Newfoundland Premier Paul Davis was not happy after his meeting last week with Stephen Harper. "It really solidifies that you can’t trust the federal government, you can’t trust Stephen Harper’s government," he said. "We bargained in good faith. We believed that we had an agreement in place, that we had a deal set."
Davis sounded eerily like another premier from Newfoundland, Danny Williams. Michael Harris writes:
Former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, once believed he had a deal that would allow his province to keep its offshore oil revenues while still being eligible for full equalization payments from Ottawa. When Stephen Harper changed that arrangement, Williams went on the war path. With the full backing of the premier’s office, word spread across Newfoundland and Labrador — vote for anybody but Harper at the ballot box.
And then there was Harper's alteration of the Atlantic Accord. When Bill Casey met with Harper, he discovered that the agreement meant what Stephen Harper said it meant:
Casey visited the prime minister personally, armed with legal opinions from the justice department confirming that the deal had been changed and that it was illegal.
“Harper swept the opinions off his desk and said that the words meant what he said they meant. He said that I had never been with the program,” Casey told me.
Jack Layton said he discovered early on that you couldn't take the prime minister at his word. That, Harris writes, is what the next election will be all about: Stephen Harper's word.