Eleventh hour talks between Jafarnia, Steele prove fruitless
NEW GLASGOW – A last ditch attempt to restart the troubled Maritime Steel last weekend appears to have been in vain.
At a meeting, brokered by MLA Ross Landry, between former Maritime Steel president Abbas Jafarnia and Economic and Rural Development Minister Graham Steele, the government’s position remained unchanged and no funding for the beleaguered foundry will be forthcoming.
Steele’s media relations advisor stated there is nothing new to report as Jafarnia has made no further progress toward meeting the province’s minimum requirements.
“I’ve done my best, but it appears it wasn’t good enough for this town,” said Jafarnia. “The ones in government who had ability to help, could have done so, but decided against it.”
Jafarnia had asked Pictou Centre MLA Landry to arrange the interview with Steele to lay out his case face-to-face with the minister. The evening of Saturday, Aug. 24, Jafarnia said he received a call from Landry to meet with Steele on Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. at Landry’s constituency office.
Jafarnia brought Lloyd MacKay, a friend and supporter, to sit in on the meeting with Landry and Steele but was refused entry into the meeting.
“It wasn’t appropriate,” Landry said. “I went through great trouble to get Mr. Jafarnia a meeting with Minister Steele so he could focus on Maritime Steele without distraction. If he had brought investors it might have been different, but they weren’t.”
Jafarnia said it set the tone of the meeting for him and wasn’t a good sign. Mackay stated he wasn’t offended that he wasn’t allowed in the meeting.
“I’ll do anything for Jafarnia,” he said. “My heart goes out to him.”
Maritime Steel declared bankruptcy in December 2010 and was purchased by Jafarnia, a former employee, shortly thereafter.
Steele outlined the government’s concerns with the business plan and management of Maritime Steel in an interview with The News on Aug. 1. According to Steele the province’s requirements remain unmet.
“I’ll say this, I left the meeting with saying goodbye to either of the men.” Abbas Jafarnia – Former Maritime Steel President
“We’ve been working with Mr. Jafarnia for a long time, and he has not met basic conditions we would expect from any business asking for support from the government: a commercial bank account and credit facilities, private equity, adequate security for the loan and enough profitable orders to support the business plan,” said Steele.
Jafarnia, however, stated the province has been dragging their feet on Maritime Steel since coming to power in 2009.
“They haven’t done anything they said, such as help me create a business plan by February 2013,” he said. “Once the plan was created and submitted without their help, they weren’t interested and turned it down.”
He said the discussion started off cordial and he did 90 per cent of the talking, presenting his case to Steele and Landry.
“When I saw they weren’t interested in helping I became angry and upset,” Jafarnia said. “I’ll say this, I left the meeting with saying goodbye to either of the men.”
At this point, Jafarnia has signed the final contracts with a foundry near Niagara Falls, which will take possession of most of Maritime Steel’s equipment.
“As soon as the building where the equipment is headed is ready, it will be out of New Glasgow,” he said, giving an approximate departure date of late September.
While he can’t disclose the name of the foundry acquiring the equipment, he said a handful of former Maritime Steel employees have expressed an interest to go to Niagara Falls and work.
“I’ve worked with these guys for eight years and I know the great products coming from their hands,” he said. “That’s why I bought the place.”
Landry stated that he remains committed to supporting jobs and business in Pictou County and is willing to meet with constituents of Pictou Centre to discuss this issue.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn