MP Casey may vote against budget if accord isnt honoured

Jason Malloy
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TRURO - A veteran Conservative member of parliament is considering voting against his own party's budget when it comes before the House of Commons for final reading.

TRURO - A veteran Conservative member of parliament is considering voting against his own party's budget when it comes before the House of Commons for final reading.

Bill Casey (Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley) said he still has problems with the new equalization formula contained in the budget, which affects a 2005 agreement between Nova Scotia and the federal government regarding offshore oil and gas revenue.

"I believe that the budget does amend the Atlantic accord in a way which it shouldn't," he told the Truro Daily News yesterday.

The budget gives Nova Scotia the option to share in an enhanced equalization formula but give up the Atlantic accord, which ended the practice of clawing back 70 cents in equalization payments for each dollar the province received in offshore revenue.

While not on the order paper yet, Casey expects the vote could come as early as next week.

"Essentially, I want the accord honoured or I want an agreement in place which gives Nova Scotia the same benefits as the accord would give," said the four-term MP.

If that doesn't happen, Casey said: "I'll just have to decide when the time comes."

Casey and the other two Conservative MPs from Nova Scotia (Peter MacKay and Gerald Keddy) have come under fire for not voting against the budget during earlier readings.

Casey said they have been pushing hard for changes and that wouldn't have happened had they voted against the budget.

"If you vote against the budget then you're out of caucus and you have no opportunity to participate and I'm not saying that time will, or will not, come but second reading is not the time," he said.

Casey said negotiations have been active from the time the budget was announced and that he had spoken with both federal and provincial finance ministers this week. The MP said the nine-paragraph offshore revenue agreement spells out that the province will not receive less money from Ottawa because of increased revenue from the offshore.

"I would like to see the words in the budget reflect exactly the words in the offshore revenue agreement," Casey said. "It's important on principle and important because of the amount of money the province could lose or gain depending on the outcome."



jmalloy@trurodaily.com

Organizations: House of Commons, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Atlantic, Ottawa

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