Monday, 30 March 2015

BANISH MINISTER DERRICK DALLEY TO THE FUNKS

The Government’s Oversight Committee on Muskrat Falls issued its quarterly report just as the Natural Resources Minister, responsible for the Muskrat file, continues to display the liveliness of lichen at the Funks. Come to think of it, the Funk Islands seem a perfect place for indolent Ministers.

The “JM” Post, last week, contained a reprimand for the Oversight Committee, one implicit in the title: “In Nalcor we Trust”. Nalcor can put no claim to public trust, either; oversight remains as absent as it ever was.  For that reason, focus ought to remain on the Oversight Committee; next week's Post will attempt to shine more light on this sham group who reports what Nalcor tells them

But, politicians are ultimately to blame when bureaucrats fail to perform; after all, such recalcitrance is inspired by them. 

While this problem dates back to the tenure of Kathy Dunderdale and Jerome Kennedy, it persists with the current Minister, Derrick Dalley.

I have been thinking of the Minister lately; though not fondly. 

Perhaps, it was his March 4th appearance on Paddy Daly’s Open Line Show that ignited my memory of Dalley and his previous difficulties with knowledge of things he should know.  This time the Island was experiencing another major power outage. The Host had given the Minister quick access to the airwaves expecting, perhaps, to be informed on the cause of the ‘black out’ and how long it might endure. 

The Minister was quick to say the Premier had urged him onto the airwaves. Mr. Davis may as well have employed Funk Islands lichen to perform the role.  The Minister had no knowledge as to why a large part of the Island’s electrical grid was knocked out, did not know Holyrood Unit #1 had gone off-line the previous Friday, did not know Unit #3 was down, or the reason the newly installed generator was not ready to give us a return on our recent $120 million investment.

The province is in ‘black-out’ mode, again; the Minister of Natural Resources evidently has not read Friday’s Brief. It is Wednesday; he is not briefed even now.
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Related Reading:

DERRICK DALLEY UNMASKS A SPENT GOVERNMENT

WHY DERRICK DALLEY SHOULD HAVE BEEB NAMED
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The Premier must know Dalley is one of the reasons his Poll numbers are intractable. Is this government deaf to the lessons of DARKNL and to the Liberty Report?

It is one thing for the public to be captivated by the Judy Manning story and to feel umbrage when democratic government is offended by the presumptuousness of one unelected. But, the Premier has far bigger problems. To be sure, the latest Cabinet shuffle was a missed opportunity for larger repair. 

The Premier was right to dismiss Kevin O’Brien, who the Auditor General fingered having made an inappropriate phone call to the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Works in the Humber Valley Paving affair to check on whether the deal had been done.  Equally, he ought to have fired “take us to Court, we’ll win anyway” Keith Russell, the Mumbo Jumbo Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

Davis can’t afford the Minister of Natural Resources to remain a Mumbo Jumbo Minister, too. He is responsible for the Muskrat Falls project, for the Atlantic Accord, for energy policy, the challenging job of dealing with major oil companies and future development opportunities.   

We expect that Minister to be smart, knowledgeable and current (briefed); capable of interacting with the public including over irksome issues like black-outs, considering the extent to which the electrical system has been degraded under Ed Martin’s leadership.  He ought to be capable of demonstrating a grasp of the enormous duties to which he has been assigned. But this Minister can’t even explain why the lights are out!

An exchange, in the House of Assembly as recently as March 18th 2015, cements the perception of an indolent Dalley.  Opposition Leader Dwight Ball asked him a question regarding Muskrat Falls and who is responsible for paying the “extra costs” associated with “bringing in a larger project team…to increase its concrete pouring capacity…in an effort to keep the project from falling further behind… Newfoundlanders and Labradorians or Astaldi?  This was Dalley’s reply:

“I will say in this House that it is my understanding that the Astaldi contract is a fixed price and they are responsible for the cost of this, Mr. Speaker.  Just to be sure, I will check….” 

Astaldi is the largest contractor on the Muskrat Falls site; the project has been plagued by cost pressures from the get go.  No one wants to come clean as to Astaldi’s contract status. Ed Martin told the Nalcor AGM, last Thursday, the contract is “Unit Priced”. Dalley says it is “fixed priced”. Ed Martin's PR Department, responding to a question from David Vardy, stated “the relationship between unit cost and total pricing is fixed” adding even more confusion to the dance of obfuscation for which Nalcor is notorious.

A competent Minister would not have to “check” with Nalcor; he should be capable of standing in the House of Assembly giving Ed Martin and his PR people a lecture on the importance of being forthright. Without playing games, using qualifiers like “it is my understanding”, he ought to have been able to inform the House if the public purse is at risk with Nalcor’s framing of the Astaldi Contract.  

Dalley should know if it is “lump sum” wherein the materials, labour and schedule risk are all Astaldi’s. 

Otherwise, he ought to confirm, as this scribe was informed from the beginning, that the labour cost risk is Nalcor’s which essentially puts the cost of schedule slippage onto the public purse, too.

How many billion dollar contracts have been issued at Muskrat?

The answer:  ONE.

Dalley doesn’t know the single most essential detail of this ONE large and important, billion dollar contract.  

The Opposition should shame him until he gives the House an honest and full answer.

The Premier has made a big deal about saving money by reducing the size of the Legislature and the Cabinet.

A budget conscious Premier should fire Derrick Dalley. He is an embarrassment; another useless Minister; a dead weight on an already challenged government.


Alternatively, he should just send Dalley to the Funks.

1 comment:

  1. https://earthground.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/muskrat-on-table/

    ReplyDelete