Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole says he would uphold the deal between the federal and provincial governments to keep electricity bills in Newfoundland and Labrador from spiking as a result of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, but it took a few rounds of questioning for him to make the commitment.
During a campaign stop in Corner Brook, N.L., on Friday, O'Toole was asked what he and his party would do about the financial consequences of Muskrat Falls, but he instead spoke about the province's offshore oil industry.
"The businesses that also need those certainty on power rates, they need that injection of jobs and investment from the offshore, so we're putting $1.5 billion to re-kick-start the offshore here in Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.
Last month, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Premier Andrew Furey reached a $5.2-billion deal to protect electricity ratepayers from steep increases once power begins flowing from Muskrat Falls in the fall. The agreement involves a combination of new money and refinancing agreements.
Trudeau said at the time that the deal would "ensure financial sustainability of the project, while protecting people from major electricity increases."
'We will always work with Newfoundland and Labrador'
When asked again about whether his party would honour that deal, O'Toole didn't commit but noted that the Conservatives provided the initial federal loan guarantee to get the project off the ground.
"We will always work with Newfoundland and Labrador to make sure that they can balance the Muskrat Falls project and its overruns alongside their need to make sure that they can provide social services, supports and access the debt markets,"
"We were there for the province at the beginning, we will be there for the province as a government."
O'Toole was then asked by reporrers for an official statement on whether the Conservatives would support the deal, the party's director of communications later sent an emailed response from the campaign.
"An Erin O'Toole-led government will honour the deal in place with the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project," the email read.
"We will also create jobs and boost the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador by supporting the offshore industry — a sharp contrast with the other parties who have been clear they want to shut that industry down."
The communications director later followed up with CBC News by email to attribute the statement to O'Toole.