Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Newfoundland's Wizard Promoted from this Realm

Look into the lighthouse, the lens flares back into your eyes. It is a lens built with all the craftsmanship and thought of an engineer but yet never truly tangible. This was the world of The Wizard, Ron Pelley. Art that at once showed you how a fraction of light could pull detail from the most mundane surface of wave beaten cliff; yet brought you to see the finest detail of the silvery scaled salmon, or the translucency of a dragonfly wing casting its fragile shadow firmly on the rippling surface of blue water.

When the Wizard was stricken with crippling arthritis he transformed. The man that was reborn had traded tradition for innovation, paint for pixels and a brush for a mouse. But a wizard with a new wand is nonetheless still a wizard. I had the great pleasure of visiting this artist's study as he showed me the method of digital art. I saw the 3D wire images and textures. What could not be seen though was the magic that placed all of that mathematical form and function into our minds such that it evoked such familiarity. The scenes were real, the characters have personalities, the food has taste, and the canvas emotion. This is the magic that Ron Pelley could conger.

On the 27th of December he ascended from this realm taking his secrets with him, but leaving us with a renewed wonder in the world around us.

There is a place where the berries are fresh and the flowers bright. A lonely soul waits for the evening train, as the locals play pool across from the station. On the coast a lighthouse keeper fries some brook trout and sets an eloquent table of colourful dishes and flowers for one. Outside his window the sun sets; before dropping into the gray evening cloud it floods the sea with one last moment of brilliance.

Thank you for letting me into that world Ron. Thank you for making me believe again in magic. I will look curiously into the Fresnel lens whenever I see a lighthouse, hoping to see that which is beyond, to perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of the Wizard.

Soul of the artist, and biker bud,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Cod are Back! (But it's not ours anymore)

Portuguese Minister Antonio Serrano announced the renewal of fleet access to Canadian waters. (Photo: MARM)

Some 13 vessels of the Portugal fleet will once again operate in Canadian waters and fish 1,070 tonnes of cod as of next year, thanks to the re-opening of an area administered by the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO).

“After 11 years [of the zone being closed], we recovered the quota of NAFO cod,” said Portuguese Fisheries Minister Antonio Serrano.

The Portuguese boats set to work in NAFO waters have an average capacity of 900 tonnes of fish.

Apparently the Cod are back - and anyone but the Newfoundlander and Labradorian can have it. Gail Shaea was quick to dispute that. Apparently Canada's Fishery Minister and the Portuguese Fishery Minister have a different take on things. They both seem happy enough though.

When Portuguese Cod fillets show up in Sobeys Gail Shea will be the first to get her fee and chee. So we may not be able to fish for our own cod, but maybe the white fleet will come ashore and buy a bottle of bakeapple jam or a wooden outhouse ornament - so at least we have that.

R.I.P The Fighting Newfoundlander

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WWF NAFO and Newfies (unabashed)

I hate the word Newfie and refused to use it on my original piece on the Community Linkages blog. This version though is presented straight up

In the world of fisheries there is a widely accepted belief that the best to manage the resource are those closest to it. This is the simple concept behind what is commonly referred to as "Custodial Management."

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated: "Since 2005, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had advised Canada to drop the NAFO agreement, because it does not protect the fish at risk, such as cod and flounder, and instead to adopt "... a new Regional Fisheries Management Organization." Canada's response was to officially adopt NAFO. The WWF stated last year that NAFO undermines the recovery of the cod fishery."

Indeed our current Prime Minister Steven Harper promised it.

Why then do we now find ourselves with a NAFO convention that not only does not give us custodial management but in fact does the opposite - deferring management away from Newfoundland and Labrador and even away from Canada. Instead marine management in the Northwest Atlantic now will be handled by NAFO - primarily European Nations who just last year banned our seal products and as the WWF eludes to above, consistently overfish their own quotas.

Why would Harper defer management of the 200 mile limit to European Nations and take it out of Ottawa's jurisdiction?!

Here my friends is the frank and honest truth. Someone has to keep an eye on the Newfies and Ottawa doesn't want that kind of expense. Even if that means having the panty-hose Spanish trawlers like the Estai policing Newfoundland and Labrador.

That's the mindset. Ottawa is not going to stand up for the Newfie and the EU believe us to be barbarians who savage baby seals.

If you are certain of only one thing be certain of this: If we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians want to rise about the image of the Newfie we need to stand on our feet and be heard. No one is going to stand up for a Newf but Newf.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The New Border Breach - The 200 Mile Limit

Canadians should know their government is pushing through changes to Fisheries policy that will allow Foreign nations a say inside out fisheries zone off the East Coast.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need to stand together to get this message out before it is too late.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Paradise Recycles

What do you do if an election comes up dead even? If you are the town of Paradise you dump the Pepsi bottles out of your recycle bin, throw both gents in there and see who pops up. The result may be Paradise's first truly recycled mayor.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feds on the Rails

Every spring Home Hardware produces a flyer selling a very nice well priced hummingbird feeder. Only problem is that the island of Newfoundland has no hummingbirds. Sure there may be a scattered vagrant Ruby-Throated around Pasadena but that poor little creature is only visiting, and if one were to appear in Torbay he might likely be accompanied by a lion, tinman, and scarecrow. None-the-less they ship those humming bird feeders. That's the sort of head-scratcher that happens when Newfoundland and Labrador is perceived from a distance.

Not to pick on Home Hardware, it's the same thing with Walmart for example. On a particularly humid day this summer I remarked to a Walmart greeter "Bloody hot in here isn't it" (actually it was "Friggin' 'ot id-nit", but accent aside...) The blue vested lady replied, "we called the mainland - they won't let us turn down the heat." True! Local Walmart's don't have their own thermostat! But that's the way it goes isn't it: Can't trust a Newfoundlander to know what a comfortable body temperature is.

Someone, somewhere else calling the shots. That brings me to mother Ottawa. I get a flyer in my mail touting how great the federal government is for investing in rail transportation. Remember trains? They have them everywhere else in Canada except for Newfoundland. We did have trains, railway stretched from coast to coast, routes used for shipping paper to Botwood, a turnabout in Bishop's Falls. We put pennies on the track during recess, and when we heard the whistle we ran like hell to the nearest butman (that's what we called the piers on the tressle - Googling the word is a bad idea).

What happened to the trains? We traded the federal government's financial input into the rail system for some infrastructure money to upgrade highways. So it is difficult to applaud the fact that the rest of Canada is getting money pumped into its railway. It is even more difficult when the Conservatives send me a nice picture of a train to rub it in.

The investment in the railway is one that by default we cannot take advantage of in Newfoundland and Labrador. Given that Ottawa's has nar a clue when it comes to NL may I suggest we use our portion of investment into the TransLabrador Railway. It's a little different than VIA, it uses transport trucks instead of trains - but if a name change is what it takes then long live the TLR.

I think a great promotion would be to offer a free hummingbird feeder with every VIA Rail ticket. We can use the new TransLabrador Railway to ship all of those hummingbird feeders back west. It's a win win.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lanier Phillips: Discovery in St. Lawrence

From Community Linkages Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Lanier Phillips: Discovery in St. Lawrence

There are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians born and bred, and then there are those who have found meaning here entirely by accident.

Lanier Phillips was one of 46 men who survived the Truxtun disaster. His story is not a simple story of survival but a story of the power of humanity. In a world of segregation and racism Mr. Phillips credits the simple generousity of the people of St. Lawrence, NL, not only with saving his life, but with their compassion - changing it forever. As a black man in the segregated south of the 50's he has said: "To experience instantly love and humanity that I didn't think existed between the races — it just changed everything for me."

This is a story that begs to be told and has had some great interest in the Newfoundland and Labrador film industry. Now the story has caught the attention of the American film industry. It has even caught the attention of Bill Cosby who invited Mr. Phillips on stage and told his story. A full length feature film is finally in the works.

The story is remniscent of a film called "Amazing Grace" that Ray Johnson likes to quote when we meet with Community Linkages. Mr. Phillips story, like Amazing Grace tells of the power of the individual, when love and compassion are the motivating factors for change. The upcoming film will perhaps offer a rare glimpse of the true virtue of rural Newfoundland and Labrador and why we so passionately love this place.

Listening to Lanier Phillips on CBC:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Puffins and the Wolf

A long time ago when the earth was blue and green there was an island in the North Atlantic Sea, the prettiest you've ever seen. On this rocky coast of crag and scarp lived a colony of puffins. They made a meager but sustained life living off the sea, diving for fish off the shores. Some years were lean and their young grew weak, but in the good years they feasted on fish and danced through the evening.

One fateful March, they were cold and hungry and grew weary in wait for the capelin that would wash in with the waves of June. The sea would offer the bounty that had sustained them for generations, but the nights were long and the wait was proofing unbearable. Other fish had been scarcer than previous years and their young were disappearing in great numbers. The elder puffins assembled, unbeknownst to them the tiny island had been visited that year by a cunning wolf.

Our young are hungry, the puffins cried, and we are cold and fear we will not survive to see the warmth of summer. Just then as the puffins were assembled came a low rumbling that filled the air like thunder. The puffins shook and all at once swung their coloured beaks to the direction of the rumble. It was a voice, the voice of the wolf:

I know your problem, rumbled the wolf with wet fangs flashing in the low evening sun, and it is I alone who can help you. You can have all the comforts of the modern world, treasures and comforts that a bird with such poor useless wings could never dream of. You will be warm and your bellies full. For my generous philanthropy I would only ask for fresh eggs and a gift of fish. The puffins, anxious to see a better live for their children agreed to the terms of partnership with the wolf.

Daily the puffins brought their eggs and a share of their fish. Dear wolf, they would say as they knelt at the feet of the dog, dear wolf these gifts I bring to thee so that we may live in harmony with you. The arrangement between the wolf and puffins lasted many years, until at last the fish became hard to find. With the Wolf’s substantial share of fish the waters off the shores were being harvested heavily. The puffins caught as much fish as they could but the bounty at the feet of the wolf became less and less. At long last the poor puffins could not sustain themselves and the wolf. Their children were again dwindling in numbers and many were hungry.

The elders again went to the wolf who was not at all pleased. Why is it that your gifts have become so few? he asked, his snout thrust toward the puffins and his teeth bared. Dear Wolf, spoke the elders, our children are again cold and hungry the fish are harder to find, we must fly further and dive deeper to fish. Our eggs are left unguarded. Too often we are returning with no fish to find our nests empty. And... one puffin stepped forward, and dear wolf, if I may, some puffins have seen the sea gulls bringing you fish.

The wolf stood to his full eight towering over the leaders of the puffin colony. “You are puffins” he snarled, “you fish, that is what you do, if you cannot provide for me I will find someone who will.”

So the Puffins fished even harder. They flew longer and dove even deeper. But try as they might they could not provide for their young and also provide a modest gift to the Wolf.

All of the puffins this time assembled. Many cried out that they were better off in the years before the wolf. But the elders were divided, many could still remember March in the years before the wolf when they were hungry and cold. All agreed that they would return to the wolf to renegotiate the terms of their union. But just then their bodies shook and they swung their coloured beaks to the back of the crowd to the low familiar rumbling of the Wolf’s voice.

I told you he barked that if you could not provide for me I would find someone that would. He licked his salivating lips and in that instant he leapt into the assembled colony of puffins and devoured them one by one.

Looking around the tiny island the greedy wolf realized how desolate it had become. There was nothing now to sustain neither a puffin nor a wolf. He ran to the shore leaping into the water and swam to the big northern land where it was said the caribou traveled in great numbers like living rivers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Something Else

This sign on the road to the Irish Loop warns against juggling while riding a unicycle on open water. Point well taken.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nan: A Confession

Nan, I really should finally tell you - I absolutely hated that milk pudding you made.

On Wednesday I carried you, your head resting just a foot from my hands. We carried you to lie next to Pop and we sung your favourite hymns. It was a service you would have enjoyed.

It was surreal to walk into your house afterwards and not be greeted by a bear hug. Entering you house was always the same. The kettle was put on to boil before I could even realize you had filled it. Then the food would start to appear and it never seemed to stop. A cup of tea, bread and pickles, date squares, and tea buns, jam and molasses cookies, jam-jams, sweet raisin bread. It was useless to tell you I was not hungry as you fluttered about like a butterfly pulling jars and containers from the cupboards and fridge.

And no lunch was worthy unless something hot was made on the stove. That’s when you would whip up that milk pudding. A little bowl and a steaming hot spoonful of this gelled white mass. It reminded me of Cod liver, I know so many of your daughters and grandchildren lapped that down but I just couldn't take to it. I shoveled it down fast in an effort to pass it through my gums before I could really concentrate on the taste and texture.

Of course you saw the empty bowl and thought: "he's starving" so you would flop an even larger spoonful of this mock cod liver into my bowl. I ate that too, slower.

As I left you would pull a loaf of homemade bread from the freezer and smack the round buns like a baby's bottom. Your hands testing it to make sure it was a good enough loaf for your grandson.

The bread, the squares, homemade pickles and jam it was gold to me. The pudding not so much. I thought I should tell you that. I thought I should also tell you how much I love you, more than you would ever know. Your influence is alive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Governor General has a Heart

The Queen's representative in Canada asks for a piece of Seal Heart, she is handed a freshly cut slice and swallows it raw, commenting that is is delicious.

In that gesture she has done what very few Canadian politicians have ever done in the history of Canada. She has shown an appreciation for the regional differences that ideally define this Canada. She has sat in solidarity with the people who have lived off the resources of Canada's North long before "Canada".

When there was brief talk of adding seal fur to Canadian athletes in 2010 Vancouver there was a spark of a true coast to coast Canada, as is the national dream. It was quickly dismissed of course; few could honestly say that being Canadian is trully identiable by all of the people of this federation.

So for this one single powerful act by the governor general I congratulate her. By reaching out to this Northern culture that is so far removed from her own experience, by emercing herself into the virtue of their lives she has shown what Canada trully lacks as a country: An empathy and understanding of all of the cultural identities of this dominion.

If the dream of Canada is to be successful more of our leaders have to reach beyond their comfort level. Reach beyond being a country that is like the awkward cousin of the U.S. and look to our history and culture, the very definition of what this country could be. If only it had the heart.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NewfoundlandinCanada is Blog of the Week

Thanks to the NLblogroll for making Newfoundlandincanada the blog of the week. Thanks also for your kind words in describing this humble site. The NLblogroll has been a tremendous site in promoting Newfoundland and Labrador blogs as well as creating a kindship among the bloggers of this little piece of the globe.

Thanks again,

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Diamonds and Perils - 60 years Canadian


60th Anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada Newfoundland and Labrador signed away our independence on March 31, 1949, so as not to wear the badge of the April Fool. There are many of course who feel that the signing could have been done on any day of the year, the very terms of confederation mark us as fools regardless.

In speaking with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians it is interesting to hear the varied opinion on becoming Canada’s last adopted child. “The best thing we ever did was join Canada” a young professional has said. Another political gentleman says “[he] doesn’t want to get Newfoundland and Labrador out of Canada, [he] wants to get Canada the #$%& out of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Newfoundlandincanada posted a graphic labeled “Almost Canadian” two years ago. Today the phrase seems a little too optimistic. The updated graphic reads “Not Quite Canadian”, the colours of the pink white and green showing through a faded Canadian Maple Leaf. It is easy to lament the loss of a nation, but to embrace a new nation that has never truly embraced us, this is a different quintal of fish.

The royal commission report on Our Place in Canada, from which Newfoundlandincanada draws its name, speaks of Newfoundland and Labrador’s expectation upon joining Canada. It is certain that in that time we had amassed a tremendous debt, largely from our war efforts. It is also a point of history that we were beginning to come into our own. Investment into the Newfoundland and Labrador dominion by Canadian and especially the American war effort was creating a new wealth and employment throughout. It was expected that in joining Canada we could have our debt load reduced, without a burden of excess taxes and a standard of living mirroring that of the Maritime Provinces and in keeping with our sister provinces throughout Canada. Ferry services to be an extension of the highway system whereby taking the ferry across the gulf would be no more expense or burden than if by land. That was the clear intent.

Reflecting back with sixty years of vision it is all questionable. Marine Atlantic has been a great cost to travelers, with delayed shipping of goods and services, tourism greatly restricted because the hassle of these ships makes coming to the island or coastal Labrador just not worth the effort. We have for most of those sixty years the highest taxation, highest debt load and highest unemployment in the nation.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s debt load has meant that it must make decisions based on short term sustainability over long-term growth. The hill of gravel, which snakes across the island that once was a railway, is a testament to this shortsightedness. Our debt was one of the largest factors in our determination as a nation, and the expectation that Canada would untie that albatross was very real in the heads of the 1949 voters. Today though that debt remains. The battle to hold Canada to the commitment of Term 29 was lost. It would have allowed us some relief from that debt - some assemblage of equality with our fellow Canadians. Term 29 grew to become a convoluted system of Robin Hood ethics where all provinces were included in the stew and an allowance made based on an abstract and confusing system that few can understand or qualify. Term 29 became Equalization. Equalization morphed into the Atlantic Accord/Equalization scheme. We continue to this day to negotiate our terms of union with Canada. From our brotherhood and sisterhood in the rest of this dominion they only know that from Term 29 to equalization to the Atlantic Accord, we have been the bastard adopted child of confederation, always going to mother Ottawa with our hand extended.

On this diamond anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador’s place in Canada do we mark the birth of a province? The true vision of Canada from Pacific to Atlantic? Do we instead morn the loss of a nation? A loss of a cultural identity, a vibrant heritage blended into the gray of Canadian culture? Are we a province within a nation/ a nation within a nation/ or a nation without a nation? Time will tell the true story of this Newfoundland and Labrador, the Dorset Eskimo, Maritime Archaic, the Vikings, Beothuck, and Mi'kmaq, the European settlers, Canadians and new Immigrants. They are thrown into the experiment that is Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Sixty years in the house of Canada and still we are not quite Canadian. Will we ever be?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not Quite Canadian

Newfoundland and Labrador, 60 years in Canada. This year marks the diamond anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. 60 years in and still... not quite Canadian.

Newfoundland Labrador Budget 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For Those Who Go to Sea

A prayer for those who go to sea
God speed your journey and keep your soul
your vessel strong and true we plea
return the lamb into our fold

for those who fish on the banks
may your holds be full, your vessel fast
and with your return we give our thanks
for your safe return to us at last

on the icy flows off The Front
tread safely as you copy the ice for seal
your hull be strong as you leave to hunt
your save return our hearts will heal

For those in punts, in boats and skiffs
a vessel of your father's hand
may it hold true, this is our wish
your heavenly father see you to land

for those who fly to the rigs offshore
keep our prayer within your heart
may your flight be swift and your stay secure
until never again our lives will part

for the souls we've lost to the brine and waves
may his mercy to you give
may the Holy ghost your soul to save
while forever within us you live

bless the soul that goes to sea
your craft be swift your path be true
a souls comfort we ask of thee
a simple prayer his mercy and peace for you

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quebec's Line in the Sand

We used to play this game when I was but a Tom Cod. Pretty simple really, you draw a big circle in the sand, then divide it evenly among each player. The object of the game is to gradually take over the whole world by beating your opponents in successive leg races.

Now some of the Sleevens amongst us would wait until someone was off running and then redraw their territorial line to steal a little piece for themselves; being careful of course to scuff out the original line with your shoe. Lucky that the real world doesn't operate like that isn't it? Otherwise a province like say... Quebec, which has a lot of political clout would be redefining the lines of a lesser power - like say... Labrador. Ya lucky it isn't really like that. I mean there is a set of rules we follow as a civilized "nation" and that is that.

But then I read the Globe and Mail this morning: "Resources Rift Pits Nfld. against Quebec". What's this?! Blah Blah... "The natural-resources fight pits Danny WIlliams's province against Quebec's plans to build the Romaine river hydroelectric project". Whoa - hold on - let's stop right there. Danny Williams's province?! The Globe and Mail refers to Newfoundland and Labrador as Danny Williams's province?! I guess Quebec is not the only Canadian entity that needs to refer to a proper map. Danny Williams's province in fact had a name before Danny Williams was premier and will have the same name long after.

I have to shake my head and shrug - too much to say too little time:

Does it need reminding that Newfoundland and Labrador is proposing to run a line from Labrador to the Island to by-pass the racket we have with Quebec over the Upper Churchill?

Do we need to remind our federal government that Newfoundland and Labrador has been trying for years to foster co-operation between provinces that will allow the Lower Churchill development to proceed?

Do we need to restate the fact that the Privy Council decision of 1927 defines the Labrador border. A judgment made over twenty years before Newfoundland and Labrador entered into confederation. A judgment that Quebec's own analysis has declared to be indisputable. A boundary that is further defined in the constitution upon Newfoundland and Labrador's confederation with Canada?

Do we need to remind the dominion that anytime we have attempted to work a hydro plan for Labrador or reevaluate the existing atrocity of the Upper Churchill contract that the federal government has cowered in the corner saying it does not want to enter into a dispute between provinces?

Now Ottawa is participating in the joint Quebec Ottawa environmental assessment panel that by it's very nature is "giving tacit approval to Quebec's claim."

(pause for a breath)

Harper's eyes are on Ontario and West, with his eyes perpetually averted, what better time for Quebec to redraw that border.

Here's a thought. Given that the very constitution of Canada would have to be rewritten to allow Quebec's ownership of the Romaine watershed headwaters... given that we are rewriting it anyway - let's ripe it in two and start fresh. Let's revisit the Terms of Union.

Better still lets write our Terms of Severance.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Send in the Clown

On October 11 2007 newfoundlandincanada made comment of Nova Scotia's Ronald MacDonald making side deals with Canada's Ring Master Steve Harper. Seems some things never change.

Reposted from 09/07

Thursday, January 29, 2009

George Orwell and Budget 2009

George Orwell in "Animal Farm" wrote "All Animals are created Equal, but some are more equal than others." The latter part of the phrase of course was added to a constitution wrote with originally good intentions.

It has a whiff of Newfoundland and Labrador's place in Canada doesn't it. Does anyone else smell a pig?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Harbour Grace for Hockeyville

Vote for Harbour Grace for this year's CBC Hockeyville.