Conservatives in Newfoundland and Labrador are warning voters against supporting other parties, on grounds that a change in government will lead to a scuttled loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.
"Bye Bye Loan Guarantee," read the headline of a campaign ad published this weekend in the St. John's Telegram by the campaign for Loyola Sullivan, the Conservative candidate in St. John's South-Mount Pearl.
"A Liberal or NDP vote is a vote for the Coalition and the Bloc separatists and a loss of the Conservative Lower Churchill Loan Guarantee," reads the ad, which also uses a prominent quote by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff about the possibility of a coalition government.
The ad shows that the Conservatives hope to use the Lower Churchill loan guarantee as a wedge issue, even though both Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton have made the same endorsement.
That hasn't stopped candidates like Fabian Manning, the Conservative candidate in Avalon, from speculating about the influence that the Bloc could have after the election.
"The fact is, if we have a minority parliament and we can get our budget through, which includes the loan guarantee, we will have the loan guarantee. But the fact is Ignatieff and company have said they're not going to allow that to happen," Manning said.
During a campaign stop outside St. John's last Thursday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper defended how his candidates have framed the issue, as well as other planks of the Conservative platform.
"A strong Conservative majority government will be able to deliver on those commitments," said Harper.
"A minority parliament, where effectively a majority of seats is held by the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois, cannot and will not deliver on that commitment," said Harper, who underscored at that appearance — at a hockey stadium in Conception Bay South — that Newfoundland and Labrador voters should trust the Conservative record.
"That really is the choice facing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our commitment is clear, and also the other part, of course, our commitment is part of our platform," Harper said.
Newfoundland and Labrador has been seeking a loan guarantee that would lower the cost of borrowing for the $6.2-billion megaproject, which as proposed would see electricity generated at Muskrat Falls on the Churchill River in central Labrador.
Energy would then be piped through subsea cables to Newfoundland, with a portion of it then directed to Nova Scotia.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have also been seeking funding for defraying the cost of subsea cables through a federal infrastructure program.