Cheers & Jeers

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Cheers: to community revival. There’s a party atmosphere in Placentia these days as the town celebrates a brand new mega-project for the old Argentia naval base. Husky Energy announced Thursday it will build the concrete platform there for its $2.5-billion West White Rose development. There was standing room only at the Star Hall as people gathered for the announcement. Since the late 1980s, the Placentia area has had its fair share of downturns. The ERCO phosphorus plant in Long Harbour closed in 1989, the cod moratorium hit in 1993, and the Argentia U.S. naval base shut the following year. Now, there’s a nickel plant in Long Harbour and a major industrial tenant for Argentia harbour. Thanksgiving weekend, indeed.

Cheers: to Alice Munro. Already a household name around the world, the Canadian novelist’s brand hit the stratosphere last week when she was declared winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Munro won for her masterful works of short fiction. “Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov,” the Swedish Academy said in its assessment. Sadly, the 82-year-old Munro, who’s experienced a number of health problems in recent years, says the award won’t bring her out of retirement. But she does hope the award helps raise the profile of Canadian writers around the globe.

Jeers: to questionable investments. If you think the Newfoundland government is bad for throwing money away, consider this: the Ontario government is about to subsidize gambling. That’s right, Premier Kathleen Wynne says the government may contribute up to $400 million over five years to help prop up the province’s struggling horse-racing industry. According to the National Post, a committee report says betting on horse racing has a long history and suggests the industry and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. work together to maximize the potential of tracks as gaming centres and add new gaming options. As Post columnist Andrew Coyne mused, “Why don’t we subsidize smoking next?”

Jeers: to medicinal scams. No, not big, bad conventional medicine, but alternative remedies. When scientists from the University of Guelph scoured the DNA in a number of herbal products, they found that many times the labels on the merchandise didn’t accurately reflect what was in the container. In fact, sometimes there wasn’t even a trace of what was on the label. (And we’re not talking about homeopathic solutions which, as everyone knows, contain nothing but water.) Of 44 products examined, by 12 different companies, a third were not quite as advertised. A few even contained substitutions, like powdered alfalfa instead of gingko biloba. “It says gingko biloba ... and we didn’t find any gingko DNA at all in the bottle,” said lead author Steve Newmaster, quoted by The Canadian Press. It all makes one wonder … does any of this stuff really work at all?

Organizations: Argentia, Husky Energy, Swedish Academy National Post Ontario Lottery and Gaming University of Guelph Canadian Press

Geographic location: Placentia, Long Harbour, U.S. Newfoundland Ontario

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