Back in the rat race: A state-of-the-vermin address from a St. John's rodent

·3 min read
Winter is coming — find yourself some shelter and food, rats! (Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)
Winter is coming — find yourself some shelter and food, rats! (Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)

This column is an opinion by Edward Riche, a St. John's writer.

Fellow Newfoundland and Labrador vermin,

Thought this would be a good time to check in and provide an overview of current murine affairs in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a mixed blessing for rats in the province. The lockdowns associated with outbreaks tightened up food supplies in the back alleys and dumpsters, and I know a lot of you were compelled to relocate to find sustenance.

Humans are gradually returning to town and city centres for commerce and recreation and again carelessly discarding food waste so the situation is improving. Just before dawn this morning I enjoyed most of a Timbit and some scarcely digested pizza on Water Street, a terrific improvement over bird food from a feeder in Georgetown.

While there have been challenges, any global pandemic not associated with diseases carried by our fleas is a win for the rat community. I don't have to remind any of you that despite the Black Death having been over for nearly 700 years we still carry the stigma of having spread the pestilence. The Bubonic Plague remains our greatest public relations disaster, even greater, I believe, than the cinematic warfarin that was Willard.

Despite being talked about at many doors during municipal election campaigns across the province our increasing presence never really stuck as an issue. It will take the new city and town councils time to get up to speed, and it looks like they will again be preoccupied with petty squabbles over land, traffic congestion, road repair, snow clearing and garbage collection. Bureaucratic torpor and performative palaver in the council chamber and in committee pose no risk to rodents.

In St. John's we expect the new council to waste hundreds of hours failing to come to any conclusion over the fate of Mile One, ensuring we will one day overrun its crumbling ruins. Of course the election of real estate agents to councils is worrisome, as people preoccupied with property values are inclined to give rats as fair a shake as a Jack Russell. The biggest takeaway is that the shamefully low voter turnout in municipal elections means the hapless homo sapiens of Newfoundland and Labrador are so disengaged we should have free rein for the foreseeable future.

Election successes

I normally wouldn't remark on the outcome of a federal election other than to congratulate those from our team that won seats for every party.

This time I have to underline how positive is the growth in support for the People's Party of Canada for rats from coast to coast to coast. Libertarians' aversion to public spending on the common good of humans has always been a boon to pests of all kinds. Remember it isn't individual responsibility or enterprise that has kept us out of Alberta but a government program.

There is a chill in the air; winter is coming. Find yourself a garage or shed for shelter (floor beneath a wood stove has always been a personal fave), look out for students in apartments who leave garbage outside in accessible bags.

Remember: exterminators are like Facebook, always changing the bait in the traps to fool you.

There probably hasn't been a better time to be a rat in Newfoundland and Labrador. The ship, while heavily mortgaged, isn't sinking so there is no reason to leave it. Remember: feed, breed, infest.

Ben MCMVII, chair
Newfoundland and Labrador Rat Central Committee
St. John's

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