Craig Westcott, journalist and editor of The Business Post, can always be counted upon to deliver a hard-hitting commentary every Monday morning on CBC Radio, and yesterday he was in particularly fine form. Westcott used the writing of George Orwell as an entry point to some stinging remarks about recent infrastructure announcements in the province… and makes an implicit argument for the use of bottled water! Westcott has kindly agreed to make the complete text of his CBC Radio Morning Show commentary available here... and you can listen to it by clicking here.
I've gone back to reading George Orwell.
Not, mind you, that that is a chore.
Quite the contrary.
Orwell was one of the finest and most perceptive writers of the 20th century.
It's the reason I'm reading Orwell again that's worrisome.
And that's because the times are worrisome.
There's a lot of stuff going on that has me spooked.
Like this fruitless war in Iraq.
It got me reading Orwell's 1939 classic, "Coming up for air."
A novel that perfectly captures the incredulousness of an ordinary man seeing the approaching war and knowing he is helpless to stop it.
Nothing but death and destruction on the horizon, like so many enemy bombers, and a great chunk of the population baying for blood.
Closer to home, the surreal state of provincial politics keeps "Nineteen Eighty-Four" coming back to mind.
Now I apologize for using the word surreal.
It, along with diva, are among the most overused and inappropriately used words in the English language.
But surreal sure fits the situation here with everyone bellowing for Stephen Harper's head on a pike over equalization.
All the more ludicrous, when you think about it, because nine-tenths of the population don't understand what equalization is, or what we're even getting.
But the mob has placed its blind trust in a great leader whom they believe can do no wrong.
I guess life is easier when you don't have to think for yourself.
But it's got me thinking, did someone put something in the water, or what?
And if so, how come it's not affecting me?
I'm on the Bay Bulls Big Pond supply too.
Still, even cynics like myself can't help but be amused by the absurdity of it all.
Like the press releases being cranked out by the provincial government, which now has more communications directors and PR people on staff than ever before in our history, a veritable propaganda machine.
Take this little gem that was spun out Friday.
It heralded one million dollars for road work in St. John's.
Here's the lead paragraph.
"The St. John's area is the latest benefactor of the Williams' government's unprecedented 66 point five million dollar provincial roads improvement program under Budget 2007."
Unprecedented is right.
The St. John's area, which has nearly half the population of the whole province, is getting a whole one million dollars out of the 66 million the government is spending this year.
If you cut through the cram of the rest of the release, you'll see the money will pay for the repair of one bridge and the erection of some dividers along a small portion of the Outer Ring Road.
"Government is committed to providing all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador with a safe, reliable transportation system," said Transportation Minister John Hickey.
"We have therefore made this significant investment to improve transportation infrastructure in St. John's."
Meanwhile, Labrador, where Hickey is from, is getting some 34 million dollars worth of road work this year.
It may actually be more than that.
I lost count of the projects and funding for the region.
Now I don't begrudge anyone in Labrador their road work.
But it seems passing strange that a place with less than six per cent of the population is getting over half the provincial roads budget.
That's what I mean by surreal.
That, and the comments of St. John's MHA's Bob Ridgely and Tom Osborne who are waxing eloquent in their praise of the crumbs Hickey is leaving for them.
Has Hickey even driven the arterial road between CBS and St. John's I wonder, with its patchwork quilt of potholes, ruts and crumbling asphalt?
More people drive that road every day than live in Labrador.
On a good day, the road is a threat to every car's suspension, shocks and tires.
On a bad day, when it's raining or snowing, the road is a menace.
But hey, I should be grateful.
Everyone else is.
We're getting a bridge fixed and some concrete dividers.
Big Brother really is looking out for us.
Pass me another glass of that water, would you?
For The Morning Show,
I'm Craig Westcott.