'It all begins here!'
Actually, it began quite a bit before this, but if there ever was a moment that perfectly captured the hubris of the Muskrat Falls delusion, this Dec. 17, 2012 spectacle was it.
You can picture then-premier Kathy Dunderdale the night before, carefully honing every mixed metaphor and tired cliché in front of a mirror. I don't think she wrote the speech, to be honest, but it was certainly an amazing piece of work. And by amazing, I mean gob-smackingly bad.
With today's announcement of an independent inquiry into the lower Churchill development — one that has mushroomed in cost and is proving to be an economic albatross around our necks — I immediately thought of this speech. I remembered how clownish it seemed at the time, and how I knew it would come back to bite these people in the ass in the not-too-distant future. Minister Jerome Kennedy (right) seems to be genuinely enjoying the absurd hyperbole. On the other side, Nalcor boss Ed Martin looks a little uncomfortable. Perhaps he knew something the others didn't?
Anyway, below is a short parody I wrote for The Telegram that week. It's a timely dig at local pride of place, given recent social media discussions about come-from-aways and go-to-aways.
For unto us a dam is born
Today is a day that will live in infamy. It will live, not die, but live and breathe, heart pumping in mortal pride, the blood of ages pumping through its veins like the mighty Churchill River courses through the heart of the Big Land.
For today, unto us a dam is born. Unto us, a debt is given.
More on that later.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a very special place. Not special as in a child put in a special class, but special as in holding a very special place in our hearts. It is a special place that holds a special place in our hearts.
People like to stay here. Some people leave, but they always want to come back. And when they come back, they stay back - usually. Unless they go away again.
People who come here sometimes stay here. At least for a while. Mostly, though, they leave again. But they always have nice things to say.
The rest of Canada is OK. But it does not have the magnificent splendour of the Long Range Mountains. True, there are the Rockies. But they don't even look real.
The rest of Canada does not have the swirling North Atlantic lapping against its rugged shores. Except a little bit in Nova Scotia. And P.E.I., New Brunswick and Quebec, to some extent. But it doesn't swirl as much there.
No, we are a special breed, we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We are inextricably linked to our barren and rocky homeland. Inexplicably linked, too. No one is better than us. We are the best.
And now we have reached this remarkable milestone, not only as a people, but as a breed and as a species.
This great hydroelectric dam will be our salvation. It is born of the sweat and toil of our ancestors who, for centuries, eked out a proud existence in this unforgiving land - a land which is nonetheless better than anywhere else in Canada. Especially Quebec.
This dam will bring us electricity. But more than that, it will bring us stability and security. It will bring us prosperity and comfort. It will bring us peace, love and understanding.
And all for the low, low price of 10 billion dollars.
That is not true debt, my friends. Because the government doesn't have to pay it off. We all do. But we are not the government, and the government is not us. The government builds, and the Crown corporation taketh away.
So, let us raise our voices in song, as we do so often in the parlours and the concert halls, and in the lounges late at night before the bartender kicks us out.
And as we sing our praises to this dam, so too will the very rocks and stones of this sacred land on which we walk, when we haven't moved away for work. So, too, will the mighty seagull soaring over the swirling waves. And the ospreys and the kittiwakes and murres and turrs. Well, murres or turrs. They're the same thing.
The mighty snowy owl will sing its praises. So, too, would the half-digested remains of a shrew passed by the snowy owl, if it could sing.
For Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, our history begins now. There was no history before now. We were a people outside of time. Now, we are born again. Not born again as in some weird cult handing out flowers, but born again as in realizing our true purpose in this world.
That purpose, as we've known since our forefathers fished the once plentiful cod off our precious shores, is to generate electricity. Great, sparkling gobs of electricity.
It is our destiny.
It all begins here!
It all begins now!