Thursday, May 24, 2012


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.


Cyril Rogers said...

Peter, it is bad enough that this is the mentality of people in Ottawa who are clueless but, and I know you are right, to have many people in St. John's citing the same crap is disheartening to say the least. There is some flawed bureaucratic merit in these arguments but how did we ever get to this in the first place?

Well, let's start with the destruction of our primary rural resources! Who was the major culprit in that crime? The answer: Ottawa, and to a lessor extent, St. John's. You solve the "problem" of rural Newfoundland by first giving people a subsistance living, creating a dependency on EI, and then choosing to yank it out from under them when their only hope for renewal is severely depleted, and given over to the corporate secter.

It may be too late for a way of life that lasted for hundreds of years, but it is not over yet. The elites who dictate to all of us nowadays are banking on whole communities going down without a fight. Don't count on it.

Furthermore, if we don't need rural towns, we don't need anybody living on the Avalon either. What do they have? What do they produce? Very little that I can see except for all the government services that supply the needs of all of these rural communities. Official Ottawa, I am sure, considers the whole of this province to be nothing but a thorn and occasional nuisance so let's resettle everybody to Nova Scotia! That way, Nova Scotians will be the ones paying for the free power from Muskrat Falls. Better yet, let's move all Maritimers to Ontario or Alberta. We can fly workers out to the oil rigs, can't we? After all, none of it is actually being processed here!

Think of the hundreds of billions we would save by confining our population to Ontario and beyond. Once we get everybody resettled, cut Quebec loose and we can then cut out this pretense that we are a bilingual country. The solution is simple. The execution of the solution would be slightly more complex.

Anonymous said...

Thank Christ our money is not in the hands of the Liberals, federal and/or provincial, whom you lionize out of irrelevant personal loyalties and mouldy political nostalgia. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are right to be proud of our history of hard work and self-reliance in harsh physical, economic and political environments. In a five-century context, the self-righteous sense of entitlement to government (meaning taxpayer) handouts is a relatively recent invention in outport NL. Thankfully, the passage of time means more intellectually sophisticated Newfoundlanders and fewer kitchen portraits of Joey every year. Amen to that.

Wm. Murphy said...

Are you saying that there is no need to change EI?
The system being used is the same system that was put in place during the 70's....over 30 years of abuse and entiltlement needs to be addressed.
Why not have a water cooler chat over how the system is broken? Why no have a chat about people asking for layoffs? Why not talk about the system that allows workers to not work when jobs are available?

Instead, the water cooler chatter will centre around the fact that Harper is once again focusing on this province and intent on destroying rural Newfoudland. The notion is prepostorous, but that doesn't matter when other people suggest that we hit the streets in protest.

Peter L. Whittle said...

No, not all. I am pointing out that there is more support for E.I reform (and other reforms) in this province than many would suggest.

Wm. Murphy said...

As you and others perfect the art of the Dodge....why don't you comment on that fact that people ask for layoffs every is just wrong! We all know the ways that the EI system allows for abuse...why not begin the talk about how we can fix the system instead of chest beating and bull horn nonsense

Anonymous said...

What is it with the need to shoot the messenger. Peter made the point that these so called reforms are going to be supported by a lot of people in this province. He also pointed out other "expenditures" in this province that are indefensible.

Good points to ponder Peter.

Anonymous said...

A comparitive....

It's like a mouse got into my cabin. I don't like mice.

So I take my shotgun and indiscriminately blast the cabin with buckshot to get rid of the @#$% mouse.

In the process I destroy all the beauty of it, render it uninhabitable and generally do all kinds of peripheral damage.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to just plug the opening the mouse came in through and get rid of the mouse.

Harper Tory times....what a blast!!!!

Peter L. Whittle said...


I could excuse your last point if I did not know that you were a regular reader.

Is it not a fact that the changes to E.I. rules could depopulate rural parts of the province and throw seasonal workers in indentured service for minimum wage salaries in other parts of the country?

My opinion, stated on may 16th in a blog post was "Frankly, I am not sure that rule changes are not overdue. The E.I. Program was never designed to be a guaranteed annual salary supplement, which it has become in some regions of the country where chronic unemployment is an issue."

If you read my posts you would see lots of suggestions on how to "fix the system". If your just out to waggle your tongue and bang me up for having a discussion about something that we have similar opinions on, than continue to bang your head on the wall. Just don't ask me to treat your concussion.

Wm. Murphy said...

So by your logic you contend that our EI program "populates" rural Newfoundland.

Couldn't agree problem is that a program designed as an insurance program should not determine the census in parts of our province.

The system is a joke and I applaud gov't for starting the change. It is no wonder why the province never took the lead in a much needed reform. Much of rural NL use the system to it's unintended fullest...and good on them. But the fact of the matter is....the system is completely flawed and out of whack

Anonymous said...


Peter L. Whittle said...

think reform is well over due

EI is EI, GAI is GAI.

They are not the same.

I have written and talked about EI reform a great deal here over the years.

Some consultation with the province to wean a new system in would have been more desirable.

I support an AGI.

I agree with Human Resources Minister Diane Finley "We do not want to make it lucrative for them to stay home and get paid for it"

Anonymous said...

This conversation is all lovely but exactly who wins when rural Newfoundland is dead and gone? Seriously, lets have it. Some pros and cons.

Anonymous said...

From a heritage point of view, there is not a winner. From a reality point of view, the taxpayers win! If the rural areas can survive, that is they have economies that are sustainable they survive, those that can not are finished. At some point, like life support, the plug has to be pulled.

Romanticism does not pay the bills!