Time for John Ef­ford to start writ­ing

The Compass - - NEWS -

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

bur­tonj@nfld.net

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