Friday, September 30, 2005

Justifications, lame or otherwise

Ed comments in the previous post that it was a Telegram editorial critical of the mail-in voting process that points out that "One enterprising former St. John’s resident not only received a ballot, but voted from Iqualuit (sp), and boasted on the Internet about doing so." Obviously, I have to believe that's me, although they didn't state my name.

Ed points out that I violated the Municipal Elections Act. Several friends of mine (including one who is a law student) point out that I probably broke the law.

Possibly. Probably. But I would like to make one thing was never my intention to boast that I pulled one over on city officials and voted as an act of mischief. This wasn't a nose-tweaking gesture or meant to show-up people. It was never meant to be malicious. It was simply one thing - that I love to vote.

More than 50 per cent of people in the city couldn't be bothered. That's about the same number that weren't bothered during the last federal election in this province. And I will never understand it. Never. It infurates me when people don't vote. For those people who say that voting doesn't change anything, I want to slap them upside the head. Not voting certainly doesn't change much either.

I've always lived by this simple standard: "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about anything the government does to you in between elections."

Ever since I turned 18 I have voted in all but one election that I could. The one I failed in was the 1997 federal election when I was working in South Korea. I did apply for my absentee ballot, but it never arrived. I complained to the embassy, but they said there was nothing that could be done. I'm still pissed about it even though the person I would have voted for lost by 7,000 votes. Doesn't matter. I still feel cheated.

I nearly didn't get to vote in the 2001 municipal election. I moved to St. John's from Clarenville on Sept. 1. I was told I hadn't been a resident of St. John's long enough to vote and that since I was no longer a resident of Clarenville, I couldn't vote there either. It was only when I called Municipal Affairs and threaten to raise holy hell if I didn't vote somewhere that they magically allowed me to vote in Clarenville.

Can I make justifications? Sure. I moved on Aug. 23. It's my understanding that I had to be a resident on Aug. 27 in order to vote. It's only four days, what's the big deal.
Or that I had been a resident the past four years, surely that counts for something.
Or that they sent me the damn ballot, so too bad, I'm using it.
Or that, ultimately, it didn't matter since none of the races were especially close; my one vote didn't decide anything.

But they're merely justifiactions. The fact is, I shouldn't have. But here's another fact - I love my city. I love being able to vote. If that makes me bad or a "criminal," well, I guess I can live with that.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fess up...

Ok, which Telegram reporter is lurking around my blog? I got e-mail today from a friend in St. John's who heard there was a story in Thursday's Telly (he didn't know which reporter it was) about someone from Iqaluit bragging on his blog that he voted in the municipal election. Since I can't imagine there are that many of us (although with all the screw-up with mail-in balloting I'm hearing about, who knows) I imagine that I'm the culprit.

I'm not pissed. If you write it and put it out online, you better expect your words to go strange places you never expected. I'm just curious. And I can't really go and find it myself because, as I've said before, The Telegram site is not exactly the best newspaper site you will find on the internet.

Still, there is something to be said for infamy. I've only been back blogging for about a week and already I'm annoying people. Huzzah!

Bragging rights

A couple of days ago Mark Bragg released his latest CD, called Bear Music. I'm a big fan of Mark's music and consider him up there near the top of my list of best Newfoundland performers. The others would include Colleen Power, Sean Panting and Ron Hynes. I'll give Great Big Sea another shot after I listen to their new record. I suspect I'm like a lot of people in Newfoundland (well, I'm in Iqaluit now, but you know what I mean) when I say their recent recordings have been less than impressive.

Anyway, Mark has a new CD out and I can't wait to listen to it. But it seems I'm going to have to. There are no copies of the CD available here in Iqaluit. Shipping on the CD to get here it will be about $5 and call me cheap, but the days of me paying more than $20 for a CD are done and gone.

So that means the next time either my folks, or Cathy's, sends us one of their care packages, I'll ask for them to get a copy and toss it in. It's a minor inconvience, to be sure, but it illustrates a point I mentioned in columns when working with The Express and that I want to emphasize here.

And it's that Newfoundland musicians are being painfully slow in taking advantage of distributing their music online. Sure a lot of them have websites. A lot of them sell their CDs online. A few even make individual tracks available online to listen to. But very, very few have their music available online to download for a fee.

I can't access PureTracks (I use a Mac, so they don't even let your browse the site), but on iTunes the only Newfoundland bands with records for sale that I can find are Great Big Sea, the Novaks and Shaye. Now, I know iTunes isn't going to list independent artists like Bragg, Power or Panting. And that the start-up costs for a site for people to pay and download songs might be too much for individual artists to afford.

Hell, a previous attempt, such as by John Hutton failed. But there were circumstances behind that one. The idea of paying to download music was radical at a time when you could get most of it for free with some hunting. iTunes wasn't big yet. Also, from what I heard, Aliant gouged him silly on transmission fees.

What would be nice is if another group were to step forward and offer to do this for Newfoundland artists. Perhaps something like The Music Industry Association of Newfoundland (which, upon further looking, hasn't updated its site this year. sigh) or the St. John's Independent Artist Cooperative (If it still exists. I can't find a trace of them online right now and the Rock Can Roll Records website isn't loading) were to step up and do something like this.

Most people want to pay and support local musicians. But fewer people want the actual CD. I don't. Which is the frustrting thing. I don't want to pay shipping, because I'm just going to take the CD, put it into my iBook, rip it, load it into my iPod and then the CD is just taking up space in our tiny apartment.

So yeah, it would be great to go to a site, download the music and then pay for it. And not just new stuff. I was looking for a Fur Packed Action CD before I came to Iqaluit and couldn't find one. I have a worn out tape of Panting's old band, Joyful Noise. I'd love to download it and have it on my iPod. There's a bunch of older Newfoundland Music that I'd love to have made available again.

If Newfoundland Music wants to get out in the world, they're going to have to work harder and making songs available online for downloading. Because fewer people are going to want CDs in the coming years. It's a dying format.

Sears exchange

I'm really enjoying the bashing of Paul Sears in the previous post and because his comments to the media after he lost are priceless. I mean, people didn't vote for him because his name starts with "S" and it was too far down the ballot? Are you fucking kidding me? They managed to find it fine in 2001, Paul. Has the city's collective IQ dippped dramatically in the intervening four years? I'd argue that by tossing you out it's probably gone up a few points.

Still, in honour of Sears finally completely losing it, I present my all-time favourite exchange between Sears and Wells. There might have been longer ones, or exchanges with more passion and fire. But no exchange so aptly summed just how far behind the bell curve Sears was when it came to Wells.

Wells: You're cracked, Sears. Sure no one likes you. No one in Newfoundland likes you at all.
Sears: Your worship, I'd like to remind you that the official name of this province is Newfoundland and Labrador.
Wells: Thanks for pointing that out, Sears. No one in Labrador likes you either.

I had to leave the room for a minute I was laughing that hard. Sears turned beet red and barely said a word for the rest of the evening. Brilliant stuff.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

And now, a moment of silence...

....while I try to catch my breath from laughing so hard that Paul Sears lost last night.


That's better.

I know it's cruel to mock those who have gone down to defeat and at least he offered up his time in public service. But really, he was so bad at it that it's a bit of a mercy. There were many times when covering council that I would turn to one of my fellow reporters after Sears had said/did something spectacularly stunned and go "can you believe this?" The responding look was often one of equal disbelief.

He really was a bad councillor. It felt like Shannie Duff was holding his hand half the time, trying to prevent him from going completely around the bend. I suspect she won't miss him too much. Sadly, Sears likely won't take the hint and go quietly into that good night. He's probably going to have to lose one more time before he finally goes away.

As for the rest of the results, pretty much as suspected. Aaron Rudkin didn't win and I would have been astonished if he did. Still, he's got potential. I hope he tries again in four years. Gerry Colbert did win, and I would have been pleasently astonished if he lost. Ah well.

As for Andy winning, no surprise although Ed Hollett does some mighty fine grousing on his blog about Wells. Look, no one is more aware of Wells numerous faults than I am. He has a temper, is short with people he doesn't respect and rhymes out numbers of dubious validity.

But he's a good mayor. The only time he has been this vulnerably policatlly was in '97 when he ran for mayor the first time. Because of the Stadium/development issues, because of the possibility he would leave the mayor's job for the C-NOPB job. And nobody had the balls to run against him other than Ray O'Neill who is joke that no one took seriously. Nobody thought they could beat him. What does that say about the quality of the job he's doing as mayor?

It says he's doing a good job and that he's a good mayor. That St. John's is better than it was four years ago. Wells creates debate. That's never a bad thing. Can the city be better? Absolutely. But I think the odds of it getting better are greater with Wells than anybody else I've heard interested in the top job.

Oh, and just because I feel like snarky (because lord knows Ed's blog is that way), I'd get use to backing losers on the provincial scene for awhile, Ed. Lord knows I'm nowhere near being a Conservative, but the Liberals won't be getting back into power in this province until the next decade sometime. Rough guess? 2015.

As for other elections, I'm glad to see Paula Tessier get in in Mount Pearl. She's a nice woman and I think she'll do a good job. Maybe she'll introduce some, what's the word I'm looking for, ah, "personality" to the otherwise deathly boring Mount Pearl City Council.

And this one is for Liam...I can't fucking believe Fred Best got acclaimed as Mayor of Clarenville. The Battle to the Death between him and Barb (editor of The Packet.) continues. She's been with the paper for as long as he's been mayor, which is 25 years and counting. I'm still betting Barb will win. She's younger and craftier. But I won't count Fred out. I supect he drinks the blood of virgins or something to keep himself in the game. Disturbing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conversations with Cathy, part 1

Part of what I suspect will be a life-long series...

Craig: It says in this issue of Saturday Night that Mount St. Vincent is offering a cultural studies course in Advanced Evil.
Cathy: Hmmm, do you have to do Basic Evil first?
Craig: I don't know. That's a good question though.
Cathy: I mean, if you want to do Advanced Math, you have to do Basic Math first to see if you're good enough for the advanced class. It only makes sense if you want to do Advanced Evil you would have to do Basic first.
Craig: I wonder what you would have to do in Basic Evil to be "good" enough to qualify for the advanced class?
Cathy: Probably best not to think on it too hard.
Craig: Yeah, you're probably right.

Armed and ready

There were a lot of visitors in town last Friday. I suspect that happens from time to time in Iqaluit. It is the service centre for this part of the arctic. So if there is a conference to be held, its likely going to be here. If there's a large group of people heading to another part of the arctic, odds are they're going to stop over here first. It explains why that for a community of about 6,500 people there are at least four hotels, probably more. And not small hotels either.

So on Friday there was a bunch of military people in town. I thought they might be coming from somewhere up north, but as Cathy pointed out, they had a vaguely dazed look on their face, so it's quite possible this was their first trip up north. Even if you know what you're in for, you can still have that look on your face when you first land in Iqaluit.

I thought they might be army, but judging by the number of Canadian Navy stickers that magically appeared around parts of town shortly after their arrival, I strongly suspect they were navy. Didn't see a vessel off-shore, though, so I don't know where they came from.

Perhaps they were here to protect us from the Danes, who were prowling the waters upset over the Hans Island dispute. It looks like it's going through diplomatic channels now, but you never know...those Greenlanders are sneaky.

It's a good thing that if troubles break out, however, we're ready here in Iqaluit.

I confess I don't know the story behind the building. Perhaps the armory has moved to a more secure location and I haven't spotted it yet. Perhaps armory means something other than what I think it does. All I do know is I saw that building and thought "Yup, welcome to Canada." Here's hoping the Danes don't start to feel agressive. It could get ugly.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Over the edge

During the summer, four of Cathy's friends from her time in Rankin Inlet came to St. John's for our wedding. Which I thought was enormous cool. Granted, they didn't come all the way from Rankin. They were already down south visiting family. But the fact they had known Cathy for less than a year and wanted to come to the wedding I thought was great. And they're very nice people to boot.

After the wedding was over and we could breathe a bit, we took them around to do some sight seeing. That included, of course, Cape Spear. You can't come to St. John's without venturing to the furthest point east in North America (screw what the Greenlanders say).

While we were there they noticed all the signs saying stay behind the fence and don't go out on the rocks. We told them that every few years someone doesn't pay attention, goes out on the rocks and a wave will hit them and that's all she wrote. If the family of that person is lucky they'll find the body before it reaches Ireland. The currents off Cape Spear are vicious, never mind the fact that it's the North Atlantic and the water temperature is a couple of degrees above freezing at this time of the year.

I'm not sure they entirely believed me, perhaps thinking I was pulling their leg a bit, or throwing a few scares their way. Alas, I wasn't.

The signs are there for a reason. Perhaps Parks Canada might want to consider putting up a sign listing the names of all the people who have died going on those rocks in the past 50 years. Might work as a better deterent.

Oh, one last thing. The headline going with the VOCM story is "Tragedy at Cape Spear." I appreciate this sounds a bit cruel, but it's not a tragedy if you're too stunned to pay attention to the signs and go out on the rocks anyway, knowing you could die. But I guess "Needlessly stupid death at Cape Spear" is a bit too wordy.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

There goes the republic...

I'm surprised I'm not hearing more of a flap in the Newfoundland blogosphere or elsewhere about Premier Danny Williams comments in the Saturday Telegram about having no problem with the idea of changing Newfoundand's flag to the Pink, White and Green.

I'd link to the article, but The Telegram does something weird that makes it difficult to link to specific articles. Anyway, here is an exerpt from the story written by John Gushue:

"Premier Danny Williams said he personally supports hoisting the Pink, White and Green as the official flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, although he cautions a change in government policy is another matter altogether.
“'From a personal perspective, I have that preference,'” Williams said Friday, responding to a new petition that calls for the Pink, White and Green to become the province’s flag.

“'I have a personal leaning, but I would have to (gauge) the will of the people. It would be premature to say how we would do that.'”

For the record, the petition can be found here. It's worth noting that the local weekly, The Independent, appears to be at least supporting the petition, if not more. Which makes me kind of wary for reasons I find difficult to properly articulate, but there you go.

I don't know. I understand the history behind the flag and that Newfoundlanders feel more affinity towards it than what we currently have. Hell, Christopher Pratt, who helped design the current flag, doesn't even sound that enthuastic about it, calling it more of a bureaucratic process than an artistic one.

And I appreciate the site isn't encouraging Newfoundland independence, which is so unutterably foolish that it makes my blood boil any time I hear someone advocating it. But I'm not certain this is the right idea.

The flag is a rebel ideal. I think it's more useful as a protest symbol than as a provincial one. Anytime we feel that we're being unjustly treated by Canada, we have that flag to rally behind. And I think that's a good idea. We need that.

If you make the pink, white and green the provincial flag, it loses a lot of its oomph. You're not going to going to see it flying from so many households. All those t-shirts with the flag on it are suddenly going to end up at the back of a closet or donated to Diabetes Clothesline. It won't be quite so cool. It will have lost a lot of its symbolic protest power.

The current flag is a perfect symbol of our relationship with Canada. It's a bit ungainly and we respect it, although there is occasionally a lot of unsatisfaction with it. But it works and it'll do. So why not leave it alone and let the pink, white and green alone. They both serve their purposes. Messing with them won't really help or accomplish much in the long run.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I guess it better be super

I love comic books and the recent boom in comic releated movies has been a joy for me. Even terrible films (Like Elektra) still have a certain fun about them. It has to be really, really, really terrible (ie. Catwoman) for me to want to hurt people.

Plus, we've seen some great movies in the past year. Batman Begins and Sin City were fantastic and will end up on critics end of year list. Hell, even Contantine had its charms. I'm looking forward to seeing the new A History of Violence (based on a little seen graphic novel). I was desperately looking forward to seeing V For Vendetta, but I'm hearing it might be delayed until March 2006, which is unfortunate. Really, if you have a guy wandering around wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and blowing stuff in London as an act of rebellion against an oppressive government, a November 5 (It was suppose to be released Nov. 4, but close enough) date is perfect.

There are several big comic book movies next year. Ghost Rider with Nic Cage (wary of that one) X-Men 3 (wary of that one as well) and Superman. Which, it now seems, is destined to become the most expensive movie ever made.

Don't believe me? Read this article.

Wow. Do you know how much money that's going to have to make to break even? I would guess, and this is rough, at least $700 million worldwide. Movie making accounting is nortoriously crooked. Throw in marketing to the costs (easily another $100 million), but add in DVD sales, rights to the networks and merchandising (toys, clothing, etc) and it's a mess to figure out. But yeah, I think $700 million worldwide is a pretty safe break even point.

How many have done that? Not many.

So good luck guys. You're going to need it. Seriously.

Friday, September 23, 2005

In Memoriam

No, Cathy is fine. However, as many of my friends know, Max, the cat that is getting affection in the picture, died about a month ago. It just seems...negligent on my part to not write something about him.

He was a good cat. I know everyone says that about their cats, but he was. Most guests were astonished how friendly he was. After about five minutes he was usually at your feet, rolled over on his back, looking to get his belly rubbed. He was a very people cat. He didn't like to be left alone and liked attention. Not in a demanding way. More like "I'm lonely and I've missed you" sort of way. My father said he was almost like a puppy in that regard.

I got him in Clarenville in 1998. I had been in the community for a couple of months and was lonely. Although I had dogs most of my life growing up, I knew I worked too long hours and travelled too much to properly take care of a dog. So a cat it was. I actually spent about two months at the excellent SPCA shelter in Clarenville getting to know the different cats. Max adopted me and that was that.

He actually had a buddy I adopted as well, a bigger cat about the same age called Sam (let me know if you get the joke of Sam and Max. So few do). Sam died after a little more than a year of a stomach problem, so then it was just the two of us.

If Max had a problem is that he hated travelling. He was a house cat, so it was rare he was outside. But whenever I had to take him somewhere, he was vocal in his displeasure. I recall one horrific trip into St. John's one weekend. He howled the two hours into town and he howled the two hours back out to Clarenville. Didn't matter what I did - put a blanket over his cage, take to him, give him some gravol - he just hated being in that cage and in a moving vehicle.

Which is what I guess killed him. It was, as things go, a relatively brief trip. St. John's to Montreal. From there a quick flight to Ottawa and then a three hour flight to Iqaluit. I did my research, I thought, on making him comfortable. He was too big to take into the cabin with me which meant he had to go in the hold. And that must have been too much for him. The noise of the plane, the stress of the unknown. I know that on at least two of the flights there were large, noisy dogs also in the hold.

By the time we got him to the hotel in Iqaluit (after a little adventure in the airport where his cage was jostled and he escaped for about 10 minutes before we luckily corralled him) he just collapsed. He mewed a few times and then barely moved after that. He just got weaker over the next two days. There's no vet in Iqaluit. Cathy's parents called a vet in town for us and his advice was to keep giving him water, get him to a vet (obviously not possible) and hope for the best.

No such luck, I'm afraid. On August 25 he died. I was a wreck, so thank god Cathy was there to help. From what we've learned since, this happens sometimes to cats and dogs. That the stress of travel, for lack of a better phrase, just melts their brains. They can't handle it and the stress kills them. I wish I had known that before, but I honestly don't know if it would have made a difference if I had. He couldn't go on the plane with me. And I wouldn't have felt right burdening my father with the cat for what could be years.

I miss him a lot. I miss the company, since it can get a bit lonely up here while Cathy is working. We've talked about getting another pet, but I don't know. I can't really handle a cat right now because I feel like I killed Max. No dogs are allowed in this complex. Both our parents think we should hold off on getting a pet since it will be a problem getting someone to take care of him if we travel as much as we're planning on. Still, we'll see.

Take care, Max...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More on apartments

I mentioned in a previous post about apartment subsidies and the government getting out of that game. Here's something else to take into consideration which happens to directly affect me. According to some people I've spoken with, the Nunavut government actually has positions they need filled, but aren't even advertising them right now. Why? Because of the housing shortage that's happening throughout the territory. Those posting would come with housing, they don't have any, so why bother to advertise for it?

Because if they do fill it and have promised them housing and there is none then they will have to do for them what they did for us last month....put us up in a hotel. Which, as you might have figured, kind of sucks for me in the old job hunt.

We were pretty lucky. It was a very nice hotel (The Capital Suites. I'd recommend it, but it is a bit pricey and you can only book for a week at a time, as I understand it). We also had our apartment in less than a week.

As this article from the oft-quoted Nunatsiaq News points out, there are people worse off than us. One guy I ran into (who knew me from town. He's the hubby of a friend of a friend, if you can follow that) says that he and his wife, also a teacher, are still in a hotel and are being told they might have to wait to Christmas until they find a place. As best I can figure the only difference between us (he's also looking for work) is that we arrived on a Wednesday. They arrived three days later. So dumb luck on our part.

There is an upside to that. The government gives you a nice per diem (a little more than $100 per day, per person) for meals and whatnot. Which is great. However, it is difficult when you have your personal belongings crammed into a small room and when you have stuff you might need or want in storage. Nice for a few weeks, maybe. Kind of sucks if you have to do it for 3-4 months.

So when I carp a bit about the apartment, realize I'm very aware of how much worse it can be.

The good? It's located in what is a main complex in town. There are two apartment buildings, the 6-storey and 8-storey high rise (that's what they're called, honest to God) and government offices (if I get the policy job I appled for, I would work there, meaning I never have to go outside). There is also the pub (the only one in town), a fine dining restaurant (haven't eaten there yet), a convenience store, hotel, two movie theatres, a video rental store, sports equipment store, swimming pool and drug store. Not bad, really.

It's also secure. You need an electronic pass key to enter the apartment complex. That same electonic key is used in the elevator and is only good for your floor (makes it hard to visit the neighbours though). The apartment itself recently had a new coat of paint and was steam cleaned. And we have a bit of a view. Not a great view, but at least we're not staring at the apartment complex across the way, like the people on the other side of the hall have.

The downsides? It's a bit wee. If you ever visited us at our apartment on Bond Street, it's a bit bigger than the first floor of that place. It's going to be interesting to see what the place looks like when the last sealift arrives next weekend.

The walls are also a bit thin. To the right we have two apartments that like their music. The furthest one down has a fixation on Lifehouse's song "Hanging By A Moment", which is played with near clockwork precision every day. The people next door have been playing some sort of bizarre soft pop/country music/Black Sabbath mix.

Beneath us we have the pub, which we are slowly learning to tune out. Starts around 10 pm at night and for the next 2.5 hours we're subject to the dull whomp whomp of bad dance music.

Ah, but to the left we have the winner - the screaming nymphomaniac. I mean, I'm fairly secure in my sexual abilities, but sex three times a day for more than a week was beginning to cause some psychological harm. True, she could have been masturbating, but judging by how much the wall was moving, that was some pretty vigorous masturbation happening.

It's calmed down a bit this week. Either she's left, worn out or moving the bed to the other side of the room has helped.

The size and walls are minor annoyances that we can easily deal with. The final one is a bit more serious. There is a real problem with the air circulation in the complex. So when people smoke (and people smoke a lot in Iqaluit) we get the smell in our room. It comes and goes. For example, it was bad lunch time when Cathy was home, not so bad now as I'm typing. We bought an air purifyer, light scented candles and even crack up the window to let some air in.

The later is an option that's going to vanish in the next few weeks as it starts to snow and the temperature drops below 0 all the time.

It sucks and if it becomes a real problem during the winter then we're going to have to put in for a move. Which is a nuisance, but it's bothering me a bit. It's considerably more unpleasent for Cathy with her allergies.

So there you go. Apartment living. I'll post pictures once the last of our stuff arrives so you can get an idea of how we're cramming everything in.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

That was fast

Dear lord, I've only returned to blogging a few days and already two other bloggers (that I know of) have written about my return. 'Tis weirdness indeed.

Liam O'Brien, who I tortured for a few weeks while he interned at The Packet says nice things about me on his blog. Although, to be fair, I think Barb actually did most of the torturing. She's good at that kind of thing. Thanks for the kind words and I'll take a look at the guy you recommended in the city council election.

John Gushue also has a few kind words to say as well. Although I have to take some exception where he says that I have "forsaken the fast-paced world of the St. John's media for the, um, fast-paced world of Iqaluit." He insuating that life here isn't fast paced.

Lies, I tell you. Why, just read this article. It's just action packed around here, I tell you. However, since a lot of the people driving cars around here are probably from Newfoundland, you can safely assume that most of them drive like they're marginally sane...just like they do back home.

Up we go

My friend Hans spotted this article, or something like it, and asked if it was going to affect myself and Cathy.

The short answer is...yup.

A little history here for people to understand. Some Government of Nunavut jobs come with housing. That means the government will find you a place to live and subsidize part of the rent. Now, not every government job comes with this, but it so happens that Cathy, as a teacher, qualifies. There's also a massive housing shortage going on up here, but more on the consquences of that in another post.

The subsidy is not bad. A one bedroom apartment in Iqaluit probably goes for about $1,600. We're paying less than $1,000. Which is still freaky considering our apartment is about half the size of what we had on Bond Street in St. John's, but 50 per cent more to rent. But I digress. Things work differently up north.

Come January, our rent is going up 15 per cent, or about $140 a month. That's continuing until 2010, when the government will be out of the housing subsidy market in Iqaluit.

This editorial argues it's going to cause pain, but that it will be a good thing in the long run and I see the logic in their arguments. Still, it's kind of freaky to people like us who just got up here and discovering that one of the nice things about being up here, a subsidized apartment, is going to vanish. Especially since I'm still an unemployed bum who still hasn't gotten his ROE from his last employer.

It's also worth noting the government has tried this before and backed down in the face of the backlash. There are already rumblings from some people I've overheard that another one is in the making. So it should be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few months.

It does mean some rethinking. For example, if I land a government job, we would qualify for a two bedroom apartment. We were going to apply because the extra space would be nice. Now, we have to decide if it's going to be worth the considerable extra cost. After the subsidy is removed I imagine a two-bedroom place will cost around $2,500.

We'll also have to decide whether or not we'll take the plunge and buy a house or condo. We had a five year plan which we're now going to have to reevaluate. It's going to be interested to see what incentives the government is going to offer to encourage home ownership. I've seen modest houses for sale here in the $500,000 range. I think they're going to need some pretty impressive incentives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Voting block

I've had several friends ask me if I miss St. John's yet or being a journalist. And the answer to both, truthfully, is no. I made my peace with leaving months ago. There was no option to stay. It would have, inevitably, led to myself and Cathy breaking up and that wasn't happening. So deal with it and move on.

I also don't miss being a reporter too much. Lord knows I needed the break. I had been doing it for almost seven years straight and was getting burnt out. Having said that, I do wish I was back in town covering the St. John's City Council election. Because there is nothing more fun than an election when you're a journalist. And municipal elections tend to be the most fun of all because, as Rick Mercer once wisely pointed out, anyone who runs for town council is normally a bit touched in the head.

I mean that stuff with Ray O'Neill vandalizing the campaign posters of Doc O'Keefe? Priceless. Especially since:
A. He got caught. No one gets caught vandalizing campaign posters.
B. He's not running against O'Keefe
C. He spelt "liar" wrong.

Still, it looks like a dull mayor's race since no one in their right mind could want O'Neill to be mayor, even if you hate Andy. But I've been trying to follow along as best I can so I can vote.

Vote, you say? "But Craig, you don't live in St. John's anymore. How can you vote?"

Well, for a number of reasons. First, as a reporter with The Express, I've probably been to more city council meetings than 99 per cent of the people in St. John's. I've seen the councillors up close. I've interviewed and chatted with them. I've seen the stuff that goes on and is said during meetings that the cameras don't pick up. So that gives me the ability to cast a well informed ballot.

Secondly, I lived there for most of my life (hence the "Townie Bastard" of the blog. I am one. Really). If you give me a chance to cast a vote deciding how my home city is going to be run, I will do it. I will do it if they still send me a ballot 10 years from now and I'm living in New Zealand. St. John's is in my blood.

And third...they sent me a ballot. Not here, of course, but to an old address in St. John's. So I'm voting, damn it. But still, you might want to seriously look at that mail in ballot system. That's two elections in a row that have been severely screwed up.

So who am I voting for? Well, what the hell, here's who I got so far.

Mayor - Andy Wells. And you know what? I would have voted for him if Withers and stuck around or if Colbert had shown a sliver of guts and ran. Because while he is a loud mouth and a bully, he's smart, cares passionately about the city and has a great sense of humour. And all he does his create intense, firey debate on topics important to the city. Whether you agree with what council is doing, odds are the one thing you can't say is that it wasn't debated thoroughly and passionately.

Deputy Mayor - Denis O'Keefe. I like Doc. There are times I wanted to hurl things at him during council meetings to get him to stop talking, but again, he has passion and brains. He'll make a good DM.

Ward 2 - Frank Galgay. Frank is dull and I dread when he gets up to talk because it's going to be long and ponderous, but he's basically a nice, friendly guy. Also I don't know enough about his opponent to vote for him. Plus, Frank nearly got parking fees recinded for downtown residence, something I never thought would happen. So points for that.

Aaron Rudkin. I kid you not, the most intelligent interview I did the past year was with him. People might not give him a break because he's 19 or 20 years old. But he's smarter than nearly everyone else currently on council. Ignore the age and give him a break.
Tom Hann. Mainly because my good friend Anne Martin says to vote for him. He was part of the Liberal party that help run the province into the ground the past few years, but I'll cut him slack because of Anne. She's an elecellent judge of character.

I honestly don't know about the other two to vote for. I might give Shannie a chance. I think she's out of touch with most people in the city, but her passion for heritage buildings is useful to have on council. She's also one of the few able to keep up with Andy.

I won't be voting for Hickman, who might as well have been a ghost, he did so little on council. It won't be Sears, who is, frankly, a joke. He set himself up as the man to keep Andy in place. Yet, repeatedly, Andy ran circles around him. Andy needs someone to call him on stuff, to let him know when he's going too far and to be smart enough to keep up. It isn't Sears. He genuinely isn't as smart as Well, or as quick on his feet. He's a joke on council and it would be a mercy for all concerned if he was removed.

And I have nothing but contempt for Colbert. He's running for Councillor-at-Large for family and work reasons. Bullshit. He did polling and couldn't beat O'Keefe for DM and the same polling said he couldn''t beat Wells. So he scurries back to at-large hoping Wells quits sometimes soon or, worse case scenario, he can run for the mayor's job in 2009 when Wells steps down. If Wells gets the CNOPB job and steps down as mayor (I like Wells, but I have real issues if he does that in the first year of being mayor) just watch how quick Colbert's family suddenly find time for him to go and be mayor. It'll be a miracle.

He's gutless and I hope he's turfed.

So if anyone has a suggestion, let me know. But if your suggestion is someone who has made it a central part of their platform to overturn the Memorial Stadium decision, don't bother. The stadium is a done deal. Get over it and move on.

Monday, September 19, 2005

So, what's new?

So it's been awhile. About, oh, six months. Apparently I hit the same wall that most bloggers do and simply stop writing. Which is a pity because it's not like the past six months have been dull or anything.

Let's see, there was:
1. A week in the Dominican Republic.
2. Cathy's return from the north
3. Packing and shipping of stuff for the move to Iqaluit.
4. Packing and moving more bloody stuff up north, including a car.
5. Quitting my job at The Express
6. Getting married.
7. Moving up to Iqaluit.
8. Trying to find a new job here.

Well, the last one isn't too exciting, but the others kept us hoping all summer. Easily the most hectic, most bizarre and yet most fun summer in ages.

My friend Corey pointed out that it would have been a good time to be blogging, to try and keep a record of everything that went on. But honestly, as good an idea as that is, there simply wasn't the time in the day. Plus, I had no internet access at home that summer (Aliant's much vaunted high-speed access wasn't available when I stayed with dad in Virginia Park, and not when myself and Cathy were living near the Village Mall. Colour me unimpressed).

So what's the latest? We're living in an apartment in Iqaluit. Cathy is happily teaching. I'm looking for work, which is going to require some patience. But it'll happen.

So what's next for this blog? Well, I'll try and keep abreast of what's happening back home. I dearly wish I could be covering the municipal election, although it looks a bit dull so far. Online local news outlets are a bit thin on content, alas. I'll also be writing observations of life in Iqaluit and the usual pop culture stuff. I have new TV to rant at. And Iqaluit does have theatres so I can still review movies, although some of them might be coming up a bit late.

In other words, I'll try and do better this time. Besides, I figure this might be as good as e-mail for keeping people up-to-date with things.

And for people who want to know what Iqaluit looks like, or how the wedding went, go here