I gave the following speech on Saturday, May 17th, during the NL NDP convention at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s.
Good morning Newfoundland and Labrador, all the ships at sea, and to the big orange elephant in the room.
The future of New Democrats in Newfoundland and Labrador rests right here.
Before I get there, I have to comment on you poor, sorry lot — fish-belly white and haven’t seen the sun since, what, October?
And now, giving up your glorious, glorious May 24th weekend to spend in Sin John’s, at the Holiday Inn, listening to me — me — when you could be trouting or in a gravel pit.
But I guess you could say the sun is shining on New Democrats.
So here we are, with much work in front of us — resolutions to debate, constitutions to amend, a leadership question to deal with.
And I want you to know — right off the bat, from the start, that I wouldn’t touch the leadership question with a 10-foot pole.
Make no mistake, this is a tough speaking gig.
In thinking about what to say, I asked myself this — what would Tommy Douglas have to say about our current state of New Democratic affairs in Newfoundland and Labrador?
What would Jack Layton say?
What would Thomas Mulcair say?
Let’s start with Tommy Douglas: what would he say?
“Courage my friends, tis not too late to build a better world.”
And that’s what we do as New Democrats — we’re building a better Newfoundland and Labrador, slowly, but surely.
On a lighter note, everyone knows that Tommy Douglas was a preacher and son of a farmer from Saskatchewan.
Few people realize that he had a farmer’s sense of humour.
Because he ALSO said Canada is like a cow. The West feeds it, Ontario and Quebec milk it, and you can well imagine what it’s doing to Atlantic Canada.
Which brings up Conservative Senator Fabian Manning.
He said that the feds used to think that Canada ends in Halifax. Now he believes that the federal Cons think that Canada ends at Quebec.
Regardless, according to Manning, the arse is truly out of her.
Maybe the best thing that Fabian Manning could do to send a message to the feds, a wake-up call to the feds, is resign.
Moving on, what would Jack Layton have to say about the state of New Democratic affairs here in Newfoundland and Labrador?
I know what you must all be thinking, this quote:
“Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
But I think a more fitting Jack Layton quote would be this:
“That we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”
Because it can be done.
By working together we can reverse New Democratic fortunes.
Because it can be done.
We can invigorate, we can energize, we can renew the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
We can rebuild, it can be done.
And it starts now — at this convention.
Go HABS go.
Sorry, got carried away.
Finally, what would Thomas Mulcair say about our current state of New Democratic affairs in Newfoundland and Labrador?
He could say I WAS a Liberal, but I got out of it. What are these people going THERE for?
They won’t find anything except Big Mac controversies and $500 a plate UNhappy meals.
The party of Ronald McDonald is not fighting for you, or Temporary Foreign Workers for you that matter.
I work with Tom Mulcair everyday.
He’s a smart man, a great debater, a pit bull in the Commons.
He’s been taking Harper apart piece by piece, day in day out.
Tom is also a practical man, and I think he would say this — keep holding their feet to the fire.
That’s what we do, we hold Liberal, Conservative and Progressive feet to the fire.
There’s vicious rumour out there that there’s a red tide rising that will sweep across the land and engulf the orange wave.
Have you heard that rumour?
But I say this: if we vote out these Conservative black cats, these Coleman cats, and replace them with these Liberal Dwight cats, we won’t have gone anywhere.
Liberal Tory same old story shockin’ story.
We can’t let that happen.
They have no vision.
The Tory Premier-in-waiting is under Auditor General investigation — before he’s even elected.
And Dwight Ball and crew are not inspiring, they’re not passionate.
When Newfoundlanders and Labradorians look at the Liberals they don’t see hope, they don’t see vision, they don’t see a plan, they don’t see a future.
They see status quo — same old same old.
But when they look at New Democrats they see Gerry Rogers, fighting for them and their families.
They see George Murphy as their consumer advocate, their consumer watchdog.
They see Lorraine Michael as a champion of policies like home care, early childhood education, and a champion of seniors.
When they see Lorraine Michel the think of one word — respect.
They see us — New Democrats — as a hold fast, keeping the bow of the ship of state directed into the wind.
Some people also see us as on the rocks.
And, unfortunately, many of these people are here — inside our party, inside this room.
They’ve lost faith, they think it CAN’T be done.
They’ve lost the vision, they’re living in a fog, for them there is no hope.
I would say now is the time for renewal.
Now is the time for New Democrats to unite, to come together.
Together we rise up and create the better world, the better Newfoundland and Labrador that we know it can be.
Jack Harris and I have been steady at the wheel.
We’ve tackled head on the LIFO monster.
The Liberal and Tory policy of last-in, first-out that favours big business shrimp licence holders over the traditional inshore fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador.
We’ve stood up for the more than 1,000 missing and murdered aboriginal women across this country — including Loretta Saunders of Labrador.
We’ve challenged the Harper Cons over environmental liability in the offshore, over patronage at ACOA.
Jack and I have defended postal workers and Canada’s treasured postal service.
We’ve stood on guard for veterans who stood on guard for us.
We’ve battled for improved search and rescue so that there are no more tragedies like Burton Winters of Mokkovik …
We’ve fought tooth and nail over Harper’s changes to the Elections Act — making it more difficult for ordinary Canadians like you and me to vote.
As Members of Parliament Jack and I stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador at every opportunity — every opportunity.
The future of Newfoundland and Labrador New Democrats rests right here my friends, I said that to start this address.
The decisions that we make will bring us into the elections — federal and provincial — of 2015.
The decisions will poise us for the future.
We have a lot of work to do, a hell of a lot of work to do, and little time to prepare.
But we start now.
We start right now.
And we move forward together.