THE OGM: Why, as Newfoundlanders with enormous oil reserves, are we not using our offshore oil and why is it not available at dramatically reduced costs?
Premier Andrew Furey: Newfoundland and Labrador is a player within the global commodities market, and as such, this province is subject to fluctuations in oil prices and demand. It wouldn’t be available at dramatically reduced costs. The province takes benefits from oil production through employment from construction and operations, royalties, taxes and equity returns. It is these royalties, taxes and equity returns that help pay for many of the services we enjoy in this province.
THE OGM: Why is Newfoundland not majority shareholders in our offshore oil projects? Norway’s model of majority shares in their offshore projects led them to more drilling, more discoveries and as a result now has the highest trust fund, at $1Trillion, in the world. Why have we not followed this model given we have the same rock formations, infrastructure capabilities and identified oil plays? Do you have a plan to rectify this?
Premier Andrew Furey: Norway is certainly a leader in many respects and it would probably be fair to say its heritage fund is the envy of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The agreements in place are, simply put, just that – agreements put in place at the time. In terms of what this province does moving forward, it is my goal to consult the appropriate stakeholders and move the industry forward in a sustainable manner. There’s no question oil and gas is important to the province, and I plan to work hard on finding solutions to best serve the hard-working people in the industry and the province as a whole.
THE OGM: Why do we allow global fishery trawlers to diminish fish stocks offshore Newfoundland and Labrador and we are capped and limited with our fishing resources, such as the cod fishery.
Premier Andrew Furey: The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has jurisdiction over the resource, so questions about its policies would have to be directed towards them. I do subscribe to the “principle of adjacency” which states that the women and men living and working next to a fishery resource should be its principal beneficiary. We will continue to press our federal partners to apply that principle so that the people of this province get their rightful access to the fishery – a renewable natural resource that has sustained rural communities for generations, and can, if managed correctly, sustain them for countless more.
THE OGM: Norway is the number one exporter of Salmon in the world. They have perfected the aquaculture model. We could have that same capacity delivering fish to the world….but we don’t. Why is this and what can be done about it?
Premier Andrew Furey: During the course of the Liberal leadership campaign and into my first few weeks as leader and Premier, I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of different organizations and representatives from several different sectors. I heard about the benefits of aquaculture loud and clear, and have seen what it has done for communities like those on the Connaigre Peninsula. I have heard about the barriers for the industry in this province, and I have also heard the concerns about it. I believe it is important to foster an environment in which industries can safely develop, and it’s something our government plans to improve upon.
THE OGM: Public access to government information has not always been forthcoming. Is it possible to have all meetings and all communication open to the public for complete transparency in the Premier’s office? Transparency in all communications is successful in other administrations such as the past Obama governance plan, where meetings, objectives and intentions in the Whitehouse were made available to the public. Ultimately we all see the benefit of this level of transparency. What do you think is possible here?
Premier Andrew Furey: Newfoundland and Labrador has a robust ATIPPA Act and that is currently under a legislated independent review, to examine how it is working and any potential room for improvement.
THE OGM: While we have a Covid-19 pandemic, according to WHO, this is minuscule compared to having lowered immunity and antibiotic overload impacting our ability to fight off superbugs. This coupled with the fact that Newfoundlanders are the unhealthiest people in Canada, this poses a huge threat to our ability to be well, to work and to our future. What’s the solution for this?
Premier Andrew Furey: When it comes to the overall wellness of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians I can tell you it’s an issue I’m very passionate about. We spend a lot on healthcare, without seeing the outcomes we would like. I think we need to find savings within the system to re-allocate that money into improving the social determinants of health – while recognizing that we are in the throes of a public health crisis. Working on the front lines of the system, I saw firsthand what healthcare means. Being well and living a healthy lifestyle should absolutely be a priority, as you outline, and as simple as it is, I make an effort to lead by example on that front, by modelling an active lifestyle with healthy food choices as much as possible.
Do you have questions for Premier Furey?
Do you have solutions for Newfoundland and Labrador?
Send them in to me: TinaOlivero@TheOGM.com
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