According to all reports, Premier Kathy Dunderdale wowed the 600 or so attendees at the Municipalities NL convention in Gander on Oct. 6.
Indeed, one MHA, Paul Lane, dutifully heaped praises on her performance and opined that she, literally, had every mayor and council member in the palm of her hand — so much so that they gave the premier a standing ovation and extended applause.
In the same vein, Dunderdale ended her speech with a spirited challenge to all naysayers of the Muskrat Falls project to either “put up or shut up,” “fish or cut bait,” “put your money where your mouth is,” etc. A spirited address, for sure. And, as I understand it, the premier challenged anybody and everybody who had objections to the project to speak up.
All indications point to a rousing political speech and I don’t fault Dunderdale for that. After all, she is the premier. But I ask you, really, was it all just pure politics meant to rally the troops, the premier herself, and all voters? Did she honestly mean she would listen to people who had different views on Muskrat Falls than her own? Or was it just words to bolster her position as well as a government initiative? Was the challenge 100 per cent genuine?
Frankly, I’m skeptical, and here’s why.
The premier challenged anyone to provide reasons why Muskrat Falls might be a bad deal.
OK, here’s just one of many. A 12-page report on the project (according to The Telegram, Oct. 10) published by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies — an independent, non-profit group — recommended that the project be subject to a full review by an independent regulator, and said taxpayers need more information regarding actual costs and that they should be told if profits from off-system sales will be applied to reduce their electricity rates.
The premier’s response? “I don’t share that point of view” and “that group is right-wing — their message doesn’t resonate with me.”
It seems to me the premier’s reaction is indicative of her attitude towards any person or group who dares to criticize or question the wisdom of Muskrat Falls.
Remember the fate of the Public Utilities Board? Out the door with them — we don’t have time for the likes of you. Sometimes the premier makes me wonder if she, herself, has grave doubts about Muskrat and can’t stand irritating questions.
Furthermore, it appears that as far as this project is concerned, the premier has a severe case of tunnel vision which renders her incapable of seeing the wider implications this action might have for all of us.
One final thought. Premier Dunderdale recently recited a litany of groups and individuals who were pro-Muskrat Falls, and virtually all of them had an axe to grind — and that axe had a big dollar sign.
I represent thousands of taxpayers who have no axe to grind
but there are so many questions with no satisfactory answers that we have a real fear of being burdened with power bills that we can’t afford to pay. To date, neither the premier nor anyone else has seen fit to take the time to show us this is not so.
The premier said, “Muskrat Falls must work for ratepayers because they are directly affected.” (The Telegram, Oct. 5). In view of the minute amount of real information afforded the opposition parties, I would forecast the upcoming debate in the House of Assembly to be little more than a farce, and this will result in the project going ahead. In which case I hope and pray the premier is right and I am wrong.
George Martin writes from Clarenville.