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Opinion

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

Life After Muskrat: What Have We Learned?

in Opinion by

Will the Inquiry really do anything? That remains to be seen. The people of the province still have to deal with the reality of the Muskrat Falls project.

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Moody’s Blues, or: Commission of Government 2.0

in Analysis/Featured/Opinion by

Yesterday’s news is not the end of the world. But it’s a small part of a larger process: our control over Newfoundland & Labrador’s future is slipping away.

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On Escaping Your Own Prison: An Introduction of Sorts

in Featured/Opinion/Personal by

You’re probably wondering why a person would create such a tiny space for themselves, this prison cell. Well, why does anyone build walls? For protection.

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Here’s to a Harassment-free House

in Opinion by

A safe and respectful workplace opens the doors for a diversity of players to participate in politics. The system itself becomes an accessible option.

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On the Stoppage of Crime

in Featured/Opinion/To Each Their Own by

A modest proposal: that crime is not stopped by terrorizing a city with a guerilla marketing campaign aimed at encouraging people to snitch on the poor.

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Put Education on the Ballot

in Analysis/Opinion by

We need institutions where critical inquiry can be freely pursued by scholars and cultivated among students. The future of NL depends on it.

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#NLRising, 3 Years On

in Opinion/Politics by

The 2019 NL provincial election is just eight days away, and yesterday marks three years since the #NLRising rally on Confederation Hill, organized by the NL Federation of Labour. I was invited to sing a couple of songs, so I took the opportunity to write a new one, directly addressing the 2016 Liberal austerity budget. Out came ‘Go Away Dwight and Cathy’, which singled out cuts to education and library closures, cuts to healthcare, and the ‘deficit reduction levy’. The 2016 Liberal budget was an attack on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no doubt about that. But people spoke out. The rally worked, to some degree. The song? The downfall of writing political songs is that they are only usually relevant to a situation for a short period of time, however, they will always remain historically significant. ‘Go Away Dwight and Cathy’ never gets much airplay these…

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Your Vote Is Your Consent

in Featured/Opinion by

I am talking to teenagers about consent. In the courthouse alongside, Chantel John’s mother suffers through a slew of new charges against her daughter’s accused murderer. Newfoundland and Labrador is attempting to hold this man accountable. Though in the land of Mary March, it is difficult indeed to ignore the violent colonial locomotion that blasts through us regardless of our objection or intent. I hike round a river named for these exploits. It is beautiful big birch country. The water is surging fast-forward with the spring breakup in full-on yellow flop where new-wet meets rock-face. The running signage recounts a tragic tale taught to us via elementary school readers. A Beothuk woman resisting capture exposes herself to her aggressors. The courts of the day rule there was no malice in her kidnapping or her husband’s death during the abduction. Their baby died, too. We are always told she revealed her…

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Oil is On the Way Out, but NL is Going All-In

in Climate Change/Featured/Opinion/Politics by
art by Katie Vautour

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede, has jolted the world awake by simply telling a hard truth: adults have stolen her generation’s future because we have not confronted the climate crisis. “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” she tells us, “I want you to panic. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” Her words have inspired millions of children globally to demand real action from their political leaders. This message is an essential one for Newfoundland and Labrador’s upcoming election. Greta and her generation know all too well that to have any chance of a liveable climate for most of us, global temperature increases must be kept below two degrees of warming. To do this, emissions have to drop steeply, reaching zero—no emissions at all—by 2050. It would have been a…

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May Day from Central

in Featured/Opinion by
Art by Philippa Jones.

I drive by a gas bar named for some other Megan and wonder if all her dreams came true. Traveling thoughts can take reckless turns when you’re headed westward on Newfoundland’s Trans Canada. Highway 1. Ground zero for colonialism where signage along the roadside declares that those who ruled at the starting hour of their agreed upon clock continue to do so today. And I wonder if the merchant still got me round the neck. As I pass blue and red squares proclaiming the hopeful inheritors of our little bit of earth, I feel the merchant’s hand tightening. Not that they refer to themselves as merchants anymore. The comms department sorted that before we even knew there was a comms department. They call themselves all kinds of generous, extravagant things now to confuse us. But a collar by another name is still a collar. My field of view is foggy…

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Gaslighting a Generation

in Featured/Opinion by
Photo by CHMR/The Independent.

I know it’s been a whole nine months since I lived on the rock, but I was surprised to get the news the other day—after the budget was announced—that everything is great now. Apparently, there’s even talk of billion-dollar budget surpluses and public spending. It’s funny because I was under the impression that I had to leave at least in part because of budget cuts to higher education (and very little hope in any other sector). Of course, there are those in this magazine and beyond who think that all the good news might have more to do with an upcoming election than the real financial situation in the province. It’s hard to swallow that all those meetings I had to sit in where I was told there was no money, no vision, no future were actually inaccurate. Apparently, there has never been a better time to live in Newfoundland…

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Muskrat Falls and the Tip of the Iceberg

in Featured/Opinion by

Last Thursday night, instead of attending a letter writing campaign at the LSPU Hall where dozens of local artists had assembled to write to government policy makers, begging for an increase in funding for our provincial arts council, I was on Springdale Street replacing a set of leaky kitchen taps in a rental property. The owner was a nice Scottish man who works in the oil industry. He complained about the lost equity in the house. He’s working in Azerbaijan now, but has fallen in love with a Newfoundland woman. He bemoaned the lack of work here, while I was under his sink. He said most oil companies would never build another major project in Newfoundland, after what went on with Hebron. He said the Koreans were much cheaper and better organized. “I worked on that project,” I said. “What a shit show.” We went on to discuss the rampant…

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Where Does Government End and Nalcor Begin?

in Featured/Opinion by

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

in Featured/Opinion by

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?

in Featured/Opinion by

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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Make Them Pay for Muskrat Falls

in Opinion/To Each Their Own by

It was voted The Telegram’s top news story of the year: the Muskrat Falls Inquiry into a project that is “publicly funded, years behind schedule and billions of dollars over-budget.” The public has been riveted as they follow the proceedings. Those in the spotlight trade barbs with each other and the inquiry officials; they rant self-righteously and sanctimoniously defend their reputations. It will be interesting to see what the Inquiry concludes. (So far, the longer it goes on, the less popular the Muskrat Falls project becomes.) Interesting, but little else. The $33.7 million inquiry is unlikely to lead to any substantive change, unless it identifies guilty parties and proceeds to sanction and punish them. ‘Guilty’ in the context of public decision-making, of course, can span a broad spectrum: guilty of hiding or ignoring important information; guilty of failure to do due diligence; guilty of failure to uphold the public trust…

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Food for Thought about Charity

in Opinion by

Don’t let philanthropy, government or otherwise, work as a silencer, even if our media opts for cheerleading the charity game instead of asking the hard questions.

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Global warming and corporate greed combine to destroy forests with fire and felling

in Featured/Opinion/The Nonagenarian’s Notebook by

The razing of millions of acres of forests by wildfires has been increasing in scale and intensity for the past few decades. This year has set new records for the number of trees and shrubs destroyed by fire—not just in the United States and Canada, but also in many other countries, including England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Latvia, and North Korea. Wildfires, of course, have been a yearly occurrence in the summer months for centuries. Triggered mainly by lightning, they were Mother Nature’s way of disposing of dead timber and providing fertile ground for new plant growth. That is still an important natural process, although many conflagrations today are unnaturally caused by human carelessness, such as poorly tended campfires and flipped-away cigarette butts. Far more devastating for the world’s forests today, however, are the effects of global warming, mostly caused by the greenhouse gas emissions that emanate from the burning…

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It’s not about a hotel

in Opinion/To Each Their Own by

Really, all the ado is not about a hotel. If St. John’s is so awash in tourists that we need a new hotel, nobody is going to argue. Nobody minds a new hotel for the tourists. It’s work for contractors, it’s work for staff, it’s money for the local economy. What this is about is entitlement. It’s about a merchant class elite business community which really contributes very little to this city (trickle-down economics never worked; what’s more important is that the rich pay their taxes rather than stashing it in offshore bank accounts), yet considers that the city ought to jump through hoops, waive regulations and give them whatever they want on a silver platter whenever they ask for it. This small city doesn’t have much. It’s got an unemployment rate twice the national average (the second highest of any Canadian city), overcrowded hospitals, no family doctors taking patients,…

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It’s a Hard-Rock Life for Us: Unlocking Social Mobility to Fix our Economy 

in Editorial/Opinion by

In the summer of 2012, when oil was still going for over $100 a barrel, a Rex Murphy-led documentary returned from commercial break and opened with the line “he’s a symbol of [Newfoundland’s] happy reversal of fortune.” The camera cut to a shot of a rusty Bell Island Ferry and then to my mother’s home kitchen.  I had turned down a sizeable national scholarship in a decision to earn a bachelor’s degree in my home province, with the intention of running for the Bell Island town council inside of a year. Murphy saw my decision as an expression of the confidence people felt since shrugging off our status as a have-not province four years prior.  But we hadn’t all shrugged off our have-not status so easily. “Have” status in tow, every young (and old) Bell Islander can still recall someone refer to their hometown as Fraggle Rock—the setting and namesake…

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