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Posts Tagged ‘federal politics’

Contemplating ocean


This is Miss F. at the Signal Hill National Historic Site in St. John’s.

I look at this photograph as I read, in complete disbelief, this story on the privately proposed monument to… well… I don’t know what in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. How is this even remotely possible is beyond me. I cannot imagine anything more un-Canadian than this monstrosity.

Lesson for mainlanders*

Every mainlander, sooner or later, learns one important lesson: Do NOT mess with the islanders. Oh, the islanders are perfectly happy to have their squabbles that stretch for generations. Those things are a form of entertainment just as much as real disputes. But, if you decide to go against the island, then all those squabbles are forgotten in a blink of an eye and you will be facing a fury you can’t even imagine.

Stephen Harper is about to start learning that lesson. If you wanted to poke Newfoundlanders in the eye, closing a marine search and rescue dispatch centre is an excellent way to do it. Search and rescue in Newfoundland is not just a nice service the government provides, this is personal on a level that most of us who don’t have family members on the water can’t understand. How personal? Here is what one of the speakers at the yesterday’s gathering on the St. John’s waterfront said:

“When you make that call at four o’clock in the morning, you want to call home. When your boat is burning, you want somebody in Newfoundland to pick up that phone.”

The scheduled closure of the centre produced such a strong reaction because somebody in Ottawa who has never paced a hallway waiting for their loved one’s boat to come in before the storm hits has put a price on a Newfoundland life.“I am here because I believe it’s more important to save lives than to save money. I just wish our Prime Minister felt the same,” was another line often repeated yesterday.

I don’t know if the service is going to be compromised if the operation is moved to Halifax. May be it will and may be it won’t. What I do know is that this is much, much more complex and visceral than a mainlander can comprehend. If that center is moved and a person dies, you will be seeing a lot more of those pink-white-and-green flags.

I don’t know how all this is going to pan out, but I suspect it’s going to be a long time before you see a Conservative MP elected in Newfoundland.

*UPDATE: I received an e-mail pointing out that this is not between mainlanders and Newfoundlanders, but between people and the federal government. And that calling somebody a mainlander can be offensive. Fair enough. As a mainlander who is not even from this land, my point is that if you don’t live by the sea and off the sea, you can’t know what that feels like. I don’t pretend I do, but, occasionally, I get a glimpse of it. I should have been more nuanced, but come to think of it now, it’ll be fun to write a post on all this identity stuff…

Croatian word of the day: zastava flag