A Call to Debate Muskrat Falls


Last week on CBC's On Point program, I challenged representatives from the other political parties on the need to have a proper debate about the Muskrat Falls project. The full program is available online here. The segment I appear in starts about 8 min into the program. As I mentioned in the show, government's decision on the Muskrat Falls Project is probably the most important one to be made by our provincial government in my lifetime. I can't think of an exception. The implications for the cost of power, for provincial spending, and increasing the size of the provincial debt will impact Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for generations. Instead of debating Muskrat Falls with all of the necessary information, our government appears to be intent on barreling ahead and making a decision with piecemeal information in hand.

Premier Dunderdale has her foot on the accelerator and she has indicated that there will be no slowing down, no matter how concerned anyone is about how fast she is driving her agenda on Muskrat Falls. The thing is, Premier Dunderdale and her government know they have a big problem on their hands. The problem is that the more we learn about the Muskrat Falls project, the more it is studied, the more is scrutinized, the more it appears that the plan for the Muskrat Falls project is fraught with very high risks, that alternatives have not been properly examined, and that more and more citizens are becoming aware of these problems. Last summer, Muskrat Falls failed a joint federal/provincial environmental review.

More recently, government has rejected a request from the Public Utilities Board for the additional time needed to conduct a thorough review of the project. Moreover, with each passing week there are more and more individuals raising questions and expressing reservations about Muskrat. My colleagues and I in the provincial NDP Caucus are calling for a Special Session of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly to ensure a full review and debate of the Muskrat Falls project. Special Sessions of the Legislature were called to change the Fishery Products International Limited Act and to debate the Voisey's Bay Agreement. We need to have a Special Session of the House of Assembly to ensure that the project is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and to the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.