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The Independent, October 24, 2004


Workin’ for the (Townie) man L

ong ago I was the proud member of a valiant cause: Save Pippy Park! We were young and full of vim, vigour and the righteous glow of a worthy cause. The dark forces of the establishment were planning to ram a huge highway right through the park where I had spent many happy days as a boy, doing all the things my friends and I faithfully promised our parents we wouldn’t do (smoking, playing with guns, killing small animals, swimming without adult supervision, lighting large fires, and so forth). Cut it in half? No way!

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Haunted by Hydro

Rant & Reason

IVAN MORGAN that is costing us all dearly. We need a decent public transportation system, and we need it now. We won’t be able to keep growing without it. It’s going to be really expensive. Who’s going to pay for it? I predict that in the next 20 years we will all get over ourselves and create one large municipality to oversee service delivery to this new city. It will be created to rationalize the service delivery of all the little burbs that do it all now (or not) on their own. Sorry Andy, but it won’t be during your tenure. This new mayor (or reeve, or chairman or whatever they call him or her) will be asking this question: if half the population of the province lives 20 minutes from Water Street, who do you think is going to get half the tax money? They’re going to need it to finance better public transportation. Don’t like this idea? Don’t get mad at me. Drive around and look for yourself (watch out for the potholes and crumbling bridges). Newfoundland’s infrastructure is quickly becoming a joke. On the other hand, Andyopolis is growing fast and outstripping its own infrastructure before it’s built. We’re going to need a ton of money to fix this.

ROAD RESISTANCE We worked hard to stop the development. (Well, truth be told, I only went to one or two meetings. But I wore a button.) It was development we didn’t need. Looking back, I can say with the clarity of hindsight that I never get on the Ring Road without thanking Almighty Christ that we lost. What were we thinking? The Ring Road rules! The road makes my life easier every single day. Rapid development is now a way of life for us on the northeast Avalon. There are folks out there who still might want to stop this. As a veteran, I offer you this: good luck. All our communities are quickly evolving into one big city. You might think you are from Foxtrap, Quidi Vidi, Portugal Cove, Bay Bulls or Duckworth Street, but the truth of the matter is you are from St. John’s, or whatever else we eventually decide to call it (personally, I like Andyopolis). And in order to get ahead in this new city, we’re all POPULAR BUZZ going to have to be able to get The popular buzz is that we’re around. One of the biggest headaches for this new city over experiencing an Ireland-style ecothe next 20 years will be trans- nomic boom. That’s what Danny’s people like to tell everyportation. Our transportation infrastruc- one. Guess what: that boom ture is in dreadful shape. How can ain’t going to happen unless peoI say this? Where do I start? ple in Holyrood and Pouch Cove and Foxtrap and Maybe with the deep Goulds or wherever ruts worn into the Trans-Canada High- Looking back, I else can get to the new jobs. Furtherway. Maybe with one of can say with the more, that boom is the major thorough- clarity of hind- going to be better for fares in St. John’s so sight that I never some than for others. Don’t bet on the minpeppered with stop lights that you can get on the Ring imum wage going up. Road without As the core of Townread the paper from ie yuppies get richer, cover to cover on your thanking are going to need way from the ConfedAlmighty Christ they more folks to work in eration Building to the that we lost. What their businesses, flip Village Mall. Maybe with devel- were we think- their burgers, clean opments going up on ing? The Ring their houses and mind their larvae. How are feeder roads that are little better than paved Road rules! The these people going to cart tracks. Maybe road makes my be able to afford to with the fact that life easier every live on the wages they will make — snowclearing is a joke single day. and get to work? anywhere other than One answer will be Mount Pearl. investment in a decent Maybe with the fact the road linking the Ring Road to public transportation system. Kenmount Road is blocked off Politicians say that the idea of a and unused because we couldn’t large-scale public transportation system is too expensive to even “afford” to finish it. And these are problems only think about. I raise this question: for folks fortunate enough to own how many people are currently a car, and have the cash to pay for forced onto social assistance insurance and gas. If you can’t because they can’t afford to live afford a car and you live in Par- and get to a decent job everyday? What is that costing us? adise, CBS or other parts of the northeast Avalon, you are stuck there. Fact is, there is no real pubIvan Morgan can be reached at lic transportation system — and

Paul Daly/The Independent

Liberal leader Roger Grimes defended himself last week against suggestions money was misspent during Lower Churchill negotiations under his leadership, in 2002. Earlier this month, Danny Dumaresque, former member of Hydro’s board of directors, alleged millions of dollars were spent without the proper accounting or disclosure.

Letters to the Editor

‘Just what are we surrendering?’ Dear editor, Great job. I will be a regular subscriber from here on. Our deficiency here in this province is mainly with the ridiculous royalty regime. In consideration that most benefits derive from downstream activities, our royalty rate should be 50 per cent like Saudi Arabia. Instead, Hibernia maxed out at four per cent. Consecutive administrations accepted the status quo and danced to the tune of the oil com-

panies and their influence on Bay Street. I had great hope that Danny Williams would bring about real change. Oh boy, was I wrong. We will soon be saying goodbye to our natural gas and all in the name of propping up a few social programs when we should be demanding infrastructure and technology transfers. Or saying no! Not much has changed other than a decrease in accountability. I can’t help but wonder what

effects the changes to equalization will thrust upon us. Currently we can say no to big oil companies and Ottawa and ride out the waiting period. Ottawa would be forced to increase equalization to keep our programs up to standard. Just what are we surrendering? I hope you can continue to raise some awareness on just how inappropriate our royalty regime is for our current circumstance. Paul Hunt, Bay of Islands

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The Independent, October 24, 2004

Trailer parks and boat anchors


ed Zepplin was as important to me and my friends as breathing. Zepplin was it — the be all and end all. Almost every pivotal moment JEFF of our formative years — as in the duration and quality of our binges DUCHARME — was tied to a Zepplin song or album. From the high school dance passed out on his stomach rather bliss of Stairway to Heaven to the than his back. back-road craziness that was Newfoundlanders and Labradoaccompanied by Misty Mountain rians often blame Ottawa for Hop, it all was all about Zepplin. encouraging this province to drink Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John wildly from the cup of ConfederaPaul Jones and John Bonham were tion and then failing to ensure it gods who blessed their followers passed out on its stomach — with thundering rock and roll. instead of its back. As a drummer, I regularly worNot being born on this island, shipped at the church of Bonham my right to free speech or com— Zepplin’s god of the skins. The ment is often questioned when my church we worshipped in was a take on history isn’t what’s reflectcustomized 1973 Ford van and the ed in the eyes of a Newfoundlanpews were covered with fun fur der. and diamond-tuck leatherette. My views can be dismissed with When Bonham died on Sept. 25, three simple words: he’s a main1980, we were all crushed. We lander. questioned our own survival and Free speech is not about prohow we could possibly go on with- tecting what you want to hear, but out, what had been to this point, about protecting the things you the soundtrack to our very lives. don’t want to hear, said by people Oh the inhumanity of it all. who you may feel have no right to One less hero for a lost genera- say them. tion to pin its dreams on. I’ve spent more than half of my Life is cruel. adult life here watching, listening, Bonham, like learning and so many other contemplating. The first step in musicians, died I’ve been fortuafter an evening correcting the inequities nate to be on the (or possibly outside looking of Confederation is days) of drinkin and now am ing. He passed for both sides to accept even more fortuout on his back, responsibility, whatever nate to be on the threw up and inside looking portion that may be, choked on his out. just like the alcoholic own vomit. It Make no miswas hardly a that can’t begin recov- take. The federal poetic end for government ery until admitting to one of rock and doesn’t give a being an alcoholic. rolls most prodamn about this gressive drumprovince. For mers. obvious reasons, the feds care When we lose a hero or an idol, only about Ontario, Quebec and when life isn’t fair or we get a bum Alberta — they own the votes and deal, we always look for someone the bulk of the riches. The rest of or something to blame. We rarely the provinces, in their view, hover blame ourselves. Bonham would somewhere around trailer parks likely still be alive today had he and boat anchors.

Opinions Are Like...

Resources from here or any other province are simply bargaining chips to further federal goals — fish for grain or subs for military bases. The feds are the pimps and provincial resources are often the prostitutes offered to foreign johns. No one should be shocked, England was raping this place long before voyagers figured out that beavers were worth something and not just funny looking rodents. The blame, though, for the inequity that tears at the threads holding this country together can’t only be laid at the feet of the big bad feds. Most politicians down through this place’s history have negotiated in electoral cycles. By the very nature of a political mandate, they can do no more. Deals have been negotiated, not because they benefited future generations, but as a means to win re-election — shortterm jobs mean votes and another

Case ‘always open to review’ From page 1 That meeting led to the RCMP being called in. The premier’s office referred questions to the Justice Department, which wasn’t prepared to comment prior to The Independent’s press deadline. Layden says the Constabulary’s file on the case is “always open to review.” She says there are no plans “at this time” to call in another police force to conduct yet another review. Prostitution charges are rare in the St. John’s area, with less than a handful laid since the late 1990s. Prostitution isn’t as blatant in the province’s capital as in other East Coast provinces like Nova Scotia, where hookers are known to walk downtown streets. Much of the province’s sex trade is said to be carried out through massage parlours and escort services. There are eight escort services listed in the 2004/2005 telephone book — compared to 25 the previous year. Contacted by The Independent, Tim Buckle, head of the association that represents Constabulary officers, also reserved comment on the reviews of the RNC’s investigation. He did say, however, that officers have nowhere to turn when

they have a complaint against the force. “If Mount Cashel occurred today and we were ordered by the chief of police to quash the investigation and discontinue, we have no avenue that we can complain about that action,” he says. “We believe that the Police Complaints Commission should be expanded to allow complaints from police officers.” Prostitution made front-page headlines in September when The Independent carried an interview with Wayne Lucas, president of the provincial branch of the Canadian Union of Public

Employees, who said the sex trade should be decriminalized and unionized. “The whole idea about legalizing prostitution is work is work, first and foremost, and it’s a dangerous field out there,” Lucas said at the time. The Constabulary has complained in recent years about severe under funding, leading to a recent decision by Chief Richard Deering that the force would no longer respond to alarm calls without a key holder present. Buckle has said the biggest issue facing the Constabulary is a lack of staff.


term in power. Because of that fact, voters are also culpable. Politicians are myopic not because they are stupid (give them the benefit of the doubt), but because their future runs in fouror five-year terms. TOO STUNNED? Any of the bum deals this province signed were all signed with Newfoundland politicians and bureaucrats sitting on the other side of the table. To blame everything on the feds is to admit to the rest of the country that this place and its people are, or were, too stunned to negotiate a deal in its best interest and that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the sheep of Confederation — on their backs, legs up in the air, ready for shearing. The first step in correcting the inequities of Confederation is for both sides to accept responsibility, whatever portion that may be, just

like the alcoholic that can’t begin recovery until admitting to being an alcoholic. Rehashing the ills of the past is a waste of time and energy. Dwelling in the past never moves anything forward and only allows the future to pass by in a cloud of dust. The fight to get a better deal with the feds must continue, all provinces must fight tooth and nail, but trying to place blame only fogs over efforts to find equitable solutions. It was the politicians of this place who got drunk on hollow promises of the brighter future that Confederation would bring, passed out on their backs and choked on their own vomit. If there is a crime here, it’s that the rest of us are still choking. Jeff Ducharme is The Independent’s senior writer.

The Independent, October 24, 2004


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Dead air

Province owed retroactive money for use of its airspace, researcher says By Alisha Morrissey The Independent


he federal government made $4 billion off the airspace above Newfoundland and Labrador between 1949 and 1996, a report has found. David Fox, a retired FINDING THE engineer and former manager and CEO of St. Cost benefit analysis John’s Port Authority, of Confederation calculated the numbers in 2002 after realizing a “mistake” had been made in the Terms of Union by not including airspace. There’s an estimated 506,000 kilometres of airspace above the province, with dozens of flights flying through it every day. Those planes pay a price for every km of Canadian airspace they fly through. Fox arrived at his $4-billion figure by calculating the number of flights, distance and price per km. “Now that cubic content of air, in my thinking, was never passed over to Canada by Newfoundland,” Fox tells The Independent. “The fact that something is not spelled out (in the Terms of Union) doesn’t mean that it’s not really there,” he says. “Nor did Newfoundland pass over to Ottawa, in 1949 and after, anything in public works dealing with airspace … so the province can still literally dictate what they want to do with people passing though their airspace. If they want to let them go through for free, be my guest.” Fox says he and every other resident of the province could expect a royalty from every plane that has flown over the province’s airspace since Confederation. “If they want to charge you going through, it’s just like taking minerals out of the ground — we want a royalty … we’ll


Air Canada departures area in St. John’s International Airport.

take half of that please.” Between 1949 and 1996, the federal Transport Department raked in $4.371 billion in fees under the Air Transportation Tax, according to Fox’s estimates. In 1997, NAV Canada — a non-profit corporation — took over the service. While the company doesn’t make a profit, it does put away surpluses every year, a “rainy-day fund” to cover possible deficits. Between 1997 and 2002, NAV Canada has collected revenues in the area of $1.56 billion from Newfoundland and Labrador’s

airspace, Fox calculates. Transportation Minister Tom Rideout says he’s never put much thought into billing for use of the province’s airspace. “I mean airspace jurisdiction has always been part of the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada … it’s something that I really haven’t given any thought to and perhaps we should. We shall in the future, but up to this point in time it’s been a nonissue.” Fox says not only was the airspace misused when the federal government was

Paul Daly/The Independent

charging airlines and passengers to fly though the province’s airspace, but the airspace was handed off to NAV Canada without consultation. “I’m saying, look province, go back and get retroactive monies from the federal government for sins committed by both parties, for not transferring those properties over to Canada in 1949 and if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, then start charging as of 1996 when NAV Canada, a private corporation instituted by the federal government, took over navigations.”

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The Independent, October 24, 2004

‘An investment for Canada’

But after 55 years of Confederation, Trans-Labrador highway still years away Happy Valley-Goose Bay By Bert Pomeroy The Independent


ank Shouse remembers the night when Joey Smallwood came to town and proclaimed that “not one cent of NewfoundFINDING THE land money” would be spent building a road Cost benefit analysis of Confederation across Labrador to Quebec. “I was among a group of people who were trying to push development in Labrador at the time, and he said he wouldn’t touch us with a 10-foot pole,” says Shouse, a former mayor of Happy ValleyGoose Bay. Smallwood was partially right. The Trans-Labrador Highway, the only major road in Labrador, has been built primarily with federal funding. And, it likely won’t be completed to national standards without Ottawa’s continued involvement. “The feds have got to continue to be involved,” says Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey, who served as Labrador’s MP for 23 years before being appointed to the Senate in 1995. “I’ve always bought the argument that the feds should continue to provide funding for the highway … as a regional development project.” Rompkey was the province’s representative in the federal cabinet in 1982 when funding was first set aside to build the highway across Labrador. “There were a lot of unbelievers,” he tells The Independent. “Some said we would never get a road across Labrador — that it was a road going nowhere.” Nevertheless, Rompkey says he


Paul Daly/The Independent

Trans-Labrador Highway

ignored the critics and, on a cold spring day, he and then-provincial Transportation minister Ron Dawe cut a log to officially start the first phase of the project between Wabush and Churchill Falls. “We couldn’t turn a sod because the ground was still frozen, so we had to cut a log with a chainsaw. Ron Dawe cut 20 per cent through and I cut the rest, since it was an 80-20 funding arrangement.” For Shouse, the log-cutting ceremony brought to life a dream that started five years earlier when he made a presentation to Dawe on behalf of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce. The presentation outlined that Labrador was “caught between a rock (Newfoundland) and a hard place (Quebec),” and outlined a vision to complete a highway network throughout Labrador by the year 2002. The first phase of the project,

running from Happy ValleyGoose Bay to Labrador West, was partially completed in 1987. (The road actually ran to Esker, a railway station 150 kilometres north of Labrador City). A direct link would not be completed, however, until 1992 with the completion of the Ossakmanuan Narrows bridge and causeway — about 100 km west of Churchill Falls. In 1997, the provincial and federal governments signed the Labrador Transportation Initiative, which paved the way for the upgrading of the highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West, as well as construction of Phase II from Red Bay to Cartwright. The initiative resulted in the transfer of $340 million and two marine vessels, namely the Sir Robert Bond and the MV Northern Ranger, to the province from Ottawa. The province was now responsible for

maintaining marine services throughout Labrador. Although it was “20 years late,” Shouse calls the 1997 deal “historic” in that it essentially brought Labrador one-step closer to becoming connected to the rest of North America. And the completion of Phase III of the project, from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Cartwright Junction, will open up more opportunities, he adds. “The road (from Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) made a huge difference,” he says. “We’ve seen a major increase in tractor-trailer traffic and a drop in the cost of living. Before the road you couldn’t get fresh vegetables here during the winter — now you can get them all the time. But we’ve got to get Phase III completed, so that there’s a 12-month transportation link.” Rompkey agrees. “The cost of living in Goose

Bay went down about 20 to 30 per cent when the connection was made,” he says. “It has also had a social impact in that people could leave and drive to the rest of North America. “While the highway has benefited Labrador, it has been of equal benefit to the rest of Canada,” says Rompkey. “That’s why it’s important the feds continue to play a role. If you give people the tools to do a job, then it pays off. The Trans-Labrador Highway is a tool — an investment for Canada.” Transportation Minister Tom Rideout says the province is committed to seeing the highway completed. He admits, however, that it may not be easy without Ottawa’s participation. “I’m hoping that we’re all going to be hauling on the one ore from a political perspective,” Rideout says, noting that he hopes changes can be made to the federal infrastructure program to allow the province to commit more money to the Trans-Labrador Highway. “The problem is that the rules under the infrastructure program will only allow us to spend on national highways, and the TransLabrador Highway is not a national highway,” he says. “We’re trying to impress the need to change the rules, (but) we’re not having much success.” Phase III of the highway, which includes spanning the Churchill River near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, could take as much as seven years to complete. All that will be left then, Shouse says, is a connection to the north coast. “Just imagine if (the governments) had taken the highway seriously in 1977, and we now had a road to Nain,” he says. “Think about what that would mean to Voisey’s Bay ...”

Terms of transportation By Ryan Cleary The Independent


lanes, trains and boats — they’re all covered in Newfoundland’s Terms of Union with Canada. While the federal government may have a constitutional obligation to provide a transportation network, much of it has been passed over to the province to look after. And, unlike the dismantling of the province’s denominational education system — which required an amendment to the constitution — the handing over of transportation responsibilities did not require tinkering with the Terms of Union. When Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949, the federal government agreed to take over responsibility for the railway, coastal boat service, civil aviation (Gander airport is named specifically), lighthouses and navigation systems, marine hospitals (including the care of “shipwrecked crews”), and a ferry link across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In regards to the coastal boat service, responsibility for the Labrador ferry service was handed over to the province in 1997 for a lump sum payment of $340 million. The south coast ferry service was taken over by the province in 1995 for $55 million. At the time, critics accused the provincial government of balancing its books on one-time payments, with no regard

for the future cost of running the ferry operations. A ferry link across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is also guaranteed in the Terms, remains the responsibility of the feds. For years, travellers have complained about the cost of sailing on the ferry, but the Terms of Union do not cap user fees. Responsibility for the Gander airport was handed over by the feds to the local airport authority several years ago. The old Newfound-

land Hotel also fell under the wing of the federal government under the Terms of Union, but it was sold years ago. The railway was dismantled following 1988’s $800million roads for rails agreement. The federal government continues to pay for the operation and maintenance of lighthouses in the province but many of them have been either decommissioned or automated. Stephen May, a St. John’s lawyer, prepared a paper on the

Terms of Union for the recent royal commission that examined the province’s place in Canada. In his paper, May found that many of the services guaranteed in the Terms have been discontinued, reduced or transferred back to the province. “The existence of such agreements and the reduction of services, such as lighthouses … suggest that, while specifically mentioned in the Terms of Union, the Government of Canada is not oper-

ating under any constitutional obligation to maintain the services,” May wrote. “The Supreme Court of Canada’s 1994 decision regarding the Government of Canada’s right to abandon the uneconomical rail lines in British Columbia supports the conclusion that, depending on wording chosen, provincial Terms of Union cannot guarantee continued federal operation of such services or federal financial support for their provision.”

The Independent, October 24, 2004


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Paul Daly/The Independent

Sir Robert Bond ferry at port in Cartwright southeast Labrador.

Bobbing along Coastal boat service off island’s south coast and Labrador have storied past, troubled future By Jeff Ducharme The Independent


oastal boats have long been the lifeblood of outport Newfoundland and Labrador. CN, FINDING THE followed by Marine Atlantic, benefit analysis ran the boats for Cost of Confederation almost 50 years until the federal government handed the service over to the province in the 1990s. The province took over the south coast service in 1995 and received a lump sum of $55 million, which was put in the general revenue fund. Two years later, the provincial government received $340 million to take over the Labrador coastal boat service, and, with it, the keys to the Robert Bond and Northern Ranger. The $340 million was put in a trust account. It costs the province an estimated $40 million a year to operate both services.


Doug Oldford, now with Memorial University, negotiated part of the coastal-boat deal on behalf of Transport Canada. He says the payment for the south coast service ($55 million) didn’t end up in the right bank account. “We thought, in transportation terms, that the funds that the province received from those arrangements would be directly devoted to transportation matters and to my knowledge, that didn’t actually take place,” Oldford tells The Independent. “Frankly, it just went into general provincial revenue and was used to pay off the provincial deficit.” Former Liberal Transportation minister Rick Woodford says the province learned from that mistake and put the $340 million for the Labrador service into a trust fund. “I don’t know, hindsight is 20-20 vision,” says Woodford, who was minister in 1999. “I mean I’m sure that even in the departments I

served in over the years, if I went back now, there’s certain things that I’d do different just by having time on my side and the experience of going through it.”

“But I think what’s wrong with the way it was set up is that, nobody had a crystal ball, but we’re forever going to be operating a coastal service to northern Labrador and that’s going to cost a significant pot of money forever.” — Transportation Minister Tom Rideout Since 1988, the province has made $64 million in interest from the Labrador Transportation Initiative trust fund that was created

using the $340 million from Ottawa. The fund was established to finance the Trans-Labrador Highway. As of 2003, the province had funded a total of $308 million in projects from the fund, leaving approximately $100 million in the pot. Transportation Minister Tom Rideout expects the fund to be exhausted within the next three years, long before the TransLabrador Highway is completed. He says the decision by then-premier Brian Tobin’s Liberal government to use the money to improve the road network in Labrador can’t be argued. “But I think what’s wrong with the way it was set up is that, nobody had a crystal ball, but we’re forever going to be operating a coastal service to northern Labrador and that’s going to cost a significant pot of money forever,” says Rideout. “… I can’t see for the life of me why the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t

recognize that and have that covered off in any agreement they signed with the government of Canada.” Once the fund runs dry, Rideout says the Labrador boats will become a burden on the province’s general revenue fund. The Newfoundland government began coastal service in the late 1800s, but fishing schooners provided an unofficial service long before steamers entered the picture. In 1898, government awarded a 50-year contract to the Reid Newfoundland Company and the storied alphabet fleet was born. St. Anthony Mayor Ernest Simms says Ottawa divesting itself of such things as the coastal boats, along with general provincial government cutbacks, puts more strain on the outports and the people trying to survive there. “There’s no feeling of home when you don’t know where home is going to be within the next five years,” says Simms.

Marine Atlantic makes healthy return for Ottawa By Jeff Ducharme The Independent


arine Atlantic returns more than 60 per cent of the subsidy it receives from Ottawa back to the federal government in the form of user fees. In 2002, the Crown corporation operated at a 61 per cent cost recovery rate, a figure that peaked in 1999 at 75 per cent. The yearly operating grant from the federal government currently stands at about $40 million.

$730M IN USER FEES Since 1984, Marine Atlantic has collected $730 million in user fees. That figure includes the coastal boat service, which the province took over from the federal government in the 1990s. All Crown corporations have been directed by Ottawa to increase cost recovery rates with a target of at least 75 per cent. A 1999 government study on the Gulf of St. Lawrence ferry service — On Deck and Below — harshly criticized the Crown corporation and the federal government for providing a sub-standard service. The gulf ferry is guaran-

teed under he Terms of Union and considered part of national highway system. “Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are passionate and clear in their views regarding the Gulf ferry service,” reads the report. “They do not believe the current level of service meets the constitutional obligation and they are seeking broad changes.” The purchase of a new gulf ferry, the MV Erickson, has lessened the strain of the MV Caribou and the Joseph and Clara Smallwood — quieting some of the service’s detractors. According to Marine Atlantic, once the Erickson and other recent expenses are paid off, the Crown corporation should hover around the 70 per cent cost recovery mark or higher. In 1990, cost recovery was only 37 per cent, but Marine Atlantic officials say the company was a very different one that operated a far more diverse service, with coastal boats and ferry services in Yarmouth and PEI. The feds have 47 Crown corporations still under its wing and some are fully funded while others recover as mush as 100 per cent.

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The Independent, October 24, 2004

Reading, writing and room (in the classroom)


hen I was in primary school, the teacher-student ratios were well outside what would be considered acceptable today, and it’s easy to understand why. There were just so many of us. We were the tail end of the baby boom, and we came from big old Catholic families anyway. Not me in particular, but most folks in my neck of the woods hailed from broods of anywhere from 10 to 16 kids. Our Grade 4 teacher had more than 40 of us to contend with. Poor Mrs. Power must have been overwhelmed. No parent would put up with it these days. And no school board would try to get away with it. But ask some parents in Stephenville, and they’ll tell you that a ratio of 1:30 isn’t much better than 1:40. It’s still inadequate, especially when you’re talking about primary school children. About 60 parents have signed a petition asking the local school board to reverse its decision to assign one less teacher to Grade 1 at Stephenville primary this year. As a result of the board’s decision,

West Words FRANK CARROLL some children must compete with 29 other kids for their teacher’s attention. This year, the school board introduced to Stephenville primary what it calls an enriched program, which provides core French to all students and improves upon the school’s computer technology program. FEWER TEACHERS To pay for the enriched program, the school board reduced the number of Grade 1 teachers. As a result, there are three English-language Grade 1 classes with 29 to 30 students and a French Immersion Grade 1 class with 28 students. Now, I don’t know much about teaching six-year-olds, but I do know how difficult it is to teach a class of young adults once the numbers go past 22.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to teach a class of 30 sixand seven-year-olds. It must be a struggle just to control them, let alone educate them. I’m all for teaching kids French, but let’s face it: how much core French does a child really retain? Most people of my generation remember the answer to the question, “Tu connais Marcel Martin?” And that’s about it. Oui, nous sommes de bons copains. (I’m not even sure if I conjugated the answer properly.) I’m all for teaching kids about computers too, but let’s face something else: most children know more about computers than their teachers. We should be paying kids to teach the teachers. Ideally, there should be enough money to teach core French and computer skills while maintaining a manageable teacher-student ratio. If there isn’t enough money, then smaller classes devoted to the basics should win out over core French and computers. We have an education system that produces graduates who don’t know the rules of their own lan-

guage. They do know how to textmessage but can’t spell what they’re text-messaging. If we’re going to fix this situation, we have to start at the lower grades. Kids at that level need individual attention, and it’s difficult to get it in a class of 30.

I’m all for teaching kids about computers too, but let’s face something else: most children know more about computers than their teachers. We should be paying kids to teach the teachers.

To its credit, Stephenville primary does offer a reading recovery program for students who have problems with reading. But there might be fewer problems if the students were getting more individual attention.

Smaller class sizes won’t solve all the education system’s problems, but they sure wouldn’t hurt. The bottom line here is that the school board decided to divert existing resources away from basic English-language Grade 1 education. If that decision were reversed, the three remaining English-language classes would have a teacher-student ratio of about 1:22. There are many parents in this town who could live with that figure. It’s easy for me to be an armchair quarterback. I’m not involved in the day-to-day grind of running primary school programs. I don’t even have a child in primary school. But I know enough to know that the education system doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes parents know what’s best for their children. This is one of those times. Frank Carroll is a journalism instructor at the Stephenvillecampus of the College of the North Atlantic.

The Shipping News Keeping an eye on the comings and goings of the ships in St. John’s harbour. Information provided by the coast guard traffic centre. MONDAY, OCT. 18 Vessels arrived: Cabot, Canada, from Montreal; Atlantic Kingfish-

er, Canada, from Terra Nova. Vessels departed: Cabot, Canada, to Montreal.

Canada, to Terra Nova; Maersk, Canada, to Hibernia; Emerald Star, Canada, to Goose Bay.

Challenger, Canada, to Grand Banks; Atlantic Kingfisher, Canada, to Grand Banks.

TUESDAY, OCT. 19 Vessels arrived: Emerald Star, Canada, from Saint John; ASL Sanderling, Canada, from Halifax. Vessels departed: Atlantic Eagle,

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 20 Vessels arrived: Maersk Chignecto, Canada, from Terra Nova FPSO. Vessels departed: ASL Sanderling, Canada, to Corner Brook; Maersk

THURSDAY, OCT. 21 Vessels arrived: Cicero, Canada, from Montreal; Atlantic Eagle, Canada, from Terra Nova FPSO. Vessels departed: none

Cadillac or Volkswagen What kind of Gulf ferry service should this province really expect? By Alisha Morrissey The Independent


arine Atlantic has always received larger subsidies from the federal government than other Canadian ferry services. Then again, the Gulf service is the island’s main link to the rest of the country, guaranteed in the Terms of Union. Roger Flood, CEO of the federal Crown corporation, says the subsidy for 2004 will cost the feds approximately $40 million. “Is it enough? At the end of the day it is enough for us to provide the service that is required,” he tells The Independent. “If you had twice as much money you could buy a Cadillac instead of a Volkswagen.” Ontario’s ferry services are not subsidized by the federal government. That province also doesn’t charge fares on ferries that it operates. In British Columbia, the ferry systems are indexed to the standard of living. Ottawa hands over a subsidy to the West Coast ferry system the same way it does to the East Coast. This year the feds will fork over $24.5 million for the B.C. ferry system, on top of a provincial subsidy of $105 million. The Newfoundland and Labrador government does not contribute to the running of the Gulf ferry service.

The inter-provincial ferry from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia receives a subsidy of almost $6 million a year from Ottawa (On top of the $1 billion Confederation Bridge that opened in 1997) and the ferry from PEI to Quebec receives a subsidy of more than $3 million a year.

“If you had twice as much money you could buy a Cadillac instead of a Volkswagen.” — Roger Flood “We are probably getting, percentage wise, as much or more than any of them (provinces with federal subsidies),” says Flood. He says Marine Atlantic fares aren’t currently indexed to the cost of living, but they may be in future. “We have chosen not to fight for that particular issue because sometimes we’re able to secure no increase at all — in the future, that may very well be the route to go,” he says. One benefit to an indexing program, Flood says, would be that customers would know well in advance what increases would be coming up. “Some cost recovery is still acknowledged by everybody because at the minimal stage peo-

ple say ‘it shouldn’t cost anymore than if I was driving a car’ … then comes the level of cost recovery: should it be only to cover gas or should it be the cost of the upkeep of the Trans-Canada Highway.” Transportation Minister Tom Rideout says he’d like to see ferry rates in this province lowered. “Well we’re always pushing for the federal government to keep the cost recovery ratio as low as possible. Our preferred position would be … cost recovery equivalent to highway costs. That’s always been the position of the province,” he says. Between 1984 and 2003, Marine Atlantic received more than $1.2 billion in subsidies from the federal government. An estimated $730 million has been collected in user fees over that same time period. Marine Atlantic, which took over operations from CN in 1987, could not provide the total dollar figures Ottawa has spent on the Gulf service for the 55 years since Confederation. In the end, Flood says Marine Atlantic subsidies stretch farther than in other provinces. “On a dollar-for-dollar basis it certainly would go further — it’d be like that Atlantic Lotto one: you’re in Atlantic Canada now and you take out this long list, it would last a while … if we were given $10 or B.C. was given $10 or some service in Ontario was given $10 we would get further than they would on $10.”

FRIDAY, OCT. 22 Vessels arrived: Maersk Placentia, Canada, from Hibernia; Maersk Chancellor, Canada, from White Rose. Vessels departed: Cicero, Canada, to Montreal; Maersk Chignecto, Canada, to White Rose.

October 24, 2004


Page 11

‘That’s Newfoundland to me’ quick squirts of Florient air deodorant then bashfully hiding the can under his jacket. He was like the fly spitting in the ocean.

From page 1 and “wisecracks about the Newfie Bullet are no longer warranted.” On the other FINDING THE hand, railway union leader Cost benefit analysis of Confederation Esau Thoms says CN has become sloppy about its passenger service. More people would go “the way of the worry-free” if the cars and service were spruced up. Whatever the cause, CN’s train passenger service is going down grade with the throttle open. For the first six months of this year CN carried 43,585 people. In 1965, for the same period, they had 83,744. Gordon D. McMillan, CN’s area manager, said recently: “The public is abandoning the rail passenger service — not us.” Perhaps the public shouldn’t be faulted too much on this account.


AWAY WE GO ON THE BULLET So away we go. If forced, or for some weird reason you want to travel across the island by train, you must present yourself at the old stone terminal Water Street West not later than 11:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays. The first thing that may strike you (apart from porters burdened down with baggage) is that the inside of the station has been redone in CN modern. Light panelling, fluorescent lights, new drink machines, pay lockers for parcels and electric blue jackets for the lads behind the counters. Once outside on the train platform, however, you will soon find that the railway is still attached to its traditional colors — Nazi green and chopped liver. And there, panting to be off, stands your conveyance. Identical in size to those chugging through the Honduras jungle, it consists of a 1,200 hp narrow-gauge diesel towing a couple of mail cars, four “day coaches,” a diner and five “sleepers.” At the outset, let me admit, that I cheated. I had a sleeper … $23, meals included. I chickened out of the supreme test — jogging across the island in a “day coach.” People do. Those who can’t afford a sleeper or who are travelling by train for the first time and aren’t aware of the terrors involved. A stroll through a “day coach” at 2 a.m. is an unforgettable sight. The Black Death has struck. Twisted bodies sprawled in fantastic shapes. Mouths agape. Hideous snores and groans. Bottles rolling from side to side as on a derelict vessel. Frightened children crying. Limp arms and

legs flopping in the aisles as the train jiggles and jolts through the night. A degrading experience for those forced to travel on Newfoundland’s second-class transportation system designed for second-class citizens. There are two things which prove impossible in a CN day coach — sleeping and raising a window. Only twice in my life have I succeeded in wrenching open a CN window and in one of these cases it later crunched down on my elbow. Sleeping more than 10 minutes at a stretch in a day coach is equivalent of swimming Cabot Strait in a suit of armour. The seats are so cunningly designed that writhe and twist as you will, some part of your frame will come in contact with bare metal or wood or glass. The Bullet averages at least one “killer lurch” every 10 minutes. You either stay alert or risk getting your face smashed against the window sill. Could the solution be a sleeper?

Since the westbound leaves near midnight, CN beds you down as soon as you step aboard. Sleepers and day coaches alike, however, have the same type of ventilation system. Sleeper windows will rise a few inches — to reveal another sooty pane containing a small strip of dirtclogged screen.

Then at 2:30 a.m., “up she goes” again. This time the Scotsman far surpasses his previous efforts. The lights are turned on. The porter is summoned. The fragrant air turns blue. There are threats and curses and angry words which take at least 20 minutes to subside. More air could pass through a mosquito’s nostril. No. The CN method is to pump all cars full of fumes, smoke and grime in down-

town St. John’s and hermetically seal them. The characteristic smell on the CN is of coal smoke and stale urine. The coal smoke is, as has been explained, pumped aboard and locked in at St. John’s. The latter fragrance is emitted mainly by the washrooms. So incredible was the stench in the Bishop’s Falls (sleepers are named after prominent stops along the railway) water closet I was led to investigate others. They were all alike. The men’s, anyway. Situated over the pertinent fixture in the men’s convenience is a card quoting the Canada Criminal Code on spitting and gambling in public places. I would lay a two-to-one bet that no one can take deep breaths in a CN train washroom and still remain standing. You take a deep breath outside, hold it as long as possible, and when that gives out, risk pinching little breaths and shallow gasps. From time to time a porter circulated through Bishop’s Falls sleeping car dispensing a few


ALL FOR THE SAKE OF BEER And so to bed. All is quiet in Bishop’s Falls sleeper, the tranquility broken only be the rhythm of the wheels — whackety wack, whackety whack, smash, bang, lurch — and the rending screech of rusty metal rubbing together where the cars are coupled. Soon the air is rent by an internal commotion which revolved around a flurry of enthusiastic oaths delivered with a Scottish accent. Heads pop out, top and bottom, from behind the chopped liver curtains. The grand old Scottish curses are redoubled. Eventually the racket dies down, mystified faces withdraw behind the curtained walls. Peace reigns once more. Whackety wack, whackety whack, smash, bang, lurch. Then at 2:30 a.m., “up she goes” again. This time the Scotsman far surpasses his previous efforts. The lights are turned on. The porter is summoned. The fragrant air turns blue. There are threats and curses and angry words which take at least 20 minutes to subside. Only next morning are the details revealed. In every CN car there is at least one drunk. Those who would deplore this custom have obviously never travelled across the island by train cold sober. Just as the invention of ether relieved untold suffering in the operating room so does alcohol have its place on the CN. Our drunk had taken a case of beer into his top bunk and supped away as the Bullet jogged merrily through the night. In the berth below lay one half of a Scottish couple, now resident in Toronto, and returning from a holiday in quaint, hospitable Newfoundland. The first row started when the chap in the upper dozed off and spilled a bottle of beer on the tourist in the lower. The second fracas, half hour later, occurred when the jolly traveller in No. 3 upper became nauseous, leaned out, and spewed all over the occupant of No.3 lower. In came the porter, wrested the remainder of the beer away from the bad boy and threatened to heave him off. At which he began to snore. He slept peacefully until dawn. “Oh, it’s not been a bad holiday,” observed the Scottish tourist next day. “Just before leaving we Continued on page 12

Page 12

From page 11 went to a rrrestaurant forr a bite and a fight starrted. They locked the dooors and there we where in the midst.” “Aparrut from that and you bloddy idjot lost night we had a verra nice time. Aye, we plon tae ccom back next sooomer. We lairned this time how tae save a few dollarrs along the way.” For all that, his wife looked a bit washy and made frequent trips to the brake for the only fresh air available. “Odd,” said he. “ She ganerruly hos a cast irron stoomik when travelling. Moost ha been thot bit of business lost night.” Later, as we neared Port aux Basque, boozy Bill, still three parts, began pestering the porter for the return of his beer. Denied, he commenced tongue-banging and insulting the Scottish couple. “Let’s gang up and heave the bastard through the porthole,” suggested a Bell Islander, fed up by now with this treatment of visitors to our shores. At that the culprit scuttled off and was not seen again in Bishop’s Falls sleeper for the duration. It all helps pass the time. So do meals. ACTION GALORE IN THE DINER There always seems to be a preponderance of elderly ladies in the dining car. They do a lot of sighing that the food and service is not what it used to be. But the diner still seems to bring out the grande dame in them. Paper serviettes have replaced the white linen cloths, the silverware is getting a bit shabby, you still write out your own cheque (with a rather brusque reminder from the waiters not to put in the price) and after the grub is stowed away, an offer “would modom care for after dinner mints?”


Most of the items in the menu now cost $1.90 with soup, tea and dessert extra. For this price I had five sausages of four and one-half inches in length, a scoop of mashed potato and 23 pieces of green bean. Then 40 cents for a heaping tablespoon of rice pudding and 15 cents for a cup of tea. If CN takes its air on at St. John’s, it must get its supply of water from Port aux Basques. Our western gateway has the dirtiest looking drinking water I’ve ever seen. Hotel guests there sometimes complain that the toilet wasn’t flushed after the last room occupant left. It was. Fill a bathtub and you can’t see the plug at the bottom. In a glass it looks only a shade lighter than Guinness Stout. If the railway insists on serving Port aux Basque water it might consider placing a small card with each carafe: “For our patrons we have provided the celebrated Eau de Port aux Basque certified by Dr. Schlezwig-Holstein of Heidelberg to be beneficial in the case of liver, kidney, stomach, and lung ailments.” And charge extra for it. That’s what the Europeans do with their dirty water. There’s action galore in the diner. As the train jogs along the dishes tend to wander around the table and with each jolt head for the edge. I got a shot of hot tea up the nose just east on Millertown Junction while at the same time a man across the way poured Eau de Port aux Basque into the lap of a woman sitting opposite him. Our menu covers depict scenes on mainland trains. Bright upholstery, woodgrain panelling, large windows, wide cars. They might as well sling a lead life ring to a drowning man as circulate that on Newfoundland trains. We’re second class, remember. Back in the coach you get tired of watching the scenery joggle

past. It is impossible even to read. After a few minutes one eyeball starts rolling independently of the other. ALWAYS SOMEONE TO TALK TO But one good thing about Newfoundland trains is that you need never be stuck for someone to talk to. Black strangers come in and sit down and within five minutes have launched into the story of their lives from the cradle to the present — whether you want to hear it or not. Plus what you can gather by eavesdropping. I soon learned that in Bishop’s Falls car there were the Scottish couple and two other mainland tourists, two sick people coming from St. John’s hospitals, three welfare cases, two relatives of railway workers travelling on passes and six youths and two girls going to the mainland for work.

There always seems to be a preponderance of elderly ladies in the dining car. They do a lot of sighing that the food and service is not what it used to be.

Sitting opposite me were an extremely distraught looking pair, mother and daughter. “Oh my God, my God, my God,” the younger one would sigh profoundly. The mother, leafing through a “True Story” journal, also gave signs of distress. It was soon disclosed that they were “On welfare,” that the younger had spent time in the orthopedic hospital, was now discharged and her mother had journeyed in to take her back home. During her stay, the daughter had cultivated a boyfriend in the

The Independent, October 24, 2004

great city. I presumed her disconsolation was due to the parting. There was talk of marriage at Christmas. “I was talkin’ to ’en the other night, “said the mother. “’E got Grade 11, ’aven’t ’e? ’E can get a job on that. What do ’e want to go back to school for? Said ’e was afraid ’e wouldn’t pass. Said ’e had a lot of worry.” “’E got a lot of worry!” snorted her offspring. “What the ’ell do ’e think I got! My God, my God, my God. My dear, you’ll never see me going to the h’alter by Christmas.” They had a small “picture in a minute” camera with which they would photograph each other from time to time. This diversion seemed to raise them out of the dumps a little. Then they settled back to make rather cold-blooded plans aimed at ensuring the proposed Yuletide nuptials would come off. “As soon as we get back you’ll write ’en a letter. Next week we’ll send ’en a parcel with a cake into it.” The daughter had a four-pound bag of toffees, which she generously passed round in the general area. After the fourth candy I declined and, by the way of a pleasantry, said “I must watch my figure.” At this, my younger neighbour launched suddenly into a flurry of wails, groans and sobs. I was dumbfounded at this outburst. “Save your tears, my dear,” said her mother over the top of “True Story”, “h’or you won’t ’ave none left for later.” Upon closer scrutiny I discovered that the young one was definitely in what used to be called an “interesting condition.” They gradually calmed down and took a few more pictures, which seemed to do them a world of good. My faux pas was apparently forgiven. We finished the toffee. As they detrained at their desti-

nation I wished them good luck. “Same to you, sir. Sniff. Sniff,” said the daughter. “Come on. Urry up. My God. I’ll never h’undertake another trip like this. Com on. Knock off sniffin’. I ’lows if your father ’aven’t got nothin’ left from supper. I’ll knock his ’ed off.” BOUND FOR TORONTO Conversation drifted back through the rattles and squeaks from other parts of the car. Two girls who had lately worked in a St. John’s tavern were on their way to Toronto seeking employment. They were got up in what they figured was the height of Toronto style. One of the tourists, a woman who hailed from Toronto, was telling them about the wonders they must see in the big city. One of the young emigrants sat there bug-eyed while the other giggled nervously. Toronto Tourist was obviously enjoying their reaction. “What? You’ve never ridden the subway? ‘Oh you’ll LIEE-k it.’ They go like CRAAAY-zy” Bug eyes Giggles. Then in came a young man also bound for employment in Toronto. But he has been there before and in consequence assumed no slight swagger. The two innocents abroad then heard another account of the golden metropolis and the Toronto Tourist had a little of the wind taken out of her sails. He promised to look out for them on the journey alone. Bug eyes relaxed a bit and Giggles wasn’t quite so nervous. The trip to Port aux Basque took about 20 hours. We left St. John’s near midnight and jolted into the western terminal about 7:30 a.m. the next day. In 1898, it took 27 hours and 45 minutes. As we staggered off the Bullet a friend of theirs, who had driven across in a car, greeted the Scottish couple brightly.

The Independent, October 24, 2004

“Well, here at last. We slept at home in bed and still got here before you.” That was the kind of remark we could all do without. Those who took the train because they didn’t know better didn’t need to have it rubbed in. Those who couldn’t afford to come any other way didn’t need to be reminded further that they were second-class citizens. THE LONG TRIP BACK The return trip began at 10 a.m. next day. More whackety whack, whackety whack, smash, bang, lurch and the screech of rusted metal. And the porter with his ineffective little squirts of Florient. And the joggling limbs and rolling bottles and frightened children crying in the day coaches. It will take a day and a night to reach St. John’s. Away from dreary, rocky Port aux Basques, past the wide beaches and surf and rolling sand dunes of Cape Ray, up through the portals of the Long Range Mountains into Codroy Valley. Who’s aboard this trip? A small crowd. Two elderly and former Newfoundlanders returning for a visit. A lively and silver haired woman who soon reveals that her father was a Spanish captain. Six lads returning to the island from Toronto “for the winter” — unable to kick the inherited habit of summer work and winter rest begun centuries ago in the fishing boats. A young mainlander who said he was a freelance photographer with a sudden impulse to come to Newfoundland and stay for a year. Two sick people on welfare going to the hospital. Five people travelling on a railway pass. Seven girls going back to school. One women, who was deaf and kept telling everyone how, because of her affliction, she missed her train in Montreal and


had to wait two days for another. But there is a mix-up in tickets and most of the interesting passengers get moved to another car, including the daughter of a Spanish captain and the young freelance photographer. Sitting opposite me is the deaf woman who took off her shoes, rolled down her nylons and put her feet up. She is the loudest chewer of gum I have ever heard. Even above the whackety whack, whackety whack, smash, bang, lurch you can hear her top plate clicking and scrunching. She came from her daughter in Ohio? Poor soul, I thought. She figured her daughter would take her in and keep her. But they couldn’t stand the way she chewed gum. So she was coming back to live out the rest of it alone. Behind me are the elderly and former Newfoundlanders. “Look mother, there they are. See them there. That’s Newfoundland to me,” says the man. Dammed if his voice doesn’t tremble a bit. NOT LIFE ON THE MAINLAND I think he is right. You don’t see them just like that on the mainland, even in Cape Breton. Scrubby, scrawny, pitiful, miserable spruce bushes growing on the cliffs by the sea. Their roots are tangled around the rocks with death grip. You can’t pull them out. They are too tough to be broken off. They are too whippy to be sawed off. If you try to chop them with an ordinary axe, the axe will rebound and maim you. Only a razor edge will do it. More Newfoundland than that boggy, fly-eating weirdo, the pitcher plant. The train tows you past the untidy backsides of a string of small communities and large towns. Past lonely shacks scattered over the barrens with moose

horns over the doors and children with no school out front. It has been a good year for juniper, if nothing else. From one end of the island to the other they are green, fluffy, luxuriant — so vigorous they look like strange new species. Up the Codroy Valley and Humber Valley where you get the feeling you are trespassing on the private domain of the paper companies. Their roads and signs and tractors and men are everywhere. Through Corner Brook and Deer Lake which are Bowater’s and Lundrigan’s. Over the barren Gaff Topsails, which nobody wants excect the people in the shacks with the moose horns. The CN in Newfoundland has not yet got around to installing the glass-roofed scenic dome cars they picture on the diner menus. A film of St. John’s soot and grime dims our windows — and you can’t get them up.

Sure the water looks dirty, but the way the waiters can balance three plates on each arm as the dining car all but turns end over end takes your mind off it.

At Windsor a few more people come into the half-filled car. Among them is a teenager who is going to join the air force. He’ll be in for seven years. No work in the mill, he says. There used to be a few jobs but the new machines finished that off. He hopes to play the trombone in the air force band and will miss home, especially shooting ducks in the fall. All hands are tucked in again before we get to Gander. The deaf woman whose daughter in Ohio wouldn’t keep her, complains bit-

Page 13

terly that the porter has put all the young girls in the lower berths while an old woman like her has to climb to an upper. Whackey whack, whackety whack, smash, bang, lurch. The deaf woman in the top bunk is ringing for the porter. When nobody comes she tries to clamber down by herself, can’t, and crawls back. Next morning, she complains to everyone that she didn’t sleep a wink because the porters were laughing and carrying on “until all hours” with the younger girls in the lower berths. A lie. Through the early morning fog we crawl into St. John’s, along the greasy Waterford River, past the chopped liver freights in the rail yards and the Nazi green day couches waiting on the siding. Out into the familiar St. John’s air, which the CN has provided its passengers in stoppered cars for the whole journey. The victims of the day coaches stumble off, numb, red eyed and bewildered into the arms of the aggressive men calling “taxi, taxi”. Come on with the buses. It won’t be the easiest way in the world to travel but compared with the trains it will be fairly comfortable and mercifully quick. IT’S NOT ALL BAD Some things about trains I’ll be sorry to see go. For one thing the scenery isn’t all barrens and scrubby spruce — and you have lots of time to admire it. At both ends of the railway at Cape Ray and Holyrood there are stretches where the train all but takes to the water, travelling for miles along the beach. Sea- birds and waves create an inspiring panorama. No more impressive entry into the island could be imagined than the gap through Table Mountain into the splendid Codroy Valley. I like the way the railway skirts closely the rivers and lakes —

George’s Lake, the Humber River, Deer Lake, the Exploits. It’s murder on timetables but as a scenic route it can’t be beat. And some second thoughts on shacks. When is a shack not a shack? When it’s a summer shack. Isolation and a certain crumbling at the edges are attractive features in a summer place. In these respects many of the buildings by the railway in remote places far surpass the summer subdivision colonies by the highways with their white paling fences. It would be comforting to think that all the remote shacks along the railway were summer places. But what of the children playing out front in late September? Still, they might commute to a regional school every day by helicopter for all I know. Then there are the railway personnel who still manage to do their job and be courteous about it even under trying circumstances. Sure the water looks dirty, but the way the waiters can balance three plates on each arm as the dining car all but turns end over end takes your mind off it. The elderly ladies miss their table linen but they still feel elegant when the waiter asks “Would Modom care for after dinner mints?” And absolutely the best way to go home for Christmas is by train with the university crowd going cracked, the out of town shoppers burdened down, the holidaying workers opening their bottles a bit early, a guitar in every car and everyone exceedingly warm and merry and the snowy hills rollicking past. The thing I’ll miss most about trains is the way they encourage people to talk. I’ll miss the people who do you the honour of telling you all their troubles and hopes starting within five minutes after they sit down. But these people deserve better than second class.

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The Independent, October 24, 2004

Anita Singh Visual Artist


orn in Guyana, South America to a Russian mother and Indian father, and growing up in Toronto and Montreal, Anita Singh’s colourful diversity comes through in her work. She says she doesn’t know if her heritage originally inspired her art, but she’s now inspired by her home of choice, Newfoundland. “I came in ’99 first, looking to relocate,” says Singh. “I was living in Victoria and I did a cross-Canada trip and Newfoundland was it. It’s pretty magical, pretty special. I have a number of friends here that I knew before coming as well, so that felt comfortable.” Singh says she loves the creativity of the “like-minded” arts community in St. John’s, where she lives with her partner, fellow artist Will Gill. She works in the city as a freelance graphic designer, papermaker, book artist and printer, as well as a teacher through the Anna Templeton Centre and St. Michael’s Printshop. Printing is currently consuming her time as she prepares for an upcoming solo exhibition at The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art in St. John’s. Singh says most of the pieces are 16 by 20-inch monotype prints — meaning all are unique and individual in the same way a painting or drawing would be, allowing for alterations, distortions, and layering. Inspired by life experience, nature, texture and colour, Singh says she likes to

start off with a basic idea and, through painting and experimentation, discover the progression towards a finished result. “I’m titling (the exhibition) Segments and since I’ve decided on the title that’s the word I’m finding I’m using to describe my work,” she says. The subjects intermingle, ranging from patterns and suggested images to landscapes. Singh says feelings and emotions drive her to create through colour, rather than the importance of a particular picture or scene. She doesn’t attach complicated, ambiguous titles, but uses the simplicity of the obvious. One of Singh’s favourite prints is called Orange Starfish Flower; exactly what it depicts. “It’s hard to talk about your art because you don’t really understand why until many years down the road,” she says. “But this kind of breaking up, cellular segment patchwork, pattern making, has always been there.” Singh’s exhibit opens Nov. 6 and continues through Nov. 27. – Clare-Marie Gosse

Paul Daly/The Independent

The Gallery is a regular feature in The Independent. For further information, or to submit proposals, please call (709) 726-4639, or e-mail

October 24, 2004


Page 15

Jeff Ducharme/The Independent

The Stephenville Airport

Crash course

Some provincial airports flourish; others struggle to find their wings By Jeff Ducharme The Independent


or Frank Lawlor, one of his fondest memories of an airport career that spanned most of his 84 years was a Casablanca–like moment when he saw Marilyn Monroe walking down a road near the Gander airport terminal. “There was a car behind her with the lights on and she had a very flimsy dress on and when it got wet you could see all her shape in the car lights,” Lawlor tells The Independent. He was in the thick of things when Gander saw all transatlantic flights land there to refuel. He was there also to watch the airport become a victim of technology as modern jets with more fuel capacity began to fly right by. “From the late ’50s — we could see Gander going down, not because of anything the feds did — but because of the improvements to aircrafts and the range,” says Lawlor. Gander and St. John’s are both designated National Airport System airports. That means the federal government could step in and take over if the local authorities falter. But it also means that Gander and St. John’s will eventually have to pay rent (figures were unavailable) to the federal government as opposed to airports like Stephenville and Deer Lake, which are owned outright by the local airport authorities. Gander Mayor Claude Elliott admits it’s

been a struggle, but says his town’s airport “Every year they should have been able — which, oddly enough, is guaranteed in to look at it and see how it ran,” says Stein. the Terms of Union — will survive. He “The government just walked away and believes the local airport authority is a pos- that was the mistake, no audit.” itive thing because local people The Stephenville airport has FINDING THE have more of a vested interest. been mired down with labour and “Now you have a group of peocash-flow problems, which has hurt Cost benefit analysis ple that has to make the airport its ability to refuel planes — a of Confederation work … and what airlines you major part of the airport’s business. attract might be more long-term than what Not long after Stephenville reached a it would be even if it was run by the feds,” deal with the federal government, Deer says Elliott. Lake airport, less than two hour’s drive Ottawa began divesting itself of airports away from Stephenville, followed suit. and handing them over With approximately to local authorities in $1 million from Ottawa the late 1990s. Stephenin pocket, Deer Lake 2003 Operating expenses ville was the first to slowly grew its market negotiate a deal and to the point that it’s in • St. John’s — $10.2 million was given a $2.5 milthe black now with a • Gander — Figures unavailable lion, one-time payment rather “modest” surplus. from local authority to take over the airport. “The success or fail• Deer Lake — $1.8 million The former U.S. miliure of these operations • Stephenville — $1.9 million tary base has since will depend on the marstruggled to finds its ket itself and what air• Wabush — Figures unavailable niche as it competes ports do now is basicalfrom Transport Canada with the fourth most ly market driven,” says • St. Anthony — Figures successful passenger Jamie Schwartz, manunavailable from airport in Atlantic Canaager of the Deer Lake Transport Canada da — Deer Lake, which airport. “And if the maris projecting 200,000 ket supports the service passengers by year’s and operation, then end. those airports will conStephenville Mayor tinue to do well.” Cec Stein says the fedDeer Lake and eral government should have spent more Stephenville are on their own and receive time weaning the airport off federal fund- no federal subsidies. All airports are able to ing. access the federal Airport Capital Assis-



tance Program, but it only covers security and safety improvements. Deer Lake has received $2.3 million from the fund for things such as high-density lighting. The Town of St. Anthony is still negotiating with the feds on the future of its airport. Currently, the airport remains under Transport Canada’s control. Wabush is also still haggling with Ottawa over terms for the final handover. “Caring doesn’t seem to be a word anymore, in regards to political terms anyway,” says Ernest Simms, mayor of St. Anthony. Simms says he’s pushing a boulder up a bureaucratic hill in trying to get Ottawa to agree on making St. Anthony a “remote status” airport. The airport is the hub for the province’s air ambulance operations. “If that airport were to go, it would be a devastating blow to the area, not just St. Anthony, but to Labrador as well,” says Simms. “What’s going to be the fabric that makes us a Canadian province? What’s going to be left here?” St. John’s Mayor Andy Wells says it’s the age-old argument of what should be subsidized and what should be paid by users. The St. John’s airport, driven by the oil and gas industry, will surpass the one million-passenger mark this year. “The reality is, I believe, is that these things should be user pay and self-supporting and if you can’t support them …,” says Wells.

Page 16


The Independent, October 24, 2004

Wear and tear

Loss of railway putting pressure on roads; maintenance funding not what it should be Clare-Marie Gosse The Independent


f you ask Liberal MHA Wally Andersen, FINDING THE Opposition Transportation benefit analysis critic, rural Cost of Confederation Newfoundlanders and Labradorians aren’t exactly overjoyed with the condition of their roads, despite the province’s best efforts to upgrade. “I get calls from people saying, ‘This is the worst stretch of road in the province’ and you’ll get a call from someone else saying, ‘This is the worst,’” he tells The Independent. “As the critic, a lot of correspondence comes across my desk


from different municipalities and towns talking about the dangerous conditions of the roads.” Without a rail service, the roads are forced to bear the full weight of provincial traffic, including heavy freight. Added to that is a lack of available upkeep and maintenance funding — an arguable oversight from the 1988 roads for rails agreement. Former provincial Transportation minister Rick Woodford says he’s convinced the shift of freight from rail to roads caused “irreparable damage,” but the current minister, Tom Rideout, says “that’s not the problem. “It’s had an impact on our major roads like the Trans-Canada and so on,” he says, “(But) the problem

with our roads system in this province is preventative maintenance, that’s where we’re trying to focus our efforts in the future.” Although Andersen agrees maintenance is important, he says damage could be monitored more effectively. “Wear and tear on the roads is usually done by the trucks that are carrying heavy loads. They seem to be carrying bigger loads now than they did in the past and certainly that has to add to the demise of the roads.” He says since last fall, some scale depots used for monitoring maximum freight tonnage were closed down in the province, which resulted in increased weight violations.

“It’s obvious we don’t have enough people in this province doing the checking, and that was a concern raised by the people, how many trucks we would have overloading.” He says often after a traffic accident, people complain that the road in that particular area was bumpy. Dave Young, president of Household Movers in St. John’s, says being in the road transportation business in a province without a railway can only be a good thing for his company. Still, he worries about the extensive drain on the public purse. “Obviously the Newfoundland railway was also a drain on the public purse,” he says, “but if it was operated efficiently the

upkeep of the railway would, or should be a private drain, rather than the public supporting it.” Young says he thinks the road system is generally good, although in an ideal world he’d like to see a four-lane highway across the province. Jim Healey, a driver with the courier company Coastal Deliveries, says there are many stretches of road in need of maintenance. Although some are patched up, they’re still not fixed. “They could be better,” he says, “but they’re trying to do as much good as they can with what little money they have, I suppose. There’s not a lot of money there to work on roads you know. Roads are really secondary I suppose.”

Railway: very Canadian way to travel By Stephanie Porter The Independent


isit the Via Rail website and check out the vacation packages, tourist promotions, the descriptions of the services offered across Canada, from “coast to coast.” There’s also the “discover Canada with Via Rail” contest. The journey of discovery, of course, stops short in Nova Scotia. The easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador, isn’t mentioned. Via Rail is a Crown corporation, subsidized by the federal government — to the tune of $263.5 million in 2003. Although it runs trains through only eight of the 10

Canadian provinces (the other exception is PEI), the corporation promotes itself as a safe, efficient, clean — and very Canadian — way to see the country. Operations are improving, financially, at the corporation. Via Rail recovered only 29.7 per cent of its costs in 1986, compared to almost 70 per cent in 2001. The improvement is partly due to cuts to services and destinations. But there is also the extra nudge given by the federal government’s Renaissance for Passenger Rail initiatives — $401.9 million announced in 2002; another $692.5 million in 2003. Having traded constitutionally guaranteed roads for rails in 1988, is this province now missing out on its share of these government

funds? While some might say yes, Brian Peckford, premier at the time the railway hauled up spikes, says it isn’t.

“Newfoundland is not losing transportation dollars because they do not have a railway.” “Newfoundland is not losing transportation dollars because they do not have a railway.” Transportation Minister Tom Rideout doesn’t have a clear answer to the question. He reflects back on the last years of the rails.

“People were by choice not using the railway. Now there may be a lot of reasons for that, maybe Canadian National Railways deliberately let it run down, it was never upgraded to a wide gauge, it was always the narrower gauge railway … “People who were having freight delivered were saying it wasn’t dependable and they couldn’t schedule and plan … my point was that traffic was moving to rubber tire.” Without a standard gauge system, then, there was little impetus to keep the trains going. Upgrading the entire system to a standard gauge was mentioned from time to time: a 1960 article in The Financial Post projected the cost of

switching rails would cost $200 million. In today’s dollars, that’s well over $1 billion — thought to be “prohibitive” for a mode of transportation that people seem to have walked away from. “The price would have been astronomical,” says MP Norm Doyle, who was the province’s minister of Transportation when the railway shut down. “It just wasn’t reasonable.” As a side note, Doyle maintains the roads for rails agreement didn’t affect any other federal roads funding. “There was money for the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway prior to that,” he says. “Roads for rails was on top of whatever that was.”

Feds take more return from East Coast oil and gas than other Canadian industries By Ryan Cleary and Sue Dyer The Independent


he federal government is making a massive return from oil pumped from the Grand Banks, but — considering Ottawa’s substantial front-end investment — some would say Canada is entitled to the gains. At the same time, the federal government also makes huge investments in other industries across Canada — including Bombardier in Quebec and Nortel in Ontario — but doesn’t see near the direct return that it takes from East Coast oil play. In fact, in most cases Ottawa loses money. According to a cost benefit analysis conducted by The Independent, over the next six years the

federal government is expected to reap six times the revenue this province does from the two wells currently producing — Hibernia and Terra Nova. $6.1B EXPECTED Canada is expected to take in $6.1 billion, compared to Newfoundland and Labrador’s $1.1 billion. The federal government’s original investment in the two projects has been pegged at roughly $2.6 billion. The Independent set out to find whether that rate of return is the norm — focusing on two particular industries, communications and aerospace. According to an October, 2002 report in the National Post, almost half of the $21-billion loan portfolio of the federal government’s

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export financing arm — Export Development Canada — was tied up in customers of two companies. Those companies included Nortel Networks Corp. and the aviation arm of Bombardier Inc. Export Development Canada provides loans to foreign buyers of Canadian products. But then Ottawa also gives directly to companies such as Bombardier. Reports indicate that over the past two decades the Quebec-based company has landed an estimated $1.5 billion in grants, loans and/or loan guarantees. The federal government doesn’t see a direct return on its Bombardier investment in the same way as the East Coast offshore oil industry — or other industries for that matter.

In July 2001, the federal government announced a $1.2-billion loan to support Bombardier against Brazil’s unfair subsidies. The federal government’s return isn’t in direct profit, but in industry growth and jobs in Quebec. In July 2001, then-Foreign Affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew said industries that make a “large and valuable” contribution to the economy of Canada deserve government’s support. ‘FAIR AND CONSISTENT’ “But if support is given, it must be fair and consistent. It must be applied equally to all industries facing non-level playing fields,” Pettigrew said. That apparently isn’t the case with the East Coast offshore oil industry, which sees Ottawa collect

a massive return. Similar sentiments have been raised by the country’s agriculture sector. Kieran Green, spokesman for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, told The Independent from Ottawa, the federal government should not expect to receive an additional direct financial return from Canadian industries it supports. “Canadians and the country are already getting a return from the agriculture industry,” he says. “Canadian farmers pump literally billions of dollars back into their local economies, creating jobs in the manufacturing industries, in the processing industries. The ripples just generated from the primary producers spread right into the hearts of our biggest cities.”

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The Independent, October 24, 2004


Page 17

Staying above water Province’s boat-building industry faring well in rough seas

By Alisha Morrissey The Independent


says only 10 per cent of the company’s sales are within the province.

he province’s boat-building industry may have taken a FINDING THE hit with the cod moratorium, benefit analysis but it’s still Cost of Confederation managed to stay afloat. Melissa Collins, a partner in Fab-Tech Industries Inc., a boatbuilding company in Glovertown, says the company has had a good year. Next year doesn’t look bad, either. She says the company used to bring in most of its revenues though sales of fish processing equipment, but when the moratorium struck in the early 1990s — it struck hard.


EVERYONE AFFECTED “Of course we were affected, yes, everyone was,” Collins tells The Independent. “We ended up having to push our boats more so — the pleasure boats — rather than fish processing equipment.” Since the moratorium, there has been a push for boat builders in the province to come up with new products and new markets to keep the industry going. Glen Meadus, owner of Fiberglass Works in Centreville, says he’s had a slow year because the

Paul Daly/The Independent

Marystown shipyard

crab fishery shut down early. Meadus builds and sells mostly 19- to 26-foot boats, used for pleasure or fishing. He says the industry is a little weak right now, but a newly created boat builders association should help with expansion of the

industry over the next two to five years. “The pleasure market isn’t as strong as it could be,” says Meadus. “There’s not a lot of people that know about us.” He says the trick is selling outside of Newfoundland and

Labrador. Collins agrees, adding Fab-Tech Industries is quickly finding out there’s money to be made in other markets. “We’ve been growing every year … most of our business is outside of the province.” Collins

NEW PRODUCTS Fab-Tech builds and sells mostly 17- to 33-foot long pleasure and commercial boats, but the company is currently in the process of introducing a new 14-foot pleasure boat for use on lakes and ponds. “For the bigger builders, they haven’t seen a decline,” Collins says of companies that construct boats more than 100 feet in length Nancy Reid, curator of the Winterton Boat Building Museum in Trinity Bay, says the art of boat building and the related industry is centuries old. “Traditionally, boats were built by the fisherman themselves for their own use as part of their livelihood,” says Reid, adding the industry began when fishermen who had the skills and materials would build a boat for fishermen who didn’t. She says there are boat moulds in the museum dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries that came from Wessex, England, where most Winterton ancestors originated. “It certainly would have been the traditions and the way of building that would have been brought over with the first residents.”

Taking it easy … when you take the bus By Alisha Morrissey The Independent


t’s a chilly October morning and a half dozen people, some in pajamas, others carrying duffel bags, all looking tired, wait patiently near the entrance to Memorial University’s student centre parking lot. Two passenger buses pull up to the curb and bus driver Bill Vincent hops off, cheerily greeting passengers as he stores packages and bags in a compartment under the bus. Vincent, with more than 20 years experience behind the

wheel, says he enjoys driving a bus across the island. He says people are generally easy to get along with and the only things to watch out for are moose. And the weather. “Snow means slow,” says Vincent, an employee of DRL Coachlines, the private company that operates the cross-island bus service. The bus line began in 1968, at about the same time that the passenger train service was phased out. It was generally believed that buses could make the trip faster and cheaper. The Roadcruiser bus service,

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which began in December, 1968, was run by Canadian National Railway Company (CN), which was privatized in 1996 — enter DRL. Doug Oldford, formerly with Transport Canada and a negotiator on the roads for rails agreement, says CN lost money “left and right. “There wasn’t a day that I was in my old job that I didn’t get a complaint from somebody about the CN Roadcruiser service, but I haven’t heard a peep about it since it’s been handled by the guys down in Triton,” Oldford tells The Independent. “Frankly CN wanted

out of the rail service and the Roadcruisers.” Shivering in the cold on her way to Bonavista, Joan Gough smokes a cigarette and says she remembers taking the CN busses years ago. Gough says the new busses are more comfortable for long rides and there’s an attendant on hand to provide assistance. “Now they serve sandwiches if it’s a long drive and pop and little chocolate bars.” Gough says the only drawback is the increase in price. Gough remembers traveling from Clarenville to Stephenville for $45 on the CN bus. The same trip today costs $115. Gough says she’d rather fly because it takes less time. By the time the rail passenger service ended in the province, cars had become more popular. At the time of Confederation there were about 13,000 cars registered in the province. Almost 20 years later when the Trans-Canada was completed there were 87,000 cars registered. While there were complaints about the Roadcruiser service, the

busses were used more frequently than the train service. During the first six months of 1969, both the passenger services on the trains and the busses were running and it’s reported that the busses carried five times as many passengers as the trains. Zeta Gardiner, wearing a blueflowered rain bonnet, says she would normally drive to her sister’s house on the west coast, but this time of year snow may come at any time and she’s too cautious to make the trek alone. She says her memories of the CN bus lines are all good, but she has one complaint about the newer DRL busses. “The TVs are too loud, but I have a hearing aid, so if it’s too loud I just take that out and read a book, but there are small children on there sometimes and the movies are not appropriate for them,” says Gardiner. In 1969, CN had 14 busses in its fleet, a figure that jumped to 26 by 1985. DRL currently runs two busses in either direction on the Trans-Canada Highway every day. Officials with DRL weren’t available for comment.

Page 18


The Independent, October 24, 2004

Beacon in the night Coast guard spends $1 billion on navigation since ’49

By Alisha Morrissey The Independent


Paul Daly/The Independent

‘Cropping up to bite us today’

Roadwork and maintenance that should have been done years ago haunting province: Rideout By Clare-Marie Gosse The Independent


ver the next decade the province will need to spend at least $650 million on roadFINDING THE work, and while some of that has benefit analysis already been Cost of Confederation earmarked, the federal government has been asked to bring more to the table. Provincial Transportation Minister Tom Rideout outlined his concerns relating to road infrastructure earlier this spring in a letter to his then-federal counterpart, Tony Valeri. The letter, obtained by The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, targets three areas in need of funding and the estimated costs involved. They include $110 million to complete Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway (Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Cartwright), $140 million for maintenance and upkeep of the Trans-Canada Highway, and $400 million for improvements to the trunk road system, which connects to the Trans-Canada. Since that letter was written in April, Rideout has met twice with Jean Lapierre, who replaced Valeri as federal Transport Minister after the June 28 federal election. “We’re proceeding to hopefully finalize a (decision),” Rideout tells The Independent. He says the province needs to focus on transportation in order to make a difference for rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Under the 1988 roads for rails agreement, the province spent $800 million over


15 years on highways. Rideout says the problem with that agreement, which expired in 2003, was that it didn’t include a maintenance clause. “This province has been continuously deferring maintenance on roads for the last number of years,” he says, “and consequently, we estimate that we have a $500-million dollar deferred maintenance problem.” The 2004 roads budget was confirmed in June at $30 million dollars, an increase of $7 million over last year. Meantime, the dollar value of the roadwork actually requested by municipalities and service groups is said to have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. More than 50 individual road upgrade and maintenance projects have been launched to date this year. Rideout says the budget increase is a start towards addressing the problems. “All of (the road projects) have been tendered, most of them have been completed and there’s work ongoing on a number of them still,” he says. CONTINUED IMPROVEMENTS In addition to those projects, Rideout says continued improvements are being made to the TransCanada Highway, the cost of which is shared 50/50 with the federal government. Rideout says discussions over funding are still ongoing because the Trans-Labrador highway — as with other stretches of island highway — isn’t recognized as part of the national highway system. Although he says the completion

of the Trans-Labrador highway is a top priority, Rideout adds there are many stretches of provincial roads in dire need of attention. He mentions a stretch of the Trans-Canada between Goobies and Clarenville, which although now under construction, “probably caused the most heartache to the public,” as a result of poor conditions. “It’s deferred maintenance that should have been done 10 years ago that are now cropping up to bite us today.”

he federal government has spent more than $1 billion on lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador since Confederation. Stephen Decker, a supervisor of navigations with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in St. John’s, says the number would be much higher if it included other conventional navigational aids such as icebreakers, buoys and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), although the department couldn’t provide that figure. The province has 840 floating aids (buoys), many of which are seasonal, and 700 fixed aids (lights on an island or land). There are also four GPS transmitters throughout the province. Decker says communications systems have dramatically changed over the years. “The conventional aids are still required because not everybody has got that technology,” says Decker, adding that pleasure crafts and small fishing boats often do not have the technology and rely on conventional navigational systems to get around safely. “They have their own system on their vessels for entering the ports, but they still rely on those conventional aids, because that’s what it is — it’s an aid.” He says lighthouses will never go out of style, manned or mechanical. “It just gives them (boaters) that much more confidence if they’re going in with blind navigation,” says Decker. “We have

technology, technology is great, but what happens when technology fails?” Since the 1970s, the federal government has been trying to save money on the Canadian Coast Guard, which falls under DFO’s wing. Lighthouse keepers have been let go in favour of automated stations. There are currently 55 lighthouses in the province, of which 23 are manned. Barry Porter, a lighthouse keeper for more than 20 years, currently looks after the light station in Long Point, Twillingate. “A lot of people have really no idea what takes place at the stations,” he says in a telephone interview. “You’re there in case anything happens … you put the binoculars on him (boaters and fishermen) every once and a while and hope he comes back in one piece.” Unlike years past when lighthouse keepers lived on site with their families, keepers today spend 28 days on the job, and 28 days off. “We’re sort of the back-up to the equipment, you can’t replace man.” All of the conventional navigational aids are covered by the Canadian Coast Guard’s budget, which has been increasing. The budget this year has been set at $91.9 million, up almost $12 million from the fiscal year previous. Porter says he takes the scenery for granted at times and when he gets bored he reads. “I’m a tourism guide slash weather man slash a jack-of-alltrades really.”

October 24, 2004


Page 19

Afghan-Newfoundlander Ajmal Pashtoonyar in front of the UN Secretariat (Palais des Nations) in Geneva.

‘Who is this Afghan Newfoundlander?’ Ajmal Pashtoonyar, working with the UN in Geneva, credits the people of Newfoundland for what he is today Voice from away Ajmal Pashtoonyar In Geneva, Switzerland By Stephanie Porter The Independent


lthough Ajmal Pashtoonyar lived in this province less than six years — so far — he considers himself a Newfoundlander. “Canada is home, and Newfoundland is home in Canada,” he says. Pashtoonyar is from Afghanistan; he left Peshawar (a border city, in neighbouring Pakistan) in 1998, a recipient of a refugee scholarship from the World University Service of Canada. He left a town, he says, of some five million people. After a lengthy journey — culminating in a red-eye flight from Toronto to St. John’s, then a four-hour drive to his destination, he arrived in Burin, a community of just a couple thousand. “It was my first time to leave home and be in a new country,” he says. “All the culture shock and everything came at once.” Pashtoonyar was sponsored to attend the Burin campus of the College of the North Atlantic for a year, completing college transfer courses. He stayed in a residence next to the school, with a dozen other students, virtually all of whom were

from nearby communities. Come the weekends, Pashtoonyar would be left on his own. “I slowly got used to it, slowly made friends, that changed … and when I’d go to the store, people would think I was a new doctor there.” Pashtoonyar laughs frequently, voice clear, English exact, over the phone. He’s currently in Geneva, two months into a six-month contract at the United Nations. He remembers his years in Newfoundland vividly (“every community has its own memory, its own colour, it’s remarkable,” he says). After completing courses at the college, he enrolled at Memorial and moved to St. John’s. “There was no problem adjusting there because there were a lot of international students, and just within the community, there was the Muslim community … you got to meet new friends and family.” In the late ’90s, Pashtoonyar points out, North Americans generally knew little about Afghanistan. Although there had been major on-going conflicts in the country for some two decades, the region was not yet in the international media spotlight. Pashtoonyar was involved in forming an international Afghan Youth Organization (, and did what he could “to spread awareness in our youth community, that they have a responsibility

to help.” Then Sept. 11 happened, and terms like Taliban and al-Qaeda became household words. “Being the only Afghan on campus, I sort of became the highlight with the media and within the community,” he says. “Many students organized Friends of Afghanistan, a student group, we reached out to people and let them know … how the different elements have taken advantage of a conflict-based country where there is no rule of law, no government …” OUTREACH WORK In the course of his outreach work, Pashtoonyar gave a presentation to some faculty members of the political science department. “They asked if I was in the department, I said no, I was in science,” he says. “And then I switched to political science. They were mentors for me. “I realized that in our community and in Afghanistan we really lack people who are in these areas and who are in the west and able to contribute more.” In the wake of 9/11, Pashtoonyar, working with other social justice groups, organized peace rallies both on and off-campus in St. John’s. “The response was pretty interesting,” he says. “No matter how much there was backfire on Mus-

lims and Afghans, in particular in North America, I didn’t feel any such experience where somebody would have said anything bad to me. “Everyone was really understanding and really respectful.” Pashtoonyar became the youth ambassador for mine action in Newfoundland and Labrador, one of 10 such positions in Canada. The program took him to war-torn countries, including Bosnia and Croatia, to view minefields. Then he travelled the province — around St. John’s, back to Burin, up to Labrador — to speak about what he saw. “It was amazing to move around this province, the place I call home and meet the people and see its beauty … some people would just come and see who is this Afghan Newfoundlander?” Pashtoonyar’s parents and immediate family now live in Boston, and he visits when he can. As far as he is concerned, though, he is a Newfoundlander. “What I am today and wherever I am being recognized, it is because of Newfoundland, and in particular the people of Burin, who raised funds to offer me the scholarship,” he says. “It was a lifechanging moment. If I am what I am today, it’s because of the people of this province and that is the kind of belonging I have.” Pashtoonyar’s not yet sure what

the future holds — more work with the UN, perhaps some work in Afghanistan, “if there is a system in place in which Afghan expatriates … are able to contribute”; perhaps a return to Newfoundland. He muses over the possibilities, hinting he’ll be back on Newfoundland soil if there’s a work opportunity or “if there’s a place in politics with me.” He laughs, and says “it would be about time … if the people of my province want me to represent them, I will listen to them and be honoured.” While in Geneva, Pashtoonyar is working on an initiative to empower refugee youth. “They are an asset in rebuilding war-torn societies,” he says. He and his colleagues are also working on guidelines, to be implemented by field staff, to encourage refugees to become more self-reliant. It’s still fascinating, he says, to work side-by-side with professionals from so many different countries. “There are about 30 Canadians working here in the United Nations high commission for refugees,” he says with a laugh. “But I am the only Newfoundlander.” Do you know a Newfoundlander or Labradorian living away? Please e-mail or call 726-INDY.


October 24, 2004

Page 20

Paul Daly/The Independent

‘Good trips and bad trips’ Retired railroader reflects on career aboard Newfie Bullet Clare-Marie Gosse The Independent


he most surprising and heartwarming realization to spring to mind upon meeting with 78-year-old, FINDING THE retired railroader, Albert Penney, is benefit analysis that he hasn’t a Cost of Confederation single bad word to say about his long career with the Newfoundland Railway. Travelling from the now-resettled town of Otterbury near Carbonear in 1942, then 15-year-old Penney arrived in St. John’s looking for a job to help fund his schooling. Within three days he was offered a position as a brakeman, assisting conductors in fixing up and removing cars from the trains. Forty-two years later, he retired from the railway as superintendent for transportation. “I started off here in St. John’s and this is where I finished … I went step by step but I enjoyed every moment of it.” Penney never did return to school, but he says he’s “never looked back.” Most of his career was spent as a conductor, responsible for everything that happened on the trains from the front engine to the caboose, including passengers. Penney worked aboard trains transferring hundreds of troops across the island, as well as aboard


all the mixed trains on the branch got to their destinations we’d give it lines such as Carbonear, Argentia, back to them, but they didn’t like Bonavista and Lewisporte. that too much,” Penney says. Most of his time, however, was “Then they had what we used to spent on the passenger train The call ‘the booze car’ you know, Caribou, working 12-hour shifts they’d go on up there and we used between St. John’s and Bishop’s to shut that off when they got so Falls. much beer.” “Occasionally He says things we’d be blocked,” didn’t seem to he tells The Indechange too much pendent. “In some after Canadian cases (the train) National Railways would be filled, the took over the service seats would be all post-confederation. taken and it would “You couldn’t be standing room have a better compaonly. You’d get the ny than the CN … It biggest crowd when was run well, no the university doubt about that. It would be closing was when the for Christmas or (Trans-Canada “I started off here in Highway) Easter.” went St. John’s and this is through, that’s when Penney says he didn’t mind the the big changes where I finished … passengers, “I must came.” I went step by step say the majority In 1965 the but I enjoyed every were very co-operalready declining ative.” passenger numbers moment of it.” He says if the nose-dived with the — Albert Penney cars got smelly completion of the from the lavatories highway and in 1967 he’d just open a it was announced window, and if a passenger got too that the Newfie Bullet service drunk they’d cut him off. (which was losing about $1 million “You had some headaches you annually) would be discontinued know, but that’s a part of it — good and replaced by busses. trips and bad trips. On certain lines some passenger “We used to take (the beer) and services were provided as mixed lock it up and when (passengers) freight and passenger trains up until

1984, but three years later all rail runs were terminated. “We couldn’t compete with the speed, you know,” says Penney. In 1967 it took 22 hours for a train to cross the province from St. John’s to Port aux Basques; it took the busses that replaced them only 14. As for the staff working the railroads, Penney said some transferred to other parts of the country, but most took “a golden handshake. “It’s sad because that was my life; it’s the only thing I ever knew.” He admits, however, he doesn’t see how the railway could have been saved or rebuilt. “At the beginning I feel it could have been worth it but not now. I think it would be very costly now.” One of Penney’s hobbies through his life has been carpentry, and in 1990 he undertook the challenge of recreating a 14-foot, 500-pound replica of the old 112 steam engine that he first started his career working on, back in the St. John’s yard. He followed up the project, which took a year, with a 10-foot replica of caboose 754, a car from the same freight train he took his first “road trip” on. Both the engine and caboose now sit on the old tracks at Middle Gull Pond where Penney has a summer home that he shared with his latewife, Jean, evidence of a cherished, life-long journey aboard the Newfoundland Railway.

The Independent, October 24, 2004


Page 21

Tracing the Newfie Bullet Sell-off of railway parts netted CN an estimated $100 million By Stephanie Porter The Independent

ways of Newfoundland section of the Railways of Canada Archives website: he Newfie Bullet may • 13 locomotives were sold to have taken its last trek Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a across NewfoundBolivia, in Chile. FINDING THE land in 1969, but the locoThere, they have apparmotives that screeched ently been upgraded and turned, pulled and Cost benefit analysis and some, completely of Confederation huffed passengers along rebuilt. the rails from St. John’s to Port • Seven were sold to Nicaragua aux Basques are not all silent. in 1989. “The Bullet” — so called • Two were sold to the Nigerbecause of its slow pace (22-plus ian Rail Road Corporation in hours from one end of the island 1990. to the other) — refers not to a sin• Nine are on display in Newgle train, but to foundland: St. the NewfoundJohn’s (two), land Railway’s Lewisporte, “The Bullet” — so passenger serBishop’s Falls, called because of its vice in its Av o n d a l e , slow pace (22-plus entirety. Corner Brook, Forty-six, Bonavista, Port hours from one end 900-class locoaux Basques and of the island to the motives, built Whitbourne. other) — refers not in London, • Two were to a single train, but Ont., were used scrapped after a to ride the head-on collito the Newfoundland province’s main sion at Cow Railway’s passenger rail line from Gulch, outside service in its entirety. 1952 onwards. Corner Brook, When the in 1967. railway was • Thirteen abandoned in 1988, some of the were scrapped in Newfoundland locomotives were sent to the after the railway pulled up spikes. junkyard; some are still on disIt is quite likely that most, if play (in various stages of upkeep) not all, of the locomotives above in the province; and some are would have at one point worn the chugging away in South America, name Newfie Bullet. Central America, and Africa. According to a list on the RailContinued on page 23



A converted Newfie Bullet engine in Chile.

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The question of resettling the Northern Peninsula community of Beaches was raised last year when the town was ravaged by a January storm.

Resettlement plea Some residents of White Bay-community of Beaches want to relocate; government says move not cost effective By Connie Boland For The Independent


lbert Osmond doesn’t scare easily. But as gale force winds whipped White Bay into a January frenzy, slamming salt water onto the windshield of his lurching pick-up truck, the 67-year-old felt his stomach tighten. “It was unbelievable,” Osmond tells The Independent of driving from the seaside community of Beaches to the Town of Hampden, roughly five kilometres away. “My wife kept saying ‘Hurry up, hurry up’. We were up to the bumper in salt water that had come in over the road and I had butterflies in my stomach. It was awful.” That storm left the small, west coast municipality paralyzed. Tenmetre waves downed telephone poles and washed out the only road. The province’s Emergency Measures Organization was called in to assist with an evacuation. No major damages occurred, but the winter storm re-ignited talks of resettlement among the 51 residents. The provincial government opted to spend $200,000 to fix the road instead. Then, in September, another storm washed away much of the work crew’s efforts. Many residents left Beaches temporarily, fearing being cut off if the road washed out again. “I don’t know why they’re throwing money away when people want to move,” Osmond says. He’s had enough. In less than a year, the retired senior citizen has twice had to move his 103-year-old mother out of harm’s way. “In January, we got the ambulance and got her out. She wasn’t good,” Osmond says. “In September, we took her out before the storm got bad. It’s a worry but government doesn’t realize that. Everyone is scared.”

Kathy Goudie, Tory MHA for Humber Valley, supports the proposed move and is lobbying on the community’s behalf. Municipal and Provincial Affairs Minister Jack Byrne was scheduled to visit Beaches in September but couldn’t make the trip due to scheduling problems. “I hope to get there in the near future,” he says.

“We don’t have a policy in place that says government is going to have forced resettlement. We leave it to the communities to come forward and if we can do it based on the cost involved and the return to government in a reasonable period of time, then we’ll have a serious look at it.” A cost-assessment study conducted last winter concluded that resettling Beaches wasn’t feasible. “We don’t have a plan to relocate Beaches at this point in time,” Byrne says. “We are still waiting on figures from the Department of Works, Services and Transportation on the cost of repairing the damages done to the road (in September) but to have our department change its mind at this point in time that figure would have to be pretty substantial.” On the other hand, government also has to consider the associated costs of future storms. “We don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen, or what the cost would be. You can’t guess if we are going to have another storm within the next week or the next month,” Byrne says. “I sympathize with the people

who want to move because they have a legitimate worry, but we can’t relocate people because we figure we are going to have two, three or five storms next year.” After a community requests to be resettled, the province conducts a feasibility study to determine how and when it will recuperate its costs. The last town to go through the process was Big Brook on the Northern Peninsula. The town of 10 permanent residents was located at the end of a 16-kilometre gravel road with no school, medical clinic or church. Children were bussed 28 kilometres to the school in Cook’s Harbour and frequently missed classes due to weather. Residents there, like those in Beaches, started years ago to talk amongst themselves about leaving. The bill for road maintenance and snowclearing in Big Brook amounted to $112,000 annually. Bussing cost $10,000; hydro service came in at about $7,000. Government decided it was worth its while to pay $350,000 to relocate residents. “We don’t have a policy in place that says government is going to have forced resettlement,” Byrne says. “We leave it to the communities to come forward and if we can do it based on the cost involved and the return to government in a reasonable period of time, then we’ll have a serious look at it.” Osmond has another issue for government to look at. He’s contacted the Department of Mines and Energy to request geological testing to determine the stability of the hills behind his home. He says his calls have not been returned. Although he’s lived in Beaches all his life, the father and grandfather is ready to move. “It would only take long enough for me to get a piece of land and build a house,” he says.

Page 22


The Independent, October 24, 2004

Chilling sounds to DIY for Geinus Geinus (Independent, 2004)

Local Spins



knew that Geinus had their debut disc at the record store, but I decided to hold out on picking it up until now because I wanted to be ready to expose my ears and mind to it. The style of music that this powerful trio dishes out is very unique for Newfoundland. It’s aggressively progressive, menacing and sonically daring. Better prepare yourself for anything, kiddies. What I liked initially about this CD was the inventive homemade packaging stitched together with coloured string or yarn, in true DIY (do-it-yourself) fashion. Opening the sleeve, I also found a Marvel superhero trading card and some interesting printed cutouts — a mini-movie poster for Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, a pet dog photo, and a grisly depiction of Ed Gein, a reallife inspiration for horror flicks. Now I know where the name originates … creepy. That’s enough of the appearance; let’s get to the music inside. The album boasts a dozen tunes that travel so dizzy an arrangement that a Gravol tablet might have been a good package insert. Motion sickness doesn’t bother me, so I held on tight for the first

track, Seven Eleven, a repetitive grind tempo-shifter with eerie mumblings and pained screams. Next, dominant bass lines by Andrew Fisher and vertigoinducing guitar sounds by Steve Abbott fuel Flat Lined that swarms industrious riffs on a yelled refrain.

The style of music that this powerful trio dishes out is very unique for Newfoundland. It’s aggressively progressive, menacing and sonically daring.

Ryding On The Bottom is a mix of thumping low buzz and cutting rhythm that bubbles into a surging lead guitar wave, stopping to catch a breath before you get swallowed up by the crashing

INDEPENDENT CROSSWORD ACROSS 1 Mongol 6 Cross 10 Greek mountain 14 N. Zealand parrot 17 Die down 18 Possess 19 Pricey 20 Swiss mountain 21 Flirt with (3 wds.) 23 Stew 24 French wheat 25 The Song Beneath the ___ (Joe Fiorito, 2003) 26 Hawaiian garlands 27 Prepares slaw 29 Latin law 30 Serengeti sprinter 32 Grand ___ (bridge) 34 German article 35 Green indicator, for short 37 Dry ___ 39 Undergoes mental anguish 42 Throws 45 Transmits (from a ship) 48 Escape from 49 The Avro Arrow and others 51 Church figures 53 Pod prefix 54 Kielbasa or chorizo 55 Last winter mo. 56 Workshop machines 58 Subject of Ottawa/Hull spring festival 59 Attention getter 61 DÈcolletÈ (2 wds.) 63 Stable parent 67 Leaden

end. Catchy flanged guitar licks open Pussy Banging for steady foreplay before rocking into a cool funk, singling out each instrument, then climaxing on the opening theme. Alanna Fitzpatrick starts with a tuneful guitar line that beefs up for a consistent lyric delivery, toning down the mood for the middle section and speeding to a racy finish. The following track is one I’ve recently heard on the Rock Can Roll Records Compilation disc. Brand New Coma chugs that foot-stomp pace to start, switching up for a quick verse and heavy throbbing grooves that break down at the end for a peppy jam to close. Real nice. Black & White sounds like the tense chase scene from a slasher film — fast, loud and evil structures with strange mechanical guitar noises near the end for special effects. Proficient metal thrashing combined with twisted chords and shrieking, “Find a new way home,” gives me the distasteful feeling expressed in Mouthful Of Hair I’d Sooner Forget. Knuckled continues the swift assault with crushing beats and hard breaks. Peacock begins with scratching strings and launches into severe gnashing distortion and more ruthless, odd-timed drumming from Jon Hynes.

Then the sticks click and guitar and bass melodies are layered heavily for I’m Hungry … Let’s Get A Taco. I enjoy the sloweddown then quickly sped-up part in the middle before the sound bite title drops in. It’s great trying to follow the nimble tempo changes on this tune, and the false count at the end keeps you hanging. The disc ends with the lively, Celtic-hinted runs on Meat is Murder, which Abbott infuses with phantom chorus and highpitched solo. The debut album from Geinus is a prog-metal dream, often screamingly nightmarish, but features spine-tingling, bold trans-

formations of sound. Just try to keep up. The only thing lacking was the inclusion of detail in the package: specifically, the important names like the members of the band, for instance. I assume Ron Anonsen helped in recording and mixing, but unless you find out for yourself, you stay in the dark. Maybe Geinus wants that darkness, after taking a band hiatus while members are away. I hope that darkness fades — not in the music, though. Rick Bailey is a musician and radio DJ. His next column appears Nov. 7.

Solutions on page 26

69 She wrote about life in early Ontario 71 Hip hop music 72 Intimidate 75 Road surfacing 76 Make bigger 78 Sucking fish 79 Get into the ___ of things 81 Type of sale 82 Rider’s strap 83 Be creative (2 wds.) 86 Rent in Reading 87 Solidify 89 ___ de mer 90 Member of the choir 92 Verdi opera 95 Round Table address 97 Greek god 100 The In-Between World of Vikram ___ (M.G. Vassanji) 102 Sphere 103 Brief alias 104 Mark a ballot 105 Popular white wine 108 Small carpet 109 Pub rounds 110 Fork prong 111 Chews 112 Mineral: suffix 113 For fear that 114 Makes a pick 115 Shouts DOWN 1 Sri Lankan language 2 Early adders 3 What waiters do (2 wds.) 4 Got something down

5 Go for a spin? 6 Author Watson (The Double Hook) 7 The Northwest ___ 8 Gardner of The Barefoot Contessa 9 Trawlers’ equipment 10 Aromatize 11 Greek moon goddess 12 Stated 13 Left bed 14 Inuit word for “white man” 15 French glamour magazine 16 Peak 22 Positive answer 28 Swiss girl of children’s book 31 Black in Bourgogne 33 Liquefied by heat 36 Holds tight 38 Labour 40 Domestic who cares for children 41 Author of A Dark Place in the Jungle (1999) 43 Ask for alms 44 Compass reading 45 National force 46 Bummer!, in days of yore 47 Rascal 50 Him in Hauterive 52 Kitchen appliance 54 Napped leather 57 Rte. 58 Boxing defeat, for short 60 Sovereign’s seat 62 Eye’s outer layer 64 Not making sense

65 Sturdy wool fibre 66 Piece of fencing 68 Van Gogh lost one 70 Israeli airline 72 Hockey star from Parry Sound 73 Notch 74 Move to another country 75 Weave with diagonal

ridges 77 Neighbourhood 79 Least fresh 80 Canadian, Paris-based writer 84 Acts badly 85 Gazes fixedly 88 Quebec City university 91 ___ Man Winter 93 Speak with drawn-out

vowel sounds 94 Bottomless chasm 95 Finland’s Lapps, collectively 96 Asian textile style 98 Gondolier’s need 99 Eight: comb. form 101 Lethargic 106 Start of a cheer 107 Wind dir.

The Independent, October 24, 2004


Page 23

‘You will scream’ Sin City Productions presents the perfect ghost story

By Clare-Marie Gosse The Independent


tall, isolated house stands staring over endless flat marshlands, along a windy, bleak coastline. The occupant — a mysterious, lone woman — has died. The house waits empty until a young junior solicitor named Arthur Kipps arrives to sort through the deceased’s effects. After attending her funeral, a terrible feeling of unease haunts Kipps. None of the locals will talk or answer any questions, even as he begins to be haunted by something else. Everywhere he turns, he sees a wasted, gaunt woman watching him. She is still, silent, and menacing. She is The Woman in Black. And so unfolds the perfect ghost story: dark, secretive and subtle, with plenty of scope for the imagination to play tricks. Susan Hill wrote the novel The Woman in Black in 1984 in an attempt to revive the old, traditional English ghost story. The book was an instant success and has since been made into a film, as well as a popular stage play, which has been running for over 15 years in London’s West End. One of St. John’s well-known performers, Aiden Flynn, saw that show and, astonished by the huge audience reaction, decided to bring the play to his home town. The Woman in Black enjoyed her

Paul Daly/The Independent

Aiden Flynn and Steve O’Connell star in The Woman in Black.

first and successful run at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s last year, and she’s gearing up for a comeback this week. Fresh from a cemetery photo

shoot with The Independent, Flynn and co-star Steve O’Connell talk about the production, and rave about the experience of acting in what they call “a celebration of scariness” and “a celebration of theatre.” “It’s actually one of those shows you can do and you get a big audience response,” says Flynn. “And it’s not your typical audience response, it’s gasping and people screaming and shuddering and it’s great. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in something — a live theatrical show — where I’ve actually made people this jumpy.” The play is famous for unsettling audiences, and O’Connell and Flynn say that’s what they love most about The Woman in Black. “It’s a treat when you can make an audience cry, and I think the harder thing to do is make them laugh, but to get them to scream

and have a physical reaction in that way has got to be the toughest and most rewarding thing of all,” O’Connell says, adding the experience has been the most fun he’s ever had doing a show. O’Connell is another prolific local actor, seen most recently in 3 Dogs Barking, Salvage: The Story of a House, and leading tours of the downtown area with The Haunted Hike. Flynn, who is producing The Woman in Black through his company Sin City Productions, recently performed at the Trinity Festival with Rising Tide Theatre in The Fragrance of Sorrow. Hill’s original novel features a host of characters, but Stephen Mallatratt’s 1989 stage adaptation began life within a small theatre company. Although sticking to the text and story of the book, Mallatratt found a way to present the play as a two-man (plus one scary

woman) show. The story follows Kipps (O’Connell) as an older man, recounting his experiences to an actor (Flynn), in an attempt to exorcise the haunting from his past. The play unfolds around a reenactment of the tale. “It’s a good marriage between the words and the technical effects,” says Flynn. “It’s a minimal set, and really the play is created in the audience’s head. It’s what you create in your own mind.” Working alongside O’Connell and Flynn are director Petrina Bromley, and sound and lighting designers Sean Panting and Victor Tilley. As for The Woman in Black herself and the outcome of her dark tale … that remains a mystery. “You will scream, we guarantee it,” is all O’Connell will say. “You will scream.”

$100 million net sales From page 21 “The 900-class, they were used on the main line, they were used in freight service and in passenger service,” says Graham Hill, president of the local CN pensioners association. “Say like the one in Pippy Park there, one day she could be on a freight train, one day on a passenger train.” The engines weren’t the only things sold off after the closure: wooden ties, track, rolling stock (passenger cars, flat cars, cargo boxes, etc.), and other miscellaneous equipment were also on the block. It’s estimated the diesel engines were worth about $300,000 each; railroad cars upwards of $5,000; ties go for about five dollars a piece. In all, Canadian National Railway may have netted over $100 million from selling off the narrow gauge railway that once united Newfoundland.

Page 24


The Independent, October 24, 2004

Rolling marijuana and smoking quadriplegics Only comedian Rick Mercer can get away with what he pulls on TV By Jeff Ducharme The Independent


hen Rick Mercer first began ambushing politicians in the hallowed halls of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, politicians cringed, media murmured and security guards craned their necks in his direction. The 33-year-old Newfoundland comedian was one of the founding members of the wildly popular This Hour Has 22 Minutes. One of Mercer’s shticks on the satirical news show was to corner federal politicians on the Hill and ask poignant, if not somewhat twisted questions. At first Mercer’s ambushes were feared by politicians and their handlers, but they soon learned that appearing with the young comedian made their bosses appear more human to voters. “… the relationship between myself and the politicians eventually changed, became what I would describe as mutually parasitic,” Mercer tells The Independent from Ottawa. That “parasitic” relationship is exactly the reason Mercer won’t be launching political ambushes in his new show, Monday Report. He’ll still have chats with politicians, but the victims of Mercer’s cutting satire will be more wide ranging in his new CBC show. Rush bassist Geddy Lee will teach Canadians how to toboggan safely and Shirley Douglas, actress and daughter of Tommy Douglas, will teach seniors how to jump start their cars in -40 C weather during the show’s Celebrity Tip segment. The show premiered on Oct. 15 with a bang. PIERRE’S PUFF Literary icon Pierre Burton taught Canadians how to properly roll a joint. Though Burton didn’t do the actual rolling, he instructed Nik Sexton, a Newfoundlander work-

Rick Mercer

ing on Mercer’s show, how to roll the perfect spliff using Berton’s book The National Dream as a surface to roll on. “Pierre would have rolled, but he’s in his mid-’80s so he finds it better if a young fella rolls for him,” says Mercer. The million-dollar question: did anyone inhale the teaching tool after the show? “I have no comment,” chuckles Mercer. “Where did you go to high school? You don’t ask questions like that.” Mercer has been referred to as the “unofficial opposition” for his satirical attacks that tear strips off of all political stripes. “There’s worse things to be called — a lot worse. The best part

Sandor Fizli/PictureDesk International

of my job is I get the little (parliamentary press) pass and I get around a little more than the average bear,” says Mercer with almost childlike glee in his voice. “Last night I actually raced up the corridors with Steven Fletcher and Fletcher is the new Member of Parliament who’s a quadriplegic.” The Conservative MP’s wheelchair does almost 20 kilometres an hour and Mercer did his best to keep up on an electric scooter as the pair avoided crashing into the limestone walls and marble pillars. Like all Newfoundlanders, Mercer is a fierce defender of his home island, but he says he’s also “availed himself” of what Canada has to offer. “We’ve all won the lotto, any-

one who carries a Canadian passport, whether they were born here or immigrated here,” says Mercer. Being from this province, Mercer says choosing between Newfoundland and Canada is a choice he “would never want to make” and calls whispers of separation a “phase” the whole country is going through. ‘NATIONALISTIC VOICE’ “There’s always been a nationalistic voice in Newfoundland. In the grand scheme of things it’s a very dangerous road to go down because then there will be nothing left.” As far as the fishery goes, Mercer is on the fence when it comes to who could have managed the

resource better. “ … I think we should have had the right to destroy our own fishery instead of having to sit back and watch someone else do it. So I think it’s appalling that Newfoundland doesn’t have jurisdiction over its fishery because the fishery is everything in Newfoundland and historically has been and it’s to the very core of our identity.” If he could, Mercer says he would offer two pieces of advice to former premier Joey Smallwood relating to Churchill Falls and his dealings with German industrialist, Alfred Valdmanis. “Don’t sign the Churchill agreement and ignore everything the German says.”


October 24, 2004

Page 25

Paul Daly/The Independent

More than muscle Baby Leafs’ tough guy Nathan Perrott can also put the puck in the net By Darcy MacRae The Independent


athan Perrott has quite a reputation. The winger with the St. John’s Maple Leafs made a name for himself in the NHL last year as a genuine heavyweight after dropping the gloves 16 times in just 40 games. He had several spirited bouts with noted tough guys such as Philadelphia’s Donald Brashear, Ottawa’s Chris Neil and Buffalo’s Andrew Peters — more often than not coming out on the winning end. After spending the entire 200304 season in Toronto, Perrott joined St. John’s prior to training camp this fall after the NHL lockout began. His presence on the baby buds is expected to be felt both on the scoreboard and on the chins of opposing enforcers. PROVEN TOUGHNESS “He can throw with the best of them,” says Carlo Colaiacovo, Perrott’s St. John’s teammate. “He’s proven his toughness in the AHL and the NHL. It’s good to have a guy like that around.” St. John’s had several players audition for the role of team heavyweight last year, with Mike Brown, Greg Lakovic and Jason Lehoux providing much of the muscle at various stages of the season. However, none of the three established themselves as an enforcer who could take a regular shift and contribute at both ends of

the rink. With Perrott in the fold for the 2004-05 campaign, the Leafs are sure not to run into that problem again. “It’s nice to have a tough guy who can play,” says Doug Sheddon, head coach of the Leafs. He says Perrott could be a 20-goal scorer for the club this season. “We had a few guys last year, but none of them were great players. Nathan brings more to the team: he can fight, he can hit and he was one of the fastest skaters on the Toronto Maple Leafs last year.” Perrott showed the St. John’s fans what he brings to the team this season during the Leafs’ home opener versus the Syracuse Crunch on Oct. 21. On his first shift of the night, he picked up a pass in the slot and fired a quality shot on goal before racing to the side boards to lay a stiff check on Syracuse defenceman Jeremy Reich. The combination of offensive flair and physical grit continued throughout the evening, much to the delight of the near capacity crowd at Mile One Stadium. “It’s the only way I know how to play. It’s what makes me successful,” Perrott tells The Independent. “I think the fans can identify with me. They see a guy with somewhat limited skills but with a really good work ethic, and it’s appealing to them.” Perrott’s hard work in front of the opposing net, reaped benefits for both the strapping winger and the Leafs early in the third period

when his second goal of the season gave the home team a temporary 2-1 lead. With the puck wobbling between Syracuse goalie Pascal Leclaire and the goal line, Perrott dove across crease and poked the puck into the net, sending more than 5,000 enthusiastic hockey fans into a frenzy.

“When you’ve got good team toughness like we have this year, it makes my job a lot easier. I’ve played on teams when I was the only guy fighting, and that was a tough job. But we’ve got a really good mix of toughness and that’s a deterrent for other teams.” — Nathan Perrott

The physical side of his game was also prevalent, as he continued to slam every bit of his chiselled 6’1, 225 pound frame at opposing players who dared carry the puck in his presence. His reputation as an NHL heavyweight seemed to be noted by many members of the Crunch, especially during a thirdperiod scrum in the St. John’s zone when Perrott starred down Syra-

cuse’s Matthias Trattnig after giving the stocky centre a mild face wash earlier in the melee. It looked as though Perrott might drop the gloves with Syracuse enforcer Brandon Sugden later in the frame before Leafs defenceman Jay Harrison exchanged blows with the Crunch forward behind the St. John’s net. Perrott says that type of display by Harrison — combined with the feistiness provided by teammates David Ling, Marc Moro and Jason MacDonald — demonstrate that it will be difficult to push the baby buds around this season. “When you’ve got good team toughness like we have this year, it makes my job a lot easier,” he says. “I’ve played on teams when I was the only guy fighting, and that was a tough job. But we’ve got a really good mix of toughness and that’s a deterrent for other teams.” Although Syracuse’s Trattnig appeared to want little to do with Perrott during their altercation, the Leafs’ winger knows there are some players in the AHL who desperately want to go a round or two with a proven NHL tough guy. Young enforcers looking to make a name for themselves could draw the attention of scouts by putting in a good showing versus Perrott. “I know who the fighters are on the other team, but I don’t worry about it. I just play my game, and when it happens, it happens,” says

the 27-year-old. “I don’t like to fight just for the sake of fighting. I want to fight to make an impact, maybe change the momentum of the game and help the team. One of the key things I learned from guys like Tie Domi and Wade Belak last year was that you have to make sure you do it at the right time.” SECOND STINT While Perrott is enjoying his second stint in St. John’s (he played 36 games with the club during the 2002-03 season), he admits to often wondering if and when the NHL lockout will end. While he waits, he says St. John’s is as good a place as any to make a living, especially since it keeps him in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and allows him to demonstrate his skills to virtually every NHL team. “I don’t look at it as a step down. It’s the best league in the world right now that’s playing, so I’m just glad I have the opportunity to come here and play,” says the softspoken Perrott. “When the lockout ends, who knows if there’s going to be 30 teams left? I’ve got to make an impression with everyone who watches me play to make sure I have a job in the NHL when the lockout ends. Playing here gives me a lot of exposure because a lot of scouts and general managers will be coming here to watch.”

Page 26


The Independent, October 24, 2004

A little English on the (European) ball Bob the Bayman

Singing in the game

BOB WHITE improve his game while playing (and getting paid) in Europe, he will bring himself closer to his dream of playing in the NBA. If I know anything about English’s tenacity, he’s not about to give up on his dream anytime soon. Regardless, for the foreseeable future, he can make a living playing basketball. To me, that’s a dream job. LEPRECHAUN LEAGUE The last time I played basketball with Carl, he was a 16-year-old phenom at the provincial senior men’s championships held in Gander. The senior championships are usually a great weekend of hoops. With stiff competition, camaraderie and good times, I’ve had the pleasure of either coaching and/or playing in all four senior divisions. This year for the first time, the Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA) will hold all four events in St. John’s on the same weekend — and it just happens to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day festivities. That’s a very appropriate date, and not just because of the revelry sure to be found off the court in the city’s George Street district. With few exceptions, most basketball players in this neck of the woods will not be confused with tall trees. Even the best big men we’ve produced are of the stumpy variety, relatively speaking. It seems there’s a fair dosage of Leprechaun blood in our veins. When I was in high school, I was told on numerous occasions that I was tall for a guard. I’m 5’10’. Moving on … Skyscrapers or not, if its shooters you want this Paddy’s Day week-

Paul Daly/The Independent

Jason Greeley sings the national anthem at the Oct. 21 home opener of the St. John’s Maple Leafs.

end, head to a city gym and check it out. It’s not hard to find a shooter — on or off the court. CURSE OF ‘THE BUCKNER’ The Boston Red Sox are heading to the World Series after defeating the New York Yankees in a dramatic series that saw the Sox overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win four straight games. To many Beantown fans, the Sox have finally excised the infamous “curse of the Bambino” that has plagued the franchise since that day in 1920 when Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Hall of Famer Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 in cash and

a $300,000 loan. Boston has yet to win a World Series crown since Ruth led them to the title in 1918. I’ve read about the curse and watched documentaries. For me, the Boston curse is not of the Bambino, but of the Buckner. In 1986, when Mookie Wilson’s bumbling groundball bounced between Bill Buckner’s wobbly legs, the BoSox basically lost their chance of winning game six and their first World Series in 68 years. The New York Mets went on to win game seven and the title. Buckner had bad legs, but he should have made the play — easily. It was gut-wrenching, watching the replay over and over again. If

Buckner snags the ball, Boston wins the championship and the curse of the Bambino is over. Instead, we now have two curses and Buckner, who really did have a solid major league career, will forever be known for that infamous flub. That is, of course, if the Red Sox again fail to capture the league title. So please, Red Sox players, win one for the Babe. And the Buckner. Bob White is a talented Leprechaun point guard from Carbonear.

Solutions from page 26


arl English was recently cut by the Seattle Supersonics during the NBA team’s training camp. It marked the second consecutive year English, a 23-year-old native of Patrick’s Cove on the Southern Shore, was dropped from an NBA team after going undrafted in the 2003 entry draft out of the University of Hawaii. Some people think English made a mistake by declaring for the draft after his third season of college, skipping his fourth and final year. Others take the stand another year of college ball wouldn’t have increased his chances of cracking the NBA. There may finally be an answer. Recent NBA trends show the younger a player is, the more likely he’ll get nabbed in the first round. Players in their fourth year of college ball — even those who had great collegiate careers — are often passed over in favour of high school players, first-year college athletes or fresh European talent. At the time of the 2003 draft, English’s stock was as high as it could have been while playing college ball at Hawaii. Now, had the Rainbow Warriors came back the next year with English and won the NCAA title, he would have been a lottery pick. But that was not going to happen. Despite some talk of English being nabbed in the first round, he was not chosen and spent last year in the National Basketball Developmental League. While he did not make Seattle’s roster, just getting an invite can be considered a nod to his talent. If he plays his cards right, another shot will come next year. A wise choice, in my mind, would be to head overseas and play in one of the top European leagues. As has been demonstrated during the Oympics and FIBA World Championships, the rest of the world has caught up with the Americans and if English can

A LITTLE OF YOUR TIME IS ALL WE ASK. CONQUERING THE UNIVERSE IS OPTIONAL. Think it requires heroic efforts to be a Big Brother or Big Sister? Think again. It simply means sharing a few moments with a child. Play catch. Build a doghouse. Or help take on mutant invaders from the planet Krang. That’s all it takes to transform a mere mortal like yourself into a super hero who can make a world of difference in a child’s life. For more information...

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland 1-877-513KIDS (5437)

The Independent, October 24, 2004


Page 27

Events OCTOBER 24 Memorial Writes… about Newfoundland and Labrador book fair; 1:30–5 p.m., University Club, 5th floor, Arts and Administration Building. Pavlo: A Mediterranean Man, Labrador West Arts and Culture Centre, tickets $27.50. Twenty-five Years Of Song, Cochrane St. United Church, St. John’s, 3 p.m. Tickets $10/$7. Traditional Song Repertoire Building Workshop, Masonic Temple, Cathedral Street, St.

John’s, 722-2863. Fat Cat Blues & Jazz Bar, Open mic with Colin Harris & Guest. No Cover. Open Book, host Mary Walsh, Cameron Bailey, David Gilmour and Ed Macdonald discuss Down to the Dirt. Airing on CBC Television, at 11 p.m. OCTOBER 25 Random Acts of Poetry Memorial University English Professor and poet to commit random acts of poetry on the streets of St. John’s.

Contact Mary Dalton, 726-5569. Changing the Human Rights Landscape: strategies for preventing discrimination and harassment in higher education and beyond. Oct 25-28, Fairmont Hotel, St. John’s The St. John’s Haunted Hike, Oct. 25–31, 7 p.m., from the stone steps of the Anglican Cathedral, Church Hill. $5. All proceeds raised Halloween night donated to the Camp Delight Children’s Cancer Camp, 685-3444. Fat Cat Blues & Jazz Bar; Open Mic with Jim Bellows, 9 p.m.Close. No Cover.

Define your world. Make a difference in someone elses.

Dublin - October 2004 San Diego - January 2005 Walk or Run a Marathon or half marathon on behalf of someone you know living with arthritis



OCTOBER 26 Memorial’s Sexual Harassment Office presents a public talk from Dr. Christopher Kilmartin titled Myths of Masculinity: Historical, Cultural, and Social Contexts. Room AA-1043, Arts and Administration Building, 7 p.m. LBGT-MUN presents The Queer Monologues, D.F. Cook Recital Hall, 7 p.m. OCTOBER 27 The Woman in Black, LSPU Hall, running every night until Oct. 31, show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $15/$12. Paddy Mcguinty’s Wake dinner theatre, 7 p.m., The Majestic, 5793023. Irish Newfoundland Night, Convention Centre, St. John’s, 6 p.m. Advance tickets only: $47.50 single $95.00 double. Open Mic Night at the Breezeway, MUN campus, 8 p.m. Hosted by Terry McDonald. OCTOBER 28 Beatles Review dinner and show:

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$45/$25. Doors open 6:30 p.m., Majestic Theatre, St. John’s, 5793023. Night of Tales, St. John’s Storytelling Circle. 7:30-9:30 p.m., Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club, St. John’s, 685-3444. OCTOBER 29 Memorial presents internationally renowned speaker, child and youth advocate. Leaders Today: A Morning With Craig Kielburger at 10 a.m. MUN Field House. Halloween Mardi Gras, The Novaks, Matthew Good and other special guests. Gates open 6 p.m., George St., $10. All About Eve, music by Gabriel Fauré, Jack Heggie and others. Tom Gordon, piano. MUN School of Music. D. F. Cook Recital Hall, 8 p.m., $10/$5, 737-4455. Paddy Mcguinty’s Wake dinner theatre, 7 p.m., The Majestic, 5793023. Billy and the Bruisers benefit concert in aid of those with lung disease. CLB Armoury, Harvey Road, 7:30 p.m., 726-4664. OCTOBER 30 Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra: Hibernia and Newfoundland Power presents The 14th Big Ticket, Arts & Culture Centre, 8 p.m., 722-4441. Halloween Mardi Gras, BlueEyed Blonde, Kronic and the CCR tribute band Green River. Gates open 6 p.m., $10. Spangala, evening at Camelot medieval adventure, courtyard cocktails at 7:30 p.m., dinner 8 p.m. Fairmont Newfoundland, showtime 7:30 p.m., 738-3405. Celebration of Newfoundland and Labrador authors, Chapters

bookstore, Kenmount Road, St. John’s, 2 p.m. IN THE GALLERIES Craft Council Gallery exhibition, As Seen with the Listening Heart, until Oct. 31, 59 Duckworth St, 753-2749. Mother Daughter Works is an exhibition of hooked mats by Frances Ennis and oil paintings by Sheila Coultas, MUN Botanical Garden until Oct. 24. 10 a.m-4 p.m. Christmas at the Glacier Craft Fair, Glacier Stadium, Mount Pearl, finishes Oct. 24, 722-8855. Clement Curtis Ed Loves Kelly, Leyton Gallery, Baird’s Cove, on display until Oct. 31, 722-7177. Art Exhibit - St. John’s Harbour, Wyatt Hall, St. John’s City Hall, October 21 – 29. Works by Reginald Shepherd, Ian Sparkes, Scott Goudie, Anne Meredith Barry, Pam Hall, Lois Saunders and more. 576-2563. Art Opening – Ils Sont 19 du Quebec, James Baird Gallery, 221 Duckworth Street, until Nov. 17, 726-4502. Bridging Sea and Sky, oil pastels and watercolours by Linda Swain, until Oct. 30. Pollyanna Gallery, 214 Duckworth Street. Moments in Time, paintings by Gary Kennedy, 1:30-4:30 p.m. until Nov 7. Christopher Pratt Gallery, Bay Roberts. Contemplating Re-Tox, new oils by Ron Andrews, until Nov 11. Christians Pub, George Street. Anita Conti, Photographer: The French Fishery on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, black and white photos, until Jan. 15, Provincial Museum, Duckworth Street.


MORGAN IVAN Looking back, I can say with the clarity of hind- sight that I never get on the Ring Road without thanking Almighty Christ that...

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