Muskrat Falls in­quiry is com­ing: Ball

The Labradorian - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMES MCLEOD

Pre­mier Dwight Ball said an in­quiry into Muskrat Falls is com­ing im­mi­nently, in a de­fi­ant, fiercely par­ti­san speech in St. John’s on Sept. 28.

“This fall, an in­quiry into Muskrat Falls will be of­fi­cially called,” Ball said, speak­ing to a Lib­eral party fundrais­ing din­ner at the St. John’s Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

The gov­ern­ment ex­pects to name a jus­tice to lead the in­quiry, and re­lease the terms of ref­er­ence in the com­ing months, although it’s un­clear when hear­ings will get un­der­way.

For months, the pub­lic calls for an in­quiry into Muskrat Falls have been grow­ing louder, as cost over­runs mount and new de­tails about sketchy project man­age­ment de­ci­sions trickle out.

The project is cur­rently fore­cast to cost $12.7 bil­lion, a huge in­crease over the ini­tial es­ti­mates when it was sanc­tioned in 2012.

Ini­tially, Ball said the gov­ern­ment would call an in­quiry into Muskrat Falls, but he was wor­ried that an in­quiry would dis­rupt the man­age­ment team while they try to fin­ish build­ing the hy­dro­elec­tric dam, and that could drive fur­ther cost over­runs.

In re­cent months, though, Ball’s tone has shifted, and he’s made it in­creas­ingly clear he won’t wait for the project to be fin­ished be­fore the in­quiry gets started.

The lion’s share of the speech was fo­cused on at­tack­ing the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party.

He said that on Muskrat Falls, the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion was reck­less and did a poor job man­ag­ing the project.

Ball also took aim at the Tories’ fis­cal record, and the mas­sive bud­get deficit he in­her­ited when he took of­fice in De­cem­ber 2015.

“The PCS railed an­grily about tax in­creases, but were never ac­count­able to why we had to take that ac­tion,” he said. “And they pay lip ser­vice to the scale of the fis­cal prob­lem, while op­pos­ing any and all mea­sures to con­front it.”

Ball said the Tories lied to the peo­ple, and they con­tinue to lie.

“You know what? It’s more than false. It’s bull. Ab­so­lute bull,” he said.

PHOTO BY JAMES MCLEOD

Pre­mier Dwight Ball speaks at a Lib­eral party fundrais­ing din­ner at the St. John’s Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

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