The Indy News Hour (March 9, 2014)
Transcript by Erika Steeves
IS THE HARPER GOVERNMENT’S NEW ‘FAIR ELECTIONS ACT’ ACTUALLY FAIR?
JUSTIN BRAKE: Welcome to the Indy News Hour, TheIndependent.ca, for Sunday March 9th, 2014. I’m Justin Brake. Last month the Harper government introduced extensive reforms to the Canada Elections Act it says will improve the way federal elections are carried out and make them fairer. But opposition parties and Canada’s chief electoral officer, Mark Mayrand, are slamming Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act, saying the 250-plus pages of amendments will disproportionately benefit the Conservatives over opposition parties. Under the new rules voters will no longer be allowed to vouch for their family members or neighbours at the polls, and voter registration cards will no longer be accepted as valid pieces of identification. The bill will also raise the limits for campaign donations and spending, which some critics say will benefit the party with wealthier donors and disadvantage the party advocating more for Canada’s underclass and working to reduce economic and social inequality in the country. Some also say Elections Canada would be gagged from communicating with the public, and that the Canada election commissioner’s will be compromised when the responsibility for appointing the position will be taken from the chief electoral officer and given to the director of public prosecutions.
On Saturday, the Globe and Mail reported Democratic Reform minister Pierre Polievre, said the government will now amend the bill to ensure Mayrand, the chief electoral officer, will be able to continue speaking publicly. We spoke with Liberal MP for Avalon Scott Andrews by phone on Saturday. He began by responding to Polievre’s comments.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “If you’ve got nothing to fear and you think nobody’s going to oppose your bill, bring it across the country, roll the bill out across the country and seek input from across Canadians. They won’t do this. That’s just his way of trying to change the channel on this because he knows they’re on a whole lot of hurt when it comes to this bill. They have been criticized from all corners. And the more and more people get to know about it, then the more and more people will realize it’s being shifted off the committee quick; they’re trying to ram this through pretty quick, like they do with a lot of legislation, just hoping Canadians are asleep and are not paying attention. But on this one I think Canadians are going to wake up, much like they did when they tried to prorogue the house.”
JUSTIN BRAKE: On the appointment of the Canada elections commissioner, Andrews said shifting authority from the chief electoral officer to the director of public prosecutions will have minimal impact, since the commissioner has been denied the power to compel evidence from candidates in elections investigations.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “This is a really important part about this. It’s about making people compel the evidence. If we look at what’s happened with Shelly Glover and Bazan and Del Mastro and Penashue, they were never, ever compelled to give evidence; they really had to force it out of them. So this is something that the commissioner has been asking for and he hasn’t been given that particular power. So you can hide behind the director of public prosecutions, but if you’re not going to give them the investigative powers to compel evidence, then this really weakens their ability to investigate.”
JUSTIN BRAKE: Andrews said the changes shouldn’t affect the outcome of a possible investigation into former Labrador MP Peter Penashue’s 2011 election scandal, which saw the former Innu leader accept illegal donations and overspend on a campaign that helped him to a narrow upset victory over Liberal incumbent MP Todd Russell. Penashue later apologized, blamed the mistakes on his inexperienced hand-picked official agent Reg Bowers, and resigned his seat, which triggered a by-election that he then ran in, despite the fact Elections Canada would not likely have had enough time to complete the thorough investigation into the former Conservative Cabinet ministers campaign finances, which at first included donations from dozens of individuals with business ties to the Innu Nation, including members of Penashue’s family.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “I don’t think it will change the outcome because we’re under the old election laws now, and we’ll just have to – that story has not yet been fully told. Peter Penashue, even though he admitted he made a mistake, he resigned, he ran again, they haven’t finished the investigation. They haven’t actually filed charges against Mr. Penashue. That was still yet to come. Elections Canada is going to continue with their investigation on Mr. Penashue, so there’s more to come on that particular file. And we’ll see how that particular case will go to build our arguments, how we need stronger election laws to crack down on this.”
JUSTIN BRAKE: A big change people in Newfoundland and Labrador will notice, Andrews said, is what happens at the polls. Voters will no longer be allowed to vouch for others who don’t have adequate identification with them, which could lead to some frustrating and awkward situations, particularly in smaller communities where everybody knows everybody.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “Before if two people went into the polling station together and one person forgot their ID, and their neighbour was there with them, they could vouch for that person, saying, “Yeah, that’s my neighbour. They live down the road.” They sign a piece of paper, they produce their ID, and they vouch for the next person. So it enhanced participation. We [inaudible] participation has been going down and down and down. Taking away this vouching system, to allow people to vouch for one another, is going to drive participation down, because if someone comes in and they don’t have ID, their neighbour or their spouse is right there with them, and they’re not allowed to say, “Yeah, that’s who she’s saying.” She can swear on the Bible (that’s who she’s saying she is), she’s going to turn around and leave. What’s the chances of that person coming back to vote? Slim to none. And the other part about this, about the vouching, that really gets me is not people vouching for each other, but the Elections Canada officials that are at the desk when you go in to vote. They’re trained by Elections Canada, they go through training, they have to read all the rules, they’ve done it and many of them have done it for many, many years. Every four years they go out and they work an election booth. Their ability to vouch for someone has been taken away, and these are people who live in a small community. If you look at a small community like Heart’s Desire, and there’s about 300 people in Heart’s Desire and the same polling [inaudible] have been doing it for years, when their neighbour comes in and he says, “I know you’re my neighbour; you live next door to me, but you don’t have any ID I can’t let you vote,” that is going to be where you’re really going to see people in the next election – I can see the media reports now on election day. People kicking up their heels and walking away because they forget their piece of ID, or they happen to be walking by the polling station (“Oh geez, I’ll go in and vote”) will be turned away.”
JUSTIN BRAKE: According to saveyourvote.ca, a website launched by the NPD to protest Bill C-23 and petition the federal government to rescind the changes, in the 2000 elections about 120,000 people voted by having a neighbour vouch for them. A recent Toronto Star article reports most of those voters were youth, seniors, aboriginal Canadians, and disadvantaged people. By contrast, Mayrand told the Star, of the millions of votes cast in the 2008 and 2011 elections, only 18 complaints were filed about possible ineligible votes. He said without the ability for voters to vouch for others, many of those 120,000 votes could be lost. Another rule under the Fair Elections Act will allow incumbents to pick the poll managers for all polling stations in their respective riding, said Andrews.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “This is like some way inside baseball when it comes to elections. Just let me explain to you what happens right now. Currently, in my case, I have let’s just say 210 polls. Every election I have to provide Elections Canada with the name of the person to be the poll clerk. The person who finished second in our riding (would be the Conservatives) – sorry. We are appointed DRO (deputy returning officer) in each poll, and the person finishing second appoints the poll clerk. It’s a pain in the ass because, again, these are people that have been doing it for years, and they know when election time comes they want to do this job. So they end up having to call me and they call the Conservative headquarters and they call Elections Canada to get this job. Elections Canada says, “No, you’ve got to contact your candidate,” and then these people call both headquarters, wanting to get their name on the list, and it’s just a mess trying to field all these calls in the first three weeks of the campaign of the people who want those jobs at the polling stations. The Conservatives have gone one step further now. They’ve now said the person who finished first in the last election gets to appoint the poll manager (so the person in charge of the whole polling station). And this is where some real abuse could come in if candidates put a lot of time and effort into saying, okay, I’m going to put my most partisan person I know as the poll manager in that particular community. And when people come in to vote, they’ll say, who’s this guy over here? He’s like the president of the PC Association. What’s he doing as the poll manager? I was really hoping we’d move away from it. Take it away from the candidates altogether. Let Elections Canada do it. That would have been a better recommendation. But they’ve actually gone one step further. So in all the ridings where they finished first – and they finished first in a lot of ridings – they’re going to appoint the poll manager, the person who’s going to be responsible for Elections Canada in that poll. I didn’t realize that one this week until I had Mr. Maynard before my committee, the Ethics Committee, [inaudible], and I asked him about the poll clerk and the DRO. And he said ‘did you know in this new elections law that the poll supervisor now will be appointed by the party who finished first?’
JUSTIN BRAKE: On Friday, Harry Neufeld, a former chief electoral officer for British Columbia and the author of a report repeatedly cited by the Conservatives to justify their crackdown on potential voter fraud, told the Canadian Press he never said there was more than a handful of cases of voter fraud, both federally and provincially. Despite the opposition to Bill C-23 though, the Conservatives have rushed it through Parliament without debate and have blocked hearings on the bill nationwide.
SCOTT ANDREWS [AUDIO CLIP]: “Elections and legislation should be done in consultation with all the parties involved. That’s how you do a Fair Elections Act. You contact everyone who’s involved and say, here’s my idea, here’s your ideas, here’s the other parties’ idea. Let’s get the consensus. That’s what we need to change. That didn’t happen.
Then they throw 200 pages on Parliament, then they invoke closure, then they push it off the committee, [inaudible] the committee, then, as an election commissioner, the government calls two votes. So it interrupts the committee for 30 minutes. It’s like blatant, blatant trying to ram this down our throats. But Canadians have got to realize this is how these guys have been operating. They’re almost up to close to 100 times they’ve invoked closure, since they’ve been elected, on pieces of legislation. This is how they operate. And they’ve gotten away with it. Until Canadians rise up and say, ‘Hold on a second here, this is not right,’ they’ll continue to do it.”
COALITION LOBBIES GOVERNMENT FOR CHANGES TO EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE LEGISLATION
JUSTIN BRAKE: In its 2012 omnibus budget bill, the Conservative government outlined new rules for employment insurance. The legislation took effect in January 2013 and is having a disproportionally negative impact on seasonal and rural workers in the province, according to Wayne Lucas, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for Newfoundland and Labrador. Lucas was part of a delegation of unions, church, and activist groups from Newfoundland and Labrador and other provinces that travelled to Ottawa last week to lobby the federal government to scrap the changes to how EI is administered, who’s eligible, and what they have to do to get it. Welcome to the Indy News Hour, Wayne Lucas.
WAYNE LUCAS: Thanks for having us.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Why did you go to Ottawa?
WAYNE LUCAS: Well, actually I went to Ottawa, there was a group of people (probably 30 or 40 from around the country) representing Quebec, the Atlantic provinces, representing some unions, some social activist groups, some church groups, and the purpose of the meeting was to put pressure on the federal government to scrap the changes that they brought in unilaterally on unemployment insurance and to bring in some improvements for the people across the country.
We’re quite upset that the federal government, through stealth, decided to attack the most vulnerable in society, and that being the unemployed. You may recall that during the last federal election, when politicians of all stripes were going around knocking on your door asking for your vote, the Tories didn’t say anything about their plan to revamp unemployment insurance as we know today. But instead, what they did in 2012, they introduced another one of the notorious [omnibus] bills, perhaps 400 or 500 pages thick, all chock full with all kinds of guts of things that we were used to in society without any debate, without any transparency, without (I think the worst part) any debate in the House of Commons, and they brought these changes into Parliament and passed them. Now what we’re finding is that there’s people in the country, if you’re unfortunate enough to work in the seasonal industry, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be one of those individuals who have collected unemployment insurance because of the seasonal nature, you’re being deemed as a frequent user. If, as an example (and this is just an example), if you’ve been on unemployment insurance for 10 years of the last 15 working years, you’re now considered a frequent user. You’re expected to do some things that other workers are not expected to do, and that is work for less than your current rate of pay; you have to work a longer period of time in order to have the same number of stamps to qualify; you’re expected to travel an hour to a new job that may or may not be there. We find this quite alarming. There’s a statistic out there that says that nine cents of every dollar earned in Newfoundland and Labrador is EI money. Now, if the federal government plans to take that type of money out of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, I’d like to hear from the people that ran for the Tory party from last year, and let us know what the logic of it is, because I just don’t buy into the accusation that people in Newfoundland or people in PEI are perhaps not as energetic as people in other provinces.
JUSTIN BRAKE: That’s right. We hear that quite often, that seasonal workers are often lazy workers. But given the nature of our province, our geography, our economy, the fact that our economy has been based on the fishery for so long (and it’s still not as diversified as many would like to see the economy in rural Newfoundland and Labrador), it’s very difficult. But let’s talk about some of these changes specifically, if we can. As you mentioned, the changes were announced in the omnibus budget bill C-38 in 2012. The changes came into effect in January of 2013 (so a little over a year ago now). So among those changes, as you alluded to briefly there, one of them was the creation of three new categories: frequent, occasional, and long-tenured. The definition of a reasonable job search was changed. The definition of “suitable employment” was changed. And the introduction of a new job alert system that sends targeted emails to people based on their location. And there’s other changes as well. Some of them may be more relevant to workers or unemployed people in Newfoundland and Labrador. The three new categories that were introduced, can you talk about that (the frequent, the occasional, and the long-tenured)?
WAYNE LUCAS: Yes, I can tell you that the whole purpose of this is to direct your attention toward people who have been in seasonal work or people who have, unfortunately, found themselves in a situation where they’ve had to rely on unemployment insurance for part of the year. And, again, there hasn’t been a whole lot of debate about it. As far as I know there hasn’t been a town hall meeting where we can go in and talk about the cons. I don’t know if there are any pros. We’re finding it extremely hard to get information from government. We do know that government has said to us now, “Well, you know, there’s only about a half percentage point of the people who actually collect unemployment insurance have been affected.” Our argument to that is, yeah, that may be true, but there’s an election around the corner and surely because of the big demonstrations thousands of people into the streets in places like New Brunswick and northern Quebec, demonstrations in Newfoundland and Labrador, they may not have been as big as what they were in New Brunswick, but the Tory governments heard about it and I think they got scared. They were scared off a wee bit. We’re fearful that if they get passed the next federal election, that they will turn the torpedoes on the gutting of the unemployment insurance, and we want people to have a fair say. We want people to have a dialogue about it. We want to be able to give our opposition and our opinions on why we think these changes will be wrong for Newfoundland and Labrador. One area I want to talk about is we used to have a board of referees. They were a tri-party board. There was one representative from labour, there was one representative from employers, and one representative from government, a government appointee. And they heard 25,000 cases last year. There were roughly 1,000 volunteers, who received some small stipend. They were replaced by 40 full-time appointees of government last year.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Can you explain what cases you’re talking about, what the job of this board was specifically?
WAYNE LUCAS: Yes. What happened is if somebody disagreed with a decision of the commission with regard to qualifying for unemployment insurance, they had the right to appeal it through the appeal system. That’s the system I’m talking about. Government did away with that system itself, and they replaced it with 40 full-time workers across the country. We can’t get the stats. We’ve talked to government and we tried to talk to Service Canada, and we can’t get the stats to find out how many cases have been turned, what the turn-around time is for those cases, how many people have been denied, how many cases have been upheld. We think it’s important to have that transparency. And the way it worked was that labour had a vested interest, employers had a vested interest, and of course the government of the day had a vested interest. Now the only one that gets a say is the government. They’ve been appointed by the Harper government themselves. I know some of the adjudicators and I think quite highly of them. But that’s not the point. The point of the matter is I want to be transparent. I want to make sure that everybody has their equal say. There’s no say in Newfoundland and Labrador. There’s only two people in the world I trust: that’s me and you. And when I get up in the morning, some mornings I have my doubts about you. So you need to have people have fair representation, and you need to have transparency in every system that we’ve got. For whatever reason, government decided to hide behind the shields of government and tear down that transparency. That’s wrong. So until we get more transparency, until we get more information about the system, I think the government needs to scrap this system that they’ve got, and we’ve got to start looking at a system where we can give more benefits to the unemployed in Newfoundland and Labrador. One example, if I may. Forty years ago when I went to Trades College, I collected unemployment insurance while I went to Trades College. There were many people in those days, if they didn’t get that hand up from government they wouldn’t have went in and got their trades. And when we keep talking, in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the country, that we’ve got a shortage of skilled workers, I maintain that we need to put a system in place where we should probably help them out through the unemployment insurance system, for perhaps two years, until they get those courses underneath their belt. That would help them and their families. It would help the communities. And it would help employer groups. That’s just one system, I think, would make perfectly good sense, but we need to have the dialogue.
JUSTIN BRAKE: We’re hovering somewhere over a 10% unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have a lot of seasonal workers, particularly in rural parts of the province. You alluded briefly to a few of these changes earlier. Can you go into them a little bit more in detail, and talk about how some of these chances will affect people, individuals, families in rural communities?
WAYNE LUCAS: Let’s take, just as an example, somebody who works in the tourist industry. So you’re running a motel or a hotel or a bed and breakfast. The employees that you’ve had were long-year tendered. They were loyal and faithful, hardworking, dedicated, but you could only offer them work for the minimum period of time (perhaps during the summer months, it may go into early fall and perhaps late spring). So now, because they’ve been designated as a frequent user, they’re going to have to receive less money (the way the system is set up right now); they’ll have to accept a job between 90 and 70% of what they formerly earned; they’ll have to travel perhaps an hour away in terms of get that employment, if they’re sent a notice on it, and then the following year (because they’re earning less money this year, because of the new rules), they’re going to get even less money in the following claim the following year. Now, if you’re an employee in Newfoundland and Labrador and stuck to your guns and love the province like most of us do, you’ve got to face the sheer reality that you still got to take care of your family. So next year, if you’re going to move, you’re not going to move to St. John’s. You’re going to move to someplace like Calgary or Vancouver, where the employment dollars are a lot better than what they are here in Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s the big fear. We’re going to lose those types of people. We’re also going to lose people – municipalities, as an examples. I’m saying this just off the top – I don’t have any specific examples – but hypothetically, look at the good great work that city crews in all the cities in Newfoundland and Labrador did this year in one of the harshest winters we’ve had. Some of these workers are seasonal workers. They work in the winter months. They may get recalled. They get laid off in the spring of the year. They may get recalled in the spring of the year, but if you’re going to treat them like second-class citizens and say that their unemployment insurance is going to be cut back because of the fact that they work in a seasonal industry, where are the councils and the municipalities around the province going to get this high-quality trained employee in the future? That’s some of the fears that we’ve got. Rather than make life more difficult, we’re suggesting that you make life a little bit easier for workers. You have to remember that it was only a few years ago $75 billion (not million) was robbed from the unemployment insurance system. The Liberals took the money first. When the Tories got elected they had said, prior to their election, that this was wrong. But they brought in legislation quite swiftly to make sure that it was legal. So that money disappeared.
JUSTIN BRAKE: This is under the Paul Martin administration.
WAYNE LUCAS: This was under the Paul Martin administration and then made legal underneath Harper. There’s no need to be going after the unemployed and people who work in seasonal industries and try to vilify them. They’re not the villains. We live in a seasonal province. Work is seasonal. And I’ve said, through my experience through life, I’ve never met a man or women who wouldn’t take a job that paid decent wages with decent benefits. And that’s what we need to try to build up again. I believe that this is a threat. I believe that governments want to supplement the low-wage economy and they think that people who receive unemployment insurance would prefer to collect unemployment insurance rather than take one of those low-wage jobs. The answer to the low-wage economy is simple. You raise wages. It’s called free enterprise.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Since you just touched on it, the concept of a minimum wage versus that of a living wage. We published an article a few months back, prior to the provincial government’s announcement last November that it would raise the minimum wage by 25 cents an hour in 2014, and another 25 cents to $10.50 an hour in 2015. But an independent review report released in December 2012 had recommended an immediate minimum wage hike to $11, and then to adjust it annually according to inflation in subsequent years. We didn’t get that though. We got a quarter per hour increase, even though the cost of living has risen significantly over the past couple years. But it’s also nowhere near what a living wage in Newfoundland and Labrador today would look like.
WAYNE LUCAS: Back around 2008, I had called for the minimum wage to go up immediately by 2010 to $10 an hour. And I had said at that point in time that then we need to sit down, all the parities sit down and take a look at it and determine what a living wage was. There were some people in society that say that for Newfoundland and Labrador a living wage is somewhere floating around $15 an hour. Then once it reaches what we all agree on is a living wage, then it needs to be tied into some sort of mechanism to make sure that it doesn’t fall below ever again.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Sorry to interrupt, just for those who don’t know, can you explain what a living wage is relative to a minimum wage?
WAYNE LUCAS: Minimum wage is the bear minimum; it’s the bear minimum of what you can get by on. And what the labour movement especially, and church groups and social activists call a living wage is a wage where we believe you can pay your bills, you can be a productive member of society, you can pay your rent, you can put groceries on the table, you’re taken out of the hollows of despair and the hollows of poverty.
So we believe the starting point for that is somewhere – or at least I do – around $15 an hour. I think the provincial government’s response to the minimum wage is just too little, doesn’t make any sense. I think they’ve bought into the federal government arguments of a low-wage economy, to be honest with you. On the other front of how our provincial government reacted and responded to the Harper government’s attack on unemployment insurance, we were really pleased this summer when the four Atlantic premiers met. They had their regular meeting. We had been calling for a long while for the premiers to ask for a moratorium on the cuts until we had an opportunity to have debate, to be transparent, look at the cuts, and look at where we could make possibly some improvements. So the four premiers came out and they had a series of consultations around our provinces. I was disappointed in the Newfoundland and Labrador consultation. Government did have them, and they were fair (they opened the door), but I don’t think they were advertised enough and they were right after the ice storms we had in January month. So I wasn’t pleased with the turnout that we got. But the provincial government did what we asked them. They went out and they said we’re going to look at it and we’re going to report back sometime (I believe) in the spring of this year. What the results are going to be, I don’t know. But I do know that we intend – this group that met in Ottawa last week – we intend to make the cuts to the unemployment insurance an issue in the next federal election. And we intend to put that on the agenda. We already talked to the New Democrats and the New Democrats in Ottawa (the MPs that I talked to), they understand the letter that we wrote to the prime minister. They believe sincerely that we should be improving the quality of life for people that provide seasonal services for us, rather than somehow blaming them and trying to drag them down to the lowest common denominator.
JUSTIN BRAKE: So who did you meet with specifically in Ottawa?
WAYNE LUCAS: There was a gentleman by the name of Robert Chisholm. I can’t tell you the names of the other people, but there were four or five New Democrats.
JUSTIN BRAKE: They were all NDP members?
WAYNE LUCAS: They were all NDP. I was invited to one in the afternoon with the Liberals, but unfortunately they cancelled it for an hour or so, moved the building, and I had to catch a plane.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Wayne Lucas, you’ve given me a joint statement by community and labour groups here that was given to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and in it it says that “We are united in calling on your government to scrap the EI changes” and then there’s a list of recommendations or demands. Would you care to explain what some of them are specifically?
WAYNE LUCAS: I’ll go over a few of them. We say that “we believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes our fundamental human right to economic support in the case of unemployment, as well as the freedom to choose our own employment.” Number one we say “unemployment is an economic and social phenomena. It requires collective response.” We go on to say that “unemployed workers have the right to a fair and worker-friendly appeal system, when contesting EI commission’s decisions. EI requires improvements that improve access, duration, and benefit levels. Less than 40% of unemployed people are now collecting EI benefits.” Some of our demands – and I’ll just read a few of them (I won’t go into the whole list). We’re saying we seek employment insurance reforms that benefits workers and their communities. We therefore urge the Parliament of Canada to rescind all 2012-2013 budget measures related to EI. We want EI benefits improved. We want improved access by reducing qualifying hours in all regions to lesser than 360 hours, or 13 weeks. We want increased duration to at least 50 weeks in all regions. Provide a special extension when unemployment exceeds 6.5%. We want increased benefits to at least 60% of earnings using workers’ 12 best weeks. We want to provide EI income benefits so long as workers are in approved training (and I touched on that earlier). One of the big ones we’re saying, we want to provide temporary foreign workers with meaningful EI entitlements.
JUSTIN BRAKE: That’s interesting because it seems like there would be a contraction in the fact that (and I don’t have numbers), but in recent months and the last year or so, we’ve heard of Newfoundland and Labrador businesses having to bring in temporary foreign workers to fill jobs that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not occupying. Now, I’m not saying what the reasons for those are – there’s obviously probably lots of different reasons – but with our unemployment rate hovering around 10%, it seems like the new changes to EI federally would be forcing more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians into those unoccupied jobs. How do we try to understand that? The increase in temporary foreign workers and how the EI changes might–
WAYNE LUCAS: –A couple of thoughts I’ve got on that one. First of all, temporary foreign workers, I believe, are being taking advantage of in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the country. I know they pay them the minimum wage, but you recall last year – and I don’t know if any employers in Newfoundland took government up on this – but last year in certain situations, a temporary foreign worker could work for less than 15% of what another person in that field was required to be paid. I thought that was wrong, at the time. I think government has since backed off on that after it became public. I guess the thing that really kills me the most, or irks me the most, is that when our parents came to this great country, our great-grandparents, to my knowledge my great-grandparents were given all the rights and privileges that everyone else got. We’re now saying to temporary foreign workers, “We want you to come here for a two-year period, then you have to go home.” We understand why these workers are coming here, but I think if somebody is good enough to give us their sweat, their toil, their hard work, their dedication, that we should at least [invite them] to bring their spouses, to raise a family, and to become citizens of this great country. Instead we’re using workers like a commodity, just like a bag of nails, just like a dirty shoe. When you’re finished with it, they can go back to the country that they came from. I think the whole system that we’re using right now is flawed. My understanding is temporary foreign workers were supposed to be used in extreme cases where you couldn’t find somebody for a certain specialized job. I’m thinking, hypothetically now of course, a scientist, somebody who had the cure for a certain disease, somebody who could teach the great medical facilities we’ve got here more ingenuity, somebody who was going to build the next spaceship. But instead it seems like we’re turning them around to keep pressure on the free market system that we have in this country, to put a downward pressure on wages. Because if you couldn’t get somebody for a certain sector, I always thought the simple method to that was to offer more benefits and more wages. So, consequently, I think temporary foreign workers, and this whole debate that we’re having about EI, is tied in. I’ve had some employer groups say to me, the problem is that we can’t get people in Newfoundland and Labrador to take those jobs. And, again, I don’t agree with it. I don’t think somebody should have to take a job for only 90% or 70% of what they previously earned. But I think they’re tied in to each other. Again, I believe we should say to the temporary foreign workers that by all means you’re invited to Canada, but we want you to become part of our society, we want you to help us grow as a nation. One of the reasons why Canada is as in good shape as what she is right now is because of the contribution that people from all over the world who came to Canada have given us, and that’s what Canada is all about.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Thank you very much, Wayne Lucas. Wayne is the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for Newfoundland and Labrador.
WAYNE LUCAS: Thank you so much for having me.
THE ‘REALLY IMPORTANT NEWS’ WITH HANS ROLLMANN
JUSTIN BRAKE: You’re listening to the Indy News Hour, TheIndependent.ca on Keep Station Radio. I’m Justin Brake. We now go to our political correspondent and Landwash editor, Hans Rollman, for a more creative take on the news this week.
HANS ROLLMANN: This week in ‘Really Important News’, the race to see who will succeed Kathy Dunderdale as leader of the provinces Progressive Conservative party is slowing to a molasses-like crawl. Last month Fabian Manning was the latest to announce he would not be seeking the leadership, despite speculation he was going to throw his hat into the ring. He joined such other notable leadership dodgers as Darin King, Jerome Kennedy, Tom Marshall, and every PC with any lingering credibility, in refusing to lead the party into the next election, and the statistically likely orgy of utter annihilation.
On Friday, nomination papers were filed by businessman Bill Barry, who so far is the only candidate to have declared his intention to lead the party in the orgy of statistically likely utter annihilation. Barry said he’s never been one to turn down a challenge, and if the PCs reject him, well there’s always the Liberals.
Steve Kent is said to be considering a leadership run and to have secured the support of key Boy Scout leaders across the province. He has denied rumours that if selected as leader of the PCs he would require Cabinet ministers to sew departmental badges onto their suits as symbols of office. When asked by reporters whether he intended to run for the position, he simply replied, “Be prepared.”
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians set their clocks ahead last night for daylight savings time. But if Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has its way, time keeping could become more complicated for island residents. In an effort to deal with the province’s outdated and inadequate energy infrastructure, Hydro has proposed dividing the island into ten new time zones. This would help to ensure that strain on the energy grid would be spread out more evenly. At present, there’s a considerable strain on the grid produced every morning when the island’s workers turn on their coffee machines at the same time. Hydro officers said another area of concern arises in the evening when families turn on their television sets. Hydro says NTV Evening News Hour is considered a particularly nefarious culprit, as are award-winning television sitcoms. According to a Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro official, “coffee machines and television sets have become quite common as a result of our new status as a have-province. The energy grid was not designed to handle the widespread use of luxury utilities. The grid was designed around the notion of a small elite reaping the benefits of the industrial era, while the majority of the province’s population were expected to wallow in poverty. The growing gap between rich and poor will help to reduce strain on the energy grid, but at present we may need to take drastic steps.” The plan to divide the island into ten new time zones has met with mixed reaction. St. John’s City Council was initially concerned about how public transit would work if the capital city and surrounding areas were subdivided into different time zones. However, Metrobus said that’s not a worry since ongoing route reductions and an inability to keep to schedules means that users would probably not notice any significant difference. Other challenges include the fact that St. John’s and Mount Pearl are arguing over who would get the earlier time zone, while former premier Danny Williams is purportedly demanding his own time zone for the Southlands development and that it be referred to as Danny Standard Time.
Fallout continues over shooting practice at MUN last month on the part of an on-duty officer who’s reported to have felt threatened by a car thief who was speeding away from him in a getaway car. Fortunately for everyone involved the practice went poorly and the officer missed his alleged target, as well as any of the hundreds of customers of the Works, Memorial University, and the Aquarena who were in the vicinity. A person was subsequently charged following a police operation that required no shooting. The incident has led to controversy over revelations that Memorial University has authorized on-duty police officers to carry firearms while in the classroom taking courses. When asked how an officer could both be on duty as well as in the classroom, the Memorial University spokesperson replied, “Our course are not that demanding. It’s quite feasible for police officers to take notes and catch criminals at the same time. We encourage working professionals to upgrade their skills by paying us thousands of dollars, and we won’t lean too hard on you if you do.” Students have expressed concerns with the university’s authorizing of guns on campus, but the university spokesperson pointed out that officers have to give their professor a note saying they have permission to carry a gun. If they fail to do so, the instructor is authorized to restrain and disarm the officer. The spokesperson noted there are many reasons why people might have to carry guns on campus. He said the university is currently considering an application from the Rod and Gun Club to allow registered moose hunters to carry hunting rifles with them to class. “You never know where a moose might pop up,” he said. “The university’s human rights policy requires us to accommodate students who got to get their moose.”
The NDP continues to infiltrate political parties across a spectrum in this province. In addition to losing two of their elected MHAs to the provincial Liberals, former organizer Christopher Bruce is now organizing for the Green Party in this province. Bruce has acknowledged that it could be a tough sell in Newfoundland and Labrador, given the Green Party’s historical opposition to the seal hunt. Bruce said times have changed, and now that they’re a viable force in federal politics the Greens, like the NDP, have had to abandon their core principles. “The Green Party is now a pro-hunting party,” he said. Party membership will come with discounts on firearms and ammunition, and the new logo of the Greens features a large black club on a gentle green backdrop.
It’s not over yet for Maple Moose flavoured potato chips. Earlier this year Lays had announced they would be discontinuing the line of unpopular potato chips, which was invented by an Isle aux Morts man. However, government has announced a $110 million loan to help prop up the struggling flavour. The loan comes hot on the heals of another $110 million loan to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. The minister responsible for loans to doomed industries said that if they propped up the paper industry, they couldn’t very well let the up-and-coming potato chip industry die out in this province. “Potato chips are a key driver of this province’s economic prosperity plan,” said a government spokesperson. “Our policy is no chip left behind.” Maple Moose is poised to become the new ketchup. He said that similar to the conditions at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, loan monies will go to the corporate executives and employees will now be required to pay their own salaries.
Muskrat Falls is in the news again. Unfortunately, government has invoked Bill 29, the Access to Information Act, and we are not permitted to read this news story, since it could negatively affect Nalcor’s profit potential. In its place, provincial government Access to Information officers provided the following story as a substitute. It reads, “Ra, ra, ra, oil is good. Ra, ra, ra, it’s coming to your hood. There aren’t any problems that oil can’t fix. Don’t protest against us or we’ll beat you with sticks.”
Moving on to sports, Newfoundland and Labrador has received a citation of honour from the International League of Competitive Parliamentary Floor Crossing. The president of the league said this province has shown incredible distinction and enthusiasm for the sport of competitive parliamentary floor crossing. Citing examples of MPs from each and every party that have crossed the floor, the president said, “Newfoundland and Labrador’s politicians take floor crossing to a new level. You never know who will cross the floor or when or where they’ll wind up.” He also noted that this province’s parliamentary floor crossers demonstrate good sportsmanship with the exception of NDP to Liberal MHA Dale Kirby, who received a penalty for defriending journalists on Facebook when they made fun of his floor crossing.
That’s it for this week in ‘Really Important News’. Have a great week, and if you’re in Mount Pearl watch out for those coyotes.
ROGUE METEOROLOGY REPORT WITH MATTHEW GRANT
JUSTIN BRAKE: Now we’re going to go to Matt Grand of Rogue meteorology. Welcome to the Indy News Hour, Matt.
MATTHEW GRANT: Thanks, Justin.
JUSTIN BRAKE: For our listeners who don’t know, can you explain what you’re doing, what rogue meteorology is?
MATTHEW GRANT: Rogue meteorology is kind of trying to put meteorology in the hands of everyone, essentially, instead of these forecasts being things that people do in offices somewhere away, and you find out what it is on the Internet and you get a little glimpse of what’s going on. This is helping people do their own forecasts and figure out information that applies exclusively to them. If you have a wedding and you want to find out if it’s going to rain at 2 pm, then you can figure that out on your own. You’re not dependent on a website that says Saturday will start as sunny and then rain and snow. It doesn’t give you a lot of information, so what I’m hoping to do is give people the tools to figure out the weather on their own as they need it.
JUSTIN BRAKE: So you believe there’s a little bit of meteorologist in all of us.
MATTHEW GRANT: [laughs] Some more than others maybe. But I basically want to share my background with other people. A lot of the meteorology I did professionally with private companies, most people can do for the most part. I only had to rely on my meteorology degree for certain instances; I’d say somewhere around more than 90% of the forecasts I could do, I could get a high school science student to figure a lot of this stuff out. To save them from having to do partial differential equations at university, then I think it might be worth it.
JUSTIN BRAKE: What are some of the unique aspects or challenges of doing meteorology, forecasting the weather here in St. John’s on the Avalon on an island in the North Atlantic where anything goes quite often?
MATTHEW GRANT: It’s pretty much the proving grounds. I think that’s kind of the unofficial meteorologist’s term for Newfoundland. It’s like you go to Newfoundland to learn in one year what it would take you six years to learn anywhere else, because you just get everything here. You’ve got hurricanes and you’ve got everything coming at you all at once, and it changes so quickly that stuff that you do in Ontario seems almost mundane compared to what we have to face here on a day-to-day basis, from season to season.
JUSTIN BRAKE: We’re just coming out of another cold snap. As everybody knows, of course, we had to watch our energy consumption, and it’s tough going through that, especially a lot of homes heated by oil. It gets expensive. We’re out of it now. It’s warmed up significantly. What can we expect for the coming days and week?
MATTHEW GRANT: Definitely. My oil bill is not helping me right now. But it looks like we’re out of it, at least of the foreseeable future. This week will start a little chilly, but not nearly as cold as the -17 temperatures that we saw last week. The middle of the week will warm up. We’ll have a couple of systems that are going to drag warm air up from the south. So Tuesday we’re expecting 8 centimetre snowfall, although there is a little discrepancy in the Canadian and American models there. And then on Thursday afternoon we’re going to see a rainstorm move in. This is going to bring a lot of warm air with it, and that’s going to raise our temperature significantly. But those temperatures will come down next week, but the week after it looks like it’ll be above zero as well. Although we’re going to gain a little bit of snow early this week, we’re probably going to lose a lot more of it in the second half of this week into early next week.
JUSTIN BRAKE: So we want to keep our parkas and our rain boots and slush pants all handy for this week.
MATTHEW GRANT: Definitely. Going to have to take them out of the basement and dust them off. We haven’t gotten much use out of it this winter, but we’re back to our old St. John’s winter now for the next week or two.
JUSTIN BRAKE: So what did you mean when you said, though, that there’s a discrepancy between the Canadian and the American models? What exactly does that mean?
MATTHEW GRANT: What we have is Environment Canada produces a weather model, which is just basically taking physics formulas and then taking conditions and then plugging that into those formulas and it does that a billion times or so, and then it can generate a prediction of where these storms are headed. And the Americans do the same thing, but they do it slightly differently. What’s interesting about the storm now on Tuesday is that they arrive at the same results, but they do it slightly differently. So they both agree that we’re probably going to get around 8 centimeters or so. Whereas the American forecast has the system more concentrated over us, and the Canadian is kind of spread out over the entire island. But it just so happens that 8 centimetres fall. So it seems like a consistency between them, but it’s kind of a fall consistency. So what you would do in that instance, when you have one model that’s in disagreement with another, you’ll search out another model. In this case, I looked to the European weather model, which is pretty much the best model in the world. The drawback with the European model is that there’s less information given out about it. They keep the North American data pretty tight. What I can do then is compare that and see, okay, if the European model is the best model in the world, is the American model agreeing with it or the Canadian model agreeing with it? And in this case the American model is actually agreeing with it (that’s not always the case, but it is the case for this particular storm). If anything shifts, I’d be putting more faith in the American model, as it stands right now.
JUSTIN BRAKE: That doesn’t sound very patriotic of you.
MATTHEW GRANT: [laughs]
JUSTIN BRAKE: Sounds like meteorology to Europe is like hockey is to Canada.
MATTHEW GRANT: I’ve gone rogue.
JUSTIN BRAKE: But with the equipment and technology that we have here though, the meteorological technology that we have in Newfoundland, why wouldn’t we go with the Canadian model, if that’s the local – how does that work? If we’re forecasting our weather locally and collecting data locally, why wouldn’t that be the most accurate?
MATTHEW GRANT: You’ve got to kind of think back to your high school physics. You’ve got your formula and then you have things that you plug into that formula. So your data is stuff that you’re plugging in, and in this case for meteorology everyone in the world shares their data. So whatever data we get at the airport here in St. John’s or the airport in Deer Lake or an oil rig or ship that’s out on the Grand Banks, all that information gets shared all around the world. So Canadians have access to it. The Americans have access to it as well. So they take this data and they plug it into their own formulae, and depending on where you are, like the Americans will do theirs slightly different than we do ours. Typically, in the large scheme of things, the Canadian model does perform better than the American model, especially for Canadian systems (or what we call post-tropical storms, which is kind of [inaudible] what people typically refer to as tail-end of hurricanes). You’ve got to kind of judge it based on what they’re best at. Typically, yeah, the Canadian model does perform better, but in this particular case the American seems to agree with the European. And that’s not to say that you throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s always a saying of ‘you never know what they’re picking up on.’ There’s so much data that goes into these things that maybe the Canadian model is seeing something that the two other models aren’t seeing. And so it’s entirely possible the Canadian will verify. And again, it’s not like these are hugely different models in this case; it’s not a completely different storm–we are still ending up with the same snowfall. But you’ve got to kind of pick your battles. You’ve got to kind of say, all right, say if the Canadian model had 40 centimetres falling, whereas the American and European said 8. I’d say, well, you know, it’s probably going to be somewhere around 15 (you’ve got to kind of split the difference in a way), because you never know – that Canadian model might be picking up on a storm doing a little J-turn towards the Avalon or something like that.
JUSTIN BRAKE: So we’re poised for a bronze, but we could end up with a silver.
MATTHEW GRANT: [laughs]
JUSTIN BRAKE: I’m in Sochi winter Olympics mode. If meteorology was a winter Olympic sport, it sounds like you might be on the podium yourself. Thanks for joining us, Matt. We’ll check in with you again next week. Much appreciated. That’s Matt Grant of Rogue Meteorology.
MATTHEW GRANT: Thanks.
ANTI-GAY HATE MAIL DISTRIBUTED THROUGH CANADA POST IN HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY: HOW EDUCATED AND ACCEPTING ARE WE OF GENDER EQUALITY & LGBTQ RIGHTS?
JUSTIN BRAKE: In February the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, more than a dozen communities province-wide, and a number of other cities and provinces across Canada hoisted the Pride flag during the Sochi winter Olympics, some as a form of protest against an anti-gay law in Russia, and others to support their local LGBTQ communities. It was a historic moment in Newfoundland and Labrador, which had never before flown the Pride flag on Confederation Hill, and for several municipalities who were also marking a first in raising the flag. But early last week, any lingering exaltation from Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s flag raising quickly fizzled out when residents in the town of 7,500 started receiving anti-gay hate mail. A pamphlet titled “Same-sex marriages and God’s word” made its way into thousands of mailboxes, prompting outcry from members and allies of the LGBTQ community. Canada Post apologized for the oversight in letting the pamphlet into the mail system. The anti-gay propaganda was first published by the People’s Gospel Hour, a Halifax-based religious group, but had the name Arthur A. Rich stamped on the front. Rich is allegedly known locally in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for spreading religious and anti-gay messages. Denise Cole, of the Labrador Safe Alliance, was among those who received the pamphlet. The Independent got a hold of her Friday evening at her home in Goose Bay. Cole said she immediately contacted Canada Post to express her concern, and though the Crown corporation hasn’t referenced any specific policy regarding the distribution of hate mail, it said last week it’s looking into the matter to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But Cole said if the pamphlet fell into the wrong hands, it’s likely some damage has already been done.
DENISE COLE [AUDIO CLIP]: My biggest concern, and I’ll continue to say it, is that that becomes a tool that some young person had to deal with. I think of within my family when I was growing up, there was very much if you had information they would say ‘see this is wrong. This is why this is wrong.’ That document, my ultimate fear is that some parent or some guardian took that home and threw it on some kid’s lap and said, “See I told you this was wrong and this is what’s going to happen to you if you don’t change your ways.” The idea that someone was actually given a written weapon that they could use to instill fear, to instill hate, to tell someone that they were going to be condemned because of who they are, that, to me, is a much scarier reality. That went out – we have a population here about 7,000 people. So 7,000 households have the option to use that weapon. Luckily, it seems like most of them saw the reality of what it was and they threw it in the garbage. But, for me, if there was one kid who had to deal with that hate that came through that paper, then that’s one kid too many, and that’s why we do what we do, and that’s why I spoke up.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Joining in the studio now are two guests. Robyn Noseworthy is a writer with The ‘Out’port Magazine, St. John’s first LGBT magazine and lifestyle guide. Last month she and ‘Out’port publisher Josh Eddy led the call for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and communities across the province to raise the Pride flag during the Sochi Olympics. And Taylor Stocks is the president of St. John’s Pride Inc., and a Masters student of philosophy at Memorial University. Robyn Noseworthy, let’s start with you. We heard Denise Cole of the Labrador Safe Alliance say though we’ve made progress as a province, there’s still a lack of support for members of the LGBTQ community, who face – and many of them on a daily basis – heteronormative messages and other societal pressures to conform to traditional ideas of gender identity and sexual orientation. You grew up in Gander (my hometown as well) where the Pride flag has been raised during Pride Week over the past few years, and recently again during the Sochi Olympics. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or queer. It’s not necessarily easy for many in Gander and other communities to open up about who they are. Can you talk a bit about what it was like growing up in Gander and where you feel the town is, in terms of its residents being open and accepting of members of the LGBTQ community?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Yeah, sure. For starters, coming out and actually being outed when I was almost 16 years old in the town, it was quite difficult, to quote that awesome cliché of being the only gay in the village. It very much so did feel like that. It took me a long time actually, until I came into St. John’s where I felt more comfortable with myself. However, with the work that I’ve done previously with St. John’s Pride a couple of years ago when I was on the board, that marked the first year that Gander actually raised the Pride flag then. Since then we’ve had massive supports. Sarah McBreairty, a councilor on the Town Council in Gander, actually was one that I contacted in the flag raisings for Sochi. She’s doing amazing work in there. There’s other people that are also doing it. PSAC came on board (that’s the public service that was out of there). They helped us as well a couple years ago with it. I do think that in small community it is very much more difficult to come out. When you look at geographically, even religions that occupy themselves in Gander; when you go up Gander Bay Road, there’s about six or seven churches maybe, and they’re all different denominations. A lot of people in the province tend to look at Gander, much as they do in the southern states where they refer to them as the Bible Belt of the province. With that, religious freedoms there’s a lot of pressure from younger people to stay to the true heteronormative sectors. I find that it is still very difficult in rural towns in the province to do so. But at the same time, from what I hear from my friends that are still in town, it’s getting a lot easier. There are a lot more people that are coming out. There’s a lot more people that are being very accepting about it.
With Egale Canada right now, with the schools initiatives that they’re doing across the province, they’re also seeing a lot of change that is going on in a lot of areas in Newfoundland and Labrador, not just Gander specifically. But we are working very hard to make changes within the school boards, starting at an early age, to allow acceptance (not just tolerance) to be taught, but acceptance. That’s really what the huge thing is. I think, honestly, this is our generation to change this. This is what our call-out is. If you look past through women’s rights to the civil rights movements, every generation has their one thing really that they’re going to stick with and try to change the world, and I think personally this is our generation’s mandate to try and change.
JUSTIN BRAKE: As we saw last month, it was news that made headlines across the country (and probably North America); Canadian actress Ellen Page, Oscar-award nominated actress, she came out at a Time to Thrive conference, and here’s some of what she said.
ELLEN PAGE [AUDIO CLIP]: “And I am here today because I am gay. [audience applauds] Thank you. And because maybe I can make a difference, to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly, because I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of lying by omission. [audience applauds] I suffered for years because I was scared to be out: my spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain. And I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and, yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that, and you are changing it.”
JUSTIN BRAKE: Ellen Page is one example of somebody who is in somewhat of a position of power because she has lots of fans, followers, and is a celebrity. But even on a local level we have influential people in our communities who by omission of supporting gender equality and human rights more generally can have a profound impact. In December of 2004, when the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador ruled in favour of same-sex marriage in the province, Gander mayor Claude Elliott, who’s still mayor today, resigned as a marriage commissioner because he didn’t want to marry same-sex couples. An article on CBC quoted him as saying, “It’s not right for two people of the same sex to be married.” Can you talk a little bit about that, Robyn, since it’s the mayor of your home community, your hometown? Basically, Mayor Elliott was abstaining from something; he wasn’t coming out condemning – I guess actually he did say he doesn’t support, it’s not right for two people – but the fact that he kind of stepped down and refused to marry people, can you explain what kind of impact that might have on residents of a community like Gander, especially young people who are already struggling to be open about who they are?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: I graduated high school in 2004. When that legislation came through and he resigned, personally, from a home base, that was kind of hurtful seeing the leader of my community step down from that, as part of one of his responsibilities as mayor. To see, now, that the flag is being raised, not just for Pride Week but for other events that happen throughout the year, throughout many years (like, again, the Sochi flag raising), that’s showing that the people on the council, as well as the people of the community, are speaking against that. The mayor is only one person and he has the right to his own opinions, absolutely. The fact that he stepped down and stated that’s his opinion is good, as opposed to staying and refusing flat-out, year after year or application after application. You kind of take one step back in terms of how you’re looking at that with him. I grew up actually a couple houses down from Claude. With that, I’ve never actually even had a conversation with the man, so I’m not going to turn around and say that he’s a horrible person. I think he’s probably great in what he does; he has his own political beliefs, he has his own religious beliefs. Again, this goes back to the generation that precedes him in terms of education, and with the newer, younger people that are coming on board with the council, like I said with Sarah McBreairty jumping on board (she’s a couple years older than me), you’re going to start seeing the changes. They had a huge acceptance of what happened with the flag raising for the duration of the Olympics, and I think that’s solid change that’s happening there.
TAYLOR STOCKS: I think that what’s going on here really addresses this weird divide that we have between what we think about as the public life and what we think of as the private life. And this idea that we can separate them out nicely. But I think what ends of inevitably happening, because they are inherently fused, is that someone in a position of power, responding to their private beliefs, makes them public and that, again, gets reappropriated back into the private lives of people who are crafting their identities, who look up to their institutions for legitimization of who they are and how they act. So what Robyn is saying here becomes very hurtful when you see someone who you respect saying, ‘Well, no. I don’t believe that the practice that you engage in, that is fundamental to who you are, is actually a good thing.’
JUSTIN BRAKE: I should point out, too, that in December 2004 it wasn’t just Claude Elliott that kind of resigned as a marriage commissioner. There were mayors of other communities and I don’t have their names right now. But also I should mention, too, that it wasn’t just the province, and St. John’s, the bigger communities in Newfoundland that raised the flag, but I was reading the current issue of the ‘Out’port, the March issue, and there’s a list of communities here in the province. And it was significant – there was more than a dozen. The City of St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Corner Brook, Portugal Cove-St. Philips, Paradise, Gander, Torbay, Marystown, Stephenville, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Bay Roberts, Conception Bay, Labrador City, and Wabush. That’s pretty significant. But of course we just saw in Goose Bay, even as we make significant steps, though the flag raising is symbolic, we can imagine does give a little bit of hope to people, to members of the LGBTQ community who are struggling to be public with who they are. And then Goose Bay, the recent mailout of the anti-gay hate mail. Maybe I’ll just turn to Taylor for a second here. Taylor, you’re relatively new as president of St. John’s Pride Inc.?
TAYLOR STOCKS: Yes, I am.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Obviously St. John’s is the big city in the province and it’s a lot easier, I guess. The LGBTQ community is bigger here, but there are still challenges even in St. John’s. Can you talk a bit about the challenges facing members of the community here in an urban setting?
TAYLOR STOCKS: I think what we can see, we have sort of this two-fold battle that’s going on. One is the demand for recognition within our formal institutions. And this is what we’ve seen a little bit through the flag raising already. This is what we see when we have organizations around the community come on board and say, “Yes, we want to support Pride. Here, let’s partner and make an awesome event.” The other half though is actually addressing these smaller individual experiences of walking down the street and getting called from a car. Those types of things, which I totally understand are much more prevalent in smaller communities, still go on within urban centres. One thing that makes St. John’s very particular from other cities that I’ve lived in, like Montreal or Vancouver and Toronto, is that we don’t actually have a particular village here. The queer community is spread out throughout the community, which means that coming together and actually finding spaces to address the particular needs of the community can actually be more difficult. For instance, there is a significant lack of community housing for, say, street youth who need a place to sleep at night. Because most of the organizations that are around do not react well to trans-identified folk or genderqueer folk. We still are really struggling to sort of find our place, find a way that we can deal with the community and the specific problems that members of our community are facing, and while still trying to gain recognition from our formal institutions that say what we can and can’t do and who are and what discrimination really means.
JUSTIN BRAKE: I’d like to ask both of you – I’ll start with you, Robyn. As we heard, Denise Cole said that despite the progress, the flag raisings and all that, there is still a lack of support in communities around the province in terms of programs and places for people to go to be able to find other people and develop a sense of community, LGBTQ community within our municipalities. Can you talk a bit about that in terms of your experience growing up in Gander, and what supports, where did you turn and who did you turn to when you were outed?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Well, to be honest, there really wasn’t anything. There wasn’t any kind of resource centre. There wasn’t any kind of open discussion, communication. When you look at the demographics of Gander, you’re looking at a really old military town at its heart. You’ve got 9 Wing Gander there. And not saying anything against the military, but my father was a military man. Then you go across to, you’ve got the airport that kind of runs it, and the hospitals and the teachers. Those are the huge demographics in the town, alongside of small business. When you ask where I turned to and how I dealt with it, there was quite a lot that was going on with me at the time actually, because I got outed probably three weeks before my 16th birthday and the day after my 16th birthday my grandmother died. So whenever anyone ever asks me how I dealt with it, the answer is quite simply I don’t know. I think I just kind of let the days go on, and unfortunately that’s what a lot of our youth are doing. That’s where the ‘it gets better’ kind of slogan (I don’t know if you guys remember – it was a big, huge sensation in the media)–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Dan Savage.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: We turned around and there’s a foundation here that Ailsa Craig, a Sociology professor at MUN, runs, and it’s called Make it Better, which is allowing people to be progressive in the mainstream of making it better, as opposed to just sit tight and it will get better. It does get better, but there does need to be some kind of medium in between, which is why two years ago, when I came onboard with Pride, I came up with the slogan of ‘You’re not alone’, because that’s honestly all I needed to hear at that point. When you ask me who I turned to, unfortunately at the time it wasn’t my parents. They were dealing with a lot of things on a family level; they were dealing with the controversial way that I ended up being – that I came out. It was very difficult on them. It was difficult on me. I wasn’t really fully understanding or even strong at that point to even deal with it – and unfortunately these kinds of things, especially with bullying in high school and the taunting on the streets. A friend of mine told me a month ago that he just recently got gay bashed in Gander. That, to me, was kind of terrifying seeing how progressive that they were being. I have said it, and I have said it to the people who have helped me – in fact, every time there is something major that kind of goes on with me, I go on Facebook and send them a little message. But the people that I did turn to were the teachers in my school. There was one in particular that I met with on a regular basis to talk things through. She was actually the first adult, prior to me actually being outed, that I did even kind of… I mean it was two weeks before this whole big incident happened with me. I can remember sitting down with her and I was like, “How do you tell someone something big?” You could see her racking her brain over like, ‘oh my god, what’s going on?’ She was going through every kind of medium of is she sick, she’s not failing school (because I know her grades), what’s happening here, she’s not on drugs… By the time the bell rang, I was like, I’m gay. And she just let out this big, huge, hah! [sighs] That’s it?! To me, that was the biggest thing that kind of helped me survive high school at that point, because that made me realize that cancer, drugs, bad grades, no abusive home lifestyle – the thing that I thought was the most impacting on my life was actually not that big a deal. I’ve gone back to this individual and I’ve gone back to another teacher at the time, and I solely state, over and over again, that they were the ones that saved my life.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Do you want to say her name, the teacher that really helped you?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Not at this point, just because it’s very private with me. But I will say that the teachers in Gander are the ones that are going to be shaping – and the teachers in our province, they spend more time with the kids than the parents do – and they’re the ones that really are the people that are going to shape the way that we accept people from here on out. And the fact that Egale Canada and the provincial government and the Minister of Education are jumping on board with this Safe Schools Initiatives, and we’re leading the country in this, is something that really touches me personally. I want to say a big shout out just to the teachers in generally that are coming into the career that they have, as well as the people that have retired. You honestly don’t realize outside of the curriculum how much you guys are affecting the lives of your students.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Taylor Stocks, do you want to talk a little bit about the research that you’re doing in your Masters program at MUN?
TAYLOR STOCKS: Yes, speaking of teachers, because I think a lot of how we teach actually has its roots in philosophy and is held within the universities, naturally, because teachers have to go to university to become teachers in the first place. What I’m currently looking at now is introducing specifically a trans narrative, but also working with feminist narratives, that are seeking to unpack the emphasis and privilege of a singular subjectivity on essentially trying to deconstruct this normative way of understanding, in saying that there is one language where things make sense, and saying that there is one truth that we can actually pursue. And recognizing that, especially within the lives of trans folk (or at least speaking for me personally, and being well aware that there are lots of different trans narratives), there is an awareness of sitting outside of a singularity, but also outside of this gender binary that we get, saying, ‘Well, are you a man or are you a women?’ and the answer that we have is no. It’s this third way that we want to introduce, that is always fluid, that’s recognizing this change, and actually gives space for stories like Robyn’s where you don’t know what’s coming but you have to hold with compassion, you have to listen. I think that if we can move through our pursuit of knowledge, and move through how we are teaching and learning and the pedagogy that leads from that, to a space that is acknowledging this fluidity and this multiple subjectivity that comes out, whether we like it or not, we’ll have a better way of navigating about things. Hopefully, in the next little while I’ll have more specific analysis of how that’s actually done in practice, but for now I’ll keep pursuing my philosophy while trying to actually live what I am talking about in the way that I move through the world.
JUSTIN BRAKE: And how has developing a better intellectual understanding of these issues and concerns that you have, that I imagine probably prompted you to focus on what you’re focusing on, in terms of how they influence your advocacy and your activism work with St. John’s Pride?
TAYLOR STOCKS: I have to say that everything has been very well-knit together, and it’s hard to pick apart the strands and say, okay, well this is how my intellectual work is going and this is my activism, and this is my emotionality. I only really came out once I moved to St. John’s. I identified as genderqueer about a year ago, but it was only since coming here that I started maintaining my aesthetic in a way that was actually showing that to the world. My experiences with working with other genderqueer people and other LGBT-associated people and within the community has really given legitimacy to something that I guess I thought was crazy, right? That’s, again, when you have no resources, when you have no one who’s talking about this stuff, you go through these experiences, you have these weird emotions, and you just feel like you’re crazy because you have no language. When you try to talk about it… When I tried to have a conversation and say, ‘I don’t really feel like a women…’ you just get raised eyebrows, right? It’s like, well you have a women’s body, so… So I think growing this intellectual framework has at least sort of helped me translate my experience into the language of other people and made me feel like I’m a little bit less crazy because I have other ways of explaining it. At the same time, it took a long time to be able to even start to talk rationally about what I am experiencing. And I think that that particular knowledge is what I’m trying to bring into philosophy, and saying there are lots of truths, there is lots of really meaningful stuff that we have to talk about that we don’t have language for yet. And you know what that means? It means we’ve just got to sit and we’ve got to take the time. We have to be compassionate and we have to listen to each other. And we have to buy that, even if we are crazy, maybe we can use that for good.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Can you explain what you mean by genderqueer?
TAYLOR STOCKS: Yes. This is a term that I have used to identify myself. I also like ‘gender traveller’. For me that experience means that I wake up in the morning and I don’t really know how I want to present, how I want to act in the world. I have a feeling that the way that I put together my aesthetic changes the way that I can move, changes the way that people interact with me. I just want the option of choosing that everyday. I find going into either women’s or men’s washrooms very stressful because I feel like there’s always a blend of things that’s going on. There’s a blend of what is masculine and feminine – that has nothing to do with my body parts – that I’d like be acknowledged. And I have stuff that’s completely outside of that gender binary, which unfortunately in this world gets gendered all the time. So to some extent, I think my identification of genderqueer is a bit political, in just saying ‘look at all of these horrible things that make me feel bad about myself. We need to stop them.’ And, in another way, just a very real, as real of an expression of my gender identity as I can get. Because I went to an all-girls school for 13 years. I did everything I could to play woman. I got there and I realized that it just wasn’t cutting it. So that’s how I came to my association.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Robyn Noseworthy?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: I think that there is an absolute amount of terminology and language that we have to redefine. When you even look at pronouns and how we describe ourselves in general, I remember – because I was a member of this board, and for personal reasons I resigned – but when we all sat down, I can remember the very first meeting that we had, we all went to coffee and we sat down and we said, “Okay, well what’s your pronoun and how do you identify as yourself?” And it wasn’t to get anyone out of the closet, so to speak. It was to make sure that as we’re communicating with ourselves there’s this absolute line of respect. And I think if that dialogue went along a lot clearer in society, and we just take off the assumptions, then you’re going to end up with a lot more communication that is open, it’s diverse, it’s accepting–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Authentic.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Yeah, it’s real. When someone asks me what my status is and what my sexuality is, it’s very rare that I’ll actually say that I’m lesbian, for instance. I usually stick with the term gay. There’s two reasons for this. One, lesbian is a very feminine word. Whenever someone clearly demonstrates that they are lesbian, it’s usually this movie star kind of image of super-femininity. And I’m not saying that I’m not female and I’m not thinking that I’m female, but there’s a lot of me – like I’m sitting here now in a shirt and a tie and a sweater vest. I’m not rocking high heels. I can’t walk in high heels. I will break an ankle.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Me too.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Exactly, right? But that could be a gender marker that would totally define you as masculine. The other side of it is, when you even look at the language itself as ‘I’m a lesbian’, when you put that ‘a’ in there it kind of objectifies the next word that comes. Like this is a pencil. This is a table. I am a lesbian.
TAYLOR STOCKS: You could pick up this lesbian, move them over there, and they are still a lesbian.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Exactly, right? But when you turn it around and you put it in context of ‘I’m’ (I am), then you’re dealing with feelings. And so when I turn around and when I say “I’m gay,” that’s a feeling that now I’m incorporating as a part of my whole. I don’t think it’s something that completely describes who I am, because, I mean, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a partner, I’m an activist, I’m a lifeguard, I’m a writer. These are all qualities that I have, and it just goes to show that it’s a quality that you have innately in you. It doesn’t define who you are. And I think a lot of society is still looking at people’s sexuality as something that is definitive.
TAYLOR STOCKS: Or gender.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Yeah, exactly. Gender is definitive, and it’s not. I can be really super masculine one day and then it’s – it’s very rare – but I could turn around and put on a white dress and go to a fundraiser. It’s a very complex issue, but we can simplify it. And I think with the flag raisings that we did in Sochi, we allowed this gigantic concept, even on one plane – because as Denise Cole said, if that piece of propaganda in Goose Bay hit the wrong table, then that would allow parents and teachers to then force that pro-religious sect on the individual that it could be impacting. When you raise that flag in the communities like Gander and Stephenville, who have been known to have massive amounts of homophobia in their streets, that’s showing that one child or one teenager walking by knows that one person, at least, in their community is supportive of them. And if it comes from town hall, if it comes from the provincial government, if it comes from our nation’s capital of Ottawa, not on a federal level–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Places of power.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Places of power and distinction, this is when you’re going to start to see the change. One thing that I really wanted to have happen when the flag went up on Confederation Hill, like that’s such a huge – it might just be a flag, but the next time trans legislation comes in, or gay legislation comes in, or anything kind of comes in or is proposed, how can the government completely turn its back now? When they’ve said that they outrightly support–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Precedent!
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: There’s precedent here now, whether it’s on a small scale or a global scale. And that is something that we just need to allow the embracing of it. And the terminology and the language that Taylor was talking about is where we start.
JUSTIN BRAKE: We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.
JUSTIN BRAKE: And that was “God Loves Everyone” by Ron Sexsmith. Recently the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador made the decision to include gender as a prohibited ground of discrimination in its Human Rights code, and that’s something that Denise Cole and I talked about as well, and she said, while it’s well and good that we have that, making sure that you have the teeth to enforce laws, legislation like that is another thing. From what you’re saying about the significance of raising the flag and how that can have a profound effect on members of a community, and also would make it different for government to kind of regress in terms of its human rights legislation, what about the ability or the willpower to enforce laws like that?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: I think, honestly, and somebody told me this once, it’s very difficult for someone to say that they’re being discriminated against, because it’s something that you know is happening it’s very difficult to prove. But it’s up to that person to stand up and say, “You know what? You are discriminating against me. You are being homophobic right now. You are being transphobic. You are hurting me and this needs to change.” It’s up to that individual sometimes to step up. But when the other person comes across and says, “Oh, I didn’t mean it that way,” whether or not you meant it that way, it’s how it happened and there’s changes that need to be made in terms of that.
TAYLOR STOCKS: And I don’t think it is just a task of the individual, because it is so hard to see and put language for. To step forward and say that you’re being discriminated against takes a particular amount of privilege in the first place. If you are being discriminated against, but that is your only way that you can access money or food or shelter in some way, then you aren’t going to risk that. So I think this is where our community comes in and says, “No. We can’t do this alone. We need allies because sometimes there are members of our community who do not have the power to say ‘no, this is not okay.’ To say ‘no, you cannot treat me like this.’ To say ‘no, please, I just want you to use a different pronoun so that I can feel okay in working here.’
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: And that’s exactly it. I’m glad that you elaborated on that, because that was what I was getting to in terms of we need the resources, and it’s great to have this in law and legislation now that it says that it’s not against it. But if an individual does feel that they are being discriminated against, they need some place to go, whether it’s organizations or community outreach centres, anything really – because there is a lot of risk. Sometimes you’re talking about your job. And before or the anti-discrimination law in terms of gender came in, if you were a trans individual it was a very highly anticipated fact that if you came out is that you could have lost your job.
TAYLOR STOCKS: And I think it’s still the case that that people raise their eyebrows if you are a female-bodied person and you don’t have long hair and makeup. There’s a couple of eyebrows raised. You always wonder if you’re not going to get the job. The stuff’s going on at an upper level, but if you don’t have the rest of society working on through, then unfortunately the flag raising becomes a very nice gesture for the two weeks that it’s up there and then is frankly quite hollow after that, because there isn’t any other impetus that’s really pushing towards – okay, what do we mean when we say we put up the Pride flag? What does it mean to serve the LGBT community and what they need in order to grow and be reasonable human beings that are dealing with some really tough stuff?
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: I think the flags opened up the door. There absolutely needs to be continuous walk-through. It’s like you said, gender markers: short hair on women versus long hair on men. For some reason the long hair on men isn’t exactly the [pint] of femininity. It’s more of an indie kind of thing. Whereas the short hair on women, oh, now you just removed a massive gender marker. I cut my hair off just before Christmas and it was down the middle of my back, and now it’s buzzed on the sides and swept over, kind of dapper style. I had a child on the pool back there counting off the lifeguards, and they pointed at me and they were like, “Oh, he’s over there.” And I don’t mind it. The kid was five. But the thing is that we’re still teaching blue is for boys and pink is for girls. It needs to change. Yeah, these colours are pretty, but what happens when that little boy wants to pick up the Barbie doll? Or that little boy even takes it a step further and wants to cry? Or the little girl wants to go play baseball and join the Scouts group?
TAYLOR STOCKS: Or the little girl wants to have a penis. These are the bigger things. These are boy issues. We have a ton of body shame that’s going on. We have the issues of single-sex schools in the first place. I loved my school and I’ve got some big questions around how we can actually navigate queer identities within a community like that.
JUSTIN BRAKE: In terms of the beliefs that kids express, I picked up my eight-year-old cousin at Brownies the other night, and when I went in there (it was in a church hall), and when I went in her friend came up to me and said, “Why do you have long hair?” And I said, “Because I want to.” And she said, “My dad used to have long hair. Cool. Don’t ever cut it.”
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: It’s amazing the minds. I mean kids will say the most innocent kind of things, but it’s such a paradigm of what’s actually happening in society. When you have such an open mind that is not–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –It’s possible for society too. That’s the exciting part.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Yeah, it is possible for society to change. It’s a clean slate that now you’re molding this acceptance and this tolerance. And it needs to go back one generation to the people who are now having children, and even the parents of those people, to turn around and say, “You know what? One generation, two generations back, we’re starting to be okay with this. We are okay with this. Let’s open up that line of communication. Let’s see exactly what options we have out there.” Because we’re always saying we’re so unique, and we’re individuals, and the rights of the individuals don’t really matter–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Yeah, we’re losing our communities with this focus on the individual. And I think what we can do, once we start talking to each other again, is getting this inter-generational dialogue opening up. There are queer people who are older than 25. That is obviously true; even if there is not specifically that identification, there are similarities in narratives. And once we begin really talking about this, and calling and listening, then we can really get the real stories from the eighty-year-olds who put the bag over their head to go march down the street in the first place, and really hold on to that heritage to develop our own culture, to say this normative history is not going to work for us. This is our activism. This is our pursuit of who we are. And it isn’t just with us young folk. This has been going on for a long time. And the fact that we’re only talking about it now is just a shame in our society, above all else.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: I think, honestly, too, you look at our generation. I always say we’re the – how did I phrase it? I said we were the ‘you can do anything’ generation. We were always told–
TAYLOR STOCKS: [laughs] And then we all grew up.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Exactly. And then we’re like I can do that. No, it just doesn’t fall from the sky. We were always raised, ‘You can be anything you want! You can do whatever you want, as long as it’s in this little normative box and it’s accepted.’ The fact that we were told that we can be and we can do and we can say whatever we want has allowed this generation to be more visible in terms of what we want to see for the future. Going back to you asked me how it was growing up in high school and everything. I’ll be honest. It was hell. It was a really dark time. When I came to St. John’s and I saw the bigger community and I saw the more acceptance from different people coming in, of course it was at a post-secondary level where there are going to be more educated and open-minded people in terms of they’re there to learn, they’re there to learn more and express themselves differently. The thing that I always go back to is what happened to me is the whole reason why I’m doing what I’m doing today. I think as we learn from our experiences, and as we’re going through it, there are people that are going to have good sides and there are people that are going to have bad sides. And that kind of thing drives you to see the changes that are happening. There’s always going to be a two-step-forward one-step-back motion. That’s the way it is. It’s the way it is with religion still. I mean you look at the Pope. He can’t walk across the street without somebody saying he’s doing it backwards. Not to bring up the Pope, just using it as an example–
JUSTIN BRAKE: –That’s a whole other show.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: It’s a whole other show, but we’re talking about religion and we’re talking about different things too on a certain level. I’m just saying it’s everywhere. You’re always going to have that one person that disagrees with you.
TAYLOR STOCKS: The change is tough.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Change is tough. Anything that you’ve been doing for the last five weeks, five months, five years, fifty years is going to be very different and get adjusted to as you progress. But the thing is you can’t stop. You can’t be afraid to say it. You can’t be afraid to go find allies. What’s surprising for me is that outside of the bar scene here, and outside of the university scene, there’s not much to be seen at all in terms of the LGBT community into resources, when it comes to–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Planned Parenthood is doing a pretty good job.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Planned Parenthood is doing really good. PFLAG is doing really good. We do have those organizations–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –Choices…
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Choices for Youth, another one. But it amazes people when they sit down and they realize that there’s about a 20,000-person population here, or more, of an LBGT community that really just doesn’t get seen. So, yes, you’re coming into this big, huge city, but it’s like Taylor said, there’s no designated village, there’s no–
TAYLOR STOCKS: –We don’t even have a house or a place to go.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Like a Happy home.
TAYLOR STOCKS: Pride doesn’t have a space to meet. We’re still nomads.
JUSTIN BRAKE: We’ll continue the conversation about that for sure. We’re out of time for now, but before we go, Taylor Stocks, there’s an event that you’re a part of coming up on March 20th. It’s a Words in Edgewise event.
TAYLOR STOCKS: Yes, it’s run with the Harris Centre through Memorial University, and Pride’s kicking along as well, partially because I’m helping run it. On March 20th we’ll be talking about the trans community, the drag community, and formal institutions, and how gender subversion sort of works. In between all of that we’ve got a couple of really cool presenters. Everything looking at RuPaul’s drag race and how that constructs norms of the drag community, to actual trans experiences and working as an activist in St. John’s. That’s on March 20th. We also have Queer Prom on March 28th in the Breezeway, and that’s run by LGBT MUN and St. John’s Pride. We’ll be having a couple of drag things there as well. I know Robyn is looking over at me here.
JUSTIN BRAKE: That’s the Memorial University campus bar.
TAYLOR STOCKS: That’s the Memorial University campus bar within the University Centre. I believe that starts around ten o’clock or so. It’s going to be a good night. Five dollars a ticket, so come on out to that.
JUSTIN BRAKE: What about the Words in Edgewise event? That’s at what time and where?
TAYLOR STOCKS: That is at 8 pm at Eastern Edge Gallery on Thursday March 20th. It is by donation and there is always some fixed treats, coffee, and baked goods.
JUSTIN BRAKE: Thank you, Robyn Noseworthy and Taylor Stocks. I really appreciate you coming in.
ROBYN NOSEWORTHY: Thank you.
TAYLOR STOCKS: Thank you very much.
JUSTIN BRAKE: The ‘Out’port Magazine is available on newsstands downtown St. John’s and online at theoutport.com. The Indy News Hour is produced by Matthew Thompson, Justin Davis, and myself, Justin Brake. Visit TheIndependent.ca for these stories and more, and tune in again next Sunday at 8 pm.