Jones will back Muskrat, but conditional on benefits deal
Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones, who has been a sharp critic of how the Newfoundland and Labrador government intends to develop Muskrat Falls, says she is willing to back the multi-billion-dollar project as long as government comes through with benefits for her constituents.
Jones, who represents the southern Labrador district of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, said she has been speaking with Nalcor and government officials about obtaining benefits for people in her district, as well as elsewhere in Labrador.
Jones wants a commitment on low power rates for coastal communities, paving for gravel roads, and power set aside for mining.
In return, Jones said, she would support the project.
"I'm prepared to look at it in the context of this particular development and lend my support, but right now I'm not seeing anything there to support in the long term," she told CBC News.
Jones said the government has indicated it is open to some of the proposals.
The Department of Natural Resources would not comment on the discussions.
Local benefits must be permanent: Jones
Nalcor has promoted agreements on jobs and economic benefits that will flow in Labrador with the project once it is officially sanctioned.
But Jones said construction jobs are not enough.
"How can you build transmission lines over our head, and run dump trucks up and down our road leaving dust in our face for the next four years and then walk away?" Jones said.
"When that dust settles, all we have left are these transmission lines. The jobs are gone then [and] the spin off benefits are gone then."
In Jones's district, the Trans-Labrador Highway is covered in gravel. Jones is hoping for a commitment to pave it.
Jones also wants action on replacing the reliance in coastal Labrador on diesel generators.
"Labradorians need to get more benefits out of this and so now the ball's in the government's court," she said.
"Let's see what you're going to do and how you're going to do deliver for the people of Labrador."