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Thursday, March 24, 2005

We Can’t Afford to Lose this Knowledge

You know, it occurred to me the other day that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have learned something in the past few months that folks in Quebec have known for a long time. We have learned to shout, scream and kick our feet when we want something.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean this in a bad way at all, just the opposite. It’s about time we learned to make some noise and see to it that we were heard. Quebec has been suckling at that proverbial teat for decades and look at the amazing deals they've gotten. Sweeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttt!!!!!

When our boy Danny went to Ottawa and fought for changes to the Atlantic Accord, we watched like good students as he stormed out of meetings, complained in the press and had the Canadian Flag removed from flag poles across the province (a stroke of media savvy genius by the way. The civilized NL equivalent of the flag burnings in the big Q a few years back).

As this all unfolded we watched and we learned a valuable lesson. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

This lesson learned, we quickly put it into action in support of our valiant Premier before the flag even went back up. Thanks to Danny’s teachings, and the valedictorian of our class, one Kevin McCann who started the Fair Deal web site, we found our voice. A voice that had been silent for so long many people thought it no longer existed.

We blasted Prime Minister Martin and Finance Minister Goodale with literally tens of thousands of email. Phone calls were made to MP’s offices and one lady even stopped making Canadian flag swim suit. These efforts, as much as the efforts put in by our provincial leader, won that campaign.

Yes, we were very good students and we did a good job on our first exam, we passed.

The Accord deal was accomplished (if it ever makes it to the house). As a matter of fact we learned our lesson so well that we have now begun to teach the teacher. You heard me right, the students have surpassed the teacher himself.

How is this? Well let me tell you.

When the recent budget came down, there were moaners and groaners but there were also cheerers and clappers. There were head shakers and hand shakers, smiles and frowns. In fact, as it has been with every budget in the history of man, some were happy and some were not. There was even the largest group of folks, as there always is, who invariably think “same old story, who cares”.

Regardless of which camp you were in, one line item in the budget, or actually one line item not in the budget, caught everyone’s interest and tugged everyone’s heart strings. The state of the cancer clinic in Grand Falls-Windsor.

The day of the budget and every day since, it has been Premier Williams turn to become a student. After a couple of days of open line discussion, hundreds of emails and an unknown number of phone calls to government offices, Danny, also a good student, learned that the tools he used to fight Ottawa can also be turned against him if enough emotion is involved.

Suddenly, and almost without argument, Danny said that he was not fully aware of the extent of the problem and was sending his Health Minister to take a look. I would almost be willing to bet the house that something will be done about this situation soon.

I know he said that he was not fully informed of the situation, but that is a face saving gesture and is to be expected. Lets leave him to his explanation folks, (that comment is directed to you Roger). After all, it’s the way politicians work and we can live with that.

Having said all that, let’s face the facts. In reality isn’t it more likely that the real reason for the change of heart was the pressure applied by citizens of every political stripe, from every economic background and from every nook and cranny of the province. I think so.

Well done, we have passed exam number 2 with flying colours and are now ready for graduation.

From this point on, Premier Williams must deal with a monster of his own making. As long as he is reasonable and fair he’ll be fine, if he is not, then……

As for Ottawa, they haven’t been reasonable, or fair, for over 50 years. One reasonable deal does not a friendship make.

I suspect we will need to fight the federal giant again and perhaps soon. Who knows, it might be over the proposed East-West power grid. I will bet you the house again (cause I’m sure I didn’t lose it in an earlier paragraph), that it is not in the plans to extend the grid all the way east into the island portion of this province, nor is it intended that the province, as a whole, will get a fair deal on the revenues from Lower Churchill should it be developed, which central Canada would love.

Yes, I suspect we will be called upon to fight another day. I just hope and pray that we remember the lessons we have learned in the past months. I hope we don’t fall back into the semi-comatose state that many of us have been in for the past 50 years. I also hope the next “exam” comes really soon because like anything you learn in school, if you don’t’ use it, you lose it.

We can’t afford to lose this knowledge.


Ticked Off in Placentia said...

Done and Done!!!

I learned another lesson from all this, never trust a polititian.

You're right in saying that we need to stand up and fight for what we believe. We've been quiet for too long and I for one will not be quiet any longer.

Come of folks, lets get out there and show these guys what were made of.

Some day they may realize that we won't shut up and wait on the doorstep. Then they might let us sit on the couch like the rest of the canadian family.

Tyler K. said...

You know, this brings a thought too mind. How scary could it be for the Canadian government to have a bunch of educated NLers after them.

It just came to me when I read your article, that N&L people have never been more educated than we are today. Perhaps this has something to do with our being more outspoken than in the past.

It's always easy to fool the uneducated, but guess what, we aren't uneducated anymore and we aren't that easy to fool.

Patriot said...

Absolutely right Tyler. Thanks for the insight.