This is rather confusing to me. First it seems weird that if Harper agreed to honor the Liberal Accord it does indeed seem a betrayal to then turn around and offer a choice of the Accord or equalisation payments. Furthermore MacDonald should have rejected the choice and ordered Casey and other to vote against the budget because the budget is a betrayal. He didn't. He tried to convince Casey to vote for the budget. The Nova Scotia premier and Harper both look bad but MacDonald seems the worst of the two. He has espoused the cause of Casey only after seeing the mass support behind Casey's move. Peter MacKay and others will now be on the hotseat. MacKay certainly deserves some heat.
Premier threatens to use 'the stick' with feds over Atlantic Accord
Last Updated: Monday, June 11, 2007 | 3:45 PM AT
Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald was talking tough about the Atlantic Accord in a speech Monday to Bay Street executives in Toronto.
MacDonald said he feels betrayed by the Conservative government, which reneged on the offshore royalties deal signed two years ago with the Liberal government of Paul Martin.
MacDonald said he is now going to use "the stick," by calling on every Nova Scotian MP to vote against the federal budget on third reading. He's also asked all provincial senators to delay passage of the bill.
"In doing so, they would be standing up for their province, and against the kind of thinking that says it’s OK to break your word," the premier said in his speech. "And the kind of thinking that says Nova Scotia must be denied the opportunity for prosperity that is our birthright as Canadians."
"There will be a price to be paid politically unless the accord is honoured," MacDonald told reporters.
Bargained 'in good faith,' premier says
When the Harper government tabled its budget, it gave Nova Scotia the choice of either keeping the accord or receiving more money in equalization payments.
MacDonald decided to take the increased equalization money, but continued to negotiate over the accord.
"We did so in good faith, assuming the federal government also wanted to resolve our impasse. But we were wrong," the premier said Monday.
"It is now obvious that the federal government never intended to settle this dispute on any terms but its own."
MacDonald said this is "a defining moment" for the province's elected representatives.
"Anyone who thinks Ottawa can run over small provinces at will and break legally binding agreements without any consequences is wrong. We want to be a 'have' province; there is no culture of defeat in Nova Scotia," MacDonald said.
"Nova Scotians do not respond well to bullies."
The broken accord could mean the loss of more than $800 million for Nova Scotia, the premier said.
Conservative MP ejected over budget vote
Last week MP Bill Casey voted against his government's budget, and was immediately kicked out of the Tory caucus. He has been hailed as a hero in Nova Scotia.
MacDonald telephoned Casey just before the vote and urged him to vote with the government.
Premier late to the cause: opposition
Opposition parties in Nova Scotia are accusing MacDonald of being a johnny-come-lately in his defence of the Atlantic Accord.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said Monday he's happy that MacDonald is finally taking on the federal government over changes to the accord.
And McNeil said it's no accident that MacDonald's conversion comes on the heels of widespread public support for Casey.
"I believe the reaction that Bill Casey received from Nova Scotians when he came home told the premier that he's on the wrong side of this issue, in every sense of the word," McNeil said.
"I think the reaction of his caucus around Bill Casey and the decision that was taken, gave him the indication that he had better join the rest of us, and start fighting to save the Atlantic Accord, or otherwise there might be a revolt internally for him."
MacDonald accused of misleading
McNeil also accused MacDonald of misleading Nova Scotians, because there seems to have been no negotiations to try to come up with a new accord.
But he said he's ready and willing to join the premier in fighting the Harper government.
NDP Leader Darrell Dexter said MacDonald's about-face on the accord is akin to a deathbed conversion.
Nova Scotians see the move as coming rather late in the game, he said.