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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was province.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Avalon (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply November 4th, 2004

No, there is no clawback. Give me a chance to explain.

We have 100% of the provincial share of the revenues. We have the equalization that we are now receiving. We have the 30% in the offset mechanism that is there and is enshrined. Now we have 100% of the 70¢. In other words, all of those combined is 100%.

That is there for eight years, keeping in mind there are seven years left in the offset mechanism in the Atlantic accord. There is one year of grace to renegotiate a deal for the future, if that is necessary. I will get to that in a second. Those four components should and could bring Newfoundland and Labrador up to the Ontario standard. That is a notch above the standard of five provinces, which sets the equalization formula.

I know all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on both sides of the House and everyone who supports this deal for Newfoundland hope we continue to get more oil. I do not believe the oil and gas will end. I think there are a lot more opportunities out there. I will be an optimist on this, as I always have been. We have a long, bright future ahead of us.

Let us suppose that we strike two or three more wells and our revenues grow. We will still keep 100% of the revenues regardless, the same as Alberta and Ontario, and the revenues will continue to grow. As we go above the threshold set by the equalization formula across Canada, the only thing that will start to depreciate is the equalization payments. The revenues will keep growing as long as revenues continue to go to Newfoundland and Labrador.

If at some point in time the revenues climb up to the same level as Ontario, the five province formula, this will not be worth discussing because we will be self-sufficient and we will not need to receive equalization payments. The Newfoundland minister of finance and I talked about that.

Speaking on behalf of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, we all have pride. We do not want to be a receiving province. We want to contribute to Canada's economy which is what the equalization formula is based on, to bring all provinces up to a reasonable standard of parity across this country. We have dreamed about that all our lives.

Members say there is a cap. The only cap is on equalization and that will only be capped when revenues start to climb. Let me say this very clearly. Even when the revenues start climbing, that 30% and the 70¢ on the dollar in the offshore mechanism will still stay there for eight years. There will be no decline in that for the next eight years even though our revenues would continue to climb.

I am not being critical but I do believe there is a real misunderstanding of what is on the table, which is why I believe that we need to sit down and go through this again. It is very clear that Newfoundland and Labrador will not lose on this deal. What all people want to receive is 100% of their revenues. We are receiving 100% of the revenues and we want continue to receive 100% of the revenues. We also want to continue to receive equalization as long as it is within the standard set down by the country, a standard which makes this country one of the greatest places in the world to live. No one part of Canada should be better off than another part.

As a citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador, I feel very strongly that at some point in time our revenues will climb above the standard and we will become like Ontario and Alberta, proud people contributing to the economy of this great country.

What is on the table is exactly what was committed to by the Prime Minister. I would like to make a couple of points about the letters the premier sent to the Prime Minister.

The one thing the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Prime Minister agreed to after they had talked on June 5 was to go forward with the deal. There is no argument about that. However, what the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador said very clearly, and it is on the record and he will not deny it I am sure, was that he would appoint his minister of finance, not the minister of natural resources, Ed Byrne, a good friend of mine. The Prime Minister said that he would appoint his Minister of Finance. If the deal had been completed in June, why would the leader of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Prime Minister of the Government of Canada say that the finance ministers need to be at the table? It was because they had the basis for a deal. Did they talk about timelines? Absolutely. I can assure members that the premier talked about timelines to me.

Did the Prime Minister talk about a ceiling on how far we could go? Yes, I believe what the Prime Minister said. Nevertheless, the negotiations between ministers of finance had to be on a day to day or week to week basis, either in person or by phone. Negotiations cannot continue in any other way. Do not tell me that they only spoke once after June and no more until the deal was completed. That is not possible. I spoke to the minister of finance of Newfoundland in Ottawa. I spoke to him by phone on several occasions. I spoke to the premier on several occasions.

Let us go ahead to when the deal was supposed to have been concluded. There is a disagreement. We will not argue about that fact. On the Friday morning, I was briefed by the finance minister on this deal. I believe in it very strongly, otherwise, as a Newfoundland and Labradorian, I would accept it. I am putting my reputation of 20 years on the line, on this deal, because I believe it is the right deal for Newfoundland and Labrador. This is what I understood from that briefing. Our finance minister and the finance minister from Newfoundland and Labrador had concluded their discussions. The Minister of Finance was supposed to go to the Prime Minister with the conclusion of the deal and sign-off. The finance minister of Newfoundland and Labrador was supposed to go back to the premier.

I went home that weekend full of excitement, but not saying a word because it still had to be completed by the two leaders. When I got to Halifax airport, I got the call that the deal had fallen apart. We had agreed not to talk about it on the weekend. On the Monday we would, either by phone or in person, go over what both leaders had said and discuss any problems. That is exactly what happened. Since then, all we have heard is rhetoric. We need to get past that. I will not point fingers at the premier, his minister or anyone else. We will all take full responsibility.

This deal matters to the future of our province. Do all of us want Newfoundland and Labrador to be a have province? Absolutely. We are a very proud people. We are limited to what we can do on our own on the Atlantic coast. We have lost our fisheries. There have been major economic differences and other problems in our province, but now we have a chance. The offshore oil and gas will give us that chance to get there.

Can we break up the equalization formula that has kept the country together and kept all parts of it at a reasonable parity and with a reasonable standard of living? No, we cannot do that. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that we do that. Can Newfoundland and Labrador reach a have province status? Absolutely. This deal will allow it the benefit and the ability to get there.

Let me just reference a deal that was put together back in 1984. I could photocopy this and give it to every member of the House. Jean Chrétien was minister of mines and managed by the Government of Canada. He went to Newfoundland and Labrador and offered almost exactly the same deal in 1984 as is being offered now. I will photocopy it and send it. The government of the day refused it. Then in 1987 that same government signed a deal with another government and accepted 30%. This deal is 100% of the revenues go to Newfoundland and Labrador. That was 20 years ago. Let us add all of the royalties, the revenues and the loss of income since 1984. Let us say it is $200 million a year: $200 million times 20 years is $4 billion.

Supply November 4th, 2004

When the hon. opposition leader stood up he tried to promote his feelings toward Newfoundland and Labrador in a passionate way. I think the deputy opposition leader said the same thing.

Let me go back to the June election of this past year and before that when the opposition leader spoke very clearly about the defeatist attitude of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Now he is saying that the Prime Minister of the country is not keeping his word.

When I asked the deputy opposition leader to explain the four components of the proposed deal that was on the table for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, he could not explain them. That is what I find most disturbing about this issue. The proposed deal is on the table. If people disagree with it, then they should know exactly what they disagree with. It is very simple.

Let me explain for members opposite what is on the table. First, Newfoundland and Labrador is receiving 100% of the provincial share of revenues, that includes royalties, corporate tax, personal tax and all other fees having to do with the offshore oil and gas industry. Those things have been there since day one.

Now we add to those revenues, the equalization as well as the offset mechanism clause that was put in the Atlantic accord in 1997, which is that 30% is exempt from equalization forever. That 30% is then added to the provincial share of the royalties and the revenues, which is 47%, and that is added to the equalization.

In the Atlantic accord that was signed in 1987 there was also the 70¢ of every dollar that we have to talk about. From 1999 until 2003 only 7% of that 70¢ was clawed back. In other words, we were receiving 93% up until the end of 2003. In 2004 we did it on a declining formula, where from 2004 to 2011 it will go down to zero. In other words, we will be losing 100% of that 70¢ if the Atlantic accord is not reopened.

The Atlantic accord is under my responsibility as Minister of Natural Resources. The Prime Minister, through the Minister of Finance, has committed to reopen the Atlantic accord which has seven years of life left. It is supposed to terminate in 2011 at which time another accord would be negotiated for the future. However, even though the accord has another seven years left, we have reopened it and added 100% of the provincial share of the royalties and revenues, with equalization of 30% on top of that. Now it is 100% of that 70¢ on top of that. We must clearly understand.

Supply November 4th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I never spoke once during the hon. member's speech, nor did I speak during the deputy leader's speech. I would ask for the same respect and the same courtesy.

Supply November 4th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I will use the time allotted to me this morning to speak to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to stay away from the politics, to stay away--

Supply November 4th, 2004

Madam Speaker, in 1985 I was elected for the first time and was on the opposition side from 1985-89, but two of my colleagues opposite were on the government side. I never ever asked a question or made a comment in the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador that I did not know the answer to. So I am going to ask a question of the hon. member opposite who just gave his speech about the offshore accord.

Could the member tell me, the people of Canada and the people of Newfoundland what the four components are that make up the offer we have on the table for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia?

Committees of the House November 3rd, 2004

Madam Speaker, what is wrong here, and I will say this respectfully to my colleague, is that we should not be carrying on this discussion in public. We should be sitting down at a table and looking at a proposal that benefits Newfoundland and Labrador.

What the Prime Minister and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador discussed was the basis for an agreement. The finance minister and I are saying exactly the same thing. This will never be resolved with rhetoric. This will never be resolved in public. We have to put all of that aside because the losers here are the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

While I am standing in the House of Commons, with all the respect that I have for this House, I will never allow the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to lose on this deal. My obligation is to ensure we get the benefits out of these offshore resources. I am quite content and satisfied that the Prime Minister is standing by his commitment, and that Newfoundland and Labrador will receive 100% of the revenues, the equalization, the 30% and the 70%.

Committees of the House November 3rd, 2004

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on this topic. Through you, Madam Speaker, I want to speak to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This is an opportunity for the people of our province to benefit from the offshore oil resources that they have been wanting since the Atlantic accord was signed in 1987. The accord stated that Newfoundland and Labrador should be the main beneficiary. However, an offset mechanism was put in the Atlantic accord that allowed Newfoundland and Labrador to receive only 30% outside of the equalization formula.

What I have done, as the Minister of Natural Resources responsible for the Atlantic accord, is to follow through on the Prime Minister's commitment to allow Newfoundland and Labrador to receive 100% of the offshore oil resources outside of the equalization formula. In other words, the provincial revenues, including the corporate taxes, other taxes, other fees and royalties would go to Newfoundland and Labrador with no clawback on equalization. That commitment was made by the Prime Minister to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That would determine the 100% revenues go to the province.

There has to be a threshold set. The equalization formula that all Canada benefits from, outside of Ontario and Alberta, has been enshrined in the equalization policy. It helps those provinces that cannot help themselves through theirs revenues to equal that standard set across Canada.

The equalization formula under which Newfoundland and Labrador has benefited from for so many years is now giving the province of Newfoundland and Labrador an opportunity to become self-sufficient. The Prime Minister of this country made a commitment to the people. The Prime Minister of this country has and is keeping his word and will keep his word.

Let me go very quickly to the issue here. First, since the Atlantic accord started and since the oil started coming out of Hibernia and then Terra Nova, Newfoundland and Labrador has received 100% of the provincial revenues. In the Atlantic accord there was an offset mechanism where 30% of that was not taken back on equalization. That is there and that will stay.

In the other offset there was 70¢ that would be clawed back. For the first five years, from 1999 to 2003, 7% was taken back. From 2004 to 2011, it would be a declining formula where at the end of 2011 we would lose the full 70¢. We have reopened that accord with seven years left. The government has said to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador that it will now pay the province an offset mechanism equal to 100%.

In other words, the province still will receive all the revenues and it still will receive all the equalization. Then the province can keep that 30% that was written in the Atlantic accord with no clawback. On top of the 30%, the federal government will pay that 70¢ to the dollar. This is what Newfoundland and Labrador has wanted for so many years.

At the same time the province has all of that, hopefully, we will see more oil, gas, income and revenues for Newfoundland. That revenue will keep increasing, even with the debt mechanism. Let us keep our fingers crossed that this happens. All of Newfoundland, and my colleague opposite and myself are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we want to see that happen. However, once the province gets above the threshold of Ontario, the province will start losing equalization on top of all of that.

The thing we must keep in mind is the province will receive all of that while it is still receives the revenues.

Let it be clear. Newfoundland and Labrador will still receive the revenues even above the Ontario threshold. The revenues will keep coming the same as Ontario and Alberta. We will become a self-sufficient province, what every Newfoundlander and Labradorian wants.

Natural Resources November 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, at no time did I say that I was confused about this deal. What I am confused about is the hon. member opposite.

Let us go back to 1982 when Jean Chrétien went to Newfoundland and Labrador and offered a similar deal to what we are offering here today. The government of the day under Peckford and two hon. members who were in cabinet turned it down. Yet in 1987 the Tory government put together a deal which gave Newfoundland and Labrador 30% of the revenues.

Supply October 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

No member can refer to any member in the House by the name of Benedict Arnold or any other such name.

Natural Resources October 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, let me say to all hon. members opposite and my colleagues from Newfoundland and Labrador that after 20 years of working for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I will take second place to nobody on that side.

Let me say that, on this side from the Prime Minister to all members of the government, the Minister of Finance and myself, we, unlike the other side, want to see Newfoundland grow and prosper and--