I was surprised that delegates to the P.C. Convention, this
past weekend, were asked to vote on a resolution in support of the Muskrat
Muskrat Falls is the largest construction project ever
undertaken by a provincial government; it is the legacy project of Danny
Williams and Kathy Dunderdale. Surely,
party members should be asked to weigh in and give it two thumbs up? Well,
Members the courtesy of the DG-3 numbers, the latest cost estimates generated
by SNC Lavalin; she should have informed them of the cost of Muskrat power on a
KWh basis and how many billions of dollars will be added to the public debt to
pay for the project.
|Cartoon Credit: John Meaney, Rand and Roar|
In a gesture of transparency, the Premier might have
insisted that Party Members be informed of the net cost to the consumer given
that NL needs only 40% of Muskrat power.
The Premier’s number, per KWh, would have factored in the 20% of the 824
MWs to Emera, at no charge, and the balance to mining interests at the price of
less than 4 cents per KWh. Such a
gesture would have constituted respect for the people who make the ‘Party’ function. Then, perhaps, armed with that information,
Tory delegates would be ready to vote? Alas, that is not the case.
Had a Muskrat Plenary Session dominated the entire weekend,
where seminars on Nalcor’s poor demand numbers had been discussed, the Water
Management Agreement or the alternatives to Muskrat Falls received the scrutiny
of a group still cloudy from the previous night’s festivities, it still would not
have been appropriate to invite the delegates to commit themselves on such a
You see, that the vote was on the agenda at all was
inappropriate; it was wrong. Clearly, Dunderdale
and Kennedy will grasp at any support now that satire has taken hold of the ‘contract
coalition’ of business people. Yes, I
too have wondered how the Premier’s liaison with that group is going down with
the ordinary working stiffs who comprise the largest group of delegates.
Of course, someone ought to have told the Premier and the Party
executive to buzz off, but in the super fused atmosphere of partisan politics,
that’s easier said than done, unless you want to be sent packing.
was entirely appropriate that Muskrat Falls be discussed at the Gander
Convention, provided that the delegates were disrespected by being asked to digest a diatribe of propaganda.
Any Government would use an opportunity to ‘educate’ its supporters
about a project with such wide ranging ramifications.
But seek a vote in support of Muskrat Falls (via the
Premier’s District Assoc.)? No. Wiser leadership
would have counselled and differentiated between a ‘principle’ and a
pursuit of a principle. The concept of
‘adjacency’ in the fishery is based upon a principle. A desire to mitigate green-house gases
involves a principle. If the delegates had been asked to support the principle
of funding ‘green’ energy or the principles found in energy conservation (I
wonder if delegates knew that NL is one of only two provinces that does not
fund an independent energy conservation group), that would have made sense. Afterall,
what political party has not tried to graft on to the universally popular goal
of reducing the global carbon footprint.
Holyrood produces much fewer green house gases than does the
Come By Chance Oil Refinery. Some
delegate, as kind of a trick question, might have enquired why the Government
has failed to deal with the most obvious and egregious problem first. But, I digress.
objectives and then good organization. Muskrat
Falls is a project. It is not a
principle. It is an investment. It may
be a poor one, but it is still an investment, by definition. Indeed, it is an investment that a great many
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians believe is so poorly conceived that it will
seriously impair the treasury of the Province.
Problem is, this P.C Government is afraid to commit the
final number and much additional information to the PUB for complete and final
examination. It has obstructed the ‘Rule
of Law’ by evading the very Agency established to provide such rigorous review.
Dunderdale, personally. Our views on
Muskrat Falls are not borne out of partisanship, either. Some of us have made contributions to P.C.
Governments, over many years, of which we are still rightfully proud.
But we would not be wrong in suggesting that this Premier
has little respect for principles. And
what is a Party without principles.
Afterall, P.C. Governments boast introduction of the Public Tendering
Act, the Public Service Commission, even the Freedom of Information Act and a
host of other reforms that constitute the underpinnings of modern democratic
government. The ‘principles’ of the
Atlantic Accord are what gave its pursuit legitimacy and staying power.
demand that the party faithful endorse a ‘project’ of such consequence as
Muskrat Falls while scandalizing the fundamental ‘principles’ of the Rule of
Law by openly debasing an important Agency like the PUB.
Governments often lose their way. Political parties can’t afford to; principles are what sustains them.