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)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Big Muskrat Falls Lie

Here's a trivia question for you: Who said "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed." Answer: Adolph Hitler. I get it. The first one to invoke Hitler's name loses the argument. It's just that a better quote can't be found for the die hard proponents of Muskrat Falls dam.

The most recent Muskrat Falls "story" was published today by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. The CBC here has been as big a proponent of Muskrat Falls as anyone since 2010. It's almost as if there is some official policy to support the project over there. The story here is from an access to information request, but almost sounds as if it's a leak - which the reporter involved quickly pointed out it was not. Nevertheless, the story gives six reasons why Muskrat Falls cannot be stopped or postponed: the province needs power; a lot of money has been spent; the feds could take the project over if we stopped it under the terms of the loan guarantee; we'd still owe Nova Scotia power; it would put a lot of people out of work; and the province wouldn't be weaned off fossil fuels. No advantages were identified in the heavily redacted briefing paper. There you go. Can't be stopped. Oh well. The big lie get's repeated yet again to the public.

Here is the truth:

1. All contracts signed to build Muskrat Falls were signed by Nalcor, not the provincial government. That is significant because the province passed legislation in 2012 that designated Nalcor as essentially a private corporation for the purposes of contracts to build the project. It pulled their "Crown Agent" status. That means only Nalcor can be sued for breaking the contracts. Critically, that also means that the government can halt Muskrat Falls and Nalcor can claim a Force Majeure event. A Force Majeure event in contract terms means an event outside the control of the parties to the contract that puts the terms of the contract on ice until the event is resolved. Nobody can be sued, and no monies or penalties can be levied. So, the government could stop the project without getting sued by the contractors building and supplying Muskrat Falls.

2. The federal government does have the right to invoke the default clause in the federal loan guarantee if the province halts construction. It also has the right to do that if the project becomes over indebted as well. So the federal government takes over the project? The permit to construct the dam itself is a provincial permit authorized by the provincial government. Our provincial government can simply revoke the permit which means the river can't be dammed. So the federal government is left with a huge pile of concrete that can't produce a single watt of electricity. That is really no threat. There is no real threat to us until the dam across the river itself is built. Then we couldn't cancel the permit to alter a waterway, and that would be more troubling. Bottom line is though we are no where near that now.

3. Yes there would be jobs lost if the project were cancelled, but look at the jobs- permanent jobs, being lost now due to budget cut backs as a result of spending on Muskrat Falls. In addition, many of the jobs at Muskrat Falls are employing people who aren't from the province in any case. And, all those jobs they keep talking about are over when the project is over in any case. Short term gain for long term extreme pain.

4. Yes Nova Scotia is entitled to power from Muskrat Falls - 20%. When I say Nova Scotia I really mean Emera - a publicly traded corporation. Emera's contract for the supply of power is not with the government here - it's with Nalcor. Again, Nalcor can exercise the Force Majeure clause and Emera is out of luck, that's why the Nova Scotia Premier has been frantically calling our Premier to make sure Muskrat Falls is still a go.

5. The argument about the need for power is just a three way circus. For starters, the new Maritime link could import power into the province if we needed it. There are also many wind options that could cover many anticipated shortages. There are policy changes that could be made to preserve the power here - too many to mention. The argument that a dam in Labrador is needed to do this is frankly intellectually lazy at best. On top of all that, consider that the province has the quickest aging population in all of North America. There aren't going to be as many around in the near future. Our population will be shrinking. So what kind of power consumption will we really need in 10-20 or more years down the road?

6. The argument we aren't weaning ourselves off fossil fuel for power is almost laughable. Ok, it is laughable. The amount of oil used to power Holyrood in a year amounts to four days of production from the oil platforms off our coast. In other words, you foolish hypocrites, you can't beat your chest for becoming 98% green when you're harvesting every bit of black grease you can get off the ocean floor, and will until there isn't one drop left. In any case, wind, solar and tidal are options that would ease our conscience about exporting oil everywhere else in the world.

Be aware of the big lies that the government and Nalcor have been putting out there, and which are essentially being repeated in the media without question. Beware of the big lie.


  1. Now it is about keeping people employed my option. Not right but where to turn? This was not a leak but a new release.

  2. 1. I doubt it would work but if it did the province would still be out all the money, and it is a lot, already spent with absolutely nothing to show for it.
    2. Do you really think a federal government would just let that slide? They wouldn't. They would get their money in one way or another.
    3. The jobs lost due to budget cuts are not due to Muskrat Falls alone, if significantly at all. And ending the temporary jobs now instead of at the completion of the project would result in thousands of person years of job loss.
    4. If the project is cancelled there wouldn't be a maritime link! Emera is building that. And as someone with access to information I can say with absolute certainty we do need the power, and soon. If you can suggest any sort of 'policy' that can give us more power to use I would love to hear that. All options will cost a significant amount of money for sure. Maybe we will need less power in 20 years but what do we do until then? 18 years of rolling blackouts doesn't seem like a good solution.
    5. So because others are using fossil fuel we shouldn't reduce our consumption? Maybe we should stop producing it? That would definitely cut global usage, not. And, you think the budget cuts now are bad?

    Much of the money is spent now. We need the power from somewhere. Stopping this now would mean a total loss for monies already spent and still leave us in the dark. This may not have been the best option at the start, although I think it probably was, but it is definitely the best option this far in.

    And don't mention wind or 2041 because those just don't work either!


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