Friday, December 22, 2006

Were once they stood - WE STAND (.CA)

Making the Choice to Stay, Live and Work in Newfoundland and Labrador

Today the NLDL stood together with groups like the Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador's Youth (FINALY), The Community Linkages Concept Committee (CLCC) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmer's Forum (NLYFF). We stood with bright and talented Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, artists and entrepreneurs like Shelly Broomfield, Jill Curran, Jamie Baker, Rhonda Tulk-Lane, Chan Wiseman, our very own Steve Penney, Ray Johnson and Rex Goudie.

Panelists: Jill Curran, Steve Penney, Rhonda Tulk-Lane, Rex Goudie, Ray Johnson, Chan Wiseman, Shelley Broomfield and Jamie Baker

We stood together as a group with a simple but very powerful message: that the will and passion of the Newfoundland and Labrador people will be the strength that drives this province into future prosperity. The message is directed at the teachers and parents of our youth to instill in them the positive spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador. To encourage them to believe that the choice work in Newfoundland and Labrador, that the choice to be innovative and create new industry and ideas is attainable right here. The message was also directed at those who would challenge the idea of revitalizing rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and would discourage our youth from their dreams. The message for the nay-sayers is that a fundamental shift in thinking is necessary to drive the positive force that is our youth and rural communities.
The conference opened with the inspirational words of Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. Ray is Chairperson of the Flambro Head Heritage Society and Acting Chair of the Community Linkages Concept Committee. He shared his passion for the province and spoke of the choices our youth make “some of us must make the choice to leave, others wonder if they have a choice to stay.” The message he wanted everyone to take away from the conference is that we do have a choice. When questioned on how we can resolve the choice of our youth to stay. Ray responded “With inventiveness” He spoke of the hard-work and ingenuity that has built this great land. The never-say-die attitude of past generations who made it work because they had to; because the bond with their home strengthened their resolve. We as Newfoundland and Labradorians have to recapture some of that attitude and ingenuity and with it we will prosper.

The conference was also highlighted by some of the examples of the ingenuity and drive of our youth who have managed to build successes in rural Newfoundland and Labrador:
Jill Curran returned to N&L and built a business in Ferryland offers a unique tourism experience. Her venture called Lighthouse Picnics has grown from a makeshift roadside stand to a business which employs a seven people. She spoke about Increasing Rural Economic Development.

Jamie Baker is a columnist originally from Dildo who spoke passionately about the need for regionalization.

On Youth issues Steve Penney of the NLDL spoke about education and the obstacles of student debt.

Shelley Broomfield is Inuit with a brilliant mind and is a well-spoken Labradorian who told the conference about Aboriginal Youth Issues.

Rhonda Tulk-Lane of FINALY spoke about the out-migration and her own experience in taking the leap of faith to return to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chan Wiseman of the Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmers Forum used his experience growing up in a farming family to speak about diversifying rural Newfoundland and Labrador economies beyond the one-industry towns.

To close the list of guest speakers Rex Goudie, who went through hell and high-water to make sure he was able to make it to the conference, spoke about valuing where we come from and what we have. Without any notes Rex spoke from the heart, describing seeing so many of his classmates and friends working in Fort MacMurray. He told us of the simple pleasures that he grew up with and still looks forward to when he returns to Newfoundland and Labrador. Playing a game of shinny and snowmobiling. The joy of the outdoors, the freedom we have in this province to enjoy the environment. With a message directly for the young people in the audience he reminded them that it is these simply pleasures that are worth preserving.
The conference closed with a final thought from Ray Johnson. He pointed to the six students of Mary Queen of Peace who had left during the speeches. "These" he said "represent the youth who will be lost due to out-migration" and reminded us of the impact of this trend. He asked “Who will speak for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?”. His answer: “I Will. You Will. We Will.”

To follow up on the message of: “Making the Choice to Stay, Live and Work in Newfoundland and Labrador”, the launch of a new website was announced. Building on the phrase from The Ode to Newfoundland – “where once they stood we stand”. "" will build on the momentum of this Christmas Press Conference and bring our message into the new year.
Congratulations to all organizers and participants. The emotion and passion in the room was evidence that this was a press conference like no other.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What's on the go December the 20th?

Is Rural Newfoundland and Labrador Alive? Is there a choice for our youth growing up in rural Newfoundland and Labrador? Are there success stories among all the doom and gloom?

The Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League says there is!
Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador Youth (FINALY) says there is!
The Community Linkages Concept Committee says there is!
So do young entrepreneurs like Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmers Forum!

Watch your news on Wednesday Dec 20 for a news conference that is sure to be the talk around the water cooler. With guest speeches from some of the brilliant minds and artists from this province including Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellows, young entrepeneurs and a special surprise celebrity guest.

Got your attention? Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If I had a Pink Car - Could I Have a Pink Car-Nation?

Apparently the government of Canada is finally giving out free Nationhood status to anyone with a bone to pick about the constitution. The criterion is not distinction, because Newfoundland and Labrador would certainly be on the short-list for mini-nationhood if that were the deciding factor. It also isn’t history, because again – we have the least history in the federation and are the only people in the Canadian family who can still remember what it was like to have our own place (pink white and green flags for curtains, and what an ocean view!) No - the experience with being a separate nation and the issue of distinction are not the criteria for subletting the country with your own small “n” nation. The deciding factor is language!

This will be welcome news to my Uncle Jason who has been living for years “off the grid” on Carnation Rock in the Bay of Exploits. No one except his wife from Haiti has been able to understand Jason since they married in 1976, so he certainly fits the criteria for establishing his own nation:

So it gives me great elation to declare The Rock of Carnation its own federation, a nation within a nation where uncle Jason and the Haitian have been on permanent vacation, now I’ve lost my concentration… What in tarnation?!

Ah hell now I’m all confused. All I really wanted to know is if Quebec is a nation within a nation do I still have to go through Montreal to visit my brother-in-law in Whitby?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Newfound-brand and La-brand-or

"Florida" is as much a brand of Orange as it is an American State. American restaurants like to sell "Maine Lobster" even though they are likely to be Atlantic Canadian lobster. New Zealand has it's lamb and the Swiss have their watches. These places have successfully attached a brand to their geography. If you want the best chocolates you go to Belgium, sports cars Germany or Italy.

So this is it. The brand that will come to symbolize Newfoundland and Labrador to the whole world. Does it work? We haven't been particularly good at branding ourselves in the past. Not that we don't take well to branding. The seal hunt protesters have pinned the words "barbarian" to us quite successfully. It has no element in truth but such is the way with branding - only the perception has to be maintained. The Japanese for example have started making some great watches after the Swiss failed to monopolize on the technology of Quartz time movement. The Swiss maintain their stronghold on the quality clock industry though, in spite of the popularity of Seiko or Casio.

So how will these stylistic pitcher plants work for us. Only time will tell I guess. The branding of Newfoundland and Labrador is definately a step in the right direction. Perhaps this little graphic can do for us what a couple of young American campers did for the Canadian identity and clothing industry when they started the company ROOTS. The raw material is there. Newfoundland and Labrador is an easy sell, with its untamed beauty and friendly folk.

The fact that the flowers are a little like the Magic Mushrooms of Woodstock fame (or Super Mario Brothers for the youngsters) is really besides the point. If this simple graphic can succeed as a logo then more power to 'em.

God Speed little fly-eating bog plant - God Speed!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wag the Dog - Revisited

An article in June called "Wag the Dog" argued that a story by CBC used poor methodology in a story on MLS prices in Canada. The story compared The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador with cities (not provinces) in the rest of Canada. The article asserts that MLS prices in Newfoundland and Labrador are very low relative to the other numbers. This indicates poor economic growth. In fact if that article had properly compared The city of St. John's with other cities, Newfoundland and Labrador would not have appeared in such a negative light.

I offer this most recent story from CBC to illustrate my point:

As it turns out there is an average assessment increase of 22% over three years in 'ol Sin John's. Since growth has been steady over those three years it is fair to say that there has been a growth of over 7% each year. Now when we go back to the stats from the "Wag the Dog" article we see that the city of St. John's is very much in keeping with Halifax-Dartmouth.

That's a spin you are not likely to see in any national CBC story on MLS prices.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Love You...You Love Me - But Who The Hell Asked Margaret Wente?

Apparently Marg was not happy enough with the "welfare ghetto" comments. She has stuck her face back in the window long enough to shout "and another thing - you're fat too!" Sticks and Stones Marg.

I find her phrasing particularly humourous: "I like Newfoundlanders, I really do, but St. John's weighs in with more fat people per capita than anywhere else in the country (36 per cent, versus Toronto's slender 16)".

Where I have heard that before? 'I like Newfoundlanders I Really Do'?!

Was it when she said: "I like Newfoundlanders. I really do. But their sense of victimhood is unmatched"... or perhaps when she said "I like Newfoundlanders, I really do. Where would we be without Rex Murphy and Mary Walsh and Rick Mercer? On the other hand, they left" ... or this recent one "I like Newfoundlanders, I really do, but St. John's weighs in with more fat people per capita than anywhere else in the country."

So we can draw a couple of conclusions from Margaret: 1. She likes Newfoundland, no really she does! and 2. Toronto is not only the centre of the universe but boasts only 16% fat people. Send them the Medal - the contest is over! Margaret, may I introduce you to Mr. Toronto (below). He has something in his coffee cup you will be particularly interested in. Me thinks I have a reason why T'rontonians are so damn trim... but it wouldn't be polite to tell you about it here.

... and give me back my bloody hat - I said you could try it on, not adopt it...


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Stuff" from T'rono

A lunch time walk downtown is never dull. This gentleman appeared on the corner last week proclaiming himself to be Mr. Toronto and holding a banner with the words Toronto Appreciation Day.

What-up dawg?! He is gallivanting around the country with a banner, a camera and a insulated coffee mug full of ... ah... well ... Poop actually. He calls it "Toronto Sludge" and he offered it as a gift to Newfoundland and Labrador because as "everyone knows we don't have a lot of arable land and this stuff is a "rich multicultural stew"." He didn't get any takers on his gift oddly enough. Maybe it was because anything offered up from Toronto can't be good news; or perhaps it was the fact that the smell from his "stew" was enough to overpower even the infamous funk of "the bubble". Given that "the bubble" is being stirred fresh by bulldozers, the fact that the Toronto version could, not only do battle with our local brew, but in fact overpower it... no small feat for a coffe-mug of treated poo.

The real stink from Mr. Toronto though comes from the fact that he is sponsered by the CBC. Our CBC. With a grant, a bottle of poo and a camera there he goes spending the bucks of Canada's broadcaster.

Of course this is all meant to be a tongue in cheek look at Canada's hatred for our Quasi-New York. The intention appears to be to show how great Toronto is by filming the fall-out of Canada's other cities to make T.O look good in comparison. With a small assortment of professionals and tourists out for their lunch time stroll he finds the one poor unfortunate who has stumbled upon the scene on his way from the booze laden bars of George Street. "and you sir - what do you think of Toronto sludge!"

I'm sure it will be a quality piece of work worthy of the quality of the CBC. If it doesn't work out he can stuff the film into a Horton cup and offer it around the Country as new and improved sludge from Toronto.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Garbage Day in St. John's

Update: For some reason Google has chosen to place this article high on a search for "St. John's Garbage Day" If you are looking for the schedule: Otherwise if you are looking for general sarcasm and sauce, stay where yer at :)

A city by-law to cover garbage with netting starts on the same day as the opening of the food fishery... coincidence?

I think there is a net-makers mafia at work...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Newfoundlander in Canada

My father was born a Newfoundlander. His first child was born a Canadian. Growing up a Newfoundlander in Canada is an ambiguous journey. In school, the textbooks were largely American, TV and entertainment was largely American. I'm not sure I understood that Canada was a separate country from the US. With an adult eye, I'm still not sure there is a great distinction. When the realization of the geopolitical relationship of Canada and the US was finally resolved in my mind I remember feeling disappointed. With the realization that Newfoundland was not a part of The States and that in fact Newfoundland was the adopted child of the Canadian Dominion - disappointment was the closest feeling that could be conjured up.

For the young Newfoundlander in Canada the fact that we had no affiliation with the US and that in fact we had only been with our present country for a couple of decades... It reflected on my own sense of identity. It meant that the childhood heroes; the writers, artists, movie stars, rock singers... were all part of a culture that was not your own. It made the dreams of becoming rich and famous like them suddenly unattainable. Who from Newfoundland was known in Canada, let alone the US? The greater dreams of fame and fortune were suddenly like catching moonlight in a box. It was perhaps the first time that the reality of my future was chiseled in the foundation of my psyche.

So given that I wasn't an American, I wasn't even in my country’s eyes a true and equal Canadian. I was a Newfoundlander, we did not become rich and famous. I was unlikely to become a Walt Disney or Elvis Presley. We came from labourers and fishermen, farmers and loggers. We worked on the sea, in the mines and in The Mill. My father, his brothers and their father worked in The Mill. My future was a flat-topped wooden lunch basket with a sandwich, a tea bag, a Gerber bottle of sugar and a spice bottle of milk. That was my reality. Falling asleep from shear physical exhaustion after supper, thick woolen socks covered with tiny pellets of wool. In steel toed shoes for ten hours of confinement. I don’t know of a ten year old who dreams of that. My pride in my father, my uncles and grandfather now is from a very different perspective than it was then.

Canada was 100 years old when I was born; The province of Newfoundland in Canada a mere fledgling at 18 years. My baby picture has grey centennial coins inside the frame, a goose, a rabbit, a dove. A boy of ten can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing the place of Newfoundland in Canada. Not only did we read American and Canadian books but Canada itself was celebrating its 110 birthday. But Newfoundland only joined in 1949? Canada has had a long history without us; our joining is a footnote.

That is the context of growing up a Newfoundlander in Canada. When Arthur Scammel wrote “The Squid Jiggin’ Ground” as a school project he received a poor grade. Not because it wasn’t a marvelous ditty, a fun reflection of the time and place – but because it was a reflection of his time and place. Newfoundlanders did not write about Newfoundland. Children should write about going to buy candy at the corner market or painting picket fences – not about getting ink in the eye from a Cephalopod. But he did and the song became one of the most recognizable ditty’s of Newfoundland and Labrador culture.

Without a lot of heroes and role-models, without learning our history, our place, despite all of the formal schooling to the contrary I am proud of this place. I am proud of the people who worked hard with smelly wool socks, flat topped lunch boxes and calloused hands. I am proud of the people who fought and died. I am proud of the Rhodes scholars, the artists, and writers who live in Newfoundland and Labrador. Although much of the true context of being a Newfoundland and Labradorian had to be discovered on my own; I am none-the-less grateful for it. Walt Disney never had it so good.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Danny and The White Moose

(This is a bit in the style of Rex Murphy)

The stuff of legends; the genetic anomaly that is the white moose. This albino was once thought to be a fallacy. A mis-identified caribou or the resulting exaggeration of an inebriated outdoorsman. In these days of technology when cell phones have cameras and the world is connected via streaming bits of information from a variety of media, there is not much that can remain concealed. The Giant Squid - the Kraken, The coelacanth and the white moose have all been brought out of incognito. Beware 'Nessy' and the 'Sasquatch', it's just a matter of time.

So there it is, a gosh darn larger-than-life white moose, grandiose and unforgiving of itself. You have to wonder about this living embodiment of Nature's satire. It has none of the stealth of its brethren, unable to disappear into the road-side brush like the stealth bomber of the Central Newfoundland interior. Old 'Whitey' is more in-your-face, he need not cower into the cover of foliage, he may as well just stand in plain view proclaiming "Here I am, I'm not going anywhere, yes I am a Friggin' White Moose and I couldn't give a rat's ass what you think of that."

There is certainly a great risk in being so highly visible in a place where everyone wants to take a shot at you. The parallel can be made between Whitey and our Premier Danny Williams. Danny has gotten more media attention in his short term in office than any premier in the last few decades. Not since Joey Smallwood's telling recitation of a night after eating bad lobster in the song "Like 'e Would" has a premier captured the minds of the public psyche. Like Newfoundland and Labrador's Trudeau, Danny has been seen doing his pirouette all over hell's half acre. He has been on Larry King Live, the New York Times and has been quoted in every two-bit rag from Too-Good Arm to Tumbler Ridge. When Danny dares knock on the granite doors of Big Oil the mainlanders really start to take notice. Aaaah yes Oil, Black Gold, Texas Tea. Everyone uses it, everyone wants it, and Newfoundland and Labrador has it. Apparently taking on big oil is something akin to trying to get an audience with the Pope. Big, powerful and lots of people who will stand up for it, with few daring to stand against it. Danny "the white moose" Williams has dared poke his foot into the door of big oil's boardroom and announce to all "Hey buddy, what's the deal with Hebron?"

He has been compared to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chevez as if he is a one man show in a province of subversives. Perhaps though if you were to look past Danny you just might catch a glimpse of a herd of half a million. You might be more surprised to see how many white moose there are in that herd. Necks out coaxing him on. "Give-er Danny", we will not hide in the shadows any longer. The white moose is here to stay.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quality of Character

Apparently there is a high level of financial retribution that is necessary to entice a certain "quality" of person to public life. At least that is what we are told whenever a person in public life needs to justify their pay and perks. There is something about the term "quality" though that I find uncomfortable. If a person has a quality above and beyond another there is an implication that there are people of lesser quality. Similarly the word "intelligence" doesn't sit well in my arse pocket of terms. If quality and intelligence are indeed qualities of a person that can be quantified we become something in the way of cattle, don't we? Pressing through a job interview with a B.Sc. or B.Ed branded on our hip or wearing our income level on a badge that reads "Hello MY NAME IS __ I MAKE __ A YEAR". Of course there are many who would welcome it, but they'll have to be content with having an initial after their name or by wearing their peacock display of bling. Not to devalue anyone's pursuits, acedemic and career goals are noble quests indeed; but success, experience, and education are contexts of your character; not your quality.

We do pay for quality in a person's work though; we choose our dentist, our restaurants, our contractor based on a price and an expected quality based on that price. If we accept the idea that there is a price paid for quality, can we expect that $100 000 - $150 000 for an MHA's salary (along with all the magnets and pins one can load into their Escalades) would produce for us some nice prime government officials? What we get instead are a selection of thieves and rogues who cry out of the left side of their mouth when hospital beds close in their riding but puff Cuban cigars out of the right.

These, hopefully rare few, do so with the kahunas to say they represent us. Paid by each of us. Paid well with incentives and perks because that is what this quality of person deserves. What sort of guarantee I wonder comes with a Grade-A rogue? So What do we do about it? A public inquiry? What do we get for our cash from a public inquiry? What did we get from Gomery? Some well paid lawyers, perhaps an extra Jag or two in Ottawa. Some months of repetitive news distracting from the more important issues of the day. Who really gives a rat's ass where the finger points at the end of the day! The finger should be pointing to the cash! The hands should be holding someone by the feet shaking the change from their pockets.

I want my money back... and at least a fridge magnet for my troubles.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pins Magnets and Limited Edition Rings - Everything Must Go

Act of Remembrance

I had wanted to write a piece about the 90th Anniversary of Beaumont Hamel and the dichotomy of the July 1 Holiday... but I find it difficult to put to words. With July 1 vast approaching I will offer this simple act of remembrance:

"On July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, 800 soldiers of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment rose from the British trenches and went into battle at Beaumont-Hamel, nine kilometres north of Albert in France. The next day, only 68 men answered the regimental role call. 255 were dead, 386 were wounded, and 91 were listed as missing."

On Saturday July 1 at 8:50am in Ottawa there will be a rare acknowledgement of Newfoundland and Labrador's exceptional role in the battle of the Somme. "Canada Day" overshadows this darker day in this province. On this, the 90th Anniversary of Beaumont Hamel - Remember...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rebranding Memorial University

It is puzzling sometimes how the pillars of acedemia can come up with some pretty stunned and useless ideas. The print shops that produce letterheads must be grinning all the way to the bank. I guess a pain in the arse for some people is the bread and butter of others.

Don't feel bad for Betsy there, the CONA/Trades and Tech/Cabot Institute cow looks like Dennis Rodman.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reflections from the Waterfront

The lady that passes me has the soft round small featured face that tells of her Irish heritage. She has light freckles on her cheeks and as she nears she smells like the cinnamon and vanilla of the downtown shop. A scent of rose perfume lingers as she passes.

By the harbour, the fishing boats are tied up. Short gentlemen with red cheeks share a joke as they busy themselves with metal and rope that appears abstract and featureless but their care for it suggests importance. The shops behind are playing Dick Nolan which drifts on the wind like time. The sounds growing faint as they are stolen by the breeze. A shop that has sculptures, painting and crafts has the doors wide open and the smell of a kiln is in the air. A group of young people sits with their legs folded and exchange sketchbooks of drawings. The art has themes of the ocean, sails, love and lust.

A man in a black suit with a conference badge hanging on a string drops a looney into the open guitar case of a tired looking gentleman who is channeling Johnny Cash through his guitar strings. An older couple wearing Old Navy shirts are asking a guy in front of the coffee shop when they can expect to see icebergs. The conversation shifts to capelin and he tells how the silvery fish will soon begin their annual ritual along these rocky shores. He tells of standing in the ocean having your ankles messaged by thousands of silvery bellies as the ocean tides turn into a living wave for a brief moment before tossing its cargo onto the shores to die. The elderly couple smiles discreetly wondering if the man might be having a bit of fun at their expense.

A shop full of books tells of this place; of history, politics, love and war, art and nature, the Beothuck and Innuit. “The Woman who Mapped Labrador”, “Newfoundland at the Crossroads”, “The Way of the Sea”, “The Labradorians”, “This Marvellous Terrible Place”. The door is held open by smiling faces for tourists who often appear uncomfortable with the instant familiarity. Seasoned visitors return the smile and talk openly and freely about the weather, politics, the war. There is an inherent safety in being open in these parts. An unguarded familiarity among strangers that is at first uncomfortable but then embraced.

Returning from lunch past small corner pubs that smell of lobster and scallops. A green envelope in my hand on which is scribbled “Why I love this place?” It is rhetorical.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wag the Dog

The news media is a funny animal. In its claims of journalistic integrity it is non-the-less influenced by agenda and bias. The weeds of opinion propagate from it and are nurtured at the womb of public opinion where it grows. In the public eye truth is elusive. Media broadcasts to its audience blindly, not knowing who is listening or how they will respond. Like coins thrown on a sidewalk we cannot tell who will pick it up or how it will be used.

This is why it has become increasingly important to view with a critical eye. To take pause and look at the stuff under a microscope. A great deal of it is fast-food for the mind, quick and immediately gratifying but in the long run not altogether healthy.

Consider a relatively benign article that has just cropped up on the CBC website. It lists housing prices changes from May 2005 to May 2006.

Here is a sampling of average MLS home prices in May (with year-over-year changes in brackets):
* Calgary: $358,214 (+43.6%)
* Edmonton: $242,936 (+22.9%)
* Halifax-Dartmouth: $210,225 (+7.6%)
* Montreal: $219,433 (+8.2%)
* Ottawa: $260,219 (+4.7%)
* Quebec City: $150,324 (+6.9%)
* Regina: $142,147 (+10.3%)
* Saint John, N.B.: $129,844 (+12.3%)
* Saskatoon: $162,279 (+11.5%)
* Nfld. & Lab.: $133,541 (-1.2%)
* Thunder Bay, Ont.: $118,804 (-9.0%)
* Toronto: $365,537 (+5.5%)
* Vancouver: $518,176 (+23.7%)
* Winnipeg: $159,801 (+12.5%)
* Canada: $303,836 (+12.9%)

A quick look at these numbers will tell you one thing. Newfoundland and Labrador was
only one of two places with a decline in housing prices. The overall story tells how the average house in major markets has topped $300K. In this context Newfoundland and Labrador may be implied to have poor economic growth when we this as an economic indicator. But let's put it under the microscope of scrutiny. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is compared against urban centres in the rest of Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador is the only listing that has provincial stats against urban areas. The unfiltered picture of this economic indicator would have included the City's of St. John's in this comparison and the provincial stats with other provincial stats. Of course this unbiased table would have to throw the -9% from Thunder Bay back into the mix and give us a lower figure for Ontario.

So what's on the go? Is the CBC guilty of a conspiracy against this province to put some sort of negative spin on things that relate back to us, or are they simply very poor analysts; comparing apples to bakeapples? And does it really matter? This is little more than a whining complaint of this beleaguered province unless you are inclined to take the media and public opinion seriously.

Does it matter that organizations have used the face of a whitecoat seal in contrast to the furrowed brow of a fisherman with a club?

Does it matter that The Globe and Mail is sprinkled liberally with stories of down-east handouts in contrast with stories of success for money to fund Bombardier in Quebec?

Is it important that touching stories of textile factories closing are not written with the same pen as the story about handouts for fishermen?

I guess it mostly depends on whose hand is on the tail that is wagging the dog. Perhaps equally as important, what the dog had to eat before all the wagging was started to begin with. Sooner or latter someone’s bound to be dumped on. My hopes are that on occasion it will happen to the hand that wags the tail.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Our Connection is Down

It's not always easy staying connected. The enjoyment of grabbing a book and finding a comfortable place to lay your buns does wonders for the brain fog that accumulates over the long winter months.

Here's a quick list of some underappreciated Newfoundland and Labrador literature for your summer reading material.

1. Norman Duncan's "The Way of the Sea". First Published in 1903
2. "Them Days" Magazine out of Labrador
3. The "Newfoundland Quarterly"
4. "Wild on the Crest" One of the best collections of Newfoundland and Labrador Poetry ever assembled. Look for E.J. Pratt, Micheal Crummey, Otto Kelland and many others.
5. "Newfoundland at the Crossroads - Documents on Confederation with Canada" Edited by Dr. J. Fitzgerald.
6. "The Woman who mapped Labrador" the latest incarnation of this remarkable story of the exploration of interior Labrador that started with "Lure of the Labrador Wild"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Spottin' Mainlanders

There's something a little odd about some of the visitors we have from our sister provinces. Around this time of the year We'll be at a gas pump throwing our wallet into the gas tank, or perhaps at a Horton's feeding the addiction - and then we hear it... "Lard tunderin' Geeze ol Man". It is distinctive and immediately identifiable: Tourists from the Mainland.

Considering the great deal of natural beauty and uniqueness of this province it is unfortunate that most tourists do not get that experience. We speak about how areas of the province get neglected in tourism promotional material but sadly more tourists visit George Street than Gros Morne. Perhaps there is a little bit of appeal to the lowest common denominator when it comes to marketing the province. A visitor can travel coastal Labrador, or fish The Big Land for the best Lake Trout and Char in the world. They can do battle with the great Atlantic Salmon on the Exploits, Gander and Humber Rivers. They can visit fiords, and follow the footsteps of Maritime Archaic, Beothuk Indians, and Dorset Eskimo. They can surround their boots with living waters of capelin. Icebirds, whales, and seabirds, roughed coasts and friendly people raising their voices in song. They can do all of this and more; but most do not.

I'm speaking of that particular breed of tourist who treat the experience like they were sent here on a dare. They only hope to take from the experience a story of how inferior the Newfoundland and Labradorian is. Fortunately they represent a small few but when you find one you'll know it. He will be the one teasing the waitress by ordering cod lips, or squid burgers. He'll be speaking in a very poorly executed Newfoundland and Labrador dialect and possibly accompanied by a Beavis and Butthead counterpart chuckling like an old Evinrude outboard.

Still not sure if you've meet one? They are commonly seen taking each others photos in front of the sign pointing the way to Dildo, or having their photo taken dry-humping the silver ladies in front of the St. John's convention Centre. They are the ones who undergo the now infamous Screech-in and actually belief it entitles them to the claim of being an honorary Newfoundland and Labradorian; entitled to use the term Newfie, if only in jest.

From my own experience this particular brand of visitor comes from other parts of the dominion. I have spoken to Europeans and Americans who have none of these preconceptions and biases. Ah well, all in good fun I guess. For the record "Dildo" is the wooden pegs used to keep the oars of a dory in place, and the ladies hunched over in front of the Convention Centre is a statue of respect to the women who helped to build this land. And just between you and I... the dialect is entirely fabricated, we only speak like that when mainlanders are around. It's all part of the master plan, "Confuse and Conquer", our version of "Shock and Awe".

So welcome fellow Canadians to Newfoundland and Labrador! Lard Tunterin' Geeze Cocky I'll see ya on Garge Street, we'll have a Swally of Screech.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Disappearing Newfoun..... and Labrad..

I was sipping an afternoon coffee, battling the 2:30 dragon, when a heavy thud brought me abruptly back to time and place. My co-worker holds a thick stack; "New phone book", he says, then continues his delivery of what two months ago must have been a small forest. ...but that's a blog for another time.

Looking at the sparkly new cover absent of dog ears and coffee stains I had a passing glance at the photo mosaic that has the new Aliant symbol emblazened across it. I remember a time when the new phone book would have a calendar-esque photo of some beautiful part of the island or Labrador. Whatever happened to those great Newfoundland and Labrador photos? It occurred to me that they disappeared around the same time as the tagline "The Home Team" was dropped... Which was also around the same time that Newfoundland Telephone became NewTel and then Aliant. No sign of Newfoundland and Labrador to be found.

WalMart stores are popping up like piss-the-beds. We have Home Depot, McDonald's, Pier 1, Old Navy... all the stores we have looked at with wide-eyed wonder for years on our diet of American media. One day on the way home from picking up the latest Dan Brown, Steven King or JK Rowlings book we pass a little store where we used to buy The Independent, Them Days and The Newfoundland Quarterly and wonder to ourselves "Gee when did that close?"

I know that our little phone company has spread it's wings and left the nest, picking up companies, making new friends. I guess it's not fair to expect it to retain it's Newfoundland and Labrador identity. But I still can't help but lament the loss of another little piece of our culture. I'm picking on Aliant a bit, I'll blame the thud of the phone book and the resulting coffee drool on my shirt for that. Truthfully though the phone company represents a greater trend. The degrading of a way of life. Years ago when I saw fences being made with railroad ties and sheds being made from fishing boats I knew there was something amise. A change in the air of the kind that makes Bob Dylan take pen to paper.

In our desire to fit into the Canadian family have we lost something of ourselves? I lament the loss as I finish my remaining Starbuck's Guatemala Antigua.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Faces of Race/Racist

The dichotomy of views about Newfoundland and Labradorians has always surprised me. The amount of brave, artistic, creative, and inspirational people in this province is incredible. Yet the perception, especially from our Canadian Sister provinces is nothing short of hateful in all too many instances.

The article below on illustrated this duality of thought very well. A couple of other links on the topic are thrown in for good measure:

Face of a Racist and Faces of a Race - "The Good Shepherd"

Canada's "N" Word - previous post on Newfoundlandincanada

Terms of Endearment - Myles Higgins

Newfoundland Heros - Averill Baker

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Forrest Gumping on an April Afternoon

A couple of things sparked this blog. Myles of Freenewfoundlandlabrador asked "Who is a Newfoundlander to you?" and a column by the lovely and talented Averill Baker about "Newfoundland Heros". For regular visitors please excuse this bit of sentiment - must be the sudden burst of sunshine. I'll return to my regular bitterness in future blogs.

The people that we met as we go through life each have an effect on who we become. Their influences become our own. Like a modern day Forrest Gump some of the situations we find ourselves in, and the people we meet along the way are as important to our lives as the pathes we follow.


While in high school I had the great fortune of having a set of teachers who were very proactive in bringing the world to a sheltered inland rural community. "Education Week" this was the time when the textbooks were closed and we took the opportunity to peer up from our desks and into the real world. It was during one of these academic interludes that a gentleman by the name of Arthur Scammel was introduced to our class. You should know the name, if you don't you will surely know his simple ditty of Outport Newfoundland life in the words of "The Squid Jigging Ground". Mr. Scammel was a man in his eighties at the time. Rumours of his demise had been greatly exaggerated; he was alive with a spirit that few of us can attest to.

When Mr. Scammel was a young student he wrote The Squid Jigging ground as a school project. His teacher did not receive it favourably. This was a time when textbooks came from England and we learned about another country's culture. Come to think of it I'm not sure it was different when I was in highschool except that the shining example of England was replaced with the influence of our neighbour to the South as we were taught from American textbooks. From Mr. Scammel I took away the pride in being able to say that I heard The Squid Jigging Ground sung from the shaking and whispy breath of the man himself, and more importantly an understanding of what it is to be a Newfoundland and Labradorian in the context of being surrounded and infiltrated by the powerful influences of Europe, the U.S., and from our foster parent Canada.


When I had completed my academic career I had a brief stint as a delivery driver. One of my routes took me into Shea Heights. There is a dichotomy about Shea Heights; it is famous for the beautiful view overlooking St. John's from the South Side Hills. This beauty is at the surface of a place that has a dark and horrible secret that is the unsolved murder of Dana Bradley. It is also the birthplace of one of Newfoundland's great hockey stars Harold Druken, and one of the most recognizable Newfoundlanders of all time the late Ed "Sailor" White. I met Ed on a number of occasions on my runs. He was a man who was physically ominous. His body round and thick, his face a living testament to the life he had led. On his forehead was the scars of the past, when blood was the entertainment of the day he would slash his forehead with a sharp object concealed in his palm and let the blood run over his face for the covers of magazines. What I took away from having met him though, is how the heart of a lamb can beat in a lion. Frailties exist under the strongest face. We should not be quick to judge people on their lifestyle choices, careers, looks or any other surface factor. The depth of a man or woman is worn in the heart.


Not a Newfoundland and Labradorian but one of the rare exceptional Canadians that makes us all wave the flag was the late Terry Fox. When Terry started in Newfoundland there was not a lot of initial reaction to his story. St. John's is a city that sees so many firsts - and the spring of the year is often a time when some adventurer with an odd homemade boat or plane will leave from here to mark his or her name in the history books - to cross Canada, North America, or the Atlantic Ocean. Sailers, rollerbladers, rowers, pilots we see them all. So we can be forgiven in Newfoundland for initially not taking notice of a runner from Vancouver. As Terry began to continue along the TCH people started to realize the conviction of this man - children started to mimic the famous "fox trot". One of my favourite TV shows was the Six Million Dollar Man. I thought for sure that this mechanical leg must give him some qualities of a superhero. I watched the news as he hit some of the smaller communities in Eastern Newfoundland, finally a decent reception somewhere around Gander and Gambo. I ran with him through our town, he was amazingly ordinary – he could have been anyone. The last vivid memory was from the next summer when I read the headline of an American newspaper in a roadside vending machine with the headline Canadian Runner Dies During Marathon of Hope. From Terry I learned what an indemitable spirit could accomplish. I don't think I need to elaborate...


...and lastly for now, my "Jenny". We have known each other since we were ten and I can't remember not loving her. She has worked since she was about fourteen. Her work ethic allowed us to build a life when my own live’s faults and trials would have seen me on Desolation Row. Lesson learned: The connection that two people can make in the centre of caos.

There are many more people and places of course where a wide-eyed and ignorant BNB has made his cameo and drawn influence. Cassie Brown, Annie Troake, Mary Dalton, Christopher Pratt, Lisa Moore, Bernice Morgan, EJ Pratt, my mentors, my father, my sister and my late mother. I have been but a spectator. I thank them for their influence on my life and the lessons of how we have fought to live here and why we continue to do so.

...but here's your bus. Thanks for the company. You can take the chocolates.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Some Final Thoughts on Costco and the Activists

My letter to Costco and their reply. Long story short - This hateful and hypocritical animal right's group is full of poo. If that comes as a surprise to you, we should also talk about Santa and the Easter Bunny...

I am a Costco Member in St. John's. Please answer for me simply
if this statement is true:

"After discussions with *** ******* Conservation Society, Costco's
senior management team have decided to remove seal oil capsules from the shelves of their St. John's location, their only store in Canada where the capsules were available."

Please answer my inquiry.


Thank you for emailing Costco Wholesale.

From time to time over the past few years, Costco has carried an over the counter product in its pharmacy in the St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, location that is a byproduct of oil derived from Canadian seals. It is a product that is requested by members in that one location.

Costco has been urged over the years to discontinue the product by various parties, notably by the *** ******** Conservation Society, who are opposed to the seal hunt in Canada.

Costco has never taken a position on the controversy between various parties and the Canadian and Newfoundland and Labrador governments regarding the seal hunt. We have consistently made it clear to all parties that we do not take political positions, and our actions should not be misconstrued as such.

On March 1, recognizing that the sale of the seal oil capsule product was limited to a single location in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and in light of the very small dollar value of the sales in a single location, Costco made a business decision to discontinue the item. The item has not been carried in any of Costco's 346 locations in the United States.

While there were conversations with the *** ******* Conservation Society, the decision to discontinue the product had nothing to do with the *** ******* Conservation Society. Our decision to place or pull a product from our shelves is never based on politics. Each item must stand on its own commercial merits.

In its March 30 press release, the *** ******** Conservation Society falsely stated that Costco had removed the product from its shelves across Canada (it had been carried in only the St-John's location) and that this action was intended by Costco as a statement of its opposition to the seal hunt (Sea Shepherd knew that we were intending no such statement).

As a direct result of the *** ******* Conservation Society's actions, Costco has been made an unwilling participant of the media blitz surrounding the Canadian seal hunt, and has faced a firestorm of protest from its members in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, protesting the removal of the product.

As a result of member demand in the only Costco location where Omega 3 seal oil capsules were sold, we informed the appropriate governments and our members of our intent to restore the product to that single location. We recognize that some outside of Newfoundland and Labrador may wrongly construe this as a political statement; however, our decision to restock the product in St. John's is consistent with our company policy of being guided solely by the commercial merit of an

Sara M

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Wolf in Sheep's (faux fur) clothing

Note: I wrote this bloody quick so excuse any rambling, grammar or other bits of weirdness. I told myself enough with the animal hypocrites and racists 'leave them to their little utopian world' - but allow me to get this out of my head and into the keyboard before my head pops...

Remember the old bugs bunny cartoons with Fred and Ralph; the sheep dog and coyote? We have something akin to that in the animal rights movement. Except that the wolf (coyote) in sheeps clothing claims also to be the shepherd. Weird or what?

Case in point Dr. Danny Penman - all the charm of a little Harry Potter. Came over here to observe the seal hunt, an impartial observer - but listen closely - he uses the lingo of the extremists "baby seals", "slaughter", "the rest of the world". Got the old Spidey sense tingling so I did a web search. Among the articles I found was an article from the Daily Mail saying how bad Sushi was for you - toxic, cancinogenic and even fattening! Another about the seal hunt which he describes as appaling... No strong words like that though when he walks up to our local news with the "please ma'm, I want some-more" look on his face.

Most interesting though is the article I found here where it describes how he used a pseudonom to buy the materials for chemical weapons. Should we be concerned about this? He was buying them as an experiment to write a little piece perhaps get on a chat show or two... no harm done. We can take him for his word right?

I never condone violence and that is where myself and these shepherds of compassion differ. I wonder though if it would not be beneficial for humanity to give them a legislated "cuff up the side of the head"? Not to be violent, more like your daddy did when he caught you with that cigarette.

Chemical weapons for fun and entertainment:
(Look for the KO article)

Sushi is Evil!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Boycotts vs Bull Shit

Just about a fortnight has passed since Newfoundland and Labradorians were told that Seal Oil Capsules has been removed from the shelves of Costco. Just about a fortnight since we were told that the whims of a racist had removed the Newfoundland product from the shelves of St. John's. If you had visited Costco today though you could not have entered the store without having to sidestep the cases of the product smack-dab in the entrance way. A couple of bottles of the capsules also sit neatly at each cash register. There is an obvious statement that Costco is making:

We have heard and we have responded.

It is rather interesting to me in considering this local Boycott of Costco. The effects were large enough for anyone to notice. All but empty parking lot at the store, line-ups for canceling memberships. Newspapers, openline shows filled with the buzz about Costco. Funny that the Capt. claims in his correspondance that Costco can expect "some (limited) Fallout in Newfoundland". Observe the limited fallout. The effects of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians was loud and clear - and the response was just about a couple of weeks in the making. I find it interesting because I look at this Boycott and compare it to the farse of a Boycott that is supposed to be making a dent in the Canadian Seafood industry. The seafood Boycott has been ineffectual. Why? Because it is based on Bull Shit. Restaurants that are not aware they are on a Boycott list, others that never serve Canadian Seafood anyway - this is their idea of a Boycott. The price of seal pelts is better than ever, support for Canadians in favour of a well-managed hunt is stronger than ever. What Boycott?

One of the clearest indicators of the ineffectiveness of the extremist rhetoric is during their big day of action to protest sealing on March 15. The hype would have us believe that we could expect something resembling the fall of the berlin wall. Instead there is a brief mention of the couple of dozen people with signs here and there throughout the US and Europe. Something like 60 people in Washington? That's not a protest, give me any day of the week and I can get you a couple hundred people together for a photo on the waterfront in St. John's.

Now the KKK posse is angered that the "N" race has won the Costco battle. They are countering with an all-out Boycott of Costco. I'm not even sure who I'll be routing for on this one. Costco in all other locations except St. John's deserves a good kick in the sack for listening to the racist ramblings of a biggot. At the very least if this was some big mis-understanding like they initially claimed they can take a swap to the pills for not denouncing the stupid statements right off the bat.

I suspect though that Costco need not shake in it's Vinyl Boots over the KKK posse. If their Costco boycott has as much affect as the Seafood boycott, Costco is in for a great year. An honest Boycott beats one based on Bull Shit any day of the week.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

57 Years in Canada

... and the squeeze is still on

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Canada’s N-Word (with Readings from the Book of Paul)

Race: A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution”

Is there a dark under-current of racism against Newfoundland and Labradorians in Canada? Are we Canada’s N-word?

Is it racist for Ric Dolphin of The Calgary Herald in reference to a Newfoundland and Labradorian to write “Walrus and Welfare investigators and whatever else it is that terrifies Newfies.”? Is the word “Newfie” in itself a racist title? We only need to scratch the surface of our history to discover that the word was born out of bigotry and elitism. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English gives this piece of writing from 1949 “Now he felt dispossessed, crowded on his own streets, mowed down by the ever-increasing numbers of dun-coloured, army vehicles. The strangers were strutting, becoming the 'big-shots,' They looked down their noses at the natives. They were disdainful of a hard old heritage. They began to call the towns-folk 'the Newfies' and like Queen Victoria, the Newfoundlanders were not amused.”

Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail described Newfoundland and Labrador as a “Scenic Welfare Ghetto”, and Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun describes the St. John’s Curling Rink qualifying for the Olympics as "the biggest thing to happen in The Land Cod Forgot since the invention of the pogey cheque" Are comments like this inciting hatred against a group of people? …In all honesty- probably not. There is the perpetual need in journalism to create a story, generate some buzz. When none exists sometimes a journalist has to delve into the darker recesses of fabrication, exploitation and Sensationalism.

Ryan Cleary, Editor of the Independent once wrote that a greater buzz was created because of the word “Newfie” than was ever created from his in depth expose on the corruption and deceit that led to the signing of the Churchill Falls agreement. The word is definitely offensive, but are these journalists guilty of racism or just ignorance and poor judgment?

If the mixed bag of stereotypes and prejudice is used by someone who uses it to justify an end to a means, a person with perhaps a hidden agenda; the true harm can be realized. Consider an article from the Canadian Press out of Edmonton this week. An Edmonton Officer received a light slap on the wrist for citing someone’s status as a “newphie” as a reason for apprehension under the Mental Health Act. Racism exists and it is a stain on the Canadian Landscape.

Consider the words of Captain Paul Watson who has said of Newfoundland and Labradorians that they are a “blight and a curse... they debased Canada when they joined Canada in 1949..." He went on to say Newfoundland and Labrador was “a place where priests rape orphans and residents kill seabirds for fun". In writing of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, Watson mocked the dialect and made fun of Newfoundlanders: “…60 million people saw Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams humiliate himself with his rambling fabrications defending the seal hunt, [some] have actually compared his so called “oratory skills” to Winston Churchill…Can you see this speech going down in the annals of history? B’yes, we will fight these seal defenders on the ocean. We will fight them on land. We will fight them in the air... We will continue to bash in their little heads, skin them alive and give ‘em the boot. We were born to kill seals because we are Newfies, and by God our very identity depends on being cruel seal-killing bastards. Yes sir b’ye…, more like the anus of history.”

Perhaps it’s not fair to pick on Paul at this time, after all his little operation was trumped big time by the American Humane Society when they signed on a Beatle as their poster child. That’s the way it is with the Anti-Sealer movement, each year there is one big story. The cash flows to whichever group has the best song and dance. A couple of years ago it was the IFAW with a couple of full page ads. Not to be outdone Paul Watson countered the next year with a trip to the ice flows in his own vessel, only to be out-maneuvered for the present year by a Knight.

What can we expect next year? Perhaps Elton John and George Micheal. Pair of Queens beats a Knight.

But Paul is Newfoundland’s Lex Luther, one example of many that relies on racism against Newfoundlanders for his agenda. Well…maybe not Lex Luther, perhaps he is more of an Archie Bunker. In any case one has to wonder if Paul’s agenda is as much about a hatred of a group of people as it is about seals.

Contrast Paul Watson and Lady Heather McCartney. On Larry King Live Heather was quick to retract the word “barbaric” and replace it with “archaic”. Why?! Simply because the word Barbaric is a descriptor of the noun Barbarian and that places a derogatory comment on the class of people she is addressing. She was as careful as she could be to keep the argument based on the act of killing seals and not against the group of people that do it.

Compare Heather’s chosen words with that of Paul. In responding to Danny Williams saying that he was not going to stand by while the McCartney’s or anyone else disrespected Newfoundlanders, Paul wrote in his blog “Too bad Danny. They did dominate the debate and they made the Premier of Newfoundland look silly and unprepared. Danny Williams, Newfoundland, and Labrador are not deserving of respect. As a Canadian, I have absolutely no respect for Newfoundlanders.”

As if it were not enough to say he had no respect for us he concluded by writing “Asking us to respect Newfoundlanders is like asking us to have respect for the soldiers of the Third Reich.”

Note that he does not make these comments about Alaskans, Prince Edward Islanders, or the Quebecois, all of whom seal. In fact much of the seal fashion comes out of Quebec. Could Paul not think of a racist word for a French person?

Most blatantly though is Paul’s interpretation of scripture when he wrote. “’Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth’. One thing for sure, Jesus Christ was not referring to the sealers of Newfoundland when he made that statement.”

The umbrella of protest is a convenient one, people have used all sorts of things to justify their own evils. The truth is some people have a natural ability to incite hatred. ... and they find their followers - it is in all of us, it just takes someone like the Good Shepherd of the Sea to bring it out. He has been playing the game for quite some time - he is bloody good at it.

Article on the use of the word Newfie

The Telegram “Newfie Joke No Laughing Matter”

Search the Word Newfie in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What's Your Beef? (The Captain the Knight and the Sheep)

Newfoundland and Labrador can draw negative attention to itself like a kick me sign on the pope. Internationally I would guess that the image of the sealer with a club is as prominent as the Mountie on his horse. The campaign that has spread this propaganda must certainly be ranked among the most successful in the history of modern man.

The most recent incarnation of the great war on sealers is in the name of Sir Paul McCartney himself. Mr. McCartney is one of a rare example in the animal rights movement in that he is an actual Vegan. There is a definite virtue in "practicing what you preach". The Vegan lifestyle is one to be admired. The belief that animals should not be exploited for our use is admirable indeed. It is a sound environmentally friendly and socially responsible way to life... you knew there would be a "but", and a big but it is... how many supporters of the IFAW, American Humane Society, or Sea Shepherd Society are vegan? The people at the forefront of these movements will tell you they are vegan, good for them, but how far would you have to look to find the omnivores? The wealthy elite supports these groups, a minority that live in a society that will never be known by the likes of us. Look at the headquarters of these organizations, Vancouver, Cape Cod, Washington State, and Belgium, Germany, France, Cape Town South Africa – some of the higher value real estate in the world. Scratch just a little below the surface of these groups and it will not take long at all to find the guy eating his box of chicken and ribs.

It is Mr. Chicken and Ribs that I have my beef with (pun intended). Why does Mr. Chicken and Ribs support the anti-sealing campaign? Each time this discussion comes up we have to debate the same issues over and over. Let's break down the BS and leave the fundamental argument standing:

Argument 1: I don't agree with killing baby seals. From this argument I would expect that the lamb industry in New Zealand and the Veal industry in the United States would be huge targets for these campaigns. No?! Ok so what is the distinction with the Seals?!

Argument 2: The Seals are endangered. No?! They are in fact thriving?! Ok lets try another.

Argument 3: The seal hunt is barbaric. Here's where the Vegan's have a one up on us omnivores. Indeed there is a barbarism to killing an animal for our use. So there must be an overwhelming uproar in the abattoirs of the United States with the enormous amount of cattle killed to make McDonald's burgers. No?! The beef industry defends itself with all guns blazing. They have taken on the likes of KD Lang and Oprah Winfrey while steakhouses like The Keg and The Outback Steakhouse are cropping up like bull patties in a hay field.

The truth is once we remove all of the propaganda and Bull Shit (pun intended again) we are left with one fundamental argument, which does bear merit for debate. Here it is:

Are these seals killed in the most humane way possible? I can site statistics and sources on both sides but in all honesty I do not have a strong confidence in either point of view. Statistics is smoke and mirrors for bureaucratic agendas. Scientists are paid lobbyists. Bull shit for academic sake is still bull shit. Look up Ranjit Chandra if you believe the hallowed halls of academia are immune to the shit wave. So here we are. We need to have a fundamental morel centre, a value system that is sound and not hypocritical. Looks like we have a couple of choices here:

Myself and Mr. Chicken and Ribs can choose to go Vegan. I honestly admire that path and encourage it, but honestly, as for myself I would shit myself inside out if I had to eat that many lentils. I was reading about the Sea Cucumber and apparently they can expel their insides when threatened. I'm not sure how that works as a defense but I am not prepared to be the first human to try the strategy.

The second choice is to confirm your moral centre and use that as the basis for protest. If for example you do not belief that young animals should be killed then the seal hunt would be one target of your protests after you have taken on the government of New Zealand against Lamb; and France, Belgium, Holland and the United States against veal etc. (Wait a minute... isn’t Belgium France and the US major centres of the fight against the seal hunt. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, smoke and mirrors friends.) In any case if you are going to take on these governments prepare for a big fight, ask Oprah Winfrey or K.D. Lang what to expect.

Perhaps you take your stance for the humane treatment of animals. Then you will be fighting against the bull fights in Spain, Stampedes, Circuses, foxhunts, dogfights, Cock fights, Zoos, Aquariums, Pet Stores, Pet Owners, the use of animals in research facilities... Oh man this fight is huge... get started and let me know when you get down to the priority of the seal hunt.

I’ll tell you what is not an option, this whole bit about hob knobbing with celebrities and soliciting millionaires like sheep for their cash while dining on Veal Parmesan with your leather Birkenstocks is complete and utter hypocrisy.

Luckily the fight against the seal hunt is cheap and easy. The smear campaign has had a long and sustained affect, the money pours in every time someone Googles "Baby seals, skinned alive". The Canadian Government is not nearly as threatening adversary as the US, or EU. It's bloody easy - a virtual license to print money. Like Paul Watson said, "I think that of all the animals in the world or any environmental problem in the world the harp seal is the easiest issue to raise funds on... it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them... the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image - they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that, coupled with the horror of a sealer hitting them over the head with a club, it's an image that just goes right to the heart of animal lovers all over North America.”

So Vegans, Omnivores, or Full-Time protestor take your stand! Join now while Paul (Paul the knight not Paul the Captain) leads us in a song:

"Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Do me a favour, open the door and let him in."

...Hmmm... Ok, ah, that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense does it?!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Curling's New Pub Food - Crow and Humble Pie

It was so great to have the tremendous support for Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Russ Howard, Jamie Korab, Mike Adam and Toby McDonald. Canada's elite Curling team is about to bring home a medal. Tomorrow we will know which colour.

A couple of reminders of the support that has backed Brad's team all the way to Italy.

"It's his first Brier, maybe he learned something from it" "What's he won? Something like $47 in his career while he's playing guys who have half a million or a million dollars in career earnings and been to 10 Briers or some such?" - Randy Ferby - Alberta. March 2003

"[Gushue's Newfoundland and Labrador Team has no chance of winning the Olympic Trials]" Jeff Stoughton, Manitoba. December 2005

"It's the biggest thing to happen in The Land Cod Forgot since the invention of the pogey cheque... The local sport of baby-seal whacking is no longer coming across on TV as a great spectator sport... Newfies finally have someone named Skip to look up to again whose livelihood doesn't depend on a cod fish to be born later... Newfoundland has Newfie Screech, ice, rocks. Curling? Booze, ice and rocks. Brad Gushue, The Natural. Coming soon to a National Film Board video... Locals now have something to chew the fat over --other than that yucky whale blubber they've been gnawing on for those CBC retrospectives the past 50 years." Bill Lankof - Columnist with the Toronto Sun December 2005

With such support it's no wonder this team has done Canada proud. For the gents above I suggest it is time to Eat Crow. If that is not to your taste please come to Newfoundland and Labrador - there are any number of great chefs in the province who will be glad to bake you a nice humble pie.

Update: Congratulations to our Gold Medal Team. They are an inspiration.

(Yes I'm still alive)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Responses to Premier Williams Letter to the Leaders

Thanks Expat ( for finding this.

Responses from Jack Layton and Steven Harper to our premier's letter. Apparently the dog ate the PM's response, conspicuous by its absense.


Finally an 11th hour response from Paul Martin

Friday, January 13, 2006

Federal Presence VS Federal Presents

We were bound to notice eventually. It seems the feds have been slowly plucking their jobs from Newfoundland and Labrador and moving them elsewhere. They knew we would eventually catch on to the pull-out. So they talk about centres of excellence, regional commitments, and Atlantic Canada. Only the seven mps from Newfoundland and Labrador would even have to answer to it. Seven voices out of 300 plus. Like trying to read scripture at a Grateful Dead concert (or Green Day, depending on your age group). No one hears and no one cares.

...But Down-East we have been noticing. There has been much discussion in the media and online about the dwindling federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador. Recently St. John's Councilor Shannie Duff on VOCM's open line made some very important points on the whole concept and it got the old blogger bone in my head rattling. Until the Harris Report came out of MUN our suspicions of the federal pull out could mostly be dismissed as general Bitchin' and Complainin'. Turns out though there is more than an element of truth. The feds are drifting away from the most Easternly Province like Rats on a Ship. I know Rats usually scurry from Sinking Ships as the saying goes, but in this case this province is not a sinking ship. In fact there are some very promising economic indicators. Newfoundland and Labrador has about the most promising potential in the federation. Leading the country in economic growth in most of the last decade or so, and posed to deliver Oil revenue, Mining revenue, Natural Gas, Agriculture, IT and Tourism, Hydro... industries that have barely been scratched for their full potential. If only we had the backing of a strong G8 country, like say Canada. But the rats they scurry as rats are prone to do.

On the other side of the fence there are those who will say. "Sure Newfoundland and Labrador already has more federal presence per-capita that most other provinces." I find that arguement to be particularly simplistic and ineffective. If Quebec had just a few more people - closer to that of Ontario for example we would likely have two countries at this point or we'd be going for a "bière de la plate-forme de dick" (in smaller letters - Beer on Dick's Deck) in downtown St. John's.

There is an inherent unfairness about per-capita representation. Federally our 7 seats will never measure up to 106 seats from Ontario or 75 from Quebec. So we are poorly represented in Ottawa. In turn Ottawa is poorly represented in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are three major problems with low and dwindling federal jobs in Newfoundland and

On the upper most obvious level of economic effect is that fewer jobs paid from the federal purse means there is less federal money drifting about in our economy. Buying text books, and clothes or Newfoundland Rolling Pins.

Second is more specific to executive level jobs. When we have fewer federal jobs from the upper echelon that have decision making ability we defer these issues to other parts of the country. Federal Issues in Newfoundland and Labrador that require prompt, effective and regionally sensitive decisions will be ineffectual and cause regional disparity if we as a province have no say in the matter. We need only to look at federal management of our fishery to see how this fails detrimentially as a concept. What about a more recent and specific case with respect to immigration to Newfoundland and Labrador: When Alexi Portnoy was arrested and dragged from his Pregnant wife and children, two of whom are Canadian. He was held in the lock up in St. John's until a conference call could be arranged with the feds in Montreal! Mother Ottawa had
no one on this island or Labrador who could make a descision as to this man's case.

A third point about dwindling federal jobs, especially at the executive level, is that business confidence on the national and international stage is deminished. The efforts of regional development committees, business associations and Chambers of Commerce are being crippled for small and medium sized business in Newfoundland and Labrador. Hardly a facet of business is not effected by the federal powers that be. For the budding entrepeneur or scouts looking to expand a business where would you locate it? In a place like Halifax with a strong federal presence in Atlantic Canada? Or St. John's, that
just lost its Public Service Commission office, in a province that now has no weather station, has lost jobs a great number of federal departments... In a province that does not show the confidence of the federal government in investing in their own federal public service. The safe businessperson is going to put their business in the location that has the confidence of the federal government. Ask yourself how often you have heard the phrase "moved to Halifax", could each of these cases be coincidence? Our business neighbours at the building where I work is a fresh example. A small office with just two
employees from Dunn and Bradstreet. I spoke with a lady who was stacking boxes outside their door. "Are you guys moving?" I asked. "Well D&B is," she replied, "not me, I was offered a job on the mainland but my life is here." I shouldn't have asked where they were going but I'm a sucker for punishment. Congratulation to Halifax on sucking another couple of jobs out of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have a feeling Halifax is a busy little place these days, bustling with the activity generated by its neighbouring cities to the East.

To quote Bill Rowe of VOCM's Back Talk, and one time ambassdor to Ottawa: "[Newfoundland and Labrador is considered by the federal buracracy to be] no more than a pimple on the arse of Halifax."

Enough is enough. We are in the middle of an election campaign. The rarest of opportunities where the prospective leaders have to come to us for a job interview. Time to shout while everyone is listening.

An addendum: Scott Simms the Liberal incumbent for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor announced a commitment to reopen the Gander Weather office in a limited capacity along with a new ice monitoring station for the area. This is remniscent of the last time around when Martin was backed into a corner on the 100% of offshore revenues debate. Premier Williams held him up to that promise that eventually became the basis for the Atlantic Accord battle. The governing liberal only seem to notice this province when they are backed into a corner with the potential to loose the blind Liberal Support that Newfoundland and Labrador has always given them. When Minority governments are concerned out seven representatives become a little more critical.

Public Dis-Service Commission

Addendum - Public Dis-Service