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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yet Another 2007 Year End Review

What can I say, I haven't written much lately but like the rest of you I'm busy this time of year. That said, since I'm sitting in a hotel room tonight in the self proclaimed "Center of the Universe" and since over the past week or so I’ve listened to, or been reading, “year end review” pieces from media outlets and pundits alike I figured I might as well jump right in.

All the lists I've come across so far are mildly interesting as a means of reminding us of the events of the past year. Unfortunately they all failed to make note of some of the more important and relevent events relating to Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, rather than complain about the hard work of others, here’s my list.

Submitted for your approval, Web Talk’s 2007 "Year in Review"

January – Prime Minister Stephen Harper proves his concern for the environment by taking on a personal recycling project. In January Harper recycled the old Mulroney concept of an “Ambassador of Fisheries” by appointing former provincial Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan to the job. Since then the two Loyola’s have resoundlingly disproved the old adage that “two heads are better than one”.

February – It was February of 2007, just prior to the federal budget being brought down, that the Government of Canada (still referring to itself as “Canada’s New Government”) announced what would become a series of hikes in ferry rates and fuel surcharges. While Fabian Manning and Norm Doyle ran for cover and avoided any questions on the subject, Loyola Hearn proudly told anyone who would listen about how great this was for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador because it would allow Ottawa to put more money into the service. Can anyone say big raises for staff?

It was also in February that the St. John’s Airport Authority proudly announced that Astraeus Airlines was going to step in and take over the NL to England route abandoned by Air Canada (in deference to their preferred customers in Nova Scotia). Unfortunately later in the year the announcement would come that Astraeus was also pulling out because Air Canada, smelling competition, had undercut the service and (though not said publicly) idiotic customers in the province had failed to support Astraeus and instead bought tickets with Canada’s National Airline. I sometimes believe we are our own worst enemies.

March – Ottawa brought down its infamous budget. The federal budget unilaterally changed the signed Atlantic Accord agreements between the Feds and Newfoundland and Labrador (plus Nova Scotia) and essentially screwed over the people of Atlantic Canada.

It reversed promises made by Stephen Harper to remove all non-renewable resources from the equalization formula and touched off a war of words that is still underway today. The budget also forced a very proud and strong willed MP from Nova Scotia, to vote against his own party and in doing so get himself ejected from caucus.

Meanwhile a much less proud and weak willed MP from Newfoundland, Loyola Hearn tried to sell the benefits of the budget to his people while an even weaker MP, Fabian Manning, sat in the parliamentary chair of the Finance Minister and laughed along with Stephen Harper as he mocked the stand taken by the province. Like I’ve said before, we’re our own worst enemies sometimes.

April – It was in April of 2007 that Lieutenant Governor Ed Roberts delivered a provincial thrown speech in which the term “Masters of our own house” became cause for much discussion in Newfoundland and Labrador. The speech was peppered with nationalistic rhetoric and was clearly designed to send a strong message to Ottawa and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that if Ottawa was going to stand in our way then to hell with them. We were going to do what needed to be done in spite of them.

May – On May 11 thousands gathered on Confederation Hill for a rally in support of the province’s position on equalization. The PWG and Labrador flags waved proudly all over the hill, VOCM’s Randy Simms hosted the event and, in a rare display of bi-partisan cooperation, provincial PC, Liberal and NDP alike joined on the steps of Confederation building to get the message out.

My favorite protest sign that day: “A penny saved is a penny Hearned”.

Unfortunately the demonstration got very few media cycles, with the national press, who opted instead to cover a story about 10 demonstrators outside Toronto city hall that evening. Typical.

June – This was the month Premier Rodney McDonald of Nova Scotia finally found some semblance of a backbone and testified before a senate committee looking into the budget and its impacts on the Atlantic Accord. In his statement Premier McDonald was almost poetic. His words were the words of a statesman and, though ultimately ineffective, were inspiring.

Unfortunately as well the same man who said in that testimony, “…the word of their government is to be questioned - and the contracts it signs on their behalf - not worth the paper they are written on”, later went on to bend over and sell out to the Prime Minister, much to the chagrin of the people of Nova Scotia.

This was also the month that talks over the Hebron oil project started to get back on track much to the chagrin of the pundits who had proudly expounded on the perceived fact that William’s had blown it and was driving the provincial economy into the toilet. Sorry guys but the economy is doing just fine.

July – Rumors make the rounds that General Rick Hillier has his eye on the Premier’s job when his military days are over. No confirmation or out and out denial ever surfaced so I guess we’ll all have to wait and see if we are dumb enough to elect someone who has spent his entire adult life taking orders from Canadian political leaders.

August – This was the month of all Hebron all the time. local media, political analysts and water cooler chatter were all consumed with the Hebron MOU. Everyone (except the Liberal party of Newfoundland and Labrador) loved the fact that Danny Williams had forced the hand of the biggest oil giant on the planet and won, but the questions around exactly what the deal meant would not go away. Liberal leader Gerry Reid posed a series of questions to premier Williams, fed them to the media and did everything in his power to make the Hebron MOU look like a bad deal for the province. Rightly or wrongly that view failed to gain any traction and likely helped lead to the demise of Reid’s political career in the election that followed.

September – Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly refers to Canada as a bi-cultural society and in doing so denies the historical stand of Canada that it supports a multiculturalism. According to the Prime Minister, who had already pushed through a motion to recognize the Quebecois as a nation, there are only two cultures in Canada and the rest of us simply don’t exist.

This was also the month before the provincial election and a time for campaigning by the candidates in the province. One of those candidates - Simon Lono - with the Liberal party, stands out in my personal memory for his antics and the ultimate outcome of his campaign. Good luck on the recovery Simon, both the physical and political.

October – This was a very busy month.

Of course October was election month in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was also a month that saw a massive blue tidal wave sweep over the province in one of the biggest election wins of any party in the province’s history. Not a good night for Prime Minister Stephen Harper I suspect.

Aside from the election itself, October 2007 was also a busy month on other political fronts.

Nova Scotia premier, Rodney McDonald, buckles under to the Prime Minister and accepts a pseudo-deal over the Atlantic Accord and in doing so publicly turned his back on the one federal MP in his province who did what Rodney asked of the province’s MPs. Stood by his people, something Rodney clearly was unwilling to do.

Also in October the fledgling Newfoundland and Labrador First Party (NL First) formally announced that it intended to run a full slate of candidates in the next federal election. Since that time the party has been formally registered as a federal party.

It was the month the Canadian dollar hit par with the green back and started a public outcry over the cost of goods. Why should we pay 30 or 40 percent more than Americans for the same products people wondered? Good question, but we still pay more don’t we?

It was also the month when stories broke that Russian test flights were skirting Canadian airspace without permission and that (even though Goosebay is not a required base in Ottawa’s view) Canadian fighters were temporarily stationed there because it was taking them too long to respond from the more politically, and less strategically, located base in Quebec.

November – Premier Williams, after months and months and a few more months of prodding by individuals and groups like NLDL.org, publicly states that he is working on a deal that would see a smelter built in Labrador to take advantage of lower Churchill power and create jobs here rather than simply fill provincial coffers by exporting the valuable resource. I guess time will tell how realistic or sincere his statements really are on this one.

December – Danny Williams is named newsmaker of the year by several publications and pundits, including those at the infamous Mop and Pail. It’s also the time when Santa circled the globe bring joy to boys and girls, except, as Loyola Hearn put it, to the “bad little boys”.

One message to Loyola Hearn: If I’m not in hell when you get there Loyola, you can start without me.

Anyway folks, there’s the Web Talk synopsis of 2007. Of course there were many other events that may have been on the top of your list but that’s what our comments section is for.

Have a great 2008 everyone and thanks for the wonderful support in the year gone by.


Anonymous said...

It is the centre of the Universe INDEED as it relates to Newfoundland and Labrador's location. Straight up for the North West Passage and then we are on our way to Asia, in a straight line down to South America, across the pond to Europe and, of course, we are next door to North America.

At this time also we are are now looking strategically at our natural resources and plotting how we are going to utilize them to the best advantage to bring the province of Newfoundland and Labrador into the Industrial Age, the Age which we were shielded from because the other sisters had to be nourished for industralization. And, of course, the naughty sister next door had to be coddled by Mother, because she has always waved the flag of separation in front of dear old Mother's eyes. Cinderella (dear old Newfoundland and Labrador) had to suffer because of all of these factors.

The Age of Enlightenment has already presented itself to us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, ever since the Great Dane Marg W. decided to assault the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador and its people under the direction of the Federal Government. Yes, the Stars are aligned and we are on our way to bringing prosperity to our people.

Way to go Premier Williams!

fair player said...

Why did Newfoundlanders and Labradorians buy into the lie which was perpetrated by Ottawa, that the province didn't have a strategic location for industry, so all of its natural resources had to be exported out of the province of NL to the other provinces for processing in order to be turned into manufactured products?

We should have immediately come to our senses and asked Ottawa the questions: Why was that so when we were on the great trading Atlantic searoutes?

Why did the province of Newfoundland and Labrador become the most strategic location in North America during the Second World War, since there were 4 large American bases situated in the country, now known as the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Canadian Military had a strong presence here as well. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province whose waters where German Uboats torpedoed passagers boats and ore carriers. So the actual war came to our doorsteps.

I often wonder had the great American and Canadian Military strength which had been placed in the country of Newfoundland and Labrador been placed in Nova Scotia instead, would the Germans have probably gained control of the territory of Newfoundland and Labrador?

If so that would have undermined the North American Continent's security.

Calvin said...

A very nice way to end the year Myles.Nicely done.