Newfoundland and Labrador’s two opposition parties say the premier’s latest speech on Muskrat Falls is an attempt to deflect from the important issues.
In an address to the St. John’s Board of Trade Wednesday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale launched an attack on Quebec while outlining the importance of the hydro project.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she wanted to hear more practical information about Muskrat Falls, such as how much the project will cost, and how much residents will pay for electricity in the future.
“What I saw was the premier trying to deflect discussion away from the real issues of Muskrat Falls,” Michael said.
She said Dunderdale was trying to stir a patriotic response in the audience.
“What I saw her doing was pulling the nationalist language and almost wrapping herself in the Newfoundland and Labrador flag,” Michael said.
Liberal Opposition house leader Yvonne Jones was even more blunt.
“Her sell tactic these days is basically that Quebec is evil, we can't do business with them,” Jones said.
Jones said the sudden focus on Labrador's energy needs for mining projects is misleading. She says the province has ignored other mining needs like railways and shipping ports — needs that Quebec has been servicing for years.
“She's trying to create some kind of an argument to justify the project. The only thing that she's got left to hang her hat on right now is the 'evil Quebec' argument, and the fact that if we don't do this there won't be any mining in Labrador,” Jones said.
“She's way behind the eight ball. These mining companies are negotiating with Quebec today for power, not with her on Muskrat Falls.”
On Thursday, Dunderdale said her board of trade speech was not an effort to reshape the message.
“I didn't refocus the message. I talked about all elements of the message,” Dunderdale told reporters.
Meanwhile, former premier Danny Williams entered the fray Thursday, telling VOCM's Open Line show that he still believes Muskrat Falls is a good project.
Williams said he will have more to say about it in a couple of weeks.
Dunderdale says she hasn't been speaking with her predecessor, and she's delighted — but not surprised — that he's going to join the conversation again.