Liberal and New Democrat politicians were at each others’ throats Wednesday in the House of Assembly over how to handle the crisis at the Corner Brook paper mill.
Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce accused the NDP of working to “inflame” the situation, and making matters worse.
In the House of Assembly, as the NDP tried to question the government, Joyce incessantly interrupted, shouting, “Call the union, b’y.”
Joyce told reporters NDP Leader Lorraine Michael is out of touch with the unions directly involved in the situation.
“We hear the NDP standing up on a regular basis inflaming this whole situation,” Joyce said. “They’ve never sat down and discussed this mill issue with the union.”
Michael said she’s in regular contact with union representatives, and she’s asking important questions.
Kruger Inc., which owns the Corner Brook mill, has said if it can’t reach a deal on pension and union contract issues by the middle of the month, it will look to shut down the mill.
On Monday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale met with Joseph Kruger, who owns the mill.
The Liberals have been largely supportive of the government’s approach, but the NDP has been quite critical.
The company and the union need to settle contract and pension issues to make the mill viable.
Dunderdale has said the government has a framework for how to assist Kruger to keep the mill running, but she won’t step in until the pension and contract issues are settled.
Michael said she takes issue with that approach, and that was one of the topics she raised during question period Wednesday.
“If you have a framework with Kruger and they know what it is and they’re going to the bargaining table with the union and the union doesn’t know what it is, is it fair?” Michael asked. “I don’t think that’s enflaming the issue at all. I think that’s asking a very honest question of this government.”
But Joyce said by bringing it up in a dramatic fashion, the NDP is actually hurting the chances the mill will stay open.
“There is a time when we must work with government. Look what happened with the other two mills. Both sides get so heated, they get so entrenched in their arguments that there’s no way out,” he said. “What I’m saying to everybody is cool the rhetoric.”