VOL. 5 ISSUE 24
ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR — FRIDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 15-21, 2007
$1.50 HOME DELIVERY (HST included); $2.00 RETAIL (HST included)
Socks, underwear and ties for Father’s Day
Fits and giggles at capital city’s first comedy festival
COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST LAWYER WHO ADVISED PARSONS FAMILY AFTER MATTHEW CHURCHILL’S DEATH BRIAN CALLAHAN
complaint has been filed with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador against the lawyer who gave Robert Parsons and his family legal advice the night Matthew Churchill was struck and killed on the Bauline Line. The crux of the allegation is that the lawyer, Keith Rose, advised the Parsons family not to report the incident to police immediately. While Parsons admitted drinking on the day of the crash, he was never charged with an alcohol-related offence because he did not admit his role until three days later. Police, therefore, could not determine how much he drank or his level of impairment. Nor was the accident ever found to be Parsons’ fault. Prosecutors determined he could only be charged with failing to stop and help at the scene of an accident where he knew someone was hurt or killed. He pleaded not guilty, was convicted after a lengthy trial, and sentenced to six months in jail. The complaint is in two parts. The first makes serious allegations of “unethical and unprofessional conduct unbecoming an officer of the courts.” The second alludes to “disturbing and unethical actions best described as ‘surveillance’ ” of the Churchill home and neighbourhood in the months after the terrible March 28, 2005 accident. See “Parsons had,” page 2
Rod Churchill, father of Matthew.
‘Red flagged’ Financial management problems may have spread to other parts of government: Green IVAN MORGAN
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “I can feel absolutely miserable all day … but when you get in front of that camera and the light goes on, something happens. You feel so alive.” — Karl Wells, weatherman See page 17
Agriculture vs. aquaculture — a funding comparison GALLERY 18
Jacob Rolfe’s patterned prints at The Sprout
Voice from Away . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Paper Trail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Crossword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
‘Star contest’ Six Newfoundlanders crack Canadian Idol Top 200 By Brian Callahan The Independent
en Mulroney stood, stereotypically, in front of a fogshrouded longliner as it docked in St. John’s harbour and announced CTV had returned to Newfoundland looking for the next Canadian Idol … runner-up. Good one. It might have been taken as an insult, except the show’s host had history and fact on his side. Most people have come to agree that Idol is more a competition of personality or overall talent than just a singing contest. To that end, the show has broadened its scope and search for the next Canadian Idol by allowing instrument accompaniment. “Being able to play guitar this time made it way better for me,” says 21year-old Dameion Moores, a native of Middle Arm. He, along with five other Newfoundlanders, recently earned a coveted gold ticket and an invitation to the Top 200 auditions in Toronto. Canadian Idol will not reveal the results from that round, or who moved on, until those episodes air over the next few weeks. And neither Moores, Tara Oram of Hare Bay, Todd Scott of Conception Bay South, Gary Patey of River of Ponds on the Northern Peninsula, Josh Barrett of Grand Falls-Windsor, nor Michelle Ralph of Corner Brook
are allowed to say, either. They were the six from this province to earn gold tickets to Toronto. “I tried out last year, and made it to the top 200 then, too, but I wasn’t used to singing just a cappella,” Moores says. “This year I felt much better about my audition.” Oram accepts the fact the contest is about more than voice. “You know what? Zack (Werner, one of the judges) says this isn’t a singing contest. It’s more like a star contest,” says the articulate and personable 23-year-old. “And I do believe that. There are a ton of great singers out there around the world who will never be discovered. You really have to have the whole thing going … and if you don’t you’re kind of out of luck in this contest.” Scott is just grateful for the experience to this point, but he also acknowledges it’s “the whole package” that the judges are looking for. “You only have a short time to impress, and yeah, song selection is so important,” says Scott, 24, who covered tunes by U2, Eric Clapton and Dobie Gray to get the judges’ attention during the St. John’s auditions in early April. “They’re looking for something, ya know? Something or someone who really stands out.” Since the show’s inception four See “Consistently,” page 5
*A symmetrical ambigram is a wordmark written to be legible both rightside-up and upside-down. Happy Father’s Day Dad.
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hief Justice Derek Green says some of the problems that led to the House of Assembly spending scandal could exist in “the departments of the executive branch of government,” including the executive council and premier’s office. Although his terms of reference did not warrant making recommendations regarding potential problems in other government departments, Green says he and his team thought they “ought to raise the red flag and suggest that if people thought it was enough of a concern that they would look at it.” Green says the number of employees in the comptroller general’s office — an office that, like the auditor general, monitors financial matters — has dropped to three from a high of 20 in the 1990s. In 2000, the AG and comptroller general were banned from the legislature. Green says during his review he was told that even if the comptroller general’s presence was reinstated at the House, that office wouldn’t have the resources to check on MHAs through an internal audit. “So it sort of jumped out at us,” Green tells The Independent. “Well, if they don’t have the resources to do it within the House of Assembly, they
may not have the resources to do it throughout the rest of government. “Throughout our work we became aware — and this is no secret because it was documented in the report of the auditor general — that the internal audit resources of the comptroller general’s office had been cut back significantly over the years.” The House of Assembly spending scandal which prompted Green’s report involved constituency allowance overspending more than $1 million and questionable payments to companies of $2.6 million. Green says this is an example of where a lack of resources might be a concern throughout the rest of government; that there may be some weaknesses in the financial management system of government generally. In an e-mailed response to a question about what government is doing to look into Green’s concerns, a spokeswoman for the premier’s offices writes: “Right now we are focused on implementing the recommendations related to the House of Assembly. If additional resources are required they will be implemented to address shortages. But we are in the early stages of this and as we move forward with implementation, all of those issues will be addressed in the appropriate manner.” Auditor General John Noseworthy refused comment on the issue.
Paul Daly/The Independent
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2 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
JUNE 15, 2007
Good to NOI-ya T
he power of the spoken word is not to be denied. Great speeches have changed our world. In some cases it has been for the good, while at other times it has been for the worse. But powerful ideas articulated with passion and conviction have a way of sticking with us. Rhetoric, especially political rhetoric, has a resonance that no other type of speech can provide. Unlike the written word, the spoken word can evoke a lot of emotion and engage people in ways we do not often see these days. If I ask you to think of great speeches some will immediately come to mind. The late president John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address in January 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you …” Martin Luther King in 1963: “I have a dream today …” The famous words of Ronald Regan in East Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall …” These days the great political speech seems to have been lost. Politicians and their speechwriters do not provide us with the kind of public address we once
Page 2 talk enjoyed. So when things like a television address by the premier or the prime minister comes along we no longer expect stirring language and riveting oratory. Our politicians have become a little more pedestrian in their speeches and are more careful these days. More and more the communication directors who work for politicians like to choose language for their leaders that will do no harm versus language that will engage and motivate a population. The day of soaring phrases, passionate hyperbole and vivid word images of big dreams and big outcomes seems to be behind us. Today our political speakers dare not reveal too much of themselves in their speeches. In the end, we get dry and often stale language that is not truly informative and is always “safe.”
Later this month Premier Danny Williams is scheduled to make an address before the annual conference of the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association in St. John’s. It will be the first time he has addressed the group since 2004. His relationship with the oil industry has been a cool one in recent years. Eyebrows were raised when he was asked and accepted the speaking engagement. Government’s failure to negotiate a deal on Hebron Ben Nevis with the subsequent slowdown in industry activity is at the center of that very cool relationship. So when he speaks to the industry association on June 19 he will not be stepping up to the microphone to face the converted. He will be appearing before a tough audience and the ability to move this group to see the world more like he sees it will require a powerful speech and powerful delivery. Last year when the consortium proposing to develop Hebron packed up and left town a lot of industry players placed the blame for the failure at the premier’s feet. The parties involved dropped the whole idea after the province asked for an equity stake in the
development without making any financial contribution. In turn, the consortium asked for tax breaks to cover off that lack of investment by the province. On principle, both sides said no to each other’s ideas and the development was dead. We recognize the association by the acronym NOIA. The premier once referred to them as “annoy-ya.” The premier’s battle over the chairmanship of the offshore petroleum board pitted his favoured choice for the job, Andy Wells, against the federal government’s favourite for the job, Max Ruelokke. That represented instability to the industry. His request for fallow-field legislation, soundly rejected by the federal government, caused oil investors around the world to offer warnings about the premier’s approach. Last month the premier released a portion of the new energy plan for the province. The expansion of Newfoundland Hydro’s role in energy projects including the announcement that any future oil developments will require an equity position for the province of over five per cent may represent further ero-
sion in the relationship between Big Oil and the province. It now looks like the development of Hibernia South will be considered a new project and not an expansion of the original development. The province’s position could delay the development for some time. That means a further slowdown for the local industry. Meanwhile, our current bonanza of oil dollars is going to slow to a trickle in the next few years. The good times could be close to over. Is it even fair to say that we have had any good times up to now? The premier’s speech to NOIA is going to be an interesting one. Will he give us the kind of speech that reminds us of days gone by when stirring rhetoric touched hearts and changed minds? Will he play it safe and use language that does no harm or will he try and bring the local industry on side? I’m looking forward to this speech. I hope to get a ticket. Randy Simms is host of VOCM’s Open Line radio program. firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Parsons had legal obligation’ From page 1
On June 8, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers’ union and the Association of Seafood Producers agreed to extend the lumpfish fishery by two weeks. The groups hope to assist fishermen hindered by ice and cold water conditions during this year’s season. The FFAW says about 400 barrels of roe have been caught so far, but they normally see several thousand taken. DFO photo
In short, the complaint — filed by Matthew’s father, Rod, with the assistance of his own lawyer — alleges the actions of Rose, who practices law in St. John’s, possibly helped Parsons dodge more serious charges and sentencing. Rose, an acquaintance of the Parsons’ family, was the first lawyer they called after the accident. Bob Simmonds was retained after the fact and defended Parsons at trial. Parsons served four months and is now free and living in central Newfoundland. “Robert Parsons had a legal obligation to immediately identify himself to the police. Mr. Rose’s advice to him, given through (Parsons’) wife, instructed him to violate the law by not immediately reporting the accident, and it obstructed the police investigation,” reads the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Independent. “It very likely allowed Robert Parsons to escape criminal liability for causing our son’s death.” There’s no dispute that Rose was called at least once in the midst of the shock and mayhem that night. Several witnesses at Parsons’ trial — including his wife Joan and other family members — testified under oath that Rose was called and gave direction. Here is a portion of Joan Parsons’ testimony: Defence: “What is your understanding of the advice that (Rose) gave you that evening? Joan Parsons: “The lawyer told us, or asked me, if we had some place to go for the night, and I said yes, and he said well leave the house and be at my office for nine o’clock in the morning and that’s what we did.” Defence: “OK, so where did you go?” Joan Parsons: “We went to the Delta Hotel.” Rod Churchill remains frustrated that after six months of trying to retrieve the trial transcripts from the court, he still doesn’t have them all. There may or may not be more detail of what was said between Rose and Joan Parsons, but he says what he has seen begs the question: “Why did Rose tell them to leave? “If there was nothing or no one to hide, why not tell them to do the right thing — the legal, ethical and moral thing — and just call the police?” The Parsons did as they were told, and went to Rose’s office for further advice the next morning. Later that day, they went to the police, who were still frantically searching for the hit-and-run car that had killed a 15year-old boy the night before. But Joan Parsons only told police “a car of interest” — her car — was in the family driveway. At trial, Joan Parsons confirmed the police asked her to give a statement, but she said Rose “told her not to.” “We believe that this is proof of Keith Rose’s involvement in a conspiracy to protect Robert Parsons from criminal liability,” reads the complaint to the law society. “Rose had to know that Robert Parsons had an obligation to at least report the accident, and himself as the driver, to the police. His advice was for him to avoid that obligation.” The second part of the complaint deals with allegations that Rose was seen driving through the neighbourhood and past the Churchill’s home often in the months after the accident. According to the complaint, at one point while Desma Churchill visited her son’s grave, she reported a vehicle slowly driving past and eventually stopping alongside the cemetery. Suspicious, she approached the Jeep but it drove away. The complaint states she got the licence number and reported it to police, who confirmed it was registered to Rose. Contacted later by police, Rose confirmed he was in the area, but only on business, the document states. This is not the first complaint filed with the law society against Rose. In fact, it’s the third in as many years. In the two previous matters — in 2004 and 2006 — he was found guilty, reprimanded, and ordered to pay fines of $2,500, as well as expenses incurred by the law society in the investigation and hearing of the complaint. The law society would not reveal the nature of the old complaints against Rose. Messages were left with staff at Rose’s law office this week, but he could not be reached for comment. The Parsons did return a call from The Independent, but declined comment, saying they have yet to read the complaint. Asked if obstruction of justice charges were ever considered against Rose — based on testimony at trial — the Crown prosecutor, Wynne Anne Trahey (recently appointed a provincial court judge), referred The Independent to police. RNC spokesman Const. Paul Davis said the lead investigator on the case was unavailable this week for comment. And the law society does not comment on complaints until or unless a decision is made to proceed to a disciplinary hearing. On average, it can take up to six months for that to happen. These days, the Churchills are attempting to reconstruct their lives and move on in the wake of losing their only child. But there are telling signs — in their words and actions — that it’ll be a long, if not impossible feat. Their answering machine still tells callers that neither Rod, Desma nor Matthew can come to the phone. email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTNEWS • 3
Nellie Clarke of Brookside, Placentia Bay took these shots of a home being towed across the bay, a farm tractor and a beautiful ripple on the water while the sun was going down.
SCRUNCHINS A weekly collection of Newfoundlandia
eorge W. Bush appeared to have his $50 Timex watch stolen this week when he stuck his hand in a crowd of Albanians. According to the Guardian News Service, as the villagers of Fushe Kruja, near Albania’s capital, crowded the president, applauding and chanting “Booshie, Booshie,” a video appears to show someone in the crowd taking advantage of the melee to lift the president’s watch. A White House spokesperson told Guardian News Service that Bush had simply taken his watch off. A Newfoundlander would never steal a president’s watch — we’re more likely to save his life. BIG HEAD Take the late Walter Carter — onetime deputy mayor of St. John’s, MHA, provincial Fisheries minister, and federal MP — and how he apparently foiled an assassination attempt on the life of the late-U.S. president Richard Nixon. It’s true — you can read about it in Carter’s 1998 book Never a Dull Moment. Born on Ship Island, Bonavista Bay, Carter was serving as Conservative MP for St. John’s West in 1972 when Nixon dropped by Ottawa for a visit. The Government of Canada hosted a gala concert that night at the National Arts Centre. Also in attendance was Arthur H. Bremer, a 21-year-old native of Wisconsin who had arrived in the country a few hours earlier for the express purpose of taking Nixon out. Bremer was convicted later that year of gunning down Alabama governor George C. Wallace. During the investigation into the Wallace shooting, Bremer revealed his diabolical plan for the National Arts Centre. Wrote Carter: “He (Bremer) told police, ‘Every time I tried to get a bead on Nixon, the fellow sitting behind him would get in the way. The guy must have had the fidgets. He kept shifting positions, and his big head blocked my view.’ ” Carter figured the big head belonged to him — his hat size was seven and three quarters, and he had a full head of curly hair at the time — but also because he was seated directly behind Nixon in the third row and he was noted for being fidgety. “My mother used to say, ‘You’re like a cat on hot rocks.’ “Circumstantial evidence, you say,” wrote Carter. “Maybe so. But who knows — perhaps if it were not for my big head and the fidgets, there would have been no Watergate scandal; (and) the United States would
still be up to its neck in the Vietnam War.” Who knows, maybe George wouldn’t have had his Timex stolen either, and Danny and Steve would be best buds … BUSHWHACKED Of course, you can’t mention Bush without bringing up the Rick Mercer incident. “Talking to Americans” was one of Mercer’s comedy routines on This Hour Has 22 Minutes in which the Outer Cove funnyman conducted on-the-street interviews that showed the average American’s ignorance about Canada. Mercer pulled a “Talking to Americans” stunt on Bush in 2000 when he got the thenpresidential candidate to answer questions about non-existent Canadian prime minister Jean Poutine. To this day Bush apparently refuses to accept an interview from the CBC. Maybe the next time Bush is in Canada CBC journalists should meet him at the airport screaming, “Booshie, Booshie.” They wouldn’t walk away empty handed … ANGELS HAVE MERCY Back to the Carter family … Walter’s son, Glen Carter of NTV anchor-desk fame, has signed a book deal with Breakwater Books. A journalist for more than 25 years, Carter’s book is titled Angels of Maradona, an action novel delving into international crime. “Set in Colombia, Canada and the U.S., the novel boasts murder, romance, mystery, the illegal drug trade and global politics in a sleek and clever writing style.” All the story seems to be missing is a Big Head and assassination attempt. Keep working on it Glen … MADNESS METHOD Conservative MPs can’t seem to catch a break in this neck of the Canadian woods these days. The June 18th issue of Maclean’s magazine includes a feature headlined, Say it with a snarl, The Conservatives are angry. Is there a method to their madness? The article says Conservative clashes capture all the attention, while the “constructive” work of others goes all but unnoticed. The next sentence is a notable one: “Opposition MPs generally praise the Conservative chairman of the citizenship committee, MP Norman Doyle, for keeping the peace in that potentially divisive study of refugee issues.” That’s our Norm. Too bad about the turning-your-back-on-NL thing … DANNY CHAVEZ Derek DeCloet of the Globe and Mail gave it to Danny Williams recently in a column headlined, Danny Chavez makes life harder on the Rock. DeCloet argued that while the province’s unemployment rate has dropped to 12.9 per cent from nearly 17 per cent at the start of the decade, the stat “hides as much as it tells.” The “hard facts,” he writes, are these: “Barely half — 51.5 per cent — of working-age Newfoundlanders
Hosts of Canada AM, Seamus O'Regan and Beverly Thomson, were live at The Rooms this week.
have a job.” Newfoundland’s job boom “is a mirage,” DeCloet figures, “roughly the same number of jobs exist there today as in October 2003 when Williams was elected. It’s the size of the labour force that has shrunk, because residents are moving to Fort McMurray and other points west.” That begs the question why Newfoundlanders are leaving in record numbers. Oh right, the federal government murdered the fishery (I like to get that point out every second or third column). Wrote DeCloet: “The quickest way to fix the poisoned business environment would be for voters to kick Mr. Williams out this fall.” Keep in mind the comment is coming from a newspaper that once referred to Hibernia as the biggest make-work project in Canadian history … BIG WINNER It was only on March 24 that the Globe wrote an editorial headlined,
Newfoundland’s fine, thank you very much. In it, the editorial writer wrote about how Danny had no basis to complain about the federal budget or its impact on equalization and the Atlantic Accord (a new report out this week by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council was the latest to suggest otherwise). Wrote the Globe: “Newfoundland is the big winner in the equalization sweepstakes. Either Mr. Williams does not understand the arithmetic or he is playing his usual politics with the federation.”
Nicholas Langor/ The Independent
The Globe is taking its time with that correction … MACDONALD SELLS FARM The Canadian Television Fund has nominated our own Dean MacDonald, president of Persona Communications, as one of three new board members (a deal to sell Persona was announced back in May). The television fund was created in 1996 to support the broadcast of high quality, distinctively Canadian television programs. Financed by contributions from Ottawa, the Canadian cable and direct-to-home satellite industries and Telefilm Canada, the fund had revenues last year of $273 million. What do you say Dean? With that kind of cash, how about a made-for-TV mini-series about the North American treasure that was the honourable Walter’s large head … firstname.lastname@example.org
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4 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
JUNE 15, 2007
By Ivan Morgan The Independent
ased on a recommendation from the Green report, as of July 1 MHAs will collect a straight salary of $92,580, which includes an already scheduled three-per-cent raise. Combined with adjusted pension benefits, that makes their full compensation the third richest in Canada, behind only Nova Scotia and Quebec. Tax-free allowances, indemnities and other confusing terminology are, says Green, a thing of the past. He says MHAs treated their non-taxable allowances as salary; his recommendation makes it just that. Green takes pains to ensure MHA compensation — their new salary, pension, and severance package — is calculated in such a way they do not make any more money, or “windfalls,” from any of the adjustments he recommends. He compares MHAs’ pay to the pay cheques of others in the province. Their pay “far exceeds” the province’s 2005 average family income of $51,500. And the $92,580 places them in the province’s top three per cent of wage earners. MHAS, says Green, rank fifth amongst the 13 provincial and territorial legislatures in terms of salary levels. “That is not bad for a province that perennially ranks last among provinces in a number of important economic indicators.” A recent Nova Scotia commission reviewing its MLA pay described Newfoundland and Labrador MHA levels of compensation as “excessive or aberrant.” In his report, Green examined the nature of MHAs’ work to establish if the term “professional” applies. He notes that while the job requirements of an MHA “do not perfectly” fit the generally accepted tenets of a professional (there is no education requirement, certification procedure or requirement for continuing education), there are enough to deem the job a profession. He says while being an MHA is a fulltime job, they should not be prohibited from conducting other work or business, so long as it does not interfere with their work as an MHA. But, says Green, they should be fined $200 a day as a “visible consequence” of not being in attendance while the House is in session without “acceptable reasons,” which he lists. The existing pension plan for MHAs is too generous and too expensive to the taxpayer, says Green, chief justice of the trial division of Newfoundland Supreme Court. He says adjustments made to the
Derek Green, chief justice of the trial division of Newfoundland Supreme Court at his home.
Paul Daly/The Independent
‘Excessive and aberrant’ Green report leaves MHA salaries and pensions at generous levels province’s public service pension plans stand in “stark perspective” to the fact that MHAs’ plans were not similarly adjusted. He recommends changing the plan to a defined contribution, RRSPtype pension and that the plan be made to conform to other public service plans. Green says while the formal requirements of the job — attending the House while it is in session, on average between 42 to 60 days a year — makes the job appear easy, most MHAs work long hours and face many demands and pressures. That, he says, makes setting a proper salary challenging. In his report he examines the balance between offering pay so low only the
rich can afford to serve as MHAs, or offering pay so high that people run for office just for the money, and not for the desire to serve the public. The most important principle, says Green, is ensuring the salary is not so low that it acts as a deterrent to those interested in public service. In the future, MHAs should not be allowed to decide their own salaries, allowances, severances, and pensions, Green says. This should be decided by “independent persons capable of representing the public interest in ensuring that fair and reasonable remuneration is paid” to MHAs. email@example.com
Source: Green report
Whistleblower legislation to blow through House
espite the fact half the MHAs surveyed by Derek Green are against whistleblower legislation, the top trial judge recommends a law be struck to protect public servants or anyone else who speaks up with evidence of financial abuse or other impropriety by anyone in the legislative branch of government. Green says it is “obvious” there were public servants who were aware of constituency allowance overpayments and other financial abuses in the House during the period he investigated. He says the existence of so-called
whistleblower legislation may have prompted some to come forward earlier with revelations of systemic abuse. Such legislation provides public servants (or employees in private companies) a way of reporting misdoings — usually to an impartial third party — without fear of reprisal from superiors. While there is no such protection in place for any part of the province’s public service — and no other legislature in Canada has such a policy either — Green recommends it be implemented to govern Newfoundland and Labrador’s legislature. Such legislation would remove “the public suspicion that MHAs have something to hide,” he says, and would
improve public confidence that the political system is open and transparent. While one of Green’s recommendations is to give the Clerk of the House increased responsibilities, he says the whistleblower policy should have a wider scope. In order to protect all members of the legislative branch — and to save taxpayers’ money by not setting up another expensive office — the chief justice says the citizens’ representative should be given the role of investigator of allegations made under the policy. Green’s research indicates there is still institutional resistance to such a policy.
In his survey to MHAs, Green asked if they were in favour of an independent body that would receive complaints about possible fraudulent behaviour by MHAs and protect the whistleblower from reprisal. Fifty per cent of those surveyed strongly or moderately disagreed with the idea. Green noted people in the public eye, like MHAs, may feel more vulnerable to malicious attack from people with “an axe to grind,” but he says a fair system would protect them from unnecessary harm. The need for provincial government whistleblower legislation has been voiced regularly over the past several
years. Teachers, nurses, and the head of the province’s largest public sector union have called for protection for employees who speak out. In 2006, Paradise Elementary school was closed because of controversy over mould. Opposition Education critic Roland Butler said at the time that he had received calls from other teachers under the Eastern School District who were afraid to speak up regarding health concerns in their school. At the time, Butler called for the government to implement whistleblower legislation to protect teachers who spoke out. firstname.lastname@example.org
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6 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
JUNE 15, 2007
‘An unclean thing’ “Politics have come to be regarded as an unclean thing which no self-respecting man should touch; the very word ‘politician’ is virtually a term of abuse which carries with it a suggestion of crookedness and sharp practice. Many of the working people have a contempt for the politician. The so-called ‘modernization’ of politics, and the introduction into political life of men who sought to make a living out of their political activism, have been responsible for this deplorable state of affairs.” — Amulree Commission report of 1933 that led to the suspension of Responsible Government.
hey may be the most damning documents in Newfoundland and Labrador political history, but the recently released three-volume, 1,312page review commission analysis of the spending scandal doesn’t name a single politician. Not one. Page after page of the main report slams politicians of all stripes for years of poor decisions, wild incompetency, disregard for taxpayers and timelines, quiet, backroom deals, and a willingness to spend like drunken sailors while lording over a debt-ridden province, but not
Fighting Newfoundlander one MHA is singled out for the despicable deeds that were done. The headings say it all: Successive Increases in Constituency Allowances; Relaxed Furniture and Equipment Guidelines; Enhanced Severance Benefit; Increased Salaries and Benefits for Parliamentary Positions; Discrepancy in IEC (Internal Economy Commission) Minutes; Delayed and Incomplete Reporting to the House of Assembly; Audit Hiatus — Diminished Controls; Fund Transfers Near Year End; Inadequate Reporting; Unusual Appeal Process; Expedited Payment of Claims; Double Signing; Authorization of Payments Electronically — “Sight Unseen”; Inadequate Documentation; Auditor General Denied Access; Audit Process Delayed; Further Delays and Discrepancies. Chief Justice Derek Green tells The Independent he did not name names because his report was not designed to
point fingers. “It was not our function to say Mr. X or Mr. Y was responsible. So, to be honest with you, I try to take considerable care in writing the report not to refer to individuals, because frankly, whether it’s MHA X or IEC member Y who did it, I don’t care.” I do. And taxpayers should the next time they step in a ballot box. In his report, Green quotes Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: “Given the heavy trust and responsibility taken on by the holding of public office or employ, it is appropriate that government officials are correspondingly held to codes of conduct which, for an ordinary person, would be quite severe.” There’s nothing severe in Green’s report for the ordinary politician. Nothing more severe than a dirty look and shake of the head. Green’s report may be severe in its sweeping condemnation of financial controls in the House of Assembly, but at the same time he notes the danger of describing something as a “systemic failure” is the tendency to “de-personalize” the nature of the problems. “We should never forget that a systemic failure is always, at its root, a fail-
ure of people.” Those people, for the most part, appear to be getting off scot-free. A second report on the spending scandal is being written by auditor general John Noseworthy. He will likely name names in terms of how individual politicians spent the slush funds that were their constituency allowances. Contacted this week, Noseworthy refused comment on whether he will name any of the politicians responsible for the string of shameful financial decisions. It’s possible that not a single politician may be singled out, which is ridiculous, but that’s what happens when politicians are left to decide the fate of their own kind. The only way to ultimately get to the bottom of the scandal was with a fullfledged public inquiry, but the time for that may be past. The irony of the Green report is that when, and if, his new rules and recommendations are fully implemented MHAs will actually be entitled to more in terms of financial resources and allowances. The MHA for Baie Verte, for example, would be entitled to almost $79,000 for office allowances, travel and living,
inter-constituency travel and constituency allowance under the Green system, compared to $65,700 currently — an increase of almost $13,000. In fact, all but three of the 48 MHAs will experience an increase, with the total budget rising to $2.8 million from $2.5 million. Looks like MHAs are getting more money. “Most people are,” says Green. “Yup, that’s right.” He explains it by saying allowances have been straightened out and categorized. There have also been policy changes — every MHA should have a “properly funded and resourced” office in their district, for example. Some MHAs — those in St. John’s, say — may decide not to open an office in the city. (Imagine that — politicians not spending money they’re entitled to.) Green says the increased allowances don’t amount to more money in an MHA’s pocket, “this is to provide them with the resources to do the job.” Like Green says, if you want people to do the job properly you’ve got to pay for it. Fair enough, but we also have to pay — and pay so very dearly — when politicians don’t do the job properly. email@example.com
YOUR VOICE Assassinating the National Theatre of Newfoundland Dear editor, So Andy Wells thinks it would be a good idea to thieve the $500,000 that the city has promised to the long-established, publicly owned LSPU Hall, and give it to a private developer to create a new theatre instead. I have no connection whatsoever with the LSPU Hall these days, but I’m the person who found the building and decided to turn it into an arts space 32 years ago. It was primarily myself and two colleagues who worked to raise funds, buy the building, renovate it, and open it as a downtown cultural centre in 1976. We were not wealthy developers; we were poor artists. We did this with support from local business, organizations and individuals but without one red cent of help from the city or the province. We established a public organization that has owned and operated the hall for over 30 years. During that time it has proven itself to be the most vital theatre resource in the province, fostering virtually every major talent to emerge here in three
decades. Some have called it the National Theatre of Newfoundland. Now the mayor wants to assassinate it in favour of a private developer with no arts experience. By all means let us have a 500-seat theatre in St. John’s if it is actually needed. By all means let the mayor and a private developer create it. Together they must have the skills to do it at least as well as a handful of starving artists. Let them do it as successfully as we did: buy the building yourselves, renovate it yourselves, set up a nonprofit organization to own the whole place, run it for 30 years, make it into the new National Theatre of Newfoundland, prove that it is vital to the cultural life of our city and our province, and you will have done us — the public — a great service. Then come back and ask for $500,000 from our public purse. Then you will deserve it. Just like the LSPU Hall. Good luck to you. Chris Brookes, St. John’s
‘We expect our prime minister to be trustworthy and fair’
Book of Newfoundland unreliable reference
Dear editor, Once again Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have seen our national government use trickery to rob us of our resources and revenues. We have worked so hard over the years to make our province a more prosperous place only to have the federal Conservatives turn their backs on us. The Stephen Harper government has chosen to ignore Atlantic Canada and pursue votes in larger centres such as Ontario and Quebec. They call it equalization, but we call it feathering their nest to ensure political survival. No longer will the people of our province stand down and let you destroy our future. The Atlantic Accord was signed by the Government of Canada, and it was created to ensure that we receive maximum benefits from our non-renewable resources. Mr. Harper has made statements recently that he has kept the Accord structure intact and kept his promise. What the prime minister doesn’t tell
Dear editor, The Book of Newfoundland you quote as the source of your information on the Jewish community in our province (Scrunchins, June 8, by Ryan Cleary) was published 70 years ago and cannot be considered a reliable reference work. Israel Perlin was certainly an important figure in the Jewish community in Newfoundland, but he did not found the first synagogue and it wasn’t on Water Street. According to the Daily News of Sept. 7, 1895, there were 15 Jews “who meet regularly as opportunity allows in an improvised synagogue over the building occupied by Mr. Blumenthal.” Five adult members of the Blumenthal family lived and worked in St. John’s at that time, at 134 (now 166) Duckworth Street. Older people will remember it as Dr. Stafford’s drugstore, but today it accommodates the Bird House. Your readers might be interested to know that a house at the foot of Anchor Rock Hill in Carbonear, built by Methodist convert Simon Levi and later occupied by the Forward family, was known as “The Synagogue” for over a century. It was this house that
Canadians is that he slipped a punitive cap into the equation that changed our revenue potential by billions of dollars. If he really believes in equalization he should honour the intent of the Accord and create a prosperous country from east to west. Premier Danny Williams is calling on our federal government to honour its commitment and to ensure equality nationwide. Alberta over the last 10 years has used nonrenewable resource revenues to pay off its debt. They spent half of the revenues and used the rest to pay off provincial debt, and now have an estimated $8 billion surplus this year. Alberta didn’t have a cap on nonrenewable resources when they received equalization from 1957-1964, and now you expect other provinces to accept less than they deserve. The prime minister says we should take his government to court, and we will on election day. G. Frank Power, Outer Cove
AN INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR
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Premier Danny Williams
Premier’s biggest problem ‘is his mouth’ Dear editor, A person should be careful when it comes to taking on somebody. Danny Williams is acting pretty tough with Stephan Harper and company. From my view, Williams is practising green at its best. Yet if he proceeds with his hydro-electric scheme, he will need mega dollars and the cheapest supplier will, of course, be the federal government. It will be the federal government negotiating transmission deals with Quebec, etc. Williams’ biggest problem is his mouth. He keeps referring to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. OK, I’m one of them and have been in Ontario since 1956. What has he done to encourage those Newfoundlanders and Labradorians working and living in Alberta to come home and work — or, for that matter, those of us in Ontario. Yes, you can always talk a good fight, but being engaged in one is a horse with a different colour. David Mallard, Listowel, Ont.
was attacked by a mob in November 1836 when Mr. Levi gave evidence against Roger Thomey for election violence perpetrated against Thomas Ridley and a Mr. Prowse. Might I add that we here in Labrador read The Independent with great interest and we particularly appreciate that it arrives on our newsstands on the day it is actually published. Robin McGrath, Goose Bay
Time and tide wait … for politicians Dear editor, Ryan Cleary’s vital themes in his June 15 column, It ain’t over until AG sings, should be ingested by concerned citizens who desire a catharsis of our body politic. I cringe to think Judge Derek Green’s 80 recommendations for cleansing would be glossed over with toothless platitudes and deceiving rhetoric. Green’s report rests in wobbly government hands. With all parties scarred and bruised, expect unanimity on sensitive clauses that hit too close to the political bone. A bit like giving the fox the blueprint to the new hencoop. We will not witness the acrimony indigenous to the House of Assembly when the report is introduced. Certain pieces will float by like a cold draft on a summer evening.
Meanwhile, the people await a lengthy police investigation into alleged abuse of constituency allowances by Randy Collins, Jim Walsh, Percy Barrett, Ed Byrne, and Wally Andersen. It is time the taxpayers received a solid update on the millions that allegedly slipped through somebody’s finders. Time and tide wait for no person, but it is becoming apparent that certain people are praying for time to erase memories and tide to carry allegations to the ends of the earth. I understand the five persons under the probe were asked by the minister of Finance to provide a schedule for repayment. It’s time for the good people of this province to join forces and demand accountability. Jim Combden, Badger’s Quay
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTNEWS • 5
Consistently in the top 5
Province’s ports full of potential; mayors target sailboat traffic
From page 1
By Mandy Cook The Independent
ort aux Basques Mayor Brian Button has put a lot of thought into the future of what he says is the centrepiece and main attraction of his west coast community: the protected, ice-free harbour. “We have a lot of tourism that is floating by us each and every year,” he says. “We’ve noticed it for years on a small scale. A yacht may come in here and there, and it seems they stay for several days, and the first thing they’re enchanted by is the mountains and right away they want to go exploring.” Button says his town’s harbour is the gateway to the province and should be treated as such. Much like the Gateway Village on Prince Edward Island, he says there should be more of an attraction to greet the thousands of visitors coming ashore at Port aux Basques every year. While live music performed at Scott’s Cove Park — part of the $500,000 invested in the area over the years — draws a crowd of locals and tourists alike to the harbour front five nights a week in the summer, Button says more can be done. “I believe if we do it right our harbour will become a very important tool within our community … to move in two or three different areas to be able to sell our community to other investors … a harbour becomes a very important key to show you’re able to ship out any products that could be made or done here in the area.” In St. John’s, the Newfoundland Association of Architects recently hosted a Harbour Charrette, where interested members of the public were invited to contribute their vision of how the harbour should look. Chief amongst the reconstructive possibilities were the restoration of finger piers to break up the monolithic
Sailing on Conception Bay.
wharf, green space, pedestrian walkways and a small-boat marina for sailboats. Newly graduated landscape architect and Cow Head native Andrea Rowe says the key to beautifying the capital city’s harbourfront is connecting people with the ocean. “Right now it’s a barrier, it’s not something welcomed or embraced,” she says of the industrial working port. “I think pulling people down and creating that cultural connection … we’re from the ocean and surrounded by water and really having such a beautiful entry to this harbour and enhancing that is (important).” Architect Mark Penney says it is the association’s hope the drawings resulting from the brainstorming session will work themselves into the minds of the city’s residents, business people and government officials. “They could become the impetus to get some developers interested in pursuing a direction they may not otherwise have pursued, or maybe have some impact on the municipal plan or the direction the city might want to take things,” Penney says. Port Union on the Bonavista Peninsula is no stranger to harbour revitalization. The restored Factory building, row housing and railway station are all tourist magnets, so Mayor Tim Duffett sees no reason to stop,
Paul Daly/The Independent
especially when tourist traffic arrives by road and sea. “Most of those people with the yachts and sailboats don’t want to be tied up next to fishing boats in a busy port with forklifts going and the noise. That’s not what they need. So if we did have a few of these smaller ports (built up) they could come in for an overnight stay,” he says. Duffett says his quiet, picturesque town is just what sailing visitors — some hailing from as far away as Australia — are looking for. The town is working on restoring its saltfish plant and wharf to complement the rest of its harbourfront, beautifying the area for those seeking authentic history. He says the wharf will be big enough to host cruise ships and the inside of the complex can house a business venture with a bottled water operation being one possibility. Duffett calculates the town of Port Union will need between $1.8 million and $2 million to complete the work. A lot of money, he admits, but worth the “unbelievable” beauty returned to the landmark architecture of his home. He hopes the restored saltfish plant ushers in eager visitors much like the building guided the town’s generations of fishermen. email@example.com
Plenty of problems in health care, experts agree; doctors’ qualifications not among them By Ivan Morgan The Independent
he acting dean of Memorial University’s medical school, the Liberal Opposition health critic and the minister of Health all agree that despite a serious shortage of physicians in the province — especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador — the quality of doctors has not dropped. But that’s all they agree on. How a negative perception has developed, how it can be addressed, and what “real” troubles doctors face depend on who you ask. Liberal Health critic Dwight Ball says the province’s health system does not accept doctors who are not properly trained. He says the issue facing the health system is the high turnover of doctors, especially in rural areas. He says a turnover rate of 10 per cent per year, and close to 100 vacancies in the system, is hurting the health-care system and the people who depend on it. There are places in the province where they have been looking for specialists “for years,” Ball adds. “And we’re seeing the same thing with family physicians, particularly in rural areas,” Ball tells The Independent, “where
a family physician would come in and stay there for two years and they’re gone. “There continues to be a cycle of people coming in for short periods of time and moving on.” A review of the work of two radiologists — one from Burin and one from Gander — is being conducted after questions were raised about their diagnoses. It involves the review of thousands of cases. Ball says the primary solution always comes down to compensation and benefits for doctors. Dr. Sharon Peters, acting dean of MUN’s Faculty of Medicine, points to the success they have had with graduates working in rural Newfoundland. The school boasts the best retention of graduates working in rural practice of any province in Canada. “When you look at our own graduates, a good 40 per cent come from rural Newfoundland, and they do go back to rural practice,” says Peters. She says recruitment and retention of doctors is more difficult in some areas of the province than others, and that is where the province relies on international graduates. But judging the quality of doctors trained outside Canada can be tricky, she says.
“We can’t be arrogant and say we are the only ones who can train doctors and anybody trained outside Canada is not as well trained.” She says the medical school has several programs that look at the training needs of foreign doctors, most of it in family medicine. Peters says they currently cannot provide that training for specialists. She says she doesn’t know if the two episodes involving radiologists would have occurred if they had training at MUN’s medical school. But she does know providing more training at the school will require more resources than they have. Peters says the school has been looking at increasing class size — they take a minimum of 40 Newfoundlanders a year — because she says with an aging population “we are going to need more.” It is hard to know if taking more students now will translate into less of a shortage later because of the time it takes to train a doctor, she says. Health Minister Ross Wiseman says understanding the process by which doctors are licensed to practise would dispel people’s concerns about their qualifications. firstname.lastname@example.org
years ago, Newfoundlanders have done that, placing in the top five each year in the nationwide phenomenon that has become Canadian Idol. And that’s despite the same old tired complaints that the phone voting system is either rigged or somehow favours mainland competitors. Truth is, a majority of people here and elsewhere abuse the judging themselves by voting — over and over — to support their favourite contestant. Many voters don’t even see the performances because they’re waiting at a pay phone for lines to open. At American Idol this year a votefor-the-worst contestant website was actually created. Scott Henderson, CTV’s senior director of communications, believes Canadians are less cynical, but notes at least the phone voting system is monitored closely for abuse. “It’s extremely sophisticated to the point where we can track where every single vote is coming from. So, if we see a large number of votes — like 1,000 — coming from the same number in a short period, we’re able to discount those votes.” That said, the show will not limit the rules to one vote per person. “The idea behind Canadian Idol is that it is an interactive experience, where the people decide who moves forward and who doesn’t. If we limit it to one vote per telephone, then it’s only one vote per household, and there may be many differing opinions in one house as to who are their favourites. “Ultimately, it’s better to allow people who want to vote for one person, to do so as much as they like.” Asked if there’s a concern that voting is tainted by so-called “homers,” Henderson admitted that plays a role but can’t decide the winner. “The great thing about Canadian Idol is that it does create a lot of hometown heroes, and fosters a lot of pride in hometown talent,” Henderson said from Toronto. Consistent top-five placings are impressive, and back-to-back second place finishes had locals in a tizzy, but the Idol title has eluded Newfoundlanders to date. Four years ago, it was Jenny Gear who broke through with a fifth-place finish. A year later, Jason Greeley managed to place fourth. Then Rex Goudie had Newfoundlanders on the edge of their seats by
Dameion Moores, Middle Arm
Tara Oram, Hare Bay
Todd Scott, C.B.S.
making it to the final before losing to Calgary’s Melissa O’Neill in what was said to be the closest vote in the show’s short history. And last year, Craig Sharpe duplicated Goudie’s feat. So what are Newfoundland’s chances this year? “There’s just so much talent there, which is why we come back each year,” Henderson said. “It’s only a matter of time before a Newfoundlanders wins Canadian Idol.” The next episode airs Monday (9:30 NL time) when the judges begin narrowing the top 200 down to the top 22. email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTNEWS • 7
Racism lessons from the Truxtun
he first thing I noticed about him was how immaculately he was dressed. I don’t notice these things as a rule, but how could you not? His shirt was starched, and collar stiff white. His suit was beautifully cut to fit his tall, thin frame. Tie knot tight and perfect. His gold watch gleamed on his black skin. His shoes were shined so perfectly I could actually watch the image of our host walking about the room reflected on the toe, as he sat, legs crossed, on the sofa. A year ago this spring I was invited by my friend to have dinner with Lanier Phillips, the man famous for having survived the wreck of the American destroyer Truxtun on Newfoundland’s south coast in February 1942. Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know the story — how the Truxtun and supply ship Pollux were driven onto the rocks near St. Lawrence with the loss of 293 souls; 186 saved, one of whom was Mr. Phillips. Most, too, know that Mr. Phillips’ experience with the people of St. Lawrence made him see racism for
Rant & Reason what it is — a sick aberration of human behaviour. By being themselves, and treating him like they would treat anyone, they opened his eyes. I knew. But it’s one thing to know, it is another to sit with the man and listen to him tell you. To hear him say, in his simple, softspoken way that as a boy, although he desperately wanted to learn, he was afraid to go to school. The Ku Klux Klan — the guys in the pointy-hooded masks — had burned his school down. They had it out for blacks who could read. To hear him talk about joining the navy because shining white men’s shoes and serving and cleaning up their meals was better than trying to raise cotton and a family in Georgia, all the
while waiting for the midnight visit from the Klan. He took me back with him to that night on that doomed destroyer, his friends wide-eyed in terror, looking out a porthole at the savage blizzard, feeling the boat shake and shudder on the awful rocks. The crew had told them they were off Iceland, and that Icelanders would kill any black men they saw. They were too scared to take to the lifeboats. Phillips spoke of arguing with them, trying to make them take their chances with a lynch mob over the certain doom of staying put. They weren’t going. They were staying with the ship. Phillips made for land. All his friends died that night. Phillips lived. He was rescued by the people of St. Lawrence and in the day or two he stayed with them learned that racism is not a fact of nature. The people treated him like they did everyone else. For a man who has no doubt told this story 10,000 times, there was still wonder in his 80-year-old eyes. Before the wreck of the Truxtun, he had the white world against him. After
St. Lawrence he had the white world to overcome. He told me of going back to the States after his rescue, and of being thrown to the floor and having a pistol held to his head — while he was in his navy uniform — by a furious police officer who threatened to kill him then and there. His crime? He had walked into a “whites only” building. The whites? German POWs. The enemy rated higher in that society than an enlisted black man. As we ate dinner I listened as he spoke of his battles with the navy after St. Lawrence, after he had seen for himself that racism was not a fact of life. It took almost two more decades, but Phillips went on to become the first black sonar technician in the American navy. It may sound mundane, but it was an epic struggle for this gentle, goodnatured man. Was it a thrill to meet this living piece of Newfoundland history? Sure. But there was — for me — an unexpected thrill to the evening. Quite by accident he mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King. I pounced on the remark.
He knew Dr. King well. Attended his church services. Listened to him preach. Marched with him in support of civil rights for blacks in Selma, Ala. He spoke of being drawn to King, and what he had to say. I was transfixed. As we ate dinner I watched him as he spoke with the other guests. His manner was slow and studied. Did he tell a few stories twice? Sure. He is, after all, over 80. But to me, it was his wonder, his dignified bearing, his quiet thoughtfulness that hinted to me of the vast reservoir of patience and determination he had tapped into over the decades. The problem with racism is the terrible gap that lies between each of us. The problem with racism is that every single person has to learn for themselves how destructive it is. Every one who doesn’t costs the rest of us mightily. Would that every young person could have had dinner with Mr. Phillips. Having been treated well once in his life, Lanier Phillips has spent the rest of it trying to let the rest of us know how important it is. firstname.lastname@example.org
YOURVOICE ‘Cleary’s life journey has been extraordinary’ Dear editor, A “former colleague” related to sports columnist Don Power (Wings clipped, thankfully, May 25 edition) the “defining story” of Daniel Cleary’s life — which supposedly occurred when he was 16. Power’s article didn’t appear to be a comedy skit, but I did find his logic humourus. Would he see the absurdity of his statement if I told him that all week I have been enjoying the “defining story” of his life? It was told to me by a friend of a friend of a friend of Power’s in high school, and it supposedly happened at the ripe old age of 16. Would Power like me to repeat the “defining story” of his life? Do you actually believe any life is “defined” by a story told by a friend of a friend about a supposed event that occurred at the age of 16? Danny Cleary’s life journey has been extraordinary, by any standards. I was proud to see him play for the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup games. I was also proud to see Ryan Clowe play for the San Jose Sharks and Michael Ryder play for the Montreal Canadiens. Have you found the “defining
Canadian troops at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan.
Sgt Roxanne Clowe, Combat Camera
Canadian military sinks to ‘new low’ Dear editor, I was shocked and outraged on Wednesday evening (June 13) when my nine-year-old daughter came home from school (Holy Cross Elementary, Holyrood) to learn that the Canadian army had visited the school for an afternoon of “show and tell” with soldiers and rifles, and with a “piece de resistance” — a Canadian tank. The children, Grades 4, 5 and 6, ages 9-12, were let to try and shoot the rifles and pull the triggers (no bullets included, thank heaven), and then they went in the tank to have a close look! When I voiced my dissent to the principal, I heard a sad story. He said the army phoned him
the day before, to suggest coming to the school with the tank and other military equipment. He told me he said he wanted to think about their request. He wanted time to consider the implications and to consult with parents. The next day, the principal got a call telling him the army was already on its way. This shows, without a doubt, that our Canadian military has sunk to new lows in its aggressive recruitment tactics. How many more Newfoundlanders will die in the future because of this type of indoctrination? Jean Dandenault (a concerned and saddened parent), Holyrood
story” for Ryan Clowe and Michael Ryder yet? No doubt a friend of a friend of a friend could tell Power a story about the 16-year-old Clowe or Ryder that could be the “defining story.” Power doesn’t know Danny Cleary. He doesn’t know Neil Cleary. Which friend of a friend of a friend told Power the “defining story” of Neil’s life that enables him to declare Neil a “nice” guy? After reading Power’s column I do believe he is the one the great teacher Jesus was looking for when he told the crowd with the stones in their hands that the one without sin should be the first to throw rocks. The rest of the crowd has the good sense to slink away. Lo and behold — is that Power lugging his boulder? Daniel Cleary is living his dream, as are the rest of the men from Newfoundland and Labrador who play in the NHL. Be a man, Mr. Power — congratulate them for the brutally hard work and dedication they have shown to get where they are. Patricia Cleary, St. John’s
JUNE 15, 2007
8 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTNEWS • 9
Corina Grace of Colliers works at Flynn's, the local grocery store.
Avondale, Newfoundland and Labrador
Bern Hickey, former deputy mayor of Avondale
Breathe through a straw for 60 seconds. That’s what breathing is like with cystic fibrosis. No wonder so many people with CF stop breathing in their early 30s.
Please help us.
1-800-378-CCFF • www.cysticfibrosis.ca
Patrick Lewis (left) and Jimmy Swan
Road to Avondale T
hirteen weeks after the provincial government officially disbanded the Town of Avondale’s municipal council, the ochre-red building is back in business. It is the first day the appointed administrator, a bureaucrat dispatched from the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, is at work in the hilly and now green-leaved little town of 670 in the bottom nook of Conception Bay. Not everyone is glad to see him. “Technically, that man can’t be in there, legally he’s not in there, he’s not supposed to be in there,” alleges longtime Avondale resident and ex-deputy mayor Bern Hickey. “This town is run by volunteers.” Hickey sits at the long, folding table in the meeting room of Avondale’s town council building. In the centre is a round pot of plastic flowers near a gavel propped up on its head. An early por-
Avondale has been in the news in recent months due to the breakdown of its town council. Independent photographer Nicholas Langor and reporter Mandy Cook visited the community near St. John’s to gauge local reaction to what some say is stolen democracy. trait of Queen Elizabeth II hangs on the wall, indicating a centre of law and order, but one long glance around the room suggests anything but. The floor is littered with lint and dust and the glass window behind which the administrator sits is smudged with handprints. The state of disarray is reflective of the political climate in Avondale since March 28, the day the minister, Jack Byrne, dissolved the council due to
what he says boils down to political infighting and personality clashes. Since that day, the department has held the keys to the town office, and municipal services (including office cleaning) have been spotty at best. Of the 282 municipalities and more than 250 local service districts in the province, Byrne says a low percentage of towns have lost their elected representatives due to what he calls “dys-
functional” councils. “It happens every now and then. It happened in Witless Bay some time ago and the Town of Port au Choix. I think it was about a year and a half ago I had to dismiss the council of Port aux Choix for a very similar situation that was happening … it’s too bad when it happens, but it happens on occasion,” he says. Avondale, settled by Irish pioneer families as early as 1669, was historically a farming village. In front of several houses, this year’s vegetable patches are bordered with tidy chicken wire, healthy leafy greens stretching up to the top of their enclosures. The Catholic Assumption Church sits on a hill, just back from the wharf the federal government shut down and barricaded about five years ago, until the people of Avondale reclaimed and rebuilt it through community fundraising and corporate donations.
Cutting back from the water and inland toward the Trans-Canada Highway is Station Road, named for the rusty orange railway station now designated a heritage site, complete with about a mile and a half of the only remaining track left in the province. Hickey, an obviously devout Avondale supporter, recounts how the rail came to still be there. “A lot of senior citizens were employed by the railway here — over 100 people employed at one time,” says Hickey, picking up a broken beer bottle on the ground near a picnic table. “So when they came to tear up the track, an old lady sat in her chair in the middle of the track and said, ‘You’re going to have to run over me.’ ” The engine and passenger cars sitting next to the station building have been converted into a summer restaurant where tourists can come and refu-
el with fish and brewis and homemade soup. One car still shows the partial army green paint job used in a scene of Mary Walsh’s film Young Triffie, “NFLD Railway” stenciled on the side. Avondale resident Jimmy Swan is a member of the heritage committee keeping the site up. When asked what he thinks about the dissolution of his town’s council and the appointment of an administrator, his judgment is swift. “It’s like a dictatorship,” he says, pulling a smoke out of his plastic case. “It’s not fair. They should call an election. If they called an election and nobody came, then appoint somebody.” Down at Flynn’s local grocery store, customers pull up to Corina Grace’s counter with mini-shopping carts. Teenagers pick out their favourite soft drinks from the cooler. When she gets a break from cus-
tomers, Grace is happy to offer her opinion of the upheaval down the road at Town Hall. She is decisive about how the council should have been sorted out, but allows there was some need for provincial intervention. “We lost our rights,” she says. “We have a right to it, the people of Avondale should be able to run our own town. (The administrator) was needed to come in at first to fix everything up, but now we should be able to run it.” Meantime, rumours and guesses seem to prevail about the administrator’s role. Some think his salary and expenses will be paid for by Avondale tax money, but Byrne says his department will foot the bill. There is also word a forced amalgamation is in the works, although that, too, is denied by Byrne. He says when the town is up and
running again — the annual budget submitted, taxes collected and bills paid — an election will be planned. However, none of the councillors removed from office will be able to run for another two years. Back at Town Hall, heated conversations between dismissed councillors are held openly in front of strangers. Amidst the steely staredowns, however, smiles are exchanged, too. It is reminiscent of the infighting of any tight-knit community, or family. As one animated discussion continues, a new notice of the next public town meeting is posted on the community board. A Stop Pollution petition regarding the nearby Holyrood thermal plant is tacked up next to it. There isn’t a signature to be seen. email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
10 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
Deep pockets, ‘deep feelings’ Gunned down multimillionaire donated tens of thousands to province; memorial planned By Mandy Cook The Independent
hen Laura Jackson, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Protected Areas Association, first laid eyes on philanthropist Glen Davis at a conference in Winnipeg in 1992, she didn’t know who he was but all the other conservationists filled her in on the Toronto businessman’s philanthropic record pretty quick. “Everybody was saying, ‘I don’t know what we’d do without this guy’ because he was such an amazing supporter of conservation groups,” she recalls, “and I was curious to know how much he knew about Newfoundland and Labrador.” As a result of a conversation between
the two at the time, Davis — the sole heir to his father’s $100-million transportation and real-estate fortune — started funding the protected areas association. It was after a twice yearly hosting of environmentalists at his Toronto home in 1995 that he began to increase his donations — enough to increase the association’s staff from one to four fulltime and four part-time employees, as well as money for special projects and scientific research — after seeing a film of threatened areas Jackson screened at the event. “He came up to me afterwards and asked, ‘Where were those pictures taken? Is all that wilderness in your province?’ “He was just blown away and this was before he got down here,” she
explains. On May 18, Davis, 66, finished a lunch date and returned to his car in an underground parking garage in north Toronto. He was shot and killed, the victim of what police say was an apparent targeted shooting. The gunman not only ended Davis’s life — he halted a lengthy record of millions of dollars of donations to environmental causes across the country, some of which had a direct impact in this province. Davis’ history of philanthropy dates back to 1997 when his financial assistance was crucial in the association’s fight to gain back an area in the Torngat National Park on the southern tip of Labrador slated for mining. The area is home to polar bear and black bear dens, the only breeding area of the threatened
Harlequin duck, a caribou calving area and an archeological site. A helicopter ride over the Mealy Mountain National Park and the Lac Joseph-Atikonak area, south of Churchill Falls, secured more interest and money from Davis for the environmentally sensitive and pristine areas. He also donated to Ripple Pond in the central region of the Avalon Peninsula and was concerned about the old growth forests on the east side of the great Northern Peninsula. “We almost got him up there, if not this summer but next, to take a helicopter ride because those forests — at the moment anyway — are still untouched forests and there’s a move within forestry right now … to clear cut those forests so it’s a very important time … (Davis) was very interested in that but
he never did get to see those forests.” To memorialize Davis and his environmental altruism, the Protected Areas Association will hold the Glen Davis Annual Hike each year in an area of concern. The nature walk will serve to bring attention to the wilderness areas Davis loved — this year’s hike will take place at Ripple Pond — but is meant to pay tribute to their benefactor’s spirit. In answer to why Davis gave so much to Newfoundland and Labrador, Jackson sums it up simply. “It was really the province itself that inspired him.” firstname.lastname@example.org For details about the Glen Davis Annual Hike, check out www.paanl.org.
YOURVOICE Canadian federation ‘boils my blood’ Dear editor, For as long as I remember, Atlantic Canada in general, and Newfoundland in particular, has been regarded as the poor cousin of Confederation by the larger “have” provinces in this unequal federation we call Canada. What Atlantic Canadian could ever forget Ralph Kline’s comment during the energy crisis of the 1970s that we should “let the Eastern bastards freeze.” Or perhaps you remember how Alberta and B.C., if memory serves, changed their residency requirement for receiving social assistance from weeks to months before new residents
could apply for benefits. This was a blatant attempt to ‘keep those eastern welfare bums where they belong.’ (I paraphrased King Ralph this time.) As an individual Atlantic Canadian, how does that make you feel? It boils my blood and makes me want to scream, “I’m a Canadian too.” The argument can and should be made that we are a more contributing province than many others in this seriously flawed federation. During the last Quebec referendum in the 1990s, I pasted a bumper sticker on my car that read, “My Canada includes Quebec.” That’s even though Quebec is raping Newfoundland to the
‘Share with us the utter bliss’
PC — ‘Progressive Canadian’
Dear editor, It is unfortunate that since her husband left for Alberta, Pam Pardy Ghent’s life has become virtually Pam Pardy Ghent unbearable (A letter from home to a husband hard at work in Alberta, June 1 edition). Perhaps upon her husband’s return, Pam will share with us the utter bliss that she will surely derive from living day in and day out with the same person under one roof. Katrina Thorarinson, St. John’s
Dear editor, There is, at best, a disingenuous quality about the stance on the Atlantic Accord taken by Stephen Harper and the political movement calling itself “Canada’s new government,” and reason for outrage at the arrogance that says, in effect, we will do what we want, and if you don’t like it, sue us. The choices available to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, provincial signatories to the Atlantic Accord, are as follows: the existing equalization formula plus the Atlantic Accord, allowing the provinces to benefit from their offshore oil and gas resources without losing equalization money — for now; or Harper’s agenda today. Are these choices? Or are they really a means of imposing the Harper agenda under the guise of delayed imposition of his agenda regardless of the contractual commitment of the Government of
tune of $1 billion a year over the upper Churchill power deal. Do you think most Quebecers care if their country includes Newfoundland? I think you can put that one firmly in the no column! This province needs more fighting Newfoundlanders like Premier Danny Williams who takes on the feds at every turn! Take up the fight with him. In the next federal election show Stephen Harper your ability to honour your heritage and fight against this neo-conservative assault on our social programs and our rural way of life. Paul Harris, Pasadena
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Canada? The tactics and arrogance are all so familiar and unconcerned by our obligations to our fellow Canadians. That’s why, as a Progressive Conservative, I chose to be a Progressive Canadian instead of a member of the party that prefers to call itself “Canada’s new government.” Brian Marlatt, White Rock, B.C.
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTNEWS • 11
VOICE FROM AWAY By Amanda Hancock For The Independent
eaving my eight-week volunteer post in Kayamandi Township was bittersweet. On one hand, it was rewarding to see that the presence of international volunteers had changed the attitudes of the permanent employees of the Zenzele Crèche. For example, by the time we left the employees were in the habit of ensuring that all children washed their hands after outdoor play and before eating. That wasn’t the case when we arrived, but after a few days of demonstrating how to make lather with bar soap we had to tear smiling children away from the basin. I was relieved to bid my final farewell to the children as they napped on fresh, clean mattresses instead of the infested ones that were in use when I arrived. I also took great pride in knowing that at the time of my departure the toy cupboard, kitchen cupboards and cabinets had been de-cockroached by some amateur exterminators with a bottle of Raid, some rubber gloves, and my brown sandal (for crunching the live ones). I was happy to have befriended the employees and learned a lot from each of them, like the fact they consider chicken feet cooked in butter a delicious treat and an ideal mid-morning snack. I was proud of how far we had come together, but couldn’t help but wonder how long the routines would last in the absence of international volunteers. The hand washing will likely slip on hot, lazy days and new cockroach eggs will surely hatch. Being in Kayamandi was a great learning experience, but also an eye opener that created a feeling of enormity for how much remains undone in the community. There was, of course, an inevitable pang of guilt as I prepared to embark on a month of travel in East and West Africa before returning to my life of North American luxury. Knowing that so many lives go on without basic hygiene, education and health care gave me resolve to continue my effort to assist after returning to Canada. While no outsider will ever fully comprehend the realities of life in a country that has suffered half a century of racial segregation, I left South Africa with a broader understanding of the country’s present-day interactions. The relationship between the Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch, and the Xhosas, people of Bantu origin, is blatantly tense. The South African Constitution was written with an acute awareness of the country’s past, creating what seems to be one of the most progressive Bill of Rights in the world in terms of equality, human rights, ethnic and gender diversity. However, spending time in the country shows the laws on paper are often out of synch with everyday life. During the four weeks of postinternship travel, I switched back to tourist mode and had some eye-opening experiences in Tanzania and West Africa. I explored the island of Zanzibar off Tanzania’s east coast and lay on breathtaking beaches beneath blazing red sunsets. I enjoyed the island getaway with mixed emotions. Amidst the indisputable beauty, a sadness came with being asked countless times for my empty plastic water bottles and turning around seconds after giving it away to see it being filled with muddy puddle water by a small child. After returning to mainland Tanzania in the village of Mohsi, I made it to Uhuru Peak — the 19,340foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, despite some serious altitude woozies. After observing an airport uproar caused by a Nigerian man attempting to smuggle an authentic ivory tusk on our plane during a stopover in the Ethiopian Airport, I landed safely in Ghana where I met a friend who works for the Canadian International Development Agency. While staying with her, I became all too familiar with the electricity regime that has become necessary in West Africa and experienced first hand the devastating effects of global warming on the world’s hottest conti-
Amanda Hancock in Cape Town, South Africa.
Out of Africa St. John’s woman reflects on her African adventures
nent. Due to an abnormally low amount of rain in what is supposed to be the long, rainy season, all major cities are required to economize hydroelectric power. In Accra, the capital city of Ghana, the lights go out for approximately 12 hours every 48 hours. Businesses wishing to conduct their affairs despite the power shortage must do so with a generator, and everyone else is left to candlelight in the already sweltering, windless, unbearably humid conditions. Precious is hardly a strong enough word to describe the water situation
in West Africa. Drinking water is sold by local street vendors out of sachets and often tastes like a mix of chlorinating chemicals and plastic. The town pipes often don’t run and the home water supply reverts to a Rubbermaid garbage container full of water collected for a few Ceda coins by local village boys from the community well a few kilometres away. This water serves as the house’s sole means of achieving anything that requires water — bathing, washing clothes, dishwashing, cleaning, toilet flushing, and all the other things that come to us with the turn of a faucet.
We crossed Ghana’s eastern border into French-speaking Togo, where there was a definite soft spot for bilingual Canadians. We swam in Kpalimé’s breathtaking waterfalls and visited Le Marche Des Fetisheurs (“the fetish market”) in the capital city, Lomé. The traditional voodoo market was frequented by locals and tourists alike, some of whom place total confidence in traditional voodoo treatments. A voodoo doctor performed some incomprehensible magic on me and my friend and although the translator insisted it was “good Voodoo only,” I had mysterious
pains in my leg for days afterwards. I brought home the dolls with pins to prove it. After having a week home in Newfoundland to reflect on the experience, I believe it was one of the most worthwhile encounters I’ve ever had and would recommend it to everyone — especially those of us who enjoy the comforts of Western society. I have never been so pleased about a long-range forecast consisting of nothing but single-digit temperatures, rain, and fog. email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
12 • INDEPENDENTNEWS
YOURVOICE Why do Conservative MPs ignore NL conscience?
AROUND THE WORLD Thirty-four children departed Goose Bay early this morning for a five-day visit to Expo ’67 in Montreal. The children are representatives of the whole Labrador coast — from Nain to Mary’s Harbour. The group includes three Indians and a number of Eskimo students. This is the first time that so many students from various parts of Labrador have shared such an experience as a group. As such it is an exercise in Labrador unity and will contribute to a better understanding on the part of these students, not only of their area but of their Nation which, at the very time of their visit to the greatest World’s Fair in History, is celebrating its Centennial. — The Northern Reporter, Happy Valley, June 30, 1967 AROUND THE BAY Early on Sunday morning last, a slight show of snow was to be seen on the ground, and on the previous Sunday morning early quite a coating was on for an hour or so. “June snow is good for sore eyes,” says the old adage. There was a coldness in the air denoting considerable frost. — The Harbour Grace Standard, June 7, 1907 YEARS PAST A football match was played yesterday afternoon between the “Nondescripts” and “Scotians.” The former are all young, slight and agile, the latter are strong and heavilybuilt. The contest was sharp while it lasted, but, unfortunately, before the end was reached the ball burst, and victory remained with neither party. The match will probably be “rekicked” at an early day. — The Newfoundland Colonist, St. John’s, June 15, 1892 EDITORIAL STAND The anti-Confederates have nothing left to hang their opposition to Confederation upon but what they get from the Halifax anti-Confederate and
The North Star, June 1878
Annexation journals. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we are informed, are in a deplorable condition, as the result of Confederation. That is one of the anti-Confederate fancies; whilst it is a Confederate fact that in Halifax alone somewhere about two hundred new buildings have been, and are still in course of being (built), put up since the Province of Nova Scotia joined the Dominion. This we regard as a most astonishing fact, and one which speaks volumes in favour of Confederation. — The Daily News, St. John’s, June 19, 1869 LETTER TO THE EDITOR Dear Sir — It has come to a pretty pass in our city when the so-called Public Press has been muzzled by a conglomeration of tin-horned statesmen such as now compose the Monroe Administration. Daily, public scandals are
coming to light such as have never been perpetrated by any Administration since Responsible Government, but the “Daily News” and “Evening Telegram” which have always posed as being the “Tribunes of the People” and “Leaders in the March of Progress” remain silent, whilst Patriots for plunder are deliberately scuttling the ship of State. Yours truly, Citizen — The Fisheries Advocate, Port Union, June 5, 1925 QUOTE OF THE WEEK Dear Sir – Times are very backward here. The wind now is northeast, with a dense fog. Nothing doing with hook and line yet; cod traps doing fairly. A “sign” of caplin at Tickle Harbour. — The Morning Chronicle, St. John’s, June 22, 1880
Dear editor, Believe it or not, Members of Parliament are there to represent us. They should not be biased in favour of their own personal beliefs, or their popularity with the caucus or the prime minister. This is not disloyalty to the party leader, but rather loyalty to their real bosses. The electorate pays their salaries with their tax contributions and vote for them in good faith. I have written a number of e-mails to Norman Doyle, MP for St. John’s East, asking that when issues are divisive (as in the same-sex marriage debate), that he defer to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, Mr. Doyle deferred to his own belief system. There are obviously thousands of people in St. John’s East with a multitude of opinions; his responsibility was to the law and to the electorate. Why then do Doyle, Loyola Hearn and Fabian Manning ignore their Newfoundland and Labrador conscience? These MPs had ancestors who worked to establish this province for a better, more prosperous tomorrow. These same people have progeny to inherit it. Long after Steven Harper is gone and forgotton. Norman Doyle has a pension that he gives away to local charitable organizations. I would far rather that he invested his pension and fully supported us in the House of Commons. There appears to be a total breakdown in communication between Doyle and his electorate. How our three federal MPs could have voted in favour of the budget when we were all yelling for them not to is beyond belief. We kid ourselves if we think we live in a democracy — it would be an autocracy, if the government had more seats. We need to be very watchful of parliamentary procedure and never fail to exercise our franchise. We also need to remind our MPs that they are on Parliament Hill because we put them there, regardless of whether they will be welcome at the caucus summer barbecue or not! Brigid Kellett, St. John’s
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FRIDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 15-21, 2007 — PAGE 13
Cows feed at Lester’s Farm on Brookfield Road; fish for sale in St. John’s.
Paul Daly/The Independent
‘Poor-cousin’ industry Agriculture not getting same government support as fish farming: federation president By Ivan Morgan The Independent
ederation of Agriculture president Merv Wiseman says agriculture in the province is getting the short end of the stick compared to the relatively new practice of fish farming. Wiseman says the agriculture industry in Newfoundland is a $500-million business employing 6,200 people, yet only received $6.8 million in funding from the provincial government this year, while aquaculture, which employs 370 people — with the potential for many more to be hired — received $16 million in funding. Wiseman says he does not begrudge the aquaculture its funding, but believes its funding should be on par with aquaculture. And he offers another provincial industry as a benchmark. He says Premier Danny Williams “put $150 million on the table for a 15year period” in an unsuccessful
bid to save the 350 jobs at the Stephenville paper mill in 2005. “If the premier came out today and put $150 million on the table for an industry that will create over 6,000 more jobs and double the value of the industry I mean I would just totally . . . I wouldn’t live through that. I’d die of excitement,” Wiseman tells The Independent. Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale says the agrifoods industry is “robust,” adding government has a renewed focus on agriculture, having recently launched a Forestry and Agrifoods Agency which she says received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” from all sectors of the industry. “I hear Merv go on with this stuff on a regular basis, but I only hear Merv saying it,” Dunderdale says. Wiseman says the industry is suffering from underdevelopment, citing the province’s fledgling
nutriceutical industry (the growing of foods that are believed to have medical or health benefits), red meat, and fur farming as examples of sectors with potential, but in need of government investment. “You will never in a million years get the growth potential that is there if you continue to invest at the level that we’re investing,” he says. He notes the fur-farming industry (Wiseman is a well-known fur farmer) is growing at a faster pace than aquaculture and is “seriously lacking” in programs and infrastructure. He says the industry has the potential to employ more people on the Bonavista Peninsula than Fisheries Products International ever did. Yet he says fur farming is not mentioned once in the province’s 2007 budget. When asked why that is, Wiseman says: “I have got to tell you I don’t honestly know.” He says he can speculate that
people see growth in Newfoundland associated with the fishery, forestry and mining industries. “But we always look at agriculture as somewhat of a hobby, of a cottage industry — as a subsistence operation that we did in our backyards and we didn’t really do it as a business,” Wiseman says. “It’s the poor cousin of other sectors in the province. It has not been seen as a potential for growth, as a potential for jobs.” Fur farming has faced challenges, says Dunderdale, which had to be overcome before the government “could move ahead in building the industry.” She says environmental concerns threatened to stop it “before it really, truly got started.” While the delay may prove frustrating to some in the industry, she says the issues needed to be resolved. “You have to be able to live in concert with your neighbours and with communities.”
Dunderdale says it is unfortunate Wiseman “does his communication through the media” instead of talking directly to the ministry. Wiseman, she says, was a part of all the discussions and was “fully aware” of the issues and government’s concerns. The minister says Wiseman is “a little disingenuous” in using the budget to portray government as not supportive of the fur-breeding industry. She says her department and Environment and Conservation have been working with the fur breeders to resolve these difficulties and to move the industry forward. “He knows how hard we’ve worked to resolve these issues and we’ve come a long way,” Dunderdale says. “There’s the potential for so much growth there, but you have to do it right.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Nowhere fast O
ver a decade ago, the federal and provincial governments signed an agreement designed to eliminate barriers to interprovincial trade over time. However, progress has, for the most part, been painfully slow; so much so that Alberta and British Columbia took the initiative last year to venture outside the federal-provincial/territorial Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and devised their own framework for facilitating trade, investment and labour mobility between their respective jurisdictions. A little over a week ago, the ministers responsible for internal trade at the federal and provincial levels convened in St. John’s where the emphasis was on breaking down jurisdictional regulatory barriers to the movement of labour between provinces and territo-
Board of Trade ries. And this time around, the federal government is holding the provinces’ feet to the fire to ensure they move the yardsticks on the labour file over the near term. Industry Minister Maxime Bernier imposed a deadline of April 2009 for the provincial and territorial governments to get their act together and come up with a mutually acceptable agreement on labour mobility. Sounds like progress. But there are a host of other areas the original agreement is supposed to be addressing as
well. Energy is one of them, and it’s gotten nowhere fast. In fact, it’s been 12 years since the AIT, and the energy chapter is conspicuous by its absence. That’s unfortunate for Canada, including Newfoundland and Labrador and the Lower Churchill development that lies in waiting. The province and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro have been working hard to find a way to get the Lower Churchill’s as-yet untapped 2800 megawatts of hydroelectric power to waiting markets. The difficulty is that securing customers for that power is dependent on if and when a transmission route and capability is found, which is proving to be much more of a challenge that it really should be. We’ve been swimming upstream in negotiating with other jurisdictions,
namely Quebec, to get Lower Churchill power to market. That begs the question: In a country that is trying to solve its energy challenges, why are we up against hurdles in transmitting power interprovincally? For starters, electric power generation and transmission in Canada is an area explicitly under the authority and jurisdiction of the provinces. Even so, in the interest of addressing what are two very fundamental policy priorities — answering the energy demands of Central Canada as well as promoting internal trade within the country — shouldn’t the federal government step up and exercise its influence with respect to cross-border power transmission, rather than take an isolationist approach to the whole matter?
Moreover, the federal government’s responsibility doesn’t end with ironing out jurisdictional regulatory issues. In the case of the Lower Churchill and many other power sources in less accessible parts of the country, the power potential is stranded because there is no transmission grid to transport it to market. That’s why the federal government needs to take the lead in developing an east-west grid that maximizes Canada’s power reach. Such modern, energy-related infrastructure would prove to be extremely valuable assets to Canada in this era of energy and the environment. There appears to be growing interest at the federal and provincial levels for a serious consideration of what it will See “Barriers,” page 14
14 • INDEPENDENTBUSINESS
JUNE 15, 2007
Condos, consumer savings going up in St. John’s By John Rieti The Independent
t’s a buyers’ market in St. John’s real estate these days, giving consumers more power than ever, but that hasn’t cooled condominium development. Chris Janes, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s (CMHC) senior market analyst in the city, says while housing prices have remained fairly stable and consumers are opting to buy existing homes instead of building new ones, condominiums are selling well. “We’re starting to see a trend … it’s mainly driven by the aging population,” Janes tells The Independent. CMHC statistics estimate the 65-plus
population will grow, coincidentally, by 65 per cent in the next 10 years. Janes says the elderly are often looking to downsize when their children move away. They also figure a condominium will save on their energy bills and maintenance such as mowing and shovelling. It’s not just the older demographic who are moving in. “You have a lot of young professionals as well who prefer condominium living for ease of living. Single people often enjoy the security of living in a building,” says Janes. He says he has received many phone calls from planners and consultants looking to build more condominiums in the near future. A key area of development has been Pleasantville, an area
“Some of the pricing is off the wall, there’s no doubt about it, there’s no justification for it … ” Chris Janes better known for its military base and the old Janeway children’s hospital. “There’s a condominium being developed right now in Pleasantville, it’s a re-development and it’s averaging $200 a square foot which is average for this market,” says Janes. “You’re going
to see a lot of that in Pleasantville.” Janes is surprised by the price tags for condominiums at The Bonaventure and The Narrows, which sell for up to $350,000. “Some of the pricing is off the wall, there’s no doubt about it, there’s no justification for it … in this market it’s really not normal to see a condo over $200,000 but yet we’ve seen many sell over the past two years,” he says. Janes says the majority of these highpriced condominiums are sold to the affluent elderly, or are purchased by oil and gas companies for their executives temporarily based in the province. As the condominium market spikes, the housing market has flattened out to the point that prices are increasing less
than inflation. The average price for a home in St. John’s is $140,000, although Janes says most houses that are ready to move into and don’t require renovation sell for around $170,000. Consumers have more power than ever when shopping for houses. There are more than 2,500 active listings and the average time on the market has grown to between 45 and 60 days. The most promising statistic for home buyers is savings from the asking price. Bids of 90-94 per cent of asking price are usually good enough to purchase the house, meaning many new buyers are saving up to 10 per cent. email@example.com
Peat power Ontario company looks for alternative energy in NL bog By John Rieti The Independent
hen Peter Telford looks at Newfoundland and Labrador bog, he doesn’t see a soggy obstacle, he sees a massive supply of energy. Telford’s company, Peat Resources Ltd., owns the exploration rights to 130,000 hectares of the province’s bogs near Stephenville, Gander and the southeast coast, which he believes cover several metres of fuel-grade peat. Once they find enough material to support an operation for 15-20 years, approximately 200,000 tonnes of fuel peat or 2,000 hectares’ worth, the company will begin processing operations in the province. Peat is partially decomposed plant matter, compressed and held together by high moisture content. It burns slowly, creates a pleasant, sweet smell and creates intense heat, which has made it a favourite fuel source in European countries for centuries. Telford’s company has improved upon this tradition and views peat as a biofuel capable of replacing coal. “No one really paid much attention to peat, but I think now with energy prices so high and also with people being much more sensitive to the environmental effects of burning coal, the time now is good for developing peat,” Telford tells The Independent in a telephone interview from Toronto. Canada doesn’t burn a significant amount of peat, but countries like Ireland use peat for 15 per cent of its energy total. Telford thinks Canada hasn’t considered peat because “other energy sources have always been cheap and abundant.” Telford says peat’s main advantage over coal is that it burns cleaner and is easier to get. Although the price of peat is similar to coal,
excavation costs are much cheaper. Peat Resources has developed machinery to extract peat in a thick, liquid form. The slurry is transported via pipes to a processing plant. In this form the peat is 90 per cent moisture, which must be dewatered to just 30 per cent before it can be converted into transportable pellets. Telford says transportation is one of the biggest costs facing his product. Burning the peat is easy. “You can blend (peat) with coal, or replace coal with peat without making any big changes to the electric plant.” Telford wants to develop a Newfoundland market and gives the example of the Corner Brook pulp and paper mill as a business that could switch to peat power. The Ontario-based company is also targeting markets in Nova Scotia and the northeastern U.S. In Ontario, his company’s proposal to harvest peat has stalled in negotiations with the Ontario government. Telford says the sides can’t reach an agreement on what environmental studies will be performed, although he insists the process is environmentally friendly. He says he hasn’t had problems with the Newfoundland and Labrador government. After the peat has been taken from the bog, the water extracted from the peat is pumped back to the bog creating a wetland. Telford says this water cycle helps the environment heal, and also cuts down on greenhouse gas. Decomposing plant material seeps methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The wetlands that are replaced do the opposite, soaking up carbon dioxide. Research that Telford’s company has performed has shown the combination of an Ontario coal plant switching to peat and the harvesting process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent. firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Connolly, of Ticknevin in County Kildare, a member of the team which came second in the 2007 Senior Breast Slean Turf Cutting Competition, taking part in the annual all Ireland turf-cutting festival at Ticknevin Bog, in County Kildare. Ireland has used peat as fuel for centuries. Today it accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s energy consumption. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Barriers have to go From page 13 take to make a national east-west power grid a reality. Indeed, besides our own provincial government, Ontario and Manitoba and even the top federal politicians have been referencing the idea as of late. So, perhaps it’s more than just a blue-sky concept. The notion of a national power grid has even been likened to the construction of the transcontinental railway for its potential as a “nation-building” project. Needless to say, the national railway network hasn’t exactly engendered within Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a close connection with the rest of Canada, physically or figuratively. But, in terms of Canada’s energy infrastructure and supply, Newfoundland and Labrador could be a central player if we can get the Lower Churchill tied into a grid linked to bigger markets to the west and south of us. In general, enhanced interprovincial trade in electricity within Canada is in the nation’s interest, and would allow for greater access to renewable electricity sources across the country, diversification of supply, reduced capacity requirements, and increased security and reliability. During a business trip last month to Toronto, where the temperature was 35 C and air conditioners were on bust, I heard a lot of people talking about the importance of power rationing. Power conservation and “demand-side man-
agement” are naturally important. But you have to wonder if Canada needs a better, grander energy vision in order to improve security of supply, including a system that links sources of surplus power to regions in need. It makes sense economically. It also makes sense politically. If you connect the dots, you can easily see that the central Canadian manufacturing industry would benefit from cheaper, reliable power. Lower energy costs mean lower manufacturing costs, and that means more jobs based in Ontario. Again, the message in all of this is that it would seem to make infinite sense for the federal government to get on side and take more of a leadership role in making significant energy projects like the Lower Churchill happen. Not for the sole benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador, but for the benefit of the country. Electricity might be a matter of provincial jurisdiction, but securing and enhancing the country’s energy future is far too important to let slide, all on account of not dealing with interprovincial trade barriers. Whether it’s labour or Lower Churchill power, these barriers have to go. As for the committee on internal trade, the energy file has been left to provincial and territorial ministers to dig into. But, for some of the stickier issues around interprovincial energy trade, they shouldn’t let the feds off the hook. Cathy Bennett is president of the St. John’s Board of Trade.
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTBUSINESS • 15
16 • INDEPENDENTBUSINESS
JUNE 15, 2007
FRIDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 15-21, 2007 — PAGE 17
(L-R) Lorne Elliott, Mark Critch and Pete Soucy at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.
Paul Daly/The Independent
In the knots First ever St. John’s comedy festival promises fits and giggles By Mandy Cook The Independent
quirming and wiggling. Play-fighting and taunting. No, it isn’t a litter of furry puppies tussling on the stage of the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. But of the three comedians posing for a press picture to promote the St. John’s Comedy Festival this weekend, Lorne Elliott can most definitely be described as furry. While he poofs up his considerable afro on advice from his wife, Mark Critch and Pete Soucy mug and jostle about behind him, complete with colourful running commentary leading up to their performance. “That Stephen Harper is such an asshole,” Elliott playfully rehearses. “That’s how I’m starting!” says Critch, indignant. Picture successfully shot, the men carry on, not missing a beat. This time, Elliott’s wife Francoise chimes in. Teasing her husband about the multi-pocketed fishing vest he’s sporting, she states it is his male version of a purse. As Elliot vehemently denies the accusation, Soucy clarifies that Elliott is
wearing “a bunch of small purses.” Not to be outdone, Critch gets his dig in. “Look at him coming from the mainland, ‘I’m a fisherman too!’ ” If he wanted, Elliott could defend himself by insisting his practical outerwear is part of his act. His stand-up act in the festival, he says, will be inspired by his numerous, but not necessarily successful, salmon fishing outings. “I’m a failed salmon fisherman. Most of my best material is from the failures I’ve had in life, which are many and adding up,” he jokes. Elliott, along with Critch, Soucy as host Snook, Cathy Jones, Gavin Crawford, Shaun Majumder, Steve Irwin, Erica Sigurdson and Steve Patterson will each have their turn in front of the microphone during the three-day event — June 15-17. An early and late show is set for the Battery Hotel on Friday and Saturday, with a televised gala event at the Arts and Culture Centre Sunday evening. Considering Halifax and Winnipeg have long-standing comedy festival history, and this province has a proven track record of producing talented comedians, several of
the performers agree a Newfoundland comedy festival is long overdue. “Everybody is so excited about the chance to come here. I hope people enjoy it and we can do it year after year so I can have more of my friends coming here asking, ‘Can you get us a boat?’ ” says Critch. Gavin Crawford, Critch’s co-performer on This Hour has 22 Minutes, is bringing his parents with him for a first-time visit, and a boat trip has been requested. In addition to the extra-curricular activities of boating, golfing and, of course, drinking, Crawford says he’s nervously looking forward to the show, particularly because of Newfoundland’s impact on his career choice. “I’m a little apprehensive, but I always am when I have to perform anyways and that’s a town with big shoes to fill and a lot to live up to. That’s the land of all the CODCO people and those are all the people who got me started in what I do . . . every day when I work with Cathy I still can’t believe it. I sometimes look at her and say I can’t believe I’m doing the same thing you’re doing and I look around and wait for someone to escort me out of the building,”
Crawford says over the phone from Toronto. For her part, Cathy Jones, who is bringing her daughter home for a visit with her, raves about Crawford, Critch and Majumder and says she “loves them with all her heart.” She specifically enjoys the pre-22 Minutes taping hug the four cast members share. “I can’t tell you how much is between the cast when we hug before the show, except Gavin who wants us to let go. Critch is really cuddly, Shaun is the lovebug and I’m a cuddler too, so the three of us will be standing there hugging before the show and Gavin will be like, ‘OK, let me go,’ ” Jones says from Halifax. To commemorate the occasion, Jones says she would like to debut something that will really knock her hometown audience’s socks off, though her idea is slightly outside the range of her normal repertoire. “There’ll be lots of stuff and material but really I’d like to paint myself and come out naked and do something fun, you know? Paint concentric rings around my tits and do some weird naked dance.” email@example.com
A man for all seasons Karl Wells on the rush of being the TV weatherman Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get. — Mark Twain
t’s two days into what feels like summer, which arrived so abruptly you’d think someone pulled a lever. Leaves and people unwrapping overnight. The aptly named mile-aminute in my garden doing their Jack and the Beanstalk thing: shooting up four feet in 48 hours. A friend’s father used to call them triffids, after the killer vegetation in John Wyndham’s 1951 post-apocalyptic thriller. And even though I’ll have to stop them from taking over the garden eventually, they’re safe from my machete for
SUSAN RENDELL Screed and coke now. After what we’ve been through this “spring,” they look less like triffids and more like a gift from a wacky but benevolent nature deity. Speaking of the weather, I’m on my way to see Karl Wells — Mr. Weather himself — who’s retiring from CBC at the end of July. On the cab ride to his home in the west end of St. John’s, I think about one of the great mysteries of my Nova Scotian childhood: why my father talked about the
weather for up to three precious minutes whenever he called his sister in Newfoundland. (In those days, longdistance calls were restricted to Christmas and emergencies.) Wells meets me at the door; a tall, dark-haired man whose face shows few traces of a life spanning more than half a century. (Except for the eyes: there’s something in them that corresponds to the faint, plaintive jazz courting the air during our hour-long conversation.) I’m ushered into a large living room with hardwood floors and polite furniture; a quiet black standard poodle keeps me company while Wells goes to make tea. The dog is called Caesar, and I wonder if it’s Roman emperor or
salad. Wells is famous for his culinary expertise. While he’s occupied with the tea, I inspect Wells’ extensive art collection which comprises pieces by some of the best artists in the province. Each painting has its own light, and I imagine this room at night, the darkness shrinking away from David Blackwood’s strong sepulchral figures, John Claude Roy’s bright crazy houses, Grant Boland’s luminous selfportrait. “I had really good art teachers when I was in school,” Wells tells me when he returns, and we settle into a couch that reminds me of my grandmother’s mattress (big, deep and comforting). “I really developed an appreciation
for art, especially Newfoundland art. I didn’t start buying art until I had my first job, which is the job I’m in now.” Wells laughs. (He laughs a lot, and he laughs with gusto.) “I’ve had one job in my life, isn’t that amazing?” And why is he leaving it? “I started thinking about retiring seriously about a year or so ago, I guess. When we were on that lockout … it was a long time on the street, and I started thinking about the future. And it was after that that I asked when I could actually leave (with a good pension).” Wells looks thoughtful. “I never See “People just,” page 19
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18 • INDEPENDENTLIFE
acob Rolfe, a silkscreen artist recently transplanted from Ottawa and now living in St. John’s, says his affinity for graphic line and “doodle-y” illustration can be traced back to the love of a popular American children’s book author. “I loved these Ed Emberley books. Draw a circle, then a line and a triangle and look! You’ve got a chicken or whatever,” he says, using his finger to demonstrate the shapes. Having fallen in love with the island and buying a home here in October 2006, Rolfe says he’s been steadily building his technique, home studio and portfolio since February. His colourful patterned designs silkscreened onto sturdy stock paper can be found everywhere from his current exhibition hanging at The Sprout restaurant on Duckworth Street until July, to his adorable line of cards and matching envelopes, to his vital, oneof-a-kind gig posters. According to Rolfe, it’s just the beginning of his foray into printed paper design. “Oh yeah, there’s tons of ideas I’d like to do. I’ve only done flat stuff so far. I’d like to do pop-up cards, printout sheets and have little instructions to cut out different parts like a little forest scene or people.” Rolfe’s prints are chock full of colour, pattern and line, like kaleidoscopic snapshots of a psychedelic trip. Some, like Mystery Blob, are just that: a geometric cluster of paisleys and teardrops competing and vibrating with the energy of vivid yellows, pinks and blues. Circles punched out of a skirt of yellow tentacles seem to propel the busy mass up to the top of the paper,
JACOB ROLFE Silkscreen Artist
toward parts unknown. Other prints feature creatures of the natural — and unnatural — world. A favourite subject of Rolfe’s, elephants, tigers and birds are just some of the animals to make an appearance in the selection of work, but tend to take on a supernatural or even sci-fi effect. Dragon Cat is a post-apocalyptic armoured cat with bolts for joints and ruby red fire eyes. In Egg Adventure, a half-born chick (basically an egg with feet and a beak) pushes itself from a nest patterned with knots. The egg hov-
ers mid-page, matched by a puffy white cloud. Lurid red, crater-like holes along the egg’s bottom suggest a possible duality; is it a just a symbol of life, or a celestial body floating high in a scorching sunset? Either way, Rolfe isn’t too concerned with visual interpretation. He says the repetition of pattern is what “draws” him in, noting Asian countries like India, Cambodia and Japan favour heavily patterned embellishments in their cultural imagery. “These repetitive motifs are something people have been doing for a long time. (It’s a) kind of universal thing,” he says. “The patterns often speak to us on a sub-language or some other thought pattern or sort of analytical level that we’re often running on in our every day lives.” Not only does he simply enjoy the pop-art element to the fun, cartoonish prints, Rolfe says drawing them can prove to be meditative, too. He says getting lost within the pattern work by letting his eye wander, and looking at different aspects, keeps him engaged with the process. It’s not all straightforward fun, however. Rolfe touches on chaotic theory when elaborating on his work, pointing out there is “order within disorder” and the universe can be reduced to overlapping patterns resulting from waves of energy. But mostly, he says, drawing is a stimulating treat, one reminiscent of his adventuresome youth. “I used to do a lot of psychedelics in high school and I really enjoy the visual aspects through the eye candy. It rubs that same part of the brain.” firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gallery is a regular feature in The Independent. For information, or to submit proposals, please call (709) 726-4639, or e-mail email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTLIFE • 19
Theatre of debate W
hat kind of theatrical space does the City of St. John’s need? Depends on who you talk to. The answer is not as obvious as you think, but maybe it is time to test our collective ability to confront the question with our eyes wide open. Rumours of dubious deals and suspicious takeovers of various downtown spaces are starting to spike patio conversations. I’m pushing for some healthy debate. A few summers ago Coun. Sandy Hickman invited the arts community to discuss the very question of whether or not the city had sufficient performance space to accommodate its widely diverse needs. Extensive notes of the meeting were taken and subsequently circulated to all participants. At least the record, if not the take-away message, was clear. The room was hot and crowded with active players in the local performance scene. Actors, producers, directors, organizers and exhibitors all had their say. The worlds of the stage, music, film and dance were well represented. Discussion was direct and civil and in the end the solid consensus was that this culturally thriving city simply lacked adequate performance capacity. What we did not agree on after several hours of talk was the ideal size of an alternate space. How could we? For that we need more than one midsummer’s meeting. At the very least we need good sense and a lot of imagination. The burgeoning dance community in St. John’s has needs as specialized and different from those of the established choral music crowd as the growing film festival crowd has from the amateur theatre crowd and so on. Out of sheer interest and passion, everyone somehow makes do and everyone complains for good reason. Performers often endure cramped or inadequate working conditions or else they are compelled to rent inappropriately cavernous spaces. Also inherent in the general complaining is a
NOREEN GOLFMAN Standing Room Only legitimate concern for the audiences who have to put up with shows that don’t suit the spaces that house them, and vice versa. What, after all, are the main performance-space choices in this town? In one corner, we have the high-rent shell of the Arts and Culture Centre — adequate in its grandeur and acoustical specs for orchestral events, visiting ballet companies, big-ticket circuit singers, and elaborate theatrical productions. Chicago or Cats, anyone? Seating capacity: about 1200. In the other corner we have the LSPU Hall, a relatively small black box, largely dedicated to experimental performances, emerging artists, new talent, or established talent craving intimacy and the palpable, instructive feedback of an audience. Think The Devil You Don’t Know, High Steel, and all those magical nights listening to Ron Hynes or laughing with Andy Jones. Seating capacity: about 160. I am deliberately disregarding the ugly downtown monumentalism of Mile One Centre, suitable for none of the above and surely deserving of at least a column of its own. ALTERNATE SPACE Following Hickman’s summertime meeting about an alternate space, the notion of an in-between, 500seat theatre started circulating in this town like the mumps. For some time, no one really knew where such a space would or could go but, oddly, the story has stuck like gum to a chair: the city needed a fortunate 500-seater.
And so when the CBC Radio building on Duckworth Street came up for sale this winter, local developer Paul Madden — who once shrewdly spun a spa from a monastery — stepped up to the opportunity. Lately, Madden has been interviewed about his plans to renovate the building. To date, he claims to be committed to refurbishing the old Capital Theatre to accommodate that mythical number. Performers do need adequate rehearsal and dressing-room space, and so for many the appeal of the building lies less in the actual seating capacity than it does in the possibility of some big room to play with. But I ask without prejudice: does the city of St. John’s need a 365-day-a-year 500-seat theatre? Perhaps some members of the theatrical community do think so. Not all. The number is too big for a repertory film house (the ideal and sustainable number would be 200-250), but it might be useful a few times a year for openings and special events. One can image the Sound Symposium exploiting its capacity every couple of years. What would happen in between? More to the point, would such a structure be sustainable? Would not-for-profit or emerging arts groups be able to afford the rental rates? Would renting the offices in the rest of the CBC building really offset the enormous costs of heating, cleaning, lighting and maintaining the overall structure? And who would manage the theatre? Where would the salaries come from? Does any private investor have the millions of dollars required to bring the building up to code, let alone refurbish a theatre whose amazingly intact seats are perfectly suited for munchkins, not for the tall, milk-fed youngsters of the 21st century? A 500-seat theatre in downtown St. John’s is a heady proposition, one with enormous appeal, but at this stage only in a dreamy, uncertain sort of way.
Paul Daly/The Independent
‘People just treat me like family — it’s great’ From page 17 intended, really, to be doing weather for 30 years; it was just the way it happened, you know?” He tells me he auditioned for the job of CBC weather announcer “because it was ad-lib … there was a bit of performance involved. Before I went to MUN, I wanted to be an actor. I was going to go to acting school … study at the Royal Academy (of Dramatic Art, in London, England).” So, what will he miss most? “I’ll miss that little rush — well, that big rush — of adrenalin you get every night when you’re on the air. That is a real high, no doubt about it. Archie Rice (Sir Laurence Olivier’s character in The Entertainer, a fading vaudeville star) said, ‘You know, the only time I really feel alive is when I’m out on stage.’ That’s really dramatic, but I understood it. I can feel absolutely miserable all day … but when you get in front of that camera and the light goes on, something happens. You feel so alive.” And what’s that going to feel like — not being Weather Guy anymore? “Well, I haven’t given it that much thought,” Wells says. I ask him what he’s thinking about doing next. Pause. “I’m sorry — I was still thinking about this idea of not being there every night. I’m going to miss that, for sure. Thanks for ruining my day! (Big boisterous laugh.) I don’t know … I think when all’s said and done I’ll get over it. “Thirty years doing the weather … I just felt like I’d had enough. And there’s been things going on in my life that have made me think twice. I had a good friend die of liver cancer at 51 last September; my first cousin, who is five years younger than me, is battling cancer. My dad retired at 55, and he was dead at 60. I really felt that this was probably a good time to go. I had a great time, a great career, a great run. The public were fabulous. People just treat me like family — it’s great.”
So — worst career moment? Wells’ description of the night early in his career when he nearly got caught with his degrees down has me on the edge of the couch. “It was a Plexiglas map, so you could take a blue grease pencil and you could make little tiny cheat notes on the map, which is what I used to do. The camera couldn’t pick them up. And back then there were a lot of temperatures … we had a national map and a provincial map. So I went on the air one night, and I said, ‘Well, folks, let’s take a look at what the temperatures were across the country today.’ And I turned, and I expected to see 25 for Vancouver, or whatever. And I realized I’d forgotten to put my marks there. So I made a split second decision — either tell people and let the cat out of the bag … .” Or make the whole thing up. “I ad-libbed my way right across the country, and hoped I was getting close to the exact temperatures. As it turned out, I was almost dead on.” Wells made sure he memorized everything after that. Did he get in trouble over it? “I’ve never told anybody!” THE COMMUNITY THING Best moment? “I think the best moments for me were when we started to do the community thing. I got to travel, and I met really interesting people. I met this man in Goose Bay — Horace Goudie. He was in his 70s then … a trapper. He took me out and showed me his trapline. I just thought, I’m really lucky to have a job that allows me to come to Labrador and meet a man like this. So real.” I ask him how he feels about the changes in the province over the last decade, and his voice becomes somber. “I feel really bad about what’s happening in rural Newfoundland, I can tell you that.” What about the future — politics? Wells shakes his head. “It’s always annoyed me when I see (media personalities) who’ve gone into politics
… they got elected because of name recognition.” Wells doesn’t think that’s a good enough reason to put someone in office. “I’d rather be helpful in other ways. (I) would be like Don Quixote, you know? Especially with all the things you see going on these days. In the old days it was fairly easy to get a politician to come into the studio to answer a few questions. These days, they all have handlers. You can’t get them off topic at all … they’ve been too well trained.” I ask him if he’s ever been blamed for the weather. “A lot, just in a joking way. Well, there was a guy, early on when I started doing the weather. I got a call … a man said, ‘You remember last night you said we were going to have a good day?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Well, on the strength of your report last night, I walked to work this morning and you know what happened today.’ ” What happened was a torrential downpour, Wells tells me, roaring delightedly. The caller told him he’d gotten drenched, and it was all Wells’ fault. “He sounded really upset. “There’s been the odd spring when the weather’s been really terrible … I get the feeling during those times, when I’m out and about, that people are kind of looking at me sideways. Saying something to themselves that’s probably not very complimentary.” On the cab ride home, I roll down the window, wondering how long the sun is going to stick around. And then I suddenly remember when the mystery of my father’s lengthy and passionate long-distance conversations about the weather was solved. It was on a warm June day, about two years after our family took up residence here. The temperature suddenly dropped 15 degrees, and snowflakes began to collect on my new summer sweater. I uttered what was probably my first curse word. In my opinion, Karl Wells deserves the meteorological equivalent of the Purple Heart.
Let’s not, therefore, be shy about asking the right questions. One final point: a 500-seat theatre is not a black box. It is not and never will be the LSPU Hall, as it is now or as it will eventually be refurbished. A black box space is designed and intended to incubate talent. It is easy to work in. It invites experimentation. It encourages a radical and exciting alternative to mainstream fare. Without it, this city is like any other city, theatrically speaking, of course.
JUNE 15, 2007
20 • INDEPENDENTLIFE
Tangled up in taste Mara Lang set to open Australian fusion café-bar By John Rieti The Independent
rue blue is a phrase used to describe patriotic Australians, uniting them in style, personality and taste. It’s that spirit that Mara Lang wants customers to get tangled up in when her restaurant opens in two weeks. Tangled Up In Blue will be an Australian-style café-bar, a concept that sets it apart from most restaurants in St. John’s. Guests will be welcome at the large, bright blue building on Bates Hill in St. John’s to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even a late-night bite on Friday and Saturday. The 60-plus guests that can be seated can choose to have a meal, sip an authentic glass of Australian wine or beer, or just hang out over a cup of espresso. A bill will never arrive at the table — it’s up to diners to choose when they want to end their sitting and pay. “I want people to be in a comfortable atmosphere, enjoy the music, soak in the smells, feel comfortable to stay for three hours talking if they want to,” Lang tells The Independent. “I think the market in St. John’s is due for a shift in restaurants … people are ready for something like this.” Lang, 24, was born in Newfoundland and Labrador before moving to Australia with her
family. She returned to the province as a child, but has spent the last seven years travelling the world, working in 40 different restaurants as a manager. In that time, Lang says she’s seen the best and worst types of restaurant owners and is confident she’s learned how to succeed. “I knew eventually I wanted to open a restaurant; if I waited much longer I might not have the energy I do now. I’m at the right age to be a workaholic,” Lang says. The restaurant’s Australian head chef is scheduled to arrive this week, bringing a unique flavour to the city’s cooking. Half of the wait staff will also be made up of Australians. Tangled Up In Blue will specialize in Australian fusion food — a mix of southeast Asian, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine. Lang says there will be many seafood and lamb plates, vegetarian meals, and classics like gourmet pizza with Australian touches using squash (Aussies call it pumpkin) as a topping. Lang is predicting plates like “tempura prawns on a miso salad base” will be big hits. Most dinners will range from $15-$25, lunches will be around $10 and breakfast will be priced competitively with other downtown restaurants. No crocodile, kangaroo or Foster’s beer, however.
Vegemite, a spread most Aussies can’t live without, will be imported, although Lang believes most Newfoundlanders will be appalled at its thick taste. The bar will be as well stocked as the kitchen. Lang plans to import authentic Australian drinks like Cooper’s Sparkling Ale, Bundaberg Rum and a wine list that features bottles from small, awardwinning vineyards that won’t show up in the Australian aisle of the liquor store. Lang, who has been working at Hava Java while her restaurant is built, knows her coffee, too. A huge Italian population has turned coffee into a way of life Down Under. “It’s espresso coffee all the time. There’s no drip coffee in Australia,” says Lang, who will even be marinating meat in coffee. Even the desserts will be authentic, featuring traditional treats like lamingtons and pavlova. As Lang walks along Water Street, the buzz surrounding her restaurant is already obvious. Acquaintances inquire about waiting jobs, the cashier at Auntie Crae’s anxiously asks when it will be opening, and inside the restaurant itself a burly construction worker races over to show Lang how nice the fourth coat of orange paint looks. Lang has dubbed the coming weeks as “stress time,” as the final installations, including the
Paul Daly/The Independent
entire kitchen, are scheduled to go in. She seems unfailingly cool, not phased by the uncovered walls or floors, and instead focused on her vision of the restaurant. On one wall an elegant bar, on another a TV that will broadcast Aussie Rules football, and a patio where guests can sit for hours and “just chill.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Working hard at being a dad
anny Huxter, 34, always knew he wanted to be a father. “I was in Grade 2 and someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,” he recalls with a chuckle, “and I said a
dad.” Huxter got his wish and today he’s the proud father of four, and works hard at raising them as best he can in his hometown of Springdale. “I say I work hard at being a dad because I consciously put so much into it. I might not always do the right thing, but as a parent I am always on, always aware.” Being a good parent is partially about showing your imperfect self to your children, Huxter says. “My kids know what I am good at and what I am not good at. They have heard me say I’m sorry, they have seen me mad, watched me make mistakes, and they have certainly seen me cry.” For Huxter, it isn’t enough to get by as many parents seem to do — operating on auto-pilot, just getting their kids places and keeping them fed. “Being a good parent is not about buying your kid the best bike, it’s about jumping into your child’s life and creating memories,” he says wisely. Huxter explains that being a father who creates memories with his family is critical, in part because he was raised in a single-par-
ent home. While money was scarce, happy memories were plentiful. Huxter recalls one special time when he was watching television at home with his mother. They wanted a treat, he remembers, but there was no money for chocolate. “We had this idea that we might be able to find enough change so we started hauling the cushions off the couch and sure enough we found some, so off I go to the store across the street,” he laughs. For Huxter, the memory wasn’t about doing without, or about struggling financially. It was about creating a fun memory and being thankful for what they did have. Huxter stresses that just because he was raised by his mother and didn’t see much of his father growing up doesn’t mean he’s angry. “I have no resentment towards my father. It was a different time and being separated then was different — fathers didn’t always have a lot to do with the kids once the family split,” he explains. Today, Huxter is proud of the relationship his father has with his family and the fact that being together came so easily after so many years apart. “I didn’t have to work at a relationship with my father, I just had to make contact and he took it from there,” he says gratefully. Huxter acknowledges he’s blessed that the relationship with his father came effortlessly because, for the most part, getting along with people takes work. Huxter and his wife Susan live in a blended family themselves — something many struggle with every day. Two of Huxter’s children — Brady, 12, and Riley, 7 — are from a previous relationship while four-year-old Abbie and 10month-old Claye belong to the couple. Huxter says his ex is one of the most important people in his life — one he needs to work with to make sure their children are happy, healthy and, most importantly, feeling loved by both parents. “We know we are in this together, so we work as a team. But I tell you, the easiest thing to do in life is to not get along with someone,” he admits. Having a system in place — one you can fall back on when times get rough — is important for every parent, Huxter advises. “Having happy children is not about take, take, take or giving in on everything,” he says. Instead, it’s about raising well-adjusted young people who you would be proud to send off into the world, he says. “That means discipline and rules, but it also means knowing when it’s OK to adjust the guidelines,” he adds. When Huxter’s son Brady wanted to watch the Stanley Cup being awarded late at night, he allowed a usually strict bedtime to fall to the wayside. “I sat on the couch and just stared at him, knowing how important this moment was for him and just feeling that this would be one of our special memory moments and that was more important than bedtime at the time,” he shares. Huxter recalls another time when he took his daughter for a swimming lesson. Abbie was in the pool and wanted her father to join her in the water. “I had to go back to work and had my jeans on but I jumped in anyway,” he laughs. For Huxter, sometimes jumping into your children’s lives and being a hands-on dad means seizing the moment. “Jump right in there — even if you have your jeans on.”
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTLIFE • 21
The Nickel’s worth the cash F
or the seventh consecutive year, the Nickel Independent Film Festival is set to offer movie audiences an alternative to the usual lineup of summer blockbusters. Better still, viewers get the chance to catch a number of local productions as they are meant to be seen, on the big screen. In addition, the five-night schedule includes a diverse assortment of works from outside the province, most of which we’d never get to see. But give it a few years and we’re likely to hear more about the folks who made them. The Nickel has increasingly become a venue for emerging filmmakers, but this year boasts a few pictures from pillars of the local film community. Although he’s recently been honoured as the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Emerging Artist, Justin Simms, one of the Nickel’s “founding fathers,” is a fairly established figure on the local film scene. As he’s preparing to shoot his first feature, his much celebrated Punch-Up at a Wedding is set to open the festival, while another of his works, a sciencefiction love story called Face Machine, leads off the Friday night show. Ken Pittman and Rosemary House, two stars of the local film industry and both of whom have scooped up awards at previous Nickels, return with recent offerings. Pittman’s Speaking Volumes is an informal “backstage pass” introduction to the province’s literary figures. Putting faces to names in a relaxed
TIM CONWAY Film Score atmosphere, we get to hang out with some of the country’s most celebrated writers. House’s Ahead of the Curve is an intimate look into the life of her brother, Christopher. An amazing dancer and choreographer, Christopher is no less engaging an individual, and the film beautifully captures the essence of the artist as well as the human being. Bart Simpson, who has been living here long enough to be officially considered a Newfoundlander, co-produces Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures, a documentary focusing on French illustrator Jean Giraud. Also known to his contemporaries as Moebius, Girard has influenced everything from comic books to motion pictures, and the film explores the depth and breadth of his singular style by showcasing some of his work and through interviews with a number of his associates, including Stan Lee. These film veterans are soon to have company amongst their ranks. Phillip David Hogan’s film noir detective thriller Nightingale’s Last Song is his fourth contribution to the Nickel, while Jordan Canning makes it three in a row with Here on In, another touching take on interpersonal relationships, this time focusing on a recently widowed
man and his daughter. Christian Sparkes, whose A Foot of Rope is still being enjoyed on DVD, returns with the children’s offering What Do They Do in There? Although he hasn’t sat in the director’s chair much since A Foot of Rope, his name seems to be tucked into the credits of many local films. While the phrase “emerging filmmaker” usually conjures mental pictures of young, post-film school graduates, in the realm of independent film it’s not unusual to find those who have worked in the film business but never produced one of their own, or accomplished individuals who are new to the medium. Ontario’s Alison Reid has amassed a sizeable body of work in the last two decades as a stunt performer and stunt co-ordinator in film and television. Her first foray into co-writing and directing is the outrageous comic romance Succubus, a delightful take on the efforts of two women desiring to conceive a child between them. You’ll be shocked, but amused for days. Likewise, Australia’s Alan Woodruff has spent more than a decade working in post-production, and his filmography includes the Lord of the Rings pictures. His first offering, Absolute Zero, has already won him a couple of screen-writing awards, as well as the Jury Prize for Best Short at the TriMedia Festival in the U.S. Set 50 years ago, the film relates the final hours of a man trapped inside a railway car, who perishes from the effects of
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hypothermia. Gary Beeber had been a respected illustrator before his celebrated foray into photography. Branching out, yet again, into moving pictures, Beeber’s Messenger focuses on a legendary New York bicycle messenger, a 50year-old man known as KamiKaze. Winner of Best Documentary Short at last year’s Coney Island Film Festival, we’re not likely to be assessing the pros and cons of Beeber’s techniques while watching the film. Just as with many larger-than-life characters when they’re presented on the big screen, we’re unlikely to be paying attention to anything else. Whether it’s the product of an old pro or an enthusiastic novice, the motion picture is well established as a
medium for telling stories, evoking responses, or simply directing our attention. The kind of films that screen at festivals like the Nickel offer us the experience of seeing the results of filmmaking close to its roots. The pictures are usually made with little consideration for achieving box office millions, and the most dishonest of them can only be accused of “showing off” their skills. The films are made out of interest and, most often than not, the love of the medium, which makes it so easy for us to connect with them on a basic level. The Nickel Independent Film Festival runs from June 19-23 at the LSPU Hall. Schedule information is available on the Nickel web site, or simply call the Hall.
JUNE 15, 2007
22 • INDEPENDENTLIFE
Anúna will perform their unique style of Celtic music at Festival 500.
‘A real welcoming feeling’ Prima donna Mary Lou Fallis to open Festival 500
ary Lou Fallis — on-camera personality and producer of Bathroom Divas, Opera’s answer to Canadian Idol — describes Festival 500 as “no little festival.” “I am honoured and thrilled to be returning to Newfoundland to participate in the opening ceremonies of this internationally acclaimed celebration,” Fallis says from her Toronto home. On July 1, Festival 500 will present an evening concert with a new work, Prima Donna Choralis, presented by Fallis, Canada’s very own diva. Written by Fallis and Peter Tiefenbach, this comedic piece illustrates the history of choral singing in a humorous and captivating manner. Fallis says Prima Donna Choralis talks about the inner workings of a choir — and more. “The choirs themselves are the stars of the piece,” she says humbly, adding the performance runs the gamut from “cave-man times to the present day.”
“It basically looks at the history of choral music and I will be lecturing throughout — it is quite an intriguing piece,” she says. Andrea Rose, one of the festival’s artistic directors, says she’s looking forward to the opening ceremonies. “The afternoon we do a ceremony for all the performers and it is an Olympic-style celebration filled with flags and banners of the participating choirs — it has a real welcoming feeling to it,” she says with pride. The festival will then officially be declared open. That evening is the first concert for the public. “The first half of the performance we will have music from one choir from each continent and they will perform one of their favourite pieces,” Rose says. The second half of the performance is Prima Donna Choralis. “It is going to be one great night filled with fabulous music and culture,” she says.
Fallis couldn’t agree more. “Newfoundland is one of my favourite places in the world to visit and to perform in,” she says, adding she always leaves here with “more great memories” and she has no doubt this visit will include more of the same. Fallis has performed at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre before and she says returning to sing choral music here is always rewarding. “It is different culturally there than anywhere else in the country,” she acknowledges, which is what makes the choral experience so special to the province. “The wonderful thing about choral music is that it is accessible to everyone — everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are in your local church choir or in the finest radio choir. Music is still one of those things that brings us all together — singing transcends language,” she says. Another group that believes in the power of music is Dublin’s Anúna, a
group that will be performing their unique style of Celtic music at this year’s festival. Michael McGlynn says Anúna is thrilled to be coming to Newfoundland for the festival’s celebration of the tradition of choral music. Anúna explores the unique, beautiful and sometimes forgotten music and texts from ancient Ireland through their original works and powerful arrangements of medieval and traditional music. The name Anúna derives from the ancient Irish name An Uaithne, which collectively describes the three ancient types of Celtic music — Suantraí (lullaby), Geantraí (happy song) and Goltraí (lament). Anúna have performed all over the world, including the World Sacred Music Festival in Morocco, opening the prestigious Glasgow Celtic Connections Festival in 2000 and in 2004 they travelled with Irish President Mary McAleese on her state visits to
Argentina and Chile. In 2005 the group toured Germany, the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Japan to coincide with the Japanese release of their album Winter Songs. Fallis is known to millions of CBC listeners across the country for her Diva Diaries, and to thousands of theatre goers for her Primadonna series of onewoman shows, yet she thrills at having the opportunity to kick off Festival 500. “I have been invited to perform at an international festival in a place I love.” Fallis has also been asked to give a keynote address and speak about her life as a prima donna. Life just couldn’t get any better, she laughs. Fallis says part of the attraction of Festival 500 is that it is in Newfoundland. “I am just delighted to have been asked to participate, and I am thrilled that I get to return to Newfoundland to do so.” — Pam Pardy Ghent
FRIDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 15-21, 2007 — PAGE 23
Socks, ties and underwear What dad is likely to get for Father’s Day By John Rieti The Independent
ifts are rarely more simple, predictable or appreciated than a new pair of socks, a fresh set of underwear or a crisp tie. A quick walk down Water Street in St. John’s provides a wide selection of each and the opportunity to spice up the classics. “There’s nothing better than a new, clean pair of socks. You can ditch those old socks with the holes in the toes,” says Geoff Meadus, manager of Melon, one of the city’s trendiest stores. Plain, black socks line the drawers of fathers who claim: “They never look dirty,” or “they always match.” Meadus has his share of black socks too, but prefers to break the mold. “I look for colour and pattern … I like funky socks,” Meadus says. The Diesel socks in stock at Melon come in light blue and key-lime green and are adorned with stripes and strips of argyle, a striking contrast under a pair of black pants. “They look really nice with a pair of shorts on the golf course … they’re just going to standout and be really loud and distract your opponent,” Meadus jokes. A good tie is front and centre of every man’s wardrobe and wish list. “When it comes to a tie, everyone wants to have their own unique look,” says John McCarthy, manager of Benjamin’s Clothing for Men on Water Street. “Ties are a classic gift for Father’s day. Most people’s dads wear ties all the time so they get a feel for what they like. Not many ties get returned.” McCarthy says multiple, diagonal stripes are the most popular look this year. For gifts, he recommends a dark tie, because they can be worn year round. Narrower ties are also becoming more popular and are best tied in a full Windsor knot to complement the large collars of today’s dress shirts. Most quality ties should be long enough to fit any body type so the only tough decisions are colour and pattern. Have a look through dad’s tie rack before going shopping and get a sense for what they like — simple stripes or busy decoration, black and textured or smooth and red. “Find one they like and they’ll wear it,” McCarthy says. The men in Heather Chafe’s family own a clothing store, but she says without her they would be wearing old dirty underwear covered in holes. The manager of Wm. L. Chafe & Son clothing store, originally opened by her grandfather, says Father’s Day is a good time to replace the rags with a new pair of underwear. Chafe makes shopping for the “unmentionable” product easy, so long as the shopper knows dad’s preferences — briefs, boxer-briefs or boxers — and waist size. The store offers Canadian brands such as Stanfields in a range of colours and cuts that can fit any man. While it may be a bit too intimate a gift for a kid to buy, Chafe says wives are good shoppers when it comes to dressing their man. “They know their men’s preferences and they know what they like to see,” Chafe says with a giggle. email@example.com
Tie, $50, provided by Benjamin’s Clothing for Men; underwear, $8.50, provided by Wm. L. Chafe and Son; socks, $20, provided by Melon; body by Ivan Morgan, priceless.
Paul Daly/The Independent
A searing good time “Mr. Gardner, what’s going on there?”
got that a lot when I was beginning my career in the kitchen. Thankfully, it is now over. You see, I was one of the people who made a little smoke with my sear. In fact, for a time I was known for my food because of my “strong carmelization.” Truth be told, I was horrible at making that golden crust of the perfect sear. What is searing? And why should we be doing it?
NICHOLAS GARDNER Off the Eating Path Well, there are myths surrounding the true reason behind the sear. Once upon a time we were told the placing of protein into a hot pan would “seal in the juices and prevent the protein from dry-
ing out.” Chefs, cooks and non-professional cooks will tell you the sear is the most important part of the cooking process, as it brings all the greatest flavours to the table. It is not just that the processes occur but the chemical reactions which take place that makes the searing process interesting. The process of searing is really a Maillard reaction, which was discovered by Louis Camille Maillard, a French physicist and chemist in 1910.
The Maillard reaction is essentially the changing states of natural sugars throughout the roasting process. Moisture evaporates and the natural sugars in the proteins are heated to the state where they begin to change colour. This change of colour is no different than heating sugar in a hot pan and making a caramel sauce. The chemical process is the same. Sugars roast and change chemically to become caramels.
Still the question remains: why do we do it? The simple answer is flavour — pure and simple. Nothing but the application of a strong heat can create the complex flavours of caramelizing meat. And why stop there? Vegetables carry sugars as well and they can be seared in the same way. The browning of sugars makes the flavours intensify and develSee “A good sear,” page 24
JUNE 15, 2007
24 • INDEPENDENTSTYLE
‘A significant conservation project’
The Codroy River Valley on the west coast of Newfoundland.
feels for the efforts of so many toward the protection of the ecologically significant property. “We had to keep this valuable area safe,” he says, and money was needed to do it. The public pitched in to help with a bird-a-thon that took place last month in the Codroy Valley. Ballam, who attended the event, says the weekend total of species identified by
the birders was 83. Besides the money raised directly by the bird-a-thon, anonymous donors and additional funds provided by Humber Natural History Society members brought in almost $9,000. The funds raised went toward the Hermitage Wetland Property Acquisition project. The property purchase included 145 acres of peatland and woodland with
Photo by Dennis Minty
over 4,500 feet of Grand Codroy River frontage. “The Grand Codroy River Estuary has been recognized internationally as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands,” Ballam says. “No doubt this was a worthwhile local project to support.” The acquisition is larger than any other single protected property in the estuary and it increases the total protected area in
the estuary by 26 per cent. “This is a significant conservation project,” Ballam stresses. “The NCC is the primary conservation organization working in the estuary and we have already purchased 14 properties in the area,” Ballam says. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has entered into stewardship agreements with a number of other landowners and several properties have been acquired by other agencies — all with conservation as their primary goal. The area was threatened by development that could have interfered with the waterfowl in the area and the rest of the area’s natural cycle of life, Ballam says, but no more. “Protecting the Hermitage wetland property will provide an essential buffer to the sensitive downstream area,” he says proudly. Ballam isn’t surprised the public jumped in to help when the opportunity arose. “The local people have been involved in conserving this area since a hunting ban was put in place in 1987,” he says. The value of the property has been seen by many for years, and now the NCC can do its part, but they need the continued support of the public, Ballam explains. “Stewardship is critical to land conservation,” he says. “Engaging the public in the management and conservation of properties like the Hermitage wetland property means everyone gets a chance to enjoy and appreciate all that it has to offer for generations to come.” The NCC is entertaining new names for the Hermitage wetland property. Suggestions are welcome from the general public. E-mail Douglas.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 709753-5540. — Pam Pardy Ghent
he Grand Codroy River Estuary on the southwest coast is like nowhere else in Newfoundland. The uniqueness of its moderate climate, protected shores, rolling grasslands and lush balsam fir forests give it a rich biological diversity attractive to both flora and fauna. The sheltered valley and the 13 islands in the estuary add another dimension to an already rich natural habitat that is part of what drew the attention of Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC). The NCC is the country’s leading national land conservation organization. A private, non-profit group, they partner with corporate and individual landowners to achieve the direct protection of our most important natural treasures through land donation, purchase and general conservation. Since 1962, the NCC and its partners have helped conserve more than 1.9 million acres (768,900 hectares) of ecologically significant land nationwide. The NCC is incredibly proud of its latest project in Newfoundland, says Douglas Ballam, program manager. The Codroy Valley Estuary is a hotspot of natural diversity, he explains. With 19 species of waterfowl calling the area home — including some that are continentally uncommon or provincially rare — preserving the area was of great interest to many. One per cent of the North Atlantic Canada Goose population is known to stage in the estuary and it is the only area on the island of Newfoundland where the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is regularly known to exist. The valley also supports an unusually high raptor population — especially during the fall migration — and the valley is well known as a provincial mecca for songbirds. Ballam says it is all these things that make the area an incredibly valuable property for those who want to protect all that it has to offer. Ballam is thrilled to have the opportunity to express the gratitude the NCC
For every question there is an answer.
Hope through education, support and solutions. 1.800.321.1433
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTSTYLE • 25
Pop stopped to smell the roses
y grandfather was the first one up every morning, saying he had things more important to do than sleep. He went to sea with his sons — my father and my uncle — until the day he fell in the boat and they couldn’t get him up. Pop was 77 by then, with a spirit more willing than his body was able, though he would never admit that. I remember watching him roll in and out of the dory, his legs so riddled with arthritis he could no longer lift them high enough to get in or out. Since he never let on that he entered and exited that way because of his limitations, I thought that was the way a “real fisherman” was supposed to do it. Shortly after his fall, my grandfather made an odd request. Odd for him anyway. He wanted to see a doctor. That was the first time he ever went to one. The reason? Not for treatment, or for relief from pain, but for a letter he wanted made out to his two sons saying he was still quite capable of fishing out of Fortune Bay at their side.
PAM PARDY GHENT
Seven-day talk The doctor wisely made an alternative suggestion: that my grandfather was perhaps more valuable on the land repairing and maintaining the fishing gear since “the young fellas” (my middle-aged father and his much older brother) didn’t know how to do it “quite right.” My grandfather took his new role quite seriously. He was still the first one up. He went down to check the wind before my father rose each morning. He saw his boys off — with breakfast — and he met them when they came in. He cleaned and mended nets and he built and fixed lobster pots. Then one day my grandfather walked down to the harbour and fell again. He was never the same. I remember coming home for a visit around that time and watching him
closely. If my grandmother wasn’t focused on him at all times, he did “strange” things. He couldn’t remember how to make a cup of tea. He would come in the house after supper and not know he had just eaten. A few weeks after I returned to Ontario I got a call from my father. My grandmother had finally called an ambulance to come for Pop. There was “something” wrong. This man, who had only been to a doctor to get a letter to return to the sea that he loved, was carried out of the home he built on a stretcher. When the attendants had him out on the lawn, he asked to go back and they obliged. He scanned the house, my grandmother told me on a visit I made home after his death and before her own. He looked at their bedroom at the top of the stairs. The men holding the stretcher knew enough to be patient, and they didn’t rush him through what would be his last look. One asked him gently if he had forgotten anything, and he shook his head. He didn’t forget anything, though I’m sure he was afraid he might.
My grandfather was brought to the Health Sciences Centre. He still knew most who visited him, but he remembered who they were years before. His grown children lost decades in his eyes and his wife became his young bride. He spent his time in his hospital bed mending fictitious nets — his empty hands going through the motions — and talking to people who were long gone. But besides his back-sliding memories, we didn’t know what was wrong with him. Before we could have him diagnosed, he passed peacefully away in his sleep. He had no tests, no drugs, and no surgery. He was allowed to die in his sleep at the age of 86 with his life’s work well done. On this Father’s Day, all Brody and I will have are memories and thoughts of the men in our lives. My husband won’t be home, and with his new work schedule, unless Brody wakes up early or stays up extra late, they might not have a chance to speak. My father will be in St. John’s on a rare date night with my
mother (they have concert tickets) and while he might return some time on Sunday, nothing is for sure at the moment. Brody and I are planning on rounding up the other temporarily fatherless boys and going to the fair in Marystown to kill a few hours. If the weather is nice, I will have a wiener roast and perhaps even set off a few fireworks with them. Before the day is over, I will take a few moments and go to the graveyard on top of the hill and visit with the man whose home I now call my own; the one who worked so hard he said he wore out his first set of feet. Like my grandfather hanging on to the last image of his home the evening he was carried out of it, I will share as many memories of him that I can with the great-grandchild he never had a chance to meet. I think I will make sure to wake Brody up early enough to call his father on Sunday morning after all. My grandfather was right. Some things are more important than sleep.
EVENTS JUNE 21 • Seniors’ Bridging Culture Club, Seniors’ Resource Centre, 2 p.m., 7372333. • The Irish Strain: Poetry of Newfoundland, featuring Memorial University’s award-winning poets Mary Dalton and Patrick Warner, exploring Irish influence, Emma Butler Gallery, 111 George St. West, St. John’s, 7:30-9 p.m., reception to follow.
The Battery: People of the Changing Outport tells the story of The Battery, of dramatic social, cultural and economic changes occurring in many outport communities. It runs at The Rooms, Level 2, until Sept. 3. Paul Daly/The Independent
JUNE 15 • Canada AM with the Navigators, live from Harbourside Park, St. John’s, 8 a.m., free admission. • St. John’s Comedy Festival, The Battery Hotel, St. John’s, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, gala performance 8 p.m. Sunday, Arts and Culture Centre. • Smokeroom on the Kyle, bring guitars, fiddles, spoons or ugly sticks and hear stories of the Labrador fishery and Newfoundland coastal services, Railway Coastal Museum, Water Street, St. John’s, 2:30-5 p.m. JUNE 16 • Skateboard championship, Mundy Pond Park, St. John’s, 2 p.m., June 1617. JUNE 17 • National Aboriginal Day, discover the traditional and present day life of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Inuit, Innu, Mi’kmaq and Métis communities, The Rooms, St. John’s, 12-4:30 p.m., 757-8000. • Nature hike, MUN Botanical Gardens, 306 Mount Scio Road, 10-11 a.m., 737-8590. • Garden tour, suitable for families,
MUN Botanical Gardens, 306 Mount Scio Rd., 12 p.m., 737-8590. JUNE 18 • St. John’s City Council meeting, public welcome, council chambers, 4th floor, City Hall, 4:30 p.m. • Nicotine Anonymous support group, Carnell Building, 15 Pippy Pl., 2nd floor, 7:30 -8:30 p.m. JUNE 19 • The Nickel Independent Film Festival, LSPU Hall/RCA Theatre, 3 Victoria St., St. John’s, 753-4531, www.rca.nf.ca, until June 23. • Finding Your Purpose, lecture with Edith Lynch, 7-9 p.m., six-week seminar, meeting once weekly until July 24. JUNE 20 • Registration deadline for Lebanese Community of Newfoundland and Labrador meet and greet to occur at Bally Haly Golf & Curling Club, July 1, 2007, 2-5pm, registration necessary, call Lill at 754-2863 or Sharon 7228684. • Louis McDonald Quartet, Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre, 8 p.m. • The Once at Folk Night, Ship Pub, St. John’s, 9:30 p.m.
IN THE GALLERIES: • Eastern Edge Gallery celebrates The Year of the Craft, 72 Harbour Dr., St. John’s, 3 p.m., 739-1882, until June 16. • Catherine Beaudette’s Mushrooming, series of layered paintings, Pouch Cove Gallery, 14 Gruchy’s Hill, until June 30. • The Battery: People of the Changing Outport tells the story of The Battery, of dramatic social, cultural and economic changes occurring in many outport communities, The Rooms, Level 2, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John’s, until Sept. 3. • Two Artists Time Forgot highlighting the achievements of Margaret Campbell MacPherson and Francis Jones Bannerman, two women artists from the late 19th century, The Rooms, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John’s, until Sept. 3. • Brian Jungen’s Vienna, giant sculpture in the form of a pristine whale skeleton suspended from the gallery’s cathedral ceiling, The Rooms, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John’s, until Sept. 16. • Finest Kind, sampling display of Newfoundland’s stories of nationhood, World War I, and life on the land and sea through artifacts, artwork, images and documents, The Rooms, level 2, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John’s, until Sept. 16. • Natural Energies by Anne Meredith Barry (1931–2003), including 90 works created since 1982, The Rooms, level 3, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John’s, until Sept. 30.
Steaks on a grill.
‘A good sear’ From page 23
Using a pair of long tongs, wipe down the newly cleaned and heated grill with op complexity of flavour. the oiled cloth. So what do you need for a good sear? The grill will smoke a bit as oil drops Since it is the time of year when we on the heat, but this will dissipate. brush the dust off the outdoor grill, What you should be left with is a some simple steps are needed to make gleaming surface ready for cooking. the perfect Maillard reaction. Since we “eat with our eyes” first, Clean the grill thorhere’s how to get the oughly. This means getperfect cross-hatch ting all the dirt and marks on your piece of Clean the grill grime off the grill from protein. thoroughly. This the previous summer Start the protein off cooking season. on the “presentation means getting all Start by scrubbing side” first and place it at the dirt and grime a 45-degree angle to the down the grill with a steel wire brush. I have bars. a fancy one meant for a off the grill from the Now is the crucial grill. However, even a previous summer time. Resist the urge to simple wire brush touch the protein, be it a cooking season. bought at a hardware steak, chicken breast or store will do the same even some firm tofu. job. Once all the surDon’t touch it for at face dirt has been scraped off, heat the least 3-4 minutes. The heat will start the grill to about 450 F. If your barbecue Maillard reaction, the carmelization has a built-in thermometer that works, will occur and the protein will be easiwe’re looking to get it into the mid-sec- ly lifted off. Turn the protein over and tion of the red zone. If you don’t have a cook for another 3-4 minutes. built-in thermometer, turn it to full and When you are ready for the third wait about 10-12 minutes. turn, make it 45 degrees in the opposite While the grill is heating, roll up a direction, thus making beautiful diacouple of cloths about 12 inches long monds. and six inches wide. Roll them into So who would have guessed that tight cylinders along the short side and such complex chemistry is made every tie them tight with butcher’s twine. time we cook? Who knew food science Pour a cup of vegetable oil in a bowl could be that fun? and dip the rolled cloths into the oil. email@example.com
JUNE 15, 2007
26 • INDEPENDENTSTYLE
How does your garden grow? W
ould-be gardeners usually come in two types, says Kim Thistle, owner and operator of The Greenhouse and Garden Store in Little Rapids. “There are those who go by the seat of their pants and then there are those who have a plan,” she says. Those who operate on the fly are constantly changing and digging up while those with a plan are usually happy with the end result, she says, adding it pays to have a landscape plan. Thistle’s Greenhouse is the largest independent retail nursery in the Humber Valley, specializing in a large selection of perennials, annuals, hanging baskets, trees and shrubs, roses and climbing plants. With over 10,000 square-feet of greenhouses, the company grows the majority of the plants they sell so employees know all about anything and everything green that grows. “You need to know how big a plant, tree or shrub will eventually become so you can plant systematically, preventing disappointment or disaster later on,” Thistle advises. When someone requests a landscape plan Thistle has someone visit the home. “We measure it up, see where the shaded areas are, look at which way the property faces, look at electrical lines, septic systems, waterlines — all the things that could interfere with the growth of a tree, for instance.” Then, they talk to the family, asking lifestyle, personality and preference questions. “Are there children who might trample flowers while at play, are you planning on putting in a clothesline, is there a desire to have a nice low maintenance garden or do you want something to work at in your leisure time — we get a taste for what someone wants this space to be,” Thistle says. They also figure out what plants suit a client best. Thistle then designs a plan that outlines where and how far apart to place trees and shrubs. “We add in any plans for a deck, a pond or a fire pit and it becomes almost a paint-bynumber plan that homeowners can do on their own or pass along to a contractor,” she continues. Thistle has some advice for those starting on their own. It is a misconception, she says, that annuals are easier to maintain than perennials. “Perennials have a cycle so you don’t end up with a fully blooming flower garden like you see in those magazines that come to your door,” she says. Instead, you need to plan a perennial garden carefully, paying attention to blooming cycles. “You generally leave the bed alone in a
perennial garden so weeds that have a deep root can grow in the middle of your plants — like a Hosta, for example — and cause problems down the road when you discover you have a severe weed problem.” Thistle advises some gardeners to stick to annuals because constantly digging at the ground means that weeds never get a good foothold. Thistle believes the only good weed and pest control is a natural one — manual labour. Chemical weed-control products can cause more damage to plants, trees and shrubs than they are worth, she says. The same goes for pesticides. “Ninety-six per cent of insects are beneficial and the bad insects attract the good ones looking for a food supply,” she says. The only creatures Thistle picks out of her own garden and greenhouse are slugs and caterpillars. There are a few tricks to natural bug control if all that is creepy and crawly does get under your skin. “Slugs are attracted to beer, so go ahead and sink that butter tub in the ground,” she says. You can do the same with earwigs, only the bait that attracts them to the tub is soy sauce. Adding cooking oil to the mixture will kill them, but Thistle reminds gardeners that earwigs — while “ugly” — are not a big problem. “If they were pink and purple we would love them,” she laughs, “but if you want them gone you need to understand a little about them.” Thistle says earwigs look for a cool place to go during the day. Laying a drinking straw or a bit of pipe in the garden with peanut butter in one end will get their attention. The bugs will crawl in and not be able to get out. In the morning just dump the tube into some water and you have done some productive menace maintenance that might even make you feel better, she says. For that weed-free lawn, Thistle advises adding five per cent clover to your grass seed. Clover cuts down on weeds and their less edible roots reduces the damage done by chinch bugs. Thistle advises also thinking beyond the traditional lawn. Add flower beds, a rock garden or other ground cover like creeping thyme, cotoneaster or ajuga, she offers. The biggest thing to consider, says Thistle, is what you already have to work with. If you have a bank in your yard, see that as an opportunity to add dimensions. Seeing the positive potential in what is already there is a great starting point to any space, she says. “Don’t think starting over, think about working with what is there now.” — By Pam Pardy Ghent
Betty Hall, a member of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society, gets ready for the annual spring flower show at Memorial University’s Botanical Gardens. Paul Daly/The Independent
Multiple sclerosis usually strikes people aged 15 to 40, in the prime of their lives.
What’s new in the automotive industry
JUNE 15-21, 2007
STYLING & PACKAGING The 2007 Suzuki XL7: A radical new look, with a lot more room to move. The XL7 is as close as you’ll come to a sporty machine that seats seven passengers, optional all-wheel drive, and an excellent V-6 engine. The pentagonal headlights symbolically define the nature of the new XL7. The front end stands out, and the big Suzuki’s profile flows like a sports sedan from front to rear, with aggressive fender bulges that provide a muscular overall stance. Beneath the hood lies a great engine, transverse-mounted and driving the front wheels. You can feel the difference as soon as you depress the accelerator. The 2007 Suzuki XL7 is available at Freshwater Suzuki, 324 Freshwater Rd. Nicholas Langor/The Independent
‘Sex Machine’ TURNIN’ HEADS TOWARD THE SKY
f there was ever a car that deserved the car. its own soundtrack, the Saturn Sky This is the first year for Saturn’s Sky would have Sex Machine by James roadster and they certainly score big Brown. Because that’s all this points for designing an car is: a top-down, red-hot, extremely stylish package. oozing-down-the-street, It’s an affordable machine rolling sex machine. that doesn’t try to outperSomething you wouldn’t form every other convertible expect from Saturn, but there it on the road, but looks like a is. million bucks. I didn’t get more than a kiloThe Sky is available with metre from the dealership, a choice of engines; the base stopped at the first red light model I drove had a 2.4-litre, MARK and noticed all the stares. And four-cylinder with 177 WOOD a bit more, actually. horsepower, a perfect match A woman tipped her sunWOODY’S for the machine. glasses down her nose a bit, That’s all I need. It gets WHEELS great peaked over the top of them mileage and enough for a better look and mouthed guts to have a thrill now and “Oooh!” directly at me. Who me? You then. The redline version of the Sky can’t be serious. No one was doing that comes with a turbo-charged two-litre, when I drove my truck by here just a four-cylinder and 260 horsepower, few scant moments ago. It’s definitely which is probably what the car really
Saturn’s Sky roadster
deserves. I prefer the base model. One of the hardest things to do is drive a fast car slowly and, under the circumstances, you’d be denying the viewing public a
Mark Wood photo
decent look at one of the sharpest looking cars on the road. It’s a high-sided craft. You really sit down in it, totally wrapped in decadence. There’s a pair of large, tapered
ridges directly behind the headrests, leading from the integral roll bars. These serve more than an aerodynamic See “Cool car,” page 29
28 • INDEPENDENTSHIFT
JUNE 15, 2007
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTSHIFT • 29
Broken cars, broken heart W
hen I was in grade 11, a boy cheese onto it, and when bits fell off finally asked me out. He was we spent weekends adding more. tall and blonde and There wasn’t a lick of carsweet, but the most attractive pet left in the thing, and the quality he possessed was that stick shift was a floor-mounthe was attracted to me. When ed metal rod that trembled he came to meet my parents, violently when you hit 50 I saw him pull into the drivekm/h. The driver’s door didway in a big red van. What n’t open, and the engine my parents saw was a broken occasionally made loud down, rusty, creaky beast the banging sounds as if some LORRAINE colour of off-season waxy tiny angry gnome with a SOMMERFELD tomatoes, emitting gasoline large hammer was trapped vapours and an air of neglect. under the hood. It was a chariot of indeterAfter a couple of months, minate age, with pounds of he showed up with my nickBondo struggling to stay name stencilled on the doors. adhered to the rocker panels You know it’s love when a running down both sides. It looked like guy stencils your name on his van. My someone had sprayed reddish cottage mother got that stiff little smile on her
‘Cool car, Mister!’ From page 27 function and give the appearance of blending the occupants and the machine in a complementary manner. The hood is a bit on the large side and gives the impression there’s a beast of a motor under it ready to eat everything on the road. It’s all style — we know that. But there’s room enough to drop in a massive V-8. Mallett Cars, a conversion company from Ohio, can squeeze in the largest, most powerful seven-litre GM engine with 505 horsepower. I’m sure the Sky could handle it. This roadster rolls with the best on independent suspension, saucy 18-inch rims and low-profile tires. Under normal circumstances I’d shoot out the highway to an undisclosed rural location for some twisty roads and do a little performance evaluation. That all changed right from the flirting moment I had back at the first set of lights, and chose instead to cruise right into the heart of a sunny afternoon. I headed downtown, where a sex machine belongs, and instead did a sociological study by measuring the attention. It’s true that a convertible can improve your love life. That’s why peo-
face, adoring the boy, but flummoxed that her daughter could picture herself as Cinderella in this junkyard carriage. For a year after the eventual demise of the van, my parents saw us through the succession of cars that sighed into the driveway, held together with duct tape and prayers. Though several years older than me, Allan was still figuring out the man he would become, and what that man would drive. Thankfully, my parents also saw the boy who brought me flowers every Sunday, who loved our crazy family dinners and would drive miles from work just to see me for 15 minutes at lunchtime. How could they not love a boy who always had me home on time, and performed the role of First Love with dignity and grace?
And then one day it happened. He pulled up in his dream car — a 1964 Plymouth Valiant convertible, as blue as the summer sky it was parked under. My name wasn’t stencilled on the door this time, but his exuberance for the fact the car and I were the same year was infectious. I was too smitten to consider the implication I was being compared to something with a wonky leaf spring and a roomy trunk. It’s generous to say Allan wasn’t much of a mechanic, and while there were various things wrong with this little beauty, they were all hidden away beneath the sparkling, metal flake surface. After years of popping clutches, jump-starting batteries and getting towed to the wreckers, he finally had a car that turned heads for all the right
reasons. For a glorious, fleeting time, he was That Guy, and I got to be the girl with That Guy. A week before his 21st birthday, and a week after my 17th, this beautiful boy was killed by a drunk driver. He died in the vehicle he spent a lifetime getting to. The gaping hole that was punched in too many lives when he died remains as tender and devastating 25 years later. Don’t drive if you drink. Don’t let your friends do it, and don’t think it can’t happen to you. The only thing harder than living the rest of your life with this black ache in your heart would be to know you caused that lifelong pain for someone else. www.lorraineonline.ca
F1 GRAND PRIX
ple buy them. Any guy or girl that learns to accessorize themselves with such a vehicle is instantly desirable, moreso than, say, someone wearing anything less. Sure, it’s a shameless self-promotion of your own success. It means you can afford a second car. You can’t drive a roadster in the winter and you’re certainly not going to be hoofing it after driving a sex machine all summer. Naturally, with increasing population density, the more reaction the car received. School kids freaked, waved and screamed “Cool car, Mister!” Girls strolling by just stopped and stared. It’s that kind of car. Your own personal float in the parade of life. I picked up my wife at work and we cruised to the top of Signal Hill to see the icebergs. We enjoyed the moment; sunny day, no kids, nice car. My wife reminisced it was exactly how we were years ago, before we got married — cruising around in my convertible. I’m not afraid to admit it. Why do you think I know so much about convertibles? Mark Wood of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is a mild-mannered columnist by night and drives an occasional weapon during the day.
McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain arrives in the pits after winning the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in Montreal on June 10. Hamilton won his first Formula One race in the crash-marred Grand Prix. REUTERS/Jason Reed
30 • INDEPENDENTFUN
JUNE 15, 2007
WEEKLY DIVERSIONS ACROSS 1 Sneers 7 Vanilla amt. 10 Uses a broom 16 Despised outcast 17 Like Frank McCourt 19 Alley prowler 20 Make possible 21 Knot again 22 Steep ravine 23 Ont. summer time 24 Immature insects 26 Liona of the guitar 28 Bitter quaff 29 Wooden-soled shoes 31 Auction action 32 Stand 33 Parliament ___ 34 Protagonist, usually 35 Max.’s opposite 36 Feudal farmer 37 Brief, vigorous try 38 Suffix for a doctrine 40 Gnawing emotion 42 Canadian-born P.M. of U.K. 43 Quebec pianist: Louis ___ 46 Friend 47 He directed “Titanic” 51 Turn outward 52 Weaving apparatus 54 Puff on grass 55 Outer: prefix 56 Idiot 57 A Diefenbaker 58 Seethe 59 Do like a butterfly
60 Diminutive suffix 61 Chat ___ 62 Elly and John’s son (“FBFW”) 63 Bouquet thrower 64 Actress Dewhurst 66 Bulgarian coinage 67 Metal on teeth 68 “A rose by ___ other name ...” 69 Washed out 71 Buffet coffee server 72 Bobby Orr’s hometown: Parry ___, Ont. 75 Tortoise rival of fable 76 Einstein’s birthplace 78 Spanish house 82 Kind of cod 83 Sausage contents 84 Cursor starter? 85 Mothers 86 Like: suffix 87 Ship’s spine 88 Payment for a bride (Africa) 90 Apple seed 91 Relating to the nerves 93 Water spoiler 95 Quebec violinist Dubeau 97 Martial art 98 The Dempster highway is there 99 Brain cell 100 Controversial Hindu funeral custom 101 Not: prefix 102 Acid-alcohol com-
pounds DOWN 1 Language 2 Burn the ___ at both ends 3 Gifted speaker 4 Little white one 5 Reversing ___, N.B. 6 Butter for skin 7 Walk 8 Location 9 Greek letter 10 Flag’s maple leaf designer 11 ___ Buffalo National Park (Alta.) 12 Flightless bird 13 Cream-filled pastry 14 Spanish rice dish 15 Hard 17 Poet Layton 18 She wrote Kamouraska 25 Baseball stat. 27 Boor 30 Swelling in the neck 32 Alexander Graham ___ 33 “Mr. Hockey” 35 Mrs. (Fr.) 36 Thailand, once 37 Renown 39 Gain a lap 41 Atop 42 Meech, e.g. 43 Alta. site of 1947 oil strike
44 Moulding 45 Drive away 47 ___-by-Chance, Nfld. 48 Souvenir 49 Oxygen compound 50 Short letters 52 Ontario’s official bird: common ___ 53 Unit of electrical resistance 54 N.W.T. hamlet, for short 57 Baby kangaroo 58 V 59 National Ballet founder: Celia ___ 61 Tear apart 62 Ancient Persian 63 “It’s freezing!” 65 K.D. from Consort 66 Songbird 67 Cadge 69 “FBFW” dog, once 70 Winnipeg-born star of 30s and 40s: Deanna ___ 72 Moves sneakily 73 Bird in Boulogne 74 Not among the injured 75 Soil scraper 77 The Lion 79 Electrical unit 80 Mariner 81 Trees with fluttery leaves 83 Park on L. Erie: Point
___ 84 Some shirts 85 Equine hair
87 Actress Nelligan 88 Mischievous Norse god
89 Superman’s Lois 92 Cad 94 What cows chew
96 Famish ___, Nfld. Solution page 32
Brian and Ron Boychuk
WEEKLY STARS ARIES (MAR.21 TO APR. 19) Recently obtained information could open a new opportunity for a career change. But temper that Arian impatience and act on it only when all the facts are made available. TAURUS (APR. 20 TO MAY 20) You’re moving into a more active cycle. So put your ideas back on the table, where they’ll be given the attention they deserve. Expect a favorable change in your love life. GEMINI (MAY 21 TO JUNE 20) A friend might ask for a favour that you feel would compromise your values. Best advice: Confront him or her and explain why you must say no. A true friend will understand. CANCER (JUNE 21 TO JULY 22)
A relationship continues to develop along positive lines. Meanwhile, a brewing job situation could create complications for one of your pet projects. Look into it right away. LEO (JULY 23 TO AUG. 22) Your interest in a co-worker’s project could lead to a profitable experience for you both. But before you agree to anything, be sure to get all your legal Is dotted and Ts crossed. VIRGO (AUG. 23 TO SEPT. 22) Be careful whose counsel you take about a possible long-distance move. Some advice might not necessarily be in your best interest. Stay focused on your goals. LIBRA (SEPT. 23 TO OCT. 22) Someone might try to complicate
efforts in an attempt to work out that confusing job situation. But don’t let that keep you from sticking with your decision to push for a resolution. SCORPIO (OCT. 23 TO NOV. 21) A disagreement on how to handle a family problem could create more trouble for all concerned. Look for ways to cool things down before they boil over. SAGITTARIUS (NOV. 22 TO DEC. 21) An unexpected change in longstanding workplace procedure and policy could provide a new career target for the Archer to aim at. Start making inquires. CAPRICORN (DEC. 22 TO JAN. 19) You’re finally able to get back into the swing of things, as those temporary doldrums begin to lift.
Expect some surprising disclosures from a new colleague. AQUARIUS (JAN. 20 TO FEB. 18) Rely on your innate sense of justice to see you through a dilemma involving a family member. Other relatives who’ve stood back will soon come forward as well. PISCES (FEB. 19 TO MAR. 20) A new friend seems to be pushing you into taking risks — financial or otherwise. Best advice: Don’t do it. She or he might have a hidden agenda that hasn’t surfaced yet. YOU BORN THIS WEEK You love to see new places and meet new people. Have you considered working for an airline or cruise-ship company? (c) 2007 King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Fill in the grid so that each row of nine squares, each column of nine and each section of nine (three squares by three) contains the numbers 1 through 9 in any order. There is only one solution to each puzzle. Solutions, tips and computer program available at www.sudoko.com
SOLUTION ON PAGE 32
FRIDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 15-21, 2007 — PAGE 31
Jack Strong delivers a bowl at the Peter Pan Lawn Bowling Club at Bowring Park in St. John’s.
Nicholas Langor/The independent
Dawn of the lawn
Peter Pan Lawn Bowling Club hopes for busy summer, more young bowlers By John Rieti The Independent
ack Strong carefully sizes up the route he wants his bowl to take, squinting into the cold fog at his target, a small white ball. With a slight backswing and smooth release he sends the bowl, a three-pound ball weighted differently on each side and slightly flattened in shape, spinning over the grass, kicking up a spray of water behind it. His shot ends up several feet short and to the left, but the satisfaction of starting his 18th year of lawn bowling is evident on Strong’s face. As president of the Peter Pan Lawn Bowling Club, which operates a green in Bowring Park in St. John’s, Strong hopes more people will try the sport he loves. He isn’t sure how many members play, but says the regulars play any time they get a chance. “(Lawn bowling) is out in the fresh air, it’s a bit of exercise, you meet some great
people and there’s a competitive edge,” Strong says. How competitive? “In lawn bowling there’s under-25s and under-16s that can go to nationals. We’re hoping to have some (players qualify) this year.” Strong competed at a national tournament himself a few years ago and remembers how much pressure he felt on each bowl. Originally from England, Strong never played the sport in its original birthplace, instead waiting until a club opened in St. John’s to start. The Peter Pan bowling green opened in the 1980s when several five-pin bowlers took to the sport and got the city’s recreation department to create a space. Park staff still take care of the pitch, which is one of the nicest, most carefully manicured patches of grass in the city. Despite the finely trimmed grass, playing in Newfoundland and Labrador’s weather can be difficult. “When it’s dry (the bowl) runs fast; when it’s damp it slows down. It’s a constant challenge to
read the grass,” Strong says. Nestled amongst old, rusted railroad cars and lush trees, lawn bowling seems like a simple sport at first glance: throw a bunch of balls and the closest to the jack (a small white ball) scores points. But it is much more complex. “Once you get into it there’s all sorts of tricks of the trade,” Strong says. By using the weighted balls and natural curves of the green, lawn bowling has tactics similar to curling, minus the sweeping. The sport can be played in singles, pairs, triples or fours where it becomes common to see players employ guard shots, or play for the final throw. Each team is led by a skip, who guides their team’s shots. Watching a bowl skim down the grass, slow and curve into the middle of a cluster of bowls, perfectly next to the jack, gives the same tingle of thrill as watching a curling stone come to rest on the button. While the sport is growing in Newfoundland and Labrador, provinces
like B.C. have already produced world champions in their 20s, and Canadians are among the world’s top bowlers. Strong says getting young people to try the sport is a challenge, especially given its reputation as an elderly, upper-class sport played entirely in white khaki ensembles. Although the Peter Pan club is largely comprised of middle-aged and older players, Strong says a lot of kids don’t realize how successful they can be in the sport without changing out of their jeans. “You don’t have to wear whites. Whites are out. We dress according to the climate,” Strong says. The green is open all week and anyone who wants to try the sport can play once for free. The club provides equipment, but all players need are flat-bottomed shoes. Anyone hooked on the sport can join the club for $55 or play games for $3 each. firstname.lastname@example.org
A broken record
Some sports numbers will never be matched again
ore than any other sport, baseball lends itself to numbers. Perhaps it’s the slow pace of the game, allowing the broadcasters and fans to discuss any number of statistics. Perhaps it’s the abundance of stats available in Nelson Doubleday’s great game that make dissecting the numbers so enjoyable. The thing about baseball is that for the most part it’s the same game today as it was 50 years ago. It’s no doubt a bit different from early in
Power Point Babe Ruth’s era, when players’ gloves were smaller and the ball was supposedly dead. But the game Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio played is the same as Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken played and the same as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez play
today. Roger Gibson and Roger Clemens pitch off the same mound (post 1968, when Gibson’s dominance — 22-9, 13 shutouts and a 1.12 earned run average — forced Major League Baseball to lower the mound). Comparing numbers from any era is never easy, but baseball’s consistency lends itself to the comparisons. This week, as Bonds chases home run history — and Hank Aaron’s 755 career dingers — records spring to my mind. As a kid, these numbers ran
through my head like untouchable milestones. A lot of them, Aaron’s included, I figured would never be touched. I was obviously wrong on that one. Did anybody think Ripken would shatter Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive game mark? Probably not. Records like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 may never be beaten. Will anybody ever again reach Williams’ hallowed .406 batting average? Or Denny McLain’s modern-day record of 31 wins in a
season? Or Cy Young’s 511 career victories? Hockey, too, has its share of great numbers and records. As a kid, I was more of a hockey nut, simply based on geography and television. There wasn’t much baseball to watch, but hockey was always front and centre. When Darryl Sittler recorded 10 points against the Boston Bruins, I knew it was a night to remember. Fifty goals was also a significant See “Fast approaching,” page 32
32 • INDEPENDENTSPORTS
JUNE 15, 2007
Learn the J-Stroke! I
paddled a canoe for the very first time more than 30 years ago when I was a wee boy of just 15 sheltered years. It was one of those aluminum tubs pointed on both ends to qualify as a canoe, and painted in the likeness of a birch bark masterpiece of the Canadian backwoods. This particular canoe was no apothesis of craftsmanship, no conveyer of French voyageurs laden with beaver pelts. It had Styrofoam belts running lengthways just below the gunwales — I imagine for a little added stability when inexperienced buffoons like ourselves adjusted position in a very un-voyageur fashion. I’m willing to bet the courier du bois had need of no such crutch. But this was no Huron freighter and we were hardly runners of the woods. I was in Ontario spending the summer with my sister and her husband. Mario, my brother-in-law, loved to fish and, as you can imagine, very little arm-twisting was required to entice the 14-year-old version of me. Not much has changed in that regard. Looking back, Mario was scoring double points; getting in some fishing and spending time with the much younger brotherin-law. Brownie points with the wife and fishing. Smart guy, or maybe he just liked fishing with me. Anyway, Mario borrowed the aluminum “birch bark” canoe from a friend of his so we could fish for splake on a remote lake about 50 miles from civilization on some abandoned Northern Ontario logging road. A splake is the aberrant offspring of a speckled trout and
Outdoors a lake trout. Maybe our choice of watercraft was somehow appropriate. I wish I had a photo of that tubby birch bark forgery strapped on roof racks atop Mario’s ’60s vintage bright yellow Chevy van. But esthetics and mode of transport aside, we were hitting the open road for a week of fishing and that always was, and still is, a very good thing. We got to our campsite about four in the evening. The sun was shining and a light breeze baffled across the shimmering lake. If memory serves me right, I think the place was called Camp 10, in the enduring spirit of logging nomenclature. I’ve been to many more Camp 10s over the years. Anyway, although we were tired and hungry, we opted to fish for a few hours before setting camp and cooking our supper of steak and beans. I’ve learned a thing or two about fishing-trip logistics in the intervening years — enough to know our plan was critically flawed. Always set the tent before going off fishing. This is a postulate that must always be adhered to. Invariable anglers will fish till dark and then end up setting camp in the dark or worse. And worse it turned out to be. Mario and I decided to paddle across to the far side of the lake and try our luck. There’s always more fish on the other
side of the lake! Our tack to the distant shore resembled a drawing from Spirograph or preschool Etch-a-Sketch. I had no idea what a J-stroke was and neither did Mario. Big burly Mario, a cop by the way, paddled in the stern and skinny, lanky me toiled away in the bow. When Mario paddled on the right side and me on the left, our craft would invariably turn left. Actually the appropriate nautical terms are starboard and port but I’m quite sure it was left and right to us at the time. In fact, bow and stern were likely just front and back. No matter how hard I paddled and sweated, the canoe would cut an arc away from the side Mario was paddling on. We concluded, reluctantly on my part, that he was just that much stronger than the little Newfie boy. What could I say? And so it went — zig-zag across the lake with me puffing and sweating and Mario smugly dabbling his paddle in the stern. A year later I discovered the J-stroke through proper canoeing lessons and gave Mario a piece of my mind over the phone. “Bloody mainlanders” and other derogatory terms were passed in good nature over the lines from The Rock to Ontario. You see, a canoe will always veer away from the paddler in the stern if corrective action isn’t taken — the J-stroke. No Jstroke, and you go in circles. The rear paddler is responsible for keeping the canoe on a straight course by rolling the wrist on the end of each stroke in a fashion that moves the paddle blade though the water in the shape of a J. It’s not that difficult. A skilled canoeist with a strong
J can actually paddle his or her craft in a straight line solo. It looks pretty cool. Remember Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the TV documentary where he paddled along shore decked out in his fringed rawhide jacket? Notice he didn’t change sides but just cut through the water in a straight line solo? It says a lot about a man — at least to me. Pierre was no poser for the camera; he knew how to paddle a canoe. Back to Camp 10. Mario and I fished for about an hour before heavy clouds erased the sun. In short order lightning ripped across the sky and rain poured down in buckets. We theorized about aluminum and electricity but really had no choice. Back across the lake we meandered, stopping frequently for course corrections and bailing. Well, not exactly bailing. No bailing bucket. We soaked up water with our sweatshirts and wrung them out over the sides. Pitiful. I can still picture Mario in the stern: white T-shirt and jeans, soaked of course, with rain rolling off the brim of one of those old-fashioned, broad-brimmed felt hats, like the ones Tommy gun-toting gangsters wear in Mafia movies. Remember the tent in the van, not set up? We slept in the van and ate butter tarts washed down with beer for supper. It poured and thundered all night. Before you ever set out on a canoe trip, do yourself a favour and learn the J-stroke. Paul Smith is a freelance writer and avid outdoorsman living in Spaniard’s Bay. email@example.com
MAY 7, 2007
INDEPENDENTSPORTS • 33
Fast approaching vaunted number From page 31 milestone. Will we ever witness another defenceman duplicating Bobby Orr’s feat of winning a scoring championship? (Orr did it twice.) But goaltending numbers always seemed to be set in stone. I remember reading about the goaltending greats, like Jacques Plante’s five consecutive Vezina Trophy wins, and Terry Sawchuk’s 103 career shutouts. I was sure the latter would last forever. Of course, Martin Brodeur — the best goalie today — is fast approaching that vaunted number. Brodeur registered 12 shutouts this season and now sits with 92, just 11
behind Sawchuk. And while the latter needed 21 seasons to record 103, Brodeur is entering just his 15th season. (Granted, goaltending equipment has changed since that previous era, but so too have the shooters.) While it appears there’s no such thing as a safe record, I believe there is. Never again will any goalie approach Glenn Hall’s consecutive games played streak of 502, a streak of more than seven straight seasons without missing a game. That’s one mark that will never be approached, never mind beaten! Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Solutions for sudoku on page 30
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons leans on the railing in front of the dugout watching as the Jays play the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of their American League game in Baltimore, Md., on May 24. REUTERS/Joe Giza
Blue Jays mail bag By Richard Griffin Torstar wire service Q: Can you please tell me when John Gibbons will start using his closer for one inning only? Has he not learned yet that the 4-5 out close is not beneficial in the long run for a team? Accardo has been fantastic all year for the Jays and should continue in the role. After he was put in for the 5-out save against the Yankees, his numbers have decreased. Shouldn’t Gibby and J.P. have realized after B.J. Ryan’s injury that one inning is enough? Grant Brevitt, Thorold, Ont. A: Gibbons did learn his lesson with regard to B.J. Ryan last year, when he rode his lefty closer in the first half like a rented emu and watched him struggle after the All-Star Game. Gibbons swore coming into this spring he would use Ryan exclusively in oneinning situations and, other than one or two times, he lived with that decision. However, the fact Accardo and Jason Frasor were both taking over the Jays’ ninth-inning role as former middle relievers and set-up men, plus the fact they were younger than Ryan with fewer innings, Gibbons thought he could get away with 4-5 out saves. Wrong. Make no mistake. Accardo will be the man the rest of the year, and with the reemergence of Frasor and the effectiveness of Casey Janssen and Scott Downs there is no need to abuse Accardo again. To excuse Gibbons, managing is a day-to-day job so when you have a lead and feel you can win that day, it is an extremely difficult decision to go with a set-up man in the eighth when your closer is fresh. The big picture is always blurry. Q: I’m a huge Jays fan from way out here on the East Coast in Newfoundland and I love your weekly question and answer column. I’m visiting Toronto toward the end of June and will be taking the family to our first-ever live Jays game on June 22 (the Rockies are in town). Where is the best spot in the Rogers Centre to watch the game, regardless of price? Any suggestions on making the game as enjoyable as possible for me and the kids. Luke Joyce, Bay Bulls, NL. A: To me, the best places at the Rogers Centre to watch the game are the first few rows of the upper deck behind home plate (especially if the kids are real ball fans where they can see the game unfold in front of them) or the first few rows up from the field, down the right field line, preferably just past the end of the visitors dugout. If you get into the stadium when the gates first open, the Rockies will be taking their batting practice. Take the kids to the first base side on either end of their dugout and they will be able to see the major leaguers up close and maybe even get some autographs. Of course there is really nothing like the close-to-the-action seats right behind the plate at field level that get all the exposure on TV. But in terms of bang for the buck, they aren’t the best deal.
Q: Did the change in MLB draft rules affect the Jays strategy this year? In the past a team could draft a player and then wait until spring to sign him. This year, a draftee has to be signed by August 31. In the past, the Jays would often draft a prospect and wait to see if he improves before making a contract offer. This season, the Jays were the first team to drop out of the draft after they had drafted 35 players in 30 rounds. I strongly suspect that the change in rules affected their decision. Paul Martin, Brampton, Ont. A: It’s now, in fact, Aug. 15 that is the new date for inking all of your draft choices and, yes, it affected the Jays and virtually every other major-league team in the procedure. There used to be a strategy in late rounds of the draft where you would select a bunch of “not ready for prime time” picks that were eligible because of their position in school and you would follow them for eight to 10 months and see if they developed enough to warrant some cash and a flyer. The new rule also affected Canadian kids. A lot of our prospects were draft and follow types, but it seems now there will be fewer Canadians drafted. However, on the positive side, there will be a higher percentage of youngsters from this country that will actually be signed. Q: What are your thoughts on this year’s draft in terms of the Jays selections? Having Scott Kazmir pitch for the D-Rays Wednesday night acted as perfect foreshadowing for what was to come on draft day as J.P. passed on (twice!) high school pitcher Rick Porcello who many scouts consider the best high school right-hander of this decade and, ultimately, the best overall prospect in the draft. I know Porcello is Scott Boras’ client and Ricciardi is completely terrified of high school pitching, but how can you throw $10 million-$11 million dollars at back-end starters (Ted Lilly, Gil Meche) and ($55 million at) career underachievers (A.J. Burnett) every off-season and then count every penny when it comes to drafting future stars? Not to mention new rules are now in place to help protect teams that cannot sign their draft picks. How much more promising would the Jays’ system look with Porcello and Cameron Maybin in it? What’s your take on Ricciardi’s style? It seems to me his conservative style could lead to a lot of teams consisting of overpaid veterans in the future. Mike Brown, Burlington, Ont. A: That’s a lot of questions. Yes, the Jays passed on the high school stud Porcello because of the fact the muchreviled Boras is his agent. But so did 28 other teams. Boras has been a pimple on baseball’s butt for a couple of decades, squeezing more money for his young clients than any agent in history. There are many teams, including the Jays, that refuse to deal with him, but there are enough other free-spending teams that will. There is no way — if the Jays had selected Porcello in the first round — that they would have been able to sign him before Aug. 15.
SPEAKING OF … Sometimes, as one ages, the dates and details of events gone by tend to blur into one another. It’s no excuse for getting something wrong, but it happens. In a May 25 column about Dan Cleary’s quest for the Stanley Cup (Wings clipped, thankfully), it was reported here that he entered a drinking establishment in Harbour Grace when he was underage and requested a beer from one of the patrons. The story cannot be corroborated. The Independent apologizes to Daniel Cleary and his family for any problems this may have caused. firstname.lastname@example.org Solutions for crossword on page 30
34 • INDEPENDENTSPORTS
JUNE 15, 2007
NBA’s TV ratings take a hit from The Sopranos Torstar wire service
Actors Tony Sirico (L), Michael Imperioli (C) and Steve Van Zandt of the television show The Sopranos pose during the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 28. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
urns out Phil Leotardo wasn’t the only one blown away by The Sopranos on Sunday night. After a Game 1 that was the lowestrated NBA final opener in history, Game 2 came off even worse, at least south of the border. Given the muchanticipated Sopranos finale opposite tipoff and a series that has lacked drama, U.S. ratings were off 24 per cent from last year’s Game 2. ABC’s U.S. ratings were down in pretty much every key demographic, noted the Sports Business Daily. Last Thursday’s Game 1 was 19 per cent off last year’s numbers, making this a loselose proposition so far for the NBA and ABC (TSN, at 138,000 on Sunday, was actually up on their Game 1 number of 124,000 viewers) — but not LeBron
James, glad to be asked a question that didn’t have anything to do with double teams or the Cavs’ struggles. “I’m serious, I’m a big Sopranos fan, and this is the first time I finally got a question which is not the same question I’ve been hearing all year,” he said before Game 2. “I appreciate that. That was awesome because I told you I’m pretty tired of answering the same questions. All this was not lost on media covering the final in San Antonio on Sunday night — nor, evidently, league officials. As the Star’s Doug Smith noted in an online post from San Antonio at thestar.com, reporters who wandered into the league’s Alamo City hospitality suite hours after Game 2 was in the books couldn’t help but noticing what was on the house televisions: A replay of The Sopranos final episode.
Oakmont a tough start for Canuck rookie By Dave Perkins Torstar wire service
tephen Ames was one of many golfers who limited their practice at Oakmont to nine holes Wednesday out of self-defence. “I’m not going to beat myself up,” Ames said of what is already being called — as it seems to be every year — the most demanding layout in U.S. Open history. “Starting Thursday, I’ll get beaten up enough,” Ames says, throwing mock lefts and rights at his own chin. “By the weekend I’ll look like John Daly.” He was joking about Daly, alleged assault victim of his wife last week and one of Ames’ Telus Skins Game opponents for next week at Lora Bay. But first there’s this monster of a golf course to tame and the pros, as usual, sound scared. But look down the enormous putting green, where Ames is, to the adjoining ninth green, and there’s 16-year-old Toronto-born, Vancouver-raised amateur Richard Lee, who isn’t scared a bit. Or maybe he just doesn’t know enough to be. “I know my game and what I can do,” Lee says matter-of-factly after 18 practice holes. “I love the course. You’ve got to play well out there, got to play smart. If you don’t put it in the right spot (on the greens) you’re not going to play
“I know my game and what I can do.” Canadian golfer Richard Lee well. If you do, you can make some birdies.” Lee, who plans to turn professional when this tournament ends, might be set up to be the Canadian Michelle Wie, although the way her career has been train-wrecked by her parents and messy management, that sounds a lot less of a compliment than it should. He’s a long-hitting powder keg, 5feet-7 inches and 190 pounds. He was blowing them 30 yards past playing partner K.J. Choi yesterday and Choi figures into the story, too. Lee’s 50-year-old (looks 40) father Jeff once was a roommate of Choi’s at Asian Tour Q-school a few years ago. Jeff Lee, variously in the grocery and golf-teaching business, could play a little himself, including a year on the Asian Tour, and has raised his son to be a player. Dad was inside the ropes yesterday, wearing a teacher’s badge and a proud smile. He’s the driving force behind his son’s career, which is moving fast.
Four years ago, Richard was a Canadian Junior Golf Association national champ for boys 13 and under. Last year, he was runner-up in the U.S. Junior Amateur and he took two state high school championships after his father moved the family from Vancouver to the Phoenix area in late 2005, selling his grocery business and buying a car wash. “He’s got to play with the big boys and get to know their tricks,” Jeff Lee says. “He’s got to learn so many things.” The father, who intends to travel with and instruct his son, said a move from Phoenix might be necessary, to get closer to the various pro tours. He also mentioned, less enthusiastically, the expenses involved, which could be enormous. Richard plans to start Monday — qualifying on the Nationwide Tour, which is a hard dollar for anyone, much less a green kid. You wish them luck, certainly, but the golf landscape is littered with teenagers, Ty Tryon types, pushed into the big time too early. There is no more sensational example now than Wie, but at least she and her parents pried a $20-million (U.S.) nest egg out of sponsors — sponsors gone totally silent, in Nike’s case — which makes the fall a little softer. It’s a more difficult road for the Lees, but one thing is certain: No one, aged 16 or 46, could have picked a tougher place to start.
Richard Lee of Canada chips onto the 16th green during the final practice round for the 2007 U.S. Open championship at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Penn., Wednesday. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
JUNE 15, 2007
INDEPENDENTSPORTS • 35
The Toronto skyline sits behind the stands as Toronto FC makes its home debut against the Kansas City Wizards at BMO field in Toronto on April 28. Ironically, many footballers on the club cannot afford to live in the city they represent. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski
Salary struggles real for Toronto FC By Dave Feschuk Torstar wire service
s the pro athletes emerged from the locker room after practice at BMO Field in Toronto this week, it was threatening rain. But no one sent a gopher from the entourage to pull up the luxury SUV or the Bentley. Most Major League Soccer players don’t roll like that. While richer men in bigger leagues flaunt their millions with automotive fleets, the entrance to Toronto Football Club’s locker room is usually flanked by decidedly more modest wheels. Bikes — the human-powered kind, not Harley-Davidsons — are the transportation of choice of at least a handful of players. “I wasn’t going to pay for a cab every day,” says Marvell Wynne, Toronto’s 21-year-old defender from Pittsburgh, explaining the presence of his two-wheeler. “(A bicycle) is cheap.” While many of TFC’s best players earn decent wages — Wynne, for instance, is among a handful of regulars earning around $150,000 (all figures U.S.) — there is no one on the roster who earns as much as the minimum salary in, say, Major League Baseball, which stands at $380,000. Carl Robinson, a midfielder, is Toronto’s top-earning player at $315,000, which doesn’t exactly approach the $6.5 million being paid David Beckham, who is expected to suit up for the L.A. Galaxy. Many players earn decidedly less. According to numbers recently made public by the league’s players’ union, the bottom end of the roster — Toronto’s eight lowestpaid players — earn either the league-minimum $12,900 or $17,700. At those wages, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent numbers, the players would be living under the poverty line for a family of one in a city of Toronto’s size.
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