Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Passionate "I"

What's Missing in Federal Politics?

One word: Passion! During the recent federal leadership "debate" the only real story to come out of it was that Paul Martin at one point told the Bloc Leader "I won't stand by and watch you destroy this country... I am also Quebecois!" I'm paraphrasing - but that was the jest of it. Just the tinniest bit of passion in an otherwise trite high school style assembly. Call me crazy but shouldn't a debate actually have debate. Whatever. I guess that close to Christmas no one wanted to strain a hangover with shouting.

What is the power of passion? Think of John Crosbie, George Baker, John Efford (provincial John Efford that is)... hell think of Chretian. Most people didn't know what Chretian was saying most of the time, and when they did it turned out to be half-truths - but you couldn't pry the guy from office with the Canada Arm. Chretian spoke passionately about Canada. When Chretian was in Newfoundland and Labrador he was quick to say how much he loved the place. He once quipped that the reason he loved Newfoundland and Labrador so much was that we were the only ones who could understand him.

Contrast that with the leaders of late. Paul Martin takes a quick run to the province when the election is called (may as well get The Rock over with early). He promises nothing, he says nothing and then he leaves. Does a standard Santa Claus tour waving his hand to the crowd - then high-tails it out of here. "Hello, kiss-my-ass Good-bye." Waving like Santa in a parade but waiting until he gets to Ontario before he throws out the candy.

I have to say that Jack Layton has the upper hand on this one. Of course it is convenient when you can promise the moon but no one ever expects you to deliver. I think it would be really funny if the NDP did gain power. Layton would spend the next few moonlit nights on his back patio with a lasso.

Honorable mention must go to Gilles Duceppe. I'm not kidding; contrast the English Gilles with the French Gilles. Two different characters. English Gilles is like someone
off caffeine for a week. Twitchy and apologetic: "yes I want to break up the country but that doesn't mean I don't like you." French Gilles is like a rock star. Black sweater, laid back audience laughing at his jokes. I'm not sure what he was saying - something to do with Jerry Lewis and men dressed as women dating girls half their age. Gee, Lankhof, Dolphin and Wente were right; racial stereotyping is fun! And easy!

... And then Harper shows up. Harper has about as much passion as a two-dollar whore at an accountant's convention. I catch a glimpse of him on the news walking down the front steps of the Confederation Building after speaking with Danny Williams. A reporter is trying to grab a sound bite and the guy is practically running from her. Dude - there's an election campaign on the go - if someone shoves a camera in your general direction you jump on it like a two-dollar whore... no wait I already used that one... you know what I'm mean. Running down the steps like he thinks the big CBC microphone must be one of those hakapiks he's heard so much about. Harper, if we wanted to see your ass we'd look for Fabian Manning's boots.

Passion gents! "Oh yea, yesss, yesssss!" Just like that, but without the awkward silence while you look for your wallet... No wait maybe it is exactly the same?!

Free Alexas

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Addendum- Out of Our Hands - The Portnoys of Marystown

A person lives in Marystown for about a decade, has Canadian kids, a pregnant wife, friends who care for them and will fight for them.

The Canadian government decides his fate... He is snatched from his family and thrown in jail in St. John's. He awaits a teleconference call with officials in MONTREAL. There is no one in Newfoundland and Labrador with any immigration authourity beyond making sure customs is in place to prevent cheap liquor from St. Pierre.

We have no say into who lives in our land...

Tell them how you feel:
1-800-461-9999 2 to get you out of the main menu then 0 for the operator

You'll get thrown around but enough calls bouncing through their maze of bureaucracy might sink into the right head just a little bit. And believe me - you will encounter the federal experience. I first had to clarify that Portnoy was not a place in Newfoundland and Labrador but an honust to God person. Then I had to explain what Marystown is.

This my friends is why it takes a decade to rubber stamp an application...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

DFO and Geoff Regan - Naughty or Nice?

Tis the season! Hot Toddie's, egg nog and campaign signs. (and we thought the vandals had fun with the municipal election signs!) Ok fine, if Ottawa is going to drag us kicking and screaming into the voting booth now is as good a time as any for a good accounting of the feds in 2005. I thought about the title "A year in your-rear the DFO pains in the arse for 2005", or quite simply "DFO Rear-end Review."

1. It is January of 2005. With Auld Ang Sin still ringing in their ears the workers at NDI get a letter from Geoffrey Regan. It is a notice of termination of contract to the Newfoundland and Labrador company based in St. John's. The company filed under backruptcy protection so the agreement could not be broken. By all indications from The Telegram, since Scrooge Regan's letter NDI has won every court case and appeal against DFO. The attempted termination has resulted in enormous legal fees yet to be made public, as well as the involvement of another federal agency ACOA and their legal fees. DFO and ACOA in conspiracyng with DFO to terminate this Newfoundland and Labrador business have not had success. Also the action has resulted in a legal suit which by all present indications will result in a multi-million dollar settlement from the taxpayers coffers.

2. In a courtcase regarding a Newfoundlander's sale of Blueback pelts, Geoffrey made the erroneous statement that it is illegal to kill Bluebacks. In fact it is perfectly legal to kill bluebacks but sale of the pelts is illegal. Geoffrey's lack of knowledge of the issue and flippant misunderstanding of the law in his own portfolio resulted in St. John's lawyer Averill Baker to call for his resignation.

3. In a meeting in N&L Geoffrey and federal croonies from International Trade say they couldn't understand why Europe was charging a 20% tariff on shrimp caught by Newfoundlanders and that they would beg of Europe to drop the tariff. Of course when Ottawa allows these same foreign nations to catch their own unlimited amounts of shrimp on the continental shelf it is a hard sell to get them to buy shrimp caught by Newfoundlanders. Bit like trying to sell a bag of turnip to a turnip truck.

4. As the food fishery opens up in Nova Scotia Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are left wondering if they will get a chance to hit the water for a jig. Geoffrey's complete lack of communication with N&L on the issue resulted in an act of civil disobedience called the protest fishery were N&Lers demanded a statement from the minister. The statement would come monthes later with the call of an election in January 2006. As it turns out we now have Geoffrey's attention. He has promised to look at the issue of a Newfoundland and Labrador food fishery. Although the impression was that the review was eminent, a letter to one of the organizers of this years protest suggests the review will take four years. (Note four years federal government time translates to roughly five days our time. It's a complicated formula but roughly it accounts for the five minutes of actual work done by bureucrats on Wednesday morning before coffee break.)

5. An audit of DFO under Geoffrey's reigns showed that; surprise of surprises, the department is not particularly deligent with the federal purse. A result of this particular audit trickled down to some lower end public servants resulting in their dismissal. It turns out when responsibility and accountability are called into question all the old gents at the top never take the fall. How convenient is that.

6. The resurgence of the circus that is the animal liberation front on the seal hunt. Terrorists who in the same breath support voilence against humans and compassion for animals. The lack of monitoring the activity on the ice by DFO resulted in a protestor/sealer pushing match. The seal hunt protestor was later proven to be a terrorist. This particular issue resulted in the seal hunters name being posted on the web resulting in his family receiving vicious threats, racial taunts and other malicious forms of harrassment.

7. ...Lets see what else has Geoff Regan done for N&L this year? There's the axing of the world class cod research being done at MUN by Dr. George Rose. Another smack on the arse from Mother Canada. Of course this goes to the general decline of the federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador in general - but that's a blog of a different colour.

So at year's end where has Minister Regan taken the province in this great dominion? Foreign vessels continue to overfish at the expense of N&L without DFO interference and even with their blessing. Refusal to get a set of kahooas and declare a costodial management strategy on the nose and tail beyond the 200 mile limit, pandering to countries across the pond. ... and I can't begin to speak of the cost-cutting policies which allows our countrymen to drown because they didn't have the courtesy to have their disaster during regular business hours...


A great year overall for Newfoundland and Labrador thanks to the Honorable Member from Halifax West. But what can we do? Well ... as those of us with the distinct pleasure of calling Newfoundland and Labrador home know; Santa Claus himself is a Newf. Recently while he was reviewing his list from a Portugal Cove home I had the great fortune of seeing the "Naughty and Nice" list. Being the Sleeven I am sometimes known to be, I filled up the Jolly ole Elf with Date Squares and Purity Syrup and when he went to the John I managed a look at the list. (He takes quite a long on the can because of his poor diet and age. Salt Meat and Cabbage, Turr and Flipper pie from January to December 24 and nothing but cookies and purity syrup for about a week) Anyway I digress... I looked up Geoff Regan on Santa's list. Not Good Geoff, Not Good at all!

He knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're a fake, he knows if you've been wasting cash - so resign for goodness sake.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Magic Election 8-Ball

A good friend of mine likes to make predictions. He prefaces these with "Swami Jim predicts..." Sometimes he's right, other times, well... But it is fun to shake the 8-ball, as it were, and see what floats up.

So in that spirit I would like to try one. "Swami BornNBred predicts...on January 24 the election results are... pretty much what they were on January 22." Talk about an exercise in futility. Signs for the Christmas season read "No Interest until 2006". Signs for the election should read "No interest now until January 23".

Thanks NL-ExPatriate and Myles for the idea

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Sins of the Past

There is no doubt about it Canada is not without it's Skeletons. The "head tax" on Chinese immigrants, the oppression of Japanese Canadians during the war, the injustices to our aboriginal groups... the list is a long one. The difficulty of course is when the lawyers stick their mitts into the mix and decide that nothing but a financial settlement will right the wrongs.

The issue of financial compensation is a tricky one. If the government and people of today must bear the burden of the sins of the past, where does this precedent take us as a country? If every injustice of the 138 years has a financial price tag attached to it the federal coffers are due to be drained. The fact is that financial compensation can only be recognized in this short snapshot in our history. The descendants of the oppressed group receive their small amount of financial reward, the lawyers gain the larger portion and the whole package is borne on the backs of the present population of Canadian taxpayers. There can be no allowance to the victims of the past, and future generations. The only people who receive compensation are the people of the present, the big winners as usual will be the law firms.

So how do we deal with the atrocious decisions of governments past. I really don't know. I think a formal apology is a place to start, but of course that has its inherent problems. Have you noticed that apologies are hard to come by? Perhaps it is because a formal apology comes with a declared recognition of the injustice. A formal declaration is a license to print money as far as lawyers go. A documented "sorry" will inevitably precede a court case for financial compensation.

And what of the sins of the present? If the government is busy righting the wrongs of Governments past, who then will speak for the wrongs of today? Our children will not have the freedom to jig a cod for supper as we did. They will continue to bear the weight of the Churchill Falls Agreement and it will grow heavier with each passing year and demand for energy. They will not be able to ride the train. They are having declining opportunities to enter the workforce as a federal employee. Where and when do we receive the apology and compensation for the Sponsorship Kickbacks? Is the Gomery inquiry a document for future generations to have their day in court?

Time for the Feds to stop wagging their finger at the shames of the past and start being more introspective. It is easy to throw stones backwards through time. With an election looming the big question is: Who next do we give the keys to the glass house.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

John(?) Efford

A little addendum to "In the Long Run"

Looks like Mr. Efford is throwing off the shackels of political life. A search for his name on the federal government site shows that he now goes by his birth name "Ruben". Not sure why he changed it to John. I imagine it went like this: At the first day of Liberal Training Camp (or whatever it is they do to abduct new recruits). King Liberal at the time asks:

"and what's your name son?"

Little Johny replies "Wuben."

"Sounds like a sandwich - from henceforth your name is John."

So John/Ruben is reclaiming his birthright. It does sound a little like a sandwich. I'm not sure what would be put on a 'Newfoundland Ruben' Sandwich. I guess instead of Corned Beef and sauerkraut it would be Salt Meat and Cabbage?! Probably not a big seller up-along.

So John Efford is reborn as Ruben Efford. Hawaiian Shirts, cruising on the Sea Princess and asking Waitresses "'Ello m'love ever had a Ruben?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Addendum - Public Dis-Service

It turns out that the Federal Presence in Newfoundland and Labrador has declined greatly since the 1990's... and now even smart people are saying that - so it must be true (just being a little facetious).

A report from the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional and Policy Development at Memorial University by researcher Alison Coffin says federal employment alone has decreased substantially by 25 percent. The report covers the past twenty-five years, and concludes there have been declines in federal employment, expenditures on wages and salaries and on goods and services. A second report is currently being prepared and will expand on the recent findings. It is expected to be released in February.

Have a read

Thanks to VOCM for reporting

In The Long Run - One Last Efford

How will history remember John Efford?  This is the question bandied around by journalists, political observers and those who are prone to philosophical musings.  Of course how we remember John's political life will depend on what snapshot in time we view his career.  The provincial John Efford was a champion.  A politician like non other.  He was a man who garnished support from his constituents that would be the envy of any person in public life.  

The federal John was a different man.  John's federal career and support from his people declined simultaneously, one feeding on the misfortunes of the other.  The downfall of John began at the Liberal leadership convention which would ultimately decide the eighth Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.  John lost to Roger Grimes by fourteen votes.  He felt betrayed by the colleagues with whom he had given so much of himself.  If there is a defining moment when the fight went out of John Efford it was at this point in time.

John now found himself for the first time in his political career without a defined goal.  Then opportunity knocked in Ottawa as Brian Tobin decided to throw in the perverbial towel.  The political blood is thick in John, he jumped through the open door.  But the move from being a big fish in a small pond to the pond/cesspool of Ottawa politics was a role that he didn't adapt well to.  He was rejected by his party and out of his element.      Then the winds of a shitstorm took its footing.  John was mostly silenced and did not get his evening Sound bites that he was accustomed to.  His fellow N&L felt he was being lax in not representing us at a very critical point in our history with-respect-to fisheries     and resource management.  Truthfully John had lost some of his fight and it showed.  Throw in one final element.  John's diabetes became a factor.  He worried about it, he lost his focus and concentration.  Although he felt he was giving up so much of himself even at the sacrifice of his health - there came no support or thanks from his province.  And why would we; nothing in John's actions in Ottawa was translating to anything positive for the province.

The final betrayal of John came again from his party colleagues, this time in Ottawa.  (Does 7 seats even get noticed among the 308?) John gets his weekly five minutes with Martin and Martin tells him, "John on this Atlantic Accord deal either Williams take this or he will lose it."  John of course figures he can take the word of the Number One Man in Canada.  Apparently he hadn't been reading too much news at the time.  This party is as crooked and wasteful as any party of any free world country this century.  In Ottawa No doesn't mean NO.  No means, "well how much stink are you willing to kick up about it with this minority government.”  John forgot to play all the cards.  Williams had nothing in his hand  - but a poker face that would cause the best of the best Vegas players to fold.  A verbal promise over the phone from the PM was nothing, but a question of integrity against a government whose integrity could not bare to take another shot... As good as a handful of aces.

John lost the limelight becoming known as "John Effortless", signs on the highway demanded he retire.  Websites called him a Traitor.  John was a man who could climb... but take a fall!?  He's never had to get back up from a fall like this.

So how will John's Political life be remembered?  Provincial John Effort: in the seal skin coat battling unions, companies, seal protestors and any other attack on the rural identity he wore like a crown... or Federal John, silenced by Ottawa, betrayed by his party, and weakened by diabetes.  There must be a great temptation to end such an illustrious career with one final big Hurrah!  We've seen this attempt by the likes of Chretian, Cher, even Gretzky.  In the end Gretzky's coaching of the 2002 Gold metal Olympic team was another notch in his belt.

So... John Efford has to find his "coaching" role.  Maybe no longer being known as a "Member" will be good for him. Not to worry, old politicians never die; they just lose the support of their caucus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Out of Our Hands - Addendum

Apparently Mr. Matthews is still fighting the fight for the Portnoys in Marystown, as is a lot of other people of N&L. A quick addendum to the "Out of Our Hands" post about the Portnoys. They now have an official website. Please visit and voice your opinion and support:

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Greetings Sheep - the AGM is coming soon get your tickets early!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What Would You Do With Pauly?

One of my favourite stories from Childhood was one called "What would you do with Charlie?" It's a cute little story that expresses a mother's frustration with the inability to deal with her son's wanton ways.

I am reminded of the story when I hear the verbal spume that comes from Newfoundland and Labrador's Lex Luther Capt. Paul Watson.

Is it hypocritical to say "I think that of all the animals in the world or any environmental problem in the world the harp seal is the easiest issue to raise funds on... it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them... the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because – its - they're always - the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image - they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that, coupled with the horror of a sealer hitting them over the head with a club, it's an image that just goes right to the heart of — of animal lovers all over North America.” (from Animal Crackers) Is it hypocritcal to say that when you are pissed-off with Greenpeace because you are kicked out of the club but then use those same tactics when you start up your own club and make yourself the Shepherd. I would say that is definitely hypocritical! – but... "What would you do with Pauly?"

Is it bigoted, and racist to call a whole province "a blight and a curse... they debased Canada when they joined Canada in 1949..."? In my mind it certainly is racist. Subsitute Newfoundland and Labradorean with Jew, Muslim, Cree, Black – whatever your ancestry might be. Then re-read it. What is it’s affect on you in this context?? - but... "What would you do with Pauly?"

Is it inciting hate to say "a place where priests rape orphans and residents kill seabirds for fun, and idolize animal killers". Certainly I see that as hateful; but... "What would you do with Pauly?"

What would you do with an individual who would take each of your arguments and spin them into an extreme image of blood and death and crying babies and barbarians with blood splattered faces and grimacing grins. You can pretty well say whatever you want - that image is stronger.

So... I go back to the lesson's of my childhood story. As is turns out the infamous "Charlie" was the young boy’s dog. In context, all of the bad things that Charlie did were perfectly acceptable for a being that does not have the moral capacity to know right from wrong, hypocrisy, racism, and all of these values of humanity.

The truth is some people have a natural ability to incite hatred. ... and they find their followers - it is in all of us, it just takes someone like the Good Shepherd of the Sea to bring it out. He has been playing the game for quite some time - he is bloody good at it.

The umbrella of protest is a convenient one, people have used all sorts of things to justify their own evils. So "What would you do with Pauly?" He will never recognize his own hypocrisy, racism, and other demerits. Maybe some sort of leash, maybe one with a muzzle? Apparently I have a club somewhere, but I’ve never seen it. Maybe they passed them out with the Cod Liver oil years ago. I don’t recall.

Excerpts from The Independent Vol. 3 Issue 45

Thursday, October 27, 2005

When Mainlanders Come to Town

I guess this one qualifies as weird news.

While Stephen Harper was in St. John's recently he followed a great Newfoundland Group called 8-track favourites. Turns out the band had a lucky charm of sorts in the form of a bra that was donated one night by a very enthusiastic fan. The bra even has its own pet-name, the boys dubbed her "Yvette". Turns out that after the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition had his few words to the Conservative crowd poor ole Yvette went missing. The boys feared that Yvette had fallen for the big city charms and cowboy suave of Mr. Harper. They e-mailed Mr. Harper's office and explained their concern for her virtue. By this time her innocence was already spoiled. Harper was at this point probably hurrying from a hotel room - shirt partially unbuttoned and sticking through his fly like a little fabric weiner, saying "ya ya, I'll call you."

But the story has a happy ending. Apparently someone from Steve's office said they forgot to get their "Harper's Bazaar" and an aide thought that he said "get Harper's brassiere" - Innocent enough. Yvette has been returned to the band just in time for her to participate in Bras-Across-The-Bay in aid of breast cancer awareness month. She will join her sisters hand-in-hand across Quidi-Vidi on October 28 at 10:30am. Even though there will likely be larger bras than the one from Harper, I bet neither one came from a bigger boob.

CBC News Story

Congratulations to the organizers and sponsors of this event

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Capturing a Soul

Can a photo capture your soul? As a photography enthusiast myself I often see people as portraits. The strong curve of a jaw, or defining eyes that speaks so much about who we are and where we have come from. As it stands though, the greatest number of my photos are landscapes. There is something very intimate about capturing a person's face on film. There is a part of me that sees it as an invasion. Many cultures of the world feel that a photo captures something of your soul and many artifacts and symbols are forbidden to be photographed. And, we also cannot forget that the Princess of Wales died because of someone's attempt to capture her image.

I am reminded of a photo from National Geographic of a young Afghan lady. A photographer on assignment in Afghanistan about twenty years ago captured the image that would capture the world. Her eyes are deep and agressive, her gaze insinuating. The photographer had intruded in her world and her eyes burn with the fire of a caged animal.

There is another very popular photo that you'll see locally in the souvenoir shops and dollar stores, it is called "Three Fishermen" or "Jolly Fishermen". This image is available on placemats, postcards, playing cards - you name it. It is a great photo that captures the heart and soul of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishermen. Two thoughts come to mind when I see this picture. My immediate thought is for the fishermen, who were standing on a dock in Norman's Cove one summer when a photographer from Nova Scotia had a quick chat with them and asked to take their picture. One of them grabs a Sculpin and holds it, it's mouth in a broad grimacing smile matched by the broad warm smile of the gentlemen. The photographer says he might like to print the photo; the gentlemen sign the photographers consent form... My first thought turns to these gentlemen because I know their story. I know that after signing the consent they never heard from the photographer again. They never gave it a second thought until they started seeing their images on the placemats, postcards, playing cards... They were never contacted by the photographer, they were not compensated in any way. Legally I guess they weren't owed anything. I'm not sure if there is a code of ethics among photographers, perhaps it was all par for the course. There does seem to be a blatant unfairness about it though.

This is perhaps telling of a greater issue in Newfoundland and Labrador; of the pieces of our soul, our resources and culture that we have allowed others to take and sell, making profit at our expense. I don't need to list examples - we are all to painfully aware of them- they jab our sides like knifes and except for the occasional twist of the blade we have come to ignore them.

My other thought is how we quite often fail to see the beauty and potential of our own culture, people and resources. Why have we consistently failed to capitalize on our own inherent wealth?

Can a photo capture your soul? I will continue to take my second-rate landscapes and let the quiet dignity of my countrymen lie undisturbed.

A footnote:

The photographer does have the names and details of the gentlemen. The two gentleman on the left have passed away. The gentleman on the right, I have met on a couple of occasions and I have a deep respect for him. He is very quiet and unassuming and worked a good hard life. The photo was taken in Norman's Cove near Chapel Arm in the 1970's. I wonder how much thirty years of royalties on numberous calendar and souvenoir products has been made on this image.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Portrait of a Protestor

I've been writing so much about this on other sites that I stood to be accused of blog haunting. I thought it best to retreat to my own space for a while.

MES is a seal hunt protestor from the United States. If you want to know where, simply take a pin and drive it into the centre of the continental United States; it'll be as far away from either ocean as you can be in North America. MES is the archetype of the Seal Protest Movement. She devotes her full time (by her own admission) to the Seal Hunt. She fails to devote any of her time to any local Animal Welfare concerns. Nothing in her community, her state, or her country is worth even a tiny bit of her time. MES is a product of the anti-seal hunt public relations machine. She saw a horrid video of seals being killed when she was just seven. It permanently etched her memory and scarred her innocence. I have to wonder at who would allow a seven year old to witness the killing of an animal. I am tempted to blame it on American culture that adores violence in media but is shocked by a nipple slip... but I don't know if this is the case. Just my attempt at understanding the whole thing.

MES seeks anything on the web related to the seal hunt. She is a persistent poster to sites that even vaguely mentions the seal hunt. Her words are nothing new: "baby seals", "skinned alive", "barbarians", she uses celebrity quotes as if they should be held with a higher authority than us mortals. Their information is largely straight from the GreenPeace Anti-Sealers Manual of the 1970s (before founder Paul Watson was asked to pick up and leave). MES has one agenda - "Stop the Seal Hunt".

"But what if we determine that seals are being harvested in the most humane way possible?"

"Doesn't matter"

"What if we show you the economic benefits to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, what if we show you how thoroughly the animal is used, for oils, furs, meat, medicinal products"

"Doesn't matter"

Nothing really matters. There is no argument that MES can accept that will erase those horrid images from childhood. And luckily for Paul Watson that is just the type of person he needs. Blind Faith. The money machine of the Seal Hunt movement depends on extremes. How well would a campaign do that has a sign reading "Reforms in the Seal Industry Now!" Doesn't work; how about "Stop baby seals from being skinned alive!" That'll work, where is the red paint - we need lots and lots of red paint.

Occasionally they get caught in their own web. I recall in last season's storm of activity that there was a sealer on the ice who had a confrontation with a protester. The fact that there should be a boundary around the sealers to allow them to work and minimize confrontation does not seem to matter to Capt. Watson's Posse. It produced a highly published video of poor old Dr. Vlasak in a shoving match with a sealer. It made for great video - just like the old days. People were enraged. Who provoked whom? Innocent Dr. V just taking some photos, just an innocent tourist.

The Sea Shepherd Society was quick to rally support behind Dr. V. They published the photo, names and phone number of the sealer. He received harassing phone calls and threats. His family heard horrendous, brutal threats of violence from unseen faces in distant lands. Only after the fact do we realize that this mode of attack is Jerry Vlasak's game. He provokes violence for good video. He condones violence. He is considered a terrorist in some countries and denied entry. He told a conference in 2003 that ‘if a person is targeted for assassination, that kind of fear and intimidation is an effective tactic...’ Same guy on the video being shoved by a sealer. I wonder what happened there? Capt. W. eventually had to reluctantly resign Dr. V's seat and issue a statement (after quite a bit of time)

The problem with the extreme view is it will inevitably run amok. Out of the control of even the great Shepherd. When this happens Watson is prepared to cut the tumor lose, the catalyst for surgery is when the media begins to shift ever so slightly out of his favour. He lives for the camera. Is it any wonder that actors are quick on this bandwagon?

Back to MES: Does she condone the use of violence like Jerry Vlasak? Does she condone the publishing of that sealer's name, photo and contact information? The fact is MES is a real person. Her name, contact information - it's all available. Is it fair to feed her private information to the public? Do I encourage harassing phone calls and disturb the sanctity of her home? My upbringing tells me not to do it. We are not barbarians after all...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Out of Our Hands

The Portnoys are an Israeli family who now call Marystown home. Two of the Portnoy children are born and bred Canadians, the other Portnoys anxiously await to be officially Canadian. After about a decade the Portnoy file finally reached the top of the heap of some faceless federal Bureaucrat. Scratching his protruding belly and sipping his StarBucks Latte he grabs the Rubber Stamp and seals the fate of a new Newfoundland and Labrador family. "Send 'em Back" (or some bureaucratic equivalent), stamped in red across the file. And Geeze it is hard to convince that guy otherwise. Allegations of car thief in his homeland have been dealt with by Mr. Portnoy and Isaeli documents shows the issue to be closed - but... The Stamp has spoken!

Bill Matthews has spoken on behalf of the Portnoys, so has educators, community leaders, and friends. The simple fact remains that it is not up to Newfoundland and Labradorians who we wish to live in our land.

After Bill Matthews spoke with Immigration he told the Portnoys it's "out of his hands". Isn't there a problem when we cannot determine for ourselves who makes up our communities? Out of our hands; out of our pockets; out of our waters and out of our soil. What's next from Ottawa.

The NEW Official Website of the Portnoy Family

A Very Good Detailed Account of Mr. Portnoy's Story is Here

Immigration Link:

Monday, October 03, 2005

Split Peas

The opinions are varied. On the one extreme is the "Colony" of Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland and Labrador is a child of mother England adopted by Canada. It is young and dependant like a young Robin sitting with its mouth open to altruistic Ottawa. On the other extreme are the people who would see us as our own country. This group may be a more extreme view. "We couldn't possibly make it as our own country - could we?" The Independents are quick to mention Iceland. A country with practically nil Unemployment, a country that produces a great deal of its own consumer goods, a country of wealth and culture... A country that very much reflects Newfoundland and Labrador’s resource base and strong cultural backbone.

In between is everyone else; the less vocal majority. This group has no intension of packing up and leaving. Secretly perhaps they look at the old Newfoundland Coins and Stamps with some pride. They may fly the pink white and green, and wear the T-Shirts. They are enraged when a mainland journalist writes about "hand-outs" from Ottawa and they are proud when a Newfoundlander and Labradorean makes top ten in Canadian Idol.

There is indeed a feeling in this land. The Pink White and Green flag is perhaps the most visible, concrete part of this. It is evident in blogs, in the newspapers, the open line shows, the gentlemen on my street with the "Free Newfoundland" bumper sticker, the rallying behind Rex Goudie, the Accordion Revolution, the tremendous support behind our premier during the Atlantic Accord fight, the tears in hearing "Salt Water Joys", the petitions fighting for the Gander weather station, the outpouring of support for Stephenville, Badger, Bishop's Falls during the floods.... We have our native son draped in the Maple Leaf after being killed in Afghanistan fighting for this country’s freedom so that some mainlander wanting to get a high-five from her bigoted readers can call us a "scenic welfare ghetto".

I can see the Pink White and Green on the south side from where I sit and I am proud to see it there. It does my heart good to see it flying higher than all others. The Maple Leaf flys from City Hall and from the Government buildings; I have pride in them too, but seeing them in the shadow of the South Side Pink White and Green makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

An Addendum

I felt the "Blown Carburetor" post needed an update on the day of the swearing in of the Governor General. Since my original post the GG has denounced the French part of her dual citizenship. A token gesture missing the mark entirely. The dual citizenship isn't particularly the problem is it? The fact that she has a connection to France is her right. Modern Canada was built for and by immigrants, historically we all belong somewhere else. The problem in its entirety is the fact that she has supported or sympathized in some unknown degree with separtists who would see this country destroyed. And now she is the face of that country to the world.

I reserve an amount of redemption for her if she can pull it off. I wait with bated breath to see her in Iqualuit, Amherst, Yellowknife, Stephenville... Her test will be when she leaves Ontario and Quebec and meets the true heart and soul of this dominion.
If we can allow a separatist party to lead the opposition of this knotted country then why not have a separtist as its international representative of the monarch.

Vive la Canada - in one form or another.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Paul Watson's Canada

"Capt" Watson is planning a Canadian Publicity Tour in support of his stance on the Seal Hunt. "The Captain" will be speaking at three locations in BC, two in Alberta, and one location in each of Michigan, Ontario and PEI. Wait a minute, Michigan?! Is Michigan Canadian now?! And what about Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick? What about the place most affected by the policies he is speaking of - Newfoundland and Labrador?

The Captain is missing two essential ingredients that make a true leader - 1: Knowledge - in this case geographical knowledge. 2: A set of testicles. If he doesn't have the stones to face the people most affected by his views then don't bother at all. Of course at $5 and $10 a pop he'll do OK. I have to wonder at Canadians who support this. I think if he brought out the red kool-aid and called himself Father Watson there will still be that same sheep flocking to hear his words.

Father Watson's Cross Country Tour

Thursday, August 18, 2005

If Newfoundland is Canada's Squeaky Wheel, Quebec is a Blown Carburetor

When I first read of Michaelle Jean's appointment as Governor General I thought it was a great decision and an inspirational story. I was proud that she would be representing the monarchy in Canada. My opinion has now changed 180 degrees. What a stab in the heart of Canada.

The truth is the PM was struck with a dilemma. Of course it would be great to choose a Governor- General from Quebec but he would either find a Nationalist that was hated by half of Quebec or a Separatist that was hated by the other half (and most of Canada). In finding Ms. Jean the Paul Martin has found a person who claims to be dedicated to Canada, but with enough of a separatist past to keep the sovereignists at bay. Good pick on his part.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Public Dis-Service Commission in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Canadian Government - bless their hearts - have recently announced the PSC office in the Baine Johnston Building in St. John's will close.

The green dots on the map are offices that will remain open and the red ones represent the offices slated to close. So lets have a look: BC is OK, they had two offices in Victoria and Vancouver - a stone's throw away. AB is not affected, MB is safe, ON is unchanged. One will close in QC but the other will remain open, plus there are a couple more just a short drive away. Also PEI and NB will close but they have a quick run to Halifax. That leaves SK, a fair drive to get to the next office but they have two choices, Winnipeg or Edmonton. Then each of the three territories, they will be a long distance from a PSC office but they have less than 100,000 combined population. So who's left?

The red spot at the far right is St. John's - representing 512,000 people at the last census, 200, 000 or so in the greater Avalon area. In order for St. John's to access a PSC office the nearest one is Halifax. A ten hour drive, a trip across the gulf, and another drive.

The federal government has calleous disregard for this province. The Public Service Commission, the very office that does the hiring for the federal government, no longer feels it necessary to make it convenient for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to apply for Federal Service jobs. And why would they?! They are trying to get rid of the federal jobs that are here presently. Some of the most recent examples - the Gander weather office, DFO jobs, the attempted bankruptcy of private industry partner Nautical Data International (NDI), Customs and Immigration jobs, and now the Public Service Commission.

Part of the News Release reads "The PSC will consolidate its 16 current points of service into seven (7) regional locations, which will be located in Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. These locations were chosen based on where the demand for recruitment and assessment services is the highest and where most government departments and agencies are located." It's no wonder the "demand for recruitment services" is not great here - they've been slowing dwindling away at the federal presence for years. Whose fault is it that we don't need a lot of federal hiring services? It's hypocrisy in its most blatant form.

The most common phrase in the news these days is "federal jobs moved to Halifax". It appears the government of Canada is sacrificing Newfoundland and Labrador for the benefit of Nova Scotia and elsewhere... Not that there is anything wrong with settling in Nova Scotia. Hey - if you have to move up there at least you are entitled to catch a fish for the table. A luxury that mother Ottawa has not allowed us "down-east".

Further Reading:
An excellent article in The Independent.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Born in 1967- Canada's Centennial

Newfoundland radio show host Bill Rowe once likened the Federal perspective of Newfoundland as being like a "pimple on the arse of Halifax". I may have paraphrased a little but there it is. Mr. Rowe should know, not too long ago he was sent to Ottawa as a provincial liason in the country's capitol. The posting was dubbed "Newfoundland's man in Ottawa", an ambassador of sorts. Many criticized the idea - that's what MP's are for right? CBC obviously thought it was a great idea, they recently hired francophone Pop icon 'Mitsou' to be their voice of Quebec for anglophones as host of "Au Courant". So what's happening in Canada that we feel the need to have these regional messengers trying to explain to Central Ontario why no one else likes them. Like I mentioned in the title I was born in 1967 so I am old enough to remember Mitsou. Rubbing herself semi-nude and singing about touching herself, breasts heaving and hips pumping, her curvaceous frame writhing beneath... what was I saying... Oh ya Ambassadors! Mr. Rowe's description was formed after he realised that the feelings about Newfoundland on the mainland is passive indifference at best. When the rest of Canada is like the 51st state Newfoundland maintains its unique identity. Cultural icons, like Gordon Pincent, Mary Walsh, John White, The Wonderful Grand Band, Great Big Sea. The list is phenomenal. The province that single-handedly saved the country from the back-room politics that would have been the Meech Lake Accord. All of English Canada has Newfoundland to thank for that. Anyway there it is, the ramblings of a lunatic for August 9 2005. I think I'll go get a Whiskey, at least there's one Canadian Club I can get into. I wonder if I can find a Mitsou video online...