Flim-flam, but no mumbo-jumbo

Michael Johansen
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Hello everyone! Thanks for coming. Quiet down, please!

Thank you. Let me welcome you to the first meeting of the Lake Melville District Homework Committee on What Tickles Keith Russell the Wrong Way. We all want to know what our MHA’s been saying on the radio, so I’m pleased to announce we have an actual recording.

What’s that? Get on with it? OK, so what’s your question? Did he

say only aboriginal people could protest against damming Muskrat Falls? Let’s see … well, there’s this:

“What you’re seeing here, especially up in Labrador … is people who have never been there, have never had any historical ties to this site, who’ve never had any family that ever hunted or trapped remotely close to the area, everybody’s getting their picture took, everybody is talking about their ancestors …”

It wanders from there. This might be more to the point:

“Anybody can protest. I’m not saying you’ve got to be born and raised here and an aboriginal person — you know, 100 per cent aboriginal person — and you’ve got to be living adjacent to that river. I’m not saying that. I welcome anybody to protest — anybody, whether you’re Innu, Métis, you’re a beneficiary of the Nunatsiavut land claim, you’re welcome to protest. I got no problem with that …”

So, first no and then yes, but here’s more:

“They’re trying to raise their own profile on the backs of this because … it’s the opportune time. You’re seeing lawyers and past-politicians and everybody from all walks of life …”

Well, he doesn’t trust them very much, but he didn’t say they can’t protest — so I guess the answer’s a clear “maybe.”

What’s that? You heard what? He said you can only protest one thing at a time? Let me check that:

“If you’re talking about environmentalism, well then you know, stick to that topic when you’re referring to Muskrat Falls because we’ve got people talking about, you know, who claim to be part of that, like I said, that grass roots environmental movement when they give a 10-second blurb to environmentalism and then they’re talking about reports and pocketbooks, how we’re all going to be struck by this project and how alternatives are better suited for our energy needs in this province and that’s simply, you know, it’s people using their own, you know, they’re looking out for their own agenda — simple as that.”

Yeah, one at a time and only on environmentalism. What’s that?

Is he questioning their motives? There’s this:

“It’s nice to be concerned about the land, it sure is, but now this is the opportune time, if you will, for people to jump on the bandwagon and claim to want to be part of the environmental movement to see this project stopped, which to me is just — it’s


And this:

“I guess what tickles me the wrong way is just when people start to, they start to put their own agenda ahead of the facts and the figures about the development.”

And another one:

“For me, if you’re really concerned about environmentalism, well then, do your homework and make your case in an intelligent way about the environmental facts surrounding the case. If you’re going to use that as the guise to further your own agenda and become a politician, you know, people would have to be wary of what your motives are.”

Obviously that’s a yes. Another question? Good question! Did he really mock aboriginal spirituality?

“You have these people talking about Mother Nature and sacred waters and, you know, spirits flowing through these rivers and that’s all well and good. … I don’t buy into the mumbo-jumbo about, you know, the trail leading to the Muskrat Falls site as being sacred ground.”

Another yes. Last question! Why is he so down on protesters?

“The fact that four people made it on CBC on the news is one thing and that’s the basis of my comment, I guess, was that just a little earlier

we were having a million-dollar announcement at Labrador Grenfell Health, and zero coverage, and yet four people can throw together an impromptu protest and there they are on ‘Here and Now.’”

It seems they spoiled Russell’s chance to get on TV.


Michael Johansen is a writer

living in Labrador.

Organizations: Lake Melville District Homework Committee on What Tickles Keith Russell, CBC, Labrador Grenfell Health

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Labrador

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