For the record

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The small reception room was packed with old friends and colleagues, including a handful of former ministers. They sat attentively as Brian Peckford read a poignant anecdote from his new book, with all the charm of Ted Russell’s Uncle Mose.

When the former premier finished his tale, the audience applauded generously.

But the book — “Some Day the Sun Will Shine and Have Not Will Be No More” — is about much more than Peckford’s early life and clever stories from the campaign trail.

It is more about setting the record straight on his tenure as premier — a record that has received short shrift over the years, largely overshadowed by his troubled last few years in office.

That became clear Tuesday when the Canadian Encyclopedia confirmed it has agreed to revise its entry on 1982’s repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, largely based on Peckford’s book.

The encyclopedia had overlooked Newfoundland’s role in the behind-the-scene events that led to the country’s first ministers — minus Quebec — signing a final deal. The editor had a change of heart when confronted by Peckford’s account, along with supporting documentation and interviews.

It’s all rather odd, since anyone in this province who followed the news at the time is well aware that Peckford and his team came up with the initial proposal for that final pact.

Speaking of being ignored, noticeably absent at Tuesday’s book launch were members of the current Progressive Conservative government, save for St. John’s South MHA Tom Osborne. (Osborne left to sit as an independent on Thursday.) No premier, no ministers, not one of the current movers and shakers.

This reflects sadly on a government that has, since 2003, basically ridden on the coattails of Peckford’s most noteworthy achievement: the 1985 Atlantic Accord.

The administrations of Danny Williams and Kathy Dunderdale owe their good economic fortune to the legacy of Peckford and others who hammered out the historic offshore oil pact.

That’s not to say the snub is surprising. Today’s Tory government seems to operate in a vacuum.

They are their own heroes, with few debts to history or the work of their political ancestors. Ourselves alone, if you will.

That became clear in 2007, when Peckford dared to comment on the province’s resource policies.

“I find it sad when former premiers comment on current administrations,” Williams scolded.

Of course, Williams didn’t hesitate to stick his oar in after he left office, and Premier Kathy Dunderdale has given him the cold shoulder, as well.

It’s a uniquely ahistorical attitude, one that can’t bode well for the future of any established political party. A tree with no roots eventually withers and dies.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what other gems emerge as readers pore through the  Peckford’s book.

Organizations: Canadian Encyclopedia

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Webster
    September 17, 2012 - 07:39

    I feel your editorial hit the nail on the head.

  • Eli
    September 14, 2012 - 15:39

    ...and then there's those bloody cucumbers and $22,000.000.00 dow the drain. And who can forget the arrogant trip to Boston and his tipping the limo driver $50.00, all the while sucking on a Churchilian cigar as large as his ego. If you can find Charlie Power ask him about cabinet meetings with Peckford.

    • Willy
      September 15, 2012 - 10:15

      If you can find Bob Garland ask him about

  • AF
    September 14, 2012 - 12:58

    There is a direct line between the prosperity that Newfoundland and Labrador is currently enjoying and the actions of Brain Peckford, John Crosbie and Brain Mulroney. I apologize to all the naysayers out there but it happens to be true. Good for the Editor for pointing this out. When the Justin Trudeau bandwagon rides into to town on the coattails of his father’s legacy, I hope that the Editor is just as diligent in point out that for this Province that legacy is one of denial of any right to such prosperity.

  • Morley
    September 14, 2012 - 07:21

    There are some significant pivotal points in our Modern History. Joining Canada under Joey Smallwood is indisputably a pivotal point or game changer for NL. The Atlantic Accord under Brian Peckford was a pivotal point game changer for NL as well. Repatriation of the Constitution was also a pivotal point for Canada. No other Premier has had this level of impact on changing the future of the NL people. Wither you love them or hate them is no longer the issue – they are now History. Our Brian did change the course of NL politics making it better for all future generations. Give credit where it is due.

    • Garry
      September 14, 2012 - 15:47

      It should be remembered that it was Brian Peckford's Atantic Accord that had a $2,000,000,000 cheque written into it. Too bad other premiers didn't collect on it. If they had, they would have stayed in power for another term or two. Good on you, Brian for putting it in there, and good on you Danny, for realizing Ottawa's "forgetfulness."