Time for John Efford to start writing
Perhaps now’s the time for John Efford to write his autobiography. I’m sure he has a story to tell. The authors of a recent spate of books tell numerous stories about Efford. However, the reader is only getting one side; it would be interesting to read Efford’s version of events.
Take, for example, “According to Doyle: Recollections,” written by Norman Doyle. One day, he boarded a plane in Ottawa, preparing to fly home to Avondale and was “looking forward to lying back and getting a couple of hours shut-eye.” Glancing up ahead, he “was feeling a bit awkward,” for he had spied Efford and his wife.
“John is a decent guy,” Doyle admits, “but a bit different when he has to take a hit. A millennium is not too long to carry a grudge.” Doyle and Efford had head-butted in the House of Assembly, and now Doyle could see “that mad look on (Efford’s) face.”
Doyle’s seat was 15E. “John was sitting in the aisle seat, his wife was in the window seat. There was an empty seat in the middle – 15E.”
I won’t spoil it for the reader by revealing what happened next. Suffice it to say, I think John Efford should commit his own recollections to print.
Doyle’s memoirs can be read on several levels.
For one, it’s the story of a high school graduate with no university or trade school experience who, intent on following in his father’s footsteps, travels to New York City where, at 24, he finds employment as an ironworker on the World Trade Centre site.
“They were building the tallest skyscraper in existence ... and the two top guys in charge of doing the steel erection were my brothers.” Doyle was making good money, all of $10 an hour.
“New York notwithstanding, give me home any day ... Surely there had to be a miracle floating around somewhere just waiting for someone to grab hold, seize the moment, and go with it.”
Doyle’s “miracle” arrived when he was bitten by the political bug. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 1979. He and his wife “drove home that night with a new sense of optimism.”
That’s part of the public persona of Doyle the politician. But, to backtrack, there’s also a story of his mother’s stamina and fortitude.
“Our suffering,” she was wont to say, “is good only if we offer it to God.” The Doyle household endured great suffering.
Doyle’s father left home, to work in New York, shortly after his son was born in 1945. He saw the senior man fewer than six times in his lifetime.
Doyle’s mother possessed “extraordinary courage and strength.” She survived “some unbelievably difficult years,” witnessing the death of five of her children. “Reality for her had been filled with sorrow, hardship, abandonment, and death.” Still, “she never lost even a small fraction of her faith,” Doyle writes with obvious admiration for her.
Doyle recalls another tragedy after he became involved in politics, “the worst Canadian disaster at sea since the Second World War,” on Feb. 15, 1982. That morning, as he arrived at work, “There was an odd feeling about the room.” The “Ocean Ranger” was gone and the 84 crew members, 56 of whom were from the province. It was a cruel reality for all, especially family and friends. “It was a black day,” Doyle states.
Doyle devotes a chapter to what he calls “The Real Atlantic Accord.” He is effusive in his praise of the benefits that accrued to Newfoundland and Labrador because of the Accord.
“There are many who say that the Accord has been the financial saviour f o r Newfoundland and Labrador. Certainly up to this point (2013) we would not be enjoying the prosperity we now have without the commitment Brian Peckford and his government made to ensure that we were to be the major beneficiary of the wealth generated by oil revenues.”
And then there’s Doyle’s insider account of the infamous Sprung Greenhouse. Peckford was “attracted by the promise of some new technology developing or springing forth.” According to the premier, “diversification of the Newfoundland economy was not only desirable but an absolute necessity.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be an ignominious failure, a “sorry chapter of our history.”
In 2012, after serving in the House of Commons, Doyle was appointed to the Senate of Canada which, he says, “is a House in need of reform.”
Doyle’s front-row seat enables him to discuss some of the greatest political battles ever fought for both the province and country which, according to his publisher, “put him in the difficult position of having to serve two masters at the same time.”
“According to Doyle: Recollections” is published by Flanker Press, St. John’s. Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at