A feeling came over me like I had received a kick in the guts. It wasn’t just the Budget. That news had been delivered days earlier by the Finance Minister. She was clearly a party-pooper. And Dwight had confirmed he's no Danny.
This was Monday. I was reading “Get out if you can”, by the Telegram’s Russell Wangersky.
“That would be my advice” the award winning writer warned, as one might caution a neighbour of an impending tsunami. “If you’re young, not tied down by investments like a home you might take a financial bath trying to sell, if you have an education or a trade that you can use to get a mainland job, just go. Go because we made this mess and you shouldn’t be forced to pay for it”, his rant continued.
I found myself gripping the edges of the kitchen island, on which I had unfolded the broadsheet, holding on tight as a wave of anger struck like an angry sea, making me nauseous.
It was as if Wangersky was writing a lament for a place submerged under the weight of fools, as much as by debt. My god, I thought, he's giving up on Danny!
Wangersky had kept a watchful eye on Muskrat and budgetary excess, and had frequently warned Willaims and Dunderdale about the path they were on, as the Liberals, the NDP, and the cheering classes (that’s us) urged them on.That's what writers get paid for, isn't it?
Then, I understood why I was nauseous. I was angry at Wangersky. It's fine to be sarcastic, but he was taking the whole damn thing too far.
Even his final counsel exactly mirrored his initial guidance. What did he say?
“To my kids, to all kids: go. You do not deserve to have to pay our bills. You shouldn’t have to pay for our mistakes. Come and visit, for sure. But we made the mess. We should have to clean it up.”
Traitorous bastard, I thought. What would we want to do that for? Imagine, telling us it's pay time, when we know it's still play time!
He was telling the Province’s youth to ‘cut and run’, vamoose,a demographic diminishing fast enough as it is.
Surely, as irresponsible as he thought former Premiers; now, he was being foolish, too.
Had he forgotten about the promise of “intergenerational equity”?
Didn’t he not know he was undermining Danny’s claim that Muskrat would be paid for by the young, too?
Where was the gratitude for ‘the great one’ who had arranged to postpone “rate shock” for us on the power from Muskrat Falls?
What business was it of Wangersky’s if young workers had it both ways: “rate shock” now, and “rate shock” later, too?
Besides, here was the moral conscience of the commercial giant, Transcontinental Media, their very own Atlantic Provinces’ disciple, thumbing his nose at our petit bourgeois, an outlier, more suited to the Isle of Green Gables, than among the brave government funded risk takers with the good fortune to be among Danny's privateers.
Didn’t our ads describe a future so bright that capitalism could be even practiced by bureaucrats?
Hadn’t Danny guaranteed that future? OH, WHY DID HE HAVE TO LEAVE! God, we’d vote for him, again, in a Newfoundland minute!!
Perhaps, this is Wangersky’s problem. The Telegram’s man seems to have forgotten that ours is a ‘rock’ possessing a conviction unflinching, where to a man and a woman, we believe the good times will always roll.
That’s why I, for one, always recite the words: “I BELIEVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR”. It’s a bit like a lucky rabbit’s paw; like touching Danny’s shirt tail, or something; I’m not sure. And, it has a nice ring, too.
For others, it is an article of faith, one so strong, it was even grabbed, not taken, by the shop keepers of the Board of Trade!
Does Wangersky not believe in Newfoundland and Labrador? Does he not know it is a prayer to delicious greed, not some expression of gratuitous patriotism?
More than anything else, isn't “I believe in Newfoundland and Labrador”, a tribute to the man of Muskrat; a legacy in his mind, to be sure, but for the rest of us isn't it the perfect trademark of our deference, an appropriate fusion of submission, denial and illusion? What's wrong with that!
For us, you see, not Stan, but Dan, is the man!
We like his sense of entitlement; and, he likes ours.
We can borrow more. We can spend our way out of this.
Why, sure, just a few day ago, in Halifax, didn't Danny say the economy is cyclical and while its in a "valley" now, soon it will "return to the top of the mountain".
We'll go with that.
And, we want our children, besides.
We don't want to visit them in Fort McMurray. We want their "intergenerational equity”, too.
All Wangersky had to do was tell them to work hard, that it sucks to be young.
It might be tough medicine.
But isn't it time one generation grew up?