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Newfoundland - A Vast and Scenic Welfare Ghetto

Discussion in 'Politics (deprecated)' started by Prickly Pete, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. Prickly Pete

    Prickly Pete TRIBE Member

    I don't if this has been posted anywhere (I did do a quick search and came up with nothing) but I will post again. I rarely get angry but this article is written by some tit of an outsider who has never lived it. And while I may not agree with everything Danny Williams stands for or the non sense that some times spews from his mouth, this article is way too extreme.

    Oh Danny Boy, pipe down

    Thursday, January 6, 2005 - Page A19

    Margaret Wente

    In Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams can do no wrong. These
    days, he's more popular than God. Following his lead, the people of
    the Rock have banished the Maple Leaf from their dominion. Angry
    citizens are flooding open-line shows and threatening that, unless
    they get what's owed to them by Canada, Newfoundland should go it

    My grandpa had a saying for moments like this. He would have said,
    "Here's your hat, what's your hurry?"

    I like Newfoundlanders. I really do. But their sense of victimhood is
    unmatched. And their flag protest isn't winning them much sympathy on
    this side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In fact, the sensation on this
    side is of a deep and painful bite to the hand that feeds. Mr.
    Williams reminds me of a deadbeat brother-in-law who's hit you up for
    money a few times too often. He's been sleeping on your couch for
    years, and now he's got the nerve to complain that it's too lumpy.

    The ins and outs of the current squabble between Newfoundland and
    Ottawa would baffle any normal human being. Technically, the fight is
    over the esoteric details of equalization payments and offshore
    revenues. But according to Mr. Williams, it's really about treachery,
    deceit and betrayal.

    Peter Fenwick has a different view. Mr. Fenwick, a long-time
    Newfoundland political commentator, says it's about having your cake
    and eating it, too. "He's going to end up with a cake and a half," he
    says. "And he's got 95 per cent of the province behind him."

    Over the years, those of us not blessed to be born on the Rock have
    sent countless cakes its way in the form of equalization payments,
    pogey, and various hare-brained make-work schemes. (Who can ever
    forget the hydroponic cucumber farm?) In return, the surly islanders
    have blamed us for everything from the disappearance of the cod stocks
    to the destruction of the family unit, because if people had to work
    more than 10 weeks before they could collect EI, they might have to
    move away.

    This hallowed policy of siphoning money from the haves to the
    have-nots, so that everyone can be equal, has turned Canada into a
    permanently aggrieved nation, in which every region of the country is
    convinced that it's being brutally ripped off by every other region.
    No one is better at this blame game than the Newfs, egged on by
    generations of politicians. The only way to get elected there is to
    pledge to stop the terrible atrocities of Ottawa (i.e., not sending
    enough money). If you should make the error of suggesting that people
    might have to become more self-sufficient, your political career is
    dead. Politicians like to get elected, which is why things never

    Newfoundland's population has dwindled to something less than that of
    Scarborough, Ont. Because of stupendous political malfeasance, it is
    at least $11-billion in debt. But it still has seven federal seats.
    And so we send more money so that people can stay in the scenic
    villages where they were born, even though the fish are gone and
    there's no more work and never will be, unless they can steal some
    telemarketing from Bangalore. Rural Newfoundland (along with our great
    land north of 60) is probably the most vast and scenic welfare ghetto
    in the world.

    But who can blame people for wanting to stay put? Not me. No one will
    ever gobble down a plate of cod tongues and pen an ode to Scarborough.
    Scarborough is not romantic. It is filled with ugly high-rise towers
    of immigrants scrambling to gain a foothold in a new land far from
    home. The difference is that, when they do it, we congratulate them
    and call it enterprise. No one will ever buy a scenic picture postcard
    of a strip mall. But Scarborough supports itself, and Newfoundland
    does not, and I wish Danny Williams would explain why it's a good idea
    to keep picking the pockets of Chinese dry cleaners and Korean
    variety-store owners who work 90 hours a week in order to keep
    subsidizing the people who live in Carbonear, no matter how quaint and
    picturesque they are.

    I like Newfoundlanders, I really do. Where would we be without Rex
    Murphy and Mary Walsh and Rick Mercer? On the other hand, they left.

    As for you other people of the Rock, maybe we can strike a deal. You
    can keep all the oil and gas revenues. And you can pay us back all the
    money we've sent you since you joined Confederation. Fair enough?

    I thought not.

  2. Prickly Pete

    Prickly Pete TRIBE Member

    I guess this should have been put in the politcs forum... ooops...
  3. LivingRoomPornstar

    LivingRoomPornstar TRIBE Member


    We're talking about the livelihood of a generation here. A way to preserve one of the most colourful cultures in Canada. A society and workforce tightly wrapped around the fisheries, with little or no other resources to help sustain themselves. Newfoundland's provincial debt will obviously not be paid overnight, but if enough infrastructure can be built there to sustain them as a province, they'll be in much better shape to start paying those equalization payments back.

  4. Adam

    Adam TRIBE Member

    Danny Williams wrote an editorial response to that column in today's Globe, but it's subscription only online.
  5. deevah

    deevah TRIBE Member

    In Newfoundland, it's now two creams, two sugars


    Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, stepping up his campaign to bring the federal government to its knees, has banned provincial employees from using typically Canadian words, including "moose," "hoser," "beaver," "double-double," and "eh."

    Premier Williams said yesterday that removing Canadian flags from provincial buildings would probably eventually make Ottawa reconsider its decision not to let the province keep all its offshore oil revenues immediately, but the time had come to turn the screws a little tighter.

    "I have compiled a list of typically Canadian things and phrases, and faxed it immediately to all provincial offices," he said. "From now on, you won't be hearing that kind of talk."

    It's quite common in the offices of various provincial ministries, Premier Williams noted, particularly around the noon hour, to hear employees say something along the lines of, "I'm so hungry, I could eat a moose."

    "Well, I'm putting a stop to that as of now," said Premier Williams. "I think employees should be specific when saying what they want to eat. If you're hungry enough to eat a sandwich, then that's what you should say. As for Canadian colloquialisms, we're urging our workers to adopt new ones, perhaps from other countries. Things like, `I say, old chap, how about a spot of tea' or `Let's rassle up some vittles, pardner.' "

    Not all employees were thrilled with the premier's new policy, but said they'd be willing to give it a try. Said one woman working in the provincial licence bureau, "It seems kind of dumb, eh? Oh crap, now I'm probably going to be fired. Could I keep my job if I asked for a coffee with two creams and two sugars?"

    The premier is also urging provincial residents to stop watching CBC all the time, although this is not expected to drastically change many people's habits.

    Some of the premier's suggestions have disappeared almost as quickly as he's made them. An email that went out to all provincial employees last week, ordering them to remove any Canadian paper currency from their wallets and set fire to it, was met with some resistance. Even the premier himself, asked by a newspaper photographer to pull out one of his own 20s and set it ablaze for the cameras, passed. "I have to pick up some bread and milk and stuff on the way home," he said.

    On a more informal basis, the premier is urging people to say bad things about Prime Minister Paul Martin behind his back, as well as spread nasty rumours. Suggested comments include:

    "Don't you just HATE him?"

    "I'm having a sleepover, and I'm inviting everybody except Paul Martin."

    "Like, NOBODY hangs around his locker any more."

    Ottawa's reaction to these latest, extreme measures from the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador has so far been guarded.

    Said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister, "If someone's having a sleepover and not inviting Mr. Martin, he doesn't even care, because he wouldn't go even if he was invited, so there."

    Not long after that, the Prime Minister's Office issued a further statement: "Mr. Martin is having his OWN sleepover, and he'll be inviting his favourite hoser friends, plus a moose and a beaver, but definitely not Danny Williams."

    Premier Williams is ready with even more tactics, some of which are not aimed specifically at the Prime Minister or things Canadian, but could prove very effective. If Ottawa hasn't come up with a better offer by next week, the premier will be ordering all provincial employees to hold their breath until they turn blue.

    He told reporters, "That will likely be combined with dropping to the floor, stomping your feet and shaking your fists. But we're hoping it won't come to that."

    from the Star
  6. Ditto Much

    Ditto Much TRIBE Member

    But it really is one big welfare state. The entire damn east coast moves at half the speed of Quebec.
  7. Jeffsus

    Jeffsus TRIBE Member

    "Never lived it"?

    What the fuck does that mean?

    Underneath the dry sarcasm, he has a very valid point.

    THe nerve of that premier. You can only get away with that if you're french, and even then ONLY if you contribute to Canada's GDP. Newfoundland does neither. Though Labrodor does huff a mean unleaded.

  8. Ditto Much

    Ditto Much TRIBE Member

    That is fucking brilliant!!!
  9. Rude1_247

    Rude1_247 TRIBE Member

    Bring back the cucumbers!!! Smallwood knew what he was doing!!!
  10. L'ilMisSunshine

    L'ilMisSunshine TRIBE Member

    Yeah Margaret Wente can be a right wanker.
  11. Boss Hog

    Boss Hog TRIBE Member

    It's tricky.

    I have mixed feelings about Williams. Newfoundlanders champion him because he's an independently wealthy business man who claims merit over the province because he isn't working for the money (he already has that with his business) but that he's doing it for the province and the people. A lot of people follow him for that reason.

    The current climate in Newfoundland is getting a bit chillier - everything from teens in shirts reading "Republic of Newfoundland" to kitchen talk of "how Newfoundland got the shaft and how it's about time they had their day."

    I think they've got half a point. Newfoundlanders, on one hand, seem to have grandiose ideas of separating and becoming an instantly rich nation overnight, once they can retain profits from all of their resources. There's talk of new mines, and off shore drilling. Yeah, the fish are gone, and that's what they're partly angry about.

    Some Newfoundlanders believe that they were ripped off big time by Joey Smallwood, who a lot of people believe sold them up the creek and forced Newfoundland into confederation despite a popular movement against it at the time. But they're also forgetting England had no love for Newfoundland, and treated it as a burden. A lot of people still spit on Smallwood's name for it. They say that had they managed their own assets in the past 50 years that they would be a much richer nation today, but instead, they were milked and bilked for all their resources - all of Canada benefited from the wealth that was Newfoundland and now that the well is dry, they're left with hard conditions and are being slighted by the feds.

    Maybe that's true. I'm not familiar enough with the historical economics of Newfoundland to argue differently. But the flip side to that argument, of course, as most Canadians (and I'm looking at YOU, Ontarians) blame NL for mooching off the rest of the country in UI in the past generation. This too is a sticky area.

    The current EI system in NL was set up to benefit fisherman and other people who work seasonally. (You might think that era is dead, but there is still snow crab, seal, and other smaller scale things going on). That's why you have the short working term requirements for EI. The problem now is that you have a generation of Newfoundlanders who have grown up watching how their parents have manipulated the Canadian government to maximize their own income - to get what they feel entitled to - how many weeks have to be worked as a bare minimum to collect, etc. Not all are cheaters - but I have personally seen a lot who are. Women who are listed as employed by their husband's fishing company, work two days, then collect UI. People who are too lazy to work and drag their ass around, looking for any reason to get out of it so they can collect unemployment. In a rural NL community, my gf's father is a successful restaurant/bar business man who spoils his employees and kisses their asses just so they won't quit on him. They cannot find people to work although there are many able-bodied people around.

    They've learned how to play the system.

    Newfoundland is definitely in bad need of reform. If they really think they are just going to tear away from Canada now they had better think twice. They don't have the resources that they think they have, and off-shore mining is most certainly finite and short term. There's a lot of anger out there right now, but they are better saving their hot air and figure out a way to get the fat asses of a lot of Newfoundlanders in gear for the sake of their economy if they want to play like that. If you ask me, right now, Danny Williams is dreaming. He needs to spend a little less time spitting fire at Ottawa and a little more time motivating his own province.

    Newfoundlanders are talking the talk, but it will be interesting to see if they'll walk the walk. I don't think it would be a bad thing for them, but on the other hand, I don't want them to leave Canada. That's why I have mixed feelings.

    Either way, things need a serious shake-up. I say let them have their profits, but something should be worked out on a federal level as far as reform in the UI system.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
  12. chooch

    chooch TRIBE Member

    *shakes fist*

    "Upper Canadian" attitude!
  13. Persephone

    Persephone TRIBE Member

    Interesting post Mr. Hog...

    Its good to have perspective like that.

    And, since I have ver little knowledge on the situation, I will leave it at that.
  14. ~atp~

    ~atp~ TRIBE Member

    Wente is a clown. The only way she makes a name for herself is through the vilification of others, including the propagation of fucked up stereotypes like the one in the article.

    She does these things intentionally to generate discussion but at the expense of stereotypes and other prejudices.
  15. Boss Hog

    Boss Hog TRIBE Member

    I'll hazard a guess that you're really just repeating everything you've heard an haven't actually seen how things really are out there.
  16. ~atp~

    ~atp~ TRIBE Member

    ^^^ No I'm sure Ditto Much, in addition to being a cyber-tycoon, is a fisherman.
  17. graham

    graham Well-Known TRIBEr

    What's good for the Goose is good for the Gander.
  18. madnezz

    madnezz TRIBE Member

    I think you nailed it right there. Good post!

    I for one liked Wente's article. I think she represents the view of most of the rest of Canada and although she's being a little insensitive to the Newfs, they are definetly biting the hand that feeds them....
  19. Jeffsus

    Jeffsus TRIBE Member

    I've met lots of hard working people from the east coast.

    They all live here now.

  20. madnezz

    madnezz TRIBE Member

  21. Boss Hog

    Boss Hog TRIBE Member

    Except the ones that are still there, right? ;)
  22. LivingRoomPornstar

    LivingRoomPornstar TRIBE Member

    This could all be a political tool to gain enough favour to really get things done.

    This is a pretty optimistic point of view though.

    I hope he's able to position change in the context of the provincial pride he's encouraged.

  23. wayne kenoff

    wayne kenoff TRIBE Member

    Newfoundland has stolen Quebec's playbook. Retournez immediatement!
  24. Prickly Pete

    Prickly Pete TRIBE Member

    Friday, January 7, 2005 - Page A15

    It is with a heavy heart that I write in response to yesterday's
    commentary by Margaret Wente, "Oh Danny Boy, pipe down." As Premier of
    the great and proud province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I found Ms.
    Wente's column to be more than insulting. I found it very, very sad.

    If people around the country wonder why we removed the Canadian flag
    to protest against the treatment of our province by the federal
    government, I suggest they look no further than Ms. Wente's column.
    Her comments perfectly demonstrate why Newfoundlanders and
    Labradorians have to take such firm action to get the attention of the
    people of this country. Her paternalistic and condescending attitude
    serves only to further ignite the passion of our people at home and

    While Ms. Wente goes on at length to speak of federal moneys flowing
    to our "vast and scenic welfare ghetto," she fails to mention the
    resources -- human, cultural and, no less important, vast natural
    resources -- that our province brought with us to this federation,
    such as our fishery, our forests, our farms, our clean hydroelectric
    resources, our iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt, gold and other
    minerals, and our oil and gas.

    Yes, Newfoundland and Labrador has benefited as a partner in
    Confederation, as has each and every other province and territory.
    That is what Confederation is about, after all. But make no mistake:
    This country has reaped untold billions from our natural and human
    resources as well. Ms. Wente may be tired of hearing us complain about
    how the federal government mismanaged our fishery; being sick of
    hearing about it, however, does not make the reality go away. Canada
    permitted foreign overfishing off our coast to continue, to our
    detriment, in order to secure trade agreements that benefited other
    regions of our country. Great for the rest of Canada, but certainly
    not great for the tens of thousands of fisheries-dependent
    Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who left our province -- their homes
    -- to live and financially contribute to the economies of other

    As you read through Ms. Wente's column, it also becomes very clear
    that she is completely uninformed on our province's position. She
    says, "If you should make the error of suggesting that people might
    have to become more self-sufficient, your political career is dead." I
    only wish that Ms. Wente had been paying greater attention to what I
    have been saying for the past six months. Our government's primary
    goal in pushing the federal government to implement Prime Minister
    Paul Martin's commitment of June 5 (100 per cent of our provincial
    offshore revenues) is to provide our province with the necessary tools
    to finally become self-sufficient: a strong, contributing partner to
    the federation.

    That is what this is all about, Ms. Wente. It is about the province of
    Newfoundland and Labrador finally achieving our true potential -- the
    potential that comes from having some of the most precious, bountiful
    natural resources in the world. We are not asking for the federal
    government's share of these resources -- a share that accounts for
    more than 50 per cent of total government revenues. We are asking only
    for our provincial share. We are asking only for a chance. A chance we

    Ms. Wente wants us to stop complaining. Maybe we will stop complaining
    about being a victim when those who share her opinions recognize and
    address the historic pattern of abuse and mistreatment we have
    suffered. We are a proud people. Proud of our "quaint and picturesque"
    communities. Proud of our resilience in difficult times. Proud of our
    giving and kind-spirited disposition that comes so naturally. And we
    are proud to support other provinces and territories that benefit from
    the largesse of the federal government. But we are not too proud to
    demand from the same federal government that they fulfill the clear
    and unequivocal commitment of the Prime Minister.

    When Ms. Wente faults Canada's "hallowed policy of siphoning money
    from the haves to the have-nots, so that everyone can be equal," she
    forgets Section 36 of the Constitution, which obligates Canada to
    promote equal opportunity for all Canadians in all regions. Throughout
    Canada and the world, the Maple Leaf symbolizes fairness, justice,
    compassion and co-operation in the quest for equality of opportunity
    for all people. Our province removed the Maple Leaf, not to reject
    those values, but to draw attention to the fact that the Martin
    government's broken commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador frustrates
    those values. While it is true that we have only seven seats in the
    House of Commons and barely more than half a million residents, we are
    an equal partner in Confederation, and we have a small window of
    opportunity to turn our bountiful petroleum resources into long-term
    opportunities for our people and our province to stand on our feet. We
    do not deserve to be accused of wanting the fine people of
    Scarborough, Ont., to subsidize us, or being compared to "deadbeats."

    We are equal partners of a great country that accepts and supports our
    province's aspirations to achieve equality of opportunity and
    self-reliance. You should be ashamed of your comments.

    Danny Williams is Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
  25. Boo

    Boo TRIBE Member

    This should definately be in the politics forumn, Boss Hogg posted a lengthy reply for Chrissake!

    But that article is garbage, pure and simple.

    That being said, new figures released today say unemployment in Canada is at an all time low. Yet its over 16% in Newfoundland! I read a rather lengthy report by the OECD on Canada's economy and one of the main criticisms was the unequal distribution of EI payments. I lose my job in Ontario and can't claim unemployment unless I've been working for like 6 months. Its about half that for newoundland. Then if I don't find a job in 16 weeks, I'm cut off, where I could last for 35 weeks or more over there. These figures aren't exact, but it has built up a reliance on EI payments to supplement income.

    On the flip side. I think EVERYONE has the right to live in the places they grew up, and have the expectation to find a decent job. Rather than subsidize the fisherman so heavily, maybe they could have looked into promoting other industries. Telling people to move to TO if they want to find a job is a crock of shit.

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