Flogging a dead Newfoundland pony
St. John's Telegram columnist Brian Jones has a dead horse. But he doesn't let that stop him from flogging it:
Of course, some mainlanders might mistakenly — or accurately, depending on your point of view — interpret our licence plate slogan as being “and Labrador.”Brian, check your history. The province had only been called "Newfoundland" for 52 years, from 1949 to 2001. Prior to that, the province, then a colony, was styled "the Island of Newfoundland and its Dependencies ". The name "Newfoundland" very clearly only ever referred to the island of that name, otherwise there would have been no reason to specify "and its Dependencies", and no reason to include the words "Island of".
One beneficial consequence of putting a motto on our licence plates is that it would force us to remove “and Labrador” to make space.
Hopefully, that might spur us to remove “and Labrador” from our official name as well, so we don’t all look like buffoons whenever our premier goes on national TV and refers to “Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”
Adopting a licence plate slogan might force us to focus our view of our province.
There isn’t a politician among our group of representatives who has the guts to suggest reverting to our old, historical provincial name, by which we were known for 503 years. Putting a motto on our plates might be just the excuse we need.
Besides, where does this "503 years" business come from, anyway? Even if what is now Newfoundland and Labrador had been called just "Newfoundland" prior to 1949 — and it very clearly wasn't — the earliest attestation for "Newfoundland" in English dates only from 1502. That would make 499 years. But then you have to consider that Labrador was only annexed to Newfoundland in 1763, which would make it at most 238 years, except for that Labrador was then removed from the government of Newfoundland (and that the name "Newfoundland" was not extended to the mainland until 1949.)
So Labrador has only been continuously part of what is now Newfoundland and Labrador since 1809, which makes 192 years, again, but for the fact that Labrador was not subsumed under the name "Newfoundland" until 1949. Even then, there was talk that the name of the province should be "Newfoundland and Labrador", and for many years thereafter the province was so called in the media and popular press, even well before the Labrador Act of the 1960s.
But you may be on to something, Brian: "Labrador" has only eight letters. If we were to remove the sixteen characters (including the space) of "Newfoundland and", we'd have a lot more room for a slogan, and the province would have a nice, short name, just like you want! And wouldn't it be eminently more sensible to have the province named for its dominant geographical feature?