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LETTER: Inquiry revelations raise taxpayer’s ire

Muskrat Falls Inquiry Commissioner Richard LeBlanc.
Muskrat Falls Inquiry Commissioner Richard LeBlanc. — Telegram file photo

As the Muskrat Fall inquiry rolls on, I feel angrier and more duped with each witness. Each politician and the hired help continue to tell different stories about who was told what and when.

The varying degree of memory loss of those being interviewed brings back thoughts of the Cameron Inquiry, where we had a similar collective memory loss amongst elected MHAs and their staff. At this stage of the inquiry, we have uncovered significant learnings and can agree on some things. Yes, there was incompetence. Yes, there was inexperience. Yes, there was poor communication and lack of reporting structure. Yes, there was poor accountability. Yes, confoundedly, there were motivated politicians who were clearly not in the loop on project details but kept pushing and promoting it. Yes, we hired a bunch of people without the experience needed to build a $10-billion hydroelectric project. Mistakes and learnings abound.

I call on LeBlanc to turn the inquiry outside the terms of reference to focus on the only thing that matters to me — and, I hope, to others who feel duped. That is, did any former politicians or government officials or Nalcor management personally make money from the Muskrat Falls project?

Well-read citizens could see these issues years ago and before the start of the inquiry. While Commissioner Richard LeBlanc’s final report will undoubtedly contain recommendations for measures to ensure that we don’t make these naive mistakes in the future, they will not be sufficient. The report will be filed and buried, never to be read again, as we won’t likely see another project of this magnitude in our lifetimes. So, I call on LeBlanc to turn the inquiry outside the terms of reference to focus on the only thing that matters to me — and, I hope, to others who feel duped. That is, did any former politicians or government officials or Nalcor management personally make money from the Muskrat Falls project? To me, only money and greed could have created such motivation and concerted effort to start this project and to keep pushing it without being cognizant of the project details or its implications to the taxpayer.

I seem to recall a precedent in Newfoundland and Labrador where, some years ago, Justice Margaret Cameron of the Cameron Inquiry took the liberty to go outside her terms of reference to uncover needed data when we also had forgetful politicians. I plead with LeBlanc to do the same.

If former ministers haven’t made a dime through Muskrat Falls, then let’s clear the air.

Only then will the people of the province be able to take comfort in knowing that our leaders were merely misguided, ill-informed and inexperienced and were not benefiting under the guise of the need for more electricity and the least cost option. Only this angle of disclosure and discovery can ensure the inquiry’s recommendations will not go in the trash bin next to Julia Mullaley’s notebooks.

Gerry Heffernan
St. John’s

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