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Put your money where your Muskrat Falls mouth is

For the past three budgets the provincial government has put in the order of $500 million, $600 million and $700 million into the Muskrat Falls project. 

Let me ask you this question: have you personally seen any benefit thus far?

What benefit do you expect to get from the $1.3 billion of your hard-earned money given to Nalcor this year? How about the $2 billion per year for the next three years required to see the project completed by 2019 (two years behind schedule)?

Unless you are the owner of one of the large- or medium-size businesses which has prospered and expanded from the billions of taxpayer dollars being spent, or by chance one of the 3,000 workers at the site who are being paid by taxpayer dollars, the answer is no.

OK, so what can be done? The answer is logically simple, but because of the political environment in this province, it has little chance of success. The answer that I am talking about is to have those who benefit pay the cost. The Muskrat Falls project alone (not the transmission lines, not Hydro and certainly not Nalcor) should be put up as a public trading entity. Let those who claim that "it is a no-brainer" put their money where their mouths are and buy shares.

The taxpayer has already bought and paid for a 40 per cent equity share which, coincidently, is all the electricity we will ever see. The transmission line will ensure that we receive the 330 megawatts that we now own as well as providing a route around Quebec for 2041. If you feel that Muskrat Falls is such a great opportunity, then buy shares in the other 60 per cent and reap the rewards from the free market.

My family has given enough. With a term of 50 years, my five-year-old grandson will probably have grandchildren of his own before this debt is paid back through the increased electric rates.

A second question: were you surprised by the austerity in this partial budget - with more to come in the fall? You should not have been. In this province we have two far right political parties. Both parties are financed from large- and medium-size businesses through activities such as $1,000-a-plate fundraising dinners. These events, along with membership in the Board of Trade, the Employers' Council, and other such lobby groups, ensures that you get the ear of whichever party is elected.

Are you angry enough to demand that these fundraising dinners be eliminated and that political contributions be limited to an amount that the average Joan or Joe can afford? Or are you content to leave the political power in the hands of a few and keep going back and forth between Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

Ed Downey


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