Friday, November 2, 2012

Killing the Heart of a Nation

Anyone who knows me knows how I treasure and value the importance of rural Canada and rural America.

As a businessman, I recognize that the larger centers, whether it be Toronto, New York or the like, provide the “energy” to drive nations.

However, I also believe that the rural towns are the lifeblood of nations, often providing the last vestiges of the morals and values of yesteryear that we lament have disappeared from the larger centers.  The rural towns provide the balance against the larger centers and together, we find a way to make the balance work to create as strong a future as we can.

As someone who grew up in a rural environment before moving on to success in larger centers, I recognize the need for both.

When the lifeblood of a nation is weakened, I wonder what happens to that balance and the future of the nation itself.

While my ancestral home is Bell Island, Newfoundland, Canada, I grew up in a rural town “across the bay” called Foxtrap.  In 1971, it had an official population of 971 souls so this is as rural as it gets.  Until the early 90s, the primary sources of income for the majority of residents was farming and fishing.

Today, with the amalgamation of some surrounding communities, it still has a population of under 3,000 and Foxtrap itself is now part of the larger community of Conception Bay South.

It’s still as small as it gets.

So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I heard that in this sleepy little ocean-side town, it was announced that a new cabaret was opening today.

Cabaret is usually defined as form of entertainment featuring music, comedy, song, dance, recitation or drama.

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  In fact, while being a strange place to locate a theater, perhaps they are introducing a little culture to the town of my upbringing.

But it does strike my interest to know that a nearby house was also purchased to house “the dancers”.  Intriguing indeed – I’ve never heard of such special care being given to thespians before.

As a result, I couldn’t help but wonder what else they might do in such a house.

And then I look at the owners of the facility.

They are also the owners of a facility in the nearby city of St. John’s known as Sirens.

What kind of facility is Sirens?

This picture on the opening page of their website speaks volumes.


It doesn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination, does it?

It doesn’t look much like cabaret either.

Now, I’m not a prude by ANY stretch of the imagination.

I have no issue with strip clubs or the more commonly used term “gentlemen’s clubs”.

However, I do have an issue with where they are located.

Sirens is located in downtown St. John’s in an area known for its mix of bars, pubs and gentlemen’s clubs.

The new “cabaret club” is smack dab in the middle of the small rural town of Foxtrap.  The club has an elementary school bus stop in front of it and will be open for business when kids are dropped off in front of it.

All of these facts create a toxic mix in my brain that is not sitting right with me.

Who approved this?

This brings me to the people who approved the development of a “cabaret club” in the middle of this sleepy town.

The Town Council of Conception Bay South and Mayor Woody French said they had no confirmation of what the building would ultimately be, which is why they allowed the club to be put there.

Here’s the problem with such a statement.

If the leadership of a town doesn’t know what is being put in the town, then they shouldn’t allow it until they know.

If they know but can’t be transparent with the people living in the area, then they shouldn’t allow it to happen either.

To do so anyway speaks volumes in terms of their competence level and their ability to run a town.

Or perhaps it speaks louder in terms of their inability to do so.

If our rural towns are going to be allowed to have their heart ripped out through incompetent or immoral politicians, I fear for the future of our nation.  Once our foundation of morals and values is lost, all is lost.

A Message to Our “Leaders”

As for the Mayor of CBS and any councillors who voted for this and slyly slid it by the local residents, I offer this musing.

Since we are on the subject of cabaret, let’s explore the root of the word “actor”.

The word “actor” is derived from the Greek word “hypokrites”, from which we get the modern word hypocrite.

Any politician who would thrust a “cabaret” upon the residents of a small rural town by either not telling them that it was coming or by saying that he didn’t really know what was going there (which somehow makes it ok), is a hypocrite.

Or perhaps they are just acting, pretending to be competent community leaders when they in fact are not.

Either way, in conducting themselves as they are, they are taking responsibility for ripping the heart out of a rural community and a nation.

I wonder if they already have a communications strategy in place for when the inevitable drugs and prostitution pop up in the same area.

Here’s a hint to them: You better prepare it now – you will need it.

Here’s another thought to the town council: Why don’t you licence the establishment on the same street that you live on so you can see how it “contributes” to your neighbourhood.

All that being said, if the residents of Foxtrap don’t want this to happen, they need to do more than complain on the local radio station.

As Moliere, the French actor, once said:

“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”

We all share responsibility for making our communities and our nation strong.

A nation is made stronger when we take action and is weakened when we choose not to take action.

I wonder how the home of my youth chooses to defend that which is important to them and to the nation.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question”.

In service and servanthood,


PS  Dear churches.  You claim to be the keeper of morals and values in society-at-large.  Your absence in this dialog speaks volumes in itself and is in fact, hypocritical. 

Lead by example or move out of the way and let someone else do so.

PPS I wonder what the Right Honorable Terry French, Member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, nephew of the mayor of Conception Bay South and resident of the area, thinks of this also.  As the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and with a young daughter, his thoughts on the matter would be interesting to know.

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