Our government’s comment, (“Government says population strategy pending,” Feb 15) on our expected future population decline, displays a disturbing attitude; one that seems unconnected and unconcerned for a large segment of province.
Their response to this potential future situation sounds like a solution to another problem in a day at the office that will be simply addressed and fixed.
Our government’s response came only after a respected think-tank in Toronto mentioned the potential future decline in our numbers. Add to this, mind you, that over half our population, living in the 95 per cent of the land mass off of the Avalon Peninsula, have been suffering and sounding alarm bells for years about their declining situation of lost economy, jobs and community strength.
This begs a question of our government: where have you been?
Before there is or can be an answer, a solution to any problem, the problem itself has to be fully understood.
Our government’s normal way of approaching any problem in which it happens to be involved in or partly responsible for (and make no mistake, they are at the root of our population decline in Newfoundland and Labrador), is to not see or blame themselves as part of the problem.
Thus, the solution is “out there” somewhere, away from them, and they will, at arm’s length, fix it!
The looming population decline that this province may be facing, and understanding its real solution, will never be addressed or resolved by a government that does not see itself as a major part of the problem.
Perhaps it would be helpful, as a start, to shed further light on our declining population problem, by comparing the populations of rural and coastal Newfoundland and Labrador with that of St. John’s and the Avalon. In particular, go back in the records to the year of the moratorium in 1992, starting from there to the present, and see the trends, if any, between the Avalon population versus that of rural/coastal parts of the province.
If these two segments of our province have different graph timelines, such as one being flat or up while the other is down, it would be revealing.
A much longer discussion, of course, is needed on this important issue — but one can’t help but mention the obvious and wonder how much influence the moratorium of ’92 has had on our population loss and its future, with 40,000 fisheries jobs gone and some 90,000 people vacating coastal Newfoundland and Labrador because of it.
Losing our heritage fishery because of the mismanagement of our government is at the crux of our population situation.
If the fishery is not protected and restored with a resulting return of thousands of fishers to our shores, with our government realizing its part in its failure, no “population strategy pending” will ever understand or correct a declining future population.
What chance do we have of this provincial government seeing the truth of all this, accepting their involvement, and trying to correct it?
Well, if we take our government’s actions in the recent Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union, where they gave away our minimum processing regulations and their protection of our plants (which eventually will close of the few coastal community plants we have), we will have no chance at all of the government protecting our population.
Our government may say there is a “pending population strategy,” but first I would like to hear from them why the strategy they have in place and have been using — “the population decline strategy” — has failed.
Phil Earle writes from Carbonear.