08 February 2009

“We want to be independent and self-sufficient”

Some views on Canada, Confederation, Newfoundland and Labrador and what it is all about, from the words of one man and his administration, sometimes within the very same interview.

1.   This land is my land!  Sort of.  Globe and Mail, February 7, 2009:

“…Separation is not something that is on my agenda under any circumstances.

This is a great country and I want to be part of it, but the country disappoints me when we don't rally to protect each other.” [Emphasis added]

Yet, what recently happened in the federal budget was not confined to the actions of one man or even one political party in a federal system:

“It should have been a legitimate celebration of coming out of the 'have not' status and being a net contributor to Canada. We're looking at that to be a very positive thing — and then Canada just struck us over the head.” [Emphasis added]

2.  Halifax, June 2001:  on the Great Plot that is Confederation

“The more that I see, the more nauseous and angry that I get. The way that our people and our region have been treated by one arrogant federal Liberal government after another is disgusting. The legacy that the late Prime Minister Trudeau and Jean Chrétien will leave in Atlantic Canada is one of dependence on Mother Ottawa, which has been orchestrated for political motives for the sole purpose of maintaining power. No wonder the West is alienated and Québec has threatened separation. Canadians - and Atlantic Canadians, in particular - realize the importance of dignity and self-respect while Ottawa prefers that we negotiate from a position of weakness on our hands and knees….”

3.  On the goal, from the same speech:

We don't want handouts. We want our pride back. We want to be independent and self-sufficient.

4.  Eternal vigilance against the Foe:

We’re resilient, we’re survivors, ah, y’know, we basically prepared for this day. When, y’know, over the course of the last few years, you’ll notice from our Throne Speeches, we’ve talked about being self-reliant, we’ve talked about being masters of our own destiny. And we have been building up a war chest for when the feds come at us again, quite frankly.

5.  Throne Speech 2008:

As a result of our collective efforts to wrestle down the deficit, to ratchet up growth and to reach an agreement that fulfilled the promise of the Atlantic Accord, we are – for the first time in our history – poised to come off equalization very soon. This is a stunning achievement that will reinforce the bold new attitude of self-confidence that has taken hold among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. [Emphasis in original]

The revenues that pushed the provincial treasury to “have” status came entirely from agreements signed before October 2003.

6.  On the current economic problems facing the province, Globe and Mail, February 2009:

Williams says the per capita loss is roughly six times that of Quebec or Nova Scotia. He also said his financial experts are predicting provincial revenues from dropping oil prices will be down some $1.5-billion.

"That's a double whammy," says Williams, that will "cripple" his province and force it back into deficit spending.

"We've done all the right things fiscally," he says, "and then in one fell swoop 'bang' we're pretty well back where we started."

The warnings against overspending  - that one from 2005 - from early on in the Williams administration went unheeded. The Premier had a decidedly different view of the province’s economic fortunes only a few months ago.  He wouldn’t talk hard numbers even though the ones the provincial government is currently using were pretty obvious to regular readers of these e-scribbles. All that’s happened in the past couple of months is a refining of the numbers, not a surprise shift to big ones.  $1.3 billion in November.  $1.5 billion now.  Works out to the same thing.

7.  The oldest living father of Confederation, reincarnated, Globe and Mail, February 2009:

Independence talk, he says, is once again being heard: "But that's not where I'm coming from. Separation is not something that is on my agenda under any circumstances.

"This is a great country and I want to be part of it, but the country disappoints me when we don't rally to protect each other.

Ditto, circa2007:

Premier Danny Williams says he's trying to quell separatist feelings within Newfoundland and Labrador, despite a throne speech that suggested the province should push for more autonomy from Ottawa.

"The fans of sovereignty are here. If anything, I've been trying to dampen those fires as much as I can," Williams said yesterday.

8. Autonomy!  Throne Speech 2007:

…our people have now also learned that we will achieve self-reliance economically only by taking charge of our future as a people. To that end, My Government will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater cultural, financial and moral autonomy vis-à-vis Ottawa. [Emphasis added]

9.  What autonomy means, in greater detail,  Hansard, 24 April 2007:

Political self-reliance simply means that we cannot rely upon those elected to offices outside of this Province to deliver what is in our own best interest. We must achieve that on our own. Self-reliance will not come by depending on others to achieve it for us. That is a lesson we have learned year after year, generation after generation. So we will harness the desire among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to cultivate greater political, financial and moral autonomy vis-a-vis Ottawa. As a distinct people and as equal partners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal together, we will write a new future for Newfoundland and Labrador; a future of our own design, where mutual understanding, justice, equality, fairness and co-operation are the order of the day. [Emphasis added]

10.  Foreshadowing.  If recent events are any indication federal politicians and those at the time who were wannabes clearly ignored that point, as Bond Papers warned at the time:

It should surely give pause to all those incumbents federal members of parliament from this province and those likely candidates for it means clearly that Danny Williams does not and will not trust you. These words mean, unequivocally, that elected representatives of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not to be trusted merely because they represent the people of the province somewhere other than in the House of Assembly controlled utterly by the current provincial administration.

Scott?  Walter?  Paul?  Peter?  Siobhan?  Fabian?  Gerry?  Loyola?

One wonders if they get the point.

11. And you want to be my latex salesman? Budget speech 2008:

We are standing tall as powerful contributors to the federation – as masters of our own domain, stronger and more secure than we have ever been before. [Emphasis added]