Thursday, March 05, 2009

Truth and Reconciliation

So I've had an idea.

Stop screaming.

This comes out of my little rant I had yesterday about George Baker. Back in 2002, then Premier Roger Grimes announced the "Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada." There are different ways to look at this report. Mostly it's collecting dust these days and is probably viewed as a desperate attempt by Grimes to save the Liberals floundering popularity. Lord knows I mocked it as a complete waste of money at the time. I honestly don't know if anything useful came out of the report.

According to the website, however, it was meant to...
"...consult with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to develop a broad consensus on a vision for the future which will identify ways to achieve prosperity and self-reliance."
But here's the thing, there's some merit to something like what Grimes was trying to achieve, but I think he just went about it wrong. I'm thinking it should be something more along the lines of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

What I propose is this. For one solid year, a commission travels around Newfoundland and Labrador and holds public meetings. And the commissioners have to sit there and listen to it all. Every conspiracy theory, every rant about how Canada screwed us, every slight - no matter how small or based in reality - will be listened to with patience and empathy. No one will be cut off from the mike.

We'll bring people down from Ottawa and the rest of Canada and they can bitch and vent about everything that drives them nuts about our fair province. Our whining. Our constant demands for more money. Our lack of gratitude. All of it.

One solid year of this. No kidding.

And then If it happened before March 31, 2009, you can't bitch about it again. Ever. We all gather at the end of one year and burn every second of tape as a symbolic gesture that we're getting on with our lives.

You've had your emotional purge. Now it's time to grow up and get on with things. No more screaming at slights or throwing temper tantrums. No more Newfoundland Independence foolishness. If a politicians starts wagging his finger at Ottawa and blaming them for things going wrong, you're compelled by law to jump up and scream "I call bullshit on you." Then you can legally drag them behind a shed and smack him or or her with something. Dear God, it all has to end at some point, doesn't it?

Oh, and in return the rest of Canada promises to give up the Newfie jokes.

Newfoundland and Labrador has been part of Canada for 60 years as of March 31. It's been a long and occasionally very rocky adolescence, but every province has to grow up at some point. Sixty is as good an age as any. And honestly, I am so fucking beyond tired of blaming Ottawa for everything. It's what sooky 14-year-olds do with their parents.

So purge and move on. What do you say?

Last Five
1. Meet me by the river's edge - The Gaslight Anthem
2. Hello highway - Matt Mays
3. Party girl (live) - U2*
4. She loves you - The Beatles
5. Englishman in New York - Sting


Simon said...


Craig Westcott said...

Well put.

Greg said...

Great post Craig and it would be a great solution if it indeed made everyone play nice. But in reality Canada is a big country with diverse populations.

Fact is this is a country of competing interests (both economic and social) and COMPLETELY different social values and ethics. ...and its getting more polarized. You only have to listen to Alberta conservatives to know that.

Sorry, but the Liberal, centralized government representing all Canadians as equals, vision of canada is a delusion. ...sorry, Simon :^)

I've lived and/or worked in every province now and there is more than a French-English divide in Canada. East-west. Rich-poor, Urban-rural and social values and morals are what seperate "Canadians".

So, don't lump all Newfoundland nationalists in the same political basket weaving class. Like all political opportunists, there are those who "fly the flag" to suit their poltical or economic interests hoping to gain a populist army of followers in the masses. But there are nationalists who would not carry the flag up the hill for them but still believe that Newfoundlanders have a right to independence if they so choose. If for no other reason than they have NOTHING in common with Canadians and believe that they are discriminated against or not being treated as equals. ...the same reasons the Slovaks left the Czechs.

Simon is a smart guy and I respect and value his informed opinions. It doesn't mean some one who doesn't share Simon's opinion of Canada is wrong.

I find the "nationalist" position no less laughable than the RAH-RAH Canada is Wonderful speechs from the opposite benches.

Unfortunetly, a serious nationalist discussion is always trampled by the stampeded of "Wingnuts" with access to the media to give it the trappings of a circus in the asylum.

It's all bull. No country deserves to exist and countries come and go in the normal order of world politics. ...sometimes for the better. I've seen that too.

...anyway, sorry to clog your blog with political crap. Just bad timing.


Anonymous said...

The Canadian political system is in dire need of a "extreme makeover". We need an effective elected and equal senate like in the USA. Senators are free to vote against their party. There are always swing votes available and accessible through compromise and negotiation that benefits that particular senators state. Wow I think we could all use something like that where the population centers of Ontario and Quebec do not run policy down the throats of the rest of the country.

NLers will never vote to leave Canada for a variety of reasons. One is that they are proud Newfoundlanders and Canadians. But more importantly is that it will affect their economic security. Giving up Pogie, CPP and Universal Health Care is not on for any NLer. And I think any NL nationalist will admit that getting over that steep hill is next to impossible.

Ron said...

So because you don't like being laughed at by Canadians, everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador should limit their right to Free Speech? This is a subtle strategy worthy of The Chinese COmmunist Party's Tibet Bureau.

I don't understand this. If what you said in your previous posting is true, Newfoundland separatism becomes less viable every second Newfoundland is part of Canada. What are you worried about? The independence movement has no political traction and only pops up periodically on the fringes. And surely, as you pointed out, the best way to keep it in the poltical doghouse is to have wingnuts like Baker advocating for it - why kick him out of the Senate when his forum only helps to strengthen your position?

A truth and reconciliation Commission would only legitimate the people whose voices you want to silence. You don't have a problem with Separatism - you have a problem with people talking/advocating for it. The best way to shut those people up is not to listen to them.

towniebastard said...

Well, let's be clear on a couple of things...the Commission idea was meant as a joke. Much in the same way as the next post, due in a couple of hours is. I say that because some people aren't going to hit the point.

If it's dying, why would I want a commission? Because I still think it will takes decades to finally kill it off. It's going to take years and a wave of immmigration to finally do it in. And frankly, I'm tired of listening to it now. If I honestly thought such a commission would do good, I'd be all for it. But I've learned to never underestimate a Newfoundlanders need to bitch and whine about the past and slights.

I'm under no illusions that Canada is the greatest thing ever, but dear God it's better by a mile than any of the other options out there.

More than anything else, I really want people to stop complaining about slights, perceived or real, and just start working hard at making the place better.

One of my favourite quotes is, "The one constant in all your failed relationships is you." That NL is gifted with so much and has managed to achieve little despite it all, well, I think I've just reached the point of stopping to blame outsiders for why we don't have more and I'm more willing to wonder why we keep screwing it up.

I just want people to take the energy they spend blaming others and put it towards something constructive. Is that so much to ask?

Winston Smith said...

"The one constant in all your failed relationships is you."

Great quotation and post.

Problem is, even if someone on the Eighth Floor read it, would they understand it?

Coady Bustin said...

Amazing post, although I quite prefer the nuclear idea. Just seems tidier.

As for the claim that NL is so radically different to warrant splitting off, you haven't spent a lot of time in small town Nova Scotia, have you? Replace the dark rum with a white variety, the squeeze-box for a fiddle, and the Irish for the Scottish, and you've got a pretty good transliteration. Nova Scotia was also home to the country's first separatist movement- courtesy Joseph Howe.

What's lost in all of this is the cackling coming from the eighth floor. This Us v. Them mentality makes for some easy pickins come election time, and also makes people forget it's, y'know, blatant mismanagement that's leading the public purse to trouble, not Ottawa. Alas.