From the Memory Hole:
Williams asks for public input
before vote on Voisey's Bay
ST. JOHN'S, June 6, 2002 — Danny Williams, Leader of the Opposition and MHA for Humber West, is asking for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to be fully briefed on the terms of a deal on Voisey's Bay before MHAs vote on the deal in the House of Assembly.
"The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have made it abundantly clear that they want to see any tentative agreement concerning the development of Voisey's Bay before it is signed and becomes legally binding. They most certainly want to see the deal before a ratification vote occurs in the House of Assembly," Williams said in a news conference.
"I have written the Premier and asked him to ensure that the public will have direct access to the terms of the deal before it is signed and voted on in the House of Assembly so that they can express their concerns to their member and provide instruction as to how their member should vote. In a democracy that is based upon elected representation, it is imperative that members consider the wishes of the people they represent in casting their vote in the legislature.
"The Premier, the Minister of Mines and Energy and Inco have all confirmed that a key element of any deal will involve shipping Voisey's ore to Ontario and Manitoba for processing where it will create jobs for Manitobans and Ontarians instead of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
"Our research shows that people have concerns with that. The people fear that once nickel leaves this province, it will never come back, nor will we ever get the jobs that are associated with its processing. They want that nickel to be processed in this province, as was promised by this government in both the 1996 and 1999 elections. Everyone can remember those famous words: not one ounce, not one spoonful of Voisey's Bay nickel will be processed anywhere but in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"I encourage every Newfoundlander and Labradorian to ask their member how he or she intends to vote in the House of Assembly. Will their member support the will of the people and vote against this bad deal? Or will their member vote in favour of sending jobs and nickel to Ontario and Manitoba? That's the key issue in this deal."
A copy of the letter follows.
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For additional information, please contact:
Tel. (709) 729-XXXX
Text of the letter to Premier Roger Grimes:
June 6, 2002
Honourable Roger Grimes
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
8th Floor, East Block
St. John's, NF
The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have made it abundantly clear to the Official Opposition, and no doubt to the Government, that they want to see all the details of any tentative agreement for the development of Voisey's Bay before it is signed and binding on the Province, and before a ratification vote is taken in the Legislature.
In light of the importance of ensuring transparency and accountability in making decisions of this significance, I am recommending that the Government follow the precedent established by the procedure for public consultation and legislative ratification adopted with respect to the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord. As you recall, the Government at the time, having already tabled in the Legislature the proposed agreement in question, implemented the following procedure:
A development agreement that cannot withstand prior public scrutiny must not be signed.
I look forward to your early response to this recommendation.
DANNY WILLIAMS, Q.C., M.H.A.
- adjourned the Legislature for a period of time;
- asked Members of the House of Assembly to "take whatever steps are necessary to consult with their constituents in ensuring the maximum possible level of public participation in this circumstance";
- announced it would "provide for reasonable expenses which will have to be incurred by MHAs in this process, the objective being to ensure the people of this Province have some say in their future"; and
- promised a free vote on the acceptability of the proposed agreement so that "when the vote is taken it will, without a doubt, reflect the decision of the people of our Province".
Humber West District
Leader of the Opposition
c.c. Mr. Jack Harris, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Note: The quotations in the letter are from a Ministerial Statement
by Premier Clyde Wells on June 11, 1990 in which he announced the
consultation and ratification process for the Meech Lake
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