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PAM FRAMPTON: You don’t owe anyone your vote

Conservative supporters cheer as it is announced that Michael Kram, the Regina-Wascana candidate won his seat over incumbent Liberal Ralph Goodale as federal election results roll in at the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters at the International Trade Centre at Evraz Place.
Conservative supporters cheer as federal election results roll in at the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters in Regina, Sask., Oct. 21. — POSTMEDIA FILE PHOTO

I was living in Ottawa in 1990 when debate over the Meech Lake Accord was getting more heated and divisive by the day.

Then Newfoundland and Labrador premier Clyde Wells was adamant that the accord would give Quebec powers that other provinces didn’t have and risk seeing poorer provinces shortchanged when it came to federal funding.

The accord eventually died a natural death after it failed to receive support from Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba, where MLA Elijah Harper had pointed out that Indigenous Peoples had not been consulted on the accord nor involved in its negotiation.

In other words, the provinces that opposed the accord each had their own issues, their own reasons.

During the height of the debate, when Wells was garnering national attention and respect for his passionate and reasoned arguments, I arrived at work one day to be confronted by an angry colleague, who waggled his finger in my face and said that, as Canada’s poorest province, Newfoundland and Labrador couldn’t afford to hamstring the rest of the country.

I was shocked and affronted by the idea — I was more naive then — that there were Canadians who did not feel Newfoundlanders and Labradorians had equal status in the federation.

“We have as much right as you do to have a say,” I countered.

It’s not news to anyone that there was a social media feeding frenzy once the vote count was in, with some Albertans — among them some expat Newfoundlanders and Labradorians — vitriolically chastising people in this province for having the temerity to vote for other parties besides the Conservatives.

Eventually, the Meech Lake debate waned and our brief argument was never mentioned again. I didn’t forget it, but I chalked it up to being the kind of heated but short-lived spat family members sometimes have when they see things from different perspectives, and left it at that.

I hope it’ll be the same between Alberta and this province once the disappointment dies down over the federal election results and people can once again see past their own point of view.

It’s not news to anyone that there was a social media feeding frenzy once the vote count was in, with some Albertans — among them some expat Newfoundlanders and Labradorians — vitriolically chastising people in this province for having the temerity to vote for other parties besides the Conservatives.

I don’t really believe most thinking Albertans expected Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to vote for the Conservatives or any other party just because they hoped they would or tried to persuade them to do so.

My vote is my vote. It’s not for sale or barter.

On social media, some were harking back to a speech that Newfoundlander Rex Murphy gave to the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show June 6 of this year in which he described how the West warmly welcomed people from this province when they were displaced by the northern cod moratorium.

Brian Zinchuk covered the event for Pipeline News.

“Murphy’s message was that when things were at their most bleak, those people came west,” Zinchuk wrote. “And we, in the west, with our oil and gas, had jobs. And paycheques. And as a result, these people were able to maintain, or reclaim, their dignity.”

It’s true that many of our best and brightest have migrated to Western Canada, and to other places, too — Toronto and the “Boston states” were popular destinations; Toronto still is.

But they didn’t go to “reclaim” their dignity, because they never lost it in the first place. Despite being from a resource-rich province, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are quite familiar with having to go to where the jobs are.

Let’s be clear: they went for work, not handouts. The West needed skills that people from this province had and they earned their keep. Some commuted from here to there, while others settled out West and bought property, raised families and paid taxes, just like folks who were born there.

Canada is a big country with issues that vary, depending on where you live. But we have things in common, too, like pride in our medicare system and cultural traditions and shared values that bind us together.

And if we ever lose sight of that, we have only to look south to see what comes of talk of us and them, and building walls.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s managing editor. Email pamela.frampton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton


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