Big projects and big bills

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From Prime Ministers William Whiteway to Dick Squires to Premier Joe Smallwood to Premier Kathy Dunderdale, the slogan for these apostles of progress has been develop or perish. The common trait of them all is as wastrels of the public purse.

The current braying occupant, Kathy Dunderdale, staged her second annual hug-fest and barnyard strut in the lobby of Confederation Building on Dec. 10.

Not only were more than 100 captured civil servants, cabinet ministers, other dignitaries, a choir (the Hallelujah Chorus?) and members of the media in attendance for the gaudy suppertime show, but perhaps the ghosts of past prime ministers and premiers, their bronze busts girding the lobby, watched and listened. (OMG. Imagine that. It is three years since Premier Danny Williams was blown off course. Has his bronze — brass? — likeness been ensconced in the lobby? Is that the real reason for all the scaffolding and tarps?)

Kathy Dunderdale continued her previous impiety and impropriety by using the words of the most profound prayer of the last century, the words of grief-stricken people, as a backdrop for her bit of tawdry political theatre.

Whomever the juvenile communication expert with a diploma from an obscure cow college who thought this was an excellent idea, he or she has gone beyond spin and weasel words into the realm of snake oil sales. Fire the dirty little propagandist!

In her speech, Mrs. Dunderdale evoked the image of the Canadian Pacific Railway and what she ham-handedly termed the nailing of “the Last Spike.” Interestingly enough, she made no mention of Newfoundland’s disastrous and treasury-draining experience with a trans-island narrow-gauge railroad. Perhaps, the presence of the ghosts of Sir John (Spars) Crosbie and Sir Michael Cashin, along with the presence in the flesh of a scion of Sir Robert Reid, gave pause and her first brush with discretion.

What Dunderdale was really announcing was that every man, woman and child in this province was now $10,000 deeper in debt. But, you say, it is not a debt? If it has to be paid back plus interest over 40 years, then it is a debt.

Sometime this winter, I hope someone (the golden-aged and leaden but not silver-tongued minster of justice, natural resources and finance, Tom Marshall, former finance minister John F. Collins, the capable and knowledgeable David Vardy, and Ron Penney, the former and current consumer advocates Dennis Browne and Thomas Johnson, private citizen Andy Wells, Russell Wangersky?) publishes in this paper or elsewhere the schedule of payments for the next 40 years of the $5 billion principal and interest charged to be repaid to the bond holders.

I can do basic arithmetic and wouldn’t presume to tread in the world of high finance, but my rough calculations (yes, on the back of an envelope or a napkin at luncheon) show that the federal loan guarantee is  proportional to the eight per cent HST residential energy rebate on our monthly hydro bills. And everyone says Stephen Harper has no sense of humour!

On a not unrelated matter, the Churchill Falls power contract of 1969 stipulates that it is governed by, and interpreted in accordance with, the laws of the province of Quebec. The Energy Access Agreement with Emera is to be interpreted by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Ma’am, pardon me,  how is that progress? How is that looking out for this province’s interest?

The worst I will say for now, for ’tis Christmastime, is that aren’t we lucky we don’t have Canadian provinces to the northeast, east or southeast of us.

There are flaws in the Muskrat Falls development. Not the least is electricity is not the only source of heat available in this province. Despite the backward-looking Jerome Kennedy (to the days of the monopoly-loving West Country merchants and the restrictive statutes of King William it seems), it is not now illegal to have a chimney (even a smoky one) in a dwelling on the island of Newfoundland.

Quite simply, I use very little electricity in the months of May-September and it is possible, indeed probable, that by reverting to other sources of heat, conservation and retro-fitting, I can bring my December-March electricity consumption down to late spring and summer levels. What then for Nalcor and this province’s treasury, if thousands of people refuse to be captive consumers?

All you have succeeded in doing is causing Fortis Corporation’s cash cow to get gored in the marketplace.

I was in St. John’s on Saturday. Nearing the old town, I noticed several of the highway signs for exits to Paddy’s Pond were missing their apostrophe.

Would someone from the current administration fix the signs by adding the correct punctuation mark?

You know, sometime before the bondholders clamour for further protection for their money and insist on commission of government for the bankrupt Newfs. Again.

Hey, Napoleon, are you sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted?


Tom Careen writes from Placentia.

Organizations: Hallelujah Chorus, Canadian Pacific Railway, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board Fortis Corporation

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Province of Quebec, Island of Newfoundland.Quite Placentia

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Recent comments

  • Cashin Delaney
    January 02, 2014 - 17:22

    God-mode, King Kong and Cross-country sking! MASTER TORY Ross Reid™ approved naivety scenes are awesome, mixing GOD and STATE at XMAS-TIME is a wonderful smoke grenade going into the New Year. Some people I'd like to thank for an entertaining 2013; - Gilbert Bennett, for mastering the Telegram staff, the Métis, tricking CBS residents into looking like dunces during his Guy Fawkes electrode hot chocolate party. - Ed Martin, for hiding away protecting his papal-like infallibility while washing his hands over, and over, and over in his gold-plated private sink. - Dawn Dalley, for a lovely explanation of how we need to reduce personal power usage at key times to compensate for Hydro assets that are crumbing apart while Nalcor does Extreme Makeover™ on lower Churchill on credit. - Brad Cabana for going in blind into the most important tackle of his life, getting clobbered, and proving that {RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!} when the Judge is Judging her own Judgement so Judiciously against retarded mainlanders out to harm her husbands Bromance. - Jerome Kennedy for playing his part perfectly and escaping into our sleeveen-filled history - All so called scientists at MUN for being mastered, muzzled and put in their place for the good of the economy by Oil, Nickel and Iron money. Happy New Year MussRats, I don't know how I could live without this project now, I don't care how far in the hole it brings us, I need my fix of MF humour now everyday, even if it means going bankrupt provincially and personally. I am addicted to Muskrat Falls.