LLP call on prov­ince and feds to fol­low IEAC rec­om­men­da­tions

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CA­REEN

Fol­low­ing a let­ter signed by 200 schol­ars call­ing for the Prime Min­is­ter to shut down the Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric project, a group of Labrador Land Pro­tec­tors (LLP) staged a protest in front of Labrador MP Yvonne Jones of­fice in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay on Tues­day, Aug. 7.

LLP mem­ber Denise Cole read a state­ment the group had pre­pared for the MP.

“In 2016 at the ‘Rally in the Val­ley’ you made a com­mit­ment to work with Labrado­ri­ans to ‘Make Muskrat Right,’” the state­ment read. “To­day we again im­plore you to hon­our your prom­ise to peo­ple down­stream from the Muskrat Falls hy­dro dam.”

The state­ment cites the rec­om­men­da­tions that came from the In­de­pen­dent Ex­pert Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (IEAC) on po­ten­tial methylmer­cury im­pacts. Those in­cluded clear­ing the top­soil and cap­ping the wet­lands in the reser­voir, a se­cu­rity fund to com­pen­sate those im­pacted by methylmer­cury aris­ing from the project, and an in­de­pen­dent methylmer­cury ad­vi­sory body.

The Innu Na­tion was one of the four groups rep­re­sented on the com­mit­tee but did not agree with the rec­om­men­da­tions. The other groups were the Nu­natsi­avut Gov­ern­ment, Nu­natuKavut Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and the af­fected mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral govern­ments and Nal­cor.

While those rec­om­men­da­tions are un­der the purview of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, LLP says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is ac­count­able be­cause they gave loan guar­an­tees to the project and due to the fed­eral govern­ments adop­tion of UNDRIP, the United Na­tions Dec­la­ra­tion on the Rights of Indige­nous Peo­ples.

Cole said they don’t ex­pect a re­sponse from gov­ern­ment to the state­ment, and haven’t re­ceived any re­sponse from their re­cent demon­stra­tions.

“It’s ridicu­lous,” she said. “We shut that build­ing (the of­fice of Labrador and Abo­rig­i­nal Af­fairs) down for three weeks, we were there for a month. They never once re­sponded to an email, to a mes­sage, that’s not democ­racy.”

LLP shut down the gov­ern­ment of­fice last sum­mer in July and Au­gust.

She said they don’t ex­pect a re­sponse from gov­ern­ment to the let­ter from the schol­ars ei­ther.

“They’re more wor­ried about peo­ple on the is­land be­ing up­set with hy­dro rates than they are about our lives,” she said.

LLP has been op­pos­ing the project for some time, cit­ing con­cerns that in­clude methylmer­cury con­tam­i­na­tion and the sta­bil­ity of the North Spur dam.

Craig Chaulk, a mem­ber of LLP and a res­i­dent of Mud Lake who was at the demon­stra­tion at Jones’ of­fice, said he doesn’t feel the gov­ern­ment is lis­ten­ing ei­ther. He said how to get the gov­ern­ment, and the peo­ple, to lis­ten is the mil­lion-dol­lar ques­tion.

“We have grow­ing sup­port in other parts of the coun­try but the on-the-ground ac­tion here has slowed to a crawl,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot more we can do, we keep fight­ing be­hind the scenes, we haven’t gone away. The LLP are still here and we are still strong.”

Chaulk said they need ac­tion on the mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures pro­posed by the IEAC and don’t know where the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is on im­ple­ment­ing them.

The Labradorian con­tacted the Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment for an up­date on the sta­tus of the rec­om­men­da­tions but did not re­ceive a re­sponse as of press time. See next week’s edi­tion of The Labradorian for a fur­ther up­date.

EVAN CA­REEN/THE LABRADORIAN

A small group of the Labrador Land Pro­tec­tors were at Labrador MP Yvonne Jones’ of­fice on Tues­day, Aug. 7, ask­ing for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to stop the Muskrat Falls project.

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