Muskrat mis­take

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL - — This edi­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

Please, no. Not an all-party leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee to re­view Muskrat Falls. That’s like ask­ing stu­dents to grade their own pa­pers. On Tues­day, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­date Ches Cros­bie ar­gued that such a com­mit­tee should be struck to set di­rec­tion for an over­all re­view of the project.

“Muskrat Falls is­sues are too im­por­tant to the prov­ince to risk be­com­ing a witch hunt or­ches­trated by one po­lit­i­cal party for par­ti­san gain,” Cros­bie said in a news re­lease.

Well, you can make the ar­gu­ment that an all­party com­mit­tee would take the is­sue out of the hands of peo­ple seek­ing par­ti­san gain, but you’d be miss­ing a cru­cial point.

And that is, that all three of the par­ties in the leg­is­la­ture are fun­da­men­tally in a con­flict of in­ter­est when it comes to Muskrat Falls, and all three par­ties would love to have some­one be­sides them­selves to blame.

That’s not to say the par­ties didn’t go through the mo­tions of leg­isla­tive op­po­si­tion.

Did the project re­ceive scru­tiny from each of the par­ties when they were in op­po­si­tion?

Yes - but that scru­tiny was es­sen­tially tem­pered through the leg­isla­tive process by the fact that no party wanted to be seen as be­ing in com­plete op­po­si­tion to the project. There were too many jobs and too much lo­cal busi­ness profit in the off­ing - some­thing that has hand­cuffed any party in gov­ern­ment as well.

They may not want to ad­mit it, but all the par­ties were to some de­gree com­plicit in the mess we now find our­selves in.

We’ve said it be­fore - the time has come to make sense of all of the dif­fer­ing and op­pos­ing claims about Muskrat Falls by putting present and past politi­cians, Nal­cor ex­ec­u­tives and even for­mer mem­bers of Nal­cor’s board of direc­tors un­der oath. But that tes­ti­mony should come from an in­quiry process sep­a­rate from the politi­cians and po­lit­i­cal par­ties that had such a large hand in cre­at­ing the prob­lem in the first place.

If the project is go­ing to be re­viewed, we have to have a clear un­der­stand­ing of not only the rea­sons why it’s over bud­get and be­hind sched­ule, but also the sys­temic is­sues in our po­lit­i­cal cul­ture that al­lowed the project such lat­i­tude in the first place, in­clud­ing whether or not po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ments played a role in mov­ing Muskrat Falls for­ward.

Our politi­cians are in this mess up to their eye­balls, and for an in­quiry not to sim­ply be a case of throw­ing good money af­ter bad, it must get to the bot­tom of why and how the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem failed the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in this prov­ince - the peo­ple who elected them to serve.

Other­wise, we’re just mark­ing time and wait­ing for the next fis­cal calamity to drive into town and empty our pock­ets.

There’s been enough of a white­wash, with­out hand­ing our elected of­fi­cials new brushes.

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