Politics - the Seen and Unseen

    There are many people in politics with good intentions to use their talents and energy to contribute to the public good. It takes guts, talent and toughness to be a public representative. Obviously it can be a very frustrating job, when hurdles get in your way of accomplishing things. Often the desire to accomplish things is replaced with the image of accomplishing things. It just seems to be the way it is. Thought the iceberg analogy might reflect this. This is not to say that anyone who gets involved in politics is dishonest or ill-intentioned, there are honest people there too. It's just that they are entering an arena where there is in fact deceit, ill will, and not always honesty. Some people avoid the political games while others play along. This also happens everywhere, including NL. From planted phone in callers to demonizing political opponents and calling them traitors and quislings, it's going on.

    British News: Fish Stocks and Over Capacity (sound familiar)

    The Grand Bank fishery collapse which led to a moratorium occurred in 1992. Now the British are reporting that "according to a UN report the
    world's fishing fleets are losing billions of dollars each year through depleted stocks and poor management .. Half the world's fishing fleet could be scrapped with no change in catch.

    The report was debated at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It seems there is similiar trouble with fishing industries in pirating old Europe and other world countries. They have an overcapacity, and say that they can catch the same amount and cut back on harvesters, and save money. Fleets are spending ever more effort, but catches are not rising.

    It appears the collapse and lessons learned from it, i.e., contributing factors, were not studied or learned, or subsequent measures put in place in other countries to avoid threatening the cod stocks.

    There were different factors involved in the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery in 2J3KL fishing grounds. Overfishing was one biggie. Before 1977 when the 200 mile limit allowed Canadian trawlers to fish out to that point, most of the overfishing was blamed on foreign overfishers. After 1977, when more draggers, and factory freezer trawlers began towing 25,000 pounds of fish at once, more overfishing blame was placed on domestic culprits.

    Another problem with many foreign fishing now is that are high subsidies - $30 billion.
    The challenge now, it says, is to spread reforms into other fisheries where overcapacity is fast depleting stocks.

    "Sustainable fisheries require political will to replace incentives for overfishing with incentives for responsible stewardship," said Kieran Kelleher, the World Bank's fisheries team leader.

    Hey, there could be some foreign jobs available for experienced TAGs and NCARP program facilitators from here. They had the fun jobs of facing angry displaced fishery workers after the '92 fishery collapse.

    Better fisheries management, controls on harvesters, and emphasis on conservation seems to have been deferred in favor of over inflating the harvesting capacity.

    Boy it didn't take them long to figure this out.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    McCain Fries

    The second U.S. Presidential debate last night gave a hint of the angrier side of John McCain. At the end of the debate when the candidates did their hand shakes with some people in the small community forum setting, McCain while busy with the wife at his side moving around, pointing/acknowledging people, chatting, etc., eventually crossed paths in the small floor setting, with Barack Obama again. He gave Obama a very quick pat on the back, seemed a little edgy, and did not reciprocate a hand shake Obama had clearly initiated. Prior to that in the debate, he referred to Obama as "that one" when discussing his own energy bill - "You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one," McCain said as he pointed toward Obama.

    Soon after the debate a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey said that 54% felt that Obama won, while 30% gave it to McCain. The hand shake dismissal was noticed by pundits immediately, and the impression from their encounter was that McCain showed contempt for his opponent. One analyst said it was his contempt for having to share the stage with a younger, bright whipper-snapper.

    Obama has been moving ahead in the polls, and this debate may seal the deal for him. If the legendary Nixon-Kennedy is remembered for Nixon's five o'clock shadow, the effect of McCain's comments and behaviour last night will amplify the negative impression viewers may consciously or subconsciously have had on him, and possibly be one of the more memorable debate moments.

    Cruising Out of the Fog

    The Crown Princess. Notice the height. The building on the right is the Royal Trust building.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Cabinet Minister Defends Campaigning Against Manning

    One of the interesting things about having your own blog is that you can record a piece of history relating to the country, world and one's own province. As it stands right now, there appears to be a great deal of support for the Premier's Anything but Conservative campaign. A CBC news story yesterday received over 240 comments on a story about this, and Peter MacKay's visit to the province. By far most of the comments were very anti-MacKay, and pro "campaign". Some were against the Premier's campaign.

    Also happening yesterday, three NL Government Cabinet Ministers were reported to have been campaigning against Fabian Manning in his riding of Avalon, specifically in the Bay Robert's area. Trevor Taylor, Minister of several portfolios, has made no apologies for doing this. (see VOCM again)

    Understandably people were and are still pissed at Stephen Harper for reneging on his promise of excluding non-renewable resources from the equalization formula, which would have put $10 billion or so into NL's coffers in years to come. This blogger was also very ticked at Harper for doing this. It was a huge disappointment.
    It will affect peoples' voting this time. For many others, it won't. After all, we are all individuals and can use our own best judgement to choose the best candidate we personally view as being the most attractive choice, without being reminded daily about who not to vote for.

    Today in the local daily paper, Premier Williams mentioned that he "works 24/7, and puts 90% of his time on Newfoundland and Labrador domestic affairs." I do feel that he is sincere about this, and does work hard. I also commend him for working for the province and not taking his salary. As mentioned in a previous post, he is a bright, talented, capable and successful person. However, I would rather the province was not obsessing with it's anti-Harper and anti-Manning campaign. It takes people to run this campaign, but Cabinet Ministers now? If there was still a $10 billion goose egg as a result of a successful anti-Harper campaign, things would be different. But it is not the case, and it is unclear what the reward for the province really is.

    I do think we have an extremely capable Premier, a man that can motivate citizens of the province to achieve to their highest potential. Certainly he is an example of this, and he can offer much to motivate people to build Newfoundland and Labrador.

    While I didn't mind being reminded about Harper's broken promise, I respectfully disagree with a full out campaign to further cool our province's relations with the federal government. The preference here is for our MHAs and Cabinet Ministers to devote 100% of their work time strictly to matters that are immediate and essential to the province.

    Here is an interpretative summary of how some commenters from yesterday's CBC story felt about the ABC campaign:

    I guess all the work is done on matters of justice, trade and rural development, fisheries, and intergovernmental affairs. It's nice to know that with all that time on their hands they have willingly helped out the Danny
    ABC campaign against enemies Fabian Manning and Stephen Harper. That should really help the province. It's also good to see that there are so many volunteers working on the ABC campaign. There must be, surely public servants who are hired to run provincial affairs would not have "extra-curricular" duties piled on them. Someone is moving the campaign forward. What a good use of time, money and resources. And no sir, this is not a personal grudge Danny has against Harper or Manning, this will benefit the province - no need for me to explain why, you just know it. Then once we've shown our hate towards Harper, the Conservatives and Manning, Tom Hedderson, can productively carry on his role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and really get things done, ever more efficiently.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    NL Cabinet Ministers Actively Campaigning for ABC (VOCM reports)

    "As we head into the home stretch of the federal election campaign, things are heating up. Former PC cabinet minister Jim Morgan says he saw three provincial cabinet ministers in Conception Bay North today campaigning against Fabian Manning.
    He wonders if they're doing on the taxpayers' dime, or if they've taken a leave of absence.
    On VOCM BackTalk with Bill Rowe this afternoon, Morgan says Trevor Taylor, Jerome Kennedy and Tom Hedderson were in the Bay Roberts area. Morgan has a summer home in Cupids. Taylor makes no apologies for campaigning against Stephen Harper during daytime hours."

    Jerome Kennedy takes care of matters concerning Justice for Newfoundland and Labrador

    Trevor Taylor is Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat, and acting Minister of Fisheries as well.

    Tom Hedderson is Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs; and Minister Responsible for the Volunteer and Non-Profit Sector

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Layton and the NDP on Course for the Par

    Jack Layton must have been pleased with the good weather this morning at the Admiral's Green Clubhouse. That's where he made a campaign speech today on his second stop in the province since the campaign started. Layton was surrounded by local candidates Ryan Cleary, Jack Harris, Randy Dawe, provincial NDP leader Lorraine Michael, and supporters holding signs that read "We will defeat Harper", and "United with Layton."

    Layton's message was much the same as his debate points - that the NDP is the team to trust and replace Harper; that there will be no more tax breaks for the Exxons, like Harper gave to that company to drill in the tar sands; more jobs in Canada as opposed to exporting them overseas; and that he will improve health care by funding the hiring of more doctors and health professionals.

    Asked by a reporter if he thinks the NDP will surpass the record 43 seats attained by Ed Broadbent in the 1988 election. Layton replied that "that is axiomatic, when you're hoping to be Prime Minister." Layton has some reason to be optimistic. His debate performance has gotten good reviews, and his party's rating is almost on par with the Liberals. He pointed the finger several times at Stephane Dion in the leaders debate Thursday night, and reiterated today that Dion has not been an effective Opposition leader against Stephen Harper.

    The arrival of the NDP frontman was also welcome news for St. John's South-Mount Pearl candidate Ryan Cleary, as well. Cleary is hoping to increase his support enough to catch, then pass current riding leader Siobhan Coady. They're both well known candidates and the campaign will be very interesting to watch on election night. Merv Wiseman is running for the Conversatives, and at this point has the greatest challenge on his hands.

    Not having met him before, with only some familiarity of his background as editor of The Independent, and through reading a range of opinions here in the blogosphere, Mr. Cleary obliged this blogger with a few minutes of his time. No recordings or scribbles taken, just a quick chat. When asked why he is running, he described his desire to help people who are struggling, impoverished and needed help. He described himself as being a strong advocate for the province.

    It's hard to really know someone in just a few minutes but to use a Brian Tobin-type pronouncement phrase, I will say this: Cleary may indeed be a good fit for the NDP team. He seems to have a social conscience and is drawn to the NDP's angle of championing for equality. Cleary did say he held other common beliefs with the NDP stance, such as gay marriage, and being pro-choice. While he is representing the party now, he has been criticized for colorful remarks about the NDP in the past. Whether he gave into a writer's temptation to add some flair to his writings, or just told it as he saw it, that's for him to respond to.

    In person, this Indy-P was approachable, mild mannered and seemed to possess sincere caring qualities. That particular soft skill is one which helps candidates get elected. But first he has to close the polling gap with Siobhan Coady. Then in nine days time, we'll see if the NDP leader's visit today will have boosted his chances and have a positive effect for him, Harris and the other NDP candidates in the province.

    Saturday, October 04, 2008

    Layton's Debate Performance Causing an Orange Shift?

    As mentioned in my previous post on the leaders' debate Thursday night, NDP leader Jack Layton was strong, and may have given some "on the fence" voters more reason to switch to NDP. This lone Canadian suggested immediately after the debate that both Elizabeth May and Layten were the most impressive, and it appears a new poll is reflecting the same from other Canadians.

    The NDP are now only two points behind the federal Liberals. In that debate, it seemed like he had his sights set not only on Harper but also on Dion. Among other salvos, he did score a few points by reminding the public of Liberal's health cuts in previous administrations.

    At this point in NL, unless Walter Noel or Craig Westcott can make some solid appeals to voters, it looks like Jack Harris will be at least one Dipper going to Ottawa. Layton has boosted his party's image as a real Opposition party alternative, and this may help the campaign of other local NDP candidate Ryan Cleary in his bid to replace current front runner Siobhan Coady, and eventually win.

    Jack Layton will be in St. John's Sunday morning at the Admiral's Green Clubhouse at Pippy Park Golf Course at 10 a.m. Local NDP candidates and provincial leader Lorraine Michael will be there as well.

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    A Lively Debate with May and Layton Impressing

    This was one of the most lively leaders debates ever in Canada. All five appeared strong at different times in different ways. Particularly impressive was Green Party leader Elizabeth May. She came out aggressively from the start and made some no-nonsense statements to PM Harper about his environmental plan, his being "out of touch" with families who are hurting as a result of the economy. She spoke with conviction on every point she made, and stared Harper directly in the eye and asked no bs questions.

    Jack Layton was impressive when he went on the offence against Harper, and also Dion. He did not let Stephane Dion off the hook after Dion stated that Liberals would not be breaking promises as Harper did. Layton reminded him that back in the 1990s, under Jean Chretien, the child-care program was promised and never delivered. That took away some of the Liberals credibility. Dion responded with a weakness in NDP stance on Troop deployment in Afghanistan, voting for the 2011 exit date with Harper. Layton later spoke about the Chretien years when health spending was cut, to the detriment of patients - a history reminder of Dion's party tradition.

    Layton did bring up Harper's tax breaks to big oil and banks, mentioning Exxon's tax break to do more tar sands drilling. The tax break figure mentioned was $50 billion. He said he would get rid of that as PM and use it for improved social needs like health care and child care.

    Several leaders pointed out that exporting raw materials in some cases is exporting jobs. Layton said "what wooden product can't be made here that can be in China?"
    They also brought up Harper's past support of privatized health care, and his Emission Reduction plan. Ducette and maybe Layton pointed out that the Conservatives would lower the emissions rate per barrel but still more barrels of oil to be produced, thus only contributing to the greenhouse gas problem

    Harper responded to many questions by describing the government's current approach to each issue.

    As for his 2003 statement while opposition leader, concerning sending troops to Iraq, he finally said it was an error.

    Ducette had nothing to lose as usual because he does not have to offer Canadians outside Quebec anything.

    Through it all, Harper appeared the most composed, smiling, and with attacks from four others, was reminded the whole time that he was the man to beat. Possibly damaging to him was the big oil tax breaks mentioned by Layton, and the recent youth jail time idea. On that topic, and it was good it was mentioned a couple of times, by May, Ducette, and Harper that implementing social programs and resources to direct at "at risk" youth, to diminish the risk of youth crime from happening, was discussed. As well, May mentioned that one law enforcement officer experienced with youth, noted that many who were arrested had little or no literacy skills. So it raised the idea of more emphasis and funding on literacy skills. Though this was not discussed at much length, it was an important topic, and should be raised more often. It related to getting to the root of youth crime.

    If anyone gained in tonight's debate it was May, and Layton. Dion appears to be reasoned and sincere, a person who appears to emphasize with real people's needs. However, and this is unfortunate, his English is sometimes a problem. The message is sometimes lost in his English pronunciations, at least to this blogger. He is the person Harper paid more attention to, because of the Liberal Green Shift plan, and their own history.

    It was an excellent exchange, with no personal insults, just a couple small jabs. Follow up poll results will be eagerly awaited to see if a party got a bounce from the leader's performances. For the NDP candidates in NL and other provinces who were in the underdog or "iffy" categories, Layton's performance may have helped their cause by making the electorate give a second look at the NDP. Layton was certainly seeing an opportunity to replace Dion as official Opposition.

    There were two major debates last night, and the U.S. VP debate couldn't have been more dramatic this the Canadian leaders debate.