Quesnel Cariboo Sentinel
There’s nothing more sad than to watch the slow demise of Quesnel’s once long-standing, reputable community newspaper the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.
In production for the last 113 years the newspaper was always the heart-beat of the North Cariboo covering all possible avenues of information and providing advertising space for local businesses.
Like a spider’s sensitive web the slightest touch of a tale to tell and instantly its intrepid reporters and journalists would spring into action, shedding light on whatever story or event happened to be taking place, in order to keep the city and its vast surrounding area informed and up to date. Such was its character and purpose and the people loved and supported it.
Probably the highlight of the Observer’s existence throughout its long career was the period when it was under the tutelage and professionalism of famed Jerry MacDonald, the Editor and Publisher for the duration of his tragically short life.
After Jerry’s demise the Observer had a few different Editors and by around 2006 a new Reporter was hired by the name of Autumn MacDonald. It turned out to be Jerry’s daughter and after a couple of years Autumn held the reins as Editor and was like a chip off the old Mac block. She kept the Observer afloat like her Daddy had and retained the Editorship right up until 2017 when she retired somewhat disgruntled and burnt out and began a new career.
Back in 2007 when my extra-curricular writings on the web drew the attention of certain lobby groups in Canada who were opposed to the notion of free speech online and those who had the audacity to criticize their behaviour filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission that landed me in hot water. By that time Jerry MacDonald had been singing along with his favourite angelic folk artist Stan Rogers for a decade.
While Jerry was alive and kicking he had his own column in the Observer titled “PUNCHLINES”. One column in particular with the header reading “OPINIONS – So much Canada, so little time!” published on February 26th, 1997 a year prior to his passing and now 25 years to today is a apt reminder for all those who have come to suspect that the Mainstream Media aka the MSM is not all it’s chalked up to be when it comes to being “independent”. Thus I’ll present it here for readers:
So much Canada, so little time!
“Journalism has taught me that, for the most part, the people who speak out in their youth … are the ones who will continue to speak their minds when their Canada Pension Cheques bounce.”
~ Jerry MacDonald
AS YOU READ this, I should be skating my way through the Rockies in my newer-old four-by-four Ford truck.
I’ll be in full retreat from those damned daily deadlines we were talking about earlier this month. Stan Rogers will be belting out tunes on the stereo – oh, maybe Barrett’s Privateers. And as I slip the front axle into four-high in anticipation of that black-hearted black ice, Stan and I will be wailing the chorus at the top of our respective lungs: “Goddam them all!…”
You’ve got to know Stan Rogers to follow what it is that I’m talking about here. And that’s part of what is wrong with this country of ours: too few people know of Stan Rogers.
He’s a guy with a voice that could make a cod fisherman smile – even today. Stan’s dulcet tones capture the energy of Canada, its solitude, our triumphs, our pain.
Had he been a separatist, his songs alone could have rallied Quebec to votez oui long ago. But Stan’s dead now. A great nationalist, a poet and a bear of a man with a Quaker’s beard and a Mop ‘n Glo pate. He had a voice from heaven. And that’s where its gone, presumably.
But he’ll be with me in the Rockies as I think about you. About Quesnel.
As Stan leads and I do an acceptable job of backup Highway mumble-harmony, what’s left of my mind will reflect on home and the people who make it special. And those who don’t.
So in a round-about way by introduction, this is one of those “thank you & good night” columns. And one of those “be warned” pieces too.
Journalism has taught me many things. Some of which I have actually, consciously retained.
It has taught me that if we are lucky enough, we will grow old enough to be bold enough.
In other words, most of us go through life pretty much afraid in this free society of ours to speak our minds. We’re afraid for two reasons:
In rural Canada if you speak your mind at a meeting of some kind you’re apt to be elected president. That alone is a practical inducer of self-censorship:
“You, Mouthy One! We the membership find you guilty of opinionationextravaganzi. You are hereby sentenced to a two-year term as president of the Quesnel Teacher’s Association …”
You could plug in the name of your own outfit here, but the point is taken.
And so Murphy’s Law being what it is, the “intelligent members” stay home and the wannabes of the world, with the anaemic anatomy complex, take over. Now this is not true in all cases, but from politics to unions to management – it’s scary sometimes to consider just how prevalent it is.
I ramble. But you’re used to it, otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far.
When it comes to really important issues in life, however, the biological verbal governor kicks in out of fear: We’re afraid if we speak out because it could affect our jobs; the possibility for promotion; our social standing; our kids’ chances of playing on the rep team; of being branded a racist; a sexist; a capitalist; a red neckist; an environmentalist….
We’re so paranoid of being branded some kind of an ‘ist’ we’ve forgotten the ‘s’ altogether. And that’s what we’ve become: the most free society in the world, afraid to speak out because it might cost us something.
So, like a smoker waiting for a pack of butts to hit $20 before she quits, we wait to be ‘old enough to be bold enough‘.
We wait for that time when we’re beholden to no-one.
Trouble is, when that day dawns most of us are dead, or too old to give a damn. Rather we spend what energy we have at the time squeezing the remote or chewing our apple sauce.
Journalism has taught me that, for the most part, the people who speak out in their youth (Youth: Any age between 30-64, a definition which changes as the amount of ear hair in the definer increases) are the ones who will continue to speak their minds when their Canada Pension Cheques bounce.
So I’d like to thank the following people for speaking out over all these years – even when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.
Arthur Topham, Bert de Vink, Judy Campbell, Jude Davis and Doug Gook: Think what you like of their politics, priorities, or values – these people often served as the conscience of the area during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Right or wrong, they spoke their minds. They stood up for their beliefs.
In a generation that vows to be different from our parents, how many of us can truly say that today? They will always have my admiration because right or wrong they are people of conviction.
To Joan Huxley, Harvey Bryant, Susan Maile, John Maile, Andy Sear, Mary Glassford, Gloria Lazzarin, Bob Taft, the late Albert Johnston, the late Alex Fraser, former mayor Mikey Pearce, Ted Armstrong, former Rec Director Dale MacDonald … to all of these people we owe a debt of gratitude. Because they are been the builders in these past 20 years.
The $15 million hospital expansion; River-front Trail; building of the Rec Centre; expansion of the Civic Arena; Alex Fraser Park; the Senior’s Centre; Golden Centre – they were the eyes of the vision that has become our reality. They spoke out.
Politically, Quesnel has been assigned Leper Colony status since Alex Fraser’s death. We are lacking not only in vision, but in integrity, credibility and – most of all – brain-pans.
Clenched in a ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘this will look good on my portfolio’ mentality, our current collection of potential senators have a hard time managing their own cheque books. But we’ll elect them to office and as spenders of the public purse.
MLA John Wilson is a possible exception – but John’s inability to speak in public is why guys like Dale Carnegie are billionaires.
These are the things one ponders while dodging big horned sheep and docile elk as Stan warbles away in the background, something about the Northwest Passage.
As long as the Lance Leas, and Brian Rankins, and Herb Bardens and Bob Normans and Betsy Van Haldrens and Collin Almonds of the community stay home at nomination & election time, we’ll continue to send the political equivalent of War Amps to the front lines in our battle for our future.
The sad part is we’re really no different than the rest of Canada.
We have a great community, an unbelievably beautiful province and an extremely special country. While we collectively seem to be doing our best to screw it all up, having apparently signed a long term mortgage with the Bank of Stupid, we survive despite ourselves.
Maybe when we’re all old enough and bold enough, we’ll look back and chuckle and shake our heads at our paranoia. Cuz everything works out in the end. Cuz nothing really matters much anyhow. Maybe.
Then again, maybe we’ll all be sitting in our wheel chairs, our grey pony tails plagued by split ends, our bony shoulders littered with dandruff … and finally we’ll all join Stan in toothless harmony:
“Goddam them all!…”
Editor’s Note: Jerry MacDonald died suddenly at the age of 44 while refereeing a senior hockey game between the Quesnel Kangaroos and Williams Lake Stampeders. His death was a tremendous loss to the Cariboo.
So given all the prescient warnings and hilarious invective in Jerry’s Punchlines opinion piece I return once again to the current reality of March 25, 2021 and quality of today’s Observer finding it lacking in so many ways that I’m hard pressed where to begin a critique. I will focus on one issue therefore.
On Saturday, March 20th, 2021 citizens of Quesnel and the Cariboo gathered at LeBourdais Park as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom designed to challenge the official narrative of the global elite, the national government, the provincial governments and the municipal and regional governments, over the world induced crisis they’ve all shamelessly labelled the “Covid Pandemic”.
Notices were put up around the city beforehand. The local media, the Observer included, were informed well in advance of the planned event. North Cariboo’s MLA Coralee Oakes and the Mayor and City Council (those, for the most part, “political equivalent of War Amps” as Jerry stated) were informed and invited to participate and social media was aflame with discussions concerning the Rally for at least a week in advance. The day came and people gathered to listen to a number of inspiring speeches by women and men of the calibre that Jerry described so well. The event was peaceful and the RCMP were present to observe and ensure that all went as planned (and to do their duty for their masonic taskmasters).
To his credit and the credit of Quesnel’s radio station My Cariboo Now, News Director George Henderson was the only media in the city that contacted the Organizer of the Rally, Tamara Morneau, and helped in advertised the upcoming event.
After the Rally the only response was that four days later the local RCMP came to the home of the Rally Organizer Tamara Morneau and issued her with a ticket for $2300.00 for having organized the public gathering in the Spring open area of LeBourdais Park! The Quesnel Cariboo Observer was no where to be seen and when their March 23rd, 2021 edition of the paper came out there wasn’t a word in it informing the citizens of Quesnel and outlying areas of the event or of the heinous and draconian actions of those who feign would have us believe that they’re here to “serve and protect” the people.
That dear readers is the present state of the msm everywhere around the globe and Quesnel’s once vibrant, informative and independent community newspaper is no exception to this world wide open conspiracy to destroy the basic freedoms of people everywhere and enforce upon us all the diabolical will of the New World Order gang of psychopaths who are destroying nation upon nation in their insatiable lust for power and control of the masses. And so I join in chorus with my old friend Jerry ‘Mac’ MacDonald and Stan Rogers in their ongoing refrain, “Goddam them all!…”
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