Bigots abound

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Brad Cabana made a good point the other day. Cabana, a Saskatchewan native, was talking to Open Line host Bill Rowe on Tuesday about his failed one-man court challenge of the Muskrat Falls hydro project. (He plans to appeal the decision.)

Near the end of the conversation, Cabana brought up all the personal attacks against him that were showing up on the VOCM website and other media.

“I find it ironic when one idiot in Alberta writes a letter to the editor about Newfoundland, that he obviously has no clue (about), and everyone gets in a fuss, but I have 30 or 40 or 50 people on any given day … saying that I have no place here, that I should shut up and I should go back where I came from.”


The “idiot” to which he refers is one Shawn Mitchell, a heretofore little-known Albertan who wrote a letter to the Calgary Sun lamenting that Calgary has supposedly been invaded by lazy, loutish East Coasters who are stealing Albertans’ jobs. The letter was replete with crass insults and stereotypes about people from “da rock,” but came with an editor’s note at the end: “Hey. Back off the Newfoundlanders. They are amazing people.”

Predictably, a Telegram story on the letter set off a firestorm of comment, most condemning Mitchell’s opinion in no uncertain terms. Even the Sun’s opinion editor admitted he regrets running it.

It’s debatable whether such a letter should see the light of day. Randy Simms addresses that question in his column for Saturday’s Telegram. But it’s also interesting to note how insular and blind people can be in both saying such things and in responding to them.

It’s one thing when high-profile personalities make regional slurs. The Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente had no excuse for portraying Newfoundland as a “vast and scenic welfare ghetto” some years back. The late Ralph Klein, when he was mayor of Calgary in 1982, gave a speech to the Calgary Newcomers’ Club in which he complained about “creeps” and “bums” who came from Eastern Canada “without jobs, without accommodation and without money to take care of themselves.”

Klein later tried to water down the comments, saying the wasn’t talking specifically about Eastern Canadians.

It’s another thing, however, when some ordinary joe starts blasting his fellow Canadians. It’s different, because such trolls will always be among us, lurking in the shadows, lashing out whenever they see fit.

It’s different, as well, because the phenomenon is not exclusive to any one province or region. Newfoundlanders are basically friendly people. But so are Saskatchewanians, and Albertans, and Prince Edward Islanders. None of us has a monopoly on kindness.

Perhaps it’s important to occasionally out the bigots and the racists. They deserve our scorn and derision. But that’s really all they deserve.

As Bill Rowe said to Cabana: “You don’t pay any attention to that, do you?”

Organizations: Globe and Mail

Geographic location: Calgary, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan Muskrat Falls Alberta East Coasters Eastern Canada

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Recent comments

  • Wondering
    August 03, 2013 - 12:18

    If I got it right, the judge hearing Cabana's case about Muskrat Falls,( and Muskrat falls was undertaken by Danny Williams) is the wife of Danny Williams's law partner, And Danny is separately suing Cabana for libel. Cabana suggested the judge was in a conflict of interest. She decided it way good for her to continue to hear the case about Muskrat falls, and decided against him and burdened him with all the court costs. We don't know if Cabana or the judge was right , until appeals are heard. But I wonder why some judge without that baggage didn't hear this case? Especially given the implications of a 10 billion project that is looking very dubious, and whether a Quebec court may yet show Cabana's arguments may be valid? Maybe Cabana could have saved us from a big blunder.......time will tell. Cabana's style and character may have flaws, but this should not be the way to judge him, but on the quality of his arguments. Why are lawyers not critical of his arguments.... I would like to see some lawyers comment on line or in print instead of being silent. Cabana calls himself a Nflder and that is fine...... and he certainly is a fighter. So that makes him a Fighting Nflder. He just don't rant and roar.

  • Marge
    August 03, 2013 - 09:51

    So, in other words, it's ok for people "from away" to move here, so long as they know their place. Nice.

  • Mikey
    August 02, 2013 - 14:37

    Maybe the media attention by the Hotline show, CBC, NTV, and The newspapers fuel people like Brad Cabana, giving attention to people who would otherwise just go away if ignored. Media has played a role in this.

  • JStrickland
    August 02, 2013 - 11:43

    If Mr. Cabana moved to Saskatchewan from any other place and then proceeded to become the leader of the Conservative government, then the Liberal opposition, cause civil court cases against prominent individuals and companies and then, while choosing to represent himself in Court stand up and say the judge is in a conflict of interest because she does not see things his way - yeah, he would be laughed away from there too. The comedy of Mr. cabana is not about where he is from, it is about how he acts and thinks in public.

  • Wild Rose
    August 02, 2013 - 08:01

    Like other true Newfoundlanders I would never vote for a CFA!!!!

    • david
      August 02, 2013 - 09:00

      And that's bigotry. This place is full of it.

    • Eli
      August 02, 2013 - 09:04

      But you would vote for a predator like Brian Tobin right?

    • W McLean
      August 02, 2013 - 14:28

      Francis Little, the first Premier of colonial Newfoundland, was from PEI. John Kent was born in Ireland. Bennett, Whiteway, Goodridge, and Lloyd in England, and Thorburn in Scotland. In other parts of Canada, they have none of your qualms about "CFAs", including in New Brunswick, where Corner Brook native Margaret-Ann Blaney was elected to the provincial legislature; Quebec, where Harbour Grace native William Power and St. John's native John Cannon were elected to the legislature; and Nova Scotia, where Placentia native Harry Verran and Carbonear native William Duff were elected to the House of Commons.

    • W McLean
      August 02, 2013 - 15:47

      Neglected to add Ed Picco and Allan Rumbolt, former and current members of the Nunavut territorial assembly, both originally from Newfoundland.

  • Duggan
    August 02, 2013 - 07:12

    The editorial is true to a point - a person's place of origin is not a reason by which to judge them. Their conduct is. Newfoundlanders should not suffer fools gladly. Mr. Cabana is mocked due his long list of forays into public matters that would be mocked anywhere including his place origin.

  • Brent
    August 02, 2013 - 05:53

    The difference between Mitchell and Cabana is that one wrote an inflammatory letter and the other moved here, thinking he was our Saviour after Williams resigned, first in the PC Party when he delusionally thought he was going to take over from Williams, and then when that bombed, he moved on to try to take over the Liberals! Most people from other provinces, don't go to another one and try to rule the place the moment they arrive. So, it has been fair to ask, "who is this guy and what is he really all about??" If you look at his Twitter feed, the aspersions he has cast on Danny Williams and others are unreal. I don't condone abuse for the sake of it at all and Cabana himself can hurl some lovely invective. If he cannot stand the heat, he really should get out of the kitchen. Cabana is a pitiable attention seeker who thought he could come here and really wow us and take over as Premier or something! Shawn Mitchell never tried to do that, but his vicious letter shows him for the small man he is. People tell Cabana to go back to where he came from because he is a persistence nuisance, not because he is from another province!! Shawn Mitchell won't persist. And least I don't think so. Doesn't make his singular action right at all, please don't mistake me.