Protest Newfounland May 11 2007


Flaherty Visits Nova Scotia to Talk Accord Discord. (external - login to view)

According to news reports out of Nova Scotia Federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, is in that province for meetings over the Atlantic Accord and the impacts his recent budget will have on the economy there.

Reports suggest that the visit may have come about because of the strong reaction in Atlantic Canada over the contents of his recent equalization plan and after unconfirmed reports that East Coast MPs are beginning to revolt inside the party and may well be prepared to turn against their own government.

The Federal Finance Department is being very tight lipped and the Nova Scotia finance department won't even confirm that meetings are taking place. The sudden use of a cone of silence combined with a rare calmness and relaxed demeanor exhibited by outspoken Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, Danny Williams, during national media interviews on Tuesday, have led many to speculate that something may happening behind the scenes. It appears the equalization issue has caused a rift inside the Conservative Party that may be much bigger and more damaging than anyone first imagined.

With the most recent federal polls showing the Conservatives at 30% and the Liberals at 31%, with Premiers Danny Williams and Lorne Calvert attacking the PM in the media and now the Atlantic caucus being assaulted from all sides by their constituents and striking out inside their own party, it’s believed Jim Flaherty’s sudden decision to listen and discuss the issue is an attempt to keep his party from self destructing.

It seems the Atlantic caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada may be revolting against their leadership and if that’s true, it may be very damaging. Their constituents have been up in arms ever since the new equalization formula was released and it was discovered (without the help of the federal government) that Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan stand to lose Billions as a result.

There is no word on how the Conservative MPs in Saskatchewan are reacting behind closed doors but it’s likely they, like their Atlantic counterperts, are being deluged by calls and emails from angry voters.

Since the budget was released Premier Williams has taken a very hard line with Ottawa while Premier McDonald of Nova Scotia has opted for calm discussion of the issue. This type of “good cop/bad cop” routine, similar to the one used by former Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm and Danny Williams during negotiation of the 2005 Atlantic Accord, may again be working to soften Ottawa’s position.

While discussions appear to be taking place, it may all be too little too late.

Much water has passed under the bridge in the few short weeks since the federal budget was released. At this point it’s doubtful that anything short of full implementation of the Harper promise, to exclude all non-renewable resources from the equalization formula, will be enough to appease voters in Atlantic Canada or Saskatchewan. Something that’s not likely to happen.

Mr. Harper and his party took a very big gamble with their last budget and they seem to have lost.

They looked at the numbers, examined their strengths and weaknesses and decided that by pandering to voters in Ontario and Quebec they could afford to lose a few votes in the "other" Provinces and still win a majority government. Now, with support for the Conservatives falling slightly behind the Liberals nationally, by 3% in Quebec and 5% in Ontario, those few seats in Atlantic Canada and out in Saskatchewan have suddenly taken on new importance.

All of a sudden the “other” provinces have become an important part of Canada once again. The question that remains however, is whether or not it's too late for Stephen Harper to mend the fences he’s broken and to find a way to buy back those disenfranchised voters with their own tax dollars. It's likely that ship has sailed.

In an effort to ensure that the pressure remains strong on Atlantic MPs and the Conservative government, a massive public rally has been scheduled in St. John's NL for Friday May 11th at the Confederation Building. Planning for the rally has been underway for sometime and it's expected to be one of the biggest in the province's history. (external - login to view)
It's not all Atlantic MPs, only Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

For some reason, their is/was an idea that royalties from offshore oil should not be counted when calculating equalization payments, and Danny Williams doesn't like what he sees as a clawback.

I don't understand why Newfoundland thinks that oil royalties shouldn't be considered when calculating equalization - I'm pretty sure they don't allow offshore oil workers to collect welfare while they make their $150,000/year.
I should have elaborated on the reason for protest ,there are more I just found this story for one I ll ask the person who brought the protest to my attention the other reasons

Im not sure that any of Canada is really happy at this point !!!

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