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Letter: These Muskrat Falls issues must be addressed

['Muskrat Falls on the Churchill River in Labrador.']
Muskrat Falls

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice call on the government of Newfoundland to cease all activity on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project until certain conditions have been met. We compare this situation to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s call of Sept. 13th to stop development at the Site C dam in British Columbia.

It is time to halt construction and put this project on hold, since you do not have support from the community.

We agree with Roberta Frampton Benefiel, grand riverkeeper of the Grand Churchill River and its estuaries, and Denise Cole of the Labrador Land Protectors, and the Council of Canadians, that not all levels of government have addressed these critical issues:

  • It is not clear that the project is for the benefit and well-being of the people of Labrador and Newfoundland. Hydro rates are expected to triple with this project and cheaper, more environmentally friendly sources of truly green, renewable energy are available.
  • The government’s duty to properly consult Indigenous peoples, and to obtain free, prior and informed consent. This is contrary to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which our government has committed to respecting.
  • The repercussions of the eventual destruction of the natural food chain through methylmercury poisoning. Destroying the ability of the land to support a traditional lifestyle will have a devastating impact on the Indigenous peoples who live there, affecting their social, cultural, religious and political institutions.
  • The concerns of all people downstream from the dam about the potential of a catastrophic flood due to the quick clay composition of the North Spur.

We know now that mega dams are not a green alternative. They contribute large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, and often involve huge cost overruns. It is time to halt construction and put this project on hold, since you do not have support from the community.

We also call on our government to respect the rights of the people to report on this project and to protest this project, even to the point of civil disobedience. People who have been incarcerated for conducting ceremonies on the site should be released from jail immediately. It is time to stop the criminalization of journalists and peaceful protesters for doing their duty to protect the land.

It is time that all levels of government learn that Canadians want to move purposefully toward a green, renewable energy economy. The era of megaprojects is over.

Standing on the side of love and justice.

 

Margaret Rao, president

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

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