Pre­dic­tions cor­rect on com­mer­cial is­sue

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

The prover­bial chick­ens have come home to roost, Mr. Premier. There was dis­be­lief when Premier Wade MacLauch­lan voiced a com­mer­cial for Trout River In­dus­tries of Cole­man back in the early fall. Ques­tions were raised then about pos­si­ble con­flicts if Trout River In­dus­tries should come call­ing for loans or seek help with its busi­ness op­er­a­tions. The news broke in early Oc­to­ber and by late De­cem­ber, cab­i­net had ap­proved a loan re­quest for $540,000 from Trout River.

We had the premier lend­ing his au­dio sup­port to a unique P.E.I. man­u­fac­turer of live bot­tom trail­ers. Both com­pany and premier de­fended the de­ci­sion be­cause it sup­ported an Is­land busi­ness and the premier was happy to do it for free. It cre­ated a buzz for Trout River — a busi­ness suc­cess story for the prov­ince.

The com­pany sells trail­ers around the world and it needed to ex­pand and pur­chase new equip­ment. There is no rea­son to say no be­cause the com­pany re­ceived help in the past, is suc­cess­ful and re­pays its debts. The loan de­ci­sion was based on the com­pany’s busi­ness plan and prospects.

But on the down­side is the poor op­tics of a cosy re­la­tion­ship be­tween premier, govern­ment and a P.E.I. busi­ness. There is the view that govern­ment must keep loan­ing money to Trout River since the premier now has a per­sonal stake in the mat­ter. The com­pany will al­ways be un­der ex­tra scru­tiny be­cause of that com­mer­cial.

It’s un­for­tu­nate that ques­tions will al­ways be raised. It didn’t have to be this way. There were good in­ten­tions by all sides but in the fu­ture, let Trout River find an­other voice for its ad cam­paign and let the premier save his voice for govern­ment busi­ness on be­half of all cit­i­zens.

Op­po­si­tion MLA Steven My­ers raised con­cerns about last fall. As Mr. My­ers said, the premier should have known bet­ter and pre­dicted “he’s go­ing to find him­self in a jam over this.” That pre­dic­tion has come true.

Trout River de­serves sup­port for be­ing a good cor­po­rate ci­ti­zen. But is the premier pro­mot­ing a par­tic­u­lar busi­ness and show­ing favouritism? It just doesn’t look right.

Premier MacLauch­lan put him­self in an awk­ward po­si­tion and now the com­pany is in the same sit­u­a­tion.

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