Premier blasts MacKay over broken promise on Goose Bay

James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to reporters Thursday afternoon outside the House of Assembly. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Premier Kathy Dunderdale was angry Thursday afternoon after learning that the federal Conservatives have no plans to station 650 troops at the base in Goose Bay.

Speaking to reporters outside the House of Assembly, Dunderdale made it clear that she’s laying all of the blame at the feet of Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

“For me, at the moment, it’s a Minister MacKay problem,” Dunderdale said.

“I am very frustrated with the way the minister has been responding in terms of commitments made to the people of the province and not addressing fully the reasons for moving away from it.”

During the 2006 election campaign, then-opposition leader Stephen Harper promised that if elected, he would station a 650 troop army battalion in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Six years later, Harper hasn’t delivered on the promise, and in documents tabled in the House of Commons earlier this year, it looks like there’s nothing coming any time soon.

“There are currently no plans to establish Regular Force battalions in CFBs Comox; Goose Bay, Trenton and Bagotville,” the government said, in response to an order paper question written by a Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner.

In response to the news, Dunderdale laid into the Harper government — especially singling out MacKay — saying they just don’t seem to be paying attention to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“What is it that we have to do down here to get your attention?” Dunderdale asked. “We try to co-operate; it doesn’t work. We vote for you; it doesn’t work. We don’t vote for you; it doesn’t work. What is it?”

Late in the day, a statement from MacKay’s office was issued in which he said the government is still committed to finding some use for Goose Bay.

The statement did not specifically reference the commitment to station 650 troops at the base.

“I wish to reaffirm that the Defence team is working to fulfil our commitment for an operational mandate for Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay so that the Base, and the community, prospers for years to come,” MacKay said. “Our government is committed to ensuring a clear operational mandate for 5 Wing Goose Bay that takes advantage of its unique location and enhances the protection of Canadian sovereignty, including in the Arctic.”

In the House of Assembly, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball laid the issue at the feet of the PC government, saying Dunderdale needs to be doing more to press Harper and MacKay.

“You’ve got to go to the Prime Minister. It was his commitment,” he told reporters after question period. “At the end of the day, this is his decision, his attention needs to be brought (to) this.”

Twitter: TelegramJames




Organizations: Conservatives, House of Commons

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Goose Bay.Speaking, CFBs Comox Trenton Bagotville Newfoundland and Labrador Arctic

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Recent comments

  • r c brewer
    May 18, 2012 - 15:13

    That's their retaliation against NL. Mckay, because he took flack for his heli. ride and the Burton Winters death and Stevie because we are NEWFOUNDLANDERS.

  • Max
    May 18, 2012 - 13:52

    Its too bad the Rest of Canada are not as Politically astute as Newfoundlanders. .If you had your eyes open , it was no trouble to see Harper's Agenda, Now, we are destined to pay for the political naivety of our fellow Canadians, as all Canada will continue to suffer at the hands of the Federal Conservatives who will be soundly rejected by Canadians in the next Federal elections. Hopefully there will be enough of our country left to save. I predict the Conservatives will lose the one seat they have in Newfoundland, and will witness a decided downturn in their support across the Country especially Newfoundland. The Country is suffering now, with more of the same in store for the remainder of the Conservative Tenure, but the Federal Conservatives can look forward to a long walk in the Political wilderness once Canadians get a chance to vote once again. Mr. Peter Mackay is best ignored , and will pass into political oblivion, save you ill will for the orchestrator of this mess Steven Harper.

  • Maggy Carter
    May 18, 2012 - 13:31

    I agree with other posters who feel that Dunderdale has been far too passive in her relationship with Harper. She has turned a blind eye to a series of mis-steps, slights and abuses that should have been challenged openly and vigorously. She has done so largely, I believe, because she is fixated on Muskrat Falls - a project that could pose an enormous threat to the long-term economic future of this province. That said, I disagree that this is a problem that can be resolved simply by replacing leaders, premiers or parties in power at the provincial level. This is a structural problem - a flaw in the terms of union that virtually guarantees that a province like Newfoundland and Labrador will never be treated as an equal among provinces. On rare occasions, as during the tenure of Jamieson and Crosbie, we have succeeded in righting a few wrongs through the force of personality alone. But these are fleeting achievements that quickly unravel after their departures. We can continue to put our fingers in the dyke and hope for an age of enlightenment in Ottawa, or we can accept the reality that confederation - for this province at least - has been a failed experiment. Indeed, the fact that this administration is even considering an approach as contorted and implausible as the Anglo-Saxon route for Muskrat Falls is itself proof positive that, after 63 years of trying, this province still can't get a fair shake from our national government.

  • Dan
    May 18, 2012 - 13:26

    Too little, too late Dunderdale, you had your chance to speak up but you choose to cozy up to Harper! You will make the history books for sure....weak and useless

  • Concern Ciotizen
    May 18, 2012 - 12:42

    The MP for Labrador should RESIGN immediately. He is an embarrassment to Labrador and your stupid promise's. You remind me of the puppets that Danny use to have back here when he was in power ...........AND THUNDERDALE TRIES TO TALK FOR NOW.............................wait a minute we are use to this now because that sorry excuse for a premier is crying wolf now at her buddies in Ottawa aswell. I don't know who she is trying to fool by calling out the federal defence minister with her ACT OF CONCERN AND ANGER TOWARDS THEM. She has to be the most worst excuse for a premier ever in our history. It all the same from those idiot PC politicians when it comes around to campaighn times..............The provincial governemnt-------we promise you this..........NEVER HAPPENS. The federal governemnt-----------we will guarantee this................NEVER HAPPENS. VOTING.............there is absolutely no use what so ever to vote when it comes to politics................NONE. They are all useless people to represent us.........ALL OF THEM

  • Bert
    May 18, 2012 - 12:30

    I feel like you Sammy, that Dunderdale is a weak leader but I also feel you are a very weak man. Anyone who can't call a person by their name but act like a elementary school kid I have less respect for.

  • Scott Daniels
    May 18, 2012 - 12:22

    If you're the smaller or weaker person in a dispute or negotiation then you have to be diplomatic. Danny thought he could bully the Feds and that got us nowhere. Actually it was worse than nowhere, it got us the sh1tty end of the stick. Was there anything the province could have done to make things any different? No, of course not. Harper has his plans and they don't include this province or anything east of Quebec. Toss in the fact that this province routinely votes Liberal and no one should be surprised that the Cons don't give a crap about us. So what we do, bash our provincial government instead of the Feds who have always dismissed us.

  • holy smokes
    May 18, 2012 - 11:53

    Premier blasts MacKay over broken promise on Goose Bay LOL!! Well Kate YOU supported this tribe.....You wre so far up ......ahhh...Harper's derriere that only yout feet were showing..Tough..Deal with SOB's the way your mentor did ...Yank down the flag!!!

  • sammy
    May 18, 2012 - 11:20

    No respect for Blunderdale. She's a weak player in the positional game of politics.

  • Bert
    May 18, 2012 - 10:54

    Guess what people?? When the next election is called people from NL will be working the streets to try and get Harper re-elected. Peter Mccay will be here and singing before a full house of Conservative supporters! Possibly Dunderdale and her fellow P.C.'s will be on the same stage with him. That is unless another Provincial election is called before, because at that time if Dean Macdonald is running the Liberals the P.C. reign will be over.

  • Bert
    May 18, 2012 - 10:43

    Message to Scot Free. Why can't you post a comment without calling silly names to people?? Most adults give that up in Elementary school. You got to let go. It really shows how immature you are!!

    • Scott Free
      May 18, 2012 - 12:24

      hey Bert; are you sure you're not Ernie?

  • Graham
    May 18, 2012 - 10:08

    Let me say up front I amno fan of Harper or MacKay...but how about all your broken promises Premier Dunderdale are we now supposed to forget all about them like it appears you have?

  • Whaddaya At ?
    May 18, 2012 - 09:29

    Time for Leo Aboss to get up on his hind legs again and wring his hands because the Feds. have broken their election promise. Peter MacKay has clarified Harper's promise. Harper actually promised to station a troop of 65 boy scouts at 5 Wingless Goose Bay, which he considered to be adequate.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    May 18, 2012 - 09:00

    Surprise ..... Surprise ........ surely this has to be the worst kept secret in recent memory. If the Premier had also been paying attention another indicator would be DND looking to off load some of their base housing in Goose Bay. Great way to deflect attention from your own local issues though!

  • Maggy Carter
    May 18, 2012 - 08:57

    Better late than never that Dunderdale should recognize that the politics of appeasement do not work. The ink was barely dry on the constitutional amendment that brought NL into the federation when Ottawa was demonstrating that it had no intention of behaving equitably in its dealings with the new province. The refusal to honour its obligations under Term 29 was an ominous sign of things to come. Every premier from Smallwood onward has come to the conclusion that the Government of Canada cannot be trusted. Dunderdale's strategy of trying to isolate her differences with Ottawa to Peter MacKay will bear little fruit. Ministers in the 'Harper Government' do nothing without his overt approval. And while Harper might be among the worst examples, he is hardly the first prime minister to demonstrate a blatant disregard if not outright contempt for this province. Indeed were it not for the income associated with our non-renewable resources (the portion Ottawa has allowed us to keep), Newfoundland and Labrador would continue to be the economic basket case of Canada. The Gulf ferry, the railroad, the Upper Churchill, the military presence, SAR, fisheries management and quota allocations, equalization, federal job levels - these are all examples of federal abuse and indifference toward this province. Newfoundlanders cannot afford to wait until the day our oil revenues dry up before they take a long, hard look at whether there is a genuine place for us at the table of confederation or whether we are content with the scraps under the table. The Royal Commission Inquiry on our place in Confederation underscored the extent to which this province had not been fairly treated by Ottawa. Said the Commission "The current federal/provincial relationship is in disarray. It is simply not working, and the best interests of the people of the province are not being served. A changed mindset, characterized by inclusion, cooperation, respect and accommodation, must guide the development of the new relationship between the federal government and the provincial government. Both governments must agree to the need for a changed relationship and make a commitment to creating a new partnership." Despite these lofty sounding words and a pledge all around to do better, nothing has changed - at least not for the better. Time to consider other options. There is never a good reason for staying in an abusive relationship.

  • Gale
    May 18, 2012 - 08:57

    I can't get the picture of Premier Dunderdale and Prime Minister Harper hand and hand in the last federal election. I guess the last laugh for the Republicans will be when they deny the loan guarentee for the second coming for the Upper Churchill... Muskrat Falls.

  • George
    May 18, 2012 - 08:53

    ABC was right then and it is right now. Doesn't Mr. Penashue represent the District of Labrador? His voice is mute on this subject and any other important issues to this Province. I would hope the people of Labrador will remember this during the next election. Glad to finally see the Premier opening her eyes and seeing that trying to work with this Federal Government just does not work.

  • Athena
    May 18, 2012 - 08:42

    Can't trust MacKay. Like trying to do business with the devil. The name "David Orchard" ring a bell?

  • Brad Cabana
    May 18, 2012 - 08:41

    Kathy Dunderdale, and company, endorsed the current federal government during the last election - even though Harper sided with Quebec and gave it an offshore accord against Newfoundland's interests on day BEFORE the election was called. The response from Dunderdale to the biggest out flanking Newfoundland has ever witnessed? Well let's endorse them in a federal election. You wonder why they don't take you and your government seriously? Why would they?

  • WE ARE COMMITED...remember?
    May 18, 2012 - 08:33

    Is it true that cathy is finally seeing the light regarding her federal colleagues. This is What people have beening saying from day 1. Where was her caucaus of ministers and backbenchs to help her make these choices, cheering her on? Why Didn't they put together a care package for Harper with paul lane in it? SHE GOT PLaYED!They already knew the answer, it was right infront of them all along, but thought they could fast track by kiss ing somes rear? As long as she can start to see the light on this foolish muskratfalls. Nl's only role in it this is to pay for it because 6 or 7 big multi-national mining companies have lobbyed to get cheap power, to save them 100's of millions and help get the ore out of there A.S.A.P, Meanwhile they'll find in in their hearts to waste the money to replace holyrood which they didn't give to you no what's about before as a jesture of justifiying the appearance of something getting done and sell the gravy, the power that's going to be sold for 25% of what it costs to produce that would have been spilt anyway, as a top up for the government and not to pay off the debt because the politicial decision has already been made according to gov and ed Martian. The premier, since election nite, has been going around treating everyone like StevO & PETE has treated her, snubbing people off because a question maybe asked like she did with the Grieving grandmother in ladrador. NOT ENOUGH LEADerSHIP and she should apploigize to NL for her reckless actions...but it's almost to little to LAte now for SOME.

  • Randy
    May 18, 2012 - 08:32

    What a joke we have for a premier and this Penahue is also laughable. It's not Mackay that's running Ottawa "Stunderdale" it's your best freind Steve. Why don't you and half your caucus who patted this right wing moron on the back a few years ago ,resign. Do us all a favour

  • Robin Brentnall
    May 18, 2012 - 08:30

    Not only is she yelling at the wrong person, she is yelling a year too late. Time to resign Kathy, you shook hands with the devil and NL has been be destroyed ever since.

  • Paul
    May 18, 2012 - 08:24

    I hope, however belatedly, the people of Labrador who were misguided enough to vote for Penashue have realized their mistake and will not repeat it in the next election. What is the point of having a government cabinet minister who is just a puppet on Harper's string?

  • William Daniels
    May 18, 2012 - 08:10

    Still afraid to take on Harper?

  • Scott Free
    May 18, 2012 - 07:42

    Premier Stunderdale and the bundling bobbleheads were duped again by Prorougie Steve and the Con Part of Canada. Settle in; there's much more pain, discomfort and cut-backs to come yet; we're only in year one of a 4-year demolition. We'll feel the negative effects of Little Man Dan's ABC campaign for generations to come; the Danny Damage Era will go down in history as this province's darkest hours.

  • Wanda
    May 18, 2012 - 07:40

    Now our Premier knows how the people of NL feel with broken promises, as well as getting the run-arounds, from her.

  • Philip
    May 18, 2012 - 07:34

    Dunderdale finally realizes the feds cant be trusted? Didnt we already know that? Our premier is pathetic.

    • Robert
      May 18, 2012 - 07:42

      I don't agree with your assessment of the premier; she tried the diplomatic approach and as usual it has failed with the feds. Now she can take the Danny approach; keeping in mind that we now have a majority government in Ottawa; they don't need us. A minority government works much better for provinces wih small fed representitive

    • wake-up
      May 18, 2012 - 08:30

      the people warned you about harper and you ignored it they are also warning you about developing Muskrat Falls.When that becomes an economical nightmare,who will you blame then? By then you will probably have your high paying job in the mining industry. Paying your power bill won't be a big deal,will it?