20 January 2005

Res ipsa loquitur

Is there anyone here who understands English?

In a media scrum today, Danny Williams commented on the Prime Minister's recent letter.

One of the Premier's remarks just leaped through the radio speakers as CBC Radio's On the Go played a clip of his response to a question from a local reporter.

The Atlantic Accord offsets, according to Danny Williams, apparently have nothing to do with Equalization. They are outside Equalization, says Danny Williams, since they are under the Atlantic Accord.

There's no need to get into a long-winded rebuttal. Following are excerpts from the Atlantic Accord and the provincial government's own documents issued since last January. It's pretty clear that the Premier knows full well that what he said today isn't what he used to say.

Exhibit A. Atlantic Accord, February 1985:


39. The two governments recognize that there should not be a dollar for dollar loss of equalization payments as a result of offshore revenues flowing to the Province. To achieve this, the Government of Canada shall establish equalization offset payments.
Exhibit B. Danny Williams to John Efford, March 5, 2004, Attachment - Proposal for a New Atlantic Accord Offset Mechanism [dated 27 February 2004]
Slide 9
- Replace existing offset mechanisms [Emphasis added]
Slide 10
- Federal equalization savings would equal the cost of the revised offset payments [Emphasis added]
Exhibit C. Danny Williams to Paul Martin, June 10, 2004.
"The proposal...provides for 100% of direct provincial revenues... to accrue to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and be sheltered from the clawback provisions of the equalization [sic] formula..." (p.1)
Exhibit D. Danny Williams to Paul Martin, August 5, 2004
"This letter is further to our telephone conversation of 10 July 2004, during which we reaffirmed our agreement that Newfoundland and Labrador would retain 100% of the benefit of the offshore petroleum revenues it receives, notwithstanding the treatment of those revenues under the equalization program." [p.1]
Exhibit E. Loyola Sullivan to John Efford, August 24, 2004
"The position advanced by the Province,... calls for replacement of the existing offset mechanism with a new offset mechanism that would provide the province with an amount equal to the equalization loss it incurs as a result of its provincial offshore petroleum revenues being included in the calculation of its equalization entitlement." [p. 2]
In courtrooms around the western world, lawyers usually rely on a simple Latin phrase to describe this kind of evidence. In fact, the phrase covers an awful lot of things Premier Williams utters about the Atlantic Accord.
That phrase is res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.
With all due respect, Premier Williams, it has always been about Equalization, as you well know.