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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Truth is Out There...

The following is from the Sunday edition of the Halifax Chr0nicle Herald. I figured it was worth while, for the sake of making a point, to post it here. That point: Though it may often be difficult to find it among the mainstream media spin, BS, lies and misconceptions, never the less the truth is finally starting to get out and not just on sites like this one. That's a good thing.

To have and to have not
Nov 16 - 7:26 AM

IT’S CURIOUS that people here rejoice that Newfoundland and Labrador no longer qualify for federal equalization payments as if we are all rich now and it’s time to celebrate.

But all that has happened is that oil money has replaced Ottawa money as income on the books.

To mark the province’s historic transition from "have not" to "have", Premier Danny Williams is planning a party and says it’s the end of Newfie jokes.

If only it were that easy. Don’t expect to see the disdain for Newfoundland and insults dressed up as humour going away any time soon in many Canadian circles.

At least we won’t have to see or hear the mindless words "have not" preface every story in the media about what is a decent place in which to live. That may be the only benefit. It’s not like the province’s health care fiasco has been fixed, student loans have stopped crushing young people’s futures or the help-wanted ads are filled with high-paying jobs.

Towns like Stephenville still only survive because of paycheques being sent home from Alberta, just like migrant worker societies around the world.

Something few, if any, Canadians know is that when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 to become the new poor-cousin whipping boy of Confederation, its books were in the black.

Revenues from fish and mining meant the future "have not" province came with a dowry.

An email from a reader last week, commenting on the province’s "have" status, stated he had been to Newfoundland and was "shocked at the prosperity."

"No shacks but countless fine homes. I live in the Annapolis Valley, where there are a lot of poverty and rundown shacks. The average wage is less than $30K."

I told him that the average income in Newfoundland was also less than $30,000, but for most Newfoundlanders living outside the urban areas, their land and homes have been in their families for generations, so many are relatively mortgage free. They also take great pride in their homes and are resourceful enough to maintain them, regardless of how modest they may be.

The stigma of being a "have" and "have not" province as it applies to equalization benefits has always been a narrow-minded media/politico simplification based on the assumption that the only value a province had was how much revenue it generated for the national coffers.

I’ve been to Alberta, and by my definition and what I value, it is most definitely a "have not" province, regardless of how much money is in the provincial coffers.

Equalization is not welfare. It was brought in by the federal government in 1959 in an attempt to ensure that all Canadians had a somewhat equal standard of living when it came to education, health care and civil infrastructure.

The money for equalization comes from federal revenues generated in every province.

Using a somewhat convoluted formula, the federal money then goes to provinces that are deemed to need it to maintain some semblance of a national standard for its residents. Does it work? As the car ads say, Your mileage may vary.

How ironic then that Canada’s richest and most "have" province, Alberta, charges people for their provincial health cards, has outrageous school and property taxes at the local level, and has some of the worst roads I have ever driven — and I crossed the country just last year.

Somehow, Newfoundland and Quebec, chronic "have not" provinces, are able to provide free education, health care, and even subsidized child care, in the case of Quebec.

I guess it depends on your priorities and values, and by extension politics, as to what you judge to be "have" and "have not."

One should not mistake GDP for quality of life.


Anonymous said...

The time has now come that we should display our province as righteously being of 'HAVE' status.

The recipie for that is for the powers that be, in other words our political system which is headed by one of the most astute Premiers that Canada has ever seen, Premier Williams, to make sure that Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources are processed right here in the province. That is the only way that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador will ever shed the look of "Have Not". Jobs from industries have to be created in the province. We cannot continue to ship out our raw natural resources without first creating industries from them. The notion that a place can ship off its raw natural resources and become truly 'HAVE' status is so idiotic, the reasoning behind the thinking eludes me.

We, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, have had 59 years of experience in the field of 'Have Not' and we have just this month, November 2008, attained the "Have" status symbol.

Yet, we are a province with "Have" status and no appreciable Industry or jobs from Industry within its midst. Isn't that a CRAZY Picture? We have one of the highest GDP Statistics and No Jobs! Is it little wonder that it took so long to attain that most coveted title, that of being 'Have'having to trust to the revenue from the sale of one natural resoure "Oil" to make it happen?

As I said above all the natural resources should have been utilized to create industries and thus jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador. Who oversaw to it that it was not the case? Why did, whoever it was, oversee the natural resources of Newfoundland and Labrador going to other destinations of Canada and the World? How many people and Who were in on that type of decision making? Yes, what was up there?

If Newfoundland and Labrador's Natural Resource Base of FISH, HYDROELECTRIC, MINERALS (of all types) and OIL had been combined with Newfoundland and Labrador’s prime geographic location, a location which totally spanned thousands of kilometres on the Atlantic Ocean Trade routes, this province could have been considered 'HAVE' status from day one when it became the 10th province of Canada.

All that was needed were a few astute people from the administration in Ottawa and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to have sat down and drawn up a plan to see it happen. At the time of joining, the province had a pristine environment, all of its resources were intact and it had one of the most strategic locations on the face of the earth, as was proven by the Second World War when the territory of NL was utilized to protect North America from its enemies. I cannot figure it out, can you?

Your opinions and comments will be greatly appreciated!

Patriot said...

Hi Anon - 3:09

Thanks for the insightful comment. I agree with almost everything you said except for one point:

"All that was needed were a few astute people from the administration in Ottawa and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to have sat down and drawn up a plan to see it happen."

Yes, that's what it would have taken but saying "that's All that was needed" makes it sound simple. It isn't. That never happened and it never will happen.

Not as long as we have the political system we have in Canada or as long as we in NL keep voting the way we do.

The federal government would never take that leap because they want those resources to feed the hungry masses and the industry in Ontario and Quebec.

Minerals to feed the smelters and provide raw materials for manufacturing.

Fish quotas traded away to grease the wheels of international trade in order to grow Ontario and Quebec exports.

The creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway that benefits central Canada but allowed shipping to bypass natural and historical Atlantic ports (built with the tax dollars of even those in Atlantic Canada who were crucified by it)

There is no way on earth they will do anything for NL unless it also benefits central Canada.

The only option we have is either find a way to make the slanted Canadian parliamentary system work for us from within (say by electing NL Bloc type reps who can potentially take the balance of power in a minority government and use that power wisely), by changing the system itself which will be nearly impossible with only a handful of "toe the party line" MPs that we always send up there, or by getting out all together which is also a monumental task in trying to convince the population to vote for independence.

The status quo is a waste of time and, even worse, a waste of our true potential.

Anonymous said...

Myles - You actually concur with me completely, because I was hoping that you would have detected the cycnism, which I had hoped that I had portrayed in my commentary on the point which you say you did not agree with me.

The Dictionary's definition of a cynic is 'a person who holds a system of thought or belief based on, that being human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest'. One can deduce what he or she wants from that definition. It can be that certain politicians did what was more beneficial to them in their own endeavours of having a great life, fulfilled with the riches of employment than what was beneficial for the whole province, in alloting the natural resources of Newfoundland and Labrador out for other jurisdictions to have created and maintained bouyant economies.

I know that some politicians will toe the party line when he or she is promised to do so, that he/she will be forever looked after with the political patronage system. Also I know that Ottawa is a Centrist Government with its views, that the Center of the country should be strong economically and politically, and when the Ottawa Government can control politicians and sway them into their way of thinking with political plums from the patronage system, their aim of having that strong industralized and economically strong Central Canada filled with high paying jobs is fulfilled.

It is shocking how opaque matters can be with such a non-transparent system of Government. It took Newfoundlanders and Labradorians nigh 60 years to figure out the antics that their politicians were up to.

But now that the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador is aware of the operations of of governments and their politicians, are we going to continue to allow our natural resources to be sold out right without creating meaningful industry right here along with the jobs that we, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, crave???????

Patriot said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

There were Hundreds of Billions of dollars lent to U.S. home buyers over the past 10 years or so, which have come to be known as sub-prime mortgage money. The money was lent to, in some cases homeless people, and most of it to people who were working minimum wage earning jobs. Some of these mortgages were as high as $500,000.00. The mortgages were bundled and graded by investment firms and grading agencies, and then sold as prime investments with triple "A" ratings.

I now have a question on my statements above.

This money was looking for a place to park itself before it was lent out as sub-prime mortgages. Why couldn't some politician in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador have sought out some of this money to have built the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Energy Project? Surely it would have been a much better and securer place for the financiers of that money to have parked it in the Upper Churchill Hydroelectric Energy Project than roping low wage earners into buying a house that they could never, ever have expected to pay off in a thousand years on the salaries that they were earning.

Two years ago I visited Florida; I divided my time between the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of that state. I could not believe my eyes on the number of condominium complexes that were being build and which already had been built, with not one condominium at that time sold in any of them. Why keep putting up condominium complexes if they weren’t selling, I asked??? I put the question to several people, while I was there on whether the banking industry was handing out monies willy-nilly, without anybody overseeing the lending habits of the financial institutions. Nobody could answer me. It was like they hadn’t notice what was occurring around them.

I guess, I can offer an analogy here, in that it was something like what was occurring in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, our natural resources were being developed and shipped off to Central Canada and other locales to create industry and employment, while the province of NL was suffering from chronic unemployment through lack of industry.

I am now wondering if our politicians are even actively looking for funding to have resource development financed so that it can provide industry in Newfoundland and Labrador???? I think that they are only focused on the easy way out, toeing the party line and accepting the patronage plums, it makes life easier and a lot less stressful for them.

We have to reign in those politiciaans and say 'enough is enough, we want good governance from you and we want any future resources to be developed with creating industry in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ultimately it is up to the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador to be more aware of what is going on around them. We have to stop our complacent attitudes and be mindful of what our politicians are up to. There can be no more of just electing them and putting them on auto-pilot for a 4 year term, we must be VIGILANT.

Anonymous said...

"Why couldn't some politician in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador have sought out some of this money to have built the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Energy Project?"

Your going to have to pardon me Patriot.I cant even imagine were I would start to learn how to write like thease guys.But this anon,November 16, 2008 6:33 PM, has brought up a point that I have tryed to answer for myself for years and it still confuses me to this day !!!

We have natural resources.Point taken.My question is "why" has the international community constantly ignored us when we are so rich.Why is it they refuse to invest in something like the Lower ChurchHill.Is it because Ottawa is not in control or cannot take control of it.Is this line of thinking to left field or do I need to look at it in a differant light !!!

They never said it was going to be easy to understand !!!