Muskrat Falls mad­ness per­sists, even now

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - Bob Wake­ham

Newfoundland dogs have a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing de­cid­edly friendly, de­posit­ing gal­lons of af­fec­tion­ate drool (in­dis­crim­i­nately), and al­ways anx­ious to un­cover favourable traits in even the most de­spi­ca­ble of two-legged com­pan­ions they might en­counter.

If it were hu­man, the Newfoundland dog’s metaphor­i­cal spec­ta­cles would cer­tainly be of the rose-coloured va­ri­ety; it would be a glass-half-full, not a glasshalf-empty ob­server of events; its name could be Pollyanna.

But this hu­man ver­sion of the Newfoundland dog would also run the dan­ger of be­ing fool­ishly naive, wide open to abuse and ex­ploita­tion, and, at the risk of be­ing un­kind here, just down­right stunned, a reg­u­lar ce­ment head.

And this brings me to Muskrat Falls, that multi-bil­lion­dol­lar white ele­phant al­ready squat­ting the Newfoundland econ­omy with its big, fat, boon­dog­gle arse, and des­tined to do so for decades, wreak­ing fi­nan­cial havoc on fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, long af­ter you and I of a cer­tain age are obliv­i­ous to its reper­cus- sions, hav­ing been laid out and cre­mated at our favourite, least ex­pen­sive fu­neral home.

Re­cently, CBC’s “On the Go” pro­gram aired an in­ter­view with a busi­ness prof from Car­leton Univer­sity (an item host Ted Blades said prompted a del­uge of re­ac­tion) who pre­dicted Muskrat Falls will even­tu­ally force the fed­eral gov­ern­ment into a bailout of Newfoundland, a move to coun­ter­act what he said would be “de­struc­tive” eco­nomic harm in­flicted on the peo­ple of the prov­ince by the hy­dro project.

And, a few days ago, an en­ergy an­a­lyst on one of VOCM’s open­line shows echoed those words of gloom, and also sug­gested that a bailout would even­tu­ally have to take place.

Just a de­light­ful sce­nario, wouldn’t you say? Com­mis- sion of Gov­ern­ment re­vis­ited (and we all know how well that sur­ren­der of our in­de­pen­dence worked out). Newfoundland, once again un­able to han­dle its fi­nan­cial af­fairs, head­ing off, cap in hand, not to Bri­tain this time around, but to Ottawa.

Here’s your money, might come the re­sponse, but keep that saucy mouth of yours shut for­ever.

Just rest your weary and docile head, dear lit­tle Newfoundland, in Mother Ottawa’s bo­som.

It’s enough to make a man over­dose on Gravol.

But you have to won­der just how many New­found­lan­ders will pay at­ten­tion to these two, most re­cent fore­casts that Muskrat Falls could ruin what­ever eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and po­lit­i­cal au­ton­omy we have left. You have to won­der whether an in­ex­pli­ca­bly siz­able chunk of the pop­u­la­tion will, in­stead, bliss­fully whis­tle past the grave­yard, and con­tinue to adopt the lov­able, but gullible and child­like char­ac­ter­is­tics of that fa­mous dog that car­ries the Newfoundland name.

Be­cause the lat­est Cor­po­rate Re­search As­so­ciates poll in­di­cates that a shock­ing per­cent­age of New­found­lan­ders still have faith in Muskrat Falls.

Many of the head­lines em­a­nat­ing from the poll em­pha­sized that sup­port for Muskrat Falls is di­min­ish­ing.

But from where I sit, the head­line should have been re­versed: that an in­cred­i­ble share of peo­ple here — 48 per cent, in fact — still ac­tu­ally be­lieve in the project, a fig­ure that just bog­gles the mind, one that flies in the face of all the in­for­ma­tion that led Nal­cor boss Stan Mar­shall to agree that Muskrat has been a “boon­dog­gle” from day one.

Could it be that nearly half of the pop­u­la­tion still pray­ing at the Muskrat Falls al­tar is largely com­prised of those robots who believed that Danny Wil­liams walked on wa­ter — the Churchill River even — that he al­ways spoke and acted in­fal­li­bly, that if he told us Muskrat would help us en­ter Shangri-La, he was right, and he’s still right?

Just when are they go­ing to re­al­ize that their saviour was flawed, that their em­peror was wear­ing no clothes, that his word around the cabi­net ta­ble, and in cau­cus, was gospel (in the view of his sub­servient dis­ci­ples, in­clud­ing, we should never for­get, the likes of Paul Davis and Steve Kent), that he wasn’t to be chal­lenged, even while putting Muskrat Falls on the fast track to the Wil­liams Legacy Sta­tion.

Muskrat Falls is Danny Wil­liams’ Up­per Churchill con­tract, his Sprung Green­house (at least Sprung mostly haunts Brian Peck­ford’s rep­u­ta­tion, and not our fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity).

But per­haps these tens of thou­sands of New­found­lan­ders still in sup­port of Muskrat Falls ac­tu­ally be­lieve Stan Mar­shall can per­form a Mir­a­cle on the Churchill.

Or that Dwight Ball can find a way to pull us out of this bot­tom­less pit. Dream on. Here, b’ys, here b’ys. Have a treat. Roll over. Bow-wow. Lick, lick.

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