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Tuesday 31 May 2011

Muskrat Falls: Hope or Hype?

When is a Deal not a Deal?
Even though Government keeps talking about the Muskrat Falls development as a done deal it's not quite there just yet. There is a term sheet that has been agreed to, but that document only outlines the bare bones of a possible agreement in the future, and it expires November 30, 2011. Government has posted the highlights here, but if you want to read the whole thing go here, thanks to Labradore.

Who Pays?
From the information that is currently available there are no real markets identified outside of Atlantic Canada and since Nova Scotia and Emera will get free power for 35 years that only leaves the rate payers in NL to pay for it. Emera is investing $1.8 billion. But most of that money is only to cover the link from NL to NS, and they will own the line when it is constructed.

What will it cost?
The total project cost is currently estimated at $6.2 billion, and those numbers were worked up last year and the project won't be completed until 2017. So my guess is that costs are likely to move upwards considerably over that time. The current numbers indicate that the cost of generation and transportation of the power will be around 14 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour. But that's the wholesale price that NL Power will pay. When they add their fee, rates will be essentially double what they are currently. Oh yeah, and the provincial debt will rise to a level higher then we have ever had before.

Why is it being built?
There are two main parts of the argument currently being presented. The first is that we cannot currently meet the demand for electricity that is forecast. The second is that electricity rates are climbing anyway and that the cost of operating the Holyrood Thermal generation station is rising due to skyrocketing fuel costs. So in the long run this is the cheapest option. Both of these arguments have serious holes.

The first one on forecast power needs appears to be based on information that is not available to anyone outside of government. Our population is not forecast to grow substantially and there are no mega-projects on the horizon so many folks are having a hard time seeing where this potential need will come from. The second argument on Holyrood has recently been skewered by a letter in the Telegram that points out the costs of operating at Holyrood have actually gone down because it produces less power each year. That could be because it is, and always was designed as a backup system. Last year it only provided 11% of the power for the province.

Are there alternatives?
The first has been discussed by Ed Hearn, a former Director with NL Hydro. He suggests using the current legislative abilities of government to recall some of the power produced by the Upper Churchill project to use, if we need it. Then there are a couple of smaller proposed hydro projects on the Island, then there's wind power, and eventually maybe natural gas(but we aren't ready for that one just yet). Oh and if the current energy policy wasn't so restrictive there could be the possibility of the development of a smart grid, where if you have solar or wind generating ability at home, and you produce more then you use, it would be sold back to the grid for use by others.

Why does it matter to rural NL?
This matters to everyone in NL. Rural and Urban. It is a project that just doesn't seem to make sense. There doesn't seem to be a real need for the power and the costs are incredibly high. The only investors are Emera, who are buying in because they get free access to power that they can sell for 35 years.

The Rub
And here's the final point. While households in NL will be paying upwards of 20 cents per kilowatt hour, any additional capacity that is sold in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or anywhere else will sell at market prices of about 7 or 8 cents per kilowatt hour. So we will pay the $4 billion of our share and then sell the power to others at half the cost that we pay in NL. It just doesn't make cents, or sense. Sounds like hype to me.

Friday 27 May 2011

Time for an overhaul!

The May 25th edition of The Western Star included an article titled "Getting Together" that was all about how regionalization was the new word for amalgamation and it was all inevitable given the current economic conditions. Well I guess we can all move along now and that will just take care of its self......not quite.

The short article contends that municipalities are fighting against amalgamation but that they currently can't afford to operate their existing services. That's partially correct as many municipalities do struggle to provide their existing services but the article is off base with regard to a number of other factors.

To point out the issues in the story Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador issued a press release, including the differences between amalgamation and regionalization. Unfortunately there has been an ongoing confusion between the two and because there is generally only a passing interest in municipal issues by the media, very few in the media have a strong handle on the real issues.

The issues in the municipal sector include lack of participation, lack of training for councillors and staff, insufficient funding for both operations and infrastructure and a very serious lack of planning, strategic and land use. Oh and then there's the issue of the existing structure.... When all the issues are considered it becomes clear that a complete review of the municipal sector is required. It could lead to new funding structures, governance models, or perhaps a complete overhaul of the whole bloody thing. But we won't know until more people get informed and get involved, including the media, and the Province shows the required leadership to get the process started.

For some background information you could start here, here,here, and here.

Thursday 26 May 2011

It's About Damn Time!

In a recent post I pondered what happened to our fighting spirit in this province. Over the last couple of days I am delighted to see some evidence that the spirit is still alive!

There has been an ongoing issue on the West Coast of the Island of NL whereby halibut fishermen are essentially slowly losing their fair portion of fish quotas. The basic story is that as the overall catch limits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are going up, the share of that quota to NL fishermen is being reduced. Apparently the share was once based on geography and NL got about 32% of the total catch, and now the total catch has gone up but the allocation is based on the fishing fleets and ant geography and NL fishermen are now looking at about an 18% share. There's also an issue of extra fish caught last season that is influencing that 18% as well. Thank goodness DFO is doing such a great job managing that resource appropriately!

So the fishermen (or fisherpeople if you prefer) have finally had enough and decided to protest by occupying the DFO office in Corner Brook. See the CBC story here. About Damn Time!

There are times when a little civil disobedience can go a long way, and I hope for their sake they are successful in their desire to change an obviously unfair practice. One quote from the story pretty much says it all:
"We just can't put up with it no more," fisherman Conway Caines said Tuesday.

We could all learn a lesson from these folks, and we should be supporting them wholeheartedly! To these brave people I say good luck and don't give up. Fight on.

Post Script
Over at the question of the day is asking for input by people.
"Do you agree with protests like the occupation of fisheries offices in corner brook to bck fish harvesters demands(?) why (?) or why not (?)"
As of 10am on Thursday morning there are only 144 votes, and 29% of them have said no! Come on people. If this was a tory/liberal political question there would be thousands of votes! This issue is far more important then any patisan political nonsense.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Penny For the Ferryman?

Over at they have a story about the Bell Island ferry...again. It seems that every couple of months there's a "ferry story" of some kind. Wether it's the two usually serving Bell Island, The Earl W. Windsor serving Fogo and Change Islands, the ferry for Long Island, Little Bay Islands, Ramea, the one across the Strait of Bell Isle or up the coast of Labrador. Regardless of the ferry the story is often the same; the ferry, or the schedule is inadequate.

Usually it's due to a mechanical failure of some kind, then another ferry is pulled up from the grave or off another route to fill in while the broken down piece of ancient marine infrastructure is repaired. Lets be honest, these things are not cheap, and that's why most of the provincial ferry fleet is in very poor condition. The province pays millions of dollars per year in operational costs for a few thousand people. If you were to take the total population of all people in NL who can only be reached by a ferry I wonder what that number would be? 20,000? Unlikely it would even be that high. Yet as a province we spend millions to keep the vessels going and the residents still complain that the ferries are old and the routes are inadequate. Do they have any right to complain? I say yes they do.

The argument paraded around by most is something along the lines of a new resettlement program instead of keeping the ferries going, either that or charging the ferry users for the full cost of the ferry. Those two certainly seem to be popular comments on this story. Unfortunately these folks are missing a couple of details, as I see it. First is the idea of users paying the full cost.

My experience has taught me that the "user pay" model cannot be applied to a government service, ever. The costs involved are always too large to be carried by anyone except government. Does that make it a subsidy? If it does then most every service you think you pay for is also subsidized. Vehicle registration, policing, healthcare, and then there are a few very close to home. If you have municipal water and sewer and you think your water/sewer fee is covering the cost of that service you are sadly mistaken. No municipality in this province charges a large enough fee to cover the initial costs plus the ongoing maintenance of water and sewer infrastructure. Like many government services it is the power of the collective whole that has the might to bear the cost of services for all. Get over it.

Then there's that idea that these people have chosen to live there and therefore they just have to deal with whatever they can afford or move. Funny to hear people from NL make that argument because it is the exact same thing said about NL by other in Canada. Its what is said about the ACOA funds, the EI program, and other federal services that we receive, just like....the Marine Atlantic ferry service! Would you like to have to pay the full cost of operation every time you cross that boat? That's what I thought. We have to begin to accept that we are still a very rural province, and as such it costs more money to deliver services, goods, and people to all of our communities. Yes it's expensive, and no it will never meet the full desires of the people who live in the more remote areas of NL, but it is part of how we exist, and what we should be doing is exploring new ways to deliver services, goods, and people instead of crying about "subsidizing" transportation for others.

There was a time when a person died, and the family would place a penny in their mouth to pay for their passage across the river Styx. Without the penny the ferryman would not cart the body across and the person would be stuck without a way across to the afterlife. If a person dies today, in 2011, what does the ferry man charge to carry the body across?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Wiseman's Water Woes Continued...

So apparently the municipal leaders in NL didn't take to kindly to the Minister's comments discussed here. And can you really blame them? On Open Line with Randy Simms today(May 17th) Wiseman tried to talk his way around how he was really supporting towns but that somehow it was still their fault that they weren't running proper levels of chlorine in their systems. Then a mayor called it to say that because of issues with their infrastructure they could not pump enough chlorine into the system to meet the standards so they just stopped doing it entirely. At any rate, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador(MNL), acting on their members behalf issued a press release later in the day and while they were much easier on the Minister then I was, President Harry Hallett still had some strong words for Wiseman.
“Covering the cost of supplying basic services like safe drinking water is challenging for most municipalities in this province,” said Hallett. “With limited revenue tools provided by the provincial government, municipalities are forced to make unreasonable choices such as turning off chlorination systems because they do not have the revenue to maintain trained staff to properly run their drinking water systems.” Hallett continues, “Cooperatively tackling the problems in the system should be the main focus; blaming the volunteers is not the answer.”
President Hallett is also the Mayor of the small town of Leading Tickles, and he is well aware of the reality of the operations in rural NL, even if the minister isn't. Hallett is dead on in his comment that it is the the province that holds the purse strings here, and that is the real cause behind the boil water orders. Minister Ross Wiseman could learn a lesson from Mayor Hallett, blaming the volunteers is not the answer.

Minister Wiseman Blames Towns

Wow. I am rarely at a loss for words Before you read any further go read this, I'll wait. Please confirm for me that I just read an article where Environment Minister Ross Wiseman blames municipalities for the boil water orders in NL. I need confirmation because, as little faith that I have that the Provincial Government can mange/support the municipal sector, I didn't actually think I would hear a Minister of the Crown blame the communities themselves.

So I'm left to wonder if Minister Wiseman has any real knowledge of the sector? Does he know how many towns we have in NL?(276) Does he know how little administrative capacity there exists? (Average of 1 full-time permanent staff person) I wonder if he is aware that many of these systems were over engineered because the municipal leaders at the time were not given the appropriate support to choose the right system for their needs? And I can't help but ask "Minister Wiseman, are you aware of the ridiculously poor fiscal framework that municipalities work under, where the entire base of their funding is property tax?" Perhaps he should start by reading this, and that, and he then could begin to have some idea of the water issues in the sector.

Here we have a Minister of Government stating clearly, that small rural communities who are currently under boil water orders, and who in some cases buy, or bring in clean drinking water, have largely themselves to blame. He seems to think that towns put boil orders in place just because of water taste issues. Now, I have certainly heard of residents who decide not to drink the municipal water because of issues with taste and turbidity(sediment in the water), but to say that municipalities are largely to blame for putting boil orders in place over issues of taste is pretty insulting to municipal leaders. These leaders volunteer their time to make sure rural services get delivered, and largely for very little thanks in return.

Municipalities simply do not have the required resources to provide the services that residents require. Yet Ministers, such as Wiseman, continue to ignore this fact and refuse to develop a new fiscal framework for local government to address the situation. Wiseman was the Finance Minister for years, and so he must be aware of the fiscal restraints in rural NL!

My ongoing hope, since I have been involved in the Municipal sector, is that there are no serious incidents related to drinking water, as there was in Walkerton, Ontario. Because I can assure Minister Wiseman that no amount of "education seminars on water management systems" can teach you how to build and maintain infrastructure for free. And throwing blame at the volunteers who do their best to hold the system together, is a certainly below the level of discourse I expect from a Provincial Government Minister. Not very wise at all.

The story from

Municipalities Largely to Blame for Water Woes: Minister
Municipal water supply problems are back in the news this week. Dozens of municipalities across the province are advising residents to boil their water before using it.

Environment Minister Ross Wiseman says the municipalities themselves are largely to blame. He says a large portion of the 160 communities that are currently under boil orders are in that position because of municipal decisions about chlorination systems.

To counteract the problems, Wiseman mentions there have been ten years of annual education seminars on water management systems. There are also mobile units travelling throughout the province and providing training sessions.

Monday 16 May 2011

Celebrating Culture

If you picked up a copy of The Telegram today (May 16th) you will read all about some guys climbing Icebergs, new development for the West end of St. John's, a suggestion of new funding structure for municipalities(I'll talk about this in a couple of weeks when the report is released), but more importantly there's a short piece on page three that warrants a closer look.

The piece is titled "Culture comes to the fair," and it covers the activities at a regional Heritage Fair at MacDonald Drive Jr. High in St. John's. The theme was "All in a days work" and it sounds like it was a roaring success. There were students with videos and displays of various cultural and heritage activities in NL. This was the last of eight heritage fairs in the province, and the success of this last one despite the loss of a sponsor, indicates the level of interest in heritage issues in NL youth. We need more of this stuff!

We are slowly loosing some of the basic skills that were once part of our everyday lives. It is understandable that some activities begin to slip away if we don't use them, but I strongly believe that we should be preserving and celebrating these traditional skills. Can you knit/darn a pair of vamps? Bake bread from scratch? Hook a rug? Mend a net? Tell a yarn? Play an instrument? Pip a squid or split a cod? If you can't, wouldn't you like to be able to learn?

We still have people in NL who are very gifted at traditional activities and we need to develop some kind of cultural heritage institute to preserve and teach the activities that helped form our province. Luckily there are aspects of our culture built into the school curriculum, but there could be more. Both in school and for those adults who might be interested. And we do have a few really great programs like this one for wooden boat building that I would love to do!

We need to really celebrate who we are and where we come from, and one great way to do that is to teach others! What would you like to learn?

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Whatever Happened to The Fighting Newfoundland Spirit?

Every window of the Colonial Building is glassless: the Prime Minister practically a refugee, the law of enforcement of the city turned over to the authority of ex-service men, as the result of discord which marked the culmination of weeks of protest and dissatisfaction with maladministration of the government. A huge demonstration of citizens in peaceful and law abiding protest yesterday afternoon witnessed a sudden transition, through tactless management by those in authority, to an outbreak of violence that was understandable if it could not be condoned.
That was the leading paragraph from the lead story of the April 6, edition of The Daily News in 1932. Citizens of this country(yes we were a country) were so outraged over the mismanagement of government affairs that there was a riot at the Colonial Building. Almost eighty years have passed and I'm afraid many of us have lost our fighting spirit.

If you skim over the headlines for the last 10 to 20 years you will see demonstrations of civil disobedience, but they are few, and they are usually mild. It's not that the passion of those involved is lacking, but it seems that the issues can't draw enough support to form the critical mass of a serious demonstration.

The interesting part of the story is that we have plenty to be upset about. Look at the situation of some rural services, community funding, the entire ferry situation(most any ferry really), the forestry industry, and general government mismanagement(like the spending scandal). I can't help but think that many of those issues would have been cause enough to demonstrate and maybe even riot less then a century ago. Then there's the one that really blows my mind. You guessed it, the fishery.

From national issues of foreign overfishing and custodial management, to provincial issues of excess processing capacity, quota ownership/sales, a union that represents the buyers and the sellers and a provincial fisheries department that has washed it's hands of everything fishery related! The Lobster nonsense is just the latest in a long line of issues in the fishery in NL. And the best we seem to do is make a couple of calls to open line and maybe get a letter or two in the paper.

I know the issues in the fishery are not new and there have been people working on them for decades, but they're not getting any better. And the worst part is that as a society we don't seem to care that much about it. Are we willing to look back, 50 years from now and say "By, that fishery could have really turned around if someone only had the guts to do something about it. Oh well, I think the price is right is on." I'm not saying this from some ivory tower, telling everyone how they should do it my way. I'm the same as everyone else. I write a blog on the internet that a few dozen people might read. Hardly a rabble rouser. But I'm getting a little tired of that.

I would like to challenge anyone who reads this to pick some issue, like the fishery, and really get behind it. Get people together, understand the issue and make your thoughts known to the decision makers. Call open line more often and write letters to all the papers. We have the right to be pissed off and we need to push governments to make things better. Standing by the wayside isn't going to help.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a riot. Thank goodness we have reached a stage where a riot is not the best way to make change as it once might have been. I have seen more change come quickly through massive public complaints via call in shows and letters in the papers then I would have thought possible. It can work if we use it.

As for the Fighting Newfoundland Spirit, I'm pretty sure its just taking a spell, and collecting strength. It knows that there's lots of fighting left to do, and it'll be ready. Will you?

Monday 9 May 2011

From The Ground Up - Municipalities in NL

I was lucky enough to spend part of last week in Gander at the Annual MNL Symposium. As usual it was a great event, and I had a few points I wanted to share. The Independent was nice enough to post my piece over in their blog section here and I'll post the original content below.

From The Ground Up
Local Government in Newfoundland and Labrador is a hard racket. As an elected councillor you have a raft of regulations to understand and obey, vital services to deliver, very limited resources with which to operate, and residents who generally don’t understand how local government works, or why they should have to pay any taxes or fees. And, you volunteer to do all that.

If you happen to be a staff person of a municipality at least you get paid, well, usually. But, you also have the added burden of dealing with municipal politicians who couldn’t agree on pizza toppings, let alone tax rates. The goal of operating a sustainable and efficient municipality in Newfoundland and Labrador is a constantly moving target.

It is with collective discussion and action that towns in this province continue to survive and address the changing demands of the municipal sector. Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador(MNL), is the provincial municipal association responsible for facilitating that discussion, and that’s just what they were doing in Gander on May the 5th to the 8th, during their annual Municipal Symposium.

This event was my 4th annual Municipal Symposium, and it is not surprising that the challenges are very similar each year. Limited resources, expanding responsibilities and a constantly changing landscape are common across the municipal sector. Standards in solid waste management, drinking water, waste water, taxation and revenue, land use and strategic planning, emergency services, and accounting practices are but a few of the ever moving targets that towns must continue to aim for.

The discussion sessions and panel presentations featured experts and professionals in the municipal sector, and they highlighted the need to be flexible and proactive. Not surprisingly the successful approach to addressing changing targets is very closely tied to the issue of how those targets, and processes were determined. Essentially, the processes that engage municipalities in the early stages, truly welcome input, and forge a direction that is driven from the bottom-up, are much more successful.

Planning is always a popular topic, and this year there were panels dedicated to addressing the challenges of planning in a sector with serious capacity issues. One of the common threads for the presentations was that success depends heavily on local development of the plan. It must be driven by local needs and assets, and then taken to higher levels of government for support. Land use, economic development, emergency, and strategic plans all have a much higher likelihood of success when they are developed by those who must implement them.

There was much discussion around two waste related issues that will have an incredible impact on the towns, and the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. There are federal level regulations developed, and soon to be implemented, that will require the treatment of sewage before it is released into the environment. This is a huge change for us because our approach up to now has been to dump untreated sewage into the ocean. It is simply a cost issue, and small towns cannot afford sewer treatment. They are estimating at least $500 million in construction costs for this province.

The regulations and deadlines, developed by Environment Canada, are currently going through a revision process because they have been told that the current targets are unrealistic. The policy makers just don’t understand the local issues. One presenter said that when he asked a high level bureaucrat “Who would perform the monitoring of the effluent?” the answer was “well I guess someone from their water management department.” Of the more then 270 municipalities in this province, no more then 10 to 15 have anything comparable to a water management department. The average town has one full-time staff person.

The other issue that raised the ire of municipalities was that of the provincial solid waste management strategy. Municipalities have been raising the issues so often that MNL developed a Waste Management Task Force to explore, and understand specifically what the complaints were. The report from that work was released at the Symposium to accolades from municipal leaders frustrated by a process they see as top-down, and forced upon them.

The Task Force Report identifies 12 specific goals and recommendations for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to improve the current system. They cover issues such as subsidies to offset the cost of transportation of waste, exploration of alternative technologies beyond landfills, and improved communication. Essentially, towns want more involvement in the process, as opposed to having a process forced down upon them.

The Symposium in Gander was very well attended, and participants came from all areas of the province to take part. The level of discussion highlights the commitment from municipal leaders to the continual improvement of the sector, and the quality of life of residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. Community leaders are improving their capacity to plan and implement at the local level, but there appears to be resistance from other levels of government to provide them with the authority and the required resources. Municipal leaders are stepping up to request more authority and capacity to build better communities from the bottom-up. The evidence from this Municipal Symposium clearly suggests that the bottom-up approach is the best option, and like many volunteers, municipal leaders need, and deserve, much more support to make that happen.

Have Lobster Will Travel

The Media tend to attract some harsh criticism for only covering negative stories sometimes. Their defense is often that the negative stories are sometimes the only ones available to cover. The old adage "if it bleeds it leads" drives some stories and in the case of the fishing industry in NL the media would be dead on. The Lobster pricing mess is only the most recent bloodletting.

Unfortunately there have not been any positive stories to come out of the fishery for quite a while. This is especially troublesome for rural parts of NL where the fishery really resides. From issues around quota ownership, overfishing, excess processing capacity, global markets, and vessel safety, it's sad to see the fall of the industry that build NL. This doesn't even get into the recent MOU that the NL government completely washed its hands of.

Despite years of various government interference in the industry there appears to be a very serious issue of lack of leadership. Especially from the NL Provincial government.

The latest wave of intense "observation" by the NL Dept. of Fisheries is currently ongoing over the issue of lobster prices. Essentially the processors are unhappy with the price set by the price-setting panel and the lobster fishermen can get a better price outside the province for their product. The complication is that they aren't allowed to sell to processors outside the province. The FFAW has been requesting that the Provincial government change the regulations to allow for a better price for fishermen.

The swift response from the Minister Clyde Jackman is to consider the request of the FFAW and that his office is watching the situation. Well I certainly feel better. I'm sure the lobster fishermen are relieved as well. Of course I could be mistaken since one gentleman just took $5000 worth of product to Nova Scotia to sell. As reported here by the CBC he could have easily sold much more.

Those involved in the fishery understand that the issues are complicated and the recent MOU Report debate just highlighted the fact that there are very divergent views on the solutions. The problem is that the current approach by the Government of NL is to keep it's distance and let it die a slow and painful death instead of showing leadership and making tough decisions.

A quote by the American author Orison Swett Marden seem eerily prophetic in this instance:
"A lobster, when left high and dry among the rock, does not have the sense enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps within a yard of him. The world is full of human lobsters; people stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat."

It has been said that indecision is the thief of opportunity and I can't help but think that making some hard choices could really turn a corner and turn around an industry that is at the core of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

And the winner is...

So the polls have closed, the results are in and the winner of the 2011 Canadian Federal election, to no ones surprise is.....Apathy. I would like to take a brief moment to congratulate Apathy, who performed well across the country but did some fantastic work in Newfoundland and Labrador.

On the national scale the Conservatives made a good run at it but with only 5.8 million votes, translating to 24% of the eligible vote, they couldn't overtake the incredible power of Apathy. The powerhouse of Apathy managed to get 9.5 million votes and a staggering 39.6% of all eligible voters. On the Canadian scene this is a significant result, but yet is not a significant change from historical patterns.

On the provincial scale, Apathy has to be a little disappointed with PEI where they barely scraped by with 26% of eligible voters choosing their "easy way out" approach. They should be happy with most other provinces where Apathy claimed between 35% to 45% of the votes. One province where Apathy has been working very hard and gleaning incredible results is here in Newfoundland and Labrador. While their share of the popular vote has dropped by about 4% down to 47.2%, they still had a very strong showing. Apathy has had a strong hold on the voters in Newfoundland and Labrador for many years and it certainly doesn't seem to but giving up any time soon.

Some pundits claim that Apathy has done so well because voters choose it as a protest to the other options on the ballot. While there is no doubt this has an affect on the results, it is much more likely that voters simply like the style of Apathy. With popular slogans like "You only get one vote, why bother?" and "They're all the same anyway" Apathy seems to hold significant ground no matter what the hot topic of the election is.

Despite it's popularity, some voters cared enough to even organize rallies against Apathy. These voters were once a stronghold for Apathy, but this time around the young student voters held "Vote Mobs" in an attempt to wipe out Apathy. While they certainly had success, there are so many other people who blindly support Apathy, that the result of the election could have even been predicted by most weather men. Most.

While it is usually my inclination to avoid making political statements, I find that in this case I have no choice but to stand up against a very serious, and, dare I say evil, political power in Canada. We now have 4 years to work tirelessly to rid Newfoundland and Labrador, and hopefully Canada of the largest threat our democracy has ever faced: Apathy. For the sake of those who fought for democracy, please join me in putting an end to Apathy. Your children will thank you for it!