What do you think the New Brunswick press called a doll house collecting, disco dancing, 'committed bachelor' premier in the 1970’s?
Yep, they called him: “flamboyant”. Richard Hatfield, former potato chip salesman, lawyer and chemist who ran the province for 17 years, is front and centre in a story like no other.
I’ll be at Studio 54 if you need to reach me.
YES WE CANADA…The Progressives Guide to Getting the Fuck Out.
All! New! Brunswick
[c] 2021 Matt Zimbel
Lisa: Canada Curious? Yes We Canada…The Progressives Guide to Getting the Fuck Out. This episode; All! New! Brunswick
Hi, I’m Matt Zimbel in Montreal.
Mio: And I’m Mio Adilman in Toronto. I think.
Matt: Geographically Canada is the second largest country in the world. Not boastin, just sayin’… Big country - and on Yes We Canada, in the final weeks of season one, we’re going to start our collective voyage to find you a place to live. This could be a very long podcast, because there’s 10 provinces and two territories but we cut down all our trees for you last spring, so you guys could get enough toilet paper to battle the Corona virus and without trees we ran out of the paper we needed to write the script that Mio never reads.
Mio: So, we’ll make this episode short and snappy, succinct and punchy, tight and pithy… When you immigrate here, you’ll need to decide where exactly where to live. There is no downtown Canada.
Matt: As we’ve mentioned before, most Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S border so we can shop at Target. In 2011 Target opened in Canada, dropped 2.1 billion dollars trying to get us to stop shopping at Walmart and Canadian Tire and then in 2015, exhausted, they closed all their Canadian locations in what is called one of the greatest retail boondoggle’s of all time.
Mio, when you are the executive in charge of international expansion and world domination…you do not want your name and the word “boondoggle” in the same sentence.
Matt; Target execs you missed the point…we don’t like shopping at Target…what we do like is shopping at Target in the US, then sneaking back all our Target crap without declaring it at customs. Because that is shopping and passive aggressively fucking over the man.
And now we can’t shop at Target anywhere, because your Canadian Targets missed their targets and the border is closed because you had a Corona19 Festival larger than any other nation on earth, due to the fact that your Republican people can’t wear masks because it is an assault to their God given rights as an American! Ok, retail diatribe over…
Moi: That was like a retail diatribe with a Republican coda, very, very nice! Ok, Let’s get started: Let’s find you a place to…
Matt & Mio: Be a Canadian!
Matt: Close enough.
Mio: We’re in sync!
Matt: We’re going to start on the right side of Canada.First up New Brunswick.
Mio: It’s not’s not the extreme right side, that will come in a future ep when we tackle Newfoundland and Labrador. But let’s get you oriented. Drive to Boston, hang a left, drive north and you will bump into New Brunswick, you can’t miss it – I think it’s called St. Stephens, it’s a card-carrying member of a little club of eastern provinces that all border the Atlantic Ocean called “The Maritimes”.Other members of this exclusive club are Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Matt: Be careful of these three tarts, they are extremely seductive in the summer, cuddled by lots of ocean, stunning beaches, awash in lobsters, potatoes and butter and inhabited by the warmest people you will ever meet. There’s lots of rural housing for not lots of American money. There’s some exciting medium sized cities, full of many of our expiates – who were also stationed here during the war in Vietnam. There’s a lot to love. But maybe, you might want to take her for a spin in February, just to make sure all is as it seems.
Mio: In the 1970’s & 80’s, New Brunswick had a premier by the name of Richard Hatfield. He was the leader of the Progressive Conservative party. Which is sort of the same as military intelligence, jumbo shrimp, you get the idea. Before becoming a premier,Richard was a potato chip salesman. Well, actually he had a chemistry degree and law degree, but he was still selling potato chips, which in New Brunswick, a serious producer of spuds, is a very dignified career.
Matt: Hatfield was a “life-long bachelor”. He collected dollhouses. He was frequently spotted at Studio 54 in New York. So often in fact, that back home in in the fun loving capitol of New Brunswick, Fredericton, they called Premier Hatfield, “Disco Dick”.
So, what do you think the New Brunswick press called a doll house collecting, disco dancing, "committed bachelor" premier in the 1970’s? Yep, they called him: “flamboyant”. Once, while sitting in the legislature, the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Joe Daigle called him a “faded pansy”. Ouch.
Look, a premier’s sexual orientation is his or her own business. As Prime Minister Trudeau the 1st famously said, “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. I couldn’t agree more. At the same time the Progressive Conservative Party of that vintage was not in any way supportive of gay rights. “I don’t support gay rights, I’ll be at Studio 54 if you need to reach me”! Yeah I don’t think so.
Mio: This is very arcane identity politics from the 1980’s but I like it.
Matt: Hatfield’s 17 year reign, saw New Brunswick explore all kinds of government private sector partnerships as is the way of Progressive Conservatives – in 1974 they poured a huge amount of taxpayer dollars into a sports car company called Bricklin which designed and built a gull winged, carbon resign sports coupe, until they ran out of money after manufacturing 3000 cars in what was a huge financial boondoggle at the time. Today New Brunswick has an economy that is the poorest performer of all Canadian provinces with a per capita income of $28,000, (Canadian). Which means when you get there with your big American can-do personality yer gonna kill it!
Mio: You know they may have the lowest per capita income, but they have the highest speed limit on the highways.
Matt; Is that true, I didn’t know that?
Mio; Yes whatever they lose in slowness they make up for in high speeds.
Matt: You know why they probably just want people to go through very quickly.
Mio: yeah that’s exactly what I do. On my way to PEI and they got new roads too.
Matt: You’ve driven through New Brunswick a lot haven’t you?
Mio: What happens is you drive through Quebec and despite having the most road work ever they have the worst roads and your happy to get to New Brunswick and you then realize you’re in NB and then you drive as fast as you can through New Brunswick on those beautiful roads at 10 Kms more an hour than anywhere else.
Matt; I have driven in New Brunswick a lot but never when the sun is shining.
Mio: Now this will surely not be on your citizenship test, but I would be remiss if I did not tell you that Premier Richard Hatfield was arrested in 1985 while he was still Premier!
Matt: A premier gets arrested while in office and you know what Mio…our American audience doesn’t even give us a, nope, our American exceptionalist audience is so used to seeing their public servants serve time they are like….”oh, god this is one of the most boring Yes We Canada’s ever and that’s something! Nope. Fuck off – don’t touch that dial, it gets way better….
Mio: You see the Conservative Premier Richard Hatfield was arrested, while in office, for having…35 grams of pot in his bag when the RCMP searched his luggage on a flight from Fredericton, New Brunswick to Montreal during the Royal Visit of the Queen. The Queen was on the plane! Guys come on, who says Canada is not the most exciting place to live?
Matt: “My husband and I” (toke),
Mio: After a two day trial, he was acquitted by the Crown, but not by the voters …and after 17 years in power, (the longest serving premier in New Brunswick’s history), he lost the election. And when he lost, he really lost, as in shut–off-the-lights-when-you-leave-the-legislature-lost…
His party, the Progressive Conservatives, dropped every single one of the 38 seats they held before the 1987 election including his own. Wiped out…Yowch!
Matt: This is the kind of story that you can tell when you get here and want to take your Canadian history out for a spin late one night, cuddled up against the bar, nursing your fifth pint, trying to meet Canadians
”Hey, come ‘er for a sec, I love you man, do you think Hatfield was flamboyant?“
Mio: This is going to be most likely on your test. So you have to pay attention. New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially ‘bi” province. Bilingual. There is a large Acadian population. Well, come to think of it, there was a large Acadian population, but they got kicked out. You see, the French speaking Acadians are descendants of French colonists and the Indigenous peoples. From 1755 to 1764 the British expelled 11,500 Acadians from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in what is known as Le Grand Dérangement, The Great Expulsion, today it would be called “ethnic cleansing”.
Matt: Many Acadians eventually resettled in Louisiana creating the Cajun culture. Just like Madonna is part French Canadian on her mother’s side, Beyoncé is part Acadian on her mother’s side. As you can see, we don’t give women superstars last names up here. Sorry, that’s policy. Beyonce is the 6th great grand-daughter of the Acadian leader and hero Joseph Broussard. She also holds the record for more Grammy’s than any other female artist in history and I had to mention that because to be on the Spotify platform there now has to be at least one mention of Beyonce per program.
MIO: You went really deep into the Beyonce family history for that one and I applaud you, because I never knew that.
Matt: You know what happened? Her husband, Jay Zed, sent me some of her hair and I got a DNA test done. I did my homework.
Mio: Glad you got that out of the way… Beyond Beyonce …we know that food is important to you and you’re likely thinking, “well if I move to New Brunswick, what am I going to eat…what kind of food do they have there? If you have eaten at McDonalds, you’ve sampled the cuisine of New Brunswick, because New Brunswick is one of McD’s principal frozen French fry suppliers for North America. McCains.
Matt: Which means you could leave the US, immigrate to New Brunswick, and still eat your local cuisine! OK, here’s one final fun fact about New Brunswick:
New Brunswick is one of only three provinces in Canada that does not use a motto on their license plates. We know how you guys in the states love those catchy little motto’s on your license plates that your prisoners make for you. And with the largest incarcerated population per capita in the world, you have lots of motto manpower.
My favourite one is New Hampshire “Live Free or Die! Bam! That is so radical! We take these rights to be self “evidenty”
Mio: The Buckeye State! Ohio. I have no idea what that means, I think it’s a cow.
Matt: I think it’s a deer. And who can forget the Alaska: the “I can see Russia from my house” state. But New Brunswick? Nope, no branding on the license plate for New Brunswick, which just seems to us like a crime in tourism marketing. So, we have a suggestion for the New Brunswick license plate motto, that we’d like to officially table;
"You Want Fries with That"?
Mio; You want fries with that?
Matt: the inhalation affirmation. See you next week everybody.
Mio: That’s it!