Lorraine Michael Question Period (04.26.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Legislative Standing Committees are an integral piece of the democratic puzzle in every province in this country, every province except Newfoundland and Labrador. Hundreds are describing our Legislature as immature, and most agree using Standing Committees would lead to better public policy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier, will she direct the House of Assembly Resource Standing Committee to study Nalcor’s Muskrat Falls project proposal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What we have, Mr. Speaker, is a province with a population of 500,000 people. We have forty-eight members who are all equipped to do their job. As a government, we are elected to govern, Mr. Speaker. It is a Cabinet appointed by the Premier. We will make the decisions, Mr. Speaker, in relation to such things as affect our people on a daily basis. The committees that we have in place, Mr. Speaker, review the Estimates. They can ask questions.

I say to the Leader of the Third Party, if you want to govern, get elected.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I point out to the minister that I am elected and I am the Leader of my Party in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has recognized the hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

As the MHA for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi and the Leader of my Party, Mr. Speaker, I point out to this government –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: - that this government allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to Nalcor for an unsanctioned Muskrat Falls project. While they do that, questions continue to mount about the alternative ways by which we could meet our energy demand.

Mr. Speaker, there is a belief amongst the public, whether the minister wants to acknowledge it or not –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: - that this government simply has not considered alternatives to their preferred Muskrat Falls proposal.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier direct the House of Assembly Resource Standing Committee to review the many ways in which we can meet our energy needs?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There were about three questions in that. In relation to the first one, Mr. Speaker, the equity investment, what it means is that money will be available, as the Premier pointed out yesterday. I know the NDP are not involved in budgeting, at least in this Province. Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is put money in the Budget in order to allow – if we sanction the project, that we can proceed, not lose a construction year. The second question, Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit lost on that one. What was the second question?

The third question, Mr. Speaker, in relation to Standing Committees, we have committees which deal with Estimates, Mr. Speaker. We will deal with the issues that have to be dealt with, but we do not need Standing Committees in this Province, Mr. Speaker. We have a Premier, we have a Cabinet, we have caucus, and we have an Opposition. The member opposite will have lots of opportunity in this House to debate.

What is interesting, Mr. Speaker, are her comments yesterday that we are taking our time. What (inaudible) -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last year in Estimates we were told by the Department of Natural Resources that the $348 million set aside for Nalcor was apportioned 75-25 for Muskrat Falls and oil and gas activities. That is $84 million set aside for oil and gas activities. We see in 2012 Estimates in fact none of that money was spent.

I ask the Premier: Why wasn’t the portion of money for oil and gas spent by Nalcor?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In relation to the money spent, the answer is quite simple; Nalcor made money last year, the price of oil was up, their operating costs were down, they did not need the equity. The equity has to be made available, Mr. Speaker, in case they need it. In relation, Mr. Speaker, to the money set aside for the Lower Churchill development last year -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENNEDY: - again, what happened was because of the environmental assessment delays that were encountered it took time to get to that stage so again that money was not spent. Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is we are ensuring that there is money there if we get to the point of sanctioning the project. I do expect, Mr. Speaker, that after the debate - I do expect that the NDP, we know the Liberals will be, to be voting in favour of this project.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this year - first of all I am glad the minister actually answered a question with facts that time. This year government has set aside $664 million for Nalcor. If the same 75-25 split applies then this year Nalcor would receive $166 million for oil and gas activities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What percentage of the money is actually earmarked for Muskrat Falls and how much for oil and gas activities?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my answer to the Leader of the Third Party is quite simple; what we have is approximately $650 million that is set aside for Muskrat Falls if the sanction decision is made. There is $75 million, Mr. Speaker, for oil and gas if the money is needed.

Mr. Speaker, what we have, we need - capital costs and there are operating costs in relation to our offshore. Let us never forget, Mr. Speaker, that the oil and gas money to a great extent is what is building the hospitals and schools in this Province, that is fixing up the roads, that is providing all of the social programs such as poverty reduction. Programs, Mr. Speaker, that I thought that the NDP or the Third Party would be very supportive of. Yet what they were going to do during their election promises, Mr. Speaker, was throw the whole thing on its head, change the deals and drive the oil companies away.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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