Inside Politics

UPDATED: Penashue campaign won't identify Nfld project then-minister held up

Now, it's entirely possible that I am a wee bit naive when it comes to the rough-and-tumble tradition of politicking on the Rock, but I must confess that the following off the cuff comments by former-and-possibly-future Labrador MP and ex-minister of the crown Peter Penashue, reported by my intrepid CBC NL colleagues, dropped my jaw:

Meanwhile, Penashue told a room of supporters who helped him celebrate his 49th birthday that he stopped a project in Newfoundland so that more funding could be procured for the Trans-Labrador Highway.

"I attained and pushed for managed to get $85 million for the road, on the Trans-Labrador Highway. I will tell you this. If I was not there, that road, that money would not be spent there. The money would be spent somewhere else," Penashue said.

"I will tell you a secret. I did not sign the approvals in Newfoundland until I had my $85 million for the road in Labrador, and I held their project for six months," Penashue told a cheering crowd. 

Although he was Newfoundland and Labrador's federal cabinet representative, Penashue said his riding definitely came first.

"My view is that I was elected by Labrador to represent Labrador, and to do good, to bring the benefits to all Labrador," he said. "That's why I am there, and I am very, very partisan in Ottawa."

So, if I'm reading this correctly, Penashue has openly admitted to deliberately delaying an unspecified project in Newfoundland -- one that, presumably, would benefit Newfoundlanders -- solely so he could get what he describes as 'his' $85 million in funding for his riding of Labrador.

At the very least, that revelation seems likely to rankle those Newfoundlanders who were under the apparently false impression that Penashue was their man in cabinet, too. 

UPDATE: So, it turns out that I wasn't the only one who found this particular admission somewhat eyebrow-raising. 

You can read the post-revelation reaction from opposition critics -- including outgoing Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who is currently touring Labrador with his party's by-election candidate, Yvonne Jones -- right here, courtesy of the tireless reporters at CBC NL - as well as what seems to be a distinct reluctance on the part of both the Penashue campaign and his former federal  colleagues to identify exactly which Newfoundland project the then-minister held up for six months: 

 His campaign manager, Joe Goudie, told CBC News on Thursday that the Conservatives "won't be releasing that information." An official with the party made a similar declaration on Wednesday.  Tory MP and parliamentary secretary Kellie Leitch, when asked by Power and Politics host Evan Solomon about the mystery project, said that she did not know, or whether there was such a project.


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