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Editorial: Muskrat mistake

Published on July 12, 2017

The Muskrat Falls hydroelectric site in Labrador during the early days of construction.

©Nalcor Energy photo

Please, no.

Not an all-party legislative committee to review Muskrat Falls. That’s like asking students to grade their own papers.

On Tuesday, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ches Crosbie argued that such a committee should be struck to set direction for an overall review of the project.

They may not want to admit it, but all the parties were to some degree complicit in the mess we now find ourselves in.

“Muskrat Falls issues are too important to the province to risk becoming a witch hunt orchestrated by one political party for partisan gain,” Crosbie said in a news release.

Well, you can make the argument that an all-party committee would take the issue out of the hands of people seeking partisan gain, but you’d be missing a crucial point.

And that is, that all three of the parties in the legislature are fundamentally in a conflict of interest when it comes to Muskrat Falls, and all three parties would love to have someone besides themselves to blame.

That’s not to say the parties didn’t go through the motions of legislative opposition.

Did the project receive scrutiny from each of the parties when they were in opposition?

Yes — but that scrutiny was essentially tempered through the legislative process by the fact that no party wanted to be seen as being in complete opposition to the project. There were too many jobs and too much local business profit in the offing — something that has handcuffed any party in government as well.

They may not want to admit it, but all the parties were to some degree complicit in the mess we now find ourselves in.

We’ve said it before — the time has come to make sense of all of the differing and opposing claims about Muskrat Falls by putting present and past politicians, Nalcor executives and even former members of Nalcor’s board of directors under oath. But that testimony should come from an inquiry process separate from the politicians and political parties that had such a large hand in creating the problem in the first place.

If the project is going to be reviewed, we have to have a clear understanding of not only the reasons why it’s over budget and behind schedule, but also the systemic issues in our political culture that allowed the project such latitude in the first place, including whether or not political appointments played a role in moving Muskrat Falls forward.

Our politicians are in this mess up to their eyeballs, and for an inquiry not to simply be a case of throwing good money after bad, it must get to the bottom of why and how the political system failed the majority of people in this province — the people who elected them to serve.

Otherwise, we’re just marking time and waiting for the next fiscal calamity to drive into town and empty our pockets.

There’s been enough of a whitewash, without handing our elected officials new brushes.