Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paper Tiger

Where would we be without Friday afternoon press releases? Labradore has already dissected this PR roadkill:

But the last two paragraphs are worth another look:

"The company has indicated that severance is not available at this time," said Minister Skinner. "However, AbitibiBowater is not bankrupt and there have been many companies who have come out of creditor protection to resume normal operations and commitments to former employees. We are hopeful that this will continue, and in the interim will impress upon the company that their obligations should not be compromised. As a government, we intend to keep their feet to the fire, keep their officials accountable and ensure that the workers receive the appropriate documentation to file EI claims."

"Given the forestry’s overall importance in the national economy, there is tremendous opportunity for the Federal Government to support workers during this trying time," said Minister Skinner. "The forestry employs twice the number of workers [IN CANADA] as the automobile sector. With this in mind, I encourage the Federal Government to step up and provide similar levels of support."

Who knew that a press release had such awesome power that it could not only keep a company's feet to the fire but also get the federal government to do something it has said it's not going to do?

Skinner got quoted in yesterday's Globe, so he must have read this:
"Ottawa is refusing to rescue AbitibiBowater Inc. with loan guarantees — putting thousands of jobs in communities across Canada at risk after the forest products giant filed for bankruptcy protection.
AbitibiBowater, one of the country's oldest companies and the world's biggest producer of newsprint, filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States Thursday, citing a debt burden of more than $6-billion (U.S.), and plans to file for similar protection in Montreal today, under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
Federal Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said Thursday that loan guarantees for the Montreal-based company would be a commercial advantage to Canadian producers and fuel the softwood lumber dispute with U.S. firms."

And this morning the Globe is reporting that Quebec is doing more than using a press release to tell Ottawa what to do:
"A loan guarantee of up to $100-million (U.S.) from the Quebec government is a welcome vote of confidence in AbitibiBowater Inc. [ABH-T] and helps reassure job-dependent communities in the province that suppliers will continue to be paid, court was told Friday. “That is a tremendous shot in the arm for us,” Sean Dunphy, the head of the legal team guiding the debt-laden newsprint giant through bankruptcy protection proceedings in Canada, told Mr. Justice ClĂ©ment Gascon of Quebec Superior Court.

So here's the VODW Question of the Day: What is Dangovt actually going to do about the situation, besides issue a media advisory at 4:50 on a Friday afternoon?

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