first_imgFinance Minister Michael Baker defended Nova Scotia’s position on the Offshore Accord at a meeting of Canada’s finance ministers today in Meech Lake, Quebec. Mr. Baker said a strong economy in every province is beneficial to all Canadians, and Nova Scotia’s offshore contract with the federal government should be upheld for that reason. “The Nova Scotia Offshore Accord is no different than other economic development agreements between the federal government and all other provinces and territories, such as Ontario’s Auto Pact or recent funding to Quebec’s aerospace industry,” he said. Mr. Baker said it’s important to rise above jealousies over federal-provincial economic arrangements that are designed to meet unique circumstances. “These measures have allowed these provinces to improve their economies to the benefit of their citizens, and for the benefit of all Canadians. The rising tide lifts all boats.” The government of Canada signed Offshore Accords with the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in 2005, which guaranteed that offshore revenues would not be deducted from equalization payments. Federal legislation to implement the 2007 budget, now being reviewed by the Senate, contains provisions to reduce Nova Scotia’s rights under the accord. Nova Scotia maintains that, as a result of these changes, the province will be deprived of as much as $1.3 billion dollars over the life of the agreements. Mr. Baker and Premier Rodney MacDonald presented Nova Scotia’sposition for nearly two hours at the Senate Committee on finance on June 19. Several finance ministers spoke to the issue of equalization at the two-day meeting, along with topics such as Canada’s economic performance, securities issues, monetary policy, and taxation initiatives. “There are a lot of misunderstandings about what these accord agreements were designed to do,” said Mr. Baker. “Our goal is to improve Nova Scotia’s fiscal capacity so that we can fund programs and services at the same level as other provinces, at around the same level of taxation.”last_img

Minister Defends Accord
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