Filibuster keeps going in House

James McLeod
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MHAs could sit until Christmas Eve

Government House Leader Darin King speaks to reporters Wednesday afternoon. At the time, he was running on about three hours of sleep. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

In the House of Assembly, they can’t stop talking. As of press time, they’ve been going for well over 30 hours, and unless something happens in the wee hours of the morning, politicians will still be in the House this morning.

Due to a procedural quirk of the House, it is still officially Tuesday for MHAs, since a “day” in the legislature doesn’t end until politicians take a break.

Government House Leader Darin King told reporters Wed­nes­day afternoon that the filibuster would keep going until opposition politicians run out of things to say.


“We’re here to debate the bills, and we’ll stand as long as the opposition feel they have questions to ask and want to contribute,” King said. “We’re prepared to provide whatever information we need to do.”

The legislation relates to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. Two critical laws will essentially exclude the project from the purview of the Public Utilities Board, enshrine a wholesale electricity monopoly for Nalcor and allow for expropriation of land for electricity transmission lines across Newfoundland.

New Democratic Party Leader Lorraine Michael accused the government of engineering the filibuster to happen the week before Christmas when people aren’t really paying attention.

“The government is the one who has set this up. I think it is absolutely reprehensible that they set this up for this week,” Michael said. “They knew what they were doing, and they have to wear the responsibility for what’s going on.”

The way things are going, there’s a very good chance the House will sit until Christmas Eve.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said people probably aren’t paying very close attention, since it’s right before Christmas.

“This decision really lies in the lap of the government,” Ball said. “Obviously, people’s minds are in a different area this time of year. I mean, I don’t think there’s people at home glued to their TV sets watching House of Assembly proceedings.”

King said this wasn’t planned by him. He said he only got the two critical pieces of legislation from Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy Monday.

He also said everyone is struggling to make it through, getting “tired and a little antsy.”

King was operating on three hours of sleep when he spoke to reporters.

But he also said as long as debate keeps going, he’ll keep going, too.


Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Newfoundland.New Democratic Party

Geographic location: Government House

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Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 12:33

    Kennedy in the House is explaining that the cost of generation at Holyrood is almost 19 cents per kwh and that in the near future it can rise to 30 cents per kwh. And that increased demand driven primarily by electric heat needs drives these costs. He uses this as a rationale that Muskrat Falls is the best option to offset this expected escalation, and so argues that it is the least cost option for the people and our power costs. Ignored by Kennedy is the fact that efficient heating for residential and small commercial use is very lost cost. It will cost the equivalent of only about 9 cents per kwh to the residential consumer allowing for equipment cost , installation and operating cost over the 20 plus years equipment life span, using the latest inverter technology systems. Once basic upgrades are done for housing, these euuipments are the most cost effective by far. They not only significantlly reduces system demand and energy, but actually REDUCES yearly energy bills for residents. This is my opinion, but with a high degree of certainity that it is factual. This is important to the current debate and most of my peers in the engineering field have not enlightened our politicians as to their knowledge and expertise in ths matter. I propose the following: I will donate $10,000.00 to the Janeway Children's Hospital provided at least 10 local engineers, who have expertise with these systems, go public with their view on this. Further, I will double the amount if the majority of those engineers who go public contridict my opinion and analysis on this.

  • Eli
    December 20, 2012 - 11:59

    Congratulations to the Opposition for debating these bills that ensure Nalcor can do what they friggin' well like. But lik the rabbi who prayed daily at the Wailing Wall and was asked how he felt after each exercise, his response was: "Like I'm talking to a f'en wall".

  • derek
    December 20, 2012 - 11:50

    I say keep them in there until "cows come home". They only work a few months a year with an average of $140,000.......don't look for pity from the public Darren.

  • willy bear
    December 20, 2012 - 11:43

    I would like to know what's the point of this filibuster ??? MF is a go anyway, no matter how long the talk. Makes the opposition look more stupid than they already are.

    • Eli
      December 20, 2012 - 15:27

      And if your wife told you to walk the plank would you have to be shown the way WillieBear?

  • Winston Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 11:37

    Kennedy in the House just said 'why should we doubt the experts at Nalcor'? Well, to fabricate their forecast of about 1 percent per year growth in energy demand, they had to come up with a unrealistic low contribution from energy efficiency. They did this by allowing only about one tenth of one percent per year reduction to demand from energy efficiency going forward. How did they reach this conclusion? It was by saying ' we are reaching saturatiion in benefits from efficiency for residential house construction and improvements' This is a FALSE statement. Efficieny heating alone can reduce energy use for houses by 65 percent for heating needs . Implemented on scale it reduces system demand and energy by more tha 30 percent of our total use. It is reliable and very cost effective. So why should we trust either Nalcor or MHI who chooses to ignore such technology which reduces costs for the consumer? Why are they not held accountable for such a serious FALSE statement.? Was it lack of knowledge or oversight? To be expected in the Dark Ages?

  • Winston Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 11:08

    Kennedy in the House is talking up the benefit of MF over more island wind. He uses Ireland and England to make his point; that while they aim for 30 to 40 percent wind, he says the key point is that they have an interconnected grid which allows more wind. But he is suppressing information, as this is the Dark Age for nfld. Yes interconnection allows more wind, but we can use substancially more wind than Nalcor and Mhi originally stated. Here is what they said to the PUB just 10 months ago: Our present wind is 54 Mw, about 3.4 percent of our peak load, and at about 40 percent capacity factor gives only about 2 percent of our energy. Nalcor proposed only another 25 MW of wind for 2014. Now in the MHI Oct report , wind is ok up to 10 percent without problems, and up to 15 percent if additional controls are implemented . These additional measures would for 15 percent cost less than 1 cent per kwh to the wind cost. So wind is now technically feasible and economic up to 15 percent , which means hundreds of Megawatts of additional wind. And why compare with Ireland and England? Why not compare with Hawaii? They have an isolated system like ours, with only 2 percent hydro and mostly thermal generations . They have a need to optimise wind. General Electric has done extensive studies for them . Their key findings : wind is ok up to 20 percent . Wind is ok up to 500 Mw . Generally the higher the system capacity, the more wind you can add. But Hawaii's system is not bigger than ours , but somewhat smaller, and yet they can have 500Mw of wind. Now this new knowledge makes a world of difference when assessing the isolated island option, especially when combined with island hydro and efficiency. This new knowledge is being suppressed and ignored by Kennedy. Subpression of knowledge. it is the Dark Age

  • Winston Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 10:28

    My earlier posting should read 'we now wish' instead of not wish Presently in the House we are advised that Nain has shut the school and is rationing power, due to problems with the diesels generators. Dark Age thinking means that Labrador hydro to offset Holyrood emissions is important, but Labrador hydro for basic and economic low cost power for Labrador coastal communities is not important. The House Speaker said the Nain problem is not relevant to the current House debate! Kennedy, ignored the Nain issue. These coastal communities remain second class citizens.

  • Cold Future
    December 20, 2012 - 09:53

    Mike, read the quote from the government release "The amendments are designed to accomplish three primary goals related to project financing. It will facilitate non-recourse project financing and protection of the province’s non-project assets, protect rate payers against additional costs and higher rates, and provide Nalcor with equity payments and sufficient borrowing limits." How gullable would a person have to be (how low IQ) to believe that the eliminating import energy or Nalcor competitors is to protect the ratepayer from higher rates. Nalcor will sell at disount rates on the mainland and we will pay the subsidy and we will not be able to import cheaoer energy from the mainland which will be cheaper from every available source.We may in the end be forced to allow cheap imports to comply with the north american free trade agreement and it will be the double wammy. Stuck with the white elephant to pay for anyway.

  • Winston Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 09:34

    History taught us about the Dark Ages when knowledge was suppressed. We not wish to enact regulations that prohibits our citizens from benefiting from current and future technologies that can lower the cost of electricity or reduce costs to consumers by more efficient use of electricity.This will entrench, for 50 years, higher cost of living for residents and uncompetitive costs for island manufacturing, commercial business,and island industry. What mentality, shortsightness, tunnel vision, and greed by a few who would profit from such a scheme. Welcome to the New Dark Age.

  • Lilly
    December 20, 2012 - 09:34

    MHA's may have to work Christmas??? I have no problem with that.I am working in Health Care for 32 yrs and I had to work my Christmas's when my kids were small and I would have rather have been home with my Family.We have Military who do not get home for Christmas.So I have no pity on MHA's.

  • mr. scrooge
    December 20, 2012 - 08:31

    poor MHA'S may have to sit through christmas. do they think that we the people give a hoot if they have to sit through christmas. if they don't like it then resign. they are our servants, payed by us. so all you MHA'S quit your whining. maybe with any luck they will get a half day to eat their turkey. HUMBUG !

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 20, 2012 - 08:28

    After all the government mantra about Muskrat Falls being the key to moving us from an isolated island status to an interconnected one, what government is doing more than anything else is isolating us totally by creating a monopoly wholly under the thumb of Cabinet. All other actual and potential energy resource supply options [wind, west coast shale oil, west coast shale gas, offshore gas, renewable (carbon neutral) wood and peat fuel biomass etc.] which may in the coming years be much less expense than Muskrat Falls, with the passage of the bills now before the House, government is prohibiting the private sector from developing those cheaper options for the benefit of ratepayers. Isolated, inward looking, stifling private sector investment, entrenchment of high cost power, prohibiting 2041 access to Upper Churchill, increasing and entrenching our debt obligations until 2067.

  • David Wilson
    December 20, 2012 - 08:13

    I think a steam powered generation option should have been explored, all you would have to do is just funnel the hot air from the House of Assembly down to the turbines and voila power for generations.

    • Jay
      December 20, 2012 - 10:18

      Anne, Yes, the experts in Canada also said that Hibernia was nothing but a make work project for Newfoundland. I have lots of questions about Muskrat Falls, but I'm certainly not going to fret over what a clown writing for the Financial Post says.

  • anne
    December 20, 2012 - 08:08

    did anyone read this today? A Toronto-based electricity consultant says the Muskrat Falls project may prove to be the worst hydroelectric project ever in Canada. In an editorial in the Financial Post, Tom Adams says government pushed the project to exact revenge on Quebec. Adams says Muskrat Falls is wildly uneconomical, has no known export markets and no prospect of Labrador mining customers prepared to pay anything close to the actual cost of power. Adams says the deal potentially injures Quebec's contractual interests and risks agitating the existing inter provincial conflict. Muskrat's biggest rate impact kicks in in 2041 he says, extending Newfoundland's electricity pain into the later years of this century. Adams says Hydro-Québec is constructing a comparable hydroelectric dam on the Romaine River, 350 kilometres closer to southern markets -- it will produce about twice as much power, but require a total investment less than the current estimate for Muskrat Falls. AND he says Romaine will start up before Muskrat. The costs of getting Muskrat Falls power underwater from Newfoundland to Cape Breton alone will be prohibitive. He says the life-cycle cost of the Maritime Link will approximately equal the cost today of power delivered from natural gas.

  • bunch of clowns
    December 20, 2012 - 07:40

    FILLIBUSTER you say, acting like bullies in a school yard, name calling, so on. politics as become corrupt something that our children don't need to see. these overpayed clowns are suppose to lead by example but thats what happens when a dictator says jump, and the puppets say how high.

  • Mike Bennett
    December 20, 2012 - 07:32

    Great name Cold Future, so when the power pours from Muskrat Falls you'll be shutting off the power to your domocile correct? Ya I doubt it. Your shortsighted view is typical of the backward Newfoundlander. Heaven forbid this province gets the opportunity to fend for itself for a change. If there was ever a project the NL government moved ahead with that will actually benefit our entire province, it is this hydroelectric project. Cheers to the leaders for forging ahead dispite the naysayers!

    • Coco
      December 20, 2012 - 08:00

      It’s not Newfoundlanders who are backward – it’s the PC Regime stuck in the Merchant Ruling Class mentality. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

    • McLovin
      December 20, 2012 - 09:38

      Mike Bennett, can you please tell me how Muskrat Falls is going to allow Newfoundland to fend for itself for a change? If we were going to be able to fend for ourselves with this project, why are the MHAs currently fillibustering in the house over the fact that the rate payers have to ensure that Nalcor makes money. That doesn't sound like fending for ourselves to me. It's just another form of taxation to help finance this project. There are no external markets for the excess power, the mining companies in Labrador won't pay close to what it costs to produce any power that they use. So basically this is just one very expensive alternative to Holyrood and upgrade of infrastructure. Now that may very well be needed but I still wouldn't call it fending for ourselves, so if you could please explain to me how this project allows us to fend for ourselves I'm all ears.

    • Tim Jamison
      December 20, 2012 - 20:10

      If you were all ears, McLovin, you'd be onside with the project. Nalcor has clearly and decisively knocked down every naysayer doublespeak talking point that has come up. But you're not all ears, because liberals stopped being open-minded sometime in the 70s when they became statist socialists. The only reason there is opposition to this project is because liberals are trying to regain control of the Confederation Building. It really is that simple

  • George S.
    December 20, 2012 - 07:32

    I long overdue word of congratulations to the St. John's Board of Trade for endorsing the establishment of a regulated monopoly to the exclusion of free competition and trade. Clearly, your endorsement is consistent with your Charter. Well done! Kudos. I have no doubt the only refinery in Canada that doesn't have cogeneration capacity and is currently on the market, will be thrilled by the anti-competitive corner they have been painted into. Nicely played! What will be the concession the deep thinkers in the Conservative Party will now have to make to the Hebron Partners since that installation will no longer be allowed to self-generate electricity? Nalcor will have to own the gas turbines on the platform which will const us another $100million for installation and operation. The risk of MENSA running out of membership cards in Newfoundland is pretty slim. I can't help but feel Williams has borrowed the playbook of Putin and Medvedev.

  • Cold Future
    December 20, 2012 - 06:52

    Before the consruction of this white elephant is completed there will be very few yaysayers who will admit that their IQ is low enough to have let them be in favour of this boondoggle. That includes most of the short term benifiters and the tree huggers who think that the miniscule oil polution from the Holyrood plant is sufficient reason to inflict this burden on the people.