Lorraine Michael Question Period (04.17.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

After weeks of secrecy, we discovered in Estimates this morning that the secret $90 million was actually allocated for a loan to the Kruger pulp and paper mill in Corner Brook, which has of course been confirmed by the Minister of Natural Resources in his statement today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What are the terms of this loan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly happy to receive this question from the Leader of the NDP.

We have been involved in trying to shore up the forestry industry in this Province, and particularly the pulp and paper industry, since we came to government in 2003, in spite of a worldwide crisis, Mr. Speaker. Corner Pulp and Paper is currently engaged in negotiations with two of its unions before it can move on with a go-forward plan, a sustainability plan, Mr. Speaker.

If I were to come out today with the full detail of what we have been able to negotiate with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, I suspect the Leader of the NDP will be stood in her place accusing me of putting undue pressure on unions to conform. The company needs to conclude its work. When it does, we will make available to the public the details of these arrangements.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I will be looking forward to learning what type of loan is going to be offered and what the details of the type of loan it is that they will be offering, Mr. Speaker.

The provincial government has invested, since 2004 –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: - $123 million in Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and they are now committing to a $90 million loan. I am not objecting to that, Mr. Speaker.

What I would like to know from the Premier is: What is the collateral that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is offering for that financial support?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, she says she is committed. The Leader of the NDP says she is committed to Corner Brook. She says she is committed to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. She says she is committed to the forestry industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, of which Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, by the way, is a critical piece. The integrated sawmilling industry will collapse. For all intents and purposes, what is left of the forestry industry in Newfoundland and Labrador will collapse without the presence of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

Mr. Speaker, at the same time the unions and the company have a right to come to a negotiated agreement, what the terms of their engagement is going to be and what price labour is going to be provided to the government. We cannot put undue pressure on either party, nor will we, Mr. Speaker, until the details that need to be released (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I guess we will have to keep digging on that one too, to find out what the collateral is that they will be offering.

Mr. Speaker, I have seen an internal memo from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper congratulating staff for beating their previous production record in March of this year by 18.5 tons a day, reaching a brand new record of 459.5 tons in one day. The company’s general manager called it a great achievement, and I agree; we have the best workers in the world here in this Province.

So I ask the Premier: With this excellent workforce achieving these results, will she explain what exactly the $90 million is being offered to Kruger for?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the NDP was offered a caution this morning in Estimates about being too hasty in revealing the terms and conditions of this agreement.

One of the critical pieces that we have talked about, publicly, in this House and elsewhere, is that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and their unions need to successfully conclude their arrangements before government will reveal the terms that we have offered to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. We do that not to put unfair pressure on either party, Mr. Speaker.

When those arrangements are concluded, we will have a news conference, we will have briefings for the Opposition parties, Mr. Speaker, and we will celebrate the terms of this agreement, if successful, that will sustain the forestry (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We are told that ABE is so expensive it has to be privatized. In 2006 the current Minister of Advanced Skills and Education announced the expansion of ABE at College of the North Atlantic sites saying that the move was a significant contribution and reflects government’s commitment to adult education. She also said that the programs were absolutely essential to ensure all communities are vibrant and productive and an important part of our social and economic agenda.

I ask the Minister of Advanced Skills and Education: Why has she suddenly put a price tag on lifting people out of poverty in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SHEA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to let the Leader of the Third Party know that the department is called Advanced Education and Skills. She said is wrong a few times; I think she should call it by the appropriate name.

Mr. Speaker, Adult Basic Education is an important program in this Province and will continue to be an important program. There are approximately 2,000 people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador who are doing Adult Basic Education; 1,200 happen to be doing it outside the College of the North Atlantic. It is also important to note, Mr. Speaker, that it is offered in communities other than communities that have College of the North Atlantic campus.

We will continue this program into the future, Mr. Speaker. The students and the adult learners of this Province who need access to Adult Basic Education will absolutely have access to that program.

Associated Caucus Members: 

Share this page: