Muskrat Falls Public Inquiry – People of NL Deserve Answers

Muskrat Falls Public Inquiry – People of NL Deserve Answers

The Liberals, led by Premier Dwight Ball, have always been committed to getting the truth on Muskrat Falls, from our time in opposition to the present. There were many questions that went unanswered, and the Liberal Opposition Caucus was adamantly opposed to the largest expenditure of public dollars in the history of this province being rammed through the House of Assembly without proper regulatory oversight, consultation and debate.

We have always felt the project was more about politics rather than the energy requirements for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We were assured from the beginning that a significant amount of pre-planning was done, and we would not have to worry about cost over runs and scheduling. We knew different and we fought diligently to get answers from those in power.

All members of the previous Tory Government voted in favour of sanctioning the Muskrat Falls project, calling it a significant day in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Taxpayers were told that this project would ensure this province’s future economic independence, and Muskrat Falls would meet our future energy needs and stabilize rates for residents and businesses. We were told there was no other option.

Residents of the province have been consistently told that the Muskat Falls project is behind schedule, contracts were poorly negotiated, cost over runs continue and electricity rates will rise. The previous Tory Government told the people of this province that the cost of the project would be just over $5 billion. Today it is $12.7 billion. It is now two years behind schedule, and we know electricity rates will double in 2020.

During the 2015 Provincial Election Campaign, the Liberals committed to calling an official inquiry into Muskrat Falls. In November 2017, Premier Ball was joined by Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady and Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons as he announced the public inquiry is proceeding. Justice Richard LeBlanc has been appointed as Commissioner for the inquiry, which is expected to take two years to complete. Kate O’Brien and Barry Learmonth are Co-Counsel. This inquiry will provide greater understanding of whether all options were considered at the time of sanctioning the project, why there are significant differences between actual cost of the project and estimated cost at the time of sanctioning, and whether it was justified and reasonable for the project to be excluded from the oversight of the Public Utilities Board.

 

We will learn if the project today is the project the people were sold in 2012. The inquiry will provide a thorough and detailed review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the Muskrat Falls project. More information is available on the Muskrat Falls Inquiry Website: https://www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca.

Significant progress has been made with the Muskrat Falls project since the Liberals were elected in December of 2015. Construction at Muskrat Falls has reached 88 per cent to date; in June of 2016 it was only 48 per cent.

On behalf of the taxpayers and rate payers in this province, your Liberal Government will continue our efforts to move the project forward as effectively as possible despite the challenges of a project we inherited. We cannot undo the past, but we will continue to fight to ensure this burden left by the Tory Government does not punish the people of the province for generations to come.