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NLIS 4
October 16, 2000
(Executive Council)

 

The following statement was issued by Premier Brian Tobin:

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Thank you for joining Jodean and I at this press conference this afternoon. I have just met with the cabinet and caucus of the Liberal Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have informed my colleagues, as I am now informing the people of this province, that today I have submitted my resignation as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to the Lieutenant Governor, Max House. In addition, I have further submitted my resignation both as leader of the Liberal Party of this province and as MHA for Straits-White Bay North to the President of the Liberal Party and to the Speaker of the House of Assembly respectively.

The cabinet and caucus have unanimously recommended to His Honour, the Lt. Governor for his consideration, that Beaton Tulk be called upon to take up the responsibilities of premier until such time as the Liberal Party chooses a new leader in convention.

This evening I will meet with members of the Liberal Party in Bay Roberts in the constituency of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception where I will announce my intention to seek the nomination of the Liberal Party in the next federal election.

Late this evening Jodean and I will leave St. Johnís for Ottawa where tomorrow morning I will join Prime Minister Chretien as he continues to put forward a vision and a program for Canadians to consider.

The decisions I am announcing today with Jodean have come about after much soul searching by our whole family. I want to thank my family... thank you Jodean and Heather, Adam and Jack, for allowing me to continue to participate in the public life of our province and our country. I know that families, our spouses and children, give very much to allow those of us in public life to do what we do.

These decisions come too, I am grateful to say, with the support and advice of my colleagues and friends in cabinet and caucus. I want to thank you all for the honour of having served with you in our provinceís legislature. I want to thank too the people of Straits and White Bay North for your support as both your MP and MHA over these last 20 years. I want to thank especially the people of the province who have allowed me to discharge the duties of premier during a time of exciting change in our province.

It has been nearly five years since my predecessor, Premier Wells, announced his intention to resign. Since that time I have had the privilege of leading the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador through two general elections and a referendum campaign. We have been successful in these democratic exercises and we have accomplished much together. We have seen our province move from last in economic growth to first in GDP growth in Canada over the last two years. Indeed the Toronto Dominion Bank a few days ago forecast that Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to lead Canada in economic growth for the next two years. Our provincial credit rating has been upgraded. Our deficit has been dramatically reduced. Our fishery, our forestry, tourism, manufacturing and I.T. sectors are all performing at record levels of activity. These sectors, together with our emerging oil and gas sector, have given us a measure of economic growth and confidence we have not felt in a very long time.

Much has been accomplished; however, much remains to be done. Voiseyís Bay can, and I am confident will, be developed on terms fair to Newfoundland and Labrador. As I have said many times before, it is more important to achieve the right deal than to achieve just any deal. The same is true of the Lower Churchill development.

Both of these developments, and indeed the development of offshore oil and gas both here and in Nova Scotia, have been made more difficult by the way the current equalization formula works. The current claw back provisions in particular, slow the pace at which equalization receiving provinces can catch up to the Canadian average standard of living.

No government in Atlantic Canada, no political party in power in Atlantic Canada wants to maintain the status quo. The North American economy has enjoyed unprecedented growth and the people of Atlantic Canada want to become full participants in that growth. We want to strengthen our traditional industries, even as we embrace all the opportunities of the new economy. In short, we want to put the structural changes in place that will allow Atlantic Canada to contribute to the strength of the national economy and government, not be dependent upon it.

Canada needs a strong national government to be a good effective working partner with strong provincial governments. There are those in this country today who believe that the national government must be weakened... that its spending power should be taken away; those who believe that the national government has no role in providing for health care or in funding centres of excellence in our educational institutions. There are those who believe that Canada should be governed as 10 principalities, with 10 regional and three territorial barons holding the reigns of power.

I donít believe that and I know Jean Chretien doesnít believe that. I donít believe that Canadians want that kind of country. Canada is more than a monopoly board and the Canadian experience is more than a winner take all game of survivor. The Canadian Alliance and all that it stands for is far more about what divides us than what unites us. That party is the single most compelling reason that I have accepted the Prime Ministerís request to consider a return to national politics. Canadians must always say no to those who would seek to exploit our differences, to turn region against region, aboriginal against non-aboriginal. We must say no to a party that in the last election ran ads calling on Canadians to reject any leader from Quebec. We must say no to a party whose attitude to Atlantic Canada has been patronizing and insulting.

The coming election should be about how we continue to build our country, not divide it. All governments in Canada have found ways to become more efficient. We have cut deficits. We have all cut taxes and payroll taxes but we must never cut out the values of our collective community... to share with each other.... to protect our environment... to help the sick and the poor and the aged... and most important to see our children reach their full potential.

These are the issues... strong economic growth and progressive social policy, that will be at the heart of the coming federal election and I invite you all to stand, as I will, with Jean Chretien for a contemporary Liberal vision of Canada.

2000 10 16 2:15 p.m.


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