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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sell Lower Churchill Power to Quebec at a Guaranteed Price for the Next 30 Years

Those are the words that have necessitated today's Web Talk commentary.

Web Talk usually does its best, within reason, to avoid entering the political fray inside the borders of Newfoundland and Labrador, preferring instead to focus on external entities that affect the province, either positively or negatively. I’m referring of course to entities such as the federal government, other provincial governments and even large industries that affect us on a regular basis.

This is one of the few times when an exception to that general guideline is not only warranted but where, I firmly believe, ignoring or avoiding the issue of our local political environment would constitute a clear case of negligence on the part of this forum.

I’m speaking about the current mindset of the leadership and perhaps some of the membership within the provincial Liberal party.

Before going any further let me get all the mandatory disclaimers out of the way.

First of all I am not a member of any political party locally or federally. In past elections I have supported individual candidates from all three mainstream parties in the province. I support the current PC government on many of its actions but have also disagreed with their direction on some issues, both privately and publicly.

The reason I say all of that is with the hope, as unlikely as it is, that my explanation will serve to lower the volume level of those readers who will try to write me off as just another one of “Danny Williams’ Kool-Aid drinkers”.

There really isn’t much hope of heading those readers off at the pass so to speak but it’s worth a shot.

I’ll leave the subject of closed minds (on all sides of the political spectrum) for someone else to tackle.

My concerns today rest with the current state of affairs in Newfoundland and Labrador politics. I believe, for the average voter, the problem is two fold.

As previously mentioned, I agree with the Williams government on most of its agenda, thought sometimes not on the all the details. I also adhere to the old adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In this light I would love to see a more diverse makeup at the House of Assembly after the next election. Specifically I believe it would be in the best interests of the province to see growth in the opposition ranks.

Most of us take it as a forgone conclusion (barring some sort of self destruction) that a PC government will be returned to power when the polls close next time around. That said, if left unchecked, too much power can lead to serious problems for us all and it’s for that reason I would love to see more Liberal and NDP members in the House. The status quo of a single party “invincible” majority is not a situation that should be allowed to continue in the longer term.

My previous point leads me directly into the second of my concerns, specifically the state of the Liberal party in Newfoundland and Labrador and the need to balance the opposition ranks without actually allowing the current contingent of party elite to gain any real power.

Call it partisan if you like (it isn’t) but that’s right I said we need to ensure that the Liberal party, as it exists today, shouldn’t be allowed to gain power in the province

To put it bluntly, as it now exists, should the Liberal party find itself elected as a future government, or more precisely, if the people of Newfoundland and Labrador were to find themselves governed by the Liberal party, in its current state, then God help us all.

No, that isn’t Liberal bashing, it’s self preservation in the face of recent events.

I’ve supported past Liberal governments in this province just as I’ve supported PC governments but when you look at some of the happenings at Liberal HQ these days you have to shake your head and pray that something changes, quite dramatically, before they are ever given the reigns of power again.

With their ranks nearly decimated in recent years and at a time when they should be focused on rebuilding they have actually gone ahead and named none other than Craig Westcott to spearhead their communications machine.

Really, Craig Westcott?

For those of you unfamiliar with the man, this is an individual who has done almost nothing in the past several years except bash the current Premier and not just when it was deserved, but incessantly and apparently for the sport of it. It’s almost like he has tunnel vision when it comes to the Premier and at the end of that tunnel is a set of crosshairs aimed squarely at the Premier’s head.

No doubt Westcott’s compulsion for Danny bashing was a major item on his resume that the Liberal leadership found attractive, but you have to ask yourself, does a compulsion to blindly attack make Mr. Westcott the best choice for the job?

Remember, this is the same person who was one of the loudest naysayers shouting from the roof tops that the sky was falling, yelling that Premier Williams was single handedly killing the oil industry in the province and driving away investment because a deal wasn’t signed on the Hebron oil project during negotiations a few years back. We all know how those negotiations eventually panned out now don’t we.

From the Liberal perspective, with Williams’ approval rating resting comfortabley near 80% for as long as anyone cares to remember, there is no doubt they would love to find a way to knock his numbers down. They need to realize however that when someone is THAT popular, no matter the reason behind the numbers, blind attacks are more likely to solidify his support base (it’s called closing ranks) rather that wearing away at it.

Negative political attacks may work well in U.S. elections and perhaps even in other parts of Canada but most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling when someone they support is incessantly attacked, no matter the source.

Besides, the best way to win Liberal support is to show the public the Party’s strong points, not simply attack for the sake of attacking. In this light Mr. Westcott might very well end up being a liability rather than an asset. Just ask local Liberal member and former candidate, George Murphy, also known for his great work with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices, who resigned his position as a Liberal party organizer after calling the appointment of Mr. Westcott an “insult”.

Enough of Craig Westcott (something I believe the Liberals should consider saying as well).

My biggest concern has far more to do with the future of the province than with the internal workings of the Liberal Party, the common thread between the two being a clear display of poor judgment in both cases.

In this case I’m referring to the words of Danny Dumaresque, long time member, executive and former president.

If Mr. Dumaresque’s way of thinking is any indication of the mindset that exists inside the Liberal Party then voters should run away in droves and members should look for the nearest exit from Party HQ.

With recent comments from Danny Williams that the province is looking at a phased in approach to development of the Lower Churchill project, media is reporting that the Liberal opposition would like more details on government plans. That’s fair enough. In fact I’m sure we would all like to know how a phased approach using the Maritime route can be undertaken in an economical manner. I have no problem there.

What scares me is a comment on the subject attributed to Mr. Dumaresque in which he appears to be promoting the sale of Lower Churchill power to Hydro Quebec at a set rate through a long term contract. Read the following excerpt from the local media and tell me if I’m wrong to be concerned.

“ … Hydro Quebec was prepared to buy the power. He says the corporation has been a good, paying customer... He says they are the only customer in North America that can take on 3,000 megawatts of power and guarantee a price for the next thirty years.”

Was that as scary for you to read as it was for me?

In my book Danny Dumaresque’s words sound awfully similar to the reality of the Upper Churchill contract, a reality that has tortured Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for decades and been burned into our collective psyche. Far too similar.

It would appear, based on media reports that Mr. Dumaresque, a very influential member of the Liberal party, would have us sell the power from the Lower Churchill to Hydro Quebec at a guaranteed price for the next 30 years. Wow!!!!

The only thing that seems to be missing from his comment is any reference to an automatic renewal clause that would allow Quebec to continue using that power for a further 25 years at an even lower rate.

I have to say, if those words don’t make voters shake in their boots and question the province’s future should power be placed in the hands of the current Liberal brain trust, nothing will.

One high ranking member clearly would have caved into big oil during the Hebron negotiations a few years ago and another would have us sign a new long term, set rate, contract with Hydro-Quebec for Lower Churchill power.

Under the circumstances I hope readers will excuse this short foray away from the usual approach of keeping provincial politics off the agenda here at Web Talk and understand the reasons why there was a dire need to weigh in on the subject.


Wheter Pittle said...

The only Danny I recall bragging about how good a customer HydroQuebec is, was Danny Williams on April 2, 2009.

Republic Of said...

WOW ???

How many brain farts do these guys have to have before they are driven out of our country ???

They are willing to sell thier childrens inheritance for something now instead of working for it & repeaping the rewards later.

Typical Canadain mentality.Exactly what Newfoundland and Labrador "DOESNT " need !!!

Why don't they just take thier "Great idiea's " and leave our country instead of running it into the ground ???

"Republic Of "

Patriot said...

well Peter, now, in Oct. 2010 we find ourselves in the presence of another, one that would sign a deal with Quebec in a heart beat.

Republic Of said...

October 25, 2010 10:14 PM > ???

See Myles that is what is wrong here in Newfoundland and Labrador.And in fact many authors have even written about this so called self destructive nature.


This author describes it wonderfully. How we as Newfoundlander's and Labradorean's like nothing better then ripping apart the people that come from this place. How if the person came from outside the province then well ,la tee daa, they must be the greatest thing since slice bread.

Who the hell cares who buys the power or who gets the deal done as long as the people of our province benefit from it Mr Pittle.

I think ths throwing blame and bickering amongst ourselves has too stop if we are to compete with the rest of canada and better still the world.

Who the hell cares were it goes as long as it creates jobs for those that want them bad enough to no longer have to leave " HOME " because thats what really matters here.And I dont think alot of peopele think that way Myles.

It's always about Home.

" Republic Of "