Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What runs through your head leading up to Canada Day?

For the next 5 weeks I'll be filling in for Bill Rowe as host of VOCM's afternoon radio call-in show — Backtalk, followed by a week standing in for Randy Simms as host of Open Line. Each day I'll post the show's monologue, which I prepare in advance.

•••

Good afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador and all the ships at sea.


Thursday is a national holiday, in case you didn’t know it — Canada Day.


The country’s 143 birthday, although Newfoundland and Labrador has only been around for 61 years.


We’re a lot younger and better lookin’, wouldn’t you say?


Definitely way cooler.


Look no further than Republic of Doyle.


The Globe and Mail carries an interesting feature today. The paper selected 13 songs, one from each of the 10 provinces and three territories.


A sort of cross-country Canada Day play list.


First things first, The Globe got the name of our province wrong — it’s Newfoundland and Labrador.


You’d think our national paper would know that.


Anyway, the song chosen for Newfoundland and Labrador is one of Great Big Sea’s — Boston and St. John’s.


Allan Doyle sings the ballad about a rover about to head out to sea, while assuring his love there isn’t much ocean between Boston and St. John’s.


Like all good Newfoundlanders — and I know many, many of them in this situation — he knows he’ll go back home, just how and when no one knows.


My sister and her family are home from Alberta for a vacation, and I can tell you she’d move home in a flash if she could.


I’m a big fan of Alan Doyle and Great Big Sea, a great big fan.


Allan was great in Robin Hood, as most of you know.


I saw it, and quite enjoyed it. Can’t wait for the sequel.


Allan Doyle pretty much plays himself, a part he has down pat.


We have a lot of great ambassadors, but Great Big Sea is at the top of my list.


What do you think?


What song would you choose for Newfoundland and Labrador as part of a cross-Canada playlist?


Call in to recommend one.

•••

This is a great week to talk about Canada, one of the greatest countries in the world; it’s fair to say.


That’s not to say we don’t have our problems.


I can list off a few.


Here’s one — Quebec.


Oh, and here’s another problem — Quebec.


God knows we’re having a problem with the development of the Lower Churchill.


Not to mention redress of the upper Churchill contract.


Earlier this month Premier Danny Williams gave a speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa.


And he didn’t have very much nice to say about la belle province.


Here’s a quote:


“Not only have I witnessed first hand Québec’s obstruction of the Lower Churchill, I have personally seen that province thwart the noble and sound economic goal of a national energy grid.”


And another quote:


“The shock for me as provincial leader is the sense of greed, arrogance and entitlement displayed by Québec, after “milking Newfoundland dry” in the words of a national newspaper.”


And let’s not forget the fishery. Never forget the fishery.


And the mismanagement that goes on right to this day.


Our commercial fisheries have been decimated under federal management.


And if we don’t get a game plan in order, in terms of life after oil, because that’s where all the focus of the Danny Williams administration is directed, there won’t be much life.


That’s why the fishery and the lower Churchill project are so important.


Yes sir, it’s fair to say Canada needs work.


What runs through your head leading up to Canada Day?

•••

Of course, July 1 is also Memorial Day in Newfoundland.


Lest we forget.


While Canada Day celebrations take place July 1st, the date is also one of the most solemn and sad days for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.


July 1, 1916 marks the first day of the Battle of the Somme when the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out at Beaumont Hamel.


When some of our best and brightest were showered with shells.


There’s a lot to think about this Canada Day, and every Canada Day.


Maybe we should have a Newfoundland and Labrador day.

•••

Another note on Canada, the country we live in.


Statistics Canada reportedly recently that the population has surpassed 34 million, an increase of just over 88,000 from Jan. 1 of this year.


As for Newfoundland and Labrador, since Jan. 1 our population has also risen.


Care to guess by how many?


Ninety-six.


Which is better than being down by 96 people, I spose.


Our population now stands at 510,901.


What did our population stand at in 1991, the year before the northern cod moratorium?


I know this figure because it was contained in my son’s Grade 5 textbook this year. I mentioned the book on Monday.


The Newfoundland and Labrador population back in 1991 stood at 600,000.


So we’ve lost 90,000 over 19 years.


Ninety thousand.


And this last quarter we’ve made up 96 of them.


Most of that population loss had to do with the fishery collapse.


The emphasis to this day is on fishery rationalization, cutting the cloth — plants and people — to fit the fish that are left.


With virtually no emphasis on trying to rebuild the resource — none.


Yes sir, lots of stuff runs through my head leading up to Canada Day.


What runs through yours?

•••

There’s also a line of thinking that Canada should increase the immigration rates to become a country of 100 million people.


To become a proper world power instead of a nation content with “smallness.”


How do we increase Newfoundland and Labrador’s population? Or should we?


Maybe we can’t support the people we have. Keep in mind our unemployment rate is the highest in Canada.


I don’t believe that, but what do you think?


Maybe we should control our own immigration system like Quebec.


Why is it that some provinces in Canada are more equal than others?

•••

Maybe we should look at Newfoundland and Labrador in a larger context.


There’s an interesting story today in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald about how it may be time for an Atlantic regional energy strategy.


Instead of the four Atlantic provinces planning individual energy strategies, we have one.


That’s the idea being put forward by a Nova Scotia Senator — Fred Dickson, who says Atlantic Canada would be better of working together to develop the region’s energy options.


What do you think?

•••

In other news …


Bad news for Grand Falls-Windsor. And I mentioned this on Monday’s show in regards to an e-mail I received from a listener.


The German company that was to deliver a business plan to take over the idled newsprint mill in central is in bankruptcy protection.


Which means it won’t be taking over the mill.


Which means the hopes of the people of central have been needlessly raised — and dashed.


Has the provincial government not heard of the Google search engine?


The German company Lott petitioned for bankruptcy protection on June 15, several weeks after the company made an on-site visit to Grand Falls-Windsor.


That’s the second bankruptcy protection since 2004.


I can tell you if I lived in central Newfoundland I’d be pretty upset about that.


Are you?


A spokesman for Kathy Dunderdale, minister of Natural Resources, said the provincial government was still expecting a business plan from Lott, with detailed financial information, and that government would conduct due diligence on the company.


Sounds like the due diligence has already by done by the media.


Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones describes the province’s handling of the file as “shameful.”


"How do you engage with a company without ever doing any research or background checks on them?" she asks.


Good question.


Call in if you have an answer.

•••

Speaking of development, St. John’s city council is considering a $19-million facelift to George Street.


A redevelopment study suggests the perception of the street from one that comes alive at night should change to a street that welcomes everyone — night or day.


Power lines would be buried, decks and sidewalks would be concrete, the road would be repaved, and the stage area would be rebuilt with a high-end outdoor performance space and built-in seating.


Maybe even a street market.


Do you think the $19 million is worth it?


I can tell you this — St. John’s Mayor Doc O’Keefe says tourism is worth $300 million a year to the capital city.


And $1 billion to the province.


Nineteen million dollars doesn’t sound like a lot in that context.


What do you think?

•••

From St. John’s, which is doing well, to Grand Bruit, a community on Newfoundland’s south coast, which is shutting down.


The last ferry to Grand Bruit is set to run on Wednesday, according to the Gulf News newspaper.


For many residents, however, June 11 marked the true closing of the community.


That’s when about 60 former residents of the town gathered for the decommissioning of the United Church, which was said to be the centre of the community right at the top of the falls in Grand Bruit.


Grand Bruit means a great noise, but on the day of that last church service the soft bell of the church was heard over the noise of the great falls.


If you’re from Grand Bruit and you’d like to talk about the community please do.


I can tell you it won’t be the last outport to shut down.


Certainly not if we don’t get our fishery affairs in order.

•••

Moving on to Labrador …


Here’s a story that touched me:


The body of 19-year-old Randy Scott Rose of Happy Valley-Goose Bay was recovered on the Churchill River on Saturday evening by his father — also named Randy Rose.


RCMP say Rose had been looking for his son every day since the boating tragedy occurred.


Every day since May 18th when Randy and his two friends went missing after going over Muskrat Falls in a small boat.


Ground crews are still searching for the bodies of Roy Sainsbury, 18, and Ryan Russell, 19.


Let’s hope they find those boys.

•••

I see that a man was arrested and held in custody Monday in St. John’s on charges of theft and breach of recognizance.


What’s unusual is that the man also faces charges of driving with no license, no registration or no insurance.


He also owes more than $21,000 in fines.


Is there any way to keep such people — people with no license, no registration or no insurance — off the streets?


Probably not, this being a free country.


Happy Canada Day.


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