PM meeting 'good first step': Dunderdale
Opposition says nothing much accomplished
Newfoundland and Labrador's premier said Wednesday her first meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper went well, although she acknowledged that no important issues were settled.
Kathy Dunderdale met with Harper and other key ministers Tuesday during a visit to Ottawa.
Dunderdale told reporters in St. John's that she raised several important issues with Harper, including the province's pitch for federal support for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia announced in November a $6.2-billion deal to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject, bypassing a historical roadblock at the Quebec border.
The deal involves the participation of the Innu Nation, which has yet to ratify a separate land-claim deal that includes Muskrat Falls. Labrador's Innu stand to collect about five per cent of royalties, as well as have first crack at local jobs.
Dunderdale said she also raised the province's position on a potential dispute with Quebec over the Old Harry petroleum discovery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as the province's wish to acquire the federal government's minority ownership stake in the Hibernia oil project.
As well, Dunderdale said she discussed the possible creation of a stand-alone agency to regulate safety in the offshore oil industry, which was the key recommendation of last year's Wells inquiry into helicopter safety.
Dunderdale said the meeting was "a very good first step."
But acting Opposition Leader Kelvin Parsons said it doesn't sound like much was accomplished during the meeting.
"When Ms. Dunderdale asked the Prime Minister for a loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls did he respond by asking for the $130 million the feds had to fork out because of Ms. Dunderdale's 'accidental' expropriation of the AbitibiConsolidated paper mill, I wonder?" Parsons said.
Parsons added that even if Dunderdale does get federal help, the Muskrat Falls project on Labrador's Churchill River doesn't make any financial sense for Newfoundland and Labrador.
"All it means for people in this province is higher public debt and steeper electricity bills," said Parsons. "There is no upside to any of that."
Dunderdale made political history in December when she became the first woman to be sworn in as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. She replaced Danny Williams, who announced his plans to retire in late November.