Da Legal Stuff...

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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Premier's Conference Confirms Canada's Failure

Well it looks like the summit held by the leaders of the 10 provinces and 3 territories ended in much the way everyone figured it would. No consensus and an even more pronounced rift between the so called "have" and "have not" parts of Canada. Not surprising really, like I’ve said many times, Canada isn’t so much a country as a collection of colonies who’s members are tied to Ottawa by the rope around their throats, namely the taxation and equalization systems.

Here’s a novel idea for resolving the fiscal imbalance and ensuring that all Province’s get what they deserve, cut Ottawa off. That’s right, every Province and Territory should just collect it’s taxes (both the provincial and so called federal share), keep its resource and industrial revenues and tell Ottawa to bugger off.

Sure this may sound cruel and inhumane to small areas like the Territories where there isn’t a big tax base or places with very low revenues from other sources but there’s a solution to that as well. The answer is to form a sort of co-op with all the Provinces working together to ensure that the small players are taken care of. I know, it may sound like that would put us back in the same boat as the current transfer/equalization mess but not really.

Think about it. What the Premiers are at odds about right now is the 11 billion extra the feds have sucked from our wallets, not the money that was used but the overage if you will. Add to that the billions and billions wasted by Ottawa every year and it’s easy to see that the co-op idea is not the same thing at all.
I’d be willing to bet that By dissolving the federation this new co-op could create a fund to assist its weaker members and each member still wouldn’t burn up a quarter of what Ottawa pulls out of them now.

Face it, Canada is not working period. Not for the rich and not for the poor. The Premier’s conference this week proves that fact. When you have the leaders of all parts of the Dominion fighting among themselves for a fair share of their own money just so they can go to Ottawa and present their case it says a lot. When you see those leaders shaking in fear because the result will leave Ottawa to make a decision on its own it says a lot. When Ottawa is bilking the people of the Provinces and Territories for billions beyond what even they can waste, it says it all.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Provincial Direction on Lower Churchill Should be Clear

Canada has been living with the potential threat of Quebec separation for decades. If not for the millions of tax dollars that were spent prior to the last referendum (read Gomery) there might already be four North American countries instead of three. Recently the Liberal Premier of Quebec has said his Province has the economic means to become independent. This admission by Jean Charest has confirmed the beliefs of many separatists and has the potential to turn the tide in their favor once and for all.

With the specter of separation becoming more and more plausible, the direction for Newfoundland and Labrador, with regard to Churchill Falls, should be clear. No development should be considered unless it includes use of the so called Anglo Saxon route. This approach would be expensive as it requires undersea cabling from Labrador to the island and from the island to Nova Scotia, but it should to be done regardless.

This option would allow some of the power to be used in parts of Labrador and on the Island, lessening our current dependence on fossil fuels. Consider as well that the alternative, running power through Quebec, would mean Canada and the U.S. could some day end up dependent on the kindness of a third country, namely Quebec, for an important part of their power supply. This would not only pose an economic risk but a national security risk as well.

We all hope that an independent Quebec would continue to work closely with its North American neighbors but there are no guarantees in international politics. Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have built up an atmosphere of understanding and solid trade structures over decades, yet disputes still take place occasionally. Who knows what kind of relationship a newly minted Quebec would have with its neighbors? As an unknown entity it brings with it many risks.

Newfoundland and Labrador would be foolhardy to consider wheeling Lower Churchill power across Quebec in future. In fact it would be in the best interest of potential long term power customers across North America to stand behind the Province and pressure Ottawa for assistance to develop the alternate route. In the long run it’s Canada and the U.S that run the biggest risk from an independent Quebec should trade relationships became frosty.

In addition to the Lower Churchill, serious consideration should be given to impacts on the Upper Churchill agreement. The original, one sided deal, was inked while Hydro Quebec was under the control of a Canadian province. If Quebec becomes an independent nation that contract should be addressed as a part of the “breaking of ties” effort that must surely happen. Not doing so would essentially place the distribution of those massive power reserves in foreign hands and place Canadian interests in the unenviable position of being dependent on little more than international good will.

The road to Quebec sovereignty appears to have been made a little easier lately and I wish them well. I can fully understand where many of those fighting for independence are coming from. The Dominion, as it exists today, is not a place where anyone outside of Ontario is given much respect or understanding. I congratulate Quebecer’s for standing up and being heard as a people.

Newfoundland and Labrador must also stand up and be heard. The Province cannot afford to sit idly by and allow the future to unfold without solid planning and preparation. The reality of an independent Quebec is also a reality where Newfoundland and Labrador is essentially cut off from Canada geographically and is reliant on the whims and wishes of a foreign power to market its resources. This cannot be allowed to happen.

As a side note, it might also be in Newfoundland and Labrador’s best interest to ensure that the ever changing Labrador border, which inexplicably continues to move further and further east on Quebec tourist maps, isn’t taken too seriously by anyone down the road, but I digress.
Let me clearly say that my intention is not to bash Quebec, in fact I envy them the potential for freedom now within their grasp. Everyone already knows how poorly NL has faired on dealing with a Quebec inside the federation I don’t know why anyone would think it will be easier after Quebec celebrates its first independence day?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Toronto Star Belittles and Slanders All Newfoundlanders

I thought I'd read it all when Margaret Wente put her cockroach level intellect to work slamming Newfoundland a few months back. I hadn't. Now I see that the Shit for brains Ontario mentality has reached a whole new level of crapocrity.

I've been around the block a few times and it takes a lot to piss me off like I'm pissed right now, but I'll tell you one thing, the waste of sperm that calls himself "slammer" wrote an article today that really hit home. I'm sure his intention was to do exactly that, but I hope and pray it backfires and this asshole gets exactly what he wants when he says Canada should cut Newfoundland loose into the Atlantic.

I have reproduced the article below for anyone from the province who is in the mood for an eye opener and I've included the email address of the Toronto Star editorial office if you want to let that rag know what you think:


As for Mr. Slammer, my only question is: With 50 million sperm in the race, how in the hell could you have been the fastest?

Read on and fume:

Newfoundland hits Rock bottom
Jul. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM

The only thing that keeps Newfoundland going these days is duelling literary festivals, one on the island's west coast, one on the east coast, but otherwise identical. This distresses the one or two forward-looking citizens in the province who still hold out some hope for The Rock's future.

``How would you folks in Ontario like it,'' they gripe, ``if a couple of broken-down old newspaper hacks from St. John's decided to help you poor, unlettered souls feel like you have some reason to exist by organizing head-to-head festivals celebrating Ontario literature, one in Kenora and one in Carp, and brought along a couple of DJs from our leading oldies 'n' goldies station to emcee the proceedings?''

The implication being that something very similar has been foisted on them thanks to a couple of broken-down old newspaper columnists from Toronto who have chosen to help Newfoundland's poor, unlettered souls feel like they have some reason to exist by organizing head-to-head festivals celebrating Newfoundland literature, one in Woody Point and one in Eastport, and bring along a couple of CBC radio personalities from the mainland to emcee the proceedings.
I wouldn't go that far.

For one thing, the Woody Point festival is dedicated to the proposition that ``I's the by that writes the book, and youse the bys that reads 'er,'' while the Eastport festival theme is ``I's the by that writes the book, and youse the bys that reads 'er.''

The problem facing these literary events is the same as the province faces with all its other resources: Newfoundland is running thin on writers. Festival participants must dash back and forth, and with the famous Bullet no longer operating they are left with no alternative but to hitchhike. Because the festivals are on the same evening, and the traffic is sparse, audiences find themselves waiting as long as three days until the next scheduled author shows up.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of colourful outport characters happy to fill in by yattering interminably about how things were before the cod disappeared, something tourists find especially charming because every word is unintelligible.

The festivals have compensated for the lack of Newfoundland writers who write in Newfoundland by expanding the criteria for participants to writers who moved to Toronto because they couldn't make a living in Newfoundland, writers who once had relatives in Newfoundland, writers who once holidayed in Newfoundland, and writers who can find Newfoundland on a map, a category that embraces writers from everywhere but Alberta.
The challenge is persuading them to travel down there, either because every word they have written will be unintelligible to local ticket-holders, or, in the case of writers who left Newfoundland for Toronto, because every member of the ``Welcome Home'' committee waiting to greet them at the ferry terminal will be a bailiff.

On the other hand, there is an abundance of appropriate material. Anybody with a word processor can turn out a Newfoundland novel. All you need to do is type, ``Bitter years — the tide kept coming in, and time kept running out,'' and you're off to the races. Since they all start the same, the ``nuance'' they're so admired for depends on how they end, which they eventually do when the writers can't find anybody else to lend them money for rum.

Whether all this means that Newfoundland has finally had it and the Confederation experiment has failed is another matter. From the very start, a lot of Newfoundlanders claimed Joey Smallwood sold them a bill of goods; what's changed is that nowadays pretty well all of us in the rest of Canada are saying, "You ain't the only ones.''

It can't have escaped anyone's notice that Newfoundland has recently gone so far as to add "and Labrador'' to its name, but if it thinks a blatant attempt like that to give itself airs is going to impress any of us sophisticated Torontonians, it is mistaken. We're all familiar with Irving Finkelman who changed his name to Irving St. Clair, C.B.

``Very classy,'' said a friend. ``But what does the C.B. stand for?''

"Corner Bathurst,'' said Irving.

Sadly, it is beginning to look as if the only practical thing for Canada to do is read the writing on the outport wall. Cut our losses. Push Newfoundland back out to sea. Let it drift away. (Obviously we'll keep Labrador; you can never have too many caribou, which Labrador does, but at least it's something.)

NEXT: Farewell to Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NL Fishery Expected to Rebound Within Days

Well folks, in case you missed the announcement a couple of weeks ago, tomorrow, July 20 is the big day. That’s right it’s the day all of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fisheries problems will just disappear. Once again cod will appear in such numbers that they will impede the very progress of vessels off the shores by virtue of their unbelievable bio-mass. Tomorrow you see is the day Canada and the European Union begin their joint fisheries enforcement patrols along the perimeter of the 200 mile economic zone.

According to a press release on July 6, the joint patrols will cover 50,000 square nautical miles of fishing grounds in the North West Atlantic (for our uninformed friends from other parts of the world, that’s where Newfoundland and Labrador is situated). The release goes on to say that the patrols will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of inspections.

Yes indeed, I can’t wait. Canada’s Coast Guard vessels, if they have enough fuel, are not in for refit at the time or are being used by some MP for a lobster cruise, will work jointly with EU patrol vessels, from the very nations that are raping the Grand Banks, to ensure that all is right in the world. Once again those poor Newfies have been bested. Here they are screaming for Custodial management of fish stocks but now, thanks to this latest move it won’t be necessary will it? Hell for that matter why is Canada even bothering to put patrol vessels to sea at all now that we have the EU protecting the stocks?

Thanks Loyola, it’s good to see some new and creative thinking taking place in the Fisheries portfolio. Too bad nobody told you who it is that’s out there raping those waters in the first place. If they had told you, you might have thought twice about the merit of welcoming armed vessels from the same nations we’ve been trying to remove from the area for decades. It’s perfect federal logic though. If you’re in a fight with someone don’t attack them, let them arm themselves, invite them in and things will be just fine. I wonder if anyone in Ottawa has ever heard of the concept of putting the fox in charge of the hen house, clearly not.

Think about it Loyola, do you really expect diligent surveillance by fisheries officials who are ultimately answerable to a foreign government that is more than happy to look the other way while boat loads of cod are landed at their Nation’s fish processing plants?
I can just imagine the conversation on the bridge of one of those patrol boats now.

The scene: Late at night somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland on the bridge of an EU patrol boat

Watch: “Captain, we’ve spotted two trawlers illegally fishing just off the starboard bow.”

Captain: “So, what do you want me to do about it?”

Watch: “But sir, there’s a Canadian Coast Guard vessel approaching from our port side. It’ll be here in a few minutes.”

Captain: “No problem.”

Captain (picking up his radio handset): “Patrol Bravo One calling Canadian Coast Guard vessel, please alter course one-eight-zero degrees. We’ve got this area covered folks. There’s nothing of interest here. Patrol Bravo one over and out.”

Yes, it just warms the heart doesn’t it?

Well, if nothing else at least the patrols may work as a cost saving measure for Ottawa. Now when a foreign fishing vessel runs into trouble out there, as they often do, they can be rescued by their own authorities resulting in cost savings for Canadian tax payers and if one of those pesky Newfoundland fishermen gets huffy and decides to make trouble for someone illegally fishing, the foreign captain can always call for an armed protective escort. See, it’s a win / win situation for everyone, especially the EU fishing community and the federal spin doctors. After all, in Canadian politics it’s never really as important to do something as it is to look like you are.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Will Newfoundland and Labrador Continue to Turn the Other Cheek?

What will the catalyst be I wonder? Will it be Quebec’s ultimate separation from Canada and the increased isolation of Newfoundland and Labrador from Canada that will result? Will it be INCO’s ultimate refusal to build a processing plant in the Province? Will it be Quebec and Ottawa stonewalling the Province over lower Churchill power distribution? Maybe it will be Ottawa re-tooling federal transfer calculations to pull back the benefits gained through the Atlantic Accord deal through the back door, or will it be something altogether different, perhaps something that isn’t even on the radar yet? Who knows?

The catalyst for what you ask? Well if you need to ask than question you obviously haven’t been listening closely to the rumblings around Newfoundland and Labrador over the past decade or so. The answer is simple, what will be the catalyst that eventually pulls everyone in the Province together and forces the issue of whether or not to stay inside Canada or bow out and once again become an independent Nation.

Talk on the subject of separation has been increasing steadily over the past number of years in the Province. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that, generation after generation the people are becoming ever more and aware of the world outside their area. Perhaps it’s the easy access to information currently available through news services and the internet, information which only a few years ago would have been available.

Whatever the cause, the effect is clear. Eventually, as happened in Quebec several decades ago, the ultimate question will be posed and an answer will be demanded by the public. Every day more and more Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are becoming disillusioned with the results they see from Confederation and each day their voices get louder.

Talk is growing, but so far there has been no truly concerted effort to bring things to a head. Like any grassroots movement, in order for anything take place, a mass outcry and combining of efforts will have to happen. Talk is cheap but action takes time and effort.

To this point no organized effort is nationalist movement is underway and it’s doubtful it will even happen until something, some catalyst, actually forces the issue. I have no doubt it will come eventually, the only question is when it will happen and what the catalyst will be. If living in Newfoundland and Labrador (as a part of Canada) has taught me anything it’s that eventually another slap in the face will come from Ottawa. What remains to be seen is if the people of the Province still have the stomach to simply turn the other cheek once again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Invitation to You All

Hi folks,

For quite some time now many people have been visiting this site, reading the articles and adding wonderful comments for our discussion. A lot of views have been expressed and a lot of ideas have been shared. I have to say it has been, and continues to be, an enjoyable experience for me and I hope for all of you.

I was thinking the other day that I'd love to meet some of the folks who've been a part of this experience. In this light, I thought I'd extend an invitation to all of you who plan to be in the St. John's area next weekend.

On Sunday, July 23rd I plan to be at the Cozy Corner pub in Portugal Cove (near the Bell Island ferry) at 3pm. If you are in the area and are interested popping by for a cold beer and a chat I'd love to meet you.

Hopefully this will give us a chance to discuss our feelings about this place, share ideas for the future and put some faces with the names. If you can make it I'd love to see you there. If you can't, I may be lonely but at least the beer will be cold and frosty.

Thanks once again for visiting the site and contributing your thoughts. I look forward meeting as many of you as I can next Sunday.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

From Hotels to Hovels - The NL Regiment (Dis)-Honored

As always our readers are more than welcome to send in letters or opinion pieces for posting on the main page. The following is from a gentleman on Bell Island regarding the recent memorial services held to mark the 90th anniversary at Beaumont Hamel.


Even though I served in Canada and continental Europe with the R.C.A.F., over fifty years ago, subsequently served in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and in the Arctic as a Constable in the R.C.M. Police, completed four years of postsecondary education at the University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C., and then completed three more years in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.; as a Newfoundlander of six-generations of domicile by choice, it is difficult to feel great about being a Canadian. Nedwfoundlanders are really slighted by Canada at every opportunity and hence, it is now time to fly the "pink, white and green" the flag of the Republic of Newfoundland. With 30% of Canada's Armed Forces being Newfoundlanders including the top general, who could stop our leaving this Canadian family should we so decide?

We are contemptously referred to as "Newfies" often by semi-illiterates in central Canada particularly. It depicts one is stupid and simply that. Notwithstanding that we produce .04% of the world's oil and while Alberta produces 3.4% and within 5 years this province shall produce 25% of Canada's fossil fuels, I fear that we will always be Canada's "okies and "arkies." Oil is much easier to sell than fish, minerals or forest products. Yet, the issue is: are we the descendants of Celts and Saxons prepared to take such abuse forever from central Canada and the federal government? I say that we give them a chance to shape up or we simply ship out and join the European Union. After all, our nearest foreign neighbors, St Pierre-Miquelon as a department of France, are part of the European community with all the rights and benefits of a member-nation situate within the European continent though in North America.

On July l, 2006, we remembered the destruction of 90% of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamil, France (the names of the Bell Island ferry boats are "Beaumont-Hamil" and "Flanders"), ninety years ago. Yet, that those who gave such an order that men run into a hail of machine-gun bullets, were never tried as a war criminals, has always amazed me. They were brave men but they were cannon fodder and one wonders why? Was not WW I merely a trade war between colonizing states and nothing more? There was no loss of freedom save for loss of trade by Britain and France as Germany finally united, sought to build an empire abroad too.

I am extremely angry that federal civil servants particularly those from Veterans Affairs (Canada) were lodged in luxury in expensive hotels in Lille, France while Newfoundland officers, soldiers and army cadets were housed in an old, run-down barracks of a French army base at Douai, France, as reported by yesterday's issue of The Telegram of St John's. Soldiers and army cadets slept on simple cots in a building without showers, phones or toilet seats. And moreover, the building was found to have bed bugs and it had to be fumigated while the troops lived in this rat hole which Canada saw fit to rent for "goofie Newfies." One of the bathrooms flooded, light fixtures hung precariously from the walls and one officer described the living quarters and conditions simply as horrendous.

Speaking in anonymity, this officer said it was unfair to expect troops, even Newfoundlanders, to live in such austere conditions. Soldiers should expect to live in simple surroundings during an exercise, emergency or in wartime, but this trip to France to commemorate our then dominion war-dead, was a pilgrimmage.

Canada is responsible for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as it is a part of Canada's Reserves.Ottawa baureaucrats and army brass thought of everything else, particularly setting up federal civil servants in expensive hotels with large expense accounts, gave the least-thought to the kids who manned the parades and ceremonies and had to sleep on these cots fully clothed in combat uniforms. It was a miserable home that Canada provided; it must have been rented cheap.

These young-adult female and male soldiers alike, spent five days of early rises and late nights, of marching in hot sunlight for hours on end. Sure, they grumbled and who would not? Yet, Canada let them down even on their return to this province. After an exhausting Saturday last, which ended in a regimental barbecue that night, the soldiers had to muster at 2:00 a.m., with their luggage and equipment.

Finally, at about 4:00 a.m., these soldiers boarded five buses for a two-hour journey from Douai to an airport in Brussels, Belgium. Here, they had to wait for hours before boarding a Belgium jet for a flight home, and what was supposed to be a seven-hour flight to Gander, Newfoundland. Yet, because this plane was carrying more passengers and cargo than initially anticipated, a refueling stop was necessary at Reykjavik, Iceland; it added 90 minutes to the trip. Upon arrival at Gander finally, soldiers boarded other buses for their respective homes across the province. Accordingly, it took some soldiers 24 hours to arrive to their homes, and that was poor or no planning whatsoever on Canada's part.

What was the purpose of Veterans Affairs anyway? The Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought on July l, l9l6 under The Union Jack as Newfoundland's contribution to the British Army but most of Newfoundland's volunteers served in the Royal Navy simultanously. Most of my family were Navy because of their contiguity to the sea in civilian life. One first cousin thrice removed, Lord Edward Morris, was Prime Minister of Newfoundland from l907 to December 31, 1917 when he resigned to become a member of the Imperial War Council at London, England and was subsequently raised the the English peerage as "First Baron of St John's and Waterford" and it was then a heriditary one.

Newfoundlanders have been "white Niggers" of Canada since we voted to join the Canadian family in l949 as Canada's foster child. I doubt if the vote was really 52% in the last referendum. Canada offered to forgive England's World War II debt if Newfoundland and Labrador could be orchestrated into Canada, I understand and Churchill was out and a Labour Government with Atlee as Prime Minister, at London, U.K.

After all without our province, Canada would have not much more, if any, coastline than it has on its Pacific coast. I sailed the Arctic coast in summertime and mushed dogsleds along it and the Mackenzie Delta in wintertime as a Mountie. Unless there is oil beneath the perma-frost landscape, it is not worth much in dollars and cents currently. Fishing is not practical nor are fish abundant there when even daily herring catches are counted less than one hundred normally.

It was England's policy after WW II, to form federations of former and existing colonies. The West Indies and southeastern Africa (including Madagascar) are two of several such federal unions. Only Newfoundland's union with Canada from that period, still lasts. Hence, nothing is written in stone; countries disintegrate and civilizations pass on to anonymity. No doubt, Canada is a great country and it will be sad if Newfoundland is forced to leave and strike out as a member of the European Union on its own, as evidenced by the events experienced by our young soldiers on pilgrimage on forget-me-not day of July l, 2006 at Beaumont-Hamil, France. Nobody should be expected to allow themselves as a people to be treated as such by anyone.

Whomsoever it was at Ottawa or at Charlottetown, and who did not properly look after these young soldiers' quarters was neglectful and ought to be severely punished. If a civilian the operative word is "fired" summarily and no explanations nor apologies be accepted.

Et aussi, nous nous souvenons toujours!

Yours faithfully,

Michael J. Laurie
Bell Island

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ExxonMobil Renegs on Promise to NL


ExxonMobil reneging on promise to allow audit on Hibernia, N.L. premier says 11:34:31 EDT Jul 12, 2006

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. (CP) - Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams says ExxonMobil Canada (NYSE:XOM) has reneged on a year-old promise to allow auditors to examine Hibernia's financial records.

Williams says in August last year, senior ExxonMobil executives agreed to have the offshore oil project reviewed by auditors chosen by the province to verify claims that Hibernia was not meeting expectations.

But Williams says ExxonMobil, the largest owner in Hibernia, later refused, and so the province hired Navigant Consulting Inc. (NYSE:NCI) to analyze all available information.
Navigant Consulting found operating revenues increased approximately six times over official projections from $1.7 billion to $10.1 billion.

It also found that operating costs of the project were 57 per cent, or $2.4 billion less than projected by the company.

Williams says he has notified Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the company's decision to deny the province audit access.

"The time has come for these oil and gas companies to start sharing more of the tremendous financial benefits from our province's resources," Williams said in a statement.

"Indeed, the province has benefited from our oil and gas industry, but it is clear from the preliminary work we have done that our share is a mere pittance compared to that of the companies."

ExxonMobil and Williams have been embroiled in a dispute since plans to develop another offshore oil project, Hebron, were shelved in April.

The company is the largest equity holder in Hebron with a 38 per cent stake.

Chevron Canada Ltd. (NYSE:CVX), the project's operator, disbanded its Hebron project team in April because it could not agree on fiscal terms and benefits with the Newfoundland government.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

A few nights ago my wife and I had an opportunity to attend the Spirit of Newfoundland’s traveling dinner theatre production of the play, “Every Joan, Dick and Harry” and I have to say I’m eternally grateful that we did.

“Every J, D& H is a rousing two act play filled to overflowing with the music and songs of three of Newfoundland and Labrador’s greatest musical icons, Joan Morrissey, Dick Nolan and Harry Hibbs. It’s a romp down memory lane that I’m sure must have stirred the same feelings of nostalgia for everyone in attendance as it did for me. Scenes in a CN bus station, a chat about the Flier’s club in Gander, Ron Pumphry hosting the VOCM Open Line program and the wonderful music of those great performers could do nothing less.

The experience started me thinking back to when these fine performers were in their heyday. Being just a boy at the time, it reminded me of being in elementary school, more years ago than I care to remember. In those days, returning to class each September meant two things. The end of summer and being assigned, I suspect because the teacher was in the midst of recovering from some big Labor Day bash, the job of writing and essay on what I had done during my summer vacation.

Many of you have likely had the same experience and I suspect the ritual still exists in schools today. I don’t know how you felt about that little task but I can tell you with all honesty, I hated it with a passion. Honest to God it used to make my stomach churn and I can’t even begin to tell you what it did for getting the new school year off on the wrong foot.

Unlike many people in our area my Parents were not travelers, not at all, so while other kids wrote about their trip to Disneyland or visiting relatives in Ontario or Boston or some other far away place, I was forced to sit and think about what I’d done at home in dumb old Newfoundland. On occasion I recall even making things up so I wouldn’t look like an idiot. I’ve since stopped worrying about looking like an idiot as anyone who reads my column regularly will attest. Little did I understand about the time or place where I lived at the time. Little did I understand at all.

Boy what a difference a few decades can make to your attitude. Now, after having traveled throughout many parts of North America and as far away as the Orient I’ve reached a point in my life where I, like my parents before me, feel absolutely no need to travel outside my homeland for pleasures sake. In fact I can’t wait to visit different parts of this Province each summer. In addition to that, these days it actually feels good to write about it and why shouldn’t it?

It may have come to me decades later than I would have preferred, but I finally understand that the Colony of Newfoundland and Labrador is like no other place on earth. This year the Canadian government even admitted as much by naming it Canada’s Cultural Colony, err ah oops, I mean Canada’s Cultural Capital. I could say a lot more on that subject but since I’m in a good mood today I’ll just continue on with my original train of thought.

They say that you never really know what you have until you lose it. I guess it was that way with me. It wasn’t until I’d lived away from the Province for about ten years or so and wound up moving back that I realized what this place really had to offer. Since then I’ve tried to take every opportunity I can to rekindle my love affair with my homeland and believe me it has to be the easiest job in the world.

This summer our vacation plans include driving into the beautiful Exploits Valley to spend a few days with friends, maybe do a little salmon fishing and, I hope at least, to take a dip in the refreshing waters of Pine Camps. I remember as a child standing on the bridge over the river gorge there and looking down at the pure black water so far below that it looked about the size of a postage stamp. Unlike many others, I never found the courage to actually dive off that bridge and as nostalgic as I get, I doubt I’ll ever try to remedy that missing part of my childhood. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere after all.

Our next stop will take us a few hours down the highway to Grose Morne, where we hope to see as much as possible of this world heritage site. Our plans include taking the Trout River boat tour, hiking in the tablelands, walking on the beach at Cow Head and attending a couple of new plays being offered as a part of the local Theatre Festival.

After a few days in the area and if our schedule permits we hope to drive up to the ferry and cross into Southern Labrador for a day or so. I fished the Pinware River a few years back and I’d love nothing more than to try it again. It was an experience of a lifetime. I won’t even try to describe it to you because there is no way I could do it justice. When you catch sight of a salmon that has to be well over sixty pounds, words simply fail you.

To cap things off I’ll be back in the St. John’s area for the remainder of the summer taking in the sights and sounds of the countless festivals, concerts, museums, beaches, nightclubs garden parties and wonderful musical talent in and around the city. Of course I’ll need to leave a day or two free to catch a few cod, now that Ottawa was nice enough to grant me permission to do so this year. I wouldn’t miss that for the world. Oh, just in case I forget it later, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fine folks at DFO for permitting us to catch a few of THEIR fish this summer.

There you have it folks. Newfoundland and Labrador may not be Disneyland, but who the hell wants it to be. Yes indeed, it should be a great summer. I wish you could all experience it with me. Well, not really since my car only seats five and besides, the wife might get a little ticked if a crowed showed up, but you know what I mean.

So, what am I trying to say today? Simply put, if you are fortunate enough to live in this place, please don’t ever take it for granted, not for a second. If you hail from away and have an opportunity to visit our fair land this year, you are in for a treat like no other. If you can’t visit us this year, then you might want to start planning for the next year and if you don’t ever plan to visit, for some unknown or misguided reason, it’s your loss, but don’t ever say I didn’t let you know about the place.

Wow, will you look at me! I’ve already written an essay on my summer vacation and it hasn’t even started yet. Just imagine how much easier things would have been for me as a child if I only knew then what I know now.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Christmas on the Fringes of Canada

The following is a letter that was written by a local gentleman late last autumn and originally sent to the Independent for publication. I don't know if it ever made the paper and even though it's a bit dated right now, it's none the less a very thought provoking and intersting read that I thought you might all enjoy.

Thanks for the contribution Lloyd.


Ho! Ho! Ho!. Here we go again. It’s Christmas time again and there’s a Federal election around the corner as well. The man in the red suit has ripped the bottom out of the bag and it’s raining big promises in many places - other than here. We can probably look forward to a piece of coal in our stocking -he has to play tough now to “pay for” his kindness last year! Can you imagine how much better off we’ll all be by spring?

Hold on! We’ve had 56 Christmases already-since we were stunned (apathetic?) enough to Voluntarily gave up our freedom to join this great Canadian family. One would assume that when you become part of a family, that you will be treated as an equal. That includes fair treatment, respect and rights like every other member of that family. The last thing you would expect is to be told that each member has different rights and you will have to sit near - not at -the table to catch any crumbs which fall to the floor. You are not expected to ask any of your brothers or sisters for any food or help. Your lodging is in a little shed in the back yard. Oh, and by the way, some of your brothers may wander out to your little home on nonspecified nights to abuse you . When you complain, you are given a look of disgust and told to be quiet, because after all- we’re family! Sound familiar?

Am I a separatist? Well, not really. You see I want so much to be a proud Canadian - but only if I’m equal to every other Canadian!! Yet, every November 11th when I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Canadian brothers and sisters to honour those fallen heroes, I feel proud, very thankful and just a little bit sick - and hopeless- must be something like a victim of abuse feels. I ask myself why so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians gave their lives so freely. We weren’t even a part of Canada during the two great wars. I’m sure it wasn’t a “Thank you” to Britain for taking such great care of us over the last five hundred years! It could only have been in trust that whoever governed our future would treat their loved ones left behind with dignity, equality and respect. Was that too much to expect? When the Ode is sung, as usual, I cannot get through the part “ where once they stood.....” as I shuffle around and try to wipe the water from my eyes- it’s that darned November wind!

It has been said that NL lost it’s brightest and best in those wars. It may be true because there isn’t much fight left in us today. Sure we bark and snap at each other, but will we ever be able to get together long enough to plan for, work for and yes, maybe even stand together long enough to fight for our future?

Well, where to from here? Do we just roll over and “trust” that Ottawa will have our best interest at heart for the next 500 years? They certainly have created a great record in the past 55 years! What happens when the upper Churchill “agreement” runs out in 2041?? Will the cod make the endangered list?? What’s next for that list- rural people -newfies??

Here’s my humble scenario. To save space, it’s in list form. We should immediately have an official delegation contact each Provincial and Territorial govt. (outside of the two bullies-Ontario and Quebec) and try to organize a “ charter of rights” for all Provinces and Territories- where each province and territory gets the same (maximum) benefits from their natural resources, control over any territory inside their boundaries, on land or under water, fly-over fees, etc.

If we are unsuccessful, then we might have to resurrect a few “fighting NLers”. A small group of “NL freedom fighters” would harass the fleet on the banks. As well, they would provide regular interruptions to the flow of electricity toward the Quebec border. There is no need to hurt people- the only thing that matters these days is the bottom line. So we have to interfere with a few “bottom lines”! If Hydro Quebec decides to not renegotiate the upper churchill agreement they would look forward to not having a “secure and reliable” source of power. Their customers will pressure them to straighten things out.

Our provincial govt. needs to get more aggressive. As someone suggested, maybe we should tax the electricity leaving the province. Or maybe it’s high time for our govt. to pull the plug on the upper Churchill. Put the ball in Hydro Quebec’s court. Let them come after us. By the time this crawls through the courts, everyone in Canada and the Northeast US will be aware of our situation. We can appeal any decisions not in our favour. Prolong every step as much as possible. Sure we might have to pay back a little, but there’s a very good chance we could win big - in many different ways.

. Regarding the fishery, our Provincial govt. could declare ownership of the territory inside the limits of the continental shelf. No “custodial management” BS!! That will only give “rights” to those countries who have raped our fishing grounds in the past-it’s their “tradition”! That’s what got us in the mess we are in today! Can you imagine how long the discussions would take? Ships fishing on the banks should not be permitted to come ashore for anything other than to receive health care- emergencies - certainly not fuel, water or services of any kind!!

If this is not successful and no progress is made by the summer of 06, we should collect and organize a list of concerns from all NLers and present it to Ottawa. It would state, “these are the requirements if NL is to be considered a full and equal partner in Canada. Do you accept us as full and equal partners and all that it implies?” Let Ottawa decide and answer us. If the answer is “NO” then the clarity clause provides a peaceful avenue into “Freedom” and our own destiny!

In the interim we need to study Iceland , their constitution, bylaws and approach. They are one country who used brains along with cooperation and then had the “Balls” to stand together and fight for a way of life they believed in. They knew their little part of the world would best be served by ‘their own” government whose main objective is survival and success of Iceland. Government from away has never been very favourable for those being governed as much as favouring the “homeland”- remember Great Britain and her colonies!!There were others.

While the politics are progressing, discussions as well as public interaction would determine just what an independent NL would look like. Although we can learn from countries such as Iceland, we are still unique and must not lose sight of this fact. We could have one Nationalized fisheries company coordinating what fish are caught, where it is landed and to where it is trucked. The main objective would be to share the wealth and resources to ensure survival of the many outports and a way of life around our coast. For example, we would no longer have people on the Northern Peninsula watching helplessly from the side of the road as millions of pounds of fish are trucked past their doors - to feed plants in other parts of the province ! Of course an efficient system would also make a reasonable profit- but not at the expense of our people.

Our oil revenues could be used to help us get to a sustainable level where our renewable revenue streams from hydro power, the fishery, fly over fees, mining, sailing fees- through the strait of Belle Isle, and others, could provide a very profitable future for this little part of the planet!

I think I’ve used up my allotted space. I hope you enjoyed this or a least found it inspiring or provoking to your own thoughts on the direction for our future. Remember, these conditions and this time in history will not come again. If we don’t stand up and stop the abuse in the next few years while we have a windfall from the oil, other unhappy provinces and a leader with “brass ones”, you can bet that our future may be as bad as our past. God Guard thee NL. Because it looks like nobody else will!!

Anyone can contact me at ltaylor@nf.sympatico.ca or phone me at 754-4741 or cell # 689 7585.
Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Time for Talk is Over

I often receive feedback from readers who are less than satisfied with Newfoundland and Labrador’s place in Canada. There are those who complain about the goings on but do not offer up any solutions, those who want the Province to have a stronger voice inside Canada and more and more often lately, there are those would love nothing more than to leave the Dominion and go it alone as an independent Nation.

These comments clearly tell me that there are a lot of dissatisfied people out there, but what they don’t tell me is whether or not the number willing to take the plunge and actually vote for separation has reached that magic 50% + 1. Unfortunately determining that fact isn’t something easily accomplished without the involvement of the provincial government, or of someone with much deeper pockets than my own.

Anyone can conduct a poll asking the simple question, “If a referendum were held tomorrow would you vote to remain in Canada or separate”, but that wouldn’t really resolve anything would it? For the sake of discussion (in other words I’ll pluck some numbers from thin air), I suspect a question like that would get response of 85% against separation and to 15% for it. This result would please Ottawa to no end, but it wouldn’t paint a true picture of the sentiment in the Province. Instead it would identify those who want to leave Canada regardless of the realities and the majority of the population which is too practical and pragmatic to jump into a boat that hasn’t even been water tested.

As I see it, before any poll is conducted, a complete feasibility study and risk/benefit analysis should to be undertaken. What we need is a well funded and properly managed study that clearly outlines the impacts of separation from Canada. Our current Premier is a business man at heart and as such should understand the value of such an exercise. The outcome of that effort would identify once and for all the social and cultural impacts of independence as well as the financial stability or instability of the future Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We’ve skirted the issue in the past with the Royal Commission study of our place in Canada and later the newspaper, The Independent undertook a cost / benefit analysis of Confederation itself. These were interesting studies in their own right but they failed to answer the one question everyone really wants answered. Can Newfoundland and Labrador survive and even prosper as a separate Country?

A feasibility study would answer that question if it included a complete examination of the revenue streams necessary to support an independent Nation as well as the funds that would be available to it going forward. Only in this way will the public in the Province ever be able to make a clear and informed decision on the topic.

I often here statements to the effect that without transfer payments, EI benefits and the Canadian social safety net we would never survive, but is that true? I don’t know for sure that it is, do you? I doubt anyone does, and that’s the problem. We all have our suspicions one way or the other but none of us really knows for sure.

Consider that as a separate Nation all resource royalties/revenues, both on land and in the sea, would be available to NL. Control of the fisheries would be regained and hopefully rebound through the adoption an Icelandic style fisheries management model (formerly based on a NL study that was never implemented by government). Fees for everything from patents to passports to visas would enter the coffers. Control of immigration would allow NL to grow its knowledge and skills bases in the way that would work best for the new Nation.

The list of potential revenue streams to the Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador is a long one and includes the current federal portions of sales taxes, personal and corporate income taxes, company and employee EI premiums, Federal Pension Plan payments, alcohol and tobacco taxes, gasoline taxes and the list goes on.

What needs to be determined is if the revenue streams available are sufficient to offset the various transfers and supports currently available as a part of the Dominion. It may turn out that they don’t, but regardless of the outcome of the study, the information should be shared with every man, woman and child in the Province. It is only then that the public should be asked where they stand and it is only then the true level of support for separation can be determined. After imparting that kind of knowledge to the population the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to make an informed decision.

If the numbers show that we are not capable of going it alone then our course is clear. There is no option but to fight, perhaps vainly, for a stronger voice in the Dominion. If it is found that Newfoundland and Labrador can indeed maintain, or even improve, its current standard of living then the separation option should be seriously considered and put before the people for a decision.

At this point in our history we shouldn’t be wasting our time yelling and screaming for separation. We shouldn’t be wasting our breath talking to un-heading political leaders about our lack of representation in Ottawa and we certainly shouldn’t sit and moan into our morning coffee about the raw deal we’ve gotten for the past sixty years. Instead of wasting our time on such things we should all, each and every one of us, pull together and use our combined energies to pressure the Provincial government into conducting a detailed study of our options.

Governments, as a rule love the status quo and they sure a hell won’t do anything of their own accord, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished when the will of an entire people is brought to bear on a single unified goal.

One voice can be lost in the wilderness, a hundred voices may rattle the cage of complacency but thousands of voices, singing as one, can cause even the strongest of walls to tremble and crumble into dust.