Thursday, August 30, 2007

Remember Rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

The Community Linkages Concept Committee (CLCC) chaired by Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname today issued a statement asking the leaders to state their plan for rural Newfoundland and Labrador...

(read the press release and backgrounder)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Revisiting “The Republic”: Snuffy’s Gold

(A little break from all the talk about oil from

The mark of a great marketing campaign is one that so entrenches itself into our society that we assume it into the local vernacular. Such is the case with our colloquial use of the term Ski-Doo to mean anything that rides across the snow, or a Coke is anything that is carbonated. And such is true for the concept of the Republic of Newfoundland; was there ever a time that we did not refer to the republic? As a matter of fact there was…

In 1980 a Texan had made St. John’s his home. Pursuing the love of a local girl he very quickly found his place in Newfoundland and Labrador. The gentleman’s name is David Jackson, but he is known widely as “Snuffy”. Some may remember a man with a Texas accent and cowboy hat who worked at CKIX-FM (KIXX) Country, who hung out and played with local bands like “The Living Room Band” in the downtown pubs. Mr. Jackson describes a fond memory of descending the narrow stairs leading between Duckworth and Water near the Courthouse to find the reclusive little spot for his gig. It was among these narrow side streets in downtown St. John’s that Mr. Jackson opened a small apparel shop to showcase his particular brand of graphics arts style.

From Kerrville, Texas just outside San Antonio he says his connection to Newfoundland and Labrador is very strong. From the time he first landed at the St. John’s airport and was greeted with a sign reading “It’s about time you got your TexAss up here” and was presented with a promised bottle of “Tucker’s Gold Cap” homebrew, presented to him by Wayne Tucker and the boys, he had an instant connection to the people.

The Harbour City General Store was a showcase of love for his adopted home, and it was here the first “Republic of Newfoundland” concept was born. Printed on shirts and caps it quietly became a staple of the youth and artsy set and may have inadvertently spawned a renewed sense of pride of place on this peninsula that reaches for Europe while maintaining the Canadian name. The “Republic of Newfoundland” would bring him both fame and controversy.

The inspiration for his creation came from the stories that sparked his interest as a youth. He became a great student of Texas history…with stories of Davy Crocket and the Alamo. The fact that Texas was for a short time a country – a republic – and was for the years between 1836- 1845. In fact he says Texas was the only country to ever join the United States, "Isn't it ironic that Newfoundland and Labrador almost was to?" When Newfoundland and Labrador became his new home he saw so many comparisons with the province and the history of his home state. With great modesty he says “I’m not a brilliant man, the concept of the Newfoundland Republic came from this recognition of the similarities in the history of Texas with the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Jackson says that the brief history that Texans were a Republic, that was a defining moment for Texas, and that strength and recognition of who they are was what he saw in Newfoundland and Labradorians. The Newfoundland Republic concept just seemed to make perfect sense. “It didn’t take me long to figure out that Newfoundland has always been its own place.” He emphasizes “its own place” with a quiver of pride in his voice. He adds “No matter what’s written on a piece of paper somewhere as to its status – it doesn’t make a difference – the Newfoundland that I saw was, in and of itself, its own entity.”

When he researched the old Newfoundland Tri-Colour it seemed the perfect addition to the Republic graphic... and so the Republic of Newfoundland and accompanying Pink White and Green quietly entered the Newfoundland and Labrador psyche.

Mr. Jackson thinks that it was his unique perspective of seeing Newfoundland and Labrador with fresh eyes that inspires his Newfoundland and Labrador concept art. He also alludes to the fact that because he was American he did not carry any of the preconceived biases about Newfoundland and Labrador that a mainland Canadian might have.

He recalls the reaction to his logo first when it was introduced, “The newspaper headline read Pro-Separatist T-Shirt but they were just trying to sell papers with sensational headlines. I was celebrating basically what I was seeing which was just a wonderful independent, self-reliance that I saw in my Newfoundland and Labrador friends, not separatism.”

“The other thing they got wrong in that article was that the logo was created because of so many requests – there were never any requests – that didn’t happen. It was only after I created the T-Shirt that a certain element seemed to have embraced it and taken it into their own agenda. Whatever that agenda was, I couldn't help, but, my intension, with my heart on my sleeve, was producing a product that explained the Newfoundland spirit; a wonderfully independent spirit. The whole attitude, Newfoundlanders are wonderful, they just take absolutely take my breath away, the whole atmosphere and self-reliance.”

The Harbour City General Store exists now only in the virtual world at where the original Republic of Newfoundland concept has been given new life. About the web store Mr. Jackson exclaims proudly that the Harbour City General Store has the “real deal” with it comes to the Republic of Newfoundland.

Mr. Jackson was quite surprised when a friend from St. John’s told him of the enormous success of the Newfoundland Republic in recent years. “They told me Snuffy by’ you really blew it – you could have been a millionaire by now!” He laughs adding that he was told “that history professors are upset because people are calling the old tri-colour the ‘Republic Flag’!”

“Newfoundland and Labrador has more on the go than even they give themselves credit for. I’m seeing a new generation, the young ones who hear the newfie jokes and they are saying – you know this is Bull Shit... I read an article online the other day which described the word Newfie as Canada’s “N” word [I recall being on the mainland and] the things they were saying there and the things I was experiencing as a non-Canadian on the rock were completely different. Newfoundland and Labrador for Canada is like a family taking in a step child in... and the worst of all is not that they regard Newfoundland and Labrador badly but that they don’t regard it at all!”

When suggested that he is a great ambassador for Newfoundland and Labrador and should be on the provincial payroll he laughs saying “I even wrote a song I call I Miss the Rock. Two of my three kids were born in St. Clares. My son James and my daughter Nichole are genuine Newfoundlanders with a Texas accent, my Newfoundtexlanders! My love affair with Newfoundland and Labrador will never die, and when I look back on it – probably one of my biggest regrets is that [I left].”

He hints that he is not finished with Newfoundland and Labrador and hopes to continue to build on the designs that have given him a place in the history of our province. Reflecting on his feelings for Newfoundland and Labrador he sighs over the phone: “Newfoundland had me from, Whadda-ya-at, b'y - from the moment I got off the airplane and drank that “Tucker’s Gold Cap” homebrew.”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Almost Canadian

...and have-not will be no more - won't that be sweet. The sad irony will be contributing to the equalization payments to the "have-not" Quebec. ...I mean as a part of the federation across the top of the table instead of underneath via Churchill Falls...

Enjoy the moment - ahhhhhh nice!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rage Against The Machine (or Swallowing the Red Pill)

(The following is not a paid endorsement of anything - whatsoever)

Neo was offered a choice between a blue pill and a red pill. The question offered by The Matrix is essentially this: If given the choice between status quo or exploring the true reality of your environment with all of its deception revealed, what would you choose? Status quo is comfortable, reality is the food of cynics. Sometimes I sincerely regret having swallowed the red pill.

I’ve had visions of Newfoundland and Labradorians of all stripes and colours being lead to the Promised Land, the North Atlantic parts as we are packing our salt fish and toutons. The further I dive into these waters though I fully expect to one day drown. This blue funk comes from the realization of the strength and scope of the media machine. Blame it on Ryan Cleary who asked the question as to who pays who to do what? From what motive are bloggers, newspaper journalist, and open line haunters driven? When I suck in the information from these media outlets am I hearing an ad or an opinion? has provided a piece of this puzzle. It appears one brand of coercive hired hand is the Lobbyist. For this particular breed of paid "consultant" there is reasonable disclosure as the feds require that Lobbyist are registered. However - all that the lobbyist registry tells me is that there is an elite brand of political whore that is well paid indeed. The lobbyist registry is a museum of ghosts of politicians past. Those who do not yet have a senate seat, waiting in the lobby. I wonder if that is where "Lobbyist" gets its name?! Old politicians never die they just lose the use of their caucas.

Fair enough, we know who the lobbyists are. Who then are the "communications consultants" and those other breeds of opinions for hire. From what wallet are they paid and are they paid for their open line appearances, blogging, and articles in the newspapers? The piece in The Independent has persisted for weeks and calls into question the credability of the free speakers of the web.

To my knowledge only the author has said she is not paid by any interests she writes about, or discusses on open line. So here is my question: When I read, or and the likes that were listed in The Independent am I reading an opinion, or an advertisement. If an advertisement appearing in my news magazine resembles an article it is disclosed at the top as an "advertising supplement". When I see an infomercial on TV it is prefaced with "The following is a paid broadcast." Not so for alternative media like blogs and open line shows.

Then Ryan Cleary of the Independent himself posts a "story" for Astraeus which appears to have been little more than an ad. The great hope for Independent Journalism bought by an airline? Is there no one who is untainted by the dark spew that is the waste product of the Media Machine? Does anyone even care? What difference does it make if a person is paid for their public opinion? It matters in the same way that trans fats matter in our fried chicken; we don't want to feed ourselves processed news. It's just not healthy.

No wonder it takes so damn long for anything good to happen around here. Our communities are turned into a courthouse - week after week we deal with argument and counter-argument trying to win favour of the elusive public opinion. Most of it BS. The Media Machine produces information fast-food. The Liberals have one, the Conservatives have one, big oil has one, Hydro has one... Shouldn't we know when our information has been produced by an algorithm which determines what information it spews out and when. Shouldn't we know when the machine has chopped up the meaty facts and is feeding us the sausage? Bologna factories run by the powerful and elite.

I have wrench and I'm prepared to use it. Brace yourself for the squeal of grinding gears. I've tried like a bastard to spit that red pill out, but it’s already half digested. God help me.


My Disclosure:
The preceding was not a paid announcement on behalf of anyone. I have had a coffee with writers in the Independent. I have worked through a friend for Siobhan Coady's campaign run, I have sat with the NL First executive and voiced my advice and opinions to Loyola Hearn, Peter McKay, and Peg Norman and others. I am a founding member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League, a multi-partisan, all inclusive group that aims to serve the people of this province including the author of who has publicly criticized the NLDL - but remains a member. I am also a member of the Community Linkages Concept Committee ( in progress), which serves to work for a sustainable rural Newfoundland and Labrador with an emphasis on education, innovation and youth initiatives.

I did all of this without a single copper entering my pocket... and I will continue to do so. Like a damn fool.

UPDATE: Apparently the author of offalnews which was one of those noted in The Independent article has publically made a statement as to his blogging motives and the issue of having a paid opinion. I apologize for to that blogger if I was making an unfounded insinuation. I will venture to find the statement he made and clarify.

His Response is here

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cuba-Sugar (A Little Side Bar for a Monday Morning)

This story is not the usual ramblings from Our Place in Canada but it's an interesting read. This lady is 107, living in poverty in Cuba but has a fortune in Boston. Guess where she was born?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On the Rags - News in Canada

(Let me apologise for the title right off, but I'm feeling up to my nostrils in dung and the weight of the federation is an anvil on my head)

Main stream newspapers, bah! Pressed pulp collections, the poorest use for a tree. Then again with so many bloggers in the arse pocket of some lobby group or political interest who do you trust? Makes me wonder two things. First, to what extent have these political whores discredited the Blogosphere and news rags? Secondly I must be a bit of a fool for not dipping into that purse. Taking the moral high road is both lonely and poor.

Anyway here’s a bit of mainstream tripe for your feeding. The basic jest of this is, with respect to Harper’s Government, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are hostile and irrational, Quebec wallows in petty protectionism, and Albertans are Yosemite Sam incarnate.

Only mother Ottawa is holding this country together. The ideal situation according to this editorial is disagreement and squabbling among the premiers so that we can be rescued once again by Steve and the Harpies. Not sure what sort of “equality” Steve is ready to dish out this time. Pretty much all we have left down here is a damn fine Sunday dinner. Although without the turnip that Steve took at the last go round it’s hardly a complete meal. Maybe we’ll get the turnip back when Steve has squeezed the last bit of blood from them.

From August 8 National Post p.18 Editorial

No fed-bashing – but no deal, either

“There will be plenty of talk about worthwhile initiatives ... and the like, but the real issues are intractable.”

Premiers gather in Moncton today for their annual meeting and they are promising, remarkably enough, not to bash Ottawa. How refreshing.

Specifically, the premiers assembling for the Council of the Federation conference are saying they will stay away from the subject of equalization payments. This is in large part because they’re hopelessly split on it. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan are all still somehow bitter about the new arrangement worked out by Stephen Harper’s federal government, even though the arrangement, greased by extra federal money, has won reasonable levels of support in the other seven provinces and the territories. The two Atlantic grumblers, in particular, come off as merely truculent and unreasonable.

And out-numbered. The three malcontent governments are in three small provinces, and they’ll be unable to stop the equalization express. That’s just as well, because the new deal has lots going for it besides generosity: consistency, predictability and logic.

The fact that the premiers will focus elsewhere this week is, then, a sign of success for Harper. Even the showman Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, who has been chewing the scenery in his denunciations of Harper, has calmed down enough to say “there's a mood ... to move to a higher level and not to be seen as a group of premiers that come together to bash the federal government.”

Without Ottawa as a unanimous target, the premiers might fall to pious generalities, or to squabbling among themselves on the three subjects that dominate their agenda.

Two of the three topics, energy and climate change, are closely related. There will be plenty of talk about worthwhile initiatives about mapping energy resources and the like, but the real issues are intractable: Most provinces favour tougher measures on greenhouse-gas emissions, but Alberta adopts its gunslinger pose as soon as it hears the phrase “carbon tax” or even a reference to emissions trading. Last week, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach gave the back of his hand to a proposal, from Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty, for a national cap-and-trade emissions plan. Global climate change, Alberta seems to be saying, is not our problem.

Oh well, at least Stelmach will go along with the meeting’s cheap symbolism: The premiers will eat local food, their vehicles won’t idle and they’ll drink local water out of reusable bottles.

The third issue is interprovincial trade, and here the prototype is the Alberta British Columbia deal signed last winter, which lowers labour-market barriers and makes it easier for companies to do business across the border the two provinces share.

It’s a disgrace that other provinces – Quebec not least – still wallow so deeply in petty protectionism, imposing barriers and burdens on the growth of prosperity. But they do, and while the federal government has talked a good game on encouraging a true free market within Canada, its jawboning has accomplished little so far.

The meeting will also have its share of street theatre: Nurses from across the country will be picketing to demand more money for health care. Business groups want improved dispute-settlement mechanism under the current Agreement on Internal Trade. Saskatchewan, which grows lots of corn, will be tub-thumping for ethanol. And so on.

The meeting promises to be a treat for the country’s story starved media. We just wish we could believe it will accomplish anything.

Monday, August 06, 2007

MUN II - With a Vengence

The upper echelon of academia at Memorial University is a bastion of self-preservation.

Let me start again, give me a second to get off my high-horse that I got at MUN and rephrase that...

That University Crowd is some big-in-theirself. When the province decides that it is time for MUN to take an internal look at itself the Board of Regents dumps a brick. Why? Not because they think that improving the status of the Grenfell Campus is a bad idea - but that it comes from government and not "The Board". The Board is diametrically opposed to any outside force dropping a suggestion in the box. (The suggestion box itself is up on the top shelf with the cookies and mouse droppings.)

As a struggling student I presented a letter to a board representative so they would except a course credit towards my degree. As an extra incentive I included a letter of reference from a high-ranking government official of which I knew from my summer employment at his provincial department. When I presented the reference letter to the board of regents rep his words to me were: "this is a bad idea, I'm not going to include the reference letter with your application." Seeing the expression of naivety on my face he continued, "The Board of Regents would see a letter from a political figure as government interference and that would be a hindrance to the application." I was shocked, but I did learn a little about the university governance from that conversation.

Consider what would happen if they wanted to grow the University to be representative of this province. If they wished to seriously improve rural relations, to build a university that is responsive to Cartwright as well as St. John's, it would be done. In this era of technology it would not need to break the bank. If these great learned individuals put their heads together, MUN could be the University that this province deserves. A university that has relevance to rural Newfoundland and coastal Labrador, all regions given consideration. Distance education? From experience, teleconference, correspondence courses and the like are sub-par. Preliminary university classroom courses in other parts of the province are not up to snuff. I can also tell you that there are a great number of potential students in other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador off the Avalon who would rather attend a maritime university or go to Ontario instead of traveling to St. John's.

So why can't we speak of improving the University for rural Newfoundland and Labrador? Because it is being represented by people like John Crosbie. Sharp, articulate, head-strong, proud and entirely rooted in the rocky soils of old St. John's. That is not being critical - it is simply the reality of his perspective. He is fully entitled to it and there should never be the suggestion that he is not. But lets hear from rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians!

60,000 MUN alumni, how many of those were not born in St. John's? That's the seldom heard perspective we should be interested in, because it is these people who graduated MUN in spite of itself. Those who made the leap to the halls of academia of the biggest little University in Canada overcoming the obstacles to a higher education in this province.

I can only tell you that the travel costs, the culture loss, rural population loss, the sub-par distance education, classrooms in condemned buildings - all of this is my own experience at MUN. And it's not good enough. I suggest the Board of Regents at MUN take its head out of its collective backside and consider "How can we make this work" instead of throwing up barriers as to why it won't. Can't-do is not an attitude that belongs in academic philosophy.

If they feel so strongly that the Grenfell Concept is wrong for the University, take the reigns. Let's see where we can take higher education in this province. Only a dictatorship is afraid of change.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Globe and Mail - Quote of the Day August 1 2007

Finally something worth repeating from Canadian Largest waste of pulp.

From a story on page A4:

Harper Heads East to Win Back Atlantic Support

From a Senior Atlantic Canadian Conservative:

"In Nova Scotia you can try to stop the bleeding, but the leg is cut off in Newfoundland"

The story references a visit by Steve to PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I guess ol' NL is already written off.

Quick note to the Globe - Harper is not visiting Atlantic Canada - he is visiting the Maritimes. Perfectly acceptable to use this term when Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded.

... and an even quicker note to Harper. If you want more blood from Newfoundland and Labrador, start growing Turnip.