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The Canadian and Newfoundland flags fly at half mast in Dover, Nfld., on Thursday Oct. 12, 2000. (CP/ANDREW VAUGHAN/CP/ANDREW VAUGHAN)
The Canadian and Newfoundland flags fly at half mast in Dover, Nfld., on Thursday Oct. 12, 2000. (CP/ANDREW VAUGHAN/CP/ANDREW VAUGHAN)

Ottawa Notebook

A potential minefield awaits Turmel in Newfoundland Add to ...

If Nycole Turmel is hoping people will forget about her renounced connection to the Bloc Québécois, she's picked a risky way to change the channel.

The interim federal NDP Leader was scheduled to attend the St. John's Regatta on Wednesday, one of the biggest social events of the year in Newfoundland and Labrador and a potential minefield for the visiting leader.

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The province is hardly welcoming ground for a former Bloc member. There is the pervasive feeling locally that Quebec was able to take Newfoundland and Labrador to the cleaners on the Churchill Falls hydro deal because Ottawa was worried federal intervention would inflame Quebec separatists.

Decades of losses stemming from that deal were included in the analysis done by a newspaper formerly edited by rookie St. John's area NDP Ryan Cleary, one of the politicians who is to join Ms. Turmel at the event, which concluded the province was a net economic loser from Confederation.

Adding piquancy to their appearance, Mr. Cleary was himself advocating independence for his own province only five months before first seeking an NDP nomination in 2008.

"I don't want to seem ungrateful, but now that we're rolling in the cash it may be time to consider breaking away from the country of Canada," he wrote then. "If we're teetering on the edge of economic independence anyway, why not go all the way and raise the Pink, White and Green outside Confederation Building?"

Mr. Cleary, who swept to political victory this spring on his second try, has never been shy about his opinions. And his former roles as editor of the Independent and host of a radio call-in show on VOCM have put many of them on the public record.

The 2008 piece went on in a lighter tone -- suggesting the John Cabot statue at the legislature be fitted with "a FREE NFLD. T-shirt, G-string and stocking cap" -- and Mr. Cleary has since said that he no longer wants to separate.

Politics, as American writer Charles Dudley Warner noted, makes for strange bedfellows.

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