Oilpatch History

Trudeau Re-Asserts Offshore Resource Ownership

OTTAWA (CP) -- PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU sent a telex to Premier BRIAN PECKFORD of Newfoundland on Friday reasserting Ottawa's claim to ownership of offshore resources, but urging renewed and urgent negotiations on other related issues.

In the lengthy message, Trudeau said he believes the two sides can reach a long-term agreement on revenue sharing and joint resource management before the end of this month without determining the more difficult question of ownership.

Friday night, Premier Brian Peckford in a provincewide televised address announced that his province will bring the offshore ownership issue to Newfoundland's Supreme Court. He also acknowledged that this move could delay development of offshore petroleum reserves by a few years, but said the move was necessary in view of the federal government's bargaining in bad faith.

Peckford added that the province has broken off the negotiations with Ottawa aver resource management and developments but would return to the bargaining table if Ottawa drops its court action in the Seafarers International Union case.

Trudeau set the Feb. 28 deadline last summer, saying the ownership issue will be referred to the courts if no agreement is reached by then on revenue and management. "I continue to believe that in the next two weeks we can achieve such an agreement which would survive any decision on ownership in the courts," the Prime Minister told Peckford.