Thursday, April 24, 2014


THE GOVERNMENT AND ED MARTIN'S FATE ARE TIED TOGETHER

THE TELEGRAM

This time last month, Nalco head honcho Ed Martin called a news conference to discuss the findings of a review on power outages and rolling blackouts that affected most of the island.



The political reverberations of those blackouts contributed to the truncation of the Dunderdale premiership sending the conservatives into a tailspin that they cannot seem to break out of.



For a non-elected official Ed Martin has become a divisive symbol of what many people in this province perceive as an elitist power and financial power grab by an arrogant, non-transparent and non-accountable government organization.



In my opinion, Martin has become the new millenniums R.G. Reid. The face of modernization overseeing the construction of a vaunted public economic tool with public tax dollars. While the grossly expedited, nearly unvetted Muskrat Falls become our generations Newfoundland Railway? Time will tell.



Since the departure of Premier Williams, Martin has been the voice of credibility for Nalcor. No elected official – premier or energy minister – has been able to articulate the nuts, bolts and numbers like this mandarin. 

Hence much of the government’s political currency is held in Fort Nalcor.

That currency has been taking a pounding. Case in point, today’s revelation from Liberty Consulting Group that there's an "unacceptably high risk" of future blackouts. The consultant's report on Newfoundland's power failures in January blames insufficient generation and equipment maintenance. 

Last month, Martin held a press conference to answer questions about a report it filed to the Public Utility Board regarding the blackouts. Martin outlined a number of recommendations that included building new generating capacity on the island, establishing new maintenance protocols and enhancing communications with Newfoundland

“I want to ensure that we don’t go through events of this nature again,” he told reporters. He refused, wisely, to say with 100 per cent certainty the province has seen the last of blackouts . He reiterated that the vast majority of Hydro’s electricity system performed, as it should, that it was a series of unplanned and unrelated events that caused the events of late December and early January.

It would appear that Nalcor has a credibility issue. In the Winter, the Premier was pointing to the blackouts as proof of the need for the Muskrat Project to be completed. Muskrat is turns out will not ensure energy stability but increase our dependence on a single source.

Government has finally committed to an oversight committee. The divisive project is already facing cost and time overruns. The power czar appears to have no clothing. In short, government, forced by public dissatisfaction has begun to reign in Martin.  It may not be enough and it is certainly overdue.

Ed Martin is certainly being setup to be the fall guy for the government’s disastrous rush to develop the lower Churchill and failure to invest in energy security/stability. The government has put its head in the sandy banks of the Churchill River, passed all sovereignty to Nalcor and failed the people of the province. 

The government put all of its eggs in one basket. It is supposed to oversee and protect our tax dollars. It has failed

With no legitimacy remaining after the flight of both the Premier and the Energy Minister that brought this project to a premature sanction, it is time to let the people have a say on the government's credibility.

The only thing that will clear the air and return any semblance of credibility and accountability is an election.

CONOR & THE SHALLAWAY BOYS' ENSAMBLE

A few weekends ago Shallway performed it's annual Spring concert at the Arts & Culture Center in St. John's. 

The One World - Spring Concert: A journey around the world in music and rhythm, was my favorite concert to date.

I was surprised to learn that Conor had a solo singing Sony's Dream with the Shallaway Boys' Ensemble. The surprise was unveiled by reading the concert program!

Whether you represent a company or are a private individual who might wish to support the arts through our organization, your donation will be gratefully accepted. Shallaway is a registered charitable organization, so a Canadian tax receipt will be issued for your donation. Donors will also be noted on our concert programs and publicity.   
Every dollar helps them sing and win national and international acclaim.  
Here is my baby boy  

MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN

I do not have a dog in the Conservative Leadership Race (Debacle) The outcome will have very little impact on my daily life. However, as a student of politics and organizational behavior, I am fascinated by the organizational, political and communication mess this process has created for the governing party.


My intention is to provide some insight and discussion on process and outcomes with a view towards debunking some of the popular myths and truisms about an unfair process leveled by former Leadership candidate Bill Barry.

Today, I want to tackle the issue of what a delegated leadership race is. My intention is to provide some insight and discussion on process and outcomes.

In its simplest form,  grassroots members of a political party select/endorse/reject candidates vivifying for the job of leader. The process used by the Tories is not very unique. The rules are all spelled out in the party's constitution and by a rules committee. They are the same for everyone.

I have participated in many similar processes at the national, local and candidate level over the last thirty years. In fact, All of our Prime Ministers and nearly all of our Premiers were selected through similar processes.

There are two types of delegates (voters) that get to vote for the leader; elected delegates and non-elected ex-officio delegates. 

The ex-officio delegates comprise of folks that are former candidates, elected M.H.As, executive and committee members. These folks have automatic votes. They do not have to seek election to become delegates. Many of these delegates are considered as "Old Guard". They are a core group of volunteers and party organizers that have proven their loyalty to the cause by getting elected or serving on executives over the decades.

The percentage of ex-officio delegates in any given process has become the Achilles heel of direct democracy advocates who feel these delegates are not accountable.

The second group, who should comprise the vast majority of any leadership convention are the delegates elected at the district level. These are the wildcards, the grassroots members who vi for the right to represent their association at the leadership convention.

This is the battleground where the various candidates for leaders, and their machines, campaign for the hearts, minds and votes of the average party member. It can be cannibalistic and savage. The outcome of each of these 48 delegate selection meetings is a slate of individuals that will have a direct say in who the next leader will be.

The candidates must hustle and whip-up their support. Each selection meeting is a mini-leadership convention, a means to an end. No candidate can afford to loose potential delegate support. Every one of those convention delegate spots are worth their weight in gold. 

Like on election day, each campaign will have a get out the vote machine. Each campaign will  have influential local tories endorsing them. These supporters will cajole, request and assist voters to the site of the selection vote. 

Sometimes there are speeches by the candidates that are vying for your support. However, by now voters will have received literature, an email or even a phone call from the various camps. It has been my experience that the vast majority will have their minds made up before the enter the all. Sometimes they will support a few people they know, other times they will vote for a slate of people that are running together as a block. 

You reap what you sow. A candidates success of failure will depend on their popularity, their ability to get voters out and for a select few, rewards offered or a candidades proposed policies. 

Getting voters out is key. A candidates popularity often correlates with good voter turnout. Even popular candidates have to push hard to ensure complacency does not rob them of delegates. Endorsements, enticements (a party afterwards with lots of eats and drinks) and reminders of favours from the past are all tools used by campaigns to win over those votes.

The best organized and efficient team wins. There are not delegates awarded for most congenial, or most loved, or moist likely to revive. There is only winner takes all. 

It is emotional, competitive and stressful. It is a zero sum game, there are clear winners and there are clear losers. It is not a process for the naive, sooky or the weak of heart. There are always hurt feelings and often allegations of wrongdoing by the loosing side.

Other parties, most notably the Liberal Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, have adopted a process where members and supporters by-pass the delegate selection process and vote directly for the leader.  

The scramble to register voters and persuade them to vote is just as intense. Campaigns still depend on endorsements, literature, phone calls and candidate meetings to round-up support.

It is still a zero-sum game decided via a very intensely competitive process where organization and popularity decide the day.

If people are not buying what you are selling, do not have a get out the vote machine or believe an inspired speech at a delegate selection meeting than you are going to lose. That loss reflects one's ill-preparedness, unpopularity or lack of  political savvy, not that the fix is in.

At the end of the process, leaders are chosen.

Remember, many are called but few are chosen.


ARGUING WITH A STRING THEORIST


SURVIVING THE UNTHINKABLE

During the Cold War, the West was immersed in a culture of fear. Many were certain that nuclear war was imminent as the United States and Soviet Union were raced to stockpile more nuclear bombs. Nuclear preparedness was a way of life. Some towns installed air raid sirens and community fall-out shelters. School children were taught duck-and-cover drills  and many people built and stocked bomb shelters. 

The aim was to survive the unthinkable. Today the news is full of apocalyptic potential. They range from shifting magnetic poles, global warming, asteroid strikes, Zombie attacks, alien invasions to catastrophic natural disasters.  

One could easily fall victim to paranoia and anxiety. The sale of anti-depressants is at an all time high.

The fall of the Roman Empire led to the Dark Ages, signalling the death knell of education and literacy, sophisticated architecture, advanced economic interaction and the rule of written law. The dark age lasted for nearly 400 years. Fortunately there were a few guardians of knowledge that preserved, reproduced and eventually reeducated.

One of my favorite sci-fi television programs of all time Babylon Five painted a picture of human civilization ascending and collapsing many times over the millennia until eventually the sun burned out and we moved on.

How many times have advanced civilizations risen up and fallen to terrestrial and extraterrestrial calamities? How many times has society re-booted? What are our most valuable accomplishments? 

A recent article in the Boston Globe provides a blue print for preparedness in the event of an event that destroys civilization as we know it. Want to reboot Civilization? What You'll need is fascinating.

Author Annale Newitz interviews Lewis Dartnell, an astrophysicist and author of a new book on the subject, “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.” 

What are  keys to unlocking all other knowledge and how do we preserve them to give future civilizations a shot at survival in a post-apocalyptic world.