‘Loan guarantee or equivalent’

Dave Bartlett
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Harper commits to helping with Lower Churchill

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Kathy Dunderdale stand together following Harper’s speech at the Delta hotel Thursday evening. Harper said if the Conservatives are re-elected, they would provide this province with a loan guarantee “or equivalent financial support” for the Lower Churchill project. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a room full of friendly supporters Thursday evening that if re-elected, the Conservatives would provide a loan guarantee — or something equivalent — towards the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development.

Harper made the announcement, as expected, at a rally for the province’s Conservative candidates at the Delta hotel in St. John’s.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale was also on hand and stood flanking Harper with the seven men who will run for the party in the May 2 federal election.

The prime minister said Dunderdale has brought up the Lower Churchill at every opportunity and has touted its benefits including reduced green house gas emissions, a more secure power grid for the island part of the province and the importance of the project to the Atlantic region.

“With these criteria in mind, a re-elected Conservative government would provide a loan guarantee or equivalent financial support for the Lower Churchill Hydro project,” Harper said, with the last few words being drowned out by thunderous applause.

Harper also said similar consideration would be given to other green projects across the country including in Quebec.

Earlier in the day, media reports quoted both Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe and Quebec Premier Jean Charest, voicing their displeasure at the suggestion Harper would help this province with the project.

Charest went so far as to say he would get involved with the federal election campaign if such a promise was made, suggesting a Quebec ABC (anything but Conservative) campaign, of sorts, could be in the works.

Harper took no questions from reporters at the event, leaving many scratching their heads on what exactly “equivalent financial support” means.

“With these criteria in mind, a re-elected Conservative government would provide a loan guarantee or equivalent financial support for the Lower Churchill Hydro project.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dunderdale spoke briefly with reporters after the rally and said she was satisfied with the commitment from the prime minister.

She also said the equivalent of a loan guarantee would be a lump sum payment, equal in value to what such a guarantee would save the province in interest payments.

However national reporters travelling with the prime minister told The Telegram they were briefed on the plane ride from Nova Scotia, and told a loan guarantee was the Conservatives’ preference.

But they were also told no taxpayers’ money — in the form of cash — would be paid to the province and there would be no help coming for the subsea cable that will link this province with Nova Scotia.

The Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte Gerry Byrne was quick to respond to Harper’s announcement.

“Ten short days ago, the Harper government tabled a budget that contained none of the legislative provisions required to enact a Lower Churchill loan guarantee,” Byrne said in a news release.

He suggested to The Telegram Harper’s promise for such a guarantee was hollow.

“It’s basically saying he would be willing to consider approving some sort of loan guarantee, or some sort of financing, if it met some sort of criteria,” said Byrne. “There is nothing done on this project yet.”

The president of the province’s Federation of Labour, Lana Payne, said Harper has made promises to the province before that were not kept.

She wondered if the other federal leaders would also commit to support for the first phase of the Lower Churchill project before the campaign is over.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Conservatives, Delta hotel, Bloc Quebecois Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Atlantic, Quebec.Earlier Quebec Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    April 01, 2011 - 22:49

    Seeing Blunderdale all kissy-face with Harpo makes me absolutely SICK! She's going to completely undo everything that Danny Williams did for the people of Newfoundland & Labrador. I've got a feeling that she's going to start giving and giving again until we're back where we started. Personally I want Danny back at the helm, he seems to be the only one who was truly looking out for the best interests of the people of NL.

  • Willy D
    April 01, 2011 - 22:00

    Does Harper think this is another bad Newfie joke! Is this an April Fools prank! What is Kathy Dunderdale thinking? The arrogance of politicians is unbelieveable. Is Harper the guy you want to be making deals with based on his word?

  • Bob
    April 01, 2011 - 19:44

    Considering how we got hoodwinked on the Upper Churchill, how in the name of god can this Newfoundland/Labrador Conservativegovernment sit quietly and let this thing happen? It's nothing short of criminal. Not just Skinner, but the whole lot of 'em should be strung up by the goulies.

  • No longer a PC
    April 01, 2011 - 15:26

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a room full of friendly supporters Thursday evening that if re-elected, the Conservatives would provide a loan guarantee — or something equivalent — towards the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development. The statement above by Harper lets us know right up front that he is not going to fully commit to the LOAN GUARANTEE for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development or something equlivant (Bull). Again he is undermining the brilliant people of Newfoundland who are on to his false hopes and usless words. Harper it is time for you to step down and let a new leader take over, otherwise this long time PC will not be voteing for you or your government.

  • Tfwilliams
    April 01, 2011 - 15:24

    read this

  • Tfwilliams
    April 01, 2011 - 15:09

    Take a look at this

  • Thomas Griffiths
    April 01, 2011 - 14:09

    So anyone reading the national news today, well qubec doesn't support Nfld getting help developing its hydro power,now is that a surprise to anyone in Nfld.If Harper does not form a majority goverment, libdipbloc coalition will not only not help Nfld it will do everything it can to get in the way.If Nflders send liberals to Ottawa it will be their own fault when this project goes down the tubes and qubec will continue to rob Nfld with no one to stand up her in Ottawa.Come on Nfld lets have a Conservative sweep and get this country back on track without qubec.

  • A Chafe
    April 01, 2011 - 13:54

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. If we want the rest of Canada to laugh at us, I guess we'll go ahead and vote Conservative. Here's one that won't be falling for the Conservative "tales" from the last two elections, and now the newest one. They've had the chance to prove themselves. They've failed.

  • Lloyd
    April 01, 2011 - 13:26

    "The prime minister said Dunderdale has brought up the Lower Churchill at every opportunity and has touted its benefits including reduced green house gas emissions, a more secure power grid for the island part of the province and the importance of the project to the Atlantic region." ---------------------------------------------- "...a more secure power grid for the island part of the province...." Well, that pretty well sums up what Labradorians know this is all about. That and the bucks they can raise with their NS partnerships - all without giving any benefit to the place where this power will originate (Labrador). Maybe we're just supposed to be content that the present Nfld premierat least didn't promise that Labradorians would be the 'primary beneficiaries' as her predecessor did. Mr Harper? Well, he surely knows how to buy off your votes without actually putting any real commitments into the mix.

  • Scott Free
    April 01, 2011 - 12:49

    Mr. Harper, I believe you! Why wouldn't I? It's not like you'ver ever mislead us before; is it? And, to further qualify my confidence in your promise, I also believe O. J. when he says he didn't do it; I believe Bonds when he insists he never knowingly took steriods; and, I'm still waiting on that cheque that's "in the mail" when I won those sweepstakes!

    • Bert
      April 01, 2011 - 13:31

      Who would guess that two of our last three premiers was neve elected in a provincial election as premier. One of these was booted out of office in the subsequent election and the other one is well on her way to get booted out in October.How someone can fall from grace along with her party so quickly is truely amazing!!!

  • Joseph McGrath
    April 01, 2011 - 12:29

    The very public exhibition put on by our provincial government members and others yesterday for PM Harper sent a severe chill down my back and I found it not wecomed for me to behold as a resident of this province. Everyone present at that announcement by Harpo should be completly ashamed of themselves excluding the media who must give us unbiased news coverage of this election. I heard the chanting and roaring and backslapping and dumping of praise on a PM of this country who has over his entire political life did nothing but scorn and doublecrosss the good people of NL.He is an accomplashed artist at throwing the interests of NL under the wheels of his campaign bus. If he wins power do not be suprised to see it happen once again. Shame on every person in that room who in anyway let this man feel welcome to our Province. Provincial politicians should have kept their mouths shut untill they heard from all federal political parties on their position on the Lower Churchill.and other matters as well such as the Fishery and Marine Atlantic service.There is much to be yet compleled in this great province especially in Labrador and rural areas. Danny Williams made us a proud ,stand up people by holding the feet of Harper and many other Feds to the fire untill they showed they accepted our right to have NL share in Canada as an equal ,fairly treated partner. I am fed up to the teeth seeing our provincial elected politicans unable to control and compose themseves long enough untill they have all the promises and facts supporting them to arrive at a well thought out decision as to who should and would best put the interests of NL first. I was an open minded ,undecided voter untill I saw the political circus performed at that Harper announcement yesterday afternoon . When I cast my vote this time it will be because I feel certain that the canditate I vote for will look after the interests of NL and yes the ROC to the very best of their ability and not be sucker punched into a world of make believe by someone who has many times before fooled the voters by promises unkept. I only wish there were more people of the quality and grit of former premier Williams to now step up and hold the line for the people of the province.I see none and as I said before I am quickly approaching my expiry date. In conclusion I feel deep in my own heart that after living a lifetime here in this province I see in the faces of our younger generation a time when political sellout and the political gimmee games will be replaced by those who will bring strong government and an unshaken resolve to see that NL is indeed a wonderful place to live,raise a family and experience truly great government. Young people in our future will"seiize the day"and rid us of provincial and federal political donkeys who are no more than carpetbaggers. I hope we all Ilive to see it.

    • fanstey
      April 01, 2011 - 17:06

      Here we go again, back to the same old politics. Play on words etc. I would rather have Newfoundland pride that Danny has instilled rather that this slide back to begging. Interesting to see polls on Ms. Dunderdale after this!

  • craig williams
    April 01, 2011 - 10:42

    I think this commitment has the potential to cement the great economic benefits we are now receiving from our offshore oil revenues.This project is a Monster for NL and Atlantic Canada for the next 100 years.This project will push us to levels seen on other Economic HAVE areas of the country.With this will come challenges such as dealing with Affordable housing and people on fixed incomes when home prices and wages in these sectors reach the levels of Alberta ,BC and Saskatchewan.We must face these issues front on and up front.I also would caution the Premier to get as strong a commitment from all Three national leaders on this issue.In saying this I believe that the project stands on its own for all the reasons everyone has mentioned and do not need to be repeated. I will give M rHarper full points in having dealt with this issue head on knowing that he would face pressure and abuse from Quebec. I like to think that what we are seeing is a Prime Minister that is doing the right thing in spite of the potitical risks. If this is true it would be refreshing indeed.

    • Taxpayer
      April 01, 2011 - 14:04

      Are you delusional! Do you rememmber Hearn and Manning and the Atlantic Accord?

  • Frank Blackwood
    April 01, 2011 - 10:00

    Mr. Harper is once again lime painting the picket fences of Newfoundlanders, hoping they will forget his promises after many rain falls. However, one has to give the acting Premier, Kathy Dunderdale of our province some credit for creeping slowly out of the ghostly shadow of Danny Williams who jumped ship. Mr. Harper is handing out "a lot of millions" for short term pacework which involves many workers. Mr. Harper has given many big corporations here in Canada money to survive in other countries, taking our jobs with them to employ workers in other countries who work for peanuts, doing the same jobs and sending the finished products to Canadians to buy.

  • DON
    April 01, 2011 - 09:36

    Forget about $6.2 Billion, that is just a preliminary figure, the real amount of financing will exceed $10 Billion. What $10 Billion hydro-electric projects are in the works in Quebec? Will Harper give $10 Billion to Quebec for their day care program or for paving every road in the Province? Will Harper give $10 Billion to every other Province and Territory for their pet projects? Now we are talking another $100 Billion in loan guarantees or equivalent! WOW! Harper cannot now ignore the needs of all the rest of Canada for loan guarantees and financing. What will Harper do now? If anyone really believes that Harper will honor this promise or that the financing for the Lower Churchill will be forthcoming, I have ocean front land in Arizona to sell to you! Harper may now try to appease Quebec. Apparently, Harper does not realize the depth of the resentment for Newfoundland that exists in Quebec. No amount of appeasement in Quebec will repair the damage Harper caused by favoring a hydro-electric project in Newfoundland and Labrador over Quebec. The first official English colony in what is now Canada was established by London and Bristol Merchant Venturers at Cuper's Cove near Salmon Cove, known today as Avondale in Newfoundland. London and Bristol Merchant Venturers were instrumental in persuading the English Crown to transfer title to Labrador from Quebec to Newfoundland. Does anyone think that the Quebecois don't know the historical connection between Newfoundland, London and Bristol Merchant Venturers and the British Monarchy? The Quebecois have never forgotten the humiliation they have suffered at the hands of those who favored Newfoundland over Quebec. Prime Minister Harper has now shown that he is one of those who favors Newfoundland over Quebec. Not to worry, the Quebecois will overlook this grievous betrayal of Quebec by Harper on election day? Dream on!

  • BobbyB
    April 01, 2011 - 09:24

    As the article reads there are catches to this "loan guarantee". Why is it that Harper hides these facts that he told reporters on the plane from the electorate when the announcement was made? Could it be that he knows the loan guarantee is a hollow one? That it is similar to his income splitting campaign promise that the loan guarantee is also dependent on him being elected to a majority, that it will only take place if the budget is balance, only take place when the debt has been paid down? In short it won't happen for a minimum of 4years down the road if at all! Again another hollow Harper election promise that he has NOT shared fully with the electorate and holds the electorate hostage! Harper, you can't trust him! He does not care about Canadians, only about power!

  • keith williams
    April 01, 2011 - 08:17

    You fooled us once, shame was on you. Now you are trying to fool us again. I only fear that Ms. Dunderdale is so intent on making her mark as pemier, that she will get sucked into the web of lies and deception. Harper, sign an agreement now, while you are Prime Minister, then trust the people to re-elect you on what you do, not your empty promises of what you might do.

  • Harvey Jackman
    April 01, 2011 - 08:07

    Harper and Dunderdale...relatives of Pinnochio...see how their noses grow!!!

  • Warren Maddox
    April 01, 2011 - 08:01

    Good Day NLers, As a fellow Atlantic Canadian and a person who has the greatest respect for Newfoundland and Labrador, I am from NB, I hope that as the political spin swirls around in this spring election season, you remember what has happened before. Harper has made promises to you before and ignored them at the first opportunity. He has gone out of his was to isolate and tried to demonize you in the past. Having travelled to St. Johns many times over the years, I was always impressed by the fact that you seem to have memories that last longer than other places in Canada. I would hope that you display the same longevity of memory again. Harper is not to be trusted, it is that simple. We have seen what his promises mean in NB, we have seen the true nature of his opinion of our region with some off the cuff comments he made about us being a culture of loosers, and we have seen him say one thing and do the opposite for years. Before you go out and vote in May, remember...... WC Maddox Fredericton, NB

  • What a Joke
    April 01, 2011 - 07:50

    With just as many supporters as protesters outside, and a list of "criteria" for a nation wide green energy plan is far from a successful announcement.

  • Murray
    April 01, 2011 - 07:40

    So why didn't he make this promise before the election that he said was a waste of money? It wouldn't be because he thinks we're that thick that we would vote for his Con men in the expectation that we will be richly porkbarreled for our "loyality" to our Dear Leader. No, democracies don't work that way.

  • chris
    April 01, 2011 - 07:33

    He has made promises in the past and revoked on them why wouldn't he now. Anything to get a vote. In his statement about the Muskrat falls he states that any projects that qualify would get it. What are the qualifications. This is his loop hole out of commitment .