24 November 2015

The parties and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

The mighty Muskrat Falls turned up a few times in the leaders’ debate on Monday night.

Now that the project’s huge problems are plainer,  folks like Earle McCurdy of the New Democratic Party are working hard to capture the anti-Muskrat vote.  They’d like you to believe that the NDP opposes the project.

The truth is that all three three political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador support Muskrat Falls. 

No party wants to stop the project.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

But for the fun of it, let’s go through this old chestnut again, in detail.

Earle McCurdy talks about the huge burden the project will have on people living on fixed and low incomes. 

And he talks about the threat posed by methylmercury.

But talk is all Earle does.

There isn’t a single word in the NDP platform that even hints the NDP would halt the project,  slow it down, or otherwise alter anything to do with it.

Far from it.

Here’s what Earle and the NDP have to say about Muskrat Falls:
  • “Improve oversight of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project by bringing Nalcor under the purview of the Public Utilities Board and the Auditor General to ensure that the project is in the best interest of the people of this province;”
That sounds pretty much like the Liberal plan to “manage” the project better.
  • “Ensure that the development of Labrador’s resources, including Muskrat Falls, are sustainable, transparent and beneficial for the people of the province, especially the people of Labrador;”
Great jargon but the exact meaning isn’t clear.

Annnnnnd that’s it.

Backing Muskrat Falls since 2010

As far back as 2011,  heading into the general election, the NDP ran from the question of support for the Falls as fast as you could go.  There’s a decent summary in this old SRBP post, including a Twitter exchange with George Murphy at the time.  There’s also a link to a news release by Lorraine Michael that purported to give the party position.  It didn’t.  And in the meantime, all that the link for that release gets you these days is a 404 message. Other releases on Muskrat Falls haven’t vanished. That one has.

By the time the Conservatives put legislation in front of the House to support the project,  the NDP raised plenty of questions,but they were about form and process, not outcome. 

Here’s what then NDP leader Lorraine Michael said at the time (December 2012):
I am terrified, Mr. Chair, that is what it is. It is not that I want it to fail. I am terrified with the speed; I am terrified with the way in which we are being asked to make decisions, having had these documents in our hands for such a short period of time. I am terrified that we not make a mistake like the one they led over Abitibi and the mill, where just a little wrong number in a latitude and longitude definition helped this Province buy a mill they did not want to have. No, I do not want it to fail; I want us to slow down so it will not fail.
Terrified the thing might fail because the government was going too fast.

Not opposed to it.

But just saying slow down a bit.

Because, look what happened in 2008.  Nothing wrong in principle with the seizure of private property based on a lie.


In principle, nothing wrong at all.

Just maybe slow a bit ‘cause we might make a mistake.

People will wind up paying $9.0 billion for it, sez Lorraine, which is true,  so do it so it doesn’t fail.
Is it possible to praise something with faint damnation?  Well, Lorraine did it.  Dale Kirby, then an NDP member of the House said he didn’t want the project to fail.  He hoped to see Gull Island built as well.

And that basic position – hung up on process,  can’t let it fail – is precisely what the Liberals and Dwight Ball have been saying as well at the time and now.

The key part of opposition

All three parties in Newfoundland and Labrador support Muskrat Falls.  They all want it to succeed.

They do not want it to fail.

In the last week of the campaign, the Conservatives and New Democrats have been playing some version of the fear card against the Liberals.  The NDP have also been pleading with voters to put at least one of them in the House in order to provide “opposition” to the Liberals.

After two weeks of campaigning, the fundamental problem with that idea remains:  you actually have to have an opposing view in order to be “the opposition.” 

All three parties in Newfoundland and Labrador support Muskrat Falls. 

The record is clear.