Predictions correct on commercial issue
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.