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Art by Philippa Jones.

May Day from Central

in Featured/Opinion by

I drive by a gas bar named for some other Megan and wonder if all her dreams came true.

Traveling thoughts can take reckless turns when you’re headed westward on Newfoundland’s Trans Canada. Highway 1. Ground zero for colonialism where signage along the roadside declares that those who ruled at the starting hour of their agreed upon clock continue to do so today.

And I wonder if the merchant still got me round the neck.

As I pass blue and red squares proclaiming the hopeful inheritors of our little bit of earth, I feel the merchant’s hand tightening. Not that they refer to themselves as merchants anymore. The comms department sorted that before we even knew there was a comms department. They call themselves all kinds of generous, extravagant things now to confuse us.

But a collar by another name is still a collar.

My field of view is foggy and flurry-filled. Everything in front of me is the one colour. This shade could be packaged as a saleable commodity. Perhaps they’ll copyright our mesmerizing grey and sell it to tourists on the television. Call it Printemps Terre Neuve as if applying a layer of francais could make anything seem foreign-tongued. Not that French has ever meant foreign-tongued on our island. This too is a part of a shared heritage some would have you forget whilst they whip hatred to serve uncharitable agendas.

Make no mistake, there is no charity in stirring hatred against your neighbour whatever language they speak in their kitchen. It is a stingy and self-serving ploy to separate us from each other. It puts everyone in a great danger.

Inflaming Newfoundlanders and Labradorians only harms Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Our bodies surge with health-harming rage over everything we can now afford that we could not these past four years. We nearly weep over cousins lost as they announce mind-bending decreases to mental healthcare wait times. This does little for family members already fallen through the lobster-heading holes that is our social welfare net. Those determined to be struggling suddenly get a bus pass as the unicorn budget gallops marvelously along shitting shiny promises in her wake.

Politicians show no remorse for the hurt they cause with their everlasting re-election campaign. They regret nothing that keeps their never-ceasing access intact while the rest of us are full-up with regret for having elected them in the first jesus place.

I currently regret removing my winter tires.

The death markers plotting great family grief remind me that our roadways are unsafe. A tiny white cross ringed-round with yellow plastic flowers summons my rising fear of accidental death. I call Nan as I drive through the centre. Her voice puts me at ease as she inquires about my footwear.

Your Great Grandmother Taylor always said it’s worse in the spring of the year when the frost is coming out of the ground see dollie. The spring is harder for everyone.

She is right, of course. The Grits knew that when they flung the writ down. Working class people are excluded from this dog and pony show. The dogs made it so the majority of potential candidates had nary a second to fundraise or ask for leave or secure childcare. And the ponies don’t care a lick cause they are brim full with dynasty dollars. The longstanding left-leaning are found toppled over in the waiting room while the newly-born falter on fresh legs. Everyone takes pot-shots at each other. It is a miserable pen.

The Newfoundland and Labrador political animal is sick and full of rot.

Infected with spineless yes-men, performative progressives, and moral weaklings who lie boldface while holding their hands stop-steady and sinister-style in front of their able bodies. They have rigged the whole show so we feel we have no choice. They think we’ve no stomach for the slaughterhouse. They don’t even care if we show up to watch the bloody carnage. They don’t even want us there. But we’re made of stronger stuff than that so let’s show them.

Let’s split this foul snarl four ways.

Cast off your old allegiances Newfoundland and Labrador. No one deserves your forgiveness or your loyalty this go round. Vote against your party lines. Demand the representative slate we require to crawl our way back to financial and political dignity. Vote for women whenever possible. Vote for new Canadians, differently-abled and Indigenous folks. Vote NL Alliance or NDP. Vote for working class candidates. Vote for yourself.

Stop voting in the rich just because they are the rich.

They don’t know about your needs because they don’t have them.

Politicians have long divided us. Now it’s time for us to divide them. In order to do so, we must be open with one another about our intentions. This is old school, grassroots, word of mouth organizing. I’ll start. I’m going to vote for Jim Dinn in St. John’s Centre. I put his sign on my lawn. If I could vote twice, I would vote for Shelia FitzGerald in my home region of St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows even though she’s a Tory. You knows god damn well I would too. Cause I am poisoned about how this show is going down.

It’s May Day. We are the workers of Newfoundland and Labrador. Me and you, we together are the labour force. We owe it to our ancestors and our children to redistribute power. So let’s get revolutionary in the ballot box.

On May 16th, let’s collectively quarter the ravenous beast that stalks us for our votes.

Playwright and author Megan Gail Coles is touring NL with her TYA play Squawk and her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. Follow her on Twitter.

Artwork: Where You Were, There is a Hole in the World. Philippa Jones. Watercolour, ink on Fabriano. 55.25″ x 71.5″, 2019. Image Courtesy of Christina Parker Gallery.

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