Nfld. & Labrador

Protesters boo Dwight Ball ahead of Happy Valley-Goose Bay speech

The "Make Muskrat Right" protest took place at the same hour Premier Dwight Ball was planning to deliver remarks at the Labrador Expo.
Premier Dwight Ball, standing next to Labrador MP Yvonne Jones, listens as protesters and Aboriginal leaders gather outside the Legion in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Monday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball's efforts to make peace with protesters in Labrador were rebuffed on Tuesday, as he was shouted down while addressing a anti-Muskrat Falls rally in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Premier told a group of 150 or so demonstrators that his government was open to "discuss[ing] the options" about the environmental concerns of the hydroelectric project.

But many of the protestors on site appeared to have their minds made up. His speech was drowned out with cries of "clear the land." 

People carried signs saying "It's not too late to do what's right," and "Inuit lives matter" — a reference to demands that Nalcor clear cut land in the Muskrat Falls reservoir to reduce methylmercury levels. 

The "Make Muskrat Right" protest took place at the same hour Ball was planning to deliver remarks at the Labrador Expo.

Demonstrators again called for the provincial government to pre-emptively remove soil and vegetation in the Muskrat Falls reservoir.

Critics, including the Nunatsiavut government, say they're concerned about possible methylmercury contamination of fish and wildlife after the basin is flooded.

Earlier in June, provincial Environment Minister Perry Trimper said that the site would be monitored, but said soil removal "is not appropraiate." 

The Nunatsiavut Government said it was extremely dissapointed with the decision, and despite the promise of compensation, the two sides aren't talking.

Ball took to the podium after leaders of Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut and the Innu Nation spoke to the crowd.

"All I'm asking you today is join us at the discussion, because I am concerned about your future. I am concerned about your health," Ball said, as the crowd booed and jeered.

"Let's get at that table. Let's have the discussion. Let's find a resolution so that we can secure the future of Labradorians and the lifestyle that you've enjoyed so much over your history," Ball continued, as drivers honked in support of the protest.