Elizabeth May slams Muskrat Falls, urges federal government against more loan guarantees

The Green Party leader says the federal government shouldn't 'throw good money after bad' and continue to support the megaproject.

Green Party leader says Trudeau government should cut its losses with Labrador project

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says the federal Liberal government should reject any more loan guarantees for Muskrat Falls. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, has harsh words for the ballooning costs of the Muskrat Falls project, and is urging the federal government to turn down Newfoundland and Labrador's request for more loan guarantees to secure the necessary increased financial backing.

"Let's not throw good money after bad," she said.

"Being saddled with the debt of going ahead with this project, and the high electricity costs that will ensue, is a much worse option than this desperate bid that we must go ahead."

Both Premier Dwight Ball and Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall have confirmed the province is looking to the Liberal government for more financial security, as the cost for Muskrat Falls has risen by $4 billion since the project was first sanctioned in 2012, to an estimated total of $11.4 billion. The former federal Conservative government signed the initial loan guarantee in 2012.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with then-Premier Kathy Dunderdale and other high ranking politicians, signs the 2012 federal loan guarantee in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Green Party of Canada spoke out against that guarantee at the time, and May said her party opposes Muskrat Falls for both economic and environmental reasons.

'Unjustified' way to spend money

Saying she had "nothing but sympathy" for Ball's situation as premier of a province in dire financial straits, May pointed fingers at the past for the source of the current situation.

​"I don't think that the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador should have to suffer this boondoggle alone. This is the fault of Stephen Harper in putting money in the project," she said.

May urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider his predecessor's actions.

"Putting federal money into this is unjustified," May said, while at the same time urging for spending elsewhere.

"The only way we should be putting federal money in is to say we're going to rescue you from a bad project, and here's money for some good projects."

Work at Muskrat Falls, seen here in July 2015, continues despite massive cost overruns to the tune of $4 billion. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

May said other projects could involve wind power or low-flow hydro power that does not involve large-scale damming of waterways.

Stem the tide of red ink

The head of Nalcor, Stan Marshall, while admittedly not a fan of Muskrat Falls, has said that canceling the project altogether no longer makes fiscal sense.

May did not contest the inevitable huge bill associated with pulling the plug, but argued for a longer term view.

"It's not a pretty picture. It's gong to cost billions of dollars to get out of a bad project, but it will cost less money to do it now, than to see more money sucked into a project that's overbudget, past time," she said.

"Finishing it doesn't get you ahead in the end, it just gets you deeper in debt."


 

With files from Labrador Morning and The Central Morning Show