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Bob Wakeham: Spotlight on seniors

Now that the provincial government has Suzanne Brake in place as the “seniors advocate,” I think it’s high time, so to speak, all of us 65-plus crowd got our act together and made profoundly significant demands of her office, including, first and foremost, a discount on the price of weed when it becomes available for legal purchase next summer.


Bob Wakeham
Bob Wakeham


After all, Ms. Brake (a personalized approach here, on the off chance she’s already started a file, and feels an obligation to read and collect any columns written by a member of the balding brigade), it was our generation that took the proverbial hit (while having many a smoky hit) 40 and 50 years ago, some winding up in that dilapidated hotel down by the Lake for having a miserable joint or two on his or her possession, and launched the debate that has now led, as common sense dictated it should, to legalization of wacky backy.

So come on now, Ms. Brake, head to the nearest geriatric station of your choice, have a brain toke with a senior citizen, and then begin the campaign to convince the government which appointed you to this crucial, critical position — one that, I’m sure, will alter the lives of Newfoundland seniors in historic, unforgettable ways — to permit discounts for dope for the denture crowd in much the same way they’re in place for movies or breakfast at a fast-food outlet or the price of a package of Depends.

At the very least, Ms. Brake, you’ll be stoned for much of that day, a condition that will prompt you to make better and brighter choices than a multitude of decisions made by our Tory and Liberal politicians over the years when they were apparently straight as arrows, sober as judges, clear-headed and focused as an athlete in his prime.

So: reduced price on dope, a break on electrical rates. What else could you do for seniors, Ms. Brake?

Why, just this week, we’ve been reminded of one such monumentally boneheaded mess that may have been avoided if the honourable ladies and gentlemen had had legal access to a bit of weed, a financial snafu for the Newfoundland ages, the reminder coming in the form of the announcement of the terms of reference for the inquiry into the Muskrat Falls fiasco, an investigation to be headed by Supreme Court Justice Richard LeBlanc.  

Now I’m not suggesting the government of the day should have toked up before their deliberations began on Muskrat Falls — my goodness gracious, no — but surely, such inhalation couldn’t have made their decision-making any worse, and could conceivably have been helpful.

(Danny Williams, the architect of Muskrat Falls, the project that expedited his retirement from politics — after all, it was the last feather to be placed in his legacy cap as he led us, Moses-like, to the Promised Land — was still playing a few days ago that spin-doctoring role he has perfected, preaching to those apostles who would follow him to hell and back that Judge LeBlanc will have a chance to “highlight the positive aspects” of Muskrat Falls; I recollect that Joey also defended the Upper Churchill contract till the day he reluctantly took his last breath).

Still with Muskrat: perhaps, Ms. Brake, now that you’ve been given this powerful mandate, you could find a way to reduce the electrical rates for seniors, the rates that will continue to rise through the stratosphere as we help pay for that now $12-billion-plus (and climbing) financial travesty in Labrador.

So: reduced price on dope, a break on electrical rates. What else could you do for seniors, Ms. Brake?

Now, I assume you can’t do anything about the four and five times a night many of us are forced out of a warm, cosy bed to “make our water,” as they say.

And it’s not within your purview, I’m quite sure, to figure out why it is that some of us men are at a point in our lives that when we see a fine looking woman walking a fine looking beagle we are just as interested in a gander at the latter as we are in the former.

Or to alter the habit many of us have adopted of indulging in a nap each and every afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30, awaking with a gallon of drool hanging off the side of our lips — not exactly a charming, attractive sight.

Or to help seniors grasp those thought-provoking, utterly stimulating words uttered by Paul Davis — the lame duck Tory leader who has apparently and conveniently forgotten the Muskrat albatross the PCs placed around our collective necks; in reacting to the byelection victory by Jim Lester in Mount Pearl this past Tuesday: “What the government is doing to the people of Newfoundland is not good enough, and that is the message delivered tonight.”

Now. You talk.

We are saved, because:


Farmer Jim takes his seat,

Farmer Jim takes his seat.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

Farmer Jim takes his seat.


Best of luck to ya, Ms. Brake.   


Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at


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