Da Legal Stuff...

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Nova Scotia Premier on The Atlantic Accord

The following speech was disseminated by the Nova Scotia premier’s office. Entitled "The Accord is about more than dollars", Premier MacDonald (of Nova Scotia) clearly states his belief that an agreement violated is an agreement nonetheless.

Premier Rodney McDonald's Speech:

“Nova Scotia’s Offshore Accord has a clear purpose: to improve our province’s self-reliance so that equalization might no longer be needed one day.

“Two weeks ago, I told Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the Offshore Accord is not just about an agreement; it’s not just about dollars; it is about the hope that we Nova Scotians have for a better future.

“We have always believed within ourselves that we will once again stand on our own two feet and give back to this great country to which we belong.

“The Offshore Accord showed us that Ottawa shared our dream.

“The Accord is a bilateral, legal agreement that continues in effect today. It is a fundamental agreement between Canada and Nova Scotia.

“When the first Accord was signed in 1986, we expected that the offshore would eventually help us move from being a "have not" to a "have" province.

“The Accord is rooted in the economic development principle that is enshrined in section 36(1) of the Constitution. In the opening statement of the Accord, the parties agreed that the development of the offshore resources would occur in a manner that builds “lasting social and economic structures.”

“The Accord promises that Nova Scotia would be the principal beneficiary of the offshore revenues – 100 per cent.

“But the federal equalization formula, with its power to claw back payments from Nova Scotia, posed a challenge. So, Canada agreed to pay Nova Scotia offset payments to neutralize the claw back.

“History showed that the offset payments fell short, so Premier John Hamm started the Offshore Accord Review in 2002.

“In Ottawa, it was then-Opposition Leader Stephen Harper who played the role of helping to champion our cause. He was key to helping Nova Scotia succeed in getting the federal government to respect the Accord.

“The 2005 Agreement recognizes Nova Scotia’s “unique economic and fiscal challenges,” which includes its high debt levels relative to other provinces and “the strong commitment of the province to improve its fiscal situation.” In this regard, Nova Scotia demonstrated its commitment to debt reduction by applying the 2005 Agreement’s $830 million advance payment directly and fully to the provincial debt.

“The 2005 Agreement to the Accord stipulates the offset payments from Ottawa are to be based on the equalization formula “as it exists at the time” – meaning the equalization model that would be in active use.

“But in its budget delivered two weeks ago, the federal government gave us two equalization choices, neither of which is consistent with the 2005 Agreement to the Accord.

“Ottawa’s newest equalization formula introduces a cap on Nova Scotia’s equalization entitlement. The cap is measured based on fiscal capacity alone and ignores Nova Scotia’s debt position.

“Moreover, Nova Scotia’s offshore revenues are projected to exceed the cap, which would mean a cut in our equalization. We could thus fall short of the guarantee to receive the benefit of 100 per cent of our offshore revenues.

“All Nova Scotians should be concerned about this. That's why my government is prepared to take every step to fight for our rights.

“What is at issue is very simple. Equalization is a right under our Constitution, and our Offshore Accord is a legal, bilateral right.

“Our offshore development revenues represent unprecedented and historic opportunity for us to get out of decades-old “have not” status.

“Our future is at stake. We will not lose our focus: a Nova Scotia that ensures services for its citizens and keeps a promising future alive for our children and their children.”


Anonymous said...

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Liberal Leader Stephan Dion, in an appearance on Question Period said he will not hesitate to use the airwaves to remind voters of Mr. Harper's controversial decisions on income trusts and equalization payments.

"What we may see is contrast ads," Mr. Dion said on CTV's Question Period. "I see myself explaining to the people that he betrayed some provinces ... like Newfoundland and Labrador, and also, he betrayed our seniors about the income trusts, when he gave his word that he would never tax income trusts. He did and people lost $25-billion."

Anonymous said...

Dion is a weasel. A smooth-talking, barely English-speaking weasel.

Don't trust him either. He'll say anything to get votes.

It's appalling how quickly Williams cosied up to him.....so much for party-loyalty.

Starrigan said...

Hmmm that looks like a WJM post

voice of reason said...

"History showed that the offset payments fell short"

Really? No proof of that.

"...it was then-Opposition Leader Stephen Harper who played the role of helping to champion our cause. He was key to helping Nova Scotia succeed in getting the federal government to respect the Accord."

Really? Not quite, Harper instead suggested that non-renewable resource revenue be taken out ofthe formula altogether. This was about hiding Alberta's wealth in perpetuity from fiscal capacity projections. And John Hamm was silly enough to believe it would enhance his province's Equalization take. The truth is, Nova Scotia's non-renewable resource revenue contributes slightly less to its fiscal capacity (on average) than the rest of the country. So if Harper moved to 100% exclusion, as Williams is suggesting, NS would actually LOSE money. The fact that nobody in NS has done a retrospective analysis of how off the mark John Hamm was is truly stunning. Must be that good ol' Tory media bias.

Bryan said...

I am starting up an email campaign for the Atlantic Accord. The biggest problem is that we do not know why the federal government has chosen this route and Peter MacKay refuses to appear and explain their position.
I have sent email messages to Stephan Harper and have heard nothing back so I am hoping if enough people email him he will respond. Get the full details at Blogging Nova Scotia at the following link: