A Nova Scotia fish plant that got a controversial government loan on the eve of the provincial election is now selling off a portion of the plant's processing equipment, CBC News has learned.
In August, Nova Scotia's NDP government gave a $500,000 "restructuring" loan to Blue Wave Seafoods of Port Mouton. The NDP justified the loan on the grounds it would save jobs at the Port Mouton plant.
"This is 70 jobs in a local community with a company which should have the ability to be sustainable," a campaigning Darrell Dexter told CBC News on Sept. 9.
"There's an opportunity to save 70 jobs in that area," said Sterling Belliveau. At the time he was the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The plant is located in his riding.
Ten days later, Blue Wave put a portion of the plant's processing equipment up for sale.
"Like New — Complete ground fish processing plant for sale," said the notice posted on the Blois Fish Automation Processing website.
The website pitch says "Only used for six months in plant — installed in 2010. Cost new — $2,000,000. * Will consider sale in pieces, preference as complete package deal."
The then-opposition Nova Scotia Liberals criticized the refinancing loan as unfair to other companies in the fishing industry.
Now in power, the Liberals say the processing equipment being sold on the internet is a "non-core asset" to the company.
"What they are selling is not part of their primary operation, nor are they part of some security we have on investments we made as a province in that company," Economic Development Minister Michel Samson told CBC News.
Belliveau said he's pleased the loan has saved jobs but said he was unaware the company planned to sell off any equipment.
"The restructuring loan was issued by the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism to Blue Wave Seafoods. At that time I wasn't aware of any equipment that Blue Wave planned to sell," said Belliveau in an emailed statement Thursday.
Blue Wave has received more than $5 million in Nova Scotia financial assistance since 1998.
The company did not respond to requests for comment.
"Our understanding is this has the potential of freeing up some cash to re-invest in itself,' Samson said.