The Black Spot of NL Populist History
The Reading List for 03 February 2023
It’s a word I used to describe Danny Williams’ approach to Quebec.
Literally, it means revenge. It is most closely tied to the attitude in France between 1870 and 1945 over the territories of Alsace and Lorraine on the French-German border. Germany annexed the territories its victory in the 1870 war. In France, the notion of revenge for the lost territory dominated strategic thinking until the destruction of Germany as a viable state at the end of the Second World War.
There’s another 50 cent word - irredentism - that goes with it. You can use the Wikipedia definition of what it means simply because it’s easy to get: “Irredentism is any political or popular movement that seeks to claim or reclaim and occupy a land that the movement's members consider to be a "lost" (or "unredeemed") territory from their nation's past.”
Doesn’t take much thought to see one popular attitude to Churchill Falls in this category. it’s often called “nationalist” but that’s debatable just like there’s a gap in the thinking about Churchill Falls and the reality. The rhetoric is undeniably revanchist and irredentist. If memory serves, Williams at point actually talked about the repatriation of Churchill Falls at the end of the 1969 power contract.
Repatriate. As if the place had been taken from Labrador and physically moved somewhere else. Or the property had been taken out of our control in some meaningful way. You get the same thinking about fisheries or Labrador iron ore. Jim Feehan - he’s on the Genius Committee for Churchill Falls - once spoke of the historical challenge in Newfoundland as being the control our own resources.
It’s a classic bit of the local nationalist philosophy but it is complete nonsense in the way advocates of this thinking mean it. All they’ve done, quite literally all, is translated words from Quebec in the 1960s and transposed them into Newfoundland and Labrador in spite of all the evidence and the actual history of the place. What’s missing is the real meaning of control, which has typically been in local hands all along.
The mistakes, the hurt, the injury that the revanchist/nationalist gang want to avenge is typically a mistake made locally. And it’s frequently been made by a character who claimed he was avenging some other injustice/mistake/ give-away.
Elect me and I will save you from them.
My hobby horse is totally different from all the other hobby horses.
Maybe there won’t be negotiations. Maybe we’ll go it alone.
In the worse case, we’ll have an asset to use or sell or whatever we want.
“This, my friends, is not your grandparents’ Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is a good thing.”
Yet, all of this is precisely what has gone before, quite literally almost word for word what has gone on in just the past 20 years, so much so that you’d not be surprised if there was video of twitchy shoulder sending messages via Da Missus with more of the the mullet-era advice that has worked so well before.
Read Wednesday’s column for just a taste of the recycled lines.
And all of it is laughable nonsense.
What isn’t nonsense is the stuff subscribers might find interesting this weekend.
Get what others miss. Become a subscriber.