Monday, 18 June 2018

NALCOR ALLOWED TO SECRETLY CENSOR REPORTS OF INDEPENDENT ENGINEER (PART I)

Imagine if the Auditor General allowed the Department or Agency it is auditing to edit or redact parts of its Report to the House of Assembly. Wouldn’t the public lose all respect and trust afforded to that Office?

Evidence has now been uncovered showing that the “independence” expected of the Independent Engineer for the Muskrat Falls project, on behalf of the Government of Canada, was never established; that at the very beginning Nalcor was permitted to review, edit and redact the Reports before they became public.

The issue of independence was always a worry for the small group of critics of the project. Such scepticism was captured by an Uncle Gnarley Blog Post entitled How Independent is the Independent Engineer? It raised the question following the IE’s first Report (November 29, 2013).  Material evidence of complicity between the IE and Nalcor, which only recently came to light, suggests that those suspicions were justified.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

NORTH SPUR: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Guest Post by David Vardy
Sometimes revelations occur and information comes to light which sheds real insight into the mysteries of Muskrat Falls. Uncle Gnarley has just reported on such revelations. Through an ATIPPA request our avuncular friend secured correspondence between the Premier and SNC Lavalin which offers insights into a number of interrelated matters, not the least of which is the relationship between government and Nalcor. Also intertwined in these exchanges are concerns about water management, liquefaction of sensitive clays and methylmercury contamination.  

Uncle Gnarley reported on these mysteries in his post at "Extremely Frustrated" Premier Goes To SNC-Lavalin For Advice.  The Premier wrote to SNC Lavalin to seek advice on the impact of raising and lowering water levels upon erosion of the river banks on the Churchill River. The response from SNC Lavalin urged caution with respect to such variations in water levels, similar to the advice rendered to the advice rendered to the Joint Panel by Dr. Gregory Brooks while dealing with the North Spur.

Monday, 11 June 2018

"EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED" PREMIER GOES TO SNC-LAVALIN FOR ADVICE

The following statement is not correct:

“Running at full output, Churchill Falls (CF), would discharge about 2000 cubic metres per second into the Churchill River. Assuming no reservoir draw down, this level of discharge from CF would by itself provide about 630 MW of production at Muskrat Falls. We could run MF at a higher output level for a period of time and draw down the MF reservoir… we could keep it at Muskrat Falls as well as anywhere else.”

That was Gil Bennett talking a couple of years ago to law student and political Blogger, John Samms, who is now on staff in the Premier’s Office. Note the word “drawdown” to which I will return.

At the time Bennett was telling Samms how Nalcor intended to access surplus power from the Upper Churchill; the amount that exceeded what Bennett erroneously thought was the full contractual power commitment to Hydro Quebec. That assumption didn’t work out too well for Nalcor, the Quebec Superior Court having ruled that Hydro Quebec is entitled to all the power that the Upper Churchill can generate. The Water Management Agreement, intended to coordinate the flow of water, was stillborn too.

Monday, 4 June 2018

LIBERAL PARTY WILL IGNORE THE ABACUS POLL AT THEIR PERIL

The most recent Abacus Poll reflects a NL society increasingly aware of its fiscal circumstance. A realism long missing has returned. Six in ten people now see budget deficits and jobs for the young as a very big problem.

Infrastructure, jobs in general, and health care are matters of similarly high concern. Just possibly the public possesses fewer expectations of their political leadership than even the politicians believe. Scepticism seems to underscore the new Abacus Poll, and for this reason alone it a refreshing read.
Polls are frequently less a reflection on the subjects assessed than of the populace whose views are being aggregated. It is hard not to sense in the Abacus data that NL is in a state of readiness for change.  

Monday, 28 May 2018

ON THE LOOKOUT FOR OUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Go ahead. See how quickly you can name the Province’s seven Federal MPs. Can you name even just the one in your riding? If you are having difficulty, it might not be due to memory loss.

It could be that traditional media does not readily seek out our MPs for public policy comment. Or that MPs prefer the non-confrontational media presence afforded on social media platforms. Possibly the whole lot are better suited to images than words anyway. Either way, the seven MPs are seldom part of the narrative of political life in this province. And that is too bad.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

MUSKRAT FALLS COALITION GIVES FIRST REPORT

First Progress Report from Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Coalition
Introduction
Some people have been asking what is happening with the Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project. This is our first update. Next time, a web site, which is under development, will be ready. Future updates will be found there and that platform is expected to offer timely communication throughout the period of the Inquiry. 
What's Been Happening?
The Coalition was created to serve as an intervenor in the Muskrat Falls Inquiry. Upon invitation of the Commissioner the group submitted our interpretation of the TOR, as did a number of others. It can be found here.  The goals of the Inquiry are set out on the Inquiry Website, particularly in the Commissioner’s Interpretation of his Terms of Reference (TOR) here

Monday, 21 May 2018

MEMORIAL LOOKS ELSEWHERE FOR LEADERSHIP. IT SHOULD LOOK AT ITSELF, TOO.

It seems that Memorial University President Gary Kachanoski is frustrated with the Government, though it is a bit late to express that sentiment. Memorial largely ignored the warning signals about debt and risk to civil society from a decade of overspending by successive government Administrations. When the University ought to have sounded the alarm, it instead finds itself in the same boat as every other institution.

Memorial was forced to cut $8.9 million from the University's operating budget this year. In addition, the Government threatened to cut the subsidy to the University by a commensurate value of the increase if tuition fees were hiked for local students. Said a clearly disappointed University President, the province has to decide what kind of university it wants.