19 February 2011

Never heard that before

Memorial University’s political science department is undergoing a reinvigoration of the kind not seen in the department in nearly 40 years.

You can credit it to a crop of bright, aggressive and curious professors like Alex Marland and Matthew Kerby.

In the second part of a series on the department, the Telegram’s Dave Bartlett interviews Kerby and Marland and the pair discuss three myths that affect Newfoundland and Labrador politics.

Marland and Kerby also discussed some of the accepted — but not necessarily factual — beliefs in this province’s political culture, which they’ve discovered through their research and by observing local politics.

“What bothers me about Newfoundland politics is, the more I research … the more I realize that things (are) repeated, and it’s not necessarily always for good reasons,” said Marland.

And the three myths?

One, that the pro­vince would be better off if it didn’t join Canada in 1949. Two, the reason for the collapse of the fishery, and three, that it’s not the pro­vince’s fault it was ripped off by the Upper Churchill agreement.

Bond Papers readers will find this discussion fascinating if not just a wee frickin’ bit familiar.

Don’t expect some of this corner’s regular commenters to take too kindly to the professors’ ideas.

- srbp -


Ursula said...

It's been fun Ed ,but , one gets the feeling that one is in "the old boys club".

I learned lots though . Thanks .

I can't help myself , so here goes .

Does the province need yet another lectern leaning Rick (keep your wife in the loop) Hillier ?

Edward Hollett said...

Not sure what you mean about Rick, Ursula.

In this thread, I was just welcoming some very strong additional voices to the anti-myth, anti-hysteria corner.

if you go back through BP over time you'll I;ve tackled every one of those myths and more and if you head off to labradore, you'll find a whole bunch of other uncomfortable truths.

Well uncomfortable for people with a vested interest in propagating myths.

Ursula said...

Just for you Ed .

Hillier was doing a Tourism luncheon on "Leadership".

He told his audience that one of his "tips", was to "keep your wife in the loop".

líam said...

I graduated from MUN's poli sci department just before all the recent new hires. It was an underrated department then, and now especially so. I am glad it is being recognized. I also had the pleasure of seeing Alex Marland and Kelly Blidook present on the seal hunt and interest groups at a CPSA conference in BC a few years back. I'm glad to see it's in the peer review process, and also glad to see that the weight of teaching and researching about Newfoundland & Labrador in particular no longer just rests on the shoulders of Peter Boswell who is a great academic in his own right.

I disagree however with the ambiguous classification of these three ideas as pure myths. 'Myth' can mean any number of things, including: a thought, belief or legend that is misused for some unrelated purpose, or a down-right lie masquerading as a fact.

Each of the three notions in question that you've cited from the Telegram articles belong to the former and not the latter definition. I think, or hope in any case, that Marland and Kerby agree. If anyone were to examine - for example - whether or not Newfoundland & Labrador was or was not better off in or out of Confederation, then from square one that would not constitute the 'objective' research that Marland says is warranted. In fact it would not only be subjective but also an example of "ahistorical" analysis that professors in another department at MUN, namely History, would have a lesson or two about.

Edward Hollett said...


I agree, generally with those observations. The myths, in this case is a legend unsupported by factual evidence that is most definitely misused.

Ahistorical analysis is, of course exactly what so much of it is based on, including the contention that without Confederation Newfoundland (and Labrador) would have been as well off or better off.

Interestingly enough, in a couple of palces where this story garnered some comment, Marland and Kerby have been abused personally but thus far no one has been able to do anything but recite the associated myths, claim they were true and that therefore the two professors don't know what they are talking about.

But yes, the dept has been underrated for years. As an alumnus it is gratifying to see it gaining the recognition it so richly deserves and deserved.