Tuesday, January 04, 2005

What if the world slandered my name

Dissent over the ways and means of Canadian federalism starts turning ugly: HALIFAX -- Marie Routhier would prefer to be called Marie Johnston from now on. And to ensure it happens, she went to the Newfoundland and Labrador vital statistics office last week to officially register the change. It is one of the more extreme reactions to the federal and provincial governments' failure to reach an offshore deal in recent weeks that has seen an emotional and frustrated Premier Danny Williams order all the Canadian flags taken down from provincial buildings only to reconsider days later. Ms. Johnston, the 25-year-old chief executive officer of IQ Sportswear Inc., a Newfoundland-owned-and-operated clothing design and manufacturing company, announced on New Year's Eve that she would discontinue its popular line of patriotic Canadian flag swimwear in support of Mr. Williams. As political statements from private citizens go, this is pretty mild. Yet that doesn't stop a handful of the usual suspects from overreacting: So far, her company's politically based business decision has netted her 17 pieces of electronic "hate mail" and a lot more support, mostly from within the province and from expatriate Newfoundlanders. She has been called a Nazi and a traitor. Some suggested she move to the United States. Others said she insulted Canadians and war veterans. So far, she hasn't heard from Mr. Williams. Sometimes, I imagine a world where even one-tenth of people using the term Nazi to attack their political opponents actually understood what it meant. What a lovely place that would be.


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