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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.

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…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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,…

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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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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,…

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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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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…

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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…

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Here’s why democracy is better

in Opinion by

We need more democracy, not less

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The rural used to be radical. What happened?

in Featured/Opinion by

Rural space is work space, not a leisure space. The city should be a space for working people, not a playground for the rich. Urban workers and rural workers have this in common: consumer capitalism has endangered their ability to live and play in the same place where they earn a living. While both sets of workers are under threat, the rural worker has been rendered invisible by stereotypes, assumptions, and ignorance.

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Do governments neglect social spending for corporate subsidies?

in Columns/Featured/Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The rich need no protection. — Wendell Phillips. When it comes to listing countries on the basis of the social services they provide to their citizens compared to the subsidies they heap on their corporations, Canada doesn’t fare well. A recent study from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy reports that our federal government and the four largest provinces spend $29 billion a year subsidizing business firms. The study’s author, John Lester, says that half of these huge subsidies fail to improve economic performance and therefore constitute a colossal waste of government revenue. “And because nearly one-third of all such subsidies just go generally to support specific industries or regions rather than to enhance economic development,” he added, “the proportion of questionable spending rises to 60% of the total.” Of the $29 billion in government handouts that corporations receive annually,…

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Proportional Representation: Why aren’t we winning?

in Opinion by

If we want to ever get a proportional representation referendum in this province we’re going to have to rethink our strategies.

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A minimum wage worker speaks out

in Letters by

As a minimum wage worker, who like most of those I know working minimum wage jobs (both here in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country), works part time to full time to support myself and those I care about, I know the value of every paycheque I get. I know the value of making even a few cents extra on minimum wage, and the potential benefit to myself and others that a true living wage could one day provide. When the news featured Tim Hortons franchises cutting benefits in Ontario to make a statement against having to give workers a fair wage I saw people who would sacrifice someone else’s long term future for their own short term gain. I saw people crying foul from their winter homes in Florida because they no longer get to profit off of a broken system. Evidently so does Tim Hortons’ parent company,…

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Don’t dread old age

in Columns/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

Old age need not be dreaded if it is the culmination of a well-spent life

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What makes a country happy?

in Columns/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

The happiest countries in the world are not necessarily the richest, but those with truly democratic governments

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Hiding wealth in tax havens deprives Canadian governments of massive amounts of tax revenue

in Columns/Featured/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

Letting Canadians get away with tax evasion hurts us all

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It’s time to end NAFTA

in Columns/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

A renegotiated NAFTA that satisfies Trump would benefit the U.S. — but only its abrogation would benefit most Canadians.

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