Mr. Budgell and the Confederation Debate

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Greg Malone is a funny, funny guy.

I grew up watching Wonderful Grand Band and witnessing my family laugh uproariously at the sketch shenanigans he and Tommy Sexton got up to as part of the show. I saw similar reactions when the insanely awesome Codco was on the air (although most of my Codco memories revolve around the maniacally brilliant Andy Jones — I just can’t shake that infamous “oil on the breast-ez” sketch for some reason).

When I saw WGB perform live together in 2009, I gained a heightened appreciation for how talented Malone is — he added tremendously to the experience with his intermittent comedic bursts and appearances and well-known characters throughout the course of the performance. It was truly incredible to see.

But these days Malone is making hay writing books about the calamities and conspiracies surrounding the great 1949 Confederation debate.


Look, I’m neither a separatist nor a confederation-ist, but I have had it right up to my eyeballs with every pink, white and green flag toting, St. John’s-bred expert ramming their theories and feelings down my throat about how we were all duped into Confederation with Canada. And I don’t want to hear the arguments the other way either. Enough!

I say let’s focus our energies on improving our lot for the future instead of endlessly pontificating and whining about past injustices shall we? Maybe that doesn’t sell a great many books, but it might get us a little further along just the same. (Oh, and by the way, have you looked around lately? From what I can gather, it seems like we’re not doing too badly as a province in many respects these days. Just sayin’.)

Anyways, in an interview with the Hill Times regarding his recent book and research, Malone had this to say about Confederation: “I like to say after the (Second World) war, Russia got Poland and Canada got Newfoundland. We both had a Joe S. in charge of us, and both of us suffered from population resettlement and five-year industrial schemes, all cock-eyed, and both of us suffered national humiliation and disgrace for the loss of our sovereignty."

Double sigh.

Dear Greg: I have been to Poland, and visited the places made famous by the tyranny of both the Nazis up to the end of the Second World War and the subsequent Russian rule in the years that followed. I have met people and families who were affected by the genocidal events that took place under both oppressive and murderous regimes.

Do you seriously, honestly, for real, positively, absolutely think those events — some of the darkest days in the recorded history of mankind — are at all comparable to the events around the 1949 Terms of Union?

Look, I’m sure all of us would like to have another crack at properly and openly negotiating the Terms of Union or even denying entry into the Canadian federation, but holy Jesus, Mary and Joseph picking turnips in the garden, how does that even BEGIN to compare to what happened in Poland in the 20th century?

I point this out not because I’m trying to grab some moral high ground or be a politically correct holier than thou defender of human rights— I point it out because the debate over Confederation is not served well by such fatally flawed arguments.

I get that there may be some economic or social comparisons between Polish people and Newfoundlanders — I even took a half-hearted crack at identifying some of them myself once upon a time (Click here:

But let’s try to be halfways realistic, shall we?

I know you want to sell a few books Greg b’y, but the comparison is just a bridge too far.

A little perspective is needed. People were murdered, raped, tortured, kidnapped and oppressed beyond all realms of comprehension in Poland. Are we to really believe that the political and economic shenanigans associated with the fallout from an agreement fraught with the freedoms of oleomargarine manufacturing and the perils of badly advised fish management are in some way similar?

Stick to the sketch comedy Greg.

Oh sure, this new material you’re doing makes me laugh.

But it’s not “ha ha” funny.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine,

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