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REF NO.: 143

SUBJECT: Harris Centre plays a role in federal election

DATE: Jan. 10

As politicians gear up for the final three weeks of the federal election, Memorial University’s Harris Centre is playing a role in how the leaders of the major political parties respond to the concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Premier Danny Williams quoted in a report released by the Harris Centre on the Federal Government’s presence in Newfoundland and Labradorin letters to all the federal leaders. The letter reads:

Statistics Canadadata shows that federal government employment presence in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased by 39 per cent between 1990 and 2004, compared to a decrease by 18 per cent across all provinces. Recent examples include the elimination of forecasting services from the Gander Weather Office and the announced closure of the Public Service Commission office in St. John’s. If the rate of decline in Newfoundland and Labrador over the aforementioned period had been at the national average, it is estimated that an additional 2,774 federal positions would have remained in the federal public service in this province. Beyond federal government employment levels, another concern is the number of federal senior level positions in the province. While Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are passionate and proud Canadians, they are concerned by the continual withdrawal of the federal government from this province. A recent report by Memorial University’s Harris Centre provides independent confirmation of these concerns.”

Does your party support immediate efforts to significantly increase the federal government’s presence in the province, commencing with the immediate restoration of forecasting services at the Gander Weather Office?

The report, prepared by Alison Coffin under the direction of Dr. James Feehan, Economics, examined changes in federal government employment, wages and salaries, spending, and military personnel over the past 25 years.

As well, Dr. Robert Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, has been asked by the City of St. John’s(Ron Penny, chief commissioner) to moderate a debate of the St. John’s candidates in the federal election, to be held Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 the St. John’s Convention Centre. A panel consisting of Marie White, former deputy mayor, and Dr. Jim Feehan will also participate.

“Both Premier Williams’ reference to the report on the federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador and our involvement in the local debate highlights the Harris Centre’s reputation for integrity and independence,” said Dr. Greenwood. “We are pleased that our efforts have raised an important public policy issue with both the local candidates and the national party leaders.”

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For more information please contact Deborah Inkpen, communications co-ordinator (research), Memorial University, (709)737-4073 or


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