What do we Want? | JIM FURLONG

It is the classic line of protest and here in Newfoundland and Labrador it rings loudly and often. 

What do we want? When do we want it? NOW. 

Perhaps it is our deprived past ringing through and impacting on us today. It has been tough here, out in the Atlantic, and we often seem to think of ourselves as “ill done by” in some regard. We are against everything. 

There is a thing I wrote several years ago along this same theme where you couldn’t put a pick in the ground to build something here without someone thinking they had been wronged. I understand protests and how fundamental the right to protest is to our democracy but, you know, jeez!

Remember the building of the supermarket in Rabbittown, up by Mount St. Francis and Shamrock Field? Shamrock Field was an old, unused soccer pitch and home to empty beer bottles, used needles and condoms. Calling it an open space, as protesters did, was a joke. Still, when the proposal to build the market came forward, there were people against it, including a very good friend of mine, who – in an act of defiance – put a note about “box stores” on the construction fence around the supermarket construction. 

You can’t build anything or do anything here on this poor rock without someone being against it.

Here’s another note from the past. Me and the missus have lived here in Paradise for decades. We drove into St. John’s in the morning rush hour for 20 years or more. Before the Outer Ring Road was built the only way into the east end of town was through Kenmount Road. We travelled it every day and arrived for work at NTV with white knuckles and angry as hell at the whole world. The Outer Ring Road construction fixed most of those problems but there were protests when it was being built. There was a concern raised by a few that the proposed highway would interfere with the habitat of the rabbits and squirrels in Pippy Park. Like I cared about that! Anyway, the marvellous principle of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham of the 17th century luckily prevailed. He said “It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong.” I drive easily to work these days and the squirrels and the rabbits seem to have survived.

It all continues. There are those opposed to fossil fuels and pipe lines. Believe it or not there are other people who have a problem with wind for power generation. The turbine blades kill birds and somehow the turbines affect your brain. So they tell us. Honest. It goes on.

Now, in our world today, I know someone well in the fishing industry. Actually, he and his family have been in the fish business for decades. He told me that the real future of the salmon fishery is in fish FARMING. He says it makes for steady jobs and good, dependable income for people working at it. Of course you can’t say that out loud or the protests might start.

There are unseen benefits everywhere. In the business of news nobody ever went broke covering people demanding less or more of something and in protesting sometimes fortunes are made. Just look at the anti-seal hunt movement.