Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.05.2013)

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

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

Manitoba Hydro’s Wuskwatim hydroelectric dam bills are in and the people of Manitoba learned it has cost twice what they were told it would cost. Manitoba Hydro officials blamed unprecedented increases in input costs on everything from cement, to fuel, to labour.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What makes her and Nalcor think they will be able to control the costs of their Muskrat Falls Project, also approved by Manitoba Hydro?


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, what we see time and time again in this House, and what the member opposite fails to recognize, is that we believe in our own experts and we believe in the work of Nalcor, first and foremost.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: This has been a long, comprehensive process. There has been a tremendous amount of work and expertise applied to the Muskrat Falls Project, Mr. Speaker, in every area that has been validated. It supports the work of Nalcor. It shows that we are on the right track to providing and meeting the power needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians at the least-cost option.

It is also built into this project an opportunity for a renewable resource that we can sell for revenue for the Province as long as the river flows. We are certainly going to continue to support the work of our own experts right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I point out that Nalcor and the government believed in Manitoba Hydro also. The people of Manitoba, however, face a 2.5 per cent rate increase because of the huge cost overruns on the Wuskwatim project. Some experts say Manitobans can expect double digit rate hikes over the next decade.

I ask the Premier: How can she be sure, as she keeps insisting, that people in this Province will not face the same fate from government’s Muskrat Falls Project?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with this project and with any other project we take on in this Province, it is important never to look at it through a single lens. That is what the members opposite have done, particularly the Third Party. The lens that they peer through all the time, and every piece of the information is measured through, is that we are against Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Speaker, we have more than MHI – and MHI were not our experts. You tout the PUB, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Third Party touts the PUB in this House on a regular basis. Manitoba Hydro was the PUB’s choice, Mr. Speaker, not the government’s.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In this year’s Budget government pegged over $531 million for Nalcor to draw down on, if needed. That is money government choose not to spend on infrastructure and services.

I ask the Premier: Does the Department of Finance have complete oversight on how this money is spent by Nalcor?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, that is certainly an original way of describing government spending. Every dollar we spend on roads is a dollar we do not spend in health care. Every dollar we spend helping municipalities is not a dollar we spend in education, according to the rationale just put forward by the Leader of the Third Party.

Investment in Nalcor, Mr. Speaker, investment in our renewable energy, investment in the natural resources of this Province, ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the primary beneficiaries of these resources and will allow us to do all of those other things.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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