Category archive

Opinion

The Independent welcomes opinion pieces from readers on any topic. These pieces reflect the opinions of the writers. The Independent editorial staff reserves the right to edit the opinion pieces for clarity and length.

The missing ingredient in the Muskrat Falls Inquiry

in Featured/Opinion by

The one thing that government apparently doesn’t want discussed at the Commission of Inquiry is why our democratic institutions allowed such an uncritical handling of the project. On Friday, April 6th, hearings took place at the Beothuck Building on Crosbie Place to establish who would have standing to appear at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry. A coalition of three volunteer based civil society groups (The Council of Canadians, Democracy Alert and the Social Justice Cooperative) were among the twenty-two requests for standing. I ended up as the spokesperson. What does Muskrat Falls have to do with three groups that have no expertise in finance or engineering? What could we possibly hope to contribute? Look carefully at the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry and you’ll see that they largely confine participation to what the Commissioner, Judge Richard Leblanc, referred to at the hearing as “the business case” of Muskrat Falls. What’s…

Keep Reading

Communication is complicated

in Columns/Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

“But far more numerous was the herd of such Who think too little, and who talk too much.” –John Dryden. During the early 1960s, I was assistant editor of The Newfoundland Examiner, a weekly tabloid published in St. John’s. It was a journal launched to provide progressive news and views that were not likely to be found in the province’s conservative media. Our sole reporter was Malcolm (“Mac”) Maclaren, who had earlier emigrated to Newfoundland from England. He and I were boarders in a lodge owned by Mrs. Penny (not her real name), and she became a good friend as well as a good host. One evening, however, her friendship with Mac was sorely tested. She had a dentist’s appointment at 8 o’clock the next morning, but her alarm clock was broken, so she was worried about getting there on time. “Oh, that’s all right, Mrs. Penny,” Mac assured her.…

Keep Reading

The myth of Canadian progress

in Letters/Opinion by

In the current squabble over improving drug coverage and child care in this country, it’s crucial that the social programs provided in Canada be compared with the far superior benefits that are provided citizens of most European countries. Apart from the United States, Canada is the only advanced nation that confines its public health care to the services of physicians and hospitals. In Europe, coverage is universal and comprehensive, incorporating dental and vision care as well as pharmaceuticals. The latest OECD report on the social spending of its 34 member states ranks Canada 24th for its relatively low 17.2 percent of GDP expended on social programs. Most of the countries that surpass Canada have social spending rates higher than 24 percent of GDP, and several, including France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the three Scandinavian countries, have rates that exceed 28 percent. Incredibly, even the United States ranks above Canada…

Keep Reading

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…

Keep Reading

Scorpions, icebergs and cancer cells

in Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

Feedback from readers of my earlier essay “Who benefits from government policies?” was mostly positive, but a few thought I had taken a view of the future so dire that it implied capitulation—that further “resistance is futile.” Let me clarify my thinking, at least to the extent of assuring readers that I have not lost hope. Although I see unchecked capitalism as inimical to life on Earth—as the deadliest enemy of all that is fair, progressive and wholesome—I believe it can be vanquished and replaced. Eventually. And before its demolition of the environment passes the point of no return. I am reserving my rationale for optimism until the very end of this perhaps overly protracted blog. I think it will be helpful first to consider how and why capitalism has become the world’s predominant economic system. This does not necessitate a tedious academic treatise, but can best be done by…

Keep Reading

ArtsNL Forfeits Riddle Fence Sustaining Funding

in Featured/Letters by

Riddle Fence, along with The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society and Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues, was recently denied year 2 and 3 of their previously approved multi-year sustaining funding as a result of administrative errors. Riddle Fence requests that its sustaining funding be reinstated and that an artist engaged review of ArtsNL be conducted. We stand in solidarity with The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society and Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues. Riddle Fence is the only independent arts and culture journal in Newfoundland and Labrador. It encourages, supports and reflects arts and culture in Newfoundland and Labrador while contributing to a national and international dialogue. It is integral to the fabric of our artistic and cultural community across all disciplines. Specifically, our error occurred in CADAC, a financial data software program where arts organizations are required to input information from Review Engagements prepared by accountants. Grant Thornton prepared Riddle…

Keep Reading

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…

Keep Reading

Who benefits from government policies? Usually just the rich and powerful.

in Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

“When it can be said in any country in the world, “My poor are happy; neither ignorance nor stress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive . . . When these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and its government.” –Thomas Paine. Lucius Cassius, a consul whom the people of ancient Rome revered as a wise and honourable judge, was often required to adjudicate disputes involving the laws or policies of the Senate. Time and again, his first question was “Cui bono?” which can be translated as “Who benefits?” or “To whose benefit?” His reasoning was that no political action could be explained unless it was first ascertained who gained from it. The even more illustrious Roman orator and statesman Cicero often quoted this…

Keep Reading

The Maritime Link: Remember how we were going to use it?

in Featured/Opinion by

Muskrat Falls was once touted as the key to long-term economic and energy independence for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. No longer would we be living under the shadow of the bad deal done at Churchill Falls, no longer would we need to burn oil at the aging Holyrood Thermal Generating Station, or face another DarkNL. We would have a transmission link to the mainland through Nova Scotia, giving us access to the energy-hungry eastern United States. Yet, last week the island of Newfoundland began importing mostly coal-fired power from Nova Scotia over the Maritime Link. The Maritime Link consists of two subsea cables that run 170 km across the Cabot Strait between Cape Ray and Point Aconi with the capacity to carry 500 MW of electricity. It was built by Emera to supply Nova Scotia with power from Muskrat Falls and provide NL with access to export markets.…

Keep Reading

Fatal truck crashes are a serious problem in Canada, fuelled by government inaction

in Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

The reason there were fewer wrecks in the old horse-and-buggy days is because the driver didn’t have to depend entirely on his own intelligence. – Anonymous. For the past several years, on a part-time basis, I’ve been assisting the non-profit Canadian Owner-Operators’ Cooperative (COOC) in its efforts to lower its trucking members’ operating costs. These mainly include the costs of insurance, fuel, tires, and maintenance. But a much more crucial campaign the COOC has undertaken has been to improve driving safety and decrease the involvement of heavy trucks in highway crashes. Nearly 2,000 Canadians are killed each year and another 10,000 seriously injured in collisions involving a heavy truck (one with a gross vehicle weight greater than 12,000 pounds). Even on a per-distance-travelled basis, large trucks have a fatality rate double the rate for all other vehicles. The tendency, unfortunately, is for most people to blame the truck drivers, rather…

Keep Reading

The Gossip Mill: 25 Years after the Village Mall Affair

in Featured/Opinion by

One of the most fascinating things about the Village Mall affair is its longevity. Nearly a quarter century after the investigation into cruising at the shopping mall, people are still gossiping about what happened. Some people will recall the story of the Habs jersey. The rumour at the time was that men who were looking for sex at the Village would wear Montréal Canadiens jerseys in order to identify one another. This only makes sense if one forgets that the Habs won the NHL playoffs in 1993 the last time a Canadian team got the Stanley Cup. It is safe to assume that many men were wearing those hockey jerseys in the winter and spring of that year, not just ones cruising for sex. Recent discussions over Pride, police, and public apologies have raised concerns over the way LGBTQ histories come to be celebrated and the challenges that arise when…

Keep Reading

The price of everything in the province hinges on this case

in Opinion by

Oceanex vs. Marine Atlantic is about more than just shipping rights. It’s about whether this province will survive.

Keep Reading

Oil, gas, and cognitive dissonance

in Letters/Opinion by

We remember the last oil boom, right? Couple years ago? And the bust that followed? Wealthy people got considerably wealthier while the rest of us strained to see the benefits promised us. What weren’t hard to see were the deep cuts to the public sector after all those revenues (on which the government decided to be fully dependent) suddenly vanished. And the public continues to pay the price. It’s 2018. We’ve known for many years that the future of human beings depends on cutting dependence on fossil fuels. Scientists the world over have insisted this is the case. In a 2012 report, the World Bank stated that “we’re on track for a 4 degree Celsius warmer world by century’s end marked by extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.” The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research says this rise in 4…

Keep Reading

FANE: It’s time to talk about ecology in Newfoundland and Labrador

in Opinion by

It might seem like a bizarre moment to be fighting to bring ecology to the fore in decision-making in Newfoundland and Labrador. But our decisions about how to proceed in the future depend largely on how we understand our past. Do we trust our politicians? Do we trust Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall and the appointed “expert panel” evaluating the North Spur? Have we been listening and attentive to how the Muskrat Falls project will forever change the lives of the Innu and Inuit in Labrador? One not need look far into the past to see that ecological issues have in fact been included in the scope of considerations about the economic future of the province. For example, in 2010, the province’s Premier, Minister of Natural Resources, and Nalcor CEO Ed Martin all promised they would produce “clean energy” and “environmentally friendly” power. Yet in times of strife, the province’s political leaders,…

Keep Reading

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…

Keep Reading

Will all Canadians enjoy prescription drug coverage soon?

in Columns/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

The federal New Democratic Party has called for Canada’s public health care plan to be expanded to cover the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. If the ruling Liberal government doesn’t provide this extended coverage, the NDP promises to do so if it wins the next election in 2019. While I applaud this NDP initiative, I have to add that it’s jolly well about time. The party should have made the expansion of medicare a top priority a long time ago. And not just to cover pharmacare, but to encompass dental, vision, and other vital health needs as well. Apart from the United States, that’s what all other major countries did when they first inaugurated public health care for their citizens. When Tommy Douglas pioneered public health care in Saskatchewan 56 years ago, he limited it to the services of physicians and hospitals. He would have preferred to make the coverage all-inclusive,…

Keep Reading

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…

Keep Reading

An all-white jury runs from justice in the trial of Gerald Stanley

in Featured/Opinion by

Last night, a crowded Saskatchewan courtroom heard the verdict of the 12-person jury in the trial of 56-year-old Gerald Stanley, the white farmer charged in the 2016 shooting death of Red Pheasant First Nation member Colten Boushie. The decision to find Stanley ‘not guilty’ of the second-degree murder of 22-year-old Boushie set off a firestorm of reaction across social media, on both sides of the case. Here, Indigenous entrepreneur and commentator Robert Jago shares his perspective on what we should take away from the verdict. There is a video from outside the courthouse in Battleford, Saskatchewan, last night. It shows a screen which is split in four and displaying the courtroom, the jury box, the judge, and the accused in the Gerald Stanley case. As the verdict is announced, there are gasps and shouts; Colten Boushie’s mother cries out. Bailiffs grab Gerald Stanley and run out of the frame, and to a waiting truck…

Keep Reading

Tax evasion is costing our government billions

in Columns/Featured by

“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin. “In this world death is certain for everyone, but taxation is far from certain for those allowed to avoid it.” –Ed Finn. I recently received an unexpected letter from the Canada Revenue Agency. I always pay my income tax on time, but I still felt some trepidation. When my wife returned from the mail box and gave it to me, she said the expression on my face was akin to that of someone handed a ticking time bomb. My foreboding turned out to be unfounded. The four-page letter consisted of a detailed analysis of my 2016 tax return, with tables and graphs and a form to fill out and send back to the CRA. I could have trimmed the bureaucratic jargon to a single sentence: “We have reviewed your last tax payment and found that you owe the…

Keep Reading

Here’s why democracy is better

in Opinion by

We need more democracy, not less

Keep Reading

1 2 3 25
Go to Top