2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
- (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- (d) freedom of association.
It seems that this idea of democracy is lost on the Newfoundland and Labrador PC Party. Whether it be Danny Williams firing of a woman from a regional economic development committee for poking fun at the size of his manhood, or Premier Dunderdale's assault on bloggers as "naysayers" for their opposition to the Muskrat Falls project, the Newfoundland PC Party has been waging a war with its own citizens.
Now today we have a new case in point. Fisheries Minister King announced that the provincial government was immediately freezing any further funding to the FFAW (Fisherman's union) because, to quote him:
“And to be frank with you, as I see it in the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. And I see the FFAW right now as part of the problem...The union has received nearly $1.3 million in grant money from the province over the past five years for things like research, seafood marketing and fisheries technology programs.
That ends now...We’re putting a freeze on any further funding of projects for the FFAW until I’m convinced through a personal review that the projects that we support are of value and benefit to the industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and not just to the FFAW...It’s very, very tough to build a working relationship with a group that continues to criticize...The FFAW can either work with us or stand by the side. We’re going to move forward, and we’re going to make changes that we feel are in the best interests of the industry. But we’re not going to spend much more time, frankly, having public debates every chance Mr. McCurdy gets to bash government because he doesn’t like something that’s happening in the industry."
The full CBC story is here: http://soc.li/AWdK5lb
The Newfoundland government has become the poster boy for undemocratic actions in Canada. Already the PC spin doctors in the social media are getting the message out that the fisheries union deserves to be cut off its research funds as it should have never had them in the first place. While some may agree with that, it does not address the issue of freedom of speech. What it does reinforce is the government's position that freedom of speech is only welcome when it is convenient. That people in Newfoundland only have the right to oppose when the government allows it. To do otherwise is to put yourself up for scorn and/or retribution. Just today the Telegram did an editorial on the very topic of speaking out at your own risk http://tinyurl.com/78v8kl3 .
In a country such as Canada, and in a province such as Newfoundland and Labrador, freedom from government retribution should not even be a topic of discussion. It should be, if anything, a thing of the past that our children study in school. Yet, it continues to be the prevalent attitude of a provincial government that is located in a country that builds institutes to promote democracy around the world. The Newfoundland PC government makes the case that what Canada really needs is a civil rights law, as is the case in the United States, that would allow criminal prosecution for the violation of civil rights. Clearly, this is one government that can not be trusted with the responsibility of exercising power in a mature way, and respecting the rights of its residents. It is a blight on Canada's democratic reputation.