Monday, March 16, 2009

A Breach in Patriotic Protocol?

Another day, another story about Newfoundland separatism. To paraphrase another Winston, never before in the history of journalism have so many written so much about so little. I have to admit that I really didn't think we would still be reading about the Curious Circus, which should have folded its tent a couple of news cycles ago.

With important reports now submitted on crises in Health and at MUN, and the terrible tragedy that is gripping Newfoundlanders, you would think that there would be plenty of other things to write about.

So the sight of yet another story -- this one by the Canwest News Service -- on the fallout from Curious George's antics was rather hard to stomach:

Foot's story has all the hackneyed ingredients, including the obligatory opening about unresolved passions from 1949 and a separatist quotation from Ryan Cleary. I was just about to click onto something else, but then this interesting passage caught my eye:

"Bruce Templeton, chairman of the St. John's Board of Trade, say the grievances may be legitimate, but Newfoundlanders need to get over them and focus on a future within Confederation.
"These deals are done, you can't cry about them now," he says.
He says the province should focus its energies on a series of huge economic projects waiting on the horizon -- including the new Hebron oil development, and the Lower Churchill hydro dam -- and work with Canadian investors and with Ottawa to get them done right.
"There's no appetite among the business community for separation," says Mr. Templeton. "Instead there's this tremendous feeling of quiet confidence. We'd like to be a positive contributor to Confederation."

Reading this passage brought to mind David Cochrane's 2007 speech on "Patriotic Correctness" in the local business community, which is worth quoting from:

"There exists in Newfoundland and Labrador a phenomenon I like to call “Patriotic Correctness.” Like political correctness, it makes certain words or expressions unacceptable.

But most significantly, it has fostered an environment where informed dissent is seen as nothing short of treason. Where the simple questioning or criticism of the government or the premier is viewed as an unpatriotic assault upon the very fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Patriotic correctness manifests itself in times of conflict. Usually it pits the premier and the government against an outside force such as the federal government, a nickel company, Big Oil, or a fish company that happens to be run by a Nova Scotian. It creates an incredibly lop-sided public debate, one where all good Newfoundlanders and Labradorians must rally to the side of the government.

What matters most is a public display of loyalty; of being on side with the stated goal of getting the best deal, best return and most benefits for the province."

Cochrane's speech is worth a full reading and, thankfully, Geoff Meeker has posted it online:

...Now to the VODW Question of the Day: are Templeton's remarks a breach of patriotic protocol?

Saying that NL needs to get over grievances and work with Ottawa certainly doesn't sound like Danspeak. Today's editorial in the Tely quotes the latest Danspeak, and it doesn't sound like DW is interested in getting over anything:

"That's how things have worked for us over the years, and we've got shafted as a result of it.... So, when it comes to getting the short end of the stick, Newfoundland and Labrador has generally got it in Canadian international negotiations. From my perspective, that time is over. I'm not prepared to stand back and let that happen. And, more importantly, I'm not going to stand back and let somebody who obviously has a vicious dislike for Newfoundland and Labrador like Stephen Harper to go over and negotiate on our behalf."

It looks to me that we may be seeing a wee bit of disconnect between Dangovt and Dantrade.

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