Nfld. & Labrador

Federal Liberal-NDP deal could mean uncertain future for Bay du Nord, say N.L. PCs

The agreement means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will support some NDP priorities, including addressing climate change.

Agreement means Trudeau will support NDP priorities, including addressing climate change

Interim PC Leader David Brazil says a Liberal-NDP agreement in Ottawa means an uncertain future for the Bay du Nord offshore oil project. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Opposition leader David Brazil wants his provincial counterparts to start lobbying for Bay du Nord, in the wake of a new deal between the federal Liberals and the NDP.

The agreement between the federal parties would see the Liberals advance a number of other NDP priorities — including pursuing aggressive action against climate change and a pledge to transition to a low-carbon future for workers — in exchange for NDP support into 2025.

Brazil said there's now more uncertainty about whether Bay du Nord will be approved. 

"We need the local NDP, the Liberal government here to lobby their counterparts in Ottawa, and we need the federal Liberals and the federal NDP to understand the value of this project," he said. 

Located in the Flemish Pass, about 500 kilometres east of St. John's, the site could hold 300 million barrels of oil and an estimated $3.5 billion in federal revenues, according to the website of Equinor, one of the project's key stakeholders.

Earlier this month, Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault delayed a decision on the offshore oil project for another 40 days, saying he needed more time to decide whether the project is likely to cause "significant adverse environmental effects."

Guilbeault repeated that line in the House of Commons on Tuesday, when asked by Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame MP Clifford Small if cancelling the project was a condition of the Liberal-NDP deal.

Premier Andrew Furey wouldn't do an interview, but in an email statement reiterated his government's support of the project. 

Transition from oil

This all came the same day the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association rebranded itself as Energy N.L., saying they're broadening their focus beyond the oil industry.

It was also the same day the Sierra Club spoke out against the project, calling it contradictory to Newfoundland and Labrador's climate goals. 

Meanwhile, interim N.L. NDP Leader Jim Dinn said he wants Furey to show a commitment to transitioning away from oil. 

"Somewhere along the line we've just got to … stop talking about the next project that's out there, and start focusing on people in our province and making sure that they have a future here that's sustainable," he said.

"I think they're so focused on the next oil project and basically being the mouthpiece for the oil companies, that I think in many ways what my biggest fear is, is that we're going to find that the future for workers is going to be bleak."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

with files from Mark Quinn

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