Gift horse needs a dentist

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Have we got a deal for you! We want you to lend us more money than you've ever lent anyone ever, and we only want to give you the vaguest details why you should lend us the money. But trust us, it's good for you. Oh, and when we say lend, we mean give.

The Nova Scotia government and Irving Shipbuilding aren't releasing the details of the $304 million payout the government has made to the corporation, despite a Freedom of Information request from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The money, you may recall, is to help the Irvings with their mega-contract to build ships. Most of it is 'forgivable,' which means one of Canada's wealthiest corporations and families won't have to pay it back, as long as they meet certain stipulations apparently related to job creation and economic impacts.

But we don't have a detailed explanation of what those stipulations are, and the two parties to the deal aren't talking.

Ostensibly, there's a good reason the request for info was denied. The gist: a third party, allegedly the Irvings, refused to allow it, and release of the information could hurt the province's economy or the financial interests of a public body.

So don't worry: it has nothing to do with a government fearing taxpayers might blow a gasket if we saw how little we're getting for our hundreds of millions; and it certainly has nothing to do with a corporation fearing a public backlash when it's revealed how little they really needed the money at a time when Nova Scotians are tightening belts and decreasing public services.

No, nothing to do with either of those ridiculous ideas.

Here's a thought: Allow the three parties in the legislature to nominate an independent auditor to review the deal and make public whatever won't harm the province's economy.

Yeah, that won't happen. Besides, it would trample the rights of the third party. The third party that thinks it can accept over $300 million in public money - $260 million of it a gift - but not face tough questions from taxpayers.

Organizations: Irving Shipbuilding

Geographic location: Irvings, Nova Scotia, Canada Nova Scotians

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  • CL
    May 30, 2012 - 09:43

    Welcome to Canada, home of the Cure for Cancer (x2) that will never be realized.