09/05/2012 05:41 EDT | Updated 11/05/2012 05:12 EST

NDP says rising costs won't hurt Muskrat Falls guarantee

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he stands by his promise of a Muskrat Falls loan guarantee — even if the cost of the project continues to rise.

Mulcair — who is in St. John’s this week for strategy meetings with the New Democratic caucus — says increasing costs are a fact of life with large-scale hydro projects.

He said the federal government has to show flexibility when it comes to supporting green energy projects like Muskrat Falls — but not at any cost.

“You have to be flexible, but you have to meet the basic criteria of public administration,” Mulcair said.

The federal NDP leader is the featured guest on this week's edition of On Point with David Cochrane.

The original estimated cost of the project was $6.2 billion. Revised numbers are expected this fall, with expectations they will rise in the range of another $2 billion or more.

Mulcair is non-plussed by the potential increases.

“The numbers are going to continue to change, as they always do on these huge projects,” he said.

Mulcair said his party’s interest in Muskrat Falls comes from its desire to have the federal government support green energy projects.

“In Quebec, I was the only politician in favour of giving those loan guarantees to Newfoundland and Labrador,” Mulcair said.

“Because you can’t be in favour of green, renewable energy one day, and then be against it just because it’s in a sister province.”

But decisions on whether the project should proceed because of cost reasons remain a provincial matter, he says.

The federal NDP’s Newfoundland and Labrador cousins have been critical of Muskrat Falls.

The Harper Conservatives pledged loan guarantees or equivalent assistance during last year’s federal election campaign.

The details of that arrangement have yet to be finalized.

Then NDP leader Jack Layton also signalled his support for the project — support that Mulcair has reiterated.