It’s the little things that set off the electorate

Work in Progress by Ivan Morgan

There is so much to write about in this space, yet I keep coming back to Muskrat Falls, which is by no means a little thing. Last week the spectacularly tone-deaf Newfoundland Hydro celebrated the boondoggle’s “commissioning” saying that now it is operational.

Hip Hip Whatever.

They neglected to mention that commissioning means we now have to start paying for it, as will our descendants, starting off to the tune of two more cents a kilowatt hour on the monthly bill most of us can barely afford now, and soaring higher every year. They say they are working on “rate mitigation,” which is a bureaucratic term for making you pay with your taxes along with your bill. That’s your money not going to health, education, roads or anything other than wildly expensive power.

Hydro didn’t mention the billions that will now be needed to shore up the Holyrood generating plant and island hydro generation to protect us against Muskrat Falls failure. In a cruel irony, these were the two “reasons” we were told to build the thing in the first place.

Yet this hasn’t set off the populace either.

Government was wise enough to not mention the commissioning until the Premier, cornered by reporter’s questions, repeated talking points he had clearly been given. In the clip I saw he used the terms “cautiously optimistic” and “this wasn’t my project” over and over.

“Here. If they ask, say this.”

When asked how much people will have to pay, he made the commitment that rates won’t double!

That is cold comfort to many of us (pun intended.) Yet still the populace says nothing.

Recently there was a harrowing story in this paper about a health care scare, seriously ill loved ones left in hallways and the like. People all over this province are learning the hard way that a system they’ve paid into all their lives isn’t there for them when they need it. Yet nothing from the voters.

The price of gas is skyrocketing, making it more expensive to drive to the supermarket to buy food you can’t afford. Nothing.

We are all being squeezed, and squeezed and squeezed, and yet we all seem to keep taking it.

What, I wonder, will it take to finally make folks mad?

My guess is it will be a little thing. Decades ago, then Premier Brian Peckford’s Tories sponsored a $22 million greenhouse in Mount Pearl to grow cucumbers. The project was a disaster. Folks were really angry.  Small potatoes in the scheme of things but it marked the end of 17 years of Tory rule.

When Muskrat Falls was sanctioned Premier Kathy Dunderdale and her crowd threw a $16,000 party for themselves with public money (I got the number through a freedom of information request). Folks got pretty riled up about that.

In 2014 the Humber Valley paving scandal cost would-be Premier Frank Coleman his job and wounded the already limping Tories. Dwight Ball’s Liberals took power a year later.

Some will remember the fuss about a federal cabinet minister charging the taxpayer for a $16 glass of orange juice. There was hell to pay.

It’s apparently not the big things that make people mad. The problems we face today dwarf any “scandal” of the past. Whether it’s Muskrat Falls, faltering health care, or the soaring cost of absolutely everything, folks just seem to soldier on.

My guess is sometime in the next while a journalist will report someone in government spending money on something stupid, and small, and people will go nuts.

Can’t hardly wait!

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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