Yvonne Jones was wrong, this week, to imply that she would vote in favour of the Muskrat Falls project if she could get some benefits for her district and for Labrador.
It is true, as a VOCM Reporter noted, “(t)hat
the Liberal MHA for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair has long been a loud opponent of
the project, citing amongst other things, concerns of the lack of power allotted
for mining developments in Labrador. VOCM added: “Jones says it comes down to
what's in the best interest of her district….in order to change her vote she'd
have to see a benefits agreement for Labrador…says she's been fighting for the
people of her district for 20 years and she's not going to stop now…”.
Admittedly, the job of an Opposition Member is
difficult at the best of times.
But, Muskrat Falls is not one of those issues on
which to lever district improvements, regardless of how bad they are needed.
In portraying her vote as a negotiable item,
Jones does her district and the whole Province a disservice. The MF issue is simply is too important and
contains too many risks to be used as a bargaining tool. And, that is not the
half of it.
Her comments imply that MF is acceptable, if the
‘grease’ is spread around in a politically advantageous way, notwithstanding
the fact that the Project is inherently unsound and that it may very well
seriously injure the treasury of the Province.
Jones’ message is: everything I have ever said
about MF, from the government’s abuse of the role of the PUB to its failure to
disclose critical information…is acceptable…if only... She forgets the Government’s disregard of her
Party as the “Official Opposition” and the denial of their constitutionally
mandated role. She ignores the fact that
the Government has acted as badly as J.R. Smallwood ever did with intimidation
of critics and selective release of essential information; maybe she does not
know that a day of reckoning, for this Government, will arrive. Likely, it will be in the form of a Royal
Commission. She and her Opposition counterparts
may be asked if they did enough to stop it!
Quebecers, to their embarrassment and dismay, tune
in daily to one of those Royal Commissions. But, Quebec is larger and, anyway, this small Province
cannot afford a debacle.
No matter how much Jones wants ‘something for her
District and for Labrador’, remember that what underlies our democracy and our
entire political system, is its ‘moral’ basis.
Fundamental principles are inviolate; they are
not negotiable for either a kilometer of pavement or a mile of transmission line. If you believe in these principles strongly, you
will not only not negotiate them, you will fight to preserve them and you will
ask your constituents to join with you, having explained to them what is at
stake. That was what she ought to have
This was not one of Yvonne Jones’ best weeks.