Dear Editor: The Western Star’s Nicholas Mercer offers an important perspective on whether the feeling of alienation, or the overpass syndrome as some call it, is legitimate and still felt by people here on this side of Kenmount Road. (“Stoking the fire using dated viewpoints,” Jan. 24).
Beginning with his own memory, he recalled the journey to his new address on the west coast from his east coast home and how well he personally received it. And now in a more contemporary reflection, he questions whether calling out what are arguably statements of ignorance and indifference that are still hurled at the place we call home has any value or purpose.
One case in point, a situation where a PC member from the east coast had argued that the Liberal government’s decision to create a provincial Crown Lands hub in Corner Brook should be blocked. That outburst was not a slip. It remained the core of the PC Party’s attack against putting more jobs in Corner Brook that was repeated over and over again.
Apparently, we are all not part of the same province and shouldn’t expect to be treated as such. Apparently, to the PCs we are foreigners in our own land. Distance and the inconvenience that it creates disconnects us and we should learn to just accept it. As MHA for Corner Brook, I simply don’t accept it nor will I leave it unchallenged.
Regrettably, it is not as uncommon a theme coming from the PCs towards us as Nicholas Mercer might otherwise understand. In my tenure as the member for the people of Corner Brook district, I have repeatedly had to defend against assaults on our government’s decision to build the Crown Lands administration hub here in Corner Brook, to invest in our new Long-term care facilities, to advance our new hospital, to include cancer care services in our hospital, to grow more university and college programs in our city, and to taking the right actions to secure a solid future for our paper mill and our forest industries along with the families who depend on them. I have even been criticized for developing more farming activity on the west coast. Farms should only be located in and around larger cities where most of the people are found. I kid you not.
The good news, however, is that Mr. Mercer’s column does hint at what is also true and what is important. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people of the Northeast Avalon in particular, do not support what the PC party is exporting.
Except for a small gaggle of internet trolls following the misguided direction of PC members of the House of Assembly who are desperate to create some self-relevance in the wake of their Muskrat Falls fiasco, the people I have met with from the St. John’s area are fair-minded and generous. They bear no ill-will to Corner Brook. That is who Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are. We are fair. The mockery, the agitation and the divisiveness comes from a political contingent that is outside of this group.
So, is it part of my job to challenge the minority of voices who choose to shout false claims at us and about us? Absolutely!
Repeating the lie that we on the west coast are undeserving of an opportunity to thrive because we are small, or distant or anything else simply normalizes that lie and eventually makes it true. Dangerously, it becomes even more and more difficult to counteract the crippling effect of the lie when the stakes might even be higher.
In a relatively short period of time since our government took office and since I held the honour of serving as your provincial member, we have accomplished much together for Corner Brook. There is more to do. I will not see those gains, or our future gains, fall back. By anyone. Foreign or domestic.
Gerry Byrne, Member for the District of Corner Brook