Opposition disappointed, Quebec angered by loan guarantee

Newfoundland and Labrador's opposition parties, a group of concerned citizens, and the Quebec government are all unhappy with the loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday.

Both Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the document that was signed was not enough.

"Well, I have to say I'm disappointed," said Michael. "I think we were all expecting a full loan guarantee and what we have is a term sheet."

The document signed Friday was called a term sheet, with the final and binding legal text still to be worked out by lawyers.

Michael added she wasn't impressed with the confusion and last-minute scramble by the provincial government on Thursday as news of the prime minister's trip to Labrador filtered out through the media.

"So the whole thing continues to be just this crazy farce around Muskrat Falls," said Michael. "It's just really bothersome."

Dennis Browne, a lawyer and member of the 2041 Energy Group, said the announcement Friday didn't change anything about the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

"If they had to come to say we actually found you some markets in the northeastern United States for your power, that would be interesting," said Browne, whose group believes there are lower-cost alternatives to meet the province's energy needs. "Because when the project was announced, we were told there would be markets into the northeastern United States, and there are not. They can't come up with one."

Browne said he was also concerned that despite Harper's assurances, the project still faces a federal court challenge from aboriginal and environmental groups.

"There ought not to have been any announcement today, they ought to have waited for the federal court to deliver its decision. That would be the appropriate thing to do if you were following the rule of law in this country."

Meanwhile, the government of Quebec is furious about the loan guarantee.

Alexandre Cloutier, Quebec's intergovernmental affairs minister, said his province never received similar help from Ottawa for its hydroelectric development. He added Quebec is looking at its legal options to fight the deal.

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