Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nov. 7th, Telegram letter to the editor

Making this a better place

I applaud Ryan Cleary’s letter in the Oct. 31 Weekend Telegram (“Time to act, not talk”) touting teamwork as the key to forging a future for rural Newfoundland: it was eerily reflective of the premier’s front-page interview.
It’s a prime example on how we all could, and should, put partisan politics and prejudices aside to perpetuate the one commonality that binds us — passion for the promise of this place.
The power of that unified front is visible with the government’s prioritizing the H1N1 vaccination roll-outs this week, in light of the international crisis for Newfoundland and Labrador with changes proposed to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) convention, and the national crisis with Quebec and the Lower Churchill quagmire.
The people of this place must come first and we personified that this week. Thus, there is hope for the future.

Rise to the occasion
Having said that, like the tide, we need to rise to the swell of occasion as well, one people, on passion, one goal for all — the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador for our children.
NAFO’s decisions are fatalistically reminiscent of the past and foreshadow the manifesto of Frederick C. Alderdice to the electors of Newfoundland dated May/June 1932: “(T)here are many whom assume it is no longer possible to make it — the fishery — a paying proposition, or that it holds any attraction for our industrious young people.”
The industrious young people from rural Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular the Southern Shore (with whom I am privileged to associate with on a daily basis) would love nothing more than federal support of their international drive to revive their fishery and our future.
Never forget the power of the people — the British Navy certainly won’t after it was faced with the passion of the Icelandic fishermen and women who held them off in dories to protect and preserve their fishing rights.
The national crisis now with Quebec and the Lower Churchill also stirs the soul of Maj. Peter Cashin, on May 19, 1947 thundered, or rather prophesied “there is in operation at the present time a conspiracy to sell, and I use the word sell advisedly, this country to the Dominion of Canada.”
It is Halloween as I write this, the spirits are stirred, Major Peter and the premier are in many ways interlocked in a ghostly grouping of past perils.

Peas on a pod?
There are some scary similarities between the two men, one past, one present and future. Both were passionate about their love and believe in this place; both “thundered” their passion publicly; both were oft criticized for their delivery and demonstrativeness in their desire for action for and from the people, both were on the shorter side (sorry Sirs, but it is another similarity!), both found the journey to the future exhaustive, both demanded we rise to the occasion as one unified voice.
Hopefully here the similarities will end.
For the people of New Brunswick I do hope they hear Major Peter’s words and their brotherly echoes from our premier, when Cashin warned our people to be wary of “flowery sales talks which will be offered you, telling Newfoundlanders (or New Brunswickers!) that they are a lost people, that our only hope, our only salvation lies in following a new Moses into the promised land across the Cabot Strait.”
Quebec’s sales pitches to the people of New Brunswick are beginning to seem like dejay vu. Hopefully, New Brunswickers will heed our history and hold out for their future. If not, they will be welcome to swim over, or under, our Promised Land. We will develop the Lower Churchill on our terms.

Colleen Fox Gehue
St. John’s

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