There is but one word to describe the goings-on at the Confederation Building. That word is fiasco.
When the largest, most expensive, potentially disruptive undertaking in the entire span of their history is threatening the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and yet is not to be given formal, insightful, detailed consideration by their duly elected representatives, then no other word can describe that outrageous situation.
The proposed Muskrat Falls project wil consume funding at least equivalent to an entire annual provincial budget appropriation.
The proposal as stated indebts consumers and taxpayers for fully 50 years.
Its excessive costs will disallow, for a generation or longer, other significant capital expenditures needed for economic growth.
It will impose an export-driven orientation on provincial economic policy of such urgency that internal growth matters will become secondary.
Yet, it is being handled by the administration like a trip to the supermarket for the week’s groceries!
It is partisan business as usual. The public is treated with glossy bits of advertisement worthy of ladies’ hair-spray promotion.
It has pitted public interest against Crown corporation hubris, with ministers firmly in the latter camp. It has sandbagged the media to such an extent that the deeply troubling outcome is an admitted foregone conclusion.
Individual dissenters have been driven to questioning whether the province is still a democracy.
This is decidedly not good enough. What has happened to the governance mechanism?
Granted, the recent past has witnessed other strange events, such as the unthinking expropriation of a multi-million-dollar property, or unmindfulness as a basic industry deteriorates, or acquiescing to cavalier abandonment of solemn undertakings by industry.
The will, or capacity, to govern has weakened in past decades. Yet, the present constitutes a very low ebb tide indeed.
Does government not appreciate the danger it is courting?
Are the people not yet sufficiently alarmed at what inevitably awaits? Will the final result be another 1932 bankruptcy, public uprising and loss of autonomy?
As Oliver Cromwell cried out in frustrated anger at ecclesiastic authorities, “From the bowels of Christ, consider that ye may be wrong!”