Jim Furlong: Political Will

It’s amazing to me how so many odd things happen or don’t happen because we live in a democracy. Governments don’t always take the best course of action because we have become slaves to “the tyranny of the majority”. 

In other words, our elected politicians sometimes do things they know make absolutely no sense because they are afraid of public reaction. That manifests itself almost daily in a number of public areas. 

Part of the solution 

Now people write to me from time to time and I like that. Perhaps someone could explain to me why we have a recreational cod fishery. How can it be part of the solution of bring back the devastated cod stocks? 

The cod is mostly gone, so amid trying to get it to recover we allow people to go out in boats and take more cod as a summer recreation while they mutter vaguely about lost heritage. I wonder how much fish that really costs us. I ask the question against the background of someone I know who has a boat and he told me he tows a smaller boat behind so he can catch the quota for TWO boats. 

The ingenuity of a Newfoundlander  – and we wonder why more than two decades after a moratorium the cod won’t come back. While I am at it let me ask the too obvious question about the capelin fishery. If cod eat capelin why allow any kind of capelin fishery at all? Colour me stupid but to me it just makes absolutely no sense other than in terms of “will you vote for me?”

The only way to understand these things is in terms of political will. There is not much of it around. There is no politician who would dare to propose halting the recreational cod fishery or the capelin fishery. The political price to be paid would be just too high. I remember some years ago when Ryan Cleary, then an M.P., boldly and correctly suggested it might be time to take a second look at the seal hunt. He nearly got eaten alive for saying out loud something that, as sensible as it might be, would come only with a big political price.

Caving politicians 

Do we have a politician now who has the political will to say we have too many communities in Newfoundland? Is there one who will say maybe we can no longer afford to pave all the roads and clear the snow in all these tiny little places that still exist? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. The same with school closures when they crop up. A closure gets recommended by a school board, the community goes nuts and forms “an action committee.” The politicians immediately cave. I’d like at least once to see an MHA who, when a school closure is announced, has the political will to say that it’s a great idea and contributes in the long run to the common good. That’s not going to happen, my friends, in this century. In a democracy, the will of the people prevails… even if it is wrong. 

TV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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