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EDITORIAL: Cheers & Jeers Sept. 21

Memorial University will see the vast majority of students learning online this fall — but some will be required to return to campus.
Enrolment is up at Memorial University this fall, despite the pandemic. — Telegram file photo

Memorial University is empty and full at the same time

Cheers: to big numbers. They may not hold up completely once we reach Wednesday (the last day that Memorial students can pick up and drop classes) but for right now, Memorial University has hit a peak enrolment of 19,429 students, only the second time the university has crossed the 19,000 mark. In any other year, the sheer number of students would make the campus a crowded and bustling place; the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made this province’s university a virtual ghost-town of empty halls and vacant parking lots. It’s a disturbing comparison, for sure.


Cheers: to relief from COVID-19. Well, just when we were getting worried for their personal finances, it turns out that Canada’s billionaires have had a massive turnaround. The 20 wealthiest Canadians were suffering through a downturn, but it now seems their fortunes have increased by a combined $37 billion, according to Forbes, since the COVID-19 lockdown began. Thank goodness that the turnaround came before we had to set up a GoFundMe campaign to keep them in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.


Jeers: to bad, bad, bad drivers. Well, we may have had a case where a driver fleeing the police hit 175 kilometres an hour on the Trans-Canada last week, but at least that driver was awake. Not so in Alberta: in that province, an RCMP officer noticed an apparent self-driving car speeding at 150 km/h, with “both front seats completely reclined” and “both occupants appearing to be asleep.” The car, a 2019 Tesla Model S, pulled over when police woke the driver with a police siren. The 20-year-old driver has been charged with speeding and dangerous driving. Provinces that do allow semi-autonomous driving cars as a pilot project still require a driver to be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time. It’s funny that, in a time when we can build cars that can virtually drive themselves, no one has come up with built-in technology to halt grossly excessive speeding.


Cheers: to private sector offers. So, once again, Dean MacDonald is offering to buy Mile One Stadium, the city’s regular multi-million-dollar money pit. Year in, year out, the facility’s needed regular city subsidies, and that’s not going to change anytime soon — in fact, with the COVID-19 situation, the facility is essentially on city-funded life support. The extra money needed to offset COVID-19 losses this year? An extra $1.77 million. This time around, MacDonald’s talking expansion and redevelopment as part of the purchase. Let’s see, we can keep the facility — soon to need a major facelift — and keep spending millions in subsidies every year, or we could take just a portion of that subsidy money and do things like making sidewalks safe for city residents year-round. Well, that’s a really tough decision, right?

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