Not surprisingly, the press release recently issued by former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin on the heels of comments by Stan Marshall comes to mind.
Ostensibly, the current CEO was attempting a little morale building — at the expense of the truth — following the successful transmission of Upper Churchill “recall” power across the Labrador Island Link. Understandably, he couldn’t wait for VP Gil Bennett to get the lead out on the generation component of the Muskrat Falls project.
Stan hadn’t popped the cork on the bottle of Baby Duck when Ed Martin was on the media circuit like a green crab on a clam, claiming credit for something he should be ashamed of. He had not come to praise Stan Marshall or even the Nalcor workers — but to remind us that he had been right all along.
For Martin, the LIL completion constituted a “milestone”. Had he said “millstone” this commentary could have dealt with a different subject. But, alas, we are talking about Ed Martin. He is the very same Ed who, in 2013, this Blog recommended for an Oscar, his command of narrative fiction having outsized his skills in the genre of the megaproject.
|Former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin|
One might have thought that Ed’s exceptional talent is what drove the media to readily embrace his blarney — all of them having immediately sent it to air. But, sadly, experience suggests that it was just another regular day in the newsrooms of NL. Trivialities almost always impersonate hard news.
Just three days earlier, this Blog, using information obtained under ATIPPA, demonstrated that there was complicity between Nalcor and the Independent Engineer (IE) on, at least, the latter’s very first report.
Placing odds under strain, I had thought — naively — that at least one of the province’s scribes might give the ethical breach (possibly illegal, too) some notice, considering the likelihood that nineteen of the IE’s other reports commanded identical questions. But no such luck.
That old keener, Ed Martin, knew enough about reporters not to issue a statement akin to an angina monologue requiring them to spend hours parsing its contents and implications. This, of course, is his talent.
Martin’s press release conformed exactly to the qualifications of the “rip and read” school of journalistic expression; the kind that needs no editing and less thought. It embodied perfect prose, the complex having been supplanted by the innocuous, the self-serving and the factually wrong. For the local media, it was a gift. Left to them was the journalistic mastery of two simple clicks: cut and paste.
“Fired without cause” Martin, the former CEO, described his mission as one intended to extoll the vision of Muskrat’s “eastern North American access…” He said that he wanted to build on the words of his “successor” — Stan Marshall — who had, he said, “acknowledge[d] that Muskrat is indeed a good project over the long term.”
Some said that, following Ed’s press release, they could feel the earth shake. As it turns out, it was only the St. John’s Board of Trade, a bevy of lawyers and engineers, and a flotilla of Tory flag wavers urging the Town Crier to share their expressions of gratitude at Martin’s great vision.
Of course, hubris is not exclusive to Martin. Having declared the $12.7 billion catastrophe a “boondoggle”, Stan Marshall was able to tell his audience that “after a few years, rates in Newfoundland will probably be cheaper than in most of the rest of the country,” even adding that “Muskrat Falls will eventually serve us well.”
Likely, Stan is a subscriber to the “rip and read” formula, too. Something so patently false could only have come out of Nalcor central casting. Like his predecessor, it seems that Stan, too, is realizing that propaganda is often far more convenient than the truth. Years ago, a University buddy had a one-word expression which, combined with his manner of expelling it, implied derision for those exhibiting the behaviour of buffoons and blockheads. Gord would name the recipient of his disfavour, making an extreme facial contortion to accentuate a deep guttural emphasis and a drawl on the letter "o". Gord would evince that so and so is a “tool”!
Ed and Stan wouldn’t like Gord.