"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Friday, March 09, 2007

How Irish (Icelandic, Norwegian) We Aren't, Part III

For as long as Danny Williams has been in politics, and there are days when it seems like a very, very, very long time, he has invoked verbal lietmotifs which go just beyond his usual low level of Newfoundland nationalism, and danced, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, of the fuzzy grey boundaries of crypto-separatism.

Literally, as long. From Danny's semi-infamous inauguration speech as his party's leader, back in April of 2001:

I recently returned from a tour of Ireland, and what struck me the most was not only how they did it but the fact that they did. If they can do it, we can do it. If Norway can do it with their oil industry, we can do it. If Iceland can do it with their fishery, we can do it.

But there's one big problem. These three are all countries.

The single biggest impediment to our future growth and prosperity is the attitude and mind-set of our own country, Canada.
He did it again as recently as CBC Crosstalk of January 31 this year:
The difference of course, that we've got between Ireland and other areas that have done this, is the fact that they're a country, and we're a province...
The theme has recurred again and again in provincial government communications, such as this press release from July 2, 2004:

"Despite the fact that Ireland is a country and we are a province, I firmly believe that given our natural similarities, Newfoundland and Labrador can emulate the amazing Irish experience and put our province on the road to self-sufficiency and prosperity. We can be the North American Celtic Tiger."
And in this pair on two consecutive days last fall from the Chairman:

The Premier commented that obviously the main difference in Norway and Newfoundland and Labrador is that Norway is a country...

“I recall commenting on several occasions, that if these northern countries can turn opportunity into success, then we can certainly do it in Newfoundland and Labrador,” added the Premier.
and from Minister of Fisheries Fact-Finding Junkets to Countries Which Aren't Provinces, Tom Rideout:

Minister Rideout said, “Our government will take the lessons learned from Iceland very seriously as we move forward with addressing the issues in our own fishery with our partners in industry and the federal government. Newfoundland and Labrador is a province while Iceland is a sovereign nation..."
Perhaps the press releases owe their commonalities to having been drafted by the same to communications directors (how many does the provincial government have, and what do they do all day, anyway?)... but Danny's pattern of über-nationalist rhetoric isn't just restricted to spurious international comparisons, especially the dubious "How Irish we are" nonsense. He is also fond of invoking Newfoundland's semi-independent past, that supposed Golden Age aspired to by Newfoundland nationalists since the days of the Responsible Government League. (The real Responsible Goverment League, the one with more than one member.)

Take his June 2001 speech to the Nova Scotia PC Party:
We do not benefit as we should from our resource bounty, and part of the reason is that we gave up ownership and control of some of our most important resources when we joined Confederation. Prior to that, we were a sovereign country and we owned the sea's resources.
And of course, there was the "Dat flag'll be gone" episode of 2004-05, inspired by Jean-Paul L'Allier (or someone), and his ill-considered, short-lived, and poll-kiboshed flirtation with the Pink, White and Green, later that same year; both moves clearly blatant, if klutzy, appeals to a hyper-nationalist, crypto-separatist streak that Danny hopes to appeal to...

...and, given his record, in word and in deed, over the past six years, a streak that, it increasingly would seem, he's probably also part of.

Or, is there some other reason to continually resort to the "We were a country once, and King" rhetoric? Or to invoke the ludicrous comparisons with places "We" are very clearly not?

And just when will Danny start comparing Labrador to, let's say, Yukon?

What is Danny getting at?


At 7:41 AM, March 09, 2007 , Blogger Old Brooktrout said...

Some folks are just itching to make a province-wide self-government arrangement. It's only their historic treatment of aboriginal people that allows them to assume the mantle of aboriginality for themselves.

At 2:42 PM, March 09, 2007 , Blogger Norman Andrews said...

As always Wallace this is a great post especially this part,

"And just when will Danny start comparing Labrador to, let's say, Yukon?"


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