Mark the 24th day of March, 2011 on your calender as a day of betrayal. A day where political expediency trumped a people's aspirations. Many will say this is not something new, but this particular betrayal goes beyond even the Upper Churchill. Officially known as the Accord between the Government of Canada
and the Government of Quebec for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, this political document subordinates the rights of Newfoundland and Labrador to those of Quebec. You can find the complete document at http://www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/guidelines/aa_mou.pdf
To begin with it is a political document. It does not contain a fraction of the detail of the Atlantic Accord signed by the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. The only areas that it does give substantial details of are those pertaining to the description of what area constitutes Quebec's offshore area, and issues dealing with Quebec's constitutional issues. It completely ignores the previous Atlantic Accord guarding this Province's offshore rights. A clause in the Atlantic Accord describes our protection and rights:
Precedence over other Acts of Parliament
4. In case of any inconsistency or conflict between
(a) this Act or any regulations made thereunder, and
(b) any other Act of Parliament that applies to the offshore area or any regulations made under that Act, except the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act,
this Act and the regulations made thereunder take precedence.
The key words being: "this Act shall take precedence". Consider then that the description of Quebec's offshore area is identical to that of the 1964 Stanfield Line. A line that Quebec refuses to let go of, and a line that both the federal government and the government of this province have refused to recognize. A line that the Arbitration Board concerning Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, 2001 completely refuted:
7. The Tribunal’s Conclusions
7.1 In the Tribunal’s view, the documentary record looked at as a whole does not disclose
the existence of an agreement resolving the offshore boundaries of Newfoundland and
Labrador and Nova Scotia, within the meaning of the Terms of Reference. This is true
whether the criterion be taken to be the international law of agreements or Canadian
public law. In particular, the Tribunal concludes that the Parties at no stage reached
a definitive agreement resolving their offshore boundary, in the sense explained in
paragraph 3.30 above.
You can find the entire decision at http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/mines&en/publications/offshore/dispute/decision.pdf
It's decision to refute those supposed boundaries resulted in the establishment of the current maritime borders between this Province and Nova Scotia. A legal finding, by an independent arbitration board, that has been recognized by the federal government. Except apparently when it comes to Quebec.
The federal government and Quebec try to be cute by not referring to the boundaries as the 1964 Stanfield line in the Accord - although they are identical. Yet the Premier of Quebec and Ms Normandeau refer publicly to the fact that it represents Quebec's long standing demand that the 1964 border be recognized.
The problem for the federal government is that Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore jurisdiction had already been decided:
"68. The area covered by this Accord is that area below the low water mark lying off the coast of
Newfoundland and Labrador out to the outer edge of the continental margin, coming within
Canada's jurisdiction being north and east and south of the appropriate lines of demarcation
between Newfoundland, the adjacent provinces, and the Northwest Territories."
In other words, our maritime border with Quebec was not defined. It was left undefined presumably due to our border dispute with Quebec, which on the face of it makes sense. However, this Quebec Accord fully details Quebec's maritime border with us. So the federal government, the so-called neutral party, has agreed to Quebec's offshore definition of it's boundaries, but refused to do the same with this province. The federal government has sided with Quebec against the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - betrayal. Keeping in mind that no Act shall contravene our Accord, how is it that the federal government can agree to infringe on this Province's offshore jurisdiction?
How is it that Quebec's Accord allows it to be the equal of the federal government on it's Offshore Petroleum Board, with equal seats, but ours is not so? Why is it that several sections of the Quebec Accord refer to protecting Quebec's constitutional position despite any findings of the arbitration board. In other words, even if an arbitration board were to find a different maritime border that went against Quebec's view of things, Quebec would not be forced to recognize them past petroleum exploration. Why is the federal government agreeing to this despite the possible future repercussions on this Province and the country?
Then there is the title of the agreement: Accord between the Government of Canada
and the Government of Quebec for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. The key words being "for the shared management of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence". Our own agreement makes no mention of a particular geographical area. It refers only to the "offshore". Why is it that the Quebec Accord refers to the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence? The obvious inference is that the federal government recognizes Quebec's claim to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
As mentioned earlier, this Quebec Accord is a political document. Crafted to meet Quebec's constitutional and jurisdictional demands. Written to ignore the long standing position of Newfoundland and Labrador. Allowing a discussion, mediation, arbitration process that can be dragged out for years if not decades. That wouldn't be bad necessarily except the federal government already established Quebec's preferred boundaries for them. It is possible that Quebec can drill and extract oil/gas from the Gulf for decades, receive all those revenues, and then be found not to have those boundaries by arbitration, but by then it will be too late and will have cost this province billions. This is a document designed for Quebec - not Newfoundland and Labrador.
Despite all these obvious problems our provincial government is almost completely silent. Ms Dunderdale says she is happy there will be an arbitration process, but not a word on how long this can be dragged out before we go to arbitration. Not a word on the fact that the arbitration processes are different in the two documents, and not a word on how our accord takes precedence according to the Atlantic Accord. She is too quiet. Is our own provincial government involved with this treachery? Their silence and lack of fight seems to suggest yes. Unfortunately, it may take a long time to expose this, and by that time we may have lost a great deal of wealth. Is this why Danny William's is so upset? We may not know how deep it goes at this moment, but we can rest assured that our own federal government has betrayed us in a way that is historically unprecedented.
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)