Thursday, 3 October 2013

JEROME KENNEDY EARNS A SCOLDING

Jerome Kennedy tendered his resignation, from the House of Assembly and from Cabinet, yesterday.  We should thank him for his services and wish him well. 

But, in his case, we ought to first wag a bony finger in his general direction, and give him a good scolding.

That is unfortunate after six years of public service and four senior Cabinet positions.  Still, Mr. Kennedy has little to show for his hiatus from the practice of law.

That his departure ranked second, Wednesday, on the CBC 6 O’clock News to a bed bug infestation, was a most unkind cut; one Dunderdale’s new PR man could never have thought devising.

Perhaps, the CBC, too, barely thought the announcement news. Mr. Kennedy’s preference to leave politics was the talk of garden parties in his District, this past summer.  His early return, from the Premier’s China junket, spoke to a none-too-private disagreement with her.  An earlier dust-up in Caucus, following his irreverent comments on the sanctity (or otherwise) of the Tory Blue Book, did little to endear him to his colleagues. 
All are tired of his missteps, though they feign unity in the face of an uninspiring boss and a tired Administration. 

Tory Members are suffering fatigue from the public backlash of budget flip-flops, poor communications, an unyielding arrogance, a secrecy exemplified by Bill 29 and an Alice in Wonderland style of thinking.  As this Government enters mid-term, the Dunderdale Government has neither imagination nor energy; it is a spent force.

Hence, Mr. Kennedy’s desire to leave Government was a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.  His former colleagues will shed no tears; his pit-bull demeanor having done little to enhance his or their public image. At first, he was protected by Danny but Dunderdale seems to have had the same empathy for sooks, as she displays for everyone else.

It must be said that Mr. Kennedy came to the Williams’ Government having had some distinguishing moments in the practice of law.  Much was expected of him in a Cabinet that never earned a reputation for being over-qualified. 

Similarly, in the Dunderdale Cabinet, it was thought he might punch above his weight, along with his lawyer colleague, Tom Marshall.  Though the Premier thought them the best of the lot, and endowed them with the senior Portfolios, their inability to manage demanding issues, especially Muskrat Falls, deficit spending and the fall-out from over-spending repair, disappointed even their most ardent partisans.

Years of listening to clients and giving them legal counsel failed to translate into a willingness to give the public its right to demand respect, communication, leadership and articulation of their worst fears, all of which represent the best trademarks of political life. Kennedy might have been expected to compensate for an ill-prepared Premier, help her devise strategy and bring much needed wisdom to key public policies.  But, he showed little interest in the minutiae that underpins both the art and the science of Government.  Then, too, like his insecure boss he had little patience for detractors. 

As it is, the most expensive and potentially injurious megaproject, in the history of the Province, is being fed from the public trough, as those responsible for paying the bill are ignorant of its purpose and its final cost.

Hence, the problem of the Dunderdale Administration is not just about the Premier. Kennedy’s own shortcomings have helped define the most incompetent Government in decades.
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Yet, his decision to depart now leaves one with a sense of bafflement and incredulity. He has abandoned his cabinet colleagues at a time when the Government’s satisfaction rating is at its lowest.  The timing of his resignation, not just from Cabinet but from the House of Assembly, too, risks further embarrassing the Premier in a legally required by-election.

In severing his ties completely, Kennedy confirmed that the sweetness and light, which characterized their appearance in front of the media, was just for the cameras.      

I submit there is more to this story than a Minister bored.

The Government is immersed in an unwise, hugely expensive and risk laden Muskrat Falls Project.  It was prematurely sanctioned.  It appears ready to go off the rails any day.  Financing for the Project is not secured, neither is the Federal Loan Guarantee; serious law suits threaten.  Emera is a reluctant partner, too, and its price for participating is extremely high. The NS UARB has upped the ante even further, to a level one lawyer described as “extortionist”.

A billion dollars has already been spent, another billion committed and a million or more is added each day the sun sets.  The Minister’s resignation has all the hallmarks of one leaving a sinking ship.

The Premier has no one in Cabinet who possesses either knowledge of the issues or the intellectual depth to get up to speed on a matter very complex.  Which of them will fence with Ed Martin after only forty eight hours on the file?  The only person a new Finance Minister can trust, his Deputy, is as divorced from the subject as the night janitor.  It is a worrisome affair. 

Only eight months ago, Tom Marshall asked to be moved out of Finance; not having possessed the character and decisiveness demanded by that portfolio. The Premier can hardly force the man to go back.

It is a fine mess that Jerome Kennedy leaves, even if it is partly his own creation. 

One might suggest that he owed it to the Government, to his constituents and to the people of the Province, to have helped clean it up before leaving.    

The ability to change course, to recognize a more sensible, less risky path may simply not have been within the skill-set of one so dogmatic.

Having abandoned what he helped begin, if he is wrong on Muskrat Falls, he has only a lifetime of enmity to which to look forward. 

5 comments:

  1. During the house debate on Muskrat Falls, Kennedy said, in regard to knowing the forecast demand on the island for this power was correct " Here's a simple legal trick I use... you just look into the crystal ball". This trick, in Kennedy's mind, replaces "best practices" for forecasting. Manitoba Hydro said Nalcor was deficient in some areas of their forecasting, and not meeting some best practices. In essence, Kennedy's crystal ball words had more effect that the logic of using best practises. I will forever remember him for these words and think of him as Crystal Ball Kennedy. Too bad really. He also said yesterday that he looked under every rock, (or similar words), to see where the downside of MF might be, and could find none. Guess he never looked at the New England Efficiency Plans..... taking the equivalent of a MF off the line almost every year, at one seventh the cost of MF power. Maybe that was his problem, he looked under rocks instead of assessing reliable sources. I filed a submission with the PUB on the value of Efficiency..... that paper wasn't under a rock. Perhaps the Telegram guy should do a cartoon with Kennedy looking at his crystal ball, or under a rock , searching for information on Efficiency, demand forecast, and best practices. Winston Adams

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  3. 50% of the NLPC Ministers that had a grasp on MF (however warped) is leaving mid term before the House reopens, the other 50% isn't running in 2015.

    For the singularity most important capital works project since Confederation, shouldn't ALL of the NLPC MHAs be well versed on all of the issues surrounding MF?

    Did Kennedy's legal training speak up on the issue of sanctioning MF blindly without PPAs or legal clarification on WMA issues?

    Crystal ball for $125 oil in the budget never materialized, why is this method still being used for electricity demand?

    NLPCs have been hiding under a rock since DW left and in October 2015 they will be shattered by a giant sledgehammer(voters) perhaps facing a royal commission or 2 for their incompetence,

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  4. Kennedy will be remembered for his intellect. Relatively speaking he was a genious. Yet his stubbordness on Muskrat Falls will frame his political portrait. He did not do his job as minister of the crown to challenge what was being offered. He handcuffed the PUB, and he bypassed due process. Now as Muskrat Falls implodes under the weight of poor decisions he leaves for greener pastures. Maybe he saw the light, maybe he was just tired. Bully or Genious.... time will tell.

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  5. I think Kennedy is rather intelligent, but not a genius. In the house debate on whether we will need this MF power on the island, he opted to highlight some supporting material, like more and bigger houses, while ignoring new house efficiency codes which is slashing energy use. Proper forecasting must include end use analysis, which is best practises which other utilities use. This is evidence bases analysis. This was a key flaw pointed out by Manitoba Hydro. Its value is confirmed by the strides New England is making in demand reduction and savings for their customers, and deferral of new expensive power generation. If Kennedy was a genius, or just open minded, he would have seen and understood these as substancial problems. I suspect he was subject to tunnel vision, which he accused others of when police convicted the wrong people. Winston Adams

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