Race for Best Opposition Party Starts Now!

Recently
the Liberal Opposition announced a number of rules which, they believe, should
govern the structure of the House of Assembly debate on Muskrat Falls.

I had some
difficulty with the logic of a few of the Liberals’ Rules.  The idea of examining witnesses in the
morning with debate in the afternoon is questionable (why not get all the
information, then engage in debate).  The
Libs also want to help construct the resolution (why would you even want to, unless
you planned to support the resolution). 
I have a few other issues but they are minor.  None of them diminish the fundamental
importance of a ‘structured’  examination
of witnesses before the debate begins.

The NDP
must now put forward its own proposal.

Both
Parties also have to decide how far to push the Government to accept their
debate ideas or at least get them to negotiate. 
And they will need to push hard.

Dunderdale
has already commented that there will be no examination of witnesses; that the Vale
Inco Debate is the “template” for the Muskrat Falls Debate.  Some template!

The
Opposition would be silly if they let her set the rules for the Debate in the
House of Assembly as she has for public consideration of the issue.




Indeed, someone
needs to tell the Premier that that the Vale Inco template is a falsity; Muskrat
Falls has no parallels; it is the largest publicly funded construction project
in this Province’s history, no consortium of equity investors is lined up to
take on the risk,  as for Hibernia; only the
people of the Province will pay for the project. 

The last Post, entitled PAN the Muskrat Falls Debate…Unless discusses the complexity of the Project and the
fact that MHAs are not ready to debate important project details.

If the
Opposition Parties go into the House of Assembly, without first examining
witnesses, they risk becoming a party, with the Government, to the same
strategy of obfuscation that has been carried on from the get go.

How far should
they push the Government to understand that they mean business?  Can they refuse to participate in the Muskrat
Debate? 


Muskrat is not like having
an opinion on Bill 29; it is not a matter of democratic principle, it is about
an inherently risky construction project of questionable need; it is about simple
issues like the cost being disproportionate to our size and financial ability
and very complex issues including the 1200 pages of legal agreements with Emera
(so far),  Nalcor’s poor ‘demand’ models
and a Water Management Agreement in which Hydro Quebec is absent as a signatory;
it about less risky alternatives and a host of other issues.

Muskrat
Falls has the potential to destroy this Government; likely, it will be the
issue that ‘makes’ one of the Opposition Parties. 

Certainly,
it will determine which Opposition Party has used its energy and creativity best
to get the Government to shift from its present course.  If either Party wimps out and defers to the
Government’s agenda, that Party will also suffer, when the costs of Muskrat
Falls are tallied up.   

Of the two
Opposition parties, the NDP has the second strongest support in the St. John’s area;
the populous region closet to the Legislature. 
Can they impress their followers and indeed the whole Province with a
series of demonstrations, as the House opens, to show the depth of their
support and to confirm the wariness of a concerned public?

Do the
Liberals have anyone better to trot out than Dean MacDonald, the guy who,
ostensibly, has been assigned the job of revitalizing the Liberal Party? Will
Dwight Ball show the public who is boss and take charge?  Does he have what it takes to stare down
Kathy Dunderdale and win an ‘intelligent and informed’ debate?

Both the
Liberals and the NDP should be keeping the lights on late at Confederation
Building as they plan a strategy to deal with the Tories.  Just because Dunderdale is about to ruin the
P.C. Party for an entire generation doesn’t mean the spoils will be evenly
shared by the other two parties.

The next
few weeks will show what the two Opposition parties are made of.

Do I see
busses off loading throngs of anti-Muskrat supporters just as the House opens?  Which Party has organized them?  I wonder.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

OPINION POLL OVER-RATES INEFFECTIVE TORY OPPOSITION

Having survived in spite of themselves, in Opposition the Tories have been lazy and uninspiring.  The fact that it is summer, and the House of Assembly is closed, admittedly makes their job tougher, except that the Party’s manifest weakness is not a seasonal problem.

REMEMBERING CABOT MARTIN (1944-2022)

He was an exceptional person. A gifted intellect for sure; irascible and argumentative, too. What endeared him to many was not just that he was analytical and insightful, but that he was honest and forthright. He was a public policy wonk; resource policy interested him most. He loved to travel and read; people, with something to say, were always important.

GNL RUSHING INTO ANOTHER “SCHEME”: CABOT MARTIN

I must say that after the Muskrat Falls fiasco, I thought our government had finally learnt its lesson and would not to rush into another such scheme where calling it “green” was enough to suspend all critical analysis.