Some commentators have been writing or saying the Muskrat Falls project is a done deal, it’s a go, the decision has been made, the debate and vote in the House of Assembly are merely a formality.
Finance Minister Tom Marshall, usually a thoughtful, reasoning and civilized servant of the Crown, has been quoted as saying, “The Opposition will have its say and then government will have its way.”
Not so long ago in this province, the government of then-premier Clyde Wells proposed to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
There was opposition to the policy. Len Simms was leader of the Progressive Conservatives and Jack Harris was the lone New Democrat in the House of Assembly.
Can you recall that time? Perhaps a few more details will jog your memory.
Sue Kelland-Dyer, Greg Malone and others mounted an effective campaign against what they genuinely believed to be a wrong-headed policy.
MHA Walter Noel stood apart from the Liberal caucus and elicited more sympathy and approval than a basket of abandoned kittens.
Remember now? Good.
Clyde Wells was not known for whimsy or for changing his mind, yet his government’s proposal to sell off Hydro to eagerly waiting carpetbaggers was tossed in the dumpster.
What happened? Public opinion became hot and loud against the proposal. The old boys in the back room of the provincial Liberal party noticed the commotion, sniffed trouble on the political wind, polled the electorate’s rising temperature at various times and places, and determined that if the government proceeded in its plan to privatize Hydro then the voting public would inflict severe punishment on Liberal party candidates in the next provincial election. That is what happened.
Do you remember the rest? Yes. You are right. Clyde shied.
On Sept. 6, the numbers in a Corporate Research Associates poll were released. Then, on Sept. 10, Angus Reid delivered more bad polling news.
In the next few weeks, the old boys in the back room (in these politically correct times referred to as the executive) of the Progressive Conservative party will assess the impact of proceeding with Muskrat Falls on their party’s fortunes, for good or ill, in the 2015 provincial general election.
George Orwell pointed out that everything is politics. Back room operatives of political parties know that the reverse — politics is everything — is also true.