The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Newfoundland & Labrador premier Andrew Furey — who just wrote his first book — aims to live more in the moment

The orthopedic surgeon, politician and current premier of Newfoundland and Labrador took our version of the Proust Questionnaire.
Dr. Andrew Furey is an orthopaedic trauma surgeon and the 14th Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Doubleday Canada)

This segment originally aired on Oct 24, 2020.

Andrew Furey is the current premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. But not too long ago, he was a busy orthopedic surgeon and founder of Team Broken Earth, a medical relief non-profit group.

He became an author in fall 2020, publishing Hope in the Balance: A Newfoundland Doctor Meets a World in Crisis. The memoir is an account of Furey's work in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 250,000 people and displaced a million others.

Furey stopped by The Next Chapter to take the Proust Questionnaire. 

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be? 

I would love the ability to live in the moment. To have that ability to stop and smell the roses, as people say. I'm always thinking about what's next instead of sometimes enjoying the moment a little bit more.

Dr. Andrew Furey visits local hospitals and surveys X-rays of Haitian patients at a state hospital. Some of these patients have been living with broken bones for months. The Broken Earth team gets them into their OR the next day. (Anthony Germain/CBC)

On what occasions do you lie? 

Do I lie? I told white lies to my children before, often to prove a point, often to create a more entertaining story. That would be one example in which I bend the truth.

I'm always thinking about what's next instead of sometimes enjoying the moment a little bit more.

What is your greatest regret? 

I have a regret that I tell people all the time: I don't play golf. I know that sounds very superficial, but my father loves to play golf. He tried to encourage me as a child and a young man to play golf. I see my brother and my brother-in-law playing golf with him now. That's a bit of regret.

Who is your favourite painter?

Grant Boland. He's a beautiful Newfoundland artist. He came to Haiti with us. He painted a few pictures of Haiti in the streets of Port au Prince. He's a very touching artist, and also happens to be a friend. I have several of his paintings. One is from the operating room in Port au Prince and has a one-year-old baby who's having a cleft palate repair. There's a nurse and the anesthesiologist there caring for the child. He really captured the moment.

Apart from personnel, Team Broken Earth brings dozens of red duffle bags to Haiti loaded with medicine and medical supplies not easily found in the country. Team leader Dr. Andrew Furey helps locals load a truck at Port au Prince airport. (Anthony Germain)

Who are your favourite heroes in real life? 

"My favourite heroes in real life are my grandmother and my father. My grandmother left her husband in 1950s Newfoundland and Labrador. It couldn't have been easy circumstances, fleeing in an abusive relationship at the time.

She then took her children to two orphanages in St. John's — Mount Cashel for the boys and Belvedere for the girls. She kept the family together through all of that in the 1950s and 1960s Newfoundland.

My father, equally the same. Grew up in Mount Cashel, put it in a dormitory with no one he knew and then proceeded despite the challenges to get an education. 

He has always been inspirational and continues to be inspirational to me that someone who grew up in an orphanage to being now Speaker of the Senate is a real testament not only to his character, but to the country in which we live.

Where would you like to live? 

I'm pretty happy in Newfoundland and Labrador. There's something special about growing up on an island. I think it draws people closer together, whether it's the isolation or the historical context of isolation.

I'm pretty happy in Newfoundland and Labrador. There's something special about growing up on an island.

There's a real sense of belonging to a special place on this Earth.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

My greatest extravagance is I love to downhill ski. I succumb to temptation and pressures of acquiring new skis too frequently. Somehow it's going to make me a better skier if I had a better ski, of course!

Andrew Furey's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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