Monday, 21 September 2015

NOTE TO LIBERAL CAUCUS: THANKS FOR NOTHING!

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.

12 comments:

  1. I totally agree with the comments contained in this article. I find it hard to believe that the Liberal party has been so laid back on such an important issue. One can only assume that they either see no issue with this project or how it has been mismanaged or that they have no viable suggests as to how it should be managed on a go forward basis. Time is running out for Dwight Ball and the liberal party to take a stand on Muskrat Falls.

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  2. Not to mention the Independent Engineers Reports. There has not been one issued on the Muskrat Falls dam site for over a year. The information is slow getting to people. IS this Nalcor slowing the process down, or the province. We need this information before the election.

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  3. Add to this, our governments SNAFU of awarding the tender for a new ferry to a ship builder in a country that does not have a trade agreement with Canada, costing us millions more.

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  4. Dale Kirby was proving himself as an outspoken and articulate member in opposition until Dwight Ball zipped his lips shut. Paul Land has never been so silent. If the Liberals are such a dismal failure as Opposition with Dash Rip-Rock Ball, I have to believe that they will be another failure as government.

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    1. Agree on Kirby. I had high hopes for him, but he''s lost any and all opinions or his ability to articulate them. Lane, lost me when he was selling soap for Dunderdale. He showed too well that he could repeat whatever he was told without having an opinion of his own....and since he's become a Liberal, he's said even less. And what about Cathy Bennett? I still have zero idea of where she stands on any issue. A year after the Liberal leadership contest closed and there's something very wrong about that!
      Just compare the Federal leaders and the Provincial ones. Pretty obvious differences in terms of being willing to talk issues and numbers. Sad that!

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  5. Doug did you actually say Paul Lane?? Paul Lane is one of the worst of the Torie misfits I think its totally unreasonable to expect him to comment on anything that he was instrumental in creating. I for one really hope that if the Liberals do form the next government that Paul Lane is not one of the people forming the new government

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  6. Agree completely! I have been waiting for ages to have anybody in opposition truly start offering up an alternative to what has become a Three Stooges parody of government. (Davis, Dunderdale, Coleman). Not a gig. Scan the news, twitter, Facebook and all you get are photos of handshakes, salutes to people from the district in the legislature...and a whole lot of avoiding promises or policy. The message seems to be almost 100% "Vote for us...because we are not them." The NDP is hardly any better so far. The province may as well be in space considering the soul sucking vacuum that exists in terms of accountability or leadership on all sides. The contestants all expect to win by default.

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  7. Did uou swallow Rex Murphy's thesaurus? Try it again for us mere mortals.

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  8. Did uou swallow Rex Murphy's thesaurus? Try it again for us mere mortals.

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  9. I learned everything I needed to know about Dwight Ball when he accepted Paul Lane into his caucus.

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  10. I'm disappointed to say that this article is spot on. However I would argue that much of the blame falls squarely at the feet of the people of NL and a weak-kneeded press. The people of NL continued to elect the PCNDP despite dire warnings from credible sources. The local press, especially The Telegram, spends much of its' time telling us how much they hate Harper and therefore we should too yet the real stories are right here in their own backyard.

    A few bloggers and writers dare to say what needs to be said. Perhaps Ray Guy said it best of all, “Show me a Newfoundlander who’ll willingly take the blame for anything and I’ll show you a freak fit for the circus. Since there’s no hope of communal blame for our dismal mess, the best we can do is flush out a few scapegoats.”

    How I long for the unelectable Bill Barry.

    Keith

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  11. Finally someone has noticed that the Libs are a big part of the unfolding MF debacle! An impotent opposition has greased the wheels for this undemocratic back room, sleazy deal. The NDP have done no better in asking the fundamental questions about this fiscal and social disaster unfolding on the Churchill but at least they will be able to claim that they are not complicitous (they have been merely impotent).

    When will the contracts be released that the CFIB says are in everyone's best interest to made public?

    When will Martin have to defend the untested "least cost" claim? They assumed oil at $120 in 2017 escalating to $270 by 2057. They assumed increased demand. They assumed a profit on surplus power. The ratepayer will subsidize ALL the power produced by at least 10 cents a KwH for 57 long years.

    How many billion will the cost overrun be? How long will the rate/taxpayer be kept in the dark about the progress of work, the Astaldi and SNC contracts?

    How long will it take for the engineering plan for the spur, due in 2011, to be made public for scrutiny. How long will the Opposition fail to point out that MF is built literally and figuratively on shifting sands that threatens the fiscal and human health of NL residents?


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