More Intolerance

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Do we really need to call our neighbours traitors?

I was listening to the federal election debate this morning on CBC Radio, and I just heard a lady named Swinamer call Fabian Manning a "traitor".

This is one of the most irritating and worrisome aspects of this entire ABC debacle. We now see the sorry spectacle of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians calling their fellow citizens traitors. (And I'm happy to report that that the Morning Show audience communicated its distaste for the callous use of the word.)

There is, after all, the distinct possibility that some of us may not have agreed in the first place with the notion of receiving equalization handouts while rolling in cash. To those people, Stephen Harper's broken promise while offensive is just one of many issues that are being considered in this election. These people have a right to their political views, and calling them "traitors" is just a tad excessive.

Have we, as a "race", really come to that?

I am reminded of an email that I received on my recent blog items about Ryan Cleary and The Independent. A reader was responding to my comments about the intolerance we show long-time citizens, when we accuse them of being "mainlanders" because they weren't born here.

I thought this person's note was so eloquent, I have decided to present it here. And please people, play nice. Let's not call each other traitors.

Here is the note, from Margaret Robinson:

Geoff, this is a fine observation and a necessary one. An analysis (other than Cleary's) of how the Indy operated and why it failed is very helpful to the public discourse.

One of the things that grated on me about the Independent (beyond the shallow research by ill-prepared writers like Su Dyer and the misleading assertions within stories) was the persistent characterization of anyone born outside Newfoundland and Labrador as an eternal outsider - at best ignorant and at worst an enemy.

My mother was born in England. She met my father (a 7th or 8th generation Newfoundlander - yip, I got the math right on that, believe it or not; his family was in the d Iberville census of 1695-97) during WWII, married him in February 1948 and came into Canada with the rest of the province in 1949. She was born an Englishwoman, but she was a Newfoundlander before becoming a Canadian. She lived here the rest of her life (only leaving the province once in 1977 to bury her mother in England), bore and reared 5 Newfoundlanders who between them have borne and (mostly) reared 6 more Newfoundlanders, and was buried here in 1979. She payed taxes, did Church and community volunteer work, contributed to local charities, participated very thoughtfully in the political process and made sure she and her children learned as much as possible about Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet Ryan Cleary would have referred to Sarah Ann Robinson as a British-born transplant. That just gets my dander up.

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Recent comments

  • Karen
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    traitors - no. But Harper's broken promises cannot be ignored simply because we should receive, and in fact deserve, honesty from our politicans regardless of the issue.

    I am one of many thousands of Nflders who left many years ago in search of a better 'economic' life on the mainland or in my case abroad. Like many I would dearly love to come 'home' and still talk about NF as 'we'. It is not simply refreshing to hear Premier Williams over recent years but absolutely delightful. Finally a politician who will not only stand up for NF but does a good job of it - proud, brave and articulate.

    It is superb that Nf will soon no longer be a 'have not' but it should also be entitled to make the best use of what Nf now has and need to have provincial politicans working to achieve that for NF.

    My one disappointment is that as Nf is doing well the UK economics are dire and with poor exchange rates the simple fact is that those wnting to come home can no longer afford to do so. Watching the house prices in Mount Pearl on MLS rise seems to be similar to watching house prices fall in the UK.

    ....and that those who wish to visit from the UK now have no direct flight and for the first time in 20 odd years I choose to fly via an american airline rather than give air canada the business they probably need.