Nfld. & Labrador

Federal environmental permit for Muskrat Falls could be reviewed, says Yvonne Jones

Yvonne Jones says the federal fisheries minister may look at a request for a review of a federal permit granted for Muskrat Falls.
Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones, who is also parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, speaks to reporters at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday. (CBC)

Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones says the federal fisheries minister may look at a request for a review of a federal permit granted for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, which has been the focus of escalated protests this week.

Protestors have disrupted operations at Muskrat Falls since Saturday, in a final effort to halt the start of reservoir flooding, which they feel was not properly prepared and carries a risk of methylmercury poisoning in the region's wildlife. Protestors also took the issue to the steps of Confederation Building in St. John's on Monday.

Jones, who is also parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, spoke to reporters in Ottawa following a day that saw at least nine people arrested at the Labrador protests for disobeying a court order to stay out of the work site. 

"I have asked the Minister to do a review of the environmental conditions that were supposed to be met when a permit was issued by the federal government," Jones said.

"I'll wait to hear from him on that, but if the conditions were not being met when a permit was issued, obviously then there will be a federal responsibility to deal with that."

Need for a resolution 

Jones said she is concerned with what's happening with the protests, but said ultimately it will be up to the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the crown corporation Nalcor to work it out. However she said the federal government does have jurisdiction when it comes to the permit it issued regarding environmental conditions of the project.

She said she expects a decision from Minister Dominic LeBlanc on the review to happen in "next few days."

Jones referred to Monday's arrests as "unfortunate" and would like to see the provincial government and Nalcor work something out with those protesting before the planned flooding of the reservoir, which Nalcor says it will begin at any time.

"I'm disappointed that people were arrested. I know these people personally. They're absolutely outstanding citizens and they have legitimate concerns," she said.

"There is time to really look at what needs to be done here to help mitigate any impact."