In 2006, then Premier Williams wrote a letter with a series of questions, to all federal Party leaders. It's a great historical document to look at now, some five years later, and see what was fulfilled. Of course we are all well aware of the broken promise to exclude non - renewable resources from the equalization formula. It resulted in the famous ABC (Anyone But Conservative) campaign which saw the provincial government campaign against the federal Conservatives in the next election - and be 100% successful in their campaign. That broken promise cost this province billions. However, there are some promises made in that document that might surprise people here. Read for yourself: http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2006/exec/01harper.pdf
The one promise that really jumps off the page to me is:
Does your party support efforts to develop the hydro-power of the Lower Churchill River System for the primary benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador, including the provision of a Federal Government loan guarantee to proceed with the project?
We support this in principle and believe that it is important for Newfoundland and Labrador to have greater control of it's energy mix. A Conservative government would welcome discussions on this initiative and would hope the potential exists for it to proceed in the spirit of past successes such as the Hibernia project."
Support in principle. Interesting wording. That was 2006. Here we are in 2011, and fighting another federal election campaign. Mr. Harper comes to St. John's recently and states: "With these criteria in mind...a re-elected Conservative government would provide a loan guarantee or financial equivalent to the Lower Churchill...there is still a lot to be decided and worked out. I would rather get to a stage where we are ready to be very specific with how we are going to proceed." Sounds to me like support in principle if the three conditions he stipulated are met - economically viable, environmentally friendly, and regionally beneficial. So what has changed? He made the commitment five years ago, and never lived up to it. Then he comes to Newfoundland and Labrador one week into an election and makes the same promise he didn't live up to five years earlier - trying to take advantage of this for votes.
This time however he also extended that "support in principle" to extending federal loan guarantees, or financial equivalent, to all such projects across the country. A mind boggling "support in principle" considering the Conference Board of Canada report of two days ago. The report states that over $273 billion will need to be spent across the country over the next twenty years to build hydro projects. That's $15 billion per year in new projects every year for the next twenty years. Forget the impact of such a commitment on our federal finances. Try not to think of what this says about fiscal responsibility, or deficit reduction. The bigger question here is can Mr. Harper get away with playing the country today the way he has played Newfoundland and Labrador since 2006?
Note to Ms. Dunderdale: Support in principle doesn't mean much to those who don't have any - other than say what you must to get seats. Of course, you know that already.
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)