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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reform, Revolution and Retirement

As someone who actively speaks out on numerous issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador I have to admit that invoking any kind of change to the status quo is a very daunting task. It’s not that there’s a shortage of issues to speak out on, quite the contrary. The difficulty is in getting enough people to actually stand up say something.

The list of concerns facing the province is a long one. The issues range from less than effective representation in Ottawa to destruction of the fisheries. They include atrocious air and ferry services, a lack of control over resources management and the removal of federal offices in the province. The list goes on and on and is far too extensive to relate in a single article. The fact that these problems exist is clear and everyone in the province knows it but there is a big difference between knowing it and actually working for change.

In most societies government mishandling, abuse or neglect causes an outcry from the masses. Protests are held, revolutionaries are born, hunger strikes happen, civil disobedience takes place and eventually something happens for better or for worse. Not so in Newfoundland and Labrador, at least not to this point. As others have said in the past, we are different than any other province in Canada. While I’m the first to trumpet our differences and proudly list them, unfortunately this lack of action is also one of those differences that can’t be denied.

Don’t get me wrong, there are groups of individuals, small pockets of resistance if you will, who are willing to stand up and be counted. Groups like the Rural Rights and Boat Owners Assoc. or the Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League (NLDL), of which I’m a proud member, work diligently to address the issues, but it’s an up hill battle. The difference with groups in Newfoundland and Labrador, as opposed to those in most other places, is not the heart, the will or the passion of those involved. The difference is, believe it or not, the age of the population. This factor alone is perhaps the most debilitating single problem facing anyone in the province hoping to invoke change.

Consider that throughout history most social and political change has come as a result of public outcry, and the loudest, proudest and most vocal people have been society’s younger citizens. Generally these are university students, twenty somethings, who see a need for change and are willing to make it happen no matter what the consequences. This isn’t the case in Newfoundland and Labrador and by the very nature of the population it will likely never be. That reality alone is something any politically active group needs to face.

Groups like the NLDL are made up of some very strong willed people from various walks of life. Photographers, business people, computer consultants, fishermen, logistics experts, linguistics experts, marketing people and entrepreneurs fill its ranks but no matter the makeup of the membership, without wide spread and active support in the general population they are up against a wall.

I may sound like I’m blaming the public for their lack of support but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I completely understand their hesitance to get involved. Statistics show that the average age of the population in Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the oldest in Canada and on average the people here are aging faster than those in other areas. This means a large and important segment of the population is either already retired or within a few years of doing so. These are people who have raised families, put in a full life’s work and are now looking forward to enjoying their golden years.

The government of the province and a myriad of expert analysts have discussed the problems of an aging population. A shortage of new people entering the work force, the drop in provincial tax revenues and many other issues are all a part of it. From an activists perspective an aging population is also a major roadblock. These people are within arms reach of taking advantage of programs such as the Canada Pension Plan and Social Security and they are more than ever becoming dependent on the public health care system. Understandably they have no intention of rocking the boat.

One of the biggest battles facing any socially or politically minded group in the province today isn’t its fight with Ottawa or even with the provincial government. The biggest battle, and perhaps the hardest to win, is gaining broad based support for any issue facing Newfoundland and Labrador. A single voice is simply lost in the wind. Ten voices will fall on deaf ears. A thousand voices may invoke a limited response, but to change an existing reality in any meaningful way, ten times that number must begin to shout. The challenge is convincing the people to find their voices.

11 comments:

mt.pearligan said...

Legislators in many parts of the US and Canada are starting to wake up to one fact - working age taxpayers are going to foot the ever unbearable bill for an aged population that still need services and a great deal of healthcare. It won't be pretty but interests are going to clash. From I can gather the direction of a lot of new legislation relating to this is to protect working taxpayers from the the brunt of this burden: How, I don't know but it will be interesting to see how it develops

Anonymous said...

Youa re right. The only time a Newfoundlander gets riled up and takes action is when the government money stops rolling their way.

Anonymous said...

If Canadians let us use our resources for our primary benefit, we wouldn't have to wait for money to roll in from equilzation. But the truth is those damn Canadians always have their lobbyists on the trail of any resource that comes up for development here. And when we insist our resources have to developed for our primary benefit we not only have the lobbyists on our case, but the damn National Newspaper columnists get on side as well for Mainland Canada. They lambaste us for not wanting to send our resources westward. They all join chorus in the whining process, and up till now they have always won. I am wondering when are our NL politicians, both provincial and federal, going to learn to say an ABSOLUTE NO. Until then, I am sorry but the Canadians will have to send a little bit of the profits from our resources our way. Please do not be so bloody greedy.

Anonymous said...

Please do not be so bloody lazy.

Anonymous said...

Mr Higgins, somewere you have said something that someone does not like. This is proven by the fact that your comment section is full of comments like the previous anon, with his "please do not be so bloody lazy" attutide.


You have succeded in pissing someone off. This means that you have made progress.

Unfortuniitly many of the would be revolutionaries have had to move west to make a living (part of the problem being the piss poor wages NL companies pay there employes) others are afraid to be active for fear of losing what they have. Many believe the Great Myth of canada being NL savior, that we were all starving bums and if it were not for the gifts that the rest of canada gives us we would still be. Until this myth is defeated there will be no change/improvment in Newfoundland.


I wish your organization well Myles, but I have yet to see it do anything. I was one of the people you kicked out for not providing info by the way. I hope it does not end up like all the others before it.

WJM said...

If Canadians let us use our resources for our primary benefit, we wouldn't have to wait for money to roll in from equilzation.

Which resources don't Canadians "let us use" etc.?

Which ones?

How do they not "let"?

And when we insist our resources have to developed for our primary benefit we not only have the lobbyists on our case, but the damn National Newspaper columnists get on side as well for Mainland Canada.

Lobbyists?

National Newspaper columnists?

You think you are clever signing in as "anonymous", don't you?

Until then, I am sorry but the Canadians will have to send a little bit of the profits from our resources our way.

What "Canadians" collect what profits from what resources?

Please do not be so bloody greedy.

Nationalist Newfoundlanders should practice what they preach.

Why does Danny, and all Newfoundlanders, keep passing the buck to Ottawa for public infrastructure and program spending in Labrador?

Why not send back some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the provincial treasury makes off of Labrador every year?

Please do not be so bloody greedy, you hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Great job your doing Myles, eventually we will ge our message across. Please do not give up.

We were so silent here in the past 57 years, Canadians are shocked that we woke up to the the realities of what is happening. Of course, they were wishing that we wouldn't wake up, now that we have they have a much more difficult fight on their hands in squeezing more of our resources out of this province.

You can see the anger being expressed in your blog by those Canadians who thought it would be a cinch for ever. They thought the resources would flow without friction for ever and ever. The other element we have yet to achieve is we have to get our politicians to be honest and not give away any more of our resources.

Anonymous said...

Ottawa has a non - transparent way of doing business and it backs it up with operators who they supply with non-transparent answers to satisfy questions on this blog. How can we get ahead in Newfoundlandland and Labrador. It is not much different than what the Canadian Military faces in Afghanistan, when Canadian military faces the Taliban, who are willing to be martys by being suiside bombers for their cause. These people who work for Ottawa to keep things non transparent in Ottawa are the equivalent of the suiside bomber, because they are killing the economy of a province like Newfoundland and Labrador.

A suicide bomber for the Taliban in Afghanistan is a person who will commit suicide for his/her cause.

A suicide bomber for Canada is a bureaucrat, who will say what needs to be said to deflect the truth in what is happening.

Conclusion Canadian Army has no chance of winning in Afghanistan and Newfoundland and Labrador politicians have no chance of winning in Canadian Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Yes you’re right about GDP, but the sheer amount of resources that are exported out of Newfoundland and Labrador without any secondary or further processing done here is astronomical and a crime.

Take for instance the FISH that is exported to China for processing. No doubt it became intertwined in Global Free Trade during the Trade Missions by our Prime Ministers to China. Also the QUOTAS OF FISH in OTTAWA'S hands which Ottawa doles out to foreign countries, since joining Canada 57 years ago the number of countries off Newfoundland and Labrador's coast have increased considerably. Now every continent on the globe is fishing in our offshore waters. For 450 years there were countries from 2 continents Europe and North America.

Another resource the Hydroelectric Energy that flows from the Upper Churchill Hydroelectric Project into Quebec could have made this province well off if some of the power had been used to bring industry to Labrador and Newfoundland. Also Ottawa would not intervene on our behalf for a corridor across Quebec so we could wield our power to markets. Ottawa was too afraid of what the spoiled child Quebec would do. As a result Quebec became the primary beneficiary in a 72 years contract; there are still 42 years to go on that dreadful contract. Quebec receives billions and Newfoundland and Labrador barely enough to run the project.

Then there are the MINERALS, all of which are being shipped to other parts of Canada for further processing.

And of course black gold, OIL, billions of dollars worth per year are pumped out of our offshore oil fields, all of which is exported to other parts of Canada and the United States.

So let us forget about HIGH GDP that Newfoundland and Labrador computes every year, and let us talk about the raw resources. If you want to calculate those resources, you will find there are billions and billions of dollars worth being exported every year.
If the province of Newfoundland and Labrador could have been the primary beneficiary and all these resources being refined here, the jobs that would have resulted from the secondary processing would be astronomical and if you let your imagination run amok for a minute, can you not imagine the wonderful economies that could have been created here. This province with 500,000 people could be very well of indeed.

Also I will not dispute that the politicians of Newfoundland and Labrador, both provincial and federal, did not do their duties properly; and if we knew the truth they were probably bigger and more corrupt crooks than Ottawa. I for one do not hold them in high regard.

WJM said...

Also the QUOTAS OF FISH in OTTAWA'S hands which Ottawa doles out to foreign countries,

Which quotas of fish? To which countries?

since joining Canada 57 years ago the number of countries off Newfoundland and Labrador's coast have increased considerably.

How many countries were fishing there 57 years ago?

How many now?

How far off "Newfoundland and Labrador's coast" are you talking about?

Now every continent on the globe is fishing in our offshore waters.

South America? Africa? Australia?

Another resource the Hydroelectric Energy that flows from the Upper Churchill Hydroelectric Project into Quebec could have made this province well off if some of the power had been used to bring industry to Labrador and Newfoundland.

The province has full jurisdiction over hydro.

Also Ottawa would not intervene on our behalf for a corridor across Quebec so we could wield our power to markets.

So what?

Incidentally, the province has had the power since 1982 to get such a corridor.

Why hasn't it applied for one?

Ottawa was too afraid of what the spoiled child Quebec would do. As a result Quebec became the primary beneficiary in a 72 years contract;

The contract is not a 72-year one...

there are still 42 years to go on that dreadful contract.

Nor are there 42 years left to go in it. You don't even know what you are talking about.

Quebec receives billions and Newfoundland and Labrador barely enough to run the project.

Boo-hoo. Newfoundlanders gave away a Labrador resource, and now complain that they, Newfoundlanders, don't get enough out of it.

Then there are the MINERALS, all of which are being shipped to other parts of Canada for further processing.

Which minerals?

Whose fault is that?

Are no minerals shipped into Newfoundland for processing?

And of course black gold, OIL, billions of dollars worth per year are pumped out of our offshore oil fields, all of which is exported to other parts of Canada and the United States.

Open a refinery.

resources, you will find there are billions and billions of dollars worth being exported every year.

The same is true of every province of Canada except for PEI.

If the province of Newfoundland and Labrador could have been the primary beneficiary

What does "primary beneficiary" mean?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it sad though to see a somebody from this province on side with Ottawa doing cover ups to keep things non transparent? How are we ever going to rise up out of the dust from the ruins of Ottawa? Good grief what another fellow human being well do to the masses in order to get a decent pay cheque himself. Go figure who I am referring to.