Saturday, 11 June 2016

VARDY STAYING ON TRAIL OF NALCOR ENTITLEMENTS

Written By David Vardy

The adjournment of the House of Assembly and the inquiry by the AG into the Nalcor CEO’s retirement benefits should be a springboard for pro-active, revitalized initiatives to chart a new course and to reverse the damage arising from a reactive governance strategy.

When the resignation of the Nalcor CEO was announced on April 20, 2016, I wrote to Nalcor, under ATIPPA, to secure a copy of his severance arrangements and his employment contract. I received this information on May 19, 2016. Since then I have submitted nine other access to information requests on this matter, relating to the payment of over $6 million to the retiring CEO. The most recent reads as follows:

Please provide a list of Nalcor employees covered by employment contracts with severance arrangements modelled on, or similar to, those contained in the contract with former CEO Ed Martin.

David Vardy
As a result of the conflicting information as to whether the CEO resigned voluntarily or was terminated and the ensuing public fury, the government has asked the Auditor General to conduct an inquiry into “the appropriateness of the severance benefits”. 

The benefits in question include a lump sum payment of $4.7 million arising from a supplementary executive retirement plan (SERP), a non-contributory plan which is fully indexed to the consumer price index, a $1.4 million severance payment, eligibility for pension under the public service pension plan, access to an executive car for two years as well as other benefits.

In addition the CEO received large performance bonuses which added to his severance benefits. These bonuses are questionable, in light of Dark NL, the decision of the PUB to rule that certain costs incurred by NL Hydro were not prudently incurred, combined with the fact that Nalcor can provide no final cost estimate for Muskrat Falls and no completion date for the project, 42 months after government’s sanction.

I have also asked for an allocation of the $6 million plus in benefits among the lines of business of Nalcor, including the amount that will be charged to customers of NL Hydro and Newfoundland Power. How much will this retirement package add to our light bills?

Government needs to take a pro-active rather than a reactive approach. The inquiry into the retirement benefits of the Nalcor CEO should not detract from the urgency of a full inquiry by the AG into the Muskrat Falls project opening all contracts and change orders to public scrutiny. Nor should the inquiry into retirement benefits prevent government from taking immediate action to reform the benefits to which Nalcor executive are entitled, including bonus payments, which appear to be paid without regard to performance.

These generous benefits to Nalcor executives are not consistent with the measures taken by government during this financial crisis, one in which our deficit as a share of GDP is 13 times higher than the average provincial deficit of all provinces Will government be seeking to recover the severance payments, given that they are not an “entitlement” under the contract in the event of a voluntary retirement, which is how both the government and the CEO characterized the separation? Must such recovery await the final report of the AG and how long should the people be prepared to wait for such pro-active measures? The inquiry should not justify indecision or paralysis, of which there has been too much.

Now that the House has closed the people will be demanding that government take immediate control of the public policy agenda. Government must take assertive and decisive action to reverse the “entitlement” culture at Nalcor and, more importantly, to make public the latest information on costs, contracts and scheduling at Muskrat Falls.

David Vardy

8 comments:

  1. All great questions Mr. Vardy.

    I would also ask --- Where is Stan Marshall's promised ---- "full review" of Muskrat Falls?

    We have recently had several affirmations by government (Ball, Bennett and Coady) even before any new cost estimates and completion schedule, that government will work with Nalcor to "put Muskrat back on track".

    Is that Stan Marshall's real 'mandate'?

    A one-man walk-around a couple of weeks ago pronouncing that cancelling the Muskrat Falls project is 'very unlikely' is a far cry from a 'full review'.

    More double-speak ---- Ed Martin 2.0.

    I have had a request into the Premier's office since may 4th (and a similar request into Nalcor since May 25th) for a copy of Mr. Marshall's "mandate letter".

    I am still waiting.

    Maurice Adams, Paradise

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  2. Thank you David for your continued efforts to unshutter the Nalcor secrecy and contempt for ratepayers.

    You are performing the essential function of an opposition in a democracy. Sadly you have neither a democracy or a functioning opposition in NL.

    Success depends on a continued public outrage and demand for transparency. Unfortunately your premier is hiding the "Ball" and tossing "spit Balls" at the electorate. The self dealing by insiders, absent public scrutiny or political realities must end.

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  3. I have slowly come to feel utter contempt for the machinations of politicians in our province, machinations that enrich some segments of our society to the absolute detriment of the people of the province and to the financial survival of this land we call home.
    I had faint hope that the new Liberal government would at least contemplate a thorough review of Muskrat Falls from the day they took office, but it was not to be. I can only conclude that the financial support that propelled them to victory is keeping them from conducting a badly-needed and honest assessment of this project.
    Any reasonable person can see that the project is fatally flawed, and has been that way through several cost escalations, but I was not surprised that Danny's minions ignored reality. The Liberals had no such excuse, although some of them had obvious Tory connections, and all they have done is carry on the insane mandate of the free-spending Tories. There was not even a cursory look at the primary cause of the current fiscal crisis and, for that, the new government deserves total condemnation.
    Other than for the efforts of a few voices like Mr. Vardy and a couple of blogs, there would have been almost no criticism of that monstrous project in the past few years. We owe him and all the others a debt of gratitude that there is at least some semblance of democracy that is alive and well.
    One thing is certain....we will find no democracy or honesty about the flaws of this project emanating from the floor of the House of Assembly! Not one politician that I know of has ever had the courage to stand up and say this project is a cesspool of corruption and should be shelved.

    Cyril Rogers, Tulita, NT(formerly of Roberts Arm, NL)

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  4. Mr. Vardy, both you and Uncle Gnarley are doing a wonderful job, a lot of unsavouy decisions that were made by the NALCOR personnel that are causing the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador to incur a humongous debt and a lot of consternation over that debt are slowly being unraveled. I hope those who were in charge of bad decision making will be dealt with by the law.

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  5. Thank-you, Mr. Vardy and all those who dare to question why we should continue to accept the gospel of the chosen few, those big fish in a little pond who are consuming the life's oxygen from forever impoverished and disenfranchised citizens who do not have enough facts to truly understand how badly we have been screwed, perhaps now more than ever. Never again should legislation such as Bill 29 be permitted to stymy our right to access to information that shows how our hard-earned money has been used. It's high time we demand and receive government for the people, by the people, of the people. To witness those to whom we entrust positions of power stand before us, hide information, and lie as they look us straight in the eye is not only upsetting, it's is unacceptable and only the good citizens of this province can stop it. Politics is a game played by the rich or too many of those who espouse to acquire more wealth, indexed for a lifetime, on the backs of those who need their help, but rarely get it. Every system set up to help the masses - education, health, unionism, public transportation, you name it - is under attack worldwide by very powerful entities who think that controlling 97% of the wealth is just not enough. We live in disgusting, greedy times, so let's band together and demand more. Muskrat Falls in the new mega project, a new visiting circus riding the back of the latest elephant in the room, Nalcor. Absolutely shameful.

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  6. Mr. Ryan great commentary. I just read an article from the Daily Mail of an extremely greedy family in Brussels. It reminds me of the greed of some of the names that have been touted who are connected to NALCOR. They don't give a hoot how the other 99 per of us are going to be impacted who have to pay exorbitant electricity bills, taxes and levies, who are making paltry salaries. I really believe some of these greedy people are psychopaths. It cannot be explained in any other term. The story on the extremely greedy family is in this URL address below.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3636143/Greediest-snouts-EU-trough-Not-sure-vote-Read-stinking-wealth-hypocrisy-Brussels-fat-cats-Kinnocks-help-decide.html?ito=social-facebook


    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3636143/Greediest-snouts-EU-trough-Not-sure-vote-Read-stinking-wealth-hypocrisy-Brussels-fat-cats-Kinnocks-help-decide.html?ito=social-facebook

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  7. Just had a read. Disgusting, but far short of surprising. We may have a multi-party system, but the puppeteers cross party lines, certainly the Big Two, effectively controlling a balance of power for the same select few for decades or more at a time. In NL, take a look at those formerly occupying higher office and you will mostly see that, regardless of party stripe, they are very close business associates who have orchestrated long term plans long before the average Joe had his radar tripped by their actions. We only need look to major projects and developments to see this. It's been going on for a very long time and will continue until we no longer accept it. Tough to do when "da boys" hold all the cards.

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  8. Mr. Ryan you are right on the mark in the knowledge that you have deduced from the two dominant parties, Liberals and Conservatives. The politicians who we have elected over the past 67 years have also connived with Ottawa to drag every natural resource we possessed out of here for the sole benefit of the other Canadian provinces, all the while leaving their own province economically impoverished. For instance, case in point, the inshore fishers and their inability to get sufficient quotas of shrimp to ply their trade. Ottawa favours mainland and foreign fishers over the local Newfoundland and Labrador fishers, whose forefathers and they spent the past 500 years plying the waters of our province to make a living in the fishery. We cannot allow this situation to continue, we have to take a stand whatever that stand should be, the time is long overdue for Newfoundlanders qnd Labradorians to make up their minds. We are being duped by Ottawa and we are being duped by those whom we have elected.

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