Where do you stand?

Michael
Michael Johansen
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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.

Geographic location: Labrador, Muskrat Falls, Labrador.5 Labrador.6 Nova Scotia Grand River

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  • aubrey smith
    December 21, 2010 - 04:29

    Michael's coments seem to suggest that segments of other oridnary fellow Newfoundlanders ( business class of course did and will) have fared better as a result of large projects completed in NL.I have yet to "directly benefit" from any mining, hydro or any other industrial project on the Island part of our province or been consulted even in a simple survey poll prior to the start of any such project .Why should our mainland segment ,Labrador, always expect a quid pro quo each time ? The assets are ours , yours and mine jointly held , and apart from First Nation rights ,we must trust in and await for the proverbial rising water imagery to raise all boats ,no just some boats .

  • Dave
    December 19, 2010 - 13:32

    And another Newfoundlander goes on the record. Harm a tree, divert a river, anything that might change the natural setting, as long as it's far away. We'd all love to see nature completely unspoiled but you in Labrador don't live in some utopian paradise, you live in our resource exploitation zone. Most of the area being developed is only (if ever) seen by a handful of people who don't matter to me. It's in the middle of nowhere but once again we find ourselves confronted by tree huggers who would rather leave it untouched at the expense of the people living hundreds of miles away. What would you have us do for power and for revenue to sustain life in this province? But if it's developed power costs will climb astronomically along with oil prices, coastal Labrador will continue to burn dirty oil, revenues to provide schools, hospitals and roads across Newfoundland will grow and social programs in Newfoundland will get the money they need to continue, especially after the non-renewable oil resources are gone. That's OK though I guess, as long as not a single tree is cut or river is dammed in Newfoundland. Grow up!!!

  • Taxpayer
    December 18, 2010 - 08:48

    The middle of nowhere eh Roadrunner. I guess that means not anywhere near where you live. If you want to advocate for hydro projects do so for one in St. John's. Maybe the Waterford River. It is always easy to destroy the environment of others.

  • Roadrunner
    December 18, 2010 - 07:42

    And another tree hugger goes on the record. Don't harm a tree, don't divert any rivers, don't do anything that might change the natural setting. Give me a break. We'd all love to see nature completely unspoiled but we don't live in some utopian paradise, we live in the real world, or at least most of us do. Most of the area being developed is only (if ever) seen by a handful of people on the rarest of occasions. It's in the middle of nowhere but once again we find ourselves confronted by tree huggers who would rather leave it untouched at the expense of the people living here. What would you have us do for power and for revenue to sustain life in this province? If it's not developed power costs will climb astronomically along with oil prices, holyrood will continue to burn millions of barrels of dirty oil, revenues to provide schools, hospitals and roads will not grow and social programs won't get the money they need to continue, especially after the non-renewable oil resources are gone. That's OK though I guess, as long as not a single tree is cut in a place very few have ever seen. Grow up!!!