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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bell Offers Pick and Pay - Why Can't the Candidates?

With the provincial elecion now in full swing the Liberals have released their platform document. It's a little later than the Tories, but better late than never as they say. There is still no sign of the NDP platform document but some policy direction is coming out through the media and is available on their website. It's expected that the NDP Orange Book will be out later this week.

Information on all three parties and their plans can be found here:

Tories: http://www.pcparty.nf.net/blueprint2007.pdf

Liberals: http://www.nlliberals.ca/press/platformchapters.pdf

NDP: http://www.nl.ndp.ca/

For those of you who don't have the time, patience or interest to wade through endless pages of rhetoric in search of key points, (though you really should) here is a Coles Notes synopsis.

The Tories, Liberals and NDP all have some very interesting ideas, in fact it seems that all three parties have risen to the task of trying to win voters over. Unfortunately, as a friend of mine noted just today, while all three parties have identified a fair bit of spending on various programs none have clearly identifed the overall cost of their initiatives or how they would be funded.

All three parties are offering savings for the unwashed masses, ideas for enhancements to services and their direction for development in the province.

While all parties are offering some good ideas others are highly questionable. This is especially true of the Liberals who intend to provide a wealth of tax cuts while going heavy on program spending. I'm not sure how fiscally responsible that is but then again, as I said before, since none of the parties are providing a view to the overall cost of their plans it's hard to say which will ideas are valid and which will simply pile up more debt for our kids to pay off.

The scariest thing for me appeard in the Liberal platform. It has to do with their approach to offshore oil and gas development.

While the Liberals are offering up some interesting ideas around how to disperse wealth from the offshore, the doucment also states, and I quote:

"Industry (oil and gas) has often stated their concern that the province continues to change its position in negotiations and that they cannot be certain what the policy and royalty framework of the provincial government will be from one day to the next...."

The Liberal solution: provide stable and competitive policy and royalty framworks, nogotiate in good faith on Hebron and Hibernia South and, "...not take an equity stake in offshore oil and gas projects, but would instead focus on generating maximum benefit from a revamped royalty regime..."

On the surface this may sound good to some poeple, especially those concerned about the potential risk of investing in developments directly, but consider what it really means.

It means that if the Liberal Party is elected on October 9th, Gerry Reid's new government will respond to oil company concerns about uncertanty over royalties and the provincial position by once again changing the provinces royalty regime and the position. It's an interesting approach.

It also means that the Hebron MOU, signed just a few weeks ago, will be torn up and the entire negotiation process will have to start all over again. Think about it, if Gerry Reid intends to walk away from an equity stake and negotiate a totally new royalty regime what else can it mean? It's the only possible outcome.

Don't get me wrong, I see some really good ideas in the Liberal platform, just as I do in those of the Tories and NDP. Unfortunately I also see glaring omissions in all three and, specifically in the case of the Liberals, some questionable and worrisome plans.

Too bad voters can't pick and choose the best ideas from all three documents and turf the rest. Sort of like a "pick and pay" election. Now there's a concept that might actually get voters a little excited.


Anonymous said...

re: adopting the Liberal party equity regime would lead to changes to the Hebron MOU.

Williams is currently negotiating the developments on a "one of" basis. Each has their own unique equity position, plus differences in details that only Danny knows of. Under a stable regime, all would know the rules of engagement - including the voters of the province. Risk due to favourtism, concessions made for a positive announcement etc. would be eliminated. We have no idea what concessions were made to have Hebron and White Rose agreed in principle just in time for the election call. That alone should make us all very nervous.

Patriot said...

So I guess we have one vote for starting the Hebron negotiations over from scratch. The current position of the province is a royalty regime and equity. Liberal position is a new royalty position and no equity. That spells a whole new set of rules for negotiation. I hope you don't get what you want on this one.

Patriot said...

By the way, if I sounded terse in my last comment I didn't mean to be. We would all love to know what the MOU contains and what the deal will finally end up looking like, but I don't know that there are many willing to gamble on starting over from scratch with these guys.

Ussr said...

"Yes my love ,give it all away to canada .Da poor crowd on the mainland must be starved ta deat for a meal of Fish"

Im Going to Vote Liberial and Kill more of my countrymen

http://www.nlfirst.ca, is the only choice .To Save Newfoundland and Labrador

One Voice Myles.

calvin said...

Thank you Patriot.