Muskrat Falls loan guarantee talks ongoing, Flaherty says

Ottawa and the province continue to discuss details of a loan guarantee the feds have pledged to help develop the Muskrat Falls hydro project.

“We have a commitment by the federal government to provide the loan guarantee, and we have to work on the details, of course, of that,” federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters after giving a speech to the board of trade in St. John's Tuesday.

Flaherty said he was set to meet with Premier Kathy Dunderdale and his provincial counterpart, Tom Marshall, and suspected the guarantee would be part of the discussions.

He told reporters there would be no Muskrat Falls loan guarantee announcement during this visit to Newfoundland “because it’s not ready.”

And Flaherty reiterated support for Muskrat Falls, brushing aside concerns the project could add to the province’s debt load.

“There are large projects in Canada like Muskrat Falls that are worth the investment, because there’s a long-term return on that investment of taxpayers’ money,” Flaherty said.

The federal Conservatives remain committed to supporting the project, he said.

“We have made the commitment. We will honour the commitment.”

On Wednesday, Flaherty declined to get into details of that meeting, but confirmed the guarantee was discussed.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a Conservative rally in St. John’s 18 months go that a re-elected Conservative government would back the Muskrat Falls project.

During that campaign stop during the 2011 federal election campaign, Harper said the Conservatives would provide a loan guarantee or equivalent financial support to the project.

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