Monday, 19 October 2020


Sometimes an easy “fix” to a problem is wanted so badly that people will delude themselves with the sheer mention by partisans of the next best thing. 

One recent example. The Federal Throne Speech announced the “Atlantic Loop”, an expansion of electricity transmission capability entering New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 

Immediately, it was embraced by Newfoundland worthies as one of the long-awaited answers to the Muskrat Falls debacle. Yet, it contained not a shred of evidence that this Province has a role to play. 

The word “Atlantic” has historically enabled locals to distinguish the four most easterly provinces from the “Maritimes”. The inclusion of “Quebec” would naturally assume nomenclature like the “Eastern Canadian Loop”. Presumably, that would have allowed too much transparency to a plan in which the Government of Canada is involved. 

Still, what is it that inspires locals to think that the “Loop” is about them and to give it an air of credibility in which the truth is missing? 

The admission by former Premier Ball that NL was not involved in the talks might have been a clue, except that delusion plays a big role in what happens here. 

Putting aside the limitations of the Maritime Link, the fact that NL had already committed most of the power that “might” eventually become available, or that “firm” (continuous power) is required to replace those Maritime coal plants, people may have thought, considering the $13.1 billion price tag, that Nalcor had actually built Gull Island not Muskrat, at all! 

When people who ought to know better – like the Consumer Advocate – are delusional, it is hard to blame the ordinary folk. 

Ah, yes, Gull Island – that slipperiest of false narratives. Sucker-bait for partisans and the politically naive. 

Evening on the Churchill River 

God forbid, too, that Newfoundlanders in the Atlantic Loop’s enthrall might have paid any attention to power economics. In a society stung by Danny’s legacy project, the pain of “Muskratitis” has clearly still not gone deep enough. 

A society that sponsored Muskrat Falls should know - by now - that the net one cent/KWh (or less) for the surplus power committed to Nova Scotia - and any additional – will barely cover Ed Martin’s legal fees for the Muskrat Falls Inquiry. Dunderdale  may be gone but not her simple-minded logic – Tigger comes to mind: it’s going to be great; it’s going to be great; it’s going to be greaaat!!! 

In a place fearful of power rates doubling and where shipments of heat pumps keep Oceanex afloat, “rate mitigation” is not even found on the Obituary page. 

The media and the Opposition Parties did not express even mild surprise that a deal by the end of January – following both Premier Ball’s meeting with the PM on November 26th,  2019, and with Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland on January 14th - did not occur at all. 

Had he exaggerated the status of negotiations with the Feds?  Had he simply lied, and that the two Governments were never even close? Was no one curious why Premier Furey required a complete restart?   

Perhaps I missed the Memo about the size of those COVID cheques: that “rate mitigation” was included. But…I don’t think so. 

As it stands, people facing a debt pile of around $30 billion are exhibiting far too much happiness. Government leaders address their Federal counterparts with the groveling refrain of the deferential. The other leadership, the Opposition Parties make no dent on the public psyche; municipal politicians, labour, and business, poke their heads up only when their share of the pie seems threatened. 

None, except the ones already stung by unemployment, the Alberta option close to migrants, are bewildered by the recent turn of events. 

The rest of us are just waiting for something to happen. Few would ever publicly insist that the Fury Administration make some decisions – now - to start a financial cure - ourselves. 

Instead, we hope that the Atlantic Loop is for us; hope that Bay du Nord, Cappahayden and Cambriol offshore oil wells, located in the Flemish Pass, are all gushers. We wait for Moya Green to report, wait for a Provincial Election, wait for a Federal Election, wait for Rate Mitigation, wait for oil prices to rise, wait for anything that spells D-E-L-A-Y.   

All the while, a steamroller can be heard. 

Too many people confuse that with the sound of rescue, when what they need to hear is the rustle of a society getting off their collective arses.