Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Backward Path Well Trodden: PEI Follows NL's Mistakes

I often find myself sitting and chewing the fat with people who were minutes ago strangers. That is the Newfoundlander in me. I remember one such meeting one sunny afternoon on the waterfront in St. John's. One question stuck with me, the gentleman asked if I thought that Newfoundland and Labrador is unique in some of it's battles, with rural communities fading, in a province that is often an afterthought in the federation.

The answer is that; of course I recognize that the battles of rural Newfoundland and Labrador are not unique. I sometimes speak so passionately about our Newfoundland and Labrador that the casual listener may be inclined to think that I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador is the only place in the universe. I speak that way not because I am egocentric, but because I have to. With such a small representation for Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa, and with such a poor representation of the rural perspective on the island and in the Big Land, I feel compelled.

I thought about the conversation on the St. John's Waterfront when I read an article about PEI's newly formed Rural Alliance and I was reminded instantly of our own CLCC. The PEI group is taking up arms in what it knows is an affront to the rural way of life; the closure of rural schools.

With the CLCC we have had many a heated conversation lamenting the lose of some of our own rural schools. We had a gentleman even tell us he was involved with these closures and today counts his participation in that process as one of his deepest regrets. What could have been different if this one person had stood his ground and advocated for the rural communities? That brings about the question of what can one individual do to affect change?

Our chair Mr. Ray Johnson has always impressed upon the friends and members of the CLCC that one man can make a difference. He uses the movie "Amazing Grace" as an example. The story tells of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending slavery in the British colonies. A fight that took decades. Of course those involved with the CLCC will recognize how Ray himself is an example of how one person can affect change, his infectious enthusiasm for Newfoundland and Labrador created the CLCC and is inspiring its growth.

... so from the CLCC (Newfoundland and Labrador's own "Rural Alliance") to PEI's Rural Alliance: All the best in your battle to see the rural lifestyle of PEI sustain and flourish. We hope that you can call upon the strength of the individual from the community level to the bureaucrats and policy makers to work for positive change and stave off the destruction of rural life.

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