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N.L. Liberals battle to stay in power despite province’s ‘difficult time’


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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A provincial budget is being tabled Tuesday in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it will surprise no one if it doesn’t actually make it to a vote in the House of Assembly.

The youngest province has been in pre-election mode for weeks, since Premier Dwight Ball promised to send voters to the polls before the end of June.

The Liberal government has been making a flurry of spending announcements — including one Monday about mitigating power hikes — and Ball has refused to commit to waiting for the budget to pass before calling a vote.

Ball, a former pharmacist and businessman, was first elected in 2015 as frustrated voters booted the long-ruling Tories from power. But he’s had a rough ride, mostly because of a financial situation so dire it has prompted national headlines raising the spectre of a potential provincial bankruptcy.

“It’s just been a difficult time in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Margaret Brigley, CEO of Corporate Research Associates (CRA), a Halifax-based market research firm.

Ball’s main rival is Tory Leader Ches Crosbie, the lawyer son of former federal cabinet minister John Crosbie, the one-time lieutenant-governor and a towering figure in the province.

A March CRA poll suggested a close race between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, with Ball enjoying a slight edge.

Brigley said the Liberals appear to be showing some resiliency, despite the financial stresses on the province and its people.

The government has struggled to get its finances on track after years of significant deficits and concern over health care costs, expensive rural services, steady outmigration and a rapidly aging population.

But the Liberals have been trying to change the narrative.

A key announcement came April 1: The provincial and federal governments unveiled the revised Atlantic Accord, a crucial agreement on offshore resource revenues that promised $2.5 billion in federal money funnelled to the province over 38 years.

Kelly Blidook, a political science professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, said the announcement showcased the often mutually beneficial relationship between the federal and provincial Liberals.

With Monday’s power rates announcement and Tuesday’s budget, Blidook said Ball could find a path to victory.

“I don’t get the impression Dwight Ball is extremely well-liked, he’s not particularly charismatic and he doesn’t really connect in the way other leaders sometimes do … but at the same time I think he’s in a safe spot, I think he’s kind of grown into the role,” Blidook said. 

“I don’t think people are happy with the state of the province necessarily, but I think all things considered they see someone who they feel reasonably trusting towards to continue governing.”

The ongoing inquiry into the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject in Labrador could also move votes, and not necessarily against the incumbent government.

A parade of former PC cabinet ministers and premiers have taken the witness stand amid testimony on alleged mismanagement that led to excessive cost and schedule overruns, with Ball himself scheduled to testify in July.

Crosbie and his party are still suffering from their association with the former Tory government that sanctioned Muskrat Falls.

Retired political science professor Stephen Tomblin said Crosbie’s best hope is to play on voters’ frustrations with the status quo.

“I think if he’s going to have any success at all it will be that people (will) just be revolting against the Liberals,” Tomblin said of Crosbie. 

“His strength is with his legal background. He’s capable of framing issues or problems in way which may attract more attention.” 

The provincial NDP, once a growing force, has mostly failed to rebound from internal strife that saw several officials and staff leave in 2013.

The NDP holds just two seats, and neither sitting member is running in the election. The CRA poll suggested the NDP is a distant third.

New NDP Leader Alison Coffin, an economics professor at Memorial, was acclaimed this spring after an uncontested leadership contest.

The CRA poll also suggested that about a quarter of the electorate had not yet decided how they would cast their ballots. Tomblin said this points to frustration with the province’s challenges — where many residents are voting with their feet by moving away.

“There’s this … sense of, obviously, crises and problems which are going to be here for a while, and associated with that I think there’s a sort of lack of faith in the political system,” he said.

“There’s this sense that if he (Ball) squeaks in, he needs to be much more aggressive with dealing with the problems than he has been in the first term.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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Minority Government passes Bill C10 on internet freedom. Opponents pleading with Senate to block it.

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Bill C 10 which is expected to fundamentally affect how Canadians experience the internet, has been hammered through the House of Commons.  At 1:30 AM Ottawa time, the minority Liberal Government with help from the BQ and the NDP were able to pass the bill.  In opposition were the federal Conservatives and lone Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.   The urgency to pass C 10 before an election call expected later this summer resulted in the Liberals actually shutting down debate at the committee level.  That’s only happened twice in the history of the country before now!  The Liberals also attempted to pass secret amendments which were caught by the Conservatives and ruled “out of order” by the House Speaker.

Why the rush?  Opponents are concerned the Liberals, BQ, and NDP are far more concerned with regulating social media use, than they are with boosting individual Canadians creating new content.  It appears the urgency has to do with giving themselves the ability to guide internet content, just in time for the federal election campaign., a group striving to keep the internet “open, affordable, and surveillance-free” calls the government’s bill “outrageously flawed”.  The group published an article called “What’s wrong with Bill C 10?”  which asks and answers 8 key questions surrounding C 10.  The article provides excellent background knowledge for Canadians concerned about the future of the internet.

OpenMedia says the goal of the bill is to expand “Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet, including Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, and other popular streaming services.”  Streaming services will be forced to make higher payments to the Canada Media Fund which would mean higher rates paid for Canadian users.  According to OpenMedia streaming services will charge higher Canadian specific fees, and may even avoid Canada altogether.

OpenMedia calls C 10 a “cash-grab for traditional broadcast industries” which actually does nothing to serve the new wave of content creators who could really use a boost on the international stage.  As a last ditch attempt to stop the bill, is urging Canadians to email the Senate right now to ask for a REAL democratic examination of Bill C-10.

Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre is especially concerned with the federal government giving itself the power to block unapproved ideas from popular content creators like himself, just in time for the next federal election. Surprisingly, and maybe most concerning of all, both OpenMedia and Pierre Poilievre point out the bill ‘DOESN’T ADDRESS WHAT CANADIAN CONTENT IS’.  The current definition of “Canadian Content” was last updated in 1984, more than a decade before the internet changed everything.

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Loss of Brother to Addiction and Mental Illness Inspires Sister to Raise Money by Selling Face Masks.

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Starting June 10th, until midnight Sunday, June 13th customers across Canada can help raise funds for Mental Health Organizations in their own provinces by purchasing much needed luxury cotton face masks.

Jodee Prouse, from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, co-owner of Service Mask Supply (SMS) is the provider of one of Canada’s best-selling luxury 3-layer Cotton Face Masks. She announced today that they will be donating $1.00 from every mask purchase on June 10, 11, 12 and 13th to Mental Illness Programs and Organizations in communities across Canada. “We all look forward to when we no longer need to wear face masks,” says Jodee, “and we are getting really close. I am proud that we can provide a much-needed product and at the same time allow others the opportunity to come together to raise money for Mental Health in their own communities.”

SMS is excited to announce that for 4 days this week, $1.00 from every mask will be donated to different Mental Health Organizations across Canada. Customers can place their order online, each mask is $5.00, and will ship directly to their homes or businesses. Jodee is proud of her team and orders quickly ship the next business day, leaving from their warehouse in Alberta. All monies collected will go back into each province to where the order was shipped. As an example, Alberta portion will go back to Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division, Manitoba to Rainbow Resource Centre and so on. This allows every Canadian the opportunity to make a difference and take part.

From the beginning, SMS had an amazingly simple business model, originally supplying schools and oilfield companies: provide comfortable and affordable masks (each is only $5.00) with patterns that make people smile. Smile. It is what Jodee and her business partner son Ryan believes we need more of right now during these unprecedented times. “My son and I, at different times in our lives, have both struggled with anxiety and depression. We lost a much-loved member of our family when our brother/uncle lost his battle with mental illness and alcoholism when he took his own life in March of 2012. He was only 39. This helped solidify our commitment to helping to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.”

Now more than ever we want to bring communities together. And remind people they are not alone.

SMS is proud to be celebrating over 17,000 customers across Canada this week. They know that much of their success has been driven by their passionate customers, repeat business and recommendations to family, friends, and co-workers. “It fills my heart to receive not only Facebook messages and emails daily on how much they love our masks,” says Jodee, “but also the heartfelt words where strangers feel comfortable and safe enough to share some of their own mental health or addiction challenges.”

SMS has over 150 unique colors and patterns with such unique designs as sunflowers, flamingo’s, tie dye, dog lover, pretty kitties, fishing lures, butterflies, hearts, breast cancer, yoga, fine wine, pride, cupcakes and many more. Great for work, play, indoors and outdoors too with sizes for the whole family.

Learn more visit:

For more information you can email [email protected]

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june, 2021

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