Da Legal Stuff...

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Forced Marriage

Hi all,

I'm still on vacation enjoying our great NL weather and touring around. I expect to be back to writing my regular commentaries in a week or so but in the mean time here's another little article from days gone by that I recently came across.


The following appeard in Time Magazine (Canadian edition) 1949.

In London last week, the House of Commons debated the bill to legalize the entry of Newfoundland into Canada as a tenth province. To a half-empty House, ceremonious, grey-haired Philip Noel-Baker, Commonwealth Relations Secretary, spoke for the Labor Government. All that the House was doing, said he, was to ratify action already taken by the two dominions. Newfoundlanders had voted last summer to join Canada ; Canadians had accepted.

But the sentiment of the House was not entirely unanimous. Independent Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, author (Holy Deadlock) and wit, rose from the front Opposition bench like an agitated penguin. Ever since he toured Newfoundland with a parliamentary good will mission in 1943, Sir Alan had been an unofficial spokesman for his islander friends.

The only legal course for the House, he said, was first to reconstitute a legislature such as Newfoundland had in 1933 before it went bankrupt and was taken over by a British-appointed Commission of Government. Waving his notes, Sir Alan cried: "I am tired of hearing people say that we are doing the right thing in the wrong way. If we are doing it in the wrong way, it cannot be the right thing. We do not say that about a forced marriage or a rape. We do not say: 'The young lady must go to bed one day. What does it matter what the arrangements are?' We take good care that she knows what she is doing, that she is willing, and that she is to be properly provided for. That is what we must do in this House."

Sir Alan appealed to the members' sense of British fair play: "Even the rules of cricket cannot be altered without a two-thirds majority." All the Newfoundlanders want, he added, "is to be able to determine [their] own future in [their] own Parliament instead of being chucked across the counter in a tied-up parcel as if [they] did not matter."

Everyone agreed that Spokesman Herbert had done splendidly; everyone had laughed at the right places in his speech. But the vote was 217 for confederation, 15 against it. This week the bill would be up for the routine third and final reading. Confederation was scheduled for March 31.

Source: "Forced Marriage?, Time (Canadian edition), March 14, 1949 , p. 25.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Newfoundland and Labrador "Revived" Caplin Fishery

Once again the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are sitting by while the federal government knowingly and willingly encourages the destruction of our fisheries and way of life.

It’s clear from DFO's handling of the caplin fishery that they are more than happy to act with short term interests in mind by placating fishermen (voters), rather than focusing on the long term objective of saving a dying industry.

The fed, through the actions of DFO, aren’t the only ones with tunnel vision when it comes to our fishery. There’s more than enough blame to go around and the fishermen and processors in this province need to shoulder a good chunk of that responsibility as well.

Sometimes I wonder who our worst enemy truly is, our politicians or us.

This summer the commercial caplin fishery is taking larger catches than at any time in recent years in spite of warnings that the health of the stocks may be less stable than it appears.

While caplin has always been caught in Newfoundland and Labrador the mainstay of the economy here for centuries was the cod fishery. Years ago it was noted by fishermen and researchers alike that caplin (a key component of a cod’s diet) went into a severe decline at around the same time as the cod stocks collapsed in the late 80s and early 90s throwing thousands of people out of work and leading to the massive out migration we see today.

Nobody really understands all the reasons for the decline of the cod but it doesn’t take a leap of logic to suspect that the limited availability of this key food source was an important factor.

Though over fishing by foreign and local fishermen was likely the biggest culprit there’s little doubt that a limited food supply was a contributor. Like any species, when its food source disappeared so did the cod.

Fast forward 15 or 20 years and we see our province’s population dwindling. With caplin stocks on the rise you might think DFO would limit the catch in the hope of helping to rebuild this vital link in the food chain, increase cod recovery and perhaps one day see an end to a 2 year moratorium that’s been in effect for 15 with no end in sight.

Of course they aren’t doing that.

Instead of letting the caplin stocks rebuild and stabalize fishermen are grabbing what they can to sell on the lucrative Japanese market with no thought about their future. The fishermen and processors are looking for a quick buck and Ottawa is once again navel gazing by letting it happen.

Though there has continued to be a commercial caplin fishery since the moratorium came into effect, according to reports, those catches were nothing compared to the activity taking place this year. Not by a long shot. In fact one fisherman recently said he hadn’t seen catches like this in 20 years. Interestingly, at just about the same time the cod started to vanish.

Thanks to political opportunism and commercial greed fish stocks are being used once again to satisfy short-term commercial interests and curry votes while the long term future of the industry and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are left to pay the ultimate price

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How Much is Your Vote Really Worth?

How much is your vote worth?

Don’t answer too quickly. It’s a seller’s market these days.

If it wasn’t such a sleazy spectacle watching the Conservative’s latest cross-country vote buying tour might almost be funny. There’s nothing like the sight of a politician desperately trying to buy off the great unwashed, and increasingly vocal, masses.

Harper is bad enough but the worst one has to be our own Loyola Hearn.

While Adolph Harper wings his way from coast to coast, (Halifax to Vancouver), passing out billions in navy contracts, environmental funding and other shiny baubles, little Loyola has the job of buying off voters here at home, one paving contract, education announcement and sewer upgrade at a time.

I’ve witnessed many such schemes in the past but I honestly can’t recall the last time Ottawa paid to pave a local parking lot. All I can say is, “More power to the Chamber of Commerce in Gander for pulling that one off.” Leave it to the business community to figure out the exact value of a hot commodity in an overheated market.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and right now nobody is more desperate than the Conservative/Reform/Alliance/PC party of Canada, or as they’re otherwise known, the CRAP party.

This summer Loyola is hitting the BBQ circuit like a man on a mission with a pocket full of shiny new pennies to dole out.

By the way Loyola, once the crew is finished paving that parking lot in Gander maybe you can ask your boss when he plans to send them up to Labrador.

Of course not being anybody’s fool Loyola knows that after just screwing the province on the Accord a little blacktop won’t be enough win an election. Not to mention for the voters to cancel their mail order’s of tar and feathers. Like any seasoned politician Loyola has a plan B.

It doesn’t include doing his job though, heaven’s no. The Minister of Fisheries has decided it’s far easier to go on the attack here at home than actually show some results for his time in Ottawa.

After blasting anyone who dared challenge him over the Atlantic Accord Hearn decided that, when not passing out federal cheques, he should focus his attention on fisheries matters. Not by fixing the problems offshore but by verbally assaulting long time fisheries activist, Gus Etchegary.

When Hearn ran in the last federal election he convinced poor gullible Gus to back his election campaign and even act as a shill for him. He did that by claiming the Conservatives would make the dream of custodial management a reality. How many broken promised does that make for these guys anyway? I’ve lost count.

It seems old Gus wasn’t too happy when Loyola broke that promise. With any pretence of effective fisheries reform cast aside, like the voters who marked their X for him, Hearn is now fulfilling his Ministerial duties by running from tickle to bay attacking the credibility of the man whose shoulders he climbed atop on his way to an election win.

Real nice Loyola, who’s next on your hit list, the clergy, orphans how about an arthritic widow or two?

Like I said folks, votes are at a premium these days and it’s a seller’s market so don’t sell yours unless you get an offer you can’t refuse.

By the way Loyola, before I forget, I’ve got a pothole in my driveway that needs patching. If you wouldn’t mind taking care of that for me I solemnly promise to vote for you the next time around. You can depend on it. A man’s word is his bond. Isn’t it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Not Acquire Newfoundland?

The following is a look back at how Newfoundland confederation with Canada was viewed in the years preceding the event. It might be interesting to see how this was perceived. It's also interesting to note the value arguements made for Canada assuming control of its 10th province.


If the United States offered one hundred million dollars for Newfoundland , to make it part of the Republic, would Canada approve the sale?

If Germany offered peace if Newfoundland were ceded to it, would Canada approve the bargain?

No, in both cases! Newfoundland, then, must have some value to Canada. Why, then, not acquire it? That value may be purely negative, in the view of some - the threat it would be to Canada if either the United States or Germany acquired it.

If the United States got Newfoundland, contemplate the effect upon the fisheries of the Atlantic provinces of Canada . American enterprise and Newfoundland fish would supply American consumers, and Canada 's markets to the United States for fish would fade away.

If Germany held Newfoundland she would command the exports of the St. Lawrence, Canada's trade with Great Britain would vanish in time of war, and Great Britain's breadbasket be closed. The iron ore of Belle Isle would supply much of Germany 's needs.

It must be realized that Newfoundland is not only the Island , but an even larger area on the mainland of British North America, with great water powers, splendid harbors, and boundless mineral possibilities, an eastward expansion of Quebec's natural resources.

Why, then, should an extraordinary opportunity to make Newfoundland a part of Canada be neglected? With forts on both sides of the strait of Belle Isle, with naval bases on the southwest coast of Newfoundland and at Sidney, Cape Breton, the St. Lawrence could be made impregnable. The airport at Botwood could be made the concentration point for aeroplanes, from which a great air fleet could be made available at short notice for the protection of Canada or Great Britain, or both, and the cost of arming should be borne by both Canada and Great Britain jointly. The whole cost would not exceed the whole cost that Canada alone will spend this year for war preparations, or Great Britain spend for two or three warships.

Worth much to the Empire

Newfoundland , regarded as a fortress only, is worth more to the Empire than Gibraltar or Singapore . The trade of the Mediterranean or of the East Indies is not more vital than that of the St. Lawrence. Without the latter, Great Britain could not survive a great war. Without free outlet from the St. Lawrence, Canada would decay.

Newfoundland has value for Canada in other respects. She can supply the sailors to man her warships, of which there must soon be a great fleet. The offspring of Irish, Scottish and English ancestors who manned the wooden walls of Great Britain in the days of sailing ships, the Newfoundlanders of today can do as good work now as then. With the disappearance of sailing ships the sailors have also almost disappeared from Canada . The Maritime provinces could not easily provide man-of-war's men for a large Canadian fleet of warships, but Newfoundland employs many men in the fishery, and has a surplus to man the warships of Canada when Newfoundland becomes a part of it.

Newfoundland has one great asset too lightly regarded. Her birth rate is as valuable as the gold mines of Canada . Moral, intelligent, loyal, her people are such stuff as Canada wants for immigrants. They are "handymen" by heredity and training, invaluable as sailors, fishermen, minors, and men of all work. British Columbia would be an ideal resort for the surplus youth of Newfoundland . Why look abroad for immigrants when such men can be got so near at hand?

Causes of Unemployment

Unemployment in Newfoundland is due chiefly to two main causes: (1) Rapid increase of population, (2) loss of fish markets in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece through fiscal troubles in these countries. The fisheries of Newfoundland have not failed, only the markets, and they will revive when peace comes to the world.

The fish of Newfoundland competes in foreign markets with fish exported from Canada. One control over the fish of both would restrict competition and improve the price. With the fishery resources of Newfoundland and Canada under one control, free entry into the market of the United States could soon be attained.

The revenue collected in Newfoundland is equal to the expenditure there for all services other than interest on the public debt, for which Great Britain is legally responsible, having guaranteed the principal. She now contributes to the colony annually a sum equal to the interest, but as of grace only, not as an obligation to Newfoundland. If, therefore, she cancelled Newfoundland 's liability for the debt, the cost to her would not be greater than at present. But if it were cancelled, Newfoundland could enter Canada without a public debt, and the subsidies she would be given by Canada would enable her to pay for Provincial services without direct taxation. Newfoundland's present revenue pays for all the services either she or Canada would have to carry on. If Canada's collection from customs duties did not equal all she pays for Federal services in Newfoundland, and the subsidies to the Province, the deficit would be due to the importation into Newfoundland from Canada of goods now bought elsewhere. Canada would gain in trade all that she lost in revenue.

Its importance to Canada

But, were it otherwise, how small would be the deficit compared to the vast indirect advantages to Canada. Macdonald, Tupper and Laurier and men of their stamp realized the importance of Newfoundland to Canada . Men of "parish views" have lost sight of it. The war is widening our vision. Parochial views should be abandoned in Empire emergencies. The statesmanship which is fortifying Singapore and Hong Kong should realize how vital it is that Newfoundland shall be fortified also. The whole of North America could be protected by making Newfoundland impregnable. Lapoile and Mortler, great harbors on the south coast of Newfoundland , open to navigation at all seasons, should be used to shelter convoys to go east and west. Transportation across the Atlantic would be a solved problem if this were done. The longitude of Cape Race should be a dead line west of which European enemies should not be allowed, and thus the whole of America be protected. Just as a roadway through British Columbia and Alaska seems vital to protect the United States and Canada from Japanese aggression, so naval stations in Newfoundland may be essential to both Canada and the United States .

Take her into the union

Canada should say to Great Britain : "Assume the public debt of Newfoundland , and Canada will take her into the Union on terms liberal enough to enable her to function as a Province, without direct taxation, for which she is at present unfitted".

The Strait of Belle Isle should be fortified, naval stations established in Newfoundland and Cape Breton to guard the Cabot straits, and the great airport at Botwood made a concentration point of air fleets for Canada and Great Britain. The cost of all this should be borne equally by Canada and Great Britain , as a vital Empire service, and the expenditure and other incidental effects would banish the unemployment problem in Newfoundland , which has given the British Government great concern for years and is still unsolved.

The "dole" would be ended there. With representation at Ottawa, and with Provincial Legislature and Government, the franchise would be restored to Newfoundland, and her people repossess the status of free British citizens.

This is not the plea for "Confederation" in the conventional sense. It is a call to act imperially, not provincially. It is not primarily for Newfoundland , nor yet for Canada , but for both, and for the whole British Empire, that prompt and decisive action is urged. This is not a matter to be deferred till peace comes, but amounts to an emergency in time of war, and should be settled now.

Source : Sir Alfred B. MORINE, "Why Not Acquire Newfoundland , And Consolidate the Empire?", in The Globe and Mail, April 20, 1940, p. 6.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Canadian General Eyes Takeover of Newfoundland & Labrador

These days a persistent and well sourced rumor is making the rounds in Ottawa and appearing in both national and local media. It seems Newfoundland and Labrador’s native son and Canada’s top General, Rick Hillier, may be considering a run at the Premiers chair after he retires.

The general is clearly comfortable traveling in political circles and there’s no doubt he understands how to play the game in Ottawa so it’s not really a stretch when you think about it.
Some might even think a military man is just what we need to whip the province into shape and “go to battle” with Ottawa over our treatment in confederation. I’m not convinced.

The kind of political battles we’re accustomed to seeing in this province will probably be a thing of the past if the General takes command of Canada’s eastern most colonial outpost. While a period of relative peace might be welcomed by some, it won’t come without a price.

It takes a lot of political maneuvering, a great deal of back scratching and an unquestioning loyalty to your superiors to make it to the top military post. Most of all it takes the ability to follow orders, often very distasteful ones, without question. Something Rick Hillier has been trained to do his entire life.

That’s the problem.

It may not be a popular position to take, questioning NL’s number one military man, but if General Hillier becomes Premier will we be trading away a leader the mainland papers have dubbed a “dictator” for one who’s nothing more than a federal “puppet”?

No offense to the General, I respect him immensely and recognize the difficult job he is doing for Canada. I just don’t want him doing that job here.

I don’t doubt his intelligence, his character or his abilities. The problem is that I also don’t question his allegiance to Canada or his loyalty to his political superiors.

I’m not too fond of the ultra right wing zealots holding Parliament Hill hostage these days. I also don’t like the idea of a former military leader ruling Newfoundland and Labrador. Call me crazy but when you add the two together it leaves the door open for some pretty strange situations.

We all know that in Canada doing what’s best for the Country often means making decisions that can damage Newfoundland and Labrador. You only have to look at the recent battle over equalization to see that, or maybe you’d rather look back to the upper Churchill contract, the collapse of the cod fishery or the removal of the railway.

Ask yourself, if General Hillier was the top man in the Province today would he take on Ottawa over their new un-equalization plan or would he support them? The plan hurts our province severely but it provides new benefits to the two most populated parts of Canada, Ontario and Quebec. Rightly or wrongly by federal logic that makes it the best thing for the Nation. If there is one thing a man like General Hillier will defend to the death it’s doing what he believes is best for Canada.

With all due respect to the General, do we really want a Premier whose life has been dedicated to taking orders from behind closed doors in Ottawa.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Public Manipulation and the Government of Canada

Manipulation of the public, rather than running the nation, has been the main job of politicians in Canada throughout history.

From a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective, perhaps one of the best examples of this was the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord a number of years back. If you ask almost anyone in Canada how the Accord died most will tell you it was defeated by Newfoundland and Labrador premier, Clyde Wells.

Not true.

It wasn’t defeated by Clyde Wells or the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In reality Wells planned to hold a vote in the Legislature which would almost assuredly have defeated it, but that vote never happened.

Elijah Harper, an NDP backbencher in the Winnipeg legislature, caused the deal to fail in that province and as a result there was no reason to hold the vote in NL.

So why does nearly everyone believe NL killed Meech?

Because it’s what the federal Conservative government, under Brian Mulroney wanted them to believe. That was the spin they put on it and, assisted by corporate mainstream media outlets it worked like a charm.

They blamed Newfoundland and Labrador because, as one honest columnist put it, "it was more politically acceptable to lash out at Newfoundland than to do it to an aboriginal politician".

This was a clear cut case of political manipulation to manufacture a more palatable version of history. It’s not an isolated incident.History is full of such manipulations by political leaders and parties in this Country.

Public manipulation happens every day but most of the time it's so subtle nobody even notices.

Ask yourself, why would politicians, who are certainly not shy about speaking in public, even bother to have “media experts”, or as they are often called, “Spin Doctors” on staff? I mean if they truly were as “honorable” as their title implies what would be the need?

The simple answer is to spin the story in a favorable light so they can make a kick in the stones sound like a pat on the back.

One of the most enduring and widespread of manipulations is, and has been, perpetrated as a matter of course by every federal member since the formation of Canada itself.

Without fail voters are encouraged to believe that they elect a federal member to represent them, their riding and their province in Ottawa.

Not so.

This may be the intent of the voters and it’s what politicians want you to believe, but that doesn’t make it true.

The truth is, when elected, these men and women do not represent voter’s interests in Ottawa. They represent Ottawa’s interests to the voters.

Many of them miss votes in the house, don’t stand up in support of the moral and social conscience of their constituents nearly all refuse to lock horns with members of their party on issues important to their constituents.

They feed from the public trough, follow the herd and have the audacity to visit their home provinces so they can more directly manipulate the unwashed masses by handing out paving contracts or arts funding while explaining why the decision they just allowed to happen was for the best.

Though by no means alone, perhaps two of the best examples of this are the misrepresentations of Conservative Loyola Hearn and Liberal John Efford, during his time in Ottawa.

Both of these men (and I use the term "men" very loosely) backed their respective parties over the people who counted on them and both did it over the same issue, the Atlantic Accord.

Closer to home, regular readers of my articles often witness the type of manipulation I’m speaking of in the comments of people like Wallace Mclean (WJM) who, unless his occupation has changed very recently, works for federal MP Todd Russell. A fact he has never admitted to on the site but one he also refused to refute, even after being given 3 separate opportunities to do so immediately prior to the release of this article.

I have to say though I think the Honorable Todd Russell should be careful since Wallace's statements, in my opinion, may be federalist in nature as intended but more often than not seem to help shore up the Conservative government rather than making a case for Mr. Russell's Liberal party, but I digress.

The same sort of manipulation happens with other’s who haunt this site on a regular basis as well. Not all of them are paid directly by any political party of course, but you can bet your bottom dollar there are connections that can be made.

When it comes to manipulating the public no issue, or public comment, is too big or too small for the spin doctors to address.

Whether it’s convincing the nation that while raking in multi-billion dollar surpluses the federal government can’t afford to cut taxes or spend more on social programs, or claiming that not one comma of the Atlantic Accord was affected by the recent budget, public manipulation is a full time job and these guys are good what they do.

It’s a wonder our politicians have time to fully imbed one lie in the public consciousness before moving on to the next. Imagine what they could accomplish if they only used their power for good instead of evil.

Regardless of it all I just love the Canadian democratic system don’t you? It’s a model for the entire world to emulate. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Latest Shot in Accord Battle Fired by Rodney MacDonald

It looks like the next shot in the battle over un-equalization and the Atlantic Accord has just been fired by Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald. Alignment and alliance with aboriginal groups is something most people would not have thought of as a way to get the message of the Atlantic Accord issue out there in a big way but that hasn't stoped Rodney.

I'm not a fan of political opportunism but I guess, as they say, "when in Rome".

The following contains excerpts from a news article earlier today.

Rodney finds sympathetic ear

Premier Rodney MacDonald and Assembly of First Nations chief Phil Fontaine struck an unusual alliance yesterday as both men condemned Ottawa for failing to deliver on key agreements worth billions of dollars.MacDonald, speaking to the assembly's annual conference in Halifax, said his government and aboriginal leaders are engaged in a similar "battle for fairness and justice" with the federal government...

... Make a promise. Keep a promise.

Fontaine said the premiers of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan - who have all slammed Ottawa for changes made to the equalization system - are experiencing the same frustration as the national native organization.

He said his group can relate to Nova Scotia's fight over the Atlantic Accord, suggesting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently reneged on a major funding deal for aboriginals...

MacDonald said his province wants to see the Kelowna agreement implemented."That agreement was broken much the same as the Atlantic Accord was broken," he said.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Old Colonial Home

Does Canada see Newfoundland and Labrador as province or as a resource rich colony?

In the late 1940s the British government divested itself of many of its colonies by ending its rule in places like India, Africa and yes, Newfoundland. The colonies had out lived their usefulness to England and were, by and large, returned to the people who had historically lived there. This was not the case with Newfoundland.

Instead it was decided that Newfoundland and Labrador should be brokered to Canada under the guise of a free vote. Does anyone among us really believe Canada took us in out of the goodness of their hearts with nothing to gain? If so, why not take in the people of Rwanda or Somalia.

While officially the province is spoken of an equal partner in the federation the evidence doesn’t support the rhetoric and the question remains, did we exchange one form of colonial rule for another?

A quick scan of several dictionaries reveals the following commonly accepted definition of Colonialism:

A policy by which one nation rules another and develops trade for its own benefit; an area controlled politically by a more powerful country; belief in and support for the system of one nation controlling another.

Does this sound familiar?

Newfoundland and Labrador, once a separate Dominion, is controlled by Canada. It has little, if any, political power within the ruling government and it’s a place that has seen its resources used and traded for the benefit of Canada.

Federal presence in this province has dropped by around 30% in the past few of decades leaving a limited federal presence here. While much of Canada's eastern coastline, 17,500 kms of it, lies in the province there is no military presence to speak of. Resources are used to help prop up the economies of central Canada and improve foreign relations while the province itself is left to fight over the scraps that remain.

If NL is indeed an equal partner in Canada why was it less important than Quebec when it came to bringing billions of dollars worth of Upper Churchill power to market? Why are natural resources under ground, such as those in Alberta, the domain of the province while those under water, in NL, fall under federal control? Why are foreign fleets given fishing quotas off our shores while our people struggle to maintain a dying fishery and the way of life that goes with it?

Federal politicians, and their lackeys, say that in becoming a part of Canada Newfoundland gained much we would never have otherwise had. Benefits like roads, hospitals, improved education and so on. “Where would we be today if it weren’t for Canada?” they say. Where indeed?

The following is a quote from the “History of the Indian Sub-Continent”.

“While few(of the educated)…would deny that British Colonial rule was detrimental to the interests of the common people…several harbor an illusion that the British weren't all bad. Didn't they, perhaps, educate us - build us modern cities, build us irrigation canals - protect our ancient monuments - etc. etc.”

In Newfoundland and Labrador we also have hospitals, schools and roads but at what cost and to what benefit?

Our hospitals are seriously under funded and our province’s literacy rate is one of the lowest in Canada. Anyone who has traveled the roads of the province will attest to the fact that they are in deplorable shape and worsening every year. Our youth are leaving by the thousands and our population is slowly being decimated through age and attrition.

We once had a railway. It’s gone.

Our fisheries have been destroyed under federal control.

We have no real representation in Canada’s centralized government.

After more nearly 60 years of Canadian rule, Newfoundland and Labrador remains the butt of countless slurs and jokes while providing grease for the wheels of the Canadian economy and the foreign affairs office.

Is Newfoundland and Labrador a province or a colony?

All I have to say is, “Welcome to my old colonial home”.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Harper Climbing Greased Poll

Stephen Harper is on a whirlwind tour of the Maritimes and Saskatchewan in an effort to rebuild support there after implementing a budget that will cost both areas billions of dollars. He's apparently given up on Newfoundland and Labrador all together but even in the Martimes rebuilding support is a job he will have difficulty with in light of his recent poll numbers.

According to a Decima Research poll released last week only 6% of Atlantic Canadians support Harper's stand on equalization and even when the undecided factor is removed the numbers show that a full 69% of the people in the region (including those in NB and PEI who are not involved in the Atlantic Accord debate) support the stand taken by Premier's Williams and MacDonald.

The poll, provided to The Canadian Press, also found that Harper has lost a lot of support in the rest of the country for his equalization policies. Nationally, only 27 per cent of respondents leaned toward Harper’s position, while 32 per cent sided with the premiers.

For the Tories, that means a national, not just a regional problem. This is a tricky issue everywhere for them, not just in Atlantic Canada.

When you add the national feeling over the ongoing Afghan mission and the mounting casualties there the picture for the PM doesn't look good. Just this week the list of fatalities increased when more Canadian soldiers died in a roadside bomb attack and in August soldiers from the Van Doos regiment in Quebec, a province already polling well over 70% against the mission, will be rotated into the battle zone.

It looks like it's going to be a long hot summer for the PM. The expectation is that overall national support for Stephen Harper's Conservative/Reform/Alliance/PC government, or CRAP for short, will slip into the low 20% range making them much more reflective of the numbers being experienced by his friend and mentor, U.S. President George W. Bush.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Situational Ethics

Have you ever noticed that just before getting royally screwed someone will always make it a point to tell you how honest they are?

Whenever I hear, “have I got a great deal for you” or, “just trust me”, I grab my wallet with both hands and back quickly and carefully away.

As sleazy as those characters might be nobody, and I mean nobody, takes bottom crawling to the same depths as politicians, especially federal ones. These days when I hear the word “Honourable” used in reference to elected officials my ears burn, my lip sweats and my skin crawls as if covered by fire ants.

Only someone with no honour at all would insist on using that word in their title.

Someone once said, a politician’s first job is to get elected. Their second job is to get elected and their third job is to get elected. When you apply that logic to an entire party it’s easy to see how everything else gets pushed aside, especially those pesky little problems facing the cod tongue gumming crowd back home.

Whether we’re eventually offered some sort of compromise on the Atlantic Accord or not, in the past few months the battle over the issue has stacked up a long list of casualties and ethics have been thrown out the window. We’ve all heard how Harper broke his election promises, how the Accord was torn up and how our future is in jeopardy. Fair enough, but how many of us have stopped to consider the reason Harper did what he did or why Hearn, Doyle and Manning refused to stand up for their people?

Simply put, Harper’s Conservatives want to win the next election and they hope to do it by pandering to Ontario and Quebec. Even more frightening for ALL Canadians is the fact that, in the process, they decided to buy a provincial election in Quebec by sending billions there.

Democracy surely is dead.

In that context Newfoundland and Labrador is nothing more than collateral damage, a casualty of a much bigger struggle.

When it comes to our “honourable” members of parliament the only sign of ethics they display on a regular basis are “situational ethics”. They’re willing to stand behind anyone, vote for anything and even eat their own if it protects their position in the halls of power and ensures the survival of the party.

Some people blame that kind of mentality on the system rather than on the person. They say it’s sickening that our federal system encourages politicians to perform morally reprehensible acts against the people who elected them. Bull!!!

A system is nothing more than those who are a part of it. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the individual.

Morals and ethics are not situational. They’re an integral part of a person’s nature. You either have them or you don't. Unfortunately, when it comes to successful politicians in this Country, whatever character trait is required for ethical thought appears to have been surgically removed at birth.