June 15, 2005
(Executive Council)

Tom Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs represented Premier Danny Williams at a meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers today in Saint John, New Brunswick.

"There were a number of important issues for Newfoundland and Labrador on the agenda at this meeting, including Marine Atlantic, inland fisheries management, economic development, and federal transfers for social programs," said Minister Marshall.

"I was pleased with the premiers� support of Newfoundland and Labrador�s view that federal funding for inland fisheries management is insufficient to meet the ongoing needs in enforcement, conservation, habitat protection, and other areas. The council agreed to work together to present a common position to the federal government to seek increased funding for inland fisheries management."

In 2004, the provincial government implemented the Inland Fisheries Enforcement Program to provide for a dedicated team of conservation officers to curb poaching on the province�s inland waters. This decision was in response to government�s position that the federal government was not adequately living up to its responsibility to provide for enforcement. And in Budget 2005, the provincial government provided $800,000 to expand the program.

"The council also understands and supports Newfoundland and Labrador�s view that the federal government has a constitutional obligation to provide a continuous service in accordance with traffic offering and that Marine Atlantic must provide a high-quality and affordable service," said Minister Marshall. Premiers also agreed that the federal government must commit to meeting this standard.

Minister Marshall said he informed the council of the plans for the 29th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers which will be held in St. John�s on August 28 and 29, 2005. Minister Marshall noted. Premier Williams will host the Conference and co-chair with Governor Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island. The NEG-ECP is a Conference of the premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, and the governors of Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The council released its Atlantic action plan which focuses on cooperative initiatives to improve the economy and public services in the region. As well, the council is seeking a renewed economic development partnership with the federal government.

The council discussed their continuing concern with the fiscal imbalance in Canada and the changes to the equalization program which may result from the recommendations of the federal expert panel which is charged with making recommendations on the future structure of the Equalization program. The council reiterated its view that the equalization program must be strengthened and that the formula would be improved through inclusion of a 10-province standard and comprehensive revenue coverage.

"I was honoured to represent Premier Williams at this meeting and pleased with the support of the Council of Atlantic Premiers for the issues which are important to our province," Minister Marshall said.

Photo #1: Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Tom Marshall (far right) represented Premier Danny Williams at the Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting this week. Also pictured are (L-R) Premier Pat Binns, Prince Edward Island; Premier John Hamm, Nova Scotia; and, Premier Bernard Lord, New Brunswick.

Media contact: Billy Hickey, Communications, (709) 729-6985; 685-7037

2005 06 15                     4:10 p.m.

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