01 December 2011

With friends like these, Muskrat Falls version #nlpoli

Federal natural resources minister Joe Oliver answering a question from Liberal Gerry Byrne during Question Period on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

Byrne wanted to know why the federal government was now talking about some equivalent form of financial support but not the loan guarantee originally promised.

Gerry Byrne (Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte): Mr. Speaker, as of today the Conservatives are in formal default of their promise of a Muskrat Falls loan guarantee.

After over a year of analysis, a financial equivalent is being floated instead. Offering a financial equivalent is a refusal to assume any future risk for the project. It is not a true loan guarantee and is not what was promised. In contrast, a true loan guarantee would not cost the federal treasury a nickel as long as the project was technically and financially and economically viable.

Will a loan guarantee be offered, yes or no?

Hon. Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources): Mr. Speaker, the Muskrat Falls project will provide significant economic benefits to the Atlantic region and will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We have reached many milestones in this process, including the New Dawn agreement with the Innu of Labrador, and appointing a financial adviser to ensure taxpayers' interests are respected.

We will work together to ensure there is a guarantee. There will be a guarantee –.

The default Byrne was on about appears to be the deadline in the agreement with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador on the loan guarantee.

But Oliver’s wording is curious.

He says there will be a “guarantee”.

Not a loan guarantee.

Just a guarantee.

And the federal government appointed a financial advisor to make sure that taxpayers’ interest are “respected”.


Some how none of that sounds like what we in the persuasion business would call “good”.

- srbp -