ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland and Labrador -- Contentiousness between provincial and federal government is a dead end according to Jeffrey Simpson, national affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. Simpson told participants at the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association meeting on June 20 that Newfoundland will make a true success of its offshore industry only by cooperating with the federal government.
Simpson cited statistics for the province that show Newfoundland and Labrador needs to retain its population. "From 1990 to 2006, the province lost 12% of its population from out migration," he said. Furthermore, the average age of the population stands at just over 41 today and is projected to be 49 in 15 years.
Simpson discussed successes in British Columbia on Canada's west coast and encouraged Newfoundland and Labrador to follow its example of breaking with tradition and historical grievances to work with the federal government for a profitable future. Textbooks on international affairs say small countries have to realize they need allies, he said. "So it is with federal/provincial relations."
The offshore industry has become indispensable to the revenues of the provincial government in Atlantic Canada, Simpson said. "This industry is highly important to Newfoundland and very important to Canada."
Securing new projects is critical to the future prosperity of the province. Offshore players need to put regimes in place so new fields can be found and rapidly moved into production, he said.
Simpson summed up his address by enumerating the things he believes Canada has to do moving forward ─ all of them revolving around global warming, an issue he sees as central to that of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.
1. Commit to things Canada can achieve. Over committing on the Kyoto Accord has caused problems for the country.
2. Realize that only policies that regulate greenhouse gas emissions will be successful.
3. Understand that exhorting people to do the impossible and handing out subsidies will lead to failure.
4. Recognize that deficient solutions are often camouflaged by special interest groups as valid solutions because they answer the needs of the group, not because they actually solve problems.
"Either industry accepts this reality or is going to get steamrollered by it," Simpson said.