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Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Fighting Newfoundlander May be Recovering from His Long Illness

It seems that lately everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador has an axe of some kind to grind and all sorts of valid causes to take on. Every day we hear more and more about incidences of civil disobedience, organized protests, letter writing campaigns and online (or paper) petitions circulating in the province.

In the past months I’ve commented time and again on many of the current issues in the province. I’ve signed many of those petitions and am currently providing links to two of these documents on my own web site, for anyone interested in taking part.

To the outsider, the current flurry of activism in the province might appear to be symptomatic of some serious issues that have been developing recently. Newly formed cracks in the cement of our existence so to speak. This is partly true of course, but for the benefit of our readers from outside the province, the issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador today are by no means a new circumstance.

Serious problems have existed in this province for generations. Most in the province have grown up knowing the issues existed and but accepted them as a fact of life. The reason why we are hearing more about them these days is not because they are only now becoming apparent, rather, we are hearing more about them because the population has finally begun to reach a point where they are no longer willing to suffer in martyred silence.

In a recent article I made the comment that the “Fighting Newfoundlander” was dead, or at least on life support. That comment was intentionally made to illustrate a key point related to our place in the Country and to see what kind of a reaction it would receive. The reaction was swift, passionate and promising.

The ensuing days brought a deluge of email telling me that the “Fighting Newfoundlander” was not dead, but rather alive and fighting mad. I was informed that the 20 something generation was indeed willing to fight and that perhaps the fighting spirit had missed my generation (the 40+ to 50+ set) but it was now fully alive, alert and active.

I applaud the 20+ set and I have to agree. Many of our youth are involved in social and political issues. They are quick to rally behind a good cause and they do not sit quietly by when an issue hits their hearts. The spirit of the “Fighting Newfoundlander” does exist in many of our youth. The fighting spirit displayed by our youth is clear, but what is more promising is the fact that, regardless of the fact that some people think the 40+ generation doesn’t have the spirit, they are now beginning to stand up and be counted.

As previously mentioned, one of the comments I received noted that the fighting spirit had perhaps skipped the previous generation. A year or two ago I would have had to agree with that comment. Now, happily, I’m not so sure. The spirit may have been sleeping for far too long, but I’m finally starting to think it didn’t skip a generation at all.

Think about it for a minute. Most of the green, white and pink flags flying in the province these days are not flapping above the houses of 20 year olds, but the houses of their parents. Our youth are not the leaders of today’s fishing protests, nor are they the driving force behind getting a weather office in Gander or a fish quota in Harbour Breton. These causes, which are so important to our province, are being lead by more mature protestors and this is what gives us all hope.

The new generation is indeed laying the ground work for the future and hopefully they can maintain their boundless energy. It is through many of them that change will happen, but we cannot escape the fact that the older generation appears to have finally woken up and that is the best sign of all.

Not to make light of the importance of the efforts our youth take part in, but even if they don’t believe it, the youth of every generation has fought for change. That is a natural part of the growing process that has taken place in every culture and in every age. On the other hand, it is much tougher to keep that spirit alive as one grows older and has the responsibilities of a job, house, family and bills.

It is when we begin to see the older generation beginning to wake from the malaise of their day to day drudgery and take up causes outside their immediate concerns, that one can smell change in the air. That is what we have been seeing in the province lately and it is a very exciting thing to witness. One can almost smell the electricity in the air and feel the spirit of our ancestors beginning to stir within the populace.

Who knows what might have awakened this spirit or if it will continue to grow. Perhaps it was sparked by Premier Williams when he took on Ottawa over the Atlantic Accord. Maybe it was shaken awake with the protests that killed a previous attempt to develop the Lower Churchill project under former Premier Roger Grimes. It may even be a single spark that is traveling from issue to issue and growing by feeding on itself. Whatever the fuel, it is being fed and will hopefully continue to grow.

To all the fine folks who took me to task over my “Fighting Newfoundlander” comments. Thank-you and I apologize for saying he had died. He is not dead, but he is still not as strong as he needs to be. Over the past months he has shown signs of recovery and promise but there is still a long road ahead. Who knows, maybe someday soon he will regain his full strength and we can remove the life support systems he currently relies on.

So here’s wishing the “Fighting Newfoundlander” a full and speedy recovery. In the mean time, everyone should give him all the attention he deserves. The signs are encouraging and perhaps a win or two on some of the issues out there might just provide the added push he needs to rise from his bed.

7 comments:

NL-ExPatriate said...

Thank-You once again for enlightening those of us who have had to move away due to the raping and pilaging of Labrador and Newfoundlands resources by and for the mainland either directly or in their interest.

What gets me is the Mainlanders have the gaul to say were begging from them? What about them stealing from us, in the form of resources minerals electricity people?

If the Canadian government were to accept their compliance in the brokering of the Upper Churchill and how unfair has become in retrospect, they would be speaking out on our behalf against the injustice. Bare minimun they would order an east west energy corridor be built expropriated , and not let Quebec rule supreme as if they were their own country ALREADY!

When I say corridor I mean a fixed link between Labrador and Newfoundland and the roads that would make this a reality. What happened with the rails for roads? The only new roads I see are the Trans Canada trail where the NFLD railway was?

NB built or had built A four lane divided highway right across, originally as a toll highway, only to have it bought and paid for by the FEDs?
Where are our four lane highways in Labrador and Newfoundland? (rails to roads)
Or roads for that matter in Labrador? Coming finally in 2008. Be fore warned though you'll need a SUV and at least three spare tires for the journey!

People in Upper Canada and Newfoundland complain about pot holes in their precious pavement. While Labradorians complain about no roads? Who has the most just arguement I ask you.

Thankfully The Trans Labrador Highway between Happy Valley GooseBay and Cartwright is at least in the planning stages and scheduled to be completed in 2008! I'm going to be one of the first to tour what I consider to be my poor downtroden cousins in Labrador.

Albeit it is still going to be a gravel road, it's A start to the realization of the opening of the gateway to the rest of the Canada, to which we supposedly belong.

Since Quebec and Canada refuse to complete the highway from Sept-Iles to Blanc Sablanc. Better we do it on our own anyway, even if you have no choice because everyone else is trying to keep you down, including 400 people from Nova Scotia who signed a petition to stop the N-L fixed link proposal.

God forbid they should miss out on the thousands of Expatriates from NL driving through their province to visit HOME!

Here are a few quick numbers I crunched not accurate exactly.

PEI fixed link
840,000,000$ PEI confed bridge
200,000 Population of PEI

4,200$ $per person

N-L fixed link
1,400,000,000$ Proposed N-L fixed link
600,000 Population

2,333$ per person join canada

This will only become a reallity once the roads are upgraded or built on either side of the divide!

The precident is set!

Here is a web site for the N-L fixed link.
http://ca.geocities.com/fixedlink2005/


Support our fishermen and heritage by eating illegally caught fish, caught in the fishery protest this saturday from 9am to 12 noon. All donations will go towards the legal defence of the few remaining proud brave Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with enough moxxy to challenge this unjust treatment by Canada of it's poorest province(Stop clawing back from our resource revenues). Show your solidarity to our heritage and force the courts to challenge Canada's mismanagement of our resource on our behalf. Force Canada to challenge the ownership of the Grand Banks nose tail and Flemmish cap at the United Nations on our behalf.

Here is a petition to the Feds to challenge the control of the nose, tail and Flemmish cap of the grand banks.
http://www.petitiononline.com/itfc2/petition.html

Patriot said...

Thanks for the comments expatriat. You make some very good points. Thanks also for making me aware of the custodial management petition. As you will notice, I have added it to my PETITIONS section on the right side of the opening page.

The Editor

WJM said...

Since when does NL have 600,000 people? And why should Newfoundland have a four-lane highway when Labrador still has a ZERO-lane one?

Quebec is resuming work on the 138 in 2006, with the Natashquan-Kegaska bridge and road. They are doing it with provincial money, because that's part of the province. Why is the provincial government in St. John's always saying they will do the Labrador highway when Ottawa pays for it? Ottawa has already funded 90% of the TLH funding to date. When will the Labrador part of the province be eligible for PROVINCIAL highways funding?

Gordon said...

As I see it, the recovery of the "Fighting Newfoundlander" is an inevitable development in history. Sadly, the events of the past and how things are developing now may hurt as well as help..... but it does not have to be so negative. Let me explain. We seem to draw a lot of our nationalist sentiment from 1949, i.e., not the final result but from the fact that the debate was so close and so bitter. The victors of the referenda decided to bury the other side's arguments. Even the losing side tried to bury their roots. Yet, whenever there was a problem, it became so easy to try to take convenient little elements of the the other side. Even Joey did that from time to time. Note, for example, his reaction to the IWA strike. "Battlin' Brian" exploited the old alternative brilliantly enough to rule for ten years. Even the other Brian tried to ape the other side from time to time, even if cartoonishly. The problem is, we generally dismiss the alternative, and we are left with the likes of "larger than life" premiers who talk loudly yet carry no stick.

I think we are yearning for leaders with real qualities, the kind that get results. We also have to acknowledge that a large part of who we are is not convincingly Canadian. We cannot really be "Canadian" because being "Canadian" is part of the probem we have yet to deal with. We all know that Newfoundlanders had little to do with the referenda and that really it was a deal between Britain and Canada. By the way, part of the deal included Canada cancelling Britain's war debt. Now, do you think that made the Brits neutral observers? And how "Canadian" does that make us?

The negative side of all this is that we do vote for politicians for are aggressive even when they do not have to be. You can really piss off the wrong people when you do that.

Having said that, what we need is a Newfoundland and Labrador builder, a nation builder, if you will. He/ She can be a separatist or not. The main thing is to unite us as a nation and push us forward. We have the buttons to to it as a province, although we might have more as a country. We can get rid of the foreign fishing fleets by negotiating our way out of it..... but only WE Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can initiate the negotiations because, quite frankly, we mean little to Canada. We should also find a way to get Labrador electricity to the island and from there to St. Pierre and even the Maritimes and perhaps the USA. The main point here is to develop a cohesive province/nation. I also think that it will be inevitable, considereing that oil is not a renewable resource. In the short-term, a trans-Labrador highway is also essential. But let's go further. We should even have a kind of elected senate in Newfoundland and Labrador to better reflect the distinct parts of our province. Having said that, our Lieutenant Governor should be an elected leader rather than some party hack nobody remembers, let alone respects.

As things stand now, we are looking increasingly at selected bits of our history for inspiration. Look at the resurection of the Pink, White and Green as our flag. Few areas of the world outside the Balkans go back into the past to see where we are today. Mind you, it's a cool flag. I have a big one....er, flag, that is.

We really must unite this province..... and this is where OUR nationalism is key...... or else we will have not only Confederate vs. Separatist, but townie vs. bayman and Newfoundlander vs. Labradorian. And there might even be blood spilt. You see, nationalism gets tough sometimes.

First things first. I say as an ardent separatist, let's build this province and then tackle Confederation. I might not live to see a Newfoundland and Labrador passport but I surely hope my newly born son will live to see (and have) one. To do it will not take up so much time but thinking outside the box.

Threatening to blow EU fishing boats out of the water makes us look immature. That said, the kind of popular opinion being expressed in this province this days can be useful to a clever leader. It can strengthen his/her resolve and it gives hi/her more "teeth", not to mention more room outside the box to walk in.

The real nationalists and separatists in today's Newfoundland and Labrador should not ape the kind of cartoon nationalism exhibited by certain post-confederate leaders, rather, we should look deeper at who we are, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and become a real nation at long last. Don't forget, Labrador was only part of Newfoundland for one year before the Statute of Westminster was thrust upon us (which was really more Britain's independence from it's White colonies, rather than the other way around). The Commission of Government was a British-controlled sham designed to make Britain look good at our expense. The 1948 referenda was largely a British attempt to rid itself of a crippling war debt; and Canada is part of that scam. These events help form our legacy, but we can rise above all that in a responsible, peaceful, creative and sensible way. First of all, all responsible, peaceful, creative and sensible nationalists/ separatists all rise please.

See? Now we're getting somewhere. Mark my words, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Patriot said...

Gordon,

Great comments. Would you mind if I posted these as an article on the front page?

I would rather give your thoughts more exposure than it will probably recieve in the comments section.

Editor

Gordon said...

Be my guest!

Anonymous said...

I understand know you were trying to get reaction from people with the "fighting newfoundlander" but did you have to be so stereotypical of newfoundland? Not everyone wants to shoot moose, grow vegetables, and make jams. You completely over generalized and stereotype Newfoundland and talked down to your people. Theres other ways to motivate people than the route you have chosen. Our economy is strong in lots of areas that you failed to mention in your article.What about hibernia, when foreigners have to move here to get good jobs or tourism? You were completely narrow minded. Maybe not everyone wants to depend on depleting fish stocks for there livihood. Did you ever consider that? Im 18 and attending memorial university and Im not leaving Newfoundland. Maybe I just want to move ahead with the future and not work backwards like you do with the fishery. The fish are gone..why fight for something thats not there?