Minister rebranded

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Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy seemed comfortable Monday, facing reporters and editors in a Telegram boardroom to answer questions about Muskrat Falls. It’s a different kind of style for Kennedy, a carefully planned, almost laid-back approach to dealing with questions and concerns about the multi-billion-dollar project.

In the past, he says, he and other members of the Dunderdale government may have been too chippy and reactive about dealing with concerns about the project; answering every single concern has only made the government look defensive about its defining megaproject.

He’s clearly trying to sell that relaxed stance: “What we’re trying to do is to give

people that degree of comfort that as a government we’ve done a good job in terms of providing the information they require. … No, I don’t think that we have done a great job of communicating this and I can give you a couple of examples myself that I’ve done. One is, ‘No debate! No debate!’ Then a week later, ‘OK, let’s have a debate now.’ That’s not good communication.”

He’s echoing Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Here’s the premier from a recent media scrum: “We’re trying not to overload people with information. So a steady progression of reports are being released to address the questions that have been raised publicly, either by opposition parties, by interested individuals, by some groups who have organized against the project and so on. So every possible piece of information that we can provide to the

people of the province over the next couple of weeks before we go in to debate in the House of Assembly, we’re going to do that.”

It’s a clear change from earlier this year, when the government’s position with Muskrat critics could be loosely paraphrased as, “You’re all idiots, you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re all wrong.”

How much is truly a new approach, and how much is simple optics, designed to mollify an electorate that’s showing signs of unease with pitbull politics?

Well, optics are always an integral part of politics.

The next couple of weeks will show whether the new, calmer approach is something that’s been pinned on, or whether it runs deeper.

Because, meanwhile, on another front, Government House Leader Darin King is trying to lay down the law with opposition parties about what a House of Assembly debate on Muskrat Falls will look like.

We all understand that there are games in politics. But this project is too big and too expensive to be a political football.

Canning the father-knows-best attitude is a good first step. Listening carefully to public concerns could well be another.

Organizations: Government House

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Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    November 07, 2012 - 16:31

    Saw George Murphy ask what about conservation. About time someone asked . But Nalcor said Nflders are not interested!

  • Winston Adams
    November 07, 2012 - 12:38

    John, where is Nalcor assessment on energy efficient heating? It can offset more than our allotment for MF at a quarter of the cost and cut heat bills by 38 percent instead of 31 percent increase

  • John Smith
    November 07, 2012 - 11:59

    if anyone is giving us the Father knows best routines it is this Quebec owned rag. The fact of the matter is this project doesn't care if the PCs are in power...or not. It stands on it's own. The government has gone out and once again shown that wind, LNG gas, and the rest don't make sense at all. However the naysayers will just say it's all a big conspiracy...nad the tely will try to fan the flames in an inept attemp at selling a few more papers. It doesn't seem to matter what Navigant, MHI Wade Locke, Ziff energy or anyone else has to say. Just imagine if the Liberals or the NDP or the Telegram, or the 2041 group could come up with an expert...someone to prove that Nalcor is wrong....just will never, ever happen of course...they don't deal in factual data...just fearmongering, rumours, innuendo and hyperbole. That's all well and's just too bad that it puts this well thought out, intelligent answer to our coming energy needs in a bad light...The government and Nalcor have laid it all out there for all to where is the Naysayers eveidence...I know I for one would love to give it the same scrutiny that the pro sides 20,000 pages of info and hundreds of exhiits have gotten....I won't be holding my breath though....

  • Cold Future
    November 07, 2012 - 09:40

    It is difficult to sell a very bad deal which increases electricity rates well above the national average and escalates it at a pace much greater than in the rest of the country and has to export power at deep discount prices and create hardship for fixed income residents. You need a strong majority and obstinate obsession with not listening to proceed with a project despite all opposition.You need a thick skin to sell a deal like that. No matter how the numbers are crunched, the premium to be paid by the Newfoundland taxpayer for the Muskrat project is about $ 4 billion. That number is about the difference between transmitting power through Quebec and around it by the anglosaxon route. No matter how the money is extracted from the taxpayer pockets., the subsidy to be paid by the taxpayer is $ 4 billion in present dollars for Muskrat power. That is the price we will pay for not being able to negotiate appropriately with the province of Quebec and deciding whether we need the power or not, whether we can provide that power more economically or not, that we need to do this now to right all the wrongs of the past and thinking by doing so we will finally be sticking it to Quebec. Unfortunately that good feeling passes very quickly when we consider how much more Quebec will benefit from Muskrat which we will subsidize and suffer hardship to finance and pay for than we will.

  • saelcove
    November 07, 2012 - 08:45

    The little man is still calling the shots from behind the scenes,

  • Scott Free
    November 07, 2012 - 08:24

    Bullying tactics is a hallmark of the Con Party of NL; it worked for Little Man Dan and it's working for his diciples, the Dunderdale Dimwits. Democracy is dead in NL; it was abolished under Dan's rule and kicked to the curb by Kathy, Jerome & Darin, et all.