Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Could John Efford in his prime beat Danny Williams?

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


My name is Ryan Cleary and I’m filling in for Randy Simms here on VOCM Open Line this week.


I spent Friday night at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in St. John’s.


Hey Rosetta rocked Bannerman Park.


Friday night at the festival was sold out, with more than 4,500 people in attendance.


It’s not often you go to a festival like that and see such an age range — from newborns to seniors, and every age in between.


I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while, like the Avalon Mall at Christmas.


But with better music.


As for the rest of the weekend, I spent Saturday around the bay — Northern Bay, Western Bay, Salmon Cove, and dinner in Bay Roberts.


And then back to the folk festival again on Sunday night (Aug. 8th), just for a while.


I got there last night just before The Navigators took to the stage, and the crowd was pretty mellow.


But when the Navigators sang The Islander. You know the song, I’m a Newfoundlander born and bred … the crowd sprang to life.


Half-way through The Islander The Navigators transitioned into Pink Floyd’s The Wall.


And then back to The Islander.


After The Navigators the Irish Descendents took to the stage.


And, of course, they’re legend.


So what did you think of the 34th annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival?


Did you know it’s the second oldest continuously running folk festival in Canada?


It is — 34 years.


Any suggestions for the 35th folk festival?

•••

I ran into John Efford over the weekend.


I dropped into a restaurant in Bay Roberts and he was right there at the next table, with his missus and family, a fine lookin’ lot.


Efford is looking good, I must say.


He’s slim and fit. He looks to be more in his 50s than 60s.


He pointed out how he carries an insulin pump on his person, which he says has improved the quality of his life.


He said something that surprised me, too.


John Efford said he would never have retired from politics when he did if he had the portable insulin pump sooner.


I would bet that Mr. Efford misses politics, but I didn’t ask him whether he would run again.


Any chance of that?


John Efford told me he’d call in this morning. I look forward to his call.


But he’s not calling in to talk politics; he wants to talk about the controversial new MS treatment.


I may slip a political question in there — just for badness.


But I’m sure Mr. Efford won’t mind, he’s never been one to shy away from the media.


John Efford has always said he would be a Liberal until the day he died.


Fair enough, but it could be a long, long time before the Liberals are back in power again.

•••

What do you think would happen if John Efford were leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador?


Do you think he’d be in a better position to take on Danny Williams?


A better position than Yvonne Jones?


John Efford can attract the bay vote, the rural vote.


I’ve seen him during election campaigns give speeches around the province — not just in his district, but all over.


People around the bay like to hear him speak, and they turn out, especially when the Shearstown Brass Band is playing.


I don’t know if John Efford could beat Danny Williams.


Maybe in Efford’s political prime, because he was a force then to be reckoned with, as Roger Grimes will tell you.


I can tell you this — John Efford versus Danny Williams would be a good fight.


It would be a good show.

•••

There was a story in the Weekend Telegram about Yvonne Jones, who was acclaimed Liberal Leader last week.


The paper asked three politician-science types why Jones didn’t have any challengers.


They basically said it could mean the party is happy with Jones’ leadership, or it could mean that no one else wants to face off against Danny Williams, the popular premier.


The latter is more likely.


Russell Wangersky wrote last week that Yvonne Jones was a "second-tier" cabinet minister.


Wangersky said that having Yvonne Jones reach the premier’s chair would be like having Danny Williams retire and Ross Wiseman take over the Progressive Conservative Party.


Ouch — that still stings every time I think about it.


Let me ask you this question: the Liberals seem to be passing time until Danny Williams is gone, or at least much much weaker?


Do you see that decision as good for the province?


Or good for the party?


Yvonne Jones has her work cut out, just to turn around the provincial party’s finances.


She has 14 months before the next election to get the Liberal party’s debt of up to $600,000 under control.


Think she can turn the finances around?

•••

The other thing to keep in mind here is that there’s a third party in the House of Assembly — the New Democrats.


Could they do anything in the fall 2011 election?


Could they take the title of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition?


They’ve never had more than two seats in the House of Assembly, but there seems to be an opportunity there for the taking.

•••

Jack Layton, Leader of the federal New Democrats, called into Open Line Friday past.


He had some interesting things to say about the fishery.


He said the timing could be right for an inquiry into the Grand Banks fishery.


There’s already an inquiry looking into the salmon fishery on British Columbia’s Fraser River.


Jack Layton talks about a parallel inquiry.


Which seems to make sense — one on the West Coast, and one on the East Coast.


Layton says he’d like to see a petition here in Newfoundland and Labrador, a petition calling for such an inquiry.


Which is what happened in British Columbia.


A petition was started, the New Democrats in B.C. stood behind it, and the Conservatives responded by calling a judicial inquiry.


I don’t think it’s a stretch to say fish stocks on the Grand Banks are as important as fish stocks in the Fraser River.


What do you think about the idea of a petition calling for an inquiry into our fisheries?


I think it’s critical to moving forward and restructuring the fishery.


What do you think?


Would you sign a petition?


What do you think of the idea of parallel inquiries?

•••

I see that Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers, representing most fish-plant owners in the province, had yet another letter to the editor in the weekend paper.


Butler wasn’t happy with a letter published the week previous by Ray Johnson, head of the Community Linkages Association.


Ray is also one of the Other Fellas behind Buddy Wasisname.


Derek Butler essentially said he won’t tell Ray Johnson how he should play his music if Johnson doesn’t tell him how to run the fish business.


Fightin’ words.


Butler wrote about what overcapitalization means in the fishery.


He said it means snow crab plants in Newfoundland and Labrador that can produce five times the world quota all operating for two or three months instead.


Overcapitalization also means a 65-foot vessel carrying a fraction of what could fill its hold because there are too many boats on the water and the resource has to be shared.


Butler says that the MOU process should not include Newfoundlanders or Labradorians, or the outport communities.


What do you say about that?


Sure it’s only your history and culture and future, why should you have a say?

•••

There was another interesting letter to the editor in the weekend paper.


Major projects, but too few benefits, read the headline.


Bob Fiander, business agent for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, wrote the letter.


Fiander wrote how there are several major projects in the early development stage, including the Long Harbour processing plant and the Hebron offshore oil project.


The projects are creating opportunities, but ones that aren’t being realized by contractors and workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Fiander writes that in recent viewing of the contract procurement site for the Long Harbour processing plant, a trend is noticeable.


Fabrication that could easily be completed in this province by qualified Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is being done everywhere but here.


Korea is enjoying numerous contracts while the people of our province search for jobsmacross Canada and beyond.


Is that what’s going on, are we losing work that can be done where?

•••

The war of words continues between both sides in the Vale strike at Voisey’s Bay, a labour dispute that’s been going on for more than a year.


Robert Carter, representing Vala , had a piece in the weekend paper that went after the union.


The union had a piece in the week before talking about how they were being treated like "second-class" Canadians.


The union said they were prepared to accept the same contract Vale offered to workers in Ontario, but Vale wouldn’t do it.


Vale says they actually offered a "first-class" contract to Voisey’s Workers but the union turned it down.


It doesn’t look like that strike is going to be settled any time soon.

•••

Finally, for now, I want to mention one last news story from this past weekend.


44 marijuana plans found in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, read the headline.


Joey King, 24, faces charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and cultivation after the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary executed a search warrant at a home on Thorburn Road.


Police also seized growing equipment, including halogen lights, generators, and pots.


The street value, according to the Constabulary’s Susanne FitzGerald was roughly $49,000.


I read that story first thing Saturday morning when I picked up the paper, and the first thing I thought about was Friday night at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.


It was blocked, sold out even — with a great mix of young and old.


I saw doctors and lawyers and politicians and artists and musicians and students.


And the smell of marijuana was all around; it was everywhere.


It you weren’t smoking it you were practically stoned anyway.


I’ll bet the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary didn’t receive a single complaint about pot being smoked at the folk festival.


On the one hand, police trumpet a marijuana bust in Portugal Cove St. Philip’s of 44 plants.


On the other hand, God knows how many plant were smoked at the folk festival.


Should police direct their time and efforts elsewhere?


The Lines are open.

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