Danny Williams attends minister’s speech on Muskrat Falls megaproject

Colin MacLean
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Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy speaks to a crowd of about 100 people during an address to the St. John’s Southwest Rotary Club Tuesday. Kennedy promoted the Muskrat Falls megaproject throughout his speech. — Photo by Colin MacLean/The Telegram

Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy was touting the Muskrat Falls project to a group of Rotarians in St. John’s Tuesday — and he was doing it under the appraising eyes of his old boss, former premier Danny Williams.

Apparently, Williams liked what he heard.

“I felt reassured that I think he has an absolute grasp of this particular file and this particular issue, as his former predecessor in my government, Premier (Kathy) Dunderdale did,” Williams told reporters after Kennedy’s speech. 

The former premier also indicated his approval of the progress on the project to date and said delaying the project would be detrimental for the province in the long run. Williams’ comments were aimed at both the request by the Public Utilities Board to extend its deadline for its review of the project, and at opposition parties who have called for further study of the Muskrat Falls project.

“As a Newfoundlander and Labradorian I’m quite comfortable with the process that’s taken place,” said Williams.

But there comes a time when a project has been studied to death, he added, and Muskrat Falls is rapidly approaching that point.

“This discussion has been going on a long time. And if you go on too long you’re going to miss the window of opportunity,” he added.

“Let’s just do it. Let’s get on with it.”

He also dismissed the counter-arguments of many of the project’s detractors as weak and lacking in factual data.

“They seem to be just sort of throwing enough at the issue and hoping some of it sticks. And that’s just not fair. It’s not fair to the people of the province. They deserve to get the right information,” Williams said.

But the former premier wasn’t the only person out to hear Kennedy talk about the megaproject.

The prospect of hearing Kennedy talk about the $6.2-billion project attracted quit a few new faces to the Rotary meeting. There are usually one or two visitors at each Rotary luncheon, but there were more than 20 Tuesday.

During his 30-minute address, Kennedy used familiar talking points to highlight the controversial megaproject by boiling it down to two questions. Do we need the power? And if the answer to the first question is “yes,” then what is the lowest-cost option?

The answers are invariably “yes” and “Muskrat Falls,” Kennedy said.

The minister spent his time at the podium reiterating his government’s support for the project for various reasons, including long-term economic growth, the environment, the financial security of the province and making sure the lights stay on.

He also outlined why he and the government have come to the conclusion Muskrat Falls is the lowest-cost and most feasible power generation option for the province.

Generally, these are all arguments that have been expressed before.

But Kennedy also took a few pot shots at critics of the project.

“The bottom line is, we need power. We have to do something. Our critics say we haven’t considered all the options. But when we explain what we’ve done, they refuse to accept it,” he said.

Kennedy wrapped up his speech by telling the crowd that developing Muskrat Falls is the right decision and not the easy one.

“What we are trying to do is what I assume all politicians try to do. That’s do our best. Well, doing our best means making decisions. We could say, ‘Forget Muskrat Falls. Too much pressure, too much heat. Leave it for a future government to deal with.’ But that is not how Premier Dunderdale and our government operates,” he said.

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Public Utilities Board

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Recent comments

  • West Coast
    February 15, 2012 - 15:20

    Lets do Muskrat Fall thing. Start now! Our future will need it and so will the environment.

  • Brad Cabana
    February 15, 2012 - 12:36

    Should Minister Kennedy be commenting on Muskrat Falls when a Public Review is underway? Should Danny Williams declare his own potential conflict of interest as "special advisor" to Alderon Mining whose Kami project would require power to operate in Labrador? Eventually, these people need to be held accountable for what would be considered, in most parts of the country, an abuse of power - and not the hydro kind either. Where is the accountability?

  • Martin
    February 15, 2012 - 11:27

    Why does the Telegram give coverage to former politicians? The CBC does the same thing, referring to former and failed politicians ( Efford, Furey and Coady) as insiders or experts when they have to say or do with the daily running of their party. Santa Clause not available for a comment?

  • W Bagg
    February 15, 2012 - 09:41

    all the rotarians will be able to afford the increase in power bills. Some of them will benefit from the contracts and work. Your average Joe will have trouble finding the loot.

  • Carter
    February 15, 2012 - 09:33

    I believe with most other comments, that it is time for Danny Williams to stay out of politics as he is no longer a 'politician'. It is, also, well beyond the time for public debate of these issues in the House of Assembly where the people can be present and the opposition can ask some real questions. Lets get the job done and do it right!!!

    • marty
      February 15, 2012 - 19:02

      What the "hell" have we in newfoundland come to the point when a civilian cannot comment on projects of which a person has knowledge. Giver Danny…..!!!!!!

  • Charles
    February 15, 2012 - 09:20

    Mr Williams...Please go away...You are no longer the Premier...Right now we have people in this province going cold...and the way this government is doing thing...pretty soon they won't be able to put food on the table...

  • Huh Hypocrite
    February 15, 2012 - 09:16

    I thought when he finished as Premier that he'd "shut up and go away" like he advised Brian Peckford to do???

  • John Smith
    February 15, 2012 - 09:10

    This is one of the very few comments the former premier has made on the topic. Mr. Williams has kept very quiet RE. the development. Yet we still have those who will come on and make comments likre those seen here. Sickening what the Liberals will stoop to. But hey..that's what got them to 6%in the polls...and that will be why they will lose the next election...and the one after that.

  • Who Is The Boss
    February 15, 2012 - 08:54

    Mr. Williams should stop courting the media on this issue, It is up to Jerome Kennedy and Premier Dunderdale now to make this project work or fail. It might well be Mr. Williams legacy piece, but are the government he left behind capable of getting this done right? I doubt it. To mask their inability with his personal popularity is a disservice to the province in my view.

  • sealcove
    February 15, 2012 - 08:47

    Danny Williams attends ministers speech whoopie all hand take a bow