© â Telegram file photo
Peter Penashue says he has no regrets for withholding federal funding from a couple of Newfoundland projects in order
to secure provincial dollars for paving the Trans-Labrador Highway. Penashue cited poor relations between Newfoundland and Labrador, in terms of resource sharing, as justification for his tactic.
According to Penashue, in an interview with The Labradorian, he withheld funding for two projects on the island, but would not say what they were or which departments were involved.
âWell thatâs not important. âŠ Whatâs important is that I represented the interests of Labrador,â Penashue said when asked what the two projects were.
Penashue did say, however, âthere was a significant amount of dollars involvedâ in those two projects.
Penashue claims that if he didnât take drastic measures to secure the funding the road between Goose Bay and Red Bay wouldnât have been paved until after 2015.
âI did what I did because Iâm elected from Labrador and I represent Labrador. I want to make sure my constituents share in the federal resources that are transferred to the province,â said Penashue.
âThe original plan (by the province) was that the road wouldnât be paved until after 2015 I think was their original plan. âŠâIâve been elected by Labrador to represent Labrador interests and Iâve done that and I make no apologies for that. âŠ Nobody likes to take drastic actions, but in this case it was important.â
Penashue believes that he was justified in holding out on the Newfoundland projects, because Labrador is not allotted a good enough share of its own resources, from the provincial government.
âAbsolutely, you talk to anybody on the street they will tell you that Labrador âŠ generates a significant amount of revenue. âŠâYouâre damn right weâre not getting our fair share,â said Penashue.
âThereâs a significant amount of resources that come out of Labrador. We are major producers of the economy and we should be sharing in the wealth of Labrador. One of those contributions has to be fixing up infrastructure such as paving the road between here and Red Bay.â
On top of being Labradorâs former MP, Penashue was also minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for this region. Many have criticized Penashue for seemingly holding one part of the region hostage in order to get money for Labrador. But Penashue believes that itâs his main duty to represent Labradorians.
âPolitics is simple when you come down to it,â says Penashue. âPeople send their politicians to Ottawa to represent them and to represent their interests. Labradorians sent me to Ottawa to represent their interests and thatâs exactly what Iâm doing.â
When asked if he was worried that his tactic might damage any unification of Newfoundland and Labrador as a province, Penashue responded, with a smile: âI hope youâre not telling me that relations between Newfoundland and Labrador are excellent.â
Penashue also blasted Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones for her criticism of his tactics. And accused her of looking out for Newfoundland interests instead of Labradorâs.
âI was quite curious today. I heard that Yvonne was on VOCM and didnât support or appreciate my tactic, and thatâs quite telling of her to not be supporting my success,â says Penashue. ââŠ Obviously sheâs more interested in considering Newfoundland interests.â
Despite the criticisms Penashue is facing, he is confident that many Labradorians agree with what he did in order to secure provincial dollars for the TLH.
âI just came from door to door (campaigning) and people tell me that they appreciate the stance that Iâve took, and itâs about time someone looked after the interests of Labrador,â said Penashue.
âLabradorians (are) absolutely convinced that they donât share in the resource wealth of Newfoundland and Labrador.â
âI never felt Labrador was getting its fair share.â