Cashin teams up with lawyers to fight Muskrat Falls

A group of high-profile lawyers have formed a company to fight how the Dunderdale government is pushing through Muskrat Falls.
Richard Cashin, one of the lawyers in 2041 Energy Incorporated, speaks a news confernce in St. John's Thursday. He said the way the government pushing the Muskrat Falls project ahead is undemocratic. (CBC)

Several high-profile lawyers have formed a company called 2041 Energy Incorporated to oppose how the Dunderdale government is pushing through the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Speaking at a press conference in St. John's, and using a fiery tone, lawyer Richard Cashin, 75, one of the company's five members, said he felt personally compelled to publicly state his view.

"You do these things in the hope they might have some consequence," said Cashin, the founding president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union.

"You do it so you can say, 'I didn't sit by idly when I saw this great boondoggle and mismanagement of my economy and my country, leading us on the road to hell. I stood up.' "  

Cashin said the way the plan stands now does not make financial sense.

"It's going to bankrupt the province, potentially. Why would we want to do it?," he said.

The decision to ignore the PUB's recommendation, which found it did not have enough information to recommend the Muskrat Falls project, was particularly problematic for Cashin.

"Look at the disgraceful behaviour of the government before the Public Utilities Board. Nobody here seems to give a damn."

"I got to tell you, when a government behaves in a manner such as that, we should all find it frightening," Cashin added.

Five lawyers

The group is made up of men from the three main political stripes.

Cashin is a former Liberal MP who later became active in the NDP.

Cabot Martin was a policy advisor to former Tory premier Brian Peckford.

Bern Coffey and Dennis Browne are St. John's lawyers who have long been active in Liberal circles. Browne is also a former consumer advocate for the province.

Lawyer Ed Hearn head the company, 2041 Energy Incorporated. (CBC)

Ed Hearn is a Labrador-based lawyer who heads the group. 

Speaking up, sparking debate

Hearn said the opposition parties aren't doing enough to speak up and spark debate.

"Muskrat Falls is not a feasible project. It could saddle the province with financial consequences that could be utterly calamitous," said Hearn.

The company wants the government to outline the total costs of the project.

It also wants the government to explore other projects, as well as smaller and cheaper hydroelectric projects such as smaller dams, natural gas, and energy conservation between now and 2041, the year when the province takes back control of the Upper Churchill.

The group is also pushing for the government to be more transparent, and take more time to do its homework before pushing the project ahead further.

"It hasn't really sunk into the public yet just how beyond belief this government's behaviour has become," said Cashin.