Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go big b'y or go home

“He wasn’t my type — too smooth, too suave, too much the mover and shaker. He wasn’t someone I would naturally cotton to, and I was on guard whenever I met him. I didn’t trust him.”

— John Crosbie, as quoted in his 1997 book, No Holds Barred, My Life in Politics, of his first impressions of Brian Mulroney in the late 1970s and early ’80s when Crosbie was a NL cabinet minister and Mulroney was president of the Iron Ore Company of Canada (1977-’83). Crosbie later served as a minister in the Mulroney government.


You don’t hear much from Crosbie or Mulroney these days: Crosbie’s tongue is comfortably shackled at Government House (only the chains of office could contain the epic muscle), and Mulroney has been sidelined by scandal and sickness.

But every now and then the aging political warhorses are trotted out into the national headlines.

Crosbie made cross-Canada news last week after granting the Canadian Press an interview mid-way through his 5-year term as lieutenant-governor.

Crosbie spoke about national security, leadership battles and rum (in that order).

Nothing too controversial — other than the comment about the legitimacy of coalition governments.

Stephen Harper must have loved that.

But then who’s going to say anything to Codfather Crosbie, who turns 80 on Jan. 30.

Should be quite the dark-and-dirty shindig. (Crosbie is supposedly partial to Lamb's and Fernandes these days; Screech if he's desperate.)

Mulroney made The Globe this weekend with some advice for Stephen Harper: “Go big.”

History remembers the “big-ticket items,” said Mulroney, 71, whose own political benchmarks included Free Trade with the U.S. and Mexico, the GST, and an attempt to amend the Constitution.

Mulroney recommended that Harper concentrate on health-care reform.

“I think the important thing I have learned — it is important that as prime minister, for your policies, you think not in terms of easy headlines in 10 days but a better Canada in 10 years. That should be the test.”

An excellent question on the local level, too, with federal and provincial elections expected in 2011: how do we achieve a better NL in a decade?

Ask the prospective politicians to spell out their visions, other than gold-plated pensions and retirement condos in Florida.

Memorial University economist Wade Locke said this morning on CBC Radio's Morning Show that we have seven years left of big oil revenues.

The clock is ticking.

If only we had a decade.


Speaking of going big, the January issue of Popular Science magazine carries an interesting feature, Bridge over Turbined Waters.

A Canadian company, Blue Energy, has apparently found a way to capture more of the motion of the ocean, the kinetic energy in tides and currents: Stack the turbines beneath a bridge.

The company is supposedly working on a demo project — a causeway refit in Scotland that could generate 10 MW, enough to power about 8,000 homes.

According to its website, Blue Energy also hopes one day to build a 120-km tidal energy generating bridge across the Bohai Strait, China, which would generate over 70,000 MW.

By comparison, the Upper and Lower Churchill projects would generate more than 8,000 MW combined.

I wonder how many MWs could be generated with a 15-km bridge across the Strait of Belle Isle, linking Newfoundland to Labrador?

Two infrastructures in one — a bridge and a power station.

There would be obvious problems, including how to get a pod of whales through a bridge.

Still, it's something to think about.

Go big b’y or go home.

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