Da Legal Stuff...

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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Debt & The Death of Democracy

For those not familiar with the International Monetary Fund(IMF), it is an international organization designed to help nations that are struggling under massive debt.

Though it is often looked down upon for the policies and demands it places on nations utilizing its services, the IMF is more than simply a debt relief agency. It is a guardian of democracy.

The IMF was conceived and created as a direct result of the sort of situation that developed in the early decades of the 20th century right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The events that helped form the IMF speaks to the realities of our past and the province's current situation.

The following are excerpts from a “Gobalist” article available at:



What has been missing from contemporary debates about the IMF’s role is any memory of what the world was like before the Washington-based institution’s creation.

The most extraordinary debt restructuring of the pre-1945 era did not occur in Latin America. It was in a dominion of the British Empire, the country of Newfoundland.

During the early 1930s, Newfoundland experienced a form of political punishment and national humiliation for its debt problems which has never been surpassed by any other country with financial problems.

The British established settlements to exploit Newfoundland’s fishing resources after John Cabot explored it 1497. Newfoundland then became Britain’s oldest colony.

The King authorized the governor to establish the island’s first parliament in 1832.
That made it the second-oldest parliament (after Westminster) in the Empire.

In the late 19th century, Newfoundland was sovereign enough to negotiate trade agreements with the United States — and enjoyed all the other traditional trappings of sovereignty. However, the Newfoundland government went on a slippery path when it chose to borrow heavily.

First, it did so to finance military expenditures during the First World War, then to finance the construction of a railway — and to cover operating deficits throughout the 1920’s. By 1933, there was a public debt of over $100 million — and Newfoundland’s national income was just $30 million.

The Great Depression put Newfoundland over the edge.

The Newfoundland government turned to the British government for help. London obliged — by appointing a royal commission to investigate the country’s economic situation. The commission produced a report which condemned Newfoundland’s fiscal policies in the 1920s for creating an unsustainable debt burden.

Critics of the IMF, take note: The commission’s proposed solution to the crisis has no parallels in any other sovereign debt restructuring. The royal commission proposed that Newfoundland should give up both independence and democratic self-government.

The British government would establish a special six-man commission and royal governor to head the country.

The commission would not be responsible to the people of Newfoundland but to London — and the British House of Commons.

The notion that a self-governing community of 280,000 English-speaking people should give up both democracy and independence in order to avoid debt default was unprecedented.

The commission could not fundamentally transform the country’s economic situation.

The way out was offered by Newfoundland’s neighbor, Canada. The Canadians offered to take on 90% of the island’s debt if it joined the Confederation. On April 1, 1949, Newfoundland became a province of Canada.

Curiously, Newfoundland’s Parliament never ratified the confederation treaty. The treaty itself was an act of Britain and Canada, not Newfoundland. But that was because the British — who were essentially Newfoundland’s creditors — wanted it that way. Even if Newfoundland’s own representatives did not.

If the IMF had existed in 1933, it would have granted emergency debt relief to Newfoundland. The country would have never given up democracy or independence. Indeed, democracy is now a pre-condition for IMF aid.

But as no institution such as the IMF existed in 1933, Newfoundland was compelled to choose between democracy and default.

The story of Newfoundland during the 1930s continues to be a unique tale of how the British Empire coped with a debt crisis in a small country.

It is also a reminder of why in the aftermath of World War II the nations of the world created the International Monetary Fund. They did not want nations to ever again confront a choice between debt and democracy.

It is a legacy worth pondering as we contemplate the future…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

History Will Judge...

There are those who believe that every person, at some time in their existance, is faced with an all important choice. A choice that will, if taken, change everything. They believe that each of us is given an opportunity to fulfull our individual or collective destiny by making that decision and taking that chance. Such a decision, for Newfoundland and Labrador, was made nearly 60 years ago.

Are we once again on the edge such an historic choice?

Never have the people of Newfoundland and Labrador more fully understood the true level of disconnect, dis-enfranchisement and disapointment that exists within Canada.

Residing on the eastern most coast without any military protection. Having no control of its offshore renewable or non-renewable resources. With no real voice in Canada's capital.

While Newfoundland and Labrador sons and daughters make up 10% of Canada's armed forces, 5 times the number its population would suggest it should, it is a place where Ottawa's offer of thanks to Canada's military service personnel, the ability to ride the rails "...right across the Country" they help protect, does not extend because Ottawa itself facilited the closure of rail services and the dismantlement of all rail infrastructure decades ago.

In Newfoundland and Labrador the truth of the Canadian federation has never been clearer or the reality of the situation more glaring.

In spite of these roadblocks the people have persevered and never in Newfoundland and Labrador's history has its future looked brighter or its financial situation been better.

Never have the people been better educated and informed.

Never have they been more aware of the importance of their unique history and culture.

Never have they better understood the world outside their doors.

Never have they been more confident in their ability to tackle any obstacle and, in doing so, to perform as well as anyone.

Today Newfoundland and Labrador will bring down a budget that puts it on the cusp of losing its so called "Have Not" status. In the past year it led Canada in GDP growth, by about 300% and in a few short hours the Newfoundland and Labrador government will reveal a nearly $1.5 billion dollar surplus. A surplus that will be used to help tackle debt, ease the tax burden and provide badly needed infrastructure.

Our people are in demand around the world and increasingly right here at home.

While Ottawa continues to callously bribe the people by offering handouts here and there, Newfoundland and Labrador is quickly becoming a place that is willing to face its own challenges, to take on the status quo and to find its own way in spite of the inequality of its existance. Such is the determination of a people with a common history and nationality who are used to facing their challenges as a quiet duty.

Does all of this mean that we should be pleased with our situation and direction? That we should sit back and revel in what we have accomplished? Does it mean we should continue to move in the direction we have already taken, even under the federal realities that have been thrust upon us? Or does it mean the time has arrived when we should begin the struggle to truly become "Masters of our own House"?

Only we, as a people, can answer that question.

Whatever the answer, it is one all of us, including our children, will have to live with.

Indeed, there are those who believe that there are times when each of us must decide to step forward or, in refusing to do so, to fall forever back. History will judge the wisdom of Newfoundland and Labrador's decision.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Glass Is Indeed Half Full

I sometimes get feedback telling me that I’m always too negative. While Newfoundland and Labrador may have gotten a raw deal, on more than one occasion, and even though the place should be far ahead of where it is today, there are some positives people tell me. “Why don’t you publicize those”.

I understand where those folks are coming from and believe me when I say that I do indeed recognize the positives, when they happen, but unfortunately most of those positives (not all, but most) are the direct result of actions taken inside the province, not outside of it (read Ottawa).

As a proud nationalist, separatist or what ever you want to call me, Ottawa’s relationship with my home nation is my focus. That aside, and in an effort to appease those who believe I never see the positive side of things, here are a few highlights that I wouldn’t dare miss. Once again, ALMOST all home grown.

Regardless of whether or not you support the current government of Danny Williams, I believe most people have to admit that, whether by accident or design, by the time the guy leaves office things will never again be the same in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Arguably the biggest scandal in Newfoundland and Labrador politics (as far as is known to date) spilled into Danny’s term in office and was uncovered on his watch, though its roots were well entrenched long before Williams' time.

Today the MHA spending scandal is being thoroughly investigated, probed and prosecuted. New rules are in place, and while there are no guarantees, you can bet it won’t be as easy in future for elected officials to bilk the public treasury. Now that’s a positive.

The sickening and disgusting mess of the province’s health care system came to light with the revelation that hundreds of breast cancer tests were inaccurate. Many suffered needlessly and some have died, likely as a result. Once again the problem was an old one that presented itself only recently and once again a full public inquiry is being conducted to get to the bottom of it. Another positive.

The provincial prison system is getting a sound review and the judicial system is being assessed to improve its efficiency. In addition, talks are underway to fund a federal prison in the province. All positive actions.

When all is said and done, a fair bit of long overdue house cleaning is going on. The status quo will never be the same and that is indeed a positive.

There are those who will no doubt think I’m just jumping on the “Danny Band Wagon” but nothing could be further from the truth.

Do I like the guy for what he’s done?

Without a doubt.

Do I think he has made some serious mistakes and done less than he should have in key areas, you bet, but after decades of the mindless status quo this place has endured I have to admit that the last few years have been a breath of fresh air.

Newfoundland and Labrador's finances have never been better and granted a lot of the this good fortune came by way of actions taken before the current Premier even considered public life, big ticket items like Hibernia and the original Atlantic Accord for example, but the fact that the province had the ear of a Prime Minister in both instances, on the federal level, played no small part in those plums.

Besides, it’s what came after those historic events that has finally turned this place around.

The 2 billion off the back of the Accord, cutting personal income taxes to the lowest level in Atlantic Canada, doing away with the 15% tax on all forms of insurance (what some consider an illegal tax brought in by a former government) are all actions that stem directly from the current financial condition of the province and having a government in power that is willing to listen to the people when the timing is right.

It’s these types of actions that have helped and will continue to help Newfoundland and Labrador turn the corner. I relish the day a year or so from now when Newfoundland and Labrador can finally call itself a “Have” province. I also take heart in the recent public spectacle of our government officials, of all stripes, being raked over the coals because it can only be good for our future.

So, for those of you who believe I never see the positive side of Newfoundland and Labrador’s existence I hope this has set you straight. I feel good about a lot of aspects of our existence, not the least of which is the fact that while the current federal government may have written Newfoundland and Labrador off, the chickens in Stephen Harper’s hen house appear to be finally coming home to roost.

I only hope Newfoundland and Labrador gets that federal prison built very soon. I suspect there are a few folks in Ottawa who’ll need a place to crash quite soon.

Now that’s something that really puts me in a positive mood. I bet you can almost see the smile on my face.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Conservative Reps Flee Reporters after Secret Meeting

Tell me it doesn’t leave you with a dirty taste in their mouth, and the feeling of being unclean, when official representatives of Canada’s governing party secretly plan meetings and then sneak down the back stairs of hotels to avoid the media. In fact, for me, it conjures up thoughts of Watergate and the Nixon era in America.

On Friday information finally surfaced about the affidavit and resulting search warrant used to take documents and computer equipment from Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa.

The affidavit and the warrant that were used by Elections Canada to conduct the three-day search, seeking evidence of alleged election fraud, were unsealed on Friday. Instead of all 700 pages, only 70 pages of material were released to television networks by the Conservative party and Ryan Sparrow, a party spokesman, refused to explain when contacted by The Globe and Mail, why the Conservatives released only a portion of the documents.

According to a CTV report, the portions of the affidavit handed do not reveal much more about the case than was already known, but it does confirm that the search was not related to a lawsuit launched against Elections Canada by the Conservatives. Instead the warrant was related to a so called “In and Out” scheme that allegedly allowed the party to list the cost of national campaign ads as local ads and in doing so claim additional tax refunds while circumventing election spending limits by more than a million dollars during their 2006 campaign.

According to the Globe and Mail, “In releasing the abridged version of the documents to select media, the party hoped to give Mr. Sparrow, campaign organizer Doug Finley and party lawyer Paul Lepsoe a chance to explain the Tory point of view.”

“In the end, the plan went horribly awry.”

“On Saturday Mr. Sparrow called a number of reporters to ask them to come to meetings that had been scheduled for yesterday at the Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa saying it "would be worth their while."

“But media outlets not among those invited got wind of the meetings …began to ask what was going on. When one reporter asked in an e-mail about the news conference, Mr. Sparrow replied: "No conference, not sure where you got that from."

“Shortly after, the Liberals found out about the briefings and advised all of the Ottawa press gallery, some of whom were quite miffed to find they had been excluded. When they threatened to show up at the Lord Elgin, despite the lack of an invitation, the meeting was secretly moved to the Sheraton.”

“The first briefing for select television outlets took place but, by then, the excluded reporters found out the new location and began to stake out the hotel. That led the Tories to cancel all subsequent briefings, including the one they had planned with The Globe.”

“Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Finley and Mr. Lepsoe fled from the Sheraton down a back set of stairs.”

I ask you, what has Canada become?

The government of Canada is quickly building a long resume of very questionable and perhaps even illegal activities.

The firing of Canada’s nuclear regulator because she did her job and made the Minister to whom she reported “look bad”.

An audio tape clearly identifying that the Prime Minister was aware of some kind of financial offer to the late MP Chuck Cadman in return for his vote in the House of Commons.

Attempting to blame the military for acting on its own with prisoner exchanges in Afghanistan, the equivalent of accusing them of no longer being under government control.

Ramming through immigration legislation, hidden inside the budget bill, that would allow the Conservative Minister to cherry pick which individuals or “types” of applicants will be reviewed for entry into Canada and which will be denied a chance to enter the Country.

Tabling censorship legislation (though they don’t call it that) which will leave it up to the governing party to decide which television programs or movies are “offensive” and denying much needed tax breaks to those they judge unworthy.

Now we find ourselves witnessing the RCMP and Elections Canada raiding Conservative headquarters. We see a PM claiming the 3 days of removing files and computers was not a raid but a “visit”. And we have party representatives attempting to hand pick which media will cover the story then running down the back stairs of a secret meeting location to escape reporters who want to provide the public with answers.

As one columnist put it recently, “The only difference between Canada and a Banana Republic is Canada’s inability to grow bananas.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Motives of Animal Rights Groups Exposed by 3 Simple Words - "Ban the Hakapik"

For years anti-sealing groups have been seen in the Atlantic region as difficult to battle because they pander to the greatest of all human emotions, compassion. What the events of the past few days have clearly shown us is that in reality they are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing.

One can only hope that the trickle of truth now emerging will become a river of realization. That those who waste their hard earned dollars and their valuable emotional resources on the Watson’s and Aldsworth’s of the world will finally recognize what they are. Pathetic, money grubbing, con-artists.

With all the happenings taking place during this year’s Atlantic seal harvest folks have begun to ask me why I’ve remained virtually silent on the issue this time around. “It’s not like you”, they say, and they’re right.

In my own defence all I can say is that I’ve been having such a good time (barring the tragic incidents that took place) that I made a concious decision to remain a fly on the wall and simply soak it all in.

Until now that is. Things have reached a point where I simply can't hold back any longer.

This has been, without a doubt, a season of contradictions and a season of incidents that has finally lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding the activities the anti-sealing contingent.

First off the mark was none other than the infamous Paul Watson and his band of eco-terrorists.

After years of silence the government of Canada finally told the group to abide by the law this time around. They refused to do so. Instead they jeopardized the lives of hard working fishermen and those of Coast Guard officials before fleeing Canadian waters and heading to St. Pierre (a territory of France) to seek refuge. I suppose with EU officials considering a ban on seal products the misguided crew of the Farley Mowat assumed a French port would provide safe haven. It was not to be so.

The citizens of the small French outpost, who truly know what’s happening in the North Atlantic, don’t agree with their political leadership in Paris, nor do they agree with the illegal activities of the “Shepherd’s” flock. They proved this point by unceremoniously cutting the moorings of Watson’s pirate vessel and casting it adrift.

If I’ve neglected to say thanks to the good folks of St. Pierre before now then I deeply apologize. Thanks for standing up and doing the right thing. Hopefully we can return the favor some time.

With no Port of call anywhere near the seal harvest willing to accept them Watson’s crew foolishly entered Canadian waters and were arrested by authorities, to the well publicized delight of Federal Fisheries Minister, Loyola Hearn.

Now at this point we need to pause and reflect on the fact that I clearly said “Watson’s crew” rather than Watson himself. This is because the “Good Shepherd”, as he likes to be called, was not actually onboard the vessel even though he is known for often publicizing his writings from the ice floes, whether he’s actually there or not. Instead the “Shepherd” was apparently watching his brain washed followers twisting in the wind from the confines of a luxury hotel suite or his palatial home, provided to him through “creative” bookkeeping and questionable fund raising efforts. You see it’s much drier, safer and warmer there.

The funny part of all this is that the drama taking place on the high seas this season was nothing compared with the bustle of activity onshore. In fact Watson and the antics of his followers pales in comparison to the most telling incident surrounding this year’s harvest.

It all began when the Premiers of Newfoundland & Labrador and Nunavut called on the federal government to ban the use of the “hakapik”, a form of club used by some sealers to club the animals and drag them (or their pelts) to the boats. It’s a tool that is important to the sealers and one that has been proven to be a quick and humane method of taking a seal. I’m sure both leaders will receive backlash for their stand from many sealers, but at least the reasoning behind their request is quite understandable.

You see Anti-sealing activists, animal rights activists, eco-terrorists, or whatever you want to call them, have all used the same technique for decades in their never ending quest to gain sympathy from the public and make wallets fly open around the world. They do this by convincing the public that the hunt is savage and inhumane. They present it as such by promoting videos and pictures of big burly men using clubs to “attack” supposedly defenseless animals. (Have you ever been bitten by a seal? I don't recommend it). These groups never, or very rarely, show anyone hunting seals with a rifle, the manner actually used in well over 90% of the hunt.

These people are users and manipulators. They are not stupid. They know that showing someone using a rifle to hunt an animal is not very effective as a propaganda tool. You see “normal” people use rifles to hunt deer, elk, moose and many other animals the world over, so it doesn’t stir up the same level of emotion as a good old fashioned bludgeoning at the hands of a “barbarian". There in lies the contradiction of these groups. A contradiction that has been exposed to the light of day this week.

For years anti-sealing groups have publicized the club, or hakapik, as a symbol of the brutality of the hunt. They have, time and time again, spoken of how inhumane the technique is and how cruel those who use such an instrument must be. Now these very same anti-sealing groups are publicly saying, and I quote, “…removing hakapiks from the hunt will do nothing to improve the welfare of the animals. In fact, it will likely increase the suffering."

Go figure?

The preceding is a direct quote from Rebecca Aldsworth of HSUS, one of the most virulent anti-sealing organizations and one of the best funded. Clearly the suffering she is referring to is her own, when her ability to use the club as a fund raising and propaganda tool is taken away from her.

The public needs to ask itself, “If well over 90% of seals are already hunted by rifle and if, as Aldsworth is NOW saying, rifles are more cruel than clubs, then why have her group and all the others always focused their promotional and fund raising propaganda on the use of the club? Why have they almost always focused on how inhumane clubbing is rather that the cruelty of a gun? I think the answer to that question should be obvious to any thinking person in light of Ms. Aldsworth's recent comments.

Oh what a season.

First Watson, the self-proclaimed “Shepherd” is found napping in his comfortable bed while his followers envision him at sea protecting the world. Meanwhile his misguided minions are the ones actually doing all the dirty work of terrorism, like running afoul of the law and the people of two nations.

Next Federal Fisheries Minister, Loyola Hearn, has a rare shining media moment after tackling the “Shepherd” head on. No doubt his doing so was an effort to protect his failing political career as much as the lives and livelihoods of sealers but never the less it’s good to see some small sign of life in Ottawa. I can’t help feeling that the sealers and everyone else would be better served however if observer permits were never issued to the likes of the Sea Shepherd Society in the first place. I mean what’s wrong with issuing permits to independent scientists, journalists and the like but denying them to groups with a predefined agenda and vested financial interests?

Even after all of that, it’s the call for a ban on the hakapik that takes the cake for me. I know some sealers have legitimate concerns about a potential ban but while it may make their jobs a little more difficult the overall benefit to the hunt is already becoming clear.

When anti-sealing groups begin to clamor all over each other to say that banning the clubbing of seals is NOT a good thing it should give everyone pause for thought. Are these groups really worried about protecting the welfare of animals or their bottom line? Taking away the Hakapik may remove a valuable tool from the sealers but it will also remove an even more valuable one from the protest groups.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

National Post - Canada's biggest mistake: Newfoundland

The following is presented simply to foster discussion and debate (As I'm sure it will on both sides of the question).

Colby Cosh on Canada's biggest mistake: Newfoundland
April 10, 2008
by Marni Soupcoff
National Post

Don’t take this too seriously, but I think it’s possible to argue that the worst political mistake in Canadian history can be summed up in one word: Newfoundland.

Adding a 10th province to Confederation in 1949 was, of course, not Canada’s error alone: It required mutual acts on the part of what were then routinely referred to as “our two countries.”

But Canada had turned its back on Newfoundland in times of fiscal trouble for its sister Dominion before, and might have done so again if not for the triumphalist postwar mood. The celebrations that followed, in which Canadians hailed the addition of a new time zone with Soviet-style bigger-must-be-better glee, now seem like a last reflex of imperialism, driven by the esthetics of mapmaking as much as anything.

Whose interests were served by the merger of Canada and Newfoundland? The smaller (but senior) partner is still debating the question.

Newfoundlanders often ponder that alternate world in which they drove the “Canadian wolf” from the door.

The bitter truth is that those who came closest to being right about joining Confederation in the referendum fight of 1948 turned out to be the most extreme, most paranoid of the anti-federates.

They said that Confederation would lead to an exodus of Newfoundland’s young and most talented. They said that Ottawa would run the cod fishery short-sightedly and perhaps destroy it. They said, long before Churchill Falls, that joining Confederation would leave Newfoundland at the mercy of French-Canadian interests. Can history offer any retort?

The pro-Confederation forces, for their part, promised that a “yes” to Canada would bring a wave of social programs and debt relief — and that prediction, too, was borne out. Union led to immediate improvements in Newfoundland’s infrastructure and in the social indicators, like tuberculosis, that played such a role in shaming the province into voting the way it did.

But other North Atlantic countries have prospered far more in the meantime. Confederation’s net fiscal contribution to Newfoundland since 1949 comes to at least $80-billion in today’s money. For that kind of cash, one would have thought the whole province could have been paved with gold; doing so might not have been as wasteful, on the whole, as the economic policies pursued by Premier Joey Smallwood (who rode the referendum victory to unchecked lifelong power) and his successors.

Mere numbers do not sum up the price that the other nine provinces have borne. The presence of Newfoundland in Confederation was the main reason that Ottawa, under the influence of cabinet secretary-turned-MP Jack Pickersgill, brought self-employed fishermen under the unemployment insurance program in 1957.

Pickersgill knew doing so would secure Liberal fortunes in Newfoundland for a long time, and his time as a civil servant had taught him that sheer dumb stubbornness would succeed in overcoming the opposition of the bureaucracy, which objected that “insurance” was by definition supposed to be for unforeseen labour-market shocks, not for predictable annual periods of slackness.

The economic disorder resulting from the concession of this principle spread to all of the Atlantic provinces.

In the meantime, the question of offshore oil revenues has added another layer of chaos to equalization, which was introduced the same year (and which thus compounded the regional-welfare effects of expanded UI).

Newfoundland is understandably reluctant to allow the clawback of revenues it would have enjoyed as a matter of right as an independent state, but that leaves other provinces wondering why they get a raw deal when they trade in nonrenewable assets for cash.

Before 1949, Canada already had problems reconciling the uniqueness of Quebec with the principle of equal treatment for the provinces. Newfoundland’s entry into Confederation has multiplied those problems — while at the same time setting an awkward moral precedent for Quebec to secede on a 50%-plus-one referendum vote. (If a nation can extinguish its statehood forever upon the slenderest of majorities, surely one can bebroken up the same way?)

The Canadian wolf got its meal — and it’s had a tummyache ever since.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Justice for All or Only for Some?

With the surprise retirement announcement of Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache today speculation will soon begin to mount about where his replacement might be found.

While Quebec is always well represented on Canada’s highest court other areas of the Country often have only one seat, if any, on the bench.

Bastarache hailed from New Brunswick, as did his predecessor, so the door is now open in Atlantic Canada for a new representative to be appointed.

The question is, after nearly 60 years as a province, will the government of Canada finally see fit to allow Newfoundland and Labrador to be represented in the judicial branch of government, or will the province be forced, once again, to sit on the outside looking in?

It’s a sad reality that political maneuvering and favouritism, some of it enshrined in official procedures, should play any part in who is selected to the Supreme Court, but it’s a reality that exists never the less.

It’s shameful that a Supreme Court justice would be selected for any reason other than his or her ability to perform their very solemn duties. The fact that regional or provincial lineage would play a role in the decision is sad, to say the least, and a slap in the face for any truly democratic soul.

Be that as it may, the reality Canadians face is that lineage does make a difference and if that’s the game that has been thrust upon us then we must live with (unless the Supreme Court were to make it illegal, like that’s going to happen).

As a result the Country is left to wonder which part of Atlantic Canada the next member of the bench will come from. Will it be New Brunswick again, three times in a row? What about Nova Scotia or PEI? Or will it be (dare I say it) Newfoundland and Labrador, the outcast that has never been welcomed into the Federal Judiciary, or the Country for that matter?

Naming a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice would go a long way toward convincing “some” in the province that they are finally being accepted in Canada. It would also make a statement that the Prime Minister is able to look beyond his current squabbles with the province.

Such a move would mean a lot in some circles, little in others, but regardless, it will never happen.

If the most accomplished judge in the Country were living in Newfoundland or Labrador today he would most certainly be overlooked.

If the only judge left alive in the entire Country were living in Newfoundland or Labrador today he would not be appointed (Ottawa would probably import one from Elbonia.)

If all Judges, Lawyers and Justices of the Peace around the globe were suddenly to be abducted by aliens, except for a brilliant legal scholar in Newfoundland or Labrador, Ottawa would most assuredly appoint an experienced dog catcher to the job.

After 60 years it’s a shame that the door still hasn't opened.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Vive le France

After reportedly causing a collision with a Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker, endangering the lives of seal hunters by intentionionally breaking up ice on which they were working and using the fatalities of three fishermen to futher his anti-sealing agenda in the media, the Canadian government has finally begun a criminal investigation into the activities of Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson and his band of eco-terrorists.

As a result, the gutless wonder himself decided to high tail it to the French island of St. Pierre just off the Newfoundland coast.

Upon learning of all this activity around this year's seal harvest and the zealots who haunt it I immediatly wondered why Canada's government did not act sooner to protect its people (at least the ones from Quebec and the maritimes, if not the downtrodden of Newfoundland and Labrador). My second thought was to wonder why St. Pierre, a bastion of France but a long time friend of Newfoundland and Labrador, would allow such an unsavory character to use its port as a hide out. I neednt' have worried on that front.

While the government's of Canada, and perhaps even that of France have been slow to react, the people of the little island have not been.

Reports today confirm that angry fishermen in the European outpost " ...cut the moorings of the vessel and forced it out of the harbour -- saying it's not welcome to return."

Watson, in response has said that he will not give up his actions and that his vessel has enough fuel and supplies to last for weeks without going to a Canadian harbour.

All I can say is Vive le France, or at least to the French fishermen who stepped up and took action. To the government of Canada, isn't it time you did the same?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

59 Years and Counting...

The following is a re-publication of a poem that was sent to Web Talk a while back. On the anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador's entry into Canada it seems like an appropriate time to revisit it.

Grandfather and Confederation
by John B. Davidge

I was almost three months shy of my fifteenth birthday when Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province of Canada and I remember that day and the days leading up to it as if it were only yesterday. To say that my parents and grandparents were anti-confederates would be very much of an understatement, but it was my grandfather’s strong opposition to it that I remember most. His words and actions are recorded here as I’m sure he would want them to be.

Lest we Forget.

April the first, nineteen forty-nine
Was a day that I’ll soon not forget.
The radio blared that the “terms” had been signed,
Filling Grandfather’s heart with regret.

I can still see his eyes filled with anger and hate
At this terrible thing they had done.
A true Newfoundlander he felt t’was too late,
And he mourned as if losing a son.

He first lit a candle then he pulled down the blinds,
And he placed some black crepe on the door.
He looked somber and sad in his black suit and hat,
And the black satin armbands he wore.

He was eighty years old but he climbed up the hill
To the church with it’s steeple and bell.
His eyes filled with tears as his hands gripped the rope,
And he softly tolled the death knell.

There wasn’t a coffin, a body or grave,
The dying was all in his mind.
This joining with Canada wasn’t for him,
A patriot true to his kind.

I was only a “gaffer” but I still recall
How his voice rang with passion and pride.
“You have sold out your birthright,
You’ve let down the flag
That your forefathers fought for and died.

That up-along bunch will be down here in droves,
They’ll force you to flee from your home,
There’ll be taxes on this, there’ll be taxes on that,
And you won’t have a thing of your own.

They’ll tear up the countryside, take all the land,
They’ll catch all the fish in the bay.
You won’t be allowed to have horses and cows
Unless you are willing to pay.

They have filled you with promises, all of them lies,
They say there is nothing you’ll lack,
They’ll give you the Bonus, the Pension and such,
And with taxes they’ll take it all back.

They got you to thinking the skies will be blue,
And the sun won’t again fail to shine,
But you’ll have second thoughts when this land of your birth
Is alive with corruption and crime.

You’ll have a new anthem,
you’ll have a new flag,
They’ll watch what you write, say and do.
T’will be everything Ottawa, nothing St. John’s.
Mark my words what I’m saying is true.

That Smallwood’s a traitor and you’ll see the day
When the people will stand up and shout
That he’s not worth the powder to blow him to hell,
And his friends will be kicking him out.”

But nobody heeded what Grandfather said
And nobody heeded his tears.
They called him a babbling, senile old man
Who was exaggerating his fears.

They all went their way with a smile in their hearts,
Hoping only good fortune would fall.
But I wondered in time would they look back and say:
“Wasn’t Grandfather right after all?”