Just tell me the truth, candidates. We can handle it
It's time for big ideas; tell us a story about a future that makes sense.
Lead us before it's too late.
With the provincial election campaign in full swing, I would like to give a voice to the tens of thousands of younger (is under 45 young?) Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are done with politics.
If you are a candidate in the upcoming election, first, thank you for offering yourselves up for the tremendous sacrifice of public service.
I am serious. It is a thankless job with terrible hours and intense frustration.
With that said, let me be frank: it's time to cut the garbage.
Don't try to sell us on some half-baked marketing slogan that promises us "New Energy" or "A Stronger Tomorrow." Please.
Those of us born since the late 1970s have witnessed the birth of the Internet. We have grown into our adult lives simply buried in information. We process it faster than any generation in human history. This is doubly true for people who are under 25.
The youngest of our people have not known a time where there wasn't some amazing advancement every year or so. Because of this, we've gotten pretty good at reading between the lines.
We recognize truth when we see it. We know when we're being sold something.
The entire world has been trying to sell us something at just about every moment of our lives.
This province that we all love
We're in a pretty bad spot. We have an economy that is heavily dependent on non-renewable resources. We have a significant urban/rural divide. We have a serious problem with demographics. We are facing the highest debt per capita of any province in Canada.
Things are pretty bleak.
If you want to reach us, it's time to get real. Don't try to sell us on some half-baked marketing slogan that promises us "New Energy" or "A Stronger Tomorrow." Please. We aren't buying a pair of sneakers. This is our home. It is suffering. We are all suffering.
The stress and anxiety we feel everyday about our future in this place is real. The heartbreak we feel as we watch another friend move away to the mainland is real. The fear we have as we wonder if our job will be there tomorrow is real. The anger we have at those who have steered us here is also, all too real.
Give us your vision
So what can you do? How can you be different?
The first part is easy: tell us the truth.
We aren't naive. Don't treat us like children. Stop trying to convince us that you're better than the last crowd. Nobody cares. Being better than the last bunch doesn't solve our problems. We need you to be the best of us. Not better than. The best.
The other part is the tricky bit.
We are facing the highest debt per capita of any province in Canada. Things are pretty bleak.
It's time for big ideas. Tell us a story about a future that makes sense. Where people want to live here. Where people of all backgrounds can thrive in our beautiful province. A future with industries that can put us at the forefront of economic and cultural prosperity in our country.
Small solutions can't address big problems. A fire extinguisher isn't going to help with a forest fire.
Trying to get us to believe that the forest isn't on fire is ridiculous. We know it is. Everyone can see it. Just stop.
So paint us a picture. Give us your vision. We know that it is going to require some sacrifices.
We know that we'll have to work hard. One thing we all agree on is the resilience and perseverance of our people. Suffering is our birthright.
If it is hard work and sacrifice you ask of us, the answer will always be "come on with it." But we aren't going to "take our medicine" if it doesn't seem to have a point.
Stay or go?
For those of us who have young families, or those who are just finishing school, the choice is stark: do we stay or do we go? We all feel the magnetic pull of this place.
We get the same goosebumps as the plane banks over St. John's. None of us want to leave — but nobody wants to waste their lives, either.
Our generation understands how fleeting life can be — we are determined to find fulfillment and meaning.
Can we find that meaning here, in the place that we love? The answer to that question depends on you, the people who have stepped forward to lead.
Modern leadership is defined by honesty and vision.
Imagine what history will say about the group of people who found a way to turn this province toward a real future of prosperity and fulfillment.
Imagine what it will say about the group of people who did nothing as we fell into the abyss.
It's not too late. There is still time.
But we're running out of it.