Thursday, 16 January 2014


Imagine that the Globe and Mail saw fit of a day to spill some printer’s ink our way!

Last week, Columnist Konrad Yakabuski, in an opinion piece entitled "Muskrat Falls and the Power of Obstinacy" had a lot to say about Newfoundland and Labrador Premiers, in just a few short sentences.

He was unimpressed that a bungling Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s response to our power black-outs could have been so unlike Ontario Premier Wynne’s deft handling of Toronto’s. Dunderdale, Wynne, he noted was “...sugar, spice and all things nice...” 

But it was Dunderdale’s characterisation of the outages as a “non-crises” and her assertion that, in retrospect ”she would not have done things differently” that caused Yakabuski’s to share his previously unknown theories about the collective peculiarities of NL Premiers. 

Dunderdale’s lack of empathy did not constitute news down here; we’ve seen it many times before.  For that reason there is far less certainty all our Premiers deserve Konrad’s assignation to any Dunderdale populated Club.
Yakabuski’s Column starts off fine.  The opening comment about Premier Wynne’s superior intuition was accurate. Then, with only two lines written, he is compelled to propose nothing as modest as a theory; his is the gift that comes with the certainty one might expect from an Upper Canadian blue blood.  Hitched to what he perceives as the Higgs Boson, the god particle of first ministerial idiosyncrasies, he declares:  “Newfoundland Premiers have rarely been known for their humility”. 

Racing to the finish, he shares what must be, for the people of the Globe and Mail, a universally accepted tautology:  “…what Ms. Dunderdale lacks in humility she seems to make up for in another trait shared by past Newfoundland premiers – obstinacy.”

If this were coming from anyone other than a Globe hack we would be happy to enquire as to which dusty repository rests his PhD thesis on such distinctly Newfoundland first ministerial behavioural characteristics.  Fortunately, most such empirical research obligates at least minimal exposure to the subject’s geography. 

Yakabuski is not intimidated by any need for empiricism.  Besides, the paucity of subscribers, in the boonies, to the national rag would not attract him to visit the happy province even on frequent flyer points.  For that reason his sermon on Newfoundland’s power issues contains all the intellectual force of a brat. 

One can practically smell the ketchup stains on a blank page insufficiently titillating to a central Canadian audience and hence failing to describe a foolish Hydro Project and expose two unwise Premiers (Danny and Kathy) who ought to have been rebuked for their secrecy, suspect economic analysis and reckless speculation.

It is very likely that Mr. Yakabuski’s Paper will note, in time, that the blank page ought to have reported the folly of Muskrat Falls as the biggest Canadian farce of 2013.   The Columnist's own warning  that Muskrat's power "is the most expensive conventional power project in the country" and that Quebec's Romaine Project, at less cost than Muskrat is expected to deliver twice as much power, are truths which a national paper might have given prominence. Alas, the information is far over due and lacks a credible context.

To be fair, he and the Globe can take some solace, however slight. With the singular exception of The Telegram, chiefly its Editorial Department, the local media, too, may as well have reported from Toronto as St. John’s, for how well they informed a most uninformed citizenry.

In any case, with preconceived notions like those of Yakabuski, there is no loss.  Lack of “humility”, a surfeit of “obstinacy”, indeed!  People, with his attitude, are still incensed that that the likes of Premier Brian Peckford possessed the audacity to stand up to a centralizing federal government that reflected Ontario’s self-interest.  Afterall, resource ownership was something that Province could handle, but surely not a bunch of boonies down in Newfoundland.  Trying too hard to push above our station were we, Konrad?

The sad truth is that Newfoundland and Labrador’s current Premier offers an excess of proof that, as in Toronto, we, too, have our problems.  Of course, a morally bankrupt, crack cocaine smoking Mayor is just child’s play alongside an unsuitable, unwise and unpopular Premier.

But, since you may be too young to remember, Konrad, let me inform you what Ontario did when an ‘obstinate’ Brian Peckford thumbed his nose at Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien.  Ontario whimpered tut, tut, not to their obstinacy, but to Peckford’s. 

The Nova Scotians, predictably, engaged in a historic betrayal of Newfoundland’s legitimate offshore claim, when they were uncertain of their own.

But, we have prevailed, Konrad, though not in consequence of any insights from your Paper, and not, I might add, from any virtue of obstinacy you confer upon the current Newfoundland and Labrador Premier.  Now, Premier Brian Peckford’s obstinacy!  That is a different matter.   

That said, I have to acknowledge one insight of yours; it is that Nalcor's provision of our surplus power to Nova Scotia, at a fraction of the cost Newfoundlanders will pay, will yet mean "much bitterness will ensue" much as it has over the Upper Churchill Contract.  

For that reason, too, Konrad, you will learn why we are concerned less about Premier Dunderdale’s lack of humility or even whether her obstinacy has a measurable purpose. It is her lack of common sense that disturbs us just as it should a rag that dares to call itself a national newspaper. The post office has more purpose and that is national, too.

Just one more thing, Konrad;  the prosperity many of us fear Premier Kathy Dunderdale is ruining, with a foolish hydro project on the Churchill River is being funded with resources on the continental shelf of Newfoundland; these are resources an independent Newfoundland brought into Canada in 1949.

Have a nice day!