Dec 16 2008
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador took a major step Tuesday with its quick passage of legislation essentially seizing much of the property owned in the province by the industrial giant AbitibiBowater. By Wednesday, the blowback began including the prospect of legal action.
The province’s action was quick: The measure, proposed by the provincial government, was introduced on Tuesday and passed before the day was out. The seizure was broad-based, and water rights were only a component of it – but were included among the assets considered the be “repatriated” to the province.
The firm said on Wednesday, through spokesman Jean-Philippe, that “We were just basically kicked out of the province by a last-minute piece of legislation . . . Because of what we have on the table, we will have to review our options, including of course any legal considerations. AbitibiBowater also needs to assess how this destabilizing precedent opens the door to some potential Canada-U.S. trade issues.”
AbitibiBowater is a major producer of newsprint, wood and other products, and has facilities elsewhere across Canada in other provinces.