St. John’s lawyer Ches Crosbie said he doesn’t want to become a target for speaking on the Muskrat Falls project, but he’s doing it anyway.
“I don’t want to get pissed on by the government,” he said. “Like anyone, I don’t want to make myself a target.”
Crosbie was one of 10 lawyers who signed their names to a letter to The Telegram calling on the government to give the province’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) as much time as it needs to do a review of the Muskrat Falls project.
Speaking to The Telegram, Crosbie tried to make it crystal clear that he’s not against the hydroelectric project, and he’s not against the government.
“My position on this is really pretty simple: I’m not an expert on electrical power generation. I have no expertise on any of the issues surrounding this as a lawyer. But as a lawyer, I do think that due process should be followed, and the project should get a fair and full hearing before the public utilities board,” he said. “I have no political agenda. I’m a government supporter. But as a lawyer, I can recognize when something deserves a full hearing.”
The Public Utilities Board is reviewing the Muskrat Falls project to determine whether it’s a cheaper source of power for Newfoundland than an isolated-island alternative.
The report was originally supposed to be filed by the end of 2011, however due to delays in getting the necessary project information from Nalcor, the board was given an extension.
PUB chairman Andy Wells has said to do the job properly, they need until the end of June — time enough to hold public hearings across the province, and a technical conference.
Natural Resource Minister Jerome Kennedy, however, has said that the final report absolutely needs to be completed by the end of March, so that it can be debated in the House of Assembly this spring.
Crosbie said that for the sake of a couple months, the government should respect the due process.
“I do feel, on this issue that there’s no need to plow ahead at breakneck speed, and that the PUB should be given the time it needs, should be given due process, and that there should be a full and fair hearing on the project,” he said. “It’s for the aid of making better decisions that you do that, it’s got nothing to do with whether there should be a Muskrat Falls project or there shouldn’t.”
The letter also has signatures from Gerald O’Brien, Cabot Martin, Edward Hearn, Richard Cashin, Richard Rogers, Dennis Browne, Philip Buckingham, Bernard Coffey and Stephen Fitzgerald.
Coffey said part of the reason he decided to make his objections public now was because the political opposition thus far hasn’t been very effective.
“At this juncture in our political history, we don’t have a strong and effective opposition, and therefore I think that it’s a situation where people who make command some measure of public respect are called upon to speak out,” he said. “The opposition in the case of the Liberals is in between leaders, and, well, they’re the Opposition Party. The NDP, they’re just not being effective on the issue.”