Saturday, August 7, 2010

A day at the Regretta

Delivered on air Aug. 5th.


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


My name is Ryan Cleary and I’m filling in for Randy Simms as host of VOCM Open Line this week and next.


So how was your day at the 192nd running of the Royal St. John’s Regatta?


Now I realize Open Line goes all over the province, and a lot of people outside the overpass were probably at something else Wednesday (like work), but 50,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were expected pondside.


And it looked like a good many of us showed up (the weather was certainly nice enough), and if 50,000 people turned out that’s about one-tenth of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.


So, again, how was your day at the Regatta?


Did you see Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton of the New Democrats?


What were the boys saying?


Anything worth repeating?


Did they have any luck at the spins, do you think?


More to the point, did they win you over?


Did they win your vote, or are you saving that for Steven Harper?


I didn’t see a national leader, although I did see Leo Puddister, former leader of NAPE.


Leo’s looking well, I must say.


I spent a few hours at the Regretta, actually.


It’s all right to call the Regatta the Regretta the day after.


Because the kids have all your money spent.


My favourite food pondside was a tie between Indian and mini-doughnuts.


My favourite game of chance involved throwing toilet paper rolls through toilet seats. I got two out of two.


The favourite thing I won (the only thing I won) was a toy convertible, and walked around with it in my hand for half the day.


There was a big crowd at the head of the pond for the championship races.


M5 won the women’s championship.


And Rogers Bussey Lawyers won the men’s championship.


Congratulations to all the rowers.


Overall, it seemed like a great day.

•••

Let’s move on to the courts.


This particular story falls in the can-you-believe-that-happened category.


Or the only-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador category.


A man facing a sexual assault charge was mistakenly released from jail Tuesday (Aug. 3rd); despite the fact the man tried his best not to be released.


Manual John Clark tried to persuade guards, sheriff's officers, court staff and police that he should remain locked up.


It seems he did everything but get down on his hands and knees and plead with authorities not to release him.


Which they did anyway.


Although it didn’t take authorities long to realize their mistake and throw Clark back behind bars.


Clark was charged with a violent sexual assault in downtown St. John’s in early July.


He was granted bail on that charge later that month, but wasn't to be released until Aug. 16 because he's serving time for shoplifting and failing to show up for court.


Clark was taken from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary to provincial court for a bail hearing Tuesday.


But since he wasn’t scheduled for a bail hearing, he was told he was free to go.


When court staff saw he had been granted bail on the sex charge they didn’t check his other charges.


And wouldn’t listen to him when he said he should remain in custody.


The sheriff’s officers told Clark that if he didn’t leave they would arrest him.


The police said they didn’t know anything about it.


Eventually everyone clued in that Clark shouldn’t be on the street.


So police called his cell phone and picked him up at a friend’s house.


I don’t know about you, but I wondered why Clark was so eager to stay in Her Majesty’s Pen.


But then it struck me: the Pen is practically on the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake.


Clark probably wanted to watch the races from the slits the prison has for windows.


Call in if you have a better explanation.


The media call this time of year the silly season.


And it is.

•••

Let’s move on to more serious stuff.


The Holyrood town council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to ask the provincial government to cut toxic emissions from the Holyrood generating station.


Holyrood burns oil to generate electricity, and, at one point, the Holyrood station was listed as the 42nd heaviest polluter in Canada.


The government of Danny Williams put out an energy plan in 2007 that included a provision that stated if the Lower Churchill wasn’t off the ground by 2009, government would install scrubbers (emission-reducing equipment) at the plant.


The idea of the lower Churchill project — which would string a transmission line down to Newfoundland — was to replace Holyrood.


But, as we all know, the lower Churchill project doesn’t seem to be moving.


So the Holyrood town council wants the province to cleanup the station.


Those scrubbers, by the way, were priced in 2007 at $300 million.


Let me ask you this: what’s the air like in Holyrood these days?

•••

A second ago I mentioned the 2007 Energy Plan.


I want to bring that up again because one of the goals had to do with the federal government’s 8.5 per cent stake in the Hibernia project.


The Newfoundland and Labrador government wants to buy it off the feds.


Make no mistake, the Government of Canada makes a tonne of money off that Hibernia stake.


At the same time, under the Atlantic Accord Newfoundland and Labrador is supposed to be the principal beneficiary of offshore resource revenues.


You could argue we’re not, but that’s another story.


So Jack Layton was in town for the Regatta and he told VOCM News that it’s time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to starting addressing some outstanding issues facing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.


Issues like the 8.5 per cent stake in Hibernia.


I thought we’d a have a much better chance of getting the 8.5 per cent Hibernia stake when Danny Williams made up with the PM?


We can’t seem to get anything when we’re on his bad side.


Or his good side.


Jack Layton also said something needs to be done regarding the fishery.


He says what the federal Conservatives don’t seem to understand that when the fishery is facing hard times, there needs to be some assistance.


Which reminds me of a letter to the editor published in Tuesday’s paper.


The letter, by Robert Rowe, said it’s time to give up the wild fishery.


Give it up b’y.


Aquaculture or fish farming is the wave of the future.


The letter writer brought up the question of whose fault it is that so many of the fish are gone.


And he used the quote, “we have met the enemy … and he is us.”


What do you think about that, is the wild Newfoundland and Labrador fishery dead?


Is it time to put it behind us?


Not many people seem to be fighting for it.


Personally, I think the writer doesn’t have a clue what he’s writing about, but that shouldn’t stop him from expressing his opinion.


Any time you raise a problem with our relationship with the federal government, be it the fishery, or the Upper Churchill, or the Lower Churchill, some people say you’re anti-Canada or whatever.


But those problems are real and need to be addressed.

•••

I want to bring up a provincial government press release I came across the other day.


It came from the office of Tom Hedderson, minister responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.


The release outlined how 100 social-housing homes in St. John’s will be getting a fresh coat of paint at a cost of about $200,000.


Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about such a new release.


But all I could think of was how that money could be better spent on rope ladders or escape ladders for the crowd over at Buckmaster’s Circle who live in those three-story units.


Four people were forced to dangle from the ledge of a window in one of those three-story units a few weeks ago to escape a house fire.


They fell 30 feet to a set of concrete steps below, although a neighbour had put a mattress out.


All four of them still suffered broken bones.


By law, those three-storey housing units don’t have to have fire escapes or fire ladders, but if there’s a fire and you’re on the top floor the only way out is through the window.


Should money be spent on paint or escape ladders?


But then there's another problem in that the window ledges on some of these older housing united are rotted and wouldn’t support a rope ladder.

•••

I see there were more problems with Marine Atlantic earlier this week.


Do you ever feel like you’re in the movie Ground Hog Day where Bill Murray wakes up and relives the same day over and over?


It must feel like that sometimes where Marine Atlantic is in the news day after day.


The latest problems were caused by “unforeseeable mechanical issues.”


Both the Leif Ericson and the Caribou had sailings delayed — in some cases by 12 hours, in other cases by almost a full day.


If you have a comment on Marine Atlantic — positive or negative (this isn’t just about bad news), you know where to call.

•••

Another story that isn’t going anywhere is the closure of the Newfoundland School for the deaf.


The education department says the school is closing because there are literally no students.


They’re all being absorbed by the public-school system, which is what parents seem to want.


But is that what parents’ want?


Some parents and former students say the school shouldn’t close.


Others question whether the supports will be there for deaf or hard-of-hearing students when they move into the public-school system.

•••

There was tragedy Wednesday in Saskatchewan when a 55-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man from Newfoundland and Labrador were killed in a car accident.


Their car collided with a semi truck.


Horrible accident.

•••

I see that Danny Williams has thrown his back out.


The premier was supposed to attend a premiers' conference in Manitoba, but backed out because of back pain.


Apparently sitting is painful for the premier.


Health Minister Jerome Kennedy will be going in the premier’s place.


That was interesting, considering I thought Kathy Dunderdale was the deputy premier?


Is Jerome No. 2 now?


The National Post carried a feature on Danny Williams this week, a get-to-know the premier feature.


The premier was asked about shopping at Canadian Tire, one of his favourite stores.


The premier said the nice thing about being premier of this province is he can go anywhere, anytime, without security and just do his thing.


Aug. 4 was apparently the premier’s birthday.


He turned 61.


I’m sure I speak for the entire province when I say Happy Birthday Danny.


And if you’re looking at picking up a belated birthday gift for the premier, there are always lots of deals in the bins at Canadian tire.


The Lines are open.

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