May 24 2012
HALIFAX, NS – Darrell Dexter’s Economic Development Minister would not commit today to releasing information behind the NDP’s decision to provide a $304-million loan to Irving Shipbuilding. Most of the loan, $260 million, is forgivable. To put the sum in perspective, each Nova Scotian is loaning about $325 to Irving Shipbuilding, but the company will only pay back $45.
PC Party leader Jamie Baillie says the Minister’s commitment only to consult with his staff and “make sure Irving, as a partner, is not at any risk” raises questions about who the government is representing.
“The Minister’s job is to protect the interests of Nova Scotians, first and foremost, and be accountable about where he spends their money,” said Baillie. “No money should have been given without the expectation that the facts behind the decision be made public.”
“It is unacceptable
for the NDP government to transfer such a large sum to a private company with no expectation to tell the public the facts,” said Baillie. “The Minister must answer the questions that are raised by this secretive deal.”
Baillie is concerned that the money may have been given without a condition to make the details public. “A key condition of spending public money, or accepting public money, is being open to public scrutiny,” he added.
Baillie says his PC Party supports the jobs and opportunity the shipbuilding contract will bring, however, Nova Scotians deserve to know
how much Irving asked for, how this large amount was determined and why $260 million of the total loan is forgivable. He also asked if the NDP considered alternatives, like a loan guarantee, that would have cost taxpayers less, or how the NDP assistance to Irving compared to other bidders in other provinces.
The NDP has also delayed releasing information on the untendered Ships Start Here
advertising campaign. Minutes of committee meetings held over a year ago have not yet been made public. The committee members broke tendering rules and authorized over $300,000 to be spent on an ad campaign. The NDP blocked all efforts by opposition members of the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee to ask questions of Premier’s Office officials on the matter.
Baillie added that all megaprojects involving taxpayers’ money
should go through a thorough cost-benefit analysis. In the case of the Nova Scotia government’s investment in the federal government’s shipbuilding initiative, Baillie says taxpayers must be assured, at every step, that the ships are built to the best quality and with the best value for every dollar invested.