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Monday, May 07, 2007

Fight with the Feds Won't End Soon

Just in case you didn't see it, the following is an article published in the Nova Scotia paper, "The Chronicle Herald" today. I guess Newfoundlanders and Labradorians aren't the only ones who feel betrayed by the Harper crime syndicate, as much as so called national papers like the Globe and Mail and National Post might try to make it look that way.

At least the people of Nova Scotia are rightfully outraged and saying so, even it their Conservative Premier is still more than willing to bow to the whims of his party's national body.

The people of Atlantic Canada should all stand together and let Ottawa know we are tired of being forced to sit in the back of the bus.

I'd encourage anyone in the St. John's area this Friday May 11th to go to the Confederation Building at 12:00 noon and show their support for the province by attending the "Stand Up For Newfoundland and Labrador" rally that day. See you there.


Fight with Feds Won’t End Soon

DON’T KID YOURSELF into believing federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty came to Halifax this week to score points with Nova Scotians in the wake of the Harper government’s betrayal of our offshore accord. There’s no rush to mend fences here or to save the political backsides of the province’s three measly Conservative MPs.

Nope, with the federal Conservatives dipping marginally below the Liberals in national polling this week for the first time in months, to say nothing of the ongoing debacle over the torture of Taliban detainees after they had been transferred from the custody of Canadian soldiers, there will be no more talk of a spring election any time soon. But what better time to try to firm up support in seat-rich Ontario, or even the West, by coming to town to deliver a neat spanking to those welfare Novies looking for "double equalization," as the outraged Flaherty puffed on Wednesday afternoon.

There is no panic to make a deal, and Flaherty has no intention of making any agreement with this province that he will have to match in Newfoundland and Labrador, where outraged Premier Danny Williams has declared political war against the Harper Conservatives since the federal budget came out in March.

After Flaherty’s meeting with acting Finance Minister Angus MacIsaac, it was announced that a further meeting would take place. Still, the federal minister was pretty clear in saying he wouldn’t budge on his decision to break the equalization promise in the 2005 accord — though he didn’t exactly describe it like that.

"It isn’t double equalization that’s on the table. It’s one or the other," Flaherty told reporters at a news conference after the meeting. He was referring to the no-win choice: Nova Scotia must either opt into the new and improved equalization formula or stick with the old one while not being penalized for receiving offshore accord revenues.

One day later, Premier Rodney MacDonald took a crack at Prime Minister Stephen Harper while levelling his strongest criticism yet against the federal Conservatives.

At a speech at a Nova Scotia Tory fundraising dinner in Halifax on Thursday night, MacDonald said that after months of "promising to fix the fiscal imbalance — ‘fix it for a generation’ was the promise — we were given two options: Either keep the accord or give it up in order to gain new equalization dollars.

"This was not what we expected. Not after months of supporting the agenda of Canada’s new government. Not after supporting their efforts at Senate reform, strengthening our military and removing internal trade barriers."

"It was not what we expected after the current prime minister championed our cause when he was in opposition — and we thank him for that support. What we expected was the government of Canada to live up to its agreement."

"What we got was something completely different."

MacDonald noted that Nova Scotia responsibly applied the full $830-million payment from the accord to our provincial debt, and described the accord as this province’s opportunity to move beyond the need for equalization through a federally supported economic development program not unlike Ontario’s auto pact or Alberta’s oil rights in the 1950s.

"I don’t believe they understand how keeping the carrot perpetually out of our reach will ensure that Nova Scotia remains forever on the fringes of this prosperous and great nation," he said of the federal Conservatives.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, I will make them understand. I will make them understand that the accord was intended as our ticket out of equalization. And I will make them understand that a deal is a deal is a deal."

All of this is fine and good, but I suspect the solution for both Flaherty and MacDonald might lie in the issue to which the premier segued next: the Atlantic Gateway proposal that would see Nova Scotia developed as a central transportation link from North America to Europe and Western Asia.

Federal investment in this province for the gateway would enable Harper and Flaherty to throw us a few bones while allowing them to continue thumbing their noses at the rightly aggrieved Williams.

It’s not pretty and it’s not right. The gateway is a proposal Ottawa should be supporting in this province regardless of the dispute over the offshore accord. None of us is naive enough to think, however, that the federal government would refuse to use gateway funding as the next political carrot to dangle before this province.

MacDonald described the gateway concept as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to redirect existing trade routes to the benefit of this province. Once-in-a-generation opportunity, eh? Funny, I remember when premiers used to say that about our offshore resources.


Anonymous said...

No doubt the people of NS are pissed but it seems their premier is about as scary to Stephen Harper as a lamb is to a hungry lion.

I can't really blame him a whole lot though. When you look at the tactics of undermining used by the Harper scare mongers.

We hear them say about Lorne Calvert, "Mr. Calvert pops his head up like a gopher at this time of year saying, 'Feed me, feed me.' He's 26 points behind in the polls, he's scrambling for some sort of media"

A point that might make some sense if the same people weren't saying about Williams, "He's just playing to the voters to increase his popularity running up to the next election". (Never mind he had a higher popularity rating than any premier in the Country even before this all started.)

It's clear the federal CONS are just going to continue dismissing the issue as politics rather than face the fact that they Fu%&ed up and now they are scrambling to keep their loose Alliance/Conservative/Reform coalition intact.

I can't wait to see them disintegrate before the next election and according to the latest polls that might not be too far off.

Keep the pressure on!!! Between Afghan torture reports, income trusts, equalization and cutting support for minority groups, literacy, womens groups and legal challenges these guys are about to implode.

Anonymous said...

Hang on, I think I hear Ed Hollett, Simon Lono and Wallace Mclean coming. Wait for it...

Anonymous said...

I usually refer to them as HLM, Harper's Loyal Men perhaps, though they are supposed to be Liberals (big L).

I guess defending Ottawa comes even before blind party loyalty...

Anonymous said...

Just remember it's as easy as


Anyone But Conservative!

In the next federal election.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's that the HLM team are pro Harper as much as they are pro their own agenda's or pro Liberal, or just plain pro contrary.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that sounds about right (esp. pro their own agenda).

Best to just ignore them anyway since attention is the very thing they crave.

Deirdre Greene said...

I am puzzled by the number of anonymous comments here. I would think that people with such strong opinions, especially about other people, would be proud of their views and eager to associate their names with them. What is notable about the writings of the people actually named in the comments above is that they use their names and. While they express strong opinions, they also articulate clear arguments. This is the kind of public discourse I'd like to see more of -- LESS blind loyalty to partisan or geographically-based causes, and more independent-minded analysis of public policy decisions and actions, coupled with the courage of conviction to attach one's name to the thought.

Liam O'Brien said...

I think it's precisely the "ABC" "strategy" and mentality that has directed many of the decisions and decided lack of clarity in the organization of this rally.

I strongly support a plan to resolve the issues we face in Newfoundland and Labrador. I want the best possible deal for Newfoundland and Labrador. I am willing to fight for the empowerment of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I just happen to think that in order for that to happen, we need a specific written list of issues, citing all relevant letters, legislation, and other documents. We also need a clear and detailed outlined set of projections and numbers. Mr. Wade Locke valiantly started such a process but he did not finish it when he realized the partisan firestorm he was facing from all sides. Both orders of government should publish a full account of these numbers and projections. To date, this hasn't happened.

Finally, we need a specific definition and description of what constitutes success and resolution of Equalization/Accord issues. I mean specific not "support the province's position." The province would have to have a single specific and detailed position published and referenced. This has not happened yet. It's too bad the rally's organizers did not see fit to write a letter or set up a website with the specifics and definitions of which I speak. It would be a great asset in keeping the rally issue/policy-oriented for the sake of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As this has not happened, and as there will be partisan politicians who will want to make this about partisan politics (negatively targeting a single political party is partisan too), as this issue list and definition of resolution varies depending on which organizer or participant you talk to, I'd advise the following:

If you go to the Rally - put the specific issues that matter to you on your own sign. Don't let partisans use your presence for grinding axes other than the issues that matter to you and your views on what has happened to our province and what needs to happen in our province.

Also, issues and leaders are not the same thing. It's much more constructive and meaningful, in my view, to spell out what action you want than to show up with a sign showing just support of one or another personality.

Of course, if this is just about supporting or hating one or another partisan personality, then that can and probably will be reflected loud and clear.

I hope it's about more than that.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Hello Liam

Here is a pretty good break down of why Non-Renewable resource revenues shouldn't be included and a principle based suggestion of how to accomplish it.


Well worth the page read.

NL-ExPatriate said...

A similar solution was suggested in this article.


Ed Hollett said...

Liam likely has more links on non-renewables than all of us combined.

His point is well taken though, in that the rally really has less to do with addressing a specific issue as being about something else.

Of course, since removing 100% of non-renewables is essentially a dead issue, it makes one wonder what the rally is really about.

Anonymous said...

The rally is quite likely about demonstrating that the CPC under the leadership of Harper went back on a promise. In a democratic society, it is acceptable to demostrate one's displeasure about the actions of a government, or at least i hope it is.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Ed Said
"Of course, since removing 100% of non-renewables is essentially a dead issue,"

If so so then is any reason to stay in this federation.

Were not asking for anything less than Alberta had when Equalization was first started and was a have not province that didn't get it's non-renewable resource revenues clawed or have colonialist CAP imposed upon them by the Imperialistic federal govt of Ontario.

Harper said
""Nova Scotia should be able to realize the benefits of the offshore to jump-start its economy just like my province, Alberta, was able to do with petroleum revenues," Harper said then. "If Alberta had been subject to these kinds of clawbacks, I tell you it would still be a have-not province today."

"There is no point pulling back non-renewable resource revenues from a have-not province," Harper told the House of Commons on Nov. 4, 2004. "It is a short-term opportunity to allow these provinces to kick-start their economic development, to get out of have-not status."

Back in 2004, Harper condemned the Liberals for trying to impose a similar condition while they were negotiating the Atlantic Accord. Neither Nova Scotia nor Newfoundland would be able to exceed the fiscal capacity of Ontario in any given year.

"The Ontario clause is unfair and insulting to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," Harper said.

"Its message to that province, to Nova Scotia and to all of Atlantic Canada is absolutely clear: they can only get what they were promised if they agree to remain have-not provinces forever. That is absolutely unacceptable."


In a letter to the National Post in 2000, Harper wrote:
"If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away. This is one more reason why Westerners, but Albertans in particular, need to think hard about their future in this country. After sober reflection, Albertans should decide that it is time to seek a new relationship with Canada. It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example is to become 'maitres chez nous'."

Two other pieces of Alberta's experience are relevant. First, when equalization was introduced in the late 1950s, Alberta was not wealthy and received equalization. But the formula then did not allow the clawing back of natural resource revenues by the federal government. That, plus the province's rich resource endowment, gave it the leg up it needed to become self-supporting and, eventually, a huge net contributor to the cost of running Canada.

With all due respect to Liam I doubt he has more links on Equalization than all of us combined.

Edward G. Hollett said...

So what exactly was the point of all those disjointed quotes, ex-pat?

If you believe the province could survive as a separate country, then why are you so agitated that there are no transfer payments from Ottawa.

Evidently you are, but as a separate country, Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't get anything of the sort. There'd just be the resource revenues to work with.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you Ed if we had the resources of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador working for us that have exported out of here and are working for the other provinces, Ottawa, and other parts of the world as it relates to fish quotas, we wouldn't need Ottawa's help.

Anonymous said...

Good point Anon
Some examples of that might be over head flight fees in the range of a Billion dollars a year if not more. The Upper Churchill a Billion dollars a year. The trade and international concessions that come with giving away fishing rights on the nose and tail of the flemish cap.

Edward G. Hollett said...

So if we allow some time to type the first one and then type another one, what we just saw at around 2:30 was the same person typing two separate comments and trying to make it look like there was actually two different people involved.

Just some quick observations/questions:

1. The overflight fees has already been debunked as a myth.

It remains a favourite of the people who want to tell NLers over and over again how stupid we are and how much we are always weak victims.

Since I don't run down my fellow NLers that way, I usually dismiss this one and all the other victim nonsense for what it is: demeaning nonsense.

2.The Upper Churchill was a bad deal on the long-term low cost power.

But just for curiosity sake, do you know why the deal came out that way?

3. On the fishery: do you have any specific examples of anything like that? Just one would do to start. A specific verifiable example where fish within Canadian waters was traded off for wheat or cars or what have you.

So far I haven't been able to come up with one.

Incidentally, the Flemish cap doesn't have a nose and tail. The Grand Banks do.

WJM said...

I just happen to think that in order for that to happen, we need a specific written list of issues, citing all relevant letters, legislation, and other documents.

I'd like to see, in particular, Danny Williams' submission to the O'Brien panel on equalization.

It is most curious that this document has never been made public.

So much for openness and accountability.

Anonymous said...

Voting "ABC" has got to be the stupidest idea I have ever heard of in my life. That's how dictators come into power- when the people vote a certain way because they are told to. That is not how MY Canada works.
If that's your voting strategy, then no wonder Newfoundland is as screwed up as it is.

Anonymous said...

Newfoundland & Labrador was just that screwed up at one time. Why do I say that you say? Because so many people voted for JOEY the red. They voted for Joey because that is how the community voted, or their parents voted etc. etc..

That was then and this is now. People no longer think that way or act that way. Danny Williams, Gerry Reid nor Lorraine Michael will influence who I vote for federally. My vote goes to the person/party who I feel will be the better person/party at governing, or the person party that is most trustworthy!