Muskrat debate will happen in December

James
James McLeod
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It will be short and it might be too late

On the first day of the fall sitting of the legislature, Premier Kathy Dunderdale spoke with reporters following question period in the House of Assembly. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Despite a few bumps in the road and a political deadlock over terms, it looks like the House of Assembly will see a very brief debate over the Muskrat Falls project after all.

But the debate may not happen until after the provincial government has already made the final decision to sanction the $7.4-billion hydroelectric project in Labrador.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale announced Monday the debate will take the form of a private member’s resolution. After a breakdown in negotiations between Dunderdale’s governing PC Party and the Official Opposition Liberals, a private member’s resolution was the only procedural way the government could hold a debate on its own terms.

“We’ve done everything we can to encourage the opposition parties to come forward and have a debate amongst representatives of the people on the policy of Muskrat Falls. We believe it’s time to do that,” Dunderdale told reporters.

“We’ve been hearing from experts for over two years. There’s a tremendous amount of information in the public arena that has been validated by any number of experts. It is now time for politicians to do what we were elected to do.”

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael has spent much of the past month calling for discussion and compromise, but Monday afternoon she was livid.

 

“A private member’s resolution is a very, almost insignificant event in the House of Assembly, and here’s the government choosing to use that day as the day to bring forward something about Muskrat Falls,” the NDP leader said. “They’re playing a game with the most expensive project this province has ever taken on — billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. It’s absolutely outrageous.”

Private members’ matters are debated weekly in the House; in total, the matter will get roughly two hours of debate.

Last spring, government members used private member’s motions to praise the government’s 10-year social housing plan, to support the government’s efforts to prepare people for “career opportunities in the skilled trades” and to applaud the work of foster parent, and commend the government’s work in supporting them.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball wasn’t as fired up as Michael, but he wasn’t happy about the prospect of a Muskrat Falls private member’s debate either.

“It seems very odd. I would say we were expecting, of course, much more than that,” he said.

Muskrat Falls dominated question period on the opening day of the fall sitting of the House, with opposition parties calling on the government to send the project back to the Public Utilities Board for a full regulatory review.

Dunderdale argued there is already more than enough information available, and the last thing that’s needed is more study.

“It is time for members opposite to fish or cut bait,” Dunderdale said. “If you do not agree with this project with all of the information you have at your disposal, you stand and critique the project and have some expertise to back up what you are saying.”

Because of the nature of the parliamentary schedule, there’s a decent chance that the government will sanction the project before the Dec. 5 debate.

Dunderdale has said in the past that she wants to see the project sanctioned by the end of the month, and on Monday she said that if the final piece of the puzzle falls in place — the federal loan guarantee promised by Prime Minister Stephen Harper — then she won’t wait.

“When all of the information is in place and signed off properly and we’re in the position to make the sanction decision, then we’re going to go ahead and make the sanction decision,” she said. “We can’t continue to be delayed and delayed and delayed by tactics from the opposition.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: PC Party, NDP, Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls

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Recent comments

  • Your Majesty
    November 20, 2012 - 18:21

    The Queen has made her decision and all of her subjects need to be quiet or face the wrath of the crown. All Hail Queen Dunderdale!

  • Cyril Rogers
    November 20, 2012 - 14:03

    To the person who responded to my comments at 13:26:17.....I ask you this: What evidence do you have that the poll results are accurate? If, indeed, 66% of the people of this province are fully supportive of this project then I would submit that 80% of them are ignorant of the true facts surrounding this project. It may simply be a case of having been inundated with tons of government propaganda but I would hope that people would have taken the time to examine the evidence and ask pertinent questions. One thing I will tell you is that they won't get any straight answers from either NALCOR or Jerome Kennedy. They have manufactured a phony "need for power" and chosen a completely arbitrary price for oil to justify a project that cannot be justified. You don't have to take my word for this but you do need to examine all the evidence, as do most people if they want to get a clear understanding of what this entails. Since you chose not to identify yourself, I issue this challenge....email me at cygorogers@hotmail.com and I will debate you on this project at length. I commit to keeping your name confidential during this process and after. If you refuse, then I would suggest that you are simply a phony who is trying merely to discredit all of us "naysayers".

  • Disappointed
    November 20, 2012 - 13:10

    Well it seems there is only one thing on the Premiers agenda...push the deal through. They say a telephone poll was conducted , must have been the chosen few ..with the amount of people on this Island im sure they could have polled more than 400 . Muskrat Falls is such a Great Deal NS is uncertain if they will Partake in it . NL has no Democracy...Just Communism and Dictatorship from our Elected Premier. My way or i'll legislate a BILL~!!

  • McLovin
    November 20, 2012 - 13:09

    Of all the options that have been discussed involving our future energy needs, did anyone ever consider the option of doing "Nothing"? What's wrong with continuing burning oil? A lot of the USA is still burning coal for crying out loud. And aren't we as a province being awfully hypocritical? One of the arguments I've heard is that Muskrat Falls would eliminate our dependence on oil. So it's good enough for us to drill and sell but not use? And if our power bills are going to increase anyway, why can't we just continue to burn oil and refit Holyrood at a fraction of the cost of Muskrat? Then there is no need to sell our excess power at a loss to the taxpayers. I'm not saying that this is what the Government should do, I'm just saying that the Province has done a terrible job at selling this project to the electorate. Most people would like to see simple economics of the project and show us how Muskrat is the best option rather than just saying "Muskrat Falls is a great project" or "Wind Power is not an option" or "Refitting Holyrood isn't feasible". I know I can read all the reports that have been released but I'm not going at it. The reports were prepared for the government, not for me. They should take all their reports and publish the findings in a concise document that the majority of the electorate will understand.

  • Virginia Waters
    November 20, 2012 - 12:40

    I agree wholeheartedly with those who suggest a walk-out on any debate that is so clearly a farce. Walk out not only to protest government's failure to subject the most important financial commitment ever in the province's history to regulatory review, but to ensure that history properly records this government's abuse of the democratic principles on which our legislature was founded. As for Ms. Jones' offer to flip her position from one of opposing Muskrat to supporting it for a few miles of pavement, what can you say? I always thought her very shallow. This confirms it. She is saying that not only can she be bought - but bought cheaply. The idea that any elected official could ignore the potential for economic devastation of the province as a whole - now and for generations to come - for a short term gain to any one particular district is almost depressing.

    • medieval system
      November 20, 2012 - 13:37

      With regards to Ms. Jones, this is not too surprising in a system that is based on the minister who collects campaign contributions from the construction company who hires the taxpayer who votes for the minister and everybody is happy with the new road/wharf/whatever. In the meantime, ministers elected outside the ruling regime get a job with no power and their fiefdom gets nothing. That’s the system we use in this province today. Disallowing corporate donations would improve our medieval system but no one seems to care.

  • Albert Webber
    November 20, 2012 - 12:14

    BLINDERS! Thats all everyone see. $$. They still don't get it. They are fussing over something that is not their's. Did the LABRADOR people sign away there Rights on any landclaim deal. I think not...Settle the landclaim's, then talk project...CHURCHILL FALL's All over again...The people of Labrador has no say, and gets screwed over again.

  • Cold Future
    November 20, 2012 - 12:10

    Recommended tiltle for the history of Muskrat Falls when written: stolen from Greg Malones book " Don't Tell The Newfoundlanders"

  • If the opposition all walked out
    November 20, 2012 - 11:47

    If the opposition all walked out, what would happen then?

    • Eli
      November 20, 2012 - 13:07

      Besides becoming a national event it would also be recorded with the project itself. Shame on them.

  • Cyril Rogers
    November 20, 2012 - 10:43

    Proponents like DON and KD.....are just as ignorant of the true costs of Muskrat Falls as the Premier appears to be. She is acting like a "used car" salesperson extraordinaire, extolling the virtues of a fatally-flawed project. She is taking the fall for that other magician...the one who engineered this deal...but seems to be doing it with religious fervor. The only thing worse than being wrong is to be so blind to the facts that you actually convince yourself that you are right. Such is the case with this government, but just to ensure they cover all the bases, they use their legislative majority to ride roughshod over basic democratic principles by entrenching secrecy with Bill 29 and neutering the PUB.....while placing the blame for its non-decision on the members of the board. The PUB was caught between a rock and a hard place when ordered to do an assessment with severe restrictions.....now, this dictatorial Premier wishes to add insult to injury by putting forth a private member's bill to have a "debate" on Muskrat Falls later this year. Shame on you, Premier! The future will not be kind to you or your government for the inept way you have handled the affairs of the province.

    • Mr Rogers
      November 20, 2012 - 11:56

      Why do the naysayers keep singing the song that the rest of the province is ignorant to the details of this project? Could it be only a handful of Newfoundlanders hold such enlightenment as they? There are reports from all sorts of industry people whom most believe are well versed (or experts) in this field. The opposition politicians have access to this info. Are they like Roger Grimes who did not even read the Quebec contract himself that he was so loudly flaunting as our salvation? The PUB had their opportunity, and in typical Andy fashion scoffed it. Every review has guidelines, but they did not like theirs. I guess they believe the tail should wag the dog. Get on with the project sanction. The opposition can continue to bury their heads in the sand and not have a debate, or they can say, "Come on, we'll debate under the proposed guidelines - at least that is more mature than having no debate". The province would have more respect for them if they did.

    • Chad
      November 21, 2012 - 10:02

      I would like to ask you Cyril Rogers, what facts do you have that you know so much about this project? Lets see your smarts!!

  • saelcove
    November 20, 2012 - 10:40

    Not to worry Churchill falls will help pay for it in 30 years

  • Don
    November 20, 2012 - 09:30

    Muskrat Falls is a good project. In 20 years it will be triple the cost.

    • McLovin
      November 20, 2012 - 12:56

      Triple the cost? How did you arrive at that estimate?

  • Eli
    November 20, 2012 - 08:55

    Opposition might as well put it all on the line when her ladyship introduces her private members bill.....walk out!

    • Eli
      November 20, 2012 - 09:13

      I could have added up to now I've been a lifetime PC. So long!

  • Cold Future
    November 20, 2012 - 08:26

    The project has such benefits to the mainland and especially Quebec, there is no chance that the Harper governnment will not do all it can to faciliate it happening.The final vote in the house will ensure that the electricity rates are high for the next 50 years or so-get used to it.

  • KD
    November 20, 2012 - 07:48

    These people were elected to to represent the people of the province and with the expert advice they receive and muskrat falls is deemed necessary then by all means get on with it it seems the opposition parties and those aspiring politicans are using the muskrat falls as a means to gain political points even yvonne jones will come on side with it only if she can get a road paved in her district in my opinion these people are threading a fine line. nl ers are not stupid and have enough brains to decide for themselves whats best for them it seems some of the naysayers on the open line shows seem to think we are all waiting for their so called expert advice what a bunch of crap

  • Duggan
    November 20, 2012 - 07:33

    It is ironic that the person who might save us or condemn us to the Muskrat Falls project is Stephen Harper. Ironic Ironic Ironic.