Liberals ask: What kind of Muskrat Debate?

James McLeod
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It’s still at least three or four months away, but Liberal Leader Dwight Ball wants to know what exactly to expect from a House of Assembly special debate on Muskrat Falls.

Thursday, Ball sent an open letter to Premier Kathy Dunderdale asking to nail down some of the specifics on the parameters of the debate, which will happen sometime this fall.

Because it’ll be a special debate, it will fall outside the usual rules of the legislature and it will require some sort of understanding between the political parties when it comes to the protocols and parameters.

“We’re asking the question so that as the official Opposition we can prepare ourselves,” Ball said. “From the official Opposition’s perspective, we’re preparing for a very meaningful special debate on Muskrat Falls and this is the reason why we’d like to see the framework established as early as possible.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale has indicated the debate will likely run for about a week and it will happen some time this fall, but apart from that no details have been announced.

Dunderdale declined to comment about it Thursday. A spokeswoman said Government House Leader Jerome Kennedy would be better able to speak to the issue.

Kennedy was out of the country, but provided an e-mailed statement.

“Both the Official Opposition and the 3rd Party will be consulted on the debate in the legislature on Muskrat Falls,” he wrote. “The debate must be informed by a significant amount of information, which is being compiled and will be based on the latest numbers for the project. When the debate will occur can best be determined once the compilation of this information is complete.”

In his letter to Dunderdale, Ball asked about a range of issues. He wanted to know whether there will be limits on how many times each MHA can speak, and what sort of motion or resolution MHAs will be debating and voting on.

Ball also indicated he’s interested in having witnesses or presenters called to the House of Assembly to speak as part of the debate. He said that’s something that has happened during other special debates in the past, such as the debate on the Meech Lake Accord.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael reserved judgement, saying she hopes Kennedy will consult with her and they’ll be able to hammer out terms of the debate.

However, she repeated her party’s consistent call for active House of Assembly standing committees which could deal with issues such as Muskrat Falls in more detail.

“I wish that that was the route that we had been following here,” she said.

“You can have a discussion in an all-party setting that’s more intimate and you get more details than the structure of the debate in the House.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Government House

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Meech Lake

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Recent comments

  • Cold Future
    June 29, 2012 - 12:45

    How can government contemplate any house debate of Muskrat proceeding without a full review by the PUB? The PUB made the only full, fair-minded, arm-slength and independant assessment of the preliminary information provided and concluded that it could not finish because of a lack of essential information. Does it not make sense to first make all of the presumably adequate information available to the PUB for it to finish its assessment. Then move to the house afterwards. It would seem that the PUB smell test is a necessity. The NL people need that independent assessment and it is difficult to believe it can come from any other siurce than the PUB.

  • Winston Adams
    June 29, 2012 - 07:35

    We have about 160,000 households with average connected load of 5.7 kilowatts of heat (Nalcor data).With efficient heating systems this allows a reduction of 3 kw per average house, therefore 480 Megawatts reduction, almost as much as Muskrat Falls produces on average. At a conversion cost of about 10,000.00 per average house, the total is1.6 billion dollars. If the government paid 50 percent in rebates to homeowners, the cost per household would be 5000.00 and total cost to the government 800 milion, less than 20 percent of the cost of Muskrat Falls. And with this, electricity prices will stay stable or come down with less use of Holyrood. If the wish is to do what's best for the people, people will vote foe stable rates, not massive price increases. Other jurisdictions are achieving stable rates by aggressive efficiency plans, which gives us more heat at less cost. Why is it our oppositions parties are silent on what's working elsewhere to the consumers benefit?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    June 29, 2012 - 07:19

    The opposition parties will have a few weeks to review Decision Gate 3 estimates (framed in the same ole, same ole, 2 option take it or leave manner)......... Our PUB was denied the months it needed to properly review this fiasco ---- a plan by stealth that has been in works for years to shift/fleece BILLIONS of dollars from captive island ratepayers.......... So how well will our MHAs be able to represent the best interests of their constituents? ..... The business model being used here seems the same as Danny's cable company business model........ There are 250,000 captive ratepayers on the island and they have no choice but to pay THE HIGHEST RATE THAT THE MARKET CAN STAND. See 'rates' at

  • New Privacy and Access Law
    June 29, 2012 - 07:14

    The changes to access of information will limit the debate. Ball might as well accept this Muskrat project will happen UNLESS Harper doesan't come through with the loan gaurantee. Just Watch.