I am beginning to have doubts about the proposed Muskrat Falls development. To this point, I have tried to stay away from the political rhetoric, research the issue and come to an informed decision.
I think the time is right to take advantage of the potential of taking Holyrood off the grid. I also think that we need to look at all options that moves the obstructionist Quebec away from controlling our energy future. I also think that taking on debt to build this project is not a huge concern as transferring funds gained from non-renewable resources to a renewable industry makes sense.
That said the project has to make financial sense in the long term. There needs to be transparency, environmental concerns in Labrador have to be addressed, as do the issues being raised by province's largest aboriginal group. The dismissive attitude of the provincial government towards these two issues alone is enough to make sensible people reflect on the project.
There is conflicting information out there about the cost of producing the power, who will foot the bill for cost overruns, hydro rates in the future, clarity on what Emera is getting for it's investment and the potential of the private utility Emera getting swallowed up by the cash rich Hydro Quebec at some point. The province has offered less than satisfactory answers to these questions.
We deserve to know more about this project. If the hasty approach to the environmental assessment is any indication, the government moving too quickly without answering the questions that have to be answered before proceeding.
This is an election year. The issue is not do you support the development of the Lower Churchill? Of course most people do. The question should be do you support the right deal on developing the Lower Churchill? A deal that respects all stakeholders, particularly those closest to the resource, and the taxpayers who are being asked to take the risk.
If journalists, opposition parties and concerned citizens are rebuffed behind the veil of "corporate and market sensitivities" there can be no transparency. Business interests aside, Nalcor is our public power corporation. We have a right to understand every potential risk associated with this development with our tax dollars. Cat and mouse games and cute answers will only fuel distrust and suspicion. Engineers offering technical double-talk and non answers should infuriate and frustrate the public.
We can not just trust the administration to do a good deal. We must ask questions, identify the pitfalls and ensure the deal is all it can be or not proceed. The problem is the "we" is not clear. The role of the inquisitor is not defined. We can not count on the House of Assembly as a tool of debate. With only five members on the opposition side, and a spineless caucus government caucus, debate and discussion will be limited to sanctioned speaking points and political objectives will trump all other concerns.
Our society, our media, our business organizations, our people
deserve to know what they are getting how much it will cost and what trade-offs are involved. Those that ask questions should not be stoned but thanked. Only the light of day and transparency will ensure the best possible deal. We followed our leaders like sheep with the Upper Churchill and look what we got for it!
For the sake of future generations, lets hold the government accountable and not sit back, trusting that those in charge know best.
Put it all on the table and let you decide.
Let it stand or fall on it's merits.