What can you say. There was a time when the province of Quebec produced some, if not most, of the great political people of our day. It looks like those days are behind us. In response to Premier Danny William's warnings to Quebec yesterday of a "new and aggressive" approach, in dealing with the Upper and Lower Churchill projects, the best the Quebec government can come up with is the PQ's Intergovernmental Affairs Critic - Bernard Drainville? Really. Drainville, apart from being a seperatist, is not even a member of Mr. Charest's government. Perhaps a deliberate slight toward our Premier. Likely. A serious misjudgement though.
Mr. Drainville, try to ignore the last name, came back at Premier Williams today with the startling accusation that Newfoundland had a "special deal" for it's drilling on the offshore. His other charge: that Quebec has been "screwed" many times since Confederation. Let's deal with the last statement first. Everyone in Canada knows Quebec hasn't lost since it lost. Just some examples: keeping the language and culture; bilingualism; new anthem; new flag; draconian language laws; language police; preferential systemic hiring throughout the federal civil service; domination of federal politics and positions of power; undemocratic numbers of representatives in the House of Commons and Senate; apparently a hockey arena in Quebec City; Bombardier; the Canadian Space Agency; CSIS headquarters; the Museum of Humour; equalization payments; and so many others that they could not be fully listed here. It makes any thinking human being laugh out loud at such a statement.
Now for the "special deal" charge. Mr. Drainville states that Newfoundland enjoys a special deal to develop and drill off hore petroleum resources which Quebec does not. True, but only in the slightest sense. Newfoundland and Labrador negotiated an agreement with the federal government to drill on the offshore. Any province that wishes to do so can, and must negotiate an agreement with the Federal government first. That is the law. It lays out who gets what money, and the rules and responsibilities of those developing as well as the provincial and federal governments. Quebec has not negotiated an agreement with the feds for several reasons. Firstly, as Nathalie Normandean states, they want the agreement to " recognize Quebec's full jurisdiction in the Gulf of St Lawrence". As if any national government in the world is going to give a province jurisdiction over any water way, let alone a strategic one. Then again, the folks in Quebec City tend to see themselves, and want us to see them, as a nation.
Mrs. Normandean has found herself in a bad position as the Newfoundland government has issued drilling rights to Old Harry, the rich site at the centre of controversy between Quebec and Newfoundland. Corridor, the company awarded the rights is set to drill in 2012. Quebec wants this resource for itself, and is pressuring the federal government to grant it the offshore agreement needed to begin drilling - on their terms of course. According to Mrs. Normandean: "The federal government is telling us to go negotiate with Newfoundland and we'll see after that. We say no,no,no,no. Why would we negotiate with Newfoundland if we think there is no problem with the 1964 boundary?" One reason I can think of - if you don't, Newfoundland will empty Old Harry before you can reach a deal with the feds. Perhaps. The other interesting fact of note is that Quebec has a self-imposed drilling ban in place in it's "jurisdiction" until atleast 2012.
At the very least, Quebec has really shot itself in the foot on this one. So using this "special deal" as a comeback on the Churchill projects is really assinine. Throw in the hypothetical and say Newfoundland had a special deal. What possible relevance does that have to Quebec's plundering of the Upper Churchill, and blocking of the Lower? Is there an implication that Newfoundland should sit back and take it in the stomach, because it was forward looking enough to develop it's "own resource". It has not plundered or otherwise taken advantage of Quebec or it's resources. The Upper and Lower Churchill are, after all, Newfoundland's resources.
Premier William's should be sitting back and smiling after todays show. The weakness of Quebec's response correctly reflects the weakness in their position. The days of Quebec crying and the rest of the country running for paper towel are over. In all this, it is important to remember that the people of Quebec have no more say in the policy and actions of Hydro Quebec, or the Quebec government, than any other populace in the country. It's also important to remember that it is irrelevant how much money Quebec gets from the rest of the country - in so far as this battle goes. We can't be suckered into an anti-Quebec stance. We need to stay focused on the issues of the Lower and Upper Churchill falls. We need to use the tools availabe to us to achieve these ends, and we need not explain nor apologize to anyone for using them. All in all though, I would say one to nothing for us.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)