I’m on the fence when it comes to Muskrat Falls.
And yes, that’s despite the ridiculous assertion hurled out there by some that because I work for a newspaper that is owned by a company whose head office is in Quebec, I’m automatically against the project.
So, those folks have just been proven wrong.
I’m on the fence because I have not yet been convinced it is the best deal for this province. Nor have I been dissuaded from the possibility that it might be.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale did nothing to alter my position with the speech she gave on Wednesday to the St. John’s Board of Trade.
It must be getting close to Halloween because she trotted out the bogeyman in her attempt to persuade people that any other course of action but the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development is catastrophic.
She started out on a high note, talking about the strides the province has made in terms of independence and economic strength.
“Our success is not a flash in
the pan.” she said, “It is the new reality. …”
And then she pulled the ace out of her sleeve — or, rather, the Quebec card.
And she played it over and over and over until I felt like I had been pummelled to death with it.
She was using a stick argument, when everyone knows carrots work better.
Of course, she was playing to a safe crowd — the Board of Trade has endorsed the project provided it likes the highly anticipated “Decision Gate 3” numbers.
And it’s a good thing, too, because if that was her best argument, she will never sell Muskrat Falls to anyone who opposes it.
Quebec is an open wound, even after 30 years, the premier declared, and then rooted around in that wound with her pointiest stick. Quebec would try to “keep us down.” It is a geographic yoke around our necks. Muskrat Falls will “break Quebec’s hold” over us. They are suffocating us. We will not be held hostage. We need to be in the driver’s seat. We will be the authors of our own destiny.
And on and on it went, to the point where I began to believe Danny Williams had taken up ghost-
Do you want the fate of Labrador to be in the hands of Quebec, or would you rather that we were our own masters, the premier asked.
“If Muskrat Falls does not go ahead,” the premier said, “what happens in Labrador from that point on lies squarely in the hands of Hydro-Québec and the province of Quebec.”
If the premier feels as passionately about the merits of Muskrat Falls as she insisted she did — “This project does excite me!” she proclaimed, at one point — then she’d better come up with a better way of convincing the critics than by threatening them with the monster under the bed.
We’re not children, Madame Premier. We need something better than “you will do this, or else.”
You talked about how cost-effective Muskrat Falls will be. Then show us the numbers and prove it. Because right now, the only numbers that are getting through to me are how many dollars I will be forking over for higher-priced electricity.
And that’s what you’re up against here. It’s a tough sell.
Muskrat Falls must succeed on its own merits, you said in your speech.
So perhaps you should focus more on those merits and a little less on the bogeyman.
We’re smart people in this province, and we deserve a far more cogent argument.
Incidentally, the premier was piped into the Board of Trade luncheon by a kilt-clad bagpiper.
Let’s hope she remembers who’s ultimately paying that piper, and who should get to call the tune.
Pam Frampton is a columnist and
The Telegram’s associate managing editor. She can be reached by email at