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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.


NL-ExPatriate said...

It amazes me the silence once we start swimming in the big pond of federal politics. It's like all the little fish run and hide under the rock we call NL.

To think people criticized John Efford for speaking out even if he was drowning in the federal politics at the time of the Accord. It was probably because he didn't have the backing of his fellow NL'ians? I'm not talking moral support either our leaders need our vocal support. They are only as strong as their constituents in helping them make their our voices heard IMHO.

I can only hope that the silence in blog land is because everyone is busy emailing, phoning, and letter writing to get NL issues front and centre in this election! But he list of issues being talked about so far begs to differ.
For Christs sake what better issue do we need than the listing of the cod on the endangered species list and demanding that something be done about it! That combined with some 6 million Harp seals and another 2 million hood seals totaling 8,000,000.00 seals creating an imbalance in nature because of politics, in exactly the same locations where they want to list the cod as endangered.

No Longer Proud said...

NL is a lost cause. Until very recently I still had hope for us, thinking that soon the day would come when everyone would realize that NL will never prosper under Ottawa's chokehold and that we'd seperate, taking with us enough of our natural resources to be able to forge a more prosperous future for ourselves. But that hope died very quickly this past week...

I'll keep things brief by sparing the details, but in conversations I've had with various people, and information I've gathered from online/television/radio, it finally hit home with me that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are too short-sighted, lacking in vision, and divided as a people to make any kind of positive progress. And because of this, Ottawa is able to manipulate us however they wish. The pride in our homeland and hope for a more prosperous future that so many claim to feel and desire is a farce. If it weren't, they would have opened their eyes to just how much Ottawa has exploited us during our 56 years as a province of Canada and be willing to stand up and say 'NO MORE!', wouldn't they? But no, we bicker amongst ourselves and continue to vote for politicians that blatantly screw us time and time again. The fact of the matter is, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don't deserve the level of prosperity they claim we should have.

With another federal election on the horizon, the political buzz here in the central region is that there will be a Liberal sweep of all 7 seats. Should this prediction prove true, I will consider myself a man without a country... I've always considered myself a Newfoundlander first and have never felt like a Canadian. Sadly, I now feel as though I've been betrayed by my own people, sold out for a few scraps from the federal table.

Whether NL seperates from Canada or stays, it will die. On our current path as a Canadian province, we are being slowly drained of our finite natural resources and people. And if we were to claim independence, NL'ians can't get along with each other long enough to do anything of importance. Building a country together is out of the question.

It's time to face reality and realize that the dream of a prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador is dead. The little prosperity brought through a few jobs in the mining and oil and gas sectors are merely temporary, as someday those jobs like those in the fishing industry, will be gone. The end of the road is rapidly approaching and the driver is too caught up in adjusting the radio to notice... By the time enough people finally wake up and see exactly where NL is headed, it will be too late to save the place, as all of the resources, the buidling blocks of our future, will be gone. And there'll be no one to blame but ourselves.

Patriot said...

To: No longer proud.

I can certainly appreciate where you are coming from. It's difficult if not impossible to rally everyone to a single cause anymore.

I just hope that some day some issue will come along that will galvenize the population and force the issue. It is only by uniting that we can have any strength and can accomplish anything of value.

Gordon said...

I have a different take on things. If I may conjecture a bit, Newfoundland and Labrador's average GDP would place it somewhere between Greece and Israel, that is, if we were a country.... and experiencing the same level of economic activity as we are now. Add to that, suppose the EU concluded that since the Vikings made it to Newfoundland we somehow qualify for EU membership, we would (just under the wire, BTW) qualify to be in the Eurozone. Put us in that situation and we would be estatic, but we are not in that situation. Instead we are the poorest province in Canada.

My point is that there may be people who see our province as a failure, but mainly because we have set such high goals that would be difficult to achieve in just a few years. I mean, going from the Tobin government spending millions to "celebrate" Confederation to independence within a few years is kind of dreamy, albeit quite noble.

Speaking of independence, we have to take heart. The countries of this world are all imagined communities, Canada included. Although there are examples of the people with the imagination taking the lead (e.g. the rebels who fought for American independence from Britain and the Viet Minh who fought the French), most countries have had their independence thrust upon them. A map of a hundred years ago had far fewer countries than now (although one of those countries - OURS - is missing). As I see it, one reason why many nations have had independence handed to them was that the mother country was relatively strong. It was only when it was weak that independence movements "suceeded". In the case of America, although Britain was strong, it was abundantly clear that they were not quite strong enough. In the case, of Indochina, the French were a spent force.

If we look at the present, Canada looks as strong as ever, but it will not stay that way; no country can remain strong forever. Could we pull a 1776? Not really, we are far too small. However, Quebec is likely to do that, albeit in an effete sort of way. Newfoundland and Labrador might just find itself thrown into independence someday, or perhaps we will lead the charge for independence from a much weaker (and Quebec-less?) Canada, and somehow all the work that separatists did during what will the called the Confederation Era (aka the dark years), will end up in history books for the young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians of tomorrow to memorize and write on test papers. It didn't have to be this way, but 52% of us voted the wrong way back in 1948. Sigh!

Do not be discouraged just because you will not get a Newfoundland and Labrador passport next year. Just keep contributing to web sites such as this one, fly the PWG, sing the Ode to Newfoundland and teach your children well. In addition, if you are a separatist, say you are a separatist and do not be mealy mouthed about it. Our time for real independence will come. It may not come in our lifetime, but it WILL come. Please bear this in mind; by calling yourself a separatist you are simply saying you believe in the future.

Now, "No Longer Proud", my message to you is this, recent events have shown that nationalism lite does not work. It's too weak. It is too presentist. Real nationalism is futurist. This is what we all have to believe in. Otherwise, we will all throw our hands up, declare ourselves defeated, look stupid and limp away. I have a baby boy. I would dearly love for him to have what I may not have, that is, a Newfoundland and Labrador passport.

If we can think outside the box, we can see a much better world for us.

Patriot said...

Interesting points Gordon. I wonder what would happen here if Quebec did separate. It would certainly cut us off even further from the rest of Canada and make it perhaps even more likely that we would become closer from a trade perspective with Quebec than other parts of Canada.

I hate to say it, but perhaps it will take Quebec separating to start the domino effect and start to build separation sentiment in this province.