Nfld. & Labrador

What the heck is the Atlantic Accord? We explain it in 6 gifs

Here's what this deal is and why it matters.

It's all about the crude, dude

Danny Williams pumped his fists and yelled, "We got it! We got it!" when he announced he'd successfully renegotiated the Atlantic Accord. (CBC)

Spoiler: the Atlantic Accord isn't a car.

It's an agreement between Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador government laying out who manages the province's offshore oil and who gets to keep the money.

As the province's politics and prosperity have weathered many, many battles so, too, has the Atlantic Accord.

In fact, it all started with a fight…

Commercial oil was first discovered off the shores of Newfoundland 40 years ago in the Hibernia field.

But with both the provincial and federal governments believing they were entitled to the profits, fighting delayed any development.

Then-premier Brian Peckford was convinced offshore oil was just what the province needed to hike up its financial socks and stand on its own.

So he went to bat for the money.

Over on Parliament Hill, Brian Mulroney was gearing up for the 1984 federal election.

He made a campaign promise to cut a deal with Newfoundland and Labrador that would put a good chunk of the oil money in its coffers.

After he won, he sat down with Peckford to hammer out the Atlantic Accord.

The ink dried on the document in 1985.

The Atlantic Accord set out a joint-management plan for the province's offshore industry through the creation of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

It also laid out the plan for who got to keep the cash.

The goal was to make sure the province kept most of its offshore money without having to turn around and pay it out to Ottawa for equalization payments — revenue-rich provinces pay into an equalization pool to help out the provinces that aren't as wealthy.

But it didn't quite work out. In 2003, a report found that Newfoundland and Labrador was keeping just a fraction of the oil money.

The rest was going to Ottawa.

Displeased, a freshly elected Danny Williams took on the federal government in an iconically hostile round of renegotiations  — which included Williams calling for Canadian flags to be stripped from their poles in provincial buildings — and, in 2005, emerged with a new Atlantic Accord and a $2-billion cheque from Ottawa.

Three years later, with the help of that money, Newfoundland and Labrador was no longer a "have-not" province.

And here we are today.

With both the federal and provincial governments heading into an election, premier Dwight Ball once again renegotiated the terms of the Atlantic Accord.

According to Monday night's announcement, the new money tallies up to $2.5 billion paid out in instalments until 2056, with 60 per cent of that money coming to the province before 2030. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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