Nova Scotian premier in Ottawa as battle over resource revenues continues.
June 12th 2007.
OTTAWA - The premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland kept up their attacks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday as the House of Commons prepared for a final vote on the federal budget, a document the Atlantic premiers have denounced as a betrayal.
Nova Scotia's Rodney MacDonald took his fight to Ottawa, where he met with Harper in a last-ditch effort to resolve a dispute over offshore energy revenues before the vote, scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET.
In Nova Scotia, MacDonald's minority government placed newspaper ads urging residents to call on their 11 MPs to reject the bill because it effectively negates the Atlantic Accord, a federal-provincial agreement that was supposed ensure the province is the "main beneficiary" of its offshore energy sector.
"The 2007 federal budget effectively rips up the accord and breaks the deal made with Nova Scotians," the ad says, echoing sentiments expressed by Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams.
"The federal budget comes to a vote this week. Contact your member of Parliament now and demand that the federal government keep its agreement - and its word - to the people of Nova Scotia."
The federal government was set to limit debate on the contentious bill before the vote.
MacDonald said he hopes to enlist the aid of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and some senators in fighting the change.
Harper has responded to the latest salvos from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan by challenging the provinces to bring the dispute before the courts.
Williams took to the airwaves to describe the prime minister's behaviour as "childish."
"Stephen Harper is the de facto leader of this country ... and it's about time he started acting like one instead of trying to pit provinces against each other," Williams told CBC.
Williams said Harper's suggestion that the matter should be settled by the courts was a blatant bid the make the issue go away.
"The federal government has badly mismanaged this. Their communications strategy has been an absolute disaster," he said, suggesting that the federal Conservative caucus is now bitterly divided as the party's popularity plunges in Atlantic Canada.
Meanwhile, a Nova Scotia municipality has passed a resolution that confirms its support for MacDonald's stand.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills is calling on other communities to do the same, saying the province should be united in its fight against Ottawa.
Mills said the changes announced in the March 19 federal budget amounted to "knocking the legs from underneath us."