That's been a trend for years now, a diminishing number of days open to discuss the issues facing the province. Thirty-three days is not even enough to talk about the pros and cons of the Muskrat Falls hydro development proposal itself.
It really does seem that that development is a given to go ahead in many representatives' minds. There are good arguments against developing it, and there are perhaps most of us who are just confused about whether or not it will benefit the people and our province, or whether it will create a much deeper debt hole.
Hmm, that's one major issue. There does not have to be a uncivilized brawl in the House of Assembly, and it doesn't have to be a debate for that matter, but more so a discussion, and objective discussion about the long-term benefits and negatives about this. At this moment, if it came to a referandum on that development, this voter would vote against that development because the argument to develop it is not appealling. The idea of us the people, having to service an even larger debt than our current $12 billion, is really non-sensical. Who are really the winners in this? Nalcor's people are kept busy and some rake in pretty hefty salaries, so higher hydro rates won't hurt them.
In todays Telegram, former finance minister Dr. J. Collins also wonders why Muskrat Falls seems to be shoved along without there first being lots of sober analysis, and answers to other issues: Here's part of what he had to say:
Does Nalcor accept that, worldwide, energy-generation and inextricable-linked politic-economic forces are presently in such serious turmoil that now is decidedly not the time for hugely expensive local commitments with probable irreparable consequence? (Especially so for the “bolt-from-the-blue” Muskrat Falls, left rudderless by its mentor.)If the House of Assembly will only be open for provincial business for only a month again this year, perhaps the chamber can be rented out to other groups for profit.
• More specifically, has enough weight been given locally manageable wind-energy possibilities? (Nalcor’s own consultant, Navigant, has said no).
• Has potentially available energy (minimum 530+ MW) from now-extant Labrador sources been investigated as thoroughly as has Muskrat Falls? (This includes Upper Churchill “recall power” of 170 MW, now exported south, Twin Falls 225 MW, Menihek 18 MW and unused CFLCo power, 120+ MW.)
• Has upgrading on island hydro electric capacity been considered in detail? (Current capacity is 57 per cent utilized — Bay d’Espoir itself only 51 per cent.)
• Has possible acquisition of liquified natural gas for Holyrood oil replacement been given the in-depth attention it obviously deserves? (Jurisdictions elsewhere are actively doing so.)
• What are the details (if any) of negotiations with Hydro-Québec concerning added purchases from Upper Churchill? (Hydro-Québec now sells to Ontario, the Maritimes and into the U.S.)
• What possible use can a 35-year-old, low-capacity sub-sea link to Nova Scotia be for our province upon ownership in 2053, 12 years after Upper Churchill power contract’s final termination? (Twin Falls and lines were shut down upon advent ohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giff the larger Upper Churchill in 1976; will this be the fate of Muskrat Falls — and Gull Island — when superceded by access to Upper Churchill power?)
These (and other) concerns are not quixotic but aim squarely at the core of the matter. Nalcor (and government) ignore them at their peril.
Why not make some money on this, to at least pay for the heat bill there. Perhaps it could be rented to say, another economist like Prof. James Feehan, who thinks that developing a multi-billion dollar Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project is not necessary, and imprudent. Incidentally, according to Dr. Collin's letter to the editor, James Feehan will be hosted by The Harris Centre (no date given at this point) to give his views on the whole development.