The downside to Kathy Dunderdale’s departure from the premiership is it sparks an ever-so-slight chance the Tories won’t be decimated in the 2015 provincial election.
And, of course, utter and thorough electoral decimation is exactly what the PCs deserve.
It is what they would have got with Dunderdale still driving the stricken ship.
Thus the applause at the conclusion of Dunderdale’s I’m-done speech Wednesday at Confederation Building. Tory MHAs and PC stalwarts had their slight hopes reignited that some of them might actually survive Slaughter 2015 (not to be confused with Blackout 2014).
Arrogance, condescension and stubbornness are among the boatload of undesirable attributes that brought about Dunderdale’s downfall. Her “time to step back,” as she put it Wednesday, came surprisingly fast — a mere two years, three months and 11 days after she was elected premier on Oct. 11, 2011.
The first female premier leaves a woeful legacy:
• Bill 29, increasing government secrecy, a retrograde act that was supported by all Tory MHAs.
• Shutting the Public Utilities Board out of the Muskrat Falls process, a detestable and indefensible political manoeuvre that was supported by all Tory MHAs.
• Rigging the Muskrat Falls debate by making it an either/or proposition rather than considering the wide assortment of other options, a crass manipulation that was supported by all Tory MHAs.
• Approving the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project despite broad and ample opposition, and substantial evidence it will prove to be a massive economic disaster, an approval that was supported by all Tory MHAs.
• Failing to recognize and admit the obvious, that when 200,000 people are in the cold and dark, and without hot meals, it is indeed a crisis — a failure that not a single Tory MHA had the courage to point out to their leader.
Whoever takes the wheel of the wayward Tory ship has some explaining to do. First on the list, given the above, is why anyone should cast a vote for any one of this crowd, who have created such an impending catastrophe for Newfoundland (and Labrador).
It isn’t just Dunderdale who needed to go. The Tories need to go.
Pressure now turns to Liberal Leader Dwight Ball and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. A primary question is whether either of them is willing to say bluntly and publicly that, if elected, they will put a stop to the Muskrat Falls project.
Stopping Muskrat Falls is the most important long-term issue facing the province.
“I will not foist a half-century of needless multibillion-dollar debt upon the citizens of this province.”
Whoever says that first gets my vote in 2015.
Anyone who still doubts that Muskrat Falls is disastrous folly should consider this: every single prediction its supporters have made has proven to be false.
Former premier and Muskrat Falls midwife Danny Williams claimed the project would make Labrador (and Newfoundland) an exporter of hydroelectricity, with accompanying profitability that even a multimillionaire could admire. If you recall, that was the initial rationale for developing Muskrat Falls.
It was said that New Yorkers were hungry for hydroelectric power. False.
It was said New Englanders were hungry for hydroelectric power. False.
Well then, Nova Scotians want hydroelectric power. Yes, but Nalcor will sell it to them for less than it costs to produce. Profitability? Muskrat false.
It was even said Muskrat Falls electricity would be sucked up by grateful and power-hungry Ontarians.
Fittingly coincidental with Dunderdale’s announcement this week comes news of a hydro scandal in Ontario. Apparently, according to a Canadian Press report, Ontario has too much hydroelectricity, and has been selling its excess power for less than the cost of production to customers in the U.S., Quebec and Manitoba, at a loss of $1 billion per year.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.