About the Newfoundlandian uprising apparently underway in caucus, that is.
UPDATE – From Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale’s post-QP scrum:
Question: Mr. Goodale, will there be punishment for two Newfoundland MP’s or perhaps more?
Ralph Goodale: We’re, we’re discussing those issues in our, in our caucus at the moment. The, the issue affecting Newfoundland and Labrador is a, is a serious issue. Our Members of Parliament are very vigorous in representing their, their constituents and the issue is, is being thorough discussed internally at the moment and there’s nothing really further to say at this time.
Question: Well can, can they vote against the budget? Yes or no?
Ralph Goodale: The issue is being discussed internally within our caucus. You saw today from Question Period that the, the government seemed to be a little bit nonplussed about the exact nature of the issue that’s being raised here. They kept giving answers with respect to equalization where the, the issue is related to the Atlantic Accord, and the two are separate. I have a bit of a history on that file so I understand the distinction here and, and the government I think is being, is being a little bit cute with the language, trying to answer a question that wasn’t asked.
Mr. Byrne was very clear today. He was talking about the natural resources exclusion rate and the effect of that on the accord arithmetic not on the equalization arithmetic. And the government, now it was the Parliamentary Secretary that was answering, perhaps he didn’t understand that subtle distinction. It is an important distinction and it may be that the, the government has some further homework to do here. Our MP’s are, are doing their job and they’re representing their constituents and all other matters are being discussed internally within our caucus. […]
Question: Mr. Goodale, this question of Newfoundland and you were saying there even there, they’re not answering the question and all that says. So what kind of a bind are Newfoundland and Labrador MP’s in if there’s no change?
Ralph Goodale: Well, this is, this is a serious issue. We’re not going to cross bridges till we come to them. The point is what appears to be a, a mistake has been identified. We’re going to go to work on that and do our very best to, to represent the public interest in this country. Our MP’s have been, have been very vigorous and we expect them to do their job. We’ll cross further bridges when we come to it, but the point is, and let me go back to our broad amendment about, about accountability, one of the, one of the tests that is in that amendment is fairness to all regions of the country. That’s explicitly written in our amendment.
So if the, if the government, in addressing this issue, and bear in mind the source of this information is not the budget documents per se so far. The source of this information is a financial briefing given by Finance officials to the officials in Premier Danny Williams’s office. It’s, this is where this controversy has arisen. So if, if, if the briefing is accurate or if Danny Williams is interpreting it accurately, the place where we will see the hard information would be in the budget implementation bill. So let’s, let’s see what the government actually tables in terms of that bill.
Question: But you call it a mistake. You don’t want to endorse a mistake, do you?
Ralph Goodale: No. No, obviously we would expect them to, to correct a mistake, but going back to the issue of fairness, if overall, as this, as this process moves forward over the next several weeks, if the government does not deliver on the, the test that we’ve established, protecting the vulnerable, protecting jobs, creating new jobs for the future, being fair to all regions, then we have the opportunity on future confidence motions to send them packing and that’s what that, that’s what that accountability amendment to the budget is intended to accomplish.