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Wednesday 11 May 2011

Whatever Happened to The Fighting Newfoundland Spirit?

Every window of the Colonial Building is glassless: the Prime Minister practically a refugee, the law of enforcement of the city turned over to the authority of ex-service men, as the result of discord which marked the culmination of weeks of protest and dissatisfaction with maladministration of the government. A huge demonstration of citizens in peaceful and law abiding protest yesterday afternoon witnessed a sudden transition, through tactless management by those in authority, to an outbreak of violence that was understandable if it could not be condoned.
That was the leading paragraph from the lead story of the April 6, edition of The Daily News in 1932. Citizens of this country(yes we were a country) were so outraged over the mismanagement of government affairs that there was a riot at the Colonial Building. Almost eighty years have passed and I'm afraid many of us have lost our fighting spirit.

If you skim over the headlines for the last 10 to 20 years you will see demonstrations of civil disobedience, but they are few, and they are usually mild. It's not that the passion of those involved is lacking, but it seems that the issues can't draw enough support to form the critical mass of a serious demonstration.

The interesting part of the story is that we have plenty to be upset about. Look at the situation of some rural services, community funding, the entire ferry situation(most any ferry really), the forestry industry, and general government mismanagement(like the spending scandal). I can't help but think that many of those issues would have been cause enough to demonstrate and maybe even riot less then a century ago. Then there's the one that really blows my mind. You guessed it, the fishery.

From national issues of foreign overfishing and custodial management, to provincial issues of excess processing capacity, quota ownership/sales, a union that represents the buyers and the sellers and a provincial fisheries department that has washed it's hands of everything fishery related! The Lobster nonsense is just the latest in a long line of issues in the fishery in NL. And the best we seem to do is make a couple of calls to open line and maybe get a letter or two in the paper.

I know the issues in the fishery are not new and there have been people working on them for decades, but they're not getting any better. And the worst part is that as a society we don't seem to care that much about it. Are we willing to look back, 50 years from now and say "By, that fishery could have really turned around if someone only had the guts to do something about it. Oh well, I think the price is right is on." I'm not saying this from some ivory tower, telling everyone how they should do it my way. I'm the same as everyone else. I write a blog on the internet that a few dozen people might read. Hardly a rabble rouser. But I'm getting a little tired of that.

I would like to challenge anyone who reads this to pick some issue, like the fishery, and really get behind it. Get people together, understand the issue and make your thoughts known to the decision makers. Call open line more often and write letters to all the papers. We have the right to be pissed off and we need to push governments to make things better. Standing by the wayside isn't going to help.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a riot. Thank goodness we have reached a stage where a riot is not the best way to make change as it once might have been. I have seen more change come quickly through massive public complaints via call in shows and letters in the papers then I would have thought possible. It can work if we use it.

As for the Fighting Newfoundland Spirit, I'm pretty sure its just taking a spell, and collecting strength. It knows that there's lots of fighting left to do, and it'll be ready. Will you?

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