Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy says the government will walk away from Muskrat Falls if the final numbers on the hydro megaproject don't make sense.
"If we don’t sanction Muskrat Falls I’m not going to lose any sleep over it," Kennedy said.
The Natural Resources minister was the featured guest on this week’s episode of On Point with David Cochrane.
After months of being the government's most strident champion of Muskrat Falls, Kennedy is now calling for a calmer and less political discussion of the project's merits.
"What we have to do here is put aside ego and pride, put aside political grandstanding, and look at making the decision that’s in the best interests of the people of this province," Kennedy said. "That’s my only concern."
'What we have to do here is put aside ego and pride, put aside political grandstanding, and look at making the decision that’s in the best interests of the people of this province.' —Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy
Kennedy said his comments do not represent a softening of support for the $6.2-billion hydro project.
"I’ve never invested emotionally in this project," he said.
The prospects for Muskrat Falls were dealt a political blow this week when the Public Utilities Board declined to make a call on what the least-cost option is for Newfoundland’s power needs. The board said there was insufficient information to do so.
'A lack of respect'
Kennedy said the failure by the PUB to make a decision "showed a lack of respect for the process on their part, a failure to comply with their statutory mandate."
The day the PUB decision came down, the government made a series of concessions, pledging to release reports on natural gas and wind power and hold a special debate in the legislature this summer.
On Point with David Cochrane
Watch the full episode on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. NT
Last month, Kennedy flatly rejected calls for such a debate, saying "I’m not sure these opposition parties are going to provide quality debate on anything."
That comment was "somewhat inflammatory," the minister is now acknowledging.
But he defended the decision to proceed with the special debate so soon after declaring it unnecessary.
"Politics is an ever-changing circumstance," Kennedy said. "You have to react to circumstances. You have to show as a politician that you’re flexible and open to listening to what the people are saying."