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Ottawa collaboration 'crucial' for N.L., says premier at Liberal fundraiser

·3 min read
Premier Andrew Furey was at the forefront of Wednesday night's N.L. Liberal Party fundraiser, 'An Evening with the Premier.' (Danny Arsenault/CBC - image credit)
Premier Andrew Furey was at the forefront of Wednesday night's N.L. Liberal Party fundraiser, 'An Evening with the Premier.' (Danny Arsenault/CBC - image credit)
Danny Arsenault/CBC
Danny Arsenault/CBC

Premier Andrew Furey projected a sense of optimism, and offered reassurances regarding the province's position with Ottawa, at a Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party fundraiser Wednesday night.

During his speech to supporters, Furey pointed to the province's Muskrat Falls rate mitigation deal with the federal government, announced in July, as evidence of a positive relationship between the provincial and federal governments.

"There's no doubt that Newfoundland and Labrador holds a special place in the heart of my friend and our prime minister," said Furey.

"I can tell you that Ottawa sees us, they hear us and, like us, they know the potential of this place."

That mitigation deal, meant to keep electricity rates from skyrocketing once the hydroelectric dam comes fully online, missed its Sept. 30 signing deadline, officials saying it will be finalized before the end of the year.

Speaking with reporters after the fundraiser, Furey noted that collaboration with the Liberal government in Ottawa was something that he staked his leadership on.

"It's something that I think is key and crucial to unlocking the true potential of Newfoundland and Labrador moving forward," he said.

Joanne Thompson, Liberal MP for St. John's East, was one of the attendees at the fundraiser, which saw about 500 Liberal supporters gather at the St. John's Convention Centre. The event, dubbed "An Evening with the Premier," charged $500 a plate and included a steak dinner, live musical performances and the chance to socialize with the province's top politicians.

Representatives from some of the province's most well-known developers, law firms, companies and other organizations also attended the event.

Focusing on the positive

In his speech, Furey focused on his government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the province's economic future.

Furey pointed to offshore oil fields like Hibernia and Hebron as indications that overall oil and gas sector in Newfoundland and Labrador is improving, and said the province will continue to seek opportunities in industry.

Darrell Roberts/CBC
Darrell Roberts/CBC

Although Furey said "responsible diversification" is a focus going forward, he also said the province can continue to promote oil "parallel" to the development of renewable energy.

"I've been fully committed to seizing and exploring all the opportunities of the energy sector and all it has to offer for our province," he said.

Last month, a scientific study estimated that almost 60 per cent of the world's oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground by 2050, in order to meet the Paris Climate Agreement and achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C.

Global leaders will meet in Glasgow, Scotland starting Sunday for the latest United Nations climate change conference, with an aim to set new emissions goals.

Furey also pointed to Newfoundland and Labrador's technology sector and film industry as economic bright spots, and said his government is focusing on immigration to help fill jobs in those industries.

Although he discussed the province's COVID-19 response, he avoided talking about the healthcare system as a whole, and didn't mention the government's negotiations with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association.

Problems in the healthcare system, particularly the province's doctor shortage, have been a hot topic in both the public sphere and the House of Assembly in recent weeks. Furey has previously said the Health Accord N.L, an ongoing review of the province's healthcare system, holds the short and long-term solutions.

Furey also said "tough decisions" may still need to be made in the future, but told reporters that doesn't necessarily mean more cuts are coming in Budget 2022.

"It's going to be well thought out, evidence-based going forward," he said.

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