Monday, 21 September 2015


The Davis Government will go into the next election battered and bruised, ready only for the re-cycling bin.

No credit for this political train wreck is due to the astute oversight, vigilance, or to the insights of the Official Opposition.

While the Liberals stayed under everyone’s political radar, the Tories simply wore through the patience of most decent people, all on their own.

Bill 29 was only the beginning.

A trail of secrecy, misinformation, and deceit presaged the sanctioning of the Muskrat Falls project.

For the Liberal Party’s efforts to expose the sad underbelly of that project, we would say: thanks for nothing.

No update has been demanded, either, on the cost of Muskrat since June, 2014 when Nalcor CEO Ed Martin allowed that the costs had risen to $6.99 billion (plus the cost of interest during construction).

The Minister of Environment and Conservation offers only obfuscation as to the applicability of Canadian Dam Safety regulations to a natural (and naturally defective) dam structure, known as the North Spur.  

The Liberals have stayed away from the issue; ostensibly it is just too complicated for them.

The Government’s Muskrat Oversight Committee has failed to report for any period since March 2015.  The Committee’s “On-line Minutes”, too, are consistently emptied of content or mirror their pretense to oversight. Meeting July 27 and June 12, 2015 are essentially the same as earlier Minutes and permit no clue as to what gets discussed.

The Liberals refuse to hold them to account.

It's not just Muskrat.

We will go into the next election without a Report, let alone a public inquiry, into the Don Dunphy tragedy. Watching the Liberals equivocate on the issue still appalls.

The Davis Government’s projection of a $1.8 billion deficit (both current and capital account), for this fiscal year, is based upon an average $62.00/barrel. Oil (Brent crude) has long been below that figure and is now around $47.00/barrel.

There is no call for a fiscal update.

The granting of bonuses to senior Hydro personnel, following DARKNL, is an affront to fairness and to those public servants who perform extra diligence without extra reward; it undermines morale among those who value high standards because the awards are not just arbitrary; they are unwarranted.  

Did the Liberals not read the Liberty Report prepared for the PUB and its condemnation of Hydro officials? 

How large might the catastrophe have to be for Dwight Ball to call for Ed Martin’s head?

Even when Steve Kent, the Deputy Premier, was forced to run back to the media to tell them he had “misspoken”, having stated the Cabinet would review the granting of bonuses, Dwight was absent, failing to point out the Premier’s deference to Ed Martin.

I know Dwight is no Mark Critch, but couldn’t he, at least, have keyed in to last week’s perfect parody.

We have political parody at its best in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. It  could have been written for Nalcor. Chapter 3 was certainly composed for light CEOs playing with other people’s money. Here Ed Martin can be seen playing the part of Dodo in the Caucus Race. That’s the event in which everyone gets to run off in all directions. Having arrived at no particular destination, Dodo arbitrarily declares the race over, following which everyone asks: “Who has won?” to which Dodo replies “everyone has won and all must have prizes”!

Dodo and Ed Martin's bonuses. The humourless Mr. Ball; he missed even that!.

And certainly not even because he is preoccupied with gravitas.

To get back to our own rabbit hole, many people know there is nothing normal about the last decade of government.

Bill 29 and Muskrat.manifest the worst of bad government. The Humber Valley Paving scandal, too. But there are others.

Public service hiring, again, has become a partisan contest.

Privately, senior administrators complain unemployed teachers need the right political pedigree to get hired; the school boards be damned.

Insiders report that the Public Tender Act is constantly being undermined; the half billion dollars allocated for Consultants only the tip of a larger problem.

The Government’s disdain for the public’s right to know, disregard for sound fiscal policies, the gift of the purse strings to Ed Martin, all constitute real examples of public administration in decline or worse.

The Liberals ought to seem bedraggled - worn out from the daily grind of exposing corruption, arrogance, and unwise public policy.

They are not.

Hundreds of opportunities have been missed to criticize and to tell the public what they stand for.

Have we made the unwarranted assumption? Is it possible they agree with the way the Tories conduct government business?

Perhaps, they, too, will treat contractors like buddies, muzzle public debate, and send out shill economists, to provide political cover.
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Soon, the provincial election campaign will begin in earnest.

Dwight Ball will likely win the election handily; Earle McCurdy having failed to say “middle class” as well as Thomas Mulcair. 

While Ball will win, he risks heading a government that is perceived not the better, but the only alternative; one absent moral authority. Lacking will be the groundswell of trust that big decisions draw down and leadership recapitalizes.

Oh! It’s fine to be Premier.

But Ball would enjoy more credibility if the public knew not just that he can take a stand but what he actually stands for.