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Hans Rollmann

Hans Rollmann has 280 articles published.

It’s not about a hotel

in Opinion/To Each Their Own by

Really, all the ado is not about a hotel. If St. John’s is so awash in tourists that we need a new hotel, nobody is going to argue. Nobody minds a new hotel for the tourists. It’s work for contractors, it’s work for staff, it’s money for the local economy. What this is about is entitlement. It’s about a merchant class elite business community which really contributes very little to this city (trickle-down economics never worked; what’s more important is that the rich pay their taxes rather than stashing it in offshore bank accounts), yet considers that the city ought to jump through hoops, waive regulations and give them whatever they want on a silver platter whenever they ask for it. This small city doesn’t have much. It’s got an unemployment rate twice the national average (the second highest of any Canadian city), overcrowded hospitals, no family doctors taking patients,…

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From Manitoba to Newfoundland – why understanding the significance of the treaty relationship is so important

in Featured/Journalism by

When Loretta Ross was a young girl growing up in Manitoba, her school had a career day. The place was full of professionals from all sorts of fields. Yet there was only one Indigenous person. Ross was therefore drawn to him, and it was he who put the idea in her head that was to shape her future. “He said [Indigenous people] need lawyers. He talked a little bit about why we need lawyers—and I said that’s it! I’m going to do that. That’s what I want to be.” After the session, students returned to their classrooms, and their teacher asked them what careers they had decided they wanted to pursue. “I put up my hand, and she said: ‘What do you want to be?’ I said ‘I want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a lawyer!’ And she squished her nose at me, and she said ‘Don’t…

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Talking about the weather in Windsor Lake…

in Featured/Opinion/To Each Their Own by

It’s unusual for this publication to let an election or even byelection go by with nary a comment. Yet despite the rapidly approaching Windsor Lake byelection, it took me a while to figure out what to say. I considered focusing on the Liberals. Oh, where to start? Their failure to tackle unemployment, which is the province’s biggest crisis and one nobody seems interested in talking about? Their failure to do anything remotely constructive to grow or diversify the economy over the past three years? The fact they fall to their knees grovelling at any big industry that comes knocking, handing the big mainland industrialists whatever they ask for on a silver platter, whether it’s royalty concessions or waiving environmental regulations? The fact that they’ve done nothing to secure the people of the province against ruinous energy bills as a result of the Muskrat Falls debacle, besides some vague promises that…

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The selfishness of thieves

in Opinion/To Each Their Own by

The question on everyone’s minds is – why do they do it? Don’t they realize it’s hurting all of us? Making off with their ill-begotten gains? Just because they’re able to? How does their conscience let them get away with it? Do they do it just for a bit of fun? Because they’re young and they think the world is theirs to do with what they will? Of course, I see the temptation. We’re all hard up these days. Cost of living is through the roof, it’s impossible to get a nice affordable place to rent any more, and the electricity costs…don’t get me started. Yes, we’re hard up, but that’s no reason to just turn your back on your neighbours and line your own nest. It’s downright anti-social. We live in a society, and when any one of us decides we’re going to simply put our own needs above…

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Is creativity overrated? On the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador

in Arts & Culture/Featured/Opinion by

Is creativity overrated? Oli Mould is a human geographer at University of London in the UK, and the title of his latest book—Against Creativity—might lead you to think so. The provocative argument Mould makes in his book is that “creativity is a barely hidden form of neoliberal appropriation. It is a regime that prioritises individual success over collective flourishing. It refuses to recognize anything…that is not profitable.” He’s referring to the manner in which neoliberal, corporate capitalism has appropriated everything we thought of as creative—from the arts to scientific innovation—and harnessed it for the exploitation of profit. His book offers numerous examples. Real estate developers have taken to spray-painting graffiti in housing developments in the hope of making them seem trendy and appealing to the hip and wealthy. Other developers will convert empty warehouses into art galleries or offer free apartments to artists, not because they want the arts to…

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The year of Newfoundland’s triumph

in About Books/Arts & Culture/Journalism by

1974. For most of us, it’s just a year – either one buried in distant memory, or one we are too young to have even experienced. Places have a longer memory, however, and for Newfoundland and Labrador, the year was a momentous one. It marked the province’s twenty-fifth anniversary of Confederation with Canada: an event celebrated with awkward abandon, including a series of disastrous dinners and fishing expeditions with the country’s premiers. For a new generation that had grown up after the entire Confederation imbroglio, it was an exciting time, and one aptly reflected in the province’s first big national game-show triumph. Reach For the Top was a quiz-style trivia program broadcast nationally on CBC television from 1966 to 1989 (with a brief revival in the mid 2000s). Teams of high school students across the country competed for prominence, and no Newfoundland team had ever won. But that year—1974—a team…

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Where next in the fight over Muskrat Falls and rate mitigation?

in Opinion/To Each Their Own by

On Friday, a group of protesters gathered at the Public Utilities Building in St. John’s, as they have for the past few weeks, protesting current and anticipated power rate hikes as a result of the Muskrat Falls project. Earlier this week, meanwhile, a coalition of over two hundred prestigious academics and authors signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling for a halt to the Muskrat Falls project, in light of the risk of irrevocable damage it poses to the environment and culture of Indigenous-led communities in Labrador. On the Island: power rate hikes. On the Labrador: threats to health, safety, and culture. The thing that binds these two acts of protest is Muskrat Falls. It’s a scandal that has united the people of the province in scorn, derision and outrage against a bad deal signed and supported by successive provincial governments, which threatens the very future of the…

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Ed Riche on satire and our capacity for self-delusion

in Arts & Culture/Journalism/Uncategorized by

Ed Riche is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and more. However, he’s perhaps best known for his humour, and especially his satire. But according to Riche, we are now living in a “post-satiric” age. It’s one in which the seemingly satirical often turns out to be true; and in which there is a feeling in some quarters that speech which hurts should be shut down. How does a satirist ply their trade in a post-satiric age? “You just get ready to absorb more blows,” he says. “We’ve got the unthinkable – Donald Trump in the White House. That’s a punch line. It’s beyond all comprehension. Every day we look at that same reality and go ‘How could this have ever happened?’ He’s a horror clown, he’s a con man, he’s a grifter, he’s an idiot, he’s a crook, and yet he’s the most powerful man in the world. “And on…

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St. John’s Gay Men’s Chorus is going places

in Featured/Journalism by

Its first season opened barely a year ago, and already the St. John’s Gay Men’s Chorus is putting this province on the map. The Gay Men’s Chorus is a community chorus for LGBTQ men and allies, explains Yohei Sakai, the group’s founder and director. “We don’t do auditions – everyone is welcome,” he emphasizes. Sakai is a graduate student in music at Memorial University, and is originally from Japan. He had been part of gay men’s choruses in his native Japan as well as in Mexico when he moved to this province to continue his studies. “When I came here, Spectrum [Queer Choir] was already here but I noticed that not many gay men were singing, and for me gay men should sing. So I [knew] I had to do something.” After putting out a call on social media, the chorus launched its first season in April 2017, and it…

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“There’s no worse feeling in the world than feeling all alone in a city of seven and a half million people.”

in About Books/Arts & Culture/Featured by

Seamus Heffernan is not the first Newfoundlander whose background in journalism led him eventually to fiction. But finding his home in crime writing has been the culmination of a long-held dream. “Some kids dream of wanting to be an astronaut, some kids dream of scoring a Stanley Cup overtime winning goal, but for me, I always wanted to be a writer,” he recalled, the day after the launch of his debut novel Napalm Hearts. “So I guess last night was my overtime winning moment.” Throughout years of working for newspapers, magazines, and policy think-tanks, Heffernan yearned to write a serious piece of fiction. “I knew if I did that it was going to be in the crime genre, it was always the one I was drawn to. That was the format I was most comfortable with and I thought you can have fun with it while also saying an awful…

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Humboldt Broncos, Nora Loreto, and the difficult questions that come with grief

in Opinion by

The tragedy in Saskatchewan has touched people across the country. But it’s also revealed a darker dimension to the country’s passions. On April 8, Montreal-based journalist Nora Loreto raised some difficult truths on Twitter. She responded to the outpouring of cash—a Canadian record for Gofundme—by noting that “the maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are… playing a significant role. I don’t want less for the families and survivors of this tragedy. I want justice and more for so many other grieving parents and communities.” The response was swift: far-right organizers who regularly troll her social media presence launched an all-out campaign to attack her. She has received thousands of vitriolic messages, death threats, rape threats, and more. Mainstream corporate media picked up the onslaught, with editorials published in papers like the Toronto Sun also attacking her. There are few of us who haven’t seen some friend or…

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As ArtsNL funding crisis deepens, province’s arts organizations fear for their future

in Arts & Culture/Featured/Journalism by

Several of the province’s arts organizations are in a bind after ArtsNL—the body which adjudicates grants and disburses provincial arts funding—has cut their funding over what the arts organizations say are very minor errors in online reporting forms. Last week the Folk Arts Council—which puts off the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, one of the province’s premiere music and culture festivals—learned that the second and third years of a pre-approved three-year funding grant had been cancelled due to reporting errors. They have since announced they’re suing ArtsNL over the decision, since funding was supposed to be guaranteed for three years and they say minimal effort was made to alert them to the reporting discrepancies. Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival and Gros Morne Summer Music have also had their funding cancelled, and on Tuesday the provincial arts and culture magazine Riddle Fence made a public statement announcing their funding was…

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What could happen if the province increased funding to libraries?

in About Books/Featured/Journalism by

An event featuring three of the city’s top poets last week doubled as an occasion for library supporters to raise their voices in demanding an improved public library system for the capital city—and the province. The second event in The Once and Future Library series—organized by the St. John’s Public Library Board—took place on March 14 in the AC Hunter Public Library, and proved to be as lively as it was literary. All three poets, and the writers and librarians who introduced them, read from their works but also reflected on the value of libraries to themselves personally, as well as the role libraries play in the broader community. George Murray is a well-established poet. Author of eight books of poetry, as well as a published author of fiction and children’s literature, Murray has served as poetry editor for the Literary Review of Canada and contributing editor with Maisonneuve. In…

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It’s time for serious talk about the NL fiscal bail-out

in Featured/Opinion by

The news is full of prognostications of doom and gloom these days. Province set to go bankrupt, unassailable debt, unpayable power bills. What are we to do? For one, we need to start talking seriously about what a bail-out of this province’s crippled finances would look like, if it happens. More and more people (such as the economist cited in this CBC story) think it’s likely to happen. A country like Canada, which espouses to first-world status, does not simply allow an entire province to go bankrupt and shut down. What we should be focusing serious public discussion about, is not if there will be a bailout, but what the terms and conditions of that bailout will be, and how it will happen. On whose terms, and with what end-goal in mind. We need to be having that discussion now, and it is deeply troubling the government has not made…

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How to win over a gullible crowd: Stan Marshall and Muskrat Falls

in Opinion by

Back in the days before most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians had college educations, televisions, or Internet, there were certain assumptions which were made by the elites who governed them. These included the following: 1) You can win over a gullible crowd by using the following: a lot of big words; a lot of numbers; photos of mechanical contraptions 2) If you show your audience that you’re trying to explain a complex idea to them in simple terms, they will love and adore you for it 3) If you convince people that you’re working hard at something, they’ll let you get on with whatever it is that you’re doing, even if they don’t understand it and even if it doesn’t really make sense 4) If you’re implicated in something unsavoury, the best way out of it is to shake your head, pretend that the sophisticated machinations of others are beyond your limited…

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Colonial narratives

in Featured/Opinion/To Each Their Own by

On a bitterly cold Saturday, with ice crystals in the air and a light scattering of snow underfoot, five or six dozen people gather at the steps of the Court House in St. John’s. They’re here to demand Justice for Colten Boushie, the 22-year old Cree man from the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan who was shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, a 56-year old white farmer. The rally is hastily organized. There are two cheap loudspeakers, but most of the speakers forget to use them. There are no power outlets, and only one reporter present. One speaker forgot their gloves, and shivers as their skin turns an eerie shade of red. You’d think tears would freeze in cold like this, but they don’t—they flow strong and free. Drummers take to the steps of the Court House, and the rhythms they pound out, coupled with the clear and confident…

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Telling the story of harassment in the RCMP

in Featured/Journalism by

On February 1, former RCMP Constable Janet Merlo spoke to a packed gathering hosted by the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University about her experience of sexual harassment in the force. The harassment she along with thousands of other women in the RCMP experienced became the subject of a class action suit that was settled out of court last year. Her story, which is outlined in detail in her own book No One To Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP, is a powerful one that tackles a misogyny still deeply rooted in many workplaces, and one we thought we should share. Merlo looks out across campus, reminiscing about her days as a student and how much the university landscape has changed. An alumni of Squires House, she fondly recalls some of the antics of residence life. Joining the RCMP was not a career move she’d planned…

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Canadian politics needs…more poetry?

in Featured/Journalism by

There’s been a serious degradation in political speech in recent years, says parliamentary poet laureate

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Muskrat Falls resistance growing across Canada

in Journalism by

Embattled hydro megaproject is a test of the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation and internationally recognized rights of Indigenous peoples, say organizers.

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Muskrat Falls Inquiry doomed before it starts?

in To Each Their Own by

An Inquiry is too important to be dragged into partisan bickering.

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