Da Legal Stuff...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Feds Giveth and the Feds Taketh Away.

To all of you who viewed the dripping prose and rosy sentiment of my last article with disgust, I deeply apologize, and to those who enjoyed the fact that I had stopped to reflect on the sunny side of things for once, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately for the latter, I must inform you that my medication has now worn off and so has my chemically induced complacence. Having gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

The topic for today has to be the current provincial / federal sparring over who should chair the CNLOPB (Canada Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board). For those not familiar with the situation, let me fill you in on the background. This board basically deals with offshore oil related issues in the province and according to Premier Williams, the chair of the board is basically the "guardian of the Atlantic Accord".

In order for a new chair to be appointed, both levels of government must agree to the candidate. Some time ago candidates were put forward but an agreement on the final selection could not be made. As a result, an independent panel was setup to deliver a slate of candidates, create a short list of those available and determine who the best candidate might be. Enter the problem.

When the short list was provided to the province, Premier Williams was not pleased with the results and instead offered up a new possibility for the position, none other than current St. John's Mayor of St. John’s and all around S#%T disturber Andy Wells. This did not sit well with Liberal MP Elmer Fudd oops, I mean John Efford.

Once again the historically dysfunctional relationhip between the province and Ottawa has moved to the fore. Swords are rattling, the rhetoric is flying around like so much pizza dough in Little Italy. The test of wills has begun in earnest once more. Don't let the pats on the back and handshakes that inevitably take place after big some big deal fool you. The province has never had a smooth relationship with the Ottawa elite and it’s doubtful it ever will.

Neither side seems to be backing down which of course leaves Mr. Wells hung in a kind of limbo. He doesn't know if he will get the job, which means that he doesn't know whether or not he should gear up for a mayoral campaign due in the fall.

There are a number of reasons that Mr. Efford might be opposed to this particular appointment. Perhaps he's still sore over the fact that Mr. Wells backed the province during recent Atlantic Accord talks by speaking personally with Paul Martin and participating in the so called "Flag Flap".

Perhaps Mr. Efford and the Liberal government are still sore over being bested in the previously mentioned negotiations and just want to win one for a change. Perhaps they feel that Newfoundland and Labrador must be made to pay for their insolence.

Any of the above might be the reason for the current federal stance, but I would prefer to give our national leaders a little more credit than that. I doubt they would be so petty as to hold the past against the province, especially when a reason exists that might benefit them way beyond a few high fives in the back rooms of the parliament buildings.

Could the real reason be the fact that Mr. Wells' own personal mentality would never allow him to do anything that might short change the province by one thin dime? Mayor Wells may well be one of the most controversial municipal leaders in the country, but I doubt anyone can accuse him of being anything but a tiger when it comes to building revenues in his constituency.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Mr. Efford for the stance he's taken, after all ever since entering federal politics he’s been nothing more than a mouth piece for Paul Martin. He has lost all sense of pride in his province and has tried to short change Newfoundland and Labrador on several major issues over the past year or so. Not the kind of guy who would want to interact on a regular basis with someone like Andy Wells. After all, by comparison, Mr. Wells is the kind of man who might consider throwing his own mother over a wharf if it meant increasing revenues for the capital city or province.

Instead, Mr. Efford (and by extension Paul Martin) would rather see a more fed friendly personality sitting in the big chair. One who's strings can be more easily pulled. The only question is, which liberal friendly supporter does Mr. Martin owe the next patronage appointment to?

I wouldn't want to speculate on who the puppet finally selected might be (though I could), but after the intense negotiations that took place over the Atlantic Accord, you can bet your last dollar it will be someone who answers to the federal piper. Someone who will ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador gets as little as possible from future dealings with Ottawa.

Oh well, you can't win them all. The feds giveth and the feds taketh it away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about making a big Efford deal out of it... suggest Efford be put into the role.. since he's already a puppet. Then you can get someone into parliament who actually thinks of the province rather than the patronage