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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.

25 comments:

Patriot said...

If anyone is interested in moving forward with this initiative, I've created a template for a petition. I plan to place it in local stores, etc. Just contact me at: higginsmyles@yahoo.ca and I'll be happy to forward it along.

Once you have your signatures just contact me again and I'll let you know how to send them back to me.

I thought of going the online route with this but a lot of those interested may not have internet access or even see the petition so I figured this would be the best approach to ensure we can get as many people as possible involved.

Come on folks, it's time to stop talking and see if we can get something happening here.

Myles

Anonymous said...

Your national government is probably afraid to give you more control because Williams and your citizens are an embarrassment.

Here is another example:
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=4331697

WJM said...

Consider that as a separate Nation all resource royalties/revenues, both on land and in the sea, would be available to NL.

They already are as a province. The federal government doesn't collect resource royalties in NL or any other province.

Patriot said...

I don't want to go down this road with you again WJM, but NL's share of revenues (as identified in the new accord deal brokered with Paul Martin which states that we will recieve 100%) means that we will recieve 100% of the provincial share which is actually on about 48 or 49% of the overall revenues. (Last time I tell you this because you don't seem to want to believe it.)

Patriot said...

Anon said:

Your national government is probably afraid to give you more control because Williams and your citizens are an embarrassment.

News flash: Any decisions on the hunt are made by the National Government, not the Provincial one. Take a civics lesson and try to understand what you are talking about before you put your foot in your mouth.

By the way, nice attempt to sneak in something on sealing under this thread. If you want to beat your drum on that topic go to our archives and find the appropriate article to do it under. I assume that just because you know nothing about Canadian politics that doesn't mean you can't read.

Anonymous said...

News Flash-- Williams is making a statement on behalf of the DFO. Are you trying to say he has no power in the matter?

Patriot said...

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. There are always a lot of people who like to complain but as soon as the call actually goes out to do something about our situation (distribute a petition)nobody steps up. If you listen closely you can actually here the crickets chirping.

BNB said...

anon, you are trying to bait the thread. Wrong post anon, wrong context, wrong spin.

This would be a great exercise Patriot. A couple of questions I've always had that perhaps this report could answer for us is:

What happens to the Quebec Churchill falls mess?

What happens to DFOs responsibility with having mismanaged the Fishery?

A question that came out of the Quebec Sovereignist: If Newfoundland can separate from Canada can Labrador likewise separate from Newfoundland? or from Canada separately? What are the legal implications?
(I'm not asking for an opinion WJM, it's a question to be asked of the report.)

Of course there are many other considerations like our money, military presence etc. But the report could answer much of this.

I really think we can go it alone. If go back and forth on whether we should. Lot of ifs.

no longer proud said...

I agree that the economics of NL separation is something that should be seriously looked into, and no doubt it will be if the upcoming 'equalization reform' turns out to be the debacle most people are expecting. Patriot, feel free to send me one of those petitions at my anonymous e-mail addy, big_bubbagump@hotmail.com

I will admit, however, that I don't feel as hopeful about a bright future for NL (independent or otherwise) since recently reading info on the groundwork being laid for US control of the North American continent. It's time to pack my bags for Australia, methinks... :-(

Anonymous said...

For the Australia that's even more under the US's political orbit than Canada is? That Australia? Have you never heard of John Howard?

no longer proud said...

Did John Howard sign the SPP agreement(Security and Prosperity Partnership)??? Didn't think so...

Gordon said...

You have raised an interesting question, but no current politician in office in power now would openly advocate separation, even if they believed in it. There really has to be a separatist party (an Anti-Smallwood??) that will force the issue, or rather, create the issue of separatism. Even 15% or more in favour of separatism will likely not result in any seats, especially in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

Atikonak said...

I have to agee with gordon. In order for this to work it would have to be a grass roots political movement. I don't think a poll concluding 50% of the population wanted separation would do anything with the current political situation and the existing parties. Compound that with the fact that most people would be quite happy with some equal treatment in the country and that separation may be too extreem.

I'm still considering that myself. However if there were a serious party formed that wanted equality first with the possibilty of independance if that were not possible then I'd be on board.

A.

NL-ExPatriate said...

I'm in the process of reading Clyde Wells book. The more I read the more I am inclined to agree with you Patriot that the time for talk is over.

If Clyde Wells as the Premier couldn't force some sort of equality as a province it would seem the only option left is separation secession.

Even my latest suggestion to abstain from voting in a federal election to send a message to the rest of Canada that we are not happy would seem to be a lesson in futility.

Not only would we need Equality of some form on a regional basis IE Triple E senate and Bilingual Supreme court judges from every province and territory appointed in a heirarcical fashion from the provincial supreme courts, but we need some autonomy oer our own destiny in the form of Fisheries, Non-Renewable resource revenues removed from the Equalization formula, Marine Atlantic, National Power corridor and a fixed link in the form of an intermodal cable car setup.

I'm also beginning to realize that any break away from canada would leave us in a tough position with Canada imposing tarrifs and trade barriers against us with Canada as well as pressuring the US and the EU to freeze us out as well not unlike they did before we joined with Canada.

So I think in order for us to break away clean and free and be able to retain our rights on the continental shelf as well as persuade Labrador to remain with us and not with Canada we would seriuosly have to consider some sort of union with the US or else we will be the Next Cuba only we will become Canada's Cuba while Labrador goes with Canada because we won't be able to provide them with the security and comfort that Canada will offer themn in the short term until they start treating Labrador once again like a colony if not apart of Quebec.

Just look at the trend of segregating Labrador from NFLD in the past few years. Canada doesn't give a hoot about NFLD it's Labrador they want and have always wanted.
Segregated Labrador from NFLD by changing the federal electoral borders to not include the northern peninsula, Put the cost of ferry operations squarely on the shoulders of knowing full well it would become a burden and further divide our two communities, Refuse to entertain the idea of co funding a fixed link, Refuse to Provide a national corridor to the Island because tha twould mean if we were to separate we would still be able to utilize the power from the Upper and Lower Churchill.

I do like your idea of doing a study and laying out a frame work though if we can't obtain some sort of Equality in this Democratic/Imperialist State of Ontario. We need Autonomy and control of our own destiny. Upalongs complain that we are always complaining. Well maybe if we had control of our own resources we wouldn't need to complain to Ottawa because Ottawa isn't looking out for our best interests but rather the interests of the country and in particular Ontario.

Fishery, Mining and non-renewables being clawed back through the equalization formula, Off shore oil refusing to side wit hPremier williams that use it or lose it on Hebron Ben Nevis, Alberta had this problem and unilaterally implemented a fallow field three years use it or lose it, It is in the best financial interst of canada to depopulate NL because it is costing them money through Marine Atlantic, That and we are just a nuisance what with the perception that we only work 14 weeks and draw from the UI program the rest of the year while at the same time complaining about Ottawa using the continental shelf as their own personal bartering chip for world trade to benefit Ontario's manufacturing industry.

NL-ExPatriate said...

John Crosbie tried to take control of the Continental shelf and almost did it ut once Mulroney was ousted Cretien wouldn't ratify the United Nations Law of the Sea which would have made the Continental shelf slope and rise ours.
Read No holds Barred it is a very enlightening look into our past an the goings on in Ottawa. Not to mention Crosbie was always good for some scandal and quick wit LOL.

So your right it has been tried by better men than you and I

The time for talk is over!

It's time to start planning for our best interests in the future and be done with Canada.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Another one would be the border dispute which doesn't exist between Quebec and NL. Where Quebec insists on unilaterally redrawing the border between Quebec and NL to include the head waters of the rivers contrary to the 1927 privy Council decision.
Ottawa doesn't say a word to Quebec so in essence silence is acceptance in my books and Ottawa would just as soon see those newly drawn borders which Quebec purports become the accepted borders once again fueling the idea that Canada doesn't give a dam about NFLD but rather would just as soon see it towed out to sea and sunk like a Ottawa MP once stated.

NL-ExPatriate said...

I could list instances of unfair treatment of NL all night but here are a few more of the more glaring ones.

Discrimination of NL'ians with respect to the food, Tourist, recreational fishery. At frst it was tags we had to pay and only had one week or day to fish while NS had 11 months free. Even now the measly 5 weeks at the worst time of the year during Aug NS continues on with their 11 months. I heard today on the radio PEI is going to get 2 months cod fishery for their charter boats.

We have the best and most important geographical and strategical position on the East coast of Canada and we don't have one FULLY manned military base.

Remember during the last election Harper giing a promise to BC that he would put a regular army base in BC because they don't have one now. Well news flash Harper BC has Nanaimo, and Esquimault a navy and an air base but NL doesn't have a manned Army, Navy or Airforce base.
No Cadets and militia that work one night a week don't qualify.

Our military can't even claim the Toll ferry Marine Atlantic for their one paid trip home a year LTA.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget changing the name of the province from Newfoundland to

Newfoundland AND Labrador

further dividing our already divided geographically anyway people.

WJM said...

Segregated Labrador from NFLD by changing the federal electoral borders to not include the northern peninsula,

That's what Labradorians asked for. Why should you get to over-rule what Labradorians asked for? That's presumptuous and colonialist.

Put the cost of ferry operations squarely on the shoulders of knowing full well it would become a burden and further divide our two communities,

Huh? For thirty years, the federal government did fund that ferry, after the province asked them to take it over. That's why the ferry terminal is in Blanc-Sablon; that way Newfoundland could argue it was interprovincial, and get out of paying for it. And it was turned back to the province BECAUSE THE PROVINCE ASKED FOR IT.

Refuse to entertain the idea of co funding a fixed link,

Huh? The federal government co-funded the study which showed the fixed link wasn't economically feasible. Why can't Danny and his ilk take no for an answer?

If it's economically feasible, why wouldn't the province pay the whole shot and control everything?

Refuse to Provide a national corridor

What's a "national corridor"?

If a hydro line to Newfoundland makes sense, it should be self-financing. If it's not, then use the power in Labrador. All one province, right?

to the Island because tha twould mean if we were to separate we would still be able to utilize the power from the Upper and Lower Churchill.

Who's "we"? If Newfoundland separates, why should it still get Labrador's power?

WJM said...

Lets not forget changing the name of the province from Newfoundland to Newfoundland AND Labrador further dividing our already divided geographically anyway people.

This was done AT PROVINCIAL REQUEST.

What is truly divisive is jackass colonialist Newfoundlanders who insist that Labrador is just part of Newfoundland. That's divisive.

WJM said...

Another one would be the border dispute which doesn't exist between Quebec and NL. Where Quebec insists on unilaterally redrawing the border between Quebec and NL to include the head waters of the rivers contrary to the 1927 privy Council decision.

Let Quebec delude itself if they want to. There's nothing anyone else can do about it, certainly not the federal government, any more than the federal government can force Newfoundland's colonialist government to stop publishing maps that reduce Labrador to an inset.

Ottawa doesn't say a word to Quebec so in essence silence is acceptance in my books

Exactly. For most of the past century, Quebec was silent about the 1927 border, and acquiesced in it. Even Jacques Parizeau says that Quebec has no claim to Labrador. That was also the conclusion of a Quebec government commission.

and Ottawa would just as soon see those newly drawn borders which Quebec purports become the accepted borders once again fueling the idea that Canada doesn't give a dam about NFLD but rather would just as soon see it towed out to sea and sunk like a Ottawa MP once stated.

Which MP?

I dare you to come up with a name.

What was the name of this MP?

NL-ExPatriate said...

Ontario Tory MP Don Blenkarn said

"I sometimes feel we would be better off if we towed [Newfoundland] out to sea and sank it."

If you still doubt me read the book Clyde Wells
A Political Biography
By Claire Hoy
Page 179-180

Pretty good book, bit dry and slanted towards skewing Clyde Wells IMHO.

All's I can say is thank god someone had enough principles to stand up to what would have amounted to enshrining into law what we now have as a Colonial/Federation Democratic/Imperialism

NL-ExPatriate said...

Here's a thought the time for talk isn't over, it's just who and what we need to be talking to and about.

Namely we need to be talking to Quebec and the rest of the Atlantic provinces.

Now a federation of Eastern proinces would work outside of Canada. Assuming Quebec is willing to give the rest of us some sort of Equality namely Triple E senate and Equality in the supreme court.

Quebec would be the new Ontario in a scenario like this. So the ball would be in their court as to whether or not they would be willing to recognise English Atlanticans in this new arrangement. We would have enough clout and world power to be able to battle any macinations the remainder of Canada would try to perpetrate against us in this new found country if it were actually to happen.

Quebec would have to be concilliatory on the Upper Churchill in NL's case. But I think it could actually work.

We would have enough resources and power assuming the infrastructure was built to distribute it amongst the new parties namely NS, NB and PEI want and need new sources of power. We in NL have those sources only Quebec is hindering us from deeloping and distributing them and Ottawa is doing nothing to prevent them.

It would become like a circular trade route within our own boundaries assuming a fixed link is agreed to across the Strait Jacket of Belle Isle. An intermodal cable car set up would be the most cost effective in the short term IMHO. While a nation pwer corridor either through Quebec and into the mainland Atlantic portions or a subsea route to supply the Mainland Atlantic provinces.

This would solve the problem of we are all to small to go it alone but are being mistreated in Canada because of our lack of equality within Canada while being large enough with enough resources to protect ourselves and provide for ourselves amongst the 4 new entities.

WJM said...

It would become like a circular trade route within our own boundaries assuming a fixed link is agreed to across the Strait Jacket of Belle Isle.

How is the Strait of Belle Isle a "Strait Jacket"?

You just proposed a circular route which would include a ferry crossing of the Cabot Strait. The Strait of Belle Isle is a lot shorter, which means that the ferries can run across it much more frequently. Or could, if the province would actually put a ferry with an engine on that service.

Why is a fixed link essential?

Newfoundland nationalists love comparing themselves -- falsely -- to Ireland. Ireland doesn't have a fixed link to anywhere, now, does it?

Anonymous said...

Yes! Jolly good idea. Bag your bags and leave. Then Canada can spend it's money on something worthwhile :)

I like it!