While some have poured cold water on Ches Crosbie’s suggestion of a referendum on equalization, I think it is a good idea.
First it is good policy. The province is strapped for money , is losing population and yet has very high health bills to pay as the province population gets older. And then there are many other bills, as we all know.
One way this can be partially remedied is through a change in the equalization formula providing more flexibility as it relates to how non-renewable revenues are considered. Our province is a good example of how this works against some jurisdictions.
Secondly it is good strategy.
How else is the province to get Ottawa’s attention. The Atlantic Accord was achieved and the province gets the royalties by aggressive actions which forced the federal authorities to listen. We must take such an approach again.
The other approach of doing nothing has seen the Atlantic Accord being weakened and the province in the long term being the worse for it.
Hence, I applaud Crosbie’s approach and if Newfoundlanders and Labradorians get behind the idea it will make a difference in how we are regarded in Ottawa and give added impetus for change.
At the same time we are assisting Alberta in its quest for equalization change, a province that was willing to loan the province money years ago and where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have found meaningful employment for many decades.