Monday, 19 February 2018

STAN MARSHALL DOUBLES DOWN ON BLUSTER

Stan Marshall's Muskrat Falls Update entitled “Understanding Muskrat” ought to have been an opportunity for the Nalcor CEO to engage with the public and sensibly discuss a litany of concerns. That's not what he had in mind.

Perhaps it was the air of arrogance that killed the evening at Memorial’s Bruneau Centre, though the softening of his “boondoggle” coinage inspired a measure of incredulity. The readiness to bully every critic of the project — no matter the legitimacy of their claims — spoke to a man who needed understanding less than he did validation, though condescension is not normally known to help win friends.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

THE BARD ON TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS

FILLING IN

They're filling in along the shore,
On mudflat, bog, and gravel bar.
At riverside and through the Bay
No buffer zones enforced today.

In many towns Municipal
In Provincial Parks or Federal
The excavators and big trucks
On Preserves are dumping muck.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

ABACUS POLL CONTAINS CLEAR MESSAGE FOR LIBERALS

In June 2015, as a General Election beckoned, Abacus Data reported that only 3% of those polled perceived Muskrat Falls/electricity as “the most important issue facing NL”. Just 11% expressed concern over the deficit.  


The election gave vent to a public which had watched the P.C. Party languish in a succession of “amateur hours”. They ran the gamut from Dunderdale’s #DarkNL moment to Frank Coleman’s transparently self-serving attempt to become First Minister for all the wrong reasons. 

Tom Marshall left behind a legacy of deficits and not just those related to the Budget. There was the Humber Valley Paving affair and the charade of Muskrat Falls’ oversight.

Monday, 12 February 2018

FORTY QUESTIONS FOR THE INQUIRY JUDGE. PUBLIC SUPPORT SOUGHT.

David Vardy, Ron Penney and I have responded to the call of the Muskrat Falls Commission of Inquiry for submissions from the public on the interpretation of the Terms of Reference.

Our submission encourages the Commissioner to give the Terms of Reference a broad interpretation. It proposes a complete review of the project - one that provides full context for the public policy decision to announce and then sanction the project. It also seeks an investigation into matters relating to the management of the project and its long term effects on ratepayers and all the citizens of the province. 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

MF INQUIRY: UNCERTAINTY THE FUEL OF SCEPTICS

If Judge Richard LeBlanc feels like he is being watched, perhaps he will delay judging the cynics until after he has judged Nalcor. 

Each decision taken by the Commission of Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls Project is understandably scrutinized as watchers assess whether the Commission is capable enough to undertake the enormous task for which it has signed on, and whether the Commission will be transparent enough to imbue public confidence in its mandate, procedures and processes. Arguably, perhaps, the Commission is already making decisions whose side-effect is enabling this result.  The Premier could have given the Inquiry a head start had he submitted a draft Terms of Reference (TOR) to the public and sought input. That job fell to Judge LeBlanc.

Monday, 5 February 2018

THE "MOONSHINE" LIST

The mainstream media likes to report the "Sunshine List". That's the one covering public servants earning $100,000 or more and who are employed with core government departments, agencies, boards and commissions including Crown Corporations. Some people believe the List serves a purpose beyond simply providing access to public information; that it gives transparency to decisions over which self-interested bureaucrats have too much influence.  

This Blog is also concerned about transparency. I suggest that public commentators who are paid consultants of the government should be added to the list or distinguished in a separate one. Therefore, I am proposing the "Moonshine" List. Why "Moonshine"? The liquid version often lacks clarity - like the consulting industry. "Moonlight" List was also a convincing option because "moonlight" is harder to catch than "sunshine", but like "moonshine" offers the assurance of an occasional glow.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

THE MUSKRAT FALLS INQUIRY NEEDS YOU

Justice Richard LeBlanc has started the task of getting the Commission of Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls Project underway by allowing for the engagement of the public. Essentially, the Judge is asking for opinions with respect to the interpretation of the Terms of Reference (TOR). That outcome will govern the scope of the Inquiry.


This is an important phase. The Judge is doing what the Premier ought to have done.  But, unlike the Premier, Justice LeBlanc cannot alter or amend the TOR. He is, however, entitled to give them broad interpretation — as long as he does not overstep their parameters (over which he will exercise a Judge’s discretion). 

Anyone who has followed the Muskrat Falls saga will understand that the project’s origins, evolution and catastrophic failure required a complex web of political machinations, deals, contracts and relationships. Those who were poorly suited to the task, who were arrogant, who let ego or greed get the better of them, who were elected and were unwise or assumed a knowledge or a skill they didn’t possess, or who forgot to whom they owed fealty, will now be confronted with a Judge who will independently assess those decisions, their authors (some of them anyway), and the institutions that enabled them.