Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Political Reform or Political Secession?

The following was originally published on the site:
and has been re-published here with the consent of the author. The commentary is presented in its complete form however some minor editing has been done for clarity only and does not impact the intent or meaning of the piece.

The people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador have long said they need more representation in Ottawa. This is a fact, and it is even truer in the Labrador portion of the province. Simply put Labrador needs more political representation at both levels of government! Not because of the population, but because of the sheer vastness, remoteness and inaccessibility of the region.

The work done there to date is a credit to those MHA’s and MLA’s who have served this area in the past, as well as those to come in the future, if the province chooses to remain a part of Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador is approximately 6 times larger than the other Maritime Provinces combined, yet it only has 7 members of parliament. The Labrador area, which is nearly 3 times as large as the island portion, has only one.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to further divide our already divided province, rather I wish to highlight the need for reform within Canada and the province. Our Confederation is in dire need of an overhaul.

Perhaps a formula which factors in both geography and population should be used to determine fair and equal representation. This would ease the burden on those MHA’s and MLA’s who have large geographical constituencies.

If Canada isn’t willing to recognize and change this injustice then the very least our province should do is give up one of the island’s representatives to better enable Labrador members to cope. Any additional costs involved could be recouped by abolishing the Lieutenant Governor’s position which serves no purpose other than to remind us of our colonial roots. We would be better off if we cut those roots and grew a new tree starting with a sprig for Labrador in the form of another MHA. The Lieutenant Governor’s house would make a fitting Premier’s residence (Presidents residence for the Republic of NL?)

Since additional seats were added in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador’s representation has become even less effective in Ottawa and if the current process for defining ridings continues, the province will lose even more representation in the years to come, due to out migration. I propose splitting Labrador into two separate ridings one in the West and one in the East. We could go further by adding representatives, even token none voting representatives, for each of our Native communities/Cultures which would allow them to have a real voice in the House of Commons / House of Assembly.

The ball is in your court Canada! You wanted us to join so badly in 1949, what are you willing to do to keep us here now that our eyes have been opened to exactly what Confederation means, at least in NL?

I wouldn’t expect government and big business to go along with this proposed change but the people of Canada, with a sense of fair play and justice just might.

I don’t think any of these proposals are unreasonable or off the wall, but rather they are something that a lot of the other provinces would probably agree with and want to be a part of.

By Todd & Greg Byrne
For more on this topic and others visit Greg’s site at:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Newfoundland and Labrador Ponders Replacing its Provincial Flag

Recently a grassroots movement has been underway in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to replace the existing provincial flag, adopted in 1980, with one that has been unofficially flown in the province since the 1800’s.

In 1980, the province adopted its current standard. A collage of geometric patterns loosely based on the old Union Jack and containing multiple symbols purported to represent the culture of the province. The flag, designed by well known local artist Christopher Pratt, was the product of the provincial legislature who commissioned the piece and presented it officially on June 6, 1980 to less than resounding reviews from the general public.

Since the flag has been in existence, it has been the topic of debate in coffee houses and at kitchen tables. Some have come to accept it as their flag, but many others in the province appear to prefer a more traditional flag, containing three Green, White and Pink vertical bars. (often referred to in reverse order of colour).

This older standard was never officially adopted as a provincial flag in the province, however it has been flown by some for decades and in recent years has begun to make such a major comeback that many are now referring to it as the “unofficial NL flag”.

Everywhere one looks from St. John’s to Port Aux Basques from St. Anthony to Harbour Breton the Pink, White and Green (or Green, White and Pink) can be seen flying outside houses and shop fronts, from backyard decks and boat decks. License plates bear the image as do rings, t-shirts and baseball caps. Recently Canadian Idol runner up Rex Goudie appeared on the show sporting a t-shirt proudly displaying the flag.

The simple banner that has grown in the hearts of Newfoundlanders in all corners of the island has a somewhat mysterious history. There are many stories of how it originally came into being. The most widely accepted is that during the annual seal hunts of the early 1800's disputes often erupted between the 10,000 or so English (protestant) and Irish (catholic) sealers. During these times, competition was frequently accompanied by religious animosity and a prominent display of opposing flags.

It is believed that a delegation representing the government and leaders of both communities sought the council of Bishop Fleming, who was respected by all. Tradition has it that after pondering the problem, the bishop asked that the pink flag and the green flag of the two factions be brought to him. Then joining them with a white handkerchief, which he said represented the white of peace from the flag of St. Andrew, he handed it to the assembled group and said, "Go in Peace."

Over the years support for this ancient standard has ebbed and flowed with the political and social happenings of the day and although it has been gaining steadily in popularity for the past decade, it wasn’t until the so called “flag flap” during recent negotiations between the federal and provincial governments over offshore royalties that the concept of replacing the current provincial flag began to gel.

According to a recent article, when approached for comment on the movement to replace the flag he had designed, local artist Christopher Pratt appeared unworried. According to the piece Mr. Pratt stated that he simply developed the current flag as requested by government and that it did not come from his heart. He went on to say that he would not be upset if the flag was replaced.

These candid comments by Mr. Pratt seem to blend well with an overriding sentiment in the province that flags are not something that can be legislated by government. They must have meaning and come from the heart. As one person stated recently, “a flag has to grow from the bottom up, not be pushed on you from the top down.”

Sales of the unofficial flag have been booming at retail outlets and flag shops around the province in the past year and recently a student at Memorial University in St. John’s took it upon himself to help move the cause to the forefront. He began by erecting a 15 foot version of the flag on the hills overlooking the entry point to the main port in the provincial capitol. Then, upon seeing the reaction this invoked, started an online petition to enact the new flag as the provincial standard.

Currently the flag is still flying over the city of St. John’s and both it and the petition have made local news services and been the topic of discussion in online chat rooms and talk radio programs. A quick check of the signatures on the petition shows that it has begun to pick up momentum and it is even rumored that Premier Danny Williams has commented that he is open to the idea of presenting it before the provincial legislature should enough support be gained on the issue.

No official comment has been made on the issue and it is not known what reaction the movement will have at the federal level. Neither is it clear what the reaction will be from the majority of residents in the Labrador portion of the province, which itself has an unofficial flag that is dear to the hearts of many in that portion of the province.

At this point in time the movement is in its early stages. Only time will tell exactly how much of an issue it will truly become.

If you would like to know more about the Pink, White and Green standard, to sign the petition or simply to learn more about public sentiment on the issue, you can do so at:


For an opportunity to win a Pink, White & Green (or Green, White & Pink) flag of your own, check out our contest by scrolling down to the related article on this page.

C'mon now ...what's in a word?

The following was originally published on the web site: The Modern Feudal Serf . It has been reproduced here in its entirety. I believe it says a lot about the state of Canada today and I hope you find it as interesting and thought provoking as I did.


C'mon now ...what's in a word?

Answer: Way too much at times!

Step into a court room and a 'word' can mean the difference between success or failure. Read the history of the BNA Act and a single word made the difference between economic freedom and carrying a tax burden far exceeding that of a medieval serf! In everyday Canadian life, certain words have created a mindset that is contrary to the essence of a democracy ... at the centre of those words is 'govern' ...and following are all the extensions, variations and metaphors of that word, and most importantly the subliminal effect of it!
Another word to pay attention to is "democracy" ...we talk about it, and we even go through some motions ...but we don't live it!

Lets begin by defining what we are supposed to be -- a "democracy".

Definition: Democracy is literally "rule by the people" and "the democratic method" is the institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions that realizes the common good by making the people itself decide issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will." Period, full stop.

So clearly, by long-standing, accepted definition, a 'democracy' is a society where the people (collectively) are the rulers of their own land and therefore the will of the people is what 'governs' that land. As such, that arrangement is not complicated or vague, and it makes complete, logical sense. Generally, it's what the average person honestly believes to be the case!

How do we exercise and voice our collective will -- our collective governance of our own country? We do it by electing people to represent our collective will every so often through the elective process. The elective process amounts (simply) to a 'job interview' that lasts several weeks. Those seeking the job come before us and tell us why they are the best choice for the vacant job and why we should employ them on a short term contract (the period between elections). At the ballot box we convene to make a collective decision as to who that contract employee will be. Democracy at work!

So far this makes a lot of sense, is logical and is a rational way to manage the affairs of a large geographic area inhabited by a large number of people ...except for one problem. What problem? The problem we have is that those who begged for jobs at the podium are under absolutely no obligation to pay any attention at all to what their 'employers' want! The proof of this lays in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice, E.A. Marshall's decision concerning docket number 9012000725 on the 10th of December 1990. Citizens brought suit against their MP for his failure to represent their wishes. In Justice Marshall’s decision he said:

“ I know of no legal duty on an elected representative at any level of government to consult with his constituents or determine their views. While such an obligation may generally be considered desirable, there is no legal requirement.”

This applies to all of us, no matter what province we reside in! Did we, the people, give permission to have our wishes ignored by the politicians we hire? NO. Did the politicians give themselves that prerogative? YES. Does this sound like democracy? NO. And this brings us to the use of the word "govern" and all the other words that go along with it!

To think of ourselves as "governed" implies acceptance of subservience on our part, and suggests 'superiority' on the part of those elected to "govern". The mindset is the complete opposite of what the real 'power structure' is in an actual 'democracy'. In a democracy we hire (elect) individuals to 'manage' certain of our affairs on our behalf ...period. In effect such elected people are merely the custodians of our will ...not our masters, betters or superiors ...that would be too feudal. The biggest problem (with this ingrained perception) lays with those elected individuals who have abused the moral trust their offices properly and rightfully include.

We in Canada, although touting ourselves as an enlightened democracy, have bought into paying homage to a foreign monarch, giving free (and free-spending) reign to that monarch’s representative in Canada (The Governor General – note the authority implied with both “governor” and “general”) and this has trickled down to a pompous elected ‘elite’ who deem themselves our masters!

In a democracy the elected do the bidding of the electors to manage necessary infrastructure essential to the country. This is not the reality in Canada as politicians over generations take a host of liberties, experiment with their own flavour of ‘social engineering’ and lately treat ill-gotten tax dollars as if that money is their personal pocket change! These examples are tips of icebergs but represent the backward and destructive power structure in Canada that disguises itself as a democracy and smooth talks the population into believing so. The reality is that every few years we do nothing less than ‘elect’ feudal dictators and give up our natural right to a voice in our own affairs!

Some questions to ask yourself and each other …and think about next time you are inclined to just accept things as they are:

· Who owns Canada ..the people or the politicians?

· Who asked politicians to re-subject Canadians to British rule?

· Who gave politicians permission to vote themselves gold-plated pensions and perks?

· What right do politicians have to tell you that you’re not free to purchase medical attention with your own money?

· Who told politicians to write a Charter of Rights on our behalf?

· Who told politicians it was OK to tax people to ridiculous levels?

· Who told politicians it was OK to turn issuance of money in Canada over to private banking concerns?

· Who told politicians it was OK to indebt generations of Canadians in order to fund political promises and social engineering experiments?

· Who told politicians to go easy on criminals and pay more attention to criminal rights than victim rights?

· Who told politicians to make a sex offender registry with no retroactive teeth? (Oh yes, that was Chretien …probably because his step son would have been on the list?)

· Who told politicians to do most of what they have assumed they can do because they assume themselves our masters?

The Answer: It wasn’t us!

Do we get any say in how this country is run?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Enter to Win Your Very Own Pink, White and Green NL Flag

With all the discussion lately over the current provincial flag and in an effort to support the fine folks at:


who are soliciting signatures on a petition to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to adopt the Pink, White and Green ensign, I thought I would offer a contest to our readers and contributers.

You can win a Pink, White and Green flag of your very own to proudly display outside your home. (flag pole not included ;-).

All you have to do is let us know what the Pink, White and Green really means to you. In other words, why we should adopt it as our flag.

You can email your submissions to:


and you can enter as many times as you want.

It's just that easy!!

Over the coming days I will be reviewing your submissions and picking a winner from among them. The winner will be awarded the flag and will have his/her comments published on the site.

Good luck to all.

John Efford Makes Move to Help Newfoundland and Labrador

It's been all over the news services this weekend. “John Efford replaced as Natural Resources Minister”, “Martin replaces ailing Efford”, “Efford replaced at cabinet table”. Yes, indeed Mr. Efford has been replaced at the cabinet table, but is it true, as the Globe and Mail stated just this morning, that it leaves, “Newfoundland with a weakened voice around the cabinet table”? I don’t think so. In reality, Newfoundland and Labrador was left with a weakened voice in Ottawa the minute John Efford won his election bid and went to Parliament Hill in the first place.

Here we have a man who has done as little as possible to fight for his province since being elected. Between missed votes in the house and pushing Paul Martin’s objectives back into the faces of those in his home province, this man has done more harm than good for his people and it is high time he was replaced. In fact, he should be replaced not only in cabinet, but in his seat as well.

The only reason Paul Martin is keeping him around and not “Officially” removing him from the cabinet is because of the government’s tenuous position in Parliament. With the housed evenly divided in a minority Parliament, Mr. Martin can’t afford to lose even one liberal member. If this was a majority government Mr. Efford would have been cut loose long ago.

You may wonder why the Prime Minister would cut loose a member who has been licking his boots for so long. The reason is quite simple. Boot licking is nothing new on the hill, but you need to be subtle about it. It doesn’t look good when you do it too openly and we all know that Mr. Efford doesn’t even understand the word subtle.

John Efford has taken boot licking to a new level in the past year or so as he openly sits at the feet of his leader like a trained puppy. As a result of this open sellout, he has lost all credibility at home. With no credibility left, he is of no use to Mr. Martin who would probably love to see the back of him if he could afford it right now.

No matter what other papers say about the province’s weakened position in Ottawa as a result of Mr. Efford being moved out of the spotlight, don’t believe it. He weakened the province’s position when he stopped representing Newfoundland and Labrador, and that happened long before this past weekend.

Whether Mr. Efford stepped aside or was pushed is of no consequence. The fact is that in reality, this is the first time he has helped his home province. Afterall, the less power and influence this man has in cabinet the better off we all are.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What Motivates Seal Hunt Protest Groups?

In an effort to stop Atlantic Canada’s annual seal hunt, sealing protest groups are using the tactic of pressuring restaraunts in the U.S. into boycotting Canadian seafood products. We all hear sporadic news reports on the efforts of seal protests but how much do we really understand about what these groups doing, and what is the truth behind the hunt itself?

If you visit the web sites of the multitude of protest groups out there such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Paul Watson's Sea Shepard Society, or for that matter even the American SPCA, the first thing you will notice is that these groups are blatently mis-leading the public on the topic of the Atlantic seal hunt.

They insist on displaying pictures of baby white coat seals, they talk about hunters skinning animals alive and some refer to seal hunters as barbarians. This may play well in areas around the world where people do not know the truth, but not in many parts of Atlantic Canada and most assuredly not in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The truth is that white coat baby seals have not been hunted for decades and sealers are not savages who enjoy torturing animals. Granted, there may be an isolated number of "idiots" out there who could care less about the cruelity they inflict, but this is true of any place in the world and in any industry. It is not the norm. The average sealer is just like you and me, with one exception. They are trying to make a living in a much tougher and much more dangerous line of work than many of us could even dream of.

One only has to visit the web sites of these groups to see a possible motive for dispensing with reality and spreading hatred. Money. All of these sites, without exception, have links where the gullible can donate. One site I visited actually had over 15 such links on its front page.

The fact is that these groups are actually making more from the annual Atlantic seal hunt than the sealers themselves. Take for example the $77.5 million U.S. the International Fund For Animal Welfare raised last year and it’s easy to see the benefits seal huntinig actually bring to protest groups. Fund raising, not protection of species is often their prime objective. It might be very enlightening if groups who use the March seal hunt as there annual fund raiser were placed under microscopic investigation to see how much money they really make from it and exactly how that money is spent.

If these groups were truly interested in protecting a species, why not fight to protect overfished cod stocks which are truly on the brink of extinction? The answer is simple. Even though seal populations are quite strong, they are far cuter than the lowly cod fish. Who among us would dig deep into their pockets seeing a picture cod fish, but a doe eyed baby seal, now that’s a different story.

Atlantic cod stocks are nearly depleated, due in part to overfishing both in Canada and abroad, but also due to the voracious appetite of seals. The current seal population is larger than it has been in decades and these predators, make no mistake, they are predators, love fish.

Recently Paul Watson of the Sea Shepard Society publicly stated that seals actually eat very little cod, instead they prey on species that eat the cod. According to Mr. Watson, by leaving the seals alone, cod stocks would be increased.

One thing Mr. Watson never mentioned however is exactly what these other predatory species are. Could it be that he didn’t say what these species are because he can't. What exactly is eating the cod and are the seals really eating these predators? Does he expect people to believe that seals are eating sharks or maybe it’s whales they’re. For his sake I hope it isn’t the latter because if it is, how will he ever protect both the seals and the whales?

A few years back a video was shot by a local resident in one of the bays in Newfoundland. This video clearly showed seals herding thousands of cod into the bay and savagely ripping their bellies out. Because the video was not shot by an “Official” source, it was completely disregarded by protest groups.

In a way Mr. Watson is right about seals not eating a great deal of cod. They usually just feed on the soft underbelly of the fish, unfortunately once the belly is ripped out, the cod doesn’t just swim happily away. Unfortunately as well, the belly alone does little to satiate a full grown seal so after killing the first, it simply moves on to the next cod and the next and the next.

If these groups really wanted to stop seal hunting, rather than using the current tactic of trying to force restaraunts to boycott Canadian fish products, maybe they should try to stop overfishing in Atlantic waters. If fish stocks came back to a viable level, fishers might not need to hunt as many seals to augment their incomes. Instead of taking this type of approach however, they would rather paint sealers as barbarians who love to go to the ice and massacre poor baby seals. Is this even rational?

Who in their right mind would believe that people are going out to the hunt and risking their lives under the coldest, harshest conditions imaginable, simply for the fun of it. Life on the ice flows is perhaps one of the most dangerous there is. Over the years hundreds of sealers have died trying to support their families in this way. It is certainly not a walk in the park.

Protest groups speak endlessly about the brutal clubbing of baby seals off Newfoundland. The truth is, baby seals are not the target and most, not all, but most of the seals hunted in those waters are taken by rifle, not club. This was a lesson learned decades ago when public outrage caused a closure of the hunt.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) have stated publicly on several occasions that the hunt is as humane as is possible under such harsh conditions as the ice packs. These comments are not acceptable to protestors who see only big seal eyes and even bigger bank accounts.

The truth is, there is only one difference between hunting a seal by rifle and hunting deer, elk or ducks, all of which are commonly accepted sports. Simply put, deer, elk and duck hunting are done primarily for sport, while seal hunting is done to provide food, export products and to help support families.

Everyday millions of chickens, cows, pigs, etc are slaughtered to provide food for the nation’s dinner tables. Why does nobody protests this? Is it simply because the killing of these animals is done behind closed doors while seals are killed on pristine white ice where it’s harder to hide the blood?

I would almost be willing to bet that most of the well meaning folks who donate regularly to seal protest organizations don't mind hunting deer or elk, many probably enjoy salmon or trout fishing and no doubt the vast majority of them are not vegetarians.

Keep in mind that not only the seal pelts are used, although that’s what these protest groups would have the public believe. Maybe this is because it’s harder to raise funds by saying they want to take away a food source. Cattle ranchers and chicken farmers might get upset at that one.

In reality, seal meat is also a valuable commodity and the oil (high in Omega 3 fatty acids) is a great source of nutrients. As a matter of fact hospitals in England are currently looking at it as an intravenous food source for critically ill patients.I know it doesn't look nice to see an animal killed. I, like many people would never be able to do it myself. But I also bet that you, like I , have never been inside a rendering plant or slaughter house. I wonder what our reaction would be to eating beef, chicken, pork, or for that matter wearing leather shoes or coats, if we could see the process involved in slaughtering these animals and producing these products.

In a CBC interview a number of years back, Paul Watson, one of the world’s leading seal protesters, stated that he thought the International Fund for Animal Welfare was simply making a money grab by using the seal hunt to raise funds. At the time, he said that since seals were not endangered, protesting the hunt was beneficial primarily to the protest group’s bank accounts.

Turn the clock ahead a few years and apparently Mr. Watson has learned where the big money really is. The Canadian seal hunt. Practically overnight his group, the Sea Shepard Society, was propelled from being an obscure group to being center stage in the protest world and its coffers began to overflow. All because they took up the cause of the poor abused baby seal.

I have to wonder, since hunting seals is not solely a Canadian issue, why it is the biggest target of these groups? There is a major hunt in the American state of Alaska each year. This hunt is much larger than the Atlantic hunt, but nobody ever seems to notice it. Instead protest groups would rather ignore the Alaskan hunt and focus on Atlantic Canada. Could it be that U.S. citizens provide the vast majortiy of funding to these groups and, as they say, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Revolution Starts Here: Make the Pink, White and Green Our Official Flag

Today I'd like to call your attention to a web site that I recently learned of. I don't usually do this, but this particular site peaked my interest and hopefully it will do the same for you.

The site is dedicated to one and only one thing. Having the Pink, White and Green instated as the official provincial flag. In the words of the site's creator:

Everywhere you look there are those familiar colours, pink, white, and green. Flags, tee shirts, undergarments! What has happened to make the old colours of Newfoundland & Labrador to become so popular?

It's a combination of many things really; meaning, history, rebellion, and our future. The Pink, White, and Green are colours that were picked out by the true Newfoundlander. They were not arbitrarily selected by some bureaucrat. They have a history that cannot be replicated by assigning meanings to colours and shapes. This flag has been part of our culture for over 100 years and it shouts louder than any flag that can be simply given to us. It has been a sign of peaceful religion and independent rebellion. It is the sign of a new Newfoundland & Labrador, proud and strong, able and willing, determined and ambitious. It is a flag that has made a home in the hearts of many Newfoundlanders and it deserves a home flying over our province.

This is a call to show the world how we really feel about the Pink, White, and Green.

I'm not sure how many of our readers in the big land of Labrador will feel about this, since they too have a flag many of them cherish, but never the less, for those on the island, and I'm sure, some in Labrador, the Pink, White and Green means much more than the current collage of colors foisted on us by a former provincial government.

So, why don't you follow the link from my NL SPECIFIC LINKS section to visit this wonderful site. Take a look around, and above all, sign the petition you find there.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Manipulation of the Public is a Politicians Main Job

Manipulation of the public, rather than running the nation, has been the main job of politicians in Canada throughout history.

An example of this fact is the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord a number of years ago. If you ask people across this country today, most will tell you that Meech was defeated by Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells. Not true.

Meech Lake wasn’t defeated by Clyde Wells, the Provincial Legislature or the people of Newfoundland, as many believe. The fact is, Wells had planned to hold a vote in the Legislature which would almost assuredly have defeated it, but that vote was never held.

Elijah Harper, an NDP backbencher in the Winnipeg legislature, caused the deal to fail in that province and as a result Wells saw no reason to hold the vote in Newfoundland. This reality didn’t matter to the Mulroney government however. They blamed the Newfoundland Premier and the people of the province anyway, simply because, as one columnist recently put it, "it was more politically acceptable to lash out at Newfoundland than to do so to an aboriginal politician".

Regardless of the truth, Mulroney’s manipulation of the facts ensured that nearly everyone in Canada today believes Newfoundland and Clyde Wells defeated the Meech Lake Accord.

This was a clear cut case of political manipulation of the facts in order to manufacture a more palatable version of history.

Another, perhaps more heinous and corrupt manipulation of the public happened in Newfoundland during the vote on confederation with Canada. More heinous because this manipulation didn’t happen after the fact, but during the campaign, and as a result changed the outcome of that vote.

During the campaign leading up to the referendum on confederation Joey Smallwood, in essence, bought the votes needed to push confederation through. He did this by promising the public that by joining Canada, everyone with children would receive the “baby bonus”, a government subsidy in the form of a cheque which would arrive each month thanks to the federal government.

Remember that at the time many people in outport communities were the poorest of the poor and were barely surviving off the land and sea. Many had never seen actual cash and those who did, worked long and hard for the few pennies they could find. For the poorest of the poor, the promise of free cash was almost impossible to resist.

A bribe by any other name is still a bribe and it is a testament to the people of the time that even with this sort of manipulation taking place, the final vote on confederation was as close as it was, with the outcome being 78,323 to 71,334.

History is full of such manipulations by political leaders in this Country. Not the least of which is one that takes place each and every day right under the noses of the electorate.

Everyone is led to believe that they elect a federal member to represent them, their riding and their province in Ottawa. Not so. Yes, that is the intent of the voter and it is what politicians would have people believe, but that doesn’t make it so. The truth is, when elected, these men and women do not represent voter’s interests in Ottawa, instead they represent Ottawa’s interests to the voters.

Many of them miss votes in the house on a regular basis, don’t stand up in support of the moral and social conscience of their constituents and refuse to lock horns with members of their party on issues impacting their riding or province. They feed from the public trough, follow the herd and then have the audacity to visit their home provinces and manipulate the unwashed masses by explaining why the decision they allowed to happen is in the best interests of the public.

Although he is by no means alone, no better example of this exists than the misrepresentation shown by John Efford during his time in Ottawa.

Even though many of his constituents rely on the fishery for a living, Mr. Efford had the audacity to tell the people of the province that having cod added to the endangered species list was the smart thing to do. Never mind that this would cause the complete closure of that fishery and perhaps impact other fisheries in Atlantic waters from that day forward.

As an encore to this debacle, Mr. Efford backed his party over his province during Atlantic Accord negotiations. Telling the province to accept the deal offered by the federal government because it was the best they would get. Thankfully nobody believed that manipulation and a better deal was reached.

From convincing the public that even with multi-billion dollar surpluses the federal government can’t afford to cut taxes or spend more on social programs, to officially stating that Canada is not involved in Iraq and will not involve itself in missile defense when all the while working on special ops in the former and providing radar support for the latter, public manipulation is a full time job. It’s a wonder our political leaders have time to fully imbed one lie in the public consciousness before moving on to the next.

You have to love the Canadian democratic system. It’s a model for the world.

At least that’s what politicians would have us believe.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Wishing John Efford a Fond Farewell

John Efford, Canada’s representative in Newfoundland and Labrador, announced publicly yesterday afternoon that he will not be running in the next federal election. The dishonorable member also stated that this decision was open to change if his health improved over the next few months, which is double speak for determining if his popularity rating can be improved in the province during that time.

Who does Mr. Efford think he’s fooling? It’s quite clear to anyone who has any interest in politics in Newfoundland and Labrador, that John Efford, who has never lost an election, is running scared. He knows that his total sell out of the province while in Ottawa has not gone unnoticed and that his chances of winning in the next election are 50 /50 at best.

It’s time for Mr. Efford to do, for once in his life, what he has said he will do. If his intention is to retire then he should do it. Many in the province would love him to do it, not the least of which are members of the provincial Liberal party, which has been divided and weakened ever since a rift developed during the Efford/Grimes leadership campaign a few years ago.

One member of the local party has even been quoted as saying the party would never heal until both Grimes and Efford were out of politics forever and the feeling is that with the retirement of Mr. Grimes it was “one down and one to go”.

Mr. Efford, like many of his counterparts today and during the history of this province’s life in Canada, has done nothing to represent this province. Once elected, they have become Ottawa’s representatives in Newfoundland and Labrador rather than the province’s representatives in Ottawa.

In all honesty, it would be just as well if the voters of this province boycotted the next election altogether and didn’t send a single candidate to Parliament. We wouldn’t get any less representation and at least it would send a clear message to the federal government that we have had enough.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Opportunity is Knocking. Will Newfoundland and Labrador Let It In?

Rumors have been swirling around the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for months that Premier Danny Williams has been in discussions with Mr. Opportunity himself, Sir Richard Branson, about building an oil refinery in the province. Although these rumors were considered by many to be totally absurd, yesterday fuel was added to the fire when Sir Richard himself made it official that he is more than interested in entering the oil business.

Branson, the maverick business man and founder of such international interests as Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines and most recently Virgin Cellular, has become more than a little upset at the cost of fuel and how it is affecting his airline interests. In fact, his anger, combined with a clear understanding of the profits existing in today’s oil industry has spurred him to begin planning the development of a new independent refinery.

According to Mr. Branson, his plans are still in the early stages and he is actively seeking investment from other airlines with an interest in controlling their fuel supplies rather than being dependent on the major players such as Exxon, BP, Shell and others.

According to reports, Sir Richard has been investigating locations in every country from England to Africa and at this point the choice of location has yet to be determined. Although the site is not yet known, it is expected that any future refinery would not be built in the U.S. due to the complexity and volume of red tape involved in opening a refinery in that country. In fact, no new refineries have opened in the U.S. in nearly 30 years and this lack of refining capacity is considered to be one of the key factors behind current fuel prices.

In recent months Premier Williams has made it very clear to oil industry executives that he wants more secondary processing, in the form of refining, to take place in the province, rather than simply shipping oil elsewhere. Oil industry executives have balked at the idea of investing in a new refinery due to the cost of construction and the fact that low refining capacity world wide is helping ensure higher profits at the pumps. Regardless, Premier Williams has not walked away from his plans for this sort of development. Add to this his recent announcement that his government is embarking on an aggressive plan to assist business development in the province by reducing red tape by 25 per cent over the next three years and the possibilities become clear.

Enter Sir Richard and opportunity does indeed knock.

Newfoundland and Labrador, which has the highest unemployment rates in Canada is not only interested in hosting a new refinery and benefiting from the employment it would produce, it is currently the second largest producer of oil in the Country behind Alberta and its crude oil capacity is growing every year.

Newfoundland and Labrador, which is strategically located in the middle of the North Atlantic, might prove attractive to someone like Branson due to its location as well. Currently it is over flown on a regular basis by most international flights traveling between Europe and North America’s Eastern seaboard. In fact, before the dawn of the jet age, the island of Newfoundland was visited by nearly every plane needing to refuel before or after embarking on a trans-Atlantic flight. This, combined with its year round port facilities, makes it an ideal location for fuel shipment and more importantly to international airlines, for re-fueling.

Although some oil industry executives have dismissed the idea of an independent oil refinery being built due to the cost, an estimated $2 billion, it may still become a reality. All of the elements are there.

In Sir Richard Branson one finds a dynamic entrepreneur who has been known over the years for his “never say never” attitude. A man who was no doubt also told he was crazy when he decided to begin an independent cellular carrier and airline. A man who clearly understands that he cannot control his business costs in that airline unless he can control his fuel supply, and a man who recognizes a business opportunity where profits are now filling barrels and bank accounts to explosive levels.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, anyone hoping to build an independent refinery will find an interested government, a willing province, an available workforce, a strategic location, an easily accessible oil supply, a stable environment and a Premier who appears to be willing to think outside the box.

Coincidentally, the fact that the provincial government recently deposited a $2 billion oil revenue check and is in the process of determining how to invest some of that money can’t hurt.

Has Premier Williams discussed these possibilities with Sir Richard Branson?

If he hasn’t, perhaps he should.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Canada's Richest Poor Province

While Newfoundland and Labrador is often thought of by the rest of Canada as the Country’s newest and poorest province, it is also the oldest settlement in Canada and may just be its richest.

Newfoundland and Labrador was first visited by outsiders over 1,000 years ago when Norse settlers landed on the northern coast of the island. Later, explorer John Cabot arrived and sent word of the riches he found in the waters off its coast. Although the fish that drew settlers to the area 500 years ago have been all but eradicated, the sea is still providing a rich bounty to the province.

According to industry analysts, Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil industry accounted for between 12 and 13 per cent of all Canadian production last year and 37% of the Country’s light crude production. With an estimated 90,000+ barrels a day expected from the new White Rose project slated to begin producing by year end and talks of development on Hebron Ben-Nevis in the works, Newfoundland and Labrador is quickly becoming the center of the Canadian oil industry.

The story doesn’t end there of course. In addition to current and known reserves, other areas off the coast are being actively explored and are expected to produce even more hydrocarbons. Exploration will be taking place over the next few years in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin and seismic work is already moving ahead in the Orphan and Laurentian Sub-Basins. Each of these areas has long been suspected of containing massive reserves, larger perhaps than those already developed.

At this point in its history, Newfoundland and Labrador is uniquely positioned to leave its legacy of being a “have not” province behind forever, but only if the right decisions are made and key opportunities are not missed.

Currently the province is experiencing financial growth due to its oil production and a recently negotiated deal with the federal government allowing it to retain a reasonable portion of revenues from the offshore, however this alone will not be enough to turn the tide.

To date there has been no concerted effort to develop the natural gas reserves also located off the coast, reserves which are estimated to be worth billions. Add to this the fact that many financial analysts blame current record oil prices on a world wide under-capacity in refining, and one has to wonder why a province with so much oil has not pushed harder for development in the secondary processing arena.

Will the right moves be made to ensure the long term viability of this province?

Will natural gas production become a reality?

Will the province ensure that refineries are built and just as importantly, will they look beyond oil and gas to sustainable revenue streams?

These are the questions that need to be answered.

Recently I met an individual who likened the situation today to what has happened in places around the province like Buchan’s and Bell Island. Both of these towns, and others like them, were once booming mining towns riding a wave of growth and wealth. Today, with their resources depleted, these towns are all but dead. Children often ask why people even settled in them. As this individual said, “One day your children or your children’s children will ask what Hibernia was”.

Eventually the current offshore revenue sharing deal will end and although it will happen much later, so to will the provinces offshore reserves be depleted, just like the mines of Bell Island.

The key to the future will be to ensure that all the revenues, industry clout and political leverage that these reserves now bestow on the province are used to full capacity in planning and developing for the future.

Projects like the Lower Churchill River will need to be developed in a way that ensures the lion’s share of all revenues and the generating capacity are available to the province rather than sold off to other interests. If this means developing the project with Newfoundland and Labrador dollars, so be it.

Some of the billions of dollars in revenue generated by the offshore need to be re-invested in the industry. Why does the province need to depend only on royalties and taxes from oil production? If some of the province's revenues were used to buy a 10 or 20 per cent stake in these developments wouldn’t that buy a further 10 or 20 per cent share of the profits?

It’s time to begin thinking outside the box. To find new revenue streams and to use the provinces electricity, oil, gas and all of its other riches as a spring board to developing a production based economy rather than a resource based one.

If our leaders give away the Lower Churchill as they did the Upper, if they use the revenues from our offshore to placate the electorate, pump money into politically motivated projects and appease public sector unions rather than in developing future revenue streams, the next few years may be rosy and bright, but I sure don’t want to be around when the oil wells start to sputter out their last few precious drops.

Much of the billions from these resources, which belong to every citizen of the province, should be ear marked for long term, stable and renewable growth. It is not difficult to imagine major industries such as smelters, factories, auto plants and many others opting to setup shop in an area with abundant electrical reserves, massive amounts of raw material, in the form of ore, thousands of square miles of open land, abundant supplies of fresh water, a readily available workforce and year round shipping ports.

It costs money to make money and it’s time for our leaders to step up to the plate and see that the opportunities we now enjoy are not wasted.

Industrial growth will need to be the new backbone of the province’s economy, but there are other opportunities to be found. Some work has already been done by the private sector in developing the provinces tourism industry through highlighting our rich cultural and geographical resources. This is another area where sustainable growth should be nurtured.

The province has great diversity in its native culture which includes Inuit, Innu, Metis and Micmac residents, along with its European heritage in the form of its Irish, Scottish, British and French cultures. Add to this a land rich in ocean vistas, endless forests, abundant wildlife, wide open spaces and some of the continents lowest crime rates and you have a visitor’s, not to mention a developer’s dream.

Newfoundland and Labrador has been on the receiving end of hard times since time itself began. It continues to sit in Canada’s basement and settle for a few bones tossed its way by Ottawa, but if the people of this province can force our elected representatives to make the right decisions, if we can direct our well honed survival instincts toward building for our future and if we can apply pressure on outside interests, including Ottawa, then we need not face a future as bleak as our past.

When we the people see to it that this is done, then and only then will the people of Canada’s poorest and richest province finally come to understand just how wealthy they truly are.

By Myles Higgins and Greg Byrne

Monday, September 12, 2005

Russian Terrorists in Newfoundland Top Federal Agenda

You know, it’s funny sometimes how you can be heading in one direction and suddenly you end up going somewhere altogether different. Such is the case today.

Just as I was completing an article on a Coast Guard exercise off the coast of Newfoundland I received an email from one of our readers who wanted to bring a federal government press release to my attention. Amazingly, although the two items didn’t at first hit me as related, they are.

Initially I began writing about a recent news article on VOCM radio in Newfoundland and Labrador and ended up writing about Paul Martin’s upcoming visit to the UN. Go figure.

Anyway, according to the article, the Canadian Coast Guard and RCMP are conducting a search and rescue / terrorism exercise in Fortune Bay Newfoundland this week. The exercise will utilize Coast Guard vessels, a French Naval vessel and a Canadian Forces helicopter.

Here is the part of the story that immediately caught my attention: One of the scenarios involves a terrorism plot originating in Russia.

I have to ask, has anyone taken the time to inform the federal government that Russia is now an ally and that the cold war is over?

In an effort to help keep our federal leaders up to date, I personally searched the web for information on terrorist incidents stemming from Russia.

The results of my search show that yes, unfortunately terrorism is on the rise in that part of the globe, however of the 50 incidents which have taken place since 2000, none were on Western soil. In fact, they were all acts of domestic terrorism most of which were related primarily to Chechnya.

As unfortunate and heart breaking as these incidents are, they don’t appear to reflect a will by anyone in Russia to inflict pain and suffering in Western nations. In fact these incidents clearly show a country embroiled in an internal upheaval and a people much too pre-occupied to worry about attacking anyone in this part of the world.

It makes me wonder just how “on the ball” the Canadian government is when it comes to planning for these sorts of worst case scenarios. My thinking is that if anything ever did happen, by the time the authorities figured it out and responded, everyone involved in carrying out the attack would have died of old age. Does Air India ring a bell?

I also have to wonder how our new allies in Russia feel about being used in such a simulation. Did anyone discuss this scenario with the Foreign Affairs office? Surely it can’t be good for foreign relations between our two nations. How would the Canadian people feel if Russia began running exercises based on a scenario where Alberta cattle ranchers where invading the Russian steppes, or PEI potato farmers planned to blow up a consignment of Russian spuds?

In a post 911 world everyone needs to plan and prepare for a possible terrorist threat, but with so many terrorist organizations out there to choose from, couldn’t the brain trust in charge of this exercise have come up with a better scenario than a Russian incident off the coast of Newfoundland?

I just hope anyone covering this story gets the details straight about the fact that the plan and the exercise originated with federal agencies, not provincial ones. If they miss that point, this could turn into one hell of a newfie joke.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with Paul Martin visiting the UN. Not a lot on the surface, other than the correlation between the stupidity of the federal government at home and the even stupider (is that a word?) actions of our representatives when abroad.

You see according to today’s press release, Canada’s Prime Minister will be attending the UN 2005 World Summit being held in New York from September 14-16.

According to the release, Mr. Martin will press for Canada’s priorities:

Promoting human rights and the responsibility to protect;

Improving UN performance in peace building;

Counter terrorism;

Responding to global heath threats;

Reaffirming the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for development;

Improving UN management and oversight mechanisms; and

On September 14, the Prime Minister will sign the new United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

All pretty heady stuff, but I do have to wonder, as the reader who submitted this release to me also wondered, where is the high priority item that the Honorable Paul Martin always speaks about when pandering for votes in Newfoundland and Labrador? Pressing the international community to help protect cod stocks on the nose and tail of the grand banks.

This particular item, which according to statements from the Prime Minister during an international fisheries conference earlier this year, is a key priority of his government, appears to be missing from his agenda.

One has to ask why this is. After all, this is a prime opportunity to move Canada's fisheries issues to the front of the agenda at the UN. An opportunity to stop his dithering and take a strong action for once in his Prime Ministerial career.

It appears that instead for pushing this important issue, our great Prime Minister would rather regale his audience with stories of how Canada, (wait for it folks), is working on the nations counter terrorism planning by preparing for a Russian attack in Newfoundland.

Hey, we shouldn’t complain, we did elect him. (Well, I didn’t elect him, but someone out there must have voted Liberal right?)

Hopefully the Russians won’t get too upset with us and start sending vessels across the Atlantic to surround Newfoundland. Oh, wait, that’s right, they already have. Russia, along with a dozen other countries already have us surrounded, but don’t worry, according to the Federal government if we just ignore them they’ll eventually go away. Once all the fish are gone.

If you are interested in letting Paul Martin know how you feel about his chronic dithering over fisheries issues and if you would like to see him table the topic at the UN, you can do so at:

It may just stop him from embarrassing himself publicly again and bye the way, our Foreign Affairs Minister will also be at that convention. Someone might want to pass along the word to him that Canada’s homeland security forces are planning for a Russian invasion.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Citizens Committee Formed to Address Newfoundland and Labrador's Place in Canada

A public gathering of citizens who are concerned with Newfoundland and Labrador’s status in Confederation was held at the Capital Hotel in St. John’s last evening.

The meeting, which was organized by former school teacher Lloyd Taylor, attracted people from all walks of life and widely varied social and political backgrounds. Perhaps the only thing those attending had in common was the deep belief that the province has not being treated fairly by Ottawa or by many of its political representatives both federally and provincially over the years.

The meeting, which the organizer hoped would mark the formation of a citizen’s action committee or think tank on our place in Canada, was attended by members of the general public as well as several well known local personalities, including the former head of Fishery Products, who in later years became a well known fisheries advocate, Mr. Gus Etchegary. Also in attendance was former Conservative MP Tom Hickey, now heading up the newly formed NL First Party and of course, yours truly.

Although the session started slowly, the room quickly came to life with many emotional and often eloquently delivered testimonials from those in attendance. Many topics were discussed during the meeting including Churchill Falls, federal representation, or lack thereof, out migration, fisheries issues and natural resources.

For those in attendance it provided an opportunity to vent long held frustrations and in some cases the meeting helped attendees understand that they were not alone in their feelings. That indeed, there are others out there who feel similarly, on a myriad of topics.

Although nearly everyone in the room agreed on what the issues facing the province are, one of the biggest roadblocks to anyone hoping to change the current situation became painfully clear, a lack of unity on the approach to fostering change.

While some liked the idea of forming a committee to “brainstorm” on issues and look for solutions, which was the primary intent of the organizer, others like Mr. Hickey of the NL First party took the stance that the only route to change is to back his party and make a political stand. According to Mr. Hickey, there are already too many splinter groups in the province and the only way to move forward was to unite under the NL First banner.

Although it was generally agreed that unity was critical, some wondered if unity under the party’s banner was the only option.

Many in attendance agreed that eventual change would only come through political actions, however that doesn’t mean that groups like the citizens committee, which formed last evening, do not have a role to play. It also doesn’t mean that individual groups necessarily need to be at odds with each other.

There is no reason that groups like NL First, the Rural Rights and Boat Owners Association or any other group in the province could not make use of a politically independent “Think Tank” type of committee to help plan their party platforms, direction or strategies based on the group’s research and recommendations.

Regardless of how various factions might unite for the common goal of improving their lot in life, it is very clear that a lack of unity will always be a major stumbling block to change unless someone finds a way to bring various factions together.

What form this type of coalition might take is open to discussion. Perhaps the solution will require bringing the various factions together under a common banner or perhaps a loose affiliation of independent organizations. Organizations that while remaining focused on their individual efforts, are also coordinated and supportive of each others actions. After all, there is power in numbers.

Regardless of the direction, unity is critical. Perhaps this might be the first challenge that should be addressed by the new citizens committee.

Unfortunately, this task might prove to be the most difficult one to accomplish.


Although an initial group was formed at the meeting last night, there is still interest in adding more "Thinking" resources to the team. If you are interested in joining the Citizens Action Committee you can find out how by contacting me at higginsmyles@yahoo.ca

I'll be more than happy to forward your message to the organizer.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anti-Federal Sentiment on The Rise in Newfoundland and Labrador

A poll conducted in 2004 shows that the public’s trust in the federal government to do a good job has declined sharply in the past two years. This is true for most of the Country, however the most dramatic case is in Atlantic Canada where this trust has slipped from 66% in 2002 to 34% in 2004 – a decrease of 32 points in 2 years.

Of course these results are based on a poll of Atlantic Canadians, but it is doubtful the result would favour Ottawa any more if it had been limited to Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact the numbers would likely be lower.

Add to this the results of other NL specific polls and it is clear to see that separatist sentiment may be growing in the province.

Not surprisingly, a poll of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans conducted yearly between 1989 and 1997 and available at Queens University, shows a lack of trust in the federal system in this province.

The poll asked the question: In your opinion, does the current federal government treat all regions of the country equally or does it favour one region over others?

In 1989 the results were:

Equality Exists: 40.9%
Favoritism Exists: 52.3%
Don’t Know: 4.5%

By 1997 the results looked like this:

Equality Exists: 19%
Favoritism Exists: 73.8%
Don’t Know: 7.1%

Another poll, also available through Queens University posed the following question to Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans over a period of 9 years.

Do you feel you are more a citizen of Canada or NL?

The results show a major shift in sentiment over that time.

In 1989, the year the first poll results are available, the result was nearly split down the middle. At that time, 40.9% felt they were Canadian citizens, 38.6% felt more a citizen of NL while 18.2% claimed they felt equally citizens of both.

In the most recent year of the poll, 1997, the number of respondents who considered themselves equally citizens of Canada and NL remained largely unchanged at 19% however the majority of opinion had shifted dramatically with 21.4% choosing Canada and 59.5% choosing NL.

Nearly a decade has passed since the latest poll was conducted and one has to wonder what the results of such a survey would indicate today. With taxes at an all time high, little federal representation, long waiting lists for health care services and a continuing feeling of being forgotten, or even being taken advantage of by Ottawa on resource issues, it’s doubtful the result would speak well for provincial feelings on the value of Confederation.

Poll results can vary greatly depending on what is happening at any given point in time and as a result should be viewed with caution. No matter the result of any given day, it is clear that there is a growing resentment and lack of trust for Ottawa across the country with Atlantic Canada and perhaps NL leading the way.

No recent polling data is available on these subjects within the province, however the general feeling is that separatist, or NL nationalist, sentiment is more prevalent than it has been in the past 50 years.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Soaring Fuel Prices will Cripple Labrador

On August 22, 2005 gasoline and home heating fuels reached what was thought to be an all time high. At that time gasoline prices in Labrador ranged from $123.2 in Western Labrador to $143.9 on the North and South Coast while home heating Oil ranged from 82.36 cents to 96.36 cents per litre.

As of 12:01am Friday September 2nd fuel prices have once again soared. This time to highs never before imagined.

Current prices for regular unleaded gasoline in Labrador now range from $142.1 in the west to $162.8 in the North and South and in some areas home heating oil has climbed to a staggering $101.86 per litre.

It is estimated that the latest increase in gasoline prices alone will translate into an additional 4 cents per litre in HST revenues for government coffers. As a result of the extreme cost of fuel in the area, the Combined Councils of Labrador have called on both levels of government to reduce the amount of taxes it collects on these products.

In addition to the request for a tax break, the Combined Councils are calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Pricing Office to consider the stock piling of fuels when setting prices in Labrador.

Due to its location and the fact that products like gasoline, diesel and home heating fuels often need to be shipped into the area, fuel in a majority of Labrador Communities is often stockpiled for months on end rather than delivered as needed. As a result of this, there is often little correlation between the price at the pumps and the wholesale cost of the fuel being supplied.

Many communities in Labrador rely on diesel generation for power and this, combined with the approach of the winter home heating season is expected to cause serious concerns, especially for lower income residents and seniors.

Ford Rumbolt, President of the Combined Councils of Labrador had this to say:

“Fuel prices in Labrador are staggering, and residents on the North and South Coast of Labrador are paying the highest prices in the Country. This will have a devastating effect on low income families this coming winter. Seniors and Single Parent Families will be forced to choose between putting food on the table or oil in the tank. ”

“Gasoline reserves in both North and South Coast Communities are topped off in the fall and again in the spring, I do not understand how fuel prices can take such a drastic increase in price. There should be a price freeze during the summer as it is in the winter.”

Waylon Williams, Executive Director of the Combined Councils of Labrador, speaking on the subject today, released this comment:

“With the recent increases in costs in Petroleum products, Labrador communities are paying the highest prices in the Province if not the Country, with prices expected to rise yet again in the very near future. This is an extremely critical issue that demands the attention of every level of government”.

With the price of oil continuing to hover around the $70 a barrel level it appears that consumers across the Country and especially in Labrador will continue to pay higher and higher prices for the foreseeable future unless serious steps are taken to stabilize a worsening situation.

Does Canada's Supreme Court Really Represent Canadian Values?

Boy, it’s a great judicial system we have in this country. Even though the current bench doesn’t reflect the diversity of Canada, it does reflect the Federal Government’s narrow view of what Canada really is, Ontario, Quebec and the other guys.

The current bench consists of 4 justices from Quebec, 3 from Ontario, 1 from Alberta and 1 from New Brunswick. In other words the court has 7 judges from the center of the universe, 1 from the West and 1 from the East.

Add to this the fact that nearly half of the bench is made up of judges from a Province with very strong separatist leanings and what does that mean for a true representation of Canadian values?

With 9 positions existing and 10 provinces in the country, wouldn’t it make sense that every attempt be made to sit a justice from each of the provinces less one that would find representation at the next available opportunity? No, the feds would rather placate Ontario and more especially Quebec. The rest of the Country be damned.

Take Newfoundland and Labrador as an example. The Province has practically no representation within Canada. It has only seven seats in the House of Commons out of over 300 and the province has never seated a Supreme Court Justice, even though it has been a part of Canada for over half a century. As a matter of fact the word is already out that when Justice Major’s seat opens up at the end of this year, not only Newfoundland and Labrador, but NS, NB and PEI can forget filling the slot.

According to Ottawa, Atlantic Canada already has representation by the 1 justice from NB. Another example of how little the federal government knows or cares about the Country outside its immediate field of vision.

Once again, the Atlantic Provinces are simply lumped together in Ottawa’s narrow view. Never mind that each of the provinces has a completely different history, culture and values than the other. Never mind too, that nobody ever lumps other provinces in Canada together the way they do with Atlantic Canada.

Why does the east always have to settle for a one size fits all system? Aren’t the Atlantic Provinces individual entities like Ontario and Quebec? Would one of those Provinces put up with their Federal Government saying, “Well, it works for Ontario so you’ll have to live with it Quebec”.

The fact of the matter is that each of the Provinces on the east coast has its own issues and they don’t necessarily have compatible solutions. Each has its own culture and has a right to be represented as such.

Maybe it’s time to start phasing in a new approach to filling seats on the Supreme Court. Let’s start by phasing out multiple Justices from a single province. When Justice Major retires in December why not fill his slot with someone from anywhere except Ontario, Quebec, Alberta or NB.

There are 6 other provinces out there to choose from, not to mention the territories and if Paul Martin or anyone else in Ottawa isn’t sure where to look, I’d be more than happy to provide a list of all of them and a map identifying exactly where they are located.

Here’s a hint Paul, they are all inside the Canadian border. Now look to your left and right. Now really, is it that hard Paul?

How Comfortable are NLers With Their Place in Canada?

How comfortable are Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans with their place in the Dominion of Canada?

Does anyone really know?

A few years back a Royal Commission survey concluded that 12% of people in the province would opt for separation from Canada. How accurate was that number at the time. Since the report was issued, many things have changed in the Province and in the Country in general. How accurate is this number now?

If the recent growth of parties like NLFirst, the increase in blogs like this one and the fact that so many Pink, White and Green flags are flying from roof tops is any indication, I doubt the number is very accurate at all.

I believe it’s time for a new and unbiased poll to be conducted across the province that will let the public know exactly what the prevailing sentiment is on the subject. The poll does not need to be overly complex and could consist of a couple of simple questions like:

If a referendum were held tomorrow, would you vote to remain in Canada or to become an independent nation?

Do you believe Newfoundland and Labrador has the financial ability to succeed independently from Canada?

A poll of this type would finally deliver a clear message to Ottawa and to our provincial leaders that:

A) We like being a part of the Country of Canada and wish to stay;
B) We don’t like being a part of Canada and want to leave; or
C) Sentiment is growing or lessening with regard to separation

I think it’s time this was done and the results made public.

Of course it would be very important to learn from the poll exactly who is in the "Confederation" or "Non-Confederation" camp. This could be accomplished by sampling the public in 3 distinct geographical regions:

The Avalon Peninsula;
Rural Newfoundland; and

The results of the referendum that brought us into Canada clearly identify the fact that sentiment in the Avalon area may not be the same as that in rural Newfoundland, and we all know that Labrador often has a different view of our political situation than the island does.

Another demographic of interest would be age groups. Perhaps the results could be broken out into:

18 – 39
40 – 54
55 +

This would provide a clear picture of how the various age groups feel on the subject, with the younger grouping being very critical as it would provide a clear picture of the direction our province is heading.

The commissioning of just such a poll might be an interesting topic for discussion at the upcoming conference on our place in Canada next week. (see previous article for details)

I wonder if someone with the financial resources to commission such a poll will step up and find those answers. Perhaps it might be a valid exercise for the NL First party. One would think a party that has stated time and again that separation should always remain on the table as an option, would or should commission such a poll to determine the level of support.

No matter who were to commission the poll, I'm sure the results would prove to be very interesting.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Win Your Very Own Pink, White and Green Flag

Enter to Win Your Very Own Pink, White and Green NL Flag

With all the discussion lately over the current provincial flag and in an effort to support the fine folks at:


who are soliciting signatures on a petition to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to adopt the Pink, White and Green ensign, I thought I would offer a contest to our readers and contributers.

You can win a Pink, White and Green flag of your very own to proudly display outside your home. (flag pole not included ;-).

All you have to do is let us know what the Pink, White and Green really means to you. In other words, why we should adopt it as our flag.You can email your submissions to:


and you can enter as many times as you want.

It's just that easy!!

Over the coming days I will be reviewing your submissions and picking a winner from among them. The winner will be awarded the flag and will have his/her comments published on the site.

Good luck to all.