Polls are indicating the Progressive Conservative Party will come to Power in today's Newfoundland provincial election. Questions will now be asked about the policy direction of a government under PC Leader Danny Williams. AIMS Fellow Peter Fenwick, who writes for AIMS on Newfoundland policy issues, has turned his mind to what a Williams government's priorities will be, given the leader's policy positions and the evolution of the election campaign. In this item originally published in the October 21st National Post, Fenwick says beyond a modest commitment to eliminate civil servant positions and balance the budget, the PC agenda appears to be business as usual.
On April 24th Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Robert Thibeault, announced the closure of the last remnants of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the northern cod fisheries. The economic impact on Newfoundland will be minimal, however the federal government is coming to the aid of rural communities with up to 25 million in make work programs.
Chancellor Park is a recently built investor-owned facility in St. John's. It is the only large for-profit nursing home in the capital city. The pilot project was an attempt to secure additional high needs beds without expanding the government run facilities in the city. This week Newfoundland Health Minister Gerald Smith released the results of a yearlong pilot study that compared the quality and cost of caring for high needs elderly in a not-for-profit government run home with a for-profit private home. It was no contest.
Last Friday could have been the start of the end for regulated oil prices in Newfoundland and Labrador says Peter Fenwick, AIMS’ voice on Newfoundland and Labrador. Last Friday Western Petroleum forced the politically appointed Newfoundland oil pricing commissioner to increase the price of a litre of gasoline by 5.8 cents, a full two weeks early. It was only a brief reprieve for the largest independent gasoline chain in the province, but it may signal the end of the Petroleum Pricing Commission. Western Petroleum is a local home grown company that is trying to compete with some of the largest companies in the world. That in itself is difficult. But when you have to take on your own government in the guise of a politically appointed commissioner who wants you to sell for less than your costs, your job is that much harder. Read Fenwick’s commentary to see why, ultimately, the best solution is to eliminate the Petroleum Pricing Commissioner entirely.
Newfoundland Exploration Industry Faces Highest Taxes in Country; A heck of a way to treat your local heroes
As AIMS Fellow on Newfoundland Issues, Peter Fenwick says in this new piece, in 1996 Voisey's Bay discoverers Al Chislett and Chris Verbiski were Canadian prospectors of the year; feted in their home province of Newfoundland, and given honourary degrees from Memorial University. They were the home-grown boys who would lead Newfoundland to prosperity. But that most-favored-son status didn't last long. Today their exploration company, Archean has the dubious distinction of being the highest taxed company in Canada. The two prospectors are now considering moving their company to a lower taxation province.
In this radio commentary, Peter Fenwick, AIMS voice on Newfoundland and Labrador, looks at the potential impacts of the Kyoto accord for Newfoundland. Take a look at the full commentary to see why Fenwick believes Newfoundlanders will see “…a dollar a litre for gas, twenty cents more for home heating oil…a marked drop in offshore oil exploration, and a dismal decline in our rate of growth.” Publication: November 1 2002
According to former AIMS Director of Communications, Peter Fenwick, the gasoline price regulation scheme now before the Newfoundland House of Assembly is far worse than the disease it is supposed to cure. Here is an extract from his article: "Given the historic opposition of the government to imposing gas regulation it is clear that this is a smoke screen designed to curry political favour, and to obscure the role taxes play in keeping oil prices high. The legislation is designed to reduce criticism rather than oil prices. When [Minister] Matthews introduced the bill he said 'So, on the basis of the lack of confidence... by the people of the Province, and on the basis of the... representations that all of us have had from the general public,... it is appropriate to bring in a petroleum products regulatory regime...'" "Nowhere does he say that it is a good idea."
After six long hard years of negotiation a deal has been struck that will see the nickel ore deposits at Voisey's Bay begin to be mined. In looking at the deal, Peter Fenwick, AIMS' voice on Newfoundland & Labrador, asks why a similar deal was not concluded a long time ago. Most of the terms included in the final deal have been on the table for some time and the public has given a rousing endorsement to the terms reached between Inco, the provincial government and the Innu and Inuit people. Gauging the damage done to the Newfoundland mining industry by these negotiations is difficult. What exploration programs were cancelled, and what promising finds not developed, is impossible to say.
Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues, most recently in his award-winning book "The Mystery of Capital", that the world's poor often possess considerable capital which could be used to generate wealth, income and employment. Unfortunately, because that wealth is tied up in things like self-built houses to which no formal title exists, it cannot be used as collateral and no bank will lend against it. It is, in de Soto's words, "dead capital", capital whose value has been destroyed by the absence of clear, simple and defensible property rights. In this Commentary, former AIMS Director of Communications, Peter Fenwick, applies these insights to Newfoundland and its perennial problems of economic underdevelopment. He writes: "Although Newfoundland is far from a third world country when it comes to property rights, long held attitudes towards the commons have severely stunted any attempt to use the natural wealth of the province as the grubstake to build prosperity."