Lame performance should subdue provincial patriots

Brian Jones
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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?

Looking back

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

Organizations: Calgary Flames, Stars and Stripes, CBC The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Maple Leaf, Canada Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Vic
    June 23, 2012 - 12:11

    Thanks Brian

  • Bout time
    June 22, 2012 - 14:51

    The tri-colour is a fake fkag to begin with. Its' a republican flag for a place that was never a republic. It was dreamed up by the gent who created the Irish tri-colour, but never had a place in Newfoundland - except with the narrow minded types. It has come to represent all the things that are wrong with Newfoundland. The out dated mentalities, the economic/political/cultural drama queens, and those that are trying to figure out why 250,000 plus Newfoundlanders now call the rest of the country home.Are they all traitors? To the types that fly the tri-colour the answer is yes.

  • Edward Power
    June 22, 2012 - 11:45

    I wonder how much John Smith gets for his PC PR duties. I'll give him this much, with the limited material he's given, he does a very creative job trying to turn a sows ear into a silk purse. It would appear, however, that Mr. Smith has a basement office deep in the bowels of the Confederation Building as he certainly has difficulty seeing the light.

  • Winston Adams
    June 22, 2012 - 11:00

    Seems to me the best way to make Corner Brook Mill profitable is to run it for 8 months and shut it the winter time( paper markets being soft, and assuming other of their mills in Quebec can produce in the winter). During winter in nfld, sell the excess unused electricity to Nfld Hydro to help heat our homes, and reduce operation at Holyrood. The only downside is this counters the need for Muskrat Falls, and mine owners appear anxious to have this paid for by the taxpayer and householder. Perhaps John Smith could comment on this suggestion.

    • John Smith
      June 22, 2012 - 15:17

      Well, if only it were that easy. The small amount of power that CBPP uses would not put a dent in what we will need over the next 30 years....that is why Muskrat is needed, not just for the 100 megawatts that Vale needs, or the two GBSs that will be built here, or the three new 12 story buildings going up in downtown as we speak, or the hundreds upon hundreds of new homes being built every year, and the mining in labrador. We will need the power from muskrat to get us to the next phase of development in the province...anyone who can't see that is fooling themselves...

  • Poor BJ
    June 22, 2012 - 07:48

    Looks like typical Jonesian logic. It's the age old belief that NLers are not fit, or competent, to take care of themselves. No, we need mother Ottawa to look after us. Sounds defeatist to me - OMG, you're a Harperite in disguise.

  • John Smith
    June 22, 2012 - 07:27

    No...I don't think Ms. Dunderdale is a bad Premier, I think she is doing a good job in a very difficult situation. It must be nice to sit back, write a few bad paragraphs, and be critical of someone who is doing their best for the province. She is faced with more serious, and challenging situations in a day then you see in a year Mr. Jones. So, instead of wondering about which flags to run up your post, why don't you run for office?You seem to have all the answers...what a dupe...

    • Sick of the shills
      June 22, 2012 - 09:13

      John Smith, you can't be writing this tripe with a straight face. Dunderdale facing hard times? This government is blessed with far more cash than any of the governments prior to the PC's coming into power. The toughest decisions that she faces is how to divvy up the pork. Meanwhile, the real tough decisions go unmade and our government continues on their merry way frittering away our non-renewable resource dollars.