ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A Newfoundland and Labrador MP says the appointment of a Quebecer to the federal natural resources portfolio suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper is insensitive to the needs of the East Coast province.
Liberal Gerry Byrne is reacting to a federal cabinet shuffle Tuesday that saw Christian Paradis, the MP for Megantic-L'Erable, bounced from Public Works to Natural Resources, replacing the embattled Lisa Raitt.
Relations between Quebec and Newfoundland have been strained, particularly in recent weeks after Premier Danny Williams accused the Quebec government of trying to stifle his province's power development ambitions.
"Our provincial government has made some great strides, won some big victories when it comes to the development of our energy prospects," Byrne said.
"Well now, of course, we find out that Christian Paradis, a Quebecer, is now the federal minister of energy. That probably is not speaking very well to the fact that the prime minister or his party is very sensitive to the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador, nor will he ever be."
But Williams said while he will miss the constructive relationship his government had with Raitt, he's prepared to work with Paradis.
"I had a couple of meetings with her myself and she understood the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador. So any time that someone like that moves out of that position, that's unfortunate," Williams said.
"But obviously we're prepared to welcome and work with a new minister and we look forward to a good arrangement."
There are no MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador on the federal government side after Williams launched a successful campaign during the 2008 election to oust Tories from his province.
The Natural Resources Department oversees such hot-button issues as oil sands development, the struggling forestry industry and the future of Atomic Energy of Canada.