Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Monday, February 17, 2014

The PUB Complaint on Muskrat Falls filed

Today myself and five other people filed an official complaint with the Public Utilities Board (PUB) here in the province. These people come from all over the province - Labrador, the Northern Peninsula, and here on Random Island.

The provincial government designed its Lower Churchill strategy around pushing public oversight of the project beyond us. It exempted Nalcor from PUB scrutiny. Ditto for the entire Lower Churchill project, including transmission lines, dams, everything. It had the whole deal sown up, except for one thing. In order to allow for the Churchill dam projects, Muskrat Falls now and Gull Island later, the government amended the Electrical Power Control Act in 2007 to allow it to effectively force CFLCo to break the Power Contract with Hydro-Quebec. When Hydro-Quebec's directors on the CFLCo Board vetoed the proposed Water Management Agreement, leaving the door open for Nalcor to go to the PUB. The PUB dutifully implemented the agreement as they were required to do under the Act.

The government had a plan. It can be found further on in the Electrical Power Control Act. Specifically, it allows the government to declare a "State of Emergency" if for "some reason" it should be in a situation where it does not have enough power or water to supply the power "needs" of the province. The way to look at this is the government is essentially creating its own state of emergency. The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled legislation like this is unconstitutional. The government knows this. There plan is simple: build the dam by legislating away any legal opposition; have the dam and more importantly the transmission lines built before their case with Hydro-Quebec goes to Court; and when the Court sides with Hydro-Quebec declare a state of emergency.

Under that state of emergency the provincial government appoints an Emergency Coordinator, who decides who gets what power, including Hydro-Quebec and the Upper Churchill. The state of emergency stays in place until the government decides it's over. There is no legislated criteria for when it starts or when it ends. All of this has been tested in the Supreme Court of Canada, and all of it has failed - completely. That's my problem. I know it's going to fail. When you know something is going to fail, and you know your fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are going to be sacrificed in the process, you have two choices: do nothing and let it happen; or do something and try to stop that sacrifice. I chose the latter.

I have already filed a lawsuit that is going through the Courts, and is in the Appeal Court now. And, today, myself and five others filed an official complaint with the PUB over that same Water Management Agreement. The government had to open their flank by giving the PUB the power to order a water management agreement, but in doing so they also left the power with the PUB to rescind the agreement. Perhaps, even more importantly, the Public Utilities Act requires that when a complaint is filed, and it involves a question of law, the PUB must refer it to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal for a judicial reference. Essentially, the agreement will be judged on its constitutionality. So, while the government has done everything it can to avoid a judicial review of the water management agreement until the dam is built and it's too late, they left the power with the PUB to do just that. All it took was five people to sign an official complaint to put it before the PUB. That's what we did today. Now it's up to the PUB to follow the Act and send it to the Appeal Court for it's day of judgement. The official complaint is below:


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