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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Time for Santa Williams Christmas Wish List

During the last federal election campaign Premier Danny Williams recognized the value of extracting a public promise from the leaders of the three primary parties. Although negotiations after the election took months and sometimes turned ugly, it was this promise that eventually ensured Newfoundland and Labrador access to additional royalties from offshore oil and gas production.

It will soon be election time again and once again the polls are showing that the two leading contenders will be embroiled in a close battle. Thus far there has been no hint from Premier Williams on whether or not he plans to use the tried and true technique to gain something else this province deserves.

Yesterday in the House of Assembly Labrador West MHA Randy Collins made it known that he wanted the Premier to press the leaders for a commitment to pave the Trans Labrador Highway now that it has been name a part of the national highway system. This was brushed aside by Provincial Transportation Minister Trevor Taylor who said the Province is waiting for the release of the National Transportation Strategy before moving on any paving projects.

My opinion is that there should indeed be one or even two promises forced on the federal leaders during this campaign. I’m sure the Premier would not want to push for too many causes as it might make him look greedy in the eyes of the rest of Canada, but one or two might be considered reasonable. After all, there are a lot of issues that really ought to be addressed and it’s not like he would be pushing for something the province doesn’t deserve.

The obvious list of potential promises seems clear.

- Paving of the Trans Labrador Highway

- Making 5 Wing Goose a key base within the Canadian Military (with troops)

- Joint management of the Atlantic Cod stocks and perhaps even enacting custodial management

- The opening up of a nation wide power grid that would allow NL to wheel power through Quebec without being robbed blind in the process

- A major grant of (1 billion +??) to assist in development of the Lower Churchill or perhaps development of the Churchill isn’t the issue. Perhaps they should provide a grant to enable the development of necessary infrastructure to allow Labrador and the island to utilize the power once it’s available. Due to the nature of the project perhaps money set aside for Kyoto initiatives could be used.

These are just a few that immediately come to mind. I don't believe I'm off base when I say that all of them are very important to this Province. I’d appreciate your comments on these or any others issues you feel are even more worthy of our Province backing the federal leaders into a corner once again. I’d also like you all to let me know what you feel are the top 2 that you would like Williams to force the issue on during this campaign. Lets see how creative we can be.

16 comments:

Patriot said...

Sorry folks, my mistake. If I'm asking you to identify your top two then perhaps I should do it as well.

For me number one is:

Paving of the Trans Labrador Highway (and connecting through Quebec). Labrador is the closest connection this Province has to the rest of Canada. If the province is ever going to grow a strong industrial base it will have to happen in Labrador.

You will not get auto manufacturers or large factories moving to the island. The need to ship supplies in and finished products out makes it expensive, not to mention the lack of growth space when it comes to electrical power.

Labrador is as as well positioned geographically as Ontario or Quebec to host major industries but only if it is connected by good roads infrastructure. This is where the opportunies lie.

Number two: Churchill falls development and distribution support. Pretty much the same reasoning as in the first point. In order to enable growth Labrador needs distribuion methods for its electrical power. This power could be used to supply industry as well as the growing population that would follow it.

Finally on both the preceding points, just one other reason why I think they should be addressed first.

In truth, isn't it about time Labrador, which could be the major growth area for the province, is given the opportunity to finally see some benefits from its huge potential?

Patriot said...

Slightly off topic, but still related to the upcoming election, it looks like the Liberals are in a vote buying mood already and the house hasn't even disolved yet.

Here are some exerpts from a globe and mail article today:

With an election call expected Monday or Tuesday, the Liberals have already announced promises of more than $10-billion this week.

...the tab continues to grow

...bureaucrats are now working feverishly on several more announcements that will be rolled out over the next couple of days.

...announce a $260-million plan to deal with Labrador's Goose Bay military base.

...$1.5-billion package to help the lumber industry

...senior bureaucrats are scrambling to put together a $400-million justice package to address the issues around gun violence in Toronto.

...tentative plan to announce a new $50-million soccer stadium for Toronto

All this spending is in addition to a number of multi-million-dollar promises announced yesterday, including $110-million for better security on Canada's urban transit systems...;

...$1.3-billion for labour-market training in Ontario; $2-billion for compensation for aboriginal Canadians sent to residential schools; $342-million over the next three years to increase funding for arts centres and $755-million in emergency federal assistance for farmers.

WOW, folks, Paul "Pay your way" Martin and Ralph "Goodtimes" Goodale are really pouring it on this time. I heard another report today that said they plan to spend more in Labrador on coastal air patrols (to protect the coast and stop foriegn overfishing) and also to station a coast guard vessel there among other things.

Come on Danny, time to start the push before the money is all gone. It won't take many important causes like soccer stadiums in Toronto or extra funding for arts centers to run the bank dry.

WJM said...

90% of the money that has ever been spent on the TLH has come from the federal government.

A better question for Trevor Taylor would be, how much provincial money is the province prepared to spend on a provincial highway in the Labrador part of the province?

Is the provincial government prepared to put NEW, PROVINCIAL, money into the TLH?

And is it prepared to do so whether or not there is additional federal funding immediately available, on top of the $400+ million that the federal government has spent to date,?

And if so, how much is the provincial government prepared to spend, out of provincial coffers, on a provincial highway, in the Labrador part of the province?

Why does the provincial government's so-called "committment" to Labrador always come conditional on getting federal money to "commit" with?

Doesn't the province collect taxes and resource revenues in Labrador?

Why is Labrador only an "integral part of the province" on income tax day?

So, Trevor: How much NEW, PROVINCIAL money is on the table for the TLH?

Patriot said...

Hi WJM, good to see you back.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Trevor Taylor's statement in any way, in fact I'm not sure I even understand it. You mention that the provincial government should be spending money on provincial highways in Labrador which makes sense to me. You also mention them spending money on the TLH which is now a part of the TCH, I may be mis-informed, but doesn't that make it the responsibility of the feds and require their involvement to do anything? Please correct me if I'm mistaken (I know you will ;-)

Alao, I don't know if you saw my response to your comment on the cost of "piping" power from Lower Churchill to the island, but I haven't heard anything back from you on it.

Just in case you missed it, you basically said that it was not economically feasible to transport power from Lab to the island. I asked if you actually had some documentation or a cost benefit analysis that would prove that it would be more economical to continue building small projects on the island and running the holyrood plant than to run cabling to the island.

I only asked because you seemed to speak with a great deal of confidence when you said that and with the current discussions around an energy policy this would be valuable information.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Patriot.
I agree with your positioning on the list with

1, TLH Trans Labrador Highway being number one. For the same reasons you mentioned Labrador is Newfoundland and Labrador's gateway to prosperity IMHO.

Lower churchill commitments. Either through as you mentioned 1 billion$ grant, or A Complete Trans Canada power corridor from Victoria Island in BC to the Island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.

NL-ExPatriate said...

The more I read and Try and decipher the SUPPOSEDLY new plan, if plan should be used at all from what I've read so far of the
Strategy for Rebuilding Atlantic Cod Stocks
The more I'm coming to the conclusion that there is no strategy for rebuilding of the cod stocks for NL more like NL inshore waters are going to become the breeding grounds for the Foreigners offshore fishery and food supply for the Seal herds.
It's like trying to navigate a maze of old studys and papers with nothing new in the way of any real strategy for rebuilding the Seal stocks.

I'm going to try and keep plugging away but I feel like I need to learn a new language Political speak (Bull shiza)
As for the new surveilance of the Labrador waters There aren't any foreign fishing trawlers of the coast of Labrador because their Continental shelf is all withing the 200 Mile limit.

So as of right now I wish to amend my list to Custodial management and a sustainable fishery plan as the one and only top issue for NL.

The TLH already has a commitment with it being included in the National Highway System, By its very nature will be paved because it is apart of the NHS in time.
The Lower Churchill doesn't really need any support or advocacy because it is very possible on it's own merrits.

Which IMHO leaves the Fishery as the number one issue which hasn't been addressed appropriately by this latest white wash of regurgetated words in this Strategy for Rebuilding Atlantic Cod Stocks.

towniebastard said...

You guys aren't thinking political enough. Williams won't push Labrador too hard because a. The feds are already promising more money for the base and b. the Labrador seat is a safe one. The Liberals will win it. Nothing Williams says will swing that seat to the NDP or Conservatives. So paving the highway is a non-starter.

Joint management is a waste of time. Won't happpen. Argue all you want about its importance, Williams won't be able rally people behind it like he did with the Atlantic Accord.

I'm not even sure Churchill Falls will be a rallying point. Williams seems to have a plan that he's following. going after the feds would likely be premature.

I say he stays quiet and out of the election for the most part. Really, after the Atlantic Accord, there's only so much more he's going to be able to bleed from the feds.

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NL-ExPatriate said...

I wish people would stop talking about the Atlantic Accord as if it were a gift from on high.
Thye didn't give us anything that wasn't already ours.

So stop throwing it back in our faces!

Patriot said...

It looks like the Liberals are trying to buy votes with cod fish now. Bill Matthews just announced that government will be implementing new atlantic food fishery rules that will have the same rules for all provinces.

It's about bloody time.

christian cote said...

hope u don't mind this being posted....i thot this might be of interest to people who have made comments on the sinking of the melina and keith ll.....

COAST GUARD ADMITS MISTAKE
IN MARITIME SEARCH AND RESCUE
Full Report to air on CBC Country Canada this Sunday November 27



A CBC News Country Canada investigation has uncovered serious problems with a search and rescue conducted by the Canadian Coast Guard last September.

On September 12th the fishing vessel Melina and Keith II sank 130 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland. Four of eight crew members drowned while waiting to be rescued.

CBC Country Canada’s investigation discovered the Coast Guard had access to information from a global positioning device that could have given it a
precise location of the Melina and Keith ll within moments of the ship issuing a distress signal. But that information was not checked for close to an hour after the ship’s distress signal was issued.

“Probably it was a mistake, yes, and that will come out in the Search and Rescue operations report,” admitted Coast Guard Superintendent Brian Stone in
an interview with Country Canada’s Reg Sherren.

The Coast Guard also admits it had access to that GPS information - known as a Vessel Monitoring System - before the Gander-based Cormorant helicopter rescue crew finished its shift for the day. No Coast Guard rescue can begin until a position is confirmed. In the case of the Melina and Keith ll the Gander crew
was only called in after the VMS was finally checked.

Now questions are being raised about how this delay impacted on the Coast Guard’s ability to save lives. The sinking of the Melina and Keith ll is the subject of at least four separate investigations, including one by the RCMP.

Of the four men who drowned, only one body has been recovered.

“They can’t change what happened that day but they can change the system” says one of the survivors, 17 year old Bernard Dyke.

Watch the full Country Canada report this Sunday November 27 at noon on CBC Televsion/12:30 in Newfoundland.


For further information go to www.cbc.ca/countrycanada

WJM said...

Patriot said...
You also mention them spending money on the TLH which is now a part of the TCH, I may be mis-informed, but doesn't that make it the responsibility of the feds and require their involvement to do anything? Please correct me if I'm mistaken (I know you will ;-)

No, the TLH is now part of the National Highway System. The NHS is a network of PROVINCIAL highways. Those highways are eligible from time to time for cost-shared federal funding on a 50-50 basis with the provinces. They are not the responsibility of the federal government.

Just in case you missed it, you basically said that it was not economically feasible to transport power from Lab to the island. I asked if you actually had some documentation or a cost benefit analysis that would prove that it would be more economical to continue building small projects on the island and running the holyrood plant than to run cabling to the island.

I only asked because you seemed to speak with a great deal of confidence when you said that and with the current discussions around an energy policy this would be valuable information.


Read the report of Ed Martin's speech in The Labradorian from a few weeks ago.

NL-ExPatriate said...
Lower churchill commitments. Either through as you mentioned 1 billion$ grant, or A Complete Trans Canada power corridor from Victoria Island in BC to the Island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Why should the federal government subsidize the export of a Labrador resource out of the Labrador region?

towniebastard said...
You guys aren't thinking political enough. Williams won't push Labrador too hard because a. The feds are already promising more money for the base and b. the Labrador seat is a safe one. The Liberals will win it. Nothing Williams says will swing that seat to the NDP or Conservatives. So paving the highway is a non-starter.

More to the point, it might mean Danny might have to spend some of the 60 or 70 million tax dollars he gets out of Labrador each year, let alone resource revenues, in Labrador.

NL-ExPatriate said...
I wish people would stop talking about the Atlantic Accord as if it were a gift from on high. Thye didn't give us anything that wasn't already ours.

The Atlantic Accord gives NL more and larger transfer payments from Ottawa. The oil revenues -- that which was "already ours" -- was already going to the province, as it always has been.

Danny won't tell you, but YES, the Atlantic Accord WAS about getting something that wasn't already ours: more federal transfer payments.

As the document Danny himself signed says, in section 2:

"This document reflects an understanding between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that:

Newfoundland and Labrador already receives and will continue to receive 100 per cent of offshore resource revenues as if these resources were on land"

Patriot said...

WJM,

You said you read the report of Ed Martin's speach in the Labradorian. Do you know if he has any facts to support this or are you simply repeating something someone claims to be true. Just wondering because I sure would like to know the validity of that statement.

NL-ExPatriate said...

WJM said
"Newfoundland and Labrador already receives and will continue to receive 100 per cent of offshore resource revenues as if these resources were on land"

100% of the provincial share which is what 45%

WJM said...

NL-ExPatriate said...

100% of the provincial share which is what 45%

Nope. The provincial share of the offshore royalties is 100%.

The federal government does not collect offshore royalties from any province, or onshore royalties for that matter.

The provinces, and only the provinces, collect mineral and fossil fuel royalties from mines and wells within provinces.

What is the source for your "45%" line?

WJM said...

Patriot said...

You said you read the report of Ed Martin's speach in the Labradorian. Do you know if he has any facts to support this or are you simply repeating something someone claims to be true. Just wondering because I sure would like to know the validity of that statement.

Ask Ed Martin. He is, after all, the President and CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Do you have reasons to doubt him? If so, what?