The silence of the lands

Ed Smith
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Is it just me or is everything awfully quiet politically these days?

The most noise you hear is on Randy Simms’ Open Line, but even Randy seems inclined to give the beleaguered elected lot a break for the summer. The most you hear him getting on with is the deplorable state of some side roads in Terra Nova National Park.

The other great filler of time for Open Line is being bulletin board for the seven-and-a-half million festivals that are underway in every nook and cranny in the province. It seems these are all religious-inspired because there are more gospel concerts and ecumenical services going on this summer than at any time in the recorded history of Christianity.

Great heavenly day! The souls that must be being saved! Of course, as soon as faithful and sinners alike discover the real reason for this great religious fervour, that’ll be the end of it. It’s not that I’m skeptical, you understand. It’s just that I have experiential insight, whatever that is, into these things.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so little political activity. Politicians of every stripe and colour are busy taking part in ecumenical services and vacation Bible schools. You might even find a scattered one singing in the village choir. Nothing wrong with it.

I’m reminded that we’ve heard nothing about religious activity during the George Street Festival. Perhaps the organizers just aren’t calling Randy about it. I don’t have opportunity to listen to Bill’s Backtalk in the afternoon, so it may be that the bulk of information is coming through Randy.

It’s a shame, too, because there’s a United church right there on George Street ready to welcome worshippers and revelers alike. The doors are probably open all during the festival.

Anyway, No. 1 Son was at the George Street Festival, so I’ll know more about the religious aspect of it when he gets back.

Big surprise

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the political summer is twofold. First, Yvonne Jones, having borne the heat and the burden of the day — namely the Conservatives — has declared that she’s running for the leadership of the Liberal Party once again. Second surprise: no one else wants it.

I thought Danny Dumaresque would be in there like a dog at dinner. It may be that the political dinner is too well guarded by a bulldog. I don’t think even Morris Budgell is interested.

I’ve come to have some admiration for the politician in Ms. Jones, and I’m really sorry she now has another daunting battle to fight. But anyone who can fearlessly take on the most intimidating politician since Joseph R. (let’s face it, since Napoleon) can pretty much handle anything.

It takes guts to stand up in that legislature and attempt to outmanoeuvre, outdebate and outshine The Man. Sometimes she even does it.

Liberals will one day look back to a time when she carried the party on her back when it wasn’t much of a party and for that reason all the more heavy. Carry on Vonnie! You’ll be running full tilt at your windmills again before long.

The place is dead even federally. Last I heard, Stephen Harper was headed towards Iran or Iraq or some strange place like that. Might have been Alberta. Does anyone know if he came back? Does anyone care? I refer, of course, to the politician Harper and not the person Harper, although I really don’t know how much one has to do with the other.

In an effort to fan the flames a bit, someone started some faint talk about an election, but that lasted two or three hours and then drowned in a sea of indifference. Someone tried to start a racket about the census forms, but that’s like trying to spark an argument about which disciple had the longest beard.

The Senate slumbers on. The House is silent. Canada is dead.

Happy places

Speaking of Canada, and I was, did you see the poll conducted by Forbes as to which is the happiest country on Earth to live in? No, not Canada. I think the first three or four were Scandinavian countries and New Zealand. We came seventh, which is not too shabby.

Strangely enough, the happiest countries coincided with the richest countries, with one notable exception. The richest country of all, the U.S. of A., came in 15th. I guess money isn’t everything.

I don’t know how they identified which country was happy and which not. Perhaps it was the same process as when Maclean’s Magazine voted Newfoundlanders the most sexually active of all Canadians.

They asked us if we have sex more often than anyone else in the country, and we said “yes.” It’s possible we exaggerated. You think?

The Canadian who arguably garnered more interest than anyone else this summer was a non-Canadian, Conrad Black. Perhaps he’s only an ex-Canadian, having traded in his citizenship for a seat in the House of Lords. Poor Mr. Black is now a man without a home. The British don’t like him, the U.S. doesn’t want him and he’s no longer a Canadian.

Anyway, he’s now out walking around. I have a good friend who is also a good friend of Mr. Black, and who maintains the man has suffered enough for his white-collar crimes. What should be the penalty for incredible arrogance? Perhaps being married to Barbara Amiel would cover it.

Shaking summer

One has to depart the political scene to find really interesting goings-on this summer. There was, for example, an earthquake in the Bay of Fundy. An earthquake in the Bay of Fundy!

The night before that happened, I watched the movie “2012” about the coming catastrophic end of the world in 2012. The movie was rather silly, but the Fundy earthquake made me sit up. That was close, man.

If I hear of a tornado pitching down in the Eastport area, or a volcano spewing up near South Brook, I’m looking around for the nearest ark.

I’m hoping Marystown is already laying the keel.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His e-mail address is

Organizations: United church, Conservatives, Liberal Party The Man House of Lords

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., Iran Iraq Alberta Bay of Fundy Scandinavian countries New Zealand Eastport South Brook Marystown Springdale

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