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Art by Gord Little.

Fragments of the 1,111 Points of Light

in Featured/Longread/Satire by

Diagnostic Category: Repetitive Rural Loss Trauma Disorder (RRLTD).

Case study: Patient has recently moved from a depression over the loss of rural life to what appears to be an hallucinatory state in which rural Newfoundland and Labrador is flourishing.

Therapist’s summary notes:

Patient believes that in the election of 2007, Danny Williams’ government was just barely elected.

Two weeks later, the Williams government fell.

Patient insists that Muskrat Falls never happened. Patient believes that instead, billions were invested in rural projects, infrastructure and transportation, as well as the inshore fishery, species conservation, affordable rural housing, medical facilities, rural immigration, daycare, arts projects, libraries, and local agricultural sustainability.

In his mind, Rural Newfoundland and Labrador now leads the world in innovation, and has brought the province into a dizzying new prosperity.

On his final visit to my clinic he outlines some of the specific changes he remembers.

APPENDIX: Out-patient Progress notes: The One Thousand, One Hundred and Eleven Points of Light

Therapist’s note: Since my first appeal to others who share my patient’s political hallucinations, I have received many submissions. I now present them as an appendix in the hopes that you too will send in effective ways that rural Newfoundland and Labrador revived itself in the time between the year 2007 and the year 2019.

POINT OF LIGHT #1002. —United Nations of Fish is established (see Part 2).

POINT OF LIGHT #445. —Rural National Convention is established and meets regularly (see Part 3).

POINT OF LIGHT #499. —Plastic Free World Initiative. The newly replenished and increasing fish stocks produce tons of fish offal which, along with several species of exotic fungi, are turned into a new organic and biodegradable plastic substitute. The oceans breathe an audible sigh of relief.

POINT OF LIGHT #176. —The Establishment of the Cabotz System (based on the Israeli Kibbutz system) All the traditional vegetable ‘gardens’ of the province are revived and expanded. NL becomes an exporter of organic food. (see Part 3)

POINT OF LIGHT #1046. —The Keepers of the Unbelievable Beauty Factor Act. WHEREAS Fate has randomly endowed us with some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring landscape in the Universe and, WHEREAS we are therefore recognized as the guardians and stewards of these cosmic gifts, BE IT RESOLVED that, although we welcome the new and the innovative, although we relish and love the designs of the current era and those from every culture in the world, nevertheless all activities, be they civil, commercial, cultural, provincial, federal and/or international, have to accommodate the Unbelievable Beauty Factor.

Views must be preserved; species protected, houses and other buildings of great beauty must be restored. No more beating down beautiful buildings, chopping down beautiful trees, choking rivers, or squeezing the bejeesus out of every species.

This leads to ground-breaking designs in hundreds of new buildings. In fact, the designs are so amazing that the public demands regularly-scheduled tours of all newly built structures.

POINT OF LIGHT #1077. —Shanachie University of the Southern Shore –SUSS, a University of Gaelic and Celtic Diaspora Studies, is established in Fermeuse.

POINT OF LIGHT #1079. —Deep Water Port and International Container Drop Off Point at Riverhead, St. Mary’s Bay (which is also site of the beautiful Container Pier facility designed by architect Frank Gehry and artist Gerry Squires (see the Unbelievable Beauty Factor, above).

POINT OF LIGHT #512.World Center for Wind and Ocean Wave Research. $40 million is made available to start what has been called the most obvious solution to NL energy needs. “Everyone’s been saying it for years,” says Energy Minister Ruby Chubbs (Christ’s Cockles-St. Jones Beyond). “I guess we couldn’t hear them other over the wind and waves,” quips MHA Buster Duff (Heartsong-All The Coves).

POINT OF LIGHT #1059. —Closing of The Commercial Caplin Fishery. As one of the “27 Painful Things to Save The Fishery,” the commercial caplin fishery is closed for the next fifty years. The revitalization of this major forage fish is leading to massive increase in all species—cod, whales, even seabirds—off our coasts. Of course, the family shoreline ‘beef-bucket’ fishery carries on for food, and fertilizer for the Cabotz farms. (see Part 3).

POINT OF LIGHT #877. —The Retroactive Baby Bonus Act—The Population Expansion Initiative. Based on Quebec’s popular 1988 baby bonus initiative, the Penashue-Hutton Government institutes the Population Expansion Initiative (popularly called ‘More Babies More Bucks’).

Uniquely amazing, however, is that the program is retroactive to 1945!

Thousands of parents, many of them now in their eighties, receive $5000 for their second child, $10,000 for the third, and $5000 for every other child up to their tenth child. This includes adoptions, both local and foreign. (Parents with more than ten children are given Special Place in Heaven certification through an arrangement with the Vatican.) These same amounts are retroactive for immigrants who come to settle in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is supported by the Baby Oil, Wind, and Ocean Wave Heritage Fund, which sets aside $10 billion for a guaranteed annual income for any family with children under the age of 25 living at home.

This legislation is tied to:

POINT OF LIGHT #1002. —The Level Field Law wherein funds are made available to any parent, athletic coach, teacher, artist, or community worker who feels that any child is at a significant disadvantage due to financial inequality. For example, if a child has musical talent or athletic ability (or thinks they do) and has any difficulty paying, the parent or guardian has simply to phone the Level Field Hotline for immediate redress. (At the time of this writing, this system is about to be adopted by the United Nations!)

POINT OF LIGHT #302. The Establishment of the Armavik. The Armavik (or National Service, as it is popularly called) is a combination of an Army and Katimavik.

Every citizen of the province from ages 16 to 95 is required by law to serve the province for two years. No excuses—the revival of Rural Newfoundland and Labrador is considered to be a national emergency on par with total war. This really helps keep young people in the province while lowering youth crime rates and homelessness. The thousands of senior citizens who are drafted into the Armavik end up instructing the young Cabotz workers in amazing gardening, fishing, and boat-building skills.

Even though it is made very clear from the outset that there will be no real military aspect to the Armavik force, the Canadian Government, in a fit of paranoia, immediately sees the organization as competing with the Canadian Army!

A false rumour soon begins to circulate that NL intends to recall every provincial expatriate currently serving in the Canadian Forces to join the Armavik. This would mean that this rumored ‘Rock Army’ would be just slightly larger than the Canadian Army!

All hell breaks loose when MHA Tiffany Alteen (Exploits City-Botwood) is jokingly given the title ‘Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Defense’ during a Caucus trust-building retreat in Port Blandford.

Fearing the imminent activation of a “Fish and Brewis Fifth Column,” Prime Minister Ben Mulroney flies to the province to avert a constitutional crisis. The provincial government agrees to back down in exchange for the extradition of Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente to face a Rural People’s Mainlander Deprogramming Ritual. (Incredibly, Wente is converted and settles in Petty Harbour.)

The crisis ultimately leads to the resignation of Ben Mulroney and the collapse of the Conservative government. Liberal Alexandre Trudeau is elected Prime Minister in a shocking landslide.

POINT OF LIGHT #709. —Great Northern Peninsula Free University of The World (GNPU) The famous Great Northern Peninsula Free University of The World ultimately comes about from an earlier bill, The Infinite University Act.

Originally a private members bill by MHA Winnie Butt (Winter Labrador), the law declared the entire province to be a university. Degree granting status is extended to organizations across the province, including a group in Port Union called the “Not So Stund Youngfellas.” (Classes on transcendental meditation and electric motorcycle maintenance take place in a shed down on the wharf. Their mission statement reads: “Quod at te? Hoc est.” — “What’re ya at? This is it.”)

POINT OF LIGHT #818. —World’s Fair of The Environment. A group of small businesspeople from Labrador organize a world’s fair of environmental sustainability in Goose Bay. People are invited to come here and observe the incredible changes in the environment that have taken place between the years 2007 and 2019.

That’s it. That’s all that the Fair is. People arrive and observe.

But the way they arrive is a most radical contribution to global transportation.

No visitor is allowed to use any fossil fuel to get there. They all arrive on sailing vessels built by a coalition of ex-schoolteachers and senior citizens (as part of the Armavik and Cabotz programs). This amazing coalition of young and old minds comes up with a totally new design for a wind and solar-powered schooner (called the ‘Nuw-ketch’), which they build in the hundreds for transporting visitors to the World’s Fair of the Environment.

POINT OF LIGHT #839. —Cultural Exchange programs between Labrador and Newfoundland are arranged to try to diffuse the separatist activity generated there in the summer of 2013 and to get island Newfoundlanders to understand the needs of those in Labrador. Many of the leaders of the “Townie de-programming” movement are themselves deprogrammed as part of these “struggle sessions.” (Chad Bungay’s 2016 Grammy nomination for Songs of the Silver Starlight—a three-act psychedelic country opera recorded outdoors in the serene soundscape of a glacial Torngat valley—is widely credited for turning Nain into the northern Nashville.)

POINT OF LIGHT #919. —The Great Bicycle Initiative

The GNPU organizes and promotes the two greatest bicycle races in the world:

A.) The Tour-ta-Hant’s. Cyclists leave Hant’s Harbour, Trinity Bay, and head southwest on a race that circumnavigates the Island.

It is the 2nd most gruelling race in the world.

B..) The most gruelling race in the world is called Cain’s Revenge. Trail bikes circumnavigate Labrador on woods trails and former footpaths.

Did we mention it happens in March?

POINT OF LIGHT #1015. —Slow Train to Paradise: The St. Johns/Mount Pearl/CBS/Paradise Subway system.It is popularly called ‘the mole’ or the ‘STTOP’ (Slow Train To Paradise). Like the radio jingle says,

You can always GO on the STTOP!

For a short period it seems to suffer the same problem that beset the Newfoundland Express (jokingly called ‘The Bullet’). It is slow. No one knows why. Every manner of expert has been consulted to no avail. Avant-garde MUN physicist Jezebel Cheeseman publishes a famous article in the Journal of Multiverse Studies (Winter 2013) theorizing that the trains leak kinetic energy through a trans-dimensional vortex near Octagon Pond. The vortex leads to an alternate reality Newfoundland and Labrador where a hydroelectric megaproject was mismanaged so badly that it collapsed in on itself like a dying star, condensing the Earth into a single geometric point of infinitely dense matter from which not even God’s light can escape.

It is impossible to come to a conclusive explanation. The STTOP just won’t go fast.

But it sees lots of use, and is the envy of the world. It is first suggested on a ‘Free Forum Day’ at the House of Assembly by Janet McGrath Kelly of Auntie Crae’s Bakery on Water Street in St. John’s. She suggests a small-car subway—modeled after the one in Glasgow, Scotland—to run along the north side of Water Street inside the buildings at the back.

The idea works wonders and is immediately extended along Water Street to Brookfield Road, through Mount Pearl and Paradise, making a road loop to St. Philips and Portugal Cove before turning back to St. John’s. In a controversial but ultimately brilliant move, the use of motor vehicles within STTOP limits is banned throughout the weekdays. This leads to the constant use of the train, an expansive new Metrobus system, and the region’s spacious bicycle and walking trail systems. With no cars clogging the downtown roads, asphalt wear-and-tear is rare and continual winter snow-clearing becomes a dream as people can freely walk through the streets. The car dealerships move into the manufacture and sale of subway cars and buses. They are reportedly doing better than ever.

There is now a global demand for our unique NEWLAND subway cars, engineers, and related software systems. The amount of business with China alone will probably keep Newfoundlanders and Labradorians employed well into the next century.

Therapist’s note: Finally, here is one not-so-successful venture by the Rural Benevolence Party. It was called The No Self-Censorship Act.

POINT OF LIGHT #420. —The No Self-Censorship Act. In July of 2008, the House of Assembly came up with an outrageous and unworkable idea: to completely stop Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from responding negatively to new ideas.

In a very controversial and regressive move, they pass the “No Self-Censorship Bill”—which is immediately attacked by civil rights groups, and overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada in a matter of days.

It is an attempt by an enthusiastic legislature—some have even whispered stoned legislature—to never again rule out any new idea because of fear or the customs of the past.

Accordingly, a list of over 10,000 phrases is banned from newspapers, textbooks, novels, and daily speech. The 10,000 phrases are variations on statements like “the crowd around here would never get behind something like that.” Or “big business or free trade or unions or various levels of government will never allow that.”

Even the phrase “No B’y, I can’t” is outlawed.

Ironically, the No Self-Censorship Act proposal was quickly denounced as one of the most sweeping efforts of state censorship in modern history. The Supreme Court quickly steps in.

But even now 11 years later when you are sitting in a room full of Newfoundlanders or Labradorians and someone says “But let’s face it b’ys, that’s never gonna happen,” a chill goes up everybody’s spine.

The 10,000 phrases included:

— “Not around here buddy”

— “Might work back where you come from but it’s not gonna fly in these parts”

— “Mind now you don’t swell”

and even:

— “Go home, your mudder got buns”

Even the word “luh” suffered a conditional ban: specifically, when it is used to bring negative attention to a positive act. (For example, a large person is out jogging and a person sees them and says “luh!” in a mocking way.)

Other phrases, though not banned, are discouraged through a ridiculously complicated and unworkable rationing system. These phrases (called ‘Near Negatives’), such as “as if,” “some chance,” or “like ducks” are limited as to the number of times a citizen uses them in a year. People are meant to report each time they use them and each area of the province has a quota.

For example, 2J3KL (Random Island) has a yearly quota of 760 ‘Near Negatives.’ Downtown St John’s (6B5MT) has a quota of 3700 such phrases. Enforcement proved virtually impossible, however, and “poaching negatives” (or “pegging” as it became widely known) was endemic across the province.

Therapist’s note: The patient couldn’t remember the other 9,989 banned negative NL phrases. Again, if any readers who live in this alternate reality can think of any, please send them in.

Art by Gord Little.

Read The Patient’s Progress, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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