Bas-Caraquet — Failing company dependent on government to stay afloat: check. Taxpayer money committed based on misleading or false information: check. Government bailout to save jobs: check. Public funds used to pay company’s unpaid bills: check. Same minister and deputy-minister: check.
There are many similarities, but the Liberal government strongly maintains that the New Brunswick Naval Centre purchase announced over the weekend is not a here-we-go-again multimillion-dollar Atcon-like fuster-cluck.
“For example, we announced the Naval Centre purchase on a Saturday, when everyone had extra time to see what was happening,” said Boudreau, the minister responsible for the Regional Development Corp. “We totally weren’t trying to hide this by releasing it on the weekend. All of the big news is released on the weekend when everyone is paying attention to the news, right?
“Also, Atcon was a series of loan guarantees that we were on the hook for after the company went bankrupt. In this situation, we are straight-out just giving them the money… like a gift from the people of New Brunswick. We might even put a pretty bow on the cheque. See? Totally different.”
The provincial government announced last Saturday that it intends to assume total ownership of the New Brunswick Naval Centre in Bas-Caraquet. The province plans to invest up to $38 million in infrastructure upgrades, starting with keeping a $10 million commitment to a project that will safeguard 28 jobs. By assuming ownership, the province’s taxpayers also would become responsible for liens and debts worth over $1.5 million.
Boudreau continued, “In the Atcon deal, the bailout was provided based on a mistaken understanding of a private company’s financial health. In the Naval Centre’s case, the funding arrangements were obviously flawed under close scrutiny. A non-profit corporation isn’t even allowed to borrow the millions of dollars that the whole deal was predicated on. So again, totally not like Atcon in any way.
“In the Atcon deal, the New Brunswick taxpayers were solely on the hook for everything. In this case, we are roping in the federal government as well to fund part of the $38 million bailout. So, it’s not just the people of New Brunswick buying out this company, but all of the taxpayers in Canada. See, that’s a lot better, right?
“Finally,” Boudreau concluded. “The Atcon deal was to save about 1,500 existing Miramichi jobs, whereas this bailout saves 28 jobs and might create about 77 more. You don’t have to be good at math to see those numbers are nowhere near the same.”
Boudreau paused for a moment, and then quietly asked The Manatee reporter, “Speaking of people who are good at math, do you happen to know anybody like that? Because, we are looking to hire someone at the RDC. Confidentially, we are kind of lacking in that department at the moment. If you know someone, please ask them to get in touch with me. Seriously, we could use the help urgently.”