Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale insists her government will be held accountable for the proposed Muskrat Falls megaproject, despite a decision to prevent the Public Utilities Board from conducting a full review.
"We have been open, we have been transparent, we have been accountable — something they knew nothing about when they were trying to develop the Lower Churchill," Dunderdale said.
The barb referred to plans by a former Liberal government to develop the Lower Churchill with Quebec.
In 1999, then premier Brian Tobin approved of a plan to exempt the Lower Churchill from a PUB review that would include a cost-benefits analysis.
Although the Liberals created the exemption, current Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones said Dunderdale should not use it.
"[There is] no purpose in having a process that's going to be stacked by government," said Jones.
"The PUB is going to be limited in the work that the need to do, and at the end of the day, we get the outcomes that the government would like us to see," she said.
The PUB will still conduct hearings before it sets any prices on power to be generated at Muskrat Falls, the first of two proposed sites on the Churchill River where government plans to generate power.
Dunderdale said there will still be opportunity for public input, but not through a full slate of PUB hearings.
"That kind of a process could take up to a year and a half, and that's not what we are looking for from the PUB at this point in time," Dunderdale said.
Despite the exemption, Dunderdale said the PUB will still be asked to answer whether Muskrat Falls represents "the least-cost alternative" available to government and its Crown-owned energy corporation, Nalcor.
Jones was not impressed by the move.
"I think what the government is doing is trying to save face," she said. "They are trying to concoct a process which makes it appear there is going to be a public and open process."
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nalcor reached a deal with Halifax-based Emera Inc. in November that involves piping power from the $6.2-billion project to Newfoundland and then to Nova Scotia, where the energy can be added to the North American power grid.