Did everybody study? MP Todd Russell is testing Labradorians on the latest proposal to build the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. He recently sent a two-page quiz to every household in his riding — copies are also available online or from one of his community offices.
Luckily, as a take-home test, the deadline is months away, but it’s generally better to get these things done early. If I don’t, I usually forget all about them. So, here I go:
1. Does the proposed Muskrat Falls development provide enough benefit for the people of Labrador? Yes, no, not sure.
Well, I’d have to say no to this one. Aside from a few short-term jobs and a lot of promises, no real benefits seem apparent.
2. Are you concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed Muskrat Falls project? Yes, no, not sure.
Certainly. I mean, affirmative. Absolutely! Did I say yes, yet? By destroying Muskrat Falls with a dam or two, Nalcor will flood the richest habitat in central Labrador. This will not only contaminate the river waters with even more mercury in addition to what leached into the Smallwood Reservoir, but more methane will also be released into the atmosphere.
In addition, transmission lines will scar and dissect thousands of kilometres of hitherto untouched wilderness. All this will harm many species of plants and animals — possibly driving some, like a rare stand of Canadian yew and some remnant herds of woodland caribou — to the brink of extinction.
3. Have Labradorians been properly consulted about the proposed Muskrat Falls project?
No. They’ve sometimes been informed and lectured and maybe even allowed to speak on rare occasions, but most have not truly been consulted.
4. Do you feel you have enough information about the proposed Muskrat Falls project?
Yes, more than enough. In fact, I just wish it would all go away so that I don’t have to hear anything more about any hydro megaprojects in Labrador.
5. Should Muskrat Falls power be available in Labrador for residential and commercial customers?
Yes, but only if the hydroelectric potential can be tapped without destroying the falls, like in a run-of-the-river kind of way. Even then, all the power should be used in Labrador.
6. Does the proposed agreement respect the aboriginal rights of Innu, Inuit and Metis in Labrador?
Yes and no. Yes, but selectively. No, with exceptions. In fact, the provincial government seems actually to be fostering divisions between the peoples of Labrador by favouring some and ignoring others.
7. Are you satisfied with the proposed employment benefits for Labrador residents?
No. When it’s all over, there will have been too few jobs for too short a time.
8. Do you believe that Labrador will receive a fair share of revenues from Muskrat Falls power sales?
Not sure. Is Labrador getting any share at all?
9. Should a dedicated Labrador development fund be a condition of a proposed Muskrat Falls project?
Yes — and all the money from the destruction of Muskrat Falls should go into it.
10. Do you support federal funding for transmission lines to Newfoundland or Nova Scotia?
No. They’re unnecessary and the money can be better spent elsewhere, like on a national daycare system.
11. Do you feel Labradorians will be the “primary beneficiaries” of the proposed Muskrat Falls project?
No — not the way the provincial government is setting it up. Most of the beneficiaries will probably live far away from the region.
12. Do you support or oppose the proposed Muskrat Falls agreement? Strongly support, somewhat support, not sure, somewhat oppose, strongly oppose.
Hmm. … This is a tough one: so many choices! Well, I’ve got to go with No. 5: strongly oppose.
So, that’s the test, except for Part C, the essay question. …
Provide any additional comments. Use extra pages if required.
Extra pages? That shouldn’t be necessary. One sentence (or two) will do: leave Labrador’s Grand River alone. Enough harm has already been done to it.
Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador.