Ray Guy has been immensely honoured as one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most beloved writers. Rightly so. He was truly one of a kind, an inspiration, a gifted man, a true cultural icon.
He singularly played a role in the downfall of former Premier J.R. Smallwood, which even today, is not completely understood.
The very idea of lining up, in front of the little Shop in the Thompson Student Centre at Memorial University, in anticipation of the arrival of what was then called the “Evening Telegram”, must seem an anachronism in today’s digital world. But, line up we did. There was always a dozen or so students who were determined to be among the first to read the wisdom of “Aunt Sissy Roach”, the unclothing of Smallwood and his cronies and every one of his words and expressions, especially the irreverent ones.
As much as we encountered sheer joy in the reading of his renderings, Ray Guy taught an entire generation of Newfoundlanders, that it was fine to be sceptical and that it was right to offer politicians our disapproval. He confirmed, by the sheer power of his pen, that the emperor could be stripped of all his clothes. He sure as heck stripped Smallwood’s and entertained, even thrilled us, at the same time. OH, Ray, how we took delight in your magnificent talent! We applaud you. Rest in peace.
Ray Guy, please come back! We need you now, as much as
in the ‘old’ days when Joey Smallwood became his own political dynasty. Politicians like Crosbie, Wells and Hickman,
though vital to his downfall, were mere mortals alongside a leviathan and a terrifyingly
entertaining pen. From you, we found the
courage to criticise ‘The Only Living Father’, and learned that courage is essential
to maintaining an open and vital democracy.
countenance argument and common sense. It
says it will spend $5 billion on Muskrat Falls; you know, Ray, that government
will never spend $5 billion when it can spend $7 or $8 billion. They will
bankrupt us, Ray. The Premier and her
Minister of Natural Resources are sleepwalking us into the abyss.
from Aunt Sissy Roach. She, not one given over to
blandishments, once opined a simple truth: “A house is a house and a pimp is a
pimp…”. The government could learn something from someone of her depth. Aunt
Sissy was a bit rough. She did call you
a ‘mawmouth’, but that is no cause to ban her from current discourse. After all, Ray, were you not responsible for putting
words in her mouth?
you possess that rare perspective that is underlain with the strength of
character of the decent folk of “That Far Greater Bay”. You possess the ability
to restore clarity to the issues, to demand respect from politicians and to cleanse,
at least for time, what has become rotten in our little abode.
We need to hear your words of both insight and irreverence; words that have
the capacity to lay bare the emperor once again.
were overcome with wisdom or the boldness with which you made your mark, the
kind that made Joe Smallwood run for the sherry cabinet.
brilliant editor but he must respond to a multitude of issues and constituencies;
similarly, Wakeham and Frampton. Randy Simms, well… Randy has declared the
Muskrat decision already made and has raised the white flag on intestinal
fortitude! Cochrane of CBC is clever but he needs
to tell CBC brass that the constant parade of petty criminals on the evening
news is not what makes public debate flourish.
polemicist of our time, the one person who has thrived on contrariness and
argument. You are the undisputed king of
editorial writers, the Mohammed
Ali of the struggle between transparency and concealment. The American philosopher, Harry Frankfurt,
once wrote that “…bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are”. But
you, Ray, can tell us the difference.
done it. Leonard Cohen has gotten a second wind; P.D. James, at 92, is still entertaining
us with stories of bad guys and even Gordon Pinsent yet receives more plaudits
than a cake baker at a church raffle.
patriotism doesn’t cut it anymore Ray, let me appeal to a baser instinct, simple
greed. Think, Ray, of being paid by the
word; what Dickensian payments could be extracted in this time of “Dunderdale”;
as surely as Muskrat Falls is a hydro project, the Premier is a wind farm: full
of bluster and not to be completely relied upon.
any blank spaces there is always Jerome Kennedy, Nalcor’s messenger on the Muskrat
file, soon to experience, I expect, the same popularity as Brad Cabana at a
Tory leadership convention. Jerome’s
destiny, like that of a former Member under Joey, will be to find acknowledgement
by having himself paged at the Holiday Inn, an early version of social media.
Ray, it would be slack-ish work; ideally suited to your unique talent; perfect
for someone called back from retirement.