17 November 2012

The 2011 Muskrat Falls Referendum #nlpoli

Some people want a referendum on Muskrat Falls.

In an enthusiastic support of democracy, some other people don’t want to have a referendum on Muskrat Falls because the punters are not sufficiently enlightened as to the details of this major issue to make an intelligent-enough choice.

Those same punters are able to pick governments in general elections, though.



What does Kathy Dunderdale think?

She told a bunch of Tory political donors on Wednesday that last October’s election was a vote on Muskrat Falls.

“The election was, in essence, a referendum on our approach,” Dunderdale said.  “We sought that mandate and we got that mandate.”

She told reporters after the speech that she was disappointed there wouldn’t be a special debate in the House of Assembly this fall.

That’s really weird because last year – during the general election – Kathy Dunderdale had a completely different story. 

Last year, Muskrat Falls wasn’t an issue for Dunderdale and her campaigning Tories.  In September 2011, CBC asked Dunderdale about Muskrat falls after three prominent lawyers raised questions about the project.

Her reply was a “pfft” but with a few more syllables. Dunderdale told CBC that as far as she and her fellow Tory candidates were concerned:

“We're not hearing it and our candidates are not hearing it door to door. It is not an issue.”

She added that:

“We've talked about Muskrat Falls for a very long time and we've provided a lot of detail.”

Dunderdale rejected categorically any idea of holding a specific debate on Muskrat Falls.

So if the last general election was a referendum on Muskrat Falls, Kathy Dunderdale didn’t do very much to make it clear to voters. She wasn’t talking up Muskrat Falls during the election last year.  To the contrary, she seemed to be talking it down.

There’d be a good reason for that.  As NTV reported in October 2011 a poll it took showed that public support for the megaproject dropped from 71% in February to 42% in September.

Dunderdale and her Tories finished up the election with 32% of the eligible vote in an election that featured one of the lowest voter turn-outs in post-Confederation Newfoundland and Labrador history.

And Dunderdale won re-election with a majority government but her Tories lost seats in their St. John’s bedrock for the first time in history while still winning a majority government.

There’s a very good reason why public support for Dunderdale and her Tories has dropped so dramatically in the past year. What Kathy Dunderdale says and what actually happened are very often two different things.