Filibuster begins as government introduces Muskrat bills

James
James McLeod
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Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy speaks to the media at the Confederation Building media centre Tuesday afternoon following a technical briefing where he introduced new legislation entitled An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Muskrat Falls Project, prior to it being put forth in the House of Assembly. The act would ensure Nalcor and Emera have the ability to acquire or expropriate the necessary land to advance the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Politicians were bracing for an all-night sitting of the House of Assembly Tuesday, as the government rolled out proposed Muskrat Falls enabling legislation.

As of press time, it looked like MHAs would sit through the night, and politicians were talking about the possibility of sitting through Christmas to pass critical changes to the law that will allow Crown corporation Nalcor to borrow billions of dollars to build the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

 

The most contentious piece of legislation is Bill 61, which will effectively cut the Public Utilities Board (PUB) out of the electricity rate-setting process when it comes to Muskrat Falls.

The government has told the PUB that whatever costs are associated with building Muskrat Falls will have to be passed on directly to ratepayers.

Bill 61 also enshrines in legislation a rule that Nalcor is the only entity in the province that can generate electricity for sale in the province.

Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy said cutting the PUB out of the process is necessary to reassure lenders and get “non-recourse” lending, which protects the provincial government in the event of project failure.

In order to get the best possible interest rates, the government needs to fulfil a list of requirements spelled out in the federal loan guarantee document signed earlier this month.

The benefits of the loan guarantee are estimated to be about $1 billion.

“If you want the PUB involved, you sacrifice a billion dollars, and we’re not doing that,” Kennedy said.

New Democratic Party Leader Lorraine Michael said she was “disgusted” with the legislation, which essentially puts Nalcor profits ahead of consumer protection for ratepayers.

“The only way that this project is being financed is basically through the ratepayers,” Michael said.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball was similarly concerned, saying the legislation creates a “50-year monopoly” for Nalcor that will limit any possibility of consumers getting cheaper electricity from another provider.

Ball also had serious misgivings about Bill 60, a piece of legislation which creates the legal rules necessary for Nalcor, and Nova Scotia utility Emera, to build necessary transmission lines for the project.

Ball said his reading of the legislation clearly indicates the legislation will give Emera the right to expropriate land needed for the project.

Kennedy said in the House of Assembly that’s simply not correct.

It looks like MHAs will spend the next week or more untangling those issues in the House of Assembly.

Based on the legislative calendar, politicians will have to sit through to the end of the week, and potentially on Christmas Eve and beyond in order to get Bill 60 and Bill 61 passed.

Kennedy told reporters the government won’t do anything to shut down debate.

“We will not break over Christmas. We will continue through Christmas until this legislation passes, so it’s entirely up to the opposition how long they want to be here,” he said. “We’re here as long as it takes.”

Ball was similarly prepared to keep talking in the House for as long as necessary.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes,” he said. “We’re completely focused on our role as Opposition.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter:TelegramJames

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, New Democratic Party, House of Assembly.Based

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • JB
    December 19, 2012 - 21:52

    What a Thunderdale of a Ms. Dunderdale we have for a Premier. I wonder where the premier and J. Kennedy and (I don't mean the former US President Mr. John F. Kennedy) will be retiring? I ask, what will there electricity bills cost in Burmuda or Mexico? You have sold the province and its people like so many others who have put themselves first. Don't worry, I am sure there will be a big fat enriched pension contribution in the end. Maybe it will be a cheap allotment of a $1, 000,000.00 cheque, who knows. This reminds me of a former premier who scewed the province and people on a terrific Cucumber Growing plantation!!! I do hope the RNC keep a close eye and ear to the ground and immedicately look for signs of possilble misrepresentation by governing officials.

  • david
    December 19, 2012 - 10:32

    Folks, you are watching "reality theatre" ---- an absolute farce of a political system in a backwater burg populated by fools and the abused. As fiction, it would be a comedy. Sadly, it is not. It is a tragedy.

  • SOON to be leaving the province citizen
    December 19, 2012 - 10:07

    The people of this province need to come together to get rid of the idiot premier we have IMMEDIATELY. She is on coarse to distroy this province. And her first step in that is signing the Muskrat Falls deal with NO WINDOW of hope for survival in this province. You hear the song "Alberta Bound"? That where everyone and their dog will have to go have this starts up. They signed a piece of legislation to put a monopoly in place. WE ARE DEAD !!!!! I cannot believe that we are going DOWN. What was, 10 years ago, to be a HAVE PROVINCE with Hibernia going on line and Terra Nova is NO MORE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The saddess day in Newfoundland history. OUR OWN SO CALLED PREMIER THROWING THE PEOPLE THAT ELECTED HER UNDER THE BUS JUST TO BE THE ONE WHO WAS PREMIER THAT SIGNED THE MUSKRAT FALLS DEAL !!!!! YOU IDIOT !!!!!!!!!!

    • a busines man
      December 19, 2012 - 15:22

      I voted for the premier. I made donations to the Conservative. I went door knocking to get out the vote. I am happy MF is moving forward, and I am happy with our premier. Like it or not, the electorate gave the premier a majority, so that initiatives like MF could move forward without any impact from the opposition. All they can do is filibuster. When they are done, we can move forward with MF. Sorry you are not happy with the decision. But it seems like your view is the minority view, so , well, nothing else needs to be said. This is democracy at its finest.

    • Tim Jamison
      December 19, 2012 - 23:37

      It was put to the people. You guys made it the only issue of the last election and you lost horribly. That's democracy

  • Demo Cratic .
    December 19, 2012 - 09:38

    Put it to the people . Majority rules . If it comes back yes ,well that's it . If it comes back nay , then that's it , Drop it .

  • Little Man Dan
    December 19, 2012 - 09:10

    here Johnny; here Johnny....now where in the hell is Johnny this morning when I need an ego boost? oh, that's right; he's up in the House getting his talking points. Give me some love, you lapdog lackie.

  • edfromred
    December 19, 2012 - 09:00

    Who wants to bet Nalcor has the whole PC Party pre-booked as corporate speakers after the next election --with massive fees of course!?

  • edfromred
    December 19, 2012 - 08:58

    I do not trust with our future, a leader or a government that refused to investigate the tragic death of Burton Winters. If somehow arrogance could be used to create energy, the PC's and their cronies could supply the entire world with energy. They would put money and power before the lives of anyone of us. Where is the money trail leading? It's going from our pockets to...who knows where it'll end up? The media seems to exist in a state of ignorant bliss. With history as a guide as to how corruption goes hand in hand with mega projects such as this. And current day investigations in Quebec over construction crimes that have brought down mayors before the final reports have come close to being done, there seems to be a decided lack of forceful scrutiny. With the censorship bill C-29 covering up trails, a blind person can see a environment ripe for corruption. I wish more media outlets would set up shop here. When you see deeper investigations on mainland news programs about used car lots and mom and pop store schemes -- than you do here about Mega-Mega Billion dollar projects, you wonder when will hard questions be asked? Maybe local news agency's should enrol their reporters into university classes on past corporate/government misdeeds and propaganda? Can't hurt

  • Scott Free
    December 19, 2012 - 08:42

    CBC just tweeted that Kennedy is having a meltdown in HOA; spewing venom and condenscending insults across the floor to anyone asking questions. Nice to see that the real Jeromy has returned in time for the Festive Season. It's amazing that he was able to act so uncharacteristically civilized for so long; welcome back Jerome, we missed your uncontrolable rage, bullying tactics and distain for democracy.

  • muskrat trap
    December 19, 2012 - 08:25

    So whats the point of getting around the strangle hold on quebec and getting on the national grid. We have given away 60 % of the power, any we sell will be for less than a quater then it costs to produce and everyone on that grid will get cheaper power and can avail o0f it except for newfoundland. This is a rats deal people.

  • Michael Hancock
    December 19, 2012 - 08:17

    I can't believe my democratic gov't is enabling legislation to put a monopoly in place. This is like bizzarro world or something.

  • newfie away
    December 19, 2012 - 08:10

    cheer up newfies its christmas. santa still as rudolf, dasher, and dancer. the government still as dumb, dumbie, and dumber, or should i say: THE THREE STOOGES !

  • manitoban
    December 19, 2012 - 08:03

    why is the government in such of a rush to get bill passed ? something smells fishy here. ratepayers/taxpayers should be very cautious about this muskrat falls, if its anything like what manitoba hydro is doing in manitoba, then you newfoundlanders/labradorians are in for a rude awakening. the ndp government as suck the hydro company dry to balance its books, in return it allows the hydro company to raise rates to consumers, BEWARE

  • Scott Free
    December 19, 2012 - 07:47

    Democracy is dead in NL; effects of the Danny Damage Era will be felt for generations as the Dunderdale Dimwits dealt the deciding blow; the Blunderfest is on.

  • Mary
    December 19, 2012 - 07:39

    This government should have opened the HOA in September. Opening the third week of November was to late. When government is only going to provide 2 hours to opposition before introducing new legislation in the HOA what can they expect!! I hope the HOA sits on Christmas Day and New Years Day and the government will be to blame.

  • dee gee
    December 19, 2012 - 07:32

    My God people wake up and see what this Govt. is doing !! They are introducing a bill for every thing they want to do and keeping us the taxpayers from ever having a say . Where are our demorcatic rights to have a say . This Govt. is telling the PUB that they will have no say, that is the same as telling us "' THE TAXPAYERS " to shut up and put up with everything they say or do. We need to have a change in Govt. remember this, the next time we vote unless they bring in a bill that stops us from voting. Sign your pay over guys and gals the rates can go through the roof and and you have no say Disgusting!!!

    • a business man
      December 19, 2012 - 15:25

      Yes, they are keeping taxpayers from having a say. I am okay with that, because they are doing what I want. If there were NOT doing what I want, I would be very upset. That is why I understand why the few in opposition are so vocal. But at the end of the day, they are just a few, so who cares what they think. I certainly don't, because I agree with the government.

  • Cold Future
    December 19, 2012 - 06:59

    Slowly the pieces of the clandestine puzzle are leaking out. When the noose is firmly tightened around the NL ratepayers neck we will pay for all of the costs of Nalcor (a blank cheque to be filled in at the end of the construction) and Nalcor and the government will retain a slush fund for its use from any sales of power on the mainland. That is the scheme for replacing nonrenewable oil revenues with renewable energy revenues. The big lie is that the non renewable revenues will be used to pull the scheme off. Non renewable revenues will not be used at all. WOW! BIGGEST NEWFY JOKE OF ALL TIME OR WHAT!