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Newfoundland and Labrador

Fragments of the 1,111 Points of Light

in Featured/Longread/Satire by
Art by Gord Little.

We now present you a partial list of the many great initiatives that transformed rural Newfoundland and Labrador into the envy of the world.

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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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The Patient’s Progress, Part 4

in Featured/Longread/Satire by

I’m beginning to think the patient is better off living in his fantasy. After I hear about New Year’s 2018 on the St. John’s waterfront, I want to join him.

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The Patient’s Progress, Part 3

in Featured/Longread/Satire by
art by Gordon Little

It is October 2007. An emergency all-party government unleashes a political revolution in NL. But a sudden General Strike threatens to derail the province.

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The Patient’s Progress, Part 2

in Featured/Longread/Satire by
Art by Gord Little

All Townie MHAs receive rural reeducation as the Baymen seize power in Newfoundland & Labrador. Meanwhile, a meal of Chow Mein nearly destroys the province.

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The Patient’s Progress, Part 1

in Featured/Longread/Satire by
Art by Gordon Little.

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

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The Red and Blue Doors Open the Same Room

in Analysis/Featured/Longread/Politics by

As promised in response to the budget/not-a-budget pre-election kick off, I thought it would be useful to take a deeper look at what the Liberals have accomplished in their four years in office. Halfway through the election campaign is as good a time as any. Everything old is new again. As both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have now released their “costed” platforms, it’s probably a good idea to think back to where we were when the parties went through this exercise in 2015. Memories of Elections Past In the spring of 2015, Progressive Conservative premier Paul Davis brought down an austerity budget in response to the collapse in oil prices and the sudden realization that the good times of the previous decade had gone bust.  Budget ’15 projected staggering deficits and proposed a series of tax increases (including a controversial HST increase) and a public sector attrition plan…

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The Phony War

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

Well, the provincial election is finally here. After months of rumours and weeks of high-volume spending announcements, Premier Dwight Ball this week called a snap election for 16 May 2019. If your democratic morale is low, fear not—this will all be mercifully over by May Two-Four, so we’ll be able to flee into the woods and get drunk to process what’s happening. Lord knows it will be necessary. To be honest, this barely even feels real. The whole campaign is already a giant fever dream. Twirling Towards the Future Even though everything is happening according to their schedule, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the Liberals are flying through this by the seat of their pants. They spent the last month making major funding announcements obviously meant to shock and awe the electorate into submission. We got the $2.5 billion Hibernia Dividend; we got the elimination of tax on…

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Budget 2019: Shag It, Let’s Do Magic

in Featured/Journalism by

I went to the NL Budget Lockup to hear tales of a budget surplus in 2019. Don’t get me wrong; budgets are normally big policy events. Not only do they chart the government’s fiscal plans for the upcoming year and update us on how things went the last one, they also usually involve a myriad of specific policy announcements across sectors. But as communication strategists become more and more important in all aspects of government, budgets have become more of a public relations medium than they once were. There has always been political spectacle on budget days: the finance minister’s new shoes, surprise funding for new paving and the like, but there has usually been an actual budget obscured by the government’s marketing efforts. Budget 2019 in Newfoundland and Labrador takes the communications side of budget days to a new extreme. It’s a pre-election budget, which are usually long on…

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Confederation Chic

in Editorial/Featured by

Every history, so they say, is a history of the present. The past is brutally unchanging, but what flares up through its wreckage to the observer hinges on the moment they turn to look back. (“The way to see,” according to one French mystic, “is to not always be looking.”) This is especially true in the case of historical ruptures that never quite get stitched up, or those regularly reopened under political strain. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Confederation with Canada in 1949 certainly fits this bill. Confederation was legendary in its own time, thanks to both the propagandist in the Premier’s chair and the romantic reaction he generated. As it recedes from living memory its mythic stature will only grow. You need only see Joe Smallwood, ‘Last Father of Confederation’, decked out in a Newfie Republican tricolour bowtie to realize we regard our past through a thickening stained-glass windowpane. It’s been…

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Memory, Language and the Land: the Art of Marlene Creates

in Arts & Culture/Featured/Journalism by

It wasn’t until Marlene Creates decided to ‘think oppositely’ that she found her niche. She graduated art school and did as many artists do: she got a studio and started working, hoping that one day she would forge herself the perfect identity. Destiny would prevail and a lucid understanding of her abilities and passions would begin to shape her art. In 1979 she started working with stones. She would carry them into her studio from the landscape and form paper casts around them. The stones were representative of power—a structure that is hardly weathered by the acts of the elements. The paper was a fragile and sensitive juxtaposition. She says it was an unorthodox yet simple thought that was a defining moment in her work. “One day I thought, instead of hauling all of these rocks into the studio, why don’t I just take the paper outside?” Creates told The…

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Reaping Without Sowing: Government Support for the Arts in NL

in Featured/Journalism by

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Transportation, Culture, Industry and Innovation Minister Christopher Mitchelmore loves the arts. He is very excited about all the wonderful work being produced in this province by its artists, and he cannot wait to share their stories with the world. This is wonderful. Unfortunately, Minister Mitchelmore seems to have some trouble listening to stories from local artists when they’re directed at him. Spearheaded by playwright Robert Chafe and director Courtney Brown, local artists last week organized a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government looking for an increase in funding to ArtsNL. “[ArtsNL is] the only pot of funding, really, that exists in the province [and] that goes directly to working artists to start the product that will actually fill the theatre, fill the CDs, fill the film halls, that kind of thing,” Chafe told the CBC. “The cultural programming in the province wouldn’t exist without it.” ArtsNL funding…

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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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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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The People’s Party of Canada is Not for Everyone

in Journalism by
Pre-rally seating at Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada Rally, St. John's NL, 2 March 2019.

This past weekend, St. John’s was graced by the first federal political rally of our long pre-election season. People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier was in town to help his fledgling riding associations dig up candidates, and he headlined a rally at the Capital Hotel on Saturday. The Independent was there to cover it. Dozens of men and some women turned out to hear the renegade ex-Conservative go off about the perils of Canada’s dairy regulations, the “crony capitalism” at the heart of Trudeau’s “socialist” government, and the sinister ambitions of the United Nations. (Spoiler: world domination in approximately 30 years.) Bernier promised to balance the budget in two years by eliminating all corporate welfare and foreign aid, as well as downloading taxes onto provincial governments. He also swore to use section 92(10) of the Constitution Act, 1867 to “impose” the Trans-Mountain and Energy East pipelines on Canada. He…

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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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The Indy Guide to Buying Weed in Newfoundland and Labrador

in News You Can Use by

Recreational marijuana has been legal for nearly six months now. But between the wide variety of products on offer and the tendency of many people to react differently to the same drug, even experienced users can find legal cannabis daunting. (When they can find it at all, I mean.) This was the case when my prohibition-era pot supply ran out last week, and I was faced with my first foray into the legal market. But I did some research, checked out the local shops, and crowd-sourced opinions from friends and on Twitter to figure out what’s good in the wonderful world of legalized weed. Here’s what I found:   What to Buy Top Shelf: Broken Coast is the best supplier by universal agreement. If it’s available at your local shop, it’s probably your best bet. They sell four varieties:   Galiano: A sativa dominant hybrid called Northern Lights Haze.  …

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A Phone Call from Astaldi

in Satire by

[Rome, February 2013] “Yes, hello, hello, Terra Nova? Hello! Newfoundland and Labrador, it is Franco Astaldi, returning your call. Si, calling from Roma. Buongiorno! How can I help you? Our bid for the hydro dam is low? Hey, you crazy, you wanna a higher price? No, seriously we are having a sale this month on gianormous concrete dams. Si, this is true. Look I tell you, in confidence, Si, those other bidders, they don’t know the secret: we continue building when it snows by working under giant dome, is like magic igloo. Hey, and if there a problema down the line we make adjustments to the billing, no biggie. Do we know snow? Hey, I grow up in Torino! Labrador same thing, no? SNC-Lavalin, yeah, I know these guys, you crazy? Libya, Gaddafi, the whole deal. We were there building a highway, they were working with Muammar’s kid on the…

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Charity is Not Enough

in Opinion by

Two cheers for us. The instant we heard that fire had destroyed the Community Food Sharing Association (CFSA) warehouse and its stock of food last Wednesday, people in this province reacted with their usual generosity. Alongside the scores who donated quietly, a long list of local businesses, public figures and organizations sprang into action. By Saturday, donations to the CFSA had topped $300,000 in cash and 50,000 pounds of food for distribution to food banks across Newfoundland and Labrador. The Edge, the Growlers, the oil industry, vendors at the farmer’s market, the public library, municipal councils, labour organizations, politicians and media outlets including VOCM and CBC, are among the many who rallied. Topping the charts, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador donated $50,000 to food banks and, in a giffed-up exchange between the premier and Eg Walters, handed over keys to a replacement warehouse. Wait. What? Think about that for…

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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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