I'll be filling in for Bill Rowe as host of VOCM's afternoon radio call-in show, Backtalk, for the month of July, 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.
Let’s start the show with last evening’s technicolour fog.
What’s that, you ask?
Well, that’s what the fire works amounted to last evening at Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s.
The decision was made last evening to go ahead with the fireworks — even though the fog was thick.
From my vantage point you could see the fireworks fire into the air.
But that was about it.
Oh, there were explosions, loads of explosions, but as for the light show … there wasn’t much of one.
Other than the technicolour fog.
I was down by the side of the lake — in front of the Quidi Vidi boathouse, actually — and all you could see was the fog turn different shades of colour.
I don’t know who made the decision to go ahead with the fireworks last evening, but it was the wrong call.
They should have been cancelled until this evening.
I don’t know how much the fireworks cost, either, but it was money down the drain.
The sound effects were decent; you could at least hear the fireworks exploding.
I suppose that was something.
What did you think of last night’s fireworks?
I mean light show.
July 1 wasn’t just a celebration of Canada Day, of course.
July 1st marked Memorial Day here in Newfoundland and Labrador — the 94th anniversary of the slaughter at Beaumont Hamel.
People were asked last evening to shine a flashlight or electric candle starting 15 minutes before the fireworks to mark Memorial Day.
I didn’t see many flashlights, but I did see a fair number of electric candles.
Which were good to see.
What did you think?
Should we do more to mark Memorial Day?
My answer would be yes.
In other news …
July 1st news, I should say.
There’s been a fair bit of debate in recent days about the merits of increasing the minimum wage.
You’ve heard that debate right here on VOCM's Open Lines.
The minimum wage rose July 1 by 50 cents to $10 an hour,
Workers agree with it, the working poor agree with it, but employers say the minimum wage has increased too fast and it’s hurting their bottom line.
On the subject of the working poor, the adults who raise families while working for the minimum wage or close to it ...
I picked up the most recent copy of The Scope this week — an alternative newspaper in downtown St. John’s (and a good little newspaper at that) …
There’s an interesting article on Page 3: How tough is it to find an apartment in St. John’s these days?
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the vacancy rate is forecast to stick around 1 per cent in St. John’s this year.
So it’s tough to find an apartment, it’s fair to say.
Not only is it tough — it’s also expensive.
To quote The Scope article:
“With the vacancy rate remaining very low, expect demand to push average two-bedroom monthly rents to $725 by the end of this year, and to $775 in 2011.”
The writer of the article goes on to say they’ve heard of bidding wars, people taking apartments sight unseen, and other “shaddy business.”
I’ve heard that myself — my brother and his missus advertised an apartment recently in Town and they were overrun with calls. Overrun.
How tough is it to find an apartment in the capital city these days?
Is there enough housing for the working poor?
I know the cost of a place in downtown St. John’s these days is through the roof.
Where are all the artists and musicians living these days?
One person wrote into The Scope and said he had friends who were contemplating camping at Pippy Park while completing the summer semester at Memorial University.
Is it that bad?
Loads of people are flocking to Newfoundland and Labrador these days.
It’s tourism season — and tourism’s up, from what I hear.
Just in time for the show.
Why nature’s show, of course.
The whales are in — they’ve been spotted off Signal Hill.
You can actually see whales, and the spray from their blowholes, when you walk around the trail.
It’s a fantastic sight.
Of course, the whales are in chasing the caplin, which have begun rolling.
But there are reports the caplin numbers are down.
There’s a story in the Western Star that quotes one fishermen as saying the caplin numbers are down over the past five or six years.
The fishermen said that at one time there were so many caplin you’d be up to your knees in spawn down on the beach.
Which I’m sure is a bit of an exaggeration.
But what do you think — are caplin numbers up or down?
How about the size?
Are caplin smaller than usual?
Should we be catching caplin at all commercially, considering so many other fish — fish like cod and flatfish that eat caplin — are said to be in sad shape?
Said to be in sad shape. I’ll have more on that in a moment.
I’m going to be heading down to Logo Bay this weekend to see if the caplin are in. I’ve already been down there two or three times.
One of the sweetest pleasures in life, for me, is smoked caplin.
Caplin numbers may or may not be down, but salmon numbers are supposedly up.
On the Exploits River in central Newfoundland anyway.
Twelve thousand Atlantic salmon have been counted on the Exploits River so far this year — three times more than last year’s number.
As VOCM news points out: the salmon run on the Exploits is also a big boost for the local economy, parks, hotels, motels, grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses are all benefitting.
Which is fabulous.
It’s been almost 20 years since Newfoundland and Labrador’s commercial salmon fishery was shut down.
Until now, salmon numbers have been consistently down, and scientists have been at a loss to explain why.
Salmon have been leaving Newfoundland and Labrador rivers in healthy enough numbers, but they haven't been returning from sea.
It’s great that salmon numbers are up, but I’d like to know why they haven’t been up for years.
Maybe you have an explanation.
Speaking of fish science …
The Danny Williams administration is getting more into science — a responsibility that we handed over to the Government of Canada with Confederation.
Five years after Confederation, actually, in 1954.
Fishery activists have been saying for years that federal Fisheries isn’t on top of fish science.
Funding for science is down, when scientists retire they aren’t replaced, not enough surveys are being carried out, and research vessels are tired up for months on end.
There have been calls in recent times for an inquiry into the fishery, and one of the things an inquiry would look into is the state of science.
How does the province know that the science isn’t where it should be?
Is it going on anecdotal information?
Is this the first step to Newfoundland and Labrador taking back control of the fisheries?
Should it be?
Still with fish, or waterways anyway.
I had an e-mail yesterday criticizing the provincial court’s decision this week to fine the paper mill in Corner Brook $50,000 for polluting the mouth of the Humber River.
Almost three years ago, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper accidentally released nearly 7,400 litres of sodium hydroxide into a storm sewer that flows into the Humber Arm.
The substance is harmful to fish.
The company was charged and pled guilty.
Fair enough, but the e-mailer pointed out that if a poacher takes ONE moose or ONE salmon he would lose his truck/boat, plus a fine that could add up to way more than $50,000.
The e-mailer said the fines for big companies are “chump change” compared to the fines for individuals.
He also said it’s no wonder every mine site and mill in Newfoundland and Labrador leaves behind a toxic stew.
He said we have 3rd world environmental regulations onshore and off.
Would you agree with that statement, or not?
On the other side of the coin, let’s say the courts did nail Kruger, the owner of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, the only mill left operating in the province.
The company is struggling financially; it’s suffered financial distress.
Would a massive fine push the paper mill out of business?
From fish to moose …
There’s an interesting letter to the editor in today’s Telegram, headlined There are just too many moose.
We’ve discussed on this program how New Brunswick has installed a few hundred miles of fencing to keep the moose off the highways in that province, at a cost of about $25 million.
Some people say we should do the same and install moose fencing in this province, in areas with high numbers of moose-vehicle collisions.
The letter writer — Eugene Conway from Conception Harbour — throws out some numbers.
New Brunswick has a moose population of approximately 30,000 animals, roaming a landmass of about 80,000 square miles.
Meantime, the island of Newfoundland has a moose population of up to 140,000 animals roaming a landmass of about 100,000 square miles.
Eugene Conway says what we need is NOT moose fencing, but a moose cull.
We need to get rid of 60 per cent of the moose population.
What do you think?
Speaking of the province’s highways …
I see in the news how a man from Cox’s Cove was charged this week with failing the breathalyzer and impaired driving.
The police got a call after a man was spotted driving erratically.
Nothing too unusual about that — unfortunately.
But the man was also charged with driving while prohibited to do so ANYWHERE in Canada.
So a guy who was under a court order not to drive ANYWHERE in Canada was arrested for drunk driving.
How do we keep these people off the road?
The man was later released to appear in court at a later date.
I can tell you this: that’s NOT how we keep him off the road.
The Backtalk lines are open.