July 2, 2003
Premier Grimes responds to historic report from the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Roger Grimes today responded to the final report of the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening our Place in Canada which he appointed last year. He said commission Chair, Mr. Vic Young, and commissioners Sister Elizabeth Davis and Judge James Igloliorte, met the critical and ambitious task set before them to develop a broad consensus on a vision for the future which would identify ways to achieve prosperity and self-reliance for Newfoundland and Labrador within Canada.
"The report of the Royal Commission meets the test set out in the terms of reference established 15 months ago," said Premier Grimes. "Mr. Young said his objective at the time was to search for new ideas, new solutions and new directions in the context that the next decade will be a true turning point in our history. He and the other commissioners have indeed met this objective, and I thank them for their tireless work over the past year." The Premier said the work of the commission has allowed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to have open dialogue about their expectations and hopes, be respectful of differing positions on issues and allow for innovative ideas for the future.
"This Royal Commission opened a debate on issues of paramount importance to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - our role within the Canadian federation and in an international context," said the Premier. "It was a fine example of encouraging dialogue with the people who elected us, and listening to what they said.
"While many issues covered in the commission�s report, Our Place in Canada, are familiar to the government and the people of the province, the real value of the report is the factual basis which this independent commission has developed on these issues. The report and the research program will add tremendous weight and credibility to the case which the government has been advancing to Ottawa on several fronts.
"Issues such as the confirmation of our view that Newfoundland and Labrador must be the principal beneficiary of our offshore oil resource; the development of the Lower Churchill River in Labrador requiring a federal presence at the table; sustaining rural Newfoundland and Labrador; and, developing a new relationship with the federal government which sees both levels of government dealing jointly with key issues for the long-term best interests of our people - are all priority issues for the government."
Premier Grimes said he believes a renewed relationship with Ottawa is worth pursuing. "The time is ripe for us to reflect with other Canadians on the kind of Canada we need. There are exciting possibilities, as the commission puts it, for creating a new kind of Canada." At a recent meeting of Atlantic Premiers, Premier Grimes received an endorsement from his Maritime colleagues for his proposal for a new Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct outlines a set of principles of cooperation to strengthen and renew the Canadian Federation. "We will be advancing this proposal at next week�s meeting of all premiers and territorial leaders in Charlottetown," he said.
While the Royal Commission is recommending a collaborative relationship, that does not preclude the province from taking a strong, tough approach on issues from time to time. "What is required is a collaborative foundation which will enable our two governments to work through difficult issues in a responsive manner," said the Premier.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will take the time to assess, deliberate and consider all information contained in the report and the 28 research papers released by the Royal Commission today. Similarly, the Premier is strongly encouraging the people of the province to read the report and to offer their views on its conclusions, given its historical significance.
"Let me assure you, this report, Our Place in Canada, will not sit on the shelf. As we announced in this year�s Speech from the Throne, we will hold a People�s Congress this fall to develop an action plan of specific measures, with the people of the province, to renew and strengthen our place in Canada.
"We will also not lose sight of the areas in the report calling for federal action and support. I know that the Government of Canada will reflect on this report in a deliberate and timely fashion. I know as well that the Government of Canada will be reassured by the fact that this report says No to Separation, noting the consistency of this view with the vast majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. As you know, for us, this exercise has always been about strengthening and renewing our place in Canada."
In conclusion, the Premier thanked the commissioners for accepting the challenge given to them a year ago and for delivering a report that is meaningful, well researched and which he believes will strike a chord with the people of this province and our friends across this nation. The report and related research documents are available on the web at www.gov.nl.ca/royalcomm
Media contact: Catherina Kennedy, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960
2003 07 02 2:00 p.m.