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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Alexis Portnoy Arrested and Turned Over to the Canadian Border Services for Deportaion

Newfoundland and Labrador breaking news:

December 22, 2005

Early this morning an RCMP spokesperson announced the arrest of Alexis Portnoy, an Israeli immigrant who has been the center of a province wide effort to save him and his family from deportation.

Mr. Pornoy and his family have been receiving asylum in a church basement in Marystown, Newfoundland since October when he along with his pregnant wife and 4 children were ordered out of the country.

The family, which has been living in Newfoundland for more than 10 years and by all accounts have been welcome and productive members of the local community. In the past few months the unprecedented outcry of people across the province, including many local municipal leaders, has gone largely unheeded by federal officials and ministers, including requests by citizens groups for a stay of deportation.

The Portnoy case has touched the hearts and minds of most people in the province largely due to the fact that two of the family’s four children suffer from medical conditions, including one who has cystic fibrosis. In addition to this, the two younger children were born in the province and are by birthright Canadian citizens. The only response from government on the issue of the Canadian children was that they were welcome to stay but both parents and both older siblings would be forced to leave.

This case which has touched and angered so many people took an unexpected turn early this morning with the announcement of Mr. Portnoy’s arrest in the Burin Peninsula area.

According to early reports, Alexis Portnoy had sneaked out of the church around 10pm last evening intent on emptying clothing collection bins belonging to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Prior to his moving into the church he and an associate had been under contract with the charity to collect donated clothing from the drop off locations and deliver it to the collection center. With Christmas just a couple of days away and a feeling of generosity in the air, bins in the area were overflowing and it appears Mr. Portnoy was intent on ensuring that they reached their destination.

RCMP spokesperson Sergeant Chris Fitzgerald informed the media this morning that Mr. Portnoy had been stopped on a routine traffic violation and upon running his license the outstanding deportation order was identified. Mr. Portnoy was immediately arrested and turned over to the Canada Border Services agency. At this point his exact whereabouts are unknown.

The family had been working with an immigration lawyer to prepare an application for citizenship on humanitarian grounds which they hoped to present to government in the new year. As of this morning the remainder of the Portnoy family was still inside the basement of the Sacred Heart church in Marystown. The major concern of many in the province, and more especially his wife and children, is that Alexis Portnoy may already have been taken out of the province and perhaps even be on a flight back to Israel before the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New Party Politics in Canada

Hi folks,

With the federal election starting to cool off for Christmas (if it ever really heated up), I thought this might be a good time to look at options to the current parties and system of government in this Country.

It seems like most people have reached a point where they plan to vote for the party or leader they feel will do the least harm as opposed to the one they really want elected. That's a sad statement on the Canadian condition, but I believe an accurate one.

Over the past few months I, along with others have been listening to what people have been saying about the various issues and we have decided to begin drafting a platform document for a possible future party tentatively named the People First Party (PFP).

Over the coming days I will be posting portions of that platform for your review and comments. We hope that through your feedback we can develop a platform that is truly representative of what the public wants.

This represents the first installment of that document, Political Reform. Take some time, digest it and let us know what you think about it. Give us your feedback, suggestions and ideas. It is through your input that we will design the final draft.


The complete contents of this discussion draft can be found at: www.peoplefirstparty.blogspot.com/

Mission Statement:

The People’s Voice Party (PFP) a voice for all Canadians.

A voice for sweeping political and social reforms, PFP is dedicated to the principle of open and equal government through increasing power to provinces & territories while protecting our Nation’s social & economic values.

Political Reform:

The PFP is fully dedicated to the creation of a triple E Senate. This will allow each of the Country’s provincial partners to have a more equal say in policy and legislation regardless of their population base. We believe that the archaic practice of appointing senators is one that provides no real value to Canadians but instead serves to reward longtime supporters of individual political parties. In comparison, an elected senate will ensure that the public receives the sort of regional representation they deserve.

Although the details of a specific senate structure and processes will require much planning and development, the PFP vision is to implement a triple E senate that has the powers necessary to ensure that the needs of all province’s and territories are met. One option the PFP is currently considering is a mechanism by which legislation would require the agreement by a minimum of 60% of the senate, plus the agreement of a majority of the senators from at least seven provinces and/or territories, in order to be enacted.

In addition to the creation of a triple E senate, the PFP will undertake a review of the current system of parliamentary election. We are in favor of fully reviewing the current “first past the post” system that allows a party to form the government even though that party may have captured less than half of the popular vote. We believe that electoral reform must be undertaken on two fronts, a senate that provides regional representation and a Parliament that provides proportional representation. It is in this way that the voice of the people will truly be heard.

As a party, the PFP intends to work with the provinces and territories to ensure they have the freedom and powers they need in order to prosper. We believe that while a federal presence is a necessity for all Canadians it should not impede the development and growth of the provinces on an individual basis. The PFP believes that Canada is much more than simply the sum of its parts. We believe that by loosening Ottawa’s centralized grip on the nation, the individual parts will begin to flourish and in turn lead to an even stronger nation.

The PFP believes that much of the pomp and circumstance that currently exists within government is antiquated, unnecessary and overly expensive. A clear example of this is the current practice of maintaining a Queen’s representative in Ottawa and in each province (Governor General/Lieutenant Governor). This is an outdated custom that has no real value in the twenty-first century. We believe that while the office may provide a comfortable reminder of our history, its does not warrant the cost of maintaining it going forward and should be done away with.

The PFP vision of government is one that is open and responsive to the needs of the nation. In an effort to ensure accountability and sound financial practices the PFP would greatly increase the powers of the Auditor General by allowing the office to fully investigate spending in all areas of government. All members of parliament including cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister would be subject to the Auditor’s review. The office of the Auditor General would report directly to parliament in an open forum available to all, in essence making it accountable to the general public.

Although we understand that the plans outlined above will take time to implement, we believe they are a major first step in creating a more even handed government that will better serve all Canadians. Other changes will need to occur over time, but we believe that these steps will significantly improve how this country is governed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Canada's Colonial Rule in Newfoundland and Labrador

I recently wrote an commentary in which I speculated on whether Ottawa viewed Newfoundland and Labrador as an occupied colony than as a true province. The idea was mentioned in reference to the fact that the federal presence in the province has dropped by around 30% in the past couple of decades resulting in very few federal employees or services existing here. The comments were also spurred on by the fact that even though nearly all of Canada's eastern coastline, 17,500 kms of it anyway, is contained in the province yet there is no military presence to speak of.

Since writing that piece I’ve decided to look back into history a little bit in order to see just how the province really does compare to the colonies of old. To take a look at our own history and see just where we fit inside the great Canadian family or if indeed we do.

As you may or may not be aware, Newfoundland entered confederation on March 31, 1949 after years of heated debate that pitted religion against religion and family against family. Although Newfoundland had once been an independent nation, just prior to joining Canada it was a British Colony, under the rule of the King so to speak and was in essence a colonial outpost of the British Empire.

In the late 1940s, with WWII having just ended, Britain was in grave financial difficulty due to a massive rebuilding effort that was underway. As a cost saving measure the British government decided to divest itself of many of its costly colonies in places like India, Africa and yes, Newfoundland. These activities basically signaled the end of British colonial rule which had been in a decline around the world for many decades.

While most colonized lands were returned to the people who had historically ruled them, this was not a part of the master plan for Newfoundland. When a delegation from the island visited England and requested an opportunity to work out specific terms for a return to sovereignty they were met with a very cold and unfriendly reception. In essence they were led to understand that this was not a topic that would be discussed.

What the delegation didn’t know was that secret plans were already underway behind the scenes, in partnership with the Canadian government, to annex Newfoundland. Any other course of action was simply brushed aside by the leadership of the day and treated with utter contempt.

By the time Joey Smallwood was identified as the man who could successfully lead the confederation movement forward, the outcome was already a foregone conclusion in some circles. As a result of quiet, yet substantial, political and financial backing from both England and Canada, the movement to promote confederation found its wings and in a very heated and closely fought public referendum Newfoundland was brought kicking and screaming into the dominion.

With barely better than 50% public support, it was at that point in history that Newfoundland signed on as a Canadian province, at least on paper. Official records and political rhetoric identify the province as an equal partner in Canada, but did Newfoundland really become a province in the true sense of the word, or is it still nothing more than a colony being governed from afar?

A quick scan of several dictionaries leads one to the following commonly accepted definition of Colonialism:

a policy in which a country rules other nations and develops trade for its own benefit; a country or area controlled politically by a more powerful country; belief in and support for the system of one country controlling another

Does any of this sound even vaguely familiar to anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador, a land that was once an independent nation, but is now controlled by a much larger country? A land that has little, if any, real political power within the ruling government and a land where resources have been utilized and traded for the greater good of the nation, sometimes to the detriment of Newfoundland and Labrador itself.

Newfoundlanders often question why they were considered less important to Canada than Quebec was when it came to permitting the province to sell billions of dollars worth of Upper Churchill power to the nation? Why did it take years of fighting and maneuvering to change a situation were resources located under ground, such as in Alberta’s oil fields, are considered the domain of the province while those under water, on this province’s continental shelf, were considered to be in the federal domain? People often ask themselves, why foreign fishing fleets have been given quotas off this province’s shores? Quotas that were denied to local fishermen but were issued to foriegn nations in an effort to improve international trade for the benefit of Ontario textile mills.

These issues are of great importance to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. So to are the words often spoken by federal politicians who tell the public that by joining Canada Newfoundland gained many benefits it would otherwise never have had. Benefits such as roads, hospitals, improved education and so on. “Where would you be today if it weren’t for Canada?” they often say.

What follows is a quote from the “History of the Indian Sub-Continent”. Does this sound familiar to anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador today?

“While few educated South Asians would deny that British Colonial rule was detrimental to the interests of the common people of the sub-continent - several harbor an illusion that the British weren't all bad. Didn't they, perhaps, educate us - build us modern cities, build us irrigation canals - protect our ancient monuments - etc. etc.”

The document goes on to describe how, although still a developing nation, the reality of the situation was that as an independent Country, the people of the land ended up much better off than they had been under Colonial rule and in fact, after 50 years of freedom they have improved their lot in life well beyond where they were when colonial rule ended in the late 1940s.

In Newfoundland and Labrador today, we indeed have hospitals, schools, roads, etc, but at what cost and to what benefit? Our hospitals are seriously under funded, our province’s literacy rate is still one of the lowest in Canada and anyone who has traveled the roads of this province, including the TCH, will attest to the fact that they are in deplorable shape and worsening every year.

The province once had a railway from one end of the island to the other. This is gone.

The province’s fisheries have been destroyed while under a federal watch.

Newfoundland and Labrador has practically no representation in the nation's centralized government.

The province is physically cut off from the Country that governs it by a province that continually vacillates between nationalism and separation. As a result of the federal government not wanting to tip the balance by ruling against the larger province, Newfoundland and Labrador can’t even move its resources across Quebec’s borders.

After more than 50 years under Canadian rule, Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be the butt of countless Canadian jokes half the time and the grease that turns the wheels of the foreign affairs department the other half.

Is Newfoundland and Labrador a province or a colony? I’ll let you make up your own mind on that. As for me, all I have to say is welcome to my old colonial home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Canoe.ca and Slam Sports Promote Hatred of Atlantic Canada

I’d like, no in fact I need, to take a few minutes to comment on a very disturbing article today on the Canoe.ca Slam-Sports web site. The commentary is entitled “The Last Word” by one Bill Lankhof, or as I would prefer to call him at this point, Bill F-Off. Mr. Lankhof works for a publication out of Toronto which I will not name directly since I would prefer to give the particular rag in question as little free publicity as possible.

It is clear to me and should be to any other thinking person that this individual is nothing more than an ignorant, uneducated, self serving pustule who has never traveled outside of his own little fiefdom (possibly within his own mind, but more likely someplace in central Canada).

In what should have been a very celebratory sports article describing the Brad Gushue Olympic trial victory on Sunday in Halifax, this micro-minded waste of oxygen managed to insult the province of Newfoundland and Labrador at least 6 times and still managed some space to throw in a crude comment about the sinking of the titanic for good measure.

Let me give you an example of the pure crapulance he was allowed to bring to the public in his attack on Newfoundland.

Lankhof's first insult lead off the article when he began the piece by saying the win was the biggest thing to happen in Newfoundland, “since the invention of pogey”. He then followed up with such wonderful insights as, “The local sport of baby –seal whacking is no longer coming across on TV as a great spectator sport” and noting how Newfoundland’s Gushue was a good fit for curling since he came from a land of “Booze, ice and rocks”.

As if this were'nt bad enough, he didn’t stop there. He then went on to say, “Locals now have something to chew the fat over --other than that yucky whale blubber they've been gnawing on…”.

I have no idea where his narrow mind, if he even has a mind, managed to dig that little ditty up, nor do I understand why he would follow such a remark with, “Newfies finally have someone named Skip to look up to again whose livelihood doesn't depend on a cod fish to be born later.”

To top it all off, in the warped mind of this lump of useless organs, it appears that crude references to the titanic sinking, where hundreds of souls were lost, are considered a funny thing. He says, and I quote, “The last time Newfoundland made such a big international splash the Titanic tried deep-sea diving”.

I ask you, is this idiot supposed to be a sports writer, or is he simply trying to take the wind out of the sails of this world class team while intentionally insulting, denigrating and stereotyping a large part of the Canadian population?

This man, and I use the term very loosely, not to mention the latte sipping morons who keep him on their payroll need to take a long hard look at reality. They might just find that there is much more of value to be found in Canada than exists in their own backyard.

It is this kind of crude and degrading commentary that has long made Atlantic Canadians, and Newfoundlander's in particular, feel like outcasts in this Country. For an organization like Canoe.ca to provide this individual with a forum for spewing his hatred is nothing less than an embarrassment to the management and staff of that company.

I'm sure many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans who have read the article will be asking for an official apology. I as an individual will not. Not because I don't feel that we deserve one, but because an apology will simply not rectify a very serious problem like the one his paper and anyone else who would promote his drivel has. Instead this man should be fired, along with anyone who would dare to defend his comments. Then again, I guess that's a lot to ask from a company that would hire this excuse for a human being in the first place.

Maybe I'll do my part to help the stereotype of Newfoundland along by dashing off to Toronto and getting a job. Maybe I too can be a sports writer. I understand there is a certain paper there that will hire anyone with a head full of rocks. Let me see, how about if I start by following Bill Lankhof's lead. Maybe the next time someone like Chris Brosh of the Raptors has a great night I can amuse myself and my readers by talking about all the fried chicken and watermelon that will be consumed at the after game party.

No, I don't think I'd like a job like that. I'd probably need to be at least two people to carry it off because one person certainly couldn't be that much of a moron all by himself.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Election Night in Canada – With Bob Cold and Hairy Kneel

Bob – “Welcome back to election fans across the Country. Well it’s been an odd game to this point. The Liberals are leading but they’re looking a little tired out there and I have to say they’re definately being a out skated so far in the contest. We’ve got a stoppage underway at the moment as the officials have gone upstairs for a ruling on the last play. It’s difficult to tell from this angle if the last shot made it through so this might take a while.”

Hairy – “Absolutely, Bob, the puck was bouncing around quite a bit on that play and I can tell you that the folks in the video booth don’t want to make any mistakes on this one.”

Bob – “In the mean time Hairy, why don’t we bring our viewers up to date on the action so far.”

Hairy – “Sure thing Bob. We’re about mid-way through the first period and this veteran Liberal team has a small lead. I can tell you right now though that their lead sure doesn’t reflect the action in the game to this point. This upstart Conservative expansion team is really taking it to the Liberals at every opportunity.”

Bob – “They sure are Hairy. The Liberals may be the odds on favorites in this game, but it looks like someone forgot to tell these Conservatives that. What’s your take on what we’ve been seeing so far?”

Hairy - “Well Bob, right now the Liberals are looking like a team that’s back on its heals. They’ve gone into a defensive mode trying to hang onto their small lead, but it’s still early in the game and they desperately need to put some insurance on the board. This game is not over yet and this is no time to sit back.”

“Conservative captain, Stephen Harper, really set the tone for this game from the opening face off when he fired a GST bullet past the Liberal defensemen and drove it home. I think that really took the big red machine by surprise and they still haven’t managed to fully recover from it.”

Bob – “Sure thing Hairy and that turnover down in the far corner early in the game didn’t help either.”

Hairy – “There's no doubt that hurt em Bob. On their best chance of the game the Liberal Captain picked up the puck in offensive zone with that Gander Weather Office pass but he failed to capitalize on it. He just didn’t seem to know what to do down there. He stick handled around the issue way too long and finally had the puck picked right off his stick. Harper, who’s been very quick out there, took it the length of the ice and drove it home to pick up a big point for his team. A really bad decision on the Liberal’s part not to take the shot Bob.”

Bob – “Indeed Hairy. I have to admit I expected much more from this veteran team, but they don’t really seem prepared for this game.”

Hairy – “I think you’re right Bob. I don’t think they expected this upstart Conservative team to get off to such a quick start, but there’s a lot of game left to play yet and we may see two completely different teams coming out of the dressing rooms after the intermission.”

Bob – “The action in this one has been pretty much one sided to this point Hairy and we’ve only seen any real chances from the starting lines. The second and third strings have been a non-factor to this point.”

Hairy – “Absolutely, I mean that’s true on both ends of the sheet. So far both Captains have been carrying their teams and that’s going to have to change if one side or the other hopes to break this game open. Some of the key offensive players on both sides just haven’t shown up for this one and neither captain can keep up this pace for the duration”

Bob – “True, I certainly expected to see much more action out of players like McKay and Stronach for example. I have to wonder why we haven’t seen more of these two so far? Is that big mid-season Stronach trade still playing itself out in this game?”

Hairy – “Could be Bob. That move caught everyone by surprise. The McKay / Stronach line was a big one for the Conservatives but since the trade we haven’t seen much from either player.”

“Neither one has had any real ice time in this game. I think both teams are a little wary of pitting them against each other in such an important contest. They may not be sure of what could happen. The Conservatives look like they want to stick to their game plan and not let things to get to aggressive out there, not yet anyway. They’d rather use their speed and agility to wear down their opponents. On the other side of the coin, the Liberals can’t afford to get too rough. If they take any more penalties or they could knock themselves out of it all together.”

“They did manage to kill off that Goodale income trust penalty a short while ago but they sure can’t afford to take too many more of those if they want to stay in this one.”

Bob – “Are you surprised the Conservatives haven’t been a little more aggressive in the corners and along the boards Hairy? I mean this Liberal team is much older and they’ve been beaten up pretty badly the entire season. Wouldn’t the Conservatives be better off if they started hitting a little harder?”

Hairy – “I think a lot of people expected exactly that from this team, but I think they’ve come into this one realizing that they have to be wary of the experience of this Liberal team. It's definately going to be a big factor in the outcome. It looks like they’ve decided on a different game plan but we may see them get a little more aggressive if they’re still behind late in the game.”

Bob – “A lot may depend on whether or not the current review results in a point for the Conservatives. The referee is still talking to the officials. Why don’t you walk us through the play that lead up to this delay Hairy.”

Hairy – “Sure thing Bob. It all started back in Liberal territory when Martin stepped out and tried a long lead pass over the hand gun issue. The play had the potential to open things up for him here at home but he fanned on the pass and his counterpart intercepted it in the neutral zone. Harper took it back down the ice, split the defense and managed a weak bouncing shot on the net that may or may not have scored. We’ll just have to wait and see what the decision is on this one.”

Bob – “Indeed we will. In the mean time, everyone’s been talking about all the money this Liberal team spent getting ready for this contest Hairy, do you think its going to pay off for them?”

Hairy – “I really don’t know Bob. Yes they’ve spent a lot of money but the big question is have they spent it wisely. Did they spend it in ways that would ensure a win? I’m not so sure they did.”

Bob – “Ah, here we go folks, it looks like we have a decision and.... yes, it looks like the Conservatives have scored another one on that hand gun issue. This game just got a little closer. Here we go again, now let’s get back to the action”

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hynes Dismisses Simms' Talk of Private Forecasting

media release - 7 December 2005 PORT UNION

Aaron Hynes, Conservative Candidate for Bonavista-Gander-GrandFalls-Windsor, today expressed disappointment over his Liberal opponent's continued refusal to commit to reinstating public, marine and aviation weather forecasting services in Gander.

In St. John's on Tuesday, Hynes and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper made a written commitment to fully restore the public, marine and aviation forecasting services that were removed from Gander by the federal Liberal government two years ago.

Prime Minister Paul Martin refused to even meet with advocates of reinstating the weather services while in St. John's, and answered in rambling and evasive terms when asked about the issue. Hynes' Liberal opponent Scott Simms has also refused to commit to reinstating forecasting services in Gander. Instead, Simms says talks aimed at allowing a private company to provide those services were being held until the election was called.

Hynes stated, "Paul Martin's embarassing rambling when he was asked about the weather station proved how out of touch the Liberals are on this issue, and Scott Simms is only making matters worse by talking about privatized forecasting services. Constituents have told me they are very concerned about any plan that would place such essential safety services in the hands of a private company."

Hynes also pointed out that Simms' own party is not on side with his plan, and questioned Simms' assertion that talks between the private company and Environment Canada have been going on for six months. Hynes said, "Two months ago, I wrote a letter to the Environment Minister asking him to reinstate Gander's weather services. The reply I received last month defended the removal of those services from Gander, and made no mention of any plan involving the private sector.

It's obvious that the Prime Minister isn't aware of any such talks either. It looks like Mr. Simms is freelancing on this issue to conceal his party's lack of commitment to the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stop Canada's Policy of Destroying Loving Families

For those of you who may not be aware of the situation currently playing itself out in Newfoundland and Labrador and similar ones across this country let me fill you in. There are, as I write this, any number of families and individuals who are heading into the Christmas season under the specter of a deportation order from Canadian Border Services. Deportation orders that were issued by a single bureaucrat who is part of a system that has no appeal process for those who are affected by the decision.

Some of these individuals are skilled craftsmen gainfully employed using skills that can be found nowhere else in the province if even in the Country. When they go, so to do their jobs and other jobs dependent on them, not to mention the highly sought after products these people produce will no longer be available. Of course in the situation here, in Newfoundland and Labrador specifically, that wouldn’t matter to the bureaucrat in Halifax who made the decision.

Others under deportation order include people like the Portnoy family, from Israel. Thousands of people from all parts of the province have rallied around this family and shown their limitless support for them. At this point I doubt anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador does not recognize the name or feel deeply for this family. In other parts of Canada their name may not be known. With Christmas coming up and the feeling of love and friendship, not to mention an election in the air, let me give you a short synopsis and update on this family’s plight.

The family of 6, a mother, father and 4 children, are now living in the basement of a local church where they have been seeking sanctuary for several long months. They have been unable to return to their home during that time. The father, Alexi Portnoy, was gainfully and happily employed until he was forced underground with his family. The Portnoy family has put down roots and nurtured many friends in the 10 years they have lived here waiting for a dysfunctional federal department to decide their fate. To decide if they were qualified to remain in the Canada. Now after all this time, the family is being told they must leave.

Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, who is also the Minister in charge of Canadian Border Services, has denied the family a stay of deportation that would have allowed for a review of their case to be conducted. This is in spite of the fact that a local support committee sent a 20+ page document to the Minister outlining the specifics of the case, where the system had failed them and clear justifications for the request.

Ms. McLellan didn’t even have the decency to respond to the request directly or even in writing for that matter. Instead, in a warm hearted, spirit of Christmas type of gesture, McLellan passed her decision verbally to area Liberal MP Bill Matthews, and had him do her dirty work for her.

That isn’t even the best of it folks, wait until you hear her decision. It’s a real heart warmer.

According to MP Bill Matthews, who was given the Minister’s response via telephone, Ms. McLellan recommends that the family go back to their home for Christmas and spend a few weeks preparing to leave the Country. She would like them to leave voluntarily in early January. She also recommends that once back in Israel they apply for re-entry and the government would “see” about expediting their application.

Well folks, what a great suggestion. Let’s have this family prepare to leave. Let’s have them take their ailing daughter out of the country. A daughter who suffers every day from Cystic Fibrosis and who nearly died within the past week or so (her family couldn’t even leave the church basement to be with her in the hospital for fear of deportation). Let’s have them pack her up and leave the Country, along with their other children, two of whom were born right here in Newfoundland and are Canadian citizens by birthright. I mean, what’s the big deal. They can re-apply for entry once they get to Israel right?


Despite Ms. McLellan’s generous Christmas gift, they are free to apply, but they have no chance of being accepted. It turns out that they’re daughter, the one with Cystic Fibrosis, would not qualify to come back to this Country for medical reasons. Once they are gone they are gone for good folks. Gone back to a Country who will likely welcome them with less than open arms since they left as refugees citing fear and danger if they remained.

As a gesture of good will, when asked about the moral dilemma presented by deporting the two younger children, who were born here and are Canadian citizens, Mr. Matthews told a representative for the family that those two children could stay if they chose to do so, but the rest of the family would have to go.

What a kind guy, sort of reminds me of Santa Clause. In his favor Matthews said he is asking the Minister for assurances that the family will not be harassed by officials if they attend to their ailing daughter in future, should she once again require emergency services. As of yet there has been no response to this request from Ms. McLellan.

I have to ask myself where it all went wrong. When did we become a nation that sends honest hard working family people away like they were a scourge on our landscape while our government spends millions of dollars protecting the rights of suspected and even proven criminals and terrorist types?

When did we become such a cold, callous and unfeeling nation that we have no problem deporting our own citizens, in the case of the two youngest Portnoy children, or coldly giving two loving parents the option of leaving their children behind forever? When did this happen to us, when did we become what we are?

People in the province are continuing to support the Portnoy family both morally and financially and they have decided to refuse the wonderfully Grinch like offer of Anne McLellan and the government of Canada. Instead this family will remain in the basement of the local church for as long as it takes. With the help of an immigration lawyer and the support of thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador residents, they will continue to fight for their cause on humanitarian and medical grounds. It's the last chance they have now.

I hate to politicize such a personal and painful situation, but I believe every avenue must be explored that might help these people and the communities in which they live, regardless of where that is in Canada. If there is one thing a politician understands fully it is public opinion and votes. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Although this particular situation is a very high profile issue in Newfoundland, it is not well known in other parts of Canada. With election time at hand, I ask everyone to do their best to make this a national issue rather than just a local one. Shout it from the rooftops if you must. Make sure that every person and every politician in this country recognizes the injustice that is happening to people like the Portnoys.

You might want to start by emailing your thoughts and feelings on this issue directly to the Canadian Border Services at:


Perhaps you might want to follow this up by placing a few, a dozen or even hundreds of toll free calls to the Canadian Border Services at:


Tell them how you feel. Deluge their email and phone systems so nothing goes in or out of their offices unless they deal with this issue.

It's time we brought our Country back from the brink. This is not simply about saving the Portnoys or other loving families and children from uncertain futures. It’s also about the kind of country we want to be. It’s a slippery slope we are on folks and if we let this issue die, if we let our government destroy the lives of these good people and others like them, we may find that it is too late for any of us to keep from going over the edge.

Take a stand today. Let’s be heard and heard clearly. Let’s do it today, not tomorrow or next week or next month, but today, right now. Let’s do it before it’s too late.

Do You Support Canada's Current Board of Directors?

I’ve heard the comment that you can’t run a Country or a Province like a business. People’s lives and futures are at stake, there are social issues that need to be addressed and there are wants and needs that can’t be denied. These are indeed facts, but never the less, a government is, in essence, intended to manage and ensure that the best results are delivered for the Country. In this way running a Country can be equated to running a business.

As the people supplying the funds to run this country, through our taxes, we are in essence the company’s shareholders. We have an elected government that can be considered our board of directors. Each department in this government is much like the divisions or departments within a company. We have the Departments of Health, Defense, Finance, Industry, Natural Resources, etc and since we all ultimately work to build and grow this Country, we are not only its stock holders, but its employees as well.

If we consider Canada to be our business and every man, woman and child in Canada as both employees of this company and as the company’s stock holders, it may provide us with the ability to view our current situation with a little less passion and a lot more clarity.

As things stand, our company will be holding its AGM on January 23 rd. At that time we as stock holders will all be asked to review the performance of the current board of directors and decide whether or not they should be replaced.

You will need to ask yourself some very honest questions if you seriously want your company to grow and prosper.

Do you believe the current board has and continues to take your company in a direction you want it to go?

Are you receiving the sort of dividends that you believe you should from your investment in this company?

Do you have trust in your board of directors after it has been shown to have misappropriated millions of your investment dollars and perhaps even been involved in illegal financial activities?

Do you believe that your current Chief Executive Officer, who was the company’s Chief Financial Officer while many of the misdeeds took place, knew nothing about them?

If you don’t believe it, can you now trust him enough to allow him to remain in control of your company?

If you do believe it, then you need to ask yourself if he is fit to run your company when he couldn’t control its finances in the past?

Do you believe the kind of pre-vote spending undertaken by the current board just prior to this AGM was in the best interest of your company or merely a self serving attempt to curry favor with you as a stock holder?

From an employee perspective, do you believe the company’s current health and retirement plans are solvent, efficient and generous enough under current management to meet your family’s needs? In other words, do you think enough has been done by this board to maintain and improve your employee benefits?

Do you feel that your company is responsive to your family’s needs regarding child care, elder care or a myriad of other benefits issues?

After asking yourself these and other questions you may decide that the status quo is just fine, or you may not. Either way, the exercise of separating emotion from your decision and instead taking a long hard look at your Country from a purely business led perspective may help you see the direction you want to take.

We all have a major investment in this Country/company of Canada. Our income tax, sales tax, EI payments and CPP/QPP payments have all been invested in this company for many years. In fact, it is undoubtedly the single biggest investment many of us will ever make in our lifetimes. The AGM is only a few weeks away. This might be a good time, as company owners, to start thinking about how we plan to vote and who we want to run our business.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Road to Independence

The following was sent to me just a few minutes ago by one of our readers who was inspired by some of our recent comments on this site related to Quebec separation. It's interesting to say the least and if nothing else it should spark some discussion. Enjoy.

Future Scenario for Newfoundland and Labrador

2009 - Quebec holds referendum and opts to separate from Canada;

2009 - Newfoundland and Labrador no longer borders Canada but instead now borders the independent Country of Quebec;

2009 – 2012 - As an independent Nation Quebec grows its trade relations with parts of Canada and with other nations;

2014 – After just 5 years, as Quebec’s geographically close neighbour, resource rich Newfoundland and Labrador officially becomes one of manufacturing rich Quebec’s biggest trading partners;

2018 – Having been physically removed from the rest of Canada for nearly a decade the relationship between Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada has slid further and further down hill. The domino has begun to topple;

2019 – Because of the feelings of abandonment felt in the province, the NL Separation Party is formed and headed up by a well known, charismatic and trusted local leader;

2020 - Anti-Federal sentiment, which has been brewing in the province for decades, begins to grow as people watch a successful Quebec prosper economically while NL continues to struggle along in Confederation;

2023 – The NL Separation Party begins to grow in popularity and strength capturing its first few seats in the provincial legislature;

2027 – The NL Separation Party becomes the official opposition party in the provincial legislature as it continues to gain strength;

2031 – The NL Separation Party wins a majority of the seats in the province and forms the provincial government;

2038 – Having been in power for two highly successful terms the NL Separation Party has begun to turn around the NL economy and grow the province’s industrial base;

2040 – After winning a third term and with the specter of huge revenues about to be realized from the Upper Churchill, the NL Separation Party decides to put the question of separation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by holding a referendum on Confederation;

2040 – The province decides to separate from Canada by a margin of 54% to 46%. Newfoundland and Labrador is once again an independent Country;

2041 – As an independent nation, all revenues from the Upper Churchill, Lower Churchill, the oil and gas industry (new mega-finds having been developed over the past decades) and all other resources and industries including fishing (now under NL control) and forestry remain in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Country negotiates its trade with other nations such as the U.S, Canada and Quebec, as an equal partner.

The Beginning.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Paul Martin Visits the Colony of Newfoundland and Labrador

Paul Martin was on the campaign trail in Newfoundland and Labrador this week and took some time to speak with Randy Simms on the VOCM radio open line program. Anyone who may have heard his comments and responses to the host’s questions were witness to political side stepping and spin at its best.

It was patently clear throughout the interview that Mr. Martin was not going to be pinned down by making hard commitments on any of the issues discussed. A prime example of this was when he was asked about re-instating the Gander weather office. His response was to the effect that there should be centers of excellence in Canada to study the weather and global warming and the unique climatic situation in this province made it a clear choice for this kind of study.

I may be a little dumber than the average bear but nowhere in his answer could I find anything that told me he planned to reopen the office. In fact I’d even go further and say that his political double-speak could only be interpreted as a definite NO on opening the office, regardless of the positive spin he applied to it.

On whether or not the federal government would assist in the development of the Lower Churchill, he simply said that federal involvement was up to the provincial government. Nice side step Paul, what does that mean exactly, other than the fact that you are trying to shift responsibility from your shoulders to the province. Weren’t you the one who called for an East-West national power grid? Aren’t you the one who obligated us on Kyoto and supposedly put billions in a pot for that cause?

According to Martin, custodial management of the fisheries is at the top of his priority list. He didn’t show anyone the actual list however. This voter would love to see it because it must be one hell of a long list. If I remember correctly custodial management was a key priority for the Liberals during the last election campaign, yet a year and a half later it is still no closer to being done and once again it is a key priority.

According to pundits Paul Martin, as the incumbent PM, is planning to highlight his government’s successes in this campaign. He will talk to the fact that unemployment is at a 20 year low, how the federal government, through sound fiscal management, is seeing yearly surpluses and how they have put so much into improving wait times in the health care system. I certainly hope he isn’t depending on these points to get Liberals elected in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In reality, federal surpluses are the result of high oil prices and ongoing cuts successive liberal governments have made in transfer payments, health care and education throughout the Country in the past decade or more. In this province unemployment is at 15%, hardly an all time low, and wait times at hospitals are some of the highest in the Country.

A recent poll suggests the Liberals may capture all 7 seats in Newfoundland and Labrador. If this poll proves to be correct, I can only speculate what that means for the province. One thing is certain. Once again, Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans will have given the rest of the nation plenty of ammunition to use when discussing the intelligence of our population.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The campaign trail will be cold, let's heat it up a little

People sometimes accuse me of being a complainer. You always see the glass as half empty rather than half full they say. What about all the good stuff that’s happening? Why don’t you comment on the growth in our economy for example rather than the problems in Ottawa? The answer is simple really. Pushing good results into the face of a politician or telling the public how wonderful everything is doesn’t accomplish much.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself as a spokesperson for anyone but myself. I’m no different than anyone else. The truth is that it’s the responsibility of us all to yell, scream, push and pull our leaders into doing the right thing whenever possible. If we don’t, who will?

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. There’s a lot of truth to that. If individuals didn’t stand up and fight for what they felt was right, where do you think we’d be today? Nobody knows for sure, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a very nice place.

Each time someone writes a scathing commentary on a political or social injustice, it makes a small pin prick in a politician’s leathery skin. Each time a citizen calls an open line program and brings an issue into the light, it makes a politician cringe. Each time a group of people pick up placards and march in front of television cameras, politicians sit up and take notice. Whether or not they are willing to admit it, they do indeed notice and on rare and wonderful occasions the limelight gets hot enough for them that something actually gets done to correct the situation at hand.

Politicians will tell you that voting is your chance to be heard. I don’t fully agree. The spin doctors for the various parties manipulate the electorate on a continuous basis and this often results in our electing one useless representative after another. Think about how many times you’ve seen the candidate you voted for get elected. Now think about how many times he or she actually did anything of importance to you while in office.

No, the real chance to be heard and to influence change is not through your vote alone, but through the swaying of public opinion and pressuring our leaders. Using every means possible to get the issue out in the open and make our callous leaders squirm in their boots. It’s only then that anything will get done.

We all have a role to play and never more so than during an election campaign. Every one of us has the obligation to be as frank as possible with a nominee when they come knocking at our door. Most people simply say hi, shake their hand and tell a smiling face how nice it is that they took some time to stop in. What a waste.

I would suggest that this time around we all take this golden opportunity to tell the person who needs our vote exactly how pissed off we are with the status quo. Tell them what your concerns are and what you want from Ottawa. Find out where they stand on issues of importance to you. Write their responses down if you like and even have them sign it. If they refuse to do this then tell them they can forget your vote as well as anyone else’s you can sway. After all, if they expect you to write your X on a ballot they certainly shouldn’t have a problem signing their name to a piece of paper with their policy stand on it, should they?

A vote is a vote is a vote, but making sure a politician knows exactly where you stand and ensuring that you get them to take a stand in return for that vote, now that’s where the real power lies.

People may call me a complainer and I guess in a sense I am, but nobody ever accomplished anything by telling a politician how great a job he was doing. It’s going to be cold on the campaign trail this winter. Let’s all do our part to make things just a little hotter for our politicians.