In 1996, current NDP Prime Ministerial candidate Thomas Mulcair used the term “Newfie” in a negative way during Quebec’s National Assembly. Fast-forward twenty years later and the Liberals are trying to use this slip of the tongue to bring an end to his political career. They claim he equated the term to mean ‘stupid’ and this is unacceptable for someone wanting to take the reigns of Canada. While the Liberals may not actually be that hopeful that bringing Mulcair’s past discretion to light will end his career, they made it clear that he owes Canada an apology.
On September 20th, the Liberals issued a media release that demanded Mulcair apologize for his poor choice of words. Later in the day, during a rally in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, reporters asked Mulcair about his previous use of slang. Our potential Prime Minister was quick to apologize for his ‘shady past’, saying “there’s no question that was a mistake that I made in the heat of a debate 20 years ago and I immediately withdrew it because that was the right thing to do.”
Newfie is a slang term used to describe people from Newfoundland. However, when used in a pejorative way, it can prove to be extremely distasteful. As urban dictionary explains, “the term is based on the belief that people from this province are dumb, uneducated, barbaric, poor, lazy, and unemployed. Like all stereotypical phrases, it is far from the truth as previously stated based on ignorance.”
We should question why the Liberals have to use such lame tactics to try and boost their campaign.
Now the ‘90s were a confusing, complicated time for many. It was the decade that saw the end of one of the world’s best bands, Nirvana (we still miss you Kurt), to the flurry of questionable trends, like those God-awful jelly shoes shoes and plastic chokers. It was definitely an odd time. It’s safe to say that Mulcair has most likely evolved since that time period and we should question why the Liberals have to use such lame tactics to try and boost their campaign. Besides, you’ve probably said worse things to your mom and you don’t see anyone calling you out in the media.
Mulcair claims he sees the wrongdoing his words have done. When a fellow MNA told Mulcair he needed to apologize for offending Newfoundlanders, Mulcair replied “Mr Chair, if the fact that I compared Newfoundlanders to Pequistes is derogatory towards them, I withdraw my remark.”
You’ve probably said worse things to your mom.
The Liberals are still not satisfied, insisting that Mulcair has still not given Canada a ‘real’ apology. Liberal Candidate for St. John’s East Nick Whalen passionately said “someone who aspires to be Prime Minister for all Canadians should be respectful of all Canadians… someone with the base instinct to use ‘Newfie’ as a term to denigrate his political opponents needs to prove that he has changed.”
Perhaps I don’t see this in the same light as the Liberals because I’m not from Newfoundland. Maybe using the term Newfie in that way once over the past 20 years in public is enough to ruin his chances in the coming election. Now, if someone referred to Vancouverites as those ‘Lululemon yoga-pants wearing, Starbucks drinking West Coast freaks’ I would be offended. Not because we don’t unexplainably love our cold Frappuccinos, but because not everyone can afford Lululemon pants (hey, the rent is expensive out West).
I’m personally interested to see what dirt the Liberals dig up next. Perhaps Harper has called someone a ‘douche bag’ during his lengthy stunt as Prime Minister or Elizabeth May has some more drunken rants filled with inappropriate slang that she thought were a thing of the past. Or maybe we’ll find out Trudeau isn’t as innocent as he seems. Only time will tell.