Harper expected to announce support

James McLeod
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Questions about PM dominate fiery question period

Prime Minister Stephen Harper — File photo

Even as the Opposition blasted Premier Kathy Dunderdale for the Muskrat Falls hydro deal and her relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a federal government source said he will  make a major announcement on the project when he visits St. John’s today.

The source said Wednesday the prime minister will announce support for the construction of the subsea cables today, but it may not necessarily be in the form of loan guarantees.


Won’t back loan guarantee

The government source said Harper won’t explicitly back the loan guarantee, as this requires further approvals.

“My understanding is that it’s going to be a demonstration of tangible support for the project ... in some form that will be of ben-efit to ratepayers in both provinces,” the source said.

Without the backing to reduce borrowing costs, there were fears that the project would have meant huge rate hikes for electricity in both provinces, said the source.

“They’ll hedge on explicitly on a loan guarantee, but they’ll approximate the value that would have flowed to ratepayers.”

“I’m anxiously looking forward to his visit and any announcements he might make,” Dunderdale told reporters outside the House of Assembly Wednesday.

But even as Dunderdale was hinting at good news, she was sparring with Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones over the issue.

Jones was also trying to tie Dunderdale to Harper’s budget delivered earlier this month but never passed because the government was defeated, as well as other commitments the federal Conservatives have made.

In the past several days, provincial MHAs have been conspicuously supporting federal Conservative candidates in the May 2 election.

But Jones said Harper — and his friends — are not to be trusted.

“(The Harper Conservatives) in 2006 said they were going to bring 650 troops into Happy Valley-Goose Bay; that they were going to preserve 5 Wing Goose Bay,” Jones said during question period. “Where is the file now? Where is the commitment from the Harper government now? Why have you guys not delivered for the people of Happy Valley-Goose Bay?”

“My understanding is that it’s going to be a demonstration of tangible support for the project ... in some form that will be of benefit to ratepayers in both provinces.” Government source

Jones also asked about budget cuts to Marine Atlantic, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Dunderdale said that those issues were federal government territory, and she wouldn’t get drawn into it.

“Mr. Speaker, I suggest she come and meet Mr. Harper and ask him directly,” Dunderdale said. “I am not Mr. Harper’s spokesperson.”

Jones also focused on a quote from Dunderdale’s in the past.

“She went out and said that you could not trust Stephen Harper,” Jones said. “Now that you are on the record as saying that you do not trust Stephen Harper because he broke his promises on the Atlantic Accord and on equalization, what has changed that we should trust him on any other deal that he makes with Newfoundland and Labrador?”

Dunderdale responded that her comments were aimed at Harper during the “Anything But Conservative” campaign of the 2008 election. Since then, she said, times have changed.

“People learn and people have the capacity to change.,” Dunderdale said. “Mr. Speaker, it is a new day and I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition is contemplating that the feds might offer us a loan guarantee.”

Harper is scheduled to hold a rally at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s 5:30 this evening.



With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: House of Assembly Wednesday.But, Conservatives, Marine Atlantic Department of Fisheries and Oceans Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.Dunderdale Delta Hotel Canadian Press

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Happy Valley, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Jackie
    April 13, 2011 - 06:03

    I think Harper is full of broken promise and hope he doesnt get re elected. I think the NDP will be a stronger person.

  • John
    April 09, 2011 - 21:42

    I love the TFSA that the Harper government brought in,hope that it does double in coming years.It allows the working man to invest tax free for the furture.The next best thing to sliced bread.

  • Rocky Williams
    March 31, 2011 - 10:36

    "Dunderdale said that those issues were federal government territory, and she wouldn’t get drawn into it." But Kathy! Last year you campaigned for the Federal Liberals regarding Federal issues - (aka territory) don't you remember? Kathy! Tell us which political hat will you greet Harper with today? Federal Liberal or PC or Federal Conservative Party? Quite a collection there. All you need now is an orange one!

  • Townie
    March 31, 2011 - 10:11

    It seems that some of Dunderdale's old friends have come out of the woodwork to join Team Harper. To take Harper on his word now would be utterly irresponsible.

  • steve
    March 31, 2011 - 09:54

    I feel that the N D P will have a strong showing & will gain seats everywhere as a result of the mistrust of Harper & the Liberals. Layton may even form a minority government. Why not give them a chance?

  • Will
    March 31, 2011 - 09:08

    Dad I need your signature on a bank loan to by my first car ... now that's a no strings attached loan guarantee. So is Mr. Harper your Daddy Ms. Dunderdale? ... cause he ain't the boss of me.

  • DON
    March 31, 2011 - 09:01

    This is blatant political smoke and mirrors. This announcement from Harper will likely be carefully worded in a vain attempt to fool the people into believing that the Muskrat Falls project is going to proceed and succeed. The fact is Harper cannot provide a $6 to $10 Billion loan guarantee without prior approval being contained in the Federal Budget. The Federal Budget does not contain any reference to a loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls project. Quebec has warned Harper not to provide financing or loan guarantees to Newfoundland for the Lower Churchill project. If Harper provides any support for any part of the Lower Churchill project he will lose all of his political support in Quebec. I suspect that Harper knows he may lose this election or end up with a minority again so he is prepared to do or say whatever he has to in each region of the Country. In its current form, the Lower Churchill project is going to be a repeat of the Upper Churchill debacle. Why do Newfoundlanders want a repeat of Joey Smallwood's folly? Unbelievable! Why do Newfoundlanders think that they will get a fairer deal from Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers than they did from the Quebecois? The Government of Newfoundland has not put all of the facts on the table for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to review and consider. If the project will be as successful as is claimed, why not put all the facts out in the public domain for public scrutiny and comment? There are ulterior motives behind the Government of Newfoundland secrecy. The Government of Newfoundland is promoting the Muskrat Falls project without revealing all of the obstacles and pitfalls which will result in massive environmental damage, social disruption, major cost of construction over runs, higher electricity rates and adding billions of dollars more in crushing long term Provincial debt. The Government of Newfoundland desperately wants to persuade the people that this is a real good deal! This project will be a repeat of the Upper Churchill debacle all over again. An Election is a great excuse for politicians to shell out empty promises and wild rhetoric to gullible people in return for false hope and a few votes.

    • Thomas Griffiths
      March 31, 2011 - 10:17

      Don for god sake get over yourself,you come across as living in the past and wanting history to repeat it self.If you don't know how this game called politics works its not much point in me or anyone else trying to debate your points, which are valid BTW.I as a NFLDer that had to leave home in order for my family to have a better life than i could give them out in the bay,have a different view and i hope all NFLDers consider what i have to say.If NFLD doesn't get behind Harper and a coalition of losers get control in Ottawa held in place by the bloc,does any NFLDer think we will get support for this project or any other.Come think about it plaese,the liberals will sell us down the river to buy off Que, we all know how fairly we have been treated by Que right.This NFLDer with Alberta kids will pray that Nfld gets this funding and so day guys like me can come home with our heads held high and work and live again, please help me and all others across Canada come home to a good job and the best place on this planet to live.

  • Scott Free
    March 31, 2011 - 08:11

    Watch for it...the announcement that Princess Matthews will be appointed vice-president of the Muskrat Falls Project...afterall, her vast experience in dealing with high level files, major projects, script writing, fashion awareness, oral and written skills....make her the perfect, er, the only suitable candidate...the hell with safey, worker relations, finance, technical background...education...etc.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 31, 2011 - 08:10

    Some of the most important things for NL "are federal government issues", and I am blown away by "our?" Premier dismissing them because "they are federal responsibilities". What does that say about Premier Dunderdale?

  • Joe Tilley
    March 31, 2011 - 07:30

    A man is only as good as his word and Newfoundlander's should know that Harper has broken his word more often than he has kept it. It's easy to say he supports a Newfoundland initiative in his election campaign, but once elected how long will it take for him to back out of it? He has broken promises to Newfoundland before and he will do it again. Do not trust Harper. He is a master of propaganda, spin, empty rhetoric, and lies. His election campaign is one built on fear tactics like those you see in the US. There is no Conservative party anymore, just a Harper party, and it is anything but a fiscally conservative party!