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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

News from the Spontaneous Outrage Committee

Right on cue — and it is on cue; hi, 8th floor! — the Spontaneous Outrage Committee has been directing the usual Spontaneously Outraged suspects to express their Spontaneous Outrage about some of the late musings of the "mainland" press.

Latest target for the Lynch-Wente-Dolphin Periodical If Irregular Memorial Media Lynching?

Jeffrey Simpson of the — insert spitting noise or rude gesture here — Globe and Mail, come on down! You're the next contestant on Whatever You Said, It's Not Right.

Your crime? Saying things that many people say, in private, but are afraid to say in public.

Of course, this is all part of Mainland Media Anti-Newfoundland Campaign of Anti-Newfoundlandishness.

Except that it's not, for, among other reasons, that no such campaign exists.

Of course, everyone "knows" that Mainland Media are out to get poor little old us.

But the problem with something that everyone "knows" is that everyone gets selective in the evidence they gather.

Everyone remembers the offence they took at the words of Charles Lynch, Margaret Wente, Ric Dolphin. They were emailed around; faxed around before email; passed around before fax; read over the air into the echo chamber of Newfoundland nationalist outrage, possibly the easiest thing in the world to stir up.

Even today there are people who still won't touch the Globe and Mail because of "what that *&%$# Charles Lynch said in 1990"... even though Charles Lynch wrote for the Ottawa Citizen.

That'll larn 'em.

What no one remembers, though, in part because they weren't emailed, faxed, or passed around; in part because they don't meet the selection criteria for the self-selection process of the Spontaneous Outrage Committee and all its local cells; what no one remembers is the in-depth and sensitive coverage of Newfoundland, and even Labrador, by now-prominent national journalists like Barbara Yaffe in the Globe and Mail, during the early and mid-1980s.

No one remembers that back in the 1930s, the same Financial Post that is now often the target of Spontaneous Outrage Committee's Spontaneous Outrage, was the defender of poor little ol' Newfoundland against the stylings of Saturday Night.

And no one remembers that the Globe and Mail that it is now your Patriotic Duty to hate — hi, 8th floor! — ran the following editorial, and others like it, on May 5, 1984:
Legal, but unfair

The Supreme Court of Canada had no choice but to strike down Newfoundland's Reversion Act of 1980 as unconstitutional. The act was a thinly-veiled attempt to break the 1969 contract between Hydro-Quebec and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp. which led to the creation of North America's second-largest hydro plant in Labrador. However unfair that contract has turned out to be - and it is grossly unfair - the Supreme Court had no legal ground to let Newfoundland interfere with contract rights outside its territory.

We can't fault Newfoundland for trying. It finds itself burdened with a singularly outrageous contract, negotiated in unfavorable circumstances in the mid-sixties. Quebec Premier Jean Lesage had refused to let Newfoundland drive a power corridor across Quebec soil to deliver power to the United States, and seemed quite prepared to outwait Newfoundland on the terms of developing Churchill [sic] - an issue complicated by Quebec's reluctance to concede that Labrador is unquestionably Newfoundland territory.

What the Churchill Falls Corp. arranged, and what the Newfoundland Legislature ratified, was an agreement to sell almost all of the falls' 5,225-megawatt output to Hydro-Quebec at a modest rate for 65 years. If the agreement initially looked like a contract both sides could live with, so much so that Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood considered it a triumph of his political career, the effects of inflation and OPEC have made it untenable - a predictable consequence of signing a contract stretching halfway into the next century. Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford says Quebec now benefits by $790-million a year under the contract, re-selling the power to other provinces and to the U.S., while Newfoundland receives only $8-million.

The ball is in Quebec's court to restore some balance to a contract which is plainly iniquitous. Quebec Energy Minister Yves Duhaime says his province is willing to negotiate a package deal with Newfoundland involving other potential hydro-electric projects, particularly on the Lower Churchill River, but neither he nor Premier Rene Levesque will say whether Quebec, as a gesture of good faith, will raise the share of money Newfoundland receives under the existing contract. And that, surely, is where the matter should begin; to use the current inequities as bait to make Newfoundland sign additional contracts would inject a most unwelcome note of duress into the bargaining.

Mr. Peckford has appealed for help to the federal Government, which has the power, for example, to order a transmission corridor driven through Quebec to help Newfoundland unilaterally develop the Lower Churchill. We would prefer to think that Quebec, recognizing the justice of Newfoundland's claim as well as its financial woes, will have the grace to strike a reasonable bargain on its own, for the sake of future development and of its neighboring province.
There is no vast anti-Newfoundland mainland media campaign, just as, despite the best efforts of certain columnists, past and present, for the Telegram, there is no vast anti-Labrador one.

So just whose interests are being served when politicians and pundits try to convince the public that there is?

What is their ultimate goal in doing so?



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