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Letter: Public deserves an inquiry into Muskrat Falls

Anti-Muskrat Falls protesters march along Water Street in St. John's Monday afternoon.
Anti-Muskrat Falls protesters march along Water Street in St. John's Monday afternoon.

While current and former premiers and Nalcor CEOs have recently been engaged in a public war of words about the Muskrat Falls project, this does nothing to help two groups of people who face a very challenging future — Labradorians who live downstream from the Muskrat Falls reservoir and ratepayers on the island who are going to get walloped with excessive electricity bills.

The recent press conference by Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall included two elements that underlined what a disaster this project has become.
He confirmed that the cost has increased by an additional billion dollars since the last update. A billion dollars!

And he said annual operational costs that were initially budgeted at $35 million have increased to $109 million.

It’s astonishing that in the face of these runaway costs and the impact they will have on families in this province, and in spite of serious environmental, health and public safety risks facing Labradorians, the Progressive Conservatives still think Muskrat Falls is a great project and the Liberal government is continuing to ram the project through.

A great project! Great for Emera, perhaps. Great for Nova Scotia consumers, maybe. But a disaster for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The latest dust-up between current and former premiers and Nalcor CEOs does a great disservice to the people of the province.

In question period during the most recent sitting of the House of Assembly, the NDP pressed government to commit to a forensic audit of the project.

The minister of Natural Resources said she was “certainly not opposed.” What dynamic leadership. Certainly not opposed!

More recently, the premier and the minister held a press conference, in which they ramped up the righteous indignation, said they had a lot of questions about Muskrat Falls that need to be answered, then refused to take the step that they alone have the power to take in order to get those questions answered — namely, order a forensic audit immediately, as part of a broader public inquiry.

The PCs bulldozed sanction of this disastrous project through the House of Assembly without due diligence and without taking seriously the environmental, health and safety risks to the people of Labrador.

The Liberals had a responsibility, immediately upon taking office, to engage whatever expertise was needed to do a full-fledged “stop-go” analysis before it was too late.

Both fell down on the job.

The Indigenous people of Labrador and the people of the province who are facing unaffordable power bills in the not-too-distant future deserve the kind of answers that only a full-fledged public inquiry, including a forensic audit, can provide.

If cost over-runs in the billions of dollars and the kind of environmental, health and public safety threats that Labradorians are facing is not enough to warrant a public inquiry, then what on earth is?

Earle McCurdy, leader
Newfoundland and Labrador NDP

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