There will always be strong arguments and weak arguments in any debate, and if you plan to be thorough, perhaps you have to present the whole bunch, regardless of how the weaker ones seem to take away from the case you’re trying to make.
That being said, when it comes to the endless row of reports on Muskrat Falls being brought out almost daily now by the Dunderdale government, the latest three, delivered on Friday (“Upper Churchill: Can we wait until 2041?” “Gull Island: Why not develop Gull Island first?” and “Legal Options: S92A, Good Faith and Regulatory Proceedings in Quebec”) are without a doubt the weakest sets of arguments the province has put forward yet.
All three reports were generated internally by the province’s Department of Natural Resources, and, if nothing else, are valuable because they contain (and sometimes repeat) interesting historical information about this province’s ongoing battles over hydroelectric development.
However, they would be better classed as essays than reports; they mostly stick to one side of an argument and provide little in the way of new information.
Take the conclusion of “Upper Churchill: Can we wait until 2041?” which begins, “The power contract between Newfoundland and Labrador and Hydro-Québec has been the source of great resentment for the people of our province for many decades. This contract has resulted in tremendous profits for Hydro-Québec, while providing minimal profits to Newfoundland and Labrador.”
If you see anything new in that, please let us know.
The end of the conclusion is much more abrupt: “Waiting for available Upper Churchill power in 2041 is not a practical, economical, or sensible alternative to Muskrat Falls.” It’s hard to see fully how that conclusion was reached.
The general format seems to be “here’s what happened in the past, and that’s why we can’t wait until 2041” or “here’s what happened in the past, so we can’t build Gull Island first.”
The essays adequately (and only sometimes pejoratively) lay out much of the groundwork that has happened with things like legal challenges of the Upper Churchill contract, but basically err on the side that there are too many unknowns for the government to be able to depend on any other source of power.
In other words, as always, all roads lead to Muskrat Falls.
This does not mean you should not find and
read the reports on the ever-expanding website www.powerinourhands.ca. Like everything else in the Muskrat Falls debate, more information is infinitely better than less, even if the additional information doesn’t really support the conclusions that anchor the documents.
Just don’t confuse these essays with definitive evidence or the carefully studied arguments you would normally expect from a government-sponsored scholarly report.
It may be that there were no stronger and clearer arguments to make to address the particular questions that these efforts sought to satisfy.
One final thought? Their curious lack of heft is more interesting than their weight — they are, more than anything else, from the shallow end of the proof pool.