Mumbo Jumbo and Fuddle Duddle

Mumbo Jumbo and Fuddle Duddle – as synonyms go, here comes trouble! A column not in defense of the Muskrat Falls protesters in Lake Melville but in defense of decent dissent in politics – “I might not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll fight to the death your right to say it”

“We have to consider how our lives change, how our culture and heritage is going to change, and our food chain, how that’s going to change.”

“…put it out to the people and let them know. Then that will give them the ability to decide whether or not they say, ‘Hey, let’s go with this project’ or I’m going to be up there shutting down that road to make sure nobody is going to come in and develop this project.”

These statements (and many others) were not issued by the “flavor of the month” Friends of Grand River/Keeper (which has been around since 1998).

They were not issued by some Labrador Party, nor any other political party or interest group.

Nor were they issued by the “silly” protesters that went up and blocked the road in question to Muskrat Falls. Nor by a certain Aboriginal group with “questionable” roots and connection to the area. Nor any environmental group.

Nay, they were issued by Keith Russell as a representative of the Nunatsiavut Government on April Fools Day, 2011 (and here is a related power point presentation for those who like them). Mere months before he himself ran for election to speak on behalf of those people he said, “I’ll concur with Mr. [Todd] Russell and I’ll say that I certainly don’t think it’s our government right now.”

At odds with New Energy talking points(?)

It’s all in there folks, a whole host of valid concerns that the Member for (upper) Lake Melville raised pre-election. From methyl-mercury, Nunatukavut (“They have to be at the table”) to employment numbers a la Voisey’s Bay, to socio-economic impact mitigation, and even dam breaches. There was even an extra sentence to point out he was concerned about culture and heritage impacts. In fact, it actually put a snag in his campaign when the media pointed out this apparent mis-jive of positions between the candidate and the PC Party. Essentially, however, the party line was thoroughly toed. Because, you see, the Member for Lake Melville said “You can romanticize and sensationalize that particular piece of land all you want, but it is a resource.”

“We need that power”.

He also said that protesting is all well and good, and I agree with him. We all have that right. But he now suggests that we must only protest on one point at a time. Here are some of the responses in Labrador to the Member’s statement that we are not allowed to have environmental, Aboriginal, spiritual, and economical concerns all at the same time (despite the fact that he had all those concerns, at the same time, and suggested blocking the road here). While the Premier “chided” the Member in question for his recent non-party-line-toeing comments, one has to wonder if he wasn’t actually encouraged to open up about it. I mean, Lake Melville has had ministers (of silence) before, and that’s not something outspoken representatives want to be branded. Not only did the Member utter the infamous “mumbo jumbo” words on air, he later called in to defend them again before finally apologizing for his poor choice of words – but not for the sentiment, mind you.

I agree with the premier (I’m allowed to once in a while!)

And I also agree with the Ordinary Member for Upper Lake Melville, but not the Ordinary Member for Lake Melville –  who in theory are the same person. We have to respect all peoples’ (including Aboriginal) heritage, and their spiritual, cultural, and religious beliefs. All major religions (or sects of religions) originate from somewhere else in this hemisphere – with the exception of Mormons, snake handlers and Scientologists (etc). For you Jews, Baha’is, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Islamists et al – you KNOW you don’t have to be from Jordan or Israel to appreciate that Spirits flow through those waters in which Christ was baptized.  Or Mount Sinai. Or  Mount Tabor. Or the Garden Tomb.  Or the Cave of Hira. Or – whatever; you get the point. Are those places just resources? I bet all the platinum ore underneath them wouldn’t be allowed to be dug up. I’m just being spurious of course, but you don’t have to be from somewhere to recognize its spiritual significance.

The Northern Labrador Inuit Mr. Russell spoke on behalf of to the joint review “have a land claim, yes, that’s true, and that doesn’t encompass the project area directly, I mean, where these dams are going to be.” But he still felt confident that he should voice his concerns on their behalf – and did so very well I might add. Why can’t others do the same without having their motives, heritage, and culture discredited? I abhor divisionist and denigrationist politics. “There’s a way of doing things and that way has to be respected. And when the Labrador Inuit present here in Upper Lake Melville and their traditional knowledge and their heritage and their lineage is not taken into consideration when we talk about a mega project in our backyard then we’ve got to have a problem with that.” That goes for everyone.

Something changed the Member’s mind

He once said:

“I need to be educated. I don’t need to hear ten doctors talking in technical terms or ten engineers. I need the Proponent. I need the people who are opposed to the project. I need science on both sides. I need real scenarios broken down in real language that people can understand.”

“… so that an elder can pick up a brochure and get the bottom line about what’s going to happen.”

Well it’s been almost a year since he was elected and his tune has completely changed.

That means either:

(1)   He has been educated in the last year and a half about all of his concerns – in which case, great! Can you share that with the rest of the population please?

(2)   He’s taken the party line (hook, sinker, and rod all the way to the reel).

Essentially: do MHAs represent their party, or do they represent their people?

An ‘unrelated’ silly observation

What prompted the ire of Mr. Russell in the first place had something to do with this statement: “We had a $1-million equipment announcement at Lab-Grenfell Health, and zero coverage. And yet four people can throw together an impromptu protest and there they are on Here & Now.” My question is this: How many times can you announce the same thing? His “zero” apparently includes countless campaign promises, press release One or Two, the Telegram, the Labradorian, the CBC and so on.

How much media play do you want out of 0.015% of the provincial budget? Or for that matter, a 0.5% bump to the Labrador Grenfell Health budget? Peanuts at best. Don’t get me wrong, I support any equitable contribution to improving the lives of Labradorians and Northern Peninsulares. But that’s not the point. It seems these guys desperately need to look like they’re doing something to show that you “have to be on government’s side to access government coffers” and the mean ol’ media are showing the wrong thing.

I don’t mean to go on a full assault of any Honourable Member

I’m just trying to get my head around how so much has changed in the opinion and respectable approach by Mr. Russell in the past year and a half. One can respectfully disagree can’t one? But don’t worry, you’ll get the respect back that you pay out. You don’t have to support or even like the “silly” false-claiming-half-breeds Innu, Inuit, or the settlers in Lake Melville, or the Grand River Keepers, or the Liberal/NDP/Labrador Party supporters, but you have to respect them and listen to them if you represent them.

Especially if one agreed with them so recently.

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