Newfoundland and Labrador is now officially friends with Maryland for the next two years.
But Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dan Crummell and Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough had a hard time explaining exactly what that means, or how it will benefit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, or the people of Maryland.
Crummell assured reporters that the friendship agreement is, in fact, very important.
“We don’t want to be signing agreements for the sake of signing agreements,” he said. “We want to see some concrete things happen from these agreements.”
This isn’t the first time the Newfoundland and Labrador government has done this sort of thing.
In 2008, the province signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Iceland. Now, six years later, Crummell was asked what kind of practical benefits had materialized as a result of that MOU.
Crummell said he didn’t know, because he’s relatively new as intergovernmental affairs minister.
When a reporter asked about practical benefits of the MOU signed between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland back in 2005, Crummell said he didn’t know what had come of that one either.
“I’m just new in this portfolio. It’s not something that I would be able to speak directly to,” he said. “I don’t think we quite got to our briefings with intergovernmental affairs yet. I should have the briefings in the next few days.”
Crummell was shuffled into the portfolio 11 days before the Monday morning news conference.
Trying to assess the value of the friendship agreement, another reporter took a different tack.
“Would your state be interested in cheap hydro power?” the reporter asked McDonough.
Maryland is farther away than New York and Boston — two cities usually mentioned when talking about Muskrat Falls excess power sales — but McDonough said it’s certainly something Maryland would consider.
“I think every state is interested in cheap hydro power,” he said.
For the most part, Crummell and McDonough wanted to talk about history.
Sir George Calvert, the first lord of Baltimore, established a colony in Ferryland in 1621. He also founded the colony at Maryland.
McDonough also pointed out that both jurisdictions have TV shows being filmed there; following the news conference, he said he was going to see the “Republic of Doyle” set.
The HBO show “Veep” and the Netflix series “House of Cards” are both filmed in Maryland.
“Our two jurisdictions probably have similar experience dealing with that industry in terms of the economics of it and tax credits,” he said.
Unless the two governments choose to renew the agreement, Newfoundland and Labrador and Maryland could stop being friends in two years.