A pause from your regularly scheduled programming

Bob
Bob Wakeham
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For fans of television sports and outdoor pursuits, this has to be a perfect-storm time for the jock/woodsman, when hockey, baseball and football align themselves for a month or so, and rabbits can be shot and spruce trees felled on the same day (bring on those sanctimonious Greenpeace do-gooders).

So it’s easy to be distracted from keeping an eye on more “important” matters in Newfoundland, political double-talk, long-windedness and the like.

But I did take a break from the idiot box, tuning out of a baseball playoff game (especially when

the crowd-pleasing, traditional “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” of seventh-inning stretch fame is replaced by the flag-wrapped, maudlin “God Bless America”), or an NFL Sunday night football game (having already watched six hours, there was, indeed, time to take a break), or the latest, frustrating loss for my long-standing favourite team, the Rangers, on the Centre Ice Channel.   

And coming out of the woods with rabbit blood splattered on my boots, or bits and pieces of dead trees killed by my chainsaw stuck to my holey (but favourite) sweater, I did, indeed, feel an obligation to take a respite from all that murderous fun to catch the news and pass comment.

In the interlude between jock talk and macho mayhem, here are a few thoughts that managed to make it from my skull to my fingertips: 

•••

Have you ever, in your life, seen anyone as foolish as Mayor Doc O’Keefe trying to look like a serious-minded municipal worker engaged in curbside pick up of recyclables?    O’Keefe looked like one of the Seven Dwarfs (not “Bashful,” but perhaps “Dopey”) in that snap on the front page of The Telegram Tuesday. It gave photo-ops a bad name, and that’s saying something. 

Perhaps O’Keefe and most of his councillors should have been paying more attention to their constituents, most of whom, I would guess, were shaking their heads in amazement when most of that Gower Street gang — oblivious to history and culture — seemed prepared to allow a development to proceed on Signal Hill. 

At least there was that small, but vigorous, group of activists able to do the homework for council and discover the land (hopefully) is owned by the Crown. And if somehow the proposal makes its way back to city hall, I hope Bill Kelly and company continue to point out the absolute stupidity and limited thinking of any politician who would dare to desecrate a place like Signal Hill.

In the interlude between jock talk and macho mayhem, here are a few thoughts that managed to make it from my skull to my fingertips …

•••

That absolutely tremendous array of talent that played at Mile One Stadium to raise money for the Igor relief fund was just another example of the startling, mind-blowing creativity that exists in a place with the population of a medium-sized Ontario city.

Writers, musicians, artists, actors, etc., all at the top of their game, comparable to any location in the world, are here in Newfoundland in prideful abundance. Our small gene pool continues to flourish.

•••

Having covered dozens and dozens of strikes, and walked the picket line myself during a nasty strike at The Evening Telegram in 1979, I know first hand how scab labour can exacerbate the acrimony of a labour dispute, unnecessarily delay a resolution, and create a vulgar taste of bad blood in the workplace long after the matter has been “settled.”

And I therefore applaud the latest call by the Newfoundland Federation of Labour for the government to enact anti-scab legislation (“replacement worker” is the politically correct, deliberately innocuous term). The argument from employers’ groups that such a law would give unions an unfair advantage was disingenuous at best, laughable at worse (especially given the fact that management invariably has most of the weaponry in any racket with its workers).

•••

And congratulations to Kevin Tobin for the latest publication of his Telegram cartoons, this one showing Danny Williams in all his glory (or lack of same).  I don’t know him personally, but I’ve felt for years that Tobin was one of the best political cartoonists in the country, and this latest compilation of his work is a reinforcement of that status. 

He surely has shown the province, with his cartoons on Williams, that the emperor, indeed, is wearing no clothes.

•••

And I now return to goals, touchdowns, strikeouts, rabbit squeals, and juniper junks (“Stay there,” my detractors will suggest).

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: Newfoundland Federation of Labour, Greenpeace, The Evening Telegram Rangers Centre Ice Channel

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, God Bless America, Signal Hill Gower Street Ontario

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