Wednesday, 4 September 2013


“’I have a stake in the game,’ acknowledges Shawn Skinner”.  The Telegram quoted the former Natural Resources Minister, frequent CBC Political Commentator, Tory Government defender and Muskrat Falls advocate, in a front page story, on Wednesday, after Skinner “took to the airwaves on VOCM”. 

Skinner was expressing concerns that possibly the largest single contract, on the Mega Project, might be awarded to an Italian company. Skinner acknowledged that his current employer, a Canadian Company called AECON Construction Group, also bid on the Contract. ”Your level of risk with something going wrong there, I would argue, is much less than when you bring in a company from Europe”, he was quoted as saying.

I had no idea!

‘Shawn’, I thought to myself, as I read the morning rag and sipped on a Starbucks, ‘you got to tell us this stuff!  I have been listening to you, for months, yammer on about what a great Project is Muskrat Falls.  Only now, you tell me the ‘risk’ is going to get ratcheted up, if things don’t go your way, er…if the contract goes offshore.
Source: The Telegram
“Shawn”! I said aloud, and received a few stares. Lowering my voice to near whisper, I added, “I didn’t even know you used four letter words…like ‘risk’! The way you always came across, on CBC, left no doubt you were on the side of the angels”.

As my gullet received the last dregs of the “Tall Bold”, I felt like ordering another and go for a caffeine overload, just in case I was not as alert, as I normally try to be.  What was I missing? I wondered.

I had been watching this guy for months, with his perfect hair, perfect smile, all the time saying Muskrat Falls was perfect, the best thing since sliced bread; the experts, at Nalcor, were all great…they would never lead the Province astray…Muskrat lowest cost option…Newfoundland needs the power, ‘experts’ at Nalcor…..up their arse, some would say.  And, I started saying to myself, how can someone that perfectly serious, now discover he was perfectly wrong?  

As the caffeine began to take effect, the realization dawned on me. This is a different Shawn Skinner. 

The Shawn Skinner, on the CBC, would know that Canada wins contracts offshore and that other international contractors win some in Canada, too. It happens all the time.  Yes, Shawn would know that, I thought.

There has to be another Shawn Skinner. There just has to be.  If you need proof, just look at how many times he swore that four letter word ‘RISK’.  The Shawn, that I know, does not use “Risk” and “Muskrat” in the same sentence! He just doesn’t, OK? 

I read the article again, from start to finish. I counted the number of times this Skinner swore, in this one piece. Then I was certain. Take a look at the Telegram article with me, and read for yourself.  This Shawn says:

“For me it’s about the level of risk that Nalcor, in this case, would be assuming,” he said…….

“The level of risk with a Canadian company that is familiar with the climate in Labrador, familiar with supply chain …

“Your level of risk with something going wrong there, I would argue, is much less than when you bring in a company from Europe.”

Skinner said Canadian-based contractors could hit trouble. But with a Canadian company, I would suggest, the element of risk is less. That’s my point,” he said.

Four times he “swore”.

Can’t be the same guy!   But that photo…it just looks awfully similar….I just wonder…..

Definitely! It’s another Shawn.  Stay with me on this one…..

Didn’t Nalcor recently award a contract to China for the huge turbines and generators for the Muskrat Falls Project?  They don’t have a solitary soul to oversee the production and make sure what was specified actually gets delivered. Now, that’s RISK.  Risk-free would have been awarding to General Electric or Siemens. Shawn would understand that, for sure.  But, he didn’t even mention it.

Then there’s the contract for the steel Towers, through which the transmission line will be strung.  Didn’t that go offshore, too?  Didn’t it go to Turkey, actually? 

Shawn didn’t mention that one, either.   Now that was an easy one. The Turks will cut up a whole pile of steel, of different shapes and sizes. They’ll throw it into a container and ship it to Goose Bay.  Like a Mechano set, they’ll bolt it all together and stick it up.  A moron could do it. But, no!  No local or Canadian contractor could be found to cut up steel or put a nut on a threaded bolt.  How come the perfect Shawn wasn’t out beating the drum of Canadian enterprise, on that nice little easy one for Canadian contractor’s contract?

Do I seem to digress?

After using the “RISK” work four times, what does this Shawn say?  He adds:

“These are legitimate concerns that have happened in other parts of the country and I’m saying because this is a major project for this province — probably the biggest one we’ll do for the next however many years — and the warts and all that have come with Muskrat Falls, let’s make sure we give it every possible chance to succeed.”

What was that, again? It must be the caffeine…the Shawn that I know wouldn’t say Muskrat has warts. He would say Muskrat is, well…perfect.  But, this one says: “…and the warts and all that have come with Muskrat Falls, let’s make sure we give it every possible chance to succeed.”

Now this Shawn Skinner is scaring me.  There’s a Shawn Skinner doppelganger, out there. I just know there is!

As for the fact his own company stands to benefit from his comments? The Telegram enquired. This Shawn said:

“So all I can say to that is, yes, they are correct, I have a stake in the game, so to speak, but more importantly, what about the comments I’m raising?”

Doppelgangers.  UMMMM.  Be careful of them.

Who said, there is no interest like self-interest?


  1. So you have not answered his concerns..... I think he makes a great point. no doubt he has a interest in this decision but I think he makes good points. Is he wrong... I think not. Let Canadian companies do the work, cheaper is not better in all cases and I think he has valid concerns about the Italians lack of experience with jobs in Canada.

  2. How many times has Shawn Skinner promoted the project in public, as a former natural resources minister?

    Go to 20 minutes into this link. Shawn was talking risk back then as well. It was the risk of the lights going out if we didnt build the project.

  3. There is one thing I have faith in and that is Nalcor's ability to spend our tax dollars. They will give this work to the company that is the preferred vendor once all criteria are evaluated. One thing I do not understand.... Is this Nalcor or SNC Lavalin which will be making the final decision?

    If the companies all prequalified to bid, should it not go to lowest price?

  4. If one was to have the intention to make some money disappear, like a kickback, or a whatever, I'd rather deal with an international company. Italy has a great reputation for corruption these days. I think the fetch of Skinner that you quote here appeared just to twist our indignation in such a way that the public actually supports using international businesses for these contracts and spurns our own. The old zero-sum local mentality of "If he gets ahead, it puts me behind."
    It is not a foreign or domestic issue, it is an issue of risk, even if a troll or a spook points it out.

  5. Risky Business 2 Shawn Skinner Edition.

    Skinner is basically a lobbyist crying foul over non Canadian firms bidding (how dare they!) on a tendered megaproject?

    He must still be VERY bitter about losing in 11':just delayed the inevitable 15' thrashing incoming for the majority of his former party.

    If only he had shown such candor to RISKS before blindly sanctioning MF and cutting/gutting all of the due diligence.

    Ed and Gill must be very good salesmen or NLPCs the most gullible lot in the entire Commonwealth.

    SS Risk assessment now taints everything he has said in defense of MF since getting booted out.

    CBC introduce SS as LOBBYIST not former provincial cabinet minister!

    SS probably wants MF stopped if his employer doesn't win any bids: I never supported the project blah...

    Money talks ethics walk SS!

  6. I support Nalcor 100% in this issue including the China and Turkey purchases.

    As far as Muskrat Falls is concerned you can mark me down as extremely not in favour. I would even shut it down now after the initial $2 Billion was spent because I don't believe the rest of the planned expenditure (additional $5.7B plus interest during construction so approx. $6.5B) represents a good value proposition. I do not see the strategic value as the 500 MW link only exports 6% of the Upper and Lower Churchill potential and it further fills that demand with expensive power when in 24 years after this project comes on stream we will have inexpensive power. The Labrador mines if they materialize can obtain power from the Upper Churchill (and yes Quebec gets the money until 2041).

    All of the above being said I was outvoted and this project is proceeding and needs to be managed as best as possible for the ratepayer. The biggest risk to us is the cost. I expect that it will end up being in the $10B range. The higher the cost the more the incremental interest rates will be and the corresponding payments will go up almost exponentially. We are currently in a serious construction boom and all of the local trades people are already working so hence the need to search outside to keep costs down. Nalcor and even SNC are technically competent and will have large bonds and conditions in place to manage the technical risks and if Italian or other firms underestimate Labrador conditions then they will be the ones facing most of the financial risk. In short we need the foreign competition to keep costs in line or else we will be facing a $14B project (good for locals who get rich) and touch financial times for this province.

  7. You hear alot of talk about the cost growth on the Muskrat Falls project. Common sense will tell you that this is a real risk when you take a look at the shortage of workers in NL right now. Yet Nalcor are stating that they are on budget. A review of their on-line cost reports only show the expended to date, and not the forecast to complete. It is the total life of project forecast which will tell the tale. I would like Nalcor to tell us this. I would also like to understand where they are on the Emera renegotiations. Lots of Risks, and Unanswered questions. The last thing we need to worry about if an Italian company gets the work.