Soap Box


Bishop's College
St. John's, Newfoundland

By Jason N.

Action! Adventure! Corporate propaganda! Exploitation, imitation, and highway robbery! Money, money, money! That's right folks, this summer, wallets, purses and checkbooks from around the globe touched base in our province, driving around in their convertible, spazzy antique cars, hitting on our teenage girls, polluting our city! Rejoice and celebrate!

As it so happens, there is a theory that 500 years ago, a man and a small crew in a tiny little boat sailed west from Bristol to find a cheaper route to exchange the King's goods with the Chinese and the Indians. Apparently, this boat accidentally ran a ground on our island, though it may easily have been Nova Scotia, Labrador, even Maine.

In the time since this earth-shattering milestone of a "discovery", the European influence on the western world, brought to you by Mr. Caboto, his grace, has effectively managed to destroy vast regions of wildlife habitat, bend the ecosystems of the continent to our liking, and exterminate various species of plants, animals, even humans.

Those cultures that we did not destroy, we showed great "mercy" in letting them keep tiny Indian reserves, only robbing them of the vast majority of their homeland, and introducing into their societies such novelty items as gasoline, alcohol, modern conveniences! We've had the compassion to let these people live out the rest of their dying days as pale shadows of what they once were, defeated races who simply could not handle the westernization they were faced with.

But that was the past, and this is NOW, baby! We've assembled a little boat that may, through some stretch of the imagination, resemble the original Matthew, (a re-creation, not a replica, mind you, as we really don't know whether or not it resembles the original), operated by a cast of seafarers with a cavalcade of oceanic machinery that the original crew never dreamed of, strung 'em up in outfits so colourful, elaborate and expensive that in the 1400's no-one less than royalty would have been able to afford them (let alone a peasant sea crew), and are sending them on a trek across the Atlantic Ocean, a route travelled by modern-day vessels all the time! This boat is then going to sail around the province, stopping at the larger ports to attract tourists, and their money, to the various parts of Newfoundland and Labrador!

Once the boat arrives, there will be numerous shin-digs, hoe-downs and kitchen parties (which are all just fancy names to stick on the event of a slew of old men getting loaded - on Labatt's Caboto' beer - and play traditional music really loud), and by golly, even her royal highness Queen E II herself'll be over for a look-see.

But it doesn't stop there! We've got as many scams and scandals as a dog has fleas to squeeze every last drop of dough out of those god-blessed tourists. We'll sell 'em purple velvet berets with "Cabot" written in gold foil (again, that no sea captain could ever afford) under the assumption that the locals, i.e. us, actually wear them as a part of everyday life! We'll parade 'em up and down the streets of Duckworth and Water in horse-drawn carriages that no-one around here ever uses, backing the already-horrific-traffic up for miles! Every business in Newfoundland will jump on the historical bandwagon to cash in on a few foreign dollars - A&W's Cabot Crunch burger, Labatt's Cabot beer and ad campaign, New York Fries (Cabot was really looking for New York, reads the caption). Right on! Even a billboard with the words "Tourists: Keep Newfoundland Green! Bring Money!" shone brightly on a busy St. John's street for a period over the summer. The sad truth is, what started out as a cultural celebration of the founder of a civilization has become a corporate fanfare for businesses to run amok and get rich quick. Like everything else in the glorious land that Cabot "discovered", what started out with genuinely good intentions has fallen prey to the old evil: money.

Though many aspects of the celebrations were enlightening - an international drama festival, a sound symposium featuring choirs from around the world, the Shakespeare by the Sea festival, just to name a few - most of the celebrations have inevitably evolved into a year-long infomercial.

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