Thursday, July 15, 2010

Super Dan?

Good afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador and all the ships at sea.

Let’s begin today with celebrity news.

To The Newfoundland Herald first, the local celebrity/Hollywood news magazine.

Not sure if you’ve seen the cover of the latest issue yet, but Danny Williams is on there.

Must be an old picture, because the premier’s hair is parted down the middle.

As everyone knows, the premier has had his hair parted to the side ever since a nurse violated him in his sleep after heart surgery in Florida earlier this year.

The picture of Danny on the cover is framed with red, much like Time magazine.

The headline at the bottom of the cover reads INVINCIBLE, with a question mark.


Do you think he is?

The deck, in smaller type, reads: Scandals, Blunders and controversy … Can anything stop the political behemoth that is Premier Danny Williams?

Can it?

I can think of one thing, actually.

I read it in The Herald; it’s the feature AFTER the Danny Williams cover story.

What could bring Danny Williams down?

A solar storm.

According to The Newfoundland Herald, Planet Earth could be devastated by the increased activity of the Sun.

Closer to earth, and I’ve mentioned this before, if something goes wrong with the deepwater drilling on the Orphan Basin off Newfoundland, the Danny Williams government could fall.

The Williams government was asked to put deepwater drilling on hold after the Gulf of Mexico spill, but didn’t.

Oil money is too critical to the province.

If something happens with the deepwater drilling and our waves turn black, well, Danny Williams’ career could be over, it’s fair to say.

What do you think — INVINCIBLE?


Oh, at the end of the cover story there’s a smaller feature: After Danny … whom?

Who could take the reigns from DW?

Jerome Kennedy was No. 1, followed by Kathy Dunderdale (a.k.a., according to The Herald, Kathy “Blunderdale”), and then Joan Burke and Darin King.

If you want to talk about Danny Williams or his possible successors, or Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones, or New Democrat boss Lorraine Michael … you know where to call.


In other celebrity news.

I hear that our own Seamus O’Regan, star of Canada AM, got married earlier this month at Fishers’ Loft in Port Rexton.

A few whales even turned out as witnesses.

Congratulations Seamus.


In celebrity hockey news, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Danny Cleary — pride of Riverhead, Harbour Grace and star of the Detroit Red Wings — is on the mend after knee surgery.

Seven weeks and two cortisone injections later, Cleary is ready to get in peak shape.

He’ll be training in southern California, but he’ll be back in Newfoundland in August for his second annual hockey school.

My favourite Danny Cleary hockey quote came from a TSN hockey commentator on Danny Cleary’s fight a few years ago with Anaheim Duck Chris Pronger:

“There’s a six-inch height difference … which Cleary makes up for by being from Newfoundland.”

I have the quote taped to the side of my fridge.

For inspiration.


Still with sports, kind of.

After a record number of votes were cast online from coast to coast, Bay Roberts has been named the first winning community in the Kraft Celebration Tour.

Bay Roberts will host a special edition of SportsCentre on Friday, Aug. 20th.

Bay Roberts also receives a $25,000 community refresh from Kraft Canada that goes towards installing lights around the outdoor walking track at Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.

Wilbur Sparkes is a former mayor.

I used to live just down the street from Wilbur, a fine fella.

Bay Roberts won after going toe-to-toe with Stephenville.

In fact, Bay Roberts supposedly received the most votes ever for a community in the history of the Kraft Celebration Tour.


Let’s return to politics for a moment.

The Natural Resources Department issued a press release Wednesday announcing the Lower Churchill Construction Projects Benefits Strategy.

The strategy outlines the millions of person hours of work that the lower Churchill project will generate.

Twenty-eight million person hours, in fact, of work on the hydro developments at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls, as well as the Labrador-Newfoundland transmission link.

The Opposition parties weren’t so impressed — they called the news release nothing more than spin.

Liberal leader Yvonne Jones said there’s no guarantee the project will go ahead.

She pointed out there’s no customer for power, no financing for the project, no current transmission capacity on power lines, and outstanding issues with the Innu, both in Quebec and in Labrador.

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael agreed the news release may be more about political posturing than any real advancement with the Lower Churchill project.

She also agrees the project is far from sanctioned, describing the news as government “plucking” an issue out of the air, to make people think something is happening.

The Telegram even tackles the Kathy Dunderdale news release in its editorial today.

The news release was headlined: “Benefits strategy for Lower Churchill construction projects ensures opportunities for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Unofficially, The Telegram editorial said it should probably be headlined, "Blowing our own horn on a slow day at the office."

As The Telegram points out, it used to be that government talked about person years of employment …

But it’s much more impressive when you talk about millions of person hours.

The Telegram did the math and broke down the person hours of employment into person minutes.

The Lower Churchill announcement is equivalent to 1.29 billion person-minutes of employment.

How impressive is that?


Let’s shift gears — from hydro to the price of gasoline.

Big-box store Costco has made an application to St. John’s City council to open a gas station at its store in Town.

And the move could spark a price war.

The way it currently works is that fuel prices in Newfoundland and Labrador are regulated so there is a maximum amount retailers can charge per litre of gasoline.

Costco may cut prices — word is by as much as six cents a litre.

The store sells the cheapest gasoline in Ontario, from what I hear.

If Costco cuts the price it would most definitely start a price war.

About time I say.

What I don’t understand is that if gas prices are regulated in terms of a maximum price per litre of gas, why have all companies been charging the same?

How come there isn’t already a price war?

Feel free to call in and explain that to me.

Actually, if you’re listening George Murphy — give us a call.


Let’s motor on out to the highway and tackle the issue of highway signage.

Peter Fenwick, mayor of Cape St. George on the island’s west coast and a B and B operator, says the provincial government’s highway signage policy is a total loss.

He calls it “dictatorial stupidity.”

Quoted in the paper, Fenwick says there are a lot of visitors who have no idea where to go now that the signs deemed "illegal" by the province have been removed, with nothing to replace them.

Fenwick isn’t even allowed to place signs on property at the visitors’ information centre in Port au Port East or at the town office in Cape St. George.

According to the regulations, signs have to be 100 metres from the centre of the road in towns and 400 metres outside towns.

Let me ask any tourists who may be listening, how do you feel about highway signage?

Do you think there should be more signs to advertise all of our lovely nooks and crannies?

If you’re a business owner and you have a comment about the signage policy, you know where to call.

In the absence of good signage, do tourists know about our attractions?

Is the signage policy costing you money?


To the fishery.

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman issued an update this morning on the fishing industry MOU, or memorandum of understanding, which was signed a year ago this week.

Financial assessments of the harvesting and processing sectors have been carried out, but as far as I know they won’t be released for public consumption.

They’re not working on sales and marketing efforts.

I see that international seafood marketing experts from other jurisdictions will be invited to share their experiences and perspectives on seafood sales consortiums.


Of course, we wouldn’t need to bring in seafood marketing experts if the Danny Williams administration had taken over the old marketing arm of Fishery Products International.

That’s the same marketing arm that was taken over in 2007 by High Liner Foods, a seafood company based in Lunenburg, N.S.

High Liner took over FPI’s marketing arm and, as a result, achieved some of the

best financial results in its 110-year history in 2009.

Profits rose almost 40 per cent to $20-million on sales of $627-million.

That’s the same marketing arm that Premier Danny Williams offered on two occasions to buy in 2006.

Actually, Williams offered to partner with industry to purchase the marketing arm.

Industry — more specifically, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers’ union — turned him down.

Turned him down flat.

The province is now looking to restructure the fishery under an MOU signed with fish processors and the fishermen’s union.

And what will be a key component of that restructuring?

A marketing arm.

That’s the insanity of the fishing industry.

Let me ask you this: do you have faith in the MOU process?

Do you have faith in fish plants owners, the FFAW, and the province to turn the fishery around once and for all?


Good news for Grand Falls-Windsor.

A tender worth almost $3.8 million has been awarded for a new almost 13,000 square-foot College of the North Atlantic campus.

Bluebird Investments is the contractor selected to build a new industrial and construction trades facility at the college’s Grand Falls-Windsor campus.

That’s not the only good news out of Grand Falls-Windsor lately — housing starts are also apparently up, and the local clinic has new doctors,

Still though, wouldn’t it be something if another woods industry started in the town?


On to Labrador West and the housing crunch.

Is it coping?

Tom Hedderson, minister responsible for housing, was in Labrador West recently, according to the paper, and met with people affected by skyrocketing prices.

Government is in the process of making 6 social housing units available.

Those housing units are for people who make under $32,500 a year.

But people who make more than that are having trouble, too.

People in Labrador West are reportedly spending half their income on housing.

The expression for that is house poor.

Labrador West is experiencing explosive growth — IOC is expanding, there’s a new hospital going up, a new college campus being built, and the Trans-Labrador highway is being worked on.

Labrador West needs a long-term solution to its housing crunch.

Any idea what that would be?

Tom Hedderson is welcome to come on the show anytime to discuss housing — not just in Labrador West, but all over Newfoundland and Labrador.

We heard from an official in his office, the minister may be available Friday or Monday.

Fingers crossed.


Finally, for now, let’s talk about red ants.

They’re apparently bad on the west coast of the island.

I saw one guy on the CBC supper-hour news last night talking about how he had been bitten between the fingers a while ago and his hand ballooned twice the normal size.

The cameraman showed a close-up of the ant nest, and it was scary.

It reminded me of the old Tarzan movies where the army ants would eat everything in their path — people included.

Which, come to think of it, might be another thing, besides solar flares, that could bring down the Danny Williams government.

The Backtalk lines are open.

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