IN THE NEWS ~ NDP Natural Resources critic explores needs of Newfoundlanders


New Democrat Natural Resources critic Peter Julian was in St. John's, flanked by local MPs Ryan Cleary and Peter Julian, to talk about sustainable development, and all the things he thinks that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is doing wrong.

Julian will also be conducting disability tax clinics today in St. John's and Mount Pearl, but on Friday he was bouncing around from the Nalcor offices to the CNLOPB and the provincial minister of natural resources, hearing about resource issues.

"It's really helpful," he said. "I'm learning a lot about some of the needs in Newfoundland and Labrador and some of the important challenges."

Julian said that the federal government has gutted environmental assessments under Harper, and a New Democrat government would do more of that sort of thing.

"When we talk about sustainable development of our resources, it's to make sure - for example, in the context of Newfoundland and Labrador - that the development takes place here subject to public consultation and proper environmental evaluation that we're looking at the resources in the long term and maximizing the benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," Julian said.

"Of course, this is provincial jurisdictions, but the federal government has a number of tools that should be used more effectively and aren't under the current Harper government."

Much of Julian's talk on the NDP national energy strategy seemed to be focused on oil in Alberta.

"We're exporting jobs when we export raw bitumen offshore," he said. "What we're talking about is putting in place a national energy strategy that would encourage value-added, and that of course means working with the province."

When it comes to the Newfoundland oil industry, he said value-added jobs would be good, but that's really in the province's wheelhouse. On issue of an independent offshore safety regulator, Julian said the NDP would study it, but he wouldn't say that they'd do it for sure.

"We can't take any risks with offshore safety," he said. "You're certainly going to see an NDP government paying close attention to the issue of safety, and I think implicitly we'd be looking at reviewing the existing regulations, the existing law after a few years."

Today, Julian will be doing tax clinics for people in St. John's and Mount Pearl.

He said that people with families with disabilities can claim thousands of dollars in tax credits.

"Folks who have a member of their family that has a disability can get, retroactively, sometimes as much as $10,000-$12,000, and Revenue Canada, under the Harper Government, has eliminated the information program that used to exist," he said.

"There are tens of thousands of families across the country who could benefit from the program who don't know about it, because Revenue Canada doesn't talk about it."

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Twitter: TelegramJames PHOTO: Photo by Rhonda Hayward/ The Telegram ILLUS: MP Jack Harris (left), MP and NDP natural resources critic Peter Julien (centre) and MP Ryan Cleary leave Nalcor's head office in St. John's after a meeting Friday.



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