Muskrat Falls hearings open amid criticism
NDP leader says forced deadline is 'very disturbing'
Newfoundland and Labrador's Public Utilities Board opens hearings Monday into the proposed Muskrat Falls megaproject, although the leader of the NDP says a short deadline is irresponsible.
The PUB had pleaded unsuccessfully with the provincial government to extend a March 31 deadline on its study of the $6.2-billion hydroelectric project, arguing that it had not received needed documents from Nalcor until just weeks ago.
Both Opposition parties have also asked in vain for an extension to the PUB's deadline, even though Nalcor and its Halifax-based partner, Emera Inc., have subsequently said they could not reach their own deadline for completing the term sheet that will govern the project.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she is still hoping Premier Kathy Dunderdale will give the PUB extra time to conduct its work.
"I really, you know, hope that the government would stop and listen to all the voices that are asking them to slow down," she said.
"I so far do not have much sense that they are going to do that but I think we have to keep on asking for the extension because there are so many questions that still need to be answered."
Evidence will be collected in St. John's. The PUB said the deadline forced it to abandon plans to hold hearings in other communities.
"It's very disturbing that the hearings can't happen around the province because I think the government would learn that the questions are being raised everywhere in the province, not just in the St. John's area," Michael said.