To most Canadians who live west of the Ottawa river, listening to the never-ending whining of Quebec and Newfoundland about their mistreatment at the evil hands of Ottawa, is about as satisfying as a trip to the dentist.
The righteous indignation of the likes of
Gilles Duceppe and Danny Williams has me so annoyed that I have taken to
throwing a foam shoe at my television set each time their respective
faces make an appearance, spouting another idiotic and insulting
pronouncement, dissing Canada.
Both provinces have been sucking at the
federal teat for well-nigh a half a century, all the while complaining
at the unfairness of it all. Both have mastered the art of twisting
figures and manipulating facts to somehow pretend that they are getting
the raw end of the stick. The rest of Canada is not amused.
everyone knows, Newfoundland has now become a 'have' province, due to the
offshore riches of oil. But like a welfare recipient who wins the lotto,
old habits are hard to change. The idea accepting the responsibility of
paying into Canada, instead of sucking out, is so foreign to the
island, that the petulant premier actually took down the Canadian flag
in protest that his province will receive less and less equalization
payments in light of it's new found wealth. Link
Over in Quebec, The Journal de Montreal ran a story about a
road project that will double-track Highway 175 that connects Chicoutimi, the
gateway to the Saguenay region, with Quebec City. LINK (French)
provincial government and Ottawa came to a cost sharing agreement, with
the feds agreeing to pay for half the cost of the upgrade. The Quebec
government demanded complete control of the project and the Feds agreed,
with the stipulation that any cost overruns would be the province's
responsibility. The work proceeded and lo and behold, what do you think
Drum roll please........The project went 50% over budget. 400 million dollars, that is, not exactly chump change!
much hand wringing, the cry has gone up that Ottawa ante up half of the
deficit, contract aside. After all it is argued, the spirit of the
agreement was that the cost was to be split 50/50.
Unfortunately for the Quebec
government, the idea was shot down by John Baird,
minister of transport, who said that "A DEAL'S A DEAL!" much to the consternation of the province, now claiming that it's
important to be reasonable and flexible in the face of evolving
Creative math, voodoo economics, spoiled brat syndrome, and institutionalized whining are what Newfoundland and Quebec have in common, so it's to be expected that when the two provinces face off against each other, a battle royal is in order.
For the rest of Canadians, seeing the two provinces beat each other up is deliciously satisfying. It's like watching a boxing match between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama Bin Laden. We can sit back and hope it never ends, cheering on each blow and hoping that each gets the shit kicked out of them. The fight has been going on for well nigh thirty years, with no end in sight, HOORAY!
So far Quebec is ahead on points, having opened the match with a near fatal blow.
That was the contract Newfoundland signed with Quebec in
relation to Churchill Falls power. Back in 1969, desperate to develop the Churchill Falls hydro-electric
project, Newfoundland signed a foolish deal with Quebec that in effect sold the
Labrador power to Hydro-Quebec for what is now, a pittance. Today, Danny Williams
is claiming that his province was 'coerced' to make a bad deal because
the federal government wouldn't compel Quebec to give Newfoundland the
right to put up a transmission line across Quebec to transport
the power to the USA. Hmmm...
Instead, Hydro-Quebec agreed to buy the power and resell it itself. Today,
Quebec is reselling the power at a profit of over a billion dollars a
Danny William's reaction over this situation is most entertaining, especially given that Premier's penchant for indignant rage. So far, all he has mustered in defence of his province, is some salty trash talk. LINK.
Both provinces have been wrangling over the right to develop the undersea oil field known as "OLD HARRY"
which lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence between the two. The
oil field may be bigger than Hibernia, but the lack of agreements have
kept the development of the project on the back burner.
Now back in 1964 (before the discovery of
the oil field) the four Atlantic provinces agreed to a 'border' that
became known as the "Stanfield line,"(after Premier Robert
Stanfield) that has the effect of giving most of 'Old Harry' to Quebec.
Premier Joey Smallwood himself, signed off on behalf of
Newfoundland and Labrador.
But now Newfoundland is
singing another tune, having discovered a loophole in that agreement.
Apparently, the provinces did not submit the deal to the federal
government, as required in the constitution, so according to
Newfoundland, it's now -NO DEAL! LINK (Montreal Gazette)
Quebec recognizes the 1964 border because it puts 60% of
Old Harry in the province's territory, notwithstanding that the province doesn't
exactly recognize the 1927 border between Quebec and Labrador. In fact, a
Quebec government web site's placement of the border is at odds with
the generally accepted line described by the Canadian and Newfoundland
and Labrador governments. That fight is likely put off for the future.
At any rate, it seems that
Newfoundland has finally landed a stinging blow, even if they didn't know it. The province recently sent a letter to Quebec outlining the position that the border is now in dispute, a letter that has rocked Quebec. LINK