BAY DU NORD: AN OPPORTUNISTIC PRIME MINISTER WITH A VICIOUS AGENDA

No matter which side of
the issue you find yourself, one thing is clear: there has never been an
occasion when the Government of Canada has told a Province to shut down a
critical part of its economy, as the Prime Minister Trudeau is attempting, in
the case of the offshore oil industry.

An arbitrary 40-day extentsion to the Bay du Nord decsion and a 90-day freeze on new land sales, the the Prime Minister has put a gun to Premier Andrew Furey’s head. Furey has neither chastised the PM for his insult, admonished the GoC’s discard of
the Atlantic Accord, or asserted our interests. The whole spectacle constitutes a new low point in Canadian and NL politics.

The public needs to be aware of how they are being undercut.

First, the development of
NL’s offshore oil is not a straightforward environmental issue, especially when
GHG emissions are a global problem; various countries are taking different
steps, some are still going in reverse – adding coal power generation. The
public knows that if global demand isn’t supplied with our oil, it will be replaced by Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran or Venezuela, some of it far dirtier and far
less “ethical”, too.

In addition, the Feds have
an environmental approval process conducted by the Impact Assessment Agency
of Canada
which, though contrary to any notion of joint management, advises
that: “We are a federal body accountable to the Minister of Environment
and Climate Change. We serve Canadians by delivering high-quality impact assessments
that look at both positive and negative environmental, economic, social, and
health impacts of potential projects. We contribute to informed decision making
on major projects in support of sustainable development in Canada.”

The Agency implicitly
reminds that they are neither a political pawn nor some left-wing fringe group
with a crazy agenda; that they “contribute to informed decision-making on major
projects.” The Federal Environment Minister has not contradicted their claim
and is not expected to do so.

What else did the Agency conclude?
It said:  

“The
Agency concludes that the Bay du Nord Development Project is not likely to
cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account the
implementation of mitigation measures.”

In short, we have confirmation that the Prime Minister’s position on Bay du
Nord is not based on environmental science, nor is it about dirty oil. It is about
placating the fringe, ideologically driven, illogical, and ill-informed groups that form his political base, including the NDP.

The
second issue: why now? Why has the Trudeau Government chosen this particular
time to kill off the local oil industry?

The
straightforward answer is that PM Trudeau is a well-advised political opportunist.

NL continues to have a low capacity to govern. This
is true on both financial and leadership levels.

Trudeau
has calculated that he has in Andrew Furey a Premier unsure and unprepared for
leadership. Trudeau knows that this is a place on its economic knees. Our financial
condition has parallels with the one that ushered in Commission of Government
in 1934. Opportunism, including Trudeau’s brand, favours incompetence.

Photo Credit: VOCM

Furey
is a political neophyte; he doesn’t understand that the election over, and
that for Trudeau and more politically savvy leaders partisanship, now, has very
limited currency. One need only assess Furey’s role in glorifying the debt
laden Federal response to rate mitigation, which is more anchor than life vest.
 

Third,
under normal circumstances in the past, major policy issues involving NL were
smoothed over by Federal Cabinet Ministers with heft. Some people will remember
Don Jamieson; others have witnessed power wielded by John Crosbie and Brian
Tobin. Under any of them, this issue would never have surfaced. Never. Previous
Prime Ministers, the elder Trudeau excepted, would never have contemplated being
so brazen. The more strong-minded NL politicians mentioned would have left the
Federal Cabinet, if necessary, rather than let NL be so badly treated.

All
were partisans, but none took partisanship to a level where it exceeded the
fundamental public interest. To be frank, Seamus O’Regan, Gudie Hutchings and
Premier Furey have been enablers of PM Trudeau and Environment Minister
Guilbeault.  In Quebec, the tar and
feathering of that Minister would have already occurred.

Fourth
and most importantly, perhaps, the problem of political leadership prevents the
start of a gargantuan effort to inform and to engage the public, to commence a call
to action. On both sides of the NL Legislature, within our Municipalities, and
at Federal, we cannot name a single elected representative with the skill and
capacity to raise the alarm, let alone propose a plan of action to protect our
interests.

The
Official Opposition is incredibly deficient. The NDP concur with the National
NDP and conspire in the teachery now underway.

When
someone of the caliber of President Zelensky of Ukraine is called for, Dr.
Furey more closely emulates Fred Alderdice, the last Newfoundland Prime
Minister, who passively handed the keys to our nationhood to the Brits. Showing real leadership when the U.S. offered him an exit from the war, Zelensky told Biden: ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.”  

If Andrew Furey was that kind of leader, Trudeau would have been put in his place.

If, however, we can’t figure out that losing an offshore development opportunity represents an economic
crisis, perhaps a weak and complicit Premier Furey is not our biggest problem.

Admittedly,
not everyone sees the consequences immediately. Some only recognize them when
their lay-off slip arrives, their bank looks for a late payment, or when the
movers arrive. 

On
any level, however, Trudeau’s attempt to shut down the offshore oil industry is
a gamechanger of historic proportion, a crushing blow to our livelihoods and to
our outlook on a future in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The Prime Minister has made his move – a de
facto “Majority Government” – with the support of the NDP. NL Seats are far less
relevant.

Opportunists,
like Putin, will change Europe for a century. But opportunism is not solely a
European phenomenon; nor are Canadian politicians, like this Prime Minister,
above nastiness or unscrupulous pragmatism.

Leaderless
and indebted, Newfoundlanders are forced to think of their future. Hopefully,
the resilience to which we have historically boasted will surface, that people
will take matters into their own hands.

I
would never have expected that we might look to Ukraine for help, but could we
think of any society more capable, right now, of inspiring us?

It
is surely their spirit of self-reliance, their determination to reject arbitrary
overlords, that our circumstance now calls for.

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

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