April 20, 2004

Proto-Inkslinger #5

Insights from the West Side
Written from Carbonear/Stephenville, NL
Appeared in the Carbonear Compass on April 20, 2004

I suppose this time around my column’s title is misleading, because I’m actually writing it from my hometown of Carbonear, not from the west coast of Newfoundland - specifically, Stephenville.

It’s kind of sad that I just got a cool new logo with my picture, and this is the last column. It made me feel like a professional columnist.

Now, “moo-ving” on to the topic at hand…

Right now, the province has fallen into a state of chaos. Twenty thousand NAPE and CUPE employees are participating in the province’s biggest strike in its history. Nurses have set a June 30 strike date, and the NLTA has made threats. The province is collapsing into a giant swirling vortex. The cows had better hurry up and come home.

I took an extra week off from school to finish any remaining work I had to do home because there are no cafeteria services, mail or security at the Stephenville campus. School administration is working like oxen to keep the situation under control, but they’re being stretched kind of thin.

I plead with the unions and the government – agree to something so we can return to living a semblance of a normal life! This stalemate has to come to an end sooner rather than later.

I’m becoming somewhat concerned about the premier’s deteriorating credibility – notably when he wrongly accused union members of beating up his son on George Street. Then it was found that the culprit, a David Nagle, who laid the smack-down on Danny Junior didn’t even know the young heir to the Williams’ empire, nor was he remotely connected to any union. This incident also gave the strikers a theme for the strike – which was of course “until the cows come home.” Maybe Williams caught a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as the mad cow disease...it’s in the air these days. From that day forwards, cows were seen everywhere. So, in some ways they have really come home, and in force.

But then, Grimes was booted out of the House of Assembly for the rest of the day for calling Williams a liar. Children, please. Reading through the archives of the Hansard, I’ve found Grimes making many references to Williams as a “slick lawyer,” a one-man show. He resorting to petty name-calling like the kids that he once taught I’m sure used to get on with.

Newfoundland politics and politics in general can be very humorous at times...and other times not.
CBC depicted a picketer in a cow suit standing on the stairs leading up to the Colonial Building, where in 1932, a major riot once took place when Prime Minister Richard Squires seriously screwed his people over. Squires and his cohorts were accused of taking money from the treasury. This riot brought forced Squires’ resignation. I hope that this isn’t history about to repeat itself – especially with Tom Hanlon, former NAPE president’s recent threat to break people’s legs that cross the picket lines. This time around, the demonstration at the Colonial Building was much more peaceful, but someone could snap at any time.

This could very well be the beginning of the fall of the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our province. Our land. Our heritage.

Ironically, this insanity all began April 1 2004, which also marked 55 years of Confederation with Canada. Joey Smallwood’s Liberal cabinet was sworn in on that day. This date is also April Fool’s Day. I often wonder if a joke of epic proportions was played on us that day, and we still just haven’t gotten the punch line.

I sincerely hope that by the time you read this, my prophecy hasn’t come to be and the issues between the unions and the government have been cleared up, even for a while.

Well, my time with this column is almost up.

In the future, look for my name – one journey for me has ended, and another stretches out before me.

Sir Winston Churchill once said “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”

As do I.

Diploma in hand, I face the dawn.