Da Legal Stuff...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nova Scotia Signs Deal - Resolves Atlantic Accord Dispute

The Canadian Press is reporting that Harper has reach deal with Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald over offshore revenues.

Just in case anyone has trouble reading between the lines here's my humble analysis:

In essence Premier Rodney Macdonald sold out his province in order to help Stephen Harper win the next election and to protect the career of Federal MP (and Defence Minister) Peter MacKay.

The "deal" does nothing to address the fact that Harper promised to leave 100% of non-renewable resources out of the equalization formula and didn't.

The "deal" allows the province to either take part in the new equalization formula or keep the accord using the old and less valuable 2005 formula any time they choose. Essentially the same choice offered by Harper when he first left the accord in tatters but over a longer period.

The "deal" doesnt allow Nova Scotia to participate in the current equalization formula and keep the accord, even though the accord clearly states that is what should be happening.

The only value of this "deal" for Nova Scotia may be in finally getting some kind of settlement on royalties already owed by Ottawa for decades but never actually paid. No doubt it won't be the full amount owing however so whether that's actually a plus is questionable.

The timing of this announcement is interesting as well, coming the day after a big election in NL, on the day Ontario is at the polls, within a day or so of an election in SK and while the House of Commons is not sitting. It almost seems as if the PM wanted this to slip through without anyone paying too much attention to it. It didn't work.


Anonymous said...

The question is, what kind of deal is it really?

If Harper can truly guarantee no money will be lost to N.S. then he might as well save creating a new agreement and just let N.S. get the new equalization formula AND keep the accord. Since he opted for a "new deal" instead it makes me wonder what's really in the details.

Also, the question now is if Nova Scotia and NL both signed accords and one province has a guarantee, does that mean NL will get one? If not, does the province now have a case to take the fed to court?

Anonymous said...

Williams just told Harper to get lost. At least he's smart enough to walk away from the poison pill McDonald swallowed.

Anonymous said...

Good for Williams, this deal is crap plain and simple.

I live in Nova Scotia and I don't support this sellout or the premier. Keep up the good fight Mr. Williams.

By the way, if Harper thought he could slip this by with all the elections going on he guessed wrong. It's all over the national news, Duffy Live, Politics with Don Newman, Williams was quoted here (good quote by the way) and Calvert was interviewed about it. The only A-hole happy over this ripoff is, I'm sad to say, our premier.

NL-ExPatriate said...

The Atlantic Accord has a clause in it that states any new improvements to the equalization formula will automatically be granted to the accord signee's.

The real broken promise is the CRAP parties commitment to remove 100% of non-renewable's from claw backs with the D-Equalization formula.

One of the founding principle of this federation is that the provinces own control and are the primary beneficiaries of their own resources. That means on land in water or under water. So by clawing back non renewable resource revenues against social and health funds it in effect appropriates the provinces resource revenues for redistribution on a per capita and vote buying basis.

Stop electing national federal party representatives who have to toe the national party drawn by the majority ON/QU and have to do what's in their own national parties interest to get elected or for the majority of canadians ON/QU.

Toe the NL-First party line of doing what's in the best interest of NL-first.


We only need 14 more patriotic NL'ians to get federal party status. You can be living anywhere as long as you are a canadian citizen you can become a NL-First party member.

The time is now. We need an alternative from the three national parties and that alternative is the NL-First party.


Mike said...

Harper's move today is a dangerous one.

He poked an already pissed Williams who plans to campaign against him in the Federal election.

Normally reserved Lorne Calvert is now vowing, in addition to the court challenge, to also campaign against Harper in the federal election.

Many people in N.S. see this for what it is, a sellout by their Conservative premier and a vote buying expedition by Harper.

Also, if this is seen as yet another side deal by the folks in Ontario, as it probably will, Harper may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if Harper offered McDonald something under the table (not related to the accord) to get NS to sign on. Perhaps more federal offices or perhaps facilitate the gateway concept with money for rail, road and port improvements. This would work well for NS now because the dissident CPC man in NS will be onside and garantee Harper another seat in the next election. So, when will the next Fed election be? Looks like N&L could be left out in the cold if Harper can curry favour in the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Patriot said...

Hey, if sticking to your principles, doing the right thing and not selling out leaves anyone out in the cold in Stephen Harper's world what does that say about him?

calvin said...

"We only need 14 more patriotic NL'ians to get federal party status"

you mean 10 Ex-pat,I have four going east as we speak.

Anonymous said...

Well surprise surprise....the inimatible E. Hollett of Bond (toilet) papers fame seems to believe NS got a good deal.

Glenn said...

Got this from the National Post

A day after making peace with one province, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued his war of words over equalization Thursday, saying he could never justify letting Saskatchewan keep all its natural resource money as long as it remains a "have" province.

Mr. Harper told a Saskatoon radio show no sound equalization program would allow the province to keep all its revenues while its economy is booming compared to other provinces.

"Whatever we do, we have to be able to defend across the country," Mr. Harper said.

"I can defend giving Saskatchewan a better equalization formula, as we did, but I could never defend paying a province that, frankly, has about the second-strongest economy in the country right now, equalization under those circumstances."

Mr. Harper's comments come just one day after his government announced a deal with Nova Scotia on revenues coming from the province's offshore resources.

The agreement highlighted an issue that is expected to dominate the Saskatchewan's provincial election campaign -- which began Thursday -- and could dog Mr. Harper if a federal vote is called for the fall.

The Prime Minister is facing a lawsuit from Saskatchewan over equalization, as well as an ongoing public relations battle with Newfoundland and Labrador's fiery, newly re-elected premier, Danny Williams.

"Nova Scotia just wanted us to be clear [that] we would respect the deal we'd already signed," Mr. Harper said.

"Newfoundland wants a new special equalization arrangement, and the government of Canada has been clear, the new formula has to be the same for every province."

When asked if Mr. Williams' demands are unreasonable, Mr. Harper chuckled, and said, "Well, Premier Williams has a unique style of federal-provincial relations. Let me just put it that way."

Nova Scotia had said it was facing a major monetary loss under a new formula for national equalization payments set out in the federal budget last spring.

But Premier Rodney MacDonald said the new pact would ensure his province did not lose "one red cent" of resource revenue it would have received under the Atlantic accords it negotiated with the former Liberal federal government.

Mr. Williams was unavailable for comment Thursday, but Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert had plenty to say, accusing Mr. Harper of inserting himself into the Saskatchewan election campaign by his radio appearance.

He said Mr. Harper was trying to characterize the equalization issue as one of welfare.

"What we are saying is that the resources of the people of Saskatchewan belong to the people of Saskatchewan," said Mr. Calvert, whose party faces a tough fight for re-election despite a strong economy and a record of tax cuts.

"The value of those resources should be retained here. We're not asking for a handout," he said.

Mr. Calvert claims the Conservatives reneged on an election promise when they put a cap on the value of natural resource revenues provinces are allowed to keep.

He claims the province should be keeping about $800-million a year under equalization. This year, the province will receive $227-million under the formula and next year will likely get nothing.

This month, Saskatchewan's NDP government filed a constitutional challenge against Ottawa in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, claiming the current equalization arrangement denies the province its constitutionally enshrined rights to ownership and benefits of its non-renewable natural resources.

The challenge also asks the court to rule on whether the cap violates the Constitution's provision for equalization to ensure an equal level of public services across the country.