02 August 2011

Debt, electricity rates and Muskrat Falls #nlvotes

The editorial board at the Telegram understands the point exactly.

It’s a point your humble e-scribbler has been harping on for six years to one extent or another.

And it’s one of many major problems with Muskrat Falls and the plan to double electricity rates in the province:

The implications are hideous. As the editorial asks:

Ask a simpler question: if power rates double or even rise by 50 per cent, would you be able to afford it?

It’s a frightening question.

Public debt is one thing.  The province is in hard shape and it is even harder given that the province’s finance minister likes to talk about the debt load but then plans to double it with the flick of a pen. Your humble e-scribbler started a series of posts in 2008.  You’ll find other references to public spending going back to 2006.

Personal debt is another.  That’s getting worse in the province as well.

And if the province needs power, there are cheaper, greener alternatives that the provincial government is ignoring. Even natural gas would be better than Muskrat.

This could become the most significant issue of the campaign, not because Muskrat is a good issue for the people backing it, but because the parties backing it most strenuously – Conservatives and New Democrats – may find a strong public backlash.

For the Liberals, this should be a warning to Yvonne Jones that Muskrat is the wrong horse to back no matter what some people are whispering in her ear.

For the Tories and New Democrats, this could become a major wedge issue, shattering their existing support and  - for the NDP - making it harder to attract new converts.  For the Tories, the Muskrat mess could make it harder to get their voters out to the polls.

For the Dippers it could be a classic wedge.  How many NDP supporters are adamantly opposed to Muskrat and mistakenly believe that Lorraine Michael and Dale Kirby oppose it, too? 

You can tell the NDP are touchy about the issue because neither the party president nor the party leader is talking openly and proudly about their commitment to bringing about exactly the financial mess the Telegram is warning about.

Well, if Muskrat turns out to be political and economic bad news, it is not like people didn’t warn y’all.

- srbp -