Did last night's debate on the proposed Muskrat Falls hydro electric project succeed in clarifying the unresolved questions about the development? Did the opposition legitimize their scrutiny - quasi opposition to the project, as proposed? Do you feel more or less comfortable going forward, than you did before Kennedy, Ball and Micheal chatted with each other in the boardroom and VOCM last night?
I thought the debate was a very civil and informative discussion. My biggest criticism, it might have been extended out another half-hour. I do not think there was a loser last night. All parties were well represented. In fact, despite a few stumbles, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball, the new kid on the block, exceeded expectations. He offered a refreshing change from the howling cynicism of the past opposition leader. The public I am sure welcomed his level headed, sincere request that the government allow the PUB to do it's job and study all the alternatives before the project is sanctioned.
Kennedy has certainly improved. His voice was solid, slow, deliberate and respectful. For the average listener though, he was unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the government's refusal to grant the PUB more time to do its job. The question left on may people's mind, following the discussion, was why the rush? Why not do it right?
Lorraine Micheal was solid. She stuck to her issues and perhaps was the most intransigent of the three. She expressed here concerns with the lack of concrete answers that her and the NDP researchers have been able to get from Nalcor on issues related to alternative energy options. I think she was very successful in driving home the point that her party can not support the project until they are absolutely certain that other options have been explored, costed and compared to Muskrat.
When it was over and done, I think VOCM provided an opportunity for the masses to consider the points raised in a respectful forum. In the end, I think, government has to re-think the approach of just expecting the public to trust them with this file. There is too much interest, too much apprehension to not grant the PUB more time and to clearly address the issue of alternative energy supply, whether it be wind or natural gas.
I would wager a bottle of Jamiesons, that the latest round of CRA polling, which incidentally is going into the field three weeks early, will show that the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are wondering, why the rush?