Thursday, 26 May 2016

LIKE ED MARTIN, PREMIER SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY

Incredulous. Unprecedented. Absurd. All of those superlatives, and others, fit a Liberal Government coming apart at the seams. Premier Ball’s 17% approval rating, according to the latest Angus Reid Poll, confirms a public bewildered by his refusal to do anything but stumble.

Monday’s Uncle Gnarley Blog post, confirming Nalcor was not contractually obligated to pay Ed Martin severance, contradicting the Premier's earlier assertions, now seems just a warm-up for an even larger charade.

Still, the post claimed a direct hit forcing Ball to reveal a scheme whereby the former Nalcor Board of Directors had fired Ed Martin after he had resigned. 

Some third world countries are run better than this place thanks, in part, to the people on the former Nalcor Board.

Ken Marshall and his cohorts are gone; the problem is the Premier appears complicit in their decision.

Both Martin’s retirement and the Nalcor Board firing occurred on April 20th. Premier Ball says he was told of the scheme that day, but not about the severance payment until May 5th.

Would any reasonable person, especially one who is the Premier, not want to correct Martin’s “retirement” story, having been an unwitting party to the charade?

Ball could inform us on May 24th he had referred the issue to the Department of Justice officials. But he could not tell us on May 5th

It never occurred to him we might think the later timing suspect?  

Suddenly, the Budget crisis and Paul Lane, a flea on the body politic, are mere sideshows amidst what may be a larger and more disturbing drama; one with immense political, financial, and possibly legal implications.

The idea that a Board of Directors would ignore its own fiduciary obligations by awarding public money it had no business parting with seems almost too tawdry and bizarre to be believed. 

Ball's tepid condemnation of the affair neither elevates its incredulousness nor underscores the sense of entitlement and presumption around which decisions, like this one, arise. The weakness of the man is manifest. He refers it to the Department of Justice. Nineteen days later the Premier is still cooling his heels! 

Please, never send this man to war!

That said, was there not a single senior official of Nalcor – not even the V-P of Finance – capable or responsible enough to inform the Minister of Natural Resources?

Did the Premier not appoint two Deputy Ministers to the new Nalcor Board; one from Finance and the other the Department of Justice? Did either read the Minutes of the prior Board Meeting and not tell the Premier? 

Ball’s new Board Chairman, John Green, is a veteran lawyer. Did he not advise of a rat’s odor in the building or attempt to put Ball onto the scent?

Stan Marshall became CEO of Nalcor one day after Martin’s demise. Was he not advised?

Why aren’t a bunch of heads rolling down the Cross-Town Arterial?

This Premier is stretching incredulity too far.

I don’t believe him because he has failed to justify the ignorance he feigns.

Is it not reminiscent of, and just as smelly, as the putrid mess that surrounded the Humber Valley Paving affair? Didn’t Ball also promise he would call a full judicial Inquiry to ferret out those dirty secrets?

When the Premier doesn’t possess the fortitude to expose Tory shenanigans, there is little hope he will allow the light to shine on his own bad judgement.

In a world in which public confidence in politicians is at its worse, how is it that this newly minted Premier, one that replaced some of the worst bunglers in our history, can have so many missteps?

Having won the Government, he still begs to be defeated. Six months into his term, he allows the Nalcor appointments of former Premier Danny Williams, including his former business associate Ken Marshall, to trip him up. Meanwhile Tory Leader Paul Davis pounds Ball mercilessly in the House of Assembly. .

This is still a place where stupidity reigns; where you still play by Danny’s rules. Even a new Premier can't be his own man.

Two final points:

Did Ball really say, as CBC’s Peter Cowan reported that he “agreed with a reporter's suggestion that the Board's move was morally iffy”?

What is “morally iffy” about an unwarranted $1.4 million expenditure of public money? What is “iffy” about an abuse of the public trust? Did the Premier not chastise the “iffy” reporter who asked the question about his or her moral standards?

What did the Premier say?

"I think that if someone steps aside and therefore they quit a job under the contract that's there, I would question the right of anyone getting a severance based on that", he said.

Is that all you would do, Premier?

Wouldn’t you not condemn the perpetrators? Would you not state, categorically, that the Board’s action is an offense to public decency, to the public trust, and possibly illegal and that you have referred the matter, not to the Department of Justice but to the Attorney General, who is responsible for public prosecutions? Would you not say you intend to get that money back?

Is there no sense of outrage in this Premier, even when the public trust is fragrantly violated?

A great stench overhangs the Muskrat Falls project. It has been there from the beginning, since news broke of criminal charges laid against top officials with SNC Lavalin.

Now, questionable contracts, private corporations used as tax havens for overpaid project managers, and a litany of construction problems beyond most people’s comprehension, are submerged under a cash grab at Nalcor's Board Room table. When all should be exposed, the Premier chooses to make announcements about a public appointments and a change in the application of the "levy" to help obscure deception even further.

And while that is playing out, Ed Martin, a guy worshiped by politicians, the public, and by the media for a decade could not muster the modicum of shame necessary to correct the public record.

A small, sleepy society can't deal with its own witlessness, manifested by a Premier whose instinct is to hide when the truth is ugly. 

He likes to pretend there is no problem, always hoping the few good things over which he has influence will carry him through. Those instincts might let him survive in a benign political environment; in the current one the Premier is road kill.

Perhaps, like Ed Martin, but for a very different reason he is a man who needs to spend more time with his family.

20 comments:

  1. I agree. Dwight Ball needs to spend more time with Ed Martin's family.

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  2. Since the birth of our province into this so called federation of Canada we have sustained nothing but misery and foolishness from both Canada and our own politicians...In all my 62 years on this planet I have never been so ashamed and angry at our premier...When will someone with half a brain step forward and lead our beautiful province into some kind of peaceful reality where we can prosper and enjoy the fruits of the wealth this island offers...Yes Mr premier go spend more time with your family so mine can prosper.....

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    1. Someone did step forward but was told to get lost by Williams and his cronies. The man's name was Mr. Bill Barry.
      Keith

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    2. WJM, you are a bore.

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    3. It does seem that we just don't seem to be able to get with it..one boondoggle after another..and this is just keeping the Newfie Jokes alive anwell. pity..for sure...

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  3. THANK YOU ...Uncle Gnarley for keeping up the pressure. Certainly seems that incompetence is at the helm -- to our great surprise and disappointment.

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  4. Along with his family Mr.Ball needs to spend a few minutes in the House of Assembly...He certainly wasn't there on Tues evening.The votes for the Gas Tax increase were 25 yays and 10 nays.
    Mr. Ball along with John Haggie,Sherry Gambim Walsh and Steve Crocker didn't vote bcos they weren't even there.
    The reason or reasons they were not there needs to be questioned.If you're going to double our gas tax at the very least show up and vote for it.

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  5. Let's face it. Ball became leader of the Liberal party by happenstance. Nobody wanted it so he took it. When the Tories were clearly on the road to defeat, others jumped in & tried to secure the leadership. By this time Ball was well entrenched, & with his considerable financial resources, he bought the top job. I can only speculate that he did this because of ego. He wanted the title but does not seem to want to do the work. Being Premier is a difficult job, but that's why there is only one. He may be a 'nice man' but that is not what this place needs. We need a common sense leader who can guide us through this crisis with a strong but measured hand. Ball clearly does not have the intestinal fortitude to be Premier. He reminds me of a fellow standing in a ring of fire with a hose in hand. Instead of using the hose to extinguish the fire, he spits at it, hoping not to offend the fire. You analogy of him as road kill is a good one.

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  6. Two great posts this week. If only our other media were so good. I guess it shows the difference between someone with passion, and the regular media wanting a pay cheque and afraid to offend someone, or subject to conflicts of interest. This blog puts into words what many of us feel and think.
    Winston Adams

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  7. Incompetence doesn't even begin to describe it!

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  8. I used to get irritated when Dunderdale kept referring to the Nalcor group as "world class". I considered world class in terms of corporations, examples like Microsoft, Apple, Sony, GE who are manufacturers, but there are others in engineering and other fields. Regardless of the field, world class meant, to me, to be an indication of high expertise, high quality, good ethics, etc.
    For the very rich, take the difference between Donald Trump and Warren Buffett. Buffett gives away 25 billion, and considers himself under taxed, that the rich should pay more. Trump wants to be President but refuses to release his tax files, and exaggerates his wealth and shows little generosity. He uses every trick, including bankruptcy procedures, to benefit his personal wealth. To me Buffett is world class, Trump a buffoon, but a dangerous one.
    Ed Martin also cited his staff as world class.
    I did not see the qualities that made Nalcor world class.
    But Martin and his board of directors and some of our politicians are proving themselves to be indeed world class.
    I guess there are many more world countries and corporations where the class of performance does not fit high ethical and quality performance: these being more so the third world countries, or countries that are rich but run by tyrants, and without freedoms.
    Nevertheless, those too are world class,... third world class, or tyrant class.
    Guess I just misunderstood Dunderdale and Martin. World class, of course they are! I just needed to expand my thinking to the type of world they meant.
    WA

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  9. What happened to chain of command or chain of responsibility in our government. Of course the "buck stops with the premier". But are there not intermediate responsibilities in the chain. Is the minister if health not responsible for what happens in the department he is responsible for, or the minister of finance fo the finance department. Who is the minister that NALCOR is responsible to, is there a minister of energy, or what ever might be the name., or is NALCOR an entente unto it,s self. Does the minister of energy not have a first responsibility for NALCOR blunders, or is her only responsibility to count caribou, or give out wood cutting permits. Not that caribou are not important, but get your priorities right).

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  10. Excellent article. Thanks Des, for having the courage to tell it as it is. Now, when will the Premier resign?

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  11. Uncle Gnarley, you are one-man media guru. Kudos to you. Once again the so called 'mainstream media'‎ have been asleep at the switch. Has anyone told them that the long weekend ended on Monday. The Telegram slipped in a useless article on Tuesday (obviously based on your report, but without giving you credit) and then another yesterday based on the harassment of Ball in the House by the Opposition. Is there any media person in St. John's who knows the meaning of investigative journalism? It seems that the media are as inept as the politicians. No doubt, a house cleaning in the Confederation Building is desperately needed. The same goes for the pathetic media outlets.

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    1. Congratulations to Uncle Gnarly for another fine posting! This does underscore the absolute abdication of the role of the fourth estate to inform people and hold government accountable.

      Indeed when the pattern of SNC Lavalin malfeasance became apparent was the time to have a close look at the Nalcor contracts and contracts with "agents" but it is never too late. Another 10 billion from the NL treasury is at stake.

      The latest revelations outlined here of the ongoing legal battles and work slowing to a trickle while costs soar demand public disclosure now. Only then can a reasoned decision be made about whether it is in the interests of the NL tax/ratepayer to continue.

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  12. Will someone please give this Province a break? NL is now experiencing two disasterous deficits. The first is an economic one with a colossal and unsustainable funding deficit‎ that will surely put the province into bankruptcy in the not too distant future. The second is the staggering intellectual deficit in the Liberal government starting with the hapless Premier but certainly not ending there. This deficit too, appears to be equally uncontrollable. It used to be that the Premier's Office could at least attract a small cadre of hacks who had enough language skills to write a few decent briefing notes and talking points. However, based on Premier Ball's ‎debacle in handling 'Martin-gate and the Nalcor Numbskulls', one has to wonder if there is anyone in that office with a few neurons firing. Perhaps our pitiful Premier decided that he was capable of fielding this throw all by himself. If this is the case, perhaps someone in the Premier's Office can let him know that he couldn't even make the little league. In any event, and to continue the baseball analogy, it is strike three for the Premier and all he has done is 'bean' himself with the bat. The people of NL need to quickly point him to the dugout.

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  13. Will someone please give this Province a break? NL is now experiencing two disasterous deficits. The first is an economic one with a colossal and unsustainable funding deficit‎ that will surely put the province into bankruptcy in the not too distant future. The second is the staggering intellectual deficit in the Liberal government starting with the hapless Premier but certainly not ending there. This deficit too, appears to be equally uncontrollable. It used to be that the Premier's Office could at least attract a small cadre of hacks who had enough language skills to write a few decent briefing notes and talking points. However, based on Premier Ball's ‎debacle in handling 'Martin-gate and the Nalcor Numbskulls', one has to wonder if there is anyone in that office with a few neurons firing. Perhaps our pitiful Premier decided that he was capable of fielding this 'ball' all by himself. If this is the case, perhaps someone in the Premier's Office can let him know that he couldn't even make the little league. In any event, and to continue the baseball analogy, it is strike three for the Premier and all he has done is 'bean' himself with the bat. The people of NL need to quickly point him to the dugout.

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  14. When Uncle Gnarley says it is time to spend more time with the family, it reflects a critical mass situation where there is little hope of a turn around.
    When Uncle Gnarley called for Ed Martin to go, go he did soon after. Gnarley reflects the pulse of the pissed off, enough is enough class, which is most everyone. Only a miracle can save Ball, a declaration to take back Martins golden handshake might be a tuning point, and consequences for the traitor Nalcor Directors. But if the directors acknowledge that Ball was in on the deal, then Ball is toast.

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  15. I suffered through the corruption of the PC (WILLIAMS) term for almost 13 years but there was no chance for the province to get out of the hole that WILLIAMS dug. Nalcor should be dissolved immediately, to begin the healing process, and I would allow Dwight Ball at least one year to show a pattern of survival even though the pattern doesn't look good today. Remember that when the liberals were elected that they took over a sinking ship and if you are a new Captain every move turn you make could be your last, lets wait out the storm. I don't have another choice, Gerry Skinner

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