Springtime snow job alert

Michael Johansen
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Going outside in Labrador these days, walking the countryside or driving the roads has become a big wet sloppy pain.

Everywhere else in Canada - indeed, everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere - it looks like spring arrived weeks ago after a mild winter. What snow there was is now only a fading memory. In some places, summer is even well underway.

However, here in this part of the Ungava Peninsula, snow still lies two metres or more deep on undisturbed ground and more keeps falling every day. In the warming temperatures, it makes a mess, a wet slushy mess.

After such a long winter, the clouds seem to be making an unnecessarily intensive effort at covering something up that should by now have been revealed - a non-figurative snow job, one might say.

Luckily, here it's only snow and slush - nothing an ordinary private Canadian citizen can't handle. What's worse is the new snow job that exploded from the provincial capital and is hitting the island, spreading towards the Strait of Belle Isle - a job that's as intense an effort to persuade or deceive (to borrow a definition from the Internet) as anyone in this province has had to endure for many years.

The current power-that-is, and the power-that-once-was-but-now-isn't-but-keeps-hanging-around-the-edges-making-big-business-deals, responded to their latest of many Muskrat Falls setbacks, the cleverly critical PUB report they both correctly took as a slap in the face, by denying the inconvenient message and verbally shooting the messenger, mowing down a whole bunch of private citizens in the process.

Apparently, having assumed that the Public Utilities Board would parrot the predetermined conclusions provided by Nalcor (the government's back-pocket energy company) and give the provincial government an enthusiastic endorsement to build another big dam in Labrador, the premier that is and the one that was (Willerdale or Dunderliams, if they're following the current fashion of celebrity couples) have lashed out at the PUB for daring to defy them and dismissed everything about it as flawed.

Stung once again by the oft-heard and oft-demonstrated accusation that the government's energy corporation was keeping detailed, up-to-date information to itself rather than providing it as required to the public officials who needed it - and, for that matter, to the general public who deserve to see it - Premier Kathy Dunderdale criticized the board's members for not accepting without question whatever Nalcor told them.

She said she found the board's lack of trust "frustrating" and accused the members of wasting a couple of million dollars.

Former Premier Danny Williams was likewise baffled and disappointed by the board's audacity in paying more attention to ordinary citizens than to the government's own functionaries.

"I was troubled by the conclusions put forward by the board largely based on opinions of private citizens as opposed to the experts at Nalcor and Manitoba Hydro," the disturbed ex-premier curiously disclosed.

Instead of bowing to reasonable conclusions and finally admitting that their Lower Churchill hydroelectric dream is all wet, not to mention astronomically costly and ultimately impractical, premiers past and present have chosen to inflict the province with a blizzard of frustrated indignation to hide just how big is the mistake they want the province's taxpayers - its private citizens - to make at their behest and to their lonely benefit.

But that's only a localized blizzard.

There's a nationwide snow job coming from Ottawa, and week after week new low fronts fuel the obfuscating tempest. It didn't start with the 2012 budget, but that depressive event quickly became the epicentre for all storms as federal ministers spun off the central vortex to convince taxpaying private citizens that slash-and-burn really means build-and-improve, that less employment means more jobs, that fewer services means better service, that prosperity means less money for the poor, that no protection means safer lives for all and that ignorance, lies and poverty are good for democracy.

It doesn't seem to matter any more what our governments decide to do or not do. If it's against the public interest, they'll pretend it's not and they'll spare no expense or effort to make everyone believe that the emperor is still wearing clothes.

But hopefully everyone knows how that snow job ended.

Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador.

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Manitoba Hydro

Geographic location: Labrador, Canada, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Can you give some answers to our questions John Smith
    April 15, 2012 - 08:58

    John Smith can you give us an answer to why we need this project when there is already surplus energy, with no buyers in sight, with most likely more hydro-energy to be added to the existing energy grid from the dying newspaper sector? Can you speak to why 870 megawatts of hydro energy will cost up to three times that what Natural Gas will cost to be brought in a pipeline to our energy grids? Can you explain why the Muskrat Falls Project will be amortized for 57 years, a mortgage which will not only burden the present generation of rate payers but for our children and grandchildren of the future? Can you explain why the newly minted mining industry will pay 4 cents per kilowatt hour, while it will cost the ordinary citizen up to 5 times that cost. And further can you explain the method of financing to be utilized to finance this project, which by its very structure could enslave the ratepayers and taxpayers of our province for many more decades than if the method of financing is done through the conventional way of financing for such projects?

  • John Smith
    April 14, 2012 - 17:10

    Well...it would be very easy to slam this meaningless diatribe. What really gets me about crap like this is...OK you come out and make your statements ...Muskrat falls is "wet", "astronomiclly costly", and "ultimately impracticle"...but you don't tell us why. If you are going to disparage the most popular Premiere in Canadian history, and shoot down, what in reality is the only sensical anwser to our future energy needs, and current sky rocketing electricity costs...than can't you at least give us one iota of evidence to back up your claims? Something? Anything? Does anyone out there...pro or con think that it's right to slam a multi billion dollar development, with scores of competent people, and organizations backing it up...without once even alluding to the reason??? Tell us..oh please tell us why the deal is wet...why is it astronomical in price and why is it impracticle??? How would you solve our coming energy crisis...or are you just another calling Ed Martin, Navigant, MHI, Wade Locke, Danny williams, Jack Harris, Tom Oliver, and on and on...all liars??? A good article would have said(IMO), this deal is impracticle...and here is why I think that...with evidence, and proof. As far as Mr. Williams goes...what he said was...WOW...2 million dollars and 9 months later and these guys came back with nothing... I felt the same way. The PUB is incompetent...simple. So Mr. Johannsen I ask you the two immortal questions...1) Do you think we will need more power by 2020?...2) If yes, how...if no... what proof do you have to make that assertion? Because there is plenty of proof out there that we will indeed be in need of additional power by 2020...and that muskrat falls is the lowest cost option to provide it. You can be against the project, and against the good people of Nalcor...and against the former premier sure...but I think it's all just a bunch of nothing...if you have nothing to back up what you are trying to assert.

  • Wake up Premier Dunderdale and ex Premier Williams and do what the people are advocating on the Muskrat Falls Contract, Stop It until the time is right, if ever
    April 14, 2012 - 11:10

    Great remarks Michael, there is nothing else to be added other than based on what you said Premier Dunderdale and former Premier Williams should open their eyes on the risks of this project and listen to the voice of reason, the electorate of our province, who ultimately will have to shoulder the costs for the risks that will turn into a back-breaking debt for the province with the approval of the Muskrat Falls Project.

  • Cyril Rogers
    April 14, 2012 - 09:24

    Excellent summary of the current sorry state of governance in both St. John's and Ottawa as usual, Michael. Look for our resident troll to come by and slam you on these comments.

    • Adam
      April 14, 2012 - 10:37

      Oh I think there are a lot of trolls on these forums with obvious political biases.