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Monday, May 15, 2006

Living on the Edge - Newfoundland & Labrador in Confederation

After years of Liberal leadership, a new conservative government is at the helm in both Ottawa and in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the years many people have expressed concern about how things have gone since the Province joined Confederation in 1949. Time will tell if the approaches taken by both levels of government over the next few years will have an impact on those concerns, but one thing is certain, a lot of people are not satisfied.

Although there has never been a concerted or organized effort to build support for separation within the Newfoundland and Labrador population, statistics show that a strong level of dissatisfaction is never the less alive and well among the residents.

The 2005 Portraits of Canada survey, an annual survey of public opinion conducted by CRIC, found that:

37 percent of Atlantic Canadians felt that the federal government had become irrelevant to them. In Newfoundland & Labrador that number was a staggering 44 percent, while Ontario had the lowest level of discontent among Canadian provinces at 28 percent.

Only 18 percent of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans felt that their province was being treated with sufficient respect by Ottawa. Not surprisingly, once again, Ontario had the highest satisfaction numbers, with 62 percent saying they felt their province received the respect it deserved. What's surprising in the survey is the responses from the people of Quebec, where separation has been high on the agenda for decades. 35 percent of Quebec respondents felt they are receiving a reasonable level of respect from Ottawa.

It's interesting that in a Province where 35 percent of the population feels Ottawa is responding to their needs, a large separation movement exists, while a Province where only 18 percent of the population were satisfied, no such movement is prevelent. Interesting as well is the fact that as soon as a Newfoundlander or Labradorean expresses their concerns in this area they are generally labeled a groaner or told how good they have it while in Quebec any issues that arise are at least listened too.

With respect to Newfoundland & Labrador, the problem of a lack of fair and respectful treatment was also identified in the Royal Commission survey which, although considered flawed in many areas, found that:

A slight majority (51 percent) listed ‘not being treated with respect/fairly by the federal government’ as a reason for their dissatisfaction.

A significant group (26 percent) listed ‘not being treated with respect/fairly by other Canadians’ as a reason.

The Final Report stated the following among other things.

Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans do not believe that the province has yet found its full place in Canada. There is a strong sense that the fundamental issues facing the province are not well understood by the federal government, and are too often ignored or dismissed as “regional” and far less important than concerns seen as “central.” The overwhelming sentiment is that the status quo is totally unacceptable.

The report also noted that, by and large, Canadians outside of Newfoundland and Labrador recognize the uniqueness of the Province with 72% of those polled saying they see Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans as a distinct culture. Not surprising since the Province was a separate country before Joining Canada. This is very telling in that Quebec has been recognized in this way for some time however Newfoundland and Labrador never has.

The numbers speak for themselves. They tell the story of a centralist country where Ontario, the seat of power, has enough federal representatives to ensure that their needs are met. They tell the story of a Quebec with enough of separatist sentiment and federal seats to ensure that they are being heard loud and clear. They also tell the story of Atlantic Canada, with Newfoundland and Labrador clearly the most dissatisified, being neglected and forgotten thanks to their pitifully small voice in Ottawa.

I believe a lot of the dissatisfaction is due to two primary reasons:

1. Being ignored by Ottawa on a regular basis because of the current structure of the centralist Canadian government.

2. When the smaller Provinces find themselves at odds with larger Provinces like Ontario or Quebec, they generally end up on the losing end, even when in the right, simply because politicians know they need to keep the larger Provinces happy if they hope to remain in power.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pit Newfoundland and Labrador against our bigger brothers in Confederation, Heavon's no. I don't believe the majority of people in the Province have a problem with any of the other Provinces generally. What they do seem to have a major problem with is Ottawa itself and the way things are done there. As far as most federal politicians are concerned, all Canadians are important, from Coast to Coast, all the way from BC to Quebec.


WJM said...

As far as most federal politicians are concerned, all Canadians are important, from Coast to Coast, all the way from BC to Quebec.

What about the 62 federal politicians from the four provinces east of Quebec?

And what about the provincial politicians who think that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are important, all the way from St. John's to St. Anthony?

Patriot said...

By the way WJM, I know you will want to complain about it but I only published one of your comments and not the other intentionally. If all you have to add to a debate is spelling corrections it isn't worth publishing.

Lady_Celes said...

I do agree there is a strong level of dissatisfaction with the status quo in Eastern Canada but is separation the answer for improving the situation? I don't think so! In fact, that would be playing right into the enemy's hand!

The only ones who would profit from the break up of Canada is the multi-national owned corporations who are in the process of pulling operations out of Canada because they have already used up all the resources such as the cod fish of NL and the lobster of NB.

The only real question is how much will we settle for in the buy outs? The more people who move away, the less there are to demand appropriate compensation packages.

I fear our government is being forced to comply with their industry partners as in a hostile take-over of a company. If they can divide us they can conquer us.

Who responded to the satisfaction polls in Ontario? Certainly not the average person living amid the cockroaches in Parkdale and not the millions of immigrants who can't speak or read either official language!

In regards to recognition as a distinct culture, go for it! Send email to the tourism department because that is really where all the heritage and culture money goes. Whoever is their big industry partner gets tax breaks, free advertising, etc.

A great example happened a few months ago when they declared the Aliant building in Moncton to be a heritage property! It has no cultural or heritage significance, they say it is a known feature of the cities landscape, meanwhile, some very old churches and schools can't be saved from demolition!

Anonymous said...

Why are people surprised there is a "breaking in" time needed with the joining of two dominions. This was only 60 years ago and well within the memory of many citizens.

Name two other countries which merged without a critical "breaking in" time?

Patriot said...

I've gotten a couple of comments from WJM (Wiley) saying he does not appreciate my spelling of Labradorean. He would prefer Labradorian.

I can understand this, but just to be safe, if any other Labrador(eans or ians) have a problem with the spelling please let me know and I'll change it. I'd hate to do it just for Wiley since he pretty much disagrees with everything this site does anyway.

So, if you have a real problem with my spelling please let me know.

Anonymous said...

I started writing out potential alternatives such as labradorites, or labradorgeons, or labradorers, , or even labradorgers, but I came to the conclusion that a jawbreaker by any name is still a jawbreaker.

Why not just call them Northlighters? It's easier to say, to me sounds nicer, and is less subject to individual variation in the spelling. And what's more it's less likely to be seen as a canine possessive.

And it serves as a good compound word example for when real vocabulary starts being taught again.

Of course it would take about 60 years to break that in as well I suppose.

*of course I'm only really writing this to tweak our favorite Labradormugeon :) *

Brian said...

If labradorian/labradorians is too much for some to handle, then may I suggest [on a first come first served basis] Inuit, or even Mushuau Innu.
Mushuau………hmmmmm, maybe not :-]

Anonymous said...

Despite what your local loyal pseudo-linguist reader/commentator prefers the spelling of labrador"ean" or "ian" is acceptable buy english language conventions.

Good to see a discussion based on vowl usage though. A single vowl could change the direction of the province, labrador included :)

NL-ExPatriate said...

Separation would mean devalued money hence more outside trade of our exports.

Removal of trade barriers thus allowing us to trade with Europe and the Eastern Sea Board. Our natural trading partners unlike the forced trade with Centrist Canadian ideals brought on by the $aint Lawrence $eaWay paid for by all Canadians to prosper Central Canada.

Kick the foreigners off our continental shelf in accordance with the United Nations Law of the Sea article 76.

Outmigration would be curbed because passports and work visas would be required. We could retain our most valuable resource our young people.

We would become Canada's CUBA in short order only difference being would be our conflict would be Bay of Labrador instead of the Bay of Pigs.

WJM said...

Despite what your local loyal pseudo-linguist reader/commentator prefers the spelling of labrador"ean" or "ian" is acceptable buy english language conventions.

What would you know about English language conventions?

"Labradorean", except in scientific usages, has been obsolete as an adjective and ethnonym for nearly a century.

Anonymous said...

WJM: You chopped out the punch line, I said changing a vowel will not change the meaning conveyed, as in “If I write buy and by” you still get the meaning conveyed.

Sorry you missed the point in your zeal.

---"Labradorean", except in scientific usages, has been obsolete as an adjective and ethnonym for nearly a century.---

Really? Says who?