06 August 2012

The Farce just goes on and on… #nlpoli

The farce that is the provincial government’s effort to sell the Muskrat Falls project continues to roll along.

There are no timelines, the Telegram tells us, or at least none that Nalcor and its political backers will tell the people who will pay the bills for all this mess.

But still, here’s what we can tell from the weekend Telegram:

  • Manitoba Hydro International will not conduct a thorough, substantive top-to-bottom-audit of the project to confirm that it is the lowest-cost option.  MHI is just going to do what Westney did for Nalcor on Decision Gate 2.  They will check to see what documents are there, let Nalcor know if anything is missing and let the company go from there Nalcor.  As it looks right now, MHI will conduct an administrative check and that’s it. If you think that sort of thing is fine, just remember that Nalcor went through Decision Gate 2 with important bits of their project planning missing. In any event, MHI cannot do anything more than verify the checklist of documents if MHI will deliver a report in about 30 days after getting documents, as the Telegram reports.
  • Anyone who tries to tell you anything else is simply not telling the truth.
  • The deadline for the final show is the fall polling month:  November.  Expect a gigantic sales push to confirm that after what proponents will tout as a thorough review and the most comprehensive debate in history, the Lower Churchill – a.k.a. the Danny and Kathy Legacy Project  - will get what everyone knows it already has:  the green light.
  • Anyone who tells you anything else is either hopelessly naive or a political supporter of the project or both.
  • The project has already been sanctioned.  Since November 2010, nothing could stop Muskrat Falls.  Everything else has been a farcical effort to pretend that the provincial Conservatives might possibly not carry on with the original decision. What Nalcor calls “sanction” is just a formality.
  • There will be no debate  - as most people would understand that word - in the legislature or anywhere else.   As finance minister Tom Marshall has said, the government will gets it way and force the thing through the House. 
  • The pivotal public issue is how much will this cost.  The NDP have hit on it (quote from the Telly): 

"What is the final cost going to be, and can we as a province afford it?" NDP Leader Lorraine Michael asked.

"Then, connected to that directly is will the cost become so high that it will not be affordable for the individual people in the province when it comes to the cost of electricity."

  • The Liberals?  Yeah, not quite. The Telegram quotes Yvonne Jones as saying:   "The majority of the people are concerned with what my light bill is going to be at the end of the day," she said.  "How much am I going to have to pay for electricity in Newfoundland and Labrador?" 
  • The Conservatives  - here represented by natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy - are selling their imagination:  "What we're looking at here is a visionary approach to transforming our economy from non-renewable to a renewable resource economy."  Politicians and vision do not go together, especially when the politicians are describing their own ideas as “visionary”.  In this context, “visionary” is code for a risky megaproject that will likely come with massive cost overruns.  if you don’t believe that, do some searching around the Internet for everything from the Millennium Dome to the Big Dig in Boston.
  • Joe Smallwood has been officially rehabilitated.  He’s no longer the Connies’ Public Enemy Number 1.  In fact, the Tories of 2012 been sounding more and more like Liberals from the late 1960s