‘Racism’ charge doesn’t add up

Brian Jones
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These are strange days indeed in Newfoundland (and Labrador) politics, where up is down and two plus two equals five, and the populace’s greatest fears are found not in Room 101 but emanate from the 8th floor of the Confederation Building.

Hands up, anyone in the province who still thinks the Newfoundland tradition of giving one party an overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly is a good idea.

There at the back … two hands held high. Ms. Dunderdale, please use only one hand.

As someone pointed out, this week’s filibuster with 11 Liberal and NDP MHAs went a lot better than it would have when the number of opposition MHAs could fit into a Volkswagen and still leave room for a dog.

Having 11 voices of opposition is obviously better. Having 22 would be even better. There’s something to keep in mind for 2015.

Faulty arithmetic

Each day’s edition seemingly brings additional headlines about the PC government’s limitless supply of arrogance and condescension.

They are like playground bullies who pummel and pound a victim, but scream “Unfair!” when the poor kid finally resists.

See if you can follow Government House Leader Jerome Kennedy’s incoherent logic.

The government is amending legislation to make the release of information to the public even more restrictive. While doing this, the government blithely proclaims the amendments will allow for more open and accountable government. (“Two plus two equals five.”)

Apparently, the government is surprised and aghast that anyone is offended by its plans.

But what really, really, really offends Kennedy is the use of the term “racism” in the House of Assembly. Why, the utterance of the term alone is cause to shut down debate and send the bad MHAs home.

As a criminal defence lawyer, Kennedy is accustomed to aiming to convince a judge, or a jury. Talking to one person or 12 people is different from public discourse in which thousands of people have a direct interest.

Nasty things can be said, and likely will be said, during public discussion of important issues. Feelings can be hurt. Offence can be taken. Extreme offence can be taken. It is part of the process, sort of like the occasional puck in the ankle during shinny.

Kennedy and his cabinet colleagues should keep in mind that when someone calls you a racist, the proper response is, “No I’m not.”

Then feel free to expand on that defence, if you feel like it.

What a card

Even so, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael blew it by hauling out the R word when there was no need. Maybe the recent poll numbers went to her head and ego.

Let’s see. Access to information, and racism. Nope. Can’t see the connection.

Taking umbrage at Newfoundland (or Labrador) being unfavourably compared to Uganda or Mexico is a natural, understandable reaction. Justice Minister Felix Collins — the alleged racist of Michael’s remarks — probably has a lot of company.

Maybe Uganda does have better access to information legislation than Newfoundland, but let’s put that in perspective. Ugandan officials might or might not obey those laws while they summarily arrest and imprison homosexuals.

Likewise Mexico. Great access laws, amigos. Too bad about that drug war.

Michael showed symptoms of that specifically NDP affliction, “I-Couldn’t-Help-Myself” syndrome. Their often self-righteous attitude about their high principles can cause them to spout irrational nonsense.

It has also recently hit federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who not only wants to shut down the Alberta oilsands, but stop all offshore drilling. That could smack of racism. Michael should get right on it.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at

The Telegram. He can be reached by email at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Volkswagen, Government House, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Uganda, Mexico Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Scottie
    June 18, 2012 - 21:02

    In these ultra-sensitive times, it's so easy to play the race card. Anything goes and will be believed. For this we can thank the ultra-sensitive MSM.

  • saelcove
    June 15, 2012 - 09:58

    Newfoundland is the most racist province in Canada

  • As it is
    June 15, 2012 - 09:20

    If Collins was racist for being offended by the comparison then perhaps the comparison itself was racist.

  • Chantal
    June 15, 2012 - 08:36

    Not racist? Well considering your past comments on Muslims, maybe you do speak with authority when it comes to bigotry. Okay, how about arrogant, xenophobic, ignorant, and Insulting. Besides, the so-called "War on drugs, is an amalgamation of American drug and military policies that have resulted in the devastation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Latin American lives. You might as well blame London for the Blitz.

  • David
    June 15, 2012 - 08:28

    If one cannot intellectually and emotionally frame one's argument's and stick to the topic being discussed, then one should avoid debates. If one is an elected offical in a government and has no such skills, one is soon exposed as a complete, incompetent fool. In a house of government, the use of language, efficiently and convincingly, is an MHA's entire job skill set. Collins went off on a racist tangent out of immature frustration, ignorance and incompetence. Though I'm not an NDP supporter in the least, I am relieved that Michael very rightly called him out on it --- regardless of whether it was politically advantageous for her to do so or not (that argument is just as crass and ignorant as Collins' speech). As its spokeman, Kennedy then chose to dig the hole deeper and put the entire government in it. A shameful moment in the House made into a disgraceful and pitiful moment for Newfoundland.

  • William Daniels
    June 15, 2012 - 08:23

    Kennedy, Collins, and Davis's behavior in the HOA leaves quite a bit to be desired. Amateur hour.

  • Holden
    June 15, 2012 - 07:41

    Jumping on the bandwagon are we Brian. Now we don't have to wait for Con politicians to twist what other people say, we can get it straight from the media.

    • On
      June 15, 2012 - 08:16

      Don't hear you complaining when the twisting goes the other way.