There’s more to N.L. than St. John’s

Published on October 2, 2013
Electoral district map published in William Pilot’s 1908 “Outlines of The History of Newfoundland.”

By Terry Burry

I read in The Telegram on Sept. 11 that Clyde Wells and Derek Green are calling for a law school at Memorial University so that students in Newfoundland and Labrador can have access to a legal education at a reasonable cost.

What a golden opportunity for MUN to establish a campus in Gander or Grand Falls-Windsor.

Since 1949, rural Newfoundland and Labrador has been robbed of all of its talent to St. John’s and elsewhere. The Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook is only a marketing ploy to try and prevent high school students from the area from attending universities in Nova Scotia, which undoubtedly they would rather do than take an eight-hour bus ride to St. John’s, the most easterly point in North America, except for Cape Spear.

One of the biggest concerns is that all decisions in this province are made by decision-makers from St. John’s, on the Avalon Peninsula, which represents only about 2.3 per cent of the geographic area of the province.

Remember a few years ago, when the new hospital was built in the centre of Fogo Island and not replaced at its original site in the Town of Fogo? It was decision-makers in St. John’s who did that. But it seems they can’t use the same logic when it comes to placing facilities in the centre of Newfoundland and Labrador. Why, I wonder?

Could it be that the crowd in St. John’s has a bias? The big difference, of course, is that Fogo Island is only about 238 square kilometres (25 km long and 14 km wide), while the island of Newfoundland (including associated small islands) is about 111,390 square kms, which makes it about 480 times larger than Fogo Island.

If you include Labrador in the equation (an additional 293,822 square kms), the province now becomes over 1,700 times larger than Fogo Island. But for some strange reason, everything has to go in St. John’s and not in a more centralized location of the province, which would make it more accessible to all.

So, centralization is good for Fogo Island, but not for Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe it’s all about having control.

Some other numbers to consider:

• 86 per cent of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) members are from St. John’s or the Avalon.

• 100 per cent of the members of the Public Utilities Board (PUB),  with a former mayor of St. John’s as its chair, are from St. John’s.

• 57 per cent of our MPs fly out of St. John’s International Airport.

• 83 per cent of our senators fly out of St. John’s.

• We just lost our four rural school boards to St. John’s, and our health boards will likely follow.

• Confederation Building is in St. John’s — Joey Smallwood’s biggest mistake next to the Upper Churchill — which should have been  put in central Newfoundland.

• Tertiary health care is in St. John’s. We get Daffodil Place, and help pay for it, too, with $50,000 coming from Glovertown alone.

• Memorial University’s main campus is in St. John’s; MUN has no footprint in central Newfoundland at all.

And the list goes on.

No wonder so many of our young people from rural Newfoundland and Labrador have to head to Alberta, and why Labrador is thinking about creating its own territory and seceding from Newfoundland.

Can you blame them, with all their vast natural resources? On the Avalon, you wouldn’t cut enough 2 x 4 lumber to build an outhouse; and not enough hydro power to light up the taillights on a rubber duck.


Terry Burry writes from Glovertown.