Monday, November 06, 2006

 

OUR TERMS

Just doing a little catching up on my reading and came across the final recommendations from the Indy's panel on Our Terms.

OUR TERMS as recommended by a panel the Independant put together to delve into our place in canada.

The Independent’s panel consisted of:
From top left: Former premier Roger Grimes, Entrepreneur and filmmaker Peg Norman, St. John’s Mayor Andy Wells, Writer Maura Hanrahan, Businessman Brian Dobbin, Pundit Ray Guy, Retired politician John Crosbie, Activist Nancy Riche, Fisheries advocate Gus Etchegary, Independent editor-in-chief Ryan Cleary

Recommendations from The Independent’s six-part series
on Newfoundland’s Terms of Union with Canada.

POLITICS
Newfoundland and Labrador’s MPs operate as a bloc.
Senate reform: implement a Triple-E Senate, with
equal representation from each province.

FISHERIES
Management to be carried out by an arm’s-length fisheries
board. Custodial management of the nose and
tail of the Grand Banks.

OIL AND GAS
Assume control and management of offshore petroleum
resources.

FINANCES
Preserve equalization and ensure any changes to the
equalization formula benefit the province.
Insist Newfoundland and Labrador be dealt with as a
province — not ‘lumped in’ with Atlantic Canada.

TRANSPORTATION
Guarantee air links, including to all historical trading
partners (London, Boston, New York).
Improve ferry service to be more accessible and
affordable.
Assume control of province’s air space.

By Stephanie Porter (St. John's)
The Independent
Friday, September 15, 2006


It’s time to take a good, hard look at the Terms of Union. Fifty-seven years after being signed, the document that established the constitutional ground rules of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada are still much talked-about, debated, and criticized. Who hasn’t wondered about what was given away, what was taken away and what was ultimately gained? Or what Newfoundland could have done differently during negotiations.

The problems in the fishery are blamed, in large part, on federal mismanagement — powers that were handed over in accordance with the Terms.

Offshore resource ownership rights have been dragged through the courts, and are still contentious. Ferry service to Nova Scotia is heavily criticized — its upkeep is a federal responsibility, as outlined in the Terms, but the level of service is not. Taxation, transfer payments, the division of federal and provincial responsibilities — all are outlined in the Terms.

As constitutional lawyer Stephen May says, except for a few key items — land boundaries and a guaranteed number of seats in the Senate — “for the most part, the effectiveness of the Terms have been spent, or they’ve done what they were designed to do.”

The Independent takes this as the starting point for a new six-part series, digging deeper into the Terms of Union and the evolution of the needs of the province since 1949.

The goal is to get people talking about our relationship with Canada — and put forward specific recommendations of how to make things better.

The suggestions will fall into five categories, examined over the next five weeks: oil and gas, transportation, fisheries, finances and politics.

The Independent has asked a panel of diverse experts to come together to discuss and offer creative solutions to some of the Confederation stumbling blocks.

Scheduled to take part in the discussion are: former Liberal premier Roger Grimes, former federal Fisheries minister John Crosbie, columnist Ray Guy, St. John’s Mayor Andy Wells, activist Nancy Riche, entrepreneur and filmmaker Peg Norman, writer Maura Hanrahan, businessman Brian Dobbin, fisheries advocate Gus Etchegary, and Independent editor-in-chief Ryan Cleary.

For the next five weeks, we’ll publish some of the ideas, candid thoughts, and concrete recommendations that emerge from the discussion. At the same time, Independent reporters will tackle a host of relevant stories under each heading.

The series is meant to raise awareness, generate discussion, and find solutions. There has been a cultural uneasiness about the circumstances of Confederation, a lingering suspicion around the province that Newfoundland was sold short for a quick influx of money.

In a Dec. 31, 1948, column for the Daily News, Albert Perlin wrote, “it can be said without fear of contradiction that the short-term position (of Confederation) is favourable, but the long-term prospect is discouraging.”

Historian James Hiller writes, in his essay Confederation: Deciding Newfoundland’s Future 1934-1949, that time has already shown the process of joining Canada was flawed.

“Newfoundlanders were rushed into Confederation — not against the wishes of most of them, but in a way that was undignified, and which prevented a full discussion of how Newfoundland and Labrador, a distinct society, might best have been fitted into the Canadian confederation,” he writes.

“This lack of imagination and sympathy, in London and Ottawa, has had profound repercussions for the province. Few would want to undo that decision taken in 1948; many with that it had been done differently.”

This debate continues today.

May wrote a report for 2003’s Royal Commission of Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada called The Terms of Union: an analysis of their current relevance.

He points out the Terms were not written in language open to interpretation “in a broad and liberal manner,” and “neither is there language used … to ensure continuous provision of various public services within the province” — which, he says, shows the Terms were designed to have “limited long-term relevance.”

According to May, any official renegotiating of the Terms of Union may have to involve all provincial and territorial leaders, as well as certain aboriginal groups given self-governing rights. In other words, it would be a long process, involving many diverse interests. (“One would have to be an extreme optimist to expect that to ever happen,” he tells The Independent.)

As he concludes in his report: “Any agreement to revise the Terms of Union may be difficult to achieve. An agreement, however, provides the only means to develop Terms that are relevant to the resolution of current issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Having stated that, May’s work was done — he wasn’t asked how the province should move forward.

That’s where The Independent comes in. It’s time talk about Our Terms.



What we and canada needs to remember is that canada isn't a country per say but rather a loose coalition of provinces in confederation in which we all agree ottawa is going to take care of national issues and leave the provincial issues up to the provinces. IE resources belong to the provinces.

We are all supposed to be equal in that we can leave at anytime we choose as long as the majority of your provinces people vote to leave in a referendum. Unfortunately that is the only equality the provinces have with Ontario and if past experience is any indication that is the way ON/QC would like it to stay. Remember Charlottetown and Meech lake when Mulroney and Ontario/Quebec tried their damndest to try and coherce, swindle and victimize at the time Premier Clyde Wells into going along with enshrining into the constitution the current unequal Colonialist/Federalism we now have. Thank the heavens above for Clyde Wells is all I can say.

I think this Our Terms is a good basis for going on the offensive and demanding either renegotiation of the terms of union or we go it alone. Enough of this hat in hand and Asymetrical federalism to our detriment. We are only here by choice and it's time people started to realize that we have been so marginalized and treated like the poor brother inlaw sleeping on the couch for far too long (Margarete wente).This isn't the way we want to be portrayed nor should be portrayed, then we need to do something aout it and go it alone because IMHO better people than me have tried to change this federation for the better and failed so our only option is Our Way or the highway.

Don't vote to expose the Colonialist/Federalism for what it is and call for a referendum.
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