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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.


WJM said...

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,

In which case, every province would have to be brought UP to the benefits enjoyed by NL. No other province has as much control over as many resources as NL.

fly-over fees, etc.

What are "fly-over fees", and why should provinces get them?

Anonymous said...

No other province gets as much in social assistance either you bunch of whiny babies.

Milley said...

Some people spend so much time saying nasty things about Newfoundlanders. I wonder how many of them have actually been here in NL, and taken the time to see what the situation is really like. My guess is that none of them have. Because if they took the time to educate themselves and form their own opinion, instead of taking it from the mainland media, they would have to deal with their conscience's, and would have to realize that Canada isn't as perfect a country as they all seem to think.