The March 31 deadline to finalize a deal with Ottawa on the Atlantic Accord is only 10 days away, and PC Leader Ches Crosbie is standing by his opinion that the provincial Liberals won't get it done.
"It sure is sounding more and more like we're going to miss that deadline," the Opposition leader said on Wednesday.
"It's a self-imposed deadline for political purposes. The federal Liberals were content to give their local, little brothers some encouragement for the purpose of enabling Mr. Ball to fulfil his mission of calling a spring election and go to the public with money in his hands."
Crosbie said the federal Liberals have their attention directed toward bigger issues, implying the Atlantic Accord deliberations will take a back seat.
Crosbie said Newfoundland and Labrador should be owed hundreds of millions of dollars for each year dating back to 2012-2013. He added it's understandable that the federal government, in a tough negotiation, would not pay the province for those years, instead opting for a better deal on a go-forward basis.
"Let's remember here though, these payments are as of right under the Atlantic Accord," he said.
"We're not going there, cap in hand, saying 'please sir, can I have some money' here. These payments are ours, as of right now, under the Atlantic Accord principal beneficiary right."
'We're still at the table'
Premier Dwight Ball said negotiations are ongoing with Ottawa, and there's no reason to believe that a deal won't be made by the deadline date at the end of March.
Ball said if anything changes, in terms of missing the deadline, he will update the people of the province.
"Right now we're having good discussions. We're still at the table, which is important, and right now there's no one pushing their chairs back from the table and running away," he said.
"We will do our part in making sure that we will get the best deal for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It's coming at a critical time for us in our history. We've had significant challenges. It's important for us to get the best deal for this province."
There is no penalty if the deadline for the deal is missed, but Ball said it makes sense to have the Atlantic Accord deal in place before handing down the provincial budget in April.