Nfld. & Labrador

'I got Newfoundlanders wrong': Globe columnist Margaret Wente talks recent apology to N.L.

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente spoke to Here and Now about her latest column on Newfoundland.

In 2005, Wente called the province a 'vast and scenic welfare ghetto’

Here & Now host Debbie Cooper speaks with Globe and Mail Columnist Margaret Wente about her latest column on Newfoundland and Labrador. 5:49

Margaret Wente, columnist for the Globe and Mail, says she got it wrong when she insulted Newfoundlanders in her writing more than a decade ago.

So, is she sorry?

"Yeah," she told CBC's Here and Now. "I think I got it wrong. I think I got Newfoundland wrong and I think I got Newfoundlanders wrong."

This year, and for the first time, Wente spent significant time in the province. She had not spent much time in Newfoundland when she called it a "vast and scenic welfare ghetto" in 2005.

"It just took us a while to get around to going there but I'm awfully glad we did," she said.

Much has been made about Wente's visit. She said she didn't know she was going to write the column before or even during her trip. When she got home and reflected on her travels, Wente felt like she had something to say.

She said she has a different view of the province and its people now. 

"What I want to say to Newfoundlanders is that I think I have tremendous respect for their resilience and their resourcefulness in the face of really long odds and lots of hard times, and that's certainly true today as you guys battle with the oil bust," she said.

"But it's true that Newfoundlanders, as many people told me, are probably the warmest and friendliest people in the world. Long memories, mind you, but certainly warm and friendly and we had a great time there and the best time was with the people."

Wente used different name during stay

Wente didn't proclaim her name or profession while she visited, and used the name Peggy McLeod, her married name, during her stay. 

"That's kind of a joke," she said. 

"I said I went by my married name, Peggy McLeod, but I didn't really go incognito. That was tongue and cheek. I never disguised who I was. A lot of people I met there know who I am," she said. 

"I just didn't make any big deal of introducing myself as Margaret Wente, reviled Globe and Mail columnist. I didn't think there was much of a point in that." 

Though Wente didn't completely retract her pervious statements, she said most of the feedback she gets from Newfoundlanders these days is positive.

"I think my e-mail is running about 90 per cent positive," she said.

"They're saying 'OK we'll forgive you, we may not forget, but we'll forgive you. And by the way, the next time you're here, come around for a drink,' because that's what Newfoundlanders are like." 

On mobile? Click here to watch the interview.

With files from Here and Now