No deadline to ratify deal on boundary

Rob Antle
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Ottawa needs MOU with N.L., N.S. to complete Canada-France accord

Talks are continuing between Ottawa and two provinces on an agreement that would ratify a Canada-France deal on any oil and gas resources that traverse the boundary around St-Pierre-Miquelon.

Canada and France started negotiations in the late 1990s to establish a framework for the management of any such oil and gas resources.

A Canada-France agreement on the management of any oil and gas resources that traverse the boundary around St-Pierre-Miquelon (French territory in white) has still not been ratified by Ottawa, due to ongoing talks with the provinces. The Geological Survey

Talks are continuing between Ottawa and two provinces on an agreement that would ratify a Canada-France deal on any oil and gas resources that traverse the boundary around St-Pierre-Miquelon.

Canada and France started negotiations in the late 1990s to establish a framework for the management of any such oil and gas resources.

According to briefing papers prepared for federal Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt last fall, the Canada-France agreement was inked in May 2005.

But it doesn't come into effect until both parties have ratified it.

France did so in September 2007.

But Canada can't proceed with ratification until it reaches a deal with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"The joint management regimes for oil and gas resources in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada-Nova Scotia offshore areas require that Canada make arrangements with those provinces to allow for the implementation of the Canada-France agreement," the briefing notes say.

"Work is underway on negotiating memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between Canada and the provinces for this purpose. Further to the MOUs, amendments to the Accord acts will be necessary to ensure Canada can meet its obligations under the agreement. Once the amendments to the Accord Act are promulgated, Canada will be in a position to ratify the treaty."

The Telegram was recently provided those nine-month-old briefing papers under federal access-to-information laws.

Nothing has changed since, according to officials in Ottawa.

"I am able to confirm there is no change in the status," said Micheline Joanisse, a spokeswoman for Natural Resources Canada. "The statement above remains accurate."

The province does not have a deadline for the completion of talks.

"Negotiations on the MOU with Ottawa on the Canada-France agreement are ongoing and there is no new update at this time," Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said in a statement released by her office.

"We do not have a timeline for concluding the negotiations given the complexity of the legal issues to be resolved."

Earlier this year, the French government signalled plans to make additional claims to areas of the seabed beyond Canada's 200-mile limit.

Ottawa stressed it would "take all necessary measures" to defend its rights to the continental shelf.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canada-France, Natural Resources Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, France Nova Scotia Newfoundland and Labrador

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