Elbow to the head hello, Quebec

Bob
Bob Wakeham
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Whenever a Newfoundland premier has attempted to take on the role of The Man of La Mancha and "fight the unbeatable foe" - our nasty French neighbours to the West - I'm tempted to use the analogy of Don Quixote Williams belting out his "impossible dream," to be true to this "glorious quest."
But it's a scene that ultimately flops, though, because it has an inappropriate majesty, and doesn't do justice to the niggardly tactics that have defined La Belle Province's dealings with Newfoundland, and the embarrassing streak accumulated by Newfoundland's politicians, negotiators and lawyers.

Apt image
Rather, I conjure up a more distinctly Canadian image, that gruesome video played endlessly a few years back, showing the then Philadelphia Flyer Eric Lindros, all 250 pounds of him, skating through the neutral zone with his head down and being absolutely pulverized, nailed so hard by New Jersey hit man Scott Stevens that, in all probability, he didn't come around until the middle of the following week.
The disturbing sight of Lindros - out cold junk in mid-air, and then flopping to the ice like a rag doll, his career as an effective player virtually ended - can still send frightening chills up the spines of even
the Don Cherry blood-and-teeth brigade.
Newfoundland is always Lindros in my scenario, Quebec is Stevens - and our side, the home team, no matter how many times it gets belted in the highlight reel, struggles to its feet, wipes off the blood and snots, and prepares itself for a similar charge, is predictably clocked, arises like Lazarus, only to go through the exact same motions, and is slammed to the ice once again.
Well, I'm sick to death of watching Williams, the present day gladiator in the war with Quebec, getting thumped continuously by Quebec as he and his government attempt to obtain justice on the Upper Churchill, and some good old fashioned co-operation on the Lower Churchill project.
Most recently, the fruitless mission through the neutral zone by Williams/Lindros was to appeal to a regulatory agency in Quebec to allow power from the Lower Churchill, whenever it becomes a reality, to flow through "Curly" Charest's valleys, and into the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States.
Guess what?
Quebec/Stevens was waiting once more, and dropped our premier to the ice; it's a wonder he wasn't on the next jet to the States for medical treatment.

For show?
It just begs the question: why did Williams once again allow the Quebec goons to lay him out? (One slightly cynical explanation could be that it's another opportunity for Williams to wave that nationalistic flag he always has in his back pocket, a chance to show all of us just what a "fighting Newfoundlander" he continues to be, a role that always ups his popularity a point or two.)
You have to wonder just how much it has cost to travel these useless legal and political routes to convince Quebec to do the right thing, and you have to wonder, as well, when it should all end.
It seems to me we would have been much better off to just get on with that alternative route under the ocean, circumventing Quebec's borders, and bringing the power south.
And say to hell with Quebec.
All that money would have better spent helping finance tangible action on the Maritime route. It seems to reason that if the other Atlantic provinces and the Northeastern United States are anxiously awaiting energy, the cost of developing the alternative route - enormous for sure - would more than eventually pay for itself.
Perhaps if that route is successful, we may see a day, long after Danny the Gladiator will have gone to his heavenly or hellish afterlife, the Upper Churchill contract will have finally expired, Newfoundland would be getting its just revenues, and the Lower Churchill might be on stream, and making a fortune.
And, if the crowd hanging around Confederation Building are lucky enough to see a Quebec delegation heading to government offices, their caps in hand, asking Newfoundland for energy help, I hope the premier of the day has the memory of an elephant and, tells Quebec to go light a few forest fires for heat and light.
If the then-premier of Quebec, or perhaps the head of the sovereign nation of Quebec, metaphorically skates through the neutral zone with his head down, a Newfoundland premier could lay him out, in slow motion, for the world to see.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by e-mail at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: The Man

Geographic location: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, La Mancha La Belle Province New Jersey Northeastern United States

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    If the Maritime route was a real option, don't you think Danny and Jerome would have aggressively pursued that option instead of wasting millions and millions arguing with Quebec? Face the facts folks, the maritime option is not a viable option....it's just smike and mirrors.

  • S
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Lab12, I understand your sentiments towards the island portion of the province, I honestly do. I agree that too much has been taken out of labrador with only crumbs in return. (Ironically enough, this is the same argument many of the newfoundland nationalists make with regards to their place in Canada). And I would suggest it's not just the politicians who have the Cavalier attitude of just using Newfoundland when referencing the entire province. The average lay person on the street with no understanding that Labradorians have a distinct culture and heritage seperate from that of newfoundland, would have this attitude as well. Even Mr. Wakeham here showed the same line of thinking in his column. This mindset among many people that Labrador is just a piece of Newfoundland's property is a slap in the face to Labradorians, and I just wish people had more understanding of their entire province outside of their bay or cove. Having said that however, your statement that Labrador will have succeeded from amalgamation with the Island to become an independent and self sufficient territory is a pipe dream. You need people in positions of authority from Labrador to take up the cause and wage a public campaign to make this happen. And I really don't see the will being there. While Labradorians may rant in private about their unjust treatment, actually doing something about it is another thing.

  • Lab12
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    It is time those on the Island forget about Labrador and the Churchill Falls of past, present or future. The people of Labrador are fed up with the lack of return and abandonment shown by the Island Government. Before a shovel of dirt has been turned on the lower portion, the people of Labrador will have succeeded from amalgamation with the Island to become an independent and self sufficient territory.

    The Island has taken and taken from us from day one with nothing provided for the revenue generated. We will be far better off once the people vote to become independent and free from the restraints of backwards thinking politicians in St. Johns.

    How many times do we hear those in Confederation Building only referencing Newfoundland, and not Newfoundland and Labrador? The only time they mention us is when it is a benefit to them and the accountants. Enough is enough.

  • Barb
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Ed Hollett, Wakeham used an analogy of a hockey game to get his point across. Obviously, you didn't get it! Very apt analogy, Wakeham.

  • Danny Give It Up
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Time for Williams to give up Lower Churchill fight.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Great column, Bob.

    Just one small problem: it never happened.

    You wrote (very colourfully): Most recently, the fruitless mission through the neutral zone by Williams/Lindros was to appeal to a regulatory agency in Quebec to allow power from the Lower Churchill, whenever it becomes a reality, to flow through Curly Charests valleys, and into the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States.

    Guess what?

    Quebec/Stevens was waiting once more, and dropped our premier to the ice; its a wonder he wasnt on the next jet to the States for medical treatment.

    The Regie didn't deny anyone the ability to wheel power through Quebec. And actually that isn't what NALCOR was looking for, either.

    They went looking to change the rules so they didn't have to option a block or even indicate that they wanted to option a block of power within the same 45 day rule that applies to every other company wheeling power in Quebec.

    Heck it's the same rule that NALCOR lived by to run power through Quebec a year ago. Not surprising you forgot that one: everyone seems to have had a touch of amnesia about that one.

    There are no bogeymen here. There is no great conspiracy. There are no thugs waiting to pummel poor little Newfoundland or whatever other pile of foolishness someone wants to peddle to keep from looking at the bare-naked facts:

    If NALCOR had markets and it had the money, the project would be on the way and the power would be optioned.

    But that's nowhere near as entertaining as claiming that some goon squad just smashed our collective heads into the ice at an imaginary hockey game.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    For all the touting of Danny as the great legal eagle and strategist I find it strange that in his fights with Ottawa and Quebec he is always on the losing end. Is it that they are so much better or that he has not planned ahead far enough? My feeling is that if he had looked further ahead he might have countered the oppositions moves more. Maybe he is just not a good chess player.

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    If the Maritime route was a real option, don't you think Danny and Jerome would have aggressively pursued that option instead of wasting millions and millions arguing with Quebec? Face the facts folks, the maritime option is not a viable option....it's just smike and mirrors.

  • S
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Lab12, I understand your sentiments towards the island portion of the province, I honestly do. I agree that too much has been taken out of labrador with only crumbs in return. (Ironically enough, this is the same argument many of the newfoundland nationalists make with regards to their place in Canada). And I would suggest it's not just the politicians who have the Cavalier attitude of just using Newfoundland when referencing the entire province. The average lay person on the street with no understanding that Labradorians have a distinct culture and heritage seperate from that of newfoundland, would have this attitude as well. Even Mr. Wakeham here showed the same line of thinking in his column. This mindset among many people that Labrador is just a piece of Newfoundland's property is a slap in the face to Labradorians, and I just wish people had more understanding of their entire province outside of their bay or cove. Having said that however, your statement that Labrador will have succeeded from amalgamation with the Island to become an independent and self sufficient territory is a pipe dream. You need people in positions of authority from Labrador to take up the cause and wage a public campaign to make this happen. And I really don't see the will being there. While Labradorians may rant in private about their unjust treatment, actually doing something about it is another thing.

  • Lab12
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    It is time those on the Island forget about Labrador and the Churchill Falls of past, present or future. The people of Labrador are fed up with the lack of return and abandonment shown by the Island Government. Before a shovel of dirt has been turned on the lower portion, the people of Labrador will have succeeded from amalgamation with the Island to become an independent and self sufficient territory.

    The Island has taken and taken from us from day one with nothing provided for the revenue generated. We will be far better off once the people vote to become independent and free from the restraints of backwards thinking politicians in St. Johns.

    How many times do we hear those in Confederation Building only referencing Newfoundland, and not Newfoundland and Labrador? The only time they mention us is when it is a benefit to them and the accountants. Enough is enough.

  • Barb
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Ed Hollett, Wakeham used an analogy of a hockey game to get his point across. Obviously, you didn't get it! Very apt analogy, Wakeham.

  • Danny Give It Up
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Time for Williams to give up Lower Churchill fight.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Great column, Bob.

    Just one small problem: it never happened.

    You wrote (very colourfully): Most recently, the fruitless mission through the neutral zone by Williams/Lindros was to appeal to a regulatory agency in Quebec to allow power from the Lower Churchill, whenever it becomes a reality, to flow through Curly Charests valleys, and into the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States.

    Guess what?

    Quebec/Stevens was waiting once more, and dropped our premier to the ice; its a wonder he wasnt on the next jet to the States for medical treatment.

    The Regie didn't deny anyone the ability to wheel power through Quebec. And actually that isn't what NALCOR was looking for, either.

    They went looking to change the rules so they didn't have to option a block or even indicate that they wanted to option a block of power within the same 45 day rule that applies to every other company wheeling power in Quebec.

    Heck it's the same rule that NALCOR lived by to run power through Quebec a year ago. Not surprising you forgot that one: everyone seems to have had a touch of amnesia about that one.

    There are no bogeymen here. There is no great conspiracy. There are no thugs waiting to pummel poor little Newfoundland or whatever other pile of foolishness someone wants to peddle to keep from looking at the bare-naked facts:

    If NALCOR had markets and it had the money, the project would be on the way and the power would be optioned.

    But that's nowhere near as entertaining as claiming that some goon squad just smashed our collective heads into the ice at an imaginary hockey game.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    For all the touting of Danny as the great legal eagle and strategist I find it strange that in his fights with Ottawa and Quebec he is always on the losing end. Is it that they are so much better or that he has not planned ahead far enough? My feeling is that if he had looked further ahead he might have countered the oppositions moves more. Maybe he is just not a good chess player.