December 17th, 2020
A Stop Gap Measure or Postponing the Pain?
Jack Harris, MP, St. John’s East made the following statement on today’s announcement regarding Muskrat Falls.
Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is clearly a stop-gap measure and without a significant restructuring and enhanced federal government action it will only amount to postponing the pain.
This is only a temporary waiver of financial obligations to the federal government as a part of the Loan Guarantee and last February’s announcement, the details of which were not made public. We need to see more from the federal government and much more work needs to be done.
The appointment of Serge Dupont to lead negotiations on behalf of the Federal Government marks a step forward in making negotiation a reality and offers scope for “creative solutions”, but the appointment of a former Privy Council officer signals that the Government of Canada will do what is best for Canada and that he doesn’t have a mandate for federal contribution. He was also Deputy Minister of Natural Resources when the first Loan Guarantee was put in place by the Harper Conservatives.
There needs to be significant input and co-operation from the federal government to ensure that Muskrat Falls power is of benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
There is an opportunity in the Atlantic Loop idea, but any benefits are down the road. We need to see accelerated action on the climate change front to allow low-carbon energy from Muskrat Falls to contribute to meeting climate goals.
Retrofitting educational, commercial, institutional, and residential structures, as well as industrial buildings and projects, is essential. The Government of Canada should accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation in Atlantic Canada.
We know that there is no quick fix. But Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will need to be very vigilant to ensure we are protected for the long haul. 2041 is around the corner and with it the end of the lopsided Upper Churchill Agreement that deprived Newfoundland and Labrador of the benefits of our hydro resources. We need to retain the benefits for the future.
Decisions on Muskrat Falls power must be based on making it viable and sustainable for the provincial government and for the people of the province.