25 October 2005

Scrum = bad news

Premier Danny Williams and natural resources minister Ed Byrne held a scrum in the Confederation Building this morning to call on Abitibi Consolidated [ACI] to decide what the company plans to do about the government's latest offer on Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor.

Two things:

1. ACI has made no public comment on anything since talks broke off almost a month ago. The recent re-start of talks has gone by without any comment from the company but lots of "hope" and "optimism" from government. This smells like a case of monkey-tossing.

2. ACI announced on 20 October 2005 that it would hold a news conference tomorrow to...release third quarter results for the company just as it has done for each quarter for the past year or more. And just as the company has done faithfully, that will almost inevitably include a further statement on the company's plans to shut down Stephenville and one machine at Grand Falls-Windsor.

Taken all together, that makes today's comments by the Premier a case of calling for the sun to rise. He knows full well there is an announcement coming.

Here's the part he didn't say: Stephenville will close and Grand Falls-Windsor will lose one of its two machines. The Premier has known it for some time, at least back as far as the time ACI announced the closures.

How do I know? If anything else were going to happen, there would be a giant news conference involving the company and the provincial government.

In a case like this, a scrum means there's bad news coming.