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