Avalon-only candidates need apply

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I read with interest your news article on the front page of The Weekend St. John’s Telegram by reporter James McLeod, with regard to our six Newfoundland and Labrador Senators, “3 + 3 = $2 million*.” No doubt the item was well researched and the numbers are reasonably accurate. However, much is omitted from a true picture.

You should also realize that, with regards to the Senate, and with the exception of George Baker (who wasn’t appointed by Stephen Harper), St. John’s and the Avalon Peninsula is the only place that is part of Canada.

Shame! I thought that the House of Commons, the Lower House, was representation by population and the Upper Chamber, the Senate, had a different role to play: to represent the provinces. The Avalon Peninsula, a peninsula in southeastern Newfoundland, is joined to the main part of the island by a six-kilometre-wide isthmus between Placentia and Trinity bays and extends for about 9,220 square kilometres.

Newfoundland and Labrador is 405,212 square kilometres. Therefore, the Avalon Peninsula is approximately 2.3 per cent the size of the province as whole. If one considered only the northeast Avalon vs. the rest of the province, then the percentage would shrink to a mere fraction of one per cent.

Some readers of your paper might say, “So that’s what those six buggers are doing up in Ottawa … spending $2 million a year of our hard-earned money … smart buggers, aren’t they?’

Four out of six were appointed by Harper, one, appointed twice; all from the Avalon, none from Labrador, none from central or western Newfoundland. So much for the “triple E” Senate that Preston Manning once talked about.

The Constitution Act outlines the qualifications of senators: individuals must be both citizens of Canada and at least 30 years of age to be eligible for appointment to the Senate. Senators must also maintain residency in the provinces or territories for which they are appointed.

Only Quebec currently has a share of senators approximately proportional to its share of the total population. Quebec senators are the only ones to be assigned to specific districts within their province.

Everyone knew Mike Duffy hadn't lived in P.E.I. for many years, and Pamela Wallin, representing Saskatchewan, holds an Ontario health card.

In other words, if they were elected, like MPs and MHAs, they would be considered parachute candidates.

But in this province, we have Newfoundland senator Norm Doyle from St. John’s, taking a Senate seat away from Labrador when Bill Rompkey retired, and St. John’s-based David Wells taking a seat away from western Newfoundland when Ethel Cochrane retired, who was from Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula.

Currently there are five out of six senators from St. John’s or the Avalon area, four of whom were appointed by Harper.

To top that off, our federal cabinet representative for Newfoundland and Labrador is now Peter MacKay from Nova Scotia.

Even Newfoundland Liberal MP Judy Foote lives in St. John’s, although her riding is Random–Burin–St. George's, not even close to St. John’s.

I’m not forgetting, of course, the two NDP MPs, Jack Harris and Ryan Cleary.

They drive eight hours round trip to Gander Airport each week in order to support their base (union buddies on the picket line at St. John’s airport), while accusing the Conservatives of playing to their base on gun control. They, therefore, use Gander Airport as a stopgap!

Do they claim their car mileage to and from St. John’s? Also, Air Canada’s market out of Gander is much more expensive than St. John’s, their closest airport. Since it is too dangerous to drive after dark, thus, the need to stay at hotels in Gander — remember Ryan Cleary vs. a moose in Terra Nova National Park last October?

 

Terry Burry writes from Glovertown.

Organizations: House of Commons, Lower House, Upper Chamber Gander Airport Conservatives Air Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Avalon, Canada Placentia Ottawa Quebec P.E.I. Saskatchewan Gander Ontario Port au Port Peninsula Nova Scotia St. George's Terra Nova National Park Glovertown

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Recent comments

  • Chris
    June 15, 2013 - 08:38

    I cannot figure out exactly what the author is trying to say. So a majority of our Senators come from the Avalon. So do a majority of our population. He lists the total area of NL vs that of the Avalon and uses this to argue why more representation needs to come from West of Goobies. What the author fails to point out is the relative population density of the two regions. NL may be over 405,000 sq.km but how much of that land (mostly in Labrador and the main portion of the island) is uninhabited? Because some in Brigus is further from an uninhabited region in central NL than someone in Gander, does it make them less entitled to a say over it? His argument also fails to mention the mobility of our population. I would be regarded as a townie by anyone (7th generation even) yet even a die-hard urban townie like me has roots from all over the island. And seeing the various forms of accents I hear in town these days not to mention the rapid growth of the Pentecostal church in McDonald Drive I would argue that there are many with much stronger rural roots than me. I'm all for a Triple-E Senate. But the E for equality means provincial. To continue to divide it further is pointless.

  • Neglected Point
    June 13, 2013 - 14:20

    What the author forgot to mention is how the more highly populated areas of the province, largely the Avalon, support all of those tiny little communities spread out around the island. Do you really think those scattered remote towns that require their own power source, ferries, bridges, etc, send in as much tax as it takes for them to have the luxury of services in the middle of nowhere? Before you go pointing fingers at the EVIL Avalon, you might want to remember that those evil townies in CBS, Mt. Pearl, St. John's, Holyrood, etc, pay for a lot of services that people in remote communities couldn't afford otherwise.

  • Other side of the coin
    June 13, 2013 - 08:15

    I'm not sure what the point is of this letter. There will never be any one system of representation that will please everyone. I'm of the belief that politicians are selected to represent people and not the rocks and trees of square kilometers. Representation should be, and usually is, by population regions. It's not always an equitable representation. The NE Avalon accounts for 39% of the population (something not mentioned in the letter) but has 29% of the seats in the HOA and 29% of the province's seats in the HOC. Likewise, the Avalon is home to over half of the provincial population but representation in the HOA and HOC do not reflect this population. At the other end is Labrador, with 5% of the population but holding 8% of the seats in the HOA and 14% of our seats in HOC.