Thursday, 22 June 2017

SIOBHAN COADY'S BEHAVIOUR PUZZLING

When the Minister of Natural Resources, Siobhan Coady, released the report of the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee last Friday the first in fifteen months she tried to leave the media, and the public, with the impression that a new impetus was at work in matters of oversight.

The Minister was not being honest.

Given the evidence that, both prior to sanction and afterwards, the MF project estimates were falsified, it is reasonable to think that the Minister would not want to be mired in the deceitful culture that has grown up around Nalcor and her Department. But the Minister demonstrates no such caution.

It is one thing to say, as she has, that the government has questions about the project estimates, as did the whistleblower engineer. But a verbal expression of concern, alone, is not enough.

One might expect that Coady would not only want to know the origins of the alleged deceitfulness, and who is responsible, but that she might set new standards of disclosure for her officials to follow.

She has shown no interest in doing any of those things.

Monday, 19 June 2017

NL POLITICS: THE STATE OF PLAY

The latest poll from CRA does little more than reaffirm prior perceptions held by the public about the Premier and the Ball Administration.

The polling group found that 34% of decided voters supported the Liberals, 40% backed the PCs, while 24% stood behind the NDP.

Two other statistics offer confirmation that the Liberals are in deep trouble: satisfaction with the government stands at only 28%, while in leader preference Dwight Ball receives 23% support against 36% for PC leader Paul Davis and 16% for Earle McCurdy of the NDP.

The results essentially mirror those reported when Ball’s popularity dropped off a cliff last year.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

TIME TO CHANGE UNNECESSARY ELECTION LAW

Guest Post by Kelly Populous

Imagine a law so badly misunderstood that politicians and parties tolerate an unwanted, unpopular premier in order to avoid an election. A government without the political capital to change important public policy becomes trapped with unwanted leadership and winds up paralyzed. The public grows more apathetic or, worse, angry... and the whole province suffers as a result.

The scenario would seem crazy if Newfoundland and Labrador hadn't already suffered through it under Kathy Dunderdale. Now, with Dwight Ball flailing badly as the province’s First Minister, it seems that we have lost the ability to determine a course to provide renewal of the province's political leadership. 

It does not have to be that way.

Monday, 12 June 2017

SIOBHAN COADY: WAITING FOR GODOT?

Waiting For Godot is a celebrated play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Valdimir and Estragon, are waiting for a person Godot who never arrives. The Ball Administration serves as parody for the tragicomedy. Like the government, as one writer says of Waiting For Godot, “the sheer emptiness and randomness of the plot causes the audience (or reader) to wonder if anything is going to happen”.


Ball and Coady especially resemble Valdimir and Estragon though possibly the tramps, Didi and Gogo, too because, like them, they seem to have no part to play.  


Our play departs from Beckett’s a little, but only because Coady can expect an appearance from the Auditor General, just not with the package she pretends he is carrying.


The Minister knows he will offer no guidance on the “falsification” issue over which Nalcor’s whistleblower has sounded the alarm. Her performance is simply the pretense that he will.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

EY REPORT CONFIRMS NEED FOR FORENSIC AUDIT SAYS WHISTLEBLOWER

"Falsification of information on a massive scale.” That’s what the Anonymous Engineer told the Uncle Gnarley Blog in January, 2017 about the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project.

The public now awaits follow through by the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources on his call for a forensic audit. The audit would detail the origins and extent of the “low-balled” estimates and confirm whose signature(s) authorized their use.

In a conversation with him recently, the engineer reflected upon his disclosure and the response of the Government. Said he:

“Even though Minister Siobhan Coady has already indicated she accepts what I have said as part of the narrative and that she has questions, too, the Minister must know my warning was completely supported by the EY Interim Report, which the Government commissioned.”

Monday, 5 June 2017

FLAWED HUSKY DEAL GOES LARGELY UNREPORTED

If any member of the public as much as frowned last Monday when the Ball Government and Husky Energy announced agreement on the White Rose Extension project, they might have risked exile to the Funks or worse. Politicians, industry officials, hangers-on, the compradors (fixers and agents) and, of course, the media were all found ‘cheek to jowl’. 

Ditched, along with the champagne corks, was even the tiniest bit of perspective on the flawed deal even if, admittedly, it was an important one.

There is no question that the failure of OPEC to keep prices as high as Ed Martin had decreed, the end of the Vale and Hebron projects, and the consequent downturn in the housing sector, have everyone longing for the good “old” days. But economic challenges are not a time for governments to lose their minds, or embrace a future with a duration running only until the next election.

Siobhan Coady seemed within a nudge of shouting “we got it”, her restraint tethered only by the star of Galway who long ago appropriated the phrase with dubious claim.

The truth is the Premier and the Minister had only Husky’s ‘win’ to announce.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

WHO IS DWIGHT BALL AFRAID OF?

When malfeasance on a grand scale is alleged against senior government officials by credible people, what are we to make of it?

According to Stan Marshall, the decisions were directed at a senior level, but he says he doesn’t know who is responsible and doesn’t want to find out.

Yet the consequences are enormous. NL society has been laden with an unspeakable debt and a failed project, fallout from which will cause great social and financial pain over many decades.

The situation begs another question: do the authorities have an obligation to investigate and to hold the complicit to account, in keeping with the laws of civil society?

Is the Ball Administration’s seeming disinterest in the matter proof that what is still if only barely obscure should remain that way; that a higher standard applies to those wielding power?

We will return to this question.