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Pam Frampton: Muskrat Falls — yes, it’s personal (part 3)

Brenda Green, shown recently at her workplace in St. John’s, is hitting the highway next week for the Argentia ferry to start a new — and more prosperous — life in Nova Scotia. — Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Brenda Green, shown recently at her workplace in St. John’s, is hitting the highway next week for the Argentia ferry to start a new — and more prosperous — life in Nova Scotia. — Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

“Good luck movin’ up
’Cause I’m moving out.”
— Billy Joel, “Movin’ Out”

In the first three months of 2018, Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province in Canada where the population shrank.

In every other province and territory, populations grew.

Pam Frampton
Pam Frampton

In the first three months of this year, 1,630 people left N.L. — that’s more than 500 a month and nearly twice as many as in the first quarter of 2017 — while 523 moved in, for a net loss of 1,107 people. And counting.

As of April 1, the population was 525,983. The province’s own projection has that number dropping to 515,795 in 10 years’ time — a projection that might turn out to be an overestimate given the current rate of departure.

In fresh data released Thursday, Statistics Canada notes, “The first quarter of 2018 (-1,107) marked two consecutive years of interprovincial migratory losses for Newfoundland and Labrador. The last time the province had such a long period of quarterly deficits was in 1991-2007.”

Where’s everybody going?

Mostly to British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

And as of Thursday, you can add Brenda Green of St. John’s to that number.

On June 21, she’ll be making a one-way drive to the ferry in Argentia, towing a trailer packed with her worldly possessions, bound for greener fields in Halifax.

The motivation for her move?

Muskrat Falls.

When I took to Twitter on May 29 asking to hear from people who were seriously reconsidering their future in light of the $12.7-billion hydroelectric behemoth that’s going to double our electricity rates in a couple of years, Brenda Green was among the first to reply.

Her articulate explanation of how she came to the decision speaks for itself.

“I’m going to Halifax and I won’t pay a levy, won’t pay a double electricity bill and I’ll keep thousands more a year in my own pocket." — Brenda Green

“I’m sure the answer is the same for many of us,” she wrote via email. “I’ve been a Muskrat Falls and government protester for the last two years. I’ve read everything I could find on the project and I’ve been to most events surrounding it. I’ve slapped up ‘Resign’ and ‘Audit Nalcor’ signs and I was one of three women outside HMP when Beatrice Hunter was brought to St. John’s.

“I’m fortunate to work for a large Canadian company and I have a decent salary. I could stay and pay a double electricity bill. I could cope with the fallout of that and the rising cost of food and everything else, but I won’t. I’m angry that this massive mistake has been laid squarely on the shoulders of the people of this province. We had no say and yet we’re forced to bear the burden of it.

“A month ago, I moved my 27-year-old son to Halifax. He’s a computer engineer and for the last two years I’ve been urging him to leave. Better opportunities, better standard of living and he won’t spend the rest of his life paying for this mess.

“I came back thinking that I’d sit here for a while and see how it goes, but an opportunity has come up in my company for a transfer and I’m taking it. I’m a single mom and there’s nothing keeping me here. However, without the state of the province I probably wouldn’t be leaving.

“I’m going to Halifax and I won’t pay a levy, won’t pay a double electricity bill and I’ll keep thousands more a year in my own pocket. I can think of lots of ways to spend that besides handing it over to this government.”

Later, in a phone interview, Green told me she was disheartened at the lack of citizen solidarity in the province in the early days of Muskrat Falls, when Kathy Dunderdale was promoting Danny Williams’ brainchild as our next great hope.

“The power we have as people — we could’ve stopped this project,” Green said. “We needed people just to show up, and we couldn’t even get that. That disappointed me…

“I’m angry and pissed off, but I really, really tried my best, and we failed.

“How desperate do we have to become?”

Bon voyage, Brenda Green.

Our loss is Nova Scotia’s gain.

Pam Frampton is a columnist whose work is published in The Western Star and The Telegram. Email pamela.frampton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton

Related columns by this author

Pam Frampton: Muskrat Falls — yes, it's personal (part 1)

Pam Frampton: Muskrat Falls — yes, it's personal (part 2)

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