05 February 2016

Old whine still sour #nlpoli

"I'm concerned that we have an aging asset,”  natural resources minister Siobhan Coady told CBC in explaining the most recent break downs at the Holyrood generating station.

About two years ago, in the midst of darknl,  then-Premier Kathy Dunderdale said pretty much the same thing:  “We've talked incessantly, it seems to me, over the last number of years about the aging facility in Holyrood and the fact that that facility needed to be replaced.”  Before that, Nalcor and its supporters used “aging infrastructure” and the inevitable climb of oil prices as the excuse to build the multi-billion dollar Muskrat Falls project.

The old whine in new skins isn't any sweeter in the ear whether it is coming from Coady or Dunderdale.

Indeed, what’s most disturbing about Siobhan Coady's media interview is that in the two years since darknl we have learned that the lines someone fed Coady are not true.

Yet someone still fed Coady the false lines and Coady used them.
The problem at Holyrood is not the age of the equipment.  All utilities in Canada have old infrastructure. The problem at Holyrood is that Nalcor has failed repeatedly and consistently to maintain their equipment properly  in order to provide an essential service to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The public utilities board review and at least one subsequent independent review pointed to serious problems at Nalcor that contributed to if not actually caused the darknl event.

It is meaningless that Coady was happy the public received timely warning of the power problem at Holyrood.  They should never have occurred in the first place.  As for alternatives to Holyrood, Coady's assurance that Muskrat Falls will be online in 2018 is unsettling in its own right for two reasons.

First of all, the company cannot finish the project by 2018.  A more realistic completion date for the project is now more like 2020.  Second of all, and more importantly, by predicting the completion of Muskrat Falls, Coady confirmed that she and her colleagues have been blowing smoke up the backsides of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with their insistence that "everything is on the table" to address the financial mess in which the provincial government is mired.

Everything is obviously not on the table. In other words, the current round of "public engagement" is yet another cynical exercise in public manipulation in the style of the former administration. It is hard to imagine what else it is.

So we find out that the current administration – like the one before it – will do what it wants.  They will increase the public debt by $10 billion through Muskrat Falls and introduce a massive new tax on the public in order to pay for it.  Roger Grimes could have saved his breath.

Along the way to Muskrat Falls, the Liberals will recite the same lines as their Conservative predecessors, as if the rest of us didn’t know the truth,  as if copying Kathy Dunderdale looked anything other than foolish.