Why the rush, why the rush? That appears to be the unifying question that a majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are asking about Nalcor's proposed Lower Churchill project.
The nonpartisan voices in this debate have become the canaries in the coal mine of this debate. These leading intellectuals, policy makers and independent voices are attempting to slow down the freight train that is the Muskrat Falls Project.
Following Dr. Locke's presentation at Memorial University on the project, I went away feeling that the other options, the ones that have not really been studied, like natural gas and wind, were not just not viable at this time. That evening, I spoke with an old acquaintance, someone I have always had a healthy respect for, Cabot Martin. I asked him if the presentation had made him feel more comfortable about the proposed project. His response was very revealing, "Are you nuts?" The independent, dependable and respected Wade Locke had failed to change the mind of a very senior, former energy policy adviser to past Progressive Conservative governments.
You know this issue is weighing heavy on the minds of the "elite" when
so many former senior civil servants attended the forum. They were
there to be educated about the project, to try and understand it and
sort through the contradictory evidence. The very fact that so many
influential decision makers were in attendance illustrates how hungry
the public is for an understanding of the viability of the venture.
Beyond the non-partisans, the return of so many former senior politicians and advisers, particularly from the Peckford and Moores eras, should cause the governing Progressive Conservatives to think-twice. The reaction appears to be the opposite. In the face of the concerns and proposed tweaks from former Minister John Collins, Jim Morgan and energy expert, Cabot Martin, the government keeps throwing coal into the engine, pushing the Muskrat Express like a runaway freight train, through the pre-determined "decision gates".
Another voice joined the fray via the letter to the editor section in yesterday's The Telegram. Des Sullivan, the former Executive Assistant to premier's Frank Moores and Brian Peckford, offered some very public advice to Premier Dunderdale. He suggests the government needs to slow down, listen to conflicting opinions with respect, stop branding opponents as partisans.
I agree with Andy Wells, Cabot Martin, Des Sullivan, Dave Vardy, to name a few, take the time and be "respectful to all who wish to participate in the debate"
These are not anti-government partisans or scaremongers, they are patriots who simply want to ensure that this legacy project does not become another Churchill Falls.