MOODY’S DOUBTS OSBORNE ABLE TO ACHIEVE BUDGET BALANCE

Monday’s Blog Post forecasting a ‘status quo’ Budget didn’t
exactly require going out on a limb. The Government had long ago made clear
that they don’t like making decisions, especially ones that disappoint or that engender public protest; so they don’t.

Problem is, inaction and indecision carry consequences.
Continued vacillation threatens the fiscal viability of the whole province. 
Moody’s, a financial services and debt rating agency, has our position in its
crosshairs. In a review released just yesterday, the Firm noted that NL’s
“path to balanced budgets is at risk”. They said:
It’s not a novel announcement. But the right ones are saying
it  (text of announcement is provided at the end of this Post.)

The Government ought to be aware that, in failing to address
the deficit, it is risking a further credit rating downgrade. Every notch that
the rating is reduced means higher interest costs and a decline in the number
of financial institutions that will lend to the province.
The failure to act in Tuesday’s Budget is placing our economy
and society in grave peril.
The Minister’s decision to ‘kick the can down the road’ was
not lost on the rating agency. After all, this was the seventh deficit Budget
in a row. Noted Moody’s:
“Higher execution risk,” indeed. Could Moody’s, too, have been
thinking about the political exigencies of an election?
Of course, the Moody’s statement is in stark contrast to the
Minister’s.  “We’re definitely headed in
the right direction,” the Telegram quoted Osborne on Tuesday. If he had thought of buying new shoes, something of a tradition among Finance Ministers, he ought to have considered a new compass instead.
By the end of 2018-19, the Net Debt is forecast to reach just
over $15.5 billion, up from $14.77 billion. The right direction?
The Total Debt will rise to $ 21.77 billion in 2018, up from
$17.5 billion. This is the real number with which the province is grappling. The
figure includes $9.7 billion utility debt, mostly Muskrat-related which the
Government falsely claims is “self-supporting.” 
Osborne’s was this Liberal Government’s third Budget. If it ever held any, the currency of  “we didn’t know things were so bad”, Ball’s excuse for dither, has gotten really old.

Politics is about choices.

It is about asserting a political party’s ideas. Elected to
Government, politicians are expected to establish social priorities and make
fiscal choices, all with the idea of managing public policy expectations — from
health care to roads. Instead, we have spent like ‘drunken sailors’, and few want to be reminded of its unsustainability: a fact to which Moody’s
alludes. 
The “game” of politics should not be reduced simply to a
desire for re-election — unless, that is, the gamers have neither ideas nor principles.
A government with basic ethical standards will make sure that people get the
best of what they can afford, as opposed to what they want. It will ward off
circumstances that have the capacity to do society harm. The last thing
politics is about is hiding under a table.  
When the Finance Minister delivers the seventh consecutive
deficit Budget, barely nuanced from the previous one except that the public
debt continues skyward, where is the leadership? Wasn’t Osborne supposed to
have brought that which Cathy Bennett lacked?
Bear in mind, too, that Moody’s does not refer to the need in
2020-21 for $500 million to “mitigate” electricity rates. Likely, the Firm
might have thought that Osborne would give the issue notice. He didn’t. He didn’t even kick-start a negotiation with Ottawa over the necessity for “write-off” of the Federal Loan Guarantee for Muskrat, as this Blog proposes.
It is one thing to have little interest in public policy, but
there is no excuse for being cavalier with the truth.
No government has all the answers; a few are masters of public
communications, some excel in governance, others are great policy wonks.  None has all those attributes at the same
time. But the Ball Administration exhibits no capacity in any of those areas. 
The decision to split Nalcor off from its oil and gas division
is one example. The Minister gave no context for this policy change. The media
was left to infer one. Besides, another Crown Corporation implies another big
bureaucracy: more costs and less money for healthcare and education. 
Worse, the Government didn’t even think to amend the mandate
given Nalcor. A failed energy policy — Williams’ energy warehouse concept — is
still embraced even though it has already bankrupted the province. The Throne
Speech ought to have shed some light on this move. If the split was an
afterthought, the Budget Speech provided a second opportunity. We have to
assume that Williams is still firmly in control of the Liberals’ energy
policy.  
The same lack of leadership extends into healthcare, which
represents the largest opportunity to effect savings. 
It extends into education. K-12 saw some policy improvements,
which cost more money. But the Liberals refused to tackle post-secondary –
which might require a review of Grenfell and Harlow Campuses as well as tuition
fees, for a start. The worst excesses in the rural school system, where organic
resettlement has decreased enrollment to the single digits, is ignored. The
crazy ferry program – in some regions – along with healthcare is helping ‘break
the bank’.
Likely, none of this matters to a Premier looking up in the
Polls. 
But eighteen months is a long time to a General Election. 
Moody’s warning is a clarion call, to us and especially to the
Liberals. 
If the Premier wants to be opportunistic there is little we
can do except protest and rob his Administration of the popularity it craves.
As to the Finance Minister, if sentiment changes as it often
does, Osborne risks serving burgers with his predecessor.
_____________________________________

Announcement: 

Moody’s notes Newfoundland and Labrador’s path to balanced budgets is at
risk
Global Credit Research – 28 Mar 2018
Toronto, March 28, 2018 — Moody’s
Investors Service notes that in its 2018 Budget, the Province of Newfoundland
and Labrador (Aa3 negative) continues to plan to return to balance in 2022/23,
but forecasts larger deficits than previously anticipated before attaining its
goal. Moody’s highlights that the deficits in 2018/19 and 2020/21 remain
elevated (8.9% and 8.7% of revenue respectively) and the budget plan faces
increased exposure to execution risk on both revenue and spending measures.
Given these developments,
Moody’s considers that the province
faces increased risk that it will be unable to attain its goal of balanced
budgets by 2022/23, a credit negative for the province.
The province expects to continue
posting very weak and worsening fiscal results for 2017/18 than originally
budgeted, forecasting a deficit of CAD812 million (11.0% of revenue) compared
to the initial budget estimate of CAD778 million (10.6% of revenue). The weaker
result is primarily driven by one-time severance expenses for the year. The
province’s path to balance forecasts only modest improvements in its deficits
across the first three years, declining from CAD683 million in 2018/19 to
CAD654 million in 2020/21) before recording larger fiscal improvements over the
past 2 years to achieve a balanced budget in 2022/23.
“The province’s forecast to
balance the books by 2022/23 carries risks, and will be conditional on
improving economic conditions and increasing oil prices, and on the
government’s ability to consistently adhere to its expenditure controls. The
province expects that the bulk of fiscal improvement will occur in the last two
years of the five-year forecast, with the fiscal balance improving an average
CAD350 million each year. The pace of this improvement would be significantly
faster than during the first three years of the forecast period and therefore
carries higher execution risk,” noted Michael Yake, Moody’s Vice
President.
Revenues for 2018/19 are forecast at
CAD7.7 billion, up 4.5% from the revised 2017/18 forecast as the province
continues to benefit from past tax meaures. However, over the 2019/20-2022/23
horizon, the province forecasts revenues to be lower than previously projected.
This suggests that the province has little room to move further on revenue
measures and is therefore more at risk to negative revenue shocks.
The province projects expenditures of
CAD8.4 billion for 2018/19, up 2.5% from the revised 2017/18 forecast. This is
in contrast to the planned 1.4% reduction in expenditures annually across the
rest of the budget horizon. Moody’s notes that the dynamics of the spending
profile increases execution risk and will be challenging to achieve.
Economic growth, which in the province
can be influenced by activity on a small number of large projects, is projected
to decline 0.8% in 2018 and lag the average Canadian provincial growth in the
medium term. The unemployment rate is also expected to worsen, rising to a high
15.6% over the next three years. The budget forecasts average West Texas
Intermediate (WTI) crude prices of USD63/barrel for 2018/19 and 2019/20. These
projections are in line with Moody’s own medium-term oil price projections of a
band of USD45-65/barrel.
Despite the larger deficits, the
province’s borrowing requirements will remain largely unchanged. The province
projects new borrowing of CAD1.5 billion in 2018/19, with the, CAD1.1 billion,
in support of Nalcor Energy. The level of projected net debt as a share of
revenue is expected to remain very high within the 220-225% range across the
rating horizon.
As part of its normal monitoring
process, Moody’s will evaluate the 2018 budget’s assumptions, its potential for
upside and downside risks and likely impacts on the province’s debt burden,
fiscal situation and liquidity profile.
Moody’s research subscribers can access
the report “Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada): 2018 budget
subject to significant execution risks” at
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more
information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York
+1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong
+852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo
0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at
mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.
This publication does not announce a
credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication,
please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the
most updated credit rating action information and rating history.


Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.

END OF THE UPPER CHURCHILL POWER CONTRACT: IMPROVING OUR BARGAINING POWER

This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?

AN ETHICAL WALL FOR AND A TÊTE-À-TÊTE WITH PREMIER FUREY

I've been wondering if the whole "ethical wall" business has prevented the Premier of our province from acting where he might and should act?

61 COMMENTS

  1. Sobering!
    Meanwhile, UG took about 5 years to get 1 million hits last year.
    In less than a year it is now closing in on 2 million, now about 1.99 million.Should hit 2 million in a week or so.
    Congratulation DES
    Yet is there any more than 10 people who give their identity……and I too, for reasons just give my PF, letters for a nick my nick name.
    Will this change or are we to remain if fear, accept the status quo, and be silent, as Vardy says.

  2. Do we need to be informed of our finincial situation by all that has concern, such as our bond rating agencies, or just by the finianice minister, opposition, union leaders, bot, etc. If we need to be informed of what our creditors are saying, then why should that be left to a blogger to give us an independant assessment of our finincial situation and risk. Is that not the job of our local media, to get the information from our creditors, such as Moody's, maybe Standard And Poors, and others.They lock up the media for a few hours before the budget is made public, as being a big thing, and the media comes out reading right from the budget, and parroting the minister of finance etc. Maybe they should be kept locked up until they can give us the assessments from our creditors, so that the average Joe is given a true picture. In a straw vote they ask the John Q. Public if the budget is good or bad, or ask a guy or gal walking along water street, as if they were the experts, and we hang on every word uttered. How the hell do I know if it's a good budget. Well, it must be, no cuts in health care!!!! Yes important to the average citizen. Moody's says we are at great risk of not meeting our prediction of zero deficit in 2022-23, the minister says no problem we are right on target. Did the brave media tell me of this risk, or is it just news from UG doing the media's work for them. My rant. AJ.

    • AJ…very few people actually read the budget document (estimates) for a couple of reasons. First the document is 286 pages long and secondly most people, media included, do not have the education to fully comprehend the financial estimates. The media get the "coles notes" version and budget highlights and reports it as "news". From my perspective the lack of response from labor (NAPE, CUPE, NLTA, RNUNL) is quite telling. This administration has no plan other than hope oil prices continue to rise and the Cdn dollar continues downward. The leadership in this province is severely lacking. Keith

  3. Strangely, the Unions' response to the Budget seems to support the Gov. 'Blue Sky' view of the future Revenue hype. They have most to lose, with impending decline in economy. Unions are also a large part of the problem in promoting mega projects. Same lobby to continue Site C was too strong to resist by our BC coalition;

    https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/03/28/Site-C-Dam-Is-Good-Decision/

    Moody's also, aid and abet Governments to debt fund megas like Muskrat and offshore.

  4. A sobering assessment indeed. The only way out seems to be to, dare I say, commence negotiations with Hydro Que immediately. NL could move the 2041 date forward & offer HQ fifty percent of Churchill for another 100 yrs, provided the profits are shared equally. In return, the new partnership agrees to integrate Muskrat into the equation. My thinking is Do I as a ratepayer in NL care who "owns" Churchill provided I can get cheap stable rates? Not a bit. I would add one more demand & that is the whole thing has to be run by Hydro Que. NL has clearly demonstrated it cannot run an outhouse.

    • Good comment anon!

      But before those negotiations, NL MUST be well prepared (HQ will). If necessary, hire external experts to figure out the market value of UC, MF etc., and pre-assess different scenarios.

      I see win – win possibilities for HQ to acquire UC (at a FAIR market value), and manage MF (but not purchase, due to the North Spur failure risks).

      I also see win – win possibilities for NL to acquire wholesale power from HQ.

      However, I would not recommend HQ to acquire the electricity distribution. The "love" in NL for HQ/Quebec is such that the unpaid bills delinquency rate might be too high… ;-).
      Plus any daily decisions & repair/upgrade to the grid would be met with extremely high suspicions / complaints / rants. That would be a losing proposition for everyone.

    • With a successful conclusion of the above scenarios (mainly selling UC at a fair market value), I see the disastrous financial impact of MF to be completely wiped out.

      The only remaining road block to a full recovery will be getting a grip on provincial spendings (so to achieve a balanced budget)

    • "There is definitely something wrong with this picture"

      Yes, indeed! (We talk about equalization payments here)

      First: About the deficit, NL spends WAY more per capita than Quebec does. (and more than its revenues)

      Second: About equalisation; NL has more fiscal revenues per capita (including royalties) than Quebec (and also the Maritimes).

      Conclusion:
      NL's mess is strictly related to excessive spending. (like MF, like the number of public servants and their salaries – compared to other provinces).

      But hey! Keep blaming Quebec,

    • So anon@14:16;

      Do you propose a better way to calculate equalisation payments?

      You seem to imply that budget surplus/deficits would be better indicators to determine equalisation payments.

      Wow, that would be very clever indeed; let's congratulate mismanaged provinces running deficits; let's give them even more money so they can waste even more! 🙂

      Canada would look like Greece in a matter of a few years…

    • To NL's defense, NL population is more geographically spread out than other provinces. Cost more to maintain roads and providing some services. Quebec has also the same problem, but maybe not as acute.

    • anon@11:48
      HQ doesn't want or need the white elephant of MF. The only way HQ will will get involved is for full control of the UC with MF as a penalty. I said it before–we will lose the UC all because of DW and his self centered,egotistical personality. NL was sold down the drain for his personal satisfaction and one-up-man-ship over Quebec, plain and simple.

    • Anon (14:16) and Anon (15:19): Err, you do both know that transfer payments are just one of many ways the federal government transfers money from one province of Canada to another? And would it surprise you to learn that it has been calculated that, taking ALL Federal spending into consideration, Quebec consistently receives every year about two BILLION dollars… *less* than it contributes? See Gobeil, Stéphane. 2012. UN GOUVERNEMENT DE TROP. Montréal, VLB Éditeur.

      Yet another relevant book, for Canadians, which somehow has not been translated into English…ah well, "Ignorance is Strength", eh?

      Ex-Military Engr (About your comment at 14:51): I don't buy it. If you look at page 10 of this document

      http://www.rbc.com/economics/economic-reports/pdf/provincial-forecasts/prov_fiscal.pdf

      you will find that there seems to be no correlation between the geography of a province and how much its programs cost per capita: Prince Edward Island spends substantially more per capita than either Québec or Ontario do, for instance, but less than Newfoundland and Labrador does. The strongest correlation is that Québec and Ontario seem to spend substantially less, per capita, than most Atlantic or Western provinces do.

      To Newfoundlanders reading this comment: the point I just made should be of some importance to you. Health care and Education make up the lion's share of all Canadian provincial spending. Now, both Québec and Ontario have inhabitants who, on average, live longer and are better educated than Newfoundlanders, despite both provinces spending quite substantially less per capita than Newfoundland and Labrador.

      Meaning: There is nothing utopian in believing that your provincial government can cut spending sharply all the while improving Newfoundlanders' health and education.

    • Salut Etienne. Merci des infos!

      I don't dispute the absence of overall correlation of spending versus the geographic population dispersion; health care / education / social programs are definitely (by far) the main cost drivers.

      I was just pointing that additional factor. (Both Quebec and NL did closed down some remote villages / rural communities to save costs – I witnessed some of those in Abitibi).

      About that $2Bs net deficit, that doesn't surprise me. In my different federal jobs, I witnessed who gets the big bucks (contracts/consultants/suppliers/shipbuilding); and they are not from Quebec.

      Everybody complains about those peanut repayable subsidies to Bombardier (that Bombardier historicly always), paid back), but nobody talks about those $Bs we lost in the auto bailout- to save US automakers that do little R&D in Canada.

      And don't get me started on that BS national shipbuilding program – where we will be burning $Bs for substandard ships with years of delays.
      And the Feds keep rejecting Davies which is the only one to be on time, on specs and on budget.

      (I got 37 years of public service + military)

  5. See if I got this straight?
    A new hospital for mental health will be near the Health Science (worse location than the serene Waterford area?)
    It will have 94 beds.
    It will cost JUST 200 million , instead of 350 million of the previous plan, as a "Saving" of 150 million.
    88 other beds will be provided across the province.
    At 200 million for 94 beds, that is 2.1 million per bed. Again 2.1 MILLION PER BED. Of course that is about 20 times the cost of these senior rental units.
    Now Ball boasts that this is the first mental health facility to be built in Nfld and Lab since Canada became a nation ( which is in 1867) . Of course, the old Waterford was built in 1855, so, 12 years before Canada became a nation. Gollie…., Abe was not yet president of the USof A, still practicing his legal craft. The civil war not started.
    If you are going to boast of such a shameful fact, go all the way, as to our neglect of reasonable mental health facilities. And is this reasonable?

    And as to 20 times the cost of rental units,…… like Ball, himself, is building 10 units senior apartments for about 125,000 each, in Deer Lake, should not Ball build the hospital, and maybe reduce the cost to 1 million per bed, just 10 times his Deer lake units?
    Ball is my man. A friend from Upper Island Cove, said he was a smart vacuum cleaner salesman type. Who could ask for more. Make Nfld Great again. Vote Ball. My type of guy. Free opiods for the first 6 months of admission, I would suggest.
    Winston Adams

  6. There is no other way about it but to start selling some of our stakes the government has in various industries. Start with The Rooms, next the old Colonial Building (a fine hotel that will make), Marble Mountain-gone, next NL Hydro, the stake in the offshore and any other entity we can sell to reduce this mess of a debt. Right now it is debatable if we actually own any of it because we are so indebted to the baks, the bond holders and other governments that any move we make must be approved by them.

    • The area we call Newfoundland is now owned by the NY Bond holders thanks to the Tories along with Danny Williams and his Muskrat Falls Boondoggle. If you have another, better plan to get us out of this mess then by all means let's hear it but from reading your previous posts I doubt you have the solutions needed. You are like so many more in NL-a cheer-leader when the great leader announced the MF option but now that someone else has provided a truth you want the heads of those who weren't responsible.

  7. The Ball Bunch remind me of a quote from Management by Objectives, Odiorni, 1960's

    "If you don't know where you are going, any path will get you there"

    Absolutely no Strategic Plan in sight, and how to get there. His predecessors likewise. Like a pilotless schooner off Mistaken Point.

    • Hi Robert,

      "If you don't know where you are going, any path will get you there"

      You made my day here! Mine and the one of few of my colleagues 🙂

      This is so true and as of now, I am in an environement where it is highly appropriate 🙂

      Thanks and have a nice day,

  8. At 34 million let us shut down the MF inquiry. This is far, far too much to spend on lawyers and accountants to support these liberals getting re-elected at taxpayers further expense. Would have thought 5 million at the outside for costs for this review.

    • Yes where is PENG2, who favoured the expensive, long drawn our "Berger type" route? If the lessons learned are not already obvious to all, why waste this money. Start building the Mental (Waterford), facility now. My own mother was "Shock Treated there in the 40's. She would rest in peace, with the realization that at last, we took mental illness seriously.

    • Ah, Robert, they are taking it serious, now planning to download to the community level, and all on TV today are tickled pink that this is a good idea. They are to allocate 88 beds for all of rural Nfld, and at about 600 communities , that is 1 bed for every 7 communities.
      Now when I was I growing up in the 50s, at Bishop's Cove we had one Anderson Smith, known as Anson. Next door at Upper Island Cove there was Harold Crane (nickname Crump, more affectionately called Horardie Crump), also Ken Reid, who could talk but made queer clicking sounds, and then Harold Mercer, who used to hide behind walls , and try to avoid people. So, 4 in 2 communities, and all a source of entertainment by the locals to ridicule and get them in to further trouble.
      Those who had more concern, kept the disabled barred in a room all their life. There were a few of those, little seen. This is what I recall as rural mental health care.
      My older brother, Clyde, had intermittent mental health issues, and had taken on the support of our large family when our father passes, and Clyde was 21.
      Clyde too underwent shock treatment at the Waterford. He passed in the year 2000 at age 66. He had 4 or 5 events that landed him at the Waterford, the first at age 16, so on average once every 10 years. He became a machinist, and did a stint with the Army, and married and ha 2 children.
      About 1990 I questioned him if he was ever sexually abused. Yes, when about 14 or 15 by 4 or 5 others in Upper Island Cove, and then again by a boss when he started to work with the CNR in St. Johns's at age 16, learnng his machinist trade. At 16 he first considered suicide, and was talked out of it my a neighbour, Aunt Hannah. He worked and greatly helped our family survive. He kept his secret until the Mount Cashel scandal error. Even then he did not name names.
      Will our new rural mental health, with 1 bed for 7 communities do the job? And 6 beds for all of Labrador! Sounds like Commission of Govn days. A landmark day says Ball, with the St John's building taking some 4 years yet. My man Ball. I'm tickled pink too.
      Winston Adams

    • Robert:

      To say I favoured 'Berger type' is a bit misleading–I said that LeBlanc and Berger have a community of interest in many areas and that LeBlancs work wasn't going to be the '50 pager' you suggested. I also said that the inquiry would likely go past 2yrs if LeBlanc thoroughly investigates all the issues at hand-from what I have seen lately, if his investigation is limited to 2006 forward the most important aspect of how this political decision was made will be missed.

      WA:
      Due to morality and confidentiality clauses in my employment contract I cannot become a member of MFCC, I will be watching closely and will provide confidential guidance off line if UG et al are in a position to post some from of a daily review of happenings at the inquiry.

      I am a bit surprised at the amount granted to the Inquiry but not entirely-I suspect a large portion will be chewed up by interveners, is this possibly an indication of how many lawyers the government plans to have onhand?

      PENG2

    • Ah, yes, Peng2, morality and confidentially prevents you from being a member of MFCCC, sounds like the Rooms excuse. Does not the Charter give you the right of association? Or working for Nalcor over rides the Charter rights? Is Nalcor not govn, maybe they are immune from protecting Charter rights? So, if you have access to some relevant information, will you inform the Inquiry, or plead the fifth, or claim Presidential privledge?
      And morality!. To do what is right before God? Like follow your conscience? Your conscience prevents you ? Please explain.
      PF

    • PF, got to agree with PENG2 on his/her stance. If you collect a cheque from a corporation you better sing their tune or you know where the door is. Corporations are not democracies, they're very totalitarian.

    • Levy, was it in the debate between Mulroney and John Turner, that one said , "Sir, You had a choice"
      So, when one sees or knows wrong doing, or dangerous work practices, etc, and the choice is to expose it and risk your job (or your precious contract of employment) or turn a blind eye, you know most will turn a blind eye………but you "have the choice", and morality demands one do the right thing , even if it impacts you financially, unless the morals are all screwed up. I have little to go on of Peng2 morals, other than his occasional words on this blog. Even soldiers can defy an illegal act in combat….'to kill innocent civilians".
      PF

  9. I pity the NDP. The Liberals are really eating their lunch- both here and in Ottawa. Should have voted for them in the last election, at least this kind of budget is their mantra. Will Probably just do that if Coffin can pull off a victory.

    • Hear, hear!!

      A return to balanced budgets in 4 years indeed… just who the hell is this Osborne individual trying to kid?

      Does he actually think his duty as a provincial fiance minister is to tell outrageous fairy tales to a bunch of little children who still believe in the Easter Bunny?

      Because that's exactly what it appears he's trying to do with his budget BS.

      It's quite simply astounding that someone in such a position of responsibility could be so bloody naive as to actually believe that he could get away with pulling a stunt like that.

      Look, to repeat ad nauseum… the dimwitted fools and dodgy culprits involved in the chronically self-destructive partisan politics of this tortured rock… are demonstrably, DEMONSTRABLY, incapable of competently managing the affairs of the province in the interests of the common good.

      Osborne and the rest of those hapless imbeciles are lost… they need to be relieved of duty and some grown-ups put in charge.

      There has to be some kind of an intervention, desperately… while there's still time to avert provincial bankruptcy.

    • And 200 million for 88beds………….was not the new long term care in Corner brook, being built by Marco, more than 88 beds and a bit more than 100 million, does anyone have the cost per bed there?
      Is 200 million well padded to later say P3 will save more money, and a little (a lot) for political kickback donations from consultants and contractors? Just asking.
      AG

    • Bloody good question too, but to you think the local NL media will follow up on that glaringly conspicuous inconsistency??

      Not bloody likely, because any hotshot reporter who might be so inclined will find out soon enough… that in this twisted northern banana republic, you appease the dictator-of-the-day and the associated cabal of slimy little enablers or risk getting cut-off from the taxpayer-funded revenue generated by the dictatorship's propaganda machine.

      And that's just one more of the many gut-wrenching symptoms of the democratic deficit that this wretched province is chronically afflicted with.

  10. What the hell does Peng2 mean that "morality forbids him from being a member of the MFCCC"? He says be will be providing confidential guidance off line……if UG will post some……
    So is his identity known to UG, if so fine, and walking the line, but to me his integrity and truthfulness is at issue from what I see on this blog.
    PF

  11. PENG2 had hoped the Leblanc Inquiry would be like the Berger Inquiry: which in 1974 investigated the social, environmental and economic impact of a proposed gas pipe line through the Yukon and Mackenzie River valley. The Inquiry cost 5.3 million and produced 40,000 pages of text and evidence, comprising 283 volumes. And recommended no pipeline be built through the Northern Yukon and that a one through the Mackenzie River be delayed 10 years.
    That inquiry was notable for the voice it gave to the aboriginal people, and Berger travelled extensively through the North, taking his commission to 35 communities,which helped shape his views, as well as to cities in Canada. His first volume was released in 1977.
    His findings:
    That it would be too damaging to the environment
    That there was no significant economic benefit
    That the pipeline process did not take native culture serious…and that the social consequences would be devastating.
    So I wonder what can the Leblanc Inquiry do in this respect. Such an Inquiry should have been prior to MF sanction, but now with 80 percent complete……can Leblanc reverse the situation? Not likely.
    He could say in one line, not 40,000 pages that we should have had a Berger type inquiry prior to MF sanction, that likely would have prevented sanction. But any need to spend 30 million to say that? So I too wonder about PENG2 view on that?
    Winston Adams

    • WA:

      You are correct in that LeBlanc cant do anything to prevent MF being a Boondoggle; however the greatest valued component of an inquiry is that in analyzing the past we prevent future errors. Berger was unique in that is was called before the event it was called to analyze was executed, very rare-more common is a post mortem analysis as is LeBlanc.

      Hopefully, if LeBlanc is anywhere near as complete and thorough as Berger was then it would be used as a standard going forward and cited when either NL or other governments propose to undertake similar developments particularly those with a similar community of interest in issues.

      To PF above:
      Check the definition of 'morality clauses' in an industrial sense-you appear to have no knowledge of what or how they are written.

      To Robert below:
      I have no stake in the Inquiry and very little in MF(I can get work elsewhere as needed)-but my opinions presented here are offered as a best case scenario to avoid further damage to NL.

      PENG2

  12. Very good response Winston. PENG2 and some other Anon, who have a personal stake in the continuance of the Boondoggle, want the Inquiry spin, $35million +++ to continue. This constant wasting of limited public funds and resources, at the expense of public services, and the future economy is at the benefit of the elite few. Our own grandchildren will continue to be the innocent bystanders who will assume the rising debt. I had hoped that the 20-50 year old generations would have caught on, and taken direct political action by now. Time has run out. Demand more accountability from your leadership!

  13. If anything the crowd at Moody's is tactful… instead of suggesting that Osborne's expectation of returning to balanced budgets within 4 years was "at risk", they could've declared that he was either living in a technicolor dreamworld and totally out of touch with the brutal reality of NL's impending fiscal crisis, or else he was cynically attempting to mollify taxed-and-levied-to-the-hilt voters with a fresh, steaming pie of politically-expedient BS in preparation for an upcoming election.

    Chances are it's a combination of both…

    http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/credit-rating-agency-says-newfoundlands-path-to-surplus-is-at-risk-198014/

  14. Just read this…can anyone decipher what Osborne is actually trying to articulate here??

    Osborne, who spoke to reporters after addressing the St. John’s Board of Trade, says the path to surplus has ups and downs in the coming years, largely related to oil.

    “In 2020 there’s a difference in revenue that’s directly related to the oil industry and some things that are happening in the oil industry at that time,” Osborne said.

    “In regard to the amount of revenue we get, the amount of royalties, each project provides a different royalty. The following year, that gets back to normal.”

    http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/credit-rating-agency-says-newfoundlands-path-to-surplus-is-at-risk-198014/

    This just sounds like so much smoke and mirrors, and if that's what it sounds like to me then surely the crackshots at Moody's aren't fooled by it.

    However, it IS apparent that Osborne's government is still gambling on an unrealistic hope that a significant increase in world petroleum prices to move the province back from the fiscal brink. But indications are the price of oil is going back to the levels required to do that.

    https://knoema.com/yxptpab/crude-oil-price-forecast-2017-2018-and-long-term-to-2030

    Long and short of it is, Osborne's fiscal half-measures haven't a chance of working, and the bond rating agencies know it.

  15. Well, now at 70, and officially a senior, I sometimes ponder if I will get past the pearly gates. Being raised Anglican, I did not look to the Pope for moral guidance, but I am presently rather fond of Pope Francis, and also watch with interest the current CNN special on popes.
    Yet as Anglicans, we somehow have respect for St Peter, and i know of no Protestant alternate as the gatekeeper.
    And so, I ponder, and somewhat fear , whether I will be able to get through the "eye of the needle" .
    My radio automatically came on this morning playing the Irish Nfld program on VOCM, with the song " we rant and we roar like true Nflders", and thought if that song had value as to our culture, then we must be losing our culture, as ranting and roaring is being discouraged now from the highest levels. But I digress.
    Jesus said "it is easier to get through the eye of the needle , than for a rich man to get into heaven. And as being rich is relative, one could see why I ponder this. I could say to St Peter, that compared to Stan Marshall or Danny Williams, I am but a poor man, and he would straight away open the gates. But St Peter, being no fool, is likely to say, compared to the widow and her mite, I was indeed a rich man, and so send me off for a forensic audit, and assess charitable donations, like Mueller may do for Donald Trump, despite his squealing.
    And so , can you imagine Danny Williams getting through that needle, and especially Stan.
    Now a biblical scholar might point out that the eye of a needle was a phrase to describe how the old walled cities were fortified, such that to get in at certain times at night, a man and his camel had to get down on their knees and so get through this small hole in the stone wall: the eye of the needle. So, not an impossible task, but presents some difficulty, as you might imagine. So, when Jesus spoke those words, everyone knew what he meant. But that is not so obvious 2000 years later, for one more knowledgeable about seals than camels.
    And so, my offer to buy 3 reclining chairs for seniors for the Health Science ER got not a single taker. I thought to offload about 2000 dollars, and claim this as a credit with St Peter. But I failed, yet again. And at 70, they say time is running out. And they say good intentions is like going to hell in a handbarrow, that is, worthless…..,
    maybe like the Leblanc Inquiry.
    Winston Adams

    • Tune in the Met opera, enjoy, and thank your fellow Canadian taxpayers:-).

      I still believe, after CBC signed on VONF, April 1, 1949. (69yrs tomorrow), we have been served well with News, Sports, Arts Entertainment. Hope that next 70yrs will be as good.

    • Bunch of dated media elites if you ask me… they're paying a half-dozen or so on-air personalities there to give out the bit of news (mostly "lifestyle" articles), weather and sports for NL, the vast majority of content anyone with an iphone and social media account can easily obtain themselves.

      Indeed, these supper-hour news programs are basically "legacy" operations that are fast becoming irrelevant in the internet age. Most of the "news" they broadcast is already stale by the time it goes to air.

      As for in-depth investigative journalism into provincial affairs, that left CBC NL with David Cochrane.

  16. Oh my! I need to brush up on my knowledge on religion. Is it still even taught in school?
    According to the Telegram, the Anglican priest, David Barrows, says" it is our belief that if one person in society is poor, then the whole of society is poor". And he goes on to say, as to the provincial budget, that he "encourages politicians to pledge to eliminate poverty"
    Now, when I was young, Anglican "men of the cloth" were not called priests, but ministers, so, Times they are a Changin.
    But in society , how can it be, if one is poor all of society is poor? I mean, with our class system, society is made up of the poor , the middle class and the upper crust, that is the rich. So, is the rich, a part of our society, poor? Or expected to be poor? Or just have the poor mouth?
    What natural law, or law of mankind, dictates that if one is poor all is poor? The same that says if one is rich, all is rich?
    Meanwhile, Ches Crosbie, is to enact new laws called The Honestly Act that is to bind pledges by politicians to this Act. And any politician that so pledges to eliminate poverty will surely be in deep doo doo.
    Now I was taught that Jesus said "the poor will always be with you" , and if that is so, who would be so foolish to make such a pledge, or so foolish to suggest making such a pledge?
    Perhaps I, or someone, need a refresher.
    Winston Adams

    • Winston, the influence of religion in NL in education and public life, took a substantial hit, when during the infamous IWA strike, 1959, Joey saw fit to call on the organized church leaders, (who at the time were subservient to Gov. funding), to publicly declare the union a bunch of gangsters, de-licensed, and thrown out of the province.

  17. Robert, PENG2, and AJ seems to have connected the dots, that I have connections with Upper Island Cove….yes, ancestors from both sides from there. Born a Nflder, now starting to be part of a rare breed, like you. I was 12 when Joey made his firey speech associating the logger union as a bunch of communists too, I think. I have learned since of the miserable crude living conditions of the loggers.
    And I understand a little of poverty. I grew up on welfare, my mother getting 54 dollars a month to cloth and feed and maintain the old house, with 5 children to support. At the request of the Anglican minister she took in Mr Hubert Kitchen, , as a boarder, the school principle for 50 dollars a month, having been assured it would not affect her income. Within weeks the welfare officer arrived, and knowing the situation, her support was cut from 50 to 4 dollars. Yet Kitchen remained for the balance of the year. In latter years he was Minister of Health, I believe.
    I am a cousin of John Lundrigan, the guy who goaded Trudeau the Elder to use the term "Fuddle Duddle". He later became a minister under the Moores government. He,like Frank were womanizers, and went on to be "consultants", that is lobbyists, Lundrigan getting nearly a million for brokering a deal for a telephone company in central Nfld, and Moores, somewhat connected with the Airbus affair. Has Des yet written his memoirs?
    I can proudly say I could and did tap my own leather shoes with replacement soles. And so now, I grow old and mouldy, as they say.
    My father, a century ago walked the railway line, you mentioned, now in disrepair running to Churchill Manitoba, then to canoe 200 miles down the Nelson River, to the boondoggle site of Port Nelson. He made his fortune by salvaging an abandoned NWMP schooner, the Village Belle, and sailed her out of Hudson Bay, with no engine, a century ago now this summer. It made him rich.
    He died in 1954, and spread his money among his kids, 1 dollar each. His eldest son, who suffered from mental illness, filled the void, and supported us. Of the youngest 5, 2 became RN nurses, 1 a radar technician on the DEW line, one a air traffic controller, and I, the only college graduate , an electrical engineer, graduating from where you did, Nova Scotia Tech.
    For those who look down on people with mental illness, where would we have ended up without his work and struggle, though several times a patient of the Waterford.
    But I did not know real poverty, having a supportive family. Real poverty I learned from my fathers journals, describing the plight of aboriginals, Inuit under the Moravians, and Innu , some starving in Labrador in the 1930s.
    And there , little has changed, as to their living conditions meeting National standards. I Trust our friends form Quebec who comment on this blog,learn something of them and their hardships as well. What was the win win for them form the Upper Churchill deal that proved so good for HQ, and of value to Nfld. Will the Supreme court bring justice to them, from the Grand River.
    Winston Adams

  18. Not to worry Winston, you are just a springs chicken….yet. You are just starting on your fourth score, you may get well into your 5th. Score, and hope you have good health. You are quite open with your past, and I thank you for that, some of us are much more reserved, and don't even state our names. I do it for personal reasons. Many years ago, I was on a job with this guy, and after the second day he seemed friendly enough, so I asked him where he was from. And he said, haven't you figured that out yet. And I said no, why. He said, didn't you notice how witty I am. And I said no boy, you could have fooled me. Lol. Haven't met you, but you didn't fool me. I mentioned one day as annon: that you didn't miss much. But while mentioning politicians, you may know that a few years ago when Harper was campaigning out that way, and a reporter asked him where was his next stop, and he replied, Grace Harbour. Not bad for a smart cunning politician. Yep, you remember our history well. And keep your stick on the ice, especially winter time, and we might all save a dollar from muskrat, from your diligent mini split heat pump recordings. Thanks, AJ.