Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Law school confidential

Now that we’re floatin’ in oil money, one of the biggest challenges facing Newfoundland and Labrador is deciding what to spend it on.

I’ve got a few suggestions, but I’ll get to them in later posts.

Here’s an idea I’m hearing bandied about more and more: how about a law school?

That suggestion was made last Thursday (Feb. 11) during a Memorial University forum to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Atlantic Accord.

Richard Cullen — a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong's faculty of law, as well as an expert in the Accord — said it’s an anomaly that NL doesn’t have a law school (seeing as how we have so many lawyers).

There are more than 20 law schools in Canada, including three in Atlantic Canada (one in Nova Scotia; two in New Brunswick).

Cullen said any law school built here could specialize in natural resource law (seeing as how we have so many natural resources).

Who knows, maybe we could save the fishery yet.

I heard the law school suggestion again last night (Tuesday, Feb. 16) during a Memorial University debate on the future of Pippy Park (Water and Trees or Glass and Steel).

One of the students suggested a future law school could be built in the park, which could evolve into a “public service campus.”

Who needs grass and trees when you can read about them at your desk in school.

As an aside, Curtis Coombs was supposed to be one of the debaters, but he backed out at the last minute after announcing he was going after the Tory nomination in the district of Topsail.

Who needs school, for that matter. We've got enough cash that maybe someday we could all be politicians.

A final note on how much cash we’re floatin’ in: Budget 2009 originally forecast a $750-million deficit, but the figure fell to $443 million in December when the province updated its financial numbers.

Then last week during the Atlantic Accord forum, Dr. Wade Locke said the rising price of oil could wipe out this year’s provincial deficit altogether.

And there was news yesterday that that the final deal on Hibernia South could wipe out $158 million from this year’s deficit.

According to The Telegram, that's because it resolved a 13-year-old dispute over how oil companies deduct transportation costs for the purposes of calculating royalty payments.

Like I said — floatin’ in it.

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