Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ottawa Gives Implicit Nod to Quebec Annexation of NL Lands

The following article appeared in today’s Globe and Mail. It should be of great interest and concern to everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The entire article speaks volumes about the attitude of Quebec and Ottawa toward Newfoundland and Labrador.

Take special note of the following passages within the article. They speak volumes:

“The federal government has sided with Quebec ...”

“…the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.”

“Ottawa says that any territorial dispute is a matter for the provinces to resolve.”

Web Talk Note: I guess it doesn’t matter to Ottawa that the border was, with NLs entry into the federation, written into the terms of union making it a constitutional issue. The constitution didn’t matter when during the Upper Churchill development so why would anyone be surprised that it's being ignored again at the expense of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“…the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.”

The boundary has never been successfully surveyed. The last attempt was abandoned in the 1980s after the two provinces concluded the issue was too politically sensitive to tackle.”

Web Talk Note: This likely means that the Premier at the time was Conservative Brian Peckford, since both Rideout and Wells spent very little time in office during that decade. Why did no Premier, either Liberal or Conservative, do anythin about this? Once again we have a Conservative Premier in office who in 2006 said the border situation was not a concern for him. What’s up with that?

"Mr. Charest expressed confidence recently that the project will begin as planned..."

I bet he did. Anyway, enough of the analysis and comments. Here's the article:

Power play pits Quebec against Newfoundland

Where do headwaters of rugged Romaine River lie? Both provinces claim land where boundary has never been successfully surveyed

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
February 11, 2009

QUEBEC — The federal government has sided with Quebec by agreeing to hear the province's argument that a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric project is on Quebec territory, land also claimed by Newfoundland and Labrador.

The natural-resources fight pits Danny Williams's province against Quebec's plans to build the Romaine River hydroelectric project. Newfoundland has told Ottawa that Quebec's claims to the land are "invalid" and any such development by Hydro-Québec is "contemptuous of the Constitution of Canada."

Hydro-Québec is proposing to begin developing the 1,550-megawatt project as early as next summer, at a cost of $6.5-billion. It is waiting for the joint panel's environmental assessment report that will be submitted to the Quebec and federal environment ministers on Feb. 27. Both governments will then have up to 60 days to release the report before making their recommendations regarding the project.

Simply by participating in the joint Quebec-Ottawa environmental assessment panel, the federal government appears to have given tacit approval to Quebec's claim.

At issue is a substantial portion of a 3,500-kilometre-long boundary of rugged territory dividing Quebec and Labrador. The boundary has never been successfully surveyed. The last attempt was abandoned in the 1980s after the two provinces concluded the issue was too politically sensitive to tackle.

"Politically this was a real hot potato and it still is," said Eric Jerret, who at the time was president of the Association of Land Surveyors of Newfoundland and Labrador. "But now pressure is coming to bear on the governments to settle this. It's the only border in Canada that hasn't been surveyed. It can't be left unresolved much longer."

At some point it will have to be decided where the mining rights, property rights and especially the headwaters of five major Quebec Lower North Shore rivers reside. That could impact future hydroelectric and other economic developments. More importantly, it could revive tensions between the two provinces at a time when closer co-operation will be needed to develop power and transportation links.

For instance, Newfoundland resident Burford Ploughman has been working on developing a permanent transportation link between the two provinces across the Strait of Belle Isle. He was a member of the 1979 federal Commission of Inquiry into Newfoundland Transportation and fears a confrontation between the two provinces could harm potential progress on key issues.

"The federal government's position isn't helping matters. Are they going to use the Quebec border instead of the Newfoundland and Labrador one? How can they do an [environmental] assessment? If they do, does it mean they are recognizing Quebec's border rather than ours? That's the central question and in two weeks' time they're going to make a decision," Mr. Ploughman said.

A 1927 ruling by the Privy Council, confirmed in the Terms of Union with Canada, concluded the headwaters of the Romaine and four other rivers are in Labrador. Quebec has always considered them as being part of its provincial territory.

"The headwaters and entire watersheds of the Romaine and the four other major Quebec North Shore rivers appear, incorrectly to be within Quebec," the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador stated in its Nov. 27, 2008, brief to the joint review panel.

"It is unacceptable that the federal government would accept a document as sufficient with such a glaring error of fact and law, especially one which is inconsistent with the Constitution of Canada."

The statement implies a constitutional battle may be in the making if Ottawa doesn't act soon to support Newfoundland and Labrador's claim to the land.

A spokesperson for Mr. Williams said yesterday the Premier refuses to say whether he will act to stop Premier Jean Charest from proceeding with the Romaine River hydroelectric project.

At the federal Ministry of the Environment, officials didn't appear to be aware of the potential confrontation. Ottawa says that any territorial dispute is a matter for the provinces to resolve.
"It will be up to the provinces to respond.

The environmental assessment commission will make recommendations to help alleviate possible adverse effects of the project on the environment ... But it isn't in the commission's mandate to take a position on territorial issues such as this," federal Environment Ministry spokeswoman Lucille Jamault said.

Mr. Charest expressed confidence recently that the project will begin as planned, insisting it has become a centrepiece of his government's strategy to create jobs at a time of recession.

UPDATE - 10:09 PM

The following letter was sent to Premier Williams a few minutes ago. If you would like to voice your concerns as well, the Premier's email address is: Premier@gov.nl.ca

To Premier Williams
cc.The Telegram (for publication)

Premier Williams,

I have copied this letter to the Telegram and to VOCM because I'm sure, like myself, most of the people in this province are very concerned about the constitutional challenge Quebec, with the implicit approval of Ottawa, is making with regard to the annexation of southern Labrador.

I also believe that they would like you to clearly state for the record what your government is doing to ensure that the environmental process now underway, and scheduled to be completed in just two weeks, does not proceed until the border is clarified for all of those involved.

The border between NL and Quebec is clearly defined in the Terms of Union with Canada however, knowing our past history when it comes to dealing with Quebec, it is not good enough to depend on Ottawa to respect the Constitution. The happenings around the Upper Churchill are proof enough of that.

If one nation attempted to unilaterally take control of territory inside another it would be considered an act of war. Taken in that context, we cannot allow Quebec to proceed with what amounts to an overt act of aggression against Newfoundland and Labrador

I look forward to your timely response.

Myles Higgins


Anonymous said...

hahahahaha, Canada what a joke. I am really starting to hate this $%#^en Country.

There has to be a limit to what people will take.

By the way you will never see anything about this on any local News or in any Newspaper.

Patriot said...

Isn't it odd, now that the issue with the Labrador border is so public, that nobody in the Provincial government has seen fit to make any kind of public statement on the issue?

I think we're "through the looking glass" here people. Something is up, it can't be good and if we don't find out what it is fast, it may be too late to do anything about it when we do.

This is beyond scary.

twjtNL said...

Miles, I just found this article on The Globe and Mail website.


At least somebody's realizing our standpoint not only with this project in the works, but with the absolutely ridiculous Upper Churchill curse that's been placed upon us.

With Quebec gaining $2.2 billion/yr. and NL getting $85 mil/yr. of the Upper Churchill monies... imagine what projects we could be developing if the fed. government had of stepped in to help us when they should have!

With this border issue aside, it upsets me when I see how Quebec is able to pump money into project after project... yet here we are, fighting for a fair share, expressing our outrage at $1.5 billion being taken away from us... but we're shrugged off by the majority of Canada.

It's always refreshing to see a Canadian acknowledge our frustration. But as clear-cut as this appears to be, what will the government do about it? I'm almost sick to the stomach to even think about it.

twjtNL said...

Miles... I should have clarified my last comment. In saying that it was nice to see the writer of the article acknowledge our frustration, obviously I disagree with many points that he has made. This isn't just NL throwing a 'hissy fit'.

I was appalled to see a comment on that story just published a short time ago:

Hep Cat from James Bay, Canada writes: KONRAD YAKABUSKI is dead on here.

The STUPID NEWFIES need to get back to their roots, have a GREAT NEWFIE SCREECH PARTY, move forward into prosperity, forgive AND forget the past etc.. etc..

Yes,it may be hard to keep swallowing and bending over again and again,but this has been the history of NL and Newfies in Canada for over fifty years.Why be so stubborn now?You are e-x-p-e-c-t-e-d to go along to get along and do what is in the COUNTRY'S INTEREST, as Quebec has always done,and not your own selfish interests.

What's the problem STUPID NEWFIES?



I love this part:

"You are e-x-p-e-c-t-e-d to go along to get along and do what is in the COUNTRY'S INTEREST, as Quebec has always done,and not your own selfish interests."

I had to laugh when I read that. Clearly, ignorance at it's finest.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about this but I think it isn't only the 52 parallel border that is being redrawn.

I think the Cape Chidly border may have been redrawn as well?

It seems the border is on the EAST side of the coast now where as in the 1927 Privy council decision it was on the WEST side?

No big deal you might say but whoever owns the tip of cape Chidley gets to control the entrance into the North west passage.