Keep your mouth shut

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The Western Star of Corner Brook published a rather skewed editorial last week regarding (Liberal) voices of the past and their chiming in on current affairs in this province, as if they had no right to do so.

I understand editorials by their very nature are slanted, and that we all have our own biases and myself certainly included, but this particular one was so blatantly partisan that it concerned me that a media outlet such as this newspaper would not only be so partisan and hypocritical, but also far less scrutinizing of this government than The Telegram, which rightfully takes this government to task as media, and ordinary citizens, ought to do in a democracy as we have here - in theory, at least. 

We clearly still have this culture here whereby if you are not a supporter of this government, you are effectively a pariah and should shut your mouth and do as the editorial suggested: "They (Liberals of yore) should let those in charge now do what they think best ... without all the harping from has-beens in the cheap seats."

Yes, all-knowing Western Star, we should just sit back and let this government do whatever it likes, never "harp", and let them be the caretakers of Newfoundland and Labrador that they have been since Danny Williams took over in late 2003.

In fact, The Western Star has identified the fundamental problem in our politics right now, whether the editorial writer intended to or not. And that is the seriously misguided, jingoistic notion that if you speak out against this regime, and merely ask any questions about policy - heaven forbid - you are "negative", anti-development, a "traitor", a "Danny hater" (next to "traitor" - my favorite), and a whole host of other things that personally attack your character and sense of pride in this province of all of ours. 

But, of course, that's nothing new here in Newfoundland and Labrador the past decade.

It was also revealed last week that the Government of Canada is now to be referred to as "the Harper Government" in official government communications. Stephen Harper has merely taken a page from our former Premier, as our government here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the one belonging to you and me just as the Government of Canada does, was known in official government press releases, correspondences, and the like as "the Williams government".

Should we keep mum on this too?

So, what do we do, folks? Do as that Corner Brook daily suggests, "let those in charge now do what they think best", including Harper and Co. upalong, without any question or scrutiny of them at all, or do we stand up for what we believe in, use the constitutionally enshrined democratic right we all have in this free society to speak our minds on government directives and actions - and on politicians, past and present, especially when their directives and actions still affect us?

I will take the latter over the former any day, and I don't accept our politicians, media outlets, and fellow citizens telling us to, in effect, "keep your mouth shut."

Because doing that takes away our voices and our agency as citizens. And it continues this democratic deficit that has effectively strangled democracy in Newfoundland and Labrador as we have known it. And I am not personally prepared to be a part of that and I will never heed the words of politicians, editorial writers, and anyone else who tells me and the rest of us to pipe down and just let Kathy and company do "what is best for us".

Ultimately, we all lose when that is the prevailing attitude in our society. And that is never something to keep quiet about.

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  • Shannon Reardon
    March 13, 2011 - 13:47

    Andrea, cheers and thanks for the feedback. Often, the limelight is placed on these former politicians for their reactions to current government "triumphs", if you will, such as the Emera Muskrat Falls development. I am not so sure it is these former politicians seeking the media out to give their comments, but even if that were the case, they have the right just as any citizen, whether they are popular today or not. This particular editorial essentially told these former politicos to simmer down, butt out of our current affairs, and let the present government do what they feel is "best" for us. Pretty darn paternalistic. And as I expressed in my piece, I have a fundamental problem with that message, and what that tells anyone who served this province in a bygone era. And what it tells politicos of today and of the future. Pipe down on the politics of the time AFTER you've served in office? I agree that we need a solid opposition. Couldn't agree with you more, and I frankly don't understand myself why it has taken so long, with no end in sight to the disarray, for the Liberal Party to rebuild. With a political force such as the former Premier, it is clearly most difficult to make any kind of inroads. Now that he is gone, the Liberals are still flailing. It will take time after the decimation that has happened to the Liberal Party with the internal fracture of, yes, a decade ago now, and the coinciding PC juggernaut of that time. Clearly, that double whammy has virtually paralyzed any growth. Yes, we were mired in debt and there was mismanagement from the former administrations. I will never say that I believe the Liberal administrations never did any wrong, and could do no wrong. But for people to believe that all has been well since the PC's took office over seven years ago and that they've ameliorated everything? Not likely. I'll be writing forever if I go on here with examples, but one such glaring one that was covered by the feds, curiously enough, was the Abitibi debacle, and the mill we still own - the toxic site, and everything else that will still cost us untold millions in terms of clean up. And for what? How about the Lower Churchill? So many questions on that, and not enough information being offered to the public by Nalcor and this government. Again, I can go on and on, so I will just very briefly raise those two issues. One a definite bungle, and the other remaining to be seen... Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  • Andrea
    March 13, 2011 - 10:09

    Ms. Reardon, while I agree in the concept of democracy and the fact that it hasn't been overall a 'democratic' political scene in NL since 2003. I have to disagree with your notion that we should allow old political figures to chime in on current affairs. Sure, they can make statements and criticize the current government, but, I don't think they deserve any of the limelight. Just remember that it was the Liberal Party of Newfoundland who cast us into unprecedented debt. Democratically, they were voted out of office, so, like I said, they can quack now about how they would do things differently from the PC's, but, really, they don't deserve the paper their statements are written on. If they want to criticize on an official table, they should seek re-election and not use their of Liberal ties as a way of getting media hype. I truly hope that Grimes or Efford never run for office again. Efford is a 'take it or leave kinda guy' and 'Grimes' Crimes' of the 90's with him as education minister shouldn't be forgotten. Remember the times of NLTA strikes? and having our children out of class? What is needed in Newfoundland is a good solid opposition party, and sadly for you, I must say that it shouldn't be the Liberal Party - It's taken nearly 10 years to dig out of their last mismanaged government.