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LETTER: Offshore joint management no more?

The Hebron platform being towed out to sea in 2017. — Petroleum Research Newfoundland & Labrador
The Hebron platform being towed out to sea in 2017. — Petroleum Research Newfoundland & Labrador - Contributed

The debate over Bill C-69 can be confusing for the average citizen.

As far as Newfoundland and Labrador is concerned what is important is whether the Atlantic Accord’s principles are being upheld.

Of course, joint-management provisions of the Accord have already been diminished/diluted by both omission and commission actions of the federal and provincial governments over the years.
The latest attack is Federal Bill 69. The Newfoundland Oil and Gas Industries Association has spoken out highlighting the errors in the bill that would negatively affect the province. I note that the provincial government is now acknowledging the problems in the bill.
Many provisions of the bill are harmful for the province if, in fact, the bill’s provisions apply to the province’s offshore.
What best highlights the problem is the fact that The Atlantic Accord is based on joint management.

Here are the very first words of the original Accord of 1985:
“The Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have reached an Accord on joint management of the offshore oil and gas resources off Newfoundland and Labrador and the sharing of revenues from the exploitation of these resources …”

Section 2(c) says:
“To recognize the right of Newfoundland and Labrador to be the principal beneficiary of the oil and gas resources off its shores, consistent with the requirement for a strong and united Canada;”
Section 2(d) says:
“To recognize the equality of both governments in the management of the resource, and ensure that the pace and manner of development optimize the social and economic benefits to Canada as a whole and to Newfoundland and Labrador in particular;”
In Bill C-69, which I understand (and hope I am wrong) will apply to the the province’s offshore, the federal minister, alone, will have certain powers. The summary of these powers is listed on Parliament’s website.

In particular the bill :
“k) provides that the minister may set conditions, including with respect to mitigation measures, that must be implemented by the proponent of a designated project;
“e) authorizes the minister to refer an impact assessment of a designated project to a review panel if he or she considers it in the public interest to do so, and requires that an impact assessment be referred to a review panel if the designated project includes physical activities that are regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act;”
These provisions are not joint management but federal ministerial discretionary powers and hence violate the principles of the Accord.

The province must stand up and insist that the principles of the Accord, a federal/provincial agreement, be upheld.

Brian Peckford,
Nanaimo, B.C.


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