This year, I’m voting against putting the pink, white and green up on one of our four flagpoles.
Usually, we fly the tricolour, two Canadian flags and the official Newfoundland (and Labrador) flag, the one with the bright bars, triangles and diagonals that make it look like a child’s puzzle.
Last year, we substituted one of the Maple Leaf flags with a Calgary Flames flag. It looked great, but
didn’t fit in with the general theme. It made our woodshed — from the four corners of which our flagpoles rise, fittingly, on painted hockey sticks — look like a “which one of these things doesn’t belong?” riddle.
There were mild objections to raising the Flames flag.
One in favour, three opposed — and two of them even play hockey.
But we compromised. They could fly the tricolour, and I could fly the flaming C.
Not this year. The Canadian flag is up, but the other three are not yet raised. There’s going to be some hard bargaining this year. If it comes to it, I’ll resort to my previously idle threat, but follow through: if the pink, white and green goes up, so too does the Stars and Stripes. In a houseful of CBC listeners, the very idea is loathsome to all but me.
Flag fine; symbolism, not
Don’t get me wrong. The tricolour is a fine flag, and very attractive flapping in an Atlantic breeze.
What I object to is the banal, shallow, simplistic, ill-thought-out Newfoundland patriotism it has come to represent.
Republic of Newfoundland, indeed. If you think Kathy Dunderdale is bad as premier, imagine her as president. Does it hurt yet?
The basic assumption of tricolour nationalism is faulty.
Set aside the emotional pros and cons of Confederation, and the alleged “treatment” of Newfoundland by Canada over the years.
Ponder instead the oft-referred-to 500 years of Newfoundland (and Labrador) history — not the good and glorious parts, but the nasty and cruel aspects of a place ruled by admirals, fish merchants and maniacal elected despots, not to mention the attitude, which survives and thrives among the business and political class, that Newfoundlanders/Labradorians are mere peasants who should do as they’re told.
As you hoist a pink, white and green this summer, think about whether it really would be good to hand even more power to Jerome Kennedy.
In the case of Dunderdale, she went from dearie to despot in less than a year.
Her approach to leadership is typically Newfoundlandic: obey.
She could have, and should have, shown wise and fair leadership over the ongoing trouble at the Corner Brook pulp and paper mill. Instead, her actions were typical and predictable. She met with owner Joseph Kruger and emerged to imperiously pronounce she has seen the books, the numbers don’t look good, Kruger isn’t bluffing and the workers had better obey.
In perhaps the most stunningly ignorant quote of the month — at a time when ignorant statements by government ministers are legion — Dunderdale proclaimed, “We all have the same goal here — that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper remain a key employer and driver of economic growth for the western region and our province.”
Actually, no. Kruger’s goal — rationally and reasonably — is to earn profits.
Look at the numbers
A good leader — one worthy of having the tricolour waved for her, or him — would have said forcefully and publicly that Kruger should meet the workers halfway: the company is demanding wage concessions from its employees, so it should open its books to the unions to prove its claim of hard times.
But no. Hard times are for workers, not for premiers or their powerful pals.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.