November 17, 2003
(Executive Council)


Premier encouraged by first meeting

While not an official first ministers� meeting, the recent gathering of premiers in Regina to meet with the new leader of the governing federal Liberal Party was a very important one.

"I�m very encouraged about future federal-provincial relations, based on this meeting," said Premier Danny Williams. "The gathering was not only a valuable opportunity to meet with my colleagues in the other provinces, and with the person who will be Canada�s next Prime Minister, it was also very productive."

Mr. Martin and the premiers discussed a number of common interests, including healthcare funding and future federal-provincial relations. "Mr. Martin has agreed to honour Mr. Chr�tien�s commitment to allocate an additional $2 billion for healthcare across the country, provided it does not put the country in a deficit position," said Premier Williams. "That is a good, and a hopeful, indication of where he will likely go as Prime Minister."

The premier is also optimistic about the future of federal-provincial relations. "Mr. Martin�s commitment to annual first ministers� meetings is encouraging," Premier Williams noted. "One of my key commitments to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians was to work on improving our relationship with Ottawa. Mr. Martin certainly appears willing to meet us half way by establishing a forum for discussing issues and working on mutually advantageous solutions."

The premier is especially pleased with the commitment to hold a first ministers� meeting prior to the 2004 federal budget and upcoming election. "Mr. Martin�s approach to federal-provincial relations seems very much in line with ours," said Premier Williams. "A cooperative and consultative approach will ultimately benefit all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

Premier Williams returns from Regina this evening.

Media contact: Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709) 690-5500

2003 11 17                                         1:45 p.m.

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