Someone once told me that anyone with any get up and go in rural Newfoundland and Labrador has already got up and gone. That someone, a Conservative operative in Harper's Ottawa, just expressed a sentiment that is also shared by a lot of people in St. John's.
They claim that billions of dollars have been thrown away in attempts to diversify rural economies that have no industry, no markets and no hope of a sustainable future. The guiding force has been emotion and a disproportionate voice for rural areas.
Successive provincial governments, they would claim, have aided and abetted a sense of entitlement to unsustainable services and programs.
They cite examples like the Province's stamp-up programs that send thousands of people into the brush every year to clear brush along our highways, or thin-out forests. The aim, get people of the welfare roles and on to E.I. They say entire economies in rural areas are based on using the national unemployment program as a guaranteed annual income.
They argue that providing schools, clinics, roads, municipal infrastructure for these communities is a collisional waste of money. Imagine, they say, the money the province could save if the tax payer did not have to pay for these services like roads to Burgeo or a hospital in Fogo!
They ask what the sense is in spending hundreds of millions on new ferries to provide daily services to less than 800 people along the entire south coast of the province? If people want to live in Ramea, Grand Bruit, Grey River, Galtious, McCallum, Rencontre East or South East Bight that is their choice, but do not expect the rest of us to pay for it, they exclaim.
They would argue that it is about time that government offered some leadership and vision, that a shock to the system is needed to wake the thousands of saprophytes to the economic malaise that they have embraced for generations.
Prime Minister Harper represents the apocalypse of a way of life that many feel has been unsustainable for generations. A way of life that can not compete with the global realities of a competitive-skilled workforce.
Agree, or disagree, there is no shortage of our own people that are offering outrage in public, but around the water cooler, and the dining table, are saying it is about time.