My Sense of Entitlement

"I like nonsense," said Dr. Seuss. "It wakes up the brain." The latest gems of wisdom from a carnival barker for the Liberal circus that is the House of Assembly these days would awaken the brains of the dead. I refer, of course, to one Jerry Dean, MHA for Exploits, who, in a flight of verbal diarrhea, allowed that what got us into this mess was a lack of hard work and perseverance.

Mr. Dean had some trouble fluidly reading his 'prepared' remarks--which led me to think that he (and we) would have been better served had he gone to a library and practiced his reading skills. Winston Churchill, he was not.

Nevertheless, I ought to provide Mr. Dean and his puppet master(s) with a heartfelt thank you for clarifying for me and thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians just how wickedly responsible we all are for the depletion of our public purse. We have been thieves in the night. I discovered that we are "collectively" responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. We have a sense of entitlement "in which we demand jobs and services from government that our province cannot afford...we have had decades, even generations of spending and borrowing...to support our sense of entitlement."

I wish I had known this earlier, much earlier. I am sorry I didn't. I might have done things differently.

You see, I came from a very large, and a very poor family--an outport family. In 1961, my father gave me his last $100 and sent me off to our fine new university in St. John's for one year. After that I had to find a job and pay my own way.

In the ensuing twenty-five years I spent eight years at several universities in Canada and one in the UK at a personal cost of half a million dollars in terms of lost salary and student loans. And to think with my sense of entitlement I could have asked the government to pay the whole thing.

I left the province in 1968, fed up with the continuous nightmare that was Joey Smallwood--another great Liberal. For over thirty years I worked in education and community development, assisting Aboriginal people in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories gain a measure of control over their own affairs. I didn't realize at the time that I could have stayed at home with the full expectation that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador would take care of me.

I returned to this province in 1999 and spent the next ten years in the private sector, helping to develop a strong tourism industry. How foolish of me.

And, of course, I wasn't the only one. In the last twenty-five years some 50,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have left home to find jobs in Alberta, Ontario, and in other parts of this great country. Much of their money came back to enrich this province. They, too, didn't realize they could have stayed home at government expense.

And what of those who stayed in the outports? Thousands of them slaved in the fishery to provide food for the tables of our nation and the world. They got little in return and watched helplessly as that great resource was mismanaged by our own government--who then turned around and placed the blame on others. And to think that they, too, could have foregone the pleasures of the stormy north Atlantic for the comfort of their own homes.

But I now see, thanks to Mr. Dean, that my current expectations are--in the local vernacular--all arse-up.

You see, I expected honesty, not dishonesty, from my politicians. How naive is that? I expected that my representative in government, would defend the interests of seniors, the poor, and the children in our schools, not blame them. I expected that my government would prudently manage our economy in good times and bad, not lay the burden on the innocent.

I am privileged to live in one of the richest countries in the world (in fact the twentieth richest of 180 nations). I expect my government to provide the same standards of health, education, and social services that should be available to every citizen of Canada. Expectations of basic human rights do not come from a sense of entitlement.

1 comment

  • Barbara Colbourne
    Barbara Colbourne
    Well said, Eric.

    Well said, Eric.

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