Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Lose a National Election 101

There are often many opinions on how to win an election, but very few on how to lose one. One hour ago I watched Steven Harper stand in Newfoundland and Labrador and state that his government would give the province a loan guarantee, or financial equivalent thereof, for the Lower Churchill project. Assuming it met three criteria: environmentally sound; economically viable; and in the national interest. He sort of insinuated it met all three criteria, but he never came out and stated it did.

What troubled me even further were his comments some four hours earlier in Halifax:  "The details still have to be worked out," said Harper, speaking in Halifax Thursday morning. "There is a lot of discussion still to come, but it is obviously an important project." In other words, there is no deal. There is a political interest in making a deal, but there is no deal. There is not even a written agreement. There is not even an agreement that it would be a loan guarantee or equivalent financial assistance. Consider for a moment that a loan guarantee does not physically cost the federal government a cent. Why then would he give equivalent financial assistance that presumably would cost real dollars? What is the definition of equivalent financial assistance?

This announcement of course was closely orchestrated for the purposes of gaining seats in this province. The ultimate goal being to secure a majority government. Here's the kicker. In doing so he set Quebec on fire. He gave the Bloc the best present they could ever wish for. A direct assault on their nationalistic hydro empire. The words had hardly left his lips and Charest and Duceppe were in the public screaming betrayal. Same goes for the hockey arena - except this is much worse. Most Quebecers didn't need a reason to hate Harper, and now they have a big one: aiding the mortal hydro enemy Newfoundland and Labrador. Conservative spinners came out immediately and spun the benefits of the Old Harry deal for Quebec. Problem is oil is not near and dear to Quebecer's hearts. They like the idea of dollars, but it goes against their "eco core values".

So now Quebec is on fire. Ontario next door gets concerned that Quebec is becoming unstable, and starts to take a long look at Steven Harper's ability to keep the country in relative harmony. They already have very difficult financial circumstances, and a large immigrant population all too familiar with instability. Ontario is traditionally the bridge between Quebec and the rest of the country. They look at Harper as unable to keep the balance in confederation. The West doesn't mind Quebec being on fire, and so it likely firms that base up - except British Columbia, BC already in play, splinters. That takes us back to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Home of the ABC campaign, and mostly proud of it. Many people here think Danny Williams did not create the ABC feeling. On the contrary, many believe he was a smart politician that got in front of the parade. The real ABC in this province is within the people. There are many historical grievances Newfoundland and Labrador has with the federal government, and the government of Quebec. The feelings run deep. When Steven Harper went back on his written commitment to exclude non-renewable resources from equalization the province was enraged. The betrayal went deep. Now the same prime minister is here again. Waving another big promise. This time the provincial Tory party is on his side. Unfortunately for the PM, the new premier is unable to deliver the people. They still aren't over the last, big broken promise. A recent VOCM poll showed almost 60% of the 14,000 who voted said it was a mistake for Ms Dunderdale to have warmer relations with the PM. Earlier in the day it was 79% out of 4,500 votes.

Now figure in Old Harry - the disputed oil field. While the feds siding with Quebec on boundaries made very little impact in Quebec (as they never doubted their entitlement), it did have a large and growing negative impact in this province. It is becoming common to hear people refer to a new betrayal - Quebec got our oil, and all we got was a loan guarantee on a project that will lose us money. No doubt the debate will heat up here over the next few weeks, but Newfoundland and Labrador is no where near a given for the Conservatives.

The really humorous part of today's announcement was listening to Mr Harper expound on the evils of the tax and spend Liberals (or Coaltion). I'm not sure if he did not realize that during his speech he promised to support similar mega projects throughout the country? The Lower Churchill project reflects a minimum of a 50% increase in our debt. Can Quebec, Ontario, and all the other provinces now build monolithic "green" projects with our federal government backing all of them? How is that being fiscally prudent when reducing debt and eliminating the deficit are the stated goals of the government? Quebec alone would be entitled to about $100 billion in guarantees. Could they use this for their Romaine dam projects? Slippery slope, and extremely dangerous precedent.

Tonight the Prime Minister lit a fire. Not in the hearts of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - they don't believe him. No he lit a fire in Quebec. He doused his own flame in Ontario. He placed himself in the position of a politician who will say anything to keep power. Of course, that is apparently the reason used to fire his government for contempt of parliament.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Quebec Off Shore Accord - A Study in Betrayal

Mark the 24th day of March, 2011 on your calender as a day of betrayal. A day where political expediency trumped a people's aspirations. Many will say this is not something new, but this particular betrayal goes beyond even the Upper Churchill. Officially known as the Accord between the Government of Canada
and the Government of Quebec for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, this political document subordinates the rights of Newfoundland and Labrador to those of Quebec. You can find the complete document at
To begin with it is a political document. It does not contain a fraction of the detail of the Atlantic Accord signed by the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. The only areas that it does give substantial details of are those pertaining to the description of what area constitutes Quebec's offshore area, and issues dealing with Quebec's constitutional issues. It completely ignores the previous Atlantic Accord guarding this Province's offshore rights. A clause in the Atlantic Accord describes our protection and rights:

Precedence over other Acts of Parliament

4. In case of any inconsistency or conflict between
(a) this Act or any regulations made thereunder, and
(b) any other Act of Parliament that applies to the offshore area or any regulations made under that Act, except the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act,
this Act and the regulations made thereunder take precedence.

The key words being: "this Act shall take precedence". Consider then that the description of Quebec's offshore area is identical to that of the 1964 Stanfield Line. A line that Quebec refuses to let go of, and a line that both the federal government and the government of this province have refused to recognize. A line that the Arbitration Board concerning Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, 2001 completely refuted:

7. The Tribunal’s Conclusions
7.1 In the Tribunal’s view, the documentary record looked at as a whole does not disclose
the existence of an agreement resolving the offshore boundaries of Newfoundland and
Labrador and Nova Scotia, within the meaning of the Terms of Reference. This is true
whether the criterion be taken to be the international law of agreements or Canadian
public law. In particular, the Tribunal concludes that the Parties at no stage reached
a definitive agreement resolving their offshore boundary, in the sense explained in
paragraph 3.30 above.

You can find the entire decision at

It's decision to refute those supposed boundaries resulted in the establishment of the current maritime borders between this Province and Nova Scotia. A legal finding, by an independent arbitration board, that has been recognized by the federal government. Except apparently when it comes to Quebec.

The federal government and Quebec try to be cute by not referring to the boundaries as the 1964 Stanfield line in the Accord - although they are identical. Yet the Premier of Quebec and Ms Normandeau refer publicly to the fact that it represents Quebec's long standing demand that the 1964 border be recognized.

The problem for the federal government is that Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore jurisdiction had already been decided:

"68. The area covered by this Accord is that area below the low water mark lying off the coast of

Newfoundland and Labrador out to the outer edge of the continental margin, coming within
Canada's jurisdiction being north and east and south of the appropriate lines of demarcation
between Newfoundland, the adjacent provinces, and the Northwest Territories."

In other words, our maritime border with Quebec was not defined. It was left undefined presumably due to our border dispute with Quebec, which on the face of it makes sense. However, this Quebec Accord fully details Quebec's maritime border with us. So the federal government, the so-called neutral party, has agreed to Quebec's offshore definition of it's boundaries, but refused to do the same with this province. The federal government has sided with Quebec against the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - betrayal. Keeping in mind that no Act shall contravene our Accord, how is it that the federal government can agree to infringe on this Province's offshore jurisdiction?

How is it that Quebec's Accord allows it to be the equal of the federal government on it's Offshore Petroleum Board, with equal seats, but ours is not so? Why is it that several sections of the Quebec Accord refer to protecting Quebec's constitutional position despite any findings of the arbitration board. In other words, even if an arbitration board were to find a different maritime border that went against Quebec's view of things, Quebec would not be forced to recognize them past petroleum exploration. Why is the federal government agreeing to this despite the possible future repercussions on this Province and the country?

Then there is the title of the agreement: Accord between the Government of Canada

and the Government of Quebec for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. The key words being "for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence". Our own agreement makes no mention of a particular geographical area. It refers only to the "offshore". Why is it that the Quebec Accord refers to the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence? The obvious inference is that the federal government recognizes Quebec's claim to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

As mentioned earlier, this Quebec Accord is a political document. Crafted to meet Quebec's constitutional and jurisdictional demands. Written to ignore the long standing position of Newfoundland and Labrador. Allowing a discussion, mediation, arbitration process that can be dragged out for years if not decades. That wouldn't be bad necessarily except the federal government already established Quebec's preferred boundaries for them. It is possible that Quebec can drill and extract oil/gas from the Gulf for decades, receive all those revenues, and then be found not to have those boundaries by arbitration, but by then it will be too late and will have cost this province billions. This is a document designed for Quebec - not Newfoundland and Labrador.

Despite all these obvious problems our provincial government is almost completely silent. Ms Dunderdale says she is happy there will be an arbitration process, but not a word on how long this can be dragged out before we go to arbitration. Not a word on the fact that the arbitration processes are different in the two documents, and not a word on how our accord takes precedence according to the Atlantic Accord. She is too quiet. Is our own provincial government involved with this treachery? Their silence and lack of fight seems to suggest yes. Unfortunately, it may take a long time to expose this, and by that time we may have lost a great deal of wealth. Is this why Danny William's is so upset? We may not know how deep it goes at this moment, but we can rest assured that our own federal government has betrayed us in a way that is historically unprecedented.

Monday, March 21, 2011

China, Russia and Company and the Libyan Patsies

Remember in your school days the kids circling around for a fight? Some were coaxing the combatants on just to see a fight. Some perhaps had grudges and wanted to see the object of their disdain get bloodied. The bottom line is they were happy to have a fight as long as others did it. That brings us to the international community and Libya.

Libya is an African country, ruled by a dictator's family, and supported by tribes. There are over 140 different tribes in Libya, of which 30 are the most influential. Of those 30 tribes, two are the largest and most influential: the Beni Hilal that settled in western Libya and around Tripoli; and the Beni Salim tribe that settled in Cyrenaica, the eastern coastal region of Libya. Gaddafi's own tribe is small in relation, but has risen to prominence with his rise. Loyalties of these tribes has traditionally shifted, but centers around the allocation of patronage and powerful positions within the government and military. For example, the Lockerbie bomber belonged to the Magariha tribe, which has the longest and strongest ties to Gaddafi. His long, drawn out extradition and the celebrations on his return can be directly linked to the importance of maintaining tribal loyalties.

The current divisions in Libya geographically center around Benghazi - Misratah - Tobruk, vs. the rest of the country. The strong rebel areas contain a population of approximately 2,000,000 while the government areas represent about 4,000,000 people. The  big spin has been that the "rebels" represent the Libyan people. That is questionable at best. They more likely represent certain tribal groups trying to assert themselves over other tribal groups. There is certainly no justification to call this a revolution for democracy. Libyan democracy is based in the deals made by tribal elders, and not the equality of the common citizen. To believe that democracy was at the root of this insurrection would be to completely ignore Libyan history and culture.

UN resolution 1973 calls for a no fly zone, and all necessary means to protect civilians. To protect civilians. Civilians are not people that take up arms against their own government. In Canada we call that an internal insurrection, and is one of the criteria for being charged with treason. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) defines it as "An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict." The argument could be made that the Gaddafi government is not legitimate as it was not duly elected by it's people. Of course that would ignore the fact that it has been the recognized government of Libya for over forty years.Whatever the spin you want to put on it, the "rebels" are not unarmed civilians.

That brings us to the question of why intervene. After all, most African and Middle Eastern governments are not democratic. They are all trying to militarily or otherwise influence the business of their neighbours. Within the last week Saudi Arabia, at the invitation of the King of Bahrain, militarily intervened and used violence against unarmed civilians. On the surface it does not make sense. That's where you have to look deeper.

The fact is that the African continent is a battleground. Right now there are two main players trying to conquer that continent - China and the United States. The US just set up an official African Military Command a short while ago, and placed one General Petraeus in charge of it. The Chinese have been involved in almost every country in Africa - primarily economically. Two different approaches to the same goal. The Chinese are using investment, and civilian agencies to win a hearts and minds campaign. Their approach is to show the area the benefits of doing business with them. They get involved in the health care of countries and helping them build infrastructure. Not unlike the old US approach of the 1960-70's. The US approach is: "We won the Cold War therefore we don't need to play nice and win hearts and minds anymore".

Two different approaches to the same goal - economic domination. Why then would China, and their partner Russia, not veto the no fly zone? It lies in their understanding of the West's attitudes. They realize the optics in the rest of the world of cruise missiles striking a rather defenceless African country. They know how the rest of the African continent, and Middle East will view a Western assault on another Muslim country. More importantly, they know the message it will send to all the other dictators of Africa: The West are not your friends and can't be trusted not turn on you should it suit their purposes. A powerful message when these dictators have two different partners to choose from. The Chinese are famous for minding their own business and being defensive in nature when it comes to foreign affairs. Isn't a partner that doles the cash, helps your people, and doesn't judge you better than one that will slit your throat when it suits?

As if to reinforce this thinking Putin came out today and said the Western bombardment of Libya reminded him of "the crusades". Talk about speaking to your audience. The Chinese have come out and expressed their outrage at the use of disproportionate force. Even the Arab League has expressed concern over it. The UN Secretary General was mobbed outside the Arab League headquarters today, and had to use the back door. All the Russians and Chinese had to do was veto it, but it served their purpose. They wanted the Arab/African world to see the West take out the Libyan military while doing nothing to stop the "rebels" and their tools of war. They wanted that audience to see cruise missiles, and bunker busting bombs hammering Gaddafi's personal residential compound.

The problem for President Obama is he should have listened to Secretary of Defence Gates and not Hillary Clinton. Now the US is painted with this mission whether it takes a "back seat" or not. The Arab/African world will see it for what it is and take note. In a world where the monetary balance has shifted, the US seems intent on fighting the last war. Specifically, the world is to the point where it doesn't matter how big your war machine is, you have to pay for it. The Chinese continue to grow economically and politically. They have a disciplined approach to everything - including foreign relations. The Russians are with them all the way. Even Brazil, an ally of Hugo Chavez, thumbed it's nose at the resolution as a member of the Security Council. A bigger concern for the US might be India. India also abstained from voting on the resolution. It went along with the massive Asian bloc. A place where the US is desperately trying to get in for economic and strategic reasons.

There is an old saying: "You made your bed now lay in it". The Chinese and the Russians are handing this to the West, and more specifically the US, on a platter. The message: "We are your friends and we won't judge you. You can do business with us." The West has given the opposite message. I guess that makes us the patsies.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Newfoundland and Labrador's Demographic Time Bomb

It's like the elephant in the room. The great truth that nobody wants to speak. It's the demographics of Newfoundland and Labrador - not a pretty picture. Going back forty years our numbers were good. Our population was 530,854 people, with 256,579 between the ages of 0 and 19 (48% of our overall population). That was a healthy mix for any population that wants to grow and build a thriving society. Then they left. In the last 41 years 156,100 young people, in that same age group, left our provincial population. An exodus that will threaten the viability of our economic existence, and create social upheaval hereto unknown.

We are all familiar with the massive loss of cod. Most experts agree that the loss of prime breeding cod rendered the stock unable to replenish itself. The loss of the prime breeding stock was far more important to the survival of the species than the loss of the older fish. Essentially, we humans aren't much different in that respect. If our young people stop producing, and/or leave, eventually the society will be unable to sustain itself. This is what has happened to this province. In 1971, there were 82,676 people aged 20-29. Today there are 70,962. Projections to 2030, only 19 years from now, put those numbers at 41876. The projections are optimistic, and based on the population trends stabilizing as they have since 2008. Should that trend decline, as it has historically, those numbers will be less.

The number of children aged 0-19 were 48% of the population in 1971, that same age group today represents only 21% (106,015) of our population. By 2030 they are projected to be 65,200 or 15% of the population. Conversely, the retired population, those over 65 years of age has grown. In 1971 that group numbered 47,776 or 10% of the overall population. By 2010 those numbers almost doubled to 77,576 or 15% overall. Projecting into 2030, the 65 and over group will number 129,970 or 30%.

The working age group, those that generally pay the taxes, is shrinking to. In 1971, those aged 20 - 64 years of age numbered 241,818 people or 46%. By 2010 they numbered 326,148 or 64%. Projected to 2030 they will number 236,055 or 55%.

Overall, our total population numbers are on the way down. In 1971 there were 530,854 of us. Today we number 509,739. If birth and death rates remain relatively constant our population will hit the 497,808 mark by 2015. The population will actually fall below 500,000 for the first time since 1967 by the year 2014. Projecting out to 2030 we will number 431,225.

Those are the numbers, but what do they mean for us today? Well if sustaining ourselves is the primary goal of any society it means we are in financial trouble. Today our net per capita debt is $16,100.00. Net debt is a bit of a misnomer as it subtracts the value of what we own from our overall debt. The better measure is gross debt - the amount we actually have to pay. Unfortunately, those figures are harder to find. However, the fact that our net debt sits in the $9.5 billion range is trouble enough. Unfunded pension plans create a large part of that number (48%). The debt was so bad that former Premier William's was forced to apply the $2 billion cheque he received from the federal government under the Atlantic Accord toward unfunded pension liabilities.

Add to that number then the Lower Churchill Falls hydro project. The project is estimated to cost the province around $5 billion. That is the estimate, but almost everybody other than the government knows those figures usually double. When was the last time a major, government funded mega project came in on estimate? If it doubles that is $10 billion. Our current debt service payments are $800 million to $1 billion per year. Doubling the debt will double our debt service payments to the $2 billion per year range. Our gross debt per capita will almost double to $30,000.00. That is at today's population. Then consider that our population will be declining as stated earlier. Then consider that 2012 marks the end of off-set payments from the federal government under the Atlantic Accord. Couple that with the renegotiation of our national equalization program in 2013. With rising health and education costs it is almost a foregone conclusion that non-renewable energy revenues will be on the table.

Simply put, we are in a battle of attrition. High debt that politician's want to increase radically. It's the reason why the PC government insisted on equity positions in the offshore. It's the reason why they want to build the Lower Churchill. They want assets at any cost. The more assets they have, the more they can borrow against them. Unfortunately, there is a small and shrinking population here to pay those hugh debt servicing costs. That doesn't include all our other big ticket items like health care. Instead of being creative, and utilizing the resources we have, this crowd wants to build an empire of debt. If the population could bare it, and wanted to, then fine. However, as you can see by the numbers, this is our very own time bomb.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dunderdale, Skinner, and Despicable Acts

The Elizabeth Matthews secret appointment story grows - expontentially. On Monday,  an indignant Ms Matthews withdrew her nomination as Vice Chair for the Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), and the already existing position as a regular member of the Board. A furious Minister Kennedy came on the VOCM Open Line show and condemned the Official Opposition for scurrilously attacking poor Ms Matthews character, and lamenting that such attacks were aimed at nothing less than women's rights. That somehow the Opposition was against advancing women in politics. Forget for the moment that the Leader of the Opposition is a woman. Let's focus on his spin. Minister Kennedy ignored the fact that Ms Matthews was secretly appointed. He ignored the fact that the government had an obligation to inform it's citizens about the actual nomination, and not just the hypothetical nomination as Vice-Chair. Again, the spin, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, was put ahead of the actual issue.

Then there is my twitter conversation with David Cochrane of the CBC. Mr Cochrane stated to me that Ms Matthews told him she was unaware of being appointed to the Board. As far fetched as that would seem one would think that lying to the press would be even more so. Surely in a government process, where officials are always making sure they have their collective selves covered, a paper trail will be there - somewhere. Then there is Mr Skinner coming on CBC, NTV and the Telegram and stating:

"There was a process, as I indicated, that was supposed to be followed — and again — I haven't been able to determine why that process wasn't done in a more timely manner, but again, I'm going to investigate that," Skinner said.

He further sated:

"While I respect [Matthews's] decision, I am disappointed that such an accomplished and capable individual was pushed to such a decision by petty political manoeuvring by the Opposition that went too far," Skinner said in a statement Monday.

A nasty shot at the Official Opposition, again, with the purpose of demonizing them and ignoring the issue. His own extended interview on the matter started with him saying there was a communications breakdown. That Ms Matthews was not informed of her appointment, and that he would investigate why. Then he said the problem was politics and not communication problems. Then, at the end of the interview, he went back to his position there was a communications problem. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Fast forward to Tuesday. One day later and a new document is released. A copy of the actual Order in Council authorizing Ms Matthews appointment to the board and nomination as it's Vice Chair:

You will notice that Ms Matthews is listed, along with the Premier, as people to receive copies of the Order. That makes sense considering the Premier put forward the appointment, and Ms Matthews was the person receiving it. In addition, two Deputy Ministers, the Clerk, and the file were to receive copies. That document was dated 21 December, 2011. The only problem being that Ms Matthews and Minister Skinner said she wasn't notified.

Then the bombshell fell Wednesday. The Telegram wrote a story: Apparently, an spokesperson for Executive Council confirmed that the Order in Council was delivered to Ms Matthews. Oops. Ms Matthews told the CBC she wasn't told she was on the Board. According to the Telegram:

Matthews told The Telegram she received a copy of the order in early January, but was told it was sent to her in error.

“I received an (Order in Council) in the mail in January at which point I contacted the Premier's Office to enquire about its contents,” Matthews said. “I was told they were unaware the (Order in Council) had been sent to me and it should not have been sent.”

Here are some immediate questions. Why would Elizabeth Matthews or the Premier's Office question her receiving a copy of the Order when she is designated to get a copy as stated on the Order?Why should the Oder in Council not be sent to Ms Matthews when she was on the internal distribution list? Why would the Premier's Office, of all Offices, tell her it was mistakenly sent out? Why did Minister Skinner say she wasn't told of her appointment when she was (in January no less)? Why would Ms Matthews have to enquire about the contents of the Order considering her extensive experience as the government's Director of Communications. Then there are the two big questions: Why did Kathy Dunderdale not tell the press the truth, and why did she allow Minister Skinner to mislead the public? After all, according to Ms Matthews, she spoke to the Premier's Office directly about her appointment in January. Ms Matthews knew she was appointed in January. The Premier knew that Ms Matthews was aware of her appointment in January. So why did the premier allow Minister Skinner to mislead the public?

The questions are just finally coming to the real nuts and bolts of things. The bottom line is we can't have politicians lying at will to our press. The press are our ears and eyes, and a firm check on the power of governments. This is the most serious of challenges to our democratic way of life. It challenges the very foundation of our democratic process. This is an issue that should bring down Mr Skinner, Ms Dunderdale, likely Minister Kennedy and perhaps the government in general. A breach of trust. A gross attempt to manipulate it's own citizens for purely partisan reasons. A despicable act by any government claiming to be democratic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth - Skinnergate

Remember when Minister Skinner came out last week and announced the Province was nominating Elizabeth Matthews as Vice-President of the Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board? Sure it was at the end of the week. Sure it was designed to die a quiet death over the weekend. It didn't happen. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Office of the Official Opposition, we find that in fact she was appointed to the Board back on the 21st of December, 2010. Here is the appointment letter sent by Minister Skinner to his federal counterpart:

The letter states that the Newfoundland and Labrador government appoints Ms. Matthews as a member of the Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) and requests the federal government concur with her further designation as Vice-Chair of the CNLOPB. The obvious problem is Minister Skinner neglected to tell the media, and the people, that Ms Matthews had actually been appointed to the Board. The government did not issue a press release stating she was appointed to the Board, but did issue one stating she was the nominee for the Vice-Chair. A deliberate attempt to mislead the public? Perhaps. Here is the press release issued by the government in response to the Official Opposition's charges:

March 11, 2011

Provincial Government Clarifies Board Appointment

The Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Natural Resources, today set the record straight in response to a misleading news release issued today by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the appointment of Elizabeth Matthews to the board of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).

“An appointment to the board was required in order to nominate Ms. Matthews for the position of vice-chair,” said Minister Skinner. “There is nothing underhanded or secretive about this nomination. There is a joint process with the Federal Government that must be followed before an appointment to vice-chair can be confirmed and we have followed the rules. The normal course of action when announcing such appointments would be to wait until the process is complete.”

A letter identifying Ms. Matthews as the Provincial Governments designate for the position of vice-chair has been sent to the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. The Provincial Government has requested concurrence from the Federal Government on this nomination.

                                                               - 30 -

Media contact:
Heather Maclean
Director of Communications
Department of Natural Resources

It was released on a Friday night at 4:45 pm. Another attempt to kill a story over the weekend. Just like the original announcement, and just like the Parson's Pond scandal. It's interesting to note that Skinner's rebutal takes issue with the Opposition about the description of the nomination. He says:"There is nothing underhanded or secretive about this nomination." He does not say the same about the appointment to the Board itself. That was after all the Opposition's point that she was secretly appointed, with the full knowledge and insistence of the government. It is as if he chooses to ignore the lie, and focus on something he can spin on. The only problem with that strategy, other than it's obvious deception, is that it is so blatantly false. It adds insult to injury, and points to the ends this PC government is prepared to go to "frame" the truth.

 As every week goes by this government looks more like a regime and less like a democratic institution. My own experience with the Party's non-leadership campaign resembled this. My resignation letter stated how the Party's deceptive behavior was also entering it's governmental practise - now this. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador need a government that treats them with respect and intelligence. Isn't this the government that whips up anger at home by stating over and over again that the rest of the country has treated us like we are stupid and a joke? It seems to me that the only ones treating us like that are our own PC government. Minister Skinner, do the honourable thing for once, and resign.