"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A fool for a client

On Tuesday in the Bow-Wow Parliament, Great Lawyer™ suddenly expressed reticence about answering Abitibi-related questions:
MS MICHAEL: My questions today relate to the AbitibiBowater sites environmental cleanup. The Premier says that we are better off because we have the AbitibiBowater assets, and the Province will use those assets to counter any liabilities incurred. So he says we are in a net positive position, Mr. Speaker. By the Premier’s own admission, the mill is not really much of an asset; the real assets are the forest resources and the hydro power.

So I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, to explain to us what the government is going to do to turn these so-called assets into real benefits that will put our books in the net positive situation that he talks about, taking into account the cost of the environmental cleanup.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi understands that anything that I may say in answer to that question would only help the Abitibi case in the NAFTA dispute. It is not available for me to do that, to be quite honest with you. What she does also clearly understand, though, is that without the expropriation of those assets we would have nothing. So, if you start to stack any of those liabilities, whether they are environmental liabilities, whether it is the generous severance that we paid to the workers, whether it is costs that we have had to use in order to represent the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, we would have nothing to offset against it. By way of example, and this is a very simple example, the land that we recovered, the land alone that we recovered for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - forget the water rights, forget the timber rights - is three times the size of Prince Edward Island.
This sudden discovery of tact came just a leettle late. Just last week, Great Lawyer™ told the same audience:

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I said before, if we had not taken the action that we took, if we had not expropriated those assets, we would have absolutely nothing to put against the environmental liabilities that this company has left us with in this particular Province.

So we have those assets as a result of the action we took, and as a result of that we have given a severance to the workers in Grand Falls; we have put over $100 million into projects. The amount invested in Central Newfoundland this year is over $200 million in total. That is what we are doing with it.

So, as a result of our positive, our affirmative, action –


PREMIER WILLIAMS: – and instead of our mantra of no more giveaways, we took it away. We took it away from a company that had abused this Province, had not fulfilled its mandate to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, were given land assets and timber assets and hydro assets to run a pulp and paper mill and they did not. They tried to walk away from it, so we nailed them.

The next day, Great Lawyer™ decided, laughably, that the opposition, of all people, were undermining his own legal house of cards (and, naturally, committing treason or some such in the process):
PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, and I ask the Leader of the Opposition: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, or are you trying to build the case for Abitibi so that they can go to NAFTA and say the Leader of the Opposition said this is worth $500 million or $600 million or $700 million? That is what you are saying; that is what you are doing.
It sure is a good thing for Great Lawyer™ that courts and opposing counsel, considering NAFTA actions or Upper Churchill challenges and whatnot, almost never read Hansard.



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