The Future Is In Our Past -
Last night I had an epiphany. Epiphany has different meanings, so for the sake of clarification the meaning to which I refer is ""a sudden, intuitive perception usually initiated by a commonplace occurrence."" My epiphany came out of something as commonplace as a meeting.
Around the time of the meeting, the Americans passed their historic healthcare bill. On the heels of the passing, some opponents were so outraged they threatened violence. Isn't it a universal truth that everyone can't have her/his own way? Someone has to accept less than s/he desires if we continue to live in diverse communities.
Americans have always fought what they see as socialism every step of the way. In order to keep their freedom, they seem willing to accept that healthcare will be unaffordable for a large segment of the population.
It's no good to tell Americans that they're no freer than Canadians. Their government has them locked up tighter than death row at San Quentin, in many aspects of their lives. Yet Americans cling proudly to the freedom myth.
We Canadians don't think that we're much different than Americans. Americans think we're a socialist country, when they think of us at all. The Americans are right. That was my epiphany. The Americans might have their government snooping on them and holding their feet to the fire, in terms of security, but their government has yet to control the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs flourish in America.
In Canada, heaven forbid that you would have an idea that is not already in a government plan. There is absolutely no room in Canadian business for innovation that is not in step with, or that hasn't had the approval of, government.
Many moons ago before tourism became popular with the government, in an era when a good idea went unchallenged, Prince Edward Island decided to milk Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables for all it was worth. They were mysteriously successful.
How could a series of books and a small house in PEI become a world icon? The answer is simple. PEI developed an idea when there was no regional tourism plan to consult to convince them that their idea wasn't feasible. They used their entrepreneurial skills to tap into the world market. Millions of visitors still travel to see a small house. Today that idea wouldn't have seen the light of day.
Newfoundland has never fully assessed its potential. And now it's too late. The era of the plan is in full swing. The plan is an instrument that feeds upon itself. It copies other plans and fails to look for the unique and irreproducible.
This year everyone is talking about the decrease of visitors to the province. Icebergs and whales aren't the draw they were intended to be. It's clear that attracting visitors needs an entrepreneurial approach.
This is why every year, at this time, it seems my thoughts turn to lost opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador. I have to look no further than our area to see a major lost opportunity. Why no one else sees its potential to draw millions of visitors is beyond me. That lost opportunity is the story of the Banting plane crash in Musgrave Harbour.
The story of Sir Frederick Banting is multifaceted. First of all, there's the story of the discovery of insulin, which saved immediately the lives of people with diabetes. No other medical story continues to make such an impact on the lives of so many people across the globe. Add to that the fact that insulin is one drug that hasn't changed much over the years and the story is phenomenal.
On his quest for a cure for diabetes, Dr. Banting was not well supported by the establishment. However, after Dr. Banting and Charles Best successfully tested insulin on dogs, Professor John J.R. McCloud gave them lab space to pursue their idea.
The intriguing part of the success story is that Dr. Banting was offended and refused to attend the ceremony in which he was awarded the Nobel Prize because his co-workers Charles Best and James Collip weren't nominated. If that is not intrigue enough, there is a theory that the plane in which Dr. Banting's died in 1941 was sabotaged because he was working on a highly classified government project.
If you cannot envisage diabetic camps, health and wellness seminars, meetings on the merits of scientific contributions and ethics conferences that have the potential to bring many visitors through Gander airport, then you're not an entrepreneur. The target market is three hundred million diabetics worldwide, as well as the scientific and medical community.
And that's just Dr. Banting. We haven't even mentioned Cape Island, the home of Random Passage and what promises to be the oldest aboriginal site in Canada. The difference between Canada and the US is that someone in the US would have developed this area to death by now. Here we do nothing, unless it's approved by a government plan prepared by someone who has never been outside the Overpass.
""To sleep, perchance to dream, ay there's the rub"": which is better, God alone knows?