Keith Hutchings, MHA for Ferryland, said in a letter to last weekend’s Telegram that he wants MPs to stand up for this province. Since he doesn’t get to see what goes on in Ottawa, let me tell you what your federal Members of Parliament have been up to these past two years.
There may be only seven of us, but we punch well above our weight in caucus.
Our ability to speak every week with each cabinet minister and the prime minister allows us to stand up for you, and to make our voices heard. It’s also something this province hasn’t been able to do for nearly a decade.
And believe me, there is nothing quiet about me, or Yvonne Jones, or Nick Whalen, or Gudie Hutchings, or Scott Simms, or Churence Rogers, or our minister in cabinet, Seamus O’Regan. We’re your team in Ottawa. We hear you, and the government hears us. Effective representation for this province in Ottawa relies on persuasion, not drama.
We don’t need ranting and roaring anymore.
Ranting and roaring doesn’t encourage positive working relationships, it doesn’t bring about positive change, and it doesn’t create the jobs that grow the economy. If we’re going to fix our problems, we need to talk to each other, openly and honestly. So, let’s look at what that honest dialogue has delivered for this province since 2015:
• A $2.9 billion loan guarantee on Muskrat Falls, saving the province over $1 billion in interest payments.
More than $315 million so far for provincial infrastructure.
• The Ocean Supercluster: $150 million from the federal government to be matched by the private sector. That’s a $300 million investment in ocean industries, with half the companies involved coming from this province.
• A combined $291.3 million to Memorial University, including $100 million for the new Core Science Building on Prince Philip Drive.
• A new, streamlined environmental assessment process that respects the Atlantic Accord, and allows for faster development of new offshore oil and gas projects. And this process comes with a new dedicated office in St. John’s.
• The Canada Child Benefit, which in 2016-2017 alone paid $284 million to 50,620 families across our province.
On top of that, under Budget 2018, our government will deliver:
• $250 million over two years for Small Craft Harbours.
• $80 million in 2018-2019 and $150 million in 2019-2020 to the provinces for training and support to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI benefits.
• The new Canada Workers Benefit, which will give $37.9 million to 5,000 additional low income workers in our province.
• $48 million in new funding for ACOA.
And in 2018-19 alone, Newfoundland and Labrador will receive $750 million through the Canada Health, and Canada Social transfers.
Is there more work to be done? Of course. We’re just getting started. But we don’t need flags taken down. We need more of the hard work that is producing these results.
Allow me to address one final comment, which concerns all of us. Hutchings claims Premier Dwight Ball hasn’t fought for $18 billion in equalization funding. That simply isn’t true.
Like it or not, oil and gas still bring in enough revenue to make us ineligible for equalization funding.
Put simply, we are technically still a “have” province, even though I know it doesn’t feel like that right now.
And it was Hutchings’ own party that got us in to this mess.
Year after year they spent more than we took in, grew the debt, and never saved for a rainy day. Unfortunately, equalization doesn’t account for incompetent Tory management.
And now, they’d rather blame Ottawa than admit their own mistakes.
Well we don’t have time to fight one another. We need to get on with the business of growing our economy and supporting those who need it most. Your seven MPs and the provincial government are working every day to accomplish those goals, and together, we will see this through.
So let’s get on with it.
Liberal MP for Avalon
Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador federal Liberal caucus.