Citizens rally with concerns about Muskrat Falls

Colin MacLean
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Muskrat Falls is not going anywhere, so what’s the rush in developing it without independent review?

That seemed to a question on the minds of the more than 100 people who gathered on the steps of the Colonial Building in St. John’s Sunday. They were there at the urging of The People’s Assembly, a newly formed citizen’s group that is promoting what it calls grassroots democracy.

Sunday’s rally took aim at the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, and served as a way for people to voice their concerns, if not outright opposition, to the $7.4-billion project.

“It’s a forum for direct democracy,” said Jon Parsons, one of the founders of The People’s Assembly.

“So the idea is that if government processes show themselves to be not up to the standards of what we expect of a democratic society, people are responsible to take that upon themselves and enact democracy. Go and do things on their own. Organize in the streets ... and solve the problems that are in front of them.

“We’re demonstrating to the government that this (is) the sort of discourse we want. This is the way we want public affairs to be handled — in public where everybody can see it,” he said.

To that effect, much of the scorn dealt out by the people who spoke at the rally was actually not aimed at the idea of developing Muskrat Falls, but at the provincial government’s handling of the approval process.

Stephanie Sodero said she went to the rally because she’s concerned there has been a lack of transparency from the government relating to the project.

“It seems like the government is committed to the project no matter what,” Sodero said. “I’m concerned about the motivations behind that. What’s the rush on this project? It’s great to be exploring renewable energy, but why are they moving so steadfastly on this one project?”

Others were not so succinct in their opinions.

Richard Cashin, a former politician, union leader and co-founder of anti-Muskrat Falls project group, 2041 Energy Inc., referenced George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” right at the beginning of his speech.

In it, he accused the government of Premier Kathy Dunderdale of double-speak, re-writing history and stymieing the Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) efforts to review the project.

He also criticized a move the province made earlier this month, when it released a flood of reports relating to the project.

More information is a good thing, said Cashin, but he added the government’s plan was flawed from the beginning.

“All these pieces of information they throw at us, and then they scold us, ‘why do you want an independent (review) when we’ve spent all this money?’

“Well you know, If your IQ is above room temperature, you will know that if you hire a consultant and you pay a consultant — the first thing you have to do ... (is answer): where do you want the consultant to take the report? It’s not open ended. It’s no substitute for due process,” said Cashin.

Other speakers included NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, who talked about her intentions to continue to call on the government to allow the PUB to review the Muskrat Falls project, and Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons, who decried the government’s unwillingness to allow specialists to be questioned during a now-defunct special debate on the project.

Labrador resident Angus Anderson also addressed the crowd; he talked about the destruction of the Muskrat Falls river system and its effect on First Nations residents in the area.

All these points of view just go to show that there are still a lot of unanswered questions around Muskrat Falls, said Jon Parsons, which is why The People’s Assembly is trying to encourage public discussion.

“People are not only concerned about potential impacts the Muskrat Falls project might have for the people of the province, but also the way the process has unfolded. People are just not happy with government,” he said.

“Last year at this time, Kathy Dunderdale said, in an interview, that the House of Assembly is dysfunctional. What’s happened between now and then? We got a secrecy act and we got a glossy flyer in the mail. That doesn’t (seem) to be a very good way to address dysfunction in the House of Assembly.”

The People’s Assembly has more plans for public engagement on this issue. More information can be found online at

Twitter: @TelegramMacLean


Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Energy Inc., First Nations

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, The People, Falls river

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Recent comments

  • crista
    November 25, 2012 - 09:39

    english is the the hardest language to under stand in the world???? for some one that do not under stand it, now john is talking about religion in muskrat falls deal if you want to talk religion faith and culture we can see where you and not only your faith is at,if you want to know where your faith is heading read the holy bible and you will see where your buddy ,buddy system is going and your politians and bussiness connections who is going to defend you ,your expert opinions give some advice on your faith,how much do you know about that???? that's got to do with nature and money,what we are saying is stop making fools out of your selves and look at what is going on in the world,you are taking advandage of of human lives at the cost of human lives and one day you will face demons and not only demons,if you are right with your decisions you have nothing to worry about but if not right who are you going to comment to then???? events. It is written!!!! you WANT TO RESEARCH search reality and then you can read more educated and give educated opinions and this, comment was by request from some one with there opinions,we were asked to format our comments,you starting to sound like visionaries,get the truths not hearsay gossip or some one telling you what to say for who's reasons,you got government that are not telling you the truths and a bussiness that wants bussiness and the government that are dictating to society and if you do not know what you talking about what are you talking about for and if you do know what you are talking about tell the truths and stop trying to deceive????

    • david
      November 26, 2012 - 09:53

      Yes...English is hard.

  • Tim Jamison
    November 19, 2012 - 16:55

    Citizens rally? Let me correct that title: thirty liberals rally and anti-Muskrat reporter and photographer do their best to make the crowd look big (a swing and a miss)

  • Winston Adams
    November 19, 2012 - 15:09

    Robb, yes there is a element of frightening people from both sides, but notice I did not say prices would double. 31 percent rise is by the government calculator, and I said MF means a 30 percent rise. So with possible cost overruns, no Emera, No fereral guarantee, a decline in demand from that forecast is some factors that can make prices go higher than the calculator now shows. But I said 30 percent, so I'm not making the price increase worse than what Nalcor says. Is not an efficiency solution and 30 percent power bill savings better than 30 percent increase? Now John Smith equates energy efficiency with the idea of the world to stop using energy. Now that is not merely trying to freighten people, it is also spreading ignorance of the efficiency levels of modern heating equipment, and its benefits and saving ability for residential customers. That is low, low low, Johnnie. Such a statement from you , wrapped up as truth, puts your arguments to a new low level. It shows you have no concern for people facing significant power bill increases. Little John seems to be of little moral fibre.It shows you have no technical ability whatsoever, or you wish to intentionally mislead. Bobb ,you did not dispute the efficiency benefits, perhaps you are open to its benefits being evaluated by other engineers?

  • Publicservant
    November 19, 2012 - 13:04

    Muskrat falls is only going to hurt the working class, the people who make 30k to 50 k a year. This is what the Dunderdale gov fails to realize, you are hurting the people of today to maybe just maybe make it better for our great great grandchildren. We are the people who are going to be paying for Muskrat Falls in the ways of higher taxes higher prices on everything but yet the gov will not be able to afford to give us raises. So inturn we suffer while everything goes up in price we make our 45k a year and almost live in poverty. How are we supposed to have a family and live off of 45000 a year, we cannot, therefore i think the population will decrease as people wont be able to afford to have a family. I do not see the huge rush for Muskrat Falls , Theres to many unknowns here and the gov is being so tight lipped about this. Something is going on behind closed doors that we the people of Newfoundland will never know. I think Dunderdale is going to get something a little extra for her own benifet out of this deal.

  • mainlander
    November 19, 2012 - 12:01

    Once again I can not see why the press is stiring up trouble. 100 protestors...give me a break. These people are the same people that unsucessfully knocked on your doors last election for the NDP. Don't know why Kathy or Tom stay in your province.

  • Winston Adams
    November 19, 2012 - 11:08

    The new poll shows only 15 percent oppose MF, but this represents 78,000 people, but still a big minority . I'm not surprised. Consider this; The Premier and Kennedy says the alternative is rationing electricity. This is enough to frighten people and even accept that power bills will jump up over 30 percent more. What is not being told by our government , or opposition parties , is that efficient heating cuts the use of electricity by 66 percent and overall monthly power bills by 30 percent. If the people realized this truth do you think 66 percent would support MF and paying more? Interesting coincidence John Smith- the numbers 66 and 66. We have 66 percent of our population ignorant of the fact that efficent heating cuts heating electricity use by 66 percent, and can save them a ton of money, and save the same tons of polution from Holyrood as MF. Now how do you turn that number around? The 66 percent of the population needs the knowledge and insight that the 15 percent has, and with that MF cannot survive in it's present flawed state. Of course, if John Smith saw the light, a lot would follow. Is it true that John is blind?

    • John Smith
      November 19, 2012 - 13:03

      Oh Winston...if only the world would stop using energy all would be right with you....unfortuately you can't or won't see the truth...that's OK though...because there are many who can....thank God....

    • Robb
      November 19, 2012 - 13:04

      Hey Winston......the premier is trying to frighten the people....????....just what the hell are the naysayers doing by telling many gullible people that their electric bills will double or even triple......what the hell is all that about.???.....well it is certainly the liberal way, really that is any way the they can trick people......try to put the fear in people, especially when it comes to money out of their pockets. Low blow, but that is what we have all come to expect from the naysaying doomsday people. Anyone who thinks oil will cost less in the future, or even be available is absolutely kidding hold up on the frighten thing, the liberals and ndp have worn it out.

  • Jay
    November 19, 2012 - 10:49

    Dean MacDonald backed out because the Liberals and their leader made a stupid decision to come out against Muskrat Falls and put him in a no-win situation.Based upon what I saw, he sees Muskrat Falls as an important positive development for the province and supports this project, but he got nothing but abuse for his stance from narrow-minded, old time Liberals. I'm actually looking for an excuse to support the Liberals against this arrogant Dunderdale administration, but Dwight Ball and his cohorts seem intent on dragging the party back to the 15th century.

  • Bill payer
    November 19, 2012 - 10:32

    Looks like the jobs of all our future (50-60 years) premiers will be to try and collect payments from residents for Muskrat. Maybe that’s why Dean MacDonald backed out? Also having all these lawsuits and controversies in early days is not a very good indicator of the future.

  • Concerned AVERAGE INCOME Citizen
    November 19, 2012 - 10:22

    I guess the people of this province that think Muskrat Falls is a GOOD THING are the ones that do not worry about how much they will pay for electricity when KATHY and her moron puppets sign the deal and it gets done.................I HOPE IT NEVER EVER GETS DONE. If the people of this co called PROVINCE don't wake up now, they certainly will when they start to get the electric bills come to them and the price is gone through the roof..................BUT THEN AGAIN THE MORONS OUT THERE THAT THINK THIS IS A GOOD THING WONT WORRY ANYWAYS.

    • a business man
      November 19, 2012 - 11:19

      I am a taxpayer and citizen that is not worried about how much more MF will cost me. I know I will pay more, and I am okay with that. I do not know how much more, and I really don't care. I want MF to be built, and that is my position as a taxpayer and voter. I guess when people run out of logical things to say, the start the name calling. Oh well, I still support MF.

    • John Smith
      November 19, 2012 - 11:57 is you who truly is a moron...because you are too stupid to see that our bills have gone up by 70% since 1998, and will go up a further 7% this that OK with you? I can tell you it is an outrage to me. I want to stop these never ending increases....Muskrat falls is the only answer we have that will accomplish stable rates. Those who are worrying about higher bills should be the ones most in favour of the deal. If the situation in Iran or the Israle-Palestine conflict heats up we will quickly be paying 150-200 dollars for a barrel of oil...and you think your bills are high now...we need to become self sufficient, and muskrat is the best way forward.

    • Citizen
      November 19, 2012 - 17:05

      To Concerned Average Income Citizen: Beware of the sadist on this board. He is not happy unless everyone else is upset. Most people ignore him or poke fun at him. I understand your frustration. He signs in under different names. I read The Telegram a lot and the comments and I just wanted to make you aware of the situation.

  • Cold Future
    November 19, 2012 - 10:03

    Can anybody out there verify if the $7.4 billion number includes the interest during construction. If is it not in, it is one hefty omission that increases the capital cost by about 50%. The economic viablity if not very pretty at it stands, above $7.4, the burden to the granchildren gets astromonical.

  • Robb
    November 19, 2012 - 09:55

    Wow, 100 strong......what a bunch of jokers. Maybe now you understand that most people want this, and want the clean energy.......turn off that bloody oil such polluter in CBS........hard to believe that people would actually be against, but then again, the liberals and ndp need something to jump all over......I say, go NL and Lab, and never mind the naysaying doomsday jokers....they are just mad that it is not their gov't doing this project.....get her

  • John Smith
    November 19, 2012 - 09:39

    New CRA poll...66% of those polled support Muskrat Falls...

  • holyrood resident
    November 19, 2012 - 09:25

    @sad day... I value my life more than a fish. if you want a perfect world maybe you should hop on the next apollo mission.

  • H JeffORD
    November 19, 2012 - 09:09

    The Muskrat falls may cost $7.4 Billion to Build but when it is built the Force of Water power will turn the Generating Turbines of Muskrat falls producing clean reliable power, This power when brought to the island will eliminate the Holyrood generating plant which is listed in the top ten dirty air poluters in the world it burns hundreds of Millions of Dollars worth of oil per year to operate, The savings on the of oil alone will put a good dollar towards the cost of Muskrat Falls, If the total cost of oil burned in the Holyrood Generating plant since it was built was added up the cost to build the muskrat falls would only be a joke

  • holyrood resident
    November 19, 2012 - 08:51

    maybe the conception bay residents should march our own rally to meet this one head on, one of north america's largest pollutants has been in holyrood for far too long and we are sick of being sick.

  • Sad Day
    November 19, 2012 - 08:31

    It is a sad day indeed when the corporate aspirations of a government outweigh the public good. The damming of Muskrat Falls is not green energy. It is a green-washed project. The flooding of an area about the size of Paradise will create a massive amount of methylmercury in the water that will be persistent in fish and wildlife for over 30 years. Methylmercury is a neuro-toxin and poses an extreme risk to not only human life but to all animal thoughout the Grand River ecosystem.

  • a business man
    November 19, 2012 - 07:16

    only 100 people showed up for the protest? t As a MF supporter, I am glad that there only a small number of people who oppose the development. We now can move forward knowing that only a few people actually think this is a bad idea. It is funny actually....the group would have had more credibility if it skipped the protest. Now they have shown all of Canada that they are only 100 strong. We can now more forward because their position is clearly not in the democratic interests of the majority

    • Happily retired
      November 19, 2012 - 08:53

      We have the well known champion of the underdog, Lorraine Michaels, the saviour of the fishery,Richard Cashin, local musicians, and a host of others sponsoring a call for democracy, and all you get is a measly 100 people. Maybe you should get the message rather than attacking those who don't agree with you. People either don't agree with your point of view or they're tired of listening to the constant negativity. As for saving democracy, how many of you were actually elected within the last five years.

    • There is a Message
      November 19, 2012 - 09:41

      Surely such a low turnout at a rally organized by such public figures who have been singing negativity and anti-establishment songs and crys ever since they first got access to a microphone tells a story. The larger population have heard enough belly-aching. There are now reams of reports and studies put forth by the government. First they cried no information, then they cried not enough information, and now they cry too much information. At the end of the day there will be long term jobs, green energy, and provincial revenue streams for years and decades to come, long after the debt is paid off. And to boot, we will have an asset that is worth a fortune, instead of letting it go up in bunker C smoke.

  • lonenewfwolf
    November 19, 2012 - 07:06

    this whole process makes me hang my head is shame. pride in ourselves? this whole process only goes to show that we are still caught up in the hero-worship style of gov't so indicative of our past. all the processes they are defying and stepping around were put there with enormous effort in order to protect our democratic rights which seem not so important to the current cabal of yes men and woman we have elected to represent us. the scariest thing about all this? its just the beginning of the unfolding of harpers agenda. wait until the free trade agreements start engaging on our resources and public services. alot of what they are doing in NL is merely to set precedent for use later in other jurisdictions where the stakes are higher. NL is being used again, and it is disgusting.

  • Cold Future
    November 19, 2012 - 06:47

    Muskrat is still being called a $7.4 billion project. But the $600 million loan guarantee is taken into account making it $ 8 billion. It was recently reported that intersest during construction is omitted adding about 50% to make it $ 12 billion. Quebec's competing Romaine is is 4 times cheaper without the interest during construction. So to compare apples with apples the romaine apple is fresh and profitable but the Muskrat apple seems to be rotten to the core???? Muskrat appears to be backbreaking taxation without representation. To proceed is to shoot our feet off, to cut off our noses to spite our faces. Joey's bad deal is looking pretty good right now-if the risk is too great its time to bale out-we can't take 50 more years of looking back at a badder deal.

    • wow
      November 19, 2012 - 09:44

      WOW!!!! Where do you get your numbers? Sounds like you have been smoking Romaine lettuce, or maybe something even a little stronger!!