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Tuesday 12 February 2013

Water Woes Continue

The Town of Bonavista has serious drinking water issues and it can't afford to address them properly. Unfortunately it isn't alone. This article over at CBC lays out some of the issues related to chlorination and water quality in two towns, but it mentions the fact that well over one hundred other municipalities are facing similar issues with little help from the Provincial or Federal governments.

To get a little more background you can have a look at some of my previous posts on drinking water issues in NL that are mostly linked through this one. The state of our drinking water is appalling and everyone knows it. There is no simple solution but there must be a solution. It is a basic need or right especially if you're paying taxes for it, like the residents of Bonavista.

The interesting side of this article at the CBC is the response by Minister Hedderson:
"If you are in a community where there are any levels of THMs, you can put a filter system on your home water," Hedderson said.
Hedderson says residents can also purchase personal water filtration systems, in the form of a jug with charcoal filters, that are designated to remove THMs. ("NSF Standard 35" should be on the label).
"As long as the filter is certified for THMs, you can be assured that your drinking water is relatively free of them," he said.
Wow. So if your municipal taxes aren't enough you can pony up some more cash for filters that can provide drinking water that is "relatively free" from harm. Nice.

There's also a picture of Hedderson with a caption stating
"... government believes it would take a lifetime of exposure to THMs to make a significant difference to residents' health." 

The problem Tom doesn't seem to grasp is that this is indeed the very situation for hundreds of residents in Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe we should start by fixing the basics and then moving on to the complicated stuff. Just a thought.

Monday 11 February 2013

What is Real Leadership, and Where can it be Found?

That's a question that has to be on the minds of each of the three major Provincial Parties in recent days.  The PC's know Kathy is not a strong leader and she'll not likely lead into the next election. The NDP has surged under Lorraine but again she is unlikely to lead the party into the polls either. Unfortunately neither party has much of an heir apparent to step in and take the reigns. Then there's the Liberal Party...

Take a few minutes and pop over to Sir Robert Bond papers and have a read about the Latest Candidate who Never Was. Ed points out that the party is still struggling and despite the myriad of names of potential suitors there have been no real declared candidates. The Party still needs all the things I mentioned in this post almost a year ago, and in the face of the "Renewal Tour" very little real renewal seems to have taken place. It has to start with a leader who has vision, passion, drive and is willing to push the boundaries and embrace change. Maybe we've met that person, maybe we haven't. Either way the longer the party squabbles about the leadership rules and delays the election, the less time the leader will have to raise funds, organize the troops and lead them into another provincial general election.

P.S. I have been asked if I would consider running again in the next election, or if I would take another shot at the leadership. My response has been similar to Mr. Scott Sims... a good politician never rules anything out.  

Sunday 10 February 2013

Labrador Caribou and Red Herrings

I don't often give advice on any sort of personal level, especially unprompted advice. However one bucket list item I always suggest people scratch out early is a trip to Labrador. And if it's not on your bucket list then it should be. It's land and people are unlike any other and you need to experience it for yourself. About 10 years ago I had the pleasure of living in Wabush for a couple of years, and what made that time extra special was that I had the opportunity to travel around and see more of The Big Land then just Lab West. I met people and saw things that were truly unique to Labrador. One of those things I will remember is when I served as an observer on the Labrador Woodland Caribou Recovery Team.

Labrador Caribou are generally divided into two main groups, the non-migratory Woodland Caribou that are a protected species and the migratory George River Caribou herd. The Woodland group was generally considered to be made up of three herds in the Red Wine, Mealy Mountains, and Lac Joseph areas of Labrador. While they do move around within their regions there is no comparison to the tremendous migratory pattern of the George River herd. At the time when I lived in labrador the Woodland Caribou population was somewhere between 2000 to 5000 based largely on ariel head counts, while the George Rive heard was estimated somewhere between 500,000 and 700,000 by some. The George River herd was open to hunting to all residents of Labrador, and boy did they take advantage of that opportunity. I have photos of many many heads and carcasses littered along the sides of the Trans-Labrador Highway from one season alone.  The Woodland herds were off limits to all hunters, supposedly.

If you even vaguely  follow the news then I'm sure you'll recall stories of Quebec Innu hunter crossing into Labrador to hunt and kill the protected Woodland herds, at least once even bringing a rented panel van to carry back their game. There were multiple incidents over the years with multiple threats made on both sides but in the end very little was ever done from an enforcement perspective. No doubt politics have played a huge role in the lack of action in the multiple incidents. I was told of one example where a radio tracking collar was found in the freezer of a gentlemen in Quebec. No action was take except to request the return of the collar. Fast forward 10 years and what has changed?

Now the once healthy George River herd is in trouble and the Provincial Government is implementing hunting restrictions in an attempt to let the herd rebuild. Some aboriginal groups and individuals have stated that they don't care what the government implements they will continue to hunt as it is their right to do so and has been for hundreds of years. The real explosion began when VOCM Open Line host Randy Simms berated former Innu leader Simeon Tshakapesh and openly called him stupid for continuing to hunt a species that was in danger just because they considered it their right. Simms went on to say that any who continued to hunt were also stupid. And thats when Tshakapesh unleashed the accusation that Simms comments were racist.

Was Simms being rude and unnecessarily confrontational? Yes. He even hung up on the caller without any real chance for discussion, however his comments were not racist.

Racism is a constant struggle that we all must work to overcome wherever it exists, but so must we recognize when it is being used as a red herring to distract from the real issue as it was in this case. Race is completely irrelevant to this discussion. The herd is in trouble and the Province has done the proper thing and instituted a hunting ban for everyone. If there are those who feel the rules do not apply to them then they have to realize there is one set of rules for all, or at least there should be. I've never been much of a fan of double standards of any sort, regardless of history. If animals shouldn't be hunted then no one should be permitted to hunt them regardless of history, race or culture. Period. To provide special exceptions because of any of those things, especially race,  is in fact the very definition of racism.  

The race of the hunter has no bearing on conservation of a caribou herd, to think otherwise, to quote Mr. Simms "is just stupid."

Tuesday 5 February 2013

The More Things Change...

I know it's been a little while since I've written here and yet it seems like it was only yesterday. Some days pass and an old topic will creep up in the news or a new topic will jump in to the mix and I'll be temped to sit a write a bit, but unfortunately most of the old topics have been covered and rarely merit a new post and some of the new items that make the local news are not worth commentary. Thankfully that's certainly not the case for everything and there is usually at least one idea a week worth digging into so one of my New Year's resolutions is to write more often. As I review the last couple months that I haven't been writing anything I find mostly rehashed foolishness and few items worth comment. 

A brief review of the last couple of months. 

Muskrat Falls. It's still a bad idea no matter how many great announcements are made about it. The basic facts have not changed even though the espoused rationale for the project has changed more times then I care to count.

 MHA's. They are just people, and as such will do and say stupid stuff. Some of it will have repercussions come election day but most won't because we have short memories. Shouting obscenities at a hockey game ain't what it used to be.  

Search and Rescue. It's still inadequate and one year after the Burton Winters tragedy little has changed except we know a little more about about how bad it is. 

The Liberal Party. Still underwhelming. Lets just say that even though they are working hard they may not be working smart. I will continue to be the parties biggest supper and biggest critic until they get it right. 

Racism. It's still bad, not that I've written much about it before. It also still gets tossed up as a red herring to distract people from the real issues. Randy Simms may have said some pretty rude things that he should probably apologize for but I didn't hear anything racist in his comments. I may dig a little deeper into the Labrador Caribou issue soon, as I have, or at least had a unique window into some of the activities when I lived in Labrador a few years ago. 

So as they say the more things change the more they stay the same!