31 March 2011

No federal dough but big media “D’oh!”on Muskrat Falls

Multiple sources tell CBC News, though, that the federal and provincial governments have reached a deal on the terms of a loan guarantee.

That’s a line from a CBC story on Wednesday with a headline and a lede that said much the same thing.

There is a deal.

We don’t know if Stephen Harper will announce it on Thursday during his visit but, there is a deal.

Reality turns out to be more than a wee bit different. 

There is no deal at all.

Instead, Stephen Harper told reporters in Halifax on Thursday that Muskrat Falls is an important project.


"The details still have to be worked out," said Harper speaking in Halifax Thursday morning. "There is a lot of discussion still to come, but it is obviously an important project."

Could be a loan guarantee.

Could be an equity stake.

Might be nothing at all.

It seems that some local media outlets fell for the heavy torque coming from the provincial Conservative administration of Kathy Dunderdale.  She’s been grinning like a Cheshire cat since last week leaving all sorts of nudge-nudge hints that something was coming.

You can see the whole thing in this section of a post at CBC’s politics blog that talked up the big changes on the provincial political scene since Danny Williams left office in an unseemly haste just before Christmas:

All of this is leading to speculation of something big from Harper's first campaign stop in Newfoundland and Labrador, expected later this week.

How big? Maybe as big as $6.2 billion. That's the estimated cost of the Muskrat Falls hydro development that would reshape the energy map of Eastern Canada. It's a joint venture between Newfoundland and Labrador's public energy company Nalcor and Nova Scotia-based Emera.

Wednesday afternoon CBC News confirmed that Premier Dunderdale and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper have reached an agreement on a loan guarantee to help with the province's financing for the project.

Dunderdale met with Harper's chief of staff Nigel Wright two weeks ago in St. John's.

The sudden rush to elect federal Tories had provincial insiders assuming the deal was done.

Sure there’s the mention of speculation but right there in the middle is the line  “CBC news confirmed that”  Dunderdale and Harper had an agreement.

Oh to be a fly on a few walls in this end of the country Thursday afternoon.

- srbp -