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Brian Jones: Province pounded by pathetic percentages

It would be interesting to talk to people who are among the 40 per cent of Newfoundlanders who still support the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. A reasonable first question would be, “How often do you read the news?”

Brian Jones

To Newfoundlanders’ overall credit, their support for the Muskrat Falls debacle has reached its lowest level since Corporate Research Associates (CRA) started keeping track in February 2013.

But the fact that four in 10 residents still support a project that will condemn future generations to financial dam-nation is testament to how naive and stunned Newfoundlanders can be.

If some find that judgment too harsh, consider that since 2010 there were many indications Muskrat Falls would be a financial disaster (no private investors; no supply contracts with U.S. states; refusal by Nalcor Energy and the provincial government to state what the effect would be on ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills; skyrocketing natural gas supplies in the U.S.; etc.) and opponents pointed out these factors, time and time again, to no avail.

CRA apparently thinks Newfoundlanders are irredeemably stunned. In a news release this week, CRA stated, “It is likely that support for this project will continue to decline until the electricity begins to flow from Muskrat Falls.”

Let’s hope support continues to decline long after that, because if it doesn’t, there can be no adjectives strong enough to adequately insult the intellectual capacity of the Newfoundland electorate.

When the juice flows, ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills will double, as Nalcor Energy finally admitted in June 2016.

Anyone who still supports the project after that must have the last name Williams.

• • •

We are awash in worrisome percentages this week. If the Muskrat Falls survey results didn’t make you weep for your fellow Newfoundlanders, surely at least one tear crept to the corner of your eye when you read that two-thirds of the province’s high school graduates plan to eventually leave Newfoundland (The Telegram, July 19, “Generation Exit: 65 per cent of grads surveyed will leave NL”).

Of course, some intend to go because Memorial University doesn’t offer what they want to study — architecture or astrobiology or whatnot.

But the 65 per cent figure refers to long-term plans, beyond post-secondary studies. Only one-third of high school graduates see a life for themselves in Newfoundland.

As far as heartbreaking and infuriating statistics go, this one rivals Premier Dwight Ball’s recent blasé comment that, sure, the province’s unemployment rate will soon hit 20 per cent.

Granted, The Telegram’s poll was anecdotal and unscientific — it was an Internet survey, not a poll of a representative sample of the population — but it is nevertheless important and instructive. It certainly qualifies as yet another sorry example of how we are failing — nay, punishing — our youth, despite the occasional banal recitation that, “Our children are our most precious resource.”

Go west, young Newfoundlanders. As a born-and-raised Albertan, I assure you that you’ll find it a relief to live in a place where success really is most often the result of merit rather than of nepotism or patronage, and where people haven’t become so accustomed to corruption that they no longer even recognize it.

Be warned, though, that the social conservatism and right-wing politics of the place might be initially shocking — but it’s nothing that a fine day spent in the mountains can’t cure.

• • •

Fifty per cent: that’s how many of Memorial University’s volleyball teams were permanently kicked off the court this week.

MUN’s dollar-watchers deemed the men’s volleyball team too expensive and its travel costs out of bounds, so the squad of Sea-Hawks was spiked.

The poor fellas are victims of their gender. MUN wouldn’t dare delete a women’s team while leaving a men’s team intact.

There is a name for this kind of thing. But this column already contains my limit for insults.


Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

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