Category Archives: Politics
As Eddie Coffey would say, yesterday was a “Grey Foggy Day”. I woke up to a dense fog, thick clouded sky and not a draft a wind. Although, I could hear the little motorboats gradually leave the wharf in my tiny little fishing village of Green Island Cove. As the afternoon approached, it was clear that today was the day to participate in the recreational cod or what in Newfoundland and Labrador is commonly referred to as the food fishery.
A few weeks each summer the Feds designate a time when Newfoundlander’s and Labradorians can take to the water and catch just five fish per person, per day with a maximum of 15 per boat if there are three or more people in each boat. The concept of the food fishery and the heavy regulations are a constant frustration of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
My father was a commercial fisher. In fact, everyone ancestor down my family line on my father’s side was a fisher, stemming all the way back to Southern England. My father and I would go out fishing post-moratorium (post-1992) for a few weeks each summer to fish a nominal quota allocated to commercial fishers capped at a few thousand pounds per week until the overall quota was caught. Since his passing, my only option to catch my five cod like everyone else, as I’m the only person in my family line that never had the option of becoming a fisherman.
As a politician, I constantly speak with fishers and hear their frustrations with the lack of communication in Ottawa regarding our fishery. I hear how abundant the cod is and how much larger they are and this was solidified yesterday when I took to the water to catch my own five fish.
There is a sense of belonging each time I’m on the water. It is certainly in my blood to continue to practice our traditional ways of culture, heritage and way of rural living. One of the reasons I left Edmonton to return to Newfoundland was to be close to the water.
We did not go far to catch our cod, just off Green Island – it is the small piece of land in which our community is named. After a little while tugging on the line, we hooked some – in fact, I got a double!
There were many little fishing boats all around us, including the blowing sound of a whale. The fish were full of herring and caplin. The fish and whale were feasting! It did not take too long to catch our 10 fish, we got 5 a piece and they were some size! I remember jigging with Dad some 17 years ago, but the cod were not as large as these – only a scattered one would the size depicted below.
Cod fish are larger, more abundant and it appears no one is listening. How can it be that so few nets are being used and commercial cod quotas are being filled in days? It’s beyond time to focus on how Newfoundland and Labrador deals with a return of the cod. Iceland has been quite success with their cod fishery and it continues to evolve.
Up on the wharf we showed our catch, gutted the cod, kept the britches and looked forward to a meal. Until we get change at the Federal level, Newfoundlander’s and Labradorian’s will be forced to take a paltry five fish a day.
Something has to change, because 5 fish does not cut it for a resource that sustained us for more than 500 years.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
On March 21st, The Western Star newspaper broke a story of a “Treasured gift gone: Woman loses seal skin purse at border”. Nora Fitzgerald’s story of loss gained national national attention and was covered on all major news outlets. This woman had her seal skin purse confiscated at the border and was later fined $250 by the USA Department of Commerce.
The Western Star listed myself as a major proponent for the hunt, and promoter of seal products. I have taken strong stands against celebrities, citing, “our seal harvest is sustainable, humane, and well-regulated”. I was aware of the legislation, and stated there should at least be leniency for personal items. My seal skin boots depicted in the image below are those of my fathers. He passed away more than 15 years ago. The boots are still in excellent condition close to two decades later. These natural materials are environmentally friendly, no harmful chemicals are being used and they are all made by hand supporting local cottage industries and preserving traditional skills. I certainly sympathize with Ms. Fitzgerald, because I don’t know what I would do if I lost such a sentimental and functional item as my father’s seal skin boots.
The USA Marine Mammals Protection Act, 1972 lists seals as an endangered species. The regulation needs updated some 43 years later given the exceptional increase to seal population. The harp seal population has nearly quadrupled since the population lows of about two million seals in the early ’70’s. The seal harvest has been well-managed and annual quotas are allocated based on science.
In the House of Assembly, I pressed the matter with the following question:
Mr. Speaker, recent news show our seal products are confiscated at the US border for breaching the Marine Mammals Protection Act, 1972. The act inaccurately deems our seals as endangered. In fact, in 1994, the US amended the act to permit Alaskans to take seals.
I ask the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs: Will he make representation to the federal government to ask the US to review the facts on the seal population that would permit a regulation change, given that our seals are surely no different than the Alaskan seals? Read more…
Members of our caucus are steadfast with support. My colleague, the Member for St. Barbe called into an Open Line radio show to explain this situation further and our MHA responsible for Fisheries and Aquaculture drafted a letter that had copies sent to the Federal Government.
Federal Minister Rob Moore, MP, who is responsible for representing NL interests at the cabinet level as our Regional Minister has answered the call and taken appropriate action. CBC reports:
Minister Moore has asked for the return of this purse and that the US Border Agency stop confiscating our seal skin products.
I applaud the actions of Minister Moore and encourage others to continue to be part of the on-going dialogue. Sealing is an important industry in Newfoundland & Labrador, that is culturally and economically significant.
For those wishing to purchase their own seal skin, can visit GNP Craft Producers, Shoal Cove East, a non-profit from The Straits-White Bay North www.gnpcrafts.ca Tours are also available and you can watch local people, make local products.
I’ll continue to be an advocate for sealers, for Newfoundlanders & Labradorians and Canadians as we advance the industry. It truly is part of the fabric of the Great Northern Peninsula and rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
I continue to scan back through a collection of thousands and thousands of photos I took throughout 2014 and realize it was a very full year. Although, without a little luck, this would not be possible given in September my laptop of 3.5 years decided to call it quits. The ACER certainly did its duty, given I purchased it with a printer for $350. I was able to temporary restore it until I packed up the data on an external hard drive, more than 40,000 photos saved :).
September when the students return to school brings lots of activity. I started September in the Gros Morne area to enjoy a nice Labour Day weekend. It was filled with music, pleasant surroundings, good food and good company. One couldn’t ask for much more than that. I returned to the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula to spend some time at St. Anthony Hospital, Grenfell Handicrafts, exploring Fishing Point, wildberry tasting at Dark Tickle and getting my java fill at Coffee in the Cove. I returned to St. John’s for meetings and to also participate with the the Mayor of Main Brook and Research and Development Corporation Member for the wharf divestiture, which saw $675,000 and ownership of this asset be given to the corporation.
There were new fire trucks and fire gear, more road work and many constituency tours, from the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve to Englee to St. Anthony and all places in between.
One other highlight that stands out for me, is my participation in the 1st Roddickton-Bide Arm Run/Walk. As a cross-country runner in high school, I decided to run the 5 KM race. It was a little more difficult that I imagined, but I made it in the end to place 6th overall and 1st in the male over 20. I think it gave me a realization how important physical fitness is in our daily lives, whether walking or running we should all strive to do more. Since it is a new year, I plan to lace up the new running shoes my sister gave me for Christmas. She must be confident I’ll need them, because she gave me two pairs!
October is always a favourite month of mine, it is my birthday, my sister’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Small Business Week and a host of other activities are well underway. I spent time during the month connecting with our fishery, health care and hosted a series of seniors forums. I saw new infrastructure develop in terms of a highway depot on the Northern Peninsula East, a watershed for Roddickton-Bide Arm, more roads got paved and redevelopments continued at Curtis Memorial. I engaged in conversation with Author Earl Pilgrim about this new book Josephine, which I just completed a couple of days ago. There were flat tires, volleyball tournaments, Municipalities NL conferences, firefighter appreciation dinners, Big Bike Rides, town hall meetings, Season Finales and tourism sessions. There were also receptions and campaign launches, three by-elections were looming. It provided an opportunity to visit Winterton, Whiteway, Bay de Verde and Conception Bay South.
There were haunted houses to tour at Flower’s Cove Youth Centre, church services with friends and family in St. Lunaire-Griquet. As well a major 50th celebration for the St. Anthony and Area Lions Club and for the first time Canon Richards hosted the Provincial Student Leadership Conference. All this happened, as I turned 29! I have never had more than 300 people sing me happy birthday before – thank you. It was an amazing week and I thoroughly enjoyed being a local tour guide. Also in October, I found time to make my very own glass art product at Glacier Glass in Englee and received a copy of Dale Jarvis’ book “Any Mummer’s ‘lowed in?”, which has a number of my photos and lines from an interview I did with him in January. It certainly was another highlight to have the Great Northern Peninsula included in part of this work!
Halloween was a wonderful holiday, as I handed our Steve Crocker Scaries and met lots of people. I toured the Town of Dildo and handed out treats in Paradise before the month came to a close.
November came with the gift of giving. I made the trek to Bay Roberts, as the Bay Robert’s Fire Department had donated two suits and a third jacket to the St. Lunaire-Griquet Fire Department. I was also given a wonderful tour of the town by Councillor and Mayor about their business park development planning, their tourism attractions, businesses, subdivisions and infrastructure. I was greatly impressed by this community and their spirit of giving. Thank you!
There was also more time visiting people at the door steps as the by-election in CBS came to a close and resulted in the election of our member, Rex Hillier to the team. I also attended the two-day NL Forum hosted by the Harris Centre. It is where I met Gerald Anderson, native of L’Anse aux Meadows who will be honoured with the Indspire Award, early in the new year. I attended remembrance day ceremonies in St. Lunaire-Griquet and in St. Anthony, as well the annual hockey tournament, Salvation Army dinner. The Mayflower Inn celebrated a milestone of 40 years in business. I spent time door knocking in Trinity-Bay de Verde and Humber East, which ultimately saw the election of MHA’s Steve Crocker and Stelman Flynn. There was also a Night with Dwight fundraiser, talks with craft producers with MHA Paul Lane at the Arts and Culture Centre and much happening in the House of Assembly.
I picked up my completed glass art poinsettia and coasters, visited residents at Richfell Place and closed off November by attending the Regional Community Youth Centre, Flowers Cove where I tied a ribbon for those who serve at the annual tree lighting.
December seems like only yesterday. I met Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl Liberal Candidate and former host of CTV’s Canada AM Seamus O’Regan, Miss Teen NL Alaina Joe, fundraisers in Mount Pearl and helped with the Community Food Sharing Association and their food drive efforts.
I visited the Mummer’s Festival Seminar by Dale Jarvis at the Rooms. As well, there were more firefighter appreciation dinners, firefighter schools and even ticket draws for Search and Rescue. I saw more caribou, laid a wreath at the cemetery to remember fallen soldiers, decorated my Christmas tree, rigged up the Christmas lights, put together a gingerbread house and wrapped presents. There was also parade, after parade, after parade. I was able to attend St. Anthony, Flower’s Cove, Conche, Main Brook, Roddickton, Bide Arm, Savage Cove and Anchor Point. I would have also taken in St. Lunaire-Griquet and Englee but their postponements made it impossible. Scheduling conflicted with my ability to attend L’Anse aux Meadows-Straitsview-Hay Cove and Noddy Bay’s parade. I also took in the visit from Santa at Green Island Cove. Visits were made with all the residents of Shirley’s Haven, Roddickton House and Ivy Durley Place. We took in the St. Anthony Hospital Tree Lighting, St. Lunaire-Griquet Tree Lighting, as well the grand opening of a reading room at Truman Eddison Memorial. There were visits to schools and celebrations for our Christmas card winners and their classes with more than 150 submissions there were 10 winners and visits to the Girl Guides, White Hills Academy, Truman Eddison Memorial, Mary Simms All-Grade, Cloud River Academy, HG Fillier and Canon RIchards.
Lion’s Members and Authors were recognized, there were visits to St. Anthony Bight, Raleigh and many communities in between. I attended the swearing-in of two more colleagues at Government House, attended a health care forum in St. Anthony and conducted the people’s work in the House of Assembly.
Residents of Pine’s Cove and Eddies Cove East are quite happy with the option now of high-speed Internet. All indications are more is to come in the very near future. Let’s keep working together to find solutions to advance our transportation and telecommunication needs in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. It will lead to a stronger economy and stronger communities.
It has been a very busy year, with many successes along the way. A few posts could not capture all the conversations or happenings on the Great Northern Peninsula. It does give one a glimpse of rural living and how busy were are as small communities, ensuring we do our part for a brighter tomorrow.
I had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends. I finished Earl Pilgrim’s book Josephine and Michael Crummey’s Sweetland. As well, we celebrated our 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk in Sandy Cove! There was lots of feasting, music and happy times. Before the year closed though, I did catch a cold as I usually do. So I’ve been recovering and look forward to starting 2015 just like I did in 2014 with lots of hope and a plan for hard work!
I’ll do my best to keep you informed and keep my blog updated. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is alive! Full of culture, tradition and the Great Northern Peninsula is truly a place you will want to experience.
Happy New Year,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
A lot can happen in a year and 2014 was filled with adventure, travels, issues and accomplishments for this rural Newfoundlander & Labradorian.
July begins with a wreath laying to remember those fallen Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, as well is a celebration of Canada’s birthday. This year, I spent the festivities parading around the Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm and also the events at Town of Main Brook. Each evening my family members both Mitchelmore’s and Way’s are invited to converge for a relatively new tradition of a bbq in the shed and fireworks! It is always fun to spend time with my family, they are a whole lot of fun to be around!
July is also the Annual Grenfell Heritage Days in St. Anthony, it is always a great fundraiser for much needed hospital equipment. I also view greenhouses, gardens, lumberyards and icebergs. I went cod jigging and enjoy a kitchen party in the gear shed at Green Island Cove. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the community come together for a random summer occurrence like that night. There must have been 100 plus people having a scuff, playing an instrument or having a yarn. You never know what unique experience may just pop up in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Tourism was in full-swing giving me the opportunity to visit Raleigh, Ship Cove, St. Lunaire-Griquet and L’Anse aux Meadows for some of the Peninsula’s finest attractions, foods and unique landscapes. There is no place like the Sortie Tearoom and its company. This place does the mind, heart and soul a world of good. Thank you Mark and Linda for being so very wonderful.
July came with the planning of a 50th Wedding Anniversary Party for my grandparents, a slideshow which must have taken 50 or more hours to produce and a family reunion. More than 150 Way Family Members converged for an unforgettable weekend, 25 years since the last!
At the end of July, I flew to Ireland on Westjet’s $400 return seat sale, a place I’ve been many times and it will always be a place where there are some Irish connections. The last day of July brought another reunion with a friend I met in Prague in 2007. I stayed several days in Switzerland with him and his girlfriend. They provided me with a very authentic Swiss experience. It was truly unforgettable! My last day of July was on lake Brunnen, sailing. Oh, what fun!
August kicked off with a brilliant fireworks display in Switzerland. I was in the country as they celebrated their national holiday. I took a boat tour to the Rutlii, the place where Switzerland was founded in 1291. There were numerous dignitaries including the President of the Swiss Parliament, in which I took some time to share conversation. Traditional Alp Horns, Clothing, Song, Food, Entertainment and Flag Displays dominated the special ceremony. My friends and I took a river cruise instead of the train to our home where more fire works would be fired off from the rooftops. My Swiss vacation also included visiting a farm, riding a mountain cable car and enjoying my friend’s 30th birthday at Lake Lucerne.
My holiday continued with a bus to Liechtenstein for some incredible R&R, and a high-speed train ride to Budapest for a magical five days to experience culture, vernacular architecture and fall in love with all my surroundings. 🙂
I enjoyed a trek of the fjords at Western Arm Brook, the Arches Provincial Park and the opening of the Eddies Cove Come Home Year, St. Lunaire-Griquet Mussel Festival and the Goose Cove Garden Party. I toured Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, as well, L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. There is tremendous beauty along our walking trails like the berry patches, Inukshuk or root cellars like the photos below from Goose Cove.
I visited Stephenville, Stephenville Crossing, St. George’s and other communities campaigning for now MHA Scott Reid. I ended up tenting and enjoying the sights, sounds and surroundings of the beautiful West Coast. On the 23rd my grandparents would celebrate 50 years of marriage. August also brought much municipal pavement in Conche, St. Anthony, Roddickton-Bide Arm and work in Flower’s Cove would continue throughout the Fall. A 25′ wharf extension was granted for Conche. We saw a little free library pop-up at Consumer’s Co-op in Flower’s Cove and the Burnt Cape Cafe, Raleigh. My friends arrived from Alberta and we spent the weekend in Woody Point, Trout River and Norris Point. More beauty on the West Coast.
I’ve spent summer travelling all over The Straits-White Bay North, the West Coast, a little time in St. John’s and some European travels. It was a well-rounded time to connect, experience with people and places at the doorsteps, at business, in community and at special events. Summer is truly bustling in Newfoundland and Labrador!
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The last day of December on the Great Northern Peninsula was pretty bone chilling, approaching minus 20 degrees Celsius. Life in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador is quite unpredictable, just like the weather. A few days ago, we were plus 10 degrees, at freezing and now in a deep thaw. One only has to look from their window to Labrador and see the natural phenomena of the Strait of Belle Isle freezing. Usually by February pack ice will be so thick, that people are brought back to the days of Grenfell and his adventures via dog team and the delivery of the winter mail over these temporary sheets of ice. One day we will be permanently connected to Labrador and the rest of mainland Canada.
Our people were and are visionaries, leaders and community developers of the North. 2014 has truly proven the strength of the Great Northern Peninsula.
Here are some of my 2014 Highlights:
January brought us chilling temperatures, power outages to hundreds of thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador households and the resignation of Premier Dunderdale. We saw caribou re-appearing in the region and also the opening of the Strait of Belle Isle Health Centre in Flower’s Cove and work continuing on the Strait of Belle Isle Cable Crossing in Shoal Cove East.
February was full of farewells, new beginnings and family vacation, more snow and of yes, time at the hockey rink. A legacy had ended as we wished Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Mary O’Keefe well in their retirements after dedicated decades of their lives to the people of the North. On February 4th, I made an official political announcement that I had joined Dwight Ball and the Liberal Team after sitting months as an Independent Member of the House of Assembly. It was the first time in a very long-time that my mother, sister and I had a family vacation. It was a wonderful time to celebrate Mom’s birthday and explore the sunny south and Caribbean seas, only to return to mountains of snow.
March renewed my support for the seal hunt, as I attended the 100th Anniversary of the Great Sealing Disaster. I continue to wear my seal skin boots during the winter months. A lot of causes get much attention in March on the Great Northern Peninsula, from local Lion’s Club carnivals, St. Anthony’s Winterfest, Randy Simms was Guest Speaker at the Chamber AGM, 10th Annual Ride to Support Breast Cancer Research, Sandy Cove Janeway Ride, Roddickton-Bide Arm boasted snowmobile races and of course, there were by-election races. I was joined by MHA Lisa Dempster to tour the District and talk about common issues pertaining to delivery of health care. Additionally, frigid temperatures brought water woes and led to increased pot holes on some of our roadways. Thankfully, summer would bring much blacktop and repairs.
April was filled with Easter Hockey Tournaments from St. Barbe, St. Anthony, Placentia,St. John’s and Torbay! It also was the month Cathy Bennett was elected as MHA for Virginia Waters. It was also the month when Route 430 the Viking Trail had collapsed, cutting off traffic for a number of hours while emergency repairs were conducted. There were sustainable fishery forums and many constituency visits. Official Opposition Dwight Ball came and visited the College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus, toured Curtis Memorial Hospital and delivered an address at the Chamber of Commerce. There were charter nights, church concerts, election of Legionnaires, new loader for Main Brook, century old business in Englee changed ownership and a tapestry was created to commemorate the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.
May on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is filled with weekly high school graduations, tournaments, annual general meetings, fundraisers and a flurry of activity relating to fish processing and production, wildlife and an abundance of tourism. I also got to do a taping with Snook Ol’ Man, served up treats at McHappy Day, judged Heritage Fair projects and sampled traceable seafood with MHA Sam Slade!
June brought lots of icebergs to the Great Northern Peninsula, lots could be seen in the Straits, St. Carol’s, Great Brehat, St. Anthony, Goose Cove, Croque, St. Julien’s, Conche, Englee and elsewhere. The Iceberg Festival continued to thrive with iceberg sculptures, painting, iceberg hunters, tastings, the Wonderbolt Circus and more! I met up with the former Member for the District and past Lieutenant-Governor Ed Roberts, attended the Annual Reviews for Sea Cadets and Air Cadets. A successful campaign saw 1550 Liberal supporters vote in four hours during the candidacy nomination, selecting myself as the candidate in the next general election. This was more votes than I received in the 2011 General Election.
There were culinary adventures, encounters with new authors, coffee shop visits and Radio Quirpon. One year childcare centre anniversaries and 20 years for another! Fires, friendships, golden sunsets and the wonderful legacy for Wes Eddison in the completion of his old-fashioned motorboat (may you Rest In Peace dear friend).
I’ll continue with the second half of 2014 highlights in a future posts, from Family Reunions, 50th Anniversaries, European travels, fishing, by-elections, broadband and so much more. There is lots happening on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Come for adventure, hospitality and fall in love – you’ll want to stay awhile.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North