Nfld. & Labrador

Muskrat Falls project 'should never have seen the light of day': N.L's new consumer advocate

The new consumer advocate for Newfoundland and Labrador is not a fan of the embattled Muskrat Falls project.

Dennis Browne says project was flawed from beginning

The new consumer advocate for Newfoundland and Labrador is not a fan of the embattled Muskrat Falls project.

Lawyer Dennis Browne, who previously served as consumer advocate from 1996-2004, was appointed to the role by the province's Independent Appointment Commission on Thursday.

As protesters continued to fight against the planned flooding of Muskrat Falls amid concerns of methylmercury contamination in Lake Meville on Friday, Browne told CBC's On The Go he's never believed the project was a good idea.

"My feelings really have never changed. I always thought that it was a project that was flawed from the beginning," he said.

Browne was part of the 2041 group, a team of lawyers who stood in opposition to Muskrat Falls.

"It was a project that should never have seen the light of day," he said.

"It was a bit of a sad spectacle the way it was gone about, because anyone who was opposed to it was silenced or ridiculed, and they didn't put it fairly in front of the Public Utilities Board."

Not realistic to stop

Browne said the financial cost of the project means that it's likely too late to pull back and put a stop to the project.

"I would like to be able to say that the project can be stopped or shouldn't go ahead, but there's so much money expended on it and it's so far progressed that that is probably not realistic."

I always thought that it was a project that was flawed from the beginning.- Dennis Browne

As consumer advocate for the people of N.L., Browne said he worries about the cost of electricity once the project comes online.

"Everywhere you look where you need electricity, people are going to be burdened on account of this project," said Browne.

While Dwight Ball's Liberal government continues to deal with issues surrounding Muskrat Falls, Browne is deflecting the blame back to the people who made the decision in the first place.

"It's on those who passed that legislation, the [Kathy] Dunderdale government and those who were with them."

"They stood in the house when the other two parties were trying to get some common sense in the regime to get it to the Public Utilities Board and denied all due process."

With files from On the Go