Tuesday, June 05, 2007

the gloves are offshore

The Premier and Natural Resources minister of Newfoundland and Labrador are playing hardball with international energy companies, and I can't say I sympathize with Exxon. By insisting the province has a stake in the development of offshore oil and gas, not only does the province stand to make some serious money (and not a moment too soon, it's getting rough out there) but the oversight of the environmental applications of the exploration will fall within that of a principal shareholder, the province. Rather than having to convince a board to properly clean-up or more efficiently develop resources in the first place, the province as a partner will be at the table with a voice in how the project is run.

The financial implications are worth considering as the maritime provinces have been in decline for several decades due to overfishing mostly and recent hurricanes. And I like to see innovation in various parts of the country on various levels. The revenue generated can begin to employ many Newfoundlanders in green energy production, water treatment and fisheries and fish regeneration.

Even better? Danny Williams, the Premier, is a staunch conservative. He has been loyal to his party from day one, way before Harper cleaned out the economists and brought in the christian right. And where is Mr. Williams now? Still a tory loyalist in terms of what the party stands for, but his election suggestion to the country is as simple as ABC: Anything But Conservative. Do I hear an NDP window in the East? Methinks I do!

Danny Williams and his Natural Resource Minister Kathy Dunderdale are in charge of a small and relatively underpopulated province. The coastal Newfoundlanders are mostly poor and speak with a thick accent indigenous to the area. Sound familiar? Most places that can be so described get little or no help or sympathy from governing bodies, and I am thrilled to see Mr. Williams demanding his share of what ultimately can make or break the province. If we have to foot the bill for an environmental cleanup and we have no stake or say in the profit-sharing, the federal government will do only the most limited clean-up available to us. Moreover, Newfoundland is a small island and the more the oceans warm and rise, the more the people, the Canadians, who live there are in danger of suffering first-hand when hurricanes develop and come inland. These are our people and we have already turned our backs on them with our fishing treaties and the slow decline of the Newfoundland French. There is a huge First Nations population in Labrador, it's fairly obvious how they get treated by us, and the whole place is north enough to offer a view (or lack thereof) of seals and whales as they retreat their usual homes.

I couldn't be happier that Mr. Williams is stepping up and insisting that his province be not only compensated, but partnered with in the offshore development of what can only be finite resources. I can't wait to see where he goes with it, and my fingers are crossed that it will not only buy the people of Newfoundland some time, but some respite.

1 comment:

Craig Sauvé said...

Great title!

I share your enthusiasm for an NDP breakthrough in the east.