March 19, 2003
(Executive Council)


New initiatives to effect better relations with the federal government

Today�s Speech from the Throne introduced the establishment of the People�s Congress and the annual All-Party Symposium.

"As our province grows and prospers I determined early in my tenure as Premier that it is vital that we, as a government, seek the input of the public on the direction that we must go to secure our identity and place in the Canadian union," said Premier Roger Grimes. "To this end I established the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening our Place in Canada.

"The People's Congress will be a representative group of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It will bring together many interests including elected federal and provincial officials from all parties, municipal leaders, Aboriginal leaders, the Premier's Council on Social Development, representatives of the social, business and labour sectors, with representation from women, youth and seniors. The People's Congress will review the recommendations of the Royal Commission's report on Renewing and Strengthening our Place in Canada. Flowing from this review and discussion will be an action plan for the province."

This congress will be organized within 60 days of the final report from the Royal Commission, due by the end of June.

The Throne Speech also introduced a second initiative to effect change between this province and the federal government. Following on the model of the historic All Party Committee on the Cod Fisheries, it was announced today that this fall the Premier will convene an annual symposium of the members of the provincial legislature and members of the House of Commons and the Senate from Newfoundland and Labrador. The intent of the symposium is to examine a priority issue for the people of the province. The issue the Premier proposes for this fall is Equalization.

"The present model of Equalization continues to impede this province�s ability to work towards a better level of independence and sustainability," said the Premier. "A review of the Equalization process will take place in 2004. Before that review takes place the federal government can be assured of this province�s expectations for future equalization models."

In conclusion the Premier said respect for the citizens of the province must be paramount in the minds of the federal Cabinet. "A strong Newfoundland and Labrador makes for a strong Canada. The establishment of the People�s Congress and the All Party Symposium are two more ways to further the views and concerns of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This government will continue to strongly advocate for, and press the federal government on, issues such as foreign overfishing and custodial management, appropriate equalization reform, and federal plans to divest of the port in Stephenville and virtually close the weather forecasting office in Gander."

The Speech from the Throne is available on the government Web site at

Media contact: Carl Cooper, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960

2003 03 19                                       3:05 p.m.

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