Provincial Liberal faithful gathered in St. John's Tuesday to roast Roger Grimes, but the target of the light-hearted evening was all business when he took the stand.


Former N.L. premier Roger Grimes, shown in this 2003 picture, urged party members to take a close look at a planned hydroelectric project slated for Muskrat Falls. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

The ex-premier, who guided the province from February 2001 to November 2003, urged Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to weigh the full effects of a proposed hydroelectric project slated for Labrador's Muskrat Falls.

Grimes said people are not asking enough questions about the $6 billion deal, which the province and Nova Scotia struck some three months ago.

"They've been told it's supposed to be a good thing, sort of, let's go and do it," he told the fundraiser. "But I'm saying, people start asking some questions."

N.L.'s Crown-owned Nalcor Energy and N.S.'s Emera Inc. agreed in November on a $6.2 billion plan to generate 824 megawatts of power at Muskrat Falls on Labrador's Churchill River.

According to the deal, electricity will be moved first to Newfoundland with much of it later relayed through Nova Scotia by underwater cables.

The provinces have asked the federal government for a loan guarantee to help with the project which was before a Senate energy committee hearing in Halifax earlier this week.

Grimes said the project would mean a spike in the province's energy bills.

'Grimes and Punishment'

Still, those in attendance at the fundraiser billed as "Grimes and Punishment" got a few good licks in on their former leader.

Former Cabinet Minister Gerry Reid spoke about Grimes' competitive spirit in politics.

"I said for God sake's Roger shut up will ya!" he said laughing. "If I had my time back, I would have voted for John Efford."

Efford lost the 2001 leadership convention to Grimes by 14 votes.

And party member Catherina Kennedy took Grimes to task about his hair and his fashion sense.

"Sir, outside [of] that pretty poor dye job, you had for a while, you were always pretty impeccably dressed," she joked.

But she added, "I could not understand why he would wear a certain pair of God awful Bermuda shorts. Sweet Jesus they were horrible," holding up the shorts.

The 300-seat event was a fundraiser to help the cash-strapped party gear up for a fall election. Last week, Liberal treasurer John Hogan said the party had a debt of nearly $600,000 and won't be able to borrow any more money to pay for its election campaign.