There is no question that Newfoundland and Labrador is in the "hurt locker". A self-inflicted hurt locker. During the period of 2004-2014 oil gave the province a sense of invincibility - fueled by the nationalist oratory of then Premier Danny Williams. He had massive, overwhelming public support. The kind of support I often refer to as the pied piper of Newfoundland leading the children into the sea. Over the last five years I have done my best through the open waves and the courts to stop the damage his agenda was going to inflict, but to no avail - a personal failure on my part. The people here simply, and blindly followed him into the sea. Now they are underwater. The betrayal will last as long as this place lasts.
But where does that leave us now? Now that the oil-fueled potential has been frittered away ($25 billion in 10 years), and the normal revenue brought in by taxation, etc has been similarly blown ( about $60 billion in 10 years), the window for making Newfoundland and Labrador a place we can all live in with ease has gone. That leaves us with the aftermath. Those of us that remain. People like David Cochrane of the CBC, who regularly trounced those of us that tried to stop the government from building the suicidal Muskrat Falls project, will probably leave. Cochrane was gone off to Ottawa's CBC office before the ink dried on the Liberals devastating budget. Expect to see a lot more of that.
Here is where we are at today. The government is borrowing another $3 billion this year - for normal operations and capital projects ($1.3 billion of it going to Muskrat Falls). In addition, they are looking at borrowing similar amounts for at least the next five years. If that transpires as planned, Newfoundland and Labrador will have a gross debt of $33 billion by the end of 2021. Now, that's not the end of it, because that doesn't include Nalcor's debt. Nalcor right now owes just north of $10 billion. That puts the gross debt at $43 billion. That's not the end of it either. Our population was already on the downswing as the fastest aging demographic in North America. That means a lot less people to pay for this new massive debt.
That's not the end of it either though. Within the next three months the Quebec Superior Court is about to hand down a decision on who has the right to operate the Upper Churchill and how much power Nalcor is entitled to take from it. We are going to lose on both counts. Not because it's a Quebec court as all the nationalistic types will proclaim. No, the language of the Power Contract is very clear - very clear. This is simply another Williams/Nalcor bid at the high stakes gambling department with our money, and, as I've said in Court and on public media, we will lose. What happens when we lose? Our Water Management Agreement, which is basically a hostile takeover of the Upper Churchill, will be null and void. It will be unlawful to "bank" power. Without that provision, and the provision to force the Upper Churchill to run at full capacity, Muskrat Falls can only operate at 20% firm capacity. That means in order to break even power bills in this province will have to triple at a minimum.
Think that's far fetched? Well it isn't. The math has already been done. That math by the way used the original cost figures for Muskrat Falls, and as we know those figures have grown from $5 billion to now over $9 billion including construction interest on the debt.
The point is that we are now on the edge of insolvency - bankruptcy. The same people who called us nay-sayers and alarmists, even dangerous zealots, will say this statement is similarly untrue. However, they were wrong then and they would be wrong now. At some point in time people must look past the spin and recognize the people who have been right all along. Not with parades, but with their ears and minds. Realize that a combined debt of $43 billion renders a population of 500,000 (or less) bankrupt. In default. That is the truth. You won't hear it come from the lips of the lying politicians in Confederation building, but do the math for yourself. Read the annual budget estimates. Understand the debt we have accumulated already and the debt the government intends to accumulate. Understand that failing to stop Muskrat Falls, with serious damage already caused by it, is a death sentence to the province. That is the fact and the truth.
The Liberals are already spinning in the press that we would default on the federal loan guarantee if we stopped the project. So be it. At this point defaulting on the federal loan guarantee is preferable to provincial bankruptcy. That being said, how many of you believe a Liberal government in Ottawa, who owns all seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador, and which contains a Newfoundlander as Trudeau's right hand woman (Judy Foote) would place this province into a position of default? With a Liberal provincial government? It is do or die time Newfoundland and Labrador. We either stop the bleeding with emergency surgery or we die on the operating table. It is that simple and clear cut. Recovering from our current debt is almost impossible for a population this small to sustain. Recovering from the combined debt of Muskrat Falls and government operations over the next 5 years is impossible - period. Don't be fooled by what the politicians say about it. Don't be led by any more pied pipers. Do the math. Stand up. Be counted. Don't be a sheep to the slaughter. Fight. Be a fighting Newfoundlander and Labradorian.
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.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)