Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball returned to the province Sunday night, almost a week after the initial arrests at the Muskrat Falls blockade which sparked the ongoing occupation of the main site.
He landed around 9 p.m. Sunday and was greeted by reporters at the airport in St. John’s. He told VOCM’s Gerri Lynn Mackey that “It’s a very difficult situation right now. We respect of course the protesters and what they have to do, but we’ll give you further details tomorrow. Let’s respect where things are tonight.”
When asked by Mackey whether he’d been on vacation in Miami, he said “that’s not true at all.” But when asked whether he was in Florida and whether he’d attended a hockey game while in Toronto, he refused to answer and brushed by.
A statement issued by the Premier’s office Sunday night said that he had spent “a few days out of the province to attend to personal matters.”
When asked by The Telegram‘s James McLeod whether the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary would be sent in to Muskrat Falls to deal with the protests, he said “the RCMP are up there now doing their jobs. It’s a difficult situation for everyone that’s involved right. There’s a lot of moving parts in this. We’re taking this very very seriously.”
The Independent’s Hans Rollmann pointed out there were people on hunger strikes and asked what was preventing him from meeting with Labrador’s three Indigenous leaders before Tuesday. “We’ll be there,” was Ball’s reply.
When Rollmann asked how Ball would respond to those who say his government is prioritizing business interests over the health and safety of Labradorians, the Premier replied, “As I said there’s a lot of considerations there right now. This is a difficult situation for all Newfoudlanders and Labradorians right now. We’ll get into the details later.”
At least four people are on hunger strike in an effort to halt work on Muskrat Falls, with father and North West River-based stone sculptor Billy Gauthier now on day 11.