any of the 338 Federal MPs in the House of Commons entered a race to name the “most
quiet” politicians, the Newfoundland and Labrador seven would win hands-down!
them, flying under the radar is a practiced art, a condition which may change slightly
during the next six weeks of the Federal Election Campaign — though, if they
are re-elected, reversion to “same ol’, same ol’” is a certainty. Even NL’s
Minister in the Federal Cabinet loses his tongue for extended periods,
occasionally bobbing up to utter some vague assurance that he is on the job.
What job is seldom clear.
condition persists because voters believe their financial condition is generally
acceptable; the large fiscal issues obscured by “I’m OK, Jack” sentiments. With
the local fiscal can kicked down the road, people believing that neither
ratepayers nor taxpayers will have to ante up for Muskrat Falls, and demands on
MPs obscured by what constitutes Federal Responsibility — though Bill C-69
ought to resonate — the public seems less than preoccupied with public policy issues
that may impact their near-term fiscal future.
Premier looms large in this narrative, too.
political leadership should be preparing the public for bitter medicine. But “decent”
is far too high a standard for the Ball Administration. Partisanship, and a
general unwillingness to put up any fight on anything, also puts Trudeau’s
Ottawa ahead of matters local. There being no evidence that they are engaged in
a national agenda either, the seven MPs face no expectations except to prove
occasionally that they have a pulse.
modicum of forethought (it’s not as if the date of the Federal Election was a
secret) by Ball and co. would have spelled out the urgency of “rate mitigation”
in particular. Back in April, the Premier’s purchase price to diminish the
Atlantic Accord, in favour of Bill C-69, was a mere $2.5 billion for the period
to 2056: 37 years. This, in a demographically and geographically tangly, albeit
fiscally irresponsible, place not eligible for Equalization!
April, Seamus O’Regan could be heard saying: “The Government of Canada will be
expeditiously working with the province to examine the financial structure of
the [Muskrat Falls] project so that the province can deliver rate mitigation.” Since
then, Liberty Consulting and Synapse, both Consultants to the PUB, have
returned Reports containing dubious results as to the latitude available to
reduce the threat of 23 cent per kWh power.
most noteworthy of their proposals is the idea of stripping dividends due to
the Province — which was always Nalcor’s intention. To avoid “rate shock”, they
said, as if they expected us to be impressed by their ingenuity! Emera will get
paid their dividends but how the province’s nearly $4 billion equity will be returned
– at all – is a matter unspoken. Does anyone recall the Premier saying that the
taxpayer would be liberated from Muskrat, too? There is a contradiction here,
if anyone noticed!
the savings from Holyrood’s closure — a dumb idea unless you are desperate to
build a megaproject — is no longer a certainty.
is another problem, too, that links our pocketbooks with those sleepy MPs. I
refer to the coterie of Newfoundlanders who suggest that we can’t invoke
Federal responsibility for Muskrat.
even state the assertion with such force that you might wonder how we could be
so unkind to Ottawa.
enthusiastic desire to fall on one’s own sword would be commendable if, in the
same breath, they removed cheque book from tight grasp, confirming their
responsible, possibly even generous, nature.
But, alas, it’s only talk.
of those blokes haven’t even figured out that Budget balance alone is highly
improbable. Or that Budget balance and rate mitigation, barring social chaos, is
Blog could invoke, as it has done frequently, Federal complicity in the
sanctioning process of the Muskrat Falls project and, therefore, justification
for Ottawa’s cheque. That — giving notice to the timid and the partisan — does
not suggest that Williams/Dunderdale/Martin and their ilk are less complicit
than first supposed. It’s just that on a cock-up of Muskrat’s size, there is a
lot of blame to go around. And Ottawa’s complicity is visible to all, if people
want to see it.
Related to this post:
Federal Complicity: The Untold Story of Muskrat Falls (Part I)
A Debacle and the Federal Government’s Role in it (Part II)
When NL Needs A Heavyweight There’s Only Shamus O’Regan
said, if Dwight Ball had even a modicum of spine, he would have (publicly)
prepped Seamus and the other members of the Silent Seven as they boarded their
Air Canada flight for Ottawa each week. As it stands, the Federal Election is
upon us and those MPs — and the Premier — have allowed Federal Finance Minister
Bill Morneau to maintain the vagueness that saw the local Liberals kick off the
provincial General Election.
is no cure for what ails Premier Ball. The voters told him as much in May. But
unless the $200 million share of “rate mitigation” for which the Feds have been
fingered forms part of the additional $706 million Muskrat operating requirement
in 2020, this place is in a really tough spot.
the Federal Minister eventually comes across, be sure to check the nature of
the commitment, especially its duration and from whence it comes (i.e. will the
sum be assigned to your great-grand-children to pay?).
first, just be wary of more pleasantries from the Federal Finance Minister (and
from the Silent Seven, too).