Saturday, December 19, 2009

Portuguese Happy to be Back Fishing Newfoundland Cod

Portuguese Minister Antonio Serrano announced the renewal of fleet access to Canadian waters. (Photo: MARM)

Some 13 vessels of the Portugal fleet will once again operate in Canadian waters and fish 1,070 tonnes of cod as of next year, thanks to the re-opening of an area administered by the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO).

“After 11 years [of the zone being closed], we recovered the quota of NAFO cod,” said Portuguese Fisheries Minister Antonio Serrano.

The Portuguese boats set to work in NAFO waters have an average capacity of 900 tonnes of fish.

Apparently the Cod are back - and anyone but the Newfoundlander and Labradorian can have it. Gail Shaea was quick to dispute that. Apparently Canada's Fishery Minister and the Portuguese Fishery Minister have a different take on things. They both seem happy enough though.

When Portuguese Cod fillets show up in Sobeys Gail Shea will be the first to get her fee and chee. So we may not be able to fish for our own cod, but maybe the white fleet will come ashore and buy a bottle of bakeapple jam or a wooden outhouse ornament - so at least we have that.

R.I.P The Fighting Newfoundlander

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


In the world of fisheries there is a widely accepted belief that the best to manage the resource are those who are closest to it. This is the simple concept behind what is commonly referred to as "Custodial Management."

The World Wildlife Fund for example has stated: "Since 2005, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had advised Canada to drop the NAFO agreement, because it does not protect the fish at risk, such as cod and flounder, and instead to adopt "... a new Regional Fisheries Management Organization." Canada's response was to officially adopt NAFO. The WWF stated last year that NAFO undermines the recovery of the cod fishery."

Indeed out current Prime Minister Steven Harper promised it.

Why then do we now find ourselves with a NAFO convention that not only does not give us custodial management but in fact does the opposite - deferring management from the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador and even away from Canada as a whole. Instead marine management in the Northwest Atlantic now will be handled by NAFO - primarily European Nations who just last year banned our seal products and as the WWF eludes to above, they consistently overfish their own quotas.

Why would Harper defer management of the 200 mile limit to European Nations and take it out of Ottawa's jurisdiction?!

Here my friends is the frank and honest truth. Someone has to keep an eye on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Ottawa doesn't want that kind of expense.

Even if that means having the panty-hose Spanish trawlers like the Estai policing our vessels.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prime Minister Threatens Sovereignty in the East

Even though amendments to NAFO got voted down 147 to 142 my Members of Parliment from across this country.

Even though all MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador have been strongly opposed to the NAFO amendment.

Even though fisheries experts and industry professionals have been shouting their disapproval.

Even though the amendments amount to an obvious breach in the sovereignty of the East, allowing foreign vessels to patrol Canadians in their own waters.

Even though NAFO itself shows a consistent disregard for quotas and even the conservation advice of its own scientists.

Even though NAFO has at its core European nations who this year banned seal products from the East Coast of Canada.

Even through all this - Harper pushes the NAFO amendments through. In what country would the leader dare go against the will of the people? None that call themselves a democracy. Canada under Harper is the globe's newest dictatorship.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Week Could Change our Fishery Forever

NAFO amendments debates are due to resume today in Ottawa, following the abrupt halt of debate last week. The implications would see EU nations policing our vessels, continueing to make their own quotas and in fact becoming the custodians of the fishery that we have fought for generatuions. Message to Ottawa - when we say Custodial Management we meant for Newfoundland and Labrador not for Europeans in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.

From MP Jack Harris to Community Linkages:

"I am pleased to take this opportunity to ensure [you] of my support for the campaign to oppose the amendments to the NAFO Convention.

As you know, I was part of the meeting hosted at the Delta in September by the Community Fisheries Alliance which raised the alarm publicly about what these amendments could mean for both for Canadian sovereignty and for the sustainability of fishing stocks. At that meeting I voiced my own concerns about the failure to achieve custodial management as we heard from Gus Etchegary, Bob Applebaum, Bill Rowatt and Scott Parsons of their well considered views of the problems caused by the new amendment.

...When the matter came before the House, through a report from the Fisheries Committee recommending that the amendments not be ratified and for an objection to be filed with NAFO, the government shut down the debate before I could speak. Nevertheless, I was able to raise the matter in the House the next day. This Monday, December 7th, I will have a full opportunity to speak once again against these amendments when the debate resumes on the Fisheries Committee report.

It is expected that the report will be voted on in Parliament next week."

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has arrogantly told our Liberal Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones "It's a done deal."

Only the will of the Newfoundlander and the Labradorian has the right to determine "done deals" off our shores.

Issue of Sovereignty

List of MPs, Musicians, Groups, and industry professionals who have identified the NAFO amendments a bad deal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Foreign invaders and NAFO (Not A Feasible Organization)

(Thanks Dean for the NAFO definition)

To our MPs in Ottawa

The lifeblood of Newfoundland and Labrador has always been the sea. There can be no doubt that the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially our rural communities, will be profoundly affected by the health of our marine ecosystem. NL is a rural province. Given these factors, which are beyond debate, The Community Linkages Committee comprising of residents across Newfoundland and Labrador appeal to the government of Canada to support every initiative in which NL has an active say in the fishery of the North Atlantic 200 mile limit.

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) has failed to protect or rebuild the fish stocks off Canada?s east coast. On November 16, 2009 in London, England, a special meeting of NAFO was held whereby the organization decided against closing the Flemish Cap shrimp fishery in NAFO area 3M, despite warnings from the NAFO Scientific Council that the stock has collapsed and that the fishery should be closed. Even though the Canadian delegation held firm in advancing their position and took the lead in proposing the closure, the unfortunate reality is that Canada has no voice now within NAFO and we do not see that position improving with the new amendments. NAFO has yet again demonstrated its inability to provide effective stewardship of fish stocks, or apply principles to honour our participation ins such blatant disregard. Something our province has been trying to demonstrate to the Canadian Government for over a decade.

Further to this, the proposed NAFO amendments Article VI Section 8, 9 and 10 do nothing to improve the custodial management of the fisheries promised by this current administration and in fact endanger the sovereignty of the 200 mile limit. Future Fisheries ministers and bureaucrats may unilaterally make decisions which compromise the integrity of the 200 mile limit allowing foreign nations control within our EEZ. This opinion is supported by a great number of former fisheries ministers and industry professionals.

Given these facts Community Linkages on behalf of our members and supporters across Newfoundland and Labrador strongly opposes the proposed amendments to the NAFO convention and will continue to defend the voice of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who oppose these changes. We implore the seven of you as our federal representations to do the same.

Everything you need to know you'll find here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Youth Retention and Attraction in NL

Just before Christmas 2006 Community Linkages launched its first public appeal for the youth of our province. In June 2008 the provincial government announced it's intention to campaign the province for ideas on how to retain and attract youth in our province. Early supporters of Community Linkages where instrumental in forming the provinces new Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy.

The program by all indications seems to have been very thorough and comprehesive and we are beginning to see some reports of the results of the program.

Today the provincial government officially launched its Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy.

As a rural Newfoundland and Labrador supporter are you optimistic as to the success of this program? Does the strategy have potential for finally stemming the tides of youth outmigration in this province?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Newfoundland Labnomore

A guy that lives down the street drives a nice new BMW. I have a 2001 Chev; it's no BMW. I'm thinking about selling it, giving the cash to the Beamer guy and have him drive me to work. Sure I'll be without a car, and I'll be inconvenienced, and sure I may be stuck from time to time, and hopefully there will be no emergencies... but when I do get a ride I'll be in a Beamer! I haven’t really thought it out, but it could be good.

For the communities of Lewisporte and Flower's Cove who are seeing an erosion of their health care with the promise of better services in Grand Falls, Gander , or St. Anthony this sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul may sound a little familiar. As a matter of fact for anyone who lived through the years leading up to and following, confederation this may bring flashbacks of another time. Words like “Resettlement” and “Decentralization” making them sit upright in a cold sweat from a late summer slumber. Wasn't that the same logic they spoke of then? We'll move you to a nice place where your kids will go to a bigger school and you'll be on a main road. Sure you won't be near the water but who wants that anyway?

Sad thing is that the communities of Flower's Cove and Lewisporte are themselves hubs for other communities. So not only are we seeing a lose of services from smaller communities we are now seeing larger rural hubs lose the attention of the powers that be.

Why stop there? My neighbour has better books, Internet, they even eat more expensive food, nice packaged food from the mainland. Perhaps we should send our children there. Perhaps to some kind of residential school. Let's bypass Newfoundland and Labrador altogether and give our kids the true benefit of a quality upbringing in Halifax or Toronto.

It's only lab and X-Ray services. Sure who uses that anyway? Only people who are injured or sick. Just stay healthy and everything will be fine, but just in case better stay away from Lewisporte and Flower's Cove. Just to be safe let's all move to St. John 's.

Just remember years from now when people talk of the death of rural Newfoundland and Labrador that it didn't die of old age, but passed away in agony when a faceless bureaucrat yanked the plug. Is rural Newfoundland and Labrador dead? Not yet but I think someone is helping the Grime Reaper sharpen his scythe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lanier Phillips: Discovery in St. Lawrence

There are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians born and bred, and then there are those who have found meaning here entirely by accident.

Lanier Phillips was one of 46 men who survived the Truxtun disaster. His story is not a simple story of survival but a story of the power of humanity. In a world of segregation and racism Mr. Phillips credits the simple generousity of the people of St. Lawrence, NL, not only with saving his life, but with their compassion - changing it forever. As a black man in the segregated south of the 50's he has said: "To experience instantly love and humanity that I didn't think existed between the races — it just changed everything for me."

This is a story that begs to be told and has had some great interest in the Newfoundland and Labrador film industry. Now the story has caught the attention of the American film industry. It has even caught the attention of Bill Cosby who invited Mr. Phillips on stage and told his story. A full length feature film is finally in the works.

The story is remniscent of a film called "Amazing Grace" that Ray Johnson likes to quote when we meet with Community Linkages. Mr. Phillips story, like Amazing Grace tells of the power of the individual, when love and compassion are the motivating factors for change. The upcoming film will perhaps offer a rare glimpse of the true virtue of rural Newfoundland and Labrador and why we so passionately love this place.

CBC interviews Lanier Phillips:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Grand Spot

Imagine a place where you can see puffins and get up close with a whale. Sounds like a nice spot for a vacation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are We History?

Do we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians learn enough about NL in our K-12 curriculum? Do we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in Canada know enough about the country we joined in 1949?

The Dominion Institute gives us a big fat "F" on the later question. The department of Education gives an enthusiastic "Yea!" to the first question.

It is interesting to hear of the new "Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 2205." A previous encarnation of NL studies "Newfoundland and Labrador Cultural Heritage" was piloted back in the 80s. Does it take twenty years to form curriculum?!

So what do you think? Has the department of education struck the right balance in our knowledge of Newfoundland and Labrador in general as well as the country that has been our address for the past 60years?

A response to the "F" is for History article of June 15:

"Content related to Newfoundland and Labrador is addressed in several places in the K-12 social studies program.

This September a new course, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 2205, is being implemented. This course enables students to examine the culture, heritage and history of the province, as well as creating opportunity to explore topics of local interest.

Other courses that address Newfoundland and Labrador social studies content specifically include:

Grade 3, Newfoundland and Labrador communities
Grade 5, Newfoundland and Labrador early history as well as economic, political and social infrastructures is addressed.
Grade 8 Newfoundland and Labrador History was implemented in 2005, examining Newfoundland and Labrador history from 1800 to present.

Additional there are other courses which include some content related to Newfoundland and Labrador :

Grade 7 Social Studies – examine Canadian History from 1800 to 1920, including some topics which are relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador during this time period, such as the First World War.

Canadian History 1201 – this course includes examination of Newfoundland ’s and Labrador’s contribution to the First and Second World Wars, as well consider confederation with Canada

Canadian Geography 1202 and World Geography 3202 examine (i) the physical geography of the province and (ii) consider the issue of resource management, allowing opportunity for discussion that connects those ideas to the context of our province

As well, the Cultural Connections Strategy (a program designed to expand NL and Lab culture and heritage throughout K-12 schooling) is providing additional supports and resources which relate to the teaching of Newfoundland and Labrador culture and heritage at all grade levels, when appropriate. The Department also is a primary supporter of the provincial annual Heritage Fairs program, which in recent years has involved over 8000 Elementary and Intermediate students annually."

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Asphalt Barrens

There's nothing at the end but ahhh the going is good. Lots of pavement being laid these days in many areas of the province (with the notable exception of Labrador). Is this "infrastructure" spending to revitalize rural Newfoundland and Labrador or just election asphalt?

An interesting article by the Telegram's Russel Wangersky and response by Community Linkages member D. Penton.

(click to read the full articles)


..You can argue until you're blue in the face about whether a government actually can do anything to mitigate the virtual collapse of fisheries markets, but the simple fact is, whether something can or can't be done, very little is being done...


Large longliners are all that is left and the ocean highway will soon be gone if Ottawa allows a change within NAFO ... It's not the pavement that we need to worry about, it's the complete collapse of rural Newfoundland and Labrador ... Do we want our children to live a rural Newfoundland and Labradorian life out of The Rooms museum?

Monday, June 15, 2009

"F" is for History

Your history is history, did we even stop to wave good-bye?

One of the nagging concerns of Community Linkages has always been the next generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Our wish for them to be proud and knowledgeable of their cultural history. Armed with that knowledge we wish for them to be innovative just as the mariners of the past became the steelworkers of New York.

With that believe Community Linkages has always stressed the importance of history as a part of our educational curriculum. Recently a couple members of Community Linkages attended a conference at Memorial University examining Newfoundland and Labrador's place in Canada on the 60th anniversary of Confederation with Canada. There was one valuable piece of take away information from that conference: We as Canadians need to know more about each other. We don't know about ourselves, we don't know about Canada, we don't teach our relationship in joining Canada and Canada knows next to nothing about us.

The Dominion Institute investigated each province's study of Canadian History. The highest grade for their study of history? Yes, of course it is Quebec. The poorest grade was given to - sadly you probably guessed that too: Newfoundland and Labrador. For me the biggest crime is in scoring of educating our youth as to the regional history of our overall place in Canada.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is one that validates the conclusion of the Memorial University converence on 60 years in Canada and the perpetual concerns of the CLCC: We don't know about ourselves, we don't teach our relationship in joining Canada and Canada knows next to nothing about us.

Is this good enough? Is the curriculum of Canadian and especially Newfoundland and Labrador history and culture adequate? Once again we are failing our children, once again Newfoundland and Labrador is an embarrassment in a national study, in the very subject we claim to wear most honourably.

What is our history and culture worth? Apparently very little.

Quebec's report card and detailed report.

Newfoundland and Labrador's report card and detailed report.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One Man's Crusade II (a follow up)

In April Community Linkages Blog reprinted an article from a lone crusader Gerry Higgins who is battling to inform people about the dangers of EMI from powerlines. Mr. Higgins sent us the following documentary clip from the folks of Tsawwassen BC:

Monday, June 8, 2009

On the Value of Rural, some borrowed thoughts from Anita Best

"Waste no opportunity to sing a song or play a tune. Learn how to hook a mat, dance the lancers or build a dory. Show your children how to skin a rabbit, make a figgy duff or trench potatoes... Show them where they came from and the stuff their ancestors were made of."

Usually I smack the snooze on my clock radio to steal myself another nine minutes, this morning though the words spoken by Anita Best on CBC radio brought me fast awake. Seldom is it heard in these modern times the need to grab onto what we hold dear as Newfoundlanders and as Labradorians, with the above words she had my ear.

I was listening to an excerpt of a speech given at convocation upon Ms. Best receiving her honourary degree from MUN. She expressed how important it was to the woman she would become to have been born in her Placentia Bay home of Merasheen. Thanking her family and "the many other singers of Merasheen and Tack’s Beach [who] sowed and nurtured the seeds of traditional song within me."

In Community Linkages we often struggle to put to words the true value of what it means to be a Newfoundlander or Labradorian. What it means to have grown up with our traditions, craft, culture and song. To make the argument that these intangible products of our early life have a true value in the people we become. It has a value not only in shaping our lives but an intrinsic value in the careers we follow, the lessons we learn that we in turn give back to our communities. In Ms. Best’s speech to the students of MUN could be found the true essence of why the CLCC was formed and from which we gain our strength:

"I hope that you will broaden and enrich your lives as engineers and academic professionals by participating in and passing on our intangible cultural heritage. Waste no opportunity to sing a song or play a tune. Learn how to hook a mat, dance the lancers or build a dory. Show your children how to skin a rabbit, make a figgy duff or trench potatoes. By all means read them stories from books, but tell them your stories too. Show them where they came from and the stuff their ancestors were made of." She writes.

Community Linkages is not blinded by a romanticized view of our past. We do not express a desire to return to a storybook vision of outport Newfoundland and Labrador, instead we recognize that our communities are in transition, in order to flourish, our rural communities will find their place in a modern world. The true strength of Newfoundland and Labrador has always been in its survivability in the toughest of situations. It is innovation, community leadership, and individual sponsorship that will spark new life into our communities just as it has for generations. Ms. Best too expresses the necessity to evolve and adapt: "You can change the recipes—every generation has the responsibility to use tradition to create their own art! Chris Brookes, Figgy Duff and CODCO did it in our generation, WGB and Great Big Sea did it in theirs; Duane Andrews, Graham Wells, Billy Sutton and many others are doing it now."

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have crafted a good life from a land that is at once brutal and beautiful. Ms. Best told the convocation "...a long line of traditional singers and storytellers [have] collectively crafted a rich culture from the weather, rock and water; shore, sea and sky of the Newfoundland outport, which fellow bayman Rex Murphy has called “the house of our being.”"

It is up to each of us as Newfoundlanders and as Labradorians to recognize “the house of our being." In it we will find our resolve.

With great thanks to Anita Best who sent me the transcript of her speech and allowed me to use portions of it here.

Monday, June 1, 2009


In praise of Unsung Heroes.

Part of being a member of Community Linkages is promoting the positive things that are happening in our communities. Media attention too often focuses on the fading breath of our rural communities; we often fail to see the aspects of our communities that are very much alive.

A red pump truck glistens in an open garage door. A fixture of any rural community is the fire hall. The volunteers who stand ready at the drop of a hat to leap into action are true community heroes. As the child of a volunteer firefighter I know the disruption to life that comes with having your father leave on a moments notice to fight for the lives and security of someone else. I know the anguish that comes with the sirens late in the night, and the relief when your dad returns within the hour. "Chimney Fire" he would simply say. And on those times when he does not return within the hour a family is left to fret, hoping for his safety and praying for the families who would be wrapped in blankets outside a charred home. I know the hushed conversation through the walls that would tell me that a person lost their life that night.

With this tremendous responsibly our volunteer firefighters find time to fund raise for their supplies and for charities all across Newfoundland and Labrador. They maintain their engine and hall and offer these facilities for community events.

On Sunday the CLCC had the pleasure of hosting a public meeting at the fire hall in Bay Roberts. A gentleman from the hall let us in and before walking upstairs I had a peak at the truck waiting perpetually to burst from the doors to aid those in crisis. I was reminded of what it meant to have my father as a firefighter.

Thanks to the firefighters of Bay Roberts for making us guests and for those who volunteer so much of themselves so we have the comfort of a safe community. Our sincere thanks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's the 24th of May

...and we likes to get away

Have a safe and happy long weekend. Mark the 31st on your calendar, the CLCC hopes to see you in Bay Roberts. On the 31st we are having a public discussion at the fire hall; a good chance for a good number of us who only know each other through email to actually meet, voice your concerns, hopes, and good news from your community.

Talk to you after the long weekend with details.

Good trouting.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who Cares?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Holdin' Ground: Community Linkages Defined

In the Bay Roberts Pavilion a plaque on the wall proclaims the room as “The Holdin’ Ground." The play by Ted Russel pays testament to the bond that we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feel with our home. In the room on Sunday April 19 the Community Linkages Group sits, a diverse group who have been brought together for a common purpose. To be a voice for rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

The CLCC counts as its supporters and members some of the best expertise in the areas of rural NL living, youth, the fisheries and agriculture, political science and business that this province has to offer. The CLCC is becoming a hub of activity among interest groups throughout rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Missing among many of these community and advocacy groups is the collective voice, the communication and linking of resources for the common good, the CLCC is poised to channel that collective voice.

The Community Linkages Concept Committee (CLCC) bound by a connection to this place is lead by the infectious passion of the chair Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname notarity. With Mr. Johnson are a some of the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have taken berth on this ship. The list of supporters have grown to include people from Fogo Island, the West Coast Coast, Central, the Burin peninsula, Labrador, and the Northwest Avalon. The plaque at The Pavilion describes the “strength of the bond that defines who we are as a people and draws us back to when we leave”. In those words describe the intangible that can never be adequately expressed by a single flag, song, or political movement. In the words of Ted Russel we are like a schooner “ridin’ at her moorin’” it looks to be adrift until you know “about our moorin’s and our Holdin’ Ground.” The CLCC draws upon that inspiration.

Considering a rural life that has in just a few decades seen the cod moratorium, the dismantling of the railway, unprecedented outmigration, resettlement and the loss of a lifestyle and culture. It seems the growth of a group like the CLCC was inevitable.

On Sunday the topic of conversation at the CLCC meeting was a common one. How do we foster an environment in rural Newfoundland and Labrador that nurtures an economic and socially viable rural NL? What conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador’s future generations would see our youth have a choice of making a living in Newfoundland and Labrador instead of the necessity to leave for work? What is the future of our fishery and resources? And how does a fledgling grassroots group like the CLCC that has no partisan influence, no commercial support and only the passion of its members build the momentum for a strong and sustainable life in the future of rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

This time around the CLCC has assembled better than a dozen people, some meetings are smaller, some larger. Ray prefaces the meeting by describing his first performances with Buddy Wasisname where looking through a hole in the curtains showed only a disappointing half dozen fans. Today the group tours to sold-out audiences across Canada, it is that same buildup of support he knows is slowly accumulating for Community Linkages. Two common questions that he faces on his journey’s are who are the CLCC? And secondly “How can I help?” This meeting is meant to answer those primary concerns.

Following Sunday’s meeting the CLCC has refined and renewed its focus on the issues of rural Newfoundland and Labrador with the intent of being the common voice, the linkage that makes the greater community, all of Newfoundland and Labrador strong.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Man’s Crusade

Mark Dwyer - The Newfoundland Herald
(Reprinted with permission)

Gerry Higgins is relentless. He admits it. In fact, he practically
introduces each telephone call with an apology, excusing his

His diligence is admirable and, at times, annoying. At one point his
endless phone calls sparked a verbal exchange with this columnist.
“Sorry if I’m being a nuisance,” he offers, “but I’m not going away.”

I’m glad he didn’t.

Higgins is a 53-year-old widower. Just before Christmas in 2005, his
wife Margaret, just 45, lost her five year battle with cancer.

He wears the pain on his face like a mask and, in some ways, refuses to
let her go, realizing that too many questions remain unanswered.

Higgins is confident, if not convinced, that electrical transformers
played a role in his wife’s death, and he’s advocating for a local
study into the effects of overexposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
since his wife was initially diagnosed almost a decade ago.

Just after exchanging wedding vows in 1980, the young couple settled
down in a small bungalow in Norris Arm and started a family. That
little nest, though, was enclosed by heavy power lines, which Higgins
believes possibly played a role in her death.

As reported in an interview with The Independent several years ago, he
discovered that out of the 62 transformers in his town, there were
incidents of cancer located close to 60.

That’s a heavy statement considering the modern world is powered by
electrical transformers, and Higgins realizes he has many detractors,
some who quietly wonder if his motives are financially-driven. “I don’t
want a nickel from this; I want a study,” he says.

Higgins, who’s spoken to thousands of cancer victims, has support from
scientists all over the globe, some of whom have been conducting
research into the health effects of EMFs for decades.

Trent University professor Magda Havas, who has spent years examining
the issue, is one of Higgins’ loudest supporters, noting he should
receive a medal for his “tenacity and his desire to prevent others from
experiencing the death of a loved one from cancer.”

She notes there is significant scientific evidence that the magnetic
field from power lines and other sources is associated with breast

“Epidemiological studies,” she says, “show that magnetic field
exposure, in a number of occupations, increases the risk of breast
cancer in both men and women. This is especially true for women under
the age of 50 with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.”

Plus, studies with human breast cancer cells show that magnetic fields
increase the growth of breast cancer and reduce the effectiveness of
melatonin and tamoxifen. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by
the human body that is “oncostatic” — which means it reduces the growth
of cancers. Tamoxifen is a drug given to breast cancer patients to
reduce the growth of breast cancer cells.

“I don’t know if Gerry’s wife used this treatment but if she did the
drug would not be as effective if she remained in a high magnetic field

Margaret Higgins did take the drug.

Lastly, according to Havas, studies with mice show that breast cancer,
induced with a chemical carcinogen, appears earlier and grows more
quickly when exposed to high magnetic fields.

“Since 1 in 9 women in Canada is likely to develop breast cancer in her
lifetime, anything that promotes the growth of breast cancer, even
slightly, becomes a very serious health concern,” she says.

Simply put, Havas suggests moving transformers away from homes and
making certain that people don’t live near power lines would be a step
in the right direction.

Gerry Higgins won’t quit. I guarantee it. He vividly remembers the
shock on his wife’s face and the tears in her eyes when her doctor
confirmed she had breast cancer in 2000. He watched her die, but truly
believes others can be helped.

He is calling for a study in this province, conducted by an independent
body, to answer the question — Does living near a transformer and power
lines increase your likelihood of developing cancer?

“Surely this is a valid question and the government of Newfoundland and
Labrador is in the position to answer it,” says Havas.

By funding an independent study, the government could put this question
to rest, and hopefully give Gerry Higgins the answer he’s looking for.

Mark Dwyer, The Herald’s managing editor, can be reached at
mdwyer at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shrimp Quotas: DFO's Same-ol-same-ol

It strikes me that the Co-op idea exercised by Fogo Island and the Labrador Shrimp Co is not a bad idea for community sustainability. Could be an answer to some of our community woes. But then I hear of things like the present DFO minister Gail Shea taking quotas from elsewhere and giving them to her own riding. A riding which has no shrimp processing ability or history... Sadly I guess this is a glimpse of the reality of the Newfoundland and Labrador ocean resources. Traded, stolen and picked clean.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

60 Years in Canada

My Grandfather had a Joey Shrine. An assortment of memorabilia including the Joey Coin that sat on a corner shelf as a perpetual reminder of the man who saved Newfoundland and Labrador from itself. Confederation is a topic of much debate. Although I occasionally like to stoke the fires I do keep my pot luke warm when it comes to all matters of the 1949 vote.

What about your community? Would you say your community has benefited from being Canadian? Do you feel strongly Canadian yourself? Has your views changed from your grandparents views?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For Those Who Go to Sea

A prayer for those who go to sea
God speed your journey and keep your soul
your vessel strong and true we plea
return the lamb into our fold

for those who fish on the banks
may your holds be full, your vessel fast
and with your return we give our thanks
for your safe return to us at last

on the icy flows off The Front
tread safely as you copy the ice for seal
your hull be strong as you leave to hunt
your save return our hearts will heal

For those in punts, in boats and skiffs
a vessel of your father's hand
may it hold true, this is our wish
your heavenly father see you to land

for those who fly to the rigs offshore
keep our prayer within your heart
may your flight be swift and your stay secure
until never again our lives will part

for the souls we've lost to the brine and waves
may his mercy to you give
may the Holy ghost your soul to save
while forever within us you live

bless the soul that goes to sea
your craft be swift your path be true
a souls comfort we ask of thee
a simple prayer his mercy and peace for you

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding the Fisheries - Response to Mr. Boyd's Article

Mr. Boyd’s letter in our last blog post generated some interesting response. It seems that many Newfoundlands and Labradorians are not ready to accept the notion of a dead fishery.

One of our members Dean P. has been in tune with changes in the Fishery. Although there is a trend in seeing the fishery go to bigger centralized means, ie: the processors and government interests, he is non-the-less reminded of the efforts of groups like the Fogo Island Coop. He describes the Fogo Island Coop as “one of those much needed facilities that rose from the ocean to solve a local economic problem.” Indeed the Labrador Fisheries Union Shrimp Company Ltd. is another such example of a community taking control of a resource that has sustained them for centuries. Dean warns; “If we don’t start to take back our rights we will loose all communities on the coast - factory trawlers will be seen on the fishing shoals and you won't be allowed to catch a fish!”

The answers lie in an insistence on policy that supports our rural communities, suggests Ron W., another of our members. As an example he suggests: Government/the people should aim to own 100% of the Cod quota. He suggests this would take a lot of years, as current quota holders would have to be grandfathered out. "Government could distributes an equal Cod quota to EVERY Newfoundland and Labrador citizen allowing for quotas to be traded between Newfoundlanders and Labradorians however they see fit and as many times as they wish" Ron suggests. Rebuilding a barter system that has been integral to the survival of many of our communities throughout our history. "Secondly Cod quota can be sold to an incorporated business only once (possibly twice as there might be a demand for a middle man between fishers and processors)". Ron’s suggestions would do a couple of important things to the mindset of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, most importantly it would instantly attach the cod fish to every Newfoundlander and Labradorians life (even if you just wanted to sell your quota for cash as soon as you got it).

Ron and Dean have both asked for feedback on their thoughts. Can we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians reevaluate the fishery in these terms? Should we? Is there a future in the fishery, for our rural communities especially? We’d love to hear your thoughts (info at

I have a follow up article from Mr. Boyd that I will be posting to the CLCC’s blog in the coming days. Stay tuned. And keep the feedback coming.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finding the Fisheries of the Future for Newfoundland and Labrador

I thought about calling this piece the "F" word because Fisheries has become almost taboo in Newfoundland and Labrador. An industry that still, in modern times, is worth one billion dollars and shows such tremendous promise for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador communities. But we are not supposed to say that are we? We are not even supposed to know about it. The fishery is dead isn't it?!

The Following is a letter from a friend of the CLCC Mr. D. Boyd of Twillingate to the Provincial Fisheries Minister Mr. Tom Hedderson. It expresses a view commonly discussed within the CLCC that fisheries management on a community level is an important part of the sustainability and growth of many of our rural communities:


It was almost amusing to hear Mr. Hedderson and Fisheries Broadcast host, John Furlong, puzzling over why the seafood processors rejected the government's proposal of injecting five million dollars into improving seafood markets, ostensibly for the benefit of both processors and harvesters.

"It's a 64,000 dollars question!" Mr. Furlong stated. "No," Minister Hedderson injected, " It's a five million dollar question! We'll have to ask the processors why they took this course of action!"

We should not be so naive as to not know the processors motivation. To that end I , this evening, called up a fisherman friend of mine, who I believe finished grade three.

"Did you hear that the processors turned thumbs down on the government's offer of finding new and improved markets? " I asked.

"Yes , by, shocking idn't it!" he replied.
" And, what do you think their reason was?" I asked my old fisherman friend.

"Well, by," he said, "tis pretty simple - even a school youngster could figure that one out. See tis like dis!

We is the last generation of independent fishermen, because the way the fishery is now, there is no young people tinking about getting into the fishery, and to my mind, das the way the processors wants to keep it! If the government finds new markets and improves the lot of the fishermen, - makes their enterprises more lucerative- , as they say, perhaps the youngsters might want to step in der fathers boots and carry on as independent fish harvesters - and dat, my son, would interfere with the processors vision of owning the fishery lock, stock and barrel!"

" And dat question, you just asked me, " he continued, " got me tinking about Danny Williams taking on the whole crowd up in ottawa, because we's standing to lose a billion dollars. Well, the fishery brings in over a billion dollars EVERY year and Danny Williams got to ask the processors if he can help the fishermen find markets!!! Was dat all about- the processors got more power than Steven Harper!!"

" And while I'm at it, another ting, that bother me is that Butler fellar saying that the structure of the fishery is ALL wrong. Well, the way I see it - the fishermen goes out and catches the fish- feeds he's family and keeps he's community alive. The processors buys he's fish and sells it to the markets of the world (something the government wants to help with), and das what keeps our Outports alive. Now whas wrong wit that?

Seems to me the processors wants to catch all the fish themselves and to hell with the fishing villages, and if anyone had any doubt about dat, der decision today to refuse government dollars that might help the fishermen and their communities, should put such doubt to rest.

If I were Danny Williams I would give the boot to all of them cause tis shocking the way the fish merchants have held the fishermen hostage for hundreds of years and the government is helpin em do it!"

Good thing my friend has only grade three, as perhaps he might be the leader we need for the revolution required in the fishery.

Thank you,
D. Boyd

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Backward Path Well Trodden: PEI Follows NL's Mistakes

I often find myself sitting and chewing the fat with people who were minutes ago strangers. That is the Newfoundlander in me. I remember one such meeting one sunny afternoon on the waterfront in St. John's. One question stuck with me, the gentleman asked if I thought that Newfoundland and Labrador is unique in some of it's battles, with rural communities fading, in a province that is often an afterthought in the federation.

The answer is that; of course I recognize that the battles of rural Newfoundland and Labrador are not unique. I sometimes speak so passionately about our Newfoundland and Labrador that the casual listener may be inclined to think that I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador is the only place in the universe. I speak that way not because I am egocentric, but because I have to. With such a small representation for Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa, and with such a poor representation of the rural perspective on the island and in the Big Land, I feel compelled.

I thought about the conversation on the St. John's Waterfront when I read an article about PEI's newly formed Rural Alliance and I was reminded instantly of our own CLCC. The PEI group is taking up arms in what it knows is an affront to the rural way of life; the closure of rural schools.

With the CLCC we have had many a heated conversation lamenting the lose of some of our own rural schools. We had a gentleman even tell us he was involved with these closures and today counts his participation in that process as one of his deepest regrets. What could have been different if this one person had stood his ground and advocated for the rural communities? That brings about the question of what can one individual do to affect change?

Our chair Mr. Ray Johnson has always impressed upon the friends and members of the CLCC that one man can make a difference. He uses the movie "Amazing Grace" as an example. The story tells of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending slavery in the British colonies. A fight that took decades. Of course those involved with the CLCC will recognize how Ray himself is an example of how one person can affect change, his infectious enthusiasm for Newfoundland and Labrador created the CLCC and is inspiring its growth.

... so from the CLCC (Newfoundland and Labrador's own "Rural Alliance") to PEI's Rural Alliance: All the best in your battle to see the rural lifestyle of PEI sustain and flourish. We hope that you can call upon the strength of the individual from the community level to the bureaucrats and policy makers to work for positive change and stave off the destruction of rural life.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who are your Unsung Heroes?

Every community in Newfoundland and Labrador has them. They are the people who make your community a pleasure to live in. They work to improve life for you and your neighbours. They run our community centres and church groups, they are environmentalists, educators, parents and community builders.

There are so many people who deserve the mention of being an unsung hero. Ron Fitzpatrick of Turnings in St. John's is an example of a person who works tirelessly for others and works to make live safer and more enjoyable for all and we've honored him as the first CLCC Unsung Hero.

Who are the unsung heroes in your community? The CLCC would like to hear about them. Send your Unsung Hero story to

Friday, January 16, 2009

Harbour Grace for CBC Hockeyville!

The CLCC has has strong support from the people of Harbour Grace and the communities of the area. Time to payback that support:

Vote for Harbour Grace for CBC's Hockeyville. It will mean some great publicity, community pride, and investment into the S.W.Moores Memorial Stadium.

Best of Luck Harbour Grace, from your friends at the Community Linkages Concept Committee!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Community Builders, The Unsung Heros

At the Community Linkages Concept Committee (CLCC) we speak often about the positive changes that happen on a community level. We know that in each community there are unsung heros who fight for their community and for the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole.

To launch the new CLCC blog I would like to acknowledge our first Community Unsung Hero. Although the CLCC is largely known for its campaign for rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians we recognize also that urban communities have their own issues. It is with this concern that we would like to acknowledge Ron Fitzpatrick of Turnings. Mr. Fitzpatrick is a man devoted to rehabiliting the community through healing some of our most troubled citizens. Those fighting addictions that have lead their lives down some difficult paths. Their personal battles affects us all, their desperation increases crime and causes people to make the wrong choices in life.

Turnings is a group now in financial difficulty and in danger of closing. I would like to impress upon industry supporters and government to continue the services of Turnings and those organizations who aid addicts in their quest for clean living.

To Ron Fitzpatrick and the people at Turnings, thank you and keep up the good work.

DJ Fancey
CLCC Secretary

Note: Neither Ron Fitzpatrick, nor Turnings is associated in any way with the CLCC, the CLCC would just like to highlight the work of Turnings as being the essential sort of service that builds healthy communities.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Community Linkages Concept Committee

The Community Linkages Concept Committee with chair Ray Johnson will host this blog as a means of posting articles and discussion topics of interest to our members and supporters.

Follow our main website at or e-mail us at to suggest topics, write an article or for information on joining.