Feed the in­sa­tiable beasts NL Hy­dro and Nal­cor

The Compass - - Editorial - P. J. Dwyer writes from Gan­der

The un­tamed, un­con­trol­lable, in­sa­tiable beasts are back for more. On Fri­day, July 28, New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro an­nounced it is re­quest­ing that the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board (PUB) sup­port yet an­other in­crease in elec­tric­ity rates over the next two years. This time, 13 per cent.

Of course, this will be fol­lowed by an­other sig­nif­i­cant in­crease when Nal­cor’s ‘Rat comes on stream in 2021 or ear­lier. These mod­ern money-guz­zling mon­strosi­ties con­tin­u­ously cry for more and more to the detri­ment of ratepay­ers in dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times. Is there any stop­ping them? Their wiry webs and tan­gled re­ports are all over New­found­land Labrador and are in­sa­tiably suck­ing ev­ery last cent out of New­found­land Labrador tax­pay­ers. Feed us! Feed us! We need more!

And to think that the premier of this prov­ince be­lieves that let­ting the rate go up to 17 cents or a lit­tle higher per kilo­watt hours is ac­cept­able is ab­so­lutely as­ton­ish­ing, and clearly shows that this Lib­eral gov­ern­ment doesn’t mind ad­ding more tax bur­dens to fam­i­lies, ratepay­ers and tax­pay­ers in this in­debted prov­ince.

Let’s be clear, only the peo­ple of New­found­land Labrador, now and in the fu­ture, will bear the bur­den of the bil­lions thrown at and over Muskrat Falls. That is noth­ing to cel­e­brate or throw off ca­su­ally.

The premier as­sures us that they will get to the bot­tom of this, “...what­ever it takes... to get us to the bot­tom of what got us in this sit­u­a­tion with Muskrat.”

Where has the premier been hid­ing? Where have our elected politi­cians been hid­ing? They all own the cur­rent state of fi­nan­cial peril in the prov­ince and ex­pect the tax­pay­ers to bail them out again, again and again.

The premier may not know what got us into this sit­u­a­tion, the Lib­er­als may not know, the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives may not know but the rest of New­found­land Labrador knows ex­actly what got us into this sit­u­a­tion. Yes, Nal­cor, Muskrat and Hy­dro. Where is the mys­tery? More im­por­tantly, where is the ac­count­abil­ity?

Both po­lit­i­cal par­ties were re­spon­si­ble for it. Where is the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how this was al­lowed to con­tinue? It’s been there in pub­lic sight for the past five years and it was ig­nored, blessed and now cursed upon. These two gov­ern­ments let it hap­pen un­der their watch. They could have stopped it early in the game but they were as blind as bats in a spi­ral­ing vac­uum. It has been out of con­trol and mis­man­aged for years and now the tax­pay­ers and ratepay­ers of this small pop­u­lated prov­ince will have to pay dearly for their po­lit­i­cal in­com­pe­tence, poor de­ci­sion mak­ing and fi­nan­cial blun­ders.

Who can af­ford these con­tin­u­ously in­creas­ing rates and fi­nan­cial blun­ders? Tens of thou­sands of New­found­land Labrador fam­i­lies, se­niors on pen­sions, low-in­come earn­ers, can’t af­ford these con­stant in­creases. Whether it’s NL Hy­dro, Nal­cor/Muskrat or tax in­creases by gov­ern­ment, there is a clear limit to what peo­ple can pay and/or should pay for any ser­vice, and no doubt, that limit has been reached.

When the day comes to cel­e­brate the catas­tro­phe of Muskrat, as politi­cians will un­doubt­edly do in 2021 or ear­lier, there will be great par­ties, smiles all round, photo ops and won­drous words. When that day comes, thou­sands may cheer and sing but thou­sands more will not be ap­plaud­ing or cheer­ing any Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives or Lib­er­als or sip­ping cham­pagne. They will be won­der­ing how they will pos­si­bly be able to pay their heat bills, keep warm dur­ing the long cold months of win­ter, feed their chil­dren, and pay for their med­i­cal needs. Some­thing will be sur­ren­dered.

No, Mr. Premier, 17 cents per kWh is not ac­cept­able now or in the fu­ture. That is not worth cel­e­brat­ing or cheer­ing about.

Let’s be clear, only the peo­ple of New­found­land Labrador, now and in the fu­ture, will bear the bur­den of the bil­lions thrown at and over Muskrat Falls.

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