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Monday, August 22, 2005

An open Call to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

The following was initially sent as a comment to one of our previous articles by a reader who goes by the name of Gordon. In keeping with the intent of this site to openly discuss our issues, I asked Gordon if he would mind our re-printing the piece on the front page. He graciously agreed so here are his comments in their entirety (with some very minor editing for clarity.)

Thanks Gordon and keep the comments coming.
The Editor

As I see 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 take convenient little elements of the the other side.

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 canceling 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 vote for politicians who 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 do 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 think that it will be critical, considering 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 resurrection 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 they are today. Mind you, it's a cool flag. I have a big one....er, flag, that is.

We really must unite this province, 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 take time and thinking outside the box.

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

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 its 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 a part of that scam. These events helped form our legacy, but we can rise above all that in a responsible, peaceful, creative and sensible way.

First of all I’d like to ask all responsible, peaceful, creative and sensible nationalists/ separatists to please rise.

See? Now we're getting somewhere.

Mark my words, you ain't seen nothing yet.


Anonymous said...

Each year in the dead of winter in a small outport, or a mine, or a post, or a town, the ghosts of yesterdays Newfoundland gather together. You might see them in a winter fog, chilling to the bone and the heart. You might think it would be frightening to behold, but it isn’t. For they come together not to haunt, but to hope, not to frighten but to foretell, and not to look back, but to look foreward.

With their eyes changing color like the northern lights of Labrador, they gather to splice and twine the past together. They knit and darn, pulling pieces of valor, and fame, discarding infamy and greed and fashioning a single cable of the history and heart of the people.

You can see the French, the Irish, the English , the Native peoples and even German and Dutch criss crossing through the threads of the strands. You could see the long strands of the Micmac, the Inuit, the Metis, the Innu, and even the Beothuk. Where one strand ends, another is woven to it, bringing the years together in a single cable of incredible strength and flexibility.

They’ve been braiding the rope not for five years or even for five decades but for five centuries, adding in strands as new heros are born. Pulling out wayward threads as the children leave. The rope is thinner today than it was long ago. But what remains is strengthened by the twining, the weaving and the flexing.

As they reach todays ending, the ghosts will look back at the length of the coil, checking it for weakness or loose ends. Just as they have for each year going back the centuries, they’ll search for the two magical strands

What are these magic strands. One is the person who will not only tighten the coil at last, but will allow the rope to be lashed to the rock and the big land and pull them together.

The other is the strand that will tie the groups together into a single people.

When will be the year the ghosts complete their tasks?

NL-ExPatriate said...

History is written by the victors.

I hate to be the devil's advocate, but you know what Canadians are going to be saying.

Would NL be expressing separation sentiments if we weren’t sitting in a better financial situation now that we have the NONRENEWABLE resource of oil of our shores? They might even throw the 2 billion retroactive for our own resource revenue in our faces, as if to say giving us 100% off 45% of 100% declining over 10 years to 100% of 33% off 100%. This must be Canadian math? To the victors go the spoils. Canada gets revenues from OUR resources.

Are we different Canadians than Albertan Canadians. They receive 100% off 100% declining to 0% off 0% over 0 years?

Besides IMHO I think we are putting the horse before the cart. Why speak of separation when what we should be looking for is more control of our own destiny within Canada? IE: collect our own taxes, start our own pension plan, run our own Heath care. These things aren't anything new we just need to look to our neighbours and fellow canadians Quebec to see the way forward to more control of our own destiny or self government if you will. The precedent is set.

The fringe benefits to this path of staying in Canada but with more empowerment by and for NL will be more federal/NL jobs.

Lord knows that with the recent closures we need some new ones.

Here are a few petitions calling for a stop or return of federal jobs in NL.

Return Gander NL (Weather office)

Petition to stop the removal of the Public Service Commission from NL

Petition to stop the closure of the NL Atlantic Cool Climate Research Centre!

Petition to stop the removal of the DFO Toxic Chemical Research Center!

Here's a thought for a poll. Unofficial of course and only for the remaining living Native Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. How did you vote in the 1949 Confederation referendum. These seniors will probably need help with the internet as it is a youth phenomena.

You can start empowering NL by voting for a triple E senate with the link on the right side of this sites home page.

Gordon said...

The only problem with the Triple E senate idea is that the federal government doesn't want it. Quebec, for its part, wants it scrapped altogether. Alberta and other provinces want one, but they have no clout. Now, if Alberta does not have any clout, what chance does Newfoundland and Labrador have? Quebec says no; end of story.

Now, my idea of an elected provincial upper house and an elected lieutenant governor stems partly from my personal belief that we should show that how it can work and, more importantly, that it can really work. Closer to the heart, I think think we are a disunited province that should become more united. Mind you, I don't see this lack of unity as a bad thing, rather, I see it as a sign that we are developing. The trick is to develop as one rather than as a loose coalition of warring tribes.

Having said that, I think a more politically developed Newfoundland and Labrador will be more democratic, mature and able to generate more ideas regarding how to become more independent.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Great comments Gordon. Your right federal politics are a waste of time for NL and the most of the rest of canada for that matter.

Now provincialy your suggestions of elected upper house and the
lieutenant governor

Who's jurisdiction would that be under?
Could we affect change on our own?

Would you turn down the job of lieutenant governor? Would you expect the present lieutenant governor to step down in leading the way towards an elected lieutenant governor? I for one would vote whole heartedly for him to reassume the position and recommend him for a medal and hero to the people of NL.

what would be the process?

One candidate from each voting district? Require prereqisites of having served in public office? Have a vote and debate in the house? If nothing else it would highlight Who is the Greatest NL. Hey knock of tv show LOL.

Gordon said...

There are several possibilities to introduce an upper house and make the selection process of the lieutenant governor a democratic one. There are precedents all over the Commonwealth. Most Commonwealth countries were once colonies with appointed governors. Some of these countries, such as South Africa, Singapore and India have elected heads of state. There are even thirteen American states that once had British-appointed governors. Ireland is no longer in the Commonwealth but it too now has an elected head of state. The problem with introducing a democratic process how we creat laws may be that it could involve a change in the constitution, so we may have to depend on the whims of the federal government.... once again.

Nevertheless, it is important for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to push for reforms in how we are governed. An upper house and elected lieutenant governor will create a better political environment and it will generate more excitement among the electorate.

An upper house need not, nor should it be large. Only six or seven representatives would be enough. With six "senators", the lieutenant could act as the tie breaker in controversial and closely contested votes.

By the way, even Britain now has elected elected Lords. America, to its credit, broke away from the political dark ages way back in 1776. Isn't it time Newfoundland and Labrador broke away too?

NL-ExPatriate said...

Yes Very good points and informative. But the fact remains how?

How do we the people affect this change?

Do we ask our provincial leaders to petition Ottawa for the right to change?

Do we petition our federal leaders?

Do we ask our federal political leaders (on our behalf)to petition the Queen for the right to change our partizan appointed system? Once again like asking the fox to guard the hen house!

Do we or can we try and change the partizan oppointed system on a national scale or do we effect change on a provincial level?

Do we call for a referendum?

Do we petition the courts to challenge the legality of this partizan system?

Do we start an email letter writing campaign to initiate this change? If so who do we address it to? Provincial politicians, Federal politicians, or the Queen?

Do we create a form letter email campaign to who ever has jurisdiction? Similar to what Kevin over at fairdealfornewfoundland did?


Who is going to champion this?

No matter who, what or how this is done, the fact is it will never happen until something is done! In a concerted effort for change by the people for the people.

Apparently their are 64 liberal friendly senators and 13 Progressive friendly senators 1 NewDemocrat friendly senators ?Bloc Quebecois etc. All due to the extended time in office of the liberals.

Not to mention the provincially slighted friendly appointments?

The same is true for the supreme court, only now it is also stacked against the lesser provinces interests.

Sorry these arent factual numbers but rather from memory of a news story. You get the idea.

Gordon you seem to know alot on this subject. If you were to decide to lead the charge, I for one am willing to offer my time to you or anyone who is willing to lead the charge on this.


If change isn't affected either by the people or by the govenments representing (paid by) the people. Canada as it now stands is doomed!