Wednesday, 16 April 2014

NALCOR’S NATTERING NEANDERTHAL


The last straw for an angry public was former Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s boldfaced support for Nalcor following the January 2014 ‘black-outs’, an event now inscribed in history as Dark NL.

Dunderdale played defense for three years in an effort to bolster Muskrat Falls.  She explained Nalcor’s secrecy as a triumph of transparency though it was anything but.  Her abuse of the PUB process and fumbling of basic facts about the project constituted a gross subversion of the truth.

Her integrity in tatters, Premier Dunderdale was forced to resign.

Against this background Ken Marshall, the new Chairman of the Nalcor Board, still thought it a great idea to publish a piece in the Weekend Telegram entitled "Responsible development and oversight go hand in hand".  In  content and style it is reminiscent of Dunderdale.

His exhibition of uncommonly bad judgement could only have been exhibited because he is assured impunity by a timid and ineffective Premier Tom Marshall.  But it speaks volumes of Ed Martin, too, without whose permission the item would not have been submitted for publication. 

How far does Nalcor’s arrogance extend?  How impervious to a soured public can they be?  Is there no rehabilitation for Nalcor’s nattering Neanderthals?    Perhaps they confuse morons and electrons.

If Ken Marshall were a thoughtful person his first steps, as Chairman, might have been to apologize for Nalcor’s insouciance, its distain for openness and transparency, its forgetfulness that the Agency is playing with money that is not its own.     

Marshall puts Messrs. Vardy, Penney, Brown and Hearn in the crosshairs.  But Ken Marshall is no champion of anything noble. He is an intellectual pygmy in their midst.
Indeed, his lengthy missive does not include a single financial number with which to bolster his case that Nalcor is the perfect public Agency.  The Article is twaddle improved only by its placement in an esteemed newspaper.
Let me offer a few examples.
Rather than recognize public scrutiny as both a public right as well as measure of his Agency’s confidence Marshall writes “…the PUB was not able to make a decision…” on the Muskrat Falls project; a frequent and spurious charge Dunderdale was fond of making.  She was well aware, as is Marshall, the PUB was given inadequate DG-2 numbers rather than the much later DG-3 estimates given MHI.
Marshall writes that Nalcor’s vision “…is driven by a competent and extremely capable team at Nalcor, led by CEO Ed Martin, and is complemented with broad expertise from members of our boards.”
Marshall is not just a suck-hole; he is wrong.  Nalcor’s Board contains not one member, including himself (another cable guy ill-suited to the construction business), who can boast the expertise demanded by a multi-billion dollar megaproject.  Indeed, from Ed Martin down the expertise is scarily light, far below the requirements demanded by Mobil on Hebron, Vale on the smelter project; companies that insist on capability of international repute. 
The Nalcor Chairman speaks of Tom Marshall’s Committee as one that will “strengthen and formalize the existing oversight for the construction phase of the project…”  Yet he knows the Oversight Committee, composed of four part-time senior public servants, lacks expertise and competent technical support and is pure camouflage for Government inaction. 
Tom Marshall’s fake oversight is the very signal that allows Nalcor to continue the practice of obfuscation under the guise of commercial sensitivity.
The neophyte Chairman goes on to recite the “…many ways we report to the public, government and the PUB…”  But, he knows Nalcor cannot measure up to the reporting standards of public companies like Vale, Rio Tinto, Mobil or Husky.  These companies issue the Quarterly Reports demanded of all public companies.
Why is that detail significant? 
Mr. Marshall ought to know that, when Quarterly Reports are produced they must contain “Management’s Discussion and Analysis”.  According to securities exchange requirements as well as accounting “best practices”, senior executives are required to update shareholders as to the status of major projects and initiatives in which their companies are engaged including cost completion. 
Such Reports, according to securities exchange rules, must be made public within 45 days after a calendar quarter and 90 days after a year end. Emera and Fortis Inc., both public companies, adhere to these rules.
Nalcor does not.
It refuses to issue Quarterly Reports.  It issues only an Annual Report.
And then only barely.
At least since 2011, Nalcor has delayed its Annual Reports for up to five months after year end.
Why so late? 
Likely because by then the House of Assembly is closed and both Nalcor executives and the Government are spared examination by Opposition Parties of Nalcor’s activities and spending.
What else?
The 2013 Nalcor Annual Report was released only 11 days before Nalcor’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).  Few members of the public had a chance to study its entrails. Nor did the Nalcor AGM allocate much time for discussion and review of the document.
This is the real picture of Nalcor Energy.  Rather than the confident and talented Agency, Board of Directors or Chairman, whom Ken Marshall would have us believe is developing Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy warehouse, Nalcor is actually a glass ceiling of feigned expertise.
Nalcor: open and accountable?  Just as we did Kathy Dunderdale, we laugh in Ken Marshall’s general direction.
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4 comments:

  1. Des, you nailed it again. Nalcor and the current Gov't are a bunch of crooks. They are lying, misleading, frauds in my opinion and their day of reckoning can't come soon enough! Muskrat Falls is not for the people of this province, it's for a certain few who stand to gain from its applications in the mining industry. There were far cheaper ways of supplying the Island portion of the province with a sustainable power source for years to come. We as a public have been lied to and fed a gross amount of misinformation since the first talks of this mega project. It will be a rude awakening for the majority of our population in a few years when this whole debacle starts affecting people's pockets..in a negative way. But I guess as long as the mines get cheap power, then everything is grande.. For a few people, that is.

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  2. Mr. Sullivan, your assessment of the incompetence of the gang at NALCOR is dead on and sadly we have that group of incompetents trying to resurrect the dam dream. The unfortunate thing about this resurrection is that it will kill or at least seriously impair the province's economy.

    Are we forever doomed to be governed by such corruption and incompetence? Is it a flaw in our DNA? What possesses the people of this province to elect such charlatans and that allows us to let these things continue?

    The latest "reluctant " release of info from Ed Martin and Gilbert Bennet is definitely not good but only what us "naysayers" have been saying all along. And the worst is yet to come…much worse!

    I am on record as saying that Mr. Ball and the Official Opposition have a REAL responsibility to oppose this vigorously, even at this late date. It is too late to get back the money wasted to date but it is NOT too late to stop the project and demand a thorough review. It is obvious that we don't need the power on the Island…so why the rush?

    What is your take, especially now that they are reluctantly conceding the the price continues to creep up and, from all appearances, is approaching that $10 BILLION dollar figure that they were warned about a couple of years ago?

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  3. Des
    Been following your blog for a while; great stuff overall. Pop out for a kayak and a tea some day.

    all the best

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  4. Thanks Tony. I have my kayak ready for a new season. You will hear from me sooner than you think. - DES

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