Thursday, March 31, 2011

Harper in Newfoundland today

Here is something to watch. How far he goes with his photo-op/announcement in respect of the $6.2 billion Lower Churchill hydro development for which the Newfoundland government is seeking a loan guarantee. CBC reported this yesterday:
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.
...
It's not yet known whether Harper will make the formal announcement at a campaign stop on Thursday.
"The formal announcement." CTV is reporting he will announce support for the project.

Keep these principles in mind given we are in an election campaign and therefore a caretaker government period:
“Do not do anything that would give you political advantage by virtue of being the government and do not make commitments that will constrain the government that is eventually elected.”
Harper should not be committing the government of Canada to anything right now for political advantage. He can promise as a politician in campaign mode, that's it. Always worth watching whether Mr. Harper will follow such rules.

It does look like a case of let's make a deal. Provincial PCs, now that Danny is gone, help Harper get some Conservative MPs elected...they get a loan guarantee.

Except that there is an indication (not much in the way of detail there) that Liberals will also be pledging support for the project so any political advantage to the day may be neutralized in any event.

Update: More from Scott Brison
On Wednesday, the Liberals said they support the project.
"I was asked to give you a call to give you our leader and our party’s position," said Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison. "We support loan guarantees for the project. We would also be prepared to invest in clean energy infrastructure anywhere in the country."