Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time.
We have before us a motion which deplores the attitude of the Prime Minister of Canada toward the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. This motion calls upon the Prime Minister and the government to keep their word and allow these provinces to keep 100% of their provincial offshore oil and gas revenues.
This is an important motion not only for the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, but for all Canadians. I rise in this debate because I think it is important that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador understand that they have the support of other Canadians. While I am a member of this House from the riding of Calgary Centre-North, I am also a proud Canadian and I wish to bring to this debate the perspective of Calgarians and Albertans on this important issue.
Two years ago while visiting Newfoundland and Labrador, I had the opportunity to speak on a local radio talk show. As it turned out, the hon. member who is now sitting as the Prime Minister of Canada was also visiting the province. I challenged him. I called on him then to commit to the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that they would truly, fully benefit from their oil and gas resources, as is the case in my home province of Alberta. I am proud as an Albertan to stand once again to call on the Prime Minister to do the right thing. He did not do it that night on that talk show and he is not doing it now.
Let me be clear. The position of our leader and our party on this issue is unequivocal and unwavering. Our commitment is to ensure that Atlantic Canadians enjoy 100% of their non-renewable resource royalties. This was our position before the election, during the election and it has been our position since the election. It will remain our position until these provinces are dealt with fairly and honestly.
We have been clear, we have been consistent, and we have been steadfast, but clarity, consistency and steadfastness are not what we have seen from the Prime Minister and his government and those who will speak for him tonight. The prevarications, the perambulations and the peregrinations of the Prime Minister have been chronicled today by our leader. I will not reiterate that sad and troubling record.
Suffice it to say that Premier Williams thought he had the Prime Minister's word on June 5, 2004. In fact the premier was asked at that time whether and how he would be able to ensure that the Prime Minister of Canada would keep his word. Premier Williams, who is himself an experienced and successful businessman, a lawyer and a Rhodes scholar, thought then that the word of the Prime Minister of Canada was sufficient. He said, “It is by word of mouth. I am taking him at his word and that is good enough for me”. Woe is the premier, woe are the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and woe are we as a nation, because the word of the Prime Minister of Canada is good enough for none of us, as it turns out.
It turns out that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not entitled to unrestricted access to the resources after all. There are caveats that restrict the time, and caveats which tie the prosperity of the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador to the fiscal capacity of another region, Ontario. That was not the deal. It was not the deal which the Prime Minister promised to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Why should the people of one province be limited by or tied to the fiscal capacity of another province? Why would we want to limit the economic potential of any region of this country? Why cap the potential of one province to become a new economic engine of our country? Why deny a province the full and unfettered benefit of the resources which it brought into Confederation? Why could the people of Newfoundland and Labrador not depend on the word of their Prime Minister? Because it was during the election.
Thirty years ago Alberta was in a battle with another Liberal federal government over resource revenue. The then Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, wrote to the Liberal Prime Minister and said this: “The point that must be emphasized is that we are concerned about a depleting--a rapidly depleting--resource. We view the proceeds from this resource as a capital asset, the proceeds of which must be reinvested if this province”--Alberta--“is to maintain its economic stability”.
Today, because Alberta fought to receive the full benefit of its resources, it is one of the driving economic engines of this country. One hundred per cent was the right thing for Alberta and it is the right thing for Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the right thing for Nova Scotia and it is the right thing for Canada.
These resources will not last forever. The opportunity for these provinces to reinvest these assets into their own economies is now. It will not wait while the Prime Minister dithers.
Who then will stand up for Newfoundlanders? We on the opposition side have heeded Premier Williams' call. Who will join us in the fight for Newfoundland and Labrador? Where are the Haultains and the Lougheeds of Newfoundland's future?
I say unequivocally that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can rest assured that there are such men among the Conservatives in the House, in addition to Premier Danny Williams and other Conservatives, such as the leader of our party. We have the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, the hon. member for St. John's East, and yes, Rex Barnes, formerly the member for Gander—Grand Falls.
These people are leaders who will protect the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their voices resonate in the House. They are admired and respected for their resilience and determination which they have shown in the House. Unlike others, they will not be cowed. Unlike others, they will not be muzzled. Unlike others, they will not turn their backs on their history, their birthright and their fellow citizens.
The Liberals toy with the hopes and aspirations of Atlantic Canadians. They came this past June bearing false promises and there are members opposite who directly benefited from those false promises. Now it is time to stand up and be counted for their promises and their country. The Prime Minister was not forthright with Atlantic Canadians and this is an undeniable truth.
I would like the Prime Minister to reflect on the following words:
Here lies a great and mighty king,Whose promise none relies on;He never said a foolish thing,Nor ever did a wise one.
Many people from Newfoundland and Labrador have contributed to the economic success by working in Alberta. Now Newfoundland and Labrador deserves the chance to enjoy its own economic success. Like Alberta, people will succeed and future generations will count them as the architects of the new deal for Newfoundland and Labrador.