Category Archives: Politics

Sustaining a Community takes Commitment – Raleigh, NL

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Raleigh is home to the awe-inspiring Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, boasting over 300 plant species with 30 being rare. The Burnt Cape cinquefoil is found exclusively on the Northern Peninsula, as it is the only place in the world where this species grows. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has failed to live up to its obligations when it eliminated all interpretation at this Reserve. It has also neglected to install appropriate signage, develop educational material such as guidebooks and panels to preserve, educate, maintain road infrastructure and make available our natural areas to interested parties. These short-sighted decisions by Government impact and harm our rural communities. Where is Government’s commitment?

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Additionally, rural communities are facing pressures from out-migration, aging population and changes to the dynamics of the economy that sustained them since their beginning all across the globe. Sustaining our small towns takes commitment and I see that in entrepreneurs Marina and Ted Hedderson  of Raleigh, NL.

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Yesterday, I was amazed by the creativity, commitment and desire to see the Town of Raleigh with a population of less than 200 survive and thrive. The current owners have been running Marina’s Mini-Mart & Gas Bar since 2001. They saw an opportunity to get into the accommodations business to compliment the neighbouring Pistolet Bay – Provincial Park, which is typically at capacity for tents and RVs throughout the season.

I was given a tour of the cottages, which include 4 two-bedroom, 3 one-bedrooms and a newly added vacation home that has the most incredible ocean view. The vacation home is very spacious and family focused with two queen and a twin bed, laundry facilities, BBQ and a view you won’t want to leave. The two bedroom cottages are very immaculate, offering two queen beds, laundry and wooden finished interior. The three one-bedroom cottages have leather furniture and laundromat access, but the best feature is that they sit with a breath-taking ocean view from a large deck to sit and enjoy your morning coffee or evening beverage. There is an entertainment area for evening fires right at water’s edge. There 4-star accommodations are priced at an incredible value, ranging from $109-169.

The Burnt Cape Cafe is a must if you are in the area. It truly understands the importance of experiential tourism. The Cafe takes lobster to a whole new level of fresh. The patrons, if they choose can go to the local wharf and select their own lobster and get their photos taken before and after. An incredible experience!

After stepping into the cafe, my attention was immediately drawn to the back which includes a comfortable seating area, big screen television playing traditional Newfoundland music and I thought was a great place to sit and relax. They also know the value of WiFi, which is provided for free.

The original six hockey jerseys are proudly displayed as in the off-season this area becomes on Monday nights, open to the dart league.  There is a wide-selection of crafts, souvenirs and other products. I purchased a Mummer’s shot glass, as I love the jannies.

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The Newfoundland tartan on the tables is a nice touch to compliment a menu that caters to those who love high-quality seafood dishes. I was treated to some phenomenal chowder, it comes highly recommended to start. It comes with generous portions of salmon and cod, great creamy flavour that is amplified with a touch of cheese melting as you eat. As a main, I’ve had pan-seared scallops and shrimp in garlic butter that would melt in your mouth with Parmesan mashed potatoes that kept you wanting more. To top the meal off, the deep-fried ice-cream was superb. The rich coating ensured the ice-cream was cold and in tact while I slowly enjoyed this treat drizzled with bakeapples. If you have not eaten at the Burnt Cape cafe you are truly missing out.

Small business and innovation is the key to dynamic growth, especially in small communities. Ted and Marina have a vision for their Town, their home. The business currently offers everything you need at your fingertips. However, they have more big ideas on how to  add accommodations, entertainment and experiential offers that appeal to locals and visitors. They are a partner with the annual Iceberg Festival, believe in strong promotion and understand the value of packaging and providing their customers with the highest in services and unique experiences.

Sustaining a community takes commitment and these two truly have what it takes to build a stronger community. I would encourage you to drop by and support this locally owned and independent business that is doing incredibly big things in a small town.

Visit their website at: www.burntcape.com

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

Canada appealing WTO ban on seal products

The Environment and Minister responsible for Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Leona Aglukkaq is in Geneva appealing the World Trade Organization (WTO) ban of Canadian Seal Products in the European Union today, which was upheld on the basis of moral grounds.

I support the Minister in our appeal. The Canadian seal hunt is well-regulated, humane and sustainable. It has been a way of life and a significant part of our culture and heritage on the Great Northern Peninsula for centuries.

In fact, St. Barnabas in Flower’s Cove was built under the leadership of Rev. Canon J. T. Richards in the 1920′s. The men and women made seal skin boots, which when sold went into a building fund. The church has been known locally as “seal skin boot” church.

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Local harvesters each year prepare to take to the ice. These are brave and courageous sealers, who risk their lives to provide for their families. My father was a sealer. He knew the art of bark tanning and preparing the skin to make leather products. Depicted below are seals tanning in Savage Cove, by the very talented Mr. Stevens.

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There are more modern products beyond seal skin boots that have been used to keep us warm in some of the harshest weather conditions, as winter can be difficult for those of us in the North.

Below is a patchwork sealskin purse. They are handmade creations by local craftspeople. With pride I promote our very own GNP Craft Producers in Shoal Cove East on the Great Northern Peninsula. If you would like your very own, they can custom-make them. Visit www.gnpcrafts.ca or call 709-456-2123.

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I am a strong supporter of the Canadian seal hunt and will continue to press for more products and new business developments for all involved in the industry.

Supporting the Seal Hunt -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

(Seal skin purse photo credit – Donna Whalen-Grimes)

 

The Straits-White Bay North Newsletter #7 – Winter 2014

As the Member of the House of Assembly for the District of The Straits-White Bay North, I’ve been actively engaged in representing my constituents and keeping them informed of the work I’ve been doing on their behalf. A regular newsletter has gone out to households in the District three times a year. Past newsletters can be found at www.christophermitchelmore.com/newsletters as well as a printable copy for download.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Public Engagement critical – Rural NL needs more…

Politicians are representatives of the people in the regions in which we are elected. I strongly believe as a young individual and a community-oriented person that we must work from the grassroots – build from the ground-level up. I believe in public consultation and involving my constituents in the process through regular public meetings, community/Town hall meetings, door-to-door discussions, availability at public events and also the forum of the social media to communicate. There is an expectation in today’s modern society that politicians be available to their constituents more than ever.

IMG-20130918-02748        I had the privilege of meeting Alberta’s NDP Leader Brian Mason who believes that public engagement is critical to a more democratic society. The Alberta election is about three years away. However, the Opposition Wildrose Party (right-wing) and the New Democrats (left-wing) are working together to reach out to youth across Alberta to change the political landscape from the 40+ year reign of the governing Progressive Conservatives. They are participating in seven or eight debates across universities and colleges in major cities across the province.

On September 18th, 2013, I took public transportation (LRT) to University Station in Edmonton to the Lecture Hall at the University of Alberta. I was very surprised to see about 400 people, mainly youth gather at the event. It was refreshing as a youth and as a politician to see such interest as these two Leaders raised the bar and reached out though public debate of the issues and keeping it real. The Alberta New Democrats have been very vocal against the PC budget cuts of 7% to the education system. This campaign has garnered much support in their Edmonton base with currently four MLAs from the Capital and evident support from repeated cheers during much of the debate.

There were many issues brought to the forefront such as energy, pipelines, economy, post-secondary education, health care and public services. I enjoyed hearing the differing viewpoints of Leader Danielle Smith and Leader Brian Mason. The issues facing Alberta (a commodity economy) in many cases mirrors Newfoundland & Labrador on a smaller scale. We must conduct long-term planning and evaluate the impacts our aging demographics will have on program and service delivery.

On September 25, 26 and October 1st, I held a series of Public Meetings in St. Anthony, Sandy Cove and Roddickton. It was an excellent opportunity to hear concerns, issues and ideas of those living in the community. Meetings brought out about 150 people total and included those as young as 19 years of age. This is all very positive, as you can listen to the views of constituents and share information. It reduces barriers and builds trust. There is power in the voice of everyday people and commend you all for stepping up! Together we will build a stronger economy in the District of The Straits-White Bay North.

Public engagement is critical – rural NL certainly needs more of it!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 
NDP Office of Public Engagement critic 

Province must take action to build sustainable fisheries

August 9, 2013

NDP Fisheries and Aquaculture critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) says the provincial government should start talking with their federal counterparts to establish a comprehensive plan to improve management of marine stocks, fishing rights and our rural fishing communities’ sustainability.

“The European Union is moving toward a greener economy, as it currently negotiates reforming its Common Fisheries Policy,” says Mitchelmore. “This innovative move will seek to re-build fish stocks, and establish targets to end overfishing and reduce by-catch, wasteful discarding of fish at sea, and the role of middlemen.”

A North Sea trial looked at the ongoing concerns regarding the practice of high-grading – discarding a large percentage of fish caught at sea, so that only those with the highest value will be landed and sold. This happens because of pricing policies and quotas – larger fish are worth more money per pound, but every pound of fish caught counts toward total quotas. In the trial, less valuable fish caught by harvesters were brought to shore, but not credited fully towards a harvester’s full quota, allowing for more fish being landed, but fewer fish in total being caught – potentially resulting in more sustainable fishing practices, with greater industry benefits.

“This was just a pilot project, and full results are not in, but it demonstrates a willingness to explore innovative approaches to the fishery,” said Mitchelmore. “We have been doing all the same things for decades. It is time for our governments to try some different approaches. The provincial government should be encouraging DFO to try this kind of pilot project.”

“The Province must press DFO for policy changes that will benefit fishers, plant workers, processors and all involved in the industry as the fishery is a public resource held by the Crown to benefit the people,” said Mitchelmore.

- See more at: http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr080913FishInnovation#sthash.uFieYPew.dpuf

 

Town Infrastructure Vital to Rural Economic Growth – Conche Roads Dire

Conche, NL just hosted a successful week of Come Home Year events, where hundreds of Die Hard Conchers’ came back to celebrate the place they call home.

As visitors turned off to Route 434 (Conche Road) they hit a very dusty gravel road that is wearing away to the bedrock. It has been a complete failure of current and past Governments to address the need to remove this gravel road from Provincial inventory. Despite rebuilding and realignment of this road in the mid-2000′s, the current Government has not committed to completing the job of paving the highway. This is coupled with the decision-making of cutting the calcium chloride program means more dust will leave the highway, creating unsafe driving conditions. Each passing day without paving Government is not getting best value for our tax dollars. This 17.6 KM of gravel needs pavement and we’ll continue to press Government to make this a priority.

The unpaved and dusty Route 434 to Conche:

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The pavement before Town that was not re-surfaced:

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Last year, Government re-surfaced 5 kilometers of road through Town which is of Provincial responsibility that was announced in July 2011 that did not get complete in that fiscal year. The Great Northern Peninsula continues to see late tender announcements and work happening very late in the year or carried over. Government voted against our caucus Private Member’s Motion regarding transportation strategy http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr042413VoteAgainstStrategy.

This 5 KM of Provincial road should not have required repaving, at least not in less than 4 years since it was first paved. It was actually part of a pilot project announced in June 2007 cost shared between the Town and the Department of Municipal Affairs. At the time it was a 75-25 ratio meaning the Town chipped in nearly $125,000 to see this and it’s Town roads paved using this bituminous surface treatment (BST). It was supposed to be cost-effective and prolong the life of a highway. It failed and it left the Town in crisis because it had invested 25% and was left in just a couple of years with paved roads in worse condition than a gravel road, that the Town could not maintain. To make matters worse, shortly after this investment by the Town, the Government changed it’s municipal cost-sharing agreement to a 90-10. This small Town expended a large sum of money and is left with crumbling infrastructure.

I took a some photos of a few kilometers into Town, coupled with some scenic shots. The stops were quite frequent as the lower roads are deplorable condition and it would take more time to fully document condition of all Town roads.

Brush clearing and completion of line painting must occur and be completed earlier in the year, not still pending in mid-August.

Town infrastructure is vital to rural economic growth. The re-surfacing on Conche road was needed and Government at that time should have also re-surfaced the failed pilot project for Town roads.

The Town of Conche sees thousands of tourists annually and could easily be branded as a “tourism destination” with unique scenery, the French Shore, cruise ship visits, vernacular architecture and numerous attractions. It also has an active fish plant that sees product and workers commuting over this route. Development of Conche is being stagnated due to poor road infrastructure – it’s time for change.

I welcome any investment Government will make into our Municipal and Provincial road infrastructure in the District, as there are significant needs.

We need multi-year planning and create an economic master plan. I look forward to continuing these conversations with my constituents to redefine rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve needs Interpretation restored.

Budget 2013 saw the ax fall on Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh with the Minister of Environment & Conservation showing no remorse for not ensuring both the protection and education of the Province’s newest ecological reserve. The loss of two interpretation positions, left the site without any staff to provide educational tours and be visible on site daily. It is quite a contradiction to the Government sign posted en route to the site, as they clearly do not see the importance of protection, preserving and educating others about our natural treasures:

Burnt Cape is one of the most important botanical sites in the Province. Its unique landscape, cold climatic conditions, and calcium rich soil allow northern plant species to grow in a rich and rare variety. The reserve is home to more than 300 species of plants, over 30 of which are rare.

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The Department of Environment & Conservation is failing to live up to ensuring the protection, preservation and education of this site, evident from lack of maintenance on the gravel road, no signage directing to the Reserve once in the Town of Raleigh, lack of restroom facilities and refuge containers. I have been actively reaching out to groups, organizations and individuals to help this cause and press Government to reverse this decision.

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NDP Leader Lorraine Michael and I (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) visited the site. It is with regret that interpretative tours were not restored, as this was not deemed a priority from the Minister of Environment & Conservation. Despite a barrage of emails with compelling arguments that were sent to him, the Premier, Minister of Tourism and myself calling for the reinstatement of these knowledgeable guides. They have ignored the call from Nature Conservancies, Environmental Awareness Groups, Ph. D holders, experts and concerned citizens from Newfoundland & Labrador, other parts of Canada and the United States of America. This only tarnishes our reputation of preservation, protection and education with the international community.

There has been much irreparable damage done already to the site, with vehicles unknowingly parked on rare plants like the Longs and Fernalds  braya, to more direct movements of rocks and tire tracks that clearly illustrate a vehicle has driven over a protected area. In addition, visitors to the region are losing out on the experience of what Burnt Cape offers and some are opting not to even bother. The lack of interpretative tours leaves very important details and information of such a provincial treasure. Unless you are an expert in botany, this reserve has lost much of its meaning to the general populace with an interest to explore, learn and understand the uniqueness of this protected area on the Great Northern Peninsula.

The Minister noted about 500 people visited the site annually. It is clear there are many vehicles and people visiting the site on this Sunday afternoon. I believe the stat of visitors to the site is likely understated. Nevertheless, these well-trained guides should never have seen their jobs eliminated.

The Raleigh Historical Society Inc. has applied for permits to have its staff and vehicle bring people to the site during the season. They have stepped up, although it will be a reduced service without the knowledge of trained guides.

Government must also step up. I encourage you to email: Minister Tom Hedderson, Environment & Conservation (thedderson@gov.nl.ca) and myself, Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (cmitchelmore@gov.nl.ca). We must continue to voice our discontent of this decision that is leading to the destruction of a geological, botanical and pale-ontological treasure.

Thank you for any support you can provide.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Few Snaps of “the Beauty Spot of the North”

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Conche is tagged as “The Beauty Spot of the North”. It is nestled at the edge of the Great Northern Peninsula East and is home to 181 residents, but there are hundreds more ‘Die hard Conchers’ out there and many are home to celebrate Come Home Year of 2013. It truly is a magical place.

This fishing community has a beacon of activity from an extremely active fish plant, that employs people throughout the region. The fish must be trucked in and trucked out of a dusty gravel road. There is constant commuting and significant economic benefits that Conche has contributed to the economy over the years. There must be serious consideration given to Government to pave the remaining 17.4 KM of gravel road.

Conche has also transitioned to be a sought after tourism destination. It is at the heart of the French Shore, with an interpretation centre, 222-ft tapestry depicting the history of the French Shore, textile exhibits, WWII memorial, archaeology digs, cafe, writer’s retreat, B&B, playground, walking trails, icebergs, bird and whale watching, as well as much more activity from talented artists, writers, singers, dancers, crafters and more.

The community understands it must add new economic opportunities by working to establish a fully functional RV site,  beach volleyball and other recreational services. It has carefully placed yellow chairs around viewing areas of the Town. This is similar to an initiative that Gros Morne National Park has done for its 35th Anniversary. These are important and relatively low-cost initiatives that make a community more inviting and tourist friendly. There are storyboards and panels and certainly more room for murals.

I am encouraged  by the economic drive of such a small community. There is much room for growth. It is persevering, despite continuous neglect and inaction from Government that treats residents and road users of Route 434  as second-class citizens. It is unacceptable in 2013 to be driving over a gravel road with no calcium chloride program. Government has invested $6M a few years ago to re-build and re-align this road. Each year there is no pavement,  this investment is being eroded to the bedrock and will cost more to complete. We need better, multi-year planning to protect our investments. Conche road should have been paved years ago.

Please contact Hon. Paul Davis, Minister of Transportation & Works at padavis@gov.nl.ca asking him to take the necessary action to pave Route 434.

It’s Time!

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Milestone Moment – Happy 100 Years to Grenfell Memorial Co-op

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A co-operative is formed when people are empowered to work toward a common goal. They are virtually involved in every sector of the economy, including finance, housing, fishing, forestry, childcare, film, craft, farm and retail. Co-ops are owned and run by its members – they share the profits, benefits and meet the local needs of people, because they are the co-op.

Last night, as the MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, I had the pleasure of applauding the members, employees, management and board members of Grenfell Memorial Consumer’s Co-op in St. Anthony on a milestone moment – turning 100th on June 7, 2013. A centennial is a milestone for any organization and certainly a reason to be proud of all that has been accomplished to date. Grenfell Co-op is the oldest consumer co-op in Newfoundland & Labrador, and one of the oldest in the country.

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I am a proud supporter of co-ops, because I believe in the co-operative principles. Co-ops are socially responsible,  sustainable, meet local needs, put people over profits, and are democratically run, as they are based on one member – one vote. I had the pleasure of attending a “Cultivating Coops” Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in affiliation with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and could see first hand that diversity and great work co-ops were doing there and hope to see more started on the Great Northern Peninsula.

As a Member of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland & Labrador, I stated the importance of rural and regional co-operation, highlighting Eagle River Credit Union, Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Barbe Consumer’s co-op and NorPen Regional Waste Disposal in my maiden speech.

I am not alone in believing in co-ops, as 1 Billion people worldwide are members, accounting for 100 million jobs with the world’s largest 300 coops having sales of over $1 Trillion. 2012 was named by the United Nations as the “International Year of the Cooperative”.

Co-operatives empower people! Grenfell Memorial Co-op’s success is a true reflection both of the legacy of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and the importance of cooperatives to communities such as St. Anthony and area.

Grenfell originally set up his work in Newfoundland & Labrador to focus on health care. However, he recognized the importance of employment and education to healthy lifestyles. His mission expanded to include schools, orphanage, co-operatives (fishery, retail, forestry and the world-famous crafts), industrial work projects, agriculture and aspects of social work. Grenfell was much more than a missionary in my view, he was a cultural politician, who fought the concept of colonialism that brought riches to the very few. He believed in a social democracy that would give back a greater share of the wealth to those who had the resources. The co-operative model was the best way to break the merchant truck-system, increase quality of life and ensure long-term sustainability for people of the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador.

The cooperative business model is one government should encourage and nurture, as well as people especially in rural areas embrace. When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success.

On June 7th, I visited the co-op for it’s 100 year celebrations which featured free refreshments and a cake cutting by the oldest co-op member, Violet Decker, and the youngest kids’ club member Jaycee White. Traditional music was performed by Adam Randell and Brandon White.

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I encourage communities and individuals to come together, be proud of and support your local co-op –  it’s yours. Encourage others to be involved. As a politician, I’ve seen the Grenfell co-op, their mascots and employees giving back to the community in the form of sponsorship, donations and volunteer hours at numerous community events throughout the region.

To Grenfell Memorial Co-op Members – it has been a pleasure to be at your 100th Anniversary, Annual General Meeting and the celebration dinner and dance. You have much to celebrate!

It’s Time to re-visit our past successes and replicate them to have such success in the future. We need to begin the process of setting up more co-ops – whether a community marketplace, craft co-op or other endeavor. The future is brighter when we work together to find co-operative solutions.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador celebrates 3rd Anniversary

It is hard to believe 3 years have passed since my first blog posting. Today there are more than 370 to add to the original introduction and a total of 212 212 hits when I logged in this morning. Does this palindromic number have any type of significance? How many times to you look at the clock when it turns 11:11 and make a wish or you are watching with great excitement as 99,999.9 becomes 100,000 KM as those digits change on the odometer of your vehicle and disappointed if you miss? Whatever the feeling one gets, I am very pleased to have shared and continue to share my rural Newfoundland & Labrador experiences.

During year one of the blog I scribed nearly 200 posts; however, my life would change significantly in mid-2011. I made the decision to seek the NDP nomination for The Straits-White Bay North and subsequently was elected as the first New Democrat to represent a District that had been held by Liberal members for 53 years since Confederation. Over that two-year journey, I have been to the door steps in every nook and cranny of this beautiful District, listening to people, their concerns, issues and ideas, but also learning the history, experiences and talents of people and seeking new opportunities for our region to grow.

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I only wish I was able to post about the many places, people, events, business and other rural things I’ve experienced along the way. On the 2nd anniversary of Live Rural NL, our caucus sat in the Legislature filibustering the infamous Bill 29 – Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act until late June, speaking out loudly around the clock against such draconian legislation that is regressive.

We need progressive policies that see positive change in our District and our Province that will help the people and their communities. We need to involve the people – the community in decision-making.

When communities come together and have a vision all things are possible.

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  • The communities of Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour raised nearly $100,000 over a four month period and build an impressive playground and social space for all ages to enjoy. These three communities may be small in population, hovering around 200 – drew in over 210 registrants for Build Day! These are the types of community investments we need, that will have positive outcomes on the region
  • The Straits Daycare Corporation has opened in Flower’s Cove in June as a non-profit affordable daycare centre for the people of the region. This will help with employment recruitment and retention.
  • Habitat for Humanity is helping alleviate the housing crisis in St. Anthony and area by adding 4 new homes, to a region that has virtually a zero percent vacancy rate.
  • Main Brook Recreation Committee, Town, Come Home Year, business and community have partnered to build a community centre. This is important social infrastructure that can bring new opportunities.

 

Good things are happening because communities are involved, have ideas and are finding solutions. They require supports. We need to see an advanced transportation and telecommunications strategy, as we have major road, ferry, air, Internet and cellular gaps that need a plan to address them. There are much broader policy issues, health care and education concerns and infrastructure gaps that the Government must address to create a sustainable long-term rural and urban economy that works for the residents of Newfoundland & Labrador.

I believe in all things rural, and will continue to write about them as the days, weeks, months and years go by.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Seals on the Ice

Last Sunday, I had left my home to drive to grandmother’s house in Nameless Cove for a big turkey dinner on Easter Sunday. Driving through the community, I saw a black spot on the ice.

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The seal is at the edge of the beach.

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Another seal is close to shore, as pack ice had blocked the Strait of Belle Isle. The land in the background, well that’s “The Big Land” – Labrador. I’m not sure people believe me when I saw, “I can see Labrador from my window,” but it is true.  Just a short 15 kilometres between us and still no plan to connect us by a fixed-link. Advancing transportation and telecommunication networks will be key to Southern Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula‘s future long-term sustainability. Quebec is completing Route 138 (Lower North Shore Highway), this means Montreal will be just 13 hours drive from this province. It will transform the shipping of goods and services. The current administration promised a feasibility study – a link has not yet materialized. Instead it has opted to build a multi-billion dollar energy project, laying cables on the ocean floor that will interfere with our way of life, the fishery – our mainstay, versus going underground with a tunnel. It was noted in a pre-feasibility study that if both projects were paired, savings of nearly $400 million would be realized. More work is needed exploring a fixed-link, but advancing transportation networks is imminent, we can not continue to be plagued with annual increased rates at Marine Atlantic and an unreliable schedule for shipment of goods and services. These costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer.  We need to be more strategic and consider where we need to go over the long-term, but not forget our roots – our beginnings.

Seals played a critical role in the development of our as a permanent settlement. In the early 1800′s they were a major food source, as the island had only 9 types of mammalia. Additionally, as a British Colony, we shipped both whale and seal oil to the homeland. This oil was used in lamps and correlated with the Industrial Revolution. Today, this product is banned in the United Kingdom.

It will be another couple of days before the sealers take to the ice. I wish much success in this years hunt, as the seal provides valuable meat, oils and pelts that are harvested in a humane and sustainable way. Sealing is part of our tradition, and will continue to remain that way well into the future.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Mitchelmore speaks to Interim Supply (Budget 2013)

March 14, 2013

CHAIR: I recognize the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Before I begin, I would like to pass along condolences to the Member for Lewisporte and the Member for Cape St. Francis on their recent losses.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in speaking to the Interim Supply bill, as well as many other ministers here, have talked about and have asked us, the New Democratic Party, for our plan. What is our plan? The minister had said the same thing.

I have to say, Mr. Chair, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and all of the other ministers are managers of their departments, they have their employees. It is their jobs to produce the plans. They have failed to be putting forward with these plans. If they want our plans, they can hand over government to the New Democratic Party, Mr. Chair, and we will produce our plans.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Speaking on the Interim Supply and the money –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North, to continue.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will talk about the gross mismanagement from the Progressive Conservatives on the other side. Newfoundland and Labrador‘s per capita spending increased rapidly between 2006 and 2010. Per capita spending averaged 50 per cent higher than all other provinces in Canada in the last three years, according to APEC.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Chair, the oil royalties will come in well below –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

Again, I ask all members for their co-operation.

The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I know the truth hurts sometimes, but I would appreciate if the members opposite would listen to the harsh realities of our fiscal situation. We are going to be well below budget in 2012-2013 in our oil royalties – no Atlantic Accord payments; this is going to intensify Newfoundland and Labrador to really curtail spending now because of lack of planning.

In the 2012 fiscal year, there was a $436 million reduction in oil royalties. Mineral taxes dropped $114 million. Corporate tax revenue, which was in the Budget of increasing $200 million, dropped $47 million. The only thing that actually was really, really good last year was there was a $92 million increase in personal income tax revenue. Do you know why that is? It is primarily because of a commuter economy. Where is that going to head in the future with all of the layoffs government are doing right now? We are not going to have the personal income tax; that is not going to be coming in, not at that level.

So, you have to be really careful when you are planning and doing a Budget. I ran a business, Mr. Chair. I know about making plans.

Oil prices are set to decline by 6 per cent in 2013 and net debt, Mr. Chair, well, the former Minister of Finance had talked quite a bit about net debt. I want to say for everybody out there that net debt is the short- and long-term debt minus the cash and cash equivalents.

If you are doing such a good job at managing the Province, we look at the fiscal position. The actual position for 2011-2012, every man, woman and child, net debt, dollars per capita: $15,257. Where are we forecasted this year: $17,329. Where are we going to be forecast the year after: $18,867. What about the year after: $19,497. That is being real fiscally responsible right there, taking on all that debt. Taking on more debt to build Muskrat Falls is going to increase borrowing and that is going to carry a lot of debt on a lot of carrying cost for taxation and interest there.

We talked about the members opposite talking about: we cannot build an economy on volatility, you know – and that is exactly what they are doing. That is exactly what they are doing. They are risking it and it is looking at volatility.

If we look at where we could go with this, Prince Edward Island, for example, tabled multi-year, three-year Budgets; where is this government going? We have no idea; we really do not, because they do not table any type of long-term plan.

They say they have a Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador; we do not know what is being spent from year to year and how it is being balanced. It is not out there. It is not listed. There is no timeline. What about in the Transportation and Works Department, where they have capital spending for paving roads and things like that? We have no idea from one year to the next which area of the Province is going to get paving, and if it is an absolute need, and the things like that.

The Nova Scotia government has a five-year plan. They have listed every road that is going to be getting paving and bridges. It is directly there; it is publicly available. Can the Minister of Transportation and Works stand up and say: well, we have a plan available. It is public. It is available. This government is not very transparent and not very accountable to the people who elected them.

I spoke to a constituent and they wrote and they said to me: the government really needs to look at trying to find how we can move from making our renewable resources prosper, really have to focus on those renewable resources, because we see how mining, we see how oil, which is the bulk of our economy –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MITCHELMORE: Muskrat Falls – I am glad you are saying that, somebody across the floor – $20 billion in revenues; well, what is the borrowing cost?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: What are the labour costs? Look at the expenditures that it is going to take over that time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Material cost, inflation – all of these things are going to have an impact on what is going to be the actual return. This is all at the risk of the ratepayers of this Province.

Instead of looking at things, Mr. Chair – our renewable economy, like the fishery, as I spoke about in the first one; the Fisheries Minister is certainly managing the decline of the fishery. In 2003, when the Tories came into power, it was worth a billion dollars in seafood exports. In a decade, it is at its lowest amount: $740 million – no ideas, no plans, nothing structurally put into place.

The same thing with the forestry; it is in absolute disarray. You talk about putting in investment. You put investment in my district, in Roddickton, in a pellet plant, but you did not go far enough with that. The Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, in planning that they put forward, when they recommended funding it was outlined there; it said, it absolutely said that there is going to be problems with transportation. It is going to be problematic, but they said, no, we will loan this money anyway, with all the other funders, without having a plan to make sure that this industry is going to be sustainable, that there are going to be personal income taxes coming from the forestry, that there will be corporate income taxes coming from the forestry, and that the Department of Natural Resources is going to get royalties from the logs that are actually being cut down.

You have to really have a balanced portfolio when you go to the bank. You do not just buy stocks. You would not go and buy 100 per cent stocks in Google because Google might go down next year. You really want to have a diversified portfolio, and the Province is not really focusing on that. They put all of their eggs in that Muskrat Falls basket. They are not focusing on – they are actually working very hard to erode rural Newfoundland and Labrador by their lack of vision and their lack of investment.

I certainly challenge the Minister of IBRD to get up on his feet and actually put forward that plan, because there is none. It does not exist. It really does not. It is very painful to see that the Ministers of IBRD and Natural Resources will not get together and actually make the industry on the Northern Peninsula, the forest industry, work.

It can work for people. It can be millions and millions of dollars for the Treasury here. You are going to let it die and you are going to let those people go to Alberta and elsewhere. If we keep sending everyone away and sending our youth away, we are going to continue to have unsustainable health care, unsustainable, unprecedented spending, and there will be no way to turn around.

Muskrat Falls will not save this Province, Mr. Chair. It really will not. This will not do it. It is not fiscally responsible and we need to see better; we expect better. The people expect better from their government. They really do, and people are getting sick and tired of hearing the same old rhetoric, the same old spin, and saying we have a plan when you really do not have a plan. If you are not prepared to govern and you are not willing to do it, then you are going to have to turn the reins over to somebody else who is willing to do it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Mitchelmore questions commitment to rural job creation

NDP critic for Innovation, Business and Rural Development Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) says government’s approach to job creation in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is sadly lacking in vision.

“Government is dropping the ‘rural’ from the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development with cuts to RED Boards, Employment Assistance Services, and no real plan for creating jobs from the ground up,” Mitchelmore said in the House of Assembly today. “Megaprojects create boom and bust economies and forced migration, and tear away at the social fabric of our economy.

“When will the minister of IBRD get serious about rural job creation and prevent further mass outmigration from decimating the rural landscape?”

Mitchelmore says encouraging job creation in rural Newfoundland is a vital part of ensuring economic health for the province. He pointed to wharf development as one possible option that has worked in parts of the province and could work in others.

“Government has invested $23 million since 2003 into aquaculture, including six biosecure wharves,” he said in the House. “Without this investment some 1000 jobs and $400 million dollars would have been lost.

“The forest industry on the Great Northern Peninsula impacts more than 150 workers and can prove to provide significant returns.

“When will the minister of Natural Resources commit to providing a needed wharf to Roddickton port to sustain an industry, jobs, and rural communities as well as putting needed money back in the provincial treasury?”

The Straits-White Bay North District Newsletter: Winter 2013

The Straits-White Bay North District Newsletter: Winter 2013. To view past newsletters visit www.christophermitchelmore.com.

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(Back & Cover Page)

Click thumbnail to view inside pages:

Winter2012pages 2 and 7

Winter2013pages3and6

Winter2013pages4and5

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

There’s Giant Cod Fish Out There…

We are moving into 21 years and a cod moratorium remains.  A decision that has forever altered the way of life in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially the smallest of communities.

The closure of the cod fishery in 1992 was to be temporary, yet remains today. It has led to mass out-migration. I was only 6 years old when the cod moratorium came into effect and can certainly recall many families leaving, businesses closing and loss of services. In 1991, the province’s population was 568,000, in 2011 the population dropped to 514,000 – a net loss of 54,000 people or more than 10% of current population, according to Statistics Canada.

The Great Northern Peninsula has been greatly impacted, as the fishery remains today the backbone of our local economy. The loss of population, especially youth and young families adversely impact the amount of tax base available and will push our smaller communities into greater decline. The lack of youth as part of our demographics means we must press our seniors to continue to be committed volunteers longer. These youth that would become community leaders, create new community programs and social offerings or start a business are lost to more urban centres and other provinces that offer high-paying jobs.

Since the first Mitchelmore came from England, they have been fishers. I am the first generation, like my cousins that did not have the option to continue a profession our family has engaged for centuries. Where will this lead rural Newfoundland & Labrador? There are cod in our waters, no question. I could see for myself this summer in communities such as Englee, St. Lunaire-Griquet and Sandy Cove as large cod-fish were landed via small commercial quota or caught in the recreational cod fishery.

CBC Reported: Cod comeback seen off Newfoundland – click for article

In September, I captured this photo at a fish market in Iceland.

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As you can see there are certainly giant cod out there.

We need to have a serious conversation about the future of the cod fishery and the role it will play in rural renewal…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

“Here’s to Great Ideas, Great Experiences and a Great Friendship” – 2013

Welcome 2013 – A new year to share with you all, more experiences of the Great Northern Peninsula and rural Newfoundland & Labrador in general.

Before I look forward, I must look back on the year that was. In fact, on the last day of the year I pulled out a book from the shelve my father made me some years ago. It was a Christmas present my cousin gave me in 2011 that I had yet had the opportunity to read. It was, Steve Jobs’ Biography written by Walter Isaacson. I think the sheer size and weight made it a little intimidating, since I’ve yet to complete War & Peace after several attempts. My new role as a politician has not helped my reading for pleasure, as I generally focus on reading reports, news and current affairs. However, since I’ve picked it up, I’ve been reluctant to put it down – even pulling it from my nightstand at 4 AM to continue on. I am fascinated by the creativity, determination, flaws and charisma Jobs had – his influence revolutionized the way we think of the computers, electronics, brand loyalty and consumer behaviour. I’m about halfway through Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and look forward to the next opportunity to pick it up. It’s certainly a worthy read.

I dog-eared page 217, which had the quote:

“Here’s to great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship! John.”

This line resonated with me, because life is truly about this – great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship. I only hope we act on this line more in life.

I reflect on my blog, as a means to share ideas, experiences and a great friendship with the world as well. In 2012, http://www.liveruranlnl.com received more than 100,000 hits across 166 countries around the globe. To me that is exponential growth, since sharing stories, culture, ideas, heritage, landscapes and other experiences would be quite difficult to reach through traditional means, since I live in a community of 167 people, represent a District of less than 9,000 people and live in a Province of just over 500,000 people. I was able to add just 87 posts for a grand total of 339 posts.

I’ll share with you some of this past year’s highlights:

January 2012 (48 posts)

I rang in the New Year in the Capital city of St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador with a Swiss and German friend, whom I met while studying in Prague in 2007.

On January 2nd we visited beautiful Bell Island, had some Dicks’s Fish & Chips and explored. The chilling air would not deter us from experiencing the well-carved coastline.

bellisland

My friends and I had ice-fished, mummered, visit Gros Morne National Park, fjords, L’Anse aux Meadows, Norstead, Tea House Hill & Grenfell Historic Properties, Jordi Bonet Murals, Snowmobiling, Screech-ins, Night at the Cabin, North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Joey’s Lookout, Deep Cove Winter Housing site and more. Needless to say January 2012 was quite eventful.

As MHA, I continued to hold Town Hall Meetings, in Conche and Main Brook, as well visited the communities of Wild Bight, North Boat Harbour, Croque and St. Julien’s/Grandois. I called into question the future of the Marystown Fish Plant Facility and repeated calls for the removal and remediation of the Englee fish plant. I also toured GNP Craft Producers, as I continue to advocate for the local marketplace and development of the sealing industry with future value-added products. Also attended pre-budget consultations hosted by Minister Marshall in St. Anthony.

February 2012: (16 posts)

Returned to Cuba.

Served as an opportunity to travel the province with NDP Housing Critic, Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) attending the Housing Roadshow, which started in St. Anthony. This continued to Norris Point, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand-Falls Windsor, Clarenville, St. John’s, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Marystown.

As NDP Fisheries Critic, I joined with three NDP MHA’s to support the picketers at Bay Roberts to oppose scab labour on an offshore vessel.

Gerry & I toured the French Shore Interpretation Centre – getting a view of the 220 foot tapestry designed by the local women of Conche on Jacobian linen. While there I got to purchase an amigurumi seal. It would be during summer that I would meet the creator during the Conche Garden Party Celebration.

We experienced traditional food at Lumberjack’s Landing and also toured Holson Forest Product, getting a demonstration on pellet heating.

Attended a Fisheries Forum

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I returned to Labrador – visiting Happy Valley-Goose Bay with NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. The highlight of my visit was to experience a traditional ride on a pure bred Labrador Husky Dog Team with Northern Lights. A remarkable experience.

March 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly opened on March 5th, 2012. The first time since I was elected on October 11, 2011. I raised issues of air ambulance, Englee Fish Plant removal, alternative fisheries models, fishery research funding, roadwork, cutting small business tax, co-ops, improved broadband, enhanced cellular coverage, 911 service, search & rescue and safe drinking water.

I also attended the Federal NDP Leadership Convention, supporting Thomas Mulcair for Leader. With thousands of New Democrats present in Toronto and 9 candidates, Tom Mulcair was voted Leader of NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition.

April 2012: (4 posts)

I had visited Trinity Bay North, as they had been dealt two economic blows – the closure of the OCI fish plant and sealing plant in 2012. I spoke with locals, visited Seaport Inn, and Coaker Foundation. Port Union is the only “union-built town” in North America.

Easter had me visiting Hockey stadiums – in St. Barbe, Placentia and St. John’s as I cheered on District teams.

Attended the Seal of Approval Dinner to support Seal Industry. NL’s top chefs prepared delicacies.

May 2012: (1 post)

Launched Orange Tent Tour in Corner Brook & attended the Trails, Tales & Tunes Festival

Orange Tent Tour 2012

I also spend many weekends attending graduations in the District.

June 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly continued to sit through the month of June and a number of rural issues continued to pressed including, alternative energy (wind), energy efficiency program for non-profits, agriculture development, fleet separation, lobster co-op, wood cutting permit discounts for seniors, aquaculture, forestry certification, Regional Economic Development Boards, Englee & Sandy Cove fish plants, condition of primary & secondary roads, crown land & land use planning, a host of petitions and a number of other issues.

My first experience with a filibuster – Bill 29: Access to Information, which led to 70 hours of debate. Government passed a bill that increases secrecy and reduces transparency and accountability.

I participated in the annual Iceberg Festival and got to meet the Ennis sisters, Karen & Maureen for the first time. Also, continued to attend graduations in District.

July 2012: (1 post)

  • Participated in Memorial Day events at St. Anthony Legion War Memorial
  • NDP MP Ryan Cleary’s Empty Nets event: 20 Years after the Cod Moratorium
  • Community Meetings: Roddickton-Bide Arm, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet & Flower’s Cove, visted residents of Eddies Cove East
  • Added Salmon Fest with Aerosmith in Grand Falls-Windsor
  • Experienced the South Coast – visiting Bay D’Espoir, Belleoram, St. Alban’s and Harbour Breton.
  • Camped on Brimstone Head on Fogo Island, met Philanthropist & visionary Zita Cobb, visited Seldom, Little Seldom, Fogo, Fogo Central, Joe Batt’s Arm (get Growler’s Ice-cream & eat at Nicole’s Cafe), Tilting and attended Stag Harbour Days

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  • Grand Opening of St. Anthony Come Home Year
  • NDP MHA Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) visits Public Library, College of North Atlantic Campus, meets with residents in St. Lunaire-Griquet
  • Re-opening of L’Anse aux Meadows UNESCO Site with Senator Norm Doyle
  • Visited Green Island Cove & Englee residents
  • Grand Opening of St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove Come Home Year

August 2012 (0 posts):

  • Announcement by Government that Englee Plant would be removed and site re-mediated
Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

  • Grand Opening of Main Brook Come Home Year
  • Visit from NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (Sandy Cove, St. Anthony, Main Brook)
  • Tour of Southern Labrador -Port Hope Simpson, Mary’s Harbour, West St. Modeste, Pinware, Forteau, L’Anse au Loup, L’Anse au Clair
  • Grand Opening of Anchor Point & Deadman’s Cove Come Home Year
  • Attended Canadian Public Accounts Committee Conferece in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Aug 19-21)
  • Joan Simmonds, French Shore Historic Society Presented with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at MHA Tea Party
  • 1st Public Accounts Committee Meeting after 6 years of dormancy

September 2012: (0 Posts)

  • Labour Day with Federation of Labour and St. John’s District Labour Council at Swiler’s Rugby Club
  • 102 NDP MP’s congregate in St. John’s/Hosts Kitchen Party at O’Reilly’s Pub on iconic George Street
  • NDP Municipal Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA St. John’s East) visited Town of Englee, toured Roddickton-Bide Arm, held St. Anthony Public meeting and discussed regionalization in The Straits
  • Guest Speaker at St. Anthony & Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Visited Czech Republic
  • Toured Iceland Fish Plants, Buyer’s Markets, Geothermal Facilities, Gullfoss Waterfalls, Glaciers and many other natural wondersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Spent a weekend in Copenhagen with friends from Switzerland and Sweden. Riding the World’s Oldest Rollercoaster and experiencing the culture
  • Visiting Liverpool and taxi touring the old stomping groups of larger than life Beatles. Spent three days soaking up the culture and enjoyed visiting the Cavern.

October 2012: (6 posts)

  • Participant at the International Fisheries Symposium held in Norris Point by CURRA
  • Reflected on my first year in offices. There were accomplishments and so much more to achieve
  • Suggested opportunities for expanding tourism opportunities
  • Participated in Public Account Committee hearings
  • NDP Convention
  • Re-newed call to support sealing industry. Purchased sealskin coat to show support industry (see pictured below with co-owner, Kerry Shears of Natural Boutique).

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  • Met with protesters from Fortune on the steps of Confederation Building
  • Turned 27
  • Enjoyed Halloween as Professor Plum from Clue, made costumes from a Salvation Army visit. Those who know me well, know I collect Board Games.

November 2012: (10 Posts)

  • Marketing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador dominated the postings
  • Visit to residents of Englee, Great Brehat, Green Island Brook, Pine’s Cove and Shoal Cove East 
  • Attended Remembrance Day Ceremonies & annual hockey tournament in St. Anthony.
  • House of Assembly re-opened November 19th

December 2012: (4 posts)

  • Third ecounter meeting Ennis Sisters. They perform in St. Anthony
  • Participate in the St. Anthony & St. Lunaire-Griquet Christmas Parades with Granny & Mummer’s
  • Attend Straits Regional Fire Department Appreciation Dance
  • Englee Christmas Tree Lighting & Diamond Jubilee Awards to Mayor Rudy Porter and Councillor Robert Keefe.
  • SABRI Christmas Party
  • Filibuster #2 – 86 hours that would run until December 22nd
  • Fisheries Minister sells out Rural Newfoundland & Labrador Friday, December 21st at 7 PM  (http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr122112QuotaSellout)
  • Returned home in time for Christmas Eve, wonderful holidays with my family
  • Record-breaking mummer’s parade with 40 mummer’s participating in 3rd year

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I’ve shared with you a sampling of some of my experiences during 2012. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many rural places on the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador and beyond. Many more than I’ve actually been able to write about; however, I look forward to sharing with you great ideas, great experiences and continue that great friendship in future posts of 2013.

Happy New Year to All -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Live Rural NL Blogger reflects on his first year in office

On October 11, 2011 – I was elected by the people of the Straits-White Bay North as their representative in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland & Labrador. I have to express a sincere thank-you to the district association, volunteers, family and friends who worked tirelessly on the campaign and believed in me and my ability to represent the people of the District. A thank you to those who took the time to vote in the past election, no matter which candidate you marked your “x”. I hope in 2015 more people participate in the democratic process and have your voices heard.

First of all, it has been an honour and privilege to work on your behalf these past 365 days. There will be much to do in the remaining years of my term and I look forward to working with you as we work to find co-operative solutions to your issues, ideas and concerns.

Over the past 12 months, I have held Town Hall meetings in each municipality, community meetings and engaged many citizens both in the District and across Newfoundland & Labrador. I’ve been to Municipalities Newfoundland & Labrador’s Convention, Federation of Labour Conference, Combined Council of Labrador AGM, Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committee National Conference and an International Fisheries Symposium.

In Winter, Gerry Rogers, MHA (St. John’s Centre) and I held a Housing Roadshow taking us from St. Anthony, Norris Point, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand Falls-Windsor, Clarenville, St. John’s, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Marystown. Spring brought the opening of the House of Assembly. It was my first sitting of the Legislature and I was the youngest member at 26 years old. I raised issues repeatedly calling for the removal and remediation of the Englee Fish Plant, improvements to Hemo-dialysis service, queries into the Air Ambulance re-location, pressed for roads upgrades, infrastructure, cellular coverage and broadband Internet. Questions were raised about the fishery, forestry, agriculture, Regional Economic Development Boards and other topics.  I also travelled to Placentia and Trinity Bay North. As well as, participated in the Federal NDP Leadership Convention in Toronto where I was a delegate for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, The Leader of the Official Opposition. Come Home Year Celebrations in St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet/Gunner’s Cove, Main Brook & Anchor Point/Deadman’s Cove brought thousands of visitors to the District. It was a pleasure to be joined by Dale Kirby, MHA (St. John’s North) during the St. Anthony Come Home Year celebrations, his tour of the College of North Atlantic and Public Library.

Prior to being elected I called upon the Government to remove and re-mediate the Englee fish plant, questioned Government, presented petitions to the House of Assembly, raised the issue in the media and repeatedly used the social media. I can happily report that the Englee Fish Plant is being demolished and site re-mediated. The people spoke loudly and Government listened. I encourage citizens to continue to bring your issues to my office as your Representative.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi-Vidi) toured fish plants, attended Main Brook & St. Barbe-Forrester’s Point-Black Duck Cove – Pigeon Cove Come Home Year and was guest speaker at our District Association meeting with more than 60 in attendance. Certainly a feeling of growth from the 15 we had in attendance in 2011. George Murphy, MHA (St. John’s East) visited Englee, Roddickton-Bide Arm, St. Anthony and The Straits in September.

I enjoyed the Orange Tent Tour, which kicked off with a fisheries presentation at Humber Elementary, Corner Brook and then visits to Norris Point, Fogo Island, St. Alban’s, Harbour Breton, Grand Falls-Windsor, Old Perlican, Labrador’s south coast, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Main Brook & Anchor Point. I’ve spoken to fishers, plant workers, union reps, processors, aquaculture specialists, operators, industry association reps and Government officials. As a critic for Fisheries & Aquaculture, I certainly have much to learn. It led me to take a personal vacation to Iceland to learn more about their fishery. It included tours of fish plants, fish markets, manufacturing facilities of equipment, advanced systems & services for the industry as well as conversations with locals. I was intrigued by the auction system and how capital is real time, ensuring the fisher always gets paid and the advanced transportation network they have for purchasing and shipping fish. However, I was less enthused by ITQs and how small processors are losing much ground to larger corporations. We can not just look to countries like Iceland and Norway and tout their models, it is not that simplistic. I do believe there are models for change, strength in co-ops, royalty regimes and community-ownership of public resource. We have to begin the dialogue of what we will do to empower rural communities, to enable us to thrive in a modern world.

Today, I knocked doors in Pine’s Cove. It was a pleasure to speak to my constituents at the door step, living room and kitchen table. I look forward to continuing the conversation…we have much to do!

Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done

-Jack Layton

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I still have a strong passion for sharing my stories, photos and rural experiences from the Great Northern Peninsula with you on my blog. Since elected I’ve posted only 76 times to Live Rural NL for a total of 319. Yet, I am astounded to have more than 125,000 readers since the humble start in June 2010. I’d also like to report that my piece “Family – The Cornerstone of Our Lives and Society” has received top billing with 12,934 views. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it yourself: http://liveruralnl.com/2011/07/24/family-the-cornerstone-of-our-lives-society/.

Just last night, my aunt called and said my younger counsin wanted to come in for a visit. I was watching the NTV News, was home alone and could have easily said “no, I’m really not up for company tonight, but instead said yes”. He came in and we played the Game of Life. He started out as a hair stylist straight out of high school earning $30,000 and I earned a college degree as an Accountant earning $70,000. My cousin ended up switching careers and became an athlete, which had a higher salary – but I think for my young cousin the fact that he could imagine being an NHL hockey player was more than satisfactory. I have to say we enjoyed the game immensely - he found buried treasure, wrote a best selling book (which he says was about his career) and won money on a game show. Meanwhile, I ended up in a car accident, with Twins and two other children and travelled to Florida. It was quite a laugh and he ended up with $2.7 Million at retirement, much richer than me. However, playing the game with him was such a reward and reignited the importance of spending time with your family. We later played a couple games of darts before calling it a night.

My blog will continue its focus on the Great Northern Peninsula, it’s people, businesses, landscapes and experiences. I look forward to sharing with you the next post.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA 

The Straits-White Bay North

Advisory: Mitchelmore to visit South Coast

For immediate release

July 13, 2012

 

Advisory: Mitchelmore to visit South Coast

 

NDP Fisheries Critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) takes his Orange Tent Tour to the south coast of the province for a couple of days next week.

 

Mitchelmore looks forward to speaking with people involved in both the traditional fishery and aquaculture. In St. Alban’s, he will meet with the Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association, and with the Business Development Agency. He also plans to visit the Centre for Aquaculture Health and Development in that community.  

 

The MHA hopes to get answers to some questions he has about the current infectious salmon anemia outbreak in the area – in particular, why the diseased fish have not already been taken out of the water to prevent a further spread of the virus to both other aquaculture sites and wild fish, and whether contingency plans to do so are in effect at other aquaculture enterprises.

 

To locate or contact Mitchelmore on his travels, people can follow #orangetenttour on Twitter.

 

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NL NDP Leader & MHA for The Straits-White Bay North to Hold Town Hall Meeting in Goose Bay

Join NL NDP Leader Lorraine Micheal (MHA Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi) and Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA The Straits – White Bay North) as they hold Town Hall Meeting in Labrador this week to hear your concerns, issues and ideas.

Be a part of the conversation…

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Lure of Labrador – When will we be connected?

The Strait of Belle Isle at its shortest distance is just 9 miles of water. In the 1970′s there was drilling on both ends of the Strait to build a tunnel connecting the island to mainland Canada. All of this ended with a change of Government. A tunnel does not appear to be on the radar of Government at any level. It makes practical sense to work with Quebec to cost-share this project as they complete the Lower North Shore Highway, Route 138 in the next 5 or so years.

This completion of this Route will significantly change the way one travels, as commercial traffic will be re-routed from Montreal using this highway and a much shorter ferry crossing. I would even be able to drive to Montreal to see the Habs play the Leafs. With or without a tunnel, there must be appropriate planning to deal with capacity on the Route 138, Route 430 and Trans-Labrador Highway. There are services and business opportunities that will come with these new highways. The opening of the Trans-Labrador Highway saw an increase in 18% ferry passenger traffic in the Strait of Belle Isle from May-October from 65,000 passengers to 77,400. Will we be ready for Route 138?

Why not build a tunnel? They have built the Chunnel connecting London, England to Paris, France by underground tunnel and train. The Scandinavian countries have several underground tunnels spanning a far greater distance than just 9 miles and comparable, if not worse weather conditions. There may be significant cost-savings by completing this project, as the Feds would not need to subsidize Marine Atlantic at their current levels. A greater focus could be placed on passenger traffic and promote tourism, as well as reduce user rates.

As a means to re-ignite economic activity on the Great Northern Peninsula, this is one of the many answers. Newfoundland & Labrador is one province and should be connected. We should be a part of mainland Canada, as is the case with every other province and territory in the country.

In the meantime, I continue to see the Big Land every day when I awake from my bedroom window and the lights twinkle at night. Some day that Lure of Labrador will be that much closer.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Housing Crisis Not Diminishing: Rogers

NDP Housing Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) says weekend news stories emphasize the urgent need for a division of government dedicated to the problems people everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador are having finding places to live.

“We are clearly in the middle of a housing crisis,” Rogers said today. “This is particularly true for seniors and for people with complex needs, but it is an inescapable fact that all around this province, more and more people are unable to find shelter that is both affordable and appropriate to their needs. More and more people are becoming vulnerable to the housing market.”

Rogers says her office receives calls on a daily basis from all kinds of people – seniors, families, young people – at every income level. Housing issues include rental availability, accessibility, the cost of both renting and buying, supportive housing for seniors and people with complex needs and the condition of rental units.

With that in mind, she will be visiting several communities in the province to hear first-hand from people the challenges they are facing. Rogers and NDP MHA Christopher Mitchelmore (The Straits-White Bay North) will hold a series of open meetings beginning this Saturday in St. Anthony, and travelling in the following days to Norris Point, Stephenville, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor (TBA), and Clarenville (TBA).

  • St. Anthony – Saturday, February 4, 2012 2-4 PM St. Anthony Lions Club
  • Norris Point – Sunday, February 5, 2012 2-4 PM Town Hall
  • Corner Brook – Monday, February 6. 2012 7-8:30 LC301 Grenfell Campus

“The provincial government must take action and bring together all levels of government, plus non-profits and business, to solve this problem,” Rogers said. “We are a province of 500,000 people. We can get this right. We can come up with innovative and creative solutions that work for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Should you have questions, please contact Christopher Mitchelmore at cmitchelmore@gov.nl.ca or Gerry Rogers at gerryrogers@gov.nl.ca.

http://www.nl.ndp.ca/nr013112HousingSolutions

Treat Abandoned Englee Plant like the Emergency it is: Mitchelmore

Taken January 26, 2012

NDP Fisheries Critic Christopher Mitchelmore (The Straits-White Bay North) is demanding the provincial government deal with the decaying former fishplant in Englee before something tragic happens in the Northern Peninsula community.

“The Provincial Government has failed to commit to the clean-up of the abandoned Englee fish plant, for which it is ultimately responsible,” said Mitchelmore. “On January 26, the roof of the structure collapsed. This was nearly eight years after the company that had been operating the plant abandoned it. Community representatives have been calling for the plant’s removal ever since, but government is apparently ignoring them.

“It is obvious to me this Government does not have a plan to deal with crisis situations” says Mitchelmore. “This dangerous situation in Englee could have been prevented and should be a lesson for this Government. Nobody was hurt this time, but there’s no guarantee about what will happen next time a portion of that plant falls down.”

Mitchelmore says the situation in Englee should be raising alarm bells in every community in the province with a fishplant. “What will stop Ocean Choice International, for example, from similarly walking away from communities in which it currently does business – or from plants it has closed?” Mitchelmore asked. “The Province must enact legislation to hold companies accountable, especially fish processers that are benefiting from the people’s resource.

“It is time to give communities control over their resources, entering into a royalty agreement with a processor,” he said. “If Government continues to give away our fishery to irresponsible processors, any town in Newfoundland and Labrador could be facing a crisis similar to the one in Englee.”

http://www.nl.ndp.ca/nr012712EngleePlantHazard

Mitchelmore calls for discussion and development in seal industry

NDP Fisheries critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits – White Bay North) says he and his party fully support the commercial seal hunt and he is excited about the potential for the industry as a whole.

“The sealing industry has always been an important aspect of the rural economy and I believe there is still tremendous untapped opportunity,” said Mitchelmore. “Value added business opportunities exist for rural residents, and indeed we already have successful businesses in the industry.”

Mitchelmore stated that when he meets with residents of his district there are ideas for new products but government will need to work with industry stakeholders to help these ideas develop into reality.

“The people I talk to haven’t given up on the sealing industry, and I haven’t given up on the industry. If we work together innovation is possible and good years will lie ahead for sealers and everyone who wants to make a living in the industry,” he said.

Mitchelmore says that while we must continue to work with the federal government to develop new foreign markets, we must also look to developing local markets. “I would really like to see discussions on developing the local markets. Government assistance is needed to help the industry create a plan to build on our humane and sustainable hunt,” he said. “We have to consider all ideas; for example can we reduce regulations for seal buyers in this province which would allow small scale production for untapped niche markets, such as for canned seal meat and bone fertilizers? Can we make it easier for restaurants to feature seal meat?”

The sealing industry has declined in value from approximately $40 million in 2003 to $1.5 million in 2011, largely due to declining export markets. “If we have strong markets here at home, local businesses will be better situated to develop markets around the world. And the one thing we know is that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians support the seal hunt,” Mitchelmore said.

 

Wind Power….Why Not?

During a visit to L’anse Aux Meadows, this photo of an overworked Canadian flag was found. It clearly illustrates the tremendous impact the wind has on that area. In Conche and Englee, I have similar photos of worn out flags by wind. As well, in my own community in the Straits region – flags are replaced on a regular basis due to the consistent amount of wind. So I ask, wind power? Why not?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North


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