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Muskrat Falls inquiry coming, Ball says

Premier Dwight Ball speaks Thursday night at a Liberal party fundraising dinner at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
Premier Dwight Ball speaks Thursday night at a Liberal party fundraising dinner at the St. John’s Convention Centre.

Premier Dwight Ball said an inquiry into Muskrat Falls is coming imminently, in a defiant, fiercely partisan speech in St. John’s Thursday night.

“This fall, an inquiry into Muskrat Falls will be officially called,” Ball said, speaking to a Liberal party fundraising dinner at the St. John’s Convention Centre.

The government expects to name a justice to lead the inquiry, and release the terms of reference in the coming months, although it’s unclear when hearings will get underway.

For months, the public calls for an inquiry into Muskrat Falls have been growing louder, as cost overruns mount and new details about sketchy project management decisions trickle out.

The project is currently forecast to cost $12.7 billion, a huge increase over the initial estimates when it was sanctioned in 2012.

Initially, Ball said the government would call an inquiry into Muskrat Falls, but he was worried that an inquiry would disrupt the management team while they try to finish building the hydroelectric dam, and that could drive further cost overruns.

In recent months, though, Ball’s tone has shifted, and he’s made it increasingly clear he won’t wait for the project to be finished before the inquiry gets started.

The lion’s share of the speech was focused on attacking the Progressive Conservative party.

He said that on Muskrat Falls, the previous administration was reckless and did a poor job managing the project.

Ball also took aim at the Tories’ fiscal record, and the massive budget deficit he inherited when he took office in December 2015.

“The PCs railed angrily about tax increases, but were never accountable to why we had to take that action,” he said. “And they pay lip service to the scale of the fiscal problem, while opposing any and all measures to confront it.”

Ball said the Tories lied to the people, and they continue to lie.

“You know what? It’s more than false. It’s bull. Absolute bull,” he said.

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