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Where Does Government End and Nalcor Begin?

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In 1998, then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright captured perfectly the multi-generational culture of the US Foreign Policy establishment: “if we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.” That last part in particular has aged poorly. When she uttered it, the US-led West was ramping up its campaign to open and secure markets (“spread democracy”) in every corner of the globe—peacefully if possible; by force if necessary. Two decades later, it is hard to argue that this approach has been especially successful for the United States of America. In The Hell of Good Intentions, Stephen Walt, Professor of Foreign Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, describes the culture of this entrenched establishment as “fiercely self-protective.” Professional success depends on reputation, and you do not advance your career by challenging orthodoxy, which in this case…

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s “Climate Action Plan” is All Bark and No Bite

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You could almost mistake its 55 glossy pages of picturesque coastal landscapes for a tourism brochure, save a strange word map of climate policy-related buzzwords. In reality, it is Newfoundland and Labrador’s brand new climate change action plan; or, to stay on brand, The Way Forward: On Climate Change in Newfoundland and Labrador. A five-year plan to guide provincial action and support implementation of the federal government’s Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Does this beautiful PDF detail how to decarbonize the provincial economy and to help avoid the catastrophic impacts of global climate change? It has some strengths, and many weaknesses. Let’s start with the good news. First and foremost: kudos to the provincial government for recognizing the urgency of climate change. Annual average temperatures in Newfoundland and Labrador have already increased 0.8 degrees Celsius above historical norms, and the report does not shy away from…

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What Does it Mean to Take Women’s Leadership Seriously?

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Women are being asked to “Lean in,” to work harder, faster, stronger, smarter, to work a “Double-Shift,” to improve themselves so that they have “what it takes” to compete with men. What all of this advice misses is that women have been doing these things, and more, for a very long time. Women are not the problem when it comes to their absence from politics, from boards and commissions, and from holding the reigns of Fortune 500 Companies. Women show up. Prepared. They already are working harder, faster, stronger, and smarter. The problem is that they get blocked at the door, in the hallways, they don’t get offered a seat at the table, they face glass ceilings and they face glass cliffs. None of these are things that can be fixed by being talked at by men who have helpful “tips and tricks” on how to get along well with…

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“How can you lose hope?”: Denise Cole

in Editorial/Featured/Post-Oil NL by

MP: Before I head out the door and leave you in the editor’s chair, let’s talk about Muskrat Falls. All the stuff that coming out of the Muskrat Falls Inquiry–it’s incredible isn’t it? It’s sometimes hard to keep in mind what Land Protector Denise Cole says in The Sound of Post-Oil (link below): “How do you lose hope when you know at the end of all of this the earth is still stronger than all of us.” I mean, I’m happy it’s all coming out and we’ve known this was the state of things for a while now. But I’m unhappy that this all had to happen this way. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL In this moving story, Denise Cole talks about Indigenous resistance, what motivates her activism, and how she became a Land Protector. She recalls the moment in 2016, when the falls went quiet. DB: Good Lord. We need to invent…

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Part 8: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

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Part 8: At home, you and your lover sleep in different rooms. You weigh yourself down with bedding and blankets like it will keep you anchored, keep you from bursting out in the darkest hour with some dramatic gesture – I love you, don’t leave, here is a song, here is a poem – something passionate and spineless containing no real evidence or external support. Everything you do or say now is poisoned with desperation. You lie in bed watching an unseasonal snowfall smother the new spring growth outside. Social media teems with complaints and side-by-side comparisons of the current climate versus kinder weather in other places. You hear the front shut – you lover leaving early. There will be no escaping the desire for better surroundings today. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL In this moving story, Denise Cole talks about Indigenous resistance, what motivates her activism, and how she became a…

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Part 6: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

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Part 6: In the following days, you hold up your part of the bargain. For date night, you prepare a meal of fresh local food which you only had to ask four people how to obtain. You go out dancing to traditional songs, beautiful melodies composed from the most romantic of poverty-stricken situations. The two of you sway together. The music and fresh air encourage smiles and you feel warm and safe and loved. But when you are alone, anxieties fill reservoirs in your mind. Charm can’t fill the oil tank in February. How can you offer stability in this boom or bust life? You recall the restraint in the therapist’s voice: you sound frustrated. Well, no shit doctor obvious. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL Jerry Dick, Executive Director of Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, talks about how people in the province used to create homes and communities that responded to…

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Part 5: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

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Part 5: Your lover presents you with a list. At least it is not a Dear John letter. You open it right away to show how eager you are to start getting things right. The list is a number of plans and tactics; “I” statements, honesty hour, date nights. Your lover says if we’d installed these practices long ago, we wouldn’t be in this rut. We wouldn’t have this surplus of despair. You agree and make sure to help with the schedule. For Honesty Hour, your lover has procured a therapist as they feel a neutral party is needed. Arbitration makes you nervous. Stages like this in grievance procedures can result in ultimatum. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL Rhonda Pelley forecasts Newfoundland and Labrador’s future using a series of tarot card visual art pieces she created. She said she wanted to create art in response to Muskrat Falls and to the province’s…

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Part 7: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

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Part 7: The therapist talks about listening and being receptive to the other’s point of view and you realize all these instructions for really for you alone Your lover picks at their fingernails until the therapist pauses. When they unfold their prepared items for discussion, their hands tremble just a little. The urge to reach out is so powerful you sit on your hands. You’re good at sitting on your hands. Our life together is undermined by instability. I wonder if it can be any other way with you. I wonder if I’m crazy for staying. I wonder if I’ve done something to deserve this. We’re in a situation where even the concept of planning for the future is in danger – will there be work? Will there be positive change? Will we continue to love our friends and family as they distance themselves from you? Sometimes – and this is…

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Building sustainable energy from the ground up in Newfoundland and Labrador

in Featured/Journalism/Post-Oil NL by

At first glance, the future of energy production and consumption in Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t look so bad. The provincial government often boasts that when the Muskrat Falls mega-hydroelectric dam goes online, 98 per cent of the province’s electricity needs will be provided by renewable energy. Considering that fossil fuels account for 82 per cent of energy production worldwide, that’s an impressive number.  However, as many critics of the project have pointed out, renewable energy doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable energy. Once running, Muskrat Falls will reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it also runs the risk of wreaking environmental havoc via methyl-mercury poisoning, flooding of communities or a collapse of the North Spur, in addition to the many social implications of massive cost overruns, which will likely be passed on to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians through increases in taxes and electricity bills.  “Yes, you need to be environmentally sustainable. But, in order…

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Part 4: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain Its Romance

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Part 4: Your lover texts to say they’ll be home late. You wait, taking careful breaths. Every time you blink, you picture them with a different expression: their mouths forming a “no,” their lips curling with impatience. You hope you can beg for another chance without seeming too hopeless. You wish it was like those days at the beginning. One of the best things about learning to care about someone is witnessing the gradual emergence of their beauty. You notice how their cheeks fluctuate into a smile, into a laugh. You still see the shape of their shoulders when you close your eyes. In the stretch of falling in love, they become both known and new to you, like a surfacing, like a season of giving. Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in Bridget Canning’s series. You never thought of it as passion, but…

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Leave us something to build on?

in Editorial/Featured/Post-Oil NL by

As headlines tell us that Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest oil spill is now impossible to clean up and the provincial government promises to investigate the scope of  the C-NLOPB’s authority, my plea to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador is simple: just build a solid line in your budget to provide real investment in the development of the sustainable energies of the future and the infrastructure needed for post-oil economies.  THE SOUND OF POST-OIL You can listen to Nick Mercer talk about the barriers to the development of wind energy in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the reasons it has strong potential. Nick Mercer is a PhD candidate in Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo. The province’s last budget doubled down on oil. Whether we agree with it or not, we know why: it seems like easy money. What else would induce provincial leaders to keep the province tied…

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Part 3: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain Its Romance

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Back home, you embark on a vigorous online research endeavour: Getting Better. Improvement from the Inside Out. Healthy Habits. Eating Organic. Holistic Nutrition. You read, take notes, keep an ongoing list of URLs, all the while recognizing how your focus slowly splits into thirds – get better, show you want to get better, get better just enough to stall your lover’s departure. It’s difficult to get into this wholeheartedly when you know your bank account won’t maintain these diets. Six dollars for a pack of greens turning wet on the produce shelf. Grocery chains sell you packs of blueberries for five dollars so you won’t get them for free in the ditch. And none of this online literature addresses your lifetime habit of just keeping your belly full. A limited food budget meant mom could get bologna and KD – it kept the kids happy, kept them going. It showed…

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The Future Project: Who will pay for tomorrow?

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We’re so much better at looking back than we are at looking ahead. We can’t quite get hold of the seventh generation principle. We don’t know how to make decisions that take into account our children’s future, never mind seven generations ahead. Years of working within various versions of capitalist economies have tied our imaginations to the money that can be made from this season’s catch, during this quarter, or, as in this gig economy, this next contract we can win. That’s the point of the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor. When more people are struggling more and more to pay for housing and food, how can we organize to plan for a better future for generations we haven’t even thought of? And there’s this: The future is risky, isn’t it? The Sound of Post-Oil NL Listen to our conversation with Delia Warren about a future economy…

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Preparing for the post-oil economy

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While some groups are helping workers transition out of the volatile oil industry, provincial legislation itself is proving a barrier to growth in renewable energy For nearly 30 years, crude oil has been a vital part of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. After the mass layoffs of the cod moratorium in 1992 left 30,000 people out of work, many hoped that the burgeoning industry would be the province’s financial saviour. In many ways, it was. By 2008, 10 years after the first barrels were pulled from the Hibernia oilfield, Newfoundland and Labrador became a “have” province for the first time in its history. The unemployment rate steadily declined, and for a time, things were looking good. The Sound of Post-Oil NL Listen to our conversation with Delia Warren about a future economy that takes advantage of the skills of the current work force, one that doesn’t leave oil workers…

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Part 2: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

in Indy Fiction/Post-Oil NL by

Out of your discount chair and into the bathroom. You splash water on your face. In the mirror, you take a look at yourself from all available angles. Your reflection reprimands you: stop being a sook. Go for a walk, figure out how you’re going to get your shit together. Outside, low-hanging summer fog makes a crawl space of the city. You stomp until pavement becomes stone, stone becomes moss and cliff. You find a space to plant your arse and regard the persistence of your ocean. Find a way to keep going, it seems to say. Don’t drown in your own petulance. Easier said than done. It’s so easy to submerge yourself in thoughts of what you could have been. A little spitfire. A praiseworthy example. An actual nation. Instead, it’s obvious your ruggedness is an act. Lately, everyone sees you as a failing grade, a low price, a…

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Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

in Featured/Indy Fiction/Post-Oil NL by

Part 1: You discover your lover’s email by accident. You aren’t sneaking — it’s addressed to you after all, even though it’s still lingering in the drafts folder. How are you not supposed to look at something for you? How do you ignore a message with a subject like Us? I have been thinking about leaving. You’re frozen to the computer chair. Your bare legs slowly paste themselves onto the warm vinyl upholstery. You bought the chair together on an excursion to a big box store where you weighed the pros and cons of ergonomic furniture. You both decided to go for the one on sale. Now there is always an ache between your shoulder blades after a long day of writing. Lately, it has become too difficult to envision our future. I know some of this is for my own personal reasons, but an unavoidable part of this decision is…

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A Post-oil Newfoundland and Labrador?

in Featured/Journalism/Post-Oil NL by

Sure, the province decided to double-down on investment in oil in its last budget. That doesn’t change the fact that we’re heading toward a world with a lot less oil. There’s a lot of ink that could be spilled here about the various failures of leadership, citizenship and the media in getting us to the brink of a post oil-dependent world without any thought (never mind planning). But we want to focus on talking about what a future without oil might mean to us here. We’re not delivering solutions. We’re not prescribing tough medicine or pretending we know what medicine is the right kind. We are asking questions about what our future is going to be like and opening a dialogue. We’re hoping that, as a result, a few good ideas, some change-making energy, and some broader good comes of it all. We’re trying to move a mountain with a…

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