Guest Post by For a New Earth
For A New Earth (FANE) is pleased to present
a public talk with David Vardy (Economist, former Public Utilities Board Chair,
former Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet) and with Grand
Riverkeeper and Labrador Land Protector Jim Learning, at the Peter Easton Pub,
on the future of Muskrat Falls on Thursday, March 1st, at 7:30pm.

FANE co-hosted a public Symposium on Muskrat Falls in Happy Valley-Goose Bay
last week, and will kick off Thursday evening with a public recap of the
highlights of the event, which included a series of talks, presentations,
sharing circles, and a final discussion on a formal resolution to be drafted.

Vardy and Learning both participated in the event. 

Vardy, who has now become one of the province’s most knowledgeable
and vocal critics of Muskrat Falls, has described Muskrat Falls as a public
policy error and a failure for Newfoundland and Labrador democracy. He has been
openly critical of the fact that the provincial government ignored the
conclusions of the Public Utilities Board and the recommendations of the Joint
Environmental Panel. Vardy is now focusing on the Inquiry and the safety of the
North Spur.
Learning, who is a well-known Grand Riverkeeper and Labrador Land
Protector, spoke candidly at the Symposium about his arrest and time spent in
the Penitentiary in St. John’s for refusing to sign a court order in reference
to Muskrat Falls protests. He continues to advocate for the rights of people
living close to the project and for fair and just treatment of those
most affected by it.

Come hear them speak about the future of the province over a beverage. A public
discussion and open Q&A with Vardy, Learning and the Co-Directors of FANE
(Dr. Sean McGrath, Dr. Barry Stephenson, Kyla Bruff) will follow.

The schedule for the evening will be:

7:30pm-7:45pm: FANE Recap of the Symposium and Introduction
7:50-8:10pm: David Vardy on “What do we want from the Muskrat Inquiry?”
8:15-8:35pm: Jim Learning on “Bringing Justice and Equity to Muskrat
8:35-9pm: Discussion

As always, FANE will also live tweet the event for those who cannot be present
in person (@foranewearthorg) and the talks will be recorded. 

To hear presentations from the Muskrat Falls Symposium, please visit: 

For a Recent Q&A with David Vardy on Muskrat Falls published in the
Independent, see:  The Independent at this Link:


If a Big Mac costs McDonalds $10 to produce and it is sold for $1.50, McDonalds will go out of business. They would not declare a profit!


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


  1. Robert, there are a few bitcoin facilities in Lab West and Goose Bay area with more being constructed this year. I don't know what cut-rates other provinces are offering but the Labrador commercial rate may well be the lowest in North America.

    This recent phenomena for blockchain mining hosting will have negative effects on island ratepayers in the next couple of years as there will be less CFLCo Recall Power available to send to the island to displace oil-fired thermal power. In other words, the marginal cost of power to island ratepayers is about 14 c/KWh whereas the selling price within Labrador is under 4 c/KWh. To your point about decreasing our reliance on Holyrood, bitcoin developments in Labrador will actually increase our need for Holyrood output over the next few years.

    Not only that but NL Hydro may end up spending big bucks expanding transmission capacity in Labrador for the benefit of these operators but it will be all ratepayers on the Labrador grid who will pay for it. Hydro's 2019 Capital Plan may hint at such consequences. As a new operator tries to restart Wabush Mines this year, will some major capital work be triggered?

    For the massive power used, these operators employ very few people and bring rather thin community benefits: I don't have any stats but the ratio of high power consumption to employment benefits is probably in a class of its own.

    If bitcoin miners were to eventually use up all the available Recall Power, would it prevent other economic development on the Labrador grid until 2041? It's something that policy makers should be thinking about. Other provinces may have more ample reserves but our situation is complicated as per usual.

    • Good comment. Sort of tongue in cheek, Ballcorp should investigate where the expected revenue stream from bit mining should end up. Maybe a Business plan should be; take surplus high cost publicly funded power, (Muskrat), intensively bitmine, revenue to payback the public debt which produced the power, (Joke??)

  2. Professor Steve Crocker, Memorial University of Newfoundland calls Nalcor Hydro Dam at Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada a “terrible failure that will make us poorer, colder, hungrier and sicker” APTN News @JustinBrakeNews 23 February 2018 #IStandWithTheLabradorLandProtectors

  3. Anything new or interesting from either of the speakers, or even by the questioners. Think mr Vardy said again it will require intervention by the Feds to prevent our insolvency. Did he say what kind of or to what extent the intervention might be. Did mr learning have any thoughts on the run off this spring. Is he expecting any flooding at mud lake, similar to last spring. Heard a guy on open line saying he had his 21 foot speed boat, 150 hp .. Ready to go , and felt he could safely evacuate. Yes if floods slowly, ok, but if it's a wall of water, ice, trees, etc. He could be disappointed in his 150 hp. Just saying. Guess to get that it would require the north spur to give way, and just not a case of opening the gates.

    • I would expect it is prudent to open the spillway gates some more, to lower the MF water elevation a few meters below the present 21.5 level just prior to the spring melt. This allows the increased flow that is to come,to be trottled, reducing downstream rate of increase in elevation. Then lower the gates some, and permitting water to back up some upstream of MF, so elevation upstream again rises. This permits time for the worse of the high flow to pass through without flooding downstream. This would mimic the natural effect of the restriction at MFs before the dam. If operated properly, the spill gates should improve conditions downstream instead of worsen. Last year they failed to operate them properly. Would PENG2 agree?
      Winston Adams

  4. Now that a bunch of millionaire boilermakers at Come By Chance have passed to their golden handshake, is it not time to step up and nationalize the EXXON share, stream offshore oil to the CBC refinery, maybe even nationalize the refinery itself, use the upcoming revenues from Bull arm sale, Muskrat, bring on sunny ways to NLers? Where are you Ballcorp? Certainly with Trump adding tarrifs, stealing our natural resources under NAFTA, it must be time for "Make NL great again" strategic move. Speaking of Strategic action, What is the NL gov. Plan, other than to be swept back to power, just like the Lib MPs. What are the MPs doing to assist?

    • FANE:For a New Earth, is it not time to throttle back on oil production and use (including Holyrood and coal fired)
      Seems a new earth is underway, Northern Greenland and parts of northern Canada often warmer than much further south, (as much as 35C warmer than normal, and no sun since October! Most of Labrador today 1C, and normal is -11C.
      Of course Rex Murphy and Brain Peckford denies climate change, so guess we should not worry, and double our oil production, to help pay the Muskrat debt.

    • Grand Banks oil can't be processed at Come by Chance; a new refinery would be needed and that's another boondoggle like MF; GB oil comes ashore in Whiffen Head and leaves little money prints on the local scene, but that is as much as we will ever get from Grand Banks; now with even lousier royalty schemes and a poor price for oil in general, Grand Banks oil can't save us, regardless of the increased exploration anticipated by the government.

    • Yes, some oil comes ashore at CBChance for transshipment, mainly to the US. Who would build the new refinery, certainly not the people. So it's left up to private industry to invest and build, but guess they don't see a profit, otherwise they would. And they also need signed contracts once it is refined, same as electricity. Without that market and profit their commodity is useless.