The state of democracy in Newfoundland and Labrador took a low blow in the provincial House of Assembly Monday (Nov. 19).
The premier, Kathy Dunderdale, rose in the House to introduce a private member’s bill to debate the Muskrat Falls development which will cost ratepayers in the province $7.2 billion (their estimate, not mine) over the next 50 years.
This is a strategic move by the premier, because debate will take place during one afternoon of the current sitting and the opposition is unable to filibuster.
This stalwart of transparent democracy (if you chose to ignore the recent Bill 29) has limited debate on this mega-multimillion-dollar project to a time slot shorter than it takes to cook a Christmas turkey dinner.
If you take the recent CRA poll results on people’s opinions about the project as being accurate, most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are content with the manner in which the government has handled this debate.
I also want to believe but I am suspicious.
I am very concerned about the attempt to ram this legislation through without any public oversight and no consequential debate in our provincial House of Assembly.
If the deal is so good, why is there such reluctance to have a full and open debate on the project?
Why was the Public Utilities Board not given enough information to make an informed decision on the project and then vilified by the government when it reported it could not make a decision?
Why did the government wait until two weeks before the opening of the House of Assembly before flooding the province with documents supporting the development? Keep in mind that pretty well all of those studies were commissioned by the government itself.
In my opinion, this government is proving to be a secretive, manipulating and domineering government. I sincerely hope their actions are not harmful to our province and its citizens.
If so, I hope some of them are still around and will take accountability for what has been done.
We might even get the chance to show them the exit sign.