18 November 2010

The World of Tomorrow


Seldom has an announcement of any kind been accompanied by such a litany of sheer bullshit.

CBC is claiming that this is a deal to build the Lower Churchill and that, oddly enough is what CBC already announced in January 2008. One mainland CBC reporter debriefed his mainland colleague with the ludicrous claim that in the Churchill Falls deal  Newfoundland bore all the costs, and Quebec collects most of the revenue. The rest of his debrief was no better.

So what was announced?

Well, let’s just remind everyone that this morning your humble e-scribbler put it this way:

If this isn’t a concrete deal to start work soon, then Thursday’s announcement can all evaporate as easily as the others did.

This is not even a memorandum of understanding

Today, two companies signed something called a terms sheet.  That’s not a deal, an agreement, an agreement in principle, a memorandum of understanding or a letter of intent.

A terms sheet is – in business parlance – nothing more than a general, non-binding set of instructions to negotiators to guide their future discussions.  For all practical purposes, it has only slightly more value than an informal chat over a beer.

You can tell this is not a firm commitment by the companies to do much beyond keep talking because it has a time limit:  November 30, 2011.

When Danny Williams announced a memorandum of understanding on Hebron, he could treat the thing as a fairly solid basis of agreement.  There were details to work out and there was always the chance of things going sour.  But there was no timeline.  Everyone knew the lawyers would set to work to come up with a formal agreement, but they didn’t stick an expiry date on it.

That’s because they had a commitment to carry forward unless something dramatic intervened.

But this thing has an expiry date clearly stamped on it.

As exciting as some people would like Thursday’s announcement to be, the reality of the it is far different.

Heck, Danny Williams didn’t even get the date right.

- srbp -

Contextual Update:

  • Ready for a better tomorrow:  a May 2006 post that puts the political value of Labrador hydropower in a wider context.  The post title was Brian Tobin’s 1996 provincial election campaign slogan. 

More to follow…