Friday, May 20, 2011

deal or no deal?

Whenever a major, contentious issues comes up in politics, it doesn't take long for people to start providing a very common refrain: "Who are you to criticise something if you offer no positive vision or alternative yourself?"

This proposition has always bothered me on a number of levels.

First and foremost, we should always ruthlessly critique any political or economic proposition presented to us by a sitting government that involves our money (which is everything!). And this goes doubly when something doesn't bode well about it - the current fiasco around Muskrat Falls testifies to the necessity of this fact, given that the government's entire defense of the project amounts to 'don't look this clean-energy gift horse in the mouth!'

More than this, though, is the wishy-washy position this implies; there is a special place in hell reserved for people who aggressively sit on fenceposts. While obviously reserving judgement or outright picking sides isn't an outright evil (and it is indeed always warranted!), it is certainly no virtue either. In this case, the starting point of any positive vision or alternative to the Muskrat Falls project must begin with criticising what exactly is wrong with the current proposal - and there is much to say, and it has been said by others, elsewhere, with greater depth than I.

To just shrug and say "maybe it's not a great deal, but how can you criticise if you can't come up with a better one?" is an awful approach to the politics of mega-projects, given the history of this province. I mean, if it has done nothing else, the 40 years of wailing and gnashing of teeth since the Upper Churchill was signed should indicate that, as a worst-case scenario, no deal (for the time being!) might - just maybe! - be better than a raw one.

No comments: